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From Border Hysteria to Impeachment Cheerleading

By Robert Knight – August 27, 2018
Last week, a full-page opinion column in the Loudoun Times-Mirror, a weekly newspaper in Northern Virginia, actually had this five-column headline, caps included:


"THE BORDER CRISIS: It's worse than 9/11, worse than the war in Iraq."


This is why it's hard to write political satire. Far from an outlier, the headline epitomizes how the media has fixated on family separations at the border as if people breaking the law never had to spend time away from their children.


The Times-Mirror leans left, but the editors usually weed out something as preposterous as the columnist's claim that became the headline.


In any case, the media's and the Democrats' hysteria over family separations at the border has been eclipsed by the graft conviction of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and the "flipping" of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. It's a giddy time for anyone running the "impeach Trump pool" in newsrooms and campaign offices across the land.


Manafort's convictions stem from conduct years before he served briefly as Mr. Trump's campaign manager. Cohen's allegations about hush money are undoubtedly sordid, but do they constitute an impeachable offense if true? And none of this has anything to do with alleged Trump campaign collusion with the Russians, the supposed focus of the Mueller investigation.


Cohen says he secretly taped conversations with Mr. Trump about payoffs to the porn performer Stormy Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal to buy their silence before the 2016 election about alleged affairs 10 years earlier. Apart from anything else, this will not help honest lawyers win over skeptical clients by saying, "trust me."


Attorney-client privilege prevents disclosure of communications - unless the client made it with the intention of committing or covering up a crime or fraud.


But, "it's not even a close question," Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a liberal Democrat who backed Hillary Clinton, said on Fox News. "I challenge any of those who say it's a crime to find me anything in the criminal law that would make it a crime for a president personally or candidate personally to pay in order to save his own election. It's just not against the law.


"It might be a misdemeanor for the campaign to fail to report that payment but it would be on the campaign not on the candidate To talk about this as a 'high crime and misdemeanor,' it's absurd."


That has not stopped some Democrats and the media from shouting "impeachment!" and "high crimes and misdemeanors!" from the rooftops. Democratic megadonor Tom Steyer has been at it since October, when he launched a $10 million "impeach Trump" media campaign.


So, let's see what the U.S. Constitution says. Article II states, "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."


Article III explains: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."


Bribery usually involves corrupting a government official for personal or political gain. This leaves "high Crimes and Misdemeanors," which is where it gets fuzzy.


In Federalist 65, Alexander Hamilton wrote that impeachment could be undertaken for "offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust." That's pretty broad.


James Madison said during the Constitutional Convention that impeachment could be based on "incapacity, negligence, or perfidy."


Speaking of perfidy (being faithless or disloyal), in 1998 Bill Clinton was impeached by the House on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying to a federal grand jury about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The Senate voted in February 1999 to acquit him.


Richard Nixon was never impeached, contrary to popular perception, but resigned his presidency in 1974 after the famous Watergate tapes exposing the coverup went public.


If Mr. Trump did order payment of hush money and then lied about it, it's disgusting. But would it rise to an impeachable offense? The answer may well be decided by which party controls the House next January. As Rep. Al Green, Texas Democrat tweeted, "the November election will be about impeachment."


In 1970, Rep. Gerald Ford, Michigan Republican, tried unsuccessfully to have Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas impeached, and famously declared that "an impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history."


With Nov. 6 approaching, the stakes for this recovering republic of ours suddenly went sky high. It's enough to make the media look away from the border for a while.


Robert Knight is a contributor to The Washington Times. His latest book is "A Strong Constitution: What Would America Look Like If We Followed the Law" (, 2018).

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An Orwellian Gagging of the Media

By Robert Knight – June 4, 2018 (posted here June 5 ,2018)

Years ago, sitting in an English pub on July Fourth, my brother and I were surrounded by friendly Brits who toasted America's Independence Day.


Expressing no bitterness over their former colonies' rebellion more than 200 years ago, they even jokingly joined in a chorus of "Down with the British!"


England is America's parent nation, even though we had to resort to violence to decide things for ourselves, such as not being forced to billet British troops in our houses or pay taxes without representation.


It was from England that we derived our rule of law, religious heritage and an appreciation of fair play. I did learn to my regret that the English treated the Irish badly for centuries until the Emerald Isle won its independence in 1921.


However, in the great wars against Nazism, Communism and militant Islam, America and Great Britain have fought side by side in defense of the Free World.


So, it was with alarm that I learned this past week about the case of Tommy Robinson, former leader of the rightist English Defence League. A rabble rouser whose current passion is to call attention to the menace of Pakistani pedophilic "grooming gangs" who roam the streets to find children and young women, Mr. Robinson was "broadcasting" on Facebook outside a gang rape trial in Leeds where he had been warned not to appear.


I'm still trying to get my head around what happened next. Mr. Robinson was arrested and jailed. Within five hours, he was convicted of contempt of court and sentenced to 13 months. Then he was tossed into prison, presumably among some of the criminals that he had been railing about. That could greatly affect his health.


The media were ordered not to report on Mr. Robinson's arrest, trial or sentencing, lest it prejudice the case underway in the court. That might fly in places like Iran, but in merry olde England? Well, it didn't last. The gag order was lifted after two days of protests.


Sadly, political correctness and massive immigration of people uninterested in adopting British morality is turning Old Blighty into something that Winston Churchill would not recognize. Freedoms long enjoyed by the British are slipping away.


It's happening in the United States as well, where rampant political correctness is supplanting long-held notions of free speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion.


Three years ago, Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian found Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, guilty of discrimination for refusing for religious reasons to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, fining them $135,000.


That's bad enough, but here's the kicker: Mr. Avakian, a Democrat who subsequently lost a race for secretary of state, also imposed a gag order on the couple, telling them to "cease and desist" from "publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published any communication to the effect that any of the accommodations will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination be made against, any person on account of their sexual orientation."


So, the Kleins could not publicly defend themselves against this outrageous assault on their livelihood. With their own story quashed, they became totems of bigotry and were peppered with hate mail and threats of violence, and closed their bakery. In late December 2017, the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld Mr. Avakian's draconian ruling.


Represented by First Liberty Institute and former White House attorney C. Boyden Gray, the Kleins have appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court. They will closely watch how the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the similar Masterpiece Cakeshop case later this month.


During oral arguments in December, Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote who has sided with homosexual activists in all major cases, including Obergefell v. Hodges, which created a "right" to same-sex "marriage," nonetheless offered some hope for a fair decision in Masterpiece when he stated, "Tolerance is essential in a free society. And tolerance is most meaningful when it's mutual."


America's Founders drew on many sources when drafting the nation's seminal documents, but relied most heavily on the commentaries of William Blackstone, the great 18th century English jurist.


Blackstone based his conception of just law on the Bible. In his dissent in Obergefell, Justice Clarence Thomas quoted Blackstone's observation that the Magna Carta protected the "absolute rights of every Englishman," including that of personal liberty, defined as "the power of loco-motion, of changing situation, or removing one's person to whatsoever place one's own inclination may direct; without imprisonment or restraint, unless by due course of law."


Over in the United Kingdom, some are still protesting the sentencing of Tommy Robinson and the Orwellian gagging of the English media. Many ask why an allegedly Conservative government under Prime Minister Theresa May would be complacent about such an abridgment of "the absolute rights of every Englishman."


Maybe officials on both sides of the Atlantic will wake up and smell the tea.* 


Robert Knight is a Washington Times contributor. His latest book is "A Strong Constitution: What Would America Look Like If We Followed the Law" (, 2018).


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No Handy Tool for Gender Bending

By Robert Knight – May 27, 2018 (posted here May 28,2018)

The Culture War reached into the quiet Washington D.C. exurban town of Purcellville, Va. last week.


This is how the Left makes examples out of ordinary folks in order to transform America from the "home of the brave" into a nation of people deathly afraid to speak up. Who wants to be turned into an object of hate for offending one of the Left's identity groups?


On Friday, May 18, a Boy Scout and his father entered Nichols Hardware and asked for a donation for the boy's Eagle Scout project. Nichols is uniquely retro. A family-owned store established 104 years ago in Western Loudoun County, it has warped wooden floors, a tin ceiling and anything that a good hardware store would carry in 1914 or in 2018.


Its staff of primarily older men painstakingly assist customers in finding whatever they need to complete a project, and the owners donate to charities, including the Scouts.


And therein lies the rub. Over the past five years, the Scouts have cratered, morally speaking. They opened their ranks to homosexual boys, homosexual leaders, transgenders and girls and even excised the word "boy" from the program's name, which is now Scouts USA. The newly liberated Scouts will even provide condoms at their upcoming Jamboree. Somehow, they didn't need them before.


Anyway, a Nichols employee reportedly in his 70s allegedly responded curtly to the boy's request and told him and his father to leave. He then allegedly told a woman customer, "you know they let homos in, right? They are not "boy" scouts anymore."


Well, these days, accuracy is no defense, not that it excuses rudeness or name-calling. The woman went straight to Facebook and posted an item titled: "I just witnessed the most ugly, rude homophobic encounter at NICHOL'S Hardware in Purcellville Va." "I am SO upset!!!!!" (caps in original).


The incident became the lead story in the Washington Post Metro section. The woman described the senior citizen employee as "this vile creature." She vowed never to set foot again in "your redneck little store." That's the sweet smell of love and tolerance, in case you missed it.


Store manager Glenn, who declined to provide his last name, told me over the telephone that someone else had terminated the employee. The Post carried a victory story the next day, followed by Post Metro columnist Petula Dvorak's rant on Friday entitled, "No, those weren't the good old days." She painted Purcellville, America itself and "nostalgia" as rotten to the core. Reciting a litany of "the ugliest pieces of our past," she quoted an author who says, "there was no golden age of family life." So, if you enjoy the Andy Griffith Show, you must harbor KKK sympathies.


Somehow, I recall no other stories in the Post about rude employees being given a pink slip. They did extensively cover the Starbucks imbroglio over two black non-customers being denied use of a restroom and arrested after refusing to leave. Starbucks will close its 8,000 stores next Tuesday afternoon to subject its 175,000 employees to "unconscious bias training." Any barista who emulates Martin Luther King's colorblind "content of their character" outlook had better instead fixate 24/7 on race, gender and sexuality.


The Nichols story wound up in national media and even overseas, according to Glenn, who said he would like to personally apologize to the Scout and his father. He said the store still supports the Scouts and that the employee had been warned previously to keep political comments to himself.


From the store's point of view, this was mostly about an employee crossing the rudeness line, which, if the woman's account was accurate, he should not have done. To activists, it was a delicious opportunity to crucify someone. There was so much negative comment that Yelp suspended Nichols' page.


In 2015, during passage of Indiana's religious freedom bill, a Christian-owned pizza shop came under vicious attack. An activist asked a girl at the counter hypothetically whether the shop would cater a same-sex wedding, and she politely replied that she didn't think so. Cue the local TV crew. Protests erupted. One woman Tweeted: "Who's going to Walkerton with me to burn down Memories Pizza."


Shop supporters raised more than $842,000 for it on GoFundMe, but last month, three years after being targeted, Memories Pizza closed its doors and is apparently just a memory.


The family who owned Memories Pizza had Bible verses on the wall. They said they valued all customers but drew the line at being forced to service events weighted with moral meaning.


In June, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on this very question in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It's anyone's bet whether the justices will honor the First Amendment's religious freedom guarantee or add another brick to the Left's wall of cultural tyranny.


As for Nichols Hardware, they just want to sell screwdrivers and wheelbarrows and treat all customers with respect. Maybe they'll be left alone. For now.


Robert Knight is a Washington Times contributor. His latest book is "A Strong Constitution: What Would America Look Like If We Followed the Law?" (, May 2018).


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