LIBERALS VS. CHRISTMAS, CONTINUED: GENDER-NEUTRAL, HOVERBOARD-RIDING, IPHONE-WIELDING SANTA?

By CANDY STALLWORTH

Christmas is coming, the liberals are getting crazier…A recent poll shows some ridiculous ideas about what a modern-day Santa Claus should look like, with ideas that clearly come from liberals. Graphic Springs, a logo-creation company, recently polled people in the U.S. and U.K. on the question “What would Santa look like if he were rebranded for today?”

Graphic Springs polled people in the age range of 18-65 through Google surveys. The initial survey of potential characteristics of modern Santa was given to 400 U.S. and U.K. residents, and then the final list was distributed to 4000 people (from the same age range and same countries) for a vote. Below are some of the highlights of the recommended changes for St. Nick:

23% said Santa should have an iPhone

23% said Santa should deliver via Amazon Prime

21% said Santa should go on a diet

17% said Santa should use a hoverboard

18% said Santa should be more hipster

When it came to Santa’s gender, fortunately, the overwhelming majority (72.2%) said he should be male. 10.6% said Santa should be female, and in the strangest, and clearly most liberal-influenced result, 17.2% said Santa should be gender-neutral.

WHY?

Santa Claus is a beloved character in both the United States and United Kingdom, and he brings joy to millions as he is, with his big belly, lack of technology, and flying reindeer-pulled sleigh. He does not need “re-branding,” and he does not need a gender change. The idea of making Santa different just feeds into the liberal viewpoint that anything traditional needs to change, just in case anyone is being oppressed, offended, or marginalized. Well, the Santa Claus tradition does not oppress, offend, or marginalize, by any stretch of the imagination.

Leave Santa alone, liberals, or you will find coal in your stockings.

Candy Stallworth, an Empire State News staff writer, whipped her way through a doctoral education at the finest of American higher ed institutions, noting how unoriginal, inept, and annoying many of the schools’ professors were in their robotic attempts to maintain a politically correct narrative. BTW: she hates words like “narrative”, “optics”, and “gaffe.” Other than that, her turn-offs include non-masculine men, women who hate men, men who hate men, phonies, disloyal people, and overflowing garbage cans. She likes New England clam chowder better than Manhattan clam chowder, but prefers Manhattan to New England.

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IF HOUSE GOP ‘100% CONFIDENT’ VOTES ARE THERE FOR $5 BILLION FOR THE WALL, THEN VOTE

By ROBERT ROMANO

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has declared that he is “100 percent confident” that the votes are there in the House to approve $5 billion for the southern border wall.

The comments, on Fox News, came after incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) challenged Republicans at an Oval Office meeting with President Donald Trump, where she said, “You have the House of Representatives.  You have the votes.  You should pass it right now.”

Not for nothing, but Pelosi has a point.

If House Republicans are 100 percent sure they have the votes to pass $5 billion for wall funding then they need to vote. What have they been waiting for?

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised $12 billion to $15 billion in Jan. 2017 and so far all they got done was the $1.6 billion supplemental for the wall President Trump requested in Feb. 2017. And that didn’t get passed until March 2018.

So it’s not as if Republican haven’t had multiple opportunities to pass wall funding while they had majorities in both the House and the Senate.

Always it came down to an unwillingness to fight a Senate Democrat filibuster and potentially move to a partial government shutdown over wall funding, for fear it might cost Republicans their majority in the House — which they ended up losing anyway in Nov. 2018.

This is where President Trump has a point. At the Oval Office meeting he said, “the problem is the Senate, because we need 10 Democrats to vote, and they won’t vote.”

That is true, but by postponing a fight on the issue, thus far there haven’t been any votes on fully funding the wall.

Now with the migrant caravan charging the border, suddenly, many members of Congress see the need for the wall.

Just look at Alfonso Guerrero Ulloa, who is now leading the caravan. He has lived in Mexico since 1987, where he fled after being suspected of a terrorist bombing in Honduras that wounded six American soldiers — he claims he was being persecutedfor his “left-wing” views.

That Mexico harbored a suspected terrorist is bad enough but now Ulloa has delivered a letter to the U.S. consulate demanding entry of the migrants or else a $50,000 per migrant payoff. It’s a shakedown.

“It may seem like a lot of money to you,” Ulloa told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “But it is a small sum compared to everything the United States has stolen from Honduras.”

Can you believe this? This is who Congress is defending by refusing to build the wall and secure the border right now, radicals like Ulloa who hate the United States and yet think they are owed entry here.

Has Congress taken leave of its senses?

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning said Congress should move immediately on the wall funding, “The House should be moving to a vote immediately, attach the measure to the omnibus bill and then vote the same day the Senate is to vote.”

To bolster their chances of prevailing, House Republicans might also consider guaranteeing they will vote with 146 members to sustain a presidential veto of any spending bill that does not have wall funding in 2019 should this drag on for a few weeks.

Pelosi has already stated she won’t be moving any funding for the wall when she is Speaker, saying to reporters of Trump, “Does he want to have government closed forever?”

Which, that’s actually a good question. Finally, one idea to bring additional leverage to the table are the non-essential federal employees. In Oct. 2013, more than 800,000 federal employees were furloughed according to the Office of Management and Budget. Usually, Congress votes to award them backpay for not working after the fact. But what if they didn’t get backpay this time around?

All options should be on the table. This is a fight that Congress needs to fight now — and win.

The fact is the American people are never going to have a stronger advocate than President Trump on this issue, who has threatened to shut down the government if Congress does not fund the wall. The time for Congress to act is now. It’s time to vote.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government. You can read more of his articles at www.dailytorch.com. 

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WHY IT IS BAD TO FALSELY ACCUSE PEOPLE

By MARIO DEL VECCHIO

Falsely accusing people is bad for many reasons. Innocent people can get in small or large trouble that they should not get in, which is unjust. Also, if you get caught falsely accusing people other people will think less of you, which is bad for you. On the contrary, if you don’t get caught, people will think less of the innocent person, which is terrible, especially if the accused person is your friend. If the last event occurs, it will be bad for you, because either you will make an opponent or lose a friend. Another thing that can transpire, is YOU getting in trouble by a teacher /judge. Long story short, you should not falsely accuse people because of all the above reasons, and many more reasons.

Mario Del Vecchio is a precocious young lad who turns 10 in September. He prides himself in knowing more about politics and such than most adults. He also is quite confident that being a tattle-tale is for zeros, and that only losers are jealous. He has no use for disloyal people, but he has a lot of use for karate, wrestling, football, baseball, and Fortnite. And if you try to push him around, he will defend himself and push back harder than you – otherwise, he will leave you alone.  

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MICHAEL COHEN’S GUILTY PLEA FOR ILLEGAL CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS WAS A PLEA TO A NON-CRIMINAL ACT BY A NON-CREDIBLE ACTOR

By KENNETH DEL VECCHIO

When Michael Cohen’s offices and hotel room were raided in April by federal law enforcement officials, there was outrage – and rightfully so. The outrage was not warranted simply because a lawyer’s privacy had been invaded. Rather, it was warranted because the government was invading the very precious safeguards of attorney-client privilege under a cloak that Cohen, a lawyer, had likely committed crimes.

As it turns out, Cohen did perpetrate some criminal offenses. Yesterday, he pled guilty to multiple counts of tax evasion and bank fraud; the prosecution has a valid case against him for these offenses. He also pled guilty to making illegal campaign contributions, which was a specious legal disposition, at best. The guilty plea to that offense underscores the outrage that many inside (and outside) the legal community felt when Cohen’s properties were raided. Why?

Because in obtaining this particular allocution of guilt from Cohen, the prosecutors had relied upon evidence, including conversations between then-presidential candidate Trump and Cohen, that directly violated Donald Trump’s attorney-client relationship. This is not only a frightening affront to the president, but to all Americans.

Donald Trump’s sacred right to a confidential attorney relationship was obliterated in a zeal-infested pursuit by prosecutors to procure any information they could scrap up to implicate the president in the engagement of illegal activity. They sidestepped the prohibition against seizing and utilizing conversations and correspondences between attorney-client by asserting that the discourse between Donald Trump and Michael Cohen was in furtherance of a crime by and between them. Although such illegal conduct would cause the attorney-client privilege protections to be vitiated, there must be probable cause that the lawyer and client were actually involved in unlawful conduct together. With regard to the purported campaign finance violation charge that Cohen plead guilty to, as oxymoronic as it may sound, probable cause for a crime did not exist. This means that the government wrongfully interfered with Donald Trump’s privileged communications with his lawyer and, thus, serves as a threshold rationale for why any companion charge against the president would be unlawful. But there are several more relatable reasons why a case against Trump will fail, if it is predicated by this dubious Cohen plea.

It is universally understood that Michael Cohen, affectionately referred to as Trump’s fixer, had paid $150,000 and $130,000 to a nude model (Karen McDougal) and a porn star (Stormy Daniels), respectively. When Cohen elocuted to the judge – meaning when he told the court why he was guilty – he stated that he made these payments under the direction of Trump and for the purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential election. According to the prosecutors, as well as Cohen’s own attorney, Democrat operative Lanny Davis, these payments amounted to a crime. Illegal conduct was executed, they say, because the monies doled out considerably exceeded the cap that an individual can donate to a presidential campaign.

The maximum donation that a person can make to the election fund of a presidential candidate is $2,700 per election. Unquestionably, $280,000 in payments toward a campaign would far supersede the legal limits. But there are several massive roadblocks to a moral – and legal – attempt at charges against Donald Trump in connection to these payoffs:

First, the prosecution’s entire case appears to be a “he-said, he-said” case. While Cohen says that the payments were at the direction of Trump “for the purpose of influencing the election”, Trump will surely say the payments were not for that purpose. Prosecutions predicated upon one person’s word versus another are inherently unjust, as one can never truly prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt under such unverifiable circumstances. For, who can ever know which person is telling the truth?

Another tragic flaw in this matter: Michael Cohen has no credibility. The soon-to-be disbarred lawyer had stated, on numerous occasions, that the payment made to Stormy Daniels was not at the direction of Donald Trump (and that Trump did not know about the same until afterward). Now, he claims that the payments to Daniels (and McDougal) were upon Trump’s orders. This flip-flopping, accompanied by several other apparent fabrications perpetrated by Cohen, render him incredible.

More so, how can anyone ever prove Donald Trump’s state of mind regarding why he would want payments made to Daniels and McDougal – meaning, even if he was aware of the payments, how can it ever be proved that they were issued “for purposes of influencing the election” versus “for purposes to protect his family and general reputation”? The answer is that such can never be proved, minus a smoking gun. Michael Cohen’s singular word certainly is not that smoking gun.

The dangerous slippery slope created through this charge and the ambiguity of the law itself are yet other massive hurdles in a potential prosecution against Trump for committing this alleged campaign finance violation. Albeit, Cohen pled guilty, but a law was indeed not broken by him in this instance.

First, there is nothing illegal in paying “hush money.” This is a media-manufactured sensation, perpetrated by either ignorant people or straight-up liars. “Hush money” – funds paid to individuals to keep quiet about a matter – is paid to settle cases, of every sort and type, thousands of times yearly; it is memorialized in court documents approved by scores of judges throughout the nation. “Hush money” is nothing more than payments made in exchange for confidentiality and the non-disclosure of information. Hush money is routinely paid by educational institutions, doctors, soda manufacturers, day care centers, corn farmers, home builders, and yes, even law enforcement agencies; it is paid by everyone and anyone. The media has dubbed disbursements for confidentiality/non-disclosure agreements as “hush money” in an effort to dupe people with an unsavory-sounding phrase, but the transaction is not only perfectly legal, it is totally normal.

The statute governing illegal campaign contributions is wildly broad and ambiguous, and it is a substantial overreach to employ it in Cohen’s case. In layman’s terms, who would think this type of payment violated campaign contribution caps? When Cohen issued these payments, his actions were those of an everyday attorney: he was settling cases. He paid out nuisance money – that’s all $280,000 is to a billionaire like Trump – as an ordinary course of business, to end a potentially embarrassing matter. The fact that the monies were paid during a presidential campaign is legally irrelevant. Trump, as well as an inordinate list of individuals and companies, settle such cases (over a wide array of topics) routinely—and they do so with a general purpose: to end a potentially embarrassing situation.

Invoking this campaign contribution statute to criminalize such matters that are so indirectly and tangentially related to a campaign creates a terrifying slippery slope that has never-ending implications against countless politicians and donors. The angry anti-Trump mob is so hateful, it has become blind and is willing to discard justice in their illicit pursuit to nail this man. They do not care, in this moment of a craze, what very dangerous slick-sloped ramifications this farcical guilty plea can create. It is instructive, if not critical, to evaluate other commiserate dealings to demonstrate just how legally irrational this “guilty” plea by Cohen was (and potential action against Trump for these payments).

Donald Trump and his companies, like most business leaders and corporations, have been involved in numerous ongoing lawsuits. What if Donald Trump and other principal shareholders settled a case during the presidential campaign? For example, what if they settled the Trump University lawsuit? Should the shareholders be charged with making illegal campaign donations because their portion of the settlement payment exceeded the $2,700 statutory limit? Should the lawyers handling the case be charged as conspirators? This, of course, is patently absurd. None of these people would be guilty of campaign finance violations because the case was resolved during the campaign, rather than after or before the campaign.

Let’s get real here: Michael Cohen didn’t think he was making a contribution to Trump’s presidential campaign when he paid $280,000 to Daniels and McDougal. He thought he was settling a case. The simple reason why Cohen pled guilty to a crime for these payments is because the prosecutors pressured him to do so. The actual offenses that Cohen committed (tax evasion and bank fraud) are of little consequence to these law enforcement authorities because they do not implicate the president. In order to involve him in Cohen’s legal woes, they needed to stretch, carve, and acid-wash the law. They needed to label ordinary legal dealings (paying nuisance settlement monies in exchange for a non-disclosure agreement) as a campaign finance violation.

So, Michael Cohen pled guilty to a charge that he could not possibly have had the mens rea (intent) to commit. Sure, in a global sense, one would understand that settling these cases could have some innocuous benefit to Trump’s campaign, but the existence of this indirect benefit is a far cry from causing these payments to be legally defined campaign contributions. There was an overall benefit to Trump, his family and businesses to settle these matters that can never be distinguished from the ancillary benefit their settlements had to the campaign.

For this last reason, alone, Trump is not culpable for any criminal offense, even if he instructed Cohen to make the settlement payments to the nude model and porn star. The prosecution would never be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his purpose in making such payments was “to influence the presidential campaign.” Equally problematic for the prosecutors is that this is a “he-said, he-said” case – and the first “he”, Michael Cohen, has zero credibility. The entire lot involved with his guilty plea lacks legal credibility.

Cohen’s own lawyer, Lanny Davis, revealed his motivations for the guilty plea when he gleefully tweeted the following after yesterday’s court appearance:

“Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”

Davis threw his client under the bus, assisting the prosecutors in obtaining this unsavory guilty plea for the political purposes of trying to make a case against Donald Trump – and not for seeking justice in a case against Michael Cohen.

Any potential case against Trump for unlawful campaign finance activity was poisoned at the onset of Cohen’s legal woes, via the government’s abolishment of Trump’s attorney-client privilege, when law enforcement improperly seized and utilized confidential communications in furtherance of their case. It worsened when the prosecution elicited the unfounded Cohen guilty plea for illegal campaign contributions (in face of apparently other sound charges). The frightening slippery slope has already been launched through this illicit action, but the decline of this slope can be straightened out by justice-seeking legal authorities: overriding prosecutors can dismiss the charges on their own motions, judges can dismiss the charges, juries can return not guilty verdicts, and Congress can enact new, narrow and clear laws. And oh, the president can deliver pardons.

The injustice of Michael Cohen’s guilty plea yesterday – and what may be so wrongfully sought against the president pursuant to it – very likely will be remedied by some, or even all, of the above. Why so optimistic? Because the matter is so obviously legally ridiculous – and there are more good people in America than bad.

Kenneth Del Vecchio, ESN publisher and editor-in-chief, is the author of some of the nation’s best-selling legal books, including a series of criminal codebooks published by Pearson Education/Prentice Hall and ALM/New Jersey & New York Law Journal Books. He is a former judge, a former prosecutor and a practicing criminal/litigating attorney for 24 years, wherein he has tried over 400 cases; he is partner in the prestigious law firm, Stern, Kilcullen & Rufolo.  Mr. Del Vecchio is also an acclaimed filmmaker who has written, produced and directed over 30 movies that star several Academy Award and Emmy winners and nominees. His films are distributed through industry leaders such as Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, Cinedigm, and E-1 Entertainment. He has starred in numerous movies, as well. A best-selling political thriller novelist, he penned his first published novel at only 24-years old. Additionally, Mr. Del Vecchio is the founder and chairman of Hoboken International Film Festival, called by FOX, Time Warner, and other major media “One of the 10 Biggest Film Festivals in the World.”  A regular legal and political  analyst on the major news networks, Mr. Del Vecchio formerly served as the publisher and editorial page editor for a New Jersey daily newspaper. 

This article was originally published on August 22, 2018, the day after Michael Cohen plead guilty.

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LIBERALS ATTEMPT TO RUIN HOLIDAYS, PART 2: BANNING “BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE”

By CANDY STALLWORTH

As we move further into the Christmas season, at a time when we should be enjoying all sorts of traditions, food, family, decorating, and classic songs, we find liberals spewing their illogical viewpoints and getting offended where nothing offensive exists. A few weeks ago it was racist Charlie Brown, making his black friend Franklin sit in a dilapidated chair all by himself on one side of the table at Thanksgiving dinner. Some liberals are mad at “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” because it apparently promotes bullying and exclusion of those who are different. But the Christmas classic that is really on the chopping block is the song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

The song, written in 1944, famously depicts a dialogue between a man and woman. The man tries to convince the woman to stay at his house because the weather is bad outside. The woman sounds like she is making excuses to leave, and it’s clear to any thinking person that she’s sort of teasing the guy and making him work for her affections. It’s obvious that she does want to stay with him; only a liberal would miss this. Those protesting the song not only miss the obvious intent of the song, but they go so far as to say it promotes rape culture and date rape, which of course does not fit with the #MeToo movement, that has supposedly become the norm in our culture. Not so fast, liberals. Where is the rape? NOWHERE. It sounds like a typical conversation between two adults who are flirting and consenting to their typical adult winter-evening activities.

Some radio stations, including Cleveland’s WDOK Christmas 102.1, have decided not to play the song any more. It’s important to note that WDOK pulled the song after a complaint from exactly one listener. The station proceeded to poll listeners about whether or not they should play the song, and supposedly the vote to not play it prevailed. The poll results are not public, so this claim is sketchy. A public poll on the WDOK’s Facebook page, however, shows overwhelming support for the song. Other radio stations, such as San Francisco’s 96.5 KOIT, have followed suit and are in the process of polling their listeners. So if there is a concentration of easily-offended liberals in a particular listening area, the song may disappear from the playlists faster than a snowflake (an actual one, not a liberal) on a heated windshield.

While the haters of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” are vocal (no pun intended), they appear to be in the minority. KOIS 101.1 in Colorado pulled the song and then brought it back when the results of their poll of over 15,000 listeners revealed overwhelming support. And “CBS This Morning” co-anchor Gayle King strongly defended the song on her show. She stated,  “I just feel I want to say to people: ‘It’s a Christmas song that was written years ago.’  I think you have to look at the intent of the song, and when you look at the intent, it’s – to me – a very flirtatious back-and-forth between the two of them. I think you can look at anything and read something into it these days, and I just don’t think that was the case when they wrote that song and (it’s not) the intent of the song, and I think we have to look at that.”

Once again, liberals are taking something completely innocuous and finding ways to be offended by it.  Hey libs, listen up: You make no sense, but if you don’t want to listen to it, don’t listen to it. Just don’t ruin other people’s enjoyment of Christmas songs, or Christmas TV shows, or Christmas in general. Stop it, you Grinches.

Candy Stallworth, an Empire State News staff writer, whipped her way through a doctoral education at the finest of American higher ed institutions, noting how unoriginal, inept, and annoying many of the schools’ professors were in their robotic attempts to maintain a politically correct narrative. BTW: she hates words like “narrative”, “optics”, and “gaffe.” Other than that, her turn-offs include non-masculine men, women who hate men, men who hate men, phonies, disloyal people, and overflowing garbage cans. She likes New England clam chowder better than Manhattan clam chowder, but prefers Manhattan to New England.

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THE REASONABLE DOUBT THAT MAY BE MISSED IN THE KAREEM HUNT CASE

By KENNETH DEL VECCHIO

When evaluating any given case for the purposes of seeking justice – which is the only valued, moral purpose – the case must be viewed, and dissected, under the totality of the circumstances. Emotion shall be disregarded. It is critical that the law, as applied to the facts, must be a dispassionate process.

All people must be treated equally under the law. This proposition is at the core of a system that is designed to allow actual justice to prevail. While justice, indeed, does not occur on a far too frequent basis in America, our system is, no doubt, rooted in the goal for such to occur in each and every distinct case. If the law and, thus, the government, do not demand equal treatment for all, then justice is not a practical reality.

In order for all to be treated equally, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age (and other dividing human characteristics) must be removed from the treatment of people – alleged offenders and alleged victims – in all criminal cases. Including those divisive factors in an evaluation is the fodder of the emotional and the irrational bystanders; these people compound their tainted conclusions by indulging in the media soundbites and failing to thoroughly evaluate the evidence. Beyond the uninformed bystanders are an illicit congregation of fully knowledgeable players in and about the criminal justice system; these individuals are wholly aware that equal treatment under the law is a most rudimentary and important precept of the U.S. system, but they willfully subterfuge it for a combination of adulterated reasons including power abuse, weakness, jealousies, insecurities, corruption, and political gain.

Understanding the above indispensable propositions – and applying the same in every case – will permit the best opportunity to attain justice. Specifically, in Kareem Hunt’s case (like millions of others over time and across the world), the following factors must not be assessed when determining whether Hunt should be prosecuted: (1) the gender of the alleged offender and alleged victim; and (2) the race of the alleged offender and alleged victim.

Already, I have heard unsupported – and prejudicial – commentary on both sides of the racist spectrum. One group argues that Hunt is under scrutiny only because he is a black man, who allegedly assaulted a white woman; as the argument goes, if the alleged victim were black, no one would care or, conversely, if the alleged perpetrator were white, no one would bother with this matter. Another group posits that Hunt is automatically guilty of a crime because he is a man who allegedly assaulted a woman; this group contends that men are always guilty of a crime if they strike a woman. Of course, while the emotional and irrational do not understand it, the dispassionate application of the law to the facts does not permit either of these nonsensical notions to persist if justice is to be actually sought.

Hunt may be guilty of a simple assault and/or other offenses. Then again, he may not be guilty of anything at all. The alleged victim may be guilty of a simple assault and/or other offenses. Then again, she may not be guilty of anything at all. Here’s the analysis:

Video evidence is one of the most compelling pieces of evidence that we have in the modern criminal justice system. However, it is far from dispositive in many cases. You should not be just looking at what you see – but you should also be looking for what you don’t see.

In Hunt’s video, we see that he pushed the alleged victim. If we delve no further, it appears that he did so without legal justification. But what may we have not seen? When Hunt pushed the alleged victim, her back was to the camera. Based upon the video, we do not know what she said to Hunt directly before he pushed her. What if the woman called Hunt a racially-charged name, would that legally justify him pushing her? No, it would not be an affirmative defense. In practicality, however, some judges and juries may find him not guilty if the aforementioned were factual.

But what if the alleged victim committed the crime of terroristic threats (e.g. – threatened to kill Hunt or his girlfriend or another friend), then would he have been legally justified to push her? The answer is “yes.” And that’s because he would be legally acting in self-defense and/or defense of another. Following is another circumstance where Hunt would not be guilty or any criminal offense, under the same self-defense rationale:

If the woman had spit in his face. Under the law, this is a simple assault (because the woman’s bodily fluids could cause bodily harm to Hunt) – and it is also an act of harassment. Here, although he surely could not legally shoot or stab the woman as a response (or engage in other highly violent responsive actions), Hunt would definitively have the legal right to ward her off via a push or shove.

Simply, based solely upon the video, we do not know what the woman said/did directly prior to Hunt pushing her – because her back was to the camera…Similarly, we do not know what the alleged victim did/said to Hunt (and his friends) prior to coming into frame. She turned the corner, came into view of the camera, and within a second Hunt and the others turned the corner and came into frame. If she had threatened to kill Hunt (and/or the others) while she was on the other side of the wall and/or as she was turning the corner, the same legal defenses are applicable – obviously, because Hunt couldn’t know if she would turn right back around and carry out her threat. If she had made such a threat, Hunt’s immediate following of her and pushing would be legally permissible.

The fact that the alleged victim is a woman is completely legally irrelevant in the evaluation of whether Hunt was justified (or not justified) in pushing her. If the alleged victim was a man and the alleged offender was a woman, the evaluation must be the same. If the alleged victim and alleged offender were of the same gender, the evaluation must be the same. If the alleged victim and alleged offender were of the same race, the evaluation must be the same. If the alleged victim and alleged offender were of different ethnicities (or the same ethnicity), the evaluation must be the same. If the alleged victim and alleged offender were of different religions (or the same religion), the evaluation must be the same. Etc, etc

People have noted that Hunt kicked the alleged victim at the end of the video. See the analysis above – as it is the same for the kicking. This all happened in less than two minutes – and we never saw/heard exactly what the alleged victim did/said at any of these points.

What people haven’t noted, however, is that the alleged victim is also an alleged offender herself. The video clearly shows her hitting one of the other men, in what appears to be an unprovoked act. In seeking justice, she should be investigated with the same scrutiny as Hunt. She should also be afforded the same thoughtful analysis as Hunt, with it being recognized that we don’t know what Hunt and the others said/did to her in many of the moments. Accordingly, the same “what if’s” apply to her, and she may have been legally justified in striking that other man.

It is interesting to note that the police chose not to charge Hunt – and that’s after they investigated the matter. It’s common sense that they know more than we do. Question:

Just because the police elected not to charge Hunt, does that mean that he is not guilty of any criminal offense?

Answer:

Of course not, but it is telling (especially in face of the video of the incident). A review of other videos – videos of the police investigation, including witness interviews – is also telling. They help explain why the police concluded that Hunt committed no crime.

A decision by the police (to arrest or not arrest) is certainly not a defining factor, for any knowledgeable person who is truly attempting to seek justice, in deciding whether someone is guilty or innocent of any given offense. If the police had elected to arrest Hunt, I would be equally speculative of the matter. In many circumstances, police act properly and make decisions solely based upon the evidence presented to them; at other times, they act improperly. Still, at other times, they act with incompetence. The same is true with colleagues of mine – many times prosecutors and judges act properly and make decisions solely based upon the evidence presented to them; at other times, they act improperly. Still, at other times, they act with incompetence. The same scenarios exist with politicians – and the media…With all that said, law enforcement’s investigation, as well as its outcome, is something that should be assessed.

And after assessing the totality of the circumstances in Kareem Hunt’s case, the following conclusion is what I have rendered:

The smartest person is the person who knows that he/she doesn’t know everything. This realization is multi-pronged here, for me. First, if I had a problem with the engine of my car, I wouldn’t try to fix it myself; and that’s because I have no training or expertise in that field and I otherwise am not naturally mechanically talented. The same goes for attempting to build my own house – and many other endeavors I wish I could expertly, or at least proficiently, carry out. Although I am a highly confident man, I am smart enough to know that my opinion in those areas is, well, meaningless (or, at minimum, one without knowledge). Those in the media (and other propagandists who proliferate information with an agenda) who deliver sound bites about criminal law cases as an effort to influence the minds of the emotional and the irrational, are expressing meritless opinions because they are lacking both expertise and, many times, knowledge. They should be smart enough to know that they don’t know everything.

And finally, I recognize that although non-legal experts are totally unqualified to deliver opinions of law, many can evaluate facts just as well the greatest of legal minds. Simply, in Hunt’s case, the video leaves open too many questions. He may have committed a simple assault or other minor offense – and the alleged victim may have committed a simple assault or other minor offense. I’m smart enough to know that I don’t know everything in this case. Are you?

Kenneth Del Vecchio, a regular legal and political analyst on networks such as i24 News and Fox News Channel, is the author of some of the nation’s best-selling legal books, including a series of criminal codebooks published by Pearson Education/Prentice Hall and ALM/New Jersey & New York Law Journal Books. He is a former judge, a former prosecutor and a practicing criminal/civil attorney for 24 years, wherein he has tried over 400 cases.  Mr. Del Vecchio is also an acclaimed filmmaker who has written, produced and directed over 30 movies that star several Academy Award and Emmy winners and nominees. His films are distributed through industry leaders such as Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, Cinedigm, and E-1 Entertainment. He has starred in numerous movies, as well. A best-selling political thriller novelist, he penned his first published novel at only 24-years-old. Additionally, Mr. Del Vecchio is the founder and chairman of Hoboken International Film Festival, called by FOX, Time Warner, and other major media “One of the 10 Biggest Film Festivals in the World.” A partner at the prestigious Stern Kilcullen & Rufolo law firm, Mr. Del Vecchio formerly served as the publisher and editorial page editor for a New Jersey daily newspaper. 

TRUMP TAKES HARD LINE ON CHINA, NAFTA AT G20

By ROBERT ROMANO

President Donald Trump is giving China three months to change its act on trade and treat America fairly, or the current 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of goods will rise to 25 percent. That would come atop another 25 percent tariff on $50 billion of goods from China that is already in place.

The 90-day extension, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, is to allow the U.S. and China to hammer out a more specific agreement.

In the meantime, per Sanders, “China will agree to purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other product from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries. China has agreed to start purchasing agricultural product from our farmers immediately.”

Much remains to be worked out, according to Sanders who said, “President Trump and President Xi have agreed to immediately begin negotiations on structural changes with respect to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture. Both parties agree that they will endeavor to have this transaction completed within the next 90 days.”

And, if it doesn’t work out, then Trump will follow through on the additional tariff threat. Sanders stated, “If at the end of this period of time, the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the 10 percent tariffs will be raised to 25 percent.”

The U.S.-China trade deficit is set to reach another all-time high in 2018, with the difference between goods imports and exports already $27 billion greater through September than this time last year with the fourth quarter still yet to report, according to U.S. Census data, even with the tariffs in place. Last year the goods trade deficit hit $375 billion.

Trump promised to address the trade relationship with China and so a new trade agreement could prove to be an historic opportunity for a more fair and reciprocal approach to be achieved.

Here, Trump is holding onto his leverage to get a deal with China done. Either, China opens up on trade or the tariffs escalate. Here, U.S.-China relations are now at a crossroads, but Trump has demonstrated he is willing to take a risk in order to get a trade deal done — his way. The President has calculated that without the pressure and tariff threat, China would never come to the table.

A deal that, by his critics’ measure, should have been impossible and now, it might actually happen.

A similar tactic was successfully utilized by President Trump to get Mexico and Canada to agree to the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal. Trump threatened to leave NAFTA completely if a deal were not reached and now there is an agreement that deals with intellectual property, U.S. agriculture exports, sets a new standard on currency and exchange rates and even got Mexico to agree to labor concessions including a minimum wage.

Now, to get the USMCA though Congress, Trump is formally leaving NAFTA, giving Congress a take it or leave it option. On his way home from the G20 meeting in Argentina Trump said, “I will be formally terminating NAFTA shortly… We get rid of NAFTA. It’s been a disaster for the United States. It’s caused us tremendous amounts of unemployment and loss and company loss and everything else.”

So, it’s Trump’s way or the high way. Either way, the U.S. wins in his eyes. Either China agrees to a new deal on allowing U.S. to import more products to China, reducing the trade deficit, or the tariffs go up. And, either Congress approves the USMCA, or Trump does what he wanted to do all along, which is to leave NAFTA.

It’s a gamble, for sure, but it could be one that pays off for President Trump and the U.S. So far, he’s moving in the right direction, which is what his supporters were asking for.

After all, at the end of the day, Trump will be judged by how these new agreements impact the flow of capital out of the U.S. over the long term. Trump wants to bring production back to the U.S. and export more to bring growth back to the U.S. To get there, the trade deals he is pursuing must move the needle. Something for China to consider. If the trade deficit doesn’t narrow, Trump is likely to pursue the tariffs, which will hurt China a lot more than they hurt the U.S. The current pause in tariff escalation by Trump could be seen as a chance to head off disaster by Beijing.

But if China does not follow through and open up on trade, then the tariffs go up. If Congress doesn’t pass the USMCA, the U.S. leaves NAFTA. That is President Trump’s art of the deal, which is that he is willing to deal — and he is willing to use his leverage. Don’t test him. He’s not bluffing.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.  You can read more of his articles at www.dailytorch.com. 

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FAMILY (AND COUNTRY) FIRST, NOT PARTY FIRST

By Robert Romano

A poll by Axios and SurveyMonkey found 61 percent of Democrats believe Republicans are racist, sexist and bigoted, and 31 percent of Republicans think the same thing about Democrats.

54 percent of Democrats find Republicans to be ignorant, 49 percent of Republicans believe the same about Democrats. 44 percent of Democrats find Republicans spiteful, 54 percent of Republicans feel that way about Democrats. 21 percent of Democrats and 23 percent of Republicans find each other to be evil, respectively.

Have we lost the civil society?

Only tiny percentages found the other party to be fair, kind or thoughtful, ranging from 2 to 4 percent. I personally would have been an exceptional person polled if they had called and asked about Democrats in my life who I found to be thoughtful, honest and caring. Then again, my entire immediate family are Democrats, who I speak to every day. Often politics come up but nobody hates each other at the end of the day.

Family first, not party first. It’s something I’m reminded of with Thanksgiving right around he corner when I’ll be traveling up to New York with my family.

In a similar vein, many people are lifelong friends. We chose to be friends before we ever chose our politics. Should reconsider those bonds later in life when politics come up?

How do we reconcile what politicians do in Washington, D.C. with how friends and family vote at home anyway? Are those really the same thing? Especially when we consider that the one of the biggest predicters of political affiliation, at least at a younger age, remains how your parents voted. There are exceptions, of course; you’re reading one of them right now.

A country is a lot like a family in that respect. The premise of elections and a republic is that elections and legislative processes deal with those disagreements that do arise. If we cannot be civil and let the Constitution work the way it was intended, including elections, then we don’t have much of a country.

It’s why recent comments by failed presidential contender Hillary Clinton were so disheartening. She told CNN that “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.”

It turns out that millions of Americans across party lines definitely agree with Clinton if the Axios/SurveyMonkey poll is to be believed. The numbers point to a potential powder keg. Both sides hate each other.

It seems that a lot of folks — not all, and not even a majority per se, but a lot — are identifying a lot less as Americans nowadays and more along partisan lines. This did not happen overnight.

It is also not the first time the parties have had different values they believe are important. The system calls for it. Elections are supposed to result in representation of those values. I doubt the problem is that the parties have differences, which should be a given.

Where we might have a problem one day is if too many people believe that democracy is not the answer to reconciling national differences and that war or violence or dictatorship would somehow be preferable to impose their own values.

The Civil War was not only party versus party, region versus region and slave states versus free states, in many cases it was brother versus brother. It was the most horrible thing that ever happened to this country, as 620,000 Americans died. We’re still reeling from it in many ways. It was based on irreconcilable differences. Yes, slavery, a moral abomination, was abolished. But that war and preserving the Union came at great cost.

I’m not certain the Union would survive another Civil War. So I see polls like that offered by Axios and SurveyMonkey and I worry a lot about that.

To overcome the possibility of civil strife we will have to rise above partisan madness. Go back and read the poll’s question. Are your political opponents really evil? Or do you simply happen to disagree on a range of issues that can otherwise be resolved via elections?

There’s a lot more that brings us together as a country than tears us apart but that faith is sometimes tested. Perhaps we’re going through one of those trials right now. I like to think that, as we enter the holiday season and sit down for Thanksgiving, that we still see each other as fellow Americans.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government. You can read more of his articles at www.dailytorch.com. 

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CHUCK GRASSLEY’S COURAGE IN 2018 ENDED OBAMA ERA FISA ABUSE AND HELD THE LINE ON KAVANAUGH

By Robert Romano

Americans for Limited Government has presented Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) with the annual Senator of the Year award for his “extraordinary courage in defense of liberty.”

It was Grassley’s determination in exposing abuse by the FBI in obtaining Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against the Trump campaign in 2016, confirming judges and holding the line on Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning declared, that merited the award.

Manning said, “Senator Grassley earned this award by leading some of the most important fights for freedom over the last year as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman. Starting with his Jan. 2018 memo exposing FISA abuse and referring Christopher Steele for criminal charges for lying to the FBI, Grassley was instrumental in shedding light on how false information was used to obtain FISA warrants against the Trump campaign in 2016  and is now continuing to be used to obstruct the Trump agenda and undermine his entire presidency today. Senator Grassley has also led the confirmations of 84 conservative judges to positions on courts across the country. Two of these being Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.”

Manning added in conclusion, “In the face of unprecedented Democratic obstruction, Grassley showed courage as he never backed down in his defense of the Constitutional presumption of innocence.  Americans for Limited Government is proud to name Senator Chuck Grassley our 2018 Senator of the Year.”

The Jan. 2018 memo from Grassley coupled with his and fellow committeeman Sen. Lindsay Graham’s (R-S.C.) determination to get to the truth set the tempo for other disclosures later in the year from the House Intelligence Committee and via a Freedom of Information Act request from Judicial Watch that revealed the Carter Page FISA warrant, pointing to massive abuse of the FISA system.

On judges, dating back to 1952, presidents have about 162 judges per term confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Midway through President Donald Trump’s term of office, with 84 judges including two Supreme Court justices and counting confirmed, Grassley and Senate Republicans are right on track to keeping to historical norms.

During the hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Grassley held the line and provided an opportunity for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford to testify, allowing questions to be asked in a consistent and comprehensive manner. Grassley heard the concerns of his fellow committee members and accommodated those concerns. If he had not done so, it seems doubtful Kavanaugh would have been confirmed. Amid a dire situation, Grassley kept his cool and got Kavanaugh across the finish line.

And with the Republican majority in the Senate preserved in the 2018 midterms, Trump should be well-positioned to get even more judges through, thanks to the stage that Grassley set. Grassley has since announced that he is moving on from the Judiciary Committee and is headed to the Finance Committee to be Chairman as well as taking up the Senate President Pro Tempore role. His will certainly be a shining example and a tough act to follow.

Sen. Chuck Grassley accepted the award, saying, “Having observed that an all-powerful government is a threat to liberty, our Founding Fathers established a government that was intentionally limited and focused on preserving individual rights. I want to thank Americans for Limited Government for this recognition. Fulfilling my constitutional role of holding government accountable and putting forward solutions that will allow Iowans and all Americans to live free and prosperous lives is the priority that has guided my work as a legislator. It’s an honor to represent the people of Iowa. I look forward to continuing to serve Iowans and all Americans.”

Prior recipients of honors from Americans for Limited Government included 2017 Congressman of the Year U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and 2016 Congressmen of the Year U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) and U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.).

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government. You can read more of his articles at www.dailytorch.com. 

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STUDENT-LOAN SERVICER NAVIENT ACCUSED OF DUPING STUDENTS INTO REPAYING MORE

By DANIEL SONNINSHINE

Recently, the Federal Reserve announced that nationwide student loan debt has hit the $1.5 trillion mark. It is agreed all around that something must be done about debt that is spiraling out of control, forcing recent (and not-so-recent) college graduates to pay back far more than they borrowed to begin with. In an attempt to understand and possibly combat this growing debt, student loan servicing companies have faced recent scrutiny, and at least one servicing company has been found to use deceptive practices.

Navient, one of the largest student loan servicing companies in the United States, was audited by the U.S. Department of Education in 2017. The audit results only recently have been made public, and they show evidence that Navient employees may have pushed borrowers into costly repayment programs, when cheaper options were available to them. They failed to provide borrowers with information on all options available to them, and likely forced thousands of borrowers to repay more than they should have. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Navient’s deceptive practices have caused borrowers to owe nearly $4 billion in additional interest on their debts.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D – Mass.) has criticized Navient for these apparently deceptive business practices. In a letter to Navient, she wrote, “This finding is both tragic and infuriating, and the findings appear to validate the allegations that Navient boosted its profits by unfairly steering student borrowers into forbearance when that was often the worst financial option for them.”

Navient is facing trouble on all sides. Besides the audit findings coming to light, the company is currently facing lawsuits in Pennsylvania, California, Mississippi, Illinois and Washington, as well as a lawsuit from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And this past week, shares of Navient stock sank by more than ten percent.

If Navient really did deceive its customers and increase debt for thousands of students, then maybe (hopefully) karma is now at work. What goes around comes around…

Daniel Sonninshine is an Empire State News staff writer, who is in search of greatness. A 20-something smart fellow, he is now lifting weights in an effort to obtain more power. If that doesn’t work, he will ask to write more editorials for Empire State News and less fact articles.

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