Marc Thiessen

Opinion/Analysis: Thiessen: Ford vs. Kavanaugh — How much evidence do we need to destroy someone?

Christine Blasey Ford has accused Brett M. Kavanaugh of attempted rape while they were both in high school — a charge he unequivocally denies. She can’t remember the date the alleged attack took place. She isn’t even certain about the year (although she reportedly thinks it may have been the summer around the end of her sophomore year when she was 15). She can’t remember whose house she was in. She can’t remember how she got there. She says she didn’t tell anyone about it at the time, not even her closest friends — so there are no contemporaneous witnesses to back her claims. No other women have come forward to say that the young Kavanaugh assaulted them. There is no pattern of bad behavior. Quite the contrary, by all accounts other than Ford’s, he treats women with respect in his personal and professional life. (Full disclosure: I worked with Kavanaugh in the George W. Bush White House.) The gathering included just Ford and four others, according to her confidential letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. One man named by Ford as a witness has come forward and not only denied knowledge of the assault but also denied knowledge of the gathering in question. Another, who said he was the “PJ” mentioned in the letter, Patrick J. Smyth, has also denied being at a gathering like the one Ford described. Ford deserves to be treated with dignity, not maligned or attacked. But let’s not forget that Kavanaugh is human too. This ordeal affects not only him but also his family, including his two young daughters, who are hearing awful things said about the father they love. He cannot prove a negative. So far, there are accusations but no corroborating evidence. And accusations without evidence cannot be the standard by which a man’s reputation and career are ruined. Both Kavanaugh and Ford have been ill-served by Senate Democrats in this process. Feinstein, the Judiciary Committee’s ranking Democrat, knew about Ford’s accusation for about six weeks and did nothing. She never asked Kavanaugh about the allegations in private or in public. She did not use the confidential, bipartisan process that the Judiciary Committee uses every day to assess the credibility of allegations against hundreds of judicial nominees — which would have given Ford the chance to talk to the committee’s professional investigators in a confidential setting. Bizarrely, to this day Feinstein has not shared a copy of Ford’s unredacted letter with Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa. But Democrats appear not to have been too scrupulous when it came to protecting her confidentiality. Ford has also been ill-served by her lawyers, who initially stated that Ford “will agree to participate in any proceedings that she’s asked to participate in.” Then, when Grassley canceled the vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination and scheduled a hearing where she could testify in public or private, her lawyers started echoing Senate Democrats’ new message that a full FBI investigation was needed before she would speak to the committee — undermining the perception of Ford’s independence. (At this writing, she has reversed course yet again, with her lawyer now saying she might be willing to testify next week). It’s not the FBI’s job to investigate. There is no federal crime alleged. As Grassley explained in a letter, “We have no power to commandeer an executive branch agency into conducting our due diligence.”

Indeed..  Well said, Marc.  Marc Thiessen is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

Opinion/Analysis: The Southern Poverty Law Center has lost all credibility

After years of smearing good people with false charges of bigotry, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has finally been held to account. A former Islamic radical named Maajid Nawaz sued the center for including him in its bogus “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists,” and this week the SPLC agreed to pay him a $3.375 million settlement and issued a public apology. The SPLC is a once-storied organization that did important work filing civil rights lawsuits against the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. But it has become a caricature of itself, labeling virtually anyone who does not fall in line with its left-wing ideology an “extremist” or “hate group.” Nawaz is a case in point. Since abandoning Islamic radicalism, he has advised three British prime ministers and created the Quilliam Foundation, to fight extremism. He is not anti-Muslim. He is a Muslim and has argued that “Islam is a religion of peace.” So how did he end up in the SPLC’s pseudo-guide to anti-Muslim bigots? His crime, apparently, is that he has become a leading critic of the radical Islamist ideology he once embraced. Thanks to his courage, the SPLC has been forced to pay a multimillion-dollar penalty and acknowledge in a statement that it was “wrong” and that Nawaz has “made valuable and important contributions to public discourse, including by promoting pluralism and condemning both anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamist extremism.” Let’s hope this settlement is the first of many, because this is not the first time the SPLC has done this. In 2010, it placed the Family Research Council (FRC) — a conservative Christian advocacy group that opposes abortion and same-sex marriage — on its “hate map.” Two years later, a gunman walked into the FRC headquarters with the intention to “kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-fil-A sandwiches in victims’ faces.” He told the FBI that he had used the SPLC website to pick his target. In the aftermath, the FBI removed the SPLC from its list of legitimate resources on hate crimes. While the FBI no longer takes the center seriously, many in the media still do. Last year, ABC News ran a story headlined: “Jeff Sessions addresses ‘anti-LGBT hate group,’ ” in which it reported that “Sessions addressed members of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which was designated an ‘anti-LGBT hate group’ by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2016.” The Alliance Defending Freedom is a respected organization of conservative lawyers dedicated to defending religious liberty, and it just argued a case before the Supreme Court, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It won, 7 to 2. It is not a “hate group.” If anything, it is fighting anti-Christian hate. In 2014, the SPLC placed Ben Carson — later a Republican presidential candidate and now the current secretary of housing and urban development — on its “extremist watch list,” alongside neo-Nazis and white supremacists. After an uproar, the group removed him and apologized. The SPLC also lists Charles Murray, a colleague of mine at the American Enterprise Institute and one of the most respected conservative intellectuals in the United States, on its website as a “White Nationalist.” Last year, an angry mob of students, many citing the SPLC’s designation, physically attacked Murray during a speech at Middlebury College. He escaped unharmed, but the liberal professor who invited him ended up in the hospital. Little wonder that Nawaz was not just angry but also afraid about being designated an extremist by the SPLC. He told the Atlantic in 2016, “They put a target on my head. The kind of work that I do, if you tell the wrong kind of Muslims that I’m an extremist, then that means I’m a target.” Unfortunately, the settlement that the SPLC reached with Nawaz is not likely to deter it from smearing others — $3.4 million is a drop in the bucket for the center, which raised $132 million between November 2016 and October 2017 and has a $477 million endowment, including a reported $92 million in offshore accounts. Sliming conservatives is big business. The only way to stop the SPLC is if people stop giving it money and the media stop quoting it or taking it seriously.

Agreed!!  Thanks to Marc Thiessen over at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) for this outstanding piece.  SPLC is a total fraud.  The irony is that it is an agenda-driven, extreme liberal, anti-conservative, anti-Republican, and anti-Christian hate group that uses its vast legal resources under the direction of Morris Dees, a completely discredited leftist hack, to go after normal folks and family groups, just because they’re on the other side of the political aisle.  Glad to see Morris and SPLC finally getting a little public shaming.  Next time you see some leftist hack on PBS/NPR, ABC News, or CNN refer to them as a credible source, keep this story in mind.  Hopefully more people will have the courage to stand up to Morris and SPLC either in court or on tv.

Opinion: The VA desperately needs a combat medic, not a management guru

As senators consider the nomination of the next secretary of veterans affairs, they should first reflect on the story of an Army veteran named Jason White. White served our country in Afghanistan, where he was severely injured by an IED explosion. His spine was crushed, and he suffered a traumatic brain injury, but thanks to the skill and training of our nation’s brave combat medics, he survived. Yet on his return to the home front, he battled the hidden wounds of war — insomnia, depression and the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. He was not alone. Four members of his unit killed themselves after they got home. And after struggling with his mental and physical wounds for five years, White decided to do the same. One day in 2016, he came home, put a pistol to his head and pulled the trigger. He would be dead today if his gun had not jammed. His wife rushed him to the local Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in Colorado Springs for emergency psychological intervention. Incredibly, she was told that her husband would have to wait six months to see a therapist. As Jason White told the Gazette in Colorado Springs, “They knew I was suicidal, and still it was six months to talk to someone.” Fortunately, a few days later, White was told he could be referred to a private psychologist through the Veterans Choice Program that Congress established in 2014 after a series of scandals in which patients died while waiting for care at VA facilities. He began seeing Dr. Michael Sunich, and that treatment saved his life. “Without him, I probably wouldn’t be here,” White told the paper. But Sunich kept a secret from White. He was treating White for free, because the company VA picked to manage the Veterans Choice Program, Health Net Federal Services, failed to pay his claims. Others were not as lucky as White. A November 2017 VA inspector general report found that in Colorado Springs, “staff did not take timely action on consults, did not provide timely care in a response to consults, underreported wait times and inappropriately closed consults” for veterans with for post-traumatic stress disorder. The inspector general further found that “veterans in an estimated 210 consults were inappropriately denied an opportunity to receive care through VHA’s Choice Program.” The Trump administration came into office promising to fix this by expanding Veterans Choice. During the 2016 campaign, Trump declared, “Veterans should be guaranteed the right to choose their doctor and clinics, whether at a VA facility or at a private medical center.” One reason David Shulkin was fired as secretary of veterans affairs (aside from his ethics violations) was his resistance to the president’s desire to expand Veterans Choice. This is why the president’s choice of Navy Rear Adm. Ronny L. Jackson to succeed Shulkin was so inspired. Shulkin was a hospital administrator with decades of management experience, and his predecessor Robert McDonald was chairman, president and CEO of Procter & Gamble. And yet on their watch, Jason White and countless other veterans fell through the cracks. Jackson understands what veterans such as White are going through because he has been a combat medic in the field treating severely injured warriors. He served in Taqaddum, Iraq, as an emergency physician in charge of resuscitative medicine for a forward-deployed surgical shock trauma platoon. He has been there when a helicopter landed carrying a solider whose body had been torn apart by an IED, and he’s been covered in their blood as he struggled to stabilize them and save their lives. No other nominee to run VA has seen the plight of our wounded warriors in the war on terrorism up close like he has. Jackson understands what our vets went through on the battlefield, because he was on the battlefield with them. He understands their mental and physical wounds, because he has treated them. Jackson’s nomination hearing has been postponed because of last-minute allegations that he created a “hostile work environment.” Of course, they should be investigated, but it is highly suspicious that, after he served as White House physician for Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Trump, these allegations are suddenly arising now. Whether Jackson withdraws his nomination or stays and fights, this much is clear: We’ve tried management gurus at the top of VA, and it didn’t work. What VA desperately needs right now is a leader, not a manager. Veterans Affairs as an institution is bleeding out. It needs a combat medic..

Indeed..  Thanks to Marc Thiessen, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) for that spot-on op/ed.  These 11th hour unsubstantiated allegations against Adm Jackson are alarming to be sure.  IF any of them are true, he should pull himself out of the running.  BUT, if they are all just bs, then he should stick to his guns and go through the confirmation process with his head held high.  He has received the highest recommendations from THREE presidents (i.e. George W. Bush, Obama, and now Trump) of both political parties.  So, if these last minute allegations were true, then why weren’t they brought up years and years ago?  Lots of questions…  Regardless, Marc’s overall point is well taken.  We need a soldier or sailor “flag officer”  (i.e. general or admiral) with combat medic experience in charge of the VA; not another bureaucrat politically-appointed manager.  That’s all the VA has had for over a decade, and they’ve all been disasters.