Monica reminds us that it wasn’t her scandal

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HLN, which was formerly known as ‘Headline News’, is a cable TV network spun off CNN by Turner Broadcasting. Today the network broadcasts a mixture of traditional news and real crime stories.

In a recent announcement, HLN said that they would revisit what it called “The Monica Lewinsky Scandal” with a two-hour special program.

Many readers may be too young to know who she is, and those who do may have forgotten all but her name. Let’s do a quick review of exactly why Monica Lewinsky became such a public figure, along with a little background as to how she got into such a sensitive position.

In 1995, Lewinsky graduated with a degree in psychology from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. That summer, family friend Walter Kaye, an insurance big wig who was also friends with Hillary Clinton, helped her land an unpaid internship in Washington, D.C. in the office of White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta.

Per Jeff Leen of the Washington Post back in 2008, one of Lewinsky’s fellow interns that summer painted her as extroverted, hard-working and ambitious. In the coming months there would be rumors, some started by her own comments, that she had somehow developed an uncommonly close relationship with President Bill Clinton.

By December, Lewinsky had been moved to a paid intern position with the Office of Legislative Affairs. She would later confide in a friend, Linda Tripp, that she had begun an affair with the President a month earlier.

Per a USA Today article in 2008, Lewinsky had her first sexual encounter with Clinton in the private study of the Oval office on November 15, 1995. The two repeated this Oval office tryst under similar circumstances just two days later. 

This was the beginning of a physical relationship that lasted approximately a year and a half. There would be, according to Lewinsky, a total of nine sexual encounters between the two. There was never sexual intercourse, but fellatio and other sex acts were involved.

Described by some on staff as a bit forward, and by others as outright flirtatious, Lewinsky was moved in April 1996 into a position as assistant to the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, Kenneth Bacon. The move came because some of her superiors felt that she had grown too close to the President.

Lewinsky also had a reputation as a hard worker who was willing to genuinely put in long hours. She seems to have been an enigma. While exhibiting drive and determination, she also came across as distracted at times, with a fairly obvious crush on the President.

During a February 1997 liaison, Clinton purportedly left stains on Lewinsky’s dress during one of their encounters. The revelation that the dark blue dress had been preserved with this “evidence” would later became a part of the public lore involving their relationship. A month later, the two had their final dalliance with one another.

It was in September of 1997 that Lewinsky began to confide in Tripp, who then began to secretly record their conversations. By January 1998, the affair broke through as a public news story. Clinton famously responded I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky” in a news conference on national television.

Over the next few months, Clinton faced increased scrutiny involving the affair and his involvement in the Whitewater real estate controversy. He finally admitted under pressure from Kenneth Starr, the Independent Counsel on Whitewater, that “I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate.”

In December 1998, two articles of impeachment were brought against Clinton by the U.S. House of Representatives. Charges of perjury and obstruction of justice were leveled against him involving a sexual harassment lawsuit brought against him by Paula Jones. This was in relation to an incident that occurred while he was the Governor of Arkansas in 1991.

Both Clinton and Lewinsky were called to testify at the Jones lawsuit proceedings. Clinton lied under oath about his relationship with Lewinsky, spurring the impeachment charges. He was acquitted on both charges in a Senate trial along party-line votes. He would settle out-of-court with Jones.

Over the next couple of years, Lewinsky would hit the cover of Time magazine, be interviewed on TV by Barbara Walters, appear twice on “Saturday Night Live”, and participate in the publishing of her biography.

The problem with the labeling and marketing of this upcoming HLN program is the same as has always been the case with this story. It is always presented as the “Lewinsky scandal”, when in fact the more appropriate truth is that it was the “Clinton” scandal.

Bill Clinton was the President of the United States. He was the most powerful man in the world. Monica Lewinsky was a 22-year old young woman ostensibly working as his employee. 

That’s not to take any responsibility away from her. She was certainly old enough to know that what she was doing was wrong. But the true scandal is certainly more appropriately laid at the feet of the then 49-year old leader of the free world.

Lewinsky, now 44 years old and one of the nation’s leading anti-bullying social activists, was quick to cleverly strike back on social media at what she felt was this inappropriate labeling and marketing by the HLN folks.

Per the ‘Page Six’ section of the New York Post, supporters were quick to jump to her side. Comments included “Yep. When it’s a woman, it’s a ‘scandal’ when it’s a man, it’s an ‘investigation’and “Hey @CNN how about you stop victimizing Monica? Fix your headline. It’s post-Weinstein 2017 for f**k’s sake! Have we learned NOTHING this year?


There has been plenty of scandal involving Bill and Hillary Clinton over the last few decades. Monica Lewinsky’s involvement is just one chapter. But it is a chapter that lingers with those of us who lived through those years. It’s important that we keep Monica’s reminder front and center. 

While she was a young woman who made a mistake in judgment, he was the President of the United States. And he later compounded those errors in his judgment by lying about them under oath in a formal court proceeding. Those actions of Clinton’s are the true scandal in this story.

Donald Trump, Elizabeth Warren, and Pocahontas

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At the White House on Monday, President Donald Trump honored three members of the Navajo Nation (pic) who had helped America as “Code Talkers” during World War II.

The Code Talkers were recruited to the United States Marine Corps during the war. They transmitted messages via radio using a code developed from their unique native language, one which the Japanese were unable to decipher. 

In remembering and honoring the group yesterday, the President chose the occasion to take a swipe at one of his favorite political foils on the Democratic side of the aisle, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts:

“You were here long before any of us were here, although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.”

The Trump-Warren feud stretches back into the Presidential campaign last summer. Trump was the presumptive Republican nominee. Warren was considered an early contender for the Vice-Presidential slot for the Democrats on the ticket with their own presumptive nominee at the time, Hillary Clinton. 

Warren would attack Trump at Clinton campaign rallies and at her own speaking engagements. Per the New York Times, for instance, Warren called Trump a man born with cash in his fist and hate in his heart.

Trump would then fire back, at one point beginning to use the Pocahontas reference. This was his way of bringing up claims made by Warren throughout her political career that she is partially of Native American ancestry. There have been numerous vitriolic barbs slung back and forth between the two ever since. 

Warren has claimed, per the Washington Post, that she is of Cherokee and Delaware Indian heritage. During her 2012 Senate campaign, this claim was disputed by her opponent, Scott Brown. The Cherokee demanded proof, and Warren was only able to fall back on old family stories. 

The bottom line according to the Post’s ‘Fact Checker’ researchers: There is no documented proof of Warren’s self-proclaimed, partial Native American heritage…

Warren’s name has also been floated as a possible candidate for the 2020 Presidential election as the Democratic Party nominee. When the President refers to Warren in joking terms as “Pocahontas”, he is taking a calculated jab at her. He is also clearly hoping to provoke some type of public response.

Warren responded, of course, stating It is deeply unfortunate that the president of the United States can’t even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without throwing out a racial slur.

Per the Huffington PostNavajo Nation President Russell Begaye appeared on CNN’s “New Day” program earlier today and made this comment: 

“Pocahontas is a real person, not something that’s just made up. This is a young lady, a Native American woman that played a critical role in the life of this nation, and to use that person in that way is unnecessary and is being culturally insensitive.”

Pocahontas is a genuine historic figure, not just a character in a Disney movie. She was the daughter of Wahunsenacawh, the paramount chief of the Powhatan people, whose land the original Jamestown colony had settled upon. Her actual life story, though brief, was pivotal in early relations between peoples of the Old and New Worlds.

The White House came back at Warren on Monday afternoon through press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who stated per The Hill: I think what most people find offensive is Senator Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career.

My own feelings on the issue can fairly be summarized by a statement made on CNN this morning by the former communications director for the White House, Anthony Scaramucci. 

At the end of the day — we’re getting a little bit too micro-managing with each other’s languages and the whole political correctness movement, Scaramucci said per The HillI think most people, in general, are tired of it … I’m totally tired of it.”

The Democrats and their sycophants in the media will continue to highlight in negative headlines and commentary anything that it believes can hurt the President. They will continue to label him a racist, a bigot, and worse.

President Trump meanwhile continues to read the political landscape perfectly. He understands that America is as divided as it has been at any point since the Civil War, and that he will never win over those opponents and detractors. 

The President simply continues to play to the supporters who got him elected last November. To this point, it has proven to be a winning strategy.

In calling Warren the “Pocahontas” nickname, he is in no way making a slur against the real historic figure, her tribe, or Native Americans in general. President Trump is simply digging at Warren and her dubious ancestral claims. That’s all. 

Tax reform postcards from the edge

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The Republican controlled United States Congress is attempting something significant that has not happened in more than three decades. Yet it is something that almost everyone in both parties believes to be grossly overdue.

Updates to the United States tax code have not been accomplished since Ronald Reagan was President.

That long ago legislation passed a voice vote in the House of Representatives in December 1985. It then took another seven months before finally passing the Senate in June 1986. President Reagan then signed the Tax Reform Act of 1986 into law on October 22, 1986.

Over the ensuing decades, further changes to the tax code have been discussed and debated in both formal political circles as well as in the media and in academia. Many on both sides of the American political aisle have voiced their concern that tax reform was necessary. Agreeing to the specifics and getting such reform done has been much more elusive.

Charles Rangel is as liberal a Democrat as you are going to find. He served in Congress for nearly five decades before retiring earlier this year. Per Brainy Quotes, Rangel once stated “We all want a simpler code, but tax reform is about much more. It is about ensuring that everyone pays their fair share.

Those final words have usually become the rub. What makes up a “fair share?” Reaching any consensus is becoming nearly impossible now in an era where American politics are as partisan and polarized as any in history. 

That 1986 tax legislation was actually co-sponsored by a pair of Democrats, Congressman Dick Gephart and Senator Bill Bradley. While Republicans held a 53-47 advantage in the Senate, the final vote in support for tax reform was 97-3. 

When the 2017 House vote was taken on November 16, no Democrats voted for it. None. Their mantra, as it has always been, claimed that Republicans were cutting taxes for “the top 1%” of earners, while giving no or little actual relief to the middle class. 

The Speaker of the House, Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, responded per Naomi Jagoda and Cristina Marcos for The Hill that “Passing this bill is the single biggest thing we can do to grow the economy, to restore opportunity and help these middle-income families who are struggling.

The fact is that on most issues, especially the big ones, votes in both the House and Senate now come down rigidly along party lines. Where there used to be a dozen or more “swing” votes to be had, legislators of either party who could be appealed to and lobbied for support, that is rarely the case today. 

There is always an obligatory appeal to the middle class by both parties. Each claims to want to bring relief to those middle income earners. Yet somehow, the two parties can never agree on any issue that will actually help the middle class.

Getting actual tax reform done now is going to come down to one party or the other gaining control of both the House and the Senate. Then they are also likely to need a President of their same party who is willing to sign the new tax proposal into law.

Right now, Republicans have just such control. The GOP holds a slim 52-48 edge in the U.S. Senate, and a tight 239-194 edge in the House of Representatives. And, of course, a Republican now sits in the Oval office for the first time in eight years.

A big election will take place in Alabama in two weeks for a Senate seat. The result of that election will either maintain the Republicans edge, or tighten it even further to a barely noticeable 51-49 advantage.

In next year’s mid-term elections, Democrats will need to defend the seats of 25 of their voting members in the Senate. Republicans have eight seats to defend. All 435 voting Congress persons will also have to defend their seats.

With uncertainty always a hallmark of mid-term elections, now is the time for Republicans to get tax reform done. Having missed out on a chance to repeal and replace Obamacare, the GOP needs to begin showing that it can get major legislative initiatives accomplished.

While the Republican Congresspersons of the House have now passed their plan, the Republican Senators are now preparing to vote on their own tax reform proposal. That vote is likely to take place this week.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, always a key vote in these big issues, today came out in support of the Republican tax plan readying for that Senate vote:

“This tax bill is a true test for my colleagues. I’m not getting everything I want — far from it. But I’ve been immersed in this process. I’ve fought for and received major changes for the better — and I plan to vote for this bill as it stands right now.”

Assuming those Senators actually get their plan to pass a vote, we still won’t have tax relief. Leaders in the House and Senate would need to get together, and hash out some compromise regarding the details of their separate proposals.

Once that happens, which would likely come in the spring, then there would be votes in both Houses on the final legislation. Should that pass both votes, then it tax relief would finally get to President Trump’s desk. It is presumed that the President would sign any tax reform legislation put before him.

Chris Edwards for the Cato Institute opined back in late October that “the GOP plan would give the largest relative cuts to people in the middle. On average, middle-income earners would receive larger percentage tax cuts than higher-income earners.

One highlight of the House reform plan that has been constantly pushed is that most Americans would be able to file their income taxes on a form the size of a postcard. I’ll be curious to see if that actually comes to pass. 

Politics in this country are on the edge right now. The edge of sanity, that is. Next year’s mid-term elections are going to be hard-fought and bloody. Passing tax reform before those elections hit would be a welcome postcard from the edge for American tax payers.

Sunday Sermon: In the end, we all become one with God

Today marks the final Sunday in the liturgical year of the Catholic Church.

Next Sunday begins the season of Advent, the four-week period leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ.
As Advent begins, the readings at Mass will begin to lead us towards that most important and holy moment in the history of humanity.

Today, however, we peer into the future, to the end of time itself.

The second reading today was from the first letter, sometimes called an epistle, written by Saint Paul to the Church at Corinth.

The Yale Divinity School calls this first letter from Paul to the Corinthians “a masterpiece of pastoral theology.” Of this important and lengthy 16-chapter work, Yale further states:

“It challenges us to think about how we relate to the wider world that we fully engage even if it does not always share our values, provoking us to imitate Paul’s pastoral logic, which probes fundamental convictions to see how they apply in difficult situations.”

Corinth today lies in south-central Greece, approximately 48 miles west of Athens. But the Corinth of Paul’s time could be located about two miles southwest of today’s city.

Paul himself founded the original church in Corinth around 50 A.D., less than two decades after Christ’s death. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians was written during one of his stays at Ephesus. It includes a number of important teachings, and contains a handful of famous sayings that have survived through today.

The focus of my piece today comes from near the end of Paul’s letter, and relates to the end of time. Here, Paul talks of Christ’s return at the second coming, stating that he will destroy “every sovereignty and every authority and power” before finally destroying the “last enemy”, death itself.

Paul then finishes by stating that once everything has been subjected to Jesus Christ, then Christ himself will be subjected to God. This is, as Paul puts it, “that God may be all in all.” In the end, we will all become one with God, through Christ.

You can choose to interpret the exact physical and meta-physical mechanics of that merger with our Creator in a number of ways. However you choose to do so, the fact is that we don’t know when these events will take place. Will they even take place in our lifetimes?

The more important point is that, no matter when the end times come, there is something that we can all and should all be doing right now. We should all be preparing now by subjecting ourselves to Christ.

Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Clearly the most important thing that we can do right now is ensure that we are believers. That we recognize that Christ gave up his life so that we could be freed from sin.

This acceptance, this subjecting of ourselves to Christ in accepting and celebrating his role in our lives, gives us a chance to join God as one of those “all in all” at the end.

A joyous season is about to begin. The birth of your Savior is not far off. As this holy time of year approaches, remember exactly whose birth it is that we will be celebrating.

In the end, we all become one with God. That is only made possible by the one who is about to be born.

Celebrities, unlike the rest of us, can sometimes live forever

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Early 1970’s pop star and teen idol David Cassidy passed away this past Tuesday at the age of 67 years.

Cassidy had been born in April 1950 into a show business family. He was the only child of Jack Cassidy, a Tony Award-winning actor as well as a singer, and Evelyn Ward, a TV and stage actress.

Ward died in 2012 of dementia, a condition that David would also be diagnosed with just two years later.

Earlier this year, David publicly announced his own battle with the illness. He was then forced to retire after the dementia began to seriously manifest itself, particularly in forgetting lyrics to songs he had been singing for decades.

Cassidy was then hospitalized last week suffering from liver and kidney failure. He was placed in a medically-induced coma, which he came out of this past Monday. Doctors were hoping to keep him alive until a liver came available for transplant, but he died the following day of liver failure.

It was a sad, struggling ending for a man who had exited middle age and was turning towards old age. But the fact is, few people are going to remember David Cassidy as a man in his 60’s. They are not even going to remember Cassidy in his 40’s or 50’s.

As with most celebrities, David Cassidy is going to be perpetually in his 20’s. It will be the Cassidy in youth, the one staring out at you from the picture that accompanies this story, that millions will carry in their mind for the rest of their lives.

Cassidy made his Broadway debut in 1969 in a show that quickly closed. But he was encouraged to make a screen test, moved to Los Angeles, and picked up guest appearances on a handful of big name television shows.

In 1970, Cassidy got his biggest break. He was cast in the starring role of ‘Keith Partridge’, the oldest son on a new television series “The Partridge Family” about a music-making clan headed up by a single mother.

The original plan was for the acting cast to do none of the actual music or singing for the show. But Cassidy lobbied for and won the right to sing, and his became the voice of the group on the show and in recordings.

The Partridge Family label created ten albums during its four-season run from 1970-74, and Cassidy sang lead on the vast majority of the songs. He also recorded a handful of solo albums during this period. The group received a 1971 Grammy Award nomination for Best New Artist, and also a pair of Golden Globe Awards.

Thanks to songs like “I Think I Love You”, “I Can Feel Your Heartbeat”, “I’ll Meet You Halfway”, “I Woke Up in Love This Morning”, and “Doesn’t Somebody Want to Be Wanted” the bubblegum pop sound of the band, and thus Cassidy’s melodic voice, will live forever with fans of multiple generations.

This also leads to the larger point of this piece. Celebrities can often live forever. Think about it. Long after you and I, and likely anyone else reading this article, is gone from this orb the names, music, and works of numerous celebrities will keep them living on.

Artists who passed away in recent months, years, and even decades such as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, John Lennon, George Harrison, Michael Jackson, Prince, and Tom Petty still have their music played regularly. Decades from now that is likely to still be the case.

The feats of notable athletes such as Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, Jim Thorpe, Jesse Owens, Arnold Palmer, Wilt Chamberlain, and Johnny Unitas are still remembered and celebrated. Again, decades from now that will still be the case.

On the Hollywood scene, acting professionals such as Marilyn Monroe, Alfred Hitchcock, Marlon Brando, Bette Davis, Orson Welles, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Newman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, River Phoenix, and James Gandolfini come to mind among many others. We’ll be watching them perform for decades, as we already have been for some who have been gone that long.

That is to say nothing for notable political and historical figures such as George Washington, Julius Caesar, Princess Diana, Anne Frank, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, William Shakespeare, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln and more. These folks have lived on for not only decades, but in most cases for centuries after their natural lives came to an end.

Want to get even bigger? What about Jesus Christ? You can even set aside the nearly 2.5 billion people on the planet who, as I do, believe Him to be the living embodiment of God on Earth.

Any reasonable person would at least have to acknowledge that Jesus was a carpenter who became a preacher in the first century. Because of the strength of his message, he not only attracted followers in life, but he was put to death by those who feared his influence. That act led to a faith movement that is still going strong more than two thousand years later.

Now, don’t get me wrong. David Cassidy is no Jesus Christ. His music and acting will not be around and followed in two thousand years – in all likelihood. But for as long as people who were exposed to and enjoyed his work live, and that will at least be decades to come, David Cassidy will live on.

Fame, fortune, adulation, influence. These are the drawing cards of celebrity for many people. Even those who claim to not seek those things are going to gain them if their work is powerful enough. Those things are going to frequently live on, long after the actual celebrity has passed on.

Unlike the rest of us, millions will remember celebrities for decades (at least) after their death. That will certainly be the case with David Cassidy. May he rest in peace, and may God bless his family and friends during this difficult time.