Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, December 9, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page B:3

B3 Mountain Views News Saturday, December 9, 2017 OPINION B3 Mountain Views News Saturday, December 9, 2017 OPINION 
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 Ah, the giving season is upon us - the best time of theyear to be an American.

According to Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report onPhilanthropy for the Year 2016, American giving rose to$390 billion last year - a 3 percent increase over the prior 


Americans give around 3 percent of our collective income to charity more 
than the citizens of any other country. Better yet, these are individualAmericans, not the government, who are generating the lion’s share of thecontributions. 

According to the National Philanthropic Trust, the vast majority of U.S.
citizens donate to charity - and 91 percent of high net-worth householdsdo. Though most of the contributions come in small amounts, the averagehousehold contribution equals $2,520 - no small amount of generosity.

Giving USA says individual Americans gave an estimated $281.86 billionin 2016 - an increase of 3.9 percent over the prior year. Individual givingaccounted for 72 percent of all charitable giving in 2016.

The balance of giving, some 28 percent, came from foundations ($59.28billion), bequests ($30.36 billion) and corporations ($18.55 billion).

In 2016, the United States government gave about $40 billion in foreign aidto more than 100 countries - only about 10 percent of what our individualsand private organizations gave.

The fact is America is the most generous country on Earth, and most of thegiving is coming from individuals sharing their hard-earned dough.

According to a 2006 report by journalist John Stossel, Americans give 3 1⁄2 
times more, per capita, than the French, 7 times more than the Germans and14 times more than the Italians. 

Though not all Americans are as generous as they could be.

One might assume that the more liberal folks in America - folks who voicetheir concerns about the poor - would be more likely to donate to charitablecauses. But that turns out to be a myth.

Stossel set up a Salvation Army bucket in two places: Sioux Falls, S.D., andSan Francisco, Calif. San Francisco has a lot more dough and a lot of peoplewho classify themselves as politically liberal; only 14 percent of the peoplewho live there attend church. Sioux Falls is a rural, middle-class communityin which half the folks are churchgoers.

So which city gave more? The Sioux Falls folks won hands down. Stosselpointed out that the simple reason why is that liberal folks tend to believe thegovernment should take care of the poor, whereas more religious folks tendto be big believers in giving their own time and money to help a variety ofcharitable causes. 

Stossel found, in fact, that almost all the people who donated to theSalvation Army in Sioux Falls were churchgoers. And that churchgoers arefour times more likely to give to charity than those who are not.

Another interesting finding was that the people who give the most, as apercentage of their wealth, aren’t the richest Americans or even middle-classAmericans -they’re the folks on the lower end of the economic scale. Theygive almost 30 percent more of their income than anybody else.

In any event, the holiday season is upon us, and it is the favorite time of theyear for Americans to give to individuals and to the charities of our choice.

Bolstered #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that now falls on thefirst Tuesday after Thanksgiving, the giving season is off to a great start. On#GivingTuesday, more than 2.5 million individuals donated $274 million $
100 more than last year.

As I said, it’s the giving season, the best time of the year to be an American. 



Hey, did you know that President Donald Trump can’t be found

guilty of obstruction of justice?

Yeah, me neither. 

Thank goodness that White House lawyer John Dowd came along toclear that up for us all, and, in the process, rip a hole in the time-space continuum, droppingus into some parallel universe where we’re actually ruled by Mad King Donald, and not ademocratically elected executive who’s subject to the same set of laws as the rest of us.
In case you missed it, the utterly novel legal interpretation that Dowd provided to Axios andNBC News came in response to Trump’s tweeting last weekend that he knew that formernational security adviser Michael Flynn had lied to the FBI about his contacts with RussianAmbassador Sergey Kislyak.

Legal experts quite sensibly suggested that if Trump knew Flynn lied to the FBI and thendidn’t tell the FBI about it, such an admission might increase his exposure to the kind ofobstruction of justice that’s at the center of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

But not Dowd. 

Speaking to Axios and NBC, Dowd theorized that “the president cannot obstruct justicebecause he is the chief law enforcement under [Article II of the Constitution) and has everyright to express his view of any case,” The Post reported.

Except there are two problems with that theory. One of them is former President BillClinton. The other is President Richard Nixon. 

During impeachment proceedings in 1999, then-U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabamaargued that Clinton had to be removed from office because he obstructed justice in thecourse of the investigation into his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

“The facts are disturbing and compelling on the President’s intent to obstruct justice,”
Sessions said at the time, Politico reported, citing remarks in the congressional record.

Twenty-five years earlier, as his administration crumbled during the Watergate scandal,
Nixon famously claimed that “when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”

Except, of course, that the articles of impeachment lodged against Nixon includedallegations of obstruction. Nixon, you’ll recall, resigned before he could be impeached.
Norm Eisen, a former Obama administration ethics official and the co-author of a 
Brookings Institution report looking at the history of presidential obstruction of justice,
told the Washington Post this:

“There’s a long line of cases holding that when a government official exercises an otherwiselegal authority with corrupt intent, they can be prosecuted for obstruction. It flows from thenotion that no person is above the law,” he said.
That seems pretty cut and dried.

Dowd’s theory, which was first advanced by Harvard law scholar Alan Dershowitz,
isn’t part of the White House’s official legal strategy, according to lawyer Ty Cobb, who isoverseeing all things Russia.

Dershowitz has argued that Trump can’t be charged with obstruction because firingComey and telling the FBI who - and who not - to investigate is part of the job description.

“Throughout United States history - from Presidents Adams to Jefferson to Lincoln toRoosevelt to Kennedy to Obama - presidents have directed (not merely requested) the JusticeDepartment to investigate, prosecute (or not prosecute) specific individuals or categories ofindividuals,” Dershowitz wrote in a June op-Ed for The Washington Examiner.

Dershowitz went on to note that “it is only recently that the tradition of an independentJustice Department and FBI has emerged. But traditions, even salutary ones, cannotform the basis of a criminal charge. It would be far better if our constitution provided forprosecutors who were not part of the executive branch, which is under the direction of thepresident.”

Which is all well and good. But to paraphrase another former Washington official, youmake your case with the laws and prosecutors you have, not the laws and prosecutors youwish you had.

An independent Justice Department is far preferable to one directed by a politicallymotivated executive who might be tempted to overstep his authority to tick names off hispersonal enemies list.

And that’s true no matter who does it - Democrat or Republican.

Our system is reliant on the belief that we’re equally accountable in the eyes of the law.
And that no one - not even the president of the United States - stands above it. 

An award-winning political journalist, Micek is the Opinion Editor and Political Columnistfor PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Readers may follow him on Twitter @ 
ByJohnLMicek and email him at 



I finally get why President Trump tweets.

Even though I often disagree with what he tweets and how hetweets it, the president has no choice.

Tweeting is how he controls, or steers, the media coverage ofhim and his administration - by setting news agendas for them,
whether they like it or not.

If President Trump didn’t tweet what he tweets, the Big Media would be able to ignoreimportant stories like the political bias and corruption that’s been going on within theFBI, Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation and the Deep State.

As a total outsider in Club DC, Trump has to defend himself at all times.

He’s hated or not wanted by the entrenched political establishment, left-leaningbureaucrats of the Deep State and liberal media elite that run the city.

He’s not a member of their club, not on their team, not one of them - and never will be. 

As we’ve seen, the people who run Washington and powerful politicized governmentagencies like the FBI will do anything they can to impeach or get rid of Trump.

The president is surviving so far only because he doesn’t play by the DC Men’s Club’srules. 

He plays by his own rules, as a businessman, and if they come after him on bogussexual harassment charges, collusion charges or whatever, he doesn’t care.

Meanwhile, things go much easier if you’re a member of the DC Men’s Club.

From JFK’s well-known bed hopping and Bill Clinton’s serial sexual predations toCongressman John Conyers’ chronic groping, the misbehaving male members of theWashington “family” have usually been protected - or at least they were until a couple ofmonths ago.

If you’re a member of Congress and a known creeper like Senator Al “I’m going toresign soon” Franken, your club-mates will ignore or hide your crude behavior and theliberal media can be counted on not to go around digging it up.

What we’ve found out lately is that people in Congress have been quietly protectingtheir own sleaze-balls and slime-balls for decades. 

They set up a $17 million “hush” fund in the 1990s to pay off the women and menthey’ve sexually harassed or mistreated.

John Conyers even got his accusers to sign non-disclosure papers and used moneyfrom his congressional office budget to pay them off.

That’s outrageous, but the real outrage is that so few people are outraged by the factthat the women were paid to be quiet with taxpayer money.

You can’t tell me that anyone who’s been in Congress for more than a month didn’tknow about Conyers’ dirty-old-man habits.

But as we’ve been learning every day, Congress’ quiet cover-ups of sexual harassers andassaulters are nothing special. They’re like the ones that were going on at NBC, CBS andin Hollywood.

Those non-government places - like NPR, Uber, the Catholic Church and on and on put 
up with or protected their own bad men for a long time.

But until now the legitimate complaints of women who were harassed, humiliated,
groped or worse by men who had power over them were systematically ignored, or thewomen were paid to go away and keep quiet.

Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Kevin Spacey and all the other old guys who’ve recently losttheir jobs in the media and elsewhere weren’t just celebrities or big ratings’ getters.
They were “family.” 

As I wrote in my book “Twice Adopted,” the “family” - whether it’s Congress or a TVnetwork - always protects “Uncle Charlie the molester” and not the molested child.
From now on that’s no longer always going to be the case, which is why the women of the#MeToo movement deserve to be on the cover of Time magazine. 

Copyright 2017 Michael Reagan. Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan,
a political consultant, and the author of “The New Reagan Revolution” (St. Martin’s Press).
He is the founder of the email service and president of The Reagan LegacyFoundation. Visit his websites at and Sendcomments to Follow @reaganworld on Twitter.

Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For infoon using columns contact Sales at 

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