Robert Mueller and Jennifer Lawrence Interrupt My Annual March Madness Break
(my Executive Director John Pudner) – My Facebook profile advises all that I am available 24×7 all but one week a year around my birthday and the opening weekend of March Madness – but my birthday this year included issuing a media statement on the Mueller investigation and meeting with Jennifer Lawrence’s group as they did final prep for the most important political reform gathering of the year.
Since I’m bound to upset everyone across the spectrum with my perspective on the Mueller Report and Jennifer Lawrence’s annual Unrig Summit in Nashville, I’ll go out of order and wrap up the “Sports Section” first (if not a sports fan, then skip ahead to the “News Section.” The back-and-forth between the two reminded me of ESPN comparing me to Nate Silver for the sports/politics combo, and of the Marquette commercial that shows students working, going to church and studying all night – like we did – and then finishes with the line, “that’s just one night, you should see what do in the day.”
The breaking news around the Mueller report hit while I was interviewing March Madness coaches and players about games getting the highest TV ratings since fans tuned into to watch Christian Laettner start his run to his game against UNLV. March Madness is scary for me since I published 8 brackets based on my www.valueaddbasketball.com ratings in the Western Journal for all critics to see. Luckily this year, after picking the 12-seed Oregon to go Sweet 16 in my bracket based on the Value Add Ratings of the Healthy players on each team, that bracket is in the 100th percentile of the 16 million submitted to ESPN and four of my eight published brackets were probably good enough to be first in your pool to date (all 93rd percentile or better). The bracket picking a Final Four of Oregon, Kentucky, Duke and Gonzaga based on the most NBA talent is a little behind in the 76th percentile, while the three brackets relying on where the game was played (venue), which team had the best single player, and with me just going with my subjective gut pick against my own numbers did not do well.
I wrapped up my weekend of basketball with a question for Villanova coach Jay Wright (the best dressed man in basketball who my wife says looks like George Clooney) regarding this being the first time since 2014 that the Big East ranked behind the Big Ten at www.kenpom.com and could that have impacted the tournament performance, and the NCAA transcript of his response to me records Wright saying, “I don’t know (he did give a quick look indicating to me he thought my observation might have merit). That could be. Our league was really young this year. A lot of young teams who will have everybody back next year. There will be a lot of really good teams (again next year) … I just think you saw a lot of young Big East teams this year get worn down at the end.” Yes, and that is why I avoided picking them to win in the tournament this year and have some great brackets.
But enough on my favorite sports week of the year coming to a close and onto the real news that divides us and threatens our Republican Democracy …
News Section – Mueller Report to the Unrig Summit
Now back in the Take Back Our Republic office with the intense week of basketball behind me, the focus turns to the implications of the Mueller report on our political reform efforts particularly as we prepare to gather for the 2nd Annual Unrig the System Summit in Nashville. This event is organized by Jennifer Lawrence’s group RepresentUS.
My speech at Unrig and the speech that followed by Wisconsin Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher were two of the most conservative, but the organizers do try to balance ideologically even during the entertainment. This year features Mark McKinnon, who was producing George W. Bush’s TV ads when I was organizing his faith-based turnout in 2020, as well as the person the Democratic operatives right now seem to hate almost as much as they hate Trump – Howard Schultz.
Yes my conservative friends get on me for Jennifer Lawrence uttering the F-word in reference to Trump, but I’ve criticized a lot of Democrats harshly and still work for solutions for all Americans the day after the election. For me “cross-partisan” does not mean not rooting for your team hard on election night, it means putting the election behind you the next day to work for solutions for America, and this event is the best if you are able to register this week.
The fact that the annual Summit occurs just after Mueller finalized his report should lead to many conversations for the thousands attending.
On this front I will probably make both sides angry, first here is the media statement I gave that will upset some conservatives:
“We disagree with fellow conservatives who call this investigation a ‘witch hunt’ because the revelations about Russian meddling and the indictments that were issued are important in protecting our Democracy. Especially Paul Manafort’s massive payouts from overseas interests and hiding of that money from the US, and the less publicized even more important indictment of the California businessman who set up a system to collect illicit campaign money by offering services meant to get around the security requirements set by online payment companies – much like the practice of unverified credit card contributions we have attempted to outlaw for the past few years.”
If everyone could just agree that the Russians are trying to divide all Americans – in fact I believe Russians who sent out the edited video of the Covington students and the Native American leader that led to such unfair and terrible attacks by liberals on the high school students. It was good to have that investigated to send a message to others who would profit by helping Russian meddling as well as helping us protect our system from foreigh influence and money – which includes a similar investigation needed into the $1.5 billion Act Blue gave Democratic candidates through unverified credit card systems.
However, to equally offend many on the left, I add that:
“After a two-year investigation and unlimited budget the Mueller team decided to issue no indictments on collusion, vindicating President Trump.”
The left is going crazy over the term “vindication,” and while you can certainly use it in one way to point out what Attorney General Barr said – that Mueller’s report says it is not a definitive statement that nothing was ever done wrong – the fact is the report backs up President Trump’s central argument during the whole investigation that he did not collude with Russians to influence the election.
In some case the Drudge Report certainly slants headlines, but in this case they summed it up correctly with “500 witnesses; 2800 subpoenas: No collusion…”
After two years of so many Democrats charging that Trump would try to fire Mueller before the investigation could nail him, they were wrong on both counts. Now there back-up spin is similar to someone saying that just because someone is found “not guilty” it does not mean they are proven “innocent.” That is true, but it will always be true unless you live under the Napoleonic code in Louisianna, where you must prove yourself innocent. So to make that argument you need to say anyone every accused of a crime and found “not guilty” has not been vindicated and could still be guilty. Trump came out with an even better than “not guilty” – he received a “not even enough to indict.”
Waiting for the Mueller report was de ja vu for me from the Presidential election. After my September 9 prediction of a Trump win, Democrats asked me if I thought Republicans would accept the validity of a Clinton win and I would respond that I thought millions of Democrats would not accept the validity of a Trump win. In the past two years I’ve found myself asking Democrats if they are ready to accept a Mueller report that did not include indictments against the Trump family.
In summary, to Republicans I say stop complaining about investigations into Russian meddling and to those like Manafort (or on the Democratic side Joe Biden’s son) who take huge payments from foreign entities with an interest in US policy. To Democrats, if you believe that the best Plan B after the disappointment of Mueller not indicting is to ramp up more partisan investigations against a President from the opposing party with the addition of harassment from local prosecutors in liberal havens like the Southern District of New York to liberal judges ruling against him from California and Hawaii, then you are Alice in Wonderland – you are not protecting Democracy but undermining it, and should instead focus on trying to win through the Democratic process in the 2020 elections.