A car was defaced with slogans in South Philadelphia.
A car in South Philadelphia was defaced with racist slogans.

Two recent events in Philadelphia underline the hypocrisy of the attacks against Donald Trump as a racist.

Only two days after the election, a local news website carried this headline: “Racist and pro-Trump graffiti appears in South Philly following election.”

The article in philly.com described graffiti on cars: “One of the damaged cars was a white SUV that had ‘Trump Rules’ and ‘Black Bitch’ spray-painted across it in large black letters.”

Buried a month later was a story about the arrest of an African-American man from New Jersey who was an ex-boyfriend of one of the victims whose car had been painted with the slogans. What went unsaid was there were no indications that the man had anything whatsoever to do with Trump and his campaign. To make that obvious point, however, would fail to continue the meme of Trump and his followers’ racist tendencies.

Fast forward to an incident just around the corner from my home in Northwest Philadelphia. On Nov. 25, surveillance video captured two men spray painting “F— Trump,” causing an estimated $3,000 to $10,000 in damages.

Police identified assistant city solicitor Duncan Lloyd as one of the two perps. He appeared in the video as a wineglass-toting man clad in an ascot and blazer, who appeared to raise his cellphone to photograph his still-unidentified accomplice.

That’s right! The guy who helped to damage property in my neighborhood is a lawyer for the City of Philadelphia! One might think that he would be fired for his actions, but Philadelphia is a Democrat-controlled sanctuary city. The mayor, Jim Kenney, referred to Lloyd’s actions as “a dumb mistake.”

The city attorney gets to keep his job, and no charges have been filed against him. Just imagine what would happen to someone who painted “F— Obama” on the side of a building in Philly.

The Philadelphia Republican Party has called for Lloyd’s firing. Chairman Joe DeFelice issued a statement shortly after Lloyd was identified.

“If the image of an upper-middle class city attorney clad in a blazer and sipping wine while vandalizing an upscale grocery store with an anti-Trump message strikes you as perhaps the most bourgeois sight imaginable, that’s because it is. Nothing can better represent the hysterical pearl-clutching of the ‘progressive’ elite in response to this earth-shattering election when residents of Chestnut Hill and similar neighborhoods across the country discovered – gasp – that other people have a voice too. The assistant city solicitor in question had ostensibly taken the law into his own hands since a democratic election didn’t yield his preferred outcome.

“For somebody with extensive legal training to feel entitled to vandalize a newly opened supermarket strikes us at the Philadelphia Republican Party as an astonishing feat of idiocy. Did the extra glass of Shiraz give him some sort of delusional confidence that there are no cameras on Germantown Ave? The taxpayers should be entrusting exactly none of our faith into this man. He should be fired from our city’s law department immediately.”

Amen!

See the wine-toting guy at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZwz9JRmUg0&feature=youtu.be

————————————————————————————————————–Christopher Harper worked as a journalist for many years and teaches media law.

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Amid talk of vouchers and charter schools, the Trump administration should consider significant tax breaks for homeschoolers.

The reasons for homeschooling vary. Some parents want to emphasize a religious education for their children. Others want to avoid the left-leaning indoctrination of public schools. Still others face inadequate or unsafe schools.

According to the National Home Education Research Institute, more than two million students in K-12 are schooled at home. One study found that more than 30 percent of these students are Black, Hispanic or Asian. Moreover, the students and their parents save taxpayers more than $20 billion a year based on an estimated cost of more than $11,000 a year per child for a public school education.

But homeschoolers receive no significant tax breaks for teaching their children.

Homeschools in most states cannot be run as a business or even as a non-profit as parents cannot charge their children for their education. Moreover, homeschoolers cannot deduct donations to their own school. Also, the IRS usually does not allow homeschooling to be considered a hobby, which could reap some limited tax benefits.

Here are some possibilities to make homeschooling more affordable:

–Allow tax breaks for tuition and books purchased from homeschooling businesses.

–Provide deductions for individuals who are the primary teacher.

–Give tax incentives for tutoring in specific subjects, such as math, science and technology.

–Provide a mechanism to receive a reduction in local property taxes, which often are paid to local schools, for individuals who homeschool.

“Open the schoolhouse doors and let parents choose the best school for their children,” Donald Trump says. “Education reformers call this school choice, charter schools, vouchers, even opportunity scholarships. I call it competition-the American way.”

That competition should include incentives and benefits for homeschoolers and their children to allow them to choose an option other than charters and vouchers.


Christopher Harper is a recovering journalist who worked for The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times and teaches media law.

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The election results pose some significant challenges for the GOP since the Trump revolution may not have been as far-reaching as many would like to believe.

Donald Trump did not make significant gains nationally, earning only a few more votes than the Republican candidates in the past three campaigns, as Mark Levin has pointed out.

According to Cook Political Report’s latest tally, which is continuously being updated, Trump earned about 62 million votes.

That’s about the same as George Bush received in 2004 and Mitt Romney got in 2012. Even John McCain got 60 million votes in 2008.

In 2008, for example, more than 129 million went to the polls, giving Barack Obama nearly 69.5 million votes and a landslide in the Electoral College. In 2012, more than 129 million went to the polls, providing Obama with more than 65 million.

Hillary Clinton will fall short of Obama’s popular vote in the last election, but not by much. All told, the number of people voting also will fall short of the last campaign.

As the results indicate, Trump did well in the 13 swing states needed to win. According to Cook, Trump got 22.1 million votes in the swing states, while Clinton received 21.2 million. That is a shift of 5.5 percent over 2012, but the razor-thin victories in Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan underline a continuing need to work hard over the next four years to keep these states in the GOP column.

It was unclear how many conservatives voted for Trump, although exit polls showed overwhelmingly that people wanted a change from Obama. Forty-six percent of voters said they wanted policies enacted by the next president to be “more conservative” than Obama’s policies, according to ABC News’s election exit polling.

I voted reluctantly for Trump. I credit Trump for bringing more conservatives into his administration so far, which may solidify the GOP’s appeal on the right. The key test to expand the GOP base will be his success in building a more robust economy.

Trump’s election surprised most people. But it’s important to realize that it was not a revolution. It will take a lot of hard work to keep the GOP in power when 2018 and 2020 roll around.


Christopher Harper is a recovering journalist who worked for The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times and teaches media law.

 

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Two words: Supreme Court. That’s why many people voted for Donald Trump.

Trump should have the opportunity to replace at least three justices on the court over the next four years, including the Scalia vacancy, possibly the irritating Darth Vader Ginsburg and the wobbly Anthony Kennedy. It’s conceivable that liberal Stephen Breyer might call it quits, too.

Since the Democrats will undoubtedly fight many of the administration’s policies in the courts, these choices will prove not only important during the Trump years but far beyond them.

As a result, it is important for Trump to choose outside of the usual ranks of the judiciary. Eight of the justices come from the bench; only Elena Kagan does not.

Some of the recent choices from the judiciary by Republicans have not proven reliable. For example, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a neck-snapping decision in support of Obamacare. Kennedy joins the liberals when it comes to social issues involving abortion and same-sex marriages. Perhaps the worst example of a Republican appointment was David Souter, who was selected by George H. W. Bush as a bedrock conservative and joined the liberal side of the bench after a few years.

A conservative bench also could look back on some of the wrong-headed decisions from recent years, including Obamacare. Even more important would be the possibility of a case to overturn Roe v. Wade.

It’s worth noting that more than 100 federal judgeships are also waiting to be filled.

One suggestion: appoint Ted Cruz to the Supreme Court. Although Trump and Cruz may not have gotten along during the 2016 campaign, the Texas Republican has a significant track record as a conservative.

He has argued more cases before the court than any other member of Congress, including positions to uphold the right to bear arms and religious freedom.

I supported Cruz for president and am pleased to support his nomination to the court. His selection would assuage the doubts of many conservatives who voted for Trump.

Update: I called the presidential election correctly in Pennsylvania in my last post, but I got the Senate race wrong. My apologies to Pat Toomey!


Christopher Harper is a recovering journalist who worked for The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times and teaches media law.

 

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-9-39-15-pmAnyone who thinks Pennsylvania is a safe state for Hillary Clinton is dead wrong.

Even though the Keystone State hasn’t gone for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, Donald Trump knows that winning Pennsylvania is critical to his bid for the White House. That’s why he and his surrogates have spent a great deal of time here.

Although I think polls are almost totally useless because of their unreliability, Hillary’s composite rankings have dropped significantly in the past month, according to Real Clear Politics. Harper Polling [no relation] puts the race at dead even. See http://harperpolling.com/polls/pennsylvania-statewide-poll–11-2-3#PresidentTIE

This state, where I have lived since 2005, is a complicated one. The two main cities—Pittsburgh in the west and Philadelphia to the east—vote overwhelming Democrat. In fact, Mitt Romney failed to get a single vote in a number of Philly precincts in 2012, leading many to suspect voter fraud.

The rest of the state votes overwhelmingly GOP. The governorship tends to shift between the two parties; the current officer holder is a wacko lefty and, alas, not up for reelection. The legislature stands firmly in the hands of the GOP. It tends to be more liberal than most GOP strongholds, but the legislature usually stops most of the silly Democrat plans. Half of the state Senate’s 50 seats are on the ballot this year, and if Republicans can pick up three of them, they would control a veto-proof majority.

The congressional delegation tilts overwhelmingly Republican. The U.S. Senate is split, with one Democrat and one Republican.

Voters will replace a disgraced attorney general, a Democrat who was convicted of perjury; and a Philadelphia congressman, a Democrat convicted of corruption.

The prospects for the GOP, including Trump, look relatively good despite the predictions from the media and their polls. Since November 2015, the Pennsylvania GOP has registered 243,139 new Republican voters. That includes nearly 100,000 people who switched from the Democrat side.

Atlantic magazine published a detailed examination of lifelong Pennsylvania Democrats staunchly supporting Trump:

Paul Sracic, a Youngstown State University political scientist, said he believes there are two categories of voters rallying to support Trump. “First, there are people who don’t normally vote,” he said. “Nearly half the voting-age population was either not registered to vote, or was registered and decided not to vote in 2012. And if even 10 percent of that group was to show up and vote this year, it could easily change the outcome in the important swing states.”

Trump may be helped by these trends, but incumbent Republican Pat Toomey may not be. That’s mainly because he has failed to endorse Trump.

Toomey is running evenly with Katie McGinty, a Democrat who has never held political office but has worked as a political insider in Washington and Pennsylvania. McGinty came in fourth in the Democrat primary for governor in 2014. Her only credentials are heading environmental wacko posts under Barack Obama and working as a lobbyist for wacko environmentalists.

Toomey’s gamble staying away from Trump may, in fact, be a bad move if the less-than-colorful GOP senator loses.

It will be an interesting ride tonight, with the real possibility that Trump could pull off a victory in Pennsylvania even though the GOP may lose a Senate seat.


Christopher Harper is a recovering journalist who worked for The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times and teaches media law.

The Rose Law Firm, which formerly employed Hillary Clinton, was the focus of investigations related to the Clinton family's business dealings, including the Whitewater development.
The Rose Law Firm, which formerly employed Hillary Clinton, was the focus of investigations related to the Clinton family’s business dealings.

As allegedly the most qualified individual ever to run for the White House, Hillary Clinton has chosen to hide one of her longest gigs from her curriculum vitae: her 15 years as an attorney at Rose Law First in Little Rock, Arkansas.

While she touts her much shorter terms as a U.S. senator and U.S. secretary of state, Clinton rarely focuses on her time as a lawyer.

That’s with good reason because her job at Rose Law underlines her duplicity.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article outlining her “achievements”  at Rose Law.

“Instead of defending poor people and righting wrongs, we found ourselves squarely on the side of corporate greed against the little people,” her colleague, Webb Hubbell, wrote.

The Journal noted: “Mrs. Clinton’s years at the firm included some controversy. For one, the roots of the Whitewater affair reach back to her years at Rose when her husband was serving as Arkansas governor. The firm and Mrs. Clinton represented a failed savings-and-loan association run by James McDougal, the Clintons’ partner in the Whitewater real-estate investment, in a matter before state regulators. Whitewater dogged the Clintons throughout Bill Clinton’s presidency, though neither of them was ever charged.”

Many of the Rose firm’s clients were big companies, including three of the state’s largest: Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Tyson Foods Inc. and Stephens, Inc., a brokerage firm.

She also supplemented her income by serving on corporate boards, including Wal-Mart and TCBY Enterprises, the yogurt franchise, both Rose clients.

When her husband ran for president in 1992, her work sparked questions about whether she had benefited from state business handled by her firm.  “For goodness’ sake, you can’t be a lawyer if you don’t represent banks,” Hillary said at the time. [Emphasis added].

At the firm, lawyers were split over Mrs. Clinton’s value as a partner. The Journal wrote: “Other colleagues resented Mrs. Clinton’s outside interests and how they limited her billable hours. In addition to time away campaigning for her husband, who was on the ballot every two years….”

In her 2003 book, Mrs. Clinton wrote only briefly about her work at Rose. The Journal noted that an indication of her outlook favoring the wealthy over the poor occurred early on in her career at Rose. In November 1976, the activist group Acorn [yes, the infamous Acorn of the James O’Keefe videos] had succeeded in getting an initiative on the state ballot to lower electricity rates for low-income users and increase them for businesses.

The Rose team’s argument, credited mainly to Hillary, was that the lower rates for the poor were unconstitutional.

As people vote for the next president, they should consider an important part of Hillary’s past, which she apparently wants no one to see. Sound familiar?


Christopher Harper, a recovering journalist with The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times, teaches media law.

The tomb of the unknown soldier who fought for liberty in the Revolutionary War.
In Philadelphia stands the tomb of the unknown soldier who fought for liberty in the Revolutionary War.

Philadelphia is becoming one of the most corrupt cities in the nation, owing mainly to Democrat control.

Just before the city hosted this year’s Democrat National Convention, longtime congressman Chaka Fattah and his son were convicted of corruption.

Just after the convention, a slew of Democrat officials faced a variety of state and federal investigations.

John Dougherty, the most powerful Democrat operative in the city, has been at the center of a federal investigation into possible racketeering. The head of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Philadelphia, Dougherty has been a kingmaker for decades, including his critical support for the current mayor, Jim Kenney. His brother serves on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Anyone who wants to win an election campaign in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania kisses Dougherty’s ring.

City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson is reportedly under federal investigation over no-bid real estate deals in the city. Johnson allegedly approved the sale of city properties without a bidding process to several buyers who contributed to his campaign.

Seth Williams, Philadelphia’s district attorney, didn’t report five years’ worth of gifts he should have acknowledged under state and local codes until recently. These gifts included a $45,000 roof repairs, and airfare and lodging to places like Key West, Las Vegas and the Dominican Republic. Williams’ lawyer said: “The true answer is, he should have reported it. He failed to do so. And he accepts responsibility.”

Former Mayor Michael Nutter and his entourage reportedly improperly used funds for a trip to Rome, among other irregularities. The funds came from the Philadelphia marathon and should not have been used for such expenses. Nutter has denied any impropriety.

At the state level, Attorney General Kathleen was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice, and she resigned. She faces nearly two years in jail. With Kane out, top deputy Bruce Castor took over as acting attorney general. Castor, the former Montgomery County district attorney, declined to press charges against Bill Cosby in 2005 became the No. 1 enforcer of Pennsylvania law.

Two State Supreme Court justices were forced out of office for their involvement in sending pornographic materials via state email. Okay, one was a Republican. And, three top Penn State employees are scheduled to go on trial for covering up the pedophile ring of former football coach Gerry Sandusky.

Despite all of this mishegoss, a huge majority of Philadelphians will pull the Democrat lever in November.

I guess we Philadelphians will get what we deserve—a continuation of the corrupt practices at the local, state and national levels.


Christopher Harper, a recovering journalist with The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times, teaches media law.

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The New York Times’ decision to draw a line in the sand against Donald Trump’s threat to file a libel suit may come back to haunt the news organization.

The issue involves a story about two women who allege that the presidential candidate groped or kissed them without their consent. In a letter asking for a retraction, Trump’s attorney claimed the article was libelous, reckless and defamatory. The Times’ attorney fired back: “…[I]f he believes that American citizens had no right to hear what these women had to say and that the law of this country forces us and those who would dare to criticize him to stand silent or be punished, we welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight.”

The Times’ response is extraordinary in that most news organizations, when facing such a threat, issue the appropriate response: “We stand by our story.”

As an expert witness in nearly 30 defamation lawsuits, I have never seen a news organization take such a combative and public stance except in the courtroom. But The Times’ lawyer seemed pleased with the response. See http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/18/insider/i-hardly-expected-my-letter-to-donald-trump-to-go-viral.html

This immediate and rather vitriolic letter places The Times with both feet in the presidential muck that this campaign has become. No longer is the news organization standing above the fray.

In an editorial, The Times lectured Trump on constitutional law. “it should come as no surprise that Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, is as ignorant about constitutional law as he is about every other matter pertinent to the nation’s highest office.”

The editorial noted Times v. Sullivan, the important case that defined the tenets for a successful libel suit against a public official, which was extended to a public figure in a later case. Trump would have to prove the Times engaged in reckless disregard of the truth.

What The Times failed to mention is another important libel case: Herbert v. Lando.

Anthony Herbert was a U.S. Army officer in Vietnam who claimed he witnessed war crimes that his commanding officer refused to investigate. In a 1973 report on 60 Minutes, correspondent Mike Wallace and producer Barry Lando argued that Herbert had lied and was himself guilty of war crimes. The Army officer filed a libel suit.

Even though CBS eventually won the suit, the U.S. Supreme Court provided plaintiffs like Herbert, and potentially Trump, the ability to investigate the “state of mind” of journalists while they are reporting a story.

“When a member of the press is alleged to have circulated damaging falsehoods and is sued for injury to the plaintiff’s reputation, there is no privilege under the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of the press barring the plaintiff from inquiring into the editorial processes of those responsible for the a publication.”

I doubt the news organization wants to have its editorial process placed under a microscope. The Times may win the battle and lose the war. To wit, I do stand by my story.


Christopher Harper, a recovering journalist with The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times, teaches media law

 

What Donald Trump said about women is indefensible. What Hillary Clinton has done is even more indefensible.

Take her time, for example, as secretary of state. Clinton had one major accomplishment during her tenure: she traveled a lot.

As Foreign Affairs put it when Clinton stepped down in 2013, “She leaves office without a signature doctrine, strategy or diplomatic triumph.”

That’s a kind assessment. In fact, she left a lot of wreckage during her four years in office.

One of the more troubling is U.S. relations with Russia.

Most Americans would blame Russian President Vladimir Putin for our poor relations, but he only maneuvered as a result of the weakness of U.S. policy.

Syria has been part of the Russia sphere of influence, starting during the 1960s. If the United States wasn’t going to intervene, it needed to quickly discuss the situation with Putin. Clinton didn’t seek out the Russians, leaving her successor, John Kerry, to mess up the situation even more.

Whatever happened to the Russian reset Clinton and Obama talked so much about?

The Russian leader, like his predecessors, seized on weaknesses. The absence of clear American failure in the Middle East sent Putin a message that he could do whatever he wanted to do in Ukraine.

Now he has reportedly started to move nuclear weapons to Kaliningrad, a Russian outpost sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania. The reason? To establish Russian hegemony over the Baltic Sea.

Masha Gessen, who wrote a biography of Putin, dispels a number of myths in a recent column:

–Putin has not thrown his support behind Trump. The Russian leader has only mentioned the GOP nominee in passing. It is true Putin does not like Hillary because he blames her for inciting demonstrations against him in 2011-2014.

–Putin has not made Russia great again. The oil glut has taxed people’s income, and crime has become rampant in major cities.

–Russians do not overwhelmingly support Putin. His approval ratings are high, but the rest of the government, which rubber stamps his policies, get low marks.

–Russian society is not conservative. People have quite liberal views on abortion and sex.

–Russia’s policies are not simply a reaction to U.S. policies. Russia acts in its own self-interest as it it in Crimea.

Here is the column: http://tinyurl.com/hnxjsx4

The next president needs a serious reset with Putin. He’s tough and smart. He’s hardly the caricature the media use to portray him. He’s a leader of one of the most important countries in the world, and the United States needs to figure out a way to discuss the relationship between the two countries. Clinton has certainly failed to do that.

If Clinton is elected president, she will start with two major enemies: China and Russia. If Trump is elected, at least he would start out with only one, China, and the possibility of restoring some sense of order with Russia.


Christopher Harper, a recovering journalist with The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times, teaches media law.

 

 

 

The Terracotta Warriors from the creation of China
The Terracotta Warriors from the third century B.C. underscore the longstanding power of China. (Photo by Chris Harper)

For the United States to have an effective policy with China, Americans have to stop buying iPhones. Or Apple has to move some of its production facilities from China. And a whole lot more.

The trade imbalance between the two countries is so out of whack, amounting to a deficit of more than $300 billion a year for the United States, that the American government cannot put any significant pressure on China. Moreover, the Beijing government owns more than 7 percent of the U.S. debt. China has a lot of leverage.

Sanctions and tariffs usually don’t work. It would help if Apple would move its production plants from China to South Korea, for example, but educating consumers about the implications of buying Chinese products might also work.

After visiting and teaching in China during the past two years, I offer a few insights:

–President Xi Jinping is the most powerful, politically savvy and intelligent leader in recent history.
–The pivot toward Asia under the Obama administration has been laughable, including alliances with some dreadful regimes in Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines.
–China’s so-called “belt-and-road” program to build infrastructure from mainland Asia to Europe has been a resounding success despite U.S. naysayers. For more about the economic plan, see https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/asia/china-s-infrastructure-play
–The presidential election has made the United States a laughingstock among Chinese.

President Obama’s recent Asian excursion underlines how poorly the United States is doing. The Chinese made him disembark from the back of the plane. The government restricted his access to the media, and officials got into a shouting match with his aides. The president then got dissed by the government of Laos and the Philippines.

These incidents don’t bode well for any resolution to China’s desire to control economic and military sway over the South China Sea—an issue that does matter. That route controls access to billions of dollars in fishing, minerals and petroleum for a range of Asian countries.

The most recent U.S. policy has been to confront Chinese vessels—an approach that is likely to heighten tensions rather than lessen them.

Neither presidential candidate offers much hope in dealing effectively with China. Clinton is likely to continue gunboat diplomacy, while Trump wants tariffs against Chinese products. These inept approaches are troubling because China is the leading competitor of the United States for the hearts, minds and pocketbooks of the rest of the world.


Christopher Harper, a recovering journalist with The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times, teaches media law.