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On the roster: Ethics first – Dow keeps tumbling as trade anxieties deepen – Faith leaders set come to Jesus meeting for Trump – Feds probe Trump overseas deals – … not that innocent

ETHICS FIRST
Poor Blake Farenthold . It turns out that the American system of government could churn on without the services of 1/435 th of its lower legislative home.

You know the story of the hapless now-former Texas congressman who use $84,000 of your money be paid by a staffer in what was supposed to be a secret arrangement “re going away” and be quiet about remarks he made to her regarding the young woman’s areolae and his nocturnal emissions.

First: Gross, dude.

Second: The fact that it took Farenthold months to ultimately resign even after lawmakers, public officials and private-sector leaders had stepped aside over smaller violations tells us a great deal about what is wrong with Washington.

They say Washington is a swamp and politicians routinely tell you how much they detest it here. But the inundate is actually quite lovely. When winter’s chill lingers long enough to sustain rather than destroy the flowers, but warm sun on your shoulders still assures you that an even more radiant spring is to arrive, it is hard to question the judgement of our Founders who chose this spot.

The streets and boulevards are broad, the architecture handsome, the culture increasingly fulfilling to the human spirit. And if you are in a position of even modest power it is even finer. Doorways swaying broad for you and flatterers are everywhere.

So what most of them are saying when they tell you they dislike it here is really, “Please send me back again.”

Long derided as “Potomac fever, ” the condition of coming to love being in Washington and enjoying the privileges of power to the phase of forgetting your place and purpose is as old as the city itself. Which, of course, brings us to EPA Scott Pruitt .

One of the conceits of tribal politics is that every choice is a binary one between good and evil. A particularly unfortunate corollary to that is the faith that these men and women are indispensable, even though it is they are abominable. Partisan affiliations encompass a lot of sins; hyper-partisanship can encompass them all.

Pruitt may not have committed abominations, but his freewheeling, ethically obtuse management of his agency is a stinker too malodorous to ignore. Aside from a sweetheart apartment deal from the spouse of an energy lobbyists, the Environmental Protection Agency director presided over lavish, irregular creates for two of his friends from Oklahoma who worked in his agency.

To say the least, Pruitt has developed a reputation for a politician too good at extracting the benefits of power. The fact that he persisted after having insured the agonies of other cabinet secretaries who fell afoul of similar criteria attains it all the more striking.

We stipulate that no cabinet secretary probably faced a more hostile work force than Pruitt upon his arrival.( Except for maybe Mick Mulvaney at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, who seems to actually enjoy occasionally turning a hose on the staff members over there .) We also stipulate that Pruitt has been arguably the most successful cabinet member of the Trump era. Whether you concur or disagree with his objectives, the former Oklahoma attorney general burned through that bureau like William Tecumseh Sherman in a Georgia cornfield.

Would you believe, though, that that’s not enough to merit ethical laxity in government?

If you are screaming out at this moment, “But Obama! ” we hear you and know where you’re coming from. After all, if you believe that the other side is entitled to grievous ethical lapsings as it executes policies you detest, why shouldn’t you be allowed to do the same? The alluring logic of “they started it” isn’t just good for the backseat of a family station wagon on a long road journey.

Bad policies, or at the least whatever you think constitutes badness in policy, can be very dangerous to a republic. Governments the hell is charged with protecting the lives and autonomies of the citizens can quickly turn into instruments of abuse and oppression. There’s no doubt about it.

But ethical conduct matters more than policies.

If we continue to degrade the trust and confidence that American’s have in our government and institutions, people will come to believe that there is no virtue left among their leaders. And if there’s anything that politicians are good at, it is living down to low expectations.

President Trump may taken the decision to skip his traditional Friday firings as it relates to Pruitt. Facing serious blowback from different portions of his political base on immigration, spending and his insipient trade war, the president is looking for ways and means to placate Republican. As it turns out, Pruitt’s support intersects over into several factions. Dismantling the expanded powers of the EPA from the Obama era is a popular policy on the Red Team, indeed.

This may stimulate the president more inclined to give Pruitt a pass. Or perhaps he just likes trolling and dislikes yielding to the braying mob now demanding Pruitt’s ouster. Whatever the same reasons, the president may not act even though he has fired officials of more importance for less cause.

What we wonder, though, is why Pruitt believes that he is indispensable?

One of the symptoms of Potomac fever is learning the mantra that you hear from agency headquarters conference rooms to consultant to consultants’ offices to the corridors of Congress: “It’s complicated, it’s expensive and you can’t do it without me.”

Does the secretary think that there is no human or female at the least as able as he to oversee this agency? Is not one of his subordinates or one of his former fellow attorneys general or any number of the host of conservative Republicans who have dedicated their own lives to fighting the federal behemoth on issues of industrial environmental regulations?

Even if Pruitt’s many errors were committed in ignorance as he claims, he still does not have a right to his task. Outside of tenured college profs, public servants and Dick Vitale , none of us have guaranteed job.

When you think of Farenthold clinging urgently to power even in the face of rank shame for him and his family or of Pruitt trying to ride out the cyclone by making ethics a partisan question, think of Charles Guiteau .

Guiteau is the man who killed President James Garfield at the Baltimore and Potomac railroad station down on Constitution Avenue in 1881. Guiteau was enraged by Garfield’s reforms to civil service which is not merely tossed out a bunch of political hacks who had determined cozy nests during the Hayes and Grant administrations, but also made it hard for new cronies to get in on the spoils of office.

Like most killers, Guiteau was unwell, but his anger was barely uncommon among members of the political class of his day. Though none would have approved of the means, many were probably secretly happy that Garfield the reformer was no more.

Guiteau’s case of Potomac fever may have been more virulent than most, but there is no question that the disease is a powerful one even in men and women of sound minds. It should not be given space to fester.

If corruption is allowed to persist within a government, the person or persons will no longer trust the government and will stop participating as citizens, believing that their voices do not matter. And when the electorate absents itself, oppression will surely follow.

That’s why our system came to treat questions of ethics with such stringency. Infractions against the public trust have always been treated differently because our civilization has learned through many painful lessons that tyranny and corruption are so closely linked.

THE RULEBOOK: Verse OR REASON

“In all very numerous assemblies, of whatever character composed, passion never fails to wrest the sceptre from reason.”- Alexander Hamilton or James Madison , Federalist No. 55

TIME OUT : INTO THE HORNET’S NEST
CivilWar.com: “On the morning of April 6, 1862, 40,000 Confederate soldiers under the command of Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston poured out of the nearby timbers and struck the encamped divisions of Union soldiers occupying ground near Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River. The overwhelming Confederate attack … threatened to overwhelm Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant ’s entire Army of the Tennessee . … Federals … established a battle line at a sunken road, known as the' Hornet's Nest.’ Repeated Rebel assaults failed to carry the Hornet's Nest, but massed Union artillery helped to turn the tide … By the next morning, the Federals had been reinforced by the Army of the Ohio under Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell … Grant launched a counteroffensive along the entire line, overwhelming the weakened Confederate forces and driving Beauregard’s army from the field. The Confederate defeat ended any hopes of blocking the Union advance into northern Mississippi. The two day battle at Shiloh … was the bloodiest battle in American history up to that time.”

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Trump job performance
Average approval:
41.4 percentage
Average disapproval : 53.4 percentage
Net Score:
-1 2 points
Change from one week ago: down 1 point
[ Median includes: Gallup: 39% approve – 55% disapprove; IBD: 38% approve – 56% disapprove; CNN: 43% approve – 53% disapprove; Marist College: 42% approve – 51% disapprove; Fox News: 45% approve – 52% disapprove .] Control of House
Republican average : 41.4 percent
Democratic median : 47.8 percent
Advantage : Democrats plus 6.4 points
Change from one week ago : no change in Democratic advantage
[ Median includes: CNN: 50% Dems – 44% GOP; Marist College: 44% Dems – 39% GOP; Fox News: 46% Dems – 41% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 49% Dems – 43% GOP; NBC News/ WSJ: 50% Dems – 40% GOP .]

DOW KEEPS TUMBLING AS TRADE FEARS DEEPEN
WSJ: “The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled more than 700 phases as intensifying tensions between the U.S. and China worsened investors’ dreads of an all-out trade war between the world’s largest economies. All 11 major sectors of the S& P 500 declined, as investors broadly sold stocks, with the deepest deteriorations among companies that stand to suffer from an escalation in protectionist trade policies, such as big industrial manufacturers like Boeing and Caterpillar. Investors moved into assets that tend to hold up better during times of uncertainty, with so-called haven assets such as bonds and gold rising. Several Trump administration officials tried to allay investors’ anxieties of a trade conflict, but money administrators said commentaries from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and others provided little convenience and the Dow deepened its decline late in the session.”

Trump’s prediction: Ache –
CNBC : “U.S. President Donald Trump said here on Friday the United States has already lost any trade war, as he defended his proposed tariffs against Chinese goods, saying the move might cause' a little pain’ but the United States will be better off in the long run.' We've already lost the trade war. We don't have a trade war, we've lost the trade war, ’ Trump said in a radio interview with New York radio show, 77 WABC's' Bernie& Sid.’' I'm not saying there won't be a little pain, but the market has gone up 40 percentage, 42 percent so we might lose a little bit of it. But we're going to have a much stronger country when we're finished.' So we may take a make and you know what, ultimately we're going to be much stronger for it, ’ Trump said.” Dow fells more than 150 points on trade worries, weak chores report – CNBC: “Stocks fell sharply on Friday as worries of a trade war between the U.S. and China grew. Wall Street also digested employment data that missed analyst expectations. The Dow Jones industrial median fell 350 phases, with Boeing and Caterpillar as the biggest decliners in the indicator. The S& P 500 declined 1.1 percent, with industrials as the worst-performing sector. The Nasdaq composite fell 1 percent.' This is truly a reaction to China, ’ said JJ Kinahan , chief marketplace strategist at TD Ameritrade.' What we've insured with this administration is a trend of a big statement, followed by everyone getting riled up, and then a pragmatic solution is found…’ After China announced fresh tariffs on 106 U.S. products Wednesday, President Donald Trump threatened more excises on Thursday, stating that he has asked the United States Trade Representative to consider $ 100 billion in additional tariffs against China.”

China says it will fight US' at any cost’ after Trump proposal for $100 B in new tariffs – Fox News: “China’s commerce ministry on Friday said it would fight the U.S. at' any cost’ after President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese imports. Trump asked the U.S. Trade Representative to consider lobbing additional tariffs against China in light of the country’s' illicit trade practices’ that have' destroyed thousands of American mills and millions of American jobs.’ The president issued a statement saying he has been committed to' level the playing field’ after an investigation by the USTR found that certain Chinese policies have given the country an unfair advantage over the U.S. One policy requires foreign companies to hand over technology in violation of Beijing's free-trade commitments, often forcing U.S. firms to license their technology in China.”

Sasse: Hopefully Trump is blowing off steam because' this is nuts’ – The Hill: “Sen. Ben Sasse ( R-Neb .) slammed President Trump's announcement Thursday that he was considering imposing $100 billion in tariffs on China amid the ongoing trade dispute between Washington and Beijing …' Hopefully the President is just blowing off steam again but, if he's even half-serious, this is nuts. China is guilty of many things, but the President has no actual plan to win right now, ’ Sasse said in a statement.' He’s threatening to light American agriculture on fire. Let’s perfectly take on Chinese bad behavior, but with a scheme that punishes them instead of us. This is the dumbest possible route to do this’ … Sasse joins Senate Republican including Chuck Grassley ( Iowa) and Pat Roberts ( Kansas) in rending the president's trade conflict with China this week.”

FAITH LEADERS SET COME TO JESUS MEETING FOR TRUMP

NPR: “As allegations continue to vortex about the president and a payout to a porn star to cover up a sex encounter, evangelical leaders are organizing a sit-down with President Trump in June, four sources with knowledge of the planned meeting tell NPR.' We're very concerned’ about the allegations, said a leader of a faith-based ministry. The leader is involved in hosting the meet, which organizers are aiming to take place June 19 at Trump International Hotel in Washington , D.C. The source said the combination of the Stormy Daniels sex-scandal accusations and Trump's continued reputation for divisive rhetoric could squelch evangelical turnout in the November midterm elections.' It is a concern of ours that 2018 could be very detrimental to some of the other issues that we hold dear, ’ like preserving religious liberty and curtailing abortion rights, the source noted.”

Trump leaves Cohen on the hook – Wash Ex: “President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen may have infringed federal campaign laws by paying adult film star Stormy Daniels $ 130,000 in hush money to keep quiet about an alleged affair with Trump more than a decade ago, according to national security lawyer Bradley Moss . The remarks from Moss come after Trump said he was not familiar with the 2016 nondisclosure agreement signed by Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford , and said he didn't is a well known fact the $130,000 pay.' You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my lawyer. You’ll have to ask Michael, ’ Trump told reporters aboard Us air force One on Thursday. After the comments, Moss advised Cohen to call his lawyer.”

FEDS PROBE TRUMP OVERSEAS DEALS
McClatchy: “Special Counsel Robert Mueller ’s researchers this week questioned an associate of the Trump Organization who was involved in overseas deals with President Donald Trump’s company in recent years. Armed with subpoenas obliging electronic records and sworn testimony, Mueller’s team presented up unannounced at the home of the business associate, who was a party to multiple transactions connected to Trump’s effort to expand his brand abroad … Investigators were particularly interested in interactions involving Michael D. Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and a former Trump Organization employee. Among other things, Cohen was involved in business deals secured or sought by the Trump Organization in Georgia, Kazakhstan and Russia. The move to question business associates of the president adds a significant new component to the Mueller investigation, which began by probing whether the Trump campaign and Russia colluded in an effort to get Trump elected but has branched far beyond that.”

Manafort’s difficulties deepen – Bloomberg: “Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed to lawyers for Paul Manafort , the former Trump campaign chairperson, that they obtained a search warrant for information about five telephone numbers, indicating the sprawling investigation may be headed in a new direction. Prosecutors disclosed Thursday they got the warrant on March 9, or 2 week after Manafort was indicted for a second day amid Mueller’s investigation into links between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign in the 2016 election. The warrant involved a search of' info associated with’ five AT& T phone number, according to a filing by attorneys in federal tribunal in Washington. Mueller declined to provide information about the search to defense lawyers because it involves' ongoing investigations that are not the subject of current prosecutions involving Manafort, ’ according to the filing.”

Administration lowers the boom on Putting cronies – AP: “The United States reached seven Russian oligarchs and 17 Russian government officials with sanctions on Friday for what it called' malign activity’ around the world, as the Trump administration tried to show that President Donald Trump is taking tough action to stand up to Moscow. A dozen Russian companies owned by the oligarchs were also targeted, along with a state-owned arms-dealing company and a subsidiary bank, the Treasury Department said. Senior Trump administration officials cast the penalties as part of a concerted and ongoing attempt by the U.S. to push back Russian President Vladimir Putin ’s government, to emphasise since Trump took office last year, the U.S. has penalized 189 Russian-related people and entities with sanctions.”

REPUBLICANS GET A RESPITE AS RACES EVEN OUT
Cook Political Report: “The good news for Republicans is that President Trump's approval rating has, on balance, ticked up from 38 percentage to 40 percent since January as attention has changed from unpopular GOP proposals on healthcare and taxes to the economy, tariffs and Stormy Daniels … Democrats' lead on the question of which party voters would support for Congress has shrunk from a dozen phases in January to about eight points today. The bad news for Republican, of course, is that Trump's approval rating is still 40 percent and that they still trail Democrat on the generic vote by eight phases. That's enough to offset the GOP's edge from favorably depicted districts and threaten their 23 -seat majority( by our estimate, Democrats would need to win seven to eight percent more voting in favour of House to win 218 of 435 seats ). Furthermore, in a reversal from the 2014 midterms, Democrats enjoy a wide voter enthusiasm gap.”

Ohio Senate GOP primary get lighted – Fox News: “A few blocks away from the Quicken Loans Arena, site of the convention where Donald J. Trump officially accepted his party’s nomination, an investment banker who has never held elected office is hoping to channel the president’s success.' He’s kind of blazed the trail, ’ businessman Mike Gibbons told Fox News …' He’s been very effective and achieved an nasty lot for the very best of America, and I’d like to follow in his footsteps…’ He’s facing stiff competition for a spot on the midterm vote from Rep. Jim Renacci , R-Ohio, a member of Congress since 2011… At a March event in Ohio, President Trump addressed Renacci in the crowd, to say,' Jim, get in there and fight, we need you.’”

Pence tries to shore up Walker’s crumbling red wall up Wisconsin – AP: “Vice President Mike Pence begins to Wisconsin to host a fundraiser for Republican Gov. Scott Walker three weeks after the two-term incumbent issued warns about conservatives being vulnerable to a' blue wave’ in the fall midterms … Walker is up for re-election to a third term in November. He sounded the warn to fellow Republican on Tuesday after liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Rebecca Dallet trounced her conservative adversary by 12 phases … President Donald Trump carried Wisconsin by less than 1 phase in 2016. Since then, Democrats won a special election in a state Senate district Trump carried and that had been represented by a Republican for 17 years.”

Paw Patrol: Former Minnesota governor’s return bid stimulates race a toss-up – WDIO: “After months of rumors and sessions with supporters, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has induced it official: He wants to be governor again. The Republican announced his candidacy in a video on Thursday afternoon.' My campaign for governor will focus on charting a better style forward for Minnesota households who see health care premiums skyrocketing, paychecks not increasing very fast, college costs and student debt rising — all while government spending and taxes climb through the roof, ’ Pawlenty said.' Minnesota deserves better and we need to hold government more accountable. I have the strength and experience to solve problems and bring Minnesotans together.’ Incumbent Gov. Mark Dayton is not attempting re-election after two words in office … Pawlenty previously served two words as Minnesota governor from 2003 to 2011. ”

Republicans step up air war in Arizona special election – Politico: “The NRCC's independent expenditure unit is going up with a small cable buy in the House special election in Arizona. An NRCC official corroborated the buy, adding that there would likely be more in the future. The buy totals $22,000 on cable stations from April 6-12, according to Advertising Analytics. The ads will boost Republican Debbie Lesko , who's running against Democrat Hiral Tipirneni in the special election to replace Arizona Rep. Trent Franks in a deep red district.”

Ad war get ugly – The Arizona Republic: “The ad opens benignly enough, with Republican Debbie Lesko offering a strained cheer to' induce America great again! ’ followed by a cringe-worthy' woo-hoo! ’ After that, her Democratic foe, Hiral Tipirneni, unloads three hard-hitting points against Lesko … With West Valley voters in the 8th Congressional District sending in votes by the thousands, Tipirneni has aired an ad that connotes Lesko could be a criminal, backs cutting programs like Social security systems and Medicare and is responsible for a recent utility rate hike. Lesko's campaign pushed back Wednesday, saying the ad is false and shows that Tipirneni is losing in the conservative district … Tipirneni's campaign defended the ad, but largely avoided its specifics.”

New Jersey emerges as key House battleground – NYT: “The tables inside the hotel room were full and Andy Kim , the candidate responsible for filling them, was agreeably surprised. It was a weeknight fund-raiser after all, rescheduled once already, for this relatively unknown Democratic challenger in a Republican district … Ever since the election of President Trump, Democrat across the country have assured a predictable upsurge in energy among a base eager to take on the White House … In New Jersey, which has been described by Democrats and Republican as the most suburban country in the country, the revolt has been especially muscular and has put into play Republican-held congressional seats that until this year had hardly been on the Democratic radar.”

Bernie gaffes with Obama jab – NYT: “Senator Bernie Sanders insists he hasn’t decided whether to run again for chairperson, but a 14 -hour sprint across the Deep South on Wednesday made clear that he is not only thinking about it but is already are seeking to redres his most significant vulnerability in 2016: his lack of support from black voters . … Even more than recapturing the sorcery of 2016 in the early nominating nations, Mr. Sanders’s prospects in 2020 would hinge in large part on whether he could garner far stronger subsistence from African-Americans than the less than 20 percentage of the vote that he won from them in Southern states. Still, the same unvarnished bluntness, absence of polish and unwavering devotion to his tried-and-true message … continue to create challenges for him. On Wednesday night, after the Jackson[ Mississippi] forum, Mr. Sanders faced sharp criticism from some African-Americans who thought he had reduced the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama , to merely being what Mr. Sanders called a' charismatic individual.’”

FB’S SANDBERG SAYS COMPANY DIDN’T PROTECT PEOPLE'S DATA
Fox News : “Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg continued the social media company’s apology tour on Friday- saying she was sorry for the controversial data harvest currently embroiling the company and promising to do a better chore at maintaining people's datum safe in the future. Speaking on Fox News’' The Daily Briefing’ with Dana Perino , Sandberg was of the view that while the company expects to find more data violates, Facebook is taking action to prevent such problems in the future.' We know at Facebook we did not do enough to protect people's data, ’ Sandberg told Perino, also referencing Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg .' Mark is sorry about that. I'm sorry about that.’ Sandberg’s admission comes as the social media giant conflicts to address mounting security concerns following the completion of revelations that 87 million Facebook users may have had their data harvested by Cambridge Analytica, the controversial data firm that was employed for a period by President Trump’s campaign during the 2016 presidential election.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Kevin Williamson
:' Class Acts’ Commentary Magazine

March tasks numbers sink USA Today

House readies midterm messaging on balanced budget amendment The Hill

Senate GOP dubious about Trump plan to claw back parts of mammoth spending deal – The Hill

Bipartisan bill aims to clean up campaign monies WTSP

Inside a White House in tumult, John Kelly’s clout dwindles AP

N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy reportedly expended $13,000 on office for his wife Fox News

Justice Department misses deadline to hand over FBI documents to Congress Fox News

AUDIBLE: THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
“Thank you very much, everybody. I’ll see you back in New York.”- President Trump speaking to the press gaggle on Air Force One during the course of its flight from West Virginia back to Washington , D.C. Thursday afternoon.

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY

This weekend Chris will sit down with White House National Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow and House Democratic Caucus Chairman, Rep. Joe Crowley , D-NY. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace . ” Check local listings for broadcast days in your area.

#mediabuzz – Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch # mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
[ Ed. note: Because I took Easter Monday for myself, I was not able to respond to the many thoughtful, thought-provoking notes you all sent us. As usual, I was moved by your intellects, levels of erudition and, most of all, your generous spirits. Accordingly, you will find below some responses to our note from Good Friday. For those of you Western Christians who are still in the season of Easter we say, “Christus resurrexit! Resurrexit vere! ” To our friends in the Eastern Rite we wish you a blessed Good Friday and send our love to you and yours for Easter .]

“Hi Chris and Brianna – I am so pleased the attention you dedicated in Friday's news, regarding the Jefferson Bible. I have, for the past few weeks, been stewing about the hateful and unneeded discourse flying by our legislators. When one constructs someone's' dogs bark, ’ you sure as hell are not going to then achieve anything. Back to the Jefferson Bible – I've read just about all there is available about his' project, ’ and communications in afterward life with Adams. Maybe some of your readers are unaware that, when the Bible was purchased from Jefferson's granddaughter in the 1890 ‘s, the Government Printing Office printed copies and each incoming member of Congress was given a transcript until the mid-fifties. I am not going to express my own opinions on the Gospels and the writers, other than to say, Jefferson, in my book, distilled from them a code for living, at peace with our fellow man, and, our Maker. The message I have taken away is Jesus' message to' turn the other cheek.’ I do not take this, telling us to be a' wooz’ He certainly wasn't! I choose to think' turn the other cheek’ means simply to' let it go.’ We Americans surely appear to not let much of anything go, and while we are eaten up with our conflicting emotions – we are impeding our progress, and wallowing around in petty things we should simply' LET IT GO! ’ Oh, and if any readers wish to delve into his Bible, I would suggest to have a new translation at their side, as I have found it's the only way to understand' His sublime words.’”- Ernie Weaver , North Port, Fla .

“Chris Stirewalt, Thank you for the thoughtful commentaries about Easter/ secular society/ and governance. Many people would not, or could not, coordinate those believes so effectively. Many of us do not comment to you regularly but I hope you know that there are many of us that appreciate your analysis and remarks. God Bless you all.”- Gary Wegner , Vancouver, Wash .

“Chris, I find more and more that I look forward less to your punditry( which is excellent ), as I look forward to your written words. You sir, are an excellent wordsmith. Last year I gave up your column for Lent to focus on something more positive. Not as a reflection of your abilities, but as a route to pivot to less politics during a dark time in all things political.( As a Catholic I've learned not to only give up candy bars but to be more proactive. But that's another story …) This year my Lenten observance didn't include excluding you. I'm glad. Your column today was an affirmation that I made the right choice. It was spot on! Plus the way you wove in your knowledge of both Jefferson and history, with commentaries by the Pope, was genuinely masterful. You, indeed, are a bles. Happy Easter to you, your family and staff.”- Victoria Doyle , Salem, Ore.

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…NOT THAT INNOCENT
The Guardian: “ … Britney Spears has emerged as an unlikely figurehead in the fight against Somali pirates. According to reports, Britney's hittings, including' Oops! I Did It Again’ and' Baby One More Day, ’ are being employed by British naval policemen in an attempt to scare off pirates along the east coast of Africa. Perhaps nothing else- not guns , not harpoons- is quite as intimidating as the voice of Ms. Spears singing' Ooh baby baby! ’ Merchant naval officer Rachel Owens explained the tactics to Metro:' Her ballads were chosen by the security squad since they are believed the pirates would detest them most. These guys can't stand western culture or music, building Britney's hits perfect. As soon as the pirates get a detonation of Britney, they move on as quickly as they can.’”

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here .

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel( FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington , D.C.

Read more: www.foxnews.com