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It’s Official: The Post-RINOcare War on Conservatives Has Begun

Seven years of campaign promises to repeal Obamacare were broken when the Republican Party rolled out the American Health Care Act. But somehow, the Freedom Caucus is now taking the brunt of the abuse for the bill’s failure to launch.

Everyone but House leadership seemed to recognize the bill was bad. The chief complaint of conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus was the bill’s failure to repeal mandated essential health benefits – those insurance regulations responsible for increasing premiums and high deductibles. Still, moderates thought the bill went too far and sought to protect Medicaid expansion in their states. Voters across the political spectrum were unhappy, with the AHCA polling at only 17 percent public approval.

When those concerns were brought to the president from the Freedom Caucus, he reportedly told them to “forget about the little shit.” What the president failed to understand was that the “little shit” would break this bill. House Conservatives were on the cusp of supporting the legislation if Speaker Paul Ryan and leadership agreed to repeal the fundamental insurance regulation problems. Moderates in the party balked at that proposition and the Speaker Ryan pulled the bill Friday.

Now the spin has begun. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., declared it was Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who “betrayed” the American people.

The media has latched on to that narrative. The Wall Street Journal lambasted the Freedom Caucus as “the Obamacare Republicans.” Politico published a hit piece over the weekend detailing insider frustrations with the “far-right” members who sunk the bill, insisting that if fulfill seven years of campaign promises.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., is running around insisting that the Freedom Caucus just saved Obamacare, and pledging to work with Democrats to overcome conservative opposition to future legislation.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., is one of the moderates, with a 29 percent Liberty Score©. He is the chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, and the news that he wouldn’t support the bill opened the floodgates to more moderate defections.

According to one report, Speaker Ryan was pleading on one knee with Rep. Don Young of Alaska for support on the bill. Young, with an “F” Liberty Score©, is hardly one of the conservative “purists” who supposedly defeated this bill. Yet Paul Ryan was begging for his support? If it was the moderates who were pulling out on the GOP health care plan, how is it the conservatives’ fault it all fell apart?

Regardless, on Sunday morning, the president chose a side.

On Friday, President Trump blamed the Democrats for Obamacare’s failures. In the same remarks, he said he would be “totally open” to working with Democrats after Obamacare “explodes.”

Really, the whole of the weekend’s news can be summed up in one succinct Ben Shapiro tweet.

As the Republican Party moves on to tax reform, conservatives should be prepared to be boxed out of negotiations, again. (For more from the author of “3 Questions Ryan Needs to Answer Before Running to the LEFT on RINOcare” please click HERE)

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The Myth of an Unbiased Mainstream Media

The attention on The Daily Signal’s Fred Lucas’ role as occasional White House pool reporter has made one thing very clear: For many, the illusion still remains that the mainstream media is unbiased.

“It’s concerning that news organizations with a clear and stated bias are serving as the eyes and ears of the White House press corps, regardless of their political leaning,” Andrew Seaman, chair of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Ethics Committee and a Reuters reporter, told The Washington Post for an article questioning the appropriateness of Lucas’ role as a pool reporter. “In a perfect world, only news organizations with editorial independence and proven track records of reliability should be able to provide pool reports for the White House or any other government agency or official.”

Yet while many mainstream media outlets may not be “clear”—that is, transparent with their readers—about their perspective, there’s no doubt they indeed have a perspective.

First, let’s just look at the data about journalists:

96 percent of the donations given by journalists in the 2016 presidential election as of August were to Hillary Clinton, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

7 percent of journalists identify as Republican, while 28 percent identify as Democrat, according to an Indiana University School of Journalism study conducted in 2013.

“Of the major newspapers that endorsed either Clinton or Trump, only 3 percent (2 of 59) endorsed Trump,” noted FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver.

When you keep those facts in mind, the actual behavior of the mainstream media starts to make more sense. Take this analysis by Silver–who got his start on the extremely liberal site Daily Kos—in a piece headlined “There Really Was a Liberal Media Bubble”:

The reporting was much more certain of [Hillary] Clinton’s chances than it should have been based on the polls. Much of The New York Times’ coverage, for instance, implied that Clinton’s odds were close to 100 percent. In an article on Oct. 17—more than three weeks before Election Day—they portrayed the race as being effectively over, the only question being whether Clinton should seek a landslide or instead assist down-ballot Democrats …

Or let’s look at CBS News anchor Scott Pelley, who has drawn media attention for his talk about President Donald Trump in his reports since the election. According to an Associated Press piece on Pelley, the anchor said on air, “The president’s real troubles today were not with the media, but with the facts.” Pelley also said: “Today we learned the length of the president’s fuse—28 days.”

Mark Feldstein, a journalism professor at the University of Maryland, told the Associated Press that Pelley’s remarks were “striking because it’s such a departure from the traditional norm of objectivity that serious news anchors have always gone for over the last few generations.”

Or what about the “quite the ruckus among reporters and editors” that ensued, per a Journal source to Politico, when Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Gerry Baker raised concerns about his newspaper’s use of the words “Muslim-majority countries” to describe the countries targeted in Trump’s executive order?

“Can we stop saying ‘seven majority Muslim countries’? It’s very loaded,” Baker emailed Journal editors, according to Politico, citing a Journal source. “The reason they’ve been chosen is not because they’re majority Muslim but because they’re on the list of [countries President Barack] Obama identified as countries of concern.”

The Journal source told Politico regarding Baker’s actions: “There is no editorial justification for his objection. For the EIC of a major American paper to go out of his way to whitewash this is unconscionable.”

No editorial justification? How about the fact that, as the Trump administration pointed out, over 40 Muslim-majority countries weren’t affected by the ban?

Whatever you think of its other pros and cons, to consider Trump’s executive order a Muslim ban—which is what is suggested when reporters call the countries Muslim-majority without very soon before or after acknowledging the security concerns about those countries—is not supported by the facts.

Or let’s consider what happened when a female former student of Neil Gorsuch’s claimed he had made controversial remarks about women and maternity leave. As my colleague Kelsey Harkness reported:

Multiple media outlets including NBC News, NPR, and Think Progress first reported on this allegation without any mention of [Jennifer] Sisk’s ties to Democrats. (Some news outlets, including NPR, updated their stories hours after publication.)

Sisk is a former political appointee in the Obama administration and also worked as an aide to former Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat from Colorado.

Or even look at what seems like a new surge of investigative energy coming from two of the nation’s top newspapers, The Washington Post and the New York Times. Poynter.org reported:

Both newspapers are also spending more to cover the White House. The Washington Post and The New York Times have doubled down on investigative journalism, with The Post staffing up for a quick-strike investigative team and The Times hiring Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael LaForgia and Livingston Award-winner Ellen Gabler from regional newspapers.

Beyond investigative reporting, both are coming up with new ways to cover the presidency—The Washington Post by launching a podcast dedicated to examining the bounds of President Trump’s authority and rejiggering its beats and The New York Times by pouring $5 million into examining the effect of the Trump White House on the broader world.

Great! The White House should face media scrutiny. But where was this enthusiasm when Obama was in office?

To be clear, I’m not saying that mainstream media journalists are intentionally slanting the news. Most of them seem to want to be objective.

However, the scarcity of conservatives in mainstream media newsrooms probably helps contribute to that bubble effect Silver mentioned: It’s easy to be unaware of your own assumptions and biases when they’re never or rarely challenged.

And it might indeed be better for our country if there were a substantial number of press outlets that were truly not perspective-driven at all. But the reality is that the mainstream media is not objective. Instead, it merely refuses to be honest about its own perspective.

The Washington Blade, which certainly has a perspective on LGBT rights, did a White House pool report this month. Liberal outlets such as Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo (as well as conservative outlets such as The Daily Caller) were also slated to do pool reports in March.

Perhaps one of the most telling signs of the media bias is that the alarm and consternation arise when an outlet on the right, not one on the left, does a pool press report—especially when there has been no criticism of Lucas’ actual pool reports that I’m aware of.

There’s a lot of problems with news reporting in our nation today. But the mainstream media’s hand-wringing over it will gain credibility only when the mainstream media becomes clear-eyed about its own biases and problems. (For more from the author of “The Myth of an Unbiased Mainstream Media” please click HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.

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Confronting Terrorism Is Every American’s Responsibility

Wednesday’s terrorist attack near Parliament in London—on the one-year anniversary of the Brussels airport attack—is a vivid reminder not only of the enduring nature of post-9/11 terrorism, but of how the threat continues to evolve.

Despite steady Islamist goals for high-profile attacks on Western targets and the continuing risk to airlines and other transportation modes, the norm for the near term will likely be small groups of jihadists and solo terrorists using unsophisticated weapons (including knives, machetes, and vehicles) to attack indiscriminately.

This type of threat will only grow in our homeland in 2017—not in spite of our overseas success in fighting the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, but because of it.

Although far from over, the battle to liberate Mosul from ISIS will ultimately prevail, as will the inevitable follow-on fight to free Raqqa. Understandably, many people see those goals as the end of the road for ISIS. What could possibly be next?

This mindset, however, overlooks the nature of the war that the enemy intends to fight. This discussion must look beyond the borders of Iraq and Syria toward the broader region, and to the West.

Indeed, the war today is global: No matter how protected we Americans consider ourselves, guarded by two major oceans on each coast, geography’s shield has in fact weakened in the 21st century. Walls or no walls, America remains vulnerable.

Ordinary Americans should prepare now to better confront ISIS and similarly-inspired fighters, at an amount loosely proportional to the expanding degree of our military victories overseas.

As ISIS loses territory, and as thousands of its fighters flee Mosul, Raqqa, and other sites in the coming months, many potential ISIS recruits who already live in the West will seek out targets here that are more readily available.

The most recent U.K. attack illustrates this, and although Western Europe is an easy target, the United States remains at the top of ISIS’ list of targets.

Understanding this, ordinary Americans should take three basic steps to confront the coming threat.

First, know the enemy and discuss them openly.

It’s easy to remain numb to the nebulous risk from ISIS or al-Qaeda after more than a decade and a half of conflict with Islamists, most of it being seen only on television and in lands far away.

Yet every town in America is just one news cycle away from becoming the next London, Paris, San Bernardino, or Orlando. Learn about what the enemy plans to do and how they plan to do it.

If you haven’t looked at any of their English-language online magazines, consider doing so. Much of their propaganda is indeed grisly and horrific, but some of it is useful for understanding the kind of evil we are facing, and the kind of vigilance it will take to confront it.

Consider one sobering example from ISIS’ magazine, Rumiyah:

… the blood of the disbelievers is halal, and killing them is a form of worship to Allah … This includes the businessman riding to work in a taxicab, the young adults (post-pubescent ‘children’) engaged in sports activities in the park, and the old man waiting in line to buy a sandwich. Indeed, even the blood of the [infidel] street vendor selling flowers to those passing by is halal to be shed—and striking terror into the hearts of all disbelievers is a Muslim’s duty.

Such calls to violence are indeed unnerving, but they should sober us to the threats we face. Although jihadists’ justification for the murder of civilians is not new, these texts also describe recommended tactics and other specifics worth knowing. The first step is to understand that threat, and to discuss it.

Second, when it comes to anticipating ISIS, al-Qaeda, and similar threats, think outside the box.

Don’t think of potential terrorists strictly as “military-aged males” anymore. Today they can come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and sexes.

Just two months ago, female combatants engaged Navy SEALs with automatic weapons in the well-publicized Yemen raid. Young terrorists have been observed for years, as The Washington Post also confirmed in a recent story titled “The Islamic State’s New Threat: Child Terrorists.”

ISIS’ “cubs of the Islamic State” indoctrination program is well-documented, and the list of child terrorist acts is long and growing: a knife attack on a police officer in Hannover by a 15-year-old girl in February 2016, a 16-year-old girl plotting a bomb attack who was arrested last month in France, not to mention the dozens of horrific acts committed by ISIS-led children such as the shooting and decapitating of prisoners.

According to the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, between September 2014 and the end of 2016, there were “34 teen or pre-teen plots in seven countries [including the U.S.], with civilians most commonly targeted and knives repeatedly the weapon of choice.”

Many experts also warn that children of ISIS fighters are one of the biggest future threats.

If you doubt this claim, consider that “Jihad John,” the infamous YouTube ISIS executioner, eventually unveiled as Mohammed Emwazi and later killed, had graduated from the University of Westminster in 2009 with a computer programming degree … and was just 12 years old on Sept. 11, 2001.

Also, realize that your biggest risk might not be flying on a commercial airline flight. ISIS has excelled at finding unexpected means of inflicting harm and instilling fear.

This also means that the old “run, hide, fight” mindset is becoming obsolete. Consider the value of learning creative defense tactics that could be more useful in meeting a terror threat should it reach your street—and perhaps take a CPR class (British Member of Parliament Tobias Ellwood was the first on scene to administer aid to the stabbed London policeman on Wednesday).

Third, and finally, guard against the potential excesses of increased vigilance.

“Vigilance” and the well-known rule, “If you see something, say something,” have become clichés in our day, but they do have an important meaning.

The attempted vehicular attack in Antwerp, Belgium, this week was reportedly prevented by both civilians and police who were extra vigilant after hearing news of the U.K. attack. Heightened awareness like this on a daily basis has great potential to save lives.

Striving to become better prepared and thinking through potential terror-related scenarios is appropriate. On the other hand, paranoia, xenophobia, and hyperbolic generalizing are not.

We should live between the two extremes of blissful naiveté and paranoia. We cannot be paralyzed by political correctness and willful ignorance, but neither should we be spooked and mentally overcome by the enemy.

Americans must develop sober, informed, and determined resistance to terrorism—both to its attack form, as well as its underlying ideology.

The enemy is plotting and is always on the move. Our military and intelligence authorities are doing their part. Are we? (For more from the author of “Confronting Terrorism Is Every American’s Responsibility” please click HERE)

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US Culture in Crisis: Church Attendance Plummets, White Supremacy, Racial Hatred and Societal Polarization Skyrockets

Over the past decade, pollsters charted something remarkable: Americans—long known for their piety—were fleeing organized religion in increasing numbers. The vast majority still believed in God. But the share that rejected any religious affiliation was growing fast, rising from 6 percent in 1992 to 22 percent in 2014. Among Millennials, the figure was 35 percent.

Some observers predicted that this new secularism would ease cultural conflict, as the country settled into a near-consensus on issues such as gay marriage. After Barack Obama took office, a Center for American Progress report declared that “demographic change,” led by secular, tolerant young people, was “undermining the culture wars.” In 2015, the conservative writer David Brooks, noting Americans’ growing detachment from religious institutions, urged social conservatives to “put aside a culture war that has alienated large parts of three generations.”

That was naive. Secularism is indeed correlated with greater tolerance of gay marriage and pot legalization. But it’s also making America’s partisan clashes more brutal. And it has contributed to the rise of both Donald Trump and the so-called alt-right movement, whose members see themselves as proponents of white nationalism. As Americans have left organized religion, they haven’t stopped viewing politics as a struggle between “us” and “them.” Many have come to define us and them in even more primal and irreconcilable ways.

When pundits describe the Americans who sleep in on Sundays, they often conjure left-leaning hipsters. But religious attendance is down among Republicans, too. According to data assembled for me by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), the percentage of white Republicans with no religious affiliation has nearly tripled since 1990. This shift helped Trump win the GOP nomination. During the campaign, commentators had a hard time reconciling Trump’s apparent ignorance of Christianity and his history of pro-choice and pro-gay-rights statements with his support from evangelicals. But as Notre Dame’s Geoffrey Layman noted, “Trump does best among evangelicals with one key trait: They don’t really go to church.” A Pew Research Center poll last March found that Trump trailed Ted Cruz by 15 points among Republicans who attended religious services every week. But he led Cruz by a whopping 27 points among those who did not. (Read more from “US Culture in Crisis: Church Attendance Plummets, White Supremacy, Racial Hatred and Societal Polarization Skyrockets” HERE)

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Ann Coulter: We Have Now Hit Full-On Crazy

Liberals are ecstatic that a judge in Hawaii is writing immigration policy for the entire country, and that policy is: We have no right to tell anyone that he can’t live in America. (Unless they’re Christians — those guys we can keep out.)

As subtly alluded to in the subtitle of Adios, America: The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World Hellhole, the goal of liberals is for the poor of the world to have a constitutional right to come here whenever they want . . .

After nearly 1 million Rwandans were murdered by other Rwandans in 1994, our government asked itself: Why not bring more of this fascinating Rwandan culture to America? Ten thousand of them poured in. So far, nearly 400 have been convicted in the United States of lying on visa applications about their role in the genocide.

And that’s why we have to tighten our belt, America! Massive international investigations don’t come cheap.

Almost every immigration case is a con, something we find out every time there’s a San Bernardino shooting and half the familyturns out to have scammed our immigration officials. One hundred percent of the “humanitarian” cases are frauds. (Read more from “Ann Coulter: We Have Now Hit Full-On Crazy” HERE)

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There’s Something Worse Than Fake News

All of us are bound to feel offended from time to time. It’s part of being human. What happens, though, when being offended is a permanent or chronic condition? We’ve heard a lot about fake news in recent days, but I’ve noticed something that concerns me at least as much if not more: fake controversies.

If fake news pollutes the public discourse with falsehoods and confusion, fake controversies pollute it by manipulating emotions and fanning the flame of people’s offendedness.

Maybe you’ve heard, for example, about NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice’s commercial for Popeye’s Chicken? In it he wore a “taste-mask” comprised partly of a drumstick rotating in front of his mouth. Along came the headlines inciting people to be offended. “Jerry just set black people back 437 years,” wrote one man in response. “Thanks, Jerry. We’re slaves again.”

Then there was the tweet by Jerry Seinfeld, giving a quick shout-out for an upcoming episode of his internet series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Seinfeld made a pun on the name of his guest Lewis Black by tweeting “Black’s life matters.” Another headline was born, with purportedly outraged readers calling it “offensive” and “lame.”

I’m not suggesting that legitimate controversies don’t exist, or that there is nothing to which a person might rightly take offense. I am distinguishing real controversies from fake ones. In a certain context, a black man wearing a fried-chicken-enhanced helmet could certainly be seen as a mean-spirited kind of stereotyping. But that is clearly not the case with the Popeye’s advertisement. Popeye’s just happens to specialize in fried chicken, and their celebrity pitchman happens to be black.

This is non-controversial, unless you are searching diligently for material from which you can craft an inflammatory headline.

These fake controversies can be worse than fake news partly because they are more insulting to our intelligence. Their headlines are sensationalized to lead you to believe that somebody must have really “stepped in it.” Typically, however — if I may pay homage to the aforementioned Mr. Seinfeld — the story turns out a controversy about nothing.

It isn’t hard to figure out what’s behind this trend. These stories are click-bait to lure readers to a website. Anything salacious enough to catch the eye will do. People can’t resist reading about what famous personalities have done to get in trouble.

These stories do not need fact-checkers, for the facts are not at issue. Fake controversies are not a matter of false information. Their manipulations are more sinister and subtle. The writers want to persuade you that you ought to take offense at what you’re reading.

Purveyors of fake controversy are shameless enough to exploit any situation. Just after the death of actress Carrie Fisher, a writer for the Huffington Post invented a controversy about a tweet by actor Steve Martin. He had written, “When I was a young man, Carrie Fisher was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. She turned out to be witty and bright as well.” The article’s subheading called this a “sexist tweet,” and Martin soon deleted it.

The game is so easy, even the most untalented and unoriginal writers can play. Famous tweeters supply enough material to work with every day. All you need is to isolate one that could have the slightest potential to offend. In such a huge population of followers it is statistically likely you’ll find someone taking offense. This allows you to talk about there being a “backlash” or “controversy.”

The famous targets or victims of fake controversies are partly their enablers. Fear of political incorrectness robs them of the fortitude to stand up to those pretending to be offended. It’s easier to match fake outrage with fake apologies. Once you appease the petty gods, you hope quietly to move on.

What a strange ritual. We build offensive straw men so that the public can experience the brief emotional high of pretended outrage. This is unhealthy for the public mind. It skews our perspective by tempting us to waste emotional energy on fake controversies. It can blind us to more substantive matters, or make us fail to notice and address genuinely terrible offenses against humanity taking place in the world.

We should stand up to this and call it what it is. We should identify it as shallow, petty, banal and manipulative. We can and must be better than the manufacturers of fake controversies think we are. (For more from the author of “There’s Something Worse Than Fake News” please click HERE)

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How Democrats Stole the Judicial Confirmation Process

The “stolen seat”????

As in the Republican Senate “stole” a seat on the Supreme Court because it refused to confirm President Obama’s election year nomination of Merrick Garland? Something none other than then-Senator Joe Biden vowed when he thought then President George H.W. Bush might get a court nomination in the election year of 1992.

How about this? How about the Democrats stole — make that deliberately destroyed — the U.S. Senate’s judicial confirmation process — something they started years ago.

With the nomination and now ongoing Senate confirmation hearings of Trump Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, conservatives are well within their rights to roll their eyes at the disingenuous lies that are coming Judge Gorsuch’s way. Whether the topic is Obamacare, birth control, the role of federal agencies, or all manner of rights ranging alphabetically from abortion to workers, the liberal attack machine is at work. And alas, there is sadly not a thing new about this.

As it happens, I had the opportunity to work on the confirmations of five Reagan Supreme Court nominations as a member of the White House Office of Political Affairs. One of those nominees was Judge Robert Bork — the nomination where the verb “to bork” emerged. Later, in the Bush 43 era, as a private citizen, I was heavily involved in President Bush’s nomination of a best friend from college for a seat on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. I went into this 2001-2002 episode with eyes open and taking notes, and the experience — which ended with the successful confirmation of Judge D.Brooks Smith — became a small book: “The Borking Rebellion: The Never-Before-Told Story of How a Group of Pennsylvania Women Attorneys took on the Entire U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee–And Won”

The bottom line? There is no limit — none — to what liberals will do to defeat a GOP president’s judicial nominations. And what once was limited to Supreme Court nominees has now long-since spread to confirmation fights for the lower courts. Note well that in his recent confirmation battle to become attorney general, former-Senator Jeff Session’s history as a defeated — make that borked — Reagan judicial nominee for a lower court was dredged up all over again.

The grim fact of what has become routine at these events is that they have become the very antithesis of what they were originally conceived to be: a serious forum to discuss the legal issues of the day.

Instead they have become political snake pits, with one far-left wing special interest after another lined up to assail any and everything about a GOP president’s nominee of the moment. How does this work? Let me provide but one example from the confirmation of Judge Smith.

I write to request your opinion concerning certain ethical questions that have arisen with the nomination of Judge D. Brooks Smith in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

So began a 2002 letter from then Wisconsin Senator and liberal Democrat Russell Feingold to NYU Law School Vice Dean Stephen Gillers. On the surface, the letter seems routine to the point of innocuous. A letter from a sitting U.S. senator on the Senate Judiciary Committee to a then-vice dean of a prominent American law school on the subject of judicial ethics. It sounds and appears as something totally normal, well within the bounds of senatorial inquiry when considering a judicial nomination.

Not so fast.

After working on those five Supreme Court nominations I mentioned above, I had learned something about how liberals played the game. The obvious question to me was: Who is Stephen Gillers — really? The answer did not require much digging, although characteristically it was the kind of digging the liberal media of the day never got around to doing when they would quote Gillers on the subject of judicial ethics. Not in the habit of quoting myself, let me break that rule here to quote from “The Borking Rebellion.” For the sake of reference, note that the group referred to here — the Community Rights Counsel — was a far-left, hyper-partisan special interest group whose mission had become, among other things, attacking GOP judicial nominees. Note as well that Professor Gillers was cited repeatedly in the liberal media as simply an ethics expert. I wrote this:

‘Nothing for Free’ was the title of a report issued by the Community Rights Counsel in July of 2000. A report attacking judicial seminars…I found this reference in its very first sentence:

“The authors are indebted to…Steven Gillers (sic)…(who) reviewed earlier drafts and provided unique and unfailingly helpful advice on improving the final product.”

Wow. The article in The Washington Post on Brooks Smith and John Gardner Black (a central figure in a fraud case heard by Smith) had been produced by research from Kendall. In writing the story that challenged Brooks’ ethics, Post reporter Ed Walsh then went to Stephen Gillers, presenting him in the story simply as a ‘professor of legal ethics at New York University Law School.’ Gillers was then quoted in the story casting doubt on Brooks (‘a serious argument for recusal is present…Judge Smith should have revealed the information’etc.)

In other words, the Post used Kendall’s CRC research to criticize Brooks, then used Kendall’s CRC consultant Gillers to verify that an ethics breach is potentially ‘present.’ Gillers was never identified as a CRC consultant, presented instead as a disinterested third party expert on legal ethics.

This was but one small piece of the Smith nomination, but standard procedure when it came to dealing with liberals on Supreme Court nominations. Not to wax Trumpian, but the confirmation system had been rigged. In that case, a sitting Democratic senator on the Judiciary Committee wrote a letter to a supposed legal ethicist whom he knew to be an ideological ally and on whom he could count for an opinion to the senator’s liking. Likewise the Post, either not bothering to check the “ethics expert” for any ties that would rule him out as an uninterested observer — or knowing full well and deliberately omitting the fact — blithely used him as a source to condemn the nominee. The paper, of course, never mentioned the “ethics expert” as someone who was in fact tied to the interest group that was attacking the nominee.

This is the game that the confirmation process has become. And that cited incident in the Smith case doesn’t even touch the surface of the well of deceit and dirty tricks used against one nominee for an appeals court opening.

Why does this mean anything now? Because as the Gorsuch nomination is played out it appears more than likely that at this exact moment in political time the nominee will be confirmed. A superb, well-thought of nominee has been nominated by a GOP president with a GOP Senate at hand to get him confirmed. But make no mistake. The Gorsuch nomination is merely a moment where the liberal interest groups who have so corrupted this process — stolen it — are shaking off the doldrums resulting in a breather from nomination fights. But the moment the news hits that the next justice has decided to hang up his or her judicial robe — or as lower court nominations proceed with a roster of conservatives — you can bet that the forces who have spent years — say again years — corrupting this process will be out in force.

The question then will be a simple one. Are conservatives ready? Are they, to use a baseball metaphor, finished with the spring training of the Gorsuch nomination and ready for World Series judicial confirmation hard ball?

Time will tell. But, to mix metaphors, forewarned is forearmed. (For more from the author of “How Democrats Stole the Judicial Confirmation Process” please click HERE)

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Do We Have a Country or Not? Trump Must Cancel Obama’s Amnesty

We swore to ourselves that when Obama unilaterally granted work permits and Social Security cards to people here illegally — something even King George couldn’t do without Parliament — we would reverse this imperial act at the first opportunity. Now, if Trump’s DHS continues illegally handing such documentation to a class of illegal aliens that absolutely does not exist inside of law, he will be branded with a painful and embarrassing reality. Obama’s illegal immigration order defying the most foundational statutes will be left standing, while Trump’s own order, deeply rooted in statute, presidential power, and national sovereignty, will remain nullified.

It’s been several days since the judicial coup against Article I and Article II immigration powers, yet there is no sign that Trump plans to pursue any of our six recommendations for Congress to defund refugee resettlement, cut off funding for visas from dangerous countries, and reform the courts. In fact, Trump’s own budget blueprint continues funding the refugee program without placing any specific conditions on the origin of refugees.

Not only has Trump failed to aggressively push back against the courts and use his political capital with Congress to codify his executive order into the budget, but he is continuing to allow Obama’s amnesty to stand. DHS Secretary John Kelly told reporters on Friday that recipients of Obama’s illegal amnesty are “the least of my worries.” This sentiment misses the point because A) not all of them are outstanding residents and B) this is not just about declining to deport illegal aliens, this is about illegally granting them affirmative status outside of the law. How can a Trump administration continue to actively steal American sovereignty and violate the law for even one day? The law doesn’t say that if people are here illegally but don’t rob a bank, they are entitled to Social Security cards.

But it gets worse.

As we noted last month, the same courts that are engaging in civil disobedience and nullifying Trump’s common sense lawful immigration guidance are also demanding that Arizona offer driver’s licenses to recipients of Obama’s amnesty. A world turned upside down, indeed. Does the president not feel any sense of embarrassment or impotence at the fact that the courts are eating his lunch while his own DHS secretary continues the illegal immigration order of his predecessor and enables the courts to steal the sovereignty of the states and the people?

Ideally, Trump would work with conservatives to immediately enact his immigration agenda through Congress and most immediately through the budget process. But absent such action, can he at least get rid of Obama’s illegal immigration order?

“Obama immigration order alive, Trump order dead” is not exactly the slogan we want Democrats chanting in 2018, but that is the end-game unless the president acts immediately.

To quote candidate Trump, “we either have a country or we don’t have a country.” (For more from the author of “Do We Have a Country or Not? Trump Must Cancel Obama’s Amnesty” please click HERE)

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Christians Should Not Surrender the Fight for Our Culture

Whenever I hear Christian leaders talk about the inevitable collapse of the church of America (or elsewhere) I ask myself, “But hasn’t Jesus risen from the dead? Didn’t He ascend to the right hand of the Father? Hasn’t all authority in heaven and earth been given to Him? And aren’t we commanded to go and make disciples in His name and by His authority?”

If so, how then we can speak of any inevitable collapse of the church (or, specifically, of Christian society), regardless of how inevitable that collapse appears to human eyes?

I therefore differ strongly with conservative journalist Rod Dreher who has written, “The culture war that began with the Sexual Revolution in the 1960s has now ended in defeat for Christian conservatives. … Don’t be fooled: the upset presidential victory of Donald Trump has at best given us a bit more time to prepare for the inevitable” (my emphasis; from his new book The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation).

The culture war has hardly “ended” and there is nothing “inevitable” about the collapse of Christian society in America, although, without question, the patient is mortally ill and in need of radical surgery and rehabilitation. But the heart is still beating, there are millions of committed believers throughout the land, prayers are ascending to heaven 24/7 for another great awakening, and it’s actually possible that America’s best days are still ahead, regardless of how bleak things look right now (and without a doubt, they look very, very bleak). Are not all things possible to him or her who believes?

A Backsliding Church

What makes today’s spiritual pessimism all the more galling is that, in my view, the biggest reason for America’s current moral and spiritual decline is the backslidden, unengaged, carnal state of the much of the church. In other words, America is messed up because the church has been messed up, because we who profess faith in Jesus have all too often been superficial in our commitment, as a result of which the world has changed us rather than us changing the world.

When it comes to the mainline denominations, in many instances there has been a wholesale departure from the authority of Scripture and the lordship of Jesus, leading to the abandonment of our moral compass.

When it comes to evangelical Christians, we have often preached a narcissistic, “what’s in it for me” gospel, a self-centered message that bypasses the cross and calls for virtually no sacrifice or service, a message that empowers the sinner rather than transforms the sinner, leading to “Christian” rappers who talk about Jesus in the midst of profanity-laced rants (all while still getting high, going to strip clubs, and partying), and to “Christian” models and actresses who strip down in the most seductive poses, simply because it’s part of their job — and I assure you they can find big churches in America who will welcome them with open arms and celebrate their “liberty” in Jesus. (It’s one thing to welcome the worst of sinners into our midst with open arms and without condemnation; it’s another thing to celebrate carnality and compromise.)

Little wonder that the rest of the public is so confused. After all, the church is supposed to function as the conscience of the nation.

Fulfilling Our Mission in the World

When it comes to social issues like abortion and homosexuality, the vast majority of Christian conservatives in our country have no almost regular engagement with women having abortions and engage in very little compassionate outreach to those who identify as LGBT. As for those of us who do get involved in social issues, we tend to do it politically, looking to the government (especially the Republican Party) to fix things, as if passing a law alone would “fix” the desecration of life or reverse the breakdown of the family.

In that regard, Dreher is quite right in urging us not to put our trust in the political system, and I wholeheartedly affirm his conclusion: “We are going to have to change our lives, and our approach to life, in radical ways. In short, we are going to have to be the church, without compromise, no matter what it costs” (his emphasis).

But being the church means heeding the words of Jesus, who calls us out of the world when it comes to participating in sin but into the world when it comes to fulfilling our mission, which is to shine like lights in dark places, to boldly proclaim the message of redemption, to reach out to hurting and suffering sinners, to make a difference in the communities in which we are planted, and to stand for truth and righteousness “without compromise, no matter what it costs.”

After all, we’re here as the Lord’s ambassadors, declaring the gospel to a dying world, and if we back down and retreat, who will reach this generation with the good news?

But to say, “We’ve failed so far so let’s concede the war” is like a coach saying to his team at halftime, “We hardly played at all in that first half, which is why we’re way behind, so let’s quit now before it gets worse.” To the contrary, he sounds a loud wakeup call, urging his team to play like never before, since the rest of the game is still ahead.

As theologian Douglas Wilson said, “I am against surrendering in any case, but I am really against surrendering before the battle is really joined.”

The solution, then, is not to retreat into some kind of monastic refuge but rather to repent of our sins, to give ourselves afresh to the Lord, and to let our light shine before an onlooking, skeptical, and mocking world. That is the gospel way.

In the words of Jesus, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16; for further scriptural exhortations, see here).

The Light the World Needs

I’m all for separating ourselves from the pollution of the world as much as possible. At one point, 95 percent of the families in my home congregation homeschooled their children. And for many years of our marriage, Nancy and I chose not to have a TV in our house. I have other friends who live in shared community, while still others have left business and careers to serve and live among the poorest of the poor. At the same time, I am not for withdrawing from our calling to go into the world and touch the lost.

By all means, then, let us live with a sense of holy urgency. After all, we’re here for a moment and then gone, with eternity ahead of us. And let us make a fresh, complete, and uncompromising commitment to our Lord. But let us stand up, not shrink back, raising our voices for the world to hear and living our lives for the world to see. And if America is determined to go to hell, then let it go to hell over our dead bodies.

As Charles H. Spurgeon famously said, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

To our knees, then, in holistic repentance, and to our feet, in wholehearted obedience. This generation desperately needs the message of new life in Jesus — the message you and I have. Don’t hide it under a basket! (For more from the author of “Christians Should Not Surrender the Fight for Our Culture” please click HERE)

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Why the ‘Establishment’ Media Is Finding Itself on Shaky Ground

As a member of The Daily Signal team, I took offense to The Washington Post’s recent questioning of our “legitimacy” as a news organization.

The Washington Post began its story stating that, “In an age of partisan media, the lines between ‘partisan’ and ‘media’ can sometimes blur.”

I wonder if the reporter has taken a look at just how partisan some of our country’s media behemoths actually are. Here is a summary of the ownership, lobbying, and political contributions of several of America’s largest media companies.

ABC is owned by the Walt Disney Co., which has spent over $70 million lobbying the federal government since 1998. During the 2016 election cycle, individuals and PACs associated with the company contributed $1.6 million to Democrats and $250,000 to Republicans.

NBC is owned by Comcast Corp. In 2014, Comcast spent $17 million in lobbying and hired 128 lobbyists. When it came to the 2016 election cycle, contributions were almost evenly distributed between the two political parties, with Democrats receiving $3.5 million and Republicans $3.3 million.

However, if you look at the contributions related specifically to NBC properties, the vast majority of contributions were to Democrats. The only outlier was NBC Sports.

CBS is owned by CBS Corp., which spent $4,470,000 in lobbying in 2016.

CNN is owned by Time Warner Inc. In 2016, individuals and PACs related to the company gave 87 percent of contributions to Democrats and 11 percent to Republicans. The only year since 1990 that such contributions didn’t heavily favor Democrats was 1996, when contributions were split 50-50.

And then there is The Washington Post, which is owned by billionaire businessman Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com.

Among his political donations? A reported $2.5 million was given to support the gay marriage referendum in Washington state. He has also been a vocal supporter of the internet sales tax. The Washington Post editorial pages have reflected similar views on both marriage and taxes.

To say that the aforementioned political contributions are nowhere near “balanced” is an understatement. And while you can’t link every dollar to every instance of bias, most Americans have come to the conclusion that the media is less than trustworthy.

According to Gallup, Americans’ confidence in the media “to report the news fully, accurately and fairly” is at its lowest point in Gallup’s polling history with only 32 percent saying they have “a great deal or fair amount of trust” in the media.

Also of note, a recent Emerson College poll showed voters find the Trump administration “to be more truthful than the news media.” Forty-nine percent of voters considered the administration truthful, but only 39 percent said the same about the news media.

In addition to a lack of trust among American news consumers, technology is playing a role in the changing and broadening media landscape.

According to a 2016 study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are now more people working in internet/digital publishing (outlets like The Daily Signal) than working at newspapers. And the numbers are pretty stark.

In 1990, there were 458,000 people working in the newspaper industry. Fast forward to 2016, and that number had fallen by 60 percent, to 183,000. On the flip side, the number of people working in internet publishing grew from 30,000 in 1990 to almost 198,000 in 2016.

And, as more and more Americans are going online to get their news (44 percent of U.S. adults now get news on Facebook, according to the Pew Research Center), newspaper circulation continues to decline, and the traditional broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) have fewer eyeballs watching their morning programs and evening news broadcasts—1 million fewer than last year.

Perhaps it’s little wonder that what is known as the “establishment” media is feeling, well, a little less established than it used to. (For more from the author of “Why the ‘Establishment’ Media Is Finding Itself on Shaky Ground” please click HERE)

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