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Today — August 18th 2022Politics – The Daily Signal

‘Civil War’ Porn

As President Joe Biden’s polls stagnate and the midterms approach, we are now serially treated to yet another progressive melodrama about the dangers of a supposed impending radical right-wing violent takeover.

This time, the alleged threat is a Neanderthal desire for a “civil war.”

The FBI raid on former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, the dubious rationale for such a historic swoop, and the popular pushback at the FBI and Department of Justice from roughly half the country have further fueled these giddy “civil war” conjectures.

Recently “presidential historian” Michael Beschloss speculated about the parameters of such an envisioned “civil war.”

Beschloss is an ironic source. Just days earlier, he had tweeted references to the executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who passed U.S. nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union in the 1950s, in connection with the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago.

That was a lunatic insinuation that Trump might justly suffer the same lethal fate due to his supposed mishandling of “nuclear secrets.” Unhinged former CIA Director Michael Hayden picked up on Beschloss’ death-penalty prompt, adding that it “sounds about right.”

Hayden had gained recent notoriety for comparing Trump’s continuance of the Obama administration’s border detention facilities to Hitler’s death camps. And he had assured the public that Hunter Biden’s lost and incriminating laptop was likely “Russian disinformation.”

So, like the earlier “Russian collusion” hoax, and the Jan. 6 “insurrection,” the supposed right-wing inspired “civil war” is the latest shrill warning from the left about how “democracy dies in darkness” and the impending end of progressive control of Congress in a few months.

On cue, Hollywood now joins the “civil war” bandwagon. It has issued a few bad, grade-C movies. They focus on deranged white “insurrectionists” who seek to take over the United States in hopes of driving out or killing off various “marginalized” peoples.

Pentagon grandees promise to learn about “white rage” in the military and to root it out. But never do they offer any hard data to suggest white males express any greater degree of racial or ethnic chauvinism than any other demographic.

When we do hear of an insurrectionary plan—to kidnap the Michigan governor—we discover a concocted mess. Twelve FBI informants outnumbered the supposed four “conspirators.” And two of them were acquitted by a jury and the other two so far found not guilty due to a mistrial.

The buffoonish Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol is often cited as proof of the insurrectionary right-wing movement. But the one-day riotous embarrassment never turned up any armed revolutionaries or plots to overthrow the government.

What it did do was give the left an excuse to weaponize the nation’s capital with barbed wire and thousands of federal troops, in the greatest militarization of Washington, D.C., since the Civil War.

In contrast, Antifa and BLM rioters were no one-day buffoons. They systematically organized a series of destructive and deadly riots across the country for more than four months in the summer of 2020. The lethal toll of their work was more than 35 dead, $2 billion in property losses, and hundreds of police officers injured.

Such violent protesters torched the iconic St. John’s Episcopal Church and attempted to fight their way into the White House grounds. Their violent agenda prompted the Secret Service to evacuate the president of the United States to a secure bunker.

The New York Times gleefully applauded the rioting near the White House grounds with the snarky headline “Trump Shrinks Back.”

As far as secession talk, it mostly now comes from the left, not the right. Indeed, a parlor game has sprung up among elites in venues such as The Nation and The New Republic imaging secession from the United States. Blue-staters brag secession would free them from the burden of the red-state conservative population.

Over the past five years, it was the left who talked openly of tearing apart the American system of governance—from packing the Supreme Court and junking the Electoral College to ending the ancient filibuster and nullifying immigration law.

Time essayist Molly Ball in early 2021 gushed about a brilliant “conspiracy” of wealthy tech lords, Democratic Party activists, and Joe Biden operators.

Ball bragged how they had systematically poured hundreds of millions of dark money into changing voting laws and absorbing the role of government registrars in key precincts.

What was revolutionary were new progressive precedents of impeaching a president twice, trying him as a private citizen, barring minority congressional representatives from House committee memberships, and tearing up the State of the Union address on national television.

In contrast, decrying the weaponization of a once-professional FBI and the scandals among its wayward Washington hierarchy is not insurrectionary. Nor is being appalled at the FBI raiding a former president’s and possible presidential candidate’s home, when historically disputes over presidential papers were the business of lawyers, not armed agents.

Historic overreach is insurrectionary, not objecting to it. And those who warn most of some mythical “civil war” are those most likely to incite one.

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.


Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.

The post ‘Civil War’ Porn appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Dumb Question: Is the Pro-Biden Spin Getting Out?

Anyone who reads or watches the badly named “mainstream media” knows it carries all the echoes of a Democratic Party messaging service. It’s so efficient that it goads itself into providing happy news for President Joe Biden.

For example, CNN media reporter Brian Stelter tweeted, “Congress is passing major, and often bipartisan, bills. Biden is following through. Is the news getting out?” Gee, is the pro-Biden media putting out the pro-Biden messaging? Of course.

Stelter linked to New York Times editorial board member Farah Stockman, who insisted, “Regardless of what plays now on cable news, historians of Mr. Biden’s first term will have to admit that a surprising amount got done.”

If there’s anyone more reliably liberal than the reporters, it’s the historians.

Time magazine proclaimed, “Biden’s ‘bland leadership’ may be getting results.” Washington Post analyst Dan Balz gushed, “Biden gets a big victory and Democrats get some November talking points.” The Post is all about Democrat talking points.

In his daily morning newsletter, New York Times senior writer David Leonhardt announced, “Biden is the second straight Democratic president to shepherd a big agenda through Congress. During the first of those two presidencies, of course, Biden was the vice president, and he helped manage congressional relations.”

Biden’s been great in the White House—twice!

As Biden prepared to sign the “Inflation Reduction Act”—a law as badly titled as “mainstream media”—ABC’s “Good Morning America” put the gush into heavy rotation. Guest co-host Gio Benitez touted “a big victory at the White House. President Biden is set to sign the massive health, climate and tax bill into law later today. Now this is the largest climate investment in U.S. history.”

White House reporter Cecilia Vega repeated, “such a big win for President Biden.” On screen, the message read: “President Biden’s Big Victory: Set to Sign Inflation Reduction Act into Law.” There were no quotation marks around the bill’s title—because it’s Democratic Party messaging.

Benitez wrapped it up with a bow: “The President and cabinet members going across the country trying to convince the American people that this is helping them.” ABC is certainly helping with the people-convincing. We’re in a sprint toward Labor Day, and the liberal journalists are already aggressively trying to prevent a “red wave” for Republicans in the fall.

All these badly disguised Democrats are mistaking the passage of legislation with the unalloyed good of the country. “The largest climate investment in U.S. history” sounds a lot like the major boost the Obama administration tried to give to “alternative energy” in his first term. Does anyone remember that?

What if the “Inflation Reduction Act” spending spurs more inflation? If it does, the ABC types won’t be connecting that bad news with the Democrats.

How can we know? Check out the coverage of the one-year anniversary of Biden’s disastrous pullout from Afghanistan. ABC did an entire report on the anniversary without using the name “Biden” in it. Ben Shapiro pointed out that anniversary stories from NPR and The New York Times also skipped any mention of the name “Biden.”

If you were to gamble on what spin a network like ABC would use on Biden stories, you would not put your hard-earned money on “fair and balanced.” You’d put your cash bet on “this news story is going to sound so much like an advertisement you’ll be looking for the insurance-selling emu wearing sunglasses.”

COPYRIGHT 2022 CREATORS.COM

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.

The post Dumb Question: Is the Pro-Biden Spin Getting Out? appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Yesterday — August 17th 2022Politics – The Daily Signal

3 Previous Presidential Records Act Controversies

Although an FBI raid on the home of a former president had been unprecedented until this month, clashes over compliance with a law called the Presidential Records Act are nothing new. 

The 1978 law, signed by President Jimmy Carter, was in response to fallout from the Watergate scandal, when former President Richard Nixon tried to claim that all his White House records belonged to him. 

The law specifies that “the United States shall reserve and retain complete ownership, possession, and control of presidential records.” 

Long before enactment of the Presidential Records Act, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s records were the first to go to the National Archives and Records Administration for safekeeping. Before that, presidents took their records with them when leaving the White House. 

It’s not likely President Donald Trump could be prosecuted for a violation of the Presidential Records Act, presidential historian Craig Shirley told The Daily Signal in an interview.

“Before FDR, every president just took their records home; some kept them around the house, others used [them] for the fireplace,” Shirley said. “Let’s face it, keeping papers that are supposed to be in presidential archives is akin to not returning an overdue library book.” 

Here are three past controversies involving presidents’ records. 

1. Obama Foundation Supplants Archives

When President Barack Obama left office in January 2017, some 30 million pages of documents from his administration were moved to a warehouse near Chicago that previously was the site of a furniture store. 

The Obama Foundation announced a plan to digitize all of the records ahead of building a $500 million Obama Presidential Center. 

The major difference between the Obama center and previous presidential libraries is that it would be run by the Obama Foundation, a nonprofit established by the former president and former first lady Michelle Obama.

Going back to Herbert Hoover, the National Archives and Records Administration has maintained presidential libraries and records. 

Obama’s plan caused some angst among historians, The New York Times reported. 

“The absence of a true Obama presidential library will have the effect of discouraging serious and potentially critical research into the Obama presidency,” David Garrow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Obama biographer, told the Times.

Timothy Naftali, a former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, said the Obama move “opens the door to a truly terrible Trump library.”

The day after the FBI’s raid on his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, Trump publicly brought up the documents held by Obama. 

“President Barack Hussein Obama kept 33 million pages of documents, much of them classified. How many of them pertained to nuclear? Word is, lots!” Trump said in an Aug. 9 post on Truth Social, the social media platform launched early this year created by Trump Media & Technology Group.

This message prompted the National Archives to issue a statement Aug. 12 in response to Trump that says:

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) assumed exclusive legal and physical custody of Obama presidential records when President Barack Obama left office in 2017, in accordance with the Presidential Records Act (PRA).

NARA moved approximately 30 million pages of unclassified records to a NARA facility in the Chicago area where they are maintained exclusively by NARA. Additionally, NARA maintains the classified Obama presidential records in a NARA facility in the Washington, D.C., area. As required by the [Presidential Records Act], former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the presidential records of his administration.

2. Clinton’s Presidential Library

Former President Bill Clinton’s presidential library in Little Rock, Arkansas, delayed the release of tens of thousands of pages of records in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential race in which Hillary Clinton was the expected Democrat front-runner. 

The delay by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum came with the help of Obama White House lawyers, Politico reported in February 2014.

The episode led to Congress’ passing a law that year to curb White House prerogatives on secrecy, which Obama signed. 

The legislation specifically updated the Presidential Records Act to direct that no one use personal email to conduct White House business.

3. Bush and Post-9/11 Action

In November 2001, in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush issued an executive order to limit access to presidential records going back to the Reagan administration. The order included the records of his father, Ronald Reagan’s successor as president.

The 12-year shield under the Presidential Records Act protecting records from going public after a president leaves office had expired for the Reagan administration. 

But Bush’s order resealed the presidential records maintained by the National Archives and required a “demonstrated, specific need” for documents to overcome a past president’s assertion of executive privilege to prevent their release. 

On a war footing, the Bush administration argued that the records remain under seal for national security reasons. 

After the American Historical Association sued, part of the younger Bush’s executive order was struck down by a federal court. 

Obama, after promising transparency on the campaign trail, revoked Bush’s executive order shielding records after he took office in January 2009, making most of the records open again and no longer requiring a “demonstrated, specific need.”

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.  

The post 3 Previous Presidential Records Act Controversies appeared first on The Daily Signal.

The Hypocrisy of ‘Sanctuary City’ Mayors

Monday morning saw another busload of illegal border crossers arrive at New York City’s Port Authority terminal.

The city’s commissioner of immigrant affairs, Manuel Castro, was there to personally welcome 52 people off the bus, of whom 80% were single men, witnesses said.

“Many other people who are here have told us that the families who have boarded the buses in Texas don’t want to go to New York City,” Castro claimed, echoing Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser’s unsubstantiated claim that illegal border crossers are being forced onto buses against their will.

In fact, Bowser has never backed up her assertion that “[i]n many cases, those people are boarding buses having been lied to about what’s going to be on the other end … .”

According to a reporter from the Daily Caller, migrants getting off a recent bus at Union Station in Washington “told me that the entire process was voluntary.”

For Bowser, the reality is also sinking in that about 15% of the bused-in illegal immigrants want to stay in the national capital area, according to the groups that assist them upon arrival. Bowser, who last year refused federal assistance in dealing with riots, takes buses of migrants more seriously.

However, her requests to get the D.C. National Guard to supply 150 soldiers per day to help with the influx, and for a federal property as a staging area, were refused by the Department of Defense.

D.C. congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton’s attempt to get federal emergency appropriations also seems unlikely to succeed, but meanwhile, the congresswoman has written to the national board of the Emergency Food and Shelter Program asking it to “permanently eliminate the cap” on reimbursements for long-distance travel for migrants.

“We anticipate that Texas and Arizona will continue to bus migrants to D.C. indefinitely,” said Norton. She wants as many of them out of her city—and into someone else’s—as federal money will pay for, also indefinitely.

The Emergency Food and Shelter Program was intended to help transition homeless Americans into permanent shelter, and the national board “encourages” local boards “to place special emphasis on identification of and assistance to the elderly, families with children, Native Americans, and [v]eterans.”

There’s no mention of indigent immigrants, legal or illegal, yet that is the fund being used to feed, house, and arrange travel for D.C.’s bus-borne arrivals.

Like Bowser, New York City Mayor Eric Adams insists that he will keep meeting demand, as New York has a “right to shelter” law.

As much as Adams and his team would like to paint the arriving migrants as desperate and ill-treated, exiting passengers seem well-dressed and supplied.

Gary Jenkins, commissioner of New York City’s Department of Social Services, bragged of the “Pampers, milk, formula, food for the families” and Metro cards the city provided, but said one family’s response to free transport was, “No, I’d rather take an Uber.”

That this family was eager to skip the line to move to the U.S. and the boring requirements of immigration law and process is obvious. That they are legitimate asylum claimants is less so.

Adams’ latest plan is reportedly to put illegal border crossers up at the old Milford Plaza hotel on Times Square, where rooms cost more than $400 per night. The plan won’t be ready for a month or more, and with large groups continuing to cross the border illegally, housing for a mere 600 won’t last long.

Adams claims that 4,000 migrants have come to New York from the border, filling homeless shelters intended for locals. However, Texas authorities say they have sent only 360 to New York, but almost 7,000 to Washington, D.C.

Norton calls the busing of migrants by Govs. Greg  Abbott and Doug Ducey, of Texas and Arizona, respectively, a “cynical political stunt.” Speaking of stunts, in response to Texas’ and Arizona’s efforts, Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine has just created a grant program for local organizations to help the “vulnerable migrants” (who appear to be, like those arriving in New York, mostly working-age men).

Racine has set aside a total $150,000 in grants—up to $50,000 each to nongovernmental organizations and charities—to service arriving supposed “asylum seekers.”

At roughly $21 a head, Racine’s total grants might be enough for one day’s food per migrant. Even assuming that 85% of them move on quickly to other U.S. locations, that leaves a number of new indigents on the D.C. taxpayers’ dime.

In announcing the grants, Racine touted the partisan efforts of his Office of the Attorney General to undermine federal immigration law, including his joining a legal challenge to the Trump administration in favor of “sanctuary” cities and refusing to help federal authorities with immigration enforcement.

The hypocrisy of big, blue city officials like Adams, Bowser, and Racine is appalling. They brag of being “sanctuary” cities, yet are incensed that some of the 2 million or so illegal aliens who have arrived in the U.S. on President Joe Biden’s watch should want to take them up on their generosity.

Bowser has said publicly that “local taxpayers are not picking up the tab. They should not pick up the tab … . We really need a coordinated federal response.”

However, the coordinated federal effort right now is behind getting as many migrants off the border and into the country’s interior as fast—and with as little publicity—as possible. Abbott’s and Ducey’s busing of willing volunteers is just shedding inconvenient light on the national disgrace of abandoned immigration enforcement.

Both local Democratic elected officials such as Bowser and Adams, and the Biden administration, seem happy with unlimited illegal immigration in theory, but neither much wants to pay for it. Immigrant advocates, in contrast, aren’t shy about hitting up local taxpayers.

Ashley Tjhung of the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network, which coordinates charities assisting illegal alien arrivals in Washington, said, “The mayor is sitting on millions of dollars within the D.C. budget.”

D.C. Council member Brianne Nadeau recently requested that Bowser tap into the city’s budget surplus. No surprise there: Nadeau was a leader of the council’s efforts to help people living in D.C. illegally resist federal law enforcement.

Mayors like Bowser and Adams, if they wish to remain true to their “open borders, no enforcement,” sanctuary city rhetoric, will have to delve deeper into voters’ pockets and ask them to divert resources intended for local residents to illegal aliens, with no end in sight.

Alternatively, those voters could demand that Congress fix the problem at the source by ending rampant abuse of the asylum process, properly using the Migrant Protection Protocols, finishing erecting the system of physical border barriers, and maybe even forcing Biden to let Immigration and Customs Enforcement do its job inside the country.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.

The post The Hypocrisy of ‘Sanctuary City’ Mayors appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Why Is Justice Department Investigating Southern Baptist Convention?

The nation’s largest conservative, Protestant denomination revealed on Friday it is under investigation by the Biden administration over claims of sexual abuse and harassment.

The federal probe by a persistent church critic raised eyebrows, coming amidst a flurry of actions opponents say are intended to punish the president’s political enemies, including an unprecedented FBI raid on former President Donald Trump’s home earlier in the week and the passage of a bill that critics contend will allow rogue IRS agents to target conservative Christian organizations.

The Southern Baptist Convention, which has 13.7 million members in more than 47,000 churches, announced the Justice Department inquiry just months after releasing an independent report on sexual abuse claims.

“The SBC Executive Committee recently became aware that the Department of Justice has initiated an investigation into the Southern Baptist Convention, and that the investigation will include multiple SBC entities,” the executive committee disclosed in a statement released Friday. “Individually and collectively, each SBC entity is resolved to fully and completely cooperate with the investigation.”

The 14 signatories said they “continue to grieve and lament past mistakes,” “recognize our reform efforts are not finished,” and asked for prayer. 

The Southern Baptist Convention outsourced a report examining how the executive committee handled sexual abuse reports between 2000 and 2021.

An outside firm, Guidepost Solutions, reported in a 288-page report in May that one member of the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee compiled a list of 703 people “suspected of abuse” but never released it publicly. The report records “703 abusers” but notes curiously that only 409 are “believed to be SBC-affiliated at some point in time.”

Days after the report’s release, Guidepost Solutions tweeted its support for Pride Month and the LGBT movement. 

The Southern Baptist Convention subsequently printed a list of 205 pages of pastors, church workers, and volunteers “credibly accused” of abuse—a list, it notes, that includes cases that “resulted in an acquittal.”

The report redacted the names and some details of those found innocent, or not accused of sexual impropriety—resulting in some entries with every detail blacked out.

Both the executive committee and Guidepost took pains to point out that, as a voluntary association of independent churches, the Southern Baptist Convention does not ordain or impose church discipline on local pastors.

The report states, due to the Southern Baptists’ congregationalist method of government, “the SBC could not, or should not, take certain actions to address sexual abuse within SBC local churches.” Yet the report induced 44,000 people to sign an online petition, demanding a government investigation.

Both the timing and the method of the DOJ investigation have raised questions among observers.

A former Justice Department official—who asked for his name to be withheld—told The Washington Stand that he finds the DOJ’s wide-ranging investigation into multiple Southern Baptist Convention entities “novel” and “dubious.” 

He struggled to identify a federal statute that could be used to target a religious entity for such a capacious investigation. The investigation seems even more unusual because sexual abuse investigations are typically handled by local prosecutors. 

“The key question is: What civil or criminal statute is the DOJ using as the predicate for this investigation?” the official noted.

The Biden administration has frequently flouted constitutional authorization in the past, defying the Supreme Court by attempting to continue its eviction moratorium last fall. The Supreme Court stopped the executive action, saying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had exceeded its legal authority.

Last November, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration attempted to impose a vaccine mandate on private businesses that employ at least 100 people; the Supreme Court similarly ruled in January that the administration had no legal grounds to impose such a vaccination mandate.

There is something of a precedent for the Southern Baptist Convention investigation: a 2018 investigation into Roman Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania, which was carried out by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. But the former DOJ official underscored that investigation appears to be narrower in scope than the Biden DOJ’s investigation into the Southern Baptist Convention.

“The DOJ investigation fizzled in 2019. It ended with one arrest—an 82-year-old defrocked priest,” Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights told The Washington Stand in an exclusive interview.

“One reason the DOJ probe went nowhere is because [Pennsylvania] Attorney General Josh Shapiro (now running for governor) had just finished a witch-hunt grand jury investigation that did nothing to punish any wrongdoers but succeeded in smearing many priests. I sued on behalf of 11 priests who had their reputations damaged and won.”

Unless the Justice Department is time-barred from getting alleged offenders, Donohue told The Washington Stand, “there is no statute of limitations on harassing and intimidating SBC. They are very good at that. Their actions can be costly in terms of legal fees and the reputation/credibility of the SBC leadership.”

The former DOJ official told The Washington Stand that, while he understands many people instinctively support any investigation into the horrors of sexual abuse, it is dangerous to support any investigation uncritically—especially when it involves a Justice Department that has “enormous hostility toward a religious organization like the Southern Baptist Convention.”

“I worry about this kind of thing from this DOJ,” the official told The Washington Stand. “They do not take a fair-minded approach to the law. If it were up to [DOJ leadership], they would mandate Southern Baptist churches perform same-sex marriages or cease to exist.”

The Obama-Biden administration’s solicitor general, Donald Verrilli, admitted during the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges case that the tax-exempt status of religious nonprofits is “certainly going to be an issue” when justices imposed same-sex marriage on all 50 states.

Stripping churches of their tax-exempt status proves more difficult, but the federal government may be seeking alternative means of targeting Christians who uphold traditional, biblical morality.

The Southern Baptist Convention teaches that “marriage is a sacred covenant between one man, one woman, and a holy God, intended for life” and has encouraged states to adopt constitutional marriage protection amendments before Obergefell removed the issue from the voters’ hands.

The Southern Baptist Convention also condemned extreme transgender ideology, voting to “affirm God’s good design that gender identity is determined by biological sex and not by one’s self-perception.”

It is not known whether the Southern Baptist Convention and the Roman Catholic Church’s embrace of natural marriage and gender identity affected either federal investigation.

Originally published by The Washington Stand.

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state. 

The post Why Is Justice Department Investigating Southern Baptist Convention? appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Before yesterdayPolitics – The Daily Signal

Tucker Carlson: Biden Is Using Law Enforcement to Cling to Power

Fox News host Tucker Carlson eviscerated the Biden administration Monday night for using law enforcement to target its political adversaries, most recently with the raid on former President Donald Trump’s Florida home.

“This could get very bad, very fast and the Biden people know that perfectly well,” Carlson told viewers. “They know what could happen if they continue down this path of using law enforcement to cling to power. But they don’t care because they’re facing a repudiation from voters and they’re desperate and they’ll do anything but at what cost? Pray they pull back before it’s too late.”

Watch the full monologue for read a portion of the transcript below. The full transcript is available from Fox News.

We’ve had a few days to reflect on it and have concluded that no honest person could believe that the raid on Donald Trump’s home last week was a legitimate act of law enforcement. It was not. Even the Biden administration didn’t really bother to pretend otherwise. The official explanations that we have heard for the raid make no sense at all. It doesn’t matter how forcefully they are repeated by the media, they’re nonsensical. In case you’ve forgotten what they are, here’s the very first explanation they gave us. 

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, HISTORIAN: Why did this guy have these ultra-classified documents in the basement of Mar-a-Lago unsecured, where they could be presumably broken in on or stolen or photographed and given to hostile foreign powers or conceivably even terrorists?  

Are you listening to this? So, it’s not just classified documents in the basement of Mar-a-Lago, but according to Michael Beschloss, the pet historian of the halfwits who run our country, these are ultra-classified documents, the most classified kind, just sitting there helpless in boxes like maidens in bikinis, waiting to be photographed by terrorists. You just imagine al-Qaeda taking selfies with these documents, one after the other relentlessly, repulsive and terrifying. 

Is it true?  At this point, no one has provided proof that it is true, not that august historians like Michael Beschloss wait around for actual evidence before pronouncing final judgment on cable news shows. They just go ahead, but for the sake of argument on our show, we’re going to say that it is in fact true and that Donald Trump did, in fact, have boxes of classified documents sitting in his cellar. 

Let’s say that’s true. What would it mean? Well, what it means depends in part on what the documents were. Did those documents contain meaningful information? Should they have been classified in the first place? Is there a good reason the rest of us should not have been allowed to see those documents? 

Now, you never hear those questions asked in public, but anyone who lives in Washington knows perfectly well they should be asked in public a lot, because in Washington, virtually anything can qualify as an official state secret and often does.  

In 2011, to name one of many examples, the CIA finally declassified a trove of documents from the First World War. These documents dated back to 1917, almost 100 years before. One of these documents, the most ultra-secret of them, contained a recipe for disappearing ink. Now, why would federal bureaucrats spend an entire century hiding an outdated recipe for ink that you can buy legally in any magic store for your fifth grader? Good question. No one asked it. 

Instead, then CIA Director Leon Panetta issued a press release bragging about how he was giving the secret ink recipe to a grateful public. “These documents remain classified for nearly a century until recent advancements in technology made it possible to release them,” Panetta wrote. “When historical information is no longer sensitive, we take seriously our responsibility to share it with the American people.” 

There was no hint whatsoever that Panetta was joking when he wrote that. You’re welcome, America. Here’s your century-old ink recipe. Again, this was in 2011. So, think it through. You had to wonder what recent technological advancements was Leon Panetta talking about in the press release and just how recent were they? Was Panetta actually saying that CIA spies were still communicating in World War One era disappearing ink as of, say, 2010 or even as of 1950? Please. It was bizarre. Of course, it was another lie from the people in charge.  

Here’s the truth. The documents have been classified for 100 years, not because disappearing ink was any sort of national security secret. They’d been classified because the government’s default position in every case is that you have no right to see anything ever. It is their information. It is not yours. You’re not a citizen. You’re just the taxpayer. Shut up and pay for it all. To this day, there are large amounts of classified information remaining from World War II. These are documents written 80 years ago by people whose grandchildren are now old, but you still can’t see it. You don’t have the clearances. Sorry. 

So, when they tell you that Donald Trump had classified documents in his basement, those materials could be literally anything, but once again, for the sake of argument, we’re going to stipulate that Trump did have possession of documents that were classified for some good reason. Documents that, for example, we legitimately would not want the Chinese government to see. If that is true, would it justify what happened? Would it justify sending a large team of federal agents to shut down the entire southern tip of Palm Beach to raid Mar-a-Lago on a weekday? No, it wouldn’t. So, one of the laws they’re telling you that Trump broke doesn’t even have criminal penalties attached to it because it’s not serious enough.  

Federal paramilitaries don’t show up at your house when you violate the Presidential Records Act and in fact, as we later learned, the actual warrant for the raid, which was signed by an openly partisan judge because you couldn’t make any of this up if you tried, once represented Jeffrey Epstein’s side in the famous underage sex case, that judge. That judge allowed the FBI to seize virtually every piece of paper in Donald Trump’s house, whether or not it had ever been classified.  

They took Roger Stone’s clemency order, for example. That had been on the front page of the Washington Post, so was therefore probably not a secret. Apparently, the feds even walked off with Donald Trump’s passports preventing him from leaving the country. So, whatever else this raid was, this raid was not about the Presidential Records Act. That explanation is absurd. It’s almost as ridiculous as the claim that the White House knew nothing about the raid before it happened. Right. Please. If they’re going to lie to us, they ought to try a little harder. So, what was this raid about? Well, we’re keeping track. So, here’s the second explanation they gave us. 

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Now with Donald Trump, suddenly, when we’re talking about the possibility of nuclear weapons, classified documents of the highest classified status being stolen from the White House and taken to Mar-a-Lago. 

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Just a reminder of why the Justice Department might be a little bit concerned about nuclear secrets knocking around Mar-a-Lago.  

SCARBOROUGH: Two words for you, my friend. Two words. “Nuclear secrets.” 

What! Nuclear secrets? Nuclear secrets are the highest classified status. Ultra-secret nuclear secrets. Donald Trump stole those. Ladies and gentlemen, America is in danger tonight. That was their new explanation for the raid. Now, that revised storyline was leaked anonymously to an obedient press corps, which, as you just saw, repeated every word like it was verifiable fact. 

Once again, no one even bothered to explain what these nuclear secrets might be. What’s a nuclear secret exactly and what did Trump plan to do with them? Did he plan to defect to Moscow, give the launch codes to Vladimir Putin, start his own rogue state in the Bahamas? Nobody said, but that didn’t stop former CIA director Michael Hayden from suggesting that Donald Trump should be executed, fried to death in the electric chair, for committing these crimes, whatever these crimes were. We still don’t know. 

There weren’t a lot of facts floating around. There still aren’t, but there was a reason for that. They couldn’t tell you the whole story. They couldn’t release all the documents because that would jeopardize American national security. So instead, you’re just going to have to trust them and of course, you’re going to have to listen to their outrage. There was a lot of that. There was endless huffing on television about something called the rule of law and how absolutely no one is above that. No one. Not even a former president. 

We’re informed of this by the same people who paid rioters to burn down our cities, the ones who eliminated bail, the ones who encouraged tens of millions of foreign nationals to ignore our federal immigration statutes and move to our country permanently at public expense as a reward for breaking our laws, but keep in mind, no one is above the law. That was definitely the word from Joe Scarborough, a man who was accused of committing murder while serving as a member of Congress, yet somehow move seamlessly to the MSNBC lineup without being charged or even investigated. No one is above the law. Remember that. 

So, it was an awful lot of posturing in the days after the raid. But none of it was very effective because again, it didn’t make sense. Even propaganda has to add up. Two plus two equals nine doesn’t convince anybody.  

Nuclear secrets? If the Biden administration really believed that, if they really thought Donald Trump possessed documents that posed an imminent danger to American national security, then you have to wonder, why did they wait a year and a half to do anything about it? Why did they wait till 90 days before a midterm election, an election that polls suggest they will lose? It doesn’t make, oh, wait, actually, it does make sense. 

In fact, the question answers itself. Despite superficial appearances, the raid of Mar-a-Lago was not an act of law enforcement. It was the opposite of that. It was an attack on the rule of law. It was a power grab. As Matt Boose put it recently, in American Greatness, the raid on Trump’s home “was exactly what it looks like, a show of force against the opposition leader by the head of state and his personal bodyguards. If this happened in, any other country would immediately be denounced as the act of a dictator.” 

That’s true, but it’s hard to hear those words anyway. As an American, you don’t want to believe it and yet here are the essential facts. The same week the Biden White House announced that Joe Biden will definitely seek a second term as president, the same week, the Biden Justice Department launched an armed raid against Biden’s main rival in that same presidential election. That’s what happened. Pause for a minute. If The New York Times told you that something like that was going on in Chad or the Gambia, what would your reaction be? 

You’d probably say to yourself, “Thank God I don’t live in a place like that, a country where politicians used armed men to cling to power.” Oh, but you do live in a country like that. You do. The evidence is all around us. We just don’t want to see it.

The post Tucker Carlson: Biden Is Using Law Enforcement to Cling to Power appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Greta Van Susteren Shares What You Need to Know About FBI Raid on Trump

Many questions remain unanswered since the FBI’s Aug. 8 raid on the Florida home of former President Donald Trump.

“First of all, make no mistake about it. There are rules that the president is not supposed to keep records,” veteran journalist and lawyer Greta Van Susteren says. “The public records—I’m talking about the non-classified ones—do belong for the most part to the American people, so they have to be turned over to the [National Archives]. Usually, when a president leaves office, they’re sorted through and they decide what’s the president should have, what shouldn’t have.”

“That’s one group of documents. The second are our classified documents,” Van Susteren adds. “And the question is, does [Trump] have classified documents? Clearly, he’s not supposed to have classified documents. He’s no longer in office. You have to make sure classified documents are in very secured places.”

Van Susteren joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to dissect the FBI raid and the polarization surrounding it, China’s growing aggression, and her new show, “The Record with Greta Van Susteren,” on Newsmax TV.

Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript.

Samantha Renck: Greta Van Susteren is joining the podcast today. She is the host of “The Record with Greta Van Susteren” on Newsmax TV. Greta, thank you so much for joining us today.

Greta Van Susteren: I’m very happy to be here. Thank you for asking me.

Renck: Of course. Now, first and foremost, can you tell us a little bit about your new show and your return to cable TV?

Van Susteren: Well, in many ways, it’s the same show I’ve ever had, whether it was at CNN, Fox, MSNBC, Voice of America, [or] Gray Media, because I look at news through a legal lens.

Now, I don’t mean it’s a legal show. It’s not that at all. But when you go to law school, they teach you how to look for facts. In fact, you take a course called “Evidence,” which is just all about facts and about what can be shown. And that’s the way I approach journalism … I look for the facts, whatever they may be, and I try not to tell the viewers what to think. I just say, “Here are the facts. You come up with your own thoughts and opinion.”

Now that’s not to say that opinion shows are not important. They are extremely important because it’s good to have a robust debate and have opinions. But my goal here is to continue just to [say], “However the chips may fall, they may fall. Tell me the facts, and that’s what I’m interested in.” So that’s how I would describe the show.

Renck: Absolutely. And as you know, there has been no shortage of news to cover. I want to start with the raid that happened last week on President Donald Trump’s Florida home, Mar-a-Lago. … There’s a lot of questions that remain unanswered.

The political divide regarding approval of the raid was pretty significant. A survey from Politico/Morning Consult found that 84% of Democrats approved, whereas only 15% of Republicans said they approved. What do you think of this partisan divide? And do you think that the FBI needs to release more details about the raid to settle any fears that it was politically motivated?

Van Susteren: All right. Well, you’ve got about 15 questions here, so let me try to take them apart, and re-ask if I forget one of them.

Renck: Yes, of course.

Van Susteren: All right. First of all is that, regrettably, we’ve gotten to the point in this country where we don’t wait for the facts. Instead, we take sides. So I’m not surprised by those numbers, because President Trump is a Republican. I’m actually expecting Republicans to be more supportive of him, and the Democrats [to be] not supportive of him. So those numbers don’t surprise me in the least bit. I expect those.

The second thing is that, look, this is a developing story, and we’re going to learn new facts every single day this week and next week. A new fact could change if someone who is looking at it fairly, and not through a political lens and taking sides, might think of of what’s going on. So that’s an important consideration, is to recognize that we don’t have all the facts.

In fact, Friday night, The Washington Post reported something like they thought that [the] nuclear code was involved … [and] that went all over Twitter like a wildfire. Well, I don’t think the nuclear code was involved. And secondly, … I do know or suspect that they changed the nuclear code all the time. So that was just something that was electrifying, set people on fire, and only fueled the divide in this country between Republicans and Democrats.

Now let’s go to what happened. First of all, make no mistake about it: There are rules that the president is not supposed to keep records. The public records—I’m talking about the nonclassified ones—do belong for the most part to the American people, so they have to be turned over to the archive. Usually, when a president leaves office, they’re sorted through and they decide what the president should have, what he shouldn’t have. That’s one group of documents.

The second are our classified documents. And the question is: Does [Trump] have classified documents? Clearly, he’s not supposed to have classified documents. He’s no longer in office. You have to make sure classified documents are in very secured places.

Now let’s look at the process. I don’t care if it’s President Trump, President [Joe] Biden, President [Barack] Obama, [or] President [George W.] Bush, the process should be the same and level-handed for all. This is the way these things are.

Obviously, every story is different, every factual situation, but they subpoenaed the documents from [Trump] in June. They got records, and the Department of Justice wasn’t satisfied. They thought that the president didn’t comply, or there were more records, or they’re hidden or partial, whatever. What would happen is that the Department of Justice would take that subpoena to court, and they present it to the judge to say, “Judge, we have a lawful subpoena, and the president hasn’t complied.”

The president would then have opportunity to his lawyers to say, “Look, we did comply,” or, “The subpoena’s overly broad,” or, “We don’t have the documents,” or whatever.

And the judge would sort through it and resolve the dispute at that point. So both sides would have an opportunity to work it out. That didn’t happen.

What did happen instead was that the Justice Department made a giant leap and waited about eight weeks and went to get a search warrant. And that’s something very different than the subpoena. And with the search warrant, it’s a one-sided deal. Done all the time, there’s nothing illegal about a search warrant. But this is the process.

They went into court and they said, “We need to get a search warrant.” And the president’s not there to say, “Look, I’ve given you everything.” He’s not there to say, “The records aren’t there.” He’s not there to litigate, it’s one-sided.

A subpoena is generally issued when there’s an emergency. You see them often in drug cases, when there’s a pile of cocaine on a kitchen table and you have to hurry and get a search warrant because you can’t litigate the subpoena. Because by the time you litigate the subpoena, the cocaine has been snorted up someone’s nose.

So they get the subpoena on Friday, one-sided; they say it’s an emergency and they say what they want. And they then wait from Friday until Monday to execute it. And that’s where all the lawyers say, “Wait a second. If it was such an emergency, why didn’t you do it on Friday? What makes it an emergency? Did you think the president was going to destroy documents? Well, if you did, he should have done it on Friday.”

So that’s the problem, is that it becomes looking very heavy-handed on the part of the Department of Justice.

They should have litigated the subpoena in June. They chose not to. They jumped to a search warrant five or six weeks later. And then once they get the search warrant about noon on Friday, they don’t bother to execute it until Monday. So what was the urgency?

And that’s the whole issue of process and what gets a lot of people very agitated. It doesn’t mean President Trump should keep documents or have documents. I don’t even know what he has or doesn’t have, but the process, when the process is heavy-handed in one direction, it’ll create all sorts of problems with people looking at it and it’ll create all sorts of suspicions, and people will be pointing fingers.

And that’s what I think is the mistake the Justice Department did, is that it looks like they didn’t treat him fairly. They should have litigated the subpoena in June.

Renck: Over the last few years, trust in the FBI has suffered. And in light of what happened last week and what you were just talking about, how can trust be restored n the FBI?

Van Susteren: First of all, I work with FBI agents on cases and stories all the time. They are unbelievable— thousands of very good men and women every single day working really hard to do a good job and do a fair one and keep us protected and to solve crime.

The problem is that the high-profile ones that go askew, like this one, naturally poison everybody—or a good portion of the population—against the FBI. We look at the arrest of Peter Navarro a couple weeks ago, President Trump’s former adviser. He tends to be obnoxious in dealing with law enforcement, and law enforcement sometimes will give you a little harder time when you’re obnoxious, but he was charged with two counts of obstruction of Congress. Those are misdemeanors.

Navarro lives across the street from the FBI. They could have gone over and knocked on his door. Instead, he was at Reagan National Airport across the river, not the international airport which might suggest he was fleeing, but at Reagan to fly down to, I think, Memphis to do a TV show with Mike Huckabee.

They show up like gangbusters at Reagan Airport, and they put handcuffs on him and leg cuffs on him for two misdemeanors. I practiced law in this community for many years as a criminal defense attorney— nobody gets that from a misdemeanor. Nobody even gets time from a misdemeanor.

… Why did they do that overkill? And that’s the problem, is that they should have first tried to get [Navarro] at his house and see if he’d volunteer. I mean, these are misdemeanors. These are not felonies. This is not armed robbery.

But when you have high-profile people like Peter Navarro treated like that, people begin to think that it’s the entire FBI. That is not true. That is some people, some decisions, but it’s not the entire FBI. Like I said, I work with some really good, smart FBI people who are devoted to protecting and helping us.

Renck: I want to shift topics a little bit to the China threat. A little over two weeks ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. There’s also a group of five US lawmakers that arrived in Taiwan over the weekend. Between Speaker Pelosi’s visit and this new group of lawmakers who were in Taiwan, we’ve seen China really ramp up their aggression toward Taiwan. First and foremost, what is your number one concern regarding the Chinese Communist Party?

Van Susteren: War. … This was not a deliberate thing, but they had a shutdown in Shanghai recently because of COVID. And it created in this country, I don’t know if you were aware of it, but they created a shortage of the CT scan contrast dye.

There were hospitals that were short of the contrast dye and had to figure out which CT scans they were going to do and which ones they weren’t. Now, if you have a stroke, you need one right away and you need that dye. If you need a stent, you need one right away. Some of the other CT scans, you don’t need, and they were delayed.

But the mere fact that all the contrast dye, or most of it, is made by an American company in Shanghai [means] that if they cut off our supply, if they cut off that that production … it hurts every single American in this country who might face a health crisis.

So, yes, I worry about war. But I worry about the economic implications because we have gotten so overly dependent on China for things that we don’t even realize. I mean, contrast dye, you’d think you can walk into a hospital and get a CT scan. Well, maybe there isn’t enough dye.

And what’s even more shocking—I did a story on this which is why I know this—is that most people weren’t even paying attention. You’ll have to Google this to find out this story. This one got buried. But I talked to doctors at hospitals and I said, “Yeah, we see a shortage of this because they have had to shut down Shanghai because of COVID.”

Here’s another problem. This is another thing that is stunning to me, is that everybody knows that fentanyl is poisoning and killing people in streets all across the country. And China’s one of the major suppliers through Mexico of the components for fentanyl. They’re just poisonous. It’s endless.

So I don’t know what I fear the most with China. I suppose I fear war less because it seems somewhat contained, but when you start destroying the economy and our health through fentanyl and not having CT scan contrast dye, that’s the kind [of thing] that we don’t even notice until it’s right upon us, and we’re not equipped to deal.

At least in the military sense, we have fighter planes and naval ships. But if we don’t have any contrast dye for CT scans, we’re in trouble. If we don’t have semiconductors coming out of Taiwan, because we don’t make them here in the United States, we’re in trouble. Your toaster won’t even work.

Renck: It’s absolutely frightening. It’s really eye opening, I think, coming off of two and a half years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and just realizing how reliant we have been on China for so many years. And whether or not that will change, that’s yet to be seen.

Van Susteren: But it won’t because I mean, look, it’s top to bottom. Look at Hollywood. Hollywood will do a movie that totally trashes the United States and has complete protection in the First Amendment. And I support their ability to do that. I’m a big proponent of the First Amendment. They make blockbuster dollars here in the United States doing it, but that’s OK.

The minute they do a movie in China where there’s a huge amount of money for movies, they have to get the Communist Party to agree, and they will make adjustments to the movies so it doesn’t insult China, so that they can sell their movies overseas there. I mean, it’s just this sense of greed and wanting that extra dollar and [being] willing to sacrifice our values no matter what. It’s not just one person. It’s not just one political party.

Renck: What are your thoughts on President Biden and his administration, their handling of this potential crisis that could happen in Taiwan and their attitude toward China?

Van Susteren: When you talk about questions of war, you don’t know if it’s handled right until it’s over. That’s the problem. Speaker Pelosi poked a stick in the eye of President Xi [Jinping] of China by going there. On the one hand, you could say that it shows great strength and great courage, and that we stand with Taiwan. Republicans and Democrats both here in the United States supported her. Although President Biden didn’t want her to do it at first, they supported her.

But now we’ve got another group going. Is that the right thing to do? I don’t know, but I will tell you that my gut reaction [is that] I don’t think you should poke a stick in Xi’s eye because I’d rather have him inside the tent than outside the tent. And I don’t think we should put him in a position where he’s humiliated with their country.

When Pelosi announced the trip, [the Chinese] said that first they were going to shoot flares, then they were going to do maneuvers to try to get her plane off course, and then they were going to shoot her down. Well, they didn’t do any of those things. So once she went there, was there, [she] did her trip, got safely out of there.

Now what’s happened is we’ve humiliated President Xi. He looks weak in his own country. He’s trying to hang on to power in his country. And right now, it looks like he’s weak vis-à-vis the United States.

Now, with someone whose finger is on the nuclear bomb over there and with someone who’s got all that economic power, does it really make sense to poke him in the eye and humiliate him? I think no.

A lot of people, Republicans and Democrats, think it’s better to show strength. I think we show strength through stopping being so economically dependent on letting him live his own life. But that was a decision that was made by many people. I don’t think we’ll know if it was the right decision or whether I’m right until five years from now.

Renck: Finally, Greta, are there any important points that you think are being missed in the media coverage of the China threat that Americans should keep in mind going forward?

Van Susteren: I think there’s not enough coverage. If you’ve watched my show since we launched … I’ve done a China segment every single night. I’ve even had the foreign minister of Taiwan on my show. I’m hoping to put the spotlight on it. I don’t know what everybody else is doing because I’m so consumed.

Especially with a new show, you’re really busy, you just don’t have time to watch the other shows. The only thing I see is during time when I sort of thumb through Twitter, when I see what’s going on Twitter. I don’t know what others are doing, and it’s not because I’m trying to act like I don’t watch other TV shows. It’s only because I don’t have the time. These are all my friends. I’ve been in every network, so these are my friends. I just don’t have the time. I’m so consumed with trying to get my show up and running.

Renck: Greta, thank you so much for joining us today. It was such a pleasure to have you on. I just want to make sure our audience is aware that your show is on Newsmax TV weekdays at 6 p.m., “The Record with Greta Van Susteren.”

Van Susteren: I hope people watch it because I think, if nothing else, I want people to say it’s fair, factual, informative, never perfect. But I’m always striving to get it right. That’s my goal, is to try to get it right.

Renck: Absolutely. Thank you so much.

Susteren: Thank you.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state. 

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The Mar-a-Lago Raid: What Happened and What’s Next

Well, it was quite a week! On Aug. 8, roughly 30 federal agents executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, the Florida home of former President Donald Trump – an unprecedented action.

While Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Chris Wray have acknowledged approving the filing of the search warrant application–which was approved by a federal magistrate judge–President Joe Biden has denied having any advanced notice of the raid.

The condemnation from conservative circles was immediate. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stated, “The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization.” He promised vigorous oversight hearings should Republicans take control of the House of Representatives following the upcoming mid-term elections, adding, “Attorney General Garland, preserve your documents and clear your calendar.”

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., the chair of the National Senatorial Committee, accused the Biden administration of going after a political opponent and said that the raid on Mar-a-Lago was “incredibly concerning” and  “Third World country stuff.” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., labeled the raid, “outrageous and unjust, but predictable.” Sen. Ted Cruz. R-Texas, said, “What Nixon tried to do, Biden has now implemented: The Biden admin has fully weaponized DOJ & FBI to target their political enemies.”

And Heritage’s president, Kevin Roberts, said, “The Biden administration and the D.C. swamp are making it very clear that they will use all the power of the state to intimidate anyone who stands in their way,” adding, “If they think they can treat a former president this way, imagine what they think they can do to the average American.”

There are, of course, large numbers of people–mostly conservatives–who do not trust the FBI, the most powerful law enforcement agency in our country. They believe that the FBI has been enforcing the law in politically sensitive cases in a partisan manner to the detriment of Republicans. Their suspicions are not unwarranted.

There was the abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act process and the failure to vet the salacious and spurious Steele Dossier, a document that had been bought and paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign, that led to a meritless investigation of the Trump campaign for alleged collusion with the Russian government.

That “Big Lie,” spearheaded by blatant Trump-hating partisans such as Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, and Lisa Page, dogged the Trump administration and led many liberals to question the legitimacy of the outcome of the 2016 election, although they clutch their pearls when anybody questions the outcome of the 2020 election.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, grilled Wray about information he received from whistleblowers. The whistleblowers said that an FBI analyst who posted anti-Trump messages on social media and who was instrumental in promoting the false collusion claim also tried to discredit and shut down the investigation against Hunter Biden. Hunter’s activities may involve business dealings he had with foreign entities that could also have benefitted his father, in the run-up to the 2020 election.

Others were quick to note that the FBI never searched the Chappaqua, New York home that Hillary Clinton shared with another former president, even after it had been revealed that she had installed a server in that home that she used to receive classified information from her time as secretary of state.

Perhaps they should have seized that server, since the hard drive was wiped clean. Clinton’s aides destroyed her mobile devices with a hammer, and her attorney deleted approximately 33,000 emails which she claimed were all personal. Clinton, of course, was never charged with a crime.

Here’s what we know about the FBI and Trump.

In early February, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) retrieved 15 boxes of documents that Trump had stored at Mar-a-Lago, including communications that he had with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and a letter from his predecessor, Barack Obama. The documents were voluntarily turned over.

Questions were raised at the time about whether Trump had complied with the Presidential Records Act of 1978, which generally requires the archivist of the United States (who at the time was David Ferriero) to maintain presidential records. The Presidential Records Act was enacted after President Richard Nixon sought to destroy records from his time in office following his resignation in 1974.

Shortly thereafter, and in response to Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., Chair of the House Oversight Committee, the archivist stated in a letter that NARA had “identified items marked as classified national security information within the boxes.”

He added:

In June 2018, NARA learned from a press report in Politico that textual Presidential records were being torn up by former President Trump and that White House staff were attempting to tape them back together. … After the end of the Trump Administration, NARA learned that additional paper records that had been torn up by former President Trump were included in the records transferred to us. Although White House staff during the Trump Administration recovered and taped together some of the torn-up records, a number of other torn-up records that were transferred had not been reconstructed by the White House.

On June 3, Jay Bratt, the Chief of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, accompanied by three FBI agents, paid a visit to Mar-a-Lago. Trump, who was served with a grand jury subpoena, is said to have told the group “I appreciate the job you’re doing,” adding: “Anything you need, let us know.”

The group was then shown boxes of documents in a basement storage area and departed with several documents marked “top secret.”

Several days later, Bratt sent a letter to one of Trump’s lawyers requesting that a stronger lock be placed on the door, which was done. It has been reported that one of Trump’s lawyers subsequently wrote a letter indicating that there was no more classified information at Mar-a-Lago. On June 22, the Trump Organization was served with a subpoena for security camera footage at Mar-a-Lago, which was turned over to the authorities. That was the last official action before last Monday’s raid.

So, what happened?

It has been reported that a confidential informant told law enforcement authorities that Trump was not telling the truth about having turned over all classified information in his possession. It has also been reported that the security camera footage revealed that boxes were moved into and out of the storage room after the Justice Department contacted Trump’s team about the boxes still in his possession.

The informant is said to have described the nature and the location of the material still at Mar-a-Lago. It has also been reported that the material in question pertained to nuclear weapons, and there is some language in the warrant itself to suggest this may be correct.

Of course, this is all speculation—and fodder for selective leaking—since the underlying affidavit that was filed to support the issuance of the search warrant is still under seal, and will likely remain so for some time, if not permanently.

The warrant itself, which has now been unsealed, describes the nature of the material that was being sought, the locations they were likely to be found, and the crimes to which that material would pertain.

The warrant authorized the agents to search “45 Office” (a likely reference to Trump being the 45th president) as well as all storage rooms and all other rooms used by the former president and his staff in which documents could be stored, specifically excluding areas occupied or used by third parties “such as Mar-a-Lago Members” and not generally available to Trump and his staff, “such as private guest suites.”

The items that the agents were authorized to seize included “documents with classification markings” and any boxes in which such items were found, “Information … regarding the retrieval, storage, or transmission of national defense information or classified material,” “Any government and/or Presidential Records” created while Trump was in office, and “Any evidence of the knowing alteration, destruction, or concealment of” any documents falling within these categories.

The inventory of what was seized has also been unsealed. Although the descriptions of what was seized are vague – which is not surprising given that it is alleged to be classified material – but there are tidbits of information that give us clues.

The agents appear to have removed 27 boxes of documents, a couple of binders with photographs, some handwritten notes, and, curiously, information pertaining to the president of France and to a grant of executive clemency to Roger Stone (whose sentence was commuted by Trump, who ultimately pardoned Stone).

Some of the documents seized apparently bore classification markings at the “Confidential,” “Secret,” “Top Secret,” and “SCI” level. Each label is supposed to convey the level is of harm that could reasonably be expected to occur if they were disclosed without authorization, as follows: Confidential (“damage to the national security”), Secret (“serious damage to the national security”), and Top Secret (“exceptionally grave damage to the national security”). Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) describes classified information that is derived from or relates to sensitive intelligence sources, methods, or analytical processes.

The warrant delineates three potential crimes: misuse of national defense information (18 U.S.C. § 793; which is part of the Espionage Act), obstruction of justice by destroying, altering, or falsifying records in connection with a federal investigation (18 U.S.C. § 1519), and concealing, removing, or destroying protected federal documents (18 U.S.C. § 2071).

The last of these has a particularly interesting wrinkle in that it provides that anyone convicted of this crime “shall … be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.”

Therefore, some might argue that if he is convicted of this crime, Trump would be barred from running again for president. While facially appealing, this statute would likely not apply to someone seeking the presidency for at least two reasons.

First, under the Constitution, the president is not considered an “officer of the United States,” a phrase reserved for federal judges, cabinet appointees, and other unelected, high-ranking federal officials. As the Supreme Court said in 2010 in Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Bd., “The people do not vote for the ‘Officers of the United States.’”

Second, the qualifications to run for president are set forth in Article II of the Constitution.

Congress may not add to or subtract from those qualifications set forth in the Constitution via a statute. The Supreme Court made this clear in 1995 in U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton, in which the court struck down a state stature adding term limits as an additional (dis)qualification to run for Congress beyond those prescribed in the Constitution.

Some have speculated that the government was not really after classified records at all or only peripherally, and that the real motivation for the search was to look for documents related to the events of Jan. 6, 2021, where it is known that the Justice Department is conducting “the most wide-ranging investigation in its history,” according to Merrick Garland.

That is certainly plausible.

Indeed, Trump is now claiming that some of the documents that were seized are covered by the attorney-client privilege, which adds some credence to this theory.

It is well established in the law that agents executing a search warrant are authorized to seize any evidence of a crime that is in “plain view,” even if that evidence is unrelated to the crime that served as the justification for obtaining the warrant in the first place. For example, if law enforcement officials were executing a search warrant for narcotics in the home of a convicted felon, they would be able to seize weapons or child pornography if those items were in plain view while the search was being conducted.

At Mar-a-Lago, the agents were authorized to search for documents that constituted Presidential Records and or contained classified information. If in the process of reviewing documents to see whether the contents fit those categories, they discovered that the documents contained evidence of some other alleged crime—perhaps related to the Jan. 6 investigation—they would and likely could seize them.

One complicating factor for the Justice Department is Trump’s claim that the documents that were seized did not contain classified information because he had declassified them while he was still president. Following the raid, Trump put out a statement through John Solomon, one of Trump’s designated liaisons to the National Archives, that in order to prepare for work the next day, he often took documents, including classified documents, to his residence, and that “[h]e had a standing order that documents removed from the Oval Office and taken to the residence were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them.”

Kash Patel, another of Trump’s designated liaisons to the National Archives who also served in several senior positions during the Trump administration, including Chief of Staff at the Pentagon, principal deputy to the acting director of national intelligence, and a former National Security Council aide, is supporting this claim.

“Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves,” Patel told Breitbart News.

Although there are a series of executive orders pertaining to the classification and declassification of documents, as a general matter, presidents have broad declassification authority.

For example, in May 2004, President George W. Bush unilaterally declassified a portion of his presidential briefing from Aug. 6, 2001—a month before the 9/11 terrorist attacks—in which he had been warned that Osama bin Laden was determined to strike the United States and that the FBI had detected “patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings.”

Similarly, on Sept. 24, 2019, Trump unilaterally declassified the transcribed notes of his controversial July 25 conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, following a whistleblower complaint that was made public.

Commentators have noted over the last several days that if the material in question pertains to nuclear weapons, the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 requires the concurrence of the Department of Energy and the Director of National Intelligence before such material—referred to as “restricted data” —can be declassified.

As discussed above, however, a statute cannot trump the Constitution. In 1988, in Department of the Navy v. Egan, the Supreme Court made clear that the president’s authority to classify, and presumably to declassify, material is derived from his authority under Article II of the Constitution. The court stated (omitting the citations):

The president, after all, is the “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.” His authority to classify and control access to information bearing on national security and to determine whether an individual is sufficiently trustworthy to occupy a position in the Executive Branch that will give that person access to such information flows primarily from this constitutional investment of power in the president, and exists quite apart from any explicit congressional grant. This court has recognized the government’s “compelling interest” in withholding national security information from unauthorized persons in the course of executive business. The authority to protect such information falls on the president as head of the Executive Branch and as commander in chief.

So while Richard Immerman, who served as an assistant deputy director of national intelligence in the Obama administration, says that while a president has authority to declassify documents, “He can’t just wave a wand and say it’s declassified.”

Trump says that “The power to classify and declassify documents rests solely with the President of the United States,” and that “The idea that some paper-pushing bureaucrat, with classification authority delegated by the president, needs to approve of declassification is absurd.”

Of course, Trump could have avoided all of this had he set up a formal, expedited process to declassify documents in conjunction with his White House Counsel’s office.

That being said, even though Trump may well have exercised his declassification authority in a slipshod and imprudent manner, he probably has the better legal argument. After all, a president can unilaterally pardon someone just by saying, “I pardon you for the crime of [X].” While signing a formal document may make it easier to prove that the president did, in fact, pardon that individual should a question arise about it, the signing of any document is not necessary for the pardon to be effective from a legal standpoint. This may well pose a big hurdle for the Justice Department if it decides to file charges against Trump.

So what happens next?

Now that the search has been executed and the documents have been seized, there are likely to be many months of wrangling ahead between the Justice Department and Trump’s attorneys.  

Ultimately, the Department of Justice will decide whether to file charges against Trump, which would be yet another unprecedented action that would involve trying to untangle many knotty factual and legal questions, only some of which are outlined above.

Depending on the nature of the documents, the Justice Department may decide that, despite the existence of the Classified Information Procedures Act, a statute designed to cover how classified information should be handled during a criminal trial, the risk of disclosure of sensitive information is simply too high to warrant charging Trump with a crime and bringing the case to trial.

The government often seeks to avoid exposure in such instances, as was the case with Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames, who reached plea deals designed to avoid disclosing the information they had provided to the Russians and to obtain their cooperation to assess and mitigate the damage they had caused.

Congress may also wish to probe some of these issues as well. The public has a lot of questions about whether the Justice Department and the FBI have, in fact, been wielding their vast power in a politically partisan manner, and they deserve to get answers to those questions.

The implications of these bewildering developments for the upcoming mid-term elections and the 2024 presidential election are, of course, anybody’s guess. But in the meantime, buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please emailletters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state. 

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Biden’s Archivist Pick to Take Helm During Firestorm Over Trump Raid

President Joe Biden’s nominee to the usually obscure and apolitical office of archivist of the United States comes as the agency she hopes to lead is in the middle of the biggest political story in the country. 

On Aug. 3, Biden announced the nomination of Colleen Shogan to head the National Archives and Records Administration. 

Five days later, the FBI raided the Florida home of Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, after the National Archives asked the Justice Department to investigate its concerns over the former president’s possession of some documents earlier this year. 

The controversy over documents at Mar-a-Lago, which long preceded Shogan’s nomination as archivist, likely will continue to thrust the agency responsible for maintaining government records into the forefront of a national story. 

Shogan, 46, is senior vice president and director of the David M. Rubenstein Center for White House History, the research arm of  the White House Historical Association. She has taught at and was an adjunct lecturer in the government department at Georgetown University. 

Shogan also is the author of eight murder mysteries in a series called “Washington Whodunnit” in which the main character is a congressional aide who solves the cases. 

The Senate, which must confirm Shogan, referred her nomination by Biden to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The Pittsburgh native previously worked for more than a decade at the Library of Congress, serving in several senior roles. She is a former deputy director of the Congressional Research Service, which produces reports for lawmakers. She also was an assistant professor of government and politics at George Mason University. 

Shogan holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Boston College and a doctorate in American politics from Yale University.

Shogun has been a modest donor to Democrat candidates. 

She made two contributions of $250 to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential primary campaign, according to Open Secrets, a nonprofit that follows money in politics. She contributed $250 to Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 after he secured Democrats’ nomination.

In 2013, she donated $1,000 to the Democratic Party of Virginia, which had a governor’s race that year. In 2016, she made one $250 contribution to Clinton’s second presidential campaign. 

The White House Historical Association referred The Daily Signal’s questions about Shogan to the White House, which did not respond to inquiries. 

The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project last week filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the National Archives and Records Administration seeking all communications between senior archives officials and the Biden White House, the Justice Department, the FBI, and Trump’s staff pertaining to Mar-a-Lago and other Trump residences. (The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.) 

In January, National Archives officials visited Mar-a-Lago and retrieved 15 boxes of documents that the agency said should have been transferred to the archives, not removed from the White House and sent to Trump’s personal residence. 

In February, the National Archives referred the matter to the Justice Department, which launched an investigation shortly afterward. 

The American Political Science Association issued a prepared statement backing Shogan’s nomination, saying in part: 

Dr. Shogan has an outstanding record of executive leadership and service in government, an extensive record of research management, and an abiding commitment to the enduring value of the National Archives to our democracy and an informed citizenry.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please emailletters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state. 

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‘Chilling Effect’: After Being Targeted by IRS in 2013, Conservative Leader Worried About 87,000 New IRS Agents

Jenny Beth Martin, a founder of Tea Party Patriots, warns that the skyrocketing number of Internal Revenue Service agents under the Biden administration could herald the return of a politicized tax agency targeting conservatives. 

“I said back then, if they’re not held accountable, other bureaucrats will think that they are able to abuse the law in an even more egregious manner and get away with it,” Martin, a Florida resident, said in a phone interview with The Daily Signal.  

“What concerns me is what we’re hearing right now with these 87,000 new IRS agents, they have such enormous power, they can garnish wages, they can levy bank accounts, they can put liens on your property,” Martin said. 

In 2013, conservatives accused the Internal Revenue Service of unfairly targeting their organizations as they sought IRS approval for tax-exempt status.  

The agency admitted it had selected specific groups applying for tax-exempt status—either 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4)—for additional and intense scrutiny based only on their names and political affiliations. 

Most of the time, the IRS targeted conservative groups, looking for words in their names such as “freedom,” “liberty,” and “patriots.”

Conservative organizations were forced to endure years of waiting to receive information from the IRS regarding their applications. 

“I believe that we applied in 2010 and then that we did not hear back until about 2012,” Martin, 52, recalled. “So [it took] almost two years, which is odd because normally you get an approval very quickly.” 

And when conservative groups did hear back, she said, they were subjected to onerous questioning that went far beyond what was necessary to determine whether they qualified as tax-exempt organizations.  

“They wanted to know what was said at our events. They wanted to have access to the back end of our website so they could read stuff on our website,” Martin said of the IRS questions. “So they were asking for things that were outside of what they should have been asking for.” 

Eventually, the allegations that the IRS was targeting conservatives got so bad that Congress stepped in.  

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee called then-IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman to testify about the allegations in 2012. Shulman testified that the IRS was not targeting conservative groups, then resigned later that year.  

Also in Republican lawmakers’ crosshairs: Lois Lerner, then director of the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Unit, which approved or rejected applications for tax-exempt status.

Lerner appeared before the House committee May 22, 2013, and testified briefly that she had “not broken any laws” or “violated any IRS rules or regulations.” She then cited her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself and refused to testify further. 

As the committee pursued the matter, lawmakers called Martin to testify about how her group had been targeted by the IRS.  

The IRS chose that time to approve the tax-exempt status for Tea Party Patriots. 

“It still took another over a year before they finally approved our status,” Martin said. “[But] they called our attorneys, telling us it was approved the day before I was testifying before Congress about it.” 

All in all, it took her organization two and half years to get that IRS final approval. 

Although her group eventually got its tax exemption and Lerner resigned from the IRS, Martin told The Daily Signal that the government employees responsible for dragging their feet in scrutinizing conservative groups never received any punishment.  

“The people at the IRS who broke laws were never held accountable,” she said.  

To Martin, her prediction that the government would act to censor conservatives could be coming true, and it would have chilling consequences specifically for free speech.  

“The aftermath initially for us when they were targeting tea party groups is that it had a chilling effect on speech and a chilling effect on the First Amendment,” Martin told The Daily Signal.  “We were assembling together to exercise our grievances to our government peacefully.” 

She continued:  

If the targeting goes on the way that we’re seeing it right now, I think that people are going to be afraid to express who they support. I think they’re going to be much more careful about what they say, especially what they say in public or even online. 

Martin concluded the interview with a call to “repair the foundations” of faith in government by holding government agencies accountable. 

“If we do not find a way to fill the cracks and to repair the foundation, which in this case will be restoring faith in the government agencies and departments and seeing a chance of true accountability happening, then the problems will get worse,” she said. “So we have to find a way to hold the people accountable who are abusing their power.” 

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state. 

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Once Champions of Working Class, Journalists Now Represent America’s Elite

Just when it seemed that confidence in America’s news media couldn’t get any worse, last month Gallup reported new record lows.

“Just 16% of U.S. adults now say they have ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of confidence in newspapers and 11% in television news,” Gallup’s Megan Brenan wrote. “Both readings are down five percentage points since last year.”

Those numbers are startling—and perhaps well deserved given the current state of our corrupt corporate media. But they’re also troubling for America.

Batya Ungar-Sargon, deputy opinion editor at Newsweek, is the author of “Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy.” She spoke to The Daily Signal about the media and her diagnosis of what’s wrong. Listen to the interview or read a lightly edited transcript.

Rob Bluey: As somebody who attended journalism school and has worked in the media, I can tell you that I really connected with a lot of the ideas in your book. And I appreciate your writing it and telling the story from your perspective about the situation we find ourselves in today when it comes to journalism.

I want to begin there before I get to your role at Newsweek and some of the things that you’re doing to hopefully change the direction that we’re headed. But I always like to begin by asking what inspired you to write the book?

Batya Ungar-Sargon: I have a very unsatisfying answer to that question, which is, I tried to write a different book before and I couldn’t sell it. And that book was called “A More Perfect Union.”

And it was about how Americans are much less divided than we think, and that polarization is a pretty much purely elite phenomenon. People who aren’t making money or getting power off of polarization are not polarized. And I wanted to write a book about all this good news and I couldn’t sell it.

Editor after editor was turning it down. … It was actually the last drinks I had before lockdown in March 2020. The last time I went out for a long time. We were having drinks and she said to me, “Look, you’re telling me that we’re not that polarized. Well, then why do I think we are? Maybe you should write that book.”

And I think that is the book that “Bad News” actually is. It’s an explanation of why Americans are so convinced that things are so terrible. Why is the media telling this narrative that we have never been more racist or sexist or this phobic or that phobic when the truth is the exact opposite? Americans have never been more united around the values that this great nation was founded on.

That was what inspired me, I would say. I sat back and said, “OK, maybe I should tell the story about how we’re getting the wrong message. Why are we getting the bad news instead of the good news?” And that’s “Bad News.”

Bluey: The thing that I appreciate most about your book is that you go through by providing examples, which I think is very helpful, but secondly, you explain how we got to the point we find ourselves today.

And so walk us through how this class of journalists, which many years ago, at the foundation of the penny press and Benjamin Day and Joseph Pulitzer, were really there in service to the working class, came to abandon the working class and focus on maybe elite interests instead.

Ungar-Sargon: The surprising thing that I found in my book that I did not expect going into it is, why do Americans believe that we’ve never been as divided as we are now, that we’ve never been more racist than we are now? Why do we believe all that? The answer is actually not about partisan politics or partisanship at all. It’s about class.

Really, the reason that we’re getting this messaging has a lot to do with the ways that the industry of journalism changed, the way the profit motive has changed, but also a status revolution among journalists that shifted the kinds of stories that they wanted to tell.

So for much of American history, your typical journalist was not college educated. In fact, a lot of them hadn’t even finished high school. This was a low-status job.

The kind of person who would become a journalist was the kid in the back of the room in school who couldn’t shut up, who couldn’t stop cracking wise, who thought that his job was to point out that the teacher was wrong about everything. And who put the teacher in charge anyway? And why does the teacher have power over us. Right?

Somebody super anti-authoritarian, who was maybe even too anti-authoritarian to go work in the factory where all of his classmates were going to go after high school because he would’ve presented a danger. So he’d become a journalist, right?

He’d go and he’d meet powerful people. And he’d demand justice and accountability on behalf of his friends who were toiling away in the factory, or who were plumbers or electricians or linemen.

Journalists worked and lived in working-class neighborhoods. And they were part of the working class. It was a low-status, blue-collar trade. It was not a profession. And over the course of the 20th century, that really changed.

And of course, it’s not just journalists. The whole Democratic coalition, the whole Democratic Party, the left that used to represent labor, used to be deeply embedded in the working class, today is really the side of the overeducated, the coastal, people with a certain kind of taste palette and setup and so forth.

And what ended up happening was journalists now are, it’s one of the most educated professions in America, despite the fact that you can’t actually teach journalism in school, which is something that Americans knew for the vast majority of our history. It’s something that you do by going out and talking to people.

Now over 92% of journalists have a college degree. The majority of them have a graduate degree. One in five journalists lives in Los Angeles, New York, or D.C. Seventy-five percent of digital media journalist jobs are on the coasts in those corridors. So there’s been a total profile shift in who journalists are.

Today, journalists are the kid in the front of the class going, “Oh, me, me, me,” every time the teacher asks a question. “Me, me, me.” And the teacher has to pretend they can’t see them because otherwise they’d only be calling on them.

These are people who are super comfortable with authority, super comfortable with massive government. They think that somebody should be telling everybody what to think and what to do, and they should be the ones in charge of that messaging. It’s just been a complete shift in the makeup of this class.

And as journalists ascended to the elites, to where they’re making … they’re in the top 10% today. As they started to go to school with the scions of billionaires, of international billionaires, of people who are going to go on to become politicians or have super high-status jobs in America, the people that they end up covering, right? But they have class solidarity with.

It shifted their focus because they ended up on the beneficiary end of the radical class divide in America. Nobody wanted to tell that story anymore. So instead they shifted the focus of inequality from class, which is where it really is, to things like race and gender in order to avoid talking about the ways in which they were implicated in the class divide.

And I don’t want to make this sound like a conspiracy. I think a lot of this was unconscious. I think most of these people still see themselves as good people and really do believe that they are fighting on behalf of the forgotten people, but they really aren’t. They really are on the side of criminalizing the views of the vast majority of middle- and working-class Americans.

So to me, the woke revolution that we see in the media is just the last stage of this class revolution, this status revolution that then met an industry that was hungry for clicks and engagement, which meant that it was hungry to cater to the most extreme. And it was sort of like this match made in hell, and that explains why our media is so terrible.

Bluey: Well, thank you for outlining that. That’s a really helpful analysis. And I agree with your assessment there.

One of the things that I’ve noticed, and I’m wondering if you have as well, is this pack mentality. That it seems that the journalists, maybe because they do come from the same elite institutions and the same backgrounds, maybe even live in the same neighborhoods, tend to focus on the same story. And they’re not telling certain stories or telling aspects about our culture that would have before.

Probably also a consequence of the fact that you don’t have nearly as many local news outlets that simply just have not been able to sustain themselves economically in this world that we live in.

So how much of a factor is that in terms of how we’re actually consuming news and what it means for the populace in terms of how they go about getting information?

Ungar-Sargon: It is a huge factor, but only because of the craven cowardice of the people who are supposed to be at the head of august institutions like The New York Times and The Washington Post and NPR. If those people were doing their jobs, then Twitter mobs would have no power.

Yeah, sure, you’d have a bunch of really angry, overeducated elites living in coastal cities who were really mad at you on the internet, but it wouldn’t matter. The reason that it matters that there’s this mob mentality is because people at the masthead, at the top of these mastheads, have been caving over and over to the pressure from the mobs. That’s where the problem lies, is just in the cravenness at the top.

There’s no leadership anymore in this country right now. The leadership class is over. I mean, the leadership that I follow now is from the working class, from average everyday Americans who have more courage and more values in their pinky finger than the people leading The New York Times.

Bluey: You mentioned The New York Times and obviously, they play a big role in this. You yourself are a deputy opinion editor at Newsweek. James Bennet, who was leading the opinion pages of The New York Times, was forced out of his job when he published an op-ed by a sitting U.S. senator, Tom Cotton, at a time when many people on the woke left did not agree with that opinion. And as a result, he lost his job. I’m sure he’s not alone in that regard.

Ungar-Sargon: Let me just tell you something that I think people don’t realize, and I go through this in the book, blow by blow. It wasn’t just that The New York Times fired somebody for publishing a sitting U.S. senator. It was that they then lied in their own reported piece by three journalists about what had actually happened. They misrepresented what was in the op-ed, OK?

So they misquoted their own op-ed in their “objective” reporting. They then lied about what had happened. And then they leaked the name of the most junior person at the opinion desk who had worked on the piece. They dangled that like bait in front of the Twitter mob, who came for him in this rapacious, disgusting antisemitic way, just because his last name sounds Jewish. And The New York Times condoned that and condoned it and condoned it.

So there had been seven editors who had worked on that op-ed. They dangled one name out there and not one of those people stood up for him. AG Sulzberger, all of these people, the Standards Department—the “Standards Department” at The New York Times—all of these people allowed this kid’s name to be dragged through the mud. It was so despicable. And they encouraged the reporters to lie in their reporting about what had happened.

It’s not just the one op-ed. I mean, the rot goes so deep when you think about the abdication of just basic humanity, basic morals, because everybody is terrified about this Twitter mob. I mean, it really, really is shocking. … I know I sound very angry. I got so angry when I was reporting this out. And I just think people need to understand.

By the way, this was by design at The New York Times. If you go back to 2014, when they laid out their digital strategy for the future, one of the things they said they wanted was they wanted their employees to be social media stars. They wanted them to be setting the agenda. I mean, they said, “We need to reward people who go out there and make a name for themselves on Twitter.”

And so what happened? They encouraged this behavior and then their own employees turned on them and got them to fire people who they didn’t like the cut of their jib. I mean, it’s really, really, really horrifying. I mean, just the dereliction of duty at the top.

Look, there’s a lot of victims here, but the main victims of all of this—now we are an America that doesn’t have a New York Times, right? That’s not great. For people like me who grew up reading that paper every single day of my life, that’s not great.

But I just think that The New York Times now, … 91% of their readers are Democrats. I mean, to get to that level of squandering your legacy, to where only 9% of your readers are people from the other party, I mean, that takes a lot of work. And unfortunately, they put that work in.

Bluey: You’ve done a great job here of outlining the problem. I also want to give you an opportunity to talk about some of the solutions. And let me begin by asking you the question, if there are different models that you’ve seen in the media landscape that have worked particularly well as disruptors? Maybe there are some people who are doing it well and trying to push things in a better direction and not only hold those in power accountable, but maybe provide a better alternative for the working class and other Americans who really should be getting the information in a way that we did in years past.

Ungar-Sargon: Yes. Obviously, there’s stuff I love, there’s great independent stuff going on. But I would say, even more importantly, I love the mass boycott of the news that’s happening right now. …

First of all, most marginalized communities have spent 100 years being news deserts, right? So it’s like OK, now we’re all feeling what that feels like, but how important is it that there be a national news media that people tune into? I’m not sure it’s very important.

Local news was very important to holding power to account, but right now I just don’t see how any of these people have the moral credibility to hold people to account. And they weren’t even doing it like before because of all of this class solidarity.

So I’m very heartened to see the American people just turning away from all of this, finding podcasts they like that reflect their values that they see as on their side.

There’s a lot of that going on and that’s great. But at the end of the day, it’s about entertainment because like I said, the crisis of leadership is so deep, one struggles to imagine, how would you fix this? How would you turn this around?

I don’t think that our journalistic class is capable of doing that because they are so economically invested in the status quo and so psychologically invested in denying it, right? And denying their own culpability in it. I don’t see that turning around.

But they don’t want the vast American readership anymore, right? The New York Times wants a Democratic readership. It wants an affluent coastal city-based reader. They only want the 6% of Americans who identify as progressives.

So in a way sort of like working itself out. They no longer care about other Americans and other Americans no longer care about them.

… There was this huge hit piece against Tucker Carlson in The New York Times where they did their best to call him racist a gazillion different ways. And it just fell flat. And Glenn Greenwald tweeted, there was a time five years ago, 10 years ago, where a hit piece from The New York Times calling you a white supremacist would’ve ended your career. And today nobody cares.

So I feel much more heartened by the boycott than I do by the fact that there’s now Substack or what have you. I’m taking my cues from working-class Americans who I speak to every day working on my next book. And I just feel like the real power, the real alternative to all this lies in the people. And … I’m a little bit more focused on that now.

Bluey: It certainly does. And you and Josh Hammer at Newsweek have certainly, I think, pushed back successfully and tried a different approach. And so I’d like to hear how you are approaching your job on a day-to-day basis, not only to push back on the cancel culture that you’ve talked about, but to make sure that you are reaching a broad swath of Americans and not just catering to Democrats or Republicans, but trying to reach everybody with a diversity of opinions.

Ungar-Sargon: First, I have to say, I do my job with a lot of gratitude to Josh. I mean, he walks the walk. He doesn’t just talk the talk. We run opinion from across the political spectrum.

Now, interestingly—I think you and your listeners will find this very interesting. Newsweek is now coded as center-right, even though we have three opinion editors who are on the left and two who are on the right. Because just the fact of hosting the debate makes you—that’s now considered a right-wing proposition. If that makes sense. That’s where we’ve arrived at.

Recently, there was a debate between Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Bernie Sanders, right? A very cool thing to take place. And where do you think it took place? On Fox News, right? On Fox Nation. It’s so interesting that the left has so abdicated the question of debate that that is now considered a right-wing proposition.

But we host opinion from across the political spectrum, across the religious spectrum. We have people writing for us of all races, of all backgrounds, of all ethnicities, of all persuasions. Obviously, there’s limits, right? We each have our red lines and then we have our collective red lines as a section. But we are deeply committed to having Americans from all walks of life.

I have a very strong focus on working-class voices, getting people into our pages who don’t have a college degree who work in the trades, who have a different perspective on life, on American life. That’s something I’m very passionate about. I’m very passionate about elevating moderate black voices, … they represent where the vast majority of black Americans are at.

But you will never read those views in The New York Times or The Washington Post. Or actually, you will in The Wall Street Journal, but especially with Newsweek.

And … Josh is very invested in the populist right. And we have two editors who are much more on the left, central left, representing that point of view. Getting the woke point of view, of course, is really important, even though I personally don’t agree with that view. We publish stuff like that all the time.

So we are deeply, deeply, deeply invested in America and in the great American conversation and the great American debate.

Bluey: And Batya, final question for you here. I’ve had the opportunity to watch some of your interviews, listen to them. And I notice that when you’re talking to some in the media, they get very defensive, or in some cases, even angry about some of the indictments that you’ve made. What is your response as you look ahead? Now that your book is out and people have had a chance to digest it and see your opinion, where do you see things going from here? Do you have an optimistic perspective on the future or do you really think things are going to maybe get worse before they get better?

Ungar-Sargon: Oh, I’m really optimistic. Yeah. It’s funny because the left will … be like, “This critique is a right-wing talking point.” I’ll be like, “OK, so it’s now considered a right-wing talking point to care about class?” If the right is willing to follow me there, I’m coming to the right.

And I will just say to you and your listeners—I don’t know if your listeners know this, but I was invited to speak at this Heritage [Foundation] event. And when I was first invited to speak, I said, “Sure. Can I come and talk about how free markets miserate the working class?” And I said, “No hard feelings either way.”

And John Malcolm wrote back to me and he said, I hope he doesn’t mind my sharing this, he said, “Batya, you come and talk about whatever you want. We believe in open debate and dialogue and hearing from the other side.”

If the right is going to become the side of talking about class inequality, talking about the dignity of working-class life and working-class jobs, my God, what could be better? I mean, I don’t care which side does it, I just care that these people have a voice. And I’m getting a great response from the right. I mean, I don’t quite know, I haven’t delved deeply into why, but I’m super, super grateful. I’m super grateful to be here talking to you and to have been to the conference.

And so … I don’t think right or left really matters so much anymore. I think it’s really about who has power and who doesn’t, and how do we reshape that? How do we build power from the bottom up and give people a sense of dignity back and a sense of ownership over their lives and a sense of autonomy?

So I feel very, very hopeful and optimistic because I see people responding to my work. And like I said, I’m taking my cues from the people that I interview. And so I’m elevating their voices and I’m seeing an increased appetite to hear from them. So yeah, I’m betting on the American people, man. I’m betting on the American people, so I feel great.

Bluey: Thank you. I appreciate you leaving us with that. I, like you, am optimistic about where things are headed. I think the response that we’ve received since the creation of The Daily Signal—and I know there are so many other conservative media outlets that have come into existence in just the last decade. There’s clearly an underserved audience out there of American people who are looking for alternatives to the legacy media. And so thank you for the work that you’re doing, not only with the book “Bad News,” but day-to-day at Newsweek ensuring that we have that diversity of opinion represented.

Batya Ungar-Sargon, thank you again. The book is called “Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy.” We appreciate you coming to that Heritage event in Nashville. We appreciate you being on the show today.

Ungar-Sargon: Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure and it’s an honor.

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Twitter Vows to Fight ‘Election Misinformation.’ More Censorship Incoming.

In the run-up to November’s midterm elections, Twitter is priming itself to go on a censoring spree in the name of fighting misinformation.  

What could possibly go wrong? 

The social media platform made the announcement Thursday that it was “activating enforcement of our Civic Integrity Policy for the 2022 U.S. midterms.” 

The tech giant said it would institute so-called prebunks, information designed to counter “misleading narratives,” on top of putting its finger on the scale to prevent tweets containing “misinformation” from reaching users through notifications. 

“Twitter plays a critical role in empowering democratic conversations, facilitating meaningful political debate, and providing information on civic participation—not only in the U.S., but around the world,” the company concluded. “People deserve to trust the election conversations and content they encounter on Twitter.” 

This new policy is ripe for abuse. Twitter has proven time and again it cannot be trusted to serve as a neutral judge of what is or isn’t misinformation.  

The most obvious example of this failure to act neutrally is the botched handling of the Hunter Biden laptop case.  

Twitter was perfectly comfortable “prebunking” the story before the 2020 presidential election. It aggressively blocked the New York Post story reporting on Hunter’s laptop and prevented anyone from linking to it on the site. 

That decision may very well have altered the results of the election.  

Per The Washington Times: 

Trump pollster John McLaughlin found that 4.6% of Biden voters would have changed their minds if they had known about [the Hunter Biden laptop], easily enough to flip results in key states. Another survey by The Polling Company showed that even more Biden voters in seven swing states — 17% — would have switched their votes if they had been aware of the laptop and other stories. 

Not content to indirectly impact the results of an election, Twitter literally takes its marching orders from Democrats.  

Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter who was smeared as a COVID-19 conspiracy theorist, obtained documents revealing the White House demanded the site ban him.  

Berenson said on his Substack that according to internal Slack conversations between Twitter employees, Andrew Slavitt, a senior member of Biden’s COVID-19 response team, had mentioned Berenson specifically as a source of COVID-19 misinformation and encouraged the platform to ban him. 

The Daily Signal reached out to Twitter for comment but did not receive a response. 

On top of colluding with the Democrats to eliminate their opposition online, Twitter has permitted blatant lies surrounding elections to stay posted, so long as they benefit the Democrat Party. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted in May 2017 following President Donald Trump’s election victory that “our election was hijacked,” while in April 2020, future White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted about how Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp stole the election from Stacy Abrams. 

Our election was hijacked. There is no question. Congress has a duty to #ProtectOurDemocracy & #FollowTheFacts.

— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) May 16, 2017

Reminder: Brian Kemp stole the gubernatorial election from Georgians and Stacey Abrams.https://t.co/ZIKGTd6U1v

— Karine Jean-Pierre (@K_JeanPierre) April 2, 2020

Isn’t that misinformation? 

Despite both tweets being blatantly false and calling into question the integrity of legitimate elections, Twitter has allowed the tweets to stay up with no markings or warnings. 

And we’re supposed to trust it can be neutral for the midterms?  

Heritage Foundation policy analyst Will Thibeau sees the extreme danger in allowing Twitter to unilaterally act as unelected and unreliable arbiters of truth.  

“While the meat of Twitter’s announcement details efforts to protect against deception about election results, times, and locations, the platform gives themselves broad leeway to protect against misleading information about the procedures or circumstances around participation in a civic process,” he told The Daily Signal. “What political conversation on Twitter wouldn’t fall under this scope in an election year?” 

He continued:  

In 2021, the Media Research Center found Twitter censors Republican Members of Congress 53 times for every instance of censorship applied to a Democrat Representative. By wrapping their effort to censor information in an announcement on the ‘civic process,’ Twitter is, once again, laying the groundwork to de-platform voices who don’t align with the political ideology of Silicon Valley. 

The Daily Signal is the media arm of The Heritage Foundation.  

It’s clear that Twitter can’t be trusted to fairly and neutrally judge what is considered misinformation. It has proven time and again that all it cares about is promoting the radical left’s policies and political goals.  

Now, more than ever, there must be reforms to how Big Tech platforms like Twitter are allowed to operate.  

Twitter claims it wants to ensure fair elections take place around the world. 

Then it should open source its algorithms to ensure people know exactly what’s going on behind the scenes, as well as provide details into its content moderations and decisions. 

How better to ensure that everything is fair if people know they won’t be censored for political speech that offends the sensibilities of coastal elites?  

If Twitter wants to be viewed as a reputable source of information, it needs to prove to the American people it deserves that trust.  

Its previous behavior should make everyone suspicious.  

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4 Facts About IRS Gun Arsenal

Some of the 87,000 new agents whom Democrats propose to hire at the Internal Revenue Service could come with some extra firepower. 

On Friday, House Democrats gave final passage to the tax and spending bill they dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act, which, among other things, would double the size of the IRS with 87,000 new agents to beef up enforcement

As of two years ago, the IRS had an arsenal of 4,600 guns, reported OpenTheBooks, a government watchdog group. 

Two federal investigations in the past decade found that IRS agents had not been sufficiently trained and were accident-prone with the weapons they have. Armed IRS raids on nonviolent taxpayers surfaced as a concern almost 25 years ago during a Senate hearing. 

Democrats’ bill, which the Senate passed Sunday, awaits the signature of President Joe Biden should it clear the House as early as Friday.

The legislation, which unwinds from 2023 through 2031, would devote $80 billion to expanding the IRS and boosting tax revenue to pay for Democrats’ green energy subsidies and other  pet projects. 

Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative group that opposes the legislation, assembled information about the IRS arsenal from government and media reports. 

During the House floor debate Friday, Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., raised concerns about arming IRS agents. 

“This bill has new IRS agents and they are armed, and the job description tells them that they need to be required to carry a firearm and expect to use deadly force if necessary,” Boebert said. “Excessive taxation is theft. You are using the power of the federal government for armed robbery on the taxpayers.”  

Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., suggested that no IRS agents are armed. 

“The idea that they are armed—I know that Ms. Boebert would like everybody to be armed, but that’s not what IRS agents do,” Yarmuth said. “I would implore my Republican colleagues to cut out the scare tactics. Quit making things up.”

In a posted job opening for a special agent, the IRS specified that applicants should be “willing and able to participate in arrests, execution of search warrants, and other dangerous assignments,” and able to carry “a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary.”

After sparking some controversy amid the proposed expansion of the agency, the IRS deleted “willing to use deadly force” from the job description.

The IRS is hiring new special agents!

Requirements include working min “50 hours per week, which may include irregular hours, and be on-call 24/7, including holidays and weekends” and “Carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary.”https://t.co/uvwbrAkIit pic.twitter.com/z0aVX6uoMr

— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) August 10, 2022

The IRS referred questions to the Treasury Department as to whether the arsenal would increase as the number of personnel multiplies. 

The Treasury Department did not immediately respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment for this report. 

Here are four key things to know about the Internal Revenue Service and weapons. 

1. IRS Guns and Ammo

The current IRS workforce includes 78,661 full-time employees, so Democrats’ legislation, if passed as written, would more than double the agency’s employees.

A 2020 report from OpenTheBooks, titled “The Militarization of the U.S. Executive Agencies,” shows that the IRS Criminal Investigation division has a stockpile of 4,600 guns.

The firearms include 3,282 pistols, 621 shotguns, 539 rifles, 15 fully automatic firearms, and four revolvers, the report says. 

The Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog agency, reported in 2018 that the IRS had 3.1 million rounds of ammunition for pistols and revolvers. 

The tax agency had 1.4 million rounds of ammunition for rifles, the GAO report said, along with 367,750 shotgun rounds and 56,000 rounds for automatic weapons. 

2. Armed Agents ‘Not Properly Trained’ 

The IRS’s National Criminal Investigation Training Academy has the responsibility to implement firearms training and a related qualification program nationwide. 

However, IRS agents assigned to the Criminal Investigation division regularly failed to stay up to date with training or to report incidents of improper firearms use, according to a 2018 report from the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration. 

The inspector general’s report notes that “there is no national level review of firearms training records to ensure that all special agents meet the qualification requirements.”

“Special agents not properly trained in the use of firearms could endanger the public, as well as their fellow special agents, and expose the IRS to possible litigation over injuries or for damages,” the report says. 

For qualification, each agent must score 75% or higher on the firing range, but the IRS lacked documentation showing its agents met the standards, according to the inspector general.  

The report says that 79 of the 459 special agents in the agency’s long gun cadre failed to meet standard qualification requirements. Further, the report says the IRS could not provide information about whether 1,500 special agents were trained in tactical equipment proficiency.

In fiscal year 2016, the inspector general’s report determined, the IRS Criminal Investigation division “did not maintain documented evidence that 145 out of 2,126 special agents met the firearm standards established by CI [Criminal Investigation] and therefore were not qualified law enforcement officers.”

3. More Unintended Discharges Than Intended Ones

The poor firearms training for IRS agents has led to more accidental firings than intentional firings, according to a separate inspector general’s report from 2012. 

“Having the availability of deadly force puts hiring so many new agents into perspective,” Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, told The Daily Signal.

The inspector general for tax administration “found they fired their guns more times by accident than on purpose,” Norquist said. “I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.”

The poor training was not a new problem, since the 2012 report from the inspector general found similar issues with firearms training. 

“If there is insufficient oversight, special agents in possession of firearms who are not properly trained and qualified could endanger other special agents and the public,” the report says. 

The 2012 report not only found that IRS agents fired their weapons by accident more times than intentionally, but that the agency concealed details about the accidental discharges. 

“There were a total of eight firearm discharges classified as intentional use of force incidents and 11 discharges classified as accidental during FYs 2009 through 2011,” the report says.

And, the inspector general’s report continues, “we found that four accidental discharges were not properly reported.”  

It says that “the accidental discharges may have resulted in property damage or personal injury.” 

The public report, however, redacts four references to unreported accidental discharges of firearms. 

4. IRS History of Armed Raids

In 1998, the Senate Finance Committee held investigative hearings into IRS abuses that featured testimony from a Virginia restaurant owner.

The restaurant owner said that armed IRS agents with drug-sniffing dogs burst into his restaurant during breakfast hours and ordered customers to get out. 

Agents took his cash register and records, the restaurant owner told the Senate committee. When he returned home, he found that his door had been kicked open and his residence had been raided. 

A tax preparer from Oklahoma gave similar testimony, saying that about 15 armed IRS agents came to his business and harassed his clients. 

The owner of a Texas oil company recounted that agents came to his office and told employees: “Remove your hands from the keyboards and back away from the computers. And remember, we’re armed!”

In each case, the agents came up empty-handed. 

The Washington Post reported at the time that Democrat and Republican lawmakers alike expressed dismay, and that the Clinton administration’s IRS commissioner, Charles O. Rossotti, promised an investigation of such actions.

At a separate hearing that year before the same Senate committee, Treasury Department’s inspector general, Harry G. Patsalides, told senators that the IRS had tolerated car thefts and anonymous bullying by promoting an agent accused of sexual harassment and allowing agents to conduct armed raids on nonviolent taxpayers.

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Dana Milbank’s Uncivil War on GOP ‘Destructionists’

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank was sounding the alarm in multiple national TV and radio interviews: The rage-filled tone of pro-Trump commentary after the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago was going to lead to violence, possibly catastrophic violence, like the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, which killed 168 Americans.

In an hourlong interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air,” Milbank warned there’s too much hot talk about rising authoritarianism. “It doesn’t take a whole lot where we are right now for things to get out of hand. We’ve seen rising violence from right-wing extremists. We really need our leaders—opinion leaders and lawmakers—to step in and calm things down.”

Calm would be good. But you may smirk at this insincere schtick. Because Milbank works for a newspaper whose melodramatic motto for the last five years has implied impending despotism: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” The hyperbolic title of Milbank’s new book is “The Destructionists: The Twenty-Five-Year Crack-Up of the Republican Party.”

Milbank insists we need to tone down the rhetoric. He should start with his own book title—and the Post motto. But he deeply imbibes from the motto. “Admittedly, I’m partisan,” Milbank writes, “not for Democrats but for democrats … Republicans have become an authoritarian faction fighting democracy.”

The fact that Milbank can get an interview for his dangerous-GOP rant on PBS (“Amanpour & Co.”), an hour on NPR, and a favorable book review on NPR.org by political editor Ron Elving tells you once again that public broadcasting is a taxpayer-funded sandbox for the left.

In these interviews and another with MSNBC, Milbank is pulling out the ancient smear that Republicans and conservative radio hosts caused the Oklahoma City bombing with their anti-government rhetoric. This was a very common smear at the time. Time magazine called them an “unindicted co-conspirator in the blast.”

The late David Broder of The Washington Post huffed then that Rush Limbaugh using the slogan “America Held Hostage” under President Bill Clinton was “dangerous” and could “inflame twisted minds with statements that suggest political opponents are enemies.” Unlike “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”

In a recent column, Milbank is also recirculating the smear that Sarah Palin using rhetoric like “Don’t Retreat, Instead—Reload!” caused the shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords in 2011. Liberals like Milbank never needed proof that the shooter was a Palin supporter who actually saw the rhetoric, or if the Oklahoma City bomber loved Newt Gingrich. Who needs proof?

Milbank left out smearing Rachel Maddow or Bernie Sanders for the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise in 2017. The shooter was a big fan of both of them. The Unabomber had Al Gore’s book “Earth in the Balance” in his hideout. But they can’t be “destructionists.” They’re not Republicans.

Liberals apparently can’t be blamed for political toxicity. “Donald Trump didn’t create this noxious environment,” Milbank writes in his book. “He is a monster the Republicans created over a quarter century.”

Milbank is not a serious man for serious times. He’s the columnist as jester. When Dick Cheney accidentally shot a friend in the face in a hunting accident in 2006, Milbank showed up on Keith Olbermann’s show in an orange hunting vest and stocking cap. Olbermann asked if the shooting of his friend would become Cheney’s legacy. Milbank joked, “Well, we’ve got two and a half more years of hunting trips. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”

Milbank can mock Gingrich or Limbaugh or Glenn Beck as a noxious presence turning political figures into vicious cartoons and replacing civil discourse with callous humor. But somehow, he can never reflect on whether he resembles that critique.

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The FBI Has Become Dangerous to Americans

The FBI is dissolving before our eyes into a rogue security service akin to those in Eastern Europe during the Cold War.

Take the FBI’s deliberately asymmetrical application of the law. This week the bureau surprise-raided the home of former President Donald Trump—an historical first.

A massive phalanx of FBI agents swooped into the Trump residence while he was not home, to confiscate his personal property, safe, and records. All of this was over an archival dispute of presidential papers common to many former presidents. Agents swarmed the entire house, including the wardrobe closet of the former first lady.

Note we are less than 90 days out from a midterm election, and this was not just a raid, but a political act.

The Democratic Party is anticipated to suffer historical losses. Trump was on the verge of announcing his 2024 presidential candidacy. In many polls, he remains the Republican front-runner for the nomination—and well ahead of incumbent President Joe Biden in a putative 2024 rematch.

In 2016, then-FBI Director James Comey announced that candidate Hillary Clinton was guilty of destroying subpoenaed emails—a likely felony pertaining to her tenure as secretary of state. Yet he all but pledged that she would not be prosecuted given her status as a presidential candidate.

As far as targeting presidential candidates, Trump was impeached in 2020 ostensibly for delaying military aid to Ukraine by asking Ukrainian officials to investigate more fully the clearly corrupt Biden family—given Joe Biden at the time was a likely possible presidential opponent in 2020.

The FBI has devolved into a personal retrieval service for the incorrigible Biden family. It suppressed, for political purposes, information surrounding Hunter Biden’s missing laptop on the eve of the 2020 election.

Previously, the FBI never pursued Hunter’s fraudulently registered firearm, his mysterious foreign income, his felonious crack cocaine use, or his regular employment of foreign prostitutes.

Yet in a pre-dawn raid just before the 2020 election, the FBI targeted the home of journalist James O’Keefe on grounds that someone had passed to him the lost and lurid diary of Ashley Biden, Biden’s wayward daughter.

At various times, in Stasi-style the FBI has publicly shackled Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro, swarmed the office of Trump legal counsel Rudy Giuliani, and sent a SWAT team to surround the house of Trump ally Roger Stone. Meanwhile, terrorists and cartels walk with impunity across an open border.

FBI Director Christopher Wray last week cut short his evasive testimony before Congress. He claimed he had to leave for a critical appointment—only to use his FBI Gulfstream luxury jet to fly to his favorite vacation spot in the Adirondacks.

Wray took over from disgraced interim FBI Director Andrew McCabe. The latter admitted lying repeatedly to federal investigators and signed off on a fraudulent FBI FISA application. He faced zero legal consequences.

McCabe, remember, was also the point man in the softball Hillary Clinton email investigation—while his wife was a political candidate and recipient of thousands of dollars from a political action committee with close ties to the Clinton family.

McCabe took over from disgraced FBI Director James Comey. On 245 occasions, Comey claimed under oath before the House Intelligence Committee that he had no memory or knowledge of key questions concerning his tenure. With impunity, he leaked confidential FBI memos to the media.

Comey took over from Director Robert Mueller. Implausibly, Mueller swore under oath that he had no knowledge either of the Steele dossier or of Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned Christopher Steele to compile the dossier. But those were the very twin catalysts that had prompted his entire special investigation into the Russian collusion hoax.

FBI legal counsel Kevin Clinesmith was convicted of a felony for altering an FBI warrant request to spy on an innocent Carter Page.

The FBI, by Comey’s own public boasts, bragged how it caught national security adviser-designate Gen. Michael Flynn in its Crossfire Hurricane Russian collusion hoax.

As special counsel, Mueller then fired two of his top investigators—Lisa Page and Peter Strzok—for improper personal and professional behavior. He then staggered their releases to mask their collaborative wrongdoing.

Mueller’s team deleted critical cellphone evidence under subpoena that might well have revealed systemic FBI-related bias.

The FBI interferes with and warps national elections. It hires complete frauds as informants who are far worse than its targets. It humiliates or exempts government and elected officials based on their politics. It violates the civil liberties of individual American citizens.

The FBI’s highest officials now routinely mislead Congress. They have erased or altered court and subpoenaed evidence. They illegally leak confidential material to the media. And they have lied under oath to federal investigators.

The agency has become dangerous to Americans and an existential threat to their democracy and rule of law. The FBI should be dispersing its investigatory responsibilities to other government investigative agencies that have not yet lost the public’s trust.

(C)2022 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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What About Democrats Who ‘Deny Elections’?

After the recent annual Conservative Political Action Conference convention in Dallas, CNN published a video with the following headline: “Election deniers take over CPAC after primary victories.”

In a recent appearance on CBS, Rep. Paul Kinzinger, R-Ill., who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump and serves on the House Jan. 6 committee, said: “The only thing we need for democracy to survive is the knowledge that you can vote, that that vote counts, and we live with the winner and loser. If half the country believes that that wasn’t accurate, you can’t expect democracy to survive.”

Where was this concern about “election deniers” when Democrats have complained about “stolen” elections?

In 2018, Democrat Stacey Abrams claimed she lost her Georgia gubernatorial race due to voter “suppression.” In her speech after the election was called for her opponent, she refused to concede. Three years later, she told CNN that her opponent “won under the rules of the game at the time, but the game was rigged against the voters of Georgia.” A USA Today fact check said: “There is little empirical evidence [opponent Georgia then-Secretary of State Brian] Kemp stole the election.”

Former Vice President Al Gore, in a Washington Post interview two years after his presidential defeat to George W. Bush, said, “I believe that if everyone in Florida who tried to vote had had his or her vote counted properly, that I would have won.”

In January 2001, several House Democrats voted against certifying the election results of 2000. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said in a joint session of Congress: “The objection is in writing, and I do not care that it is not signed by a member of the Senate (as is necessary to force a Senate vote on the challenge).”

Had Ohio, in 2004, gone to Democrat John Kerry, he would have become president. President George W. Bush carried it 51% to 49%, a margin of about 100,000 votes.

But Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the Jan. 6 committee, on Jan. 6, 2005, joined 30 other House Democrats and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., in refusing to certify Ohio’s presidential election results, claiming “voter suppression” in addition to arguing, also with no basis in fact, that the Diebold voting machines were manipulated to reelect Bush. The Senate voted 74-1 against the Democrats’ challenge.

Though Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., voted against the challenge, he praised Boxer in 2005 for making it: “I thank her for doing that, because it gives members an opportunity once again on a bipartisan basis to look at a challenge that we face not just in the last election in one state, but in many states.”

Hillary Clinton consistently calls the presidential election of 2016 “stolen” and described then-President Trump as “illegitimate.” Former President Jimmy Carter said in 2019: “I think a full investigation would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016. He lost the election, and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.” New York Attorney General Letitia James said she “will never be afraid to challenge this illegitimate president.”

About the 2016 election, former Obama Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson testified under oath that, while the Russians tried to manipulate voting machines, there is no evidence that a single vote tally was changed. As to the effect of Russian interference, Johnson said that there’s no way of knowing whether the interference affected public opinion or the election result.

Nevertheless, a 2018 YouGov poll found 66% of Democrats believe that Russia changed vote tallies to elect Trump in 2016. A 2018 Gallup poll found 78% of Democrats believe that Russian interference in 2016 “changed the outcome of the election” in favor of Trump.

About the 2020 election, CNN politics editor Chris Cillizza wrote: “76% of self-identified Republicans in a new national Quinnipiac University poll. That’s the number of Republicans who said they believe there was ‘widespread fraud in the 2020 election.’” As noted, a greater percentage of Democrats, 78%, consider 2016’s presidential election to have been “stolen” compared to 76% of Republicans who feel likewise about 2020.

Now what?

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Garland Says He Approved Search Warrant for Trump Raid

Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday that he signed off on the FBI raid of former President Donald Trump’s home in Florida, but provided few more details other than to announce that the Justice Department had asked a court to unseal the search warrant. 

“I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this manner,” Garland told reporters in reading from a prepared statement, adding: “The Department does not take such a decision lightly. Where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search and narrowly scope any search that is undertaken.”

The attorney general did not explain why standard practice wasn’t possible in Trump’s case.

The Justice Department earlier Thursday filed a motion in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida to unseal the search warrant used by the FBI to raid Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate Monday. 

President Joe Biden, who defeated Trump in the 2020 election, appointed Garland as attorney general; the former federal judge had been nominated unsuccessfully to the Supreme Court in 2016 by President Barack Obama. Trump has hinted that he would run again for president in 2024, which could mean a rematch with Biden.

Garland, speaking for just under four minutes Thursday afternoon, said he would let public court documents speak to specifics of the Trump raid. The attorney general declined to take questions from reporters, after noting that such investigations typically are conducted outside the public eye. 

The Justice Department also asked the federal court in Florida  to release the property receipt, Garland said, referring to a document listing what was seized that law enforcement agents are required to leave with a property owner after a search. 

The Justice Department asked the federal court for a “redacted Property Receipt listing items seized pursuant to the search.” A redaction could be necessary if the information sought were classified. 

“The department filed a motion to make public the warrant and receipt in light of the former president’s public acknowledgment of the search and the surrounding circumstances and the substantial public interest in this matter,” Garland said. 

Garland’s announcement Thursday came after a federal judge ordered the Justice Department to respond by next Monday to a lawsuit over the search filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group. 

“Judicial Watch legal pressure forced this important first step by the Biden Justice Department to disclose Attorney General Garland’s role in the abusive Trump raid and other urgent information to the American people,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a written statement. 

“It remains to be seen exactly what documents are ultimately released about this unprecedented, reckless, and dangerous raid on the home of former President Trump,” Fitton said.

Initial media reports suggested the FBI raid pertained to the Presidential Records Act and potentially classified information taken from the White House to Trump’s Florida home after he left office in January 2021. 

However, the unprecedented FBI raid of a former president’s home came after suggestions of a potential prosecution in relation to a House special committee’s investigation of the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. 

In another development, The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project announced Thursday that it has filed a related request with the National Archives and Records Administration. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)

Using the Freedom of Information Act, Heritage’s Oversight Project seeks copies of all communications between senior National Archives officials and the Biden White House, Justice Department, FBI, and Trump’s staff at Mar-a-Lago, Trump Tower, or Bedminster, New Jersey. It also filed another FOIA request with the Justice Department seeking documents showing which department officials communicated with which White House officials about the raid. 

“The raid on Mar-a-Lago represents yet another example of the federal government weaponizing law enforcement to punish political enemies, silence critics, and send a message to those whom it views as enemies,” Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts said Tuesday in a formal statement. “The Biden administration and the D.C. swamp are making it very clear that they will use all the power of the state to intimidate anyone who stands in their way.” 

Garland said in his brief remarks that Trump’s lawyers were privy to the basis of the search warrant executed at Mar-a-Lago while Trump was in New York. 

“The former president publicly confirmed the search that evening, as is his right,” Garland said. “Copies of both the warrant and the FBI property receipt were provided on the day of the search to the former president’s counsel, who was onsite during the search.”

Garland, repeating a familiar sentiment, said the Justice Department is “applying the law without fear or favor.” 

“Federal law, longstanding department rules, and our ethical obligations prevent me from providing further details as to the basis of the search at this time,” Garland said. 

The search of a former president’s home drew immediate criticism from Republican lawmakers, who argued that it violated norms and vowed accountability from the Justice Department. That agency already has weathered criticism from its own Office of Inspector General for past probes of Trump while he was in office. 

Speaking to reporters, Garland defended the actions of the department he leads. 

“The men and women at the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated, patriotic, public servants,” Garland said. “Every day, they protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism, and other threats to their safety while safeguarding our civil rights.”

Ken McIntyre contributed to this report, which was updated shortly after publication to include The Heritage Foundation’s FOIA request.

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The Establishment Has Emerged From the Shadows. They’re Betting That You Won’t Care.

Our nation is under siege. But this siege is not the result of some domestic or foreign terrorist threat. This siege on our great republic comes from within the very institutions for which we have entrusted our nation with. The establishment, in concert with their allies within the Department of Justice, have conducted an unanticipated, unprecedented raid on the Mar-a-Lago residence of former President Donald Trump.

Our institutions have betrayed us. They have engaged in conduct that is more becoming of a Third World country where opposition battalions regularly raid the residences of their political adversary and often kill them. They have proven themselves wolves, but they have not donned sheep’s clothing.

This is a clear attempt to indict Trump for political gain; the establishment has shown their cards, and they know that most will not bat an eye. A federal grand jury need only find probable cause to believe that Trump broke some nebulous federal statute in order to indict him.

This is a time-honored tradition of the Justice Department and the establishment; the criminal bar is so low to indict that even the innocent are often entangled in the criminal process because of it, and they are invariably compelled to undergo years of litigation because of it.

Since Trump became president, this game has continued. Investigation after investigation yielded indictment after indictment and guilty plea after guilty plea against respectable and benign officials whose only transgression was supporting Trump and opposing the establishment.

The Justice Department is fully aware that politicians are presumed guilty in the United States, regardless of evidence to the contrary, and they will use this fact to engage in absolute thuggery to utilize their vast resources to punish anyone who threatens their authority.

Just as with the two political impeachments that Trump faced, so too will Democrats use this raid to justify that Trump is a criminal and involved in high-level crimes. They will do the exact same thing that they did during the impeachments: They will use their hatred for Trump as evidence of criminal conduct, decide for themselves that he is deserving of punishment, punish him and use that punishment as proof that he is a criminal. It is an unforgiving circle.

The establishment-run Justice Department will do just the same. They will use this raid and inevitable indictment—one that they concocted themselves—as proof that Trump is a criminal. And guess what? People will buy it.

Trump committed many despicable acts while in power: He riled up his supporters, which eventually resulted in a riot. He maligned his vice president. He uttered vicious things about fine people and aligned himself with some awful characters. However, this does not make him a criminal, nor does it make him, as a past president, worthy of such punishment. Instead, the establishment has shown to the American people that there is such a thing as a political criminal—someone despised by the establishment.

In politics, it seems, if you can’t beat them, put them in prison.

Regardless of how the White House or the Justice Department spin this, the public’s faith in our institutions has been compromised. This incident has shown that our institutions will bend a knee, and the people who undertake such action will do so out of fear of suffering the same fate.

This was a dark day for the United States. I lament the demise of institutions that were meant to aid us. But America is still here. It is an ever-present power that will dispel the darkness forged by the wicked. The dreams of a beautiful America will whisper from behind the shoulders of honorable men who will forgo the seduction of power and rise to defend our nation’s values. The virtues of liberty, hope, and freedom will lead us past these dark days and on to a brighter future.

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‘Hard to Imagine’: Tulsi Gabbard Calls Mar-a-Lago Raid ‘Blatant Abuse of Power’

Former Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii criticized the Department of Justice, calling the Monday raid on Mar-a-Lago a “blatant abuse of power” during a Tuesday evening Fox News appearance.

“This raid is just the latest serious escalation of this disturbing trend that we have seen of blatant abuse of power by those in power to not only protect their friends but to target their political opponents, or frankly, anyone who dares to dissent or challenge or disagree or even question what this administration is doing,” Gabbard, a former presidential candidate, said about the raid.

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“And there are a number of examples that we can point to, not only abuse of power within the Department of Justice, within the FBI, or law enforcement agencies, but also the Department of Homeland Security and the IRS,” Gabbard told Fox News host Jesse Watters.

Gabbard cited multiple controversial investigations and allegations of abuses, some of which predated the Trump administration.

“Look to the FBI investigation of the—of Trump for the Russia hoax that didn’t turn out to be anything,” she said. “You look at the IRS and Lois Lerner directly targeting conservative organizations under the Obama administration. You look at this administration’s Department of Homeland Security’s creation of a ministry of truth to go after us, everyday Americans across the country, tell us, ‘Hey, here is what we say the truth is and is not and what you are allowed to say and what you are not allowed to say.’ It’s hard to imagine, given how blatant all of this is, that this is happening in the United States of America.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation raided Mar-a-Lago Monday in the wake of an investigation into allegations involving classified documents, according to The New York Times.

“These things are what happened in banana republics or dictators have federal agencies, including law enforcement, to act as their own personal goon squads and that’s what I’m thinking of as I see this escalating, very dangerous trend and abuse of power by this administration,” Gabbard said.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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The Day the FBI Raided Trump

This week, the FBI raided the Florida home of former President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago. It based its raid on the purported rationale that it suspected Trump of having mishandled classified information, taking home materials meant for the National Archives.

According to The New York Times, the search “appeared to be focused on material that Mr. Trump had brought with him to Mar-a-Lago … Those boxes contained many pages of classified documents.”

Trump quickly responded with outrage: “After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate. Such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries. They even broke into my safe!”

We have not yet seen the warrant for the raid, the warrant application, or the underlying evidence; presumably, the head of the FBI and the head of the Department of Justice, Attorney General Merrick Garland, would have had to sign off on the raid.

And, to put it mildly, the basis for such a raid—a raid authorized by a current presidential administration on the leader of the prior administration and front-runner for the nomination in 2024—seems extraordinarily weak.

In 2015, former Clinton national security adviser Sandy Berger only received a misdemeanor charge for stuffing classified documents down his pants; in 2016, the FBI investigated Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified emails but certainly never raided her home or offices, despite finding that it was “possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account,” complete with access to classified information.

Trump, by contrast, was president—which means he had plenary authority to declassify any document. Yet it was Trump who was raided.

If the basis for the raid is anything less than bedrock-solid, therefore, the most serious questions of political legitimacy will be on the table. 

After all, this amounts to the current administration authorizing a raid on the head of the prior administration; it apparently centers on a matter unrelated to events surrounding Jan. 6 and the aftermath of the 2020 election. It seems, on its face, pretextual. We won’t know whether it is or isn’t until we see the underlying documentation.

But without the sort of trust the FBI has failed to cultivate over the past few years, the clamor for such documentation will rightly be deafening.

Suspicions are certainly in order, given the behavior of the FBI over the course of the last few years.

The FBI spent years running a deep investigation on Trump’s campaign and presidency, based on speculative nonsense compiled by the Clinton campaign in the form of the so-called Steele dossier. FBI Director James Comey seemed to launder that nonsense into the press by presenting Trump with the dossier, despite no evidence that the dossier had any support whatsoever.

There is a reason that as of 2018, just 45% of independents and 39% of Republicans said they trusted the FBI most or all of the time.

The FBI raid on Trump could easily be yet another inflection point in the complete breakdown of America’s public institutions. Every “I” must be dotted and “T” crossed—and there must be tangible results. Anything less should and will lead to a political crisis of real magnitude.

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America Has a Two-Tiered Justice System and the FBI Just Proved It

Unless scores of witnesses saw Donald Trump stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone, the FBI’s raid of his Mar-a-Lago home represents an unforgivable politicization of our justice system.

The proof rests in the peaceful, undisturbed abodes of Hillary Clinton, Hunter Biden, Jim Biden, James Comey, Stefan Halper, Rodney Joffe, and every other partisan the FBI investigated without violating the sanctuary of their homes.

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On Monday, news broke that the FBI had raided the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida. Conservatives justifiably doubt that probable cause supported the search, but an even broader swath of America should see the bureau’s raid as an affront to equal justice under the law and the weaponization of the Justice Department against its political enemies.

The FBI that raided the former president’s personal residence never sought a warrant to search Clinton’s homes after The New York Times reported on March 3, 2016, that, while secretary of state, she had used a private server.

Weeks later Clinton, while plotting her upcoming run for president, wiped her entire server clean using “a sophisticated software program, BleachBit, which eventually made it extraordinarily difficult for the FBI to recover her emails, several thousand of which were successfully destroyed.”

Among the emails deleted were some 30 connected to the Benghazi murders that Clinton never supplied to the State Department upon leaving office—a fairly analogous, albeit more appalling scenario to the theory floated that agents raided Trump’s house on Monday to seize supposedly classified documents.

Agents also didn’t raid Clinton’s homes to recover the 13 mobile devices that the FBI believed the former secretary of state may have used to email her staff.

Instead, the Justice Department asked Clinton’s attorneys to provide agents the BlackBerry phones and other devices. Less than two weeks later, her lawyers claimed “they were unable to locate any of these devices,” leaving the FBI “unable to acquire or forensically examine any of these 13 mobile devices.”

Not only did the Democrat contender avoid suffering through a raid that likely would have netted incriminating evidence of her mishandling and retention of classified information, the FBI’s interrogation of Clinton played like a child’s tea party.

“The voluntary interview, which took place over three and a half hours at the F.B.I. headquarters in Washington, had been weeks in the making,” The New York Times explained, noting that “law enforcement officials and Mrs. Clinton’s team” needed to “coordinated schedules.”

“Democrats also hoped that holding the interview on a holiday weekend might ease the anticipated storm,” the Times noted. Helpfully, the FBI accommodated the presidential candidate’s request, visiting with Clinton on Saturday, July 2, 2016, while the rest of America focused on the long Fourth of July weekend.

The FBI’s accommodations extended much beyond the conciliatory scheduling to an unprecedented breach in protocol: Agents allowed Clinton’s former chief of staff at the State Department, Cheryl Mills, to sit in on the interview.

In her role as chief of staff, Mills “was intimately involved in issues related to Clinton’s private email set-up, the discussions about getting her a secure BlackBerry similar to President Barack Obama’s, and questions that were raised (including in FOIA requests) about Clinton’s communications.”

In other words, Mills was a witness and potentially a fellow target of the investigation, yet the FBI allowed her to hear, and thereby coordinate with, Clinton’s story.

The Justice Department’s handling of Clinton with kid gloves serves as but one of the many examples of dual standards of justice seen when powerful Democrats or their backers face the FBI.

Hunter Biden’s home likewise has seen no breach even as the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office enters its fourth year of investigating the current president’s son for multiple potential federal crimes, including tax evasion, money laundering, and Foreign Agents Registration Act violations. Instead, the FBI executed a search warrant on the Apple repair store owner who alerted agents to the existence of his laptop.

And although emails from Hunter’s laptop implicate President Joe Biden’s brother, Jim Biden, in the apparent pay-to-play scheme, the feds have yet to raid his home either.

Comey, former FBI director, likewise sidestepped a search of his home, even though he admittedly took with him multiple memorandums of his interactions with Trump, including ones that contained classified information.

Comey later shared the memos, including some classified information, with a lawyer friend of his, Daniel Richman. On Comey’s behalf, Richman then “leaked sensitive but unclassified law enforcement material to the media” to prompt the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Trump.

The former FBI director’s ploy worked, with acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointing a special counsel on May 17, 2017, the day after The New York Times published news of Comey’s memos.

Rather than seek a search warrant to raid their former colleague’s home, however, the FBI left Comey unmolested, waiting several weeks to voluntarily interview him at his home, at which time Comey provided the documents he had pilfered. And not only did the former FBI director avoid a raid, Comey also avoided prosecution.

Key names in the SpyGate scandal, such as Halper and Joffe, also seem mysteriously missing from any search warrant applications (and indictments). Halper, who served as a confidential human source during the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, fed the FBI false information about the Russian-born British historian Svetlana Lokhova.

Halper also appeared to have lied to agents about his conversation with then-Trump adviser Carter Page. But the Department of Justice seems content without searching his private Virginia home.

Joffe, better known from the Michael Sussmann criminal case as Tech Executive 1, to date, appears to have avoided the raiders as well. While special counsel John Durham’s office indicated earlier this year that Joffe remains under investigation, a search of his home or business seem to have remained off limits so far.

In contrast, those in Trump’s orbit, such as Roger Stone, faced pre-dawn searches and arrests, with scores of federal agents flooding the scene with the tipped-off media in tow. Federal agents reportedly also searched Trump-advocate Rudy Giuliani’s residence in New York, as well as that of Trump associate Victoria Toensing.

Former Department of Justice attorney Jeff Clark, another Trump loyalist, also saw his home raided by the FBI.

Against this two-pronged approach to justice, Americans need not lean conservative or support Trump to spot the scandal. And Americans need not care about politics to oppose the politicization of the Justice Department and FBI: They just need to care about the future of the country—one that cannot survive long if such corruption and cronyism continues.

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GOP Lawmakers Vow Probe of FBI Raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago

Following an FBI raid Monday on former President Donald Trump’s private residence at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, Republican members of Congress are vowing to launch an investigation into what they view as a blatantly partisan political Justice Department if they retake control of the House of Representatives in November.  

“Since they took office, the Biden administration has tried to weaponize the Department of Justice and the FBI to go after political enemies,” said Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas, in a statement to The Daily Signal. “While we do not know all the details yet, this raid has all the markings of a politically motivated witch hunt.” 

On Monday evening, Trump released a statement claiming that Mar-a-Lago had been raided by the FBI. 

While details on the raid are still forthcoming, the FBI reportedly conducted the operation as part of an ongoing federal investigation into whether Trump removed classified records from the White House and brought them to Mar-a-Lago. 

Photos and reporting from the scene indicated there was a sizable FBI presence, though there hasn’t been an exact number of agents cited. Neither has there been an official explanation given for the raid itself.   

“Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen the IRS targeting conservatives. We’ve seen [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] abuse. We’ve seen the Hunter Biden case … . We had the Russian collusion hoax. We had riots in cities that they didn’t follow up on,” Rep. Michael Cloud, R-Texas, said in an interview with The Daily Signal, adding:

What the American people are seeing that’s very clear right now is the two-tiered system of justice in our nation, which goes against the bedrock of what we are as a nation.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tweeted that the Department of Justice had “reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization” and that “when Republicans take back the House, we will conduct immediate oversight of this department.” 

The Associated Press reported that Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson wouldn’t comment on the raid or on whether Attorney General Merrick Garland had personally authorized it. 

Many GOP lawmakers vowed to investigate officials, such as Garland, who were likely involved in authorizing the raid.

“I think there will be just a litany of people that are tied to this raid first, and then go down the list of their appointees in this administration,” said Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., in an interview with The Daily Signal. “Who authorized what? Who knew about it?” 

Norman added, “This is a threat to this democracy, to freedom, to our republic, what they’re doing. This is Gestapo-type tactics.” 

The sentiment was echoed by other GOP lawmakers. 

Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., agreed, telling The Daily Signal, “Raiding the offices of political opponents is something that happens in corrupt banana republics, not the United States of America.” 

“The American people deserve answers as to why the highest-level members of the Department of Justice [greenlighted] a raid on [President Joe Biden’s] chief political rival, with zero explanation,” said Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., in a statement to The Daily Signal, adding:

It’s unprecedented for the Department of Justice to do this to a former president. We’ve been told no information from the department, besides leaked sources. Everything pertaining to this decision and raid should be investigated.

Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, told The Daily Signal in a statement, “It’s clear that, since 2015, certain elements of FBI leadership have done everything they could to take down Donald Trump.”   

Yesterday was another example of continuing the VERY dangerous practice by Democrat administrations of weaponizing the levers of power and federal law enforcement to exact political vendettas.

The top bureaucrats and Democrat political appointees of the deep state are using their legal power to politically kneecap Trump. If we don’t stop them now, they will keep doing it.

Rep. Fred Keller, R-Pa., told The Daily Signal that he thinks Garland needs to brief members of Congress on what happened and how the raid was authorized. 

“I think the first thing that should happen is, this Friday, Merrick Garland ought to give us a briefing. Why don’t they put us in a room and let us ask him questions?” he said, adding:

I think there’s a reason the American people are losing faith in institutions like the FBI and the Department of Justice … . [W]e deserve answers to find out why they took the unprecedented action to go in and raid the former president’s house.

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How Democrats’ IRS Expansion Would Empower Ruling Elites to Target Americans

“He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”

Those were the words of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, referring to the depredation of King George III. The sentence was part of a long list of grievances that bolstered the argument that England’s king and Parliament were becoming tyrannical.

Two and a half centuries later, Democrat Party elected officials are in lockstep about creating swarms of officers to eat out our substance. 

The Senate on Sunday passed the Inflation Reduction Act, on a 50-51 vote along party lines, legislation that has little to do with reducing inflation and much more to do with funding progressive spending priorities and—more ominously—doubling the size of the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS currently has 93,654 employees; the Senate-passed legislation would add 87,000 new hires. The bill also is set to add about $80 billion to the IRS by 2031. 

Interesting that the Biden administration is focused on doing this when the nation’s southern border is a sieve and military recruitment is catastrophically low.

Of all the bad parts of the Senate legislation, this massive expansion of the IRS is the aspect that is most concerning. In fact, I’d bet that six months or a year from now, it’s all the average American really will remember from it.

Democrat officials and media allies strenuously insist that the expansion of the IRS is all about monitoring the rich, and that you have nothing to worry about if you are following the law.

IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig said Thursday that the additional funds wouldn’t lead to additional audits of households earning less than $400,000 a year.

The White House doubled down on this message Tuesday.

Karine Jean-Pierre says with a straight face that no one making under $400,000 will be audited by one of the new 87,000 IRS agents hired by the Manchin-Schumer bill.

99% of Americans make less than $400,000. pic.twitter.com/XpU5nm5m1D

— John Cooper (@thejcoop) August 9, 2022

If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, put Democrats on the spot by offering an amendment to the Senate bill stipulating that the new IRS funding and agents couldn’t target those making less than $400,000 a year. Democrats unanimously voted against it.

Crapo amendment to the Manchin bill to limit the bill's 87,000 new IRS agents to auditing comapnes and individuals with income of $400,000 or more FAILED 50-50.https://t.co/oPKr11BAYw pic.twitter.com/mH4wuMsmJ4

— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) August 7, 2022

Biden and Democrats in Congress know where the big money is in this country. It isn’t with the rich. No, it’s in the hands of America’s vast, though perhaps shrinking, middle class. The Wall Street Journal explained what the legislation is really about:

The main targets will by necessity be the middle- and upper-middle class because that’s where the money is. The Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s official tax scorekeeper, says that from 78% to 90% of the money raised from under-reported income would likely come from those making less than $200,000 a year. Only 4% to 9% would come from those making more than $500,000.

Also, who doesn’t have a story about some government agency—the IRS or the DMV, for instance—making a mistake and putting you through misery while the cumbersome, bumbling bureaucracy slowly untangles the mess?

The IRS is about to go “beast mode,” as the Journal explained. It will unleash an army of agents—larger in number than the armies of most NATO countries—to harass and eat out the substance of the poor and middle class, to paraphrase the Declaration of Independence.

Of course, the new overlords in the ruling elite probably aren’t huge fans of the whole Declaration of Independence thing. After all, according to their media friends, the American Revolution was a mistake, Thomas Jefferson was no more than a racist slaver, and the country was really founded on white supremacy rather than liberty. Even displaying the symbols of the American founding might get you put on a terrorist watch list by the FBI at this point.

Speaking of the FBI, the IRS expansion pairs nicely with the FBI raid Monday on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Grave warnings already had sounded that the FBI had become politicized, that it was being used to target political foes while ineptly failing to address serious crime.

The only assurance we get is from the so-called experts who are in lockstep politically with the agencies telling us that all is well, nothing to see here.

Historians, legal experts, others say ex-President Donald Trump's framing of the Monday FBI search of his Florida home as a political attack is wrong.
       https://t.co/OaOCJTIHVJ

— USA TODAY Politics (@usatodayDC) August 9, 2022

Dozens of crisis pregnancy centers around the country have been targeted and vandalized since someone leaked the Supreme Court’s draft majority decision in the abortion case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. 

So far, no arrests have been made in connection with these violent incidents. Apparently, the Justice Department has more pressing concerns, like investigating parents who show up to voice discontent at school board meetings.

It’s hard to shake the feeling that the Biden administration would use an expanded IRS as a weapon to threaten, intimidate, and investigate political foes. 

And that’s the bigger issue at stake here. Our unaccountable federal agencies are becoming thoroughly politicized.

Now, one might think it’s reckless to target political foes. After all, that power can be turned around and used in the other direction after an election, right? Wrong.

As we’ve seen, these agencies obey and operate along only one side of the political spectrum. When Trump was in the White House and Republicans controlled Congress, it was all about the “Resistance.” Now that Democrats are in charge, it’s about focusing all that government power to reward allies and punish enemies.

That’s what the power of the unaccountable administrative state has led us to.

It’s not just the FBI. The IRS’ own recent history brings to light the danger of a government agency being turned on domestic political opponents. Under the Obama administration, Lois Lerner improperly targeted tea party organizations as director of the IRS unit that oversees applications for tax-exempt status.

After years of hearings and investigations, the only result was an empty apology from the IRS. Lerner, who pleaded the Fifth Amendment to avoid giving testimony to Congress, faced no criminal charges and kept her bonuses and retirement.

Imagine what would happen to you, fellow citizen, if you’d lied to the IRS or were even just accused—rightly or wrongly—of impropriety by the federal agency. The IRS would ruin your life.

Oh, but these government employees are doing it all for “democracy,” so don’t you worry about the implications.

The bottom line is that Americans have every right to be deeply concerned about this IRS expansion. Rapidly expanding the agency’s size and scope at this moment, while pretending it’s only about targeting the “rich,” doesn’t pass the smell test. 

As Americans get poorer due to inflation and the “don’t call it a recession” recession, Democrats eagerly are expanding the government and spending more taxpayer money to do it.

When Joe Biden ran for president in 2020, he was touted as a “uniter.” If the Biden administration goes through with this outrageous engorgement of the IRS, it just might succeed in uniting most Americans after all. United in outrage.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.

The post How Democrats’ IRS Expansion Would Empower Ruling Elites to Target Americans appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Democrat Defectors Imperil Biden’s Future

President Joe Biden is confronting a record-low job approval rating and a growing calls from within his own party to abandon a reelection campaign.

Last week, congressional Democrats from Minnesota and New York cast doubt on Biden’s political future, suggesting it was time for a new generation to step forward. Those public statements came on the heels of Gallup’s poll, which put Biden’s job approval rating at a personal low 38%.

History doesn’t bode well for incumbent presidents who face intraparty challenges, according to presidential historian Tevi Troy. His recent Washington Examiner cover story, “Biden faces a mutiny,” examined six examples of 20th-century presidents who faced intraparty challengers—all losers.

Troy, director of the Presidential Leadership Initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center and a former senior White House aide, joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to talk about Biden’s future, frustrations plaguing his White House, and interesting tidbits about presidential history. 

Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:

Rob Bluey: I am fascinated by your work as a presidential historian. You have a couple of recent articles, including one from The Wall Street Journal and another from the Washington Examiner that I want to delve into. They cover topics that are on the minds of a lot of Americans right now, particularly as we look at the White House and President Joe Biden’s leadership. Some big questions that have come up about what his future holds. 

For The Wall Street Journal, you wrote a piece called “Biden’s Dithering Irks White House Staff,” and I’d like you to walk us through what some of the issues are there—why there’s this frustration, and how a lack of decision-making has impeded some of the administration’s agenda. 

Tevi Troy: And let’s just say, as conservatives, maybe it’s not the worst thing if he’s indecisive, but as Americans, we want a president who can make good decisions for the country, even if we might disagree with where he is going politically.

But there have been some news media articles. And again, this is mainstream media complaining about decisions that are sitting in the White House, some of which, like student loans and something on climate change that have sat around for an entire year. And so the staff is concerned that these things go on and on, and that Biden has this habit of asking difficult, challenging questions, factual questions. 

And then if a staffer says, “Well, I don’t know the answer to that, sir.” They say, “Well, let’s go back and get the answers before we make the decision.” And it becomes an excuse for not making decisions.

And I put out in The Wall Street Journal piece this famous rule from Colin Powell that you can’t make a decision before you have 40% of the information. But if you’re waiting until you have more than 70% of the information, you’re letting the fence define you instead of you defining events. 

Bluey: One of the things that I thought was interesting is you take us back to something that Biden himself wrote about his experience of serving as vice president under President Barack Obama. And at a time, he was critical of Obama for having a lack of decision-making. What was that dynamic like? 

Troy: It’s a good question. In the title of the piece, which I did not choose, the word dithering refers to a comment that former Vice President Dick Cheney made about Obama, who was sometimes slow to make decisions. And Biden in his memoir, which is very complimentary of Obama, as you would imagine, has one minor criticism, is about sometimes decisions wouldn’t get made in a timely manner.

Biden seemed to be saying, “You need to make decisions quickly in the White House,” and then he gets to the White House. … And to be fair, he was more decisive in the earlier months. And he seems, perhaps because of the weight of the presidency, to have slowed down his decision-making process, and I understand it. 

With the weight of the world on you, sometimes think more deliberately about these things. But at the end of the day, you have to make decisions, that’s what a president does. And so it’s an interesting dynamic that he criticized Obama for not being decisive and now as president, he has some issues with decision-making himself. 

Bluey: Do you think his indecisiveness is contributing to the historically low poll numbers that he’s experiencing? 

Troy: Actually, I think it’s the historically low poll numbers that make him wonder about his decisions and slow down his ability to choose because he wonders about what the implications will be for him politically. So I wonder if it’s the poll numbers that drive the indecision rather the other way around. 

In fact, I say in the Journal piece that he made a couple of early decisions, for example, on Afghanistan that did not turn out so well. And so now maybe he’s being a little more careful in his decisions, but you just can’t overdo it. 

Bluey: I want to get into the future of Biden’s tenure in the White House. But before I do so, I’d like you to put on your presidential historian hat. You’ve written several books about past presidents. Who were some of the best presidents when it came to making decisions? 

Troy: In this Wall Street Journal piece, I intentionally point to Democrats who were good at making decisions because I thought it would be more likely that Biden would listen to advice if it’s coming from previous Democrats.

And Franklin Roosevelt was just a master at making decisions. In fact, his wife told the journalist John Gunther once, “The president doesn’t think he decides,” which I thought was a great encapsulation of FDR’s method. 

And then Harry Truman, I argue in the piece, had to make more tough decisions per year of presidency perhaps than any other president, including about dropping the atomic bomb on Japan, which is a weapon he hadn’t even heard of when he was vice president; whether to recognize Israel in the face of disagreements from his advisers; whether to pursue the Berlin airlift, which was fraught with peril and a necessary decision, but a tough one. 

And then what to do about Korea, whether defend Korea from the North Korean invasion, and then what to do about MacArthur, who was popular, but also unmanageable as a general. So he had some really tough decisions and he was willing to make them.

And I argue in the piece that Lyndon Johnson, who had his own decision-making problems with Vietnam, marveled at Truman’s ability to make decisions and then move on, which I think is the essence of decision-making with a great leader. 

Bluey: One of the biggest decisions that President Biden will have to make is whether or not to pursue a second term. And as we’ve seen in recent days, there are members of his own party who suggest they need a new generation of leadership to step forward. You have a cover story in the Washington Examiner, “Biden faces a mutiny.” 

Tell us about the decision that he needs to make in this particular case and some of the historical facts that you brought to light about what it might mean if he does face an intraparty challenge. 

Troy: We’ve seen some Democrats making quiet moves, although in the case of Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, not so quiet moves that seem to suggest that they’re positioning themselves for a run in 2024. And so I looked at the history of people who challenged an incumbent president from within the party. And I found six major instances since the 20th century began. 

And in all of those cases I found, and we could talk about the individual ones, but in all of those cases I found that the challenger did not win the nomination, and did not become president in that cycle. And the incumbent president, as a result of either the challenge itself or the fact that the challenge revealed weakness, the incumbent president in all six cases did not win election a second time. Two of them, Truman and Johnson, stepped down and four of them lost their reelection efforts. 

Bluey: It would be helpful to walk through in some detail, maybe not all of the six, but pick a couple. Let’s start with the most recent in 1992. Tell us what happened there in the case of George H.W. Bush, who was the incumbent president, and Pat Buchanan. 

Troy: I would just say people should get the print edition of the Washington Examiner because it has a terrific chart showing each one of these, who the challenger was, who the incumbent was, and what happened.

In this particular case, which interestingly is the last time it happened, Pat Buchanan challenges George H.W. Bush with a, I would say, kind of a Trumpy-type campaign talking about trade and immigration. 

And Bush was kind of coming down off a high after the first Gulf War where his approval rating was in the high 80s, but then it dropped, there was a recession plaguing the country. And Buchanan challenges Bush with a bunch of hard-hitting ads and a lot of hard-hitting rhetoric in the New Hampshire primary, gets 38% of the vote, which was a shocking total. He did not win, but it revealed a weakness that Bush had within his own party. But the Bush people did push back with their own hard-hitting ads. 

Buchanan gets a speaking spot at the Republican convention, which was a very well-known and long-remembered speech. And Bush loses his reelection effort to Bill Clinton. And Bill Clinton makes some of the same arguments against Bush that Buchanan had already tried out in his efforts against Bush. 

Bluey: And then in 1980, of course, you have Jimmy Carter, who’s the incumbent president, facing a challenge from Sen. Ted Kennedy. That also had high drama at the convention. Walk us through what happened in that particular case. 

Troy: This one was a particularly nasty one. Ted Kennedy runs against Jimmy Carter from the left and Carter is besieged by all kinds of problems, including a recession and energy crisis, inflation, and then later the Iran hostage crisis. And Kennedy is unrelenting in his attacks on Carter.

And then even at the convention, once it’s clear that Kennedy has no shot to win, and that Carter will be the nominee, his people continue to press and hold up the convention plan, which is carefully, carefully planned out so that you get the maximum of the primetime TV minutes. 

And there’s almost a fist fight on the floor over some of the Kennedy people’s efforts to slow down things. And then later Kennedy himself while on the stage carefully and obviously avoids Carter when Carter is trying to do the raised hand in the air gesture to show unity, and Kennedy pointedly will not do it, and it’s an awkward and embarrassing moment. 

Bluey: You also note that many of these intraparty challenges happened between the years of 1968 and 1992. And over the course of the last three decades, there hasn’t been nearly the appetite to do so. Do you think that might change in 2024? 

Troy: Yeah. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I wrote this piece for the Examiner. Look, that period of ’68 to ’92, especially the first 12 years, was a period of great tumult, there was economic uncertainty. We weren’t sure where things were going in the Cold War. We’d had a rash of assassinations in the 1960s. America seemed to have been knocked off its moorings. And I think that period of tumult is what contributed to some of the intraparty challenges. Now, things did calm down in the country, especially in the period from, let’s say, for the ’90s, for example. 

And also, I think this message got absorbed that if you’re going to challenge your incumbent president from the flank of the party, the party is probably going to lose in the next presidential election, and you will be blamed for it. And you probably won’t even win the nomination to begin with. So it’s a very low-reward, high-risk strategy and smart politicians try to avoid it. 

So I think that’s why we’ve seen fewer of these intraparty challenges over the last three decades. But I think the combination of Biden’s low approval ratings, the many challenges the country is facing, and the fact that people don’t always remember the lessons of history may make this year ripe for one of those intraparty challenges. 

Bluey: It’s also interesting that it’s not just Biden’s approval ratings with independents or Republicans, which obviously are low, but Democrats themselves are lower than, say, in comparison to where George W. Bush was heading into 2004 or where Donald Trump was heading into 2020. What do you make of this phenomenon? In recent history, those incumbent presidents were able to solidify a lot of support within their party, and Biden has not. 

Troy: These days when presidents seem to be going for the 50.1% strategy, meaning shore up your base and get enough of the middle to get over the top, you really need to keep your party’s base. And the polls reveal that a large percentage of Democrats, even a majority, do not want Biden to run again, which is worrisome.

Now, that doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t get the majority of Democratic support if he did become the nominee, but it does indicate that there’s some weakness in the base. 

Bluey: I’d like to ask about some of the previous work you’ve done. Your most recent book is “Fight House: Rivalries in the White House from Truman to Trump.” Is this White House as tumultuous as the Trump White House was? Are we just not hearing about it or is it a well-oiled machine that does not necessarily have the types of rivalries you’ve studied in the past? 

Troy: It is true that it is a less tumultuous White House than the Trump White House, but that’s kind of a low bar. We also, we don’t hear about it quite as much because I think the media kind of reveled in reporting every infight and every disagreement within the Trump White House.

But I also think that the Biden team has a plan for really narrowly controlling information, and controlling the flow of decisions, and keeping it within a very, very tight group that does lead to less infighting in cases. But it also sometimes leads to a bubble mentality where you’re not getting outside information.

And then the other thing I would say is that there’s clearly tumult within the Vice President [Kamala] Harris staff, both within her staff and with her, and the rest of the White House. So it’s not like this White House is completely devoid of infighting, but there is probably less of it than, and we’re hearing about it last. 

Bluey: One of the interesting things that happened recently was that White House communications director Kate Bedingfield announced that she was leaving and then at the 11th hour decided to stay, which is something that’s quite rare in our day and age. Any insight as to what might have happened there and what that might signal for Biden’s presidency? 

Troy: I thought that story was fascinating and I did look into it. It is incredibly rare that you have someone announce that they’re leaving and then stay on.

I think there’s a combination of factors. One, from her perspective, you don’t get that many chances to be at this senior level in the White House, and you don’t give it up lightly. So maybe she was having some buyer’s remorse about moving on. And then I think that the Biden administration didn’t necessarily want to lose a prominent woman in a spot as valued as the communications director. 

And so I think there are a couple of factors leading to her kind of change decision, but I completely agree with you that you don’t see this happen often.

In fact, more likely is, there was this situation in the Obama White House, I love this story where Christina Romer, who was the chairman of the economic advisers, kind of expressed some concerns about maybe she wasn’t happy in her job, maybe people weren’t listening to her. 

And within a day, the Obama communications team had prepared the press release announcing her departure, which is not exactly what she intended. I think she kind of wanted to be shored up and told that things were going great, and instead she was kind of ushered out the door.

So I think once you start to signal you’re heading out the door, I think there’s often an effort to push you the rest of the way. 

Bluey: Very interesting, indeed. You’ve also studied popular culture in the White House. You have a previous book, “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” Do you have any sense of how this particular White House views popular culture, and maybe how it has shaped President Biden’s opinions on certain issues? 

Troy: I just find presidents fascinating. I’ve loved them since I was a kid. I got a Ph.D. in presidential history, then I have the pleasure and honor of a lifetime to work in the White House. So I just like sharing all these great stories about the White House.

With each of my books, and I appreciate you mentioning them, I try to find an aspect of White House life that nobody has written about previously and then really dive into that. So that’s why I did the pop culture thing. That’s why I did the infighting. I also did a book on disasters and how presidents have handled them and then one on intellectuals who’ve served in the White House. 

And then in terms of pop culture, look, the White House, when it’s a Democratic White House, obviously gets a big boost from Democratic entertainers. But it’s really hard to see what Biden’s interests are in terms of pop culture. I’ve looked into this issue. I mean, he does seem to like Irish poetry.

I don’t really have a good sense of what songs he likes or certainly not popular songs. Movies, he’s kind of quiet about it. It’s a little strange how little we know about Biden’s pop culture interests. 

Bluey: Particularly for somebody who spent so much of his life in the public spotlight, being elected as a U.S. senator at the age of 29, it is truly fascinating that it’s not discussed or talked about nearly as much as previous presidents. 

Tevi, as we wrap-up here, I’d like you to tell our listeners about the Presidential Leadership Initiative that you direct at the Bipartisan Policy Center, and some of the work that you do there. 

Troy: I do this, as you know, I’m a conservative, I’ve worked for Republican administrations, but I’m interested in this issue of presidential leadership. And I thought that from the Bipartisan Policy Center, I can talk to both parties and across the spectrum about this important issue of the presidency, and maintaining the power and majesty of the presidency because the presidency is one of our few shared institutions. 

Now, you talk about pop culture, Rob, and we’re now in this world of narrowcasting where there’s no one show that everybody watches, there’s no one type of music that everybody listens to, but everybody knows who the president is.

And I think the president can be a beacon for freedom and help pushing against either authoritarianism on the right or socialism on the left. And is also a beacon for people around the world who look to America as a place that promotes freedom. 

So I really want to promote the presidency as the appropriate institution that really promotes American democracy and American freedom, and I want to maintain those things. So that’s what I write about from that perch.

And I’ve written a number of pieces, including the one you mentioned in The Wall Street Journal, on presidential leadership. And leadership, I think, is an essential thing to study when it comes to the president and I think it has applicability in many other fields, including in business and the nonprofit world. I think many people can learn leadership lessons from what has happened, and what has gone right at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and also what has gone wrong. 

Bluey: I can’t let you go without asking a baseball question. You and I are both big baseball fans. I, of course, a long-struggling Pittsburgh Pirates fan, but we just to have the, this huge seismic trade deadline in which Juan Soto left the Washington Nationals for the San Diego Padres, really shaping up for a strong pennant race. Obviously, the playoffs are expanded this year. Any predictions on what to see here as we head down to the home stretch of the baseball season? 

Troy: Yeah. I think the Padres now have a very dangerous lineup going into October. I think it’s a little top-heavy. I don’t know where they go after four and five in the lineup, but that first couple of people in it. And remember they did also get Josh Bell from the Nationals. There’s a bit of a Murderers’ Row in the first half of the lineup. I think the Yankees improved themselves a little bit. I think they made marginal improvements. 

I think the Dodgers have been on such a tear they didn’t feel like they needed to do much at all. And I’m just not sure about the Astros. They’re obviously a very good team, but bringing in a new catcher at this point I’m not sure was the best move with Christian Vazquez. But I think it’s set up for a real interesting October.

I just think the way that baseball is set up, but you’ve got some real super teams, and then you’ve got a lot of teams on the outside looking in, makes for a strange October. But there’s definitely three or four teams to watch, including now the Padres, but also the Dodgers, Astros, Yankees, and Mets I think would be the five teams to look at. 

Bluey: It’s certainly going to make for an exciting fall. And you wrote an excellent piece at the start of the season, “Welcome to Baseball’s Gold Age.”

Tevi Troy, thank you so much for being with “The Daily Signal Podcast.” 

Troy: Thanks so much. I always love the show. 

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.

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After Marathon ‘Vote-a-Rama,’ Senate Democrats Ram Through ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ Tax and Spending Bill

Pulling an all-night “vote-a-rama” Saturday that extended through the middle of the afternoon on Sunday, Senate Democrats defeated a slew of Republican amendments en route to passing a massive spending and taxing bill.

In her role as president of the Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote on the bill, dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act, for a final tally of 51-50 along straight party lines at 3:18 p.m. Sunday. The vote-a-rama had begun just after 7:30 p.m. Saturday. 

The Democrats’ 755-page bill increases green energy subsidies, expands the IRS, and enacts other initiatives long sought by the left, and authorizes $430 billion in new spending. That’s supposed to be offset by $740 billion in new revenues from tax hikes and increased enforcement that includes the hiring of 87,000 additional IRS agents to conduct audits and seek tax liens.

Before the final vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the bill “one of the defining legislative feats of the 21st century.”

“Our bill reduces inflation, lowers costs, creates millions of good-paying jobs, and is the boldest climate package in U.S. history,” Schumer said. “This bill will kick-start the era of affordable clean energy in America. It’s a game changer. It’s a turning point. And it’s been a long time coming. To Americans who have lost faith that Congress can do big things, this bill is for you.”

Amid passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, year-over-year inflation stands at 9.1%, with the typical employee’s real wages dropping by almost $3,400. Despite the legislation’s title, an analysis of it by the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found the legislation would slightly increase inflation in the near term. 

In some cases, Democrats–who hold a functional Senate  majority despite the 50-50 partisan split in the chamber–even changed rules for individual amendments to prevent their adoption despite winning over some Democrats from centrist a conservative states. Most amendments, however, died on party-line votes

Expanding IRS

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, introduced an amendment to strike the bill’s $80 billion to increase enforcement by the IRS. It was defeated on a party-line vote. 

“I guarantee you citizens in every one of our states, if you asked them what they want, they don’t want 87,000 new IRS agents,” Cruz said on the Senate floor. “They are not being created to audit billionaires or giant corporations. They are being created to audit you.” 

Cruz added he would prefer to abolish the IRS. 

“But at a minimum, we shouldn’t make the IRS larger than the Pentagon, the State Department, the FBI, and the Border Patrol all combined,” Cruz said. “That’s what the Democrats are proposing here. It is a terrible idea.”

Sen. Michael Crapo, R-Idaho, offered an unsuccessful amendment that would have prohibited the IRS from using the $80 billion in new funding to audit taxpayers earning less than $400,000 a year. 

That came as Senate Democrats and President Joe Biden have claimed that their bill would not raise taxes on anyone earning less than $400,000 per year. 

However, the nonpartisan Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation determined that taxes would increase by up to $16.7 billion for Americans making less than $200,000 in 2023, and increase by $14.1 billion for those earning between $200,000 and $500,000. 

A Heritage Foundation analysis determined the bill would impose a $4,500 tax increase on the average American household over the next decade. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.) 

The Senate did vote 57-43 in favor of an amendment by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., aimed at reducing the 15% corporate minimum tax on private equity firms. 

Energy and Environment

On the energy front, the bill will limit sales of oil and natural gas leases on federal lands. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., proposed a measure that would have required the Bureau of Land Management to hold oil and gas lease sales in every state where the sales were held in June. The measure was defeated. 

“Instead of pleading with dictators in other countries to increase oil and gas production, we should expand American production,” the Wyoming lawmaker said. 

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., proposed allowing oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and in Alaska’s Cook Inlet. It was also rejected on a party-line vote. 

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., offered an amendment to require the Interior Department to complete all pending coal leasing processes that were paused at the Bureau of Land Management. It, too, was defeated.

Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va., proposed striking $45 million in new funding for enforcement measures by the Environmental Protection Agency, but the amendment was defeated. 

Democrats expedited the legislation via a Senate procedure known as reconciliation, in which only a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than the usual 60, is required to move a bill forward. To do so, the provisions must be determined by the Senate parliamentarian to be spending matters, not policy issues.

However, Democrats waived that rule for a few amendments, requiring 60 votes instead of 51. That allowed certain Democratic senators from battleground states to vote with Republicans, but still avoid the risk of adding a popular amendment to the overall bill. 

Cruz drew bipartisan support for an amendment to ban the sale of U.S. oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to China. The Cruz amendment gained a bipartisan majority, but still fell short of the 60-vote threshold to pass. 

Some Democrats also voted for an unsuccessful amendment from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to eliminate a tax on domestic and imported oil. 

That procedural change allowed Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly of Arizona, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Raphael Warnock of Georgia, and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire to back Graham’s measure. Sen. Jon Ossoff of Georgia joined them in backing the Cruz amendment to ban the oil sales to China. 

Immigration and Title 42

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., proposed an amendment regarding the COVID-19 pandemic policy, Title 42, to close the southern border from asylum claims. The Biden administration has sought to lift the Title 42 policy, which prevents asylum claims during a national health emergency. 

The Lankford amendment allocated   for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to enforce Title 42 until 120 days after the termination of the COVID-19 public health emergency. That, too, was defeated 50-50.  

“It’s nonsensical to say we have a COVID health emergency everywhere but our southern border,” Lankford said on the Senate floor. “If there is a public health emergency in this country, then Title 42 must remain in place. Title 42 is the last line of defense our Border Patrol agents have to protect our nation.”

After Lankford’s Title 42 amendment failed, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., offered his own proposal that would have set the timeline at 60 days, rather than 120. Democrats Warnock, Hassan, Cortez Masto, and Kelly, along with Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, voted for the Tester amendment—as did Republicans. But, with only 56 votes, it failed to reach the needed 60 to be added to the bill. 

Feeling ‘Bern’ of Bipartisanship

The 48 Democratic senators and two nominal independents, Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who caucus with Democrats held firm against GOP proposals. 

But there was some bipartisanship of sorts, as almost every senator on both sides of the aisle voted against amendments from Sanders.

Sanders asserted the legislation didn’t go far enough in taxing and spending. 

The Vermonter began the debate by saying that the “so-called Inflation Reduction Act,” according to most estimates, “will have a minimal impact on inflation.”

Senators voted 98-1 to reject Sanders’ proposed amendment to spend an additional $30 billion for climate programs, such as a Civilian Climate Corps. 

Lawmakers voted 99-1 to kill a Sanders amendment to ensure Medicare doesn’t pay more than the Department of Veterans Affairs for prescription drugs, and 97-3 to defeat a provision that would have expanded Medicare to cover hearing, dental, and vision benefits. On the latter, Warnock and Ossoff voted with Sanders.

In arguing for another amendment to raise taxes on corporations to pay for a new tax credit, Sanders said, “This is the wealthiest nation on earth. We should not have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any country.”

At that point, Democratic senators began to express frustration. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said he agreed with Sanders in principle, but added,  “I ask my colleagues to vote ‘no’ because this will bring the bill down.”

Sanders responded, “Why would passage of this amendment, or getting 48 votes on this amendment, bring the overall bill down?” 

Brown replied, “We know that this is a fragile arrangement, and we’ve got to pass it.”

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., agreed with Brown: “We could lose the underlying bill.” 

The Sanders child tax-credit amendment lost on a 99-to-1 vote. 

Pregnancy and Prescription Drugs

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., proposed a measure that would require federal pregnancy programs to provide aid to biological women only.

“The only thing I am trying to do is make sure, since every pregnancy that has ever existed has been in a biological female, that our federal laws reflect that and that our pregnancy programs are available to the only people who are capable of getting pregnant, biological females. It’s simple,” the Florida lawmaker said. 

The proposal came as some federal agencies have bowed to pressure from the LGBTQ lobby to refer to “pregnant people.” The Rubio proposal was killed on a 50-50 vote. 

The pending legislation includes a provision allowing Medicare to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs. Critics contend that will lead to price-fixing and shortages of needed drugs. 

Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., proposed an amendment to exclude drugs that receive “breakthrough” designation from the Food and Drug Administration from price negotiation under  Medicare. It was defeated.

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It’s Not a Loophole Just Because Democrats Don’t Like It

While peddling the ludicrously named Inflation Reduction Act on CNN this past week, Sen. Joe Manchin claimed that Democrats were merely trying to “close the loopholes and collect the taxes that are owed to the Treasury and the United States people.”

In Washington, a “loophole” is a euphemism for a perfectly legal policy that Democrats have decided they want to regulate or tax. The word “loophole” suggests that some ambiguous wording or omissions in the text of a bill have allowed people to exploit the law. Few of the Democrats’ “loopholes” meet this definition. Indeed, in most cases, the “loopholes” they’re talking about were deliberately written to exist in their present form.

Take the “carried-interest loophole,” which intentionally functions in tax code as a means of incentivizing investment, risk, and “sweat equity”—ownership stakes generated through work rather than just capital investment.

Manchin, D-W.Va., might be looking for ways to raise “revenue” so he can tell constituents his bill won’t add to the deficit. And those who subscribe to zero-sum populist economics might want to punish private equity and redistribute wealth (though the American Investment Council says more than 74% of private equity investment went to small businesses in 2021).

Whatever the case, no matter what Manchin says, none of the new taxes found in the reconciliation bill are now “owed to the Treasury and the United States people.”

That goes for the 15% corporate minimum tax, as well. First off, it needs repeating that corporate taxes are passed on to consumers or employees. Moreover, manufacturing companies, who spend lots on upfront capital investments—not the euphemistic “investments” preferred by politicians when talking about subsidies, but the real kind—are the ones who are going to end up being hurt. (The Tax Foundation says this tax will kill 27,000 jobs.)

The bill Manchin supports will also reinstate the long-expired, failed superfund tax on crude and imported oil, which will also be tacked onto your energy bills. It’s unclear what “loophole” Manchin is claiming the superfund tax is closing.

That said, the “loophole” charade isn’t new. It’s been most effectively deployed in attacking gun rights, which, let’s face it, the left sees as a loophole in the Constitution.

There is no “gun-show loophole,” since the law was written so that only commercial transfers, and not private ones, would require a federal background check. If the Senate rejects your efforts to accommodate your preferred background check policies, as it did in 2013, it’s not a “loophole”—it’s just “the law.”

There is no “Charleston loophole,” since the shooter didn’t exploit existing law, rather he took advantage of a data entry mistake. The three-day waiting period for background checks was negotiated and then intentionally written into law that way at the time of passage.

And there isn’t any “No-Fly List Gun-Ownership Loophole,” either. There are the Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth amendments of the Constitution.

Framing these debates as a struggle between those who support closing “loopholes” and those who want to keep them, as the media always does, is a way of circumventing debate and advocating for policy. It’s intentional.

After all, the word “loophole” strongly insinuates a policy is unjust. Reporters wouldn’t call laws that legalize abortion into the ninth month of pregnancy—as a number now do—a “viable-baby termination loophole” simply because Republicans say it is.

Now, it’s a senator’s prerogative to vote for a bill that pumps hundreds of billions more into an economy experiencing spiking inflation or raise taxes on consumers, energy producers, and manufacturers during a recession. What he isn’t doing, however, is closing any “loopholes.”

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Federal Employees’ Job Satisfaction Surged Under Trump, Slips Under Biden, Survey Finds

Federal employees’ unions decried the Trump administration for its executive orders aimed at improving accountability and integrity within the federal workforce.

The American Federation of Government Employees—the largest federal workers union—said the Trump administration’s policies would “cripple,” “purge,” and “dismantle” the federal workforce.

But as is often the case, the views of union elites often don’t align with those of the rank and file they are supposed to serve.

According to the Office of Management and Budget’s annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, federal employees’ overall satisfaction surged under the administration of then-President Donald Trump, and has already tumbled under the administration of President Joe Biden.

Between 2016 and 2020, employees’ overall satisfaction rose by 8 percentage points. Over just the first year of the Biden administration, from 2020 to 2021, federal employees’ overall satisfaction plummeted 5.3 points.

This overall satisfaction score is an average of three questions posed to employees that asked them: “Considering everything, how satisfied are you … ” with your job, with your pay, and with your organization?

Some of the biggest improvements under Trump and subsequent declines under Biden have been in areas that unions use to justify their existence. For example:

These survey results might seem surprising and counterintuitive since the federal workforce leans strongly Democratic. (The Hill reported that 95% of federal employees’ contributions to the presidential candidates in 2016 went to Hillary Clinton. (That’s based on Federal Election Commission records of contributions of $200 or more.)

But the reality is that accountability and integrity are good for all workers, regardless of their political leanings.

The Trump administration’s federal workforce executive orders prioritized performance over tenure, provided flexibility for managers in disciplining and removing federal employees, established an interagency working group to improve labor relations, prohibited federal employee lobbying at taxpayers’ expense, and limited the amount of time that federal employees could spend working for their unions instead of doing the job they are paid to perform.   

The American Federation of Government Employees’ fearmongering claims contended that those changes would deprive federal workers of their rights, silence federal employees’ voices, and “do nothing to help federal workers do their jobs better.” But the exact opposite has been true, as evidenced in the changes in federal employees’ assessments.

Of note is the fact that federal employees consistently report the lowest satisfaction with accountability for poor performers. In 2016, only 29% of federal employees said that steps are taken to deal with a poor performer who cannot or will not improve. While that improved alongside actions aimed at improving accountability, current responses show that nearly 60% of federal employees feel there is little or no accountability for poor performers.

That’s almost certainly the consequence of an excessively burdensome and lengthy process required to dismiss a federal employee (or even to issue a “less-than-satisfactory performance” review). Instead of spending a year or more and countless hours attempting to impose accountability on poor performers, most federal managers simply give up, and taxpayers—along with that individual’s co-workers—have to bear the burden of their indolence.

That would never be tolerated in the private sector.

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, recently introduced the Public Service Reform Act aimed at improving accountability. Notwithstanding important protections, such as instances of discrimination and whistleblower retaliation, the Public Service Reform Act would make it easier for agencies to address misconduct and remove poorly performing and recalcitrant employees, so that the agencies can better carry out their missions.

Greater accountability helps create environments where employees feel valued and can thrive.

That in turn translates into a better, more effective government for all Americans.

At the end of the day, a federal government that operates more efficiently and with greater accountability is better for federal employees and federal taxpayers alike.

Many of Trump’s executive orders were moving the federal government toward greater efficiency and accountability. Bills like the Public Service Reform Act would advance those gains by putting better policies into practice.

But Biden’s undoing of Trump’s measures puts federal employee union elites above the workers they serve and the taxpayers who are forced to fund them. This is hurting federal employee morale—and costing taxpayers.

The Heritage Foundation’s Blueprint for Reorganization includes dozens of recommendations on how policymakers could reverse course and build upon the Trump administration’s start to a more efficient and effective federal government, including how it could create a better functioning and more competitive civil service.

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America’s Leaders Need to Step Up Before It’s Too Late

The saddest part of the complete breakdown of trust in America is how little its leaders seem to care.

There’s been a lot written about the trust freefall. People haven’t trusted politicians for years (U.S. Congress: 18% approval), but now even formerly highly trusted institutions like the church (now at 31% confidence) and the U.S. military (trust down 25% since 2018) are in a trust freefall.

You may expect national leaders to be racking their brains on how to rebuild this trust, yet there is no sign of that. Instead, the attitude seems to be, “What the hell is wrong with the American people?” Leaders bemoan the rise of populism yet refuse to give even the briefest thought to its root causes.

National leaders and institutions seem oblivious to their own active role in America’s decline. People stop trusting institutions and leaders when they don’t see those parties acting honestly. People stop trusting when they start doubting that a leader or an organization has their best interests at heart.

There is plenty of blame to go around for America’s decline, but to reverse it, the first step is for those in power to accept responsibility for their actions. That has not yet happened.

America is no longer united because average citizens see two Americas. There’s now a common view that there is one set of rules for elites and another for everyone else. There’s no shortage of examples to support this view.

As well as our all-volunteer military worked for decades, the current reality is America’s long wars in the Middle East were fought mostly by working-class Americans enticed by national service, but also by pay and benefits. As a result, their families and their communities felt all the pain, while the vast majority of elite America was spared.

U.S. trade with China has been a boon to Wall Street and certain huge American multinational companies that have benefited from cheap labor. The benefits for average Americans are harder to come by. Small-town America is in shambles. Communities have been wrecked.

The evidence that free trade can expand economic output and opportunity is compelling. The evidence that free trade with a corrupt non-market economy that does not adhere to basic rights is less compelling. People feel sold out.

When the opioid crisis began wreaking havoc over huge swaths of Middle America, nobody in power noticed.

Huge drug companies made billions of dollars pumping unimaginable quantities of opioids into American communities based on a bogus “pain management” theory of medicine ginned up by the companies themselves.

The leaders of those companies were celebrated in elite society. Their names were attached to universities, hospitals, libraries, and art museums. Forget being shunned by polite society; they were celebrated.

As the depths of the opioid companies’ misbehavior first came to light, the first instinct of organizations receiving their millions in reputation-washing charitable contributions was to hold onto their millions and dodge the issue.

Of the first 20 prestigious, leading national organizations the Daily Caller asked about taking millions in Sackler family blood money in 2017, 14 refused to comment and six actually continued to defend the family. Now, as the pressure has continued to build, the Sackler name has come down (although many groups kept the millions).

Private charities are one thing; America’s political leaders behaved even worse.

By 2016, as opioid overdoses were literally ripping through America’s heartland, Washington finally stepped in. But it did not act to protect the millions of Americans whose lives were at stake.

Instead, Congress quickly and unanimously passed a bill to protect the drug industry from the Drug Enforcement Administration. President Barack Obama signed the bill.

At a time when opioid addiction had killed over 200,000 Americans (three times the total casualties of the Vietnam War), Washington’s leaders not only didn’t act to help; they acted to protect the industry at fault.

This wasn’t a Republican problem or a Democratic one. It was completely noncontroversial at the time, unanimous even. The drug industry needed help so its reps in Washington jumped in to help. Regular Americans were suffering, and their leaders were too detached to know or too captive to care.

The examples go on and on.

Everyone hates Jeffrey Epstein today. He abused young girls. But the entire time he did this, he was embraced by America’s top financiers, celebrities, corporate, and political leaders. American media, as with the opioid crisis and so many others, said nothing before it was too late.

Vanity Fair, one of America’s top magazines, even ran a glowing profile of Epstein while covering up the three on-the-record allegations of sexual assault it was reportedly given against him.

The FBI meanwhile was reportedly first contacted by Epstein victims as early as 1996. You would think the FBI would want to explain something that egregious. It has given no real answers.

These are just a few of hundreds of examples over the last three decades. All point to the same conclusion: America’s top leaders and organizations have earned the loss of trust they now face.

Complaints about populism and its effect on American politics run shallow until this issue is finally addressed. Loss of trust is not a minor matter. It can lead to practical problems like the nosedive in American military recruiting.  

It’s time for America’s leaders to own up to their out-of-touch behavior and chart a clear course for redemption. America is poised for a renaissance but not before these issues are addressed directly.

If leaders continue to brush all this under the rug, the downward cycle will continue. Left unchecked, it can also sink to existential levels. It can lead to revolution.

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Trump’s Pre-Jan. 6 Actions Demolish Democrats’ ‘Coup’ Fantasies

The Stalinist Jan. 6 committee rages on.

During Donald Trump’s first two impeachments, his supporters cross-examined witnesses and provided exculpatory evidence. But the recent proceedings of the House special committee investigating the Capitol riot don’t try to be fair to Trump or even curious about his side of the story.

Instead, these proceedings are designed to blame Trump for a supposed coup and kneecap him before 2024.

Now, The Washington Post reports, the Justice Department has launched a criminal probe regarding Trump’s role in the chaos of Jan. 6, 2021, and, more broadly, his refusal to roll over and play dead amid widespread doubts about the integrity of the November 2020 general election.

Totally ignored is the thoroughly documented fact that Trump authorized up to 20,000 National Guard troops to keep Washington tranquil on Jan. 6. Doing so before his alleged putsch would be as self-torpedoing as a jewel thief who alerted the police while walking to the Smithsonian to swipe the Hope Diamond. 

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., told Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier that Trump “never issued any order to deploy the National Guard to protect the Capitol.” Cheney, queen of the Never Trumpers, is playing word games.

Such an “order” would have violated federal law (18 U.S. Code § 1385). The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 bars the U.S. armed forces from civilian law enforcement. The president may authorize National Guard troops, but governors (or D.C.’s mayor) must request them before the troops roll. 

“DJT authorized the use of the military to support local and federal law enforcement on 6 Jan.,” then-acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller told me, referring to Trump. “He directed that I provide whatever support was requested. Absolutely true statement.”

According to Miller, Trump added: “You’ll need 10 to 20,000,” Miller continued, “He then reiterated that I should provide any military support requested.”

“10-20k troops were authorized for use around the country in the Oval Office prior to Jan. 6. Hard fact,” then-Pentagon chief of staff Kash Patel told me in an email. He added: “I was there with SECDEF [the defense secretary], Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and others.”

Patel added: “DoD spoke to Capitol Police (who report to Nancy Pelosi) before Jan. 6 multiple times, and they repeatedly rejected any National Guard assistance, as did D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.”

Official records back Miller and Patel.

—Referring to Miller and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Pentagon timelines state that on Jan. 3 at 5:30 p.m.: “A/SD and CJCS meet with the President. President concurs in activation of the DCNG to support law enforcement.”

—“Later that afternoon Mr. Miller and Gen. Milley met with President Trump, who concurred in the activation of DCNG to support law enforcement,” reads page 77 of the Senate Staff Report on Jan 6.

“He was looking at the broad threats against the United States and he brought this up on his own,” Miller told the Epoch Times. “We did not bring it up.”

—Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi, D-Calif., rejected Trump’s troop offer. U.S. Capitol Police’s official timeline says the Pentagon asked Jan. 2 whether “USCP [Capitol Police] is considering a request for National Guard soldiers for Jan. 6, 2021, event.” The next day, Deputy Chief Sean Gallagher replied that “a request for National Guard support is not forthcoming at this time after consultation with COP [Capitol Police Chief Steven] Sund.”

For her part, Bowser fretted that National Guardsmen might stir “confusion among residents and visitors.” So, the mayor blocked them from the District of Columbia. Bowser wrote the Pentagon and Justice Department on Jan. 5:

To be clear, the District of Columbia is not requesting other federal law enforcement personnel and discourages any additional deployment without immediate notification to, and consultation with, MPD [the Metropolitan Police Department] if such plans are underway.

Democrats want desperately to keep Americans unaware of this fact:

The rioters would have been hindered or halted if the National Guard troops authorized by Trump were in position. Unfortunately, Pelosi and Bowser wanted the National Guardsmen to stand down. 

So, they did.

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No Wonder We Lost Trust in the Expert Class

For years, European policymakers had assured the world that the relatively rapid “transition” to “green” energy was the world’s preordained future—regardless of the costs.

Accordingly, many European Union governments followed the advice of green experts. They eagerly shut down coal, natural gas, and nuclear power plants to transition immediately to “renewable energy.”

Most citizens were afraid to object that in cloudy, cold Germany solar panels were not viable methods of electrical generation—especially in comparison to the country’s vast coal deposits and its large, model nuclear power industry.

As a result, German government officials warn that this winter, in 19th-century fashion, families will have to burn wood—the dirtiest of modern fuels—to endure the cold. And there is further talk of “warm rooms,” where, like pre-civilizational tribal people, the elderly will bunch together within a designated heated room to keep alive.

Sri Lanka may be the first modern nation to adopt deliberate policies that have led to mass hunger and bankruptcy. The government, for a variety of reasons, listened to foreign advocates of back-to-nature organic farming, specifically outright abandonment of highly effective synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

The result was endemic crop failure. Cash crops for export failed. Widespread hunger followed. Without foreign exchange, it became impossible to import key staples like food and fuel.

Sri Lanka once had a per capita income twice that of nearby India. Now it cannot feed or fuel itself.

Unfortunately, its incompetent government trusted radical environmental advisers, many of them foreign experts. Sri Lanka believed it could become the woke darling of the “environmental, social, governance” movement, and in that way draw in unlimited Western woke investment.

Instead, it has embraced a policy of national suicide.

Recently, a group of 55 distinguished pro-administration economists assured us that President Joe Biden’s massive borrowing and new entitlements agenda were not inflationary. In September 2021, these economists with 14 Nobel Prize winners among them declared that Biden’s inflationary policies would actually “ease” inflation.

Last month, inflation spiked to an annualized rate of 9.1%.

None of these “blue chip” economists have offered any apologies for lending their prestige to convince Americans of the absurd: that inflating the money supply, spiking new government spending, incentivizing labor nonparticipation, and keeping interest rates artificially low would not cause inflation.

In late July 2021, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, claimed that the Taliban takeover “was not a foregone conclusion.” He bragged that 34 provincial capitals were still in Afghan government hands.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin nodded in approval. Less than a month later, the entire Afghan government collapsed. The American military fled in its most ignominious retreat in over 50 years. Milley had been parroting Biden’s earlier prompt that a Taliban victory after the American evacuation was “highly unlikely.”

On the eve of the 2020 election, news accounts revealed some of the lurid contents on Hunter Biden’s lost laptop. Emails and photos began to incriminate the entire Biden family for leveraging millions of dollars from foreign grandees for access to a bought Joe Biden.

Fifty retired intelligence officers, however, without evidence, swore that the laptop’s appearance could be due to “Russian disinformation.” Yet after authentication—Hunter Biden himself never denied the lost laptop was his—few, if any, of those marquee “experts” apologized for their election-driven dissimulation.

At the height of the massive 2020 enforced quarantine and lockdowns, some 1,200 medical and health “professionals” signed a petition claiming that thousands of left-wing protesters should be exempt from the very quarantine they had insisted on for others.

The experts absurdly claimed that denying tens of thousands the right to break quarantines to protest in the street was a greater health threat than COVID-19.

FBI Director James Comey doggedly pursued the “Russian collusion” hoax. At one point he hired the discredited Christopher Steele to supply the FBI with information from his fantasy dossier.

Once called to account, on some 245 occasions before Congress, Comey swore that he could either not remember or had no knowledge about the questions asked of him.

His successor, FBI interim Director Andrew McCabe, admittedly lied on four occasions to federal officials. Special counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller himself swore under oath that he knew nothing either about the Steele dossier or Fusion GPS—the twin catalysts for his entire investigation. FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith admitted to altering a federal court document in efforts to convict an innocent suspect.

All these depressing examples have one common denominator: Elite experts and degreed professionals massaged and warped their knowledge to serve ideological masters, rather than the truth.

In the process, they caused untold damage to their country and fellow citizens. They disgraced their profession. They tarnished the scientific community. And sold their souls to ideologues.

Is it any wonder why the Western public has lost confidence in their degreed and credentialed elites?

(C)2022 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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‘Inflation Reduction Act’ Would Leave Americans Poor, Oppressed, Sick, and Dead

Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act bears the fingerprints of Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Their 725-page monstrosity belies its billing, beginning with its fraudulent title. While Americans reel under 9.1% year-over-year inflation, the Inflation Reduction Act neglects the worst price surge since November 1981.

The Penn Wharton Budget Model politely mocks its Democratic inflation-reduction claims. “The Act would very slightly increase inflation until 2024 and decrease inflation thereafter,” University of Pennsylvania economists reckon. “These point estimates are statistically indistinguishable from zero, thereby indicating low confidence that the legislation will have any impact on inflation.”

The Inflation Reduction Act would fight inflation through higher government spending. That’s like battling alcoholism with just one more round of drinks.

According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the Inflation Reduction Act would pour $485 billion of high-octane moonshine atop today’s inflationary inferno. That includes:

—$1.5 billion to plant trees.

—$9 billion to help rich people buy electric cars.

—$60 billion for “environmental justice.”

—$64 billion to expand and extend Obamacare subsidies.

—$300 billion in corporate welfare for solar and wind projects, green batteries, carbon capture, and more.

The Inflation Reduction Act also raises taxes by $470 billion, including $213 billion in corporate levies. This is dumb in boom times but idiotic in a recession, in which America is mired after two consecutive quarters of economic contraction, Team Biden’s contradictory linguistic gymnastics notwithstanding.

Among those hikes:

—A new 15% corporate minimum tax.

—A curbed carried-interest provision.

—A boost in taxes on crude oil and imported petroleum.

The Inflation Reduction Act also would break President Joe Biden’s solemn pledge not to raise taxes on those earning under $400,000 annually.

The Congressional Joint Economic Committee calculates that Americans earning $200,000 or less would pay at least $30.2 billion in new taxes through 2031—$16.7 billion next year. Those making less than $10,000 can savor an aggregated $323 million tax hike starting in 2023.

Let’s go, Brandon!

The nonprofit Tax Foundation previews the bill’s potential devastation:

Using the Tax Foundation’s General Equilibrium Model, we estimate that the Inflation Reduction Act would reduce long-run economic output by about 0.1 percent and eliminate about 30,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the United States. It would also reduce average after-tax incomes for taxpayers across every income quintile over the long run.

The foundation added: “By reducing long-run economic growth, this bill may actually worsen inflation by constraining the productive capacity of the economy.”

The Inflation Reduction Act also would pump $124 billion into tax enforcement, including $80 billion to double the Internal Revenue Service’s headcount. The IRS last year answered just 10% of its phone calls. Largely ignoring this mess, some 87,000 new inspectors instead would investigate, audit, and litigate the returns of not just Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, but you and yours.

Why? Because that’s where the money is.

Citing the Joint Economic Committee, The Wall Street Journal editorialized on Wednesday: “… from 78% to 90% of the money raised from underreported income would likely come from those making less than $200,000 a year. Only 4% to 9% would come from those making more than $500,000.”

Even worse, the Inflation Reduction Act’s “most damaging component by far remains its impact on health,” argues University of Chicago economics professor Tomas Philipson.

The bill would empower Medicare to dictate drug prices. Impertinent pharmaceutical companies could charge more, but that would trigger a tax of up to 95%. This would strangle lifesaving innovation.

Consequently, Philipson writes in Newsweek, “Over the next 17 years, the bill would reduce drug industry research and development by about $663 billion, resulting in 135 fewer new medicines. This will amount to a loss of 330 million life-years, about 30 times the loss from COVID-19 so far.”

In short, the Inflation Reduction Act would leave Americans poor, oppressed, sick, and dead.

It’s a long shot, but conservatives should do what we can to deflate the Inflation Reduction Act, no matter what Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., does.

When America goes full commie, and we get shipped to the reeducation camps, at least we can tell people that we tried to stop this from happening.

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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Documents Reveal Collusion Between CDC, Big Tech During Pandemic

Documents newly obtained by America First Legal Foundation reveal deep collusion between public officials and allies in Big Tech to silence dissenting voices.

The documents lay bare efforts by officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to push social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to censor so-called medical misinformation.

John Zadrozny, deputy director of investigations at America First Legal Foundation, joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss how deep the collusion goes and what it all means.

We also cover these stories:

  • Congressional colleagues are among those mourning Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., who died Wednesday in a car crash.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspends a state prosecutor for refusing to enforce laws restricting abortion and prohibiting gender-transition treatments for minors such as mastectomies or cross-sex hormones.
  • WNBA player Brittney Griner is sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony after pleading guilty of attempting to smuggle illegal narcotics into the country.
  • China launches five ballistic missiles during a military exercise near Taiwan that land inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:

Doug Blair: My guest today is John Zadrozny, deputy director of investigations at America First Legal Foundation. John, welcome to the show.

John Zadrozny: Hey, Doug, thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it.

Blair: Of course. Well, we have to talk about this massive thing that you guys have found out, which is this trove of documents detailing the super cozy relationship between Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] officials and Big Tech over their efforts to censor what is called misinformation surrounding COVID-19.

So just to start out with, could you give our listeners a broad overview of some of the revelations that these documents revealed?

Zadrozny: Absolutely, Doug.

So basically, you may recall last year that when she was still White House press secretary, from the White House podium in mid-July, Jen Psaki basically admitted to the public that they were working, colluding, I guess you could say, with Big Tech to make sure that “misinformation” was not spread on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

And we were immediately piqued by this, so I think we sent a [Freedom of Information Act] request literally the next day to several agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the CDC. Not surprisingly, they were not tripping over themselves to release those documents because they were damning.

We filed a lawsuit this year and we have since been able to get documents as a result of being in court with the agency. They released a batch to us in July and we were able to roll out about 286 pages of an initial production from the agency last week.

And what they show, Doug, it is pretty damning. It basically shows exactly what we thought—file this under horrifying but not surprising. They were in very close coordination with Google, Twitter, and Facebook. For emphasis, we don’t know if other Big Tech companies were involved yet. This is just what we were able to get our hands on to date.

Examples of what the communications showed were very close, frequent coordination between the government and officials at Google, Twitter, and Facebook. Very excited willingness on the part of officials at those three Big Tech companies to work with them.

In other words, it wasn’t a government strong-arming companies and them reluctantly going along. It was them saying, “We’re eager to work with you and help you.”

There were instances of basically the government told these agencies what to say in terms of vaccine safety. They basically told them what to say and concealed the origins as federal.

The CDC reached out to … Twitter, saying, “Hey, we found these posts. These are misinformation.” And then Twitter immediately proceeded to not only pull them down, but then suspend the accounts of some of those users.

The interaction, the degree of interaction and the type of interaction, Doug, is pretty gross. And it’s a reminder that we’re in a very dangerous time. It’s not just a question of an abusive government, but it’s an abusive government in cahoots with a large, monopolistic tech industry that has no interest in free speech for the public.

Blair: That sounds incredibly dangerous. And I think the fact is that it sounds like the government is skirting around First Amendment protections for speech by kind of nudge, nudge, wink, winking to these Big Tech companies and having them do the dirty work for them. So it’s not the government doing the censorship, it’s Twitter doing the censorship or YouTube doing the censorship.

Zadrozny: Yeah. Doug, that’s a great point. But I would counter that and say the following: There’s obviously a debate on the right about the private sector’s discretion to do what it chooses as the private industry, as nongovernmental. Remember, the First Amendment, the Bill of Rights, all those amendments are designed to curtail government conduct.

However, two things, one of which is, take the government out of it, in a vacuum these companies have reached a size and dimension, and reality in our modern digital age, where they are essentially the digital town square. There is no real public media forum absent these social media platforms.

And an argument could be made, it’s not uniform, there’s definitely disagreement on the right about this, but an argument could be made that they’re essentially, at this point, quasi-utilities.

Imagine a scenario where a phone company was cutting off phone calls of people when they didn’t like what they were saying. We would be aghast at that, and yet somehow this is considered OK.

But it’s even worse than that, Doug, because basically, I think the argument here is that the federal government, by interacting with these companies, whether voluntarily or not, has deputized them as an extension of the government. And so, I think the First Amendment argument is very much in play here.

They can’t say, “Well, we’re private.” Maybe, maybe they could have gotten away with that if they were doing this of their own volition. But it’s pretty clear they were working hand-in-glove with federal officials telling them what to say and not say.

Blair: How long and how extensive do these ties go back? And are there going to be any sort of implications between people like Dr. [Anthony] Fauci and other government officials that were directly responsible for this?

Zadrozny: Well, that’s a great question, Doug. We have other, for clarity, we have other letters out to other agencies to find out the degree to which they were involved in manipulating these Big Tech companies and their speech.

Troublingly, if you go look at the documents that we’ve produced, remember it’s only 286 pages, I suspect we’ve only scratched the surface. Some of those communications do go back to 2020, and so I think some of the people might say, “Well, gosh, doesn’t that mean the Trump administration was doing this?”

I think the answer is, if, based on all we saw during the Trump administration, and I was part of it, there are a lot of secretive nefarious actors who were not working in conjunction with the political leadership of the administration and doing what they wanted.

I suspect these ties existed between these officials and these employees of these companies for years. … Gosh only knows what else they were doing behind the scenes, Doug, to undercut the administration while the administration was happening. But it picked up another few notches in speed once we were gone, in order to facilitate the Biden administration’s rollout of the vaccine.

The horrible part about all this, Doug, is that the Biden administration and the Big Tech companies, they wouldn’t need to do any of this if they had anything resembling credibility on any issue, including the vaccine issue. But the reality is, when you’re in a position where nobody believes anything you’re saying, you have to censor—at least if you think like the left does.

And that’s exactly why they’re doing what they’re doing. Instead of having a full and open public debate, saying, “Look, these people who are critical of the safety of the vaccines, they’re completely wrong. Here are the data. We’re in the right. Trust us,” they can’t do that because the data don’t support them. And so, they’ve had to engage in this conduct.

And again, I really think we’ve only scratched the surface. Again, it’s only the first 286 pages and that’s just from the CDC, so there’s a lot more going on.

And Doug, I can break some news for you. We are issuing a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general, [Christi] Grimm, asking her to conduct an investigation of this. We think this is clearly illegal, clearly inappropriate. And with any luck, we’ll get a serious response from the IG. We’re really hoping that we do.

Blair: Well, John, that’s incredible news. And I guess, if you could go a little bit more in depth about what you’re hoping to find with that letter, what you’re hoping to find with these sort of revelations here?

Zadrozny: Yeah. So, I think what we’re hoping is that the inspector general’s investigation is not only able to bring to light some of the other components of HHS that were involved in this—again, we only were talking about CDC, which is technically under HHS. We sent letters to the National Institutes of Health. We sent letters to HHS headquarters and other federal officials and federal agencies.

She may be able to pull it all together in her investigation. But also, she’ll have access to documents that we don’t. And with any luck, she’ll actually bring to light the full scope of this.

We had to use what’s called the Freedom of Information Act to get the documents that we’ve got, and even then we had to take this all the way to a federal judge. She doesn’t have those constraints. With any luck, she’ll actually do her job. We’ll see.

Blair: Now, it sounds like she’s obviously not likely to do that, unless she’s forced to do so. What does it say about this administration that it seems like these revelations have to come out through the work of citizen journalists and organizations like yours, instead of them just saying, “Look, we have a vested interest in this policy going this one way”? What does that say about how this administration is viewing this topic?

Zadrozny: What it says to me, Doug, is that they view themselves as on the wrong side of the issue where they need to hide from the truth. And they can’t have an open conversation and win a credibility-based conversation with the American public.

And I think you could, unfortunately, I think you can apply this to almost every issue area in their purview right now—energy production to national security and so on. They’re too busy throwing, I guess, American parents who attend school board meetings in jail as domestic terrorists to focus on actual medical safety and integrity.

I think another lesson, too, Doug, if I may, is I think we’re probably seeing what happens when we have a federal government that’s just way too large.

People on the right for years—and to their credit, it’s a good argument, it just hasn’t really fallen on ears and it hasn’t resonated—the small government argument has always been a fiscal one. The argument has always been, “We spend too much money. We spend too much money.” Well, that’s all true.

And we may actually be seeing, we may have finally hit the point in the United States where we are starting to see those proverbial chickens come home to roost with high inflation, etc. But it doesn’t resonate.

And I think it’s partly, without getting too much into it, I think it’s because most Americans don’t deal with anything near those numbers of that type of money. Those numbers just kind of glaze over—a trillion here or a trillion there.

But I think the argument that really does resonate with Americans across the country at home in small communities is this is what happens when you have a government that’s too large, and has too much money, and has too many employees, it becomes too radical. And you need to rein it in.

And the only way to really rein it in, it’s not a bunch of old white guys wagging fingers at oversight hearings. It’s shrinking federal agency budgets, saying, “Look, you’re being punished for not doing your jobs. In fact, you’re being punished for using money for things that are dangerous, unconstitutional, and suppressing rights.”

I think it’s one of the most serious conversations we need to have over the next 10 years, Doug, is have we reached the point where we’ve seen too much? We’ve seen what a big federal government really means for the republic, it’s not good and it needs to be shrunk.

Blair: Right. Now, John, that raises an interesting point. We have this information, it sounds like you are taking action, specifically with this letter to the IG, but what can conservatives do? We have the proof now, we have the evidence to show that there was collusion between these massive government bodies and Big Tech. What do we do with that information?

Zadrozny: That’s a great question. That’s the million-dollar question, right? I think for now, because Republicans, conservatives don’t run the executive branch, there’s nothing that can be done there.

In theory, Republicans, if they are to win control of Congress and take it seriously, and actually push back against the corruption of this administration, they could cut budgets. There could be some oversight. Maybe they could recommend potential civil or criminal action against people who have potentially violated federal law.

That’s obviously not going to be acted on by this current administration, but you can put a file together and have it sit there and wait for the right time. And then say, “Look, this person should be looked at for civil violations. This person should be looked at for criminal violations.”

I think this information opens doors for states and even private litigants to possibly file their own litigation. And so I am tempted to say, I’m sure you are too, “Well, so what, John? Another lawsuit?” It does add up. And having been on the inside of an administration, every time you get sued, it takes attorneys and people away from doing X or Y because they have to deal with a lawsuit.

And if it’s not a frivolous lawsuit—and they shouldn’t be frivolous lawsuits, they should be legitimate lawsuits—you’re going to find a lot. There’s going to be a lot to talk about and there’s going to be a lot to answer for.

So for now, I think that’s the best-case scenario. But I would also say that the one thing everyone can do—public, anyone listening here, anyone who cares about this issue or any of these issues—just pay attention to all of this. And then when the time comes, make sure we remember all of this to take action inside the executive branch. An awful lot of people are going to need to be fired.

Blair: Now, as we’re having this conversation, it seems so odd to me that there’s been no, I don’t want to say justification because it doesn’t really sound like it’s justifiable, but there’s nothing coming from the administration to say, “Yeah, we own up to this.” They’re almost trying to push back. Has Big Tech even tried to justify this or are they just hoping this blows over?

Zadrozny: It’s to be determined. I haven’t really seen anyone on the government side respond to this in any meaningful way. And I suspect that private companies, the Big Tech companies are going to say exactly what you mentioned in the beginning, saying, “Well, we’re private. We can do what we want.” Although at the same time, it’s interesting because they’re in an interesting spot.

There are some Republicans, not all, it’s not a uniform opinion, but some Republicans have proposed getting rid of Section 230 of the federal Communications Act, which would strip the Big Tech platforms who operate via the internet with some of their protections.

Don’t forget the whole justification for Section 230 is immunity from content. So they got a lot of benefits by saying, “Look, we’re just kind of the Wild West forum. We don’t police.” Well, now they’re policing, and they’re policing at government direction, and it changes the equation.

And getting rid of Section 230 may or may not be a helpful thing. I actually defer to others on that. But I do think that the private sector’s going to say, “We can do what we want.” But then if you dare say, “Well, we have to change how you’re regulated,” I’m sure they’ll bristle at that.

I don’t expect the federal government to own up to any of this. But the reality is, again, this is just the tip of the iceberg. These people are very comfortable.

It’s pretty clear, too, by the way, there’s no concealment in these documents of their conduct. In other words, it’s not like we got five emails back and all of this happened by phone. They see no problem with this. And so, I don’t suspect that they are willing to say [they’ve] done anything wrong, because they probably don’t think they’ve done anything wrong.

I’m sure they had couch it as, “We’re doing this for the right reasons.” But as you know as well as I do, Doug, the road to hell is in fact paved with good intentions. And so, just because you feel like doing something and you think it’s a good thing, it … doesn’t mean it’s constitutional.

Blair: Right, right. I wonder if there was even some success to this. One of the arguments that I’ve almost heard a couple of different times from people on the right is that when you start to push censorship, it becomes much more difficult for you to justify yourself as the person in the right. To be super nerdy for a second, the quote from “Game of Thrones,” “If you rip a man’s tongue out, you’re afraid of what he has to say.”

It almost sounds like maybe there’s this sense of, “Well, we know we’re not in the right here, so we’re just going to do it anyway.” And that actually creates a backlash. What are your thoughts on that?

Zadrozny: No, I think you’re correct. Except the problem is I get the sense that the Biden administration, as the metaphor for the left writ large, is just kind of going for broke on all things right now. Because I think it’s a combination of things, at least that’s my theory.

One is, I think they see the writing on the wall for the fall elections. Now, Republicans can be weak at times, but I think at the end of the day, they’d still rather have control of Congress, and they’re not happy with the possibility of a wild card Congress asking a lot of questions, and obviously ruining their chances of winning reelection in 2024.

But I don’t think they see that they’ve done anything wrong. I think they’re just … going to double down or triple down. And they have to do a lot of this stuff, because I think to some degree on this issue and many, many others, the gig is up. And the more is exposed, the more it reveals the brokenness of federal government and the need to do things more than just wag fingers at oversight hearings.

And I’m hoping that what this does is actually get people to realize we can’t just do things the way we used to. The same old, same old is just not going to work in a future Congress, in a future administration. This federal government needs to be scrubbed and reassembled for the benefit of the American people.

Blair: And do you think that removing things like Section 230 or taking action against Big Tech companies that do this type of thing would be an acceptable solution?

Zadrozny: I think putting them in a place where they have to consider liability for removing people inappropriately or otherwise could actually be helpful. Why is it so that they get this protection that allows them to be immune from content?

In a way, you would think that if they had this immunity, this would be their way of responding to the federal government, “Look, sorry, Mr. President, we’re not going to work with you guys because we don’t want to lose our 230 status. We want this to be sort of a Wild West medium of communication.”

So yeah, I think that’s one thing that would make a difference. I think if you want to drive a point home, point at their dollars. And their ability to make money here is something that’s a big deal.

I’ve often thought, one thing, if governments—and I don’t just mean the federal government, I mean the state governments, local governments—they want to make a difference, I think one thing you could do is just get rid of your Twitter accounts, get rid of your Facebook accounts. Why are these governments that proclaim to be opposed to what these platforms are doing still on them?

Now, the devil’s advocate argument is, well, you might as well use their medium against them. But the reality is, once you start using their medium against them to an effective degree, you get pulled off. So why give them the revenue? Just get out of it.

And at some point I’d love to see the federal government deal with this when there’s an administration that is not interested in supporting these platforms anymore, and we’ll see what happens.

But yeah, follow the money. If you can make it painful for them economically, they’ll stop their behavior.

Blair: Now, as we begin to wrap-up here, I want to give you an opportunity to really focus in and highlight on what you think people should be looking at. So first off, where can people, if they want to look at these documents for themselves, where can they go? And then, what do you recommend they really pay attention to as they’re troving through these? As you mentioned, there’s quite a few of them. So what do you think they should be looking out for?

Zadrozny: Well, Doug, one thing I would strongly recommend is if people do want to see the documents—and thank you for the plug—please come to aflegal.org. That’s aflegal.org. You can see the work we’ve done on this and also many, many other things, everything from immigration to national security to education.

But in terms of this trove, again, we’re going to need some eyes, and people’s expertise and thoughts based on their conduct. So when you go look at these emails, please, please, let us know if you see anything of interest.

For example, … you’ll see names in these emails, but not all of them, because some of them are redacted. So if anyone has any information about any of the names around those FOIA exemptions the agency used to cover other people’s names, let us know.

One thing I’m curious to know is, are there any professional or economic connections between the people in the federal government and these companies? For example, it identifies by name some people who work for Twitter, Facebook, and Google, who interact with the federal government. But do they have a spouse at the CDC? Do they have a spouse at NIH? These are things that are frequently concealed.

And it’s funny because the leftist administrations always tend to have couples involved in things. And sometimes that manifests in the form of Mr. Jones works at the Department of Treasury and Mrs. Jones works on the White House counsel staff. But sometimes it’s not even all in government. So for example, maybe the federal job of Mr. Jones is dependent upon Mrs. Jones at Twitter, doing what the federal government says.

If it’s the stuff that we don’t know—in fact, the best way I could say it, Doug, is, it’s the unknown unknowns in the production. And if anyone’s got any thoughts, and also if you happen to be one of these people who are working for these Big Tech companies who are familiar with some of this, come reach out to us.

You don’t exist, we will make sure you don’t exist, but we could use your help and information, and anything you’ve got to offer. Because really, it comes down to the people behind the scenes who say, “Hey, I know I’m part of this. I’ve seen this, it’s wrong. I want to help.”

If you’re willing to come check out those documents, please give us a shout and keep your eyes out for further tranches of documents and further information from these agencies and hopefully an honest inspector general’s report regarding the content of this whole scandal across the Department of Health and Human Services.

Blair: Sounds like a wonderful opportunity for Americans to get involved. That was John Zadrozny, deputy director of investigations at the America First Legal Foundation. John, very much appreciate your time.

Zadrozny: Thank you, Doug, for your time. I appreciate it.

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FBI ‘Aggressively’ Pursuing Hunter Biden Investigation, Director Wray Says

FBI Director Christopher Wray referred to “malign foreign influence with, potentially, public corruption” during a Senate committee hearing Thursday where participants described Hunter Biden’s alleged misconduct in overseas business dealings in a hypothetical manner. 

When asked specifically about the case of President Joe Biden’s son, Wray described it as an “ongoing investigation that I expect our folks to pursue aggressively.”

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, raised the Hunter Biden issue early in the hearing by talking about efforts—reported by FBI whistleblowers—to close down an investigation into the president’s son ahead of the 2020 presidential election. 

“In August 2020, the FBI supervisory intelligence analysts opened an assessment. This August 2020 assessment served as a vehicle by which the FBI headquarters team falsely labeled Hunter Biden information as you-know-what disinformation,” Grassley said, referring to partisan Democrats’ claim of Russian interference in the election.

“In October 2020, an avenue of reporting on Hunter Biden was ordered closed,” the Iowa Republican added. “That Hunter Biden information related to potential criminal activity. According to whistleblowers, the reporting was either verified or verifiable, via criminal search warrants. But it was shut down on the basis of it being at risk of disinformation.”

Grassley asked Wray about “politically exposed” individuals involved with allegedly improper or illegal foreign financial transactions. 

“I’m not asking about a case here. … If the FBI received information that foreign persons had evidence of improper or unlawful financial payments paid to elected officials or other politically exposed persons, would that pose a national security concern?” Grassley asked the FBI director. 

Wray stressed that it would depend on the facts and circumstances of the individual case. 

“The kind of conduct you’re describing is typically something we would look at very closely through our efforts at malign foreign influence. It starts to shade into a blend of what we call malign foreign influence with, potentially, public corruption, and it’s something we take seriously,” Wray said.  

The hearing came a week after Grassley wrote a letter to Wray and his boss, Attorney General Merrick Garland, about reports from whistleblowers who reported on politicized efforts by the FBI to suppress a probe of Hunter Biden, and falsely characterize anything negative about the president’s son as “Russian disinformation.”

U.S. Attorney for Delaware David Weiss is leading an investigation into Hunter Biden’s foreign business deals, conducted both while his father was vice president and afterward. Federal prosecutors are looking at possible charges over taxes and lying to investigators, according to recent news reports. 

 “What steps should the FBI take to vet or more fully investigate evidence of improper or unlawful financial payment paid to elected officials and other politically exposed persons?” Grassley asked.

Wray replied: “There could be an assessment. There could be an investigation. There could be any number of steps that would be taken to make sure that there is not a national security risk.” 

To date, the younger Biden has not been charged with anything.

During the question-and-answer session between Grassley and Wray, both seemed to support protecting whistleblowers. 

“Do you agree that any retaliatory conduct against whistleblowers must be disciplined?” the Iowa lawmaker said. 

Wray responded: “I think retaliatory conduct against whistleblowers is unacceptable. They serve a very, very important role in our system.”

After information about Hunter Biden’s foreign business activities in Ukraine, Russia, China, and other countries surfaced in 2019, two Senate committee chairmen at the time—Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and Grassley on Judiciary—opened an investigation in 2020. 

“In August 2020, Sen. Johnson and I received an unsolicited and unnecessary briefing from the FBI. This briefing reportedly was related to our [Hunter] Biden investigation. In the end, the briefing had nothing to do with it,” Grassley said, adding:

The briefing was instituted after the FBI received pressure from my Democrat colleagues to do just that. The content of that briefing [was] later leaked in order to falsely paint the Grassley-Johnson investigation as advancing you-know-what Russian disinformation.

That briefing was held the very same month the FBI opened the assessment that was used to label Hunter Biden’s information as you-know-what disinformation. Considering the timing of events, the timing draws very serious concern. The FBI’s credibility is on the line.

By contrast, Grassley said, the FBI greenlighted a long investigation into then-President Donald Trump and “Russian collusion” with his presidential campaign based on scant evidence. Yet the bureau closed down a probe of Hunter Biden, he said. 

Later in the hearing, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., asked about the two cases. 

“Americans look at what they perceive to be, and I think rightly so, a ton of money that was wasted on the Russia collusion investigation. So, do you agree that the allegation of secret collusion between President Trump and Russia was a hoax?”

Wray responded, “I don’t think that’s the terminology I would use.”

Blackburn then asked, “Do you agree that the Hunter Biden laptop was not Russia disinformation?”

Wray replied: “Now you are asking about an ongoing investigation that I expect our folks to pursue aggressively, and I can’t comment on that.”

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Today’s FBI Partisans Tarnish Agency’s Already Damaged Image

The FBI is damaging its credibility with the American people.

The latest revelations from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, about the political partisans who occupy the ranks of the most powerful law enforcement agency in the country are, if true, deeply disturbing.

The trust the FBI once enjoyed, and which it needs if it is to function as an effective law enforcement agency, has been greatly diminished over the last several years. This new scandal certainly doesn’t help to restore that trust.

The revelations involve two hot-button topics: the investigation into the president’s son Hunter Biden and the 2020 election.

According to two recent letters Grassley sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Chris Wray, FBI whistleblowers have informed him that the FBI “developed information about Hunter Biden’s criminal financial and related activity” in 2020 (when it could have affected the outcome of the election).

After that, FBI supervisory intelligence analyst Brian Auten prepared an assessment in August 2020 that was used by others at the FBI “to improperly discredit negative Hunter Biden information as disinformation” so that the investigation of Hunter Biden would be stopped.

According to Grassley’s July 25 letter, “verified and verifiable derogatory information on Hunter Biden was falsely labeled as disinformation” by Auten.

Grassley alleges that this appears to have been part of “a scheme in place among certain FBI officials to undermine derogatory information connected to Hunter Biden.” Those same officials, say the whistleblowers, placed that disinformation finding in a restricted file so others within the FBI could not review it or evaluate how the assessment had been made.

‘Serious Performance Failures’

Auten is the same FBI intelligence analyst who has been identified as the analyst referred to in a December 2019 report by the Justice Department’s inspector general who “failed to advise” others at the FBI in 2016 “about inconsistencies in the Steele dossier,” the phony report about Trump-Russian collusion created by Fusion GPS.

That report revealed “serious performance failures” and detailed numerous mistakes, errors, and omissions by FBI personnel in what was codenamed Operation Crossfire Hurricane.

As former Attorney General William Barr said, FBI agents and officials “misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source.” The FBI’s actions reflected “a clear abuse of the FISA process,” according to Barr.

If the whistleblowers’ allegations are true, this means that Auten worked to instigate a counterintelligence investigation against then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump prior to the 2016 election, while in 2020 he tried to stop a criminal investigation of Hunter Biden before the November presidential election in which his father was the Democratic nominee running against Trump.

Grassley further alleges in his July 25 letter that the assistant special agent in charge of the Washington Field Office, Timothy Thibault, tried to quash any investigation of Hunter Biden by ordering the matter closed “without providing a valid reason as required by FBI guidelines.”

The whistleblowers claim that Thibault “attempted to improperly mark the matter in FBI systems so that it could not be opened in the future,” Grassley says.

The whistleblowers also told Grassley, according to his July 18 letter, that Thibault routinely “opened or approved, investigations based on unsubstantiated or unverified statements sourced to biased media publications.” But in other instances, he “declined to open or approve investigations based on partisan objectives, notwithstanding the existence of proper predication.”

Questionable Objectivity

Grassley previously complained to the FBI about Thibault’s activities after Thibault posted anti-Trump, politically charged, pro-Lincoln Project social media posts.

As Grassley said in a May 31 letter, those social media posts and other disturbing information related by the whistleblowers raised serious ethical concerns and “call[ed] into question ASAC Thibault’s ability to perform the duties and responsibilities of an FBI agent objectively and without bias.”

He’s right.

Grassley says that Thibault, “while overseeing and directing the FBI’s most significant Federal public corruption investigation, traveled to the Czech Republic” to attend a seminar with Nellie Ohr, an employee of Fusion GPS.

Fusion GPS is the consulting firm that “created anti-Trump propaganda for use by the Hillary Clinton Campaign and Democratic National Committee and was involved in the fake Alfa bank narrative.”

Funny thing—as soon as Grassley sent his May letter to the FBI, Thibault’s social media posts disappeared.

But it gets worse. Richard Pilger serves as the head of the Election Crimes Branch of the Public Integrity Section at the Justice Department. As former DOJ lawyer J. Christian Adams explained, Pilger “blocked numerous election crime investigations” and “was lionized on MSNBC“ for his opposition to investigating election fraud.

Grassley even issued a report in 2021 as part of the oversight work done by the Senate Judiciary Committee that had an entire section devoted to Pilger’s apparent misconduct based on testimony from senior Justice Department employees.

Time to Investigate

According to Grassley’s July 18 letter, Pilger and Thibault were the individuals “deeply involved in the decision to open and pursue” the Justice Department’s investigation of Trump’s campaign, its advisers, and “individuals linked to electors during the 2020 election.”

And what is that investigation based on? According to Grassley, the whistleblowers told him that this investigation was initiated in substantial part on “January 2020 CNN news articles which relied on information derived from a liberal non-profit” organization.

The whistleblowers also claim, Grassley says, that the memos reviewed by the attorney general and the FBI director to approve the opening of this investigation “included selective assertions created in large part by Thibault and either removed or watered-down material connected” to left-wing entities.

Furthermore, Grassley says that “multiple whistleblowers” have said Thibault, Pilger, and other FBI personnel employed “double standards” and “did not support FBI agents seeking to follow normal investigative procedures related to investigating election crime allegations during multiple presidential elections.”

Grassley concludes his July 18 letter by voicing the concern all of us should have: “that political bias by a select group of Justice Department and FBI officials has infected the Justice Department’s and FBI’s usual process and procedure to open and pursue high-profile and politically charged investigations.”

The Iowa Republican goes on to say that if “these allegations are true and accurate, the Justice Department and FBI are—and have been—institutionally corrupted to their very core to the point in which the United States Congress and the American people will have no confidence in the equal application of the law.”

If they have not already done so, Wray and Garland should take immediate steps to investigate and address these allegations, as should the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz.

Although many rank-and-file FBI agents and Justice Department employees seek to honorably serve our country, there is nothing more dangerous than a law enforcement agency that makes decisions based on political partisanship rather than faithfully and impartially enforcing the law.

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Only Some Terrorist Takedowns Are Unifying

As he began his reliably liberal “Reliable Sources” newsletter on Aug. 1, CNN host Brian Stelter brought everyone’s attention to the inspiring way CBS host John Dickerson wrapped up the broadcast of President Joe Biden’s speech touting the takedown of al-Qaeda terrorist chief Ayman al-Zawahri.

CBS offered a live shot of lower Manhattan. Stelter touted, “One World Trade Center in the center of the frame, sparkling in the golden hour of daylight.” Dickerson announced, “All those that plotted the attack are either dead or captured. One World Trade stands as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. A reminder of the resilience of New York City and the American people.” The camera operator pulled back to show the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

Isn’t that a nice, patriotic moment for Americans who remember the horror of 9/11? Stelter also promoted this tableau on Twitter.

Then let’s remember that CNN is also projecting that the takedown “hands Biden a political win.” This framing, then, might seem a little like Tom Cruise getting a standing ovation as he hops out of his jet at the end of “Top Gun.” Or, if you can stomach it, Joy Behar shamelessly cited Biden as resembling action hero Liam Neeson in “Taken.”

The headline of Stelter’s Aug. 1 newsletter was a Biden quote: “Justice has been delivered.”

This was not how Stelter responded when former President Donald Trump took out Iranian terrorist mastermind Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a man who killed many Americans in Iraq.

On Jan. 2, 2020, Stelter’s headline was “War footing,” and his first words were these: “Many Americans are swiping their phones on, turning on the TV, and asking what the hell is happening in the Middle East. They are hearing terrifying assessments of the situation and wondering who and what to believe.”

Stelter tweeted out his sermon on the Jan. 5, 2020, episode of “Reliable Sources”: “Don’t be fooled by the propagandists who want us to wear blinders. It is patriotic to ask for evidence. To question official accounts. To wonder if the public is being manipulated into a wider war. It is patriotic to hold our leaders accountable.”

It’s patriotic to celebrate a win for Biden as a win for all of us. But two years ago, it was patriotic to suggest any celebration was equivalent to being fooled by propagandists, and volunteering to wear blinders.

Stelter didn’t sound pro-American at all because Trump was in charge.

Americans and many others around the world are instinctively suspicious and distrusting of what Iranian leaders say. Well, what about America’s leaders? President Trump squandered his credibility at the very start of his presidency, and many officials in his administration have followed him down the path of deceit.

Stelter even backed his argument by quoting Tucker Carlson.

The geopolitical difference here is that Soleimani was part of a terrorist government, and Zawahri was a non-state terrorist. But it’s obvious that the most important difference for CNN is Democrat and Republican—especially when it was Trump, who still insists he won in 2020.

Stelter seemed to think everyone should get out the pompoms. He loved how CBS bathed Biden’s speech in a warm glow, but then sputtered that “Fox goes right back to Biden-bashing.”

New CNN CEO Chris Licht met with Republicans on Capitol Hill recently, campaigning to “win back your trust.” He’s made public noises about tugging CNN away from crusading for liberals and Democrats. But any Republican who still watches CNN with any regularity knows that CNN hasn’t changed. Partisan double standards are still firmly in place.

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4 Takeaways From Senate Panel’s Hearing on Gain-of-Function Research, COVID-19

Congress held its first hearing Wednesday investigating whether gain-of-function research financed by U.S. taxpayers could have led to the spread of COVID-19. 

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., chaired the hearing held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on emerging threats and spending oversight. 

“Gain-of-function research has the potential to unleash a global pandemic that threatens the lives of millions, yet this is the first time the issue has been discussed in a congressional committee,” said Paul, ranking member of the subcommittee.

Paul acted as chairman since no Democrats attended the hearing. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., is the subcommittee chairwoman, and her name was on the hearing schedule

The term “gain of function” describes a risky process of making a pathogen more dangerous or contagious for the purpose of studying a response.

In May 2021, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the United States never funded gain-of-function projects at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology. 

However, e-mails from Fauci and other federal public health officials showed that Fauci’s agency did fund research that involved making a virus more transmissible from animals to humans. 

As previously reported by The Daily Signal, the U.S. government from 2014 to 2019 gave almost $600,000 to the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, which in turn used the money to pay for coronavirus research at the Wuhan lab. 

The National Institutes of Health, the parent agency to Fauci’s agency, sent a letter to EcoHealth Alliance in July 2020, asking about its relationship with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. NIH also suspended the nonprofit’s grant, pending answers to several questions. 

“I’m sure each member of this committee, as well as the full Senate, can agree that we need stronger government oversight of how our tax dollars are being used to experiment with possible fatal diseases,” Paul said at the Wednesday hearing. 

Here are four key takeaways from the first hearing on gain-of-function research. 

 1. Did Fauci Lie?

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., read a statement from Dr. Richard Ebright, laboratory director of the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University, in which he said that National Institutes of Health officials, including Fauci, “lied to Congress, lied to the press, and lied to the public knowingly, willfully, brazenly.”

Hawley read another statement in which Ebright called Fauci’s claim that the NIH did not support gain-of-function research “untruthful.”

Ebright told Hawley: “I stand by my statement.”

“The statements made on repeated occasions to the public, the press, and to policymakers by the NIAID director, Dr. Fauci, have been untruthful,” Ebright said. “I do not understand why those statements are being made, because they are demonstrably false.”  

For his part, Fauci consistently has said he did not lie to Congress. 

2. ‘Deliberately Unleashed to Kill Millions’?

Kevin Esvelt, assistant professor of media arts and sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, said government officials have not considered the potential national security threat of gain-of-function research. 

“The problem is that we are so used to thinking of pandemics as a health and safety issue that we have missed the national security implications of identifying viruses that could be deliberately unleashed to kill millions of people,” Esvelt told the Senate panel. 

He said that when a disease breaks out, scientists often don’t have to wait to begin studying it, in part because gain-of-function research allows immediate study. 

“From a biomedical perspective, that is a triumph, particularly because it only costs a few thousand dollars, and the price is plummeting,” Esvelt said. “But from a security perspective, that means that thousands of researchers could gain access to a novel, pandemic agent as soon as it was identified as such.”

3. ‘No Dispositive Evidence’

The official line from the Communist Chinese government is that COVID-19 sprung from a wet market in Wuhan and spread throughout the country. A wet market is a term for an open-air, often unhygienic, market that sells fresh meat, fish, and produce.

Dr. Steven Quay, CEO of Atossa Therapeutics Inc., told the panel that scenario is highly unlikely, based on his research. 

“There is no dispositive evidence the pandemic began as a spillover of a natural virus in a market,” Quay said. “All evidence is consistent with a laboratory-acquired infection.”

He also said he thinks release of the virus was accidental and not deliberate. He said he understands the conclusion “is not widely held,” but said he would state that under oath and would debate other scientists. 

“The virus has three genomic regions that have the signature of synthetic biology—that is, gain-of-function research,” Quay said in his opening statement. “One region has features of the two types of forbidden gain-of-function research that are associated with bioweapons development: asymptomatic transmission and immune-system evasion.”

Later in the hearing, he was asked whether he was concerned about China’s continuing to do gain-of-function research.

 “In December 2019, they were doing synthetic biology on a cloning vector of the Nipah virus, which is 60% lethal. We just experienced a 1% lethal virus,” Quay said. “My estimate is, that could set us back a millennium. The Black Plague was a 20% lethal event, and it was a 250-year event for civilization to return.”

4. ‘We Shouldn’t Be Doing This at All?’

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., asked the experts if they agreed with these questions about gain-of-function research: “There’s certainly no benefit that overrides the risk? We shouldn’t be doing this at all?”

Responses varied. 

Quay said, “My analysis is that [gain-of-function research] hasn’t contributed to the response to this pandemic.”

Esvelt was less certain, but noted the risks are ultimately greater.

“For balancing the potential benefits of prevention against the risk of accidents, it can go either way, depending on the numbers you use,” he said. “When you add the misuse case, that is what blows it out of the water.”

However, Ebright said gain-of-function research on known diseases can be beneficial.

“I believe [that] enhancing the oversight of the research is the more effective and more prudent strategy than simply banning it,” he said. 

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Biden Executive Order on Abortion Travel Funding Appears to Violate Hyde Amendment

President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday to authorize taxpayer-financed transportation for women seeking an abortion. 

Biden’s order directs the Department of Health and Human Services to consider using Medicaid dollars to pay expenses for pregnant women who live in states with pro-life laws when they travel to other states for an abortion. 

However, the Hyde Amendment, first enacted in 1976, prohibits federal Medicaid funding for abortion. As a senator for three decades and later as vice president, Biden expressed support for the Hyde Amendment. 

Vice President Kamala Harris, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, and other administration officials attended a White House meeting Wednesday of the interagency Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access.

Because he is still recovering from COVID-19, Biden addressed the group remotely. 

The president said his executive order “responds to the health care crisis that has unfolded since the Supreme Court overturned Roe.” That was a reference to the high court’s June 24 ruling overturning its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide.

“This executive order also helps women travel out of state for medical care,” Biden said. “Secretary Becerra will work with states through Medicaid to allow them to provide reproductive health care for women who live in states where abortions are being banned in that state.”

As a senator, Biden said that federal funding of abortion “flips the bird” by forcing taxpayers to endorse and pay for the procedure. The Republican National Committee released a video of past news clips documenting Biden’s prior position. 

Joe Biden used to oppose taxpayer-funded abortion — and even called abortion "a tragedy."

Now, Biden supports taxpayer-funded abortion until the moment of birth.pic.twitter.com/2a5nLmPD9Y

— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 3, 2022

The president’s move will not be popular, said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. In a written statement, she added:

Biden and the Democrats make a serious error in assuming Americans nationwide agree with their radical agenda—using the full weight of the federal government to impose abortion on demand up to the moment of birth, illegally forcing taxpayers to fund it, ‘cracking down’ on nonprofits that provide life-affirming alternatives, and threatening to destroy any guardrails of democracy that stand in their way.

Before Biden signed his executive order, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was unable to respond clearly to reporters’ questions about the Hyde Amendment during a press briefing. 

“How will you be able to pay, to help women pay, to cross a state line to get somewhere else where they need to go, given the restrictions of the Hyde Amendment?” a reporter asked. 

The press secretary responded: “That is something HHS will come up with the details on.”

“This is what the president is doing,” Jean-Pierre added. “He is looking at everything that’s available to him on the table—whatever is legally possible, what he can use, his executive authority—to move forward on.”

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In Washington, Honesty Is Such a Lonely Word

A favorite game of politicians, when reality does not conform to the facts they want, is to simply redefine reality.

Democrats want big government, a lot of spending and taxation, the former of which we are now paying for in inflation, so the new strategy of Democrats is to now claim that spending and taxes reduce inflation.

We now have the Senate moving legislation with a price tag of $433 billion in new spending and $327 billion in new taxes, and it’s called the Inflation Reduction Act.

It’s like McDonald’s serving up a new Big Mac with more beef, more cheese, and more sauce, and calling it the Weight Watchers Special.

Our president and Congress are imploding in the polls, and what we get from them are word games.

A commonly accepted definition of recession is two consecutive quarters of economic contraction.

The Commerce Department just reported that the U.S. economy contracted 0.9% in the second quarter. This follows a contraction of 1.6% in the first quarter.

Recession?

Our president says no way. Our treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, who apologized recently for being wrong last year, denying that inflation was on its way, held what the press called a “rare stand-alone news conference” at the Treasury Department, to assure us we are not in a recession.

It’s reminiscent of comedian Groucho Marx, who quipped, “Who are you going to believe—me or your own eyes?”

On a similar note, the House has passed the Respect for Marriage Act, which now will be considered in the Senate.

The Respect for Marriage Act would codify into federal law the legality of same-sex marriage.

This is in reaction to a note by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in his concurrent opinion in the recent Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, suggesting that the Obergefell decision, in which the court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, should be readdressed.

Why is this called the Respect for Marriage Act and not called the Redefine Marriage Act?

It’s simply more of the Washington word-game culture, which we now see in government spending and taxing suddenly being about reducing inflation, and consecutive quarters of economic contraction not necessarily being about recession.

To call this legislation the Redefine Marriage Act would be honest, something simply unheard of in Washington.

It is important for same-sex marriage advocates to call this the Respect for Marriage Act, because this suggests that, for those few thousand years in which no one questioned that marriage is between a man and woman, we disrespected marriage.

Now, in our new enlightened age, we understand the truth that marriage includes vows between individuals of the same sex, and thus we now respect this sacred institution.

A recent New York Times poll indicated just 13% of Americans are happy with how things are going in our country.

It’s not such a great surprise. Why are Americans so dissatisfied?

Billy Joel had a hit song years ago called “Honesty.”

“Honesty is such a lonely word / Everyone is so untrue / Honesty is hardly ever heard / And mostly what I need from you.”

As we move into elections during these chaotic times, we might recall the words of one of the nation’s founders, Thomas Paine, who observed, “We have it within our power to begin the world over again.”

Those who aspire for political office and power might consider that many among the 87% who are not happy with our country today and where they see it headed know that truths exist—truths upon which a great nation was built—and despair how they have disappeared in our public life.

Leaders who have the courage to be honest, despite how challenging this can be now, will wake up a lot of souls in our nation who recall and long for better days.

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House’s Jan. 6 Committee Fails to Make Case Against Trump

Will Attorney General Merrick Garland prosecute Donald Trump for his actions on Jan. 6, 2021? That surely is the outcome fervently desired by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who in effect run the House select committee on the Capitol riot.

But the odds favoring such a dramatic result—despite all the sensational testimony and disinformation disgorged by the hearings—would still be long in Las Vegas gambling circles.

The most important star witness for the select committee in recent weeks was former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson, who told a dramatic tale about President Trump’s seizing the wheel of the Secret Service car he was riding in after he had been told he couldn’t accompany the crowd that was going to the Capitol.

However, Hutchinson’s story was a secondhand account, and no cross-examination was allowed. Secret Service agents reportedly refuted the story and were willing to testify, but were not called.

Then we learned that star witness Hutchinson, long after she maintained that Trump had engaged in wildly deplorable conduct, told influential friends how she loved the former president and how deeply she regretted that the Trump team in Florida rejected her for a job.

All this suggests how irresponsible, desperate, and vengeful Pelosi and Cheney have been in running the select committee.

This was hardly the only time they deployed below-the-belt tactics designed to put the 45th president in a jumpsuit. Cheney attempted to make Trump a target for the prosecution by trying to prove that he was guilty of “seditious conspiracy” for directly communicating with the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, who have a reputation for advocating violence against groups on the left.

Trump, the Oath Keepers, and the Proud Boys, she maintained, were all conspiring to forcibly overthrow the U.S. government. The Wall Street Journal, a harsh critic of Trump’s stolen election meme, said the “seditious conspiracy” charge was in no way persuasive and that Cheney “offered no evidence” (repeat: “no evidence”) that Trump communicated directly with either group.

Hard Case to Make

But other than made-up tales by the Pelosi/Cheney lynch team, there’s a far more important reason why the Justice Department may never attempt to indict the former president. Prestigious legal experts, even those who may loathe his conduct, think what Trump did that Jan. 6 was not illegal.

The Washington Post, one of Trump’s most ferocious critics, completed a stunning investigative report back in January quoting distinguished prosecutors, defense lawyers, law professors, and judges on whether our country’s former chief executive could be criminally charged for any of his actions on Jan. 6, 2021—or even on days leading up to that event.

The verdict: The Justice Department would find it difficult to get an indictment and even more difficult to get a conviction. The ferociously anti-Trump newspaper has not backed off its initial conclusion.

The Post reported that the legal experts to whom reporters talked believe that much of what Trump’s critics have accused him of traditionally has been protected by the First Amendment.

He’s not the first politician to “call on his supporters to fight,” a word that is commonly used in political campaigns and not a call to forcibly break into a nation’s Capitol and physically threaten lawmakers.

And while Trump told the crowd to march to the Capitol, “there is no evidence,” the Post stressed, “that he knew they planned to storm the building.” (It’s worth repeating: “no evidence.”)

Nor do the House committee’s current hearings contradict this finding. In fact, the hearings demonstrate what has never been concealed: that Trump has a hot temper and uses threats and bullying tactics, even against his own vice president. This may not be a flattering personal trait, but has not yet been viewed as criminal by our country’s legal community.

What Trump Believed

The Post raised major doubts that Trump would even be prosecuted for demanding that Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, come up with enough votes in that state to overcome Joe Biden’s lead.

“I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump told Raffensperger. He might have been vulnerable to federal criminal prosecution if he had said just that. But he added this mitigating comment, which his enemies normally omit: “Because we won the state.”

Why are these five words important? Credible legal experts quoted by the Post said that if the president genuinely believed the election was stolen it would be hard to charge him with a crime for contesting the outcome.

(Atlanta’s area district attorney has a grand jury looking into whether Trump and his allies violated state law with his call to Raffensperger and their setting up an alternate slate of electors to those pledged to Biden.)

Greg Jacob, former counsel to Vice President Mike Pence, portrayed lawyer John Eastman as key to Trump’s frame of mind and why the president thought he had the power to overturn the election. Pence had become convinced by the historical record that the vice president had absolutely no authority to block Biden from occupying the Oval Office.

But Trump said Pence definitely had that authority and condemned him for not using it. The main source for his view was Eastman; Trump lavishly praised the lawyer during his Jan. 6 rally that preceded the riot.

Jacob also said Eastman barged into a meeting of the vice president’s advisers Jan. 5, “trying to persuade us that there was some validity to his theory.” Jacob and the others weren’t buying.

“The key to pretty much all these crimes he’s been accused of,” former federal prosecutor Randall Ellison told the Post, “would be proving corrupt intent.”

But there would be no corrupt intent, Ellison strongly implied, if Trump could prove that his legal team agreed the election was stolen and that Pence had the authority to make Trump the winner.

No Ambulance Chaser

Jacob disclosed that Eastman was the legal expert upon whom Trump relied. Nor was he the only one to nail Eastman as the man who helped persuade the president to pressure Pence into overturning the election. The select committee shared video testimony from top White House adviser and lawyer Eric Herschmann, who also said Eastman kept pushing for a way to overturn Biden’s victory.

Eastman is no ambulance chaser. He is a former professor and dean at the Chapman University School of Law. And even The New York Times remarked that Eastman had “strong conservative legal credentials.”

So it’s hardly surprising that Trump had come to believe two things because of Eastman: that the election was stolen and that Pence had the authority to deny Biden the presidency. (Two other lawyers, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, also helped shape the president’s thinking.)

Other legal experts discovered by the Times, another powerful anti-Trump publication, hold similar exculpatory views on Trump’s actions.

Daniel L. Zelenko, a defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor, sided with Ellison. “The key,” he told the Times, “is having contemporaneous evidence that Trump knew the election was not stolen but tried to stay in power anyway.”

Samuel W. Buell, a Duke University law professor, made the same pitch. “You need to show,” he also told the Times, “that he knew what he was doing was wrongful and had no legal basis.”

No such evidence has materialized. Trump’s purpose in his rally speech on the Ellipse south of the White House was not to start a riot, but to educate those going to the Capitol building why he believed he had defeated Biden.

The marchers then were expected to relay that view to the Republican lawmakers they were going to see, hoping to convince them to tell Pence he should call the election for Trump. Trump’s view may have been dead wrong but peacefully advocating it, as he clearly did, turns out not to be a criminal act.

Pushing Back

Indeed, there was plenty of testimony from the select committee to show that Trump genuinely believed he had beaten Biden. Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, said as much even though he told the president he was wrong. (In his new book, Barr also says Trump cited material Giuliani had given him, which reinforced his belief he had won.)

The House select committee, which is likely to release its final report closer to the midterm elections, is expected to be a full-scale assault against Trump and the entire Republican Party. The GOP will have to forcefully challenge it.

Some think Rep. Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican kicked off the panel by Pelosi and Cheney, should take the lead role in exposing the committee’s raw partisanship.

Jordan’s report should list the numerous times Trump asked those going to the Capitol to demonstrate peacefully. And it should spell out in detail how distinguished jurists believe the former president acted legally if not necessarily wisely.

(Trump was faulted for not acting quickly enough to shut down the violence. Really? The Capitol was breached at 2:13 p.m. Just 25 minutes later, Trump told those in the building to listen to law enforcement and go home peacefully.)

Still Jan. 6, 2021, was the worst day of the president’s term. The rioters were some of his most devoted followers and had been stoked by the president’s still-unproven claims that voting machines had been rigged to give Biden the victory. And no matter how much Trump may proclaim that he won the election, his vice president was not empowered by the Constitution or Congress to unilaterally prevent Biden from becoming the 46th president.

Trump’s handling of the situation has become a running sore for his party, since no Republican lawmaker can disagree publicly with his endless haranguing on the topic without Trump unleashing his most dedicated loyalists against that person.

Trump’s behavior is often deplorable. But the chances of Garland indicting him have to be considered unlikely, since the attorney general is well aware that respected legal authorities don’t think the case against Trump will stand up in court.

Ruth Marcus, the liberal columnist on legal matters for the Post, has this take. “Prosecutors, after all,” she writes, “must be confident of their ability to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.” By nature, she adds, Garland is thoughtful and methodical and “would proceed only if the evidence was too overwhelming to ignore.” At this point, it’s underwhelming.

No matter how eager the House select committee is for Garland to take Trump on, there are too many reasons why he’s likely to avoid that challenge, including this one: He doesn’t seem like a man who wants to be remembered for putting the country through the enormous turmoil it would suffer if the Democrats’ attorney general decided to launch a volcanic indictment against a popular—if polarizing—Republican former president.

That’s true especially when even much of the liberal legal establishment thinks such an act would be unconstitutional. Those Las Vegas oddsmakers would probably bet he would also lose his case.

Reprinted with permission from Newsmax.

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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Latest Federal Takeover of Elections Violates Law

Democrats haven’t stopped trying to take over elections, they just have new tactics to do so under voters’ noses.

Employees throughout the federal government who are carrying out President Joe Biden’s executive order directing them to get involved in state elections are likely all violating the Anti-Deficiency Act, besides interfering in the election process and using federal resources in what seems to be a get-out-the-vote operation for the party in power in the White House.

And the administration is doing everything it can to hide its activities in violation of the federal open records law.

On March 7 last year Biden issued an executive order that he claimed was intended to promote “access” to voting. He has no constitutional or statutory authority for this order.

Biden justified it by making a series of false allegations in the order. He claimed, for example, that “many Americans, especially people of color, confront significant obstacles to exercising their fundamental right,” including “difficulties with voter registration, lack of election information, and barriers to access at polling places.”

These claims are absurd.

It is easier to register today than ever before through numerous state and local agencies and offices, as well as universal registration by mail and even online registration in most states.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, registration in the last federal election in 2020 was higher than in the 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 presidential elections. And barriers to polling places? What barriers? Turnout in the 2020 election, according to the Census Bureau, was 66.8%, just short of the record turnout of 67.7% of voting-age citizens in the 1992 election. Biden’s entire executive order is based on a lie.

The order directed every federal agency to come up with a “strategic” plan to use agency personnel and resources to persuade and “assist” members of the public who interact with that agency to register to vote and cast ballots in the upcoming election, including providing access to “vote-by-mail ballot applications,” identification documents, and multilingual voting materials.

It even told the agencies to solicit third-party organizations to “provide voter registration services on agency premises,” virtually guaranteeing that liberal, left-wing organizations who want to keep Biden and his party in office will have access to every member of the public interacting with the federal government in official settings.

This executive order risks sowing confusion and chaos as federal agencies interfere in the voter registration and election process administered by the states.

It also risks confusing (and intimidating) vulnerable members of the public who are applying for federal benefits into thinking they must register and vote for the political party in control of the White House and Congress to ensure their applications for benefits are not declined.

Another way of looking at this is as Zuckbucks 2.0. In the 2020 election, Mark Zuckerberg gave several hundred million dollars to a left-wing nonprofit that then distributed the money in “grants” to local election offices.

Almost all of the money went to dense, urban areas like Philadelphia controlled by Democrats. The point of this private funding was to use local government resources for the Democratic Party’s get-out-the-vote campaign. Now that Democrats have control of the executive branch, they want to use taxpayer money to do the same thing.

And the Biden administration doesn’t want to reveal the details of the strategic plans formulated by these federal agencies.

Not only have state election officials not been given information about this, but several organizations, including the Foundation for Government Accountability, that filed requests under the federal Freedom of Information Act trying to get copies of these plans have been met with outright defiance from the Biden administration.

It has refused to comply with the law, forcing the Foundation for Government Accountability to file a lawsuit to compel compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.

The Foundation for Government Accountability just obtained a court order telling the Justice Department that these documents have to be turned over prior to the midterm elections, and not in 2023—after the midterm elections—as the Justice Department was requesting.

In addition to Biden engaging in unilateral action for which he has no legal authority in order to interfere with a state function and potentially intimidate the public, all of the federal personnel who are participating in this Democratic get-out-the-vote operation using government resources and taxpayer funding are violating the Anti-Deficiency Act, which prohibits federal agencies and employees from spending funds on activities that Congress has not authorized and for which Congress has not appropriated funding.

Congress has not appropriated funding for any federal agency in the executive branch to engage in voter registration and ballot activities.

The only exception is the Department of Defense, which administers the Federal Voting Assistance Program for overseas military and civilian personnel and their families. Violations of the Anti-Deficiency Act can subject the federal employee to suspension and termination, as well as fines and imprisonment for up to two years.

Not only should Congress investigate this unlawful action by Biden, but the inspectors general of every federal agency and department should investigate the potential violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act by their employees.

Moreover, secretaries of state across the nation, as the chief election officials of their states, should be objecting vociferously—and potentially through court action—against Biden’s attempt to interfere in, and manipulate the outcome of, the upcoming midterm congressional elections in November.

It has been reported that the Justice Department is investigating former President Donald Trump’s supposed “interference” in the 2020 election while totally ignoring the ongoing interference in the 2022 election.

No surprise there.

>>> Update: On Aug. 3, a total of 15 secretaries of state sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to “rescind Executive Order 14019.” They represent Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

In the letter, these top election officials told the president that he issued his order without “constitutional authority” and without “congressional approval.” They warned that involving federal agencies in voter registration will “produce duplicate registrations, confuse citizens, and complicate the jobs” of all local election officials. Finally, they criticized Biden for issuing an unlawful executive order that will “erode the responsibility and duties of the state legislatures” in administering elections. 

Their letter may be found here. <<<

This commentary was updated Aug. 5 to describe the letter to the president from 15 secretaries of state.

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Reflections on 40 Years as a Talk Show Host

This week marks my 40th year as a radio talk show host.

I believe I have talked with — not to, with— more people than any living human being. Obviously, some people have talked to more people than I have. The Chinese head of state talks to more people in a one-minute address to his nation than I have spoken to in 40 years. But I cannot think of anyone alive who has talked with more people than I have. Even a therapist who has talked with 10 people a day for 40 years has talked with fewer people — because therapists talk to the same people repeatedly. I have almost always talked with different people.

Being a talk show host has therefore given me a unique laboratory to study the human condition. This is especially true in my case. I talk about many subjects — politics is only one of them. I just as often talk about men and women, religion, happiness, children and just about everything else of importance.

This human laboratory has taught me an immense amount about the human condition.

 Here are just a few examples:

 No. 1: There are a lot of lonely people.

Ironically, talking to so many people has made me aware how many people do not have friends, people with whom they can freely share their thoughts. I thought lonely people were rare. What I’ve discovered is that people with real friendships are rare. No wonder the U.K. has a Minister of Loneliness.

No. 2: Without talking with so many people, I would surely be less wise. Callers (and letter-writers) have made me a wiser person, and for this I am in their collective debt. One of my favorite examples is the woman who called my show to discuss the topic of one of my weekly “Happiness Hours” (the second hour each Friday): “Can you be happier than your least happy child?”

She told me (and millions of listeners) that she had a “miserable” daughter in her 30s who had made her (the caller’s) life miserable. But one day she reached a conclusion: “I didn’t break her; I can’t fix her.” I profusely thanked that caller for helping countless people at that moment — and many more who have or will hear me quote her on the radio and in speeches.

No. 3: Without talking with so many people, I would not know which of my views are outliers. For example, decades ago, I said I would rather my teenage son smoke tobacco than weed. Virtually no caller agreed with me then — or now — on this subject.

No. 4: I have learned how true the dictum, “Never underestimate people’s intelligence and never overestimate their knowledge,” is. I have spoken to any number of foolish people — meaning, people with foolish ideas — but I have almost never spoken to a person I thought had a low IQ. In other words, the problem with people’s thinking is not that they lack the ability to absorb complex and deep subjects; it is that they do not think clearly.

No. 5: The single most important quality in communicating is being interesting. This is obvious when you first hear it, but if you ask someone to fill in the blank: “The single most important quality in communicating is… ” most people will not think to say being “interesting.”

It is the one thing that characterizes all talk show hosts. Left or Right, whether they talk about politics, finances, sports or anything else, they are interesting. If you are not interesting, you lose your audience, and then you lose your job. No matter how important what you have to say is, you must first hold people’s interest.

This is true regarding every form of communication. Take music, for instance. I have always wondered why I prefer one pianist’s performance of a Beethoven sonata to another pianist’s, or one person’s conducting of a Beethoven symphony to another’s. After all, they are playing or conducting the exact same notes.

Thanks to my realization of the most important quality in being a talk show host, I finally realized why I preferred one musician’s performance to another: The performance I preferred held my interest more, even if I didn’t like the interpretation as much.

They say that radio has a limited future. I have been hearing this for 40 years. It may be true, yet the talk radio audience remains many times larger than that of Fox News. Should it gradually be replaced by podcasts, it will be a loss — as much as I appreciate podcasts and do two of my own. Hearing the voices of your fellow citizens in addition to that of the host and guests is of great importance — though I always tell beginning talk show hosts to end calls with a certain type of caller as quickly as possible: the ones that aren’t interesting.

Even after 40 years, I love this job. To be able to tell millions of people what I think about just about everything — and be paid well to do so — is a gift. I am a lucky man, and I hope my listeners feel they, too, are lucky.

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Liberal ‘Dark Money’ Groups Target Election Integrity, House GOP Watchdogs Say

“Dark money” groups on the left that seek to control local election offices across the country could further undermine confidence in American elections, some House Republicans fear. 

“Let’s call this what it really is—a blatant attack on the security and integrity of the fairness and transparency of our elections,” Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., the co-chairwoman of the House Election Integrity Caucus, told The Daily Signal, when asked about two organizations in particular. 

Dark money is a term for a system of financing in politics that typically hides or obscures the identities of donors.

The Daily Signal reported July 18 on two groups with similar goals for controlling local election offices, after 21 states enacted bans against private money helping bankroll election administration. 

Run for Something, a Democrat-aligned political action committee, established a “Clerk Work” program to help get election clerks elected. 

Separately, the Center for Tech and Civic Life—which distributed $350 million in election administration grants from Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan in the 2020 cycle—launched the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence to train election officials. 

The organizations are spending $80 million each on their goals. 

“Dark money liberal advocacy groups will stop at nothing to inject partisan funds into election administration efforts,” Tenney said in a written statement. “They did it in 2020 with ‘Zuckerbucks,’ and they are continuing to find ways to do it today.”

She added: “I am working every day to hold these dark money groups accountable, expose their shady tactics, and keep partisan influence operations out of election administration.”

Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Calif., the other co-chairman of the House Election Integrity Caucus, added that improving confidence in elections won’t come from partisans seeking a leg up.  

“Propping up partisan operatives to serve as election clerks will not solve our election integrity issues, and it definitely will not restore confidence in our electoral system on either side of the aisle,” Garcia told The Daily Signal in a written statement. “It’s going to take careful consideration and deliberate debate on these matters to improve election integrity and bolster faith in our elections.”

Run for Something established its Clerk Work project with the goal of electing clerks, election supervisors, registrars, recorders, and other local officials charged with running elections.

The PAC says it will promote thousands of election administrators in the years ahead. But for 2022, it reports endorsing 11 candidates competing in races in California, Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, and Tennessee. 

On Saturday, Run for Something co-founder Amanda Litman tweeted the claim that the Clerk Work program is defending elections, pointing to reports of local Republican election officials in New Mexico, Nevada, and Pennsylvania questioning election outcomes. 

“This is why @runforsomething’s Clerk Work program is so important: The next phase of election subversion & coup attempts will start with local elected officials,” Litman’s tweet said. 

This is why @runforsomething’s Clerk Work program is so important: The next phase of election subversion & coup attempts will start with local elected officials. https://t.co/8RNocLC6Xr pic.twitter.com/5y3s9AMwlT

— Amanda Litman (@amandalitman) July 30, 2022

In a somewhat fawning article on Run for Something published Thursday, Time magazine reported that Clerk Work recruited about 300 candidates to run for local offices that oversee elections, with 200 of those candidates in swing states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Nevada.

“Steve Bannon and a huge part of the right is trying to get their people into these offices, and there needed to be a counterbalance to that,” Ross Morales Rocketto, another co-founder of Run for Something, told Time, referring to the former campaign adviser to candidate Donald Trump and White House adviser to Trump as president. “The biggest threat is that these folks get on the ballot and are unopposed.”

However, Rocketto complained to Time that donors were not enthusiastic, noting, “We could have done more if the funding had come in quicker,” he said.

Run for Something, a 527 political action committee aimed at winning down-ballot races, did not respond to The Daily Signal’s inquiries for this article. 

The Alliance for Election Excellence is a five-year, $80 million project made up of seven nonprofit organizations aimed at advising local election offices on how to run elections in their jurisdictions. 

The Center for Tech and Civic Life is the leading organization among the seven in the alliance.

In 2020, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative gave $350 million to the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a left-leaning group that distributed grants to mostly Democrat-dominated precincts, driving up voter turnout. The Zuckerberg grants, dubbed “Zuckerbucks,” helped finance dropboxes and expanded mail-in balloting, among other activities.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.

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‘Doonesbury’ Still Attacks Trump, Ignores Biden’s Many Gaffes, Policy Failures

July 20 marked a year and a half into the Biden administration, but you’d never know that from Garry Trudeau, the liberal hack political cartoonist behind the long-running, but highly overrated “Doonesbury” comic strip.

Though former President Donald Trump has been out of the White House now for more than 18 months, he apparently still lives rent-free in the head of Trudeau, who clearly suffers from Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Trudeau—whose Sunday-only “Doonesbury” cartoon strips not surprisingly still lead the color comics section of the Trump-hating Washington Post—continues to savage the 45th president regularly.

But not once in the 78 Sundays since Jan. 20, 2021, has he ridiculed anything President Joe Biden has said or done, despite Sleepy Joe’s countless verbal gaffes, word salads, and abject policy failures so richly deserving of lampooning.

Politicians are fair game for satire and ridicule, of course, but Trudeau’s attacks on Trump aren’t funny. They’re just relentlessly vicious and mean-spirited.

The personal attacks leveled throughout the Trump presidency have continued since “the former guy”—as Trudeau now calls him—left office on Jan. 20, 2021.

Four days later, on Jan. 24, he likened Trump being gone from the White House to the August 1974 end of the presidency of Richard Nixon, whom Trudeau also savaged in his strip. (“Doonesbury” debuted in October 1970 as a daily comic strip and went to Sundays only in February 2014.)

But that was tame compared with what has followed since. Among the most egregious examples:

Feb. 21, 2021: “Trump was the only candidate ever endorsed by the Taliban, the highly respected terrorist group.” (That “endorsement” was likely meant to hurt Trump rather than help him, and Trump was far tougher on the Taliban than Biden, whose precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan gifted the Taliban with $80 billion in U.S. military armaments. Trump never would have allowed that to happen.)

Feb. 28, 2021: A recurring character, a career scam artist named Duke, laments that Trump had passed him over as an adviser in favor of the deposed dictator of the fictional Berzerkistan, “[a] dictator who had rivals shot. Someone he [Trump] could look up to.”

March 7, 2021: “I wonder if authoritarians ever learn their lesson?” Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” mused after Trump’s second unwarranted impeachment. Accompanying it is an illustration of a New York Times article about Adolf Hitler’s release from a German prison in December 1924 with the headline: “Hitler tamed by prison.” (It’s standard operating procedure for the left to liken Republican presidents to Hitler.)

April 11, 2021: Two characters are discussing Shakespearean lines as they supposedly relate to Trump, though without mentioning him by name: “A most notable coward!” “An infinite and endless liar!” “An hourly promise-breaker!”

At that point, someone else chimes in: “He’s off Twitter. He’s gone! Why is everyone still obsessing over the former guy?” Trudeau might want to ask himself that.

Aug. 29, 2021: Trudeau also besmirches Trump supporters. At a stadium rally attended by MAGA hat-wearing redneck types, a public address announcer asks for a show of hands. “Who here refuses to get vaccinated?” The cartoonist then tut-tuts: “Even though the unvaccinated are the only people still dying of COVID.” That was demonstrably false, even back then.

It’s doubtful Trudeau will call out the double-vaxxed, double-boosted Biden over his repeated assertions that COVID-19 is “a pandemic of the unvaccinated” after the president last week contracted it twice.

Nor has Trudeau pointed out that more Americans have died of COVID-19 in Biden’s first 18 months in office than under Trump in his final year-and-a-half, despite the former having benefited from inheriting the vaccines developed on his predecessor’s watch.

Sept. 19, 2021: “Doonesbury” returned to the COVID-19 theme with “your favorite still-president” supposedly suing for vaccine royalties (untrue) and perpetuating the falsehood spread by the mainstream media that Trump had advocated testing injections of bleach as a treatment. That was taken totally out of context, as any honest reading of Trump’s admittedly rambling April 23, 2020, musing on the subject would show.

Feb. 6 and 13, 2022: “At the state funeral for the 45th president,” it’s suggested that no one would attend “except out of curiosity.” That’s ludicrous on its face, given the tens of thousands who typically show up for Trump’s arena-sized rallies. Also, disheveled “MAGA mourners” are depicted shouting, “Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!”

May 1, 2022: A TV news report explains that Russian President Vladimir Putin justifies his invasion of Ukraine “with relentless propaganda”; specifically, that it was necessary to purge the country of Nazis. It then cuts away to a man with a red MAGA cap and a woman with a Q (for QAnon) T-shirt watching Trump repeating his claim that he won the 2020 election. In a cheap shot, the man says, “It’s Nazis. Nazis stole it,” to which the woman replies: “Wait, aren’t they on our side?”

June 6, 2022: The aforementioned ex-dictator of Berzerkistan, talking to an ambulance-chasing lawyer in an emergency room, offers him a job working for “the current president of the United States.” Lawyer: “You work for Trump?” Ex-dictator: “You’re hired.” (Never mind that slip-and-fall tort lawyers overwhelmingly support Democrats.)

There were other examples, but those were the most intellectually dishonest and mean-spirited.

Moreover, Trump is far from the only target of Trudeau’s poison pen. During the same 18-month period reviewed, “Doonesbury” also viciously attacked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis; South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem; Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia; Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Ted Cruz of Texas; former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin; and Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

What do they have in common? They’re all conservative Republicans. There have been no comparable “Doonesbury” fusillades fired at, say, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; or any number of other left-wing Democrats—all of them eminently lampoonable.

(The only Democrat to draw the wrath of “Doonesbury” was Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., for single-handedly blocking, until this week, Biden’s Build Back Better boondoggle.)

In the May 30, 2021, “Doonesbury” strip, whose storyline otherwise had nothing to do with him, Trudeau also took a gratuitous shot at Donald Trump Jr.

And that brings us back to Biden, because the cartoonist hasn’t written (or drawn) a single word about first son Hunter Biden, whose corrupt multimillion-dollar business dealings around the globe and whose well-publicized drug use and repeated escapades with hookers are surely editorial cartoon fodder. They certainly would be if it were either of Trump’s sons—and rightly so.

In fact, the closest Trudeau has come to criticizing the current president occurred obliquely Nov. 7, more than a year after his election. A recurring swashbuckler character, “the Rascal,” travels to Afghanistan to rescue Americans stranded there by Biden’s abrupt U.S. pullout in August. “Oh, my God! Taliban warplanes!” one of the would-be rescuees shouts. “Relax,” the Rascal says. “They don’t know how to fly them yet.”

Trudeau is apparently more concerned about the  Americans stranded in Afghanistan than the president is, but note the absence of any acknowledgement that Biden is responsible for them being there or for the fact that the Taliban have warplanes at all—U.S. warplanes he left behind in his reckless withdrawal.

“Doonesbury” also has not savaged Biden for any aspect of his omnishambles administration—the highest-ever gas prices, a 40-year-high rate of inflation, open-borders illegal immigration, soaring violent crime rates and homelessness in our cities, its pro-transgender war on (real) women, unqualified and incompetent Cabinet members, or anything else.

Biden’s pratfalls on the steps of Air Force One or on a bike trail in Delaware never happened as far as “Doonesbury” is concerned. Nor have any of the innumerable verbal miscues of the president or of his in-over-her-head vice president, Kamala Harris.

The fact of the matter is, “Doonesbury” hasn’t been funny—just nasty—for years. It long ago jumped the shark.

Gary Larson, creator of “The Far Side,” and Bill Watterson, the artist behind “Calvin and Hobbes,” prematurely retired those comic strips (both of them far funnier than the long-in-the-tooth “Doonesbury” ever was) and did so at the height of their popularity, no less.

If Trudeau weren’t such a left-wing political hack, he would have hung up his poison pen long ago.

A version of this commentary first appeared in The Washington Times.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.

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Senate Hearing on Diversity in Diplomacy Fails to Get to Real Questions

A Senate hearing on “diversity and equity” in American diplomacy proved to be a wasted opportunity to tackle a core question in our politics: Do we want equality or “equity”?

Instead, the hearing kicked off with mostly old white men bemoaning that the senior ranks of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development are dominated by old white men.

In essence, they complained that the agencies don’t do enough to discriminate against their own grandchildren in hiring.

The official name of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s hearing July 26 was “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in U.S. Diplomacy and Development.

The two officials who testified—Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the State Department’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, and Neneh Diallo, USAID’s chief diversity officer—were bathed in praise and never challenged on their methods or results, or the controversial goal of “equity” itself.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the committee’s chairman, began by complaining that “progress has been slow” on diversity at the State Department.

Menendez held up a chart showing that from 2002 to 2021, although the overall proportion of racial minorities increased from 28% to 34%, the percentage of black employees decreased from 17% to 15%. (African Americans make up about 13% of the U.S. population.)

The New Jersey Democrat’s bigger beef was that the senior ranks are around 85% white, and that only 12% of ambassadors are from “underrepresented” communities.

The committee’s ranking member, Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, complained about the prevalence of employees from coastal and urban areas rather than the heartland.

Meanwhile, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., irrelevantly asked about access to “comprehensive reproductive services” (she meant abortion) for foreign service officers overseas, while lamenting that 80% of State Department doctors are white men.

‘Brazen Discrimination’

The approach taken by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was somewhat more on point. Cruz charged that the Biden administration is staffed by “radicals” under whom the State Department has “alienated friends and appeased enemies.”

Cruz accused both the State Department and USAID of hiring practices based on the leftist definition of “equity” that result in “brazen discrimination.”

The Texas Republican showed an email from a senior official that alluded to allegations from State Department employees that candidates aren’t being hired for open positions because they are straight white men, have the wrong religion, or are disabled.

The State Department’s Abercrombie-Winstanley said she never had seen or cleared any such hiring guidance.

In reaction to Cruz’s remarks, Menendez sanctimoniously read the definition of “equity” from a dictionary as “the quality of being fair and impartial, freedom from bias or favoritism.”

Evidently, the New Jersey Democrat hasn’t read Vice President Kamala Harris’ definition. In a video she posted on Twitter a couple of days before the 2020 election, Harris clearly explained how equality and equity are now at war:

So there’s a big difference between equality and equity. Equality suggests, ‘Oh, everyone should get the same amount.’ The problem with that [is] not everybody’s starting out from the same place.

So if we’re all getting the same amount, but you started out back there and I started out over here, we could get the same amount but you’re still going to be that far back behind me. It’s about giving people the resources and the support they need, so that everyone can be on equal footing, and then compete on equal footing. Equitable treatment means we all end up in the same place.

The question is: Should the U.S. government hire by creating more equality of opportunity or by rigging outcomes in an unconstitutional manner? For diversity and inclusion officers as well as chief diversity officers, it’s the latter path.

Unasked Questions

If the percentages of racial groups at the State Department and USAID are at variance from the general population, we should ask why. If it is due to racism or other barriers, we must address them, but not by adding new forms of discrimination.

To that end, here are the sorts of questions the senators should have asked:

What is the breakdown by sex and race of applicants for jobs at the State Department and those who take the foreign service exam?

—Is there any difference in the pass/fail percentage by race? Are these results due to something other than measurable qualifications or test scores?

—If most foreign service officers have a college degree, and attainment of college degrees varies by racial group, would that not result in disproportionately high representation of groups with college degrees?

Ibram X. Kendi, the patron saint of woke progressives, says he believes that disparity in results only can be the result of systemic discrimination. All other inputs aren’t worth considering.

His solution? “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination.”

That is the race-essentialist thinking that informs the Biden administration’s approach to “equity.”

However, with its highly competitive entrance process, the foreign service is at the mercy of an applicant pool that is affected by a wide variety of social and individual factors beyond its control.

For one, American education is failing in many states and cities to produce high school graduates who can read and write, much less find Finland on a map or distinguish between Moldova and the Maldives.

Not Enough Information

One big problem at the State Department and USAID is a lack of information.

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., asked how the State Department and USAID gathered data for their baseline. USAID’s Diallo replied that the agencies hope to launch a survey soon to “evaluate the composition of our workforce.”

The State Department’s Abercrombie-Winstanley said the department has a portal through which employees voluntarily may supply information, and is working on a pilot program to break down LGBTQ+ nomenclature, so that people are able to identify themselves perfectly.

Herein lies another problem: These internal polls always get low response rates. Maybe people are too busy, or perhaps they don’t want to supply information they suspect will be used to discriminate against them. Any conclusions reached from the reports of a self-selected minority of the workforce have little evidentiary value.

Notwithstanding this, Abercrombie-Winstanley testified that her diversity office at the State Department had “done a climate survey and we know the vast majority of our employees support [the department’s equity efforts].”

One thing she has done is to tie action on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility to the promotion criteria for foreign service officers.

Diallo also did this at USAID. The approach holds foreign service and civil service managers responsible for something they have no control of—the applicant pool, which is deficient in certain officially desired identity groups. Every hiring manager must compete for the same candidates in a contest where failure to hire “diverse” applicants results in lower performance evaluations. This is exactly what is happening.

In a recent job assignment cycle, for example, women were one-third of the applicants for prestige positions such as deputy chief of mission and principal officer, but won roughly two-thirds of the available jobs.

Changing the Test

It is well known at the State Department, though career suicide to admit, that qualified applicants from officially desired identity groups have an advantage in assignments.

Abercrombie-Winstanley boasted of another achievement: making unprecedented changes to the test for applicants for foreign service officer.

Abercrombie-Winstanley said she believes that the race-blind written test “has zero correlation to being a successful diplomat.” She said she prefers the subjective, easier-to-game oral exam, which “actually does have a correlation to success as a diplomat—[it] is [a] test for racists, or sexists, or homophobes, or ableists.”

“Those are the things that we need to be screening for,” Abercrombie-Winstanley said.

Now, instead of a process in which only those passing the written exam go on to take the oral exam, the State Department’s Board of Examiners will be able to pick others from the pile that failed. The goal: to bring “intersectional” factors into play and ensure an “equitable” outcome by race, sex, or other identity markers.

The hearing glossed over the fact that the State Department already goes far to encourage diversity in hiring.

Senior diplomats in residence are posted to colleges serving predominantly black and Hispanic students. The Pickering and Rangel fellowships, which bypass the written exam and mostly are filled by minority applicants, have accounted for around 20% of foreign service recruitment in recent years—and in particular a significant majority of the black foreign service officers hired.

In fiscal year 2022, the State Department hired 327 foreign service officers, of whom 90—nearly a third—were Pickering and Rangel fellows. USAID has similar recruitment channels that bypass the objective, race-blind exam.

But as chief diversity and inclusion officer, Abercrombie-Winstanley wants more: a foreign service intake that reflects the proportions of identity groups (excepting, of course, diversity of political opinion) desired by the Biden administration.

Studying ‘Barriers’

For many years, top universities have ensured the diversity of incoming classes by eschewing test scores and taking a subjective, “holistic” approach to candidate selection. Echoing the language of academic admissions, the State Department clearly wants this kind of flexibility to doctor the intake of foreign service classes in favor of currently preferred groups.

Similarly, USAID’s Diallo said her agency will use “non-traditional means” to recruit desired applicants, including outreach at universities that cater to mostly non-white populations and increased mid-career, lateral hiring that bypasses objective tests.

After 18 months on the job at the State Department, Abercrombie-Winstanley seemed to have more questions than answers in her testimony.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., asked why the State Department hasn’t been able to identify supposed barriers to hiring women and minorities. Abercrombie-Winstanley’s answer was that the department now has studies on “barrier analysis” underway to find out.

Booker also asked about retention: Why do black officers leave at a (slightly) higher rate? Once again, Abercrombie-Winstanley’s answer was that she has “set up a retention unit” to look into it.

A 2021 report by the Congressional Research Service found “poor information on why people choose to leave” the State Department.  One obvious reason for attrition, however, is that talented black officers are in demand all over the private sector, where the pay is much better than in government.

However, the State Department’s diversity, equity, and inclusion mentality ignores this possibility and focuses instead on “microaggressions” and other questionable factors as the cause for officers leaving mid-career.

Foot on the Scale

If you want to see Kendian or Harris-style “equity” in action, here it is: Diallo touted USAID’s 2022 new officer cohort as the “most diverse to date,” with 52% racial and ethnic minorities, including 18% black, 18% Hispanic, and 14% Asian.

According to the 2020 census, blacks make up roughly 13% of the U.S. population, Hispanics 19%, and Asians 6%.

Whites, representing 48% of the USAID class, account for 58% of the U.S. population. Women now make up roughly half of incoming foreign service classes.

Over time, these numbers militate a gradual alignment of the foreign service toward national norms; today’s staff demographics reflect the intake of a generation ago.

Abercrombie-Winstanley testified that her job is to “assure that the best rise to the top because of merit.” However, her method of doing so is to put a bureaucratic, subjective foot on the hiring scale rather than looking to expand equality of opportunity.

Following President Joe Biden’s executive order, all federal agencies have developed “equity action plans,” which almost always involve hiring new chief diversity bureaucrats whose focus is internal and not on the agency’s core mission.

Nearly every State Department bureau and embassy from Armenia to Zambia now has a diversity and inclusion council. According to Diallo, USAID alone now has 50 such councils and 13 diversity and equity advisers, with more in the pipeline. 

These numbers demonstrate how the left uses government employment as a jobs program, how agencies are so bloated, and how the left captures so many institutions.

Lowering the Bar

Underlying these plans are the same quasi-Marxist critical race theory principles that inform “equity” in the sense that proponents such as Kendi and Harris define it.

The Department of Veterans Affairs, for example, insists that “Intersectionality matters” and states: “Federal policies, grants, and programs should always account for how people’s multiple identities interact with intersecting systems of oppression.”

America’s diplomats indeed should represent the diversity of the country, but consistent with the merit principle of entry that has been established for a century.

Federal agencies such as the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development shouldn’t be expected to make up for deficiencies in public education by unilaterally lowering or rigging entrance requirements.

The foreign service needs to remain a bastion of equality and meritocracy, not socialist efforts at racial balancing in the pursuit of “equity.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was wise to hold hearings on this important yet divisive topic, but the senators failed in this round to get at the core problem, much less address it.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.

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Trump Isn’t an ‘Insurrectionist’

In an editorial called “Trump’s Silence on Jan 6 Is Damning,” the New York Post wrote:

His only focus was to find any means—damn the consequences—to block the peaceful transfer of power. There is no other explanation, just as there is no defense, for his refusal to stop the violence. It’s up to the Justice Department to decide if this is a crime. But as a matter of principle, as a matter of character, Trump has proven himself unworthy to be this country’s chief executive again.

I disagree.

Former President Donald Trump felt robbed, understandably so. NPR’s Domenico Montanaro said, “Just 44,000 votes in Georgia, Arizona, and Wisconsin separated [Joe] Biden and Trump from a tie in the Electoral College.”

Let’s look at just three states.

The Michigan secretary of state used COVID-19 as an excuse to send a mail-in ballot application to every registered voter, whether or not the voter requested one.

True, Trump lost the lawsuit against Michigan when the Michigan Supreme Court refused to take up the case, leaving the Michigan Court of Appeals ruling in place. But in that 2-1 ruling on procedural grounds, Judge Patrick Meter dissented, arguing that the “issues are not moot because state electors have not yet been seated, the Electoral College has not yet been assembled, and Congress has not yet convened.”

In Pennsylvania, numerous rules and regulations were violated, including allowing election officials to accept some ballots received after Election Day.

Two prominent liberal professors, Harvard emeritus Alan Dershowitz and George Washington University’s Jonathan Turley, suggested that Trump’s lawsuit against the state had merit.

About Pennsylvania’s acceptance of ballots after Election Day, Dershowitz said, “The Constitution doesn’t permit anybody in the state but the legislature to make decisions about elections.”

Turley wrote:

Pennsylvania remains a rich environment for challenges. Judicial changes ordered to the state law have raised fierce objections. … The issues in Pennsylvania may involve mailed ballots without postmarks and the rejection of those with signature mismatches. There are lawsuits over officials ‘curing’ defective ballots and letting ineligible voters fill out ballots, actions that could knock out small pockets which could change the results.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court, also on procedural grounds, ruled against Trump 4-3. But the chief justice of that court, in a dissent, argued among other things that the use of drop boxes violated the law.

Chief Justice Patience Roggensack wrote, “The WEC (Wisconsin Election Commission) ignores that the legislature provided only one act an election official may take in regard to a defective witness address: mail the defective ballot back to the elector to correct the error.”

Indeed, in July 2022, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, disallowed the use of drop boxes, except those placed at election offices where only the actual voter could drop off their own ballot.

As to fomenting an “insurrection,” Kash Patel, chief of staff for the acting secretary of defense, said that on Jan. 4, “Mr. Trump unequivocally authorized up to 20,000 National Guardsmen and women for us to utilize should the second part of the law, the request, come in. But those requests never did.”

Patel says he testified under oath to the Jan. 6 committee that he was in the room when Trump made this authorization.

What part of “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard”—as Trump said in his Jan. 6 speech—do the Jan. 6 committee members not understand?

Yes, the speech ended with, “We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” But politicians have long used rhetoric like “We’re going to fight,” or “We’re going to take back America,” or “This is war.”

Trump made unsuccessful legal arguments against the certification of the election, as did congressional Democrats following the presidential elections of 2000, 2004, and 2016. But when they did so, the media did not characterize them as “undermining our democracy.”

COPYRIGHT 2022 LAURENCE A. ELDER

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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Big Government Socialism Is Destroying America. Newt Gingrich Explains How You Can Help Save Us.

Joe Biden campaigned for president in 2020 as a practical politician with a moderate record. He promised to unite America under a Biden presidency. The former senator and vice president even said: “There will be no blue states and red states with me.”

More than 18 months into the Biden administration, America is witnessing a radical departure from the candidate who made those promises in 2020.

From Day One, the Biden administration pursued policies that appealed to the far left and socialists rather than working-class Americans. As a result, Americans appear more divided than ever on key questions about our country’s future and the policy decisions confronting us.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a bestselling author who is out with a new book, “Defeating Big Government Socialism: Saving America’s Future,” joins us on “The Daily Signal Podcast” today to tell us about his latest work and what’s at stake. Listen to the interview or read a lightly edited transcript.

Rob Bluey: Speaker Gingrich, we’re grateful to have you with us today. Thank you for your longtime support for The Heritage Foundation. 

Newt Gingrich: I’m delighted to be with you. As you know, my ties to Heritage go all the back to the mid-1970s, when you were founded, to the amazing work that Ed Feulner did in helping shape the Reagan administration and to Heritage’s continued intellectual leadership in helping solve America’s problems. So, I’m thrilled to have a chance to talk with you today. 

Bluey: We’re grateful for your contributions with this latest book. I personally believe that your efforts to define big government socialism early in the Biden administration are in many ways responsible for how Americans view his policies today. How did you come up with the idea and what can readers learn from your new book? 

Gingrich: I, first of all, remembered that Margaret Thatcher, when she became leader of the opposition in 1975, set out to destroy the moral legitimacy of socialism.

There’s a brilliant small book by Claire Berlinski called “There Is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters.” Berlinski really outlines that Thatcher went on an all-out campaign to defeat socialism, morally, intellectually, and as a matter of daily behavior.

So as I watched the emergence—not Biden. Biden himself is just a guy in the basement who probably would’ve been better off to stay in the basement. But if you look at the totality of the team that they’ve assembled, it’s kind of an intersectional coalition, to use their language, of every anti-American and anti-normalcy group in the country. They represent a deliberate desire to use very large government bureaucracies to impose on the rest of us the world they want to live in. 

I think you have to start from that understanding that these are people who really do believe that they have the moral right to dictate to you and me … They’re basically a semi-religious group and their fanaticism grows out of that religious sense of certainty.

I realized that it wasn’t going to be enough just to defeat them for having performed badly. I mean, it was pretty clear to me very early on that they were going to have terrible results because everything they were doing was based on ideas that don’t work.

But I also knew that there was a danger that we would end up defeating them, but not learning any real lessons, and that the next wave of socialists would come along and say, “Well, Biden wasn’t very competent and [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and [Senate Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer were too old, but this time we’re going to do it right.” 

So I wrote “Defeating Big Government Socialism” in the tradition of Lady Thatcher, who had said, “First you win the argument. Then you win the vote.”

And I wanted to give every citizen the tools and the arguments and the facts that would enable them with their friends and their neighbors to win the argument about how dangerous and how destructive big government socialism is and why we need to replace it. 

Bluey: Let’s start with that term itself. Why is that so effective? Not only in the polling that you’ve done, but the way that it encapsulate all of the policies you’ve just talked about, as one of the most effective ways to counter the left, but also describe it. 

Gingrich: We were given a unique opportunity in 2018. The co-founder of Home Depot came to us, and he knew I’d worked with [Ronald] Reagan starting in 1974, leading to the great victory of 1980, where we regained control of the Senate for the first time since 1954, and where Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter by the largest electoral college defeat for an incumbent president in modern history.

Then he knew I’d help put together the Contract with America, which led to the first House Republican majority in 40 years. So he asked me to undertake a very methodical effort to identify issues that would bring Americans together, that would create a truly American majority.

And as I was doing that, we began to explore how people really felt and the language they used. And what we discovered was, if you pit free enterprise capitalism against big government socialism, it’s actually 59% to 16% in favor of free market capitalism, which really surprised us how strong it was. 

And what we discovered was that there are a lot of young people who, if you just use the word “socialism,” they’ve been through schools where they’ve been told over and over again that socialism’s good and it’s caring and all that stuff, but they instinctively know that big government’s terrible.

So you suddenly bring together older people who are anti-socialism and younger people who are anti-big government and the result is that even under a forced choice, we could not get support for big government socialism above 18%.

It struck me that this was the right big argument, that what we wanted to do, as Reagan had done in ’80 and as we did with the Contract with America, is we wanted to create a big argument for ’22 and ’24, not a series of little arguments. 

The big argument is whether or not you believe that a Washington-dominated bureaucratically implemented system that is against American history, against American traditional values, against the work ethic, against traditional patriotism, whether that’s a system you think will work, or in fact, if you want to replace it with something which will work.

I just give you one number, or two numbers, rather. One, we asked, “Do you think it’s important to restore the America that works?” And we got 87% of the country said, “Yes, that is just pragmatic.” Not liberal, conservative, just pragmatic. Get it to work again.

And then second, we asked people, “Do you agree with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that it is the content of your character, not the color of your skin, that really matters?” That’s 91% to 6%. So all those people who are out here trying to invent a new anti-white racism are going right in the teeth of a 91% majority. 

Bluey: Thank you for sharing those numbers with us. Well, as you indicated, there are so many topics that we are hotly debating in America today: critical race theory, COVID, climate change, cancel culture, just to name a few. How do we counter the left’s agenda? You’ve given us some tips already, but for the listeners who might be wondering how they talk to their co-workers or people in their community, what tips and advice do you have for them? 

Gingrich: I have really two sets of tips. One is to follow places like Heritage. I mean, despite the fact that the left may have The New York Times, the truth is you reach hundreds of thousands of people. Fox News reaches millions of people. The Wall Street Journal, the New York Daily Post, the Washington Examiner, The Washington Times—there is a conservative ecosystem that’s been growing for the last 40 years and that actually is a pretty countervailing system now against the hard-left propaganda system.

I describe The New York Times as Pravda and The Washington Post as Izvestia, and suggest that if you start with that understanding of how biased they are, everything else kind of falls in place.

So, if you start from there and work backward, I think we do have an ability to communicate that might surprise people. 

But secondly, this particular year is unusual. The left is so bad this year that I tell every candidate, “Go and campaign in two places. Campaign at gas stations and at grocery stores,” because no matter what the left says, people know in their pocketbook and they know in their own lives that it just isn’t working.

That gives you the starting point for a serious conversation to say to people, “Have you had enough? Are you ready to look at what does work and what we know historically has been proven again and again to work?”

… We’re seeing this with Latinos, with Asian Americans, African Americans, you’re having more people open to this conversation than, I think, in anytime in my lifetime. 

Bluey: I’m glad you brought that up because I wanted to ask about some of the changing nature of the Republican Party in terms of the constituencies that make it up; that Mayra Flores’ election in Texas, a surprise I think for many Democrats, maybe a wake-up call, although it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to heed some of those warnings.

What are the things that the Republican Party, the conservative movement should be doing right now to appeal to those individuals who are turned off by big government socialism? 

Gingrich: I just wrote a newsletter, which people can get for free at gingrich360.com. I do three free news letters and three free podcasts every week at gingrich360.com. The one I just wrote was on the idea that a big campaign will lead to an American tsunami.

I would emphasize both halves of that. Republicans should not think about a Republican tsunami. People talk about a red wave and I say, “No, it’s going to be a red, white, and blue wave. It’s going to be Americans. It’s going to be people, some Democrats, overwhelming Republicans, overwhelming independents.”

And Reagan was brilliant about this. Reagan had been a FDR Democrat. He’d actually cut commercials for Harry Truman and Hubert Humphrey in 1948, so he still had a residual understanding of the Democratic Party. And Reagan would always say, “To my fellow Republicans and to those independents and Democrats who share our values.” He was just very consistent. 

And when we did the contract, notice it was not a contract with conservatism or a contract with Republicans. It was a contract with America.

So I would start from there. I would say that the first thing to do is to lay your campaign out for everybody in your district or everybody in your state, and not assume that anybody’s automatically against you.

The second thing I would say is you want a big campaign, not a small campaign. 

Now, let me give you an example. If the Democratic senator from Georgia has his way, he’s going to run a very narrow, small campaign attacking Herschel Walker. But the truth is that the Democratic senator has voted consistently with Joe Biden, and Walker’s job is to make clear that you’re talking now about the guy who brought you 9% inflation, the guy who brought you $5-a-gallon gasoline, the guy who brought you a rising murder rate.

So the more we nationally run on the big national issues, this is true in Arizona, it’s true in Pennsylvania, it’s true in Ohio, everywhere in the country.

If the choice is not a personality choice between two individuals, but a choice between two philosophies, two delivery systems, two approaches, I think we will win a crushing victory this fall. 

Bluey: Speaker Gingrich, one of the issues that the left is so passionate about, it’s a religion to them, is climate change. Why should we as Americans resist or at least be skeptical of the alarmist warnings that we hear almost on a constant and day-to-day basis? 

Gingrich: I think the first thing to recognize is, if you go back to the 1970s, alarmism is a key part of the way the left operates. In the 1970s, we were supposed to worry about the population time bomb.

And Paul Ehrlich got to be a tenured faculty member at Stanford writing this book, which if you actually read it, is totally wrong. I mean, for example, he wrote that Great Britain would starve to death by the year 2000. Totally false, but it doesn’t matter because they’re a religious cult. They’re not an intellectual cult.

Second, recognize that virtually everything Al Gore warned us about in his movie did not happen.

Look, I do think climates change. I think the largest factor in climate change is the sun. I do think that you have to be constantly adapting. 

People tend to forget that the Gulf Stream cut off for a while and Northern Europe promptly went into an ice age and then the Gulf Stream started back up and Northern Europe began to melt, the ice began to melt. But all those things happened long before there were internal combustion engines.

You also have to recognize the difference, even if they were sincere, their solutions are stupid. The fact is, it turns out, and you’re seeing this now, Germany just announced they’re reopening 13 coal-fired electricity plants because in fact, they can’t generate enough electricity to offset Russian natural gas just using wind and solar. 

California just discovered that, and nobody apparently had ever done this work on the left, but solar panels eventually wear out. When they wear out, they’re filled with toxic chemicals, and California’s suddenly discovering it has a huge problem on landfills where people are putting solar panels that have toxic chemicals leaching into the soil.

Apparently these particular solar panels are very expensive to take apart and to make safe. So, the solar power industry suddenly becomes a major source of pollution in a way that nobody had envisioned and which adds to the total cost of green power in a way that nobody had ever thought about. 

The other factor you’ve got to remember is a lot of what the climate change people do is yell “climate change,” but then they have a much different motive.

For example, if you’re going to use oil and gas, the most efficient, most environmentally safe oil and gas industry in the world by a huge margin is the United States. So if your only concern was the environment, and you knew that you had to have oil and gas and diesel fuel and heating oil, the place you’d most like to have producing it is the United States, but the left hates the American oil and gas industry.

I always tell people, Biden can go to Saudi Arabia, but he can’t go to Texas. He can talk to the people in Venezuela about oil, but he can’t talk to the people in Western Pennsylvania. He can talk to the Iranians, but he can’t talk to North Dakota. 

I mean, you have to ask yourself, what is it about an American president who is consistently anti-American in his energy policies?

They began to distribute oil out of the National Petroleum Reserve, and we just discovered that a million barrels of it went to a Chinese company with ties to Hunter Biden. Now, how can it possibly be helpful to the American people or lower the price of gasoline in the United States if you’re shipping a million barrels of oil to China?

This is the kind of stuff where you really have to wonder what the basic underlying motivations [are] and why the left dislikes its own country so much. 

Bluey: Well, Speaker Gingrich, all of those facts that you just gave us are why it’s so critically important to do things not only like purchase your book “Defeating Big Government Socialism,” but subscribe to your podcast and your newsletters and The Daily Signal, because too often, as you write about in “Defeating Big Government Socialism,” Hollywood, the media, the academy are all wrapped up in the left’s agenda as well. So you’re not likely to hear those facts about solar energy or what’s going on with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. 

Gingrich: That’s exactly right. I mean, again, I want to commend Heritage because you have consistently provided the kind of research and the kind of fact-based analysis that allows us to really understand what’s going on and to be directly involved with what we need to do as a country. I think you’re one of the places that I really look for to have the kind of conversation we need to be having. 

Bluey: Today, President Biden is suffering with the worst poll numbers of his presidency so far. Even friendly media outlets are starting to question if he’s up for the job. What do you expect from the rest of his first term? And is there any possibility that he runs for office again? 

Gingrich: Look, I think he would like to run for office again. Let’s be clear. Biden is a nice, pleasant guy who would probably have been a pretty good county commissioner.

He won a U.S. Senate seat at 29 years of age, actually before he was legally old enough to serve. He had a birthday between the election and being sworn in. He was in a very small state where an incumbent U.S. Senator has huge advantages for reelection.

The first couple times he tried to run for president, he just totally flamed out. In fact, the first time he had to drop out when it turned out that he had stolen Neil Kinnock, who was the British Labour leader, who had given a speech about growing up in a Welsh coal-mining village.

Now, why Biden would’ve thought that it made any sense to compare Scranton to a Welsh coal-mining village is beyond my comprehension. And of course, the press figured it out. He became a laughing stock and he had to drop out.

He dropped out the second time because he couldn’t get any votes. Then finally, he got picked by Barack Obama, who thought he needed a foreign policy person since he clearly didn’t have any foreign policy experience and Biden had been chairman of Foreign Relations.

And then he basically got very lucky. And when the alternative for the Democrats was Bernie Sanders, who was clearly going to be defeated in the general election, or Biden, Biden got to be the nominee. They then promptly hid him.

It’s important to remember this. He won this campaign because nobody knew what he was doing. Had he had to actually campaign, had we understood how cognitively challenged he was and how incapable of coherence he was, I suspect he would’ve lost.

So in that setting, what you have is a guy who I don’t think has very many tools for recovery. 

People ask me about Bill Clinton, who, after we won in ’94, switched and collaborated with us and got a lot of stuff done, made the left very mad at him.

It was the Clinton/Gingrich reforms, like the welfare reform, balancing the budget for four years, these things we had to do on a bipartisan basis because you had a Democrat president and a Republican Congress, and if we didn’t find a way to work together, nothing would’ve happened.

Well, I don’t think Biden has that capability. So my guess is that in the end he will not be able to run for reelection. First of all, he’s already down. If he drops another 4 or 5 percentage points of approval, he will be at the level Harry Truman was at when he left the presidency, and that’s the lowest level achieved by any president in modern times. 

Bluey: You mentioned earlier that in 1994 you led the Republican revolution to take control of the House for the first time in 40 years. It certainly appears that Republicans, according to polls today, could once again be in charge next year. Given the scenario you just laid out, what should they plan to do if they are able to regain control and take power? 

Gingrich: My hat is off to [House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy. I mean, McCarthy did a great deal of very creative recruiting in 2020. And when people thought we were going to lose 25 seats in the House, we gained 15. That was a remarkable achievement. That’s a swing of 40 seats from where the experts were. McCarthy’s been out there campaigning, recruiting, raising money.

I fully expect that the Republicans will in fact win, and I think they are going to have a commitment to America, which is going to be very much like the contract was. And I think that they’re going to keep it.

I think that they’re going to have positive ideas on energy, positive ideas on inflation, positive ideas on education, and they’re going to go right down the road, developing those kind of ideas and making them really work.

So, my expectation is that you’re going to see a very positive solution-oriented House Republican Party. 

Bluey: Speaker Gingrich, I have a couple of just quick topics to cover before we wrap. This summer, the House’s January 6 Committee has attempted to paint a picture about President [Donald] Trump and what happened on that day. I’ve listened to your podcast and heard interviews that you’ve done regarding this. I think it would be helpful for you to give your perspective to our listeners about what has just transpired and how they should think about this committee and the work that it’s done. 

Gingrich: I believe that the January 6 Committee is a Stalinist show trial. They have 25,000 documents, over 1,000 videotaped interviews, and they pick and choose what they want to show us to make their case with no alternative, no cross-examination, no attorneys involved. And it’s a totally one-sided, in my judgment, total violation of the Bill of Rights, and total violation of the American spirit of fair play and fair inquiry.

So, I am very deeply opposed to the way they have run the January 6 Committee, and I think that it is a disgrace that it has been run really just exactly like [Vladimir] Lenin and [Josef] Stalin ran the show trials in the Soviet Union. 

Bluey: In the wake of the Dobbs [v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization] decision, the left is, in many cases, in my opinion, overstepping with its attacks on the Supreme Court, not only as an institution, but some of the antics that are taking place at the justices’ homes and the attacks on them personally.

Will we see more of this? Is there any hope that we can get to the point where the blockade around the court is perhaps removed and the justices don’t have to fear for their lives? 

Gingrich: Oh, I think we’re in a very dire situation. As you know, recently Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate for governor, was attacked in New York by a man who wanted to attack him with a knife.

We are in a period where the left has gone crazy, where violence is a reasonable behavior, where the Justice Department is so corrupt, it will not—there is a federal law that says you cannot threaten federal judges. It’s a felony. It’s a one-year jail term. The FBI and the Justice Department refuse to enforce it.

I think it’s a very dangerous situation just in terms of the spirit of a free society and I think that we have to really consider what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it in order to return to a decent norm, which we currently don’t have. 

Bluey: Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, author of the new book “Defeating Big Government Socialism: Saving America’s Future,” Do you have any closing words about the book that you’d like to share with our listeners? 

Gingrich: Sure. I would just say, if you want to know why big government socialism doesn’t work and if you want to know how to win the argument with your friends and your neighbors and help the country get rid of big government socialism, I think you’ll find the book a very, very useful handbook that enables you to really have a real impact on how your friends and neighbors feel about what’s gone wrong. 

Bluey: I encourage our listeners to check it out. It’s a fantastic piece of work, and we’re so grateful for the contributions you’ve made and the help you’ve provided, Speaker Gingrich. Thank you for being with us on “The Daily Signal Podcast.” 

Gingrich: Thank you. Enjoyed it very much. 

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.

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The New Age of Orwellianism

Community organizer and left-wing social activist Saul Alinsky wrote, in his 1971 book “Rules for Radicals,” that “he who controls the language controls the masses.”

Alinsky, whose work profoundly influenced at least one notable fellow Chicagoan, Barack Obama, was in that quip channeling George Orwell’s famous dystopian novel “1984.”

“Newspeak,” the language of Orwell’s fictional single-political party superstate, was a tool devised for monitoring the people’s communications, prosecuting “thoughtcrimes,” and ultimately controlling and dictating the people’s very beliefs.

Conservatives have taken pleasure in poking fun at the modern left’s “Orwellian” tendencies—perhaps too much, actually, as overuse of the accusation has had the effect of limiting its potency.

But as the woke ideology metastasizes within the American left like the cancer it is, and as censors increasingly clamp down on anything sniffing of dissent to the regime’s orthodoxy, it is now clear that we are in a new age of Orwellianism.

In this new age, the regime and its enforcers pursue the suffusion of its orthodoxy at any cost, gaslighting dissenters into not believing their own lying eyes.

This week, new governmental data revealed that the American economy, measured by gross domestic product, contracted for the second straight quarter. That was, up until perhaps a week ago, the universally accepted definition of what constitutes a “recession.”

This was not a partisan issue; indeed, well-known liberal, Democratic Party economists have frequently defined recession in precisely these terms.

Back in 2008, President Joe Biden’s current National Economic Council director, Brian Deese, stated: “Of course economists have a technical definition of recession, which is two consecutive quarters of negative growth.”

And in 2019, top Biden economic adviser Jared Bernstein said that a “recession” is “defined as two consecutive quarters of declining growth.”

Democrats are now singing a different tune. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has stubbornly refused to concede that America is now in an economic recession.

Deese apparently also disagrees with his old self of 2008: Following the release of the data evincing the second straight quarter of economic contraction, Deese stipulated that we are “certainly in a transition,” but also added that “virtually nothing signals that this period … is recessionary.”

The ruse is transparent and obvious to the point of comedy. As famed investor David Sacks tweeted: “A lot of people are wondering about the definition of recession. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth if a Republican is president. The definition is far more complicated and unknowable if a Democrat is president.”

Democrats similarly seem interested in changing the definition of “inflation,” which currently sits at four-decade highs and is disproportionately responsible for Biden’s dismal job approval ratings and Democrats’ unfavorable political outlook this fall.

The widely accepted economic definition of inflation is when there is too much money chasing too few goods. The way to tamp down inflation is thus to limit the money supply and/or increase the production of goods.

Just this week, around the same time as when the U.S. formally entered a recession, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., finally reached an agreement on a version of the White House’s long-sought after Build Back Better domestic initiative. But Democrats renamed the bill: It is now not called Build Back Better but the Inflation Reduction Act.

And the revised bill includes new government expenditures to the tune of nearly $400 billion in energy- and climate-related spending. Authorizing such a fiscal boondoggle is the precise opposite of limiting the money supply. It is the logical equivalent of trying to put out a fire with a blowtorch.

Remarkably, it is the same ideologues who are eager to change the well-accepted definitions of “recession” and “inflation” who remain perplexed as to what exactly a “woman” is.

In March, then-Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing to replace the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court, pointedly refused to define what a “woman” is. Her excuse was that she is “not a biologist.”

Related, in Matt Walsh’s excellent new documentary “What Is a Woman?,” the myriad “gender studies” professors and gender ideology-bewitched “doctors” interviewed by Walsh invariably define a “woman,” in circular fashion, as being “someone who identifies as a woman.”

Whether it is a Supreme Court justice herself or the vogue flatulence that now constitutes “gender studies” in the American academy, then, the left is incapable of defining what a “woman” is.

That confusion appears to be ubiquitous: Lia Thomas, the biological man who has been wreaking havoc in women’s collegiate swimming, was even nominated for the 2022 NCAA Woman of the Year Award.

Alinsky would be proud of such an imperious enforcement of regime-approved orthodoxy; “he who controls the language controls the masses,” after all.

The left’s fundamental problem is that its haughtiness, fervor, and zeal for gaslighting us sane Americans is belied by its unpopularity. It is curious that the left can talk and act this way when its most notable avatar, Biden, is as severely unpopular as he currently is.

Perhaps the left will be chastened by its impending November defeats at the ballot box. But don’t bet on it.

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The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.

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‘Inflation Reduction Act’ Is Euphemism for Big Government Socialism, Higher Prices

In the midst of a recession, with inflation eating away an average of $6,800 in purchasing power from the incomes of families with two workers, the so-called Inflation Reduction Act would impose tax increases, manipulative federal subsidies, and price controls on every American family.

The bill would deepen the growing recession, continue to depress household incomes, and will continue to increase prices.

Release of the bill marks a major reversal for its key supporter, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who in 2010 said, “I don’t think during a time of recession you mess with any of the taxes, or increase any taxes.”

Yet this proposal, negotiated chiefly by Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is intended to raise taxes by roughly $570 billion over the next decade—$4,500 per household.

Further, the bill would increase spending on crony corporatist subsidies and wealth redistribution by roughly $510 billion over the next decade. However, the true cost would be nearly $200 billion higher after accounting for budget gimmicks.

The bulk of the new subsidies are designed to have a far greater impact than their price tag implies. These subsidies could shift trillions of dollars of investment away from conventional energy sources and into green energy pipe dreams.

This shift would leave our economy smaller, less dynamic, and less innovative, and will trap millions in poverty. The bill also contains $250 billion in on-paper spending cuts that simply reflect the burdens of the drug price controls in the bill.

Far from helping consumers, these price controls will mean fewer lifesaving drugs are produced and will slash vital research budgets.

To add insult to injury, the spending will be front-loaded, and the revenues will be back-loaded. Though supporters of the bill claim it will reduce deficits over the next decade, it will likely increase deficits in the first few years, stoking inflationary pressures in the near term.

When the spending expires in a few years, some in Congress will want to repeat the gimmick all over again, claiming to pay for three years of spending with 10 years of taxes.

The legislation also follows immediately after the enactment of a $280 billion corporate welfare spending spree.

Inflation occurs when the government prints money to cover budget deficits. It’s good that Senate Democrats want to reduce the deficit, but front-loading new deficits and raising taxes are counterproductive. Raising taxes on firms increases their costs, which fall on households through higher prices, reduced production of goods and services, less investment, lower productivity, and lower wages.

The best path to take would be to drop the distortionary tax increases and spending subsidies, and instead reduce the deficit by cutting spending.

In truth, reducing the size, scope, and coercive intrusions of the government is the only way to mitigate inflation and lift the economy out of a recession at the same time.

Tragically, this bill does none of those things. Instead, it doubles down on the disastrous policies that got us into this “stagflationary” mess.  

Here’s what’s in the bill:

Green New Deal Policies

Americans are suffering under the weight of high inflation. And two areas where that pain is being felt especially hard is at the gas pump and at the grocery store. Regular retail gas prices are about double what they were when President Joe Biden took office. Food price inflation is at levels not seen in more than 40 years.

The left and the Biden administration can try and play all the word games they want, but the Inflation Reduction Act may be their biggest misinformation campaign yet. Instead of addressing the underlying issues causing inflation, especially when it comes to energy and food, the bill only will exacerbate the problems.

There’s no end to the Biden war on energy in this legislative monstrosity. In fact, the bill is a signal to the energy sector that the war is going to be taken to a whole new level. The government-imposed shift away from conventional fuels that provide us affordable and abundant energy is going to shift even further. 

If you are an oil company or refiner, why invest? Especially when this bill is telling them that Washington politicians want to kill off their industry.  We have already seen the damage inflicted by efforts to block affordable and abundant energy and centrally plan a far-left vision for a “clean energy” future. 

And it means pain for Americans. But the Biden administration and the left appear to be perfectly fine with inflicting this pain on Americans. In fact, rising energy prices are not unintended consequences of their policies, but rather the envisioned outcomes. This is something the left hasn’t been shy about acknowledging:

  • Biden stated: “[When] it comes to the gas prices, we’re going through an incredible transition that is taking place that, God willing, when it’s over, we’ll be stronger, and the world will be stronger and less reliant on fossil fuels when this is over.”
  • Then-President Barack Obama said: “Under my plan … electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”
  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg reportedly “argued that more Americans should purchase electric vehicles so that they ‘never have to worry about gas prices again.’”

If Congress and the administration were serious about high energy and food prices, they would be reducing spending, not ramping it up. They would be reducing regulatory obstacles across supply chains, not increasing them. And they wouldn’t be presuming that Washington politicians should dictate how energy is generated and consumed in this nation.  

The reported overall spending for the climate and clean energy provisions is $369 billion. Here are just some of the bill’s lowlights:

It spends $9 billion for promoting electric appliances and energy-efficient retrofits. 

Do you like your natural gas stove or fireplace? Well, this bill is part of a broader effort to make these appliances relics of the past. If that seems like an exaggeration, there are already left-wing cities and states banning new hookups for natural gas appliances.

It creates tax credits to have homes run on “clean energy” and for the purchase of “clean vehicles.” 

If American consumers demand those types of products and features, that’s one thing. The creation of this tax credit is a recognition that Americans don’t desire the products and, therefore, Washington politicians must induce Americans to “do the right thing.”

An important point to bear in mind: All of this new spending will come on top of the federal government’s voluminous regulations.  Americans will be getting the worst of both worlds.  There was already the Biden regulatory avalanche, and now this proposed bill would force taxpayers to use their hard-earned money to subsidize wasteful spending.

For example, as Washington politicians spend money to try to induce people to buy the appliances the government wants you to buy, there are currently proposed new conservation regulatory standards at the Department of Energy for commercial water heating equipment; consumer furnaceswalk-in coolers and freezerscommercial refrigerators, freezers, and refrigerator-freezerspackaged terminal air conditioners and packaged terminal heat pumpsdehumidifiersdedicated-purpose pool pump motorsgeneral service fluorescent lampsclothes dryers; and distribution transformers.

It invests in unreliable electricity sources (and goods) while sending a clear signal that other electricity sources and gas-powered vehicles are disfavored. 

The legislation includes production tax credits to manufacture solar panels and wind turbines, and a $10 billion tax credit to build “clean technology manufacturing facilities” that make electric vehicles, as well as those wind turbines and solar panels. 

It also includes grants to retool auto manufacturing plants to manufacture clean vehicles and up to $20 billion in loans to build “clean vehicle” manufacturing facilities. 

There are also “roughly $30 billion in targeted grant and loan programs” to get states and utilities to shift toward “clean electricity,” and tax credits and grants for clean fuels and clean commercial vehicles.

It punishes conventional fuel sources that provide affordable and reliable energy. 

For example, the legislation would increase the costs for oil and gas drilling by increasing the royalties companies have to pay for offshore drilling from 12.5% to 16.66% (and as high as 18.75%), and for onshore oil drilling from 12.5% to 16.66%. It also includes a methane emissions fee for petroleum and natural gas companies. 

It funds efforts that try to dictate agricultural practices. 

The bill would provide more than $20 billion to support “climate-smart agricultural practices.” The climate efforts within the bill should be considered in a broader light. There is a major disdain on the left for American agriculture practices, which they view as causing “incalculable damages.” This bill just helps to support that disdain. 

But there is another issue. Congress would be blessing the Biden administration’s egregious abuses at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in which, without proper authority, it used the Commodity Credit Corp. as a climate change slush fund to create out of whole cloth funding for “climate-smart agricultural practices.”

Transforming Economy, Not Reducing Costs

By changing energy production in such a dramatic fashion, this legislation is also a pretext for far greater changes to our country.

Energy impacts every aspect of our lives and every sector of the economy. By dictating how we produce and consume energy, this bill would dictate how we live our lives and limit the freedoms we enjoy.

It’s a pretext for control. And there is little to no regard for the high prices incurred by Americans and the costs that will arise for trying to achieve the left’s radical climate agenda. And what’s even worse, this is all pain for no gain. 

As explained in a new Heritage Foundation report:

Eliminating all U.S. emissions would mitigate global temperatures by less than 0.2 of a degree Celsius by 2100. Even if all other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development  economies eliminated greenhouse gas emissions as well, the world average temperature increase would be mitigated by no more than 0.5 of a degree Celsius in 2100.

This legislation is many things (e.g., cronyism, wasteful, costly, controlling, and arrogant), but it certainly isn’t about improving our lives, which affordable and abundant energy does. And regardless of the bill’s name—which is an insult to the intelligence of every American—it has nothing to do with addressing inflation.

Expanding Government-Run Health Plans

The health care provisions are the latest play out of the single-payer, government-run health plan playbook. The plan would extend the Obamacare COVID-19 expansion beyond its current end date, force government price controls on pharmaceuticals in Medicare, and claim Medicare savings to offset the cost of the entire package.

Sold as a temporary measure in response to COVID-19, the American Rescue Plan made Obamacare subsidies more generous for those who were already receiving subsidies and made subsidies available to individuals who were previously not eligible (those earning above 400% of poverty rate, which equals $106,000 for a family of four).

This COVID-19-related provision is set to expire at the end of the year. The Schumer-Manchin proposal would extend the Obamacare expansion for another three years.

The Congressional Budget Office has noted that allowing this expansion to end (as originally intended) would save taxpayers $64 billion and not reduce the number of people with individual health insurance coverage.

As Heritage Foundation senior fellow Edmund Haislmaier has explained, the expiration would not cause premiums to soar, and many of those higher-income individuals who lose the subsidies have other coverage options.

So, as Heritage senior fellow Doug Badger notes, the real winners of the extension are the big insurance plans that pocket the government subsidies. Of course, those aiming for government-run health care are also winners as they most certainly are eyeing to make this next “temporary” expansion permanent in the future.

(The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

Medicare Drug Price ‘Negotiations’

The proposal’s Medicare price “negotiation” is another win for single-payer, government-run advocates. Heritage senior fellow Bob Moffit explains that the so-called Medicare prescription drug “negotiation” plan has nothing to do with negotiation and everything to do with government price setting.

Based on previous versions of this scheme, the secretary of health and human services would extend a purchase price to the manufacturers, the manufacturers could submit a counteroffer, but the secretary has the final authority to set the price and, in certain cases, could impose penalties on the manufactures for not agreeing to it.

Government price controls are a key piece in single-payer advocates’ plans for the health care sector, and pharmaceuticals are just the beginning.

Seniors only need to look at the Department of Veterans Affairs to see a version of this in practice. Seniors should expect less access to critical drugs and treatments than they have today, and everyone will be harmed by lack of newer drugs and cures being developed as a result in the future.

Independent analysts, whether they are from the Congressional Budget Office or academia, might differ on estimates of the number of new medications that will not be produced and distributed. But there is no doubt that the proposal will discourage investment in research and development of new and breakthrough medications.

Equally as damaging, it appears the savings generated from rationing prescription drugs for seniors will go to offset the Obamacare expansion and the new climate change agenda, rather than shoring up and protecting Medicare’s solvency. 

There are plenty of better ideas for tackling the high cost of health care, prescription drugs, and Medicare’s fiscal condition. This plan misses the mark.  

Yet Another Minimum Tax

The Manchin-Schumer bill would impose a new 15% corporate minimum tax on businesses. Unlike the regular U.S. corporate income tax, which is applied to taxable income, the new minimum tax would start from a taxpayer’s financial statement income under U.S. financial accounting principles and would then apply a complex series of adjustments to ultimately tax companies’ “adjusted financial statement income.”

To some, the idea of a minimum tax on businesses may not sound controversial on first blush, but the devil is in the details.

One important detail is that the tax code already has several provisions that explicitly or implicitly act as minimum taxes. In addition to having to calculate corporate income taxes the usual way, many businesses already must calculate their tax liability under the Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax system. They also must calculate a minimum tax on so-called global intangible low-taxed income. Business income received by individuals is subject to individual alternative minimum-tax rules.

Regardless of what happens with the corporate minimum tax in the current Senate bill, there may well be another minimum tax coming down the pike soon. Since the Manchin-Schumer tax doesn’t comport with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s global minimum tax scheme, there will be continued pressure from the left to add still another minimum tax on businesses.

This situation is a bit like a king imposing a tax on the people of his kingdom based on the “size” of their crop yield. He then proceeds to measure each of their crop yields by weight, by volume, by price, and by area, and for each farmer he collects the tax based on the measure that is least favorable to the farmer.

In the case of the Manchin-Schumer bill, the new measure of income used—adjusted financial statement income—is problematic. In addition to significantly complicating the tax system, this way of measuring taxpayer income disfavors those who make capital investments to grow their businesses.

When businesses purchase capital goods such as machinery and equipment, under the current corporate tax system they can deduct those costs when determining their regular tax liability. However, under the new minimum tax calculations, things like newly purchased farm or factory equipment wouldn’t be fully deductible for many years. All the while, inflation would eat away at the value of that legitimate business deduction.

In other words, the corporate minimum tax would punish businesses for investing. That is exactly the wrong prescription for American workers, because when businesses stop growing, good jobs are hard to come by.

And contrary to the stated aim of the bill—reducing inflation—smothering business investment will reduce production and, if anything, drive up prices.

Carried Interest’ Tax Hike

Current law requires that capital gains and wages be treated differently. Wages are deductible as a business expense by the employer and taxable to the recipient as ordinary income. Income generated by capital assets is taxed and then capital gains from the sale of those assets are also generally taxed (but at a lower rate if held more than one year). Payments to purchase capital assets are generally not deductible.

Many investment managers are compensated with a combination of wage or salary income and some incentive-based compensation based on the profits from the investments (if any profits are forthcoming). The latter portion of the compensation, known as the “carried interest,” is usually taxed as a capital gain.

The bill effectively treats all capital gains from certain partnerships, financial instruments, and contracts as if they were wage income, but does not allow a deduction for those wage payments. It applies to “any interest in a partnership which, directly or indirectly, is transferred to (or is held by) the taxpayer in connection with the performance of substantial services by the taxpayer, or any other related person.”

It is, therefore, an asymmetric “heads the government wins, tails the taxpayer loses” treatment since the compensation is taxed as if it were wages, but the wages paid are not deductible. It can be expected to reduce the return on investments and therefore have an adverse effect on productivity and wages in the long run.

IRS Slush Fund

The bill would provide an upfront appropriation totaling $78.9 billion for the Internal Revenue Service. That would effectively be a slush fund for the IRS, which could be spent with little congressional direction through 2031.

According to the Biden administration’s proposal, this funding would be used to add nearly 87,000 new IRS agents. The bill provides the Treasury secretary or her designee the flexibility to take such personnel actions as are deemed necessary to administer the Internal Revenue Code.

The Congressional Budget Office projects additional IRS enforcement spending could yield approximately $200 billion in higher revenues (for a net deficit reduction of about $120 billion). However, the CBO acknowledges this estimate is uncertain and differs from previous analysis.

What we do know is that the IRS bureaucracy will be charged with finding about a quarter of the Inflation Reduction Act’s deficit reduction.

The new agents and new funding could be used to subject small businesses and middle-class taxpayers to more IRS scrutiny. The bill includes a disclaimer stating: “Nothing in this subsection is intended to increase taxes on any taxpayer with a taxable income of [less than] $400,000.”

Of course, examining and enforcing payment of legally owed taxes is unlikely to be interpreted as increasing taxes. Based on IRS data, individual filers reporting less than $50,000 of income accounted for 62% of underreported taxes.

The new funding is equal to six times the normal annual IRS budget, which supports about 35,000 enforcement agents. It’s implausible that the scandalridden and union-dominated agency will be able to absorb so much extra funding, personnel, and power and avoid waste, fraud, and abuse. 

Although the authority is not included in this legislation, Biden has even proposed requiring financial institutions to provide the IRS sensitive information on bank accounts with as little as $600.

According to Gallup, only 37% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the IRS, making it one of the least popular federal agencies. With the IRS’ politicized history, that’s not surprising. 

Inflation Recession Act

The Biden administration and its liberal allies in Congress have gone out of their way to impose new burdens and to bloat the government. The result has been the ensuing inflationary crisis and now a recession.

Instead of heeding the economic warning lights, they have offered this bill, which is identical in purpose and philosophy to what created the current economic mess. If enacted into law, this bill would exacerbate the economic crisis and lead to a longer and much more painful stagflation.

This commentary was modified Aug. 6 to correct a typo in the sentence about the projected world average temperature increase.

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DOJ’s Partisan Shell Game Raises Ethics Issues About Pamela Karlan

As a tenured law professor at Stanford University, Pamela Karlan earned $1 million a year. We now know that she stayed on the Stanford payroll, at that same impressive salary, during the entire 17 months she served as the Justice Department’s principal deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights.

Karlan left her DOJ post on July 1, just one day before the department delivered documents to the American Accountability Foundation under a Freedom of Information Act request that revealed her unorthodox and ethically suspect arrangement with the Biden administration.

Karlan is a radical leftist. As a political appointee at DOJ, she threatened to sue the Arizona Senate over its audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, absurdly claiming that such an audit violated the Voting Rights Act. She was also behind DOJ’s latest lawsuit against Arizona for trying to verify the citizenship of its voters.

Karlan has long opposed efforts to assure the integrity of our elections and has no qualms about playing fast and loose with the facts. In the 1990s, as a private lawyer, she tried to overturn the vote fraud convictions of local Democrats in Greene County, Alabama, who stole the votes of black voters in local elections.

In 2009, she asserted that, for five of its eight years, the George W. Bush administration refused to enforce the Voting Rights Act except for one case on behalf of white voters. In reality, the Bush administration filed far more voting cases than the Obama administration ever did. And Karlan had served in the Obama Justice Department as well.

The FOIA materials raise serious potential ethical issues. While supposedly toiling full time as a senior Justice Department official pledged to serve the best interests of the public at large, Karlan was also working for Stanford University and, indirectly, the university donors funding her outlandish salary.

This arrangement sets the stage for conflicts of interest. For example, Stanford filed an amicus brief in the lawsuit brought by Asian American students against Harvard University over its racially discriminatory admissions policy. Stanford supports and engages in the same discriminatory behavior, claiming it “is essential to achieving the educational mission” of Stanford.

When the case reached the Supreme Court, the Justice Department also filed an amicus brief arguing that such racially discriminatory practices do not violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Karlan’s name is on that brief as the “Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General.”

So, Karlan, as a senior DOJ lawyer, took a position that seemed designed to protect the university paying her $1 million a year from any potential liability and to allow the university to continue to discriminate in its admissions policies.

Such a position does not serve the public’s interest as a whole, and certainly does not serve the interests of the Asian American students who are being kept out of elite schools like Stanford due to the color of their skin.

Normally, such an arrangement might be a criminal violation of 18 U.S.C. § 209. Per the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, this statute “prohibits [federal] employees from being paid by someone other than the United States for doing their official Government duties.”

As the Government Accountability Office says, citing a 1922 attorney general opinion, “no Government official or employee should serve two masters to the prejudice of his unbiased devotion to the interests of the United States.”

However, the Justice Department temporarily detailed Karlan to her federal position under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (5 U.S.C. § 3372). This statute allows an executive branch department to appoint, in addition to state and local government employees, “an employee of an institution of higher education to a Federal agency.”

While Karlan continued to receive her salary from Stanford, the Justice Department donated her $183,100 federal salary to the university.

Stanford has a huge endowment. Why did the administration feel compelled to give Karlan’s government salary to the school? And what gives DOJ the right to make a $183,100 “donation” to Stanford, since Congress clearly did not authorize public funds to be expended for that purpose?

To some, this may come across as nothing more than a shell game, reminiscent of the kind of money laundering schemes prosecuted by the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Karlan was being paid a million dollars and protecting Stanford’s interests while working as a federal employee. The federal government was giving her official government salary to a university that has accepted billions of dollars in federal grants over the decades.

The Office of Professional Responsibility at the Justice Department should investigate the ethical issues raised by the Karlan appointment, as should the department’s inspector general.

And if the House, whether under current or new leadership, starts holding oversight hearings of this Department of Justice, it can add this to the ever-growing list of things to investigate.

Originally published by The Washington Times

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Governors Have ‘Incredible Ability’ to Rescue Education, South Dakota’s Noem Says 

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says governors can counter federal overreach in schools and accused Dr. Anthony Fauci of destroying kids’ education. 

“We can talk about members of Congress eliminating the Department of Education, or reforming it to that level, but governors have incredible ability to make a difference right at home,” Noem, a Republican, said in remarks Wednesday at The Heritage Foundation. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.) 

After Noem was elected governor in 2018, she said she provided training for school board members in her state to help them understand the significance of their decisions.  

“Many of them, when they come in, it may be a volunteer position in some of these small school districts, or something that they’re not necessarily recognizing the authority that they have,” she said, adding:

By training them so that they actually know the power of the decisions that they make, they’re not subjected to just the experience and knowledge of the administrators that are running the building.

The first-term governor stressed the importance of making school board members aware that they do not have to accept funding from the federal government, adding that the “federal government is very quick to dictate to our school districts by using money as an incentive.” 

Noem recalled a recent incident involving the Biden administration threatening to withhold federal school meals funding over a state law prohibiting biological males from participating in girls sports. 

Noem said:  

It’s so interesting to me that they’re pushing their activist agenda so hard they’re willing to create an unfair situation for women and take food away from children.

It’s shocking to me that they think that works politically, or even in day-to-day life, but that’s how extreme the left is right now.

Earlier in her conversation with Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts, Noem applauded Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin for his focus on education and children. The issue of education was pivotal in last November’s gubernatorial race in Virginia.  

A Washington Post-Schar School of Policy and Government poll conducted in October found that education was the top priority for voters, replacing the economy as No. 1 from the prior month. Education as an issue rose 9 percentage points in importance from September to October, according to the poll.

“When I first became governor, one of the very first bills that I ran that first legislative session was to put more civics and history in our classrooms, especially at the high school level. That session, my Republicans killed it because they thought it wasn’t necessary,” Noem said, noting the lawmakers thought it would be “too hard” for the schools’ administration to find a new curriculum and for the teachers to teach the new curriculum.

“Now, look, just two years later, overwhelmingly what’s sweeping across the country is the need for more civics and history in our classrooms,” she said. “Of course, I’ve gotten their support now, and we’ve done some great things in South Dakota.” 

The handling of the COVID-19 pandemic also had a significant adverse impact on education across the country, Noem said. While education for South Dakota students was virtual through the end of the 2019-2020 school year, most schools were open in the fall of 2020 and all were reportedly back in person by the end of the 2020-2021 school year, according to Ballotpedia.  

“[Dr. Fauci] destroyed kids’ education. We have kids that forever will struggle because they’ve been forced to wear masks. That has hurt their development,” Noem said. “It is a tragedy what that man was allowed to do to the United States of America.” 

Noem called Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a “liar” and said she saw the writing on the wall from the start of the pandemic that he would push a political agenda.  

“I saw him for years running around with [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and the liberals. So, from the very beginning, when he was given a platform to be an expert in this area, you know, the warning signs that he would turn this into a political agenda were there,” she said.  

“Fauci’s a liar. He was lying from the very beginning. He knew he wasn’t following the data and the science. He had an agenda from Day One,” she said.   

Fauci and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases did not respond to a request for a comment from The Daily Signal.   

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Democrats’ New Proposal Does Nothing to Lower Inflation

The first thing to remember about the reconciliation bill Sens. Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer agreed to Wednesday is that, despite its utterly preposterous name, it has absolutely zero to do with inflation.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is crammed with the very same spending, corporate welfare, price fixing, and tax hikes that were part of Build Back Better—long-desired progressive wish list agenda items. Pumping hundreds of billions into the economy will do nothing to alleviate inflation. The opposite.

Let’s also remember the Democrats’ deflection on inflation last year—claiming it was “transitory” and “no serious economist” is “suggesting there’s unchecked inflation on the way,” and so on—was all part of a concerted political effort to ignore the problem long enough to cram through a $5.5 trillion iteration of their agenda.

And when inflation suddenly became nontransitory, and politically problematic, the Biden administration argued that more spending would relieve inflation.

They don’t care about the economy, as long as dependency is being expanded.

The bill is far more likely to spike consumer prices than not. You can hate corporations with the heat of a thousand suns and grouse about the lack of fairness in the world, but it won’t change the fact that businesses don’t pay taxes, they collect them.

The Democrats’ bill claims it raises $313 billion with a minimum 15% corporate tax rate. Democrats seem to be under the impression that corporations that pay less than 15% are evading taxes rather than using completely legal tools like accelerated depreciation or taking advantage of tax credits. Whatever the case, raising corporate taxes means fewer jobs or higher prices. Maybe both. What it won’t do is lower inflation.

The same establishment media that is suddenly unsure how to define a recession is going to falsely claim that the bill has a “deficit reduction package,” even though anyone who’s spent five minutes in D.C. knows that the bill features a bunch of accounting gimmicks that will allow Manchin to go back to West Virginia and claim his concerns about spending are allayed.

The deficit reduction number—which relies not only upon raising taxes on consumers but creating a more powerful IRS (and IRS public sector union)—is plucked from the ether. We have no clue how much new taxes and audits will raise. What we do know is that any new spending program instituted today will exist in perpetuity.

The bill also dumps another $369 billion into green boondoggles, which also acts as a slush fund for Democrats. Now, even if you’ve convinced yourself that slight variations in temperature are an existential threat to humanity, there has never been an instance of energy becoming more affordable due to pumping money into green economies.

A bill with “investments” that will “encourage” a “transition,” as political journalists would say, is really just force-feeding inefficient and expensive alternatives that elbow out reliable, affordable gas and oil, and push prices higher.

Manchin claims that the bill specifically brings down energy prices. Yet, unless West Virginians are clamoring to buy already heavily subsidized electric cars, the bill gives them nothing. It takes.

The only aspect of the bill that even feigns at being about prices allows Medicare to “negotiate” (some) prescription drug prices. This is called price fixing, as the government is big enough and powerful enough to demand any arbitrary price it wants from rent-seeking companies. What it will do, as price fixing always does, is undercut innovation and investments, and create supply shortages and higher prices for ordinary consumers.

The Inflation Reduction Act features new taxes on natural gas and coal production. How could a senator from West Virginia ever support a proposal that promises a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030? Achieving it would mean the economic destruction of his state. Though, to be fair, those policies would mean economic destruction of the entire economy.

Manchin—who once said, “I don’t think during a time of recession you mess with any of the taxes, or increase any taxes”—always plays this game, making it difficult for Democrats to create the impression of moderation at home, and then basically giving in.

And, in the end, nearly every reporter is going to allow Democrats to pretend that $430 billion is a pared-down bill, a mighty political sacrifice, because what they really wanted was a $3.5 trillion bill. They’re going to allow Democrats to pretend that bill lives up to its name, when it does nothing of the sort.

The Inflation Reduction Act is to inflation what the Affordable Care Act—which doubled premium costs—was to health care insurance.

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Government Eyes Collecting More Data on Americans to Address Pay Discrimination 

The federal government collected data on 100 million Americans from 70,000 employers to prioritize investigations for what a report calls “systemic” pay discrimination.

The government also is open to more expansive data collection in the future to address pay disparities.

“Is this going to be a smoking gun that definitively answers whether there is pay discrimination? That was never the intent, and I would be surprised if that was ever the result,” Charlotte A. Burrows, chairwoman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said Thursday during a press conference.

“We really can make a lot of use of it in deciding how to focus our resources,” said Burrows, a Democrat on the five-member commission since 2015 who was appointed chairwoman by President Joe Biden last year.

The EEOC completed its collection of 2017 and 2018 pay data under court order in 2020. That year, the agency contracted with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to study the pay data collected from private employers. 

The national academies recommend the most effective uses for the pay data in a report released ahead of the press conference. 

The report on the data collected for the EEOC also recommends pay data collection for the future. 

But EEOC member Andrea Lucas, a Republican, said she is concerned that expanded data collection could become intrusive for employees. [Lucas is not related to The Daily Signal reporter who filed this news story.]

In a public statement, Lucas said:

That potential mandatory data collection by the EEOC could include: each individual employee’s race and ethnicity; sex, gender identity (including non-binary and transgender identification), and sexual orientation; age, disability status, and veteran status; occupation and individual-level job titles; individual-level pay data (including wages, tips, and non-taxable earnings, including earnings that contribute to medical insurance and retirement accounts, as well as hours worked, weeks worked, fulltime/part-time status, and overtime classification status); and other pay-affecting factors including education, job experience, and employment tenure.

“Not only could this lead to a significant invasion of privacy for individual employees by their employers,” the Republican EEOC member added, “but in some instances it may be in violation of the laws that the EEOC is charged with enforcing—all for data that only may be more useful.”

Employers gathered the data from employees, then provided it to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The commission itself didn’t collect the data, Burrows stressed. 

“I wouldn’t presume to speak for all private sector employees, but I want to be clear, we did not collect individualized, personal information—[such as] Joe Smith’s salary,” Burrow told The Daily Signal during the press conference, when asked about concerns with the handling of sensitive employee information. 

However, Burrows, an attorney, said that direct collection of data on American workers by the government could be helpful for employers in the future. 

“What we did is have the company provide it to us in a form that we thought would be a useful in a more aggregate way,” Burrows said, adding:

We did not collect individualized pay data with folks, although that is one of the things that the National Academy of Sciences has recognized would make such a collection—if we were to pursue it—less burdensome for the employers. I don’t have an opinion, and I’m not going to speak to where we might go in the future.

But Lucas argued that data collection still would require employers to collect sensitive information from employees. 

“In pursuit of solving a speculative wage gap, the National Academies recommends an unprecedented, mandatory government collection of a detailed, individual snapshot of almost every private sector employee’s professional and personal life,” Lucas, also an attorney, said in her public statement. “The tangible—and intangible—costs of such a revised and aggressively expanded data collection could be severe.” 

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concluded that collecting pay data is necessary to assess pay practices and differences in compensation by sex, race, and ethnicity. 

The report says that the pay data would enable the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to pursue a more data-driven approach to investigations and identify systemic discrimination. 

The response rate from employers, meaning they submitted pay data to the government, was about 90%, officials said. 

The report concludes that the EEOC should expand its data collections and recommended several improvements to make it easier for employers to produce the information.

The report also notes that data collection was “not well suited to measure pay equity by EEOC or by employers.”

But nevertheless, the report calls for the agency to double down on data collection, Lucas said. 

“In other words, the collection was a failure,” the Republican commissioner said. “The report identified significant issues not only with the data collection process but also the reliability and accuracy of the data collected by the EEOC, issues rendering the data practically useless.”

The initial data collection cost companies more than half a billion dollars, she said, and a subsequent expansion would likely be more costly:

Before the EEOC gambles on a potentially billion-dollar burden on our nation’s private employers, and incentivizes the intrusive collection of sensitive information from employees, at a minimum the agency must undertake a formal notice and comment rulemaking and a public hearing to ensure robust public comment and input.

The report identifies unnamed Silicon Valley tech companies that have pay disparities based on race and gender. 

One unnamed tech firm had a pay gap of -51.3% for black men compared to white men. Another had a pay gap of -52.3% for Hispanic female employees compared to white males. 

One Silicon Valley company had a pay gap of -52.4% for Asian female technicians compared to white male technicians.

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When Clinton, Biden, and Schumer Defended Marriage Against Ted Kennedy

When Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts led the fight in 1996 to stop a federal law that would define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, he faced some prominent opponents in his own party.

They included then-Rep. Chuck Schumer of New York, then-Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, and then-President Bill Clinton.

The marriage issue came up that year because of a case working its way through the state courts in Hawaii. The issue there was whether the Hawaiian Constitution protected a right to same-sex marriage.

If Hawaii’s Supreme Court were to rule that this was the case, the other 49 states could have been forced by Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution to recognize those marriages. That section says:

Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.

To stop a few state judges from effectively legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, Republican Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia introduced the Defense of Marriage Act.

This bill was simple and straightforward. It would amend “the Federal judicial code to provide that no State, territory, or possession of the United States or Indian tribe shall be required to give effect to any marriage between persons of the same sex under the laws of any other such jurisdiction or to any right or claim arising from such relationship,” said its official congressional summary.

It would establish, said the summary, “a Federal definition of: (1) ‘marriage’ as only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife; and (2) ‘spouse’ as only a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife.”

On July 9, 1996, the House Judiciary Committee submitted its report on the Defense of Marriage Act to the full House.

“The effort to redefine ‘marriage’ to extend to homosexual couples is a truly radical proposal that would fundamentally alter the institution of marriage,” said the committee’s report. “To understand why marriage should be preserved in its current form, one need only ask why it is that society recognizes the institution of marriage and grants married persons preferred legal status.”

“At bottom,” said the report, “civil society has an interest in maintaining and protecting the institution of heterosexual marriage because it has a deep and abiding interest in encouraging responsible procreation and child-rearing.”

“Simply put,” it said, “government has an interest in marriage because it has an interest in children.”

Nor did the committee ignore the moral significance of the debate.

“Civil laws that permit only heterosexual marriage reflect and honor a collective moral judgment about human sexuality,” said the committee report.

“It is both inevitable and entirely appropriate that the law should reflect such moral judgments,” it said. “H.R. 3396 serves the government’s legitimate interest in protecting the traditional moral teachings reflected in heterosexual-only marriage laws.”

When the Defense of Marriage Act came up for a vote on the House floor on July 12, 1996, Democratic Rep. Bill Lipinski, who was from Chicago, argued for it.

“The issue of homosexual marriage is a major concern to many Americans, and I feel that the time has come for Congress to take a stand,” said Lipinski. “What we say today and how we vote on this bill [will] have both legal and moral ramifications for years to come. We cannot sit by and do nothing.”

“Marriage is the foundation of our society; families are built on it and values are passed on through it,” said Lipinski.

“Our Nation’s moral fabric is based on this sacred institution,” he said. “Homosexual marriages would destroy thousands of years of tradition which has upheld our society. Marriage has already been undermined by no-fault divorce, pregnancies out of wedlock, and sexual promiscuity. Allowing for gay marriages would be the final straw, it would devalue the love between a man and a woman and weaken us as a Nation.”

After Lipinski and others had expressed their views on the Defense of Marriage Act, the House voted 342-67 to approve it. The House Democratic caucus itself voted 118-65 in its favor.

One of those 118 Democrats voting for it was Schumer, who two years later would win a seat in the Senate.

When the Senate took up the Defense of Marriage Act on Sept. 10, 1996, Kennedy led the opposition.

“I oppose the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and I regret that the Senate is allocating scarce time at the end of this Congress to consider this unconstitutional, unnecessary, and divisive legislation,” Kennedy said.

“We all know what is going on here,” said Kennedy. “I regard this bill as a mean-spirited form of Republican legislative gay-bashing cynically calculated to try to inflame the public 8 weeks before the November 5 election.”

“It is a cynical election year gimmick,” Kennedy said, “and it deserves to be rejected by all who deplore the intolerance and incivility that have come to dominate our national debate.”

Kennedy was unpersuasive. The Senate voted 85-14 to approve the act. One of the 85 who voted for it was Biden.

Clinton signed the bill at almost 1 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, 1996. Then his reelection campaign began broadcasting a radio ad.

The Associated Press reported that “the Clinton campaign in its radio ad lists Clinton’s signing of the Defense of Marriage Act as evidence that ‘President Clinton has fought for our values and America is better for it.”

In the 2015 case of Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote an absurd 5-4 Supreme Court opinion arguing that the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, had created a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

Fearing the Supreme Court might reverse this opinion and adopt the position that Clinton, Biden, and Schumer held in 1996, the House last week voted 267-157 to approve the so-called Respect for Marriage Act.

It essentially repeals the Defense of Marriage Act, removing “provisions that define, for purposes of federal law, marriage as between a man and a woman” and “provisions that do not require states to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.”

It has now been sent to the Senate, whose Democratic leader is Schumer—and, who like Clinton and Biden, once acted to defend traditional marriage.

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Republicans Might Skip Liberal Interviews? Good

It’s way too early to talk about the 2024 presidential campaign, but it cannot be staved off any more than you can stop Jim Acosta from yelling. Liberals are already alarmed about the press strategy of the Republican contenders.

New York Magazine posted David Freedlander’s article “Why Republicans Stopped Talking to the Press.” This headline is inaccurate, unless you think the liberal press is the only press. But it’s true that Republicans are wising up to the ardently editorializing, anti-“false balance” liberal press.

“I just don’t even see what the point is anymore,” said an adviser to one likely GOP aspirant, who requested anonymity to discuss strategy. “We know reporters always disagreed with the Republican Party, but it used to be you thought you could get a fair shake. Now every reporter, and every outlet, is just chasing resistance rage-clicks.”

Another consultant agreed, saying the rise of Twitter has given Republicans “a direct view into the id of every political reporter in America.”

Freedlander correctly deduces that sitting down with the “mainstream press” is now seen as “consorting with the enemy,” and their approval is the “political kiss of death.” See anchors like Jake Tapper asking Rep. Liz Cheney if she will run for president.

Some liberals are naturally bitter. “Fundamentally, they don’t want to have to defend Donald Trump and his falsehoods about the election,” said Jeremy Peters of The New York Times. That’s certainly true. A candidate could say they believe Joe Biden is the legitimate president, and yet the liberal press will inevitably want to make the entire race about Trump, election denialism, and Jan. 6. Who would find that gauntlet a productive avenue for victory?

A primary race should cause Trump-skeptical Republicans to be more aggressive in telling voters that Trump’s failure to concede defeat makes him unelectable, and dwelling in the past won’t lead to victory. But there are many important problems in the country that have been exacerbated under Biden, from inflation to immigration to crime.

Just try to imagine another John Harwood-style moderator handling a Republican debate. In 2015, all the Republicans turned on Harwood for his obvious bias. This is why the Republican National Committee rightly signaled it wouldn’t submit to another cycle of abuse from the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Instead, it’s a commonly held Republican belief that a hit piece from the liberal media is much better than a puff piece.

Take CBS “60 Minutes” correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi harassing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis about his COVID-19 response at a press conference as part of their hit piece. This is the same show in which Steve Kroft slobbered over Barack Obama so many times that they put together a slobbery DVD after their favored candidate won in 2008.

Last weekend, “mainstream” reporters complained about lack of access to the Sunshine Summit thrown by Florida Republicans.

“My message to them is to try crying about it. Then go to kickboxing and have a margarita,” DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw replied on Twitter, mock-quoting a comment previously made by then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “And write the same hit piece you were gonna write anyway.”

In a world full of right-leaning websites, podcasts, and talk shows, why should Republican candidates be interviewed by people who hate them, any more than Democrats submit to Fox or Newsmax or the New York Post?

Obviously, a Republican nominee who needs more than Republican votes can broaden the press strategy when the general election phase begins. But Democrats should be pressured to take on at least as many hostile interviewers or debate moderators in any presidential race as Republicans do.

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Conservative Leaders Urge GOP Senators to Reject House-Passed Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Conservative leaders are calling on senators to reject the House-passed Respect for Marriage Act, which aims to codify into federal law the Supreme Court’s 2015 legalization of same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. 

“The Act, which was suddenly rushed through the House without any public hearings or input, is an attack on millions of Americans, particularly people of faith, who believe marriage is between one man and one woman,” wrote more than 80 conservative leaders, along with the legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom, in a letter Tuesday to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The letter writers believe the bill would threaten the religious freedom rights of individuals and groups across the nation if it becomes law.

While the bill “does nothing to change the status of, or benefits afforded to, same-sex marriage in light of Obergefell, it does much to endanger people of faith,” they wrote.

The signers include Michael Farris, president and CEO of Alliance Defending Freedom; Kevin Roberts, president of The Heritage Foundation; Ryan T. Anderson, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center; Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council; Craig DeRoche, president and CEO of the Family Policy Alliance; and Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

The authors of the letter noted that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito correctly predicted the Obergefell ruling would “be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy,” as the justice wrote in his dissent to the 2015 case.

The Respect for Marriage Act, the conservative activists argued, could “require federal recognition of any definition of marriage without any parameters whatsoever.” They also fear that the bill, should it pass the Senate and be signed into law by the president, would encourage left-wing activist groups to sue individuals and organizations who do not conform to HR 8404’s definition of marriage.  

The Conservative Action Project, in a separate statement released Tuesday urging senators to oppose the Respect for Marriage Act, cited previous lawsuits.

It pointed to the case of Barronelle Stutzman, a florist who was sued by Washington state after she declined to create floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding. Alliance Defending Freedom petitioned the Supreme Court to take up her case in 2017. Four years later Stutzman settled her case and went into retirement after the high court declined her appeal on two occasions.

The authors of the Conservative Action Project statement also cited the cases of bakers Jack Phillips and Aaron and Melissa Klein, in Colorado and Oregon, respectively, who were sued for refusing to design cakes for same-sex weddings. 

The statement authors fear those cases are only the beginning, writing: “The Court’s decision in Obergefell unleashed religious freedom violations across the land, launching a new era of harassment and coercion of millions of Americans who hold a sincere religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is, or ought to be, between one man and one woman.”

The Conservative Action Project’s statement garnered signatures of more than 80 conservative leaders, many of whom also signed the Alliance Defending Freedom’s letter to McConnell. The signers include Edwin Meese III, Ronald Reagan distinguished fellow emeritus at The Heritage Foundation; the Family Research Council’s Perkins; and Terry Schilling, president of the American Principles Project. 

According to the statement, the Respect for Marriage Act would not only “increase the threat of legal liability for those who decline to affirm same-sex marriage, but it would help cement a ‘national public policy’ on same-sex marriage that would have drastic consequences.”

Commenting on the coalition letter to McConnell, Farris remarked:

Despite claims from its sponsors, the so-called ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ doesn’t simply codify the Obergefell decision. It forces the federal government to recognize without limit any marriage definitions that a state adopts.

It also empowers the government to punish millions of Americans who hold decent and honorable beliefs about marriage—beliefs that have existed since time immemorial—exposing citizens to predatory lawsuits and even endangering the nonprofit status of faith-based organizations.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.

The following is a full list of those who signed the Alliance Defending Freedom’s letter to McConnell: 

Michael P. Farris
president and CEO, Alliance Defending Freedom

Ryan T. Anderson
president, Ethics & Public Policy Center

Craig DeRoche
president and CEO, Family Policy Alliance

Franklin Graham
president and CEO, Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

John Stonestreet
president, Colson Center for Christian Worldview

Kelly Shackelford
president, CEO and chief counsel, First Liberty Institute

Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld
president, Coalition for Jewish Values

Kevin Roberts
president, The Heritage Foundation

Tony Perkins
president, Family Research Council

Jim Daly
president, Focus on the Family

Penny Nance
CEO and president, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee

R. Albert Mohler Jr.
president, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

David Nammo
executive director, Christian Legal Society

Mat Staver
founder and chairman, Liberty Counsel

Terry Schilling
president, American Principles Project

Jeff Myers
president, Summit Ministries

Thomas Farr
president, Religious Freedom Institute

Steven W. Fitschen
president, National Legal Foundation

John W. White III
president, Lifeshape Inc.

Katy Faust
founder and director, Them Before Us

Larry Taylor
president, Association of Christian Schools International

Mike Rouse
president, American Association of Christian Schools

Jim Minnery
president, Alaska Family Action

Jerry Cox
president, Arkansas Family Council

Brian Burch
president, CatholicVote

Shannon Royce
president, Christian Employers Alliance

Paul S. Teller
executive director, Advancing American Freedom

Ed Corrigan
president and CEO, Conservative Partnership Institute

Mike Sharrow
CEO, C12 Group

David S. Dockery
president, International Alliance for Christian Education

Philip E. Dearborn
president, Association for Biblical Higher Education

Cathi Herrod
president, Center for Arizona Policy

Jonathan Keller
president and CEO, California Family Council

Peter Wolfgang
executive director, Family Institute of Connecticut

Nicole Theis
president, Delaware Family Policy Council

John Stemberger
president, Florida Family Policy Council

Cole Muzio
president, Frontline Policy Action of Georgia

Eva Andrade
president and CEO, Hawaii Family Forum

Jim Hochberg
president, Hawaii Family Advocates

Bob Vander Plaats
president and CEO, the Family Leader

Blaine Conzatti
president, Idaho Family Policy Center

David E. Smith,
executive director, Illinois Family Institute

Ryan McCann
executive director, Indiana Family Institute

Jeff Bennett
executive director, Kansas Family Voice

David Walls
executive director, the Family Foundation

Gene Mills
president, Louisiana Family Forum

Andrew Beckwith
president and general counsel, Massachusetts Family Institute

Carroll Conley
executive director, Christian Civic League of Maine

Jeff Hewson
executive director, Michigan Family Forum

John Helmberger
chief executive officer, Minnesota Family Council

Jameson Taylor
president, Center for Political Renewal

Jannique Stewart
executive director, Missouri Family Foundation

Jeff Laszloffy
president, Montana Family Foundation

John L. Rustin
president, North Carolina Family Policy Council

Tami L. Fitzgerald
executive director, North Carolina Values Coalition

Karen Bowling
executive director, Nebraska Family Alliance

Karen England
president, Nevada Family Alliance Capitol Resource Institute

Shannon McGinley
executive director, Cornerstone Action of New Hampshire

Len Deo
founder, Family Policy Alliance of New Jersey

Jodi Hendricks
executive director, New Mexico Family Action Movement

Jason J. McGuire
executive director, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms

Aaron Baer
president, Center for Christian Virtue

Michael Geer
president, Pennsylvania Family Council

Dave Aucoin
executive director, Rhode Island Family Advocate

Dave Wilson
president and executive director, Palmetto Family Council

Norman Woods
executive director, Family Heritage Alliance

David Fowler
president, Family Action Council of Tennessee

Jonathan Saenz
president, Texas Values

Victoria Cobb
president, Family Foundation of Virginia

James A. Davids
chief counsel, Founding Freedoms Law Center

Caiden Cowger
president, Family Policy Council of West Virginia

Julaine K. Appling
president, Wisconsin Family Action

Nathan Winters
executive director, Family Policy Alliance of Wyoming

Robert M. Myers
president, Toccoa Falls College

Donald Sweeting
president, Colorado Christian University

Jeff Hunt
director, Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University

Kent J. Ingle
president, Southeastern University

Ben Merkle
president, New Saint Andrews College

Troy A. Shoemaker
president, Pensacola Christian College

Barbara C. McMillin
president, Blue Mountain College

Jason K. Allen
president, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Spurgeon College

Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver
president, Union University

Glenn C. Arbery
president, Wyoming Catholic College

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Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Byron Donalds Discuss School Choice

School choice is the most important domestic policy issue today, Sen. Ted Cruz argued in remarks Tuesday.

The Republican senator, who was joined by Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., and Kellyanne Conway, former senior counselor to President Donald Trump, noted that a poorly educated child is at a much higher risk of facing poverty, crime, and drug addiction later in life. These risks plummet when children are well-educated, Cruz explained. 

Throughout his nearly 10 years in the Senate, Cruz has focused on school choice. He amended the Senate’s 2017 tax reform bill by extending 529 college savings plans, which provide certain tax advantages for savings accounts used for education, to elementary and secondary school tuition. This amendment also applied to private and religious schools. 

His efforts to rally his colleagues in 2017 proved successful: all 50 Republican senators voted in favor of the amendment. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., initially favored it as well. But once he sat down, a “sea of Democrats descended upon him,” Cruz said. 

“Rather sheepishly,” Cruz explained, “Manchin changed his vote from a yes to a no.”  

The Senate was split 50-50. Late that night, Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie and the Student Opportunity Amendment passed and was later enacted.  

Cruz said this victory was “the single most far-reaching federal school choice act ever adopted in law.” 

Cruz, however, criticized Democrats for their positions on school choice. The Texas senator said that school choice has gained traction among parents in every state—especially among Hispanic and African American voters. Democrats’ opposition to school choice is “indefensible,” Cruz remarked.  

Cruz further criticized Democrats, saying they remained in the pocket of teachers unions. “They don’t give a damn that large numbers of blacks and Hispanics support school choice,” he added. 

In his remarks, Donalds related schools to other businesses. Like any other business, Donalds explained, schools want market share. But public schools face no external pressure to improve in quality and efficiency.  

“Compare this with telecommunication,” said Donalds. “Imagine if the government provided your phone. You’d still be using a Motorola StarTAC.”  

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GOP Lawmaker Who Won by Whisker Touts Election Integrity, Rips ‘Zuckerbucks’

A New York congresswoman who won election by a razor-thin margin recounted a major voting-related issue still causing her sleepless nights during a panel discussion on Tuesday.  

“The thing that keeps me up at night right now is this issue of vote-harvesting that happened under Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook billionaire, [who] spent $419 million on trying to go into the swing states to prime the pump, and a lot of this was legal,” Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., said at the America First Policy Institute summit in Washington, D.C.  

Tenney created the Election Integrity Caucus in the House after winning election in the 2020 cycle in a nail-biter by just 109 votes out of 312,987 ballots cast.

“[Zuckerberg] went in. They tried to get Democratic voters in key areas, places where they knew they could dredge up Democrat votes, and get them to vote,” she said. “The good news is, we cracked down on ‘Zuckerbucks.’”    

Following the 2020 election, several states, including Florida and Arizona passed election reforms in response to the influence of “Zuckerbucks.” 

Congressional Republicans also introduced the End Zuckerbucks Act in July 2021, which would “amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to prohibit 501(c)(3) organizations from providing direct funding to official election organizations.”  

“So, what this led to is, we’re making progress, and thanks to [the America First Policy Institute], [former Ohio Secretary of State] Ken Blackwell, and the gentlemen [West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry] sitting here, we were able to make some progress,” she said.  

Landry also spoke out against “Zuckerbucks,” contending that similar tactics are used in socialist or communist countries.   

“It’s important to understand exactly what the ‘Zuckbucks’ program did. What they did was, they used this money to basically engage in a ballot-harvesting operation through elected officials,” Louisiana’s top lawman said during the panel discussion. “Now, these are the kinds of tactics we see in socialist, communist, despotism countries.”  

“I mean, make no mistake about it. That is exactly what happens in oppressive countries. When you tie the election system and one party together, that means you only can get one result,” he said. “And that’s what the ‘Zuckbucks’ did.”   

Landry explained how it played out in his state back in September 2020 ahead of the November elections, prompting a lawsuit against the Center for Tech and Civic Life. The Zuckerberg-funded center received $350 million, which was a part of the $419 million total, from the Facebook founder and his wife, Priscilla Chan, during the 2020 election.   

“Our secretary of state alerted us to these grant applications that were going out in Louisiana, and when we took a look at it, we said, ‘You know what? This is problematic,’” he said, adding that the grant applications were primarily going to Democrat-heavy parishes, which is what counties are called in that state.   

“We drafted a lawsuit because we believed that the money was absolutely prohibited under Louisiana law, and we sued. We were the only state in the country at the time to sue,” he said, adding that he unsuccessfully tried to explain to other Republican attorneys general at that time what the situation was with ‘Zuckbucks.’

“We see today through the investigations that have been conducted how corrosive this money was,” Landry said.

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7 Takeaways From Trump’s ‘America First’ Policy Speech

Former President Donald Trump focused mostly on fighting a surge in crime and keeping Americans safe but veered into other topics Tuesday in remarks packed with policy proposals that topped 90 minutes.  

“We need an all-out effort to defeat violent crime in America and strongly defeat it, and be tough and be nasty and be mean if we have to,” Trump said in a late afternoon speech that saw him return to Washington for the first time since his last day as president.

The 45th president spoke at the America First Agenda Summit, a gathering at the Marriott Marquis hotel sponsored by America First Policy Institute, the think tank established by former Trump administration and campaign officials. The hotel is less than 4,000 feet from the White House.

Here are seven major takeaways from his speech, during which Trump characteristically departed often from his written remarks.

1. ‘Execute a Drug Dealer … Save 500 Lives’

Trump said major drug traffickers are responsible for about 500 deaths each and should be executed upon conviction for those lost lives. 

“If you look at countries throughout the world, the ones that don’t have a drug problem are those that institute a very quick trial and death-penalty sentence for drug dealers,” Trump told the crowd. 

“It doesn’t take 15 years in court. It goes quickly,” Trump said. “You execute a drug dealer and you save 500 lives because they kill on average 500 people.”

Trump cited Singapore and China as examples of countries with no drug problems where drug dealers are put to death. 

“It’s terrible to say, but you take a look at every country in this world that doesn’t have a problem with drugs, [and] they have a very strong death penalty for people who sell drugs,” Trump said.  

Predicting that the death sentence would be a deterrent to major drug dealers, Trump said: “If we had that, in one year deaths would go down 50%—5-0.”

2. Empower Federal Law Enforcement 

Referencing the sometimes deadly riots in summer 2020, Trump said governors and mayors did not enforce the law and tried to prevent the federal government from doing so. 

“If radical politicians at the state and local levels refuse to protect public safety and instead turn criminals on the loose to prey on the innocent, then the federal government will have no choice but to step in, not wait for the governors anymore,” Trump said.  

“I was mandated: ‘Wait for the governors.’ Sometimes I didn’t do that. I was watching too many things happen,” he said, recalling the riots following the murder of George Floyd, a black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer. “In Minneapolis, Minnesota, if we didn’t send in the National Guard, they wouldn’t have a city left.” 

Trump added:

With all of the problems we have, we are not going to wait any longer. We are going to pass legislation to go in and help those people under siege and have governors that don’t know what they are doing. Under these circumstances, the federal government has the right to do what they want to do. 

It is a duty for us to use every tool, every authority and constitutional power at our disposal to defend the citizens of our country if we have a weak, foolish, and stupid governor that is allowing the kinds of things you saw take place. We have to be able go in and clean [it] out quickly. 

3. ‘Most Persecuted Person’ in U.S. History

Trump said the ongoing investigation of the Capitol riot by a mostly Democrat House committee is an extension of previous attacks on him.

“A friend of mine said recently that I was the most persecuted person in the history of our country,” Trump said. “I said he may very well be right.” 

Trump talked about the lengthy Russia investigation, after which special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between the Russian government and Trump’s 2016 campaign. 

He also talked about his first impeachment by the House, the one over his phone call with Ukraine’s president. 

“Now we have the Jan. 6 ‘un-select’ committee of political hacks and thugs. These are the same people we’ve been dealing with for four years,” Trump said of his term in the White House. 

Trump ridiculed Rep. Adam Schiff, D Calif., who has been involved in every major House investigation of Trump and is on the nine-member select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, 2021.  

He also took a swipe at the only two Republicans on the select committee, Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who is vice chairman, and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, in dismissing the panel’s seven Democrats as his past political opponents.

“We have the same people [who have investigated before], other than Cheney, who is the worst, and crying Adam Kinzinger,” Trump said. 

Trump contrasted the lack of prosecutions after the summer 2020 riots organized largely by Black Lives Matter and Antifa activists, with the heavy-handed prosecutions of accused Jan. 6 rioters, including some people who were only on the Capitol grounds and didn’t enter the building. 

“It’s so unfair when you see what happened to BLM, when you see what happened to Antifa, when you see what happened [in] all of the killings that took place all over the country,” Trump said. “Then you see what they are doing to people that in some cases didn’t enter the building and are being tortured and handled so horribly.” 

“What a sad thing. Something has got to happen, because people are not going to take it much longer,” Trump added. “There’s two sets of justice.” 

He hinted about his future political plans amid widespread assumptions that he will run to regain the presidency in 2024. 

“Everything this corrupt establishment is doing to me is about preserving [their] power and control over the American people,” Trump said. “They really want to damage me so I can no longer go back to working for you. I don’t think that is going to happen.” 

4. ‘High-Quality Tents’ for Homeless

Trump focused at some length on the country’s growing homelessness problem, particularly in the nation’s capital. 

“No civilized society turns over its public spaces to be dominated by drug addicts and the homeless no matter what the reason may be,” Trump said. “If liberals think it’s somehow compassionate, let them invite the homeless to camp in their backyards, soil their property, attack their family, and use drugs where their children are trying to play.”

Saying it was different when he was president, he made some unexpected assertions.

“I fought very hard and very successfully stopping tents from being built [on] D.C. public property,” Trump said, adding:

Every time I [was driven] through the streets of our beautiful D.C. with beautiful monuments—everything is so beautiful—then I would see a cluster of tents. I would send people out immediately. Secret Service, by the way, did a phenomenal job. I would send people out immediately to get rid of those tents.

Trump outlined a large-scale proposal to address homelessness in major cities. 

“The only way you are going to remove the hundreds of thousands of people—and maybe throughout the nation millions of people—and make our cities clean, safe, and beautiful again is open up large parcels of inexpensive land in the outreaches of the cities,” Trump said, adding: 

Bring medical professionals, including doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, drug rehab specialists. Build permanent bathrooms and other facilities—make them good, make them hard, but build them fast. And create thousands and thousands of high-quality tents, which can be done in one day. 

You have to move people out. Some people say that’s so horrible. No. What’s horrible is what’s happening now, because now they are in tents that hardly function. … 

It will be the ambition of these people and all of us to get their life back on track, leave the tent city and be back into the mainstream of society, which is where they want to be. It’s a great thing. 

5. ‘Listen to Fauci … Did the Opposite’

Trump briefly talked about the COVID-19 pandemic that began to erode his presidency in 2020 and the disagreements he had with Dr. Anthony Fauci, longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 

“They said, ‘There is a terrible thing happening in China.  There are a lot of dead people laying all over the streets,’” Trump recalled of first hearing early that year about the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. 

He remembered moving relatively quickly to close off travel from China to the United States. 

“Shortly after that, I closed it up long before Nancy Pelosi wanted it, or any of these people, including Fauci,” Trump said. 

“I used to listen to Fauci and whatever he said, I did the opposite,” the former president quipped. “We closed it up and then we had to close [travel] to Europe or we would have had a much worse situation.” 

6. ‘Open Borders Are a Gaping Wound’

To secure the United States, Trump told his audience, the nation’s borders must be secured. He said President Joe Biden shut down the border security measures, including construction of a wall, that he had put in place. 

“Our open borders are a gaping wound allowing drugs, gangs, child traffickers, human smugglers, and tens of thousands of dangerous criminals to pour into our country. That’s every week when you hear tens of thousands [unlawfully crossing the border],” Trump said. 

Trump rejected the Biden administration’s repeated claims that the nation’s southern border is secure, saying:

We have no idea who is coming in, but we do know [other countries] are emptying their jails. Last week, we had 141 countries represented by people that came into our country illegally. We don’t know who they are or where they’re from. We know nothing about them. 

Many of these people that are coming in will cause trouble for this country, the likes of which you have no idea, [including] terrorists sending people into our country that will cause problems for us for decades.

7. ‘Fire Rogue Bureaucrats’

Trump urged Congress to pass historical civil service reforms to ensure that nonperforming federal bureaucrats may be fired in a relatively short amount of time rather its taking years and years. 

“To drain the swamp and root out deep state bureaucrats, we need to make it much easier to fire rogue bureaucrats who are deliberately undermining democracy, or at a minimum just want to keep their jobs, want to hold onto their jobs,” Trump said, adding:

Congress should pass historic reforms empowering the president … to ensure that any bureaucrat who is corrupt, incompetent, or unnecessary for the job—you ever heard this—‘You’re fired. Get out. You’re fired.’ You’ve got to do it. Washington would be an entirely different place.

Trump said the appeals process in any attempt to fire a federal employee who isn’t a political  appointee has three stages, and each stage takes about five years to complete. 

“To fire someone who is doing a bad job, if the government wins, will take 15 years under our current system,” he said.

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Gavin Newsom: OK for California, Too Wacky for America

Democrats coalesced behind the presidential nomination of Joe Biden after Bernie Sanders won the Nevada caucuses, briefly becoming the Democratic Party’s front-runner. Fearing Sanders could not beat President Donald Trump, Democrats quickly united behind the more electable Biden. But compared to “democratic socialist” Sanders, is California Gov. Gavin Newsom, on policy, really any different?

Newsom hates the oil and gas industry more than does Biden. Newsom ordered a ban on new gas-powered cars by 2035. He ordered a ban on new oil fracking by 2024. He banned the sale of gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers by 2024.

Newsom ordered a more draconian COVID-19 lockdown than did any other governor. He issued a dizzying number of directives, including ordering the closure of most school campuses; a mask mandate; the vaccination of all state employees or regular testing; the mailing of ballots to all registered voters; and in-school student mask and vaccine mandates for most grades, public and private, as well and school staff vaccine mandates.

As to shutdowns, in July 2020, USA Today wrote, “All [California] counties are required to close indoor operations of restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums, card rooms and all bars.”

Newsom ordered large toy stores to set up a separate section for “gender neutral” toys. The Democratic lawmaker who introduced the bill said:

Part of it is to make sure if you’re a young girl that you can find a police car, fire truck, a periodic table, or a dinosaur. And then similarly, if you’re a boy, if you’re more artistic and want to play with glitter, why not? Why should you feel the stigma of saying, ‘Oh, this should be shamed,’ and going to a different location?

Newsom signed a bill to restrict sentencing enhancements for certain crimes, including those committed by gang members. Gang members in California are disproportionately black and Hispanic, and to punish them severely would perpetuate “systemic racism.” Never mind the disproportionate number of victims of gang crimes who are black and Hispanic.

Newsom signed a bill to establish a first-in-the-nation task force to study and issue recommendations for reparations. The task force recently issued its first report and proposed the implementation of “a comprehensive reparations scheme.”

How out-of-step is Newsom on reparations? In December 2021, the liberal Brookings Institution wrote: “Recent polling data documents Americans’ general opposition to reparations in the form of financial payments to Black Americans as compensation for slavery.”

On abortion, The New York Times wrote: “In the past year, Mr. Newsom has ramped up funding for abortion providers; offered tax breaks for companies seeking to move from states where abortion may be outlawed; and signed bills to protect abortion patients from privacy intrusions, insurance co-pays and threats, pressure or other attempts at ‘reproductive coercion.’”

Newsom supports an amendment to the state’s constitution to ensure “personal reproductive liberty,” an amendment whose wording the California Catholic Conference found so “extreme” it could allow third trimester abortions.

After the reversal of Roe v. Wade, Newsom proposed making California a “sanctuary state” for those seeking abortions. In signing a bill to provide “abortion rights” to those coming to California for abortions, Newsom said: “We will not aid, we will not abet in their efforts to be punitive, to fine and create fear for those that seek that support. We are proud to provide it—and we do.”

Newsom supports California’s illegal immigration sanctuary state laws and signed legislation expanding access to state funding for health care to some illegal aliens, with a stated goal to provide state health care to all illegal aliens.

Newsom signed a bill mandating that publicly held corporations headquartered in California have a certain number of “underrepresented” board members defined as “an individual who self-identifies as black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Alaska Native, or who self-identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.” A judge ruled that the law violated the state constitution.

Any questions?

COPYRIGHT 2022 LAURENCE A. ELDER

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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YouTube to Remove Content Promoting ‘Unsafe Abortion Methods’ 

YouTube announced Thursday it would begin removing content containing abortion misinformation and “unsafe abortion methods.”  

The move came nearly a month after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision on June 24.  

“Starting today and ramping up over the next few weeks, we will remove content that provides instructions for unsafe abortion methods or promotes false claims about abortion safety under our medical misinformation policies,” the company tweeted.    

YouTube announced it will also be providing its users with information about abortion from local health officials and the World Health Organization. 

“We’re also launching an information panel that provides viewers with context and information from local and global health authorities under abortion-related videos and above relevant search results,” a follow-up tweet from YouTube said. 

“We believe it’s important to connect people to content from authoritative sources regarding health topics, and we continuously review our policies and products as real world events unfold,” Ivy Choi, a YouTube spokesperson, told The Daily Signal.  

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a pro-life group, expressed its support for one aspect of YouTube’s decision in a statement to Fox News Digital, but also cautioned that YouTube must not become an “arbiter of truth” on abortion. 

“Videos sharing instructions for dangerous self-managed abortions are deeply concerning and a threat to the health and safety of women as well as their developing child. We are glad YouTube has decided to review this type of content and hope they will take appropriate action,” the statement read. 

The statement added, “When it comes to public discourse on issues such as abortion that are far from settled in the minds and hearts of the American people, YouTube and other Silicon Valley giants must not position themselves as the arbiter of truth.” 

Kara Frederick, director of the Tech Policy Center at The Heritage Foundation, criticized Google, YouTube’s parent company, for censoring pro-life content while pushing a pro-abortion narrative. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.) 

“Google has already bent over backward to grant special status to its pro-abortion users by agreeing to delete location history for those visiting abortion clinics,” said Frederick, who previously worked for Facebook and has testified before Congress about holding Big Tech accountable for censorship and gaslighting the American people.  

“The new rules are: Discuss alternatives to abortion and you’re banned, but get an illegal abortion, and we’ll scrub the digital evidence,” Frederick told The Daily Signal.  

“Big Tech will continue to enforce its two-tiered justice system by offering special treatment to users with a leftist worldview,” she said. 

In May, following the leak of a draft opinion but before the official overturning of Roe v. Wade, a group of Democrat lawmakers along with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai calling on the company to stop collecting and retaining “unnecessary” location data on its users. 

“We write to urge you to stop unnecessarily collecting and retaining customer location data, to prevent that information from being used by right-wing prosecutors to identify people who have obtained abortions,” the letter read.  

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A Company Flees Illinois for Florida, Showing Red States’ Appeal

In late June, Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker traveled to New Hampshire to be the keynote speaker at New Hampshire’s Democratic Party state convention.

Officially, he was there to “help other Democratic governors get elected” and to lobby for Chicago as the site of the party’s 2024 presidential convention. Unofficially, there was buzz that Pritzker could be a Democratic presidential nominee himself—in 2028, or possibly sooner.

That same weekend, 47 people were shot in Chicago.

The Windy City’s weekend shootouts are so prevalent that they’ve become hardly worth mentioning, in particular by the governor. Chicago and Illinois have become synonymous with all the bad leftist policies that are failing in cities and states around the country. Chicago leads the nation in “mass” shooting events, yet the governor of Illinois is often found traipsing out of state.

After the mass shooting at the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Pritzker finally had something to say. He took to TV to say that he was “furious,” blamed the National Rifle Association, and pushed for a federal assault weapons ban. He has yet to achieve a similar ban in Illinois, though Democrats control the state government from top to bottom.

He also hasn’t shown the same fury regarding the deaths happening every weekend in Chicago—and Chicagoans have noticed. Radio host Kimberley Egonmwan of 1690 AM, a radio station that “chronicles the rich history of the Black experience,” asked, “Why is it not enough when it happens to us?”

As Pritzker stumped in New Hampshire and praised the state for cultivating the first potatoes during Colonial times, three kids under 18 were shot in Chicago in a span of five hours.

A few days after the governor’s New Hampshire speech, Ken Griffin, Chicago’s wealthiest resident, announced that he and his Citadel firm would be departing Illinois. Griffin would be taking his talents to Miami.

It’s a familiar story by now. Firms from San Francisco and New York have been steadily making the move south over the last two years. Blue states had imagined that they held businesses hostage, that these firms could simply not pick up and move. The pandemic proved them wrong.

A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted how red states have “won” the post-pandemic economy. “Remote work allowed many workers to move to red states, not because of political preferences, but for financial and lifestyle reasons—cheaper housing, better weather, less traffic and lower taxes, the analysts said.”

But those political preferences do matter. We don’t have the data to tell whether politics play a role in people making these moves, but it’s hard not to suspect that it figures into the equation.

Normalcy during COVID-19 was clearly a draw. Florida had famously reopened, under the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis, far earlier than any of the blue states. Much of life had returned to normal there, and companies followed their employees as they sought out that freedom.

With this migration has come a serious shift in the state’s politics. Previously a purple state, Florida has moved solidly into the red column. In March, Fox News reported, “Registered Republican voters now outnumber Democrats by over 100,000 for the first time in the state’s history.”

Crime as a factor is also under-examined. It’s not that there is no crime in Florida in general, or in Miami specifically. Of course there is. But there is a seriousness to Florida’s response that simply doesn’t exist in Illinois, New York, or California.

While Pritzker talks about fantasy proposals, which likely wouldn’t stop the Chicago bloodshed anyway, DeSantis is focusing on crime-fighting, hiring away out-of-state officers, and raising police pay across the board. His office touts how “Governor DeSantis signed HB 3, the strongest law enforcement recruitment and support initiative in the nation, into law.”

Recently, DeSantis said, “We’re going to do even more for law enforcement—making sure that we remain a law-and-order state—and [making sure] that people know that we’re going to put people behind bars who violate the law, not like these other states where they release all the criminals on the streets. You see how destructive that has been.”

Americans do see.

DeSantis, for all the 2024 speculation about his candidacy, is also not trotting around New Hampshire complimenting its root vegetables. He is laser-focused on making Florida better.

The big current concern in Florida is that the new arrivals will change the political landscape. Floridians are trying to preserve what they have gained over the last few years. They worry about tech bros from San Francisco “voting wrong” and disrupting their good thing.

But a firm like Citadel is a natural fit for a free-market state like Florida. The $51 billion hedge fund was founded in Chicago after Griffin got his start at a Chicago-based firm. The move to Florida, The Wall Street Journal observes, “could also be a blow to Chicago’s philanthropic scene. Mr. Griffin has given more than $600 million in gifts to educational, cultural, medical and civic organizations in the area.”

In his letter about the move, Griffin sounded wistful. “Chicago has been a remarkable home for Citadel. I still remember the incredible civic pride and engagement when I arrived more than thirty years ago—and the outreach by business and political leaders who wanted us to succeed and be a part of the fabric of Chicago’s community.”

Here was an organization committed to its home city, but it found that that city, and the state, didn’t care about its needs. Florida has been gaining, that’s clear. And the story of Florida’s growth is best understood side-by-side with the stories of what blue states are losing. Citadel didn’t just drift away. Illinois pushed Citadel out the door.

“It was becoming increasingly difficult to recruit top talent from across the world to Chicago given the rising and senseless violence in the city,” a source knowledgeable with the move told me. “Talent wants to live in cities where it feels safe.”

The response from Illinois leadership was largely a shoulder shrug. The Wall Street Journal quoted Emily Bittner, a spokeswoman for Pritzker, who said that “countless companies are choosing Illinois as their home.”

Are they, though? The press releases mostly show an exit.

Accompanying Citadel out of the state is Caterpillar Inc. (moving to Texas) and Boeing Co. (to Virginia). The growth of these states, too, comes at the expense of the blue states. A blue-state brain drain is happening, and states like Florida are first in line to pick up the migrators.

Pritzker has to know this. It’s no coincidence that he’s heading to the Leadership Blue Gala, an event held by Florida Democrats this weekend in Tampa.

As long as DeSantis remains governor of Florida, governors of failing blue states will have to worry about people fleeing for the sunny locale. Pritzker will go to Florida to try and stop that from happening. He’s also bought into the hype of himself as a possible replacement for an ailing President Joe Biden, and a visit to Florida could shore up his support in that regard.

Pritzker also has a home in Florida, which his family used to escape pandemic regulations in Illinois. In November 2020, while the governor discouraged Illinois citizens from traveling for Thanksgiving, his own family made a break for Florida. Pritzker was supposed to follow them down, but media outrage over numerous hypocritical Democratic politicians defying their own policies forced him to stay home.

Pritzker understands the appeal of the Sunshine State, and he knows what Illinois loses every time one of the state’s core businesses packs up and leaves. But to do something about it, he should first acknowledge some uncomfortable truths about his own leadership. If he doesn’t, perhaps the electorate of New Hampshire will do it for him.

Originally published in RealClearFlorida and distributed by RealClearWire.

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we will consider publishing your remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. 

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Freespoke Offers Users a Search-Engine Alternative to Google

Did you know that an estimated 90% of internet search queries are performed by Google?

That is an astonishing statistic when you think about one company’s market dominance and ability to shape public opinion through search results. It’s also highly problematic if you follow Google’s pattern of anti-conservative bias and manipulation of its search algorithm.

Todd Ricketts, co-owner of Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs, is challenging Google’s dominance by launching Freespoke, a search engine that promises unbiased and uncensored information for its users.

Ricketts joins this episode of “The Daily Signal Podcast.” Listen or read a transcript of the interview below.

Rob Bluey: Before we hear more about the features of Freespoke, I’d like to start by hearing what inspired you to create a competitor to Google. Certainly, no easy competitor in the marketplace. 

Todd Ricketts: I think that just in general I have a skeptical brain, and in the course of my career just always had this healthy skepticism of what anybody was doing or how they were presenting themselves versus what the reality was. And as I looked at Google results, I always felt like I was getting results that I didn’t expect, and I felt like they were a little bit left-leaning, that they were not showing everything that I was looking for, really, and trying to guide me down a path that was not the path I was looking for. 

The best example that I have: I was showing this idea to a prospective investor in Freespoke and I said, “One of the crazy things that I’ve found is that sometimes when you type ‘NRA’ in Google, the NRA itself is the sixth thing that comes up.”

And so we did that, and luckily for me, in that particular meeting, the NRA came down, it was really subdued, below the fold in newspaper talk, and really, it just highlighted the fact that Google is showing you things that are curated and manipulated in a way, specifically, from a news point of view, to lead you down a path or to lead your thinking in a particular way. And I just don’t really think that’s what search is all about.

I’ve always felt like search should be about presenting all the information and letting you make up your mind, and if I can tie that into our family business of Ameritrade that we sold to Schwab a couple of years ago—but really when Ameritrade came into business in 1975, it was deregulation of brokerage commissions.

And the idea was that before 1975, you had to pay high commissions to an expensive stock broker to have access to the stock market. And with the deregulation of commissions, that allowed people to trade stocks without the advice and without the high cost. And really what it did is it allowed people to take control of their own financial future.

So I think what we’re trying to do is kind of a similar vein. I want to give people back information. I want people to be able to read all the news and make up their own minds about what’s going on in the world. 

Bluey: Thank you for that. And in addition to being a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, you are currently serving as a member of the board of directors for Charles Schwab and previously were a member of the board at TD Ameritrade, a company that your father founded, as you said, in 1975. So you’ve obviously seen success in the business world.

And following up on that last answer, why do you think that there’s so much potential for Freespoke right now? And as you look at the potential audience and the users who would benefit from it, why are you bullish about its future? 

Ricketts: The American way is competition. Obviously, when it comes to baseball and it comes to business, I’m a competitor. You said it yourself, Google has 90% of the search queries on the internet. That’s too much for any one market player. There aren’t very many industries where you have one player that has such dominance.

And being around D.C. a little bit and hearing politicians speak, they talk about regulating these industries, but in my mind, I don’t want regulation. I just want competition. Give me a level playing field and let me go out there and put out a product that’s an alternative to Google and to the other search engines that are out there.

And the fact that there are a couple other search engines popping up right now, too, just highlights the fact that there’s a need out there in the market for an alternative to search. 

Bluey: You previously served as the CEO of Ending Spending, which focused on fiscal issues, and were national finance chairman for the Republican National Committee. So as somebody who’s worked in both conservative politics and Republican politics, I’m sure you’ve seen the anti-conservative bias firsthand. What are some of the notable things that Big Tech has done that really sparked your interest to focus on an alternative to Google? 

Ricketts: There’s a few good topics. The one that jumps out at me that is most recent is how Google was sending RNC emails into people’s spam folder.

Now, I think it’s fairly common that you get a bit of spam into your spam folder, but in 2020, Google, if you had a Gmail account, 80% of emails sent from the Republican National Committee to Gmail accounts were put into spam, compared to less than 10% of emails from the Democrat National Committee.

That’s a big deal, first of all, because these email campaigns are expensive and lots of people have Gmail. But it’s just an insight into how Google thinks about conservative views and conservative values. 

You don’t have to look too far, that during COVID how there was so much suppressed information on people who just questioned what the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] was saying and questioned, were lockdowns and masks and all these things we did, were they the right thing? And so if you said that, you were immediately taken off of YouTube or taken down from a Google search.

So there’s lots of examples of where Big Tech is trying to guide the thinking of the American people, which I just don’t think is right, and I don’t think it’s healthy. I think it’s dangerous.

Bluey: I want to come back to that in just a moment. By the way, that study that you referenced came from the Department of Computer Science at North Carolina State University, so was not a partisan study in any means.

And as somebody who has worked for a number of years to overcome the algorithmic bias of the social media companies, and we made a pivot several years ago at The Daily Signal to invest in emails, so we certainly appreciate what you’re talking about there, because it is the primary means in which Daily Signal users and our audience receives its information. So we know that when it is filtered into different inboxes or spam, it can have a big impact on the number of people who are seeing our content. 

Ricketts: Yeah, exactly. 

Bluey: I want to ask you now about some of the features and characteristics that users can expect from Freespoke. You’ve talked about the principles behind the search engine. When they go to use the search engine themselves, what are some of the things that they’ll find there? 

Ricketts: Specifically on news and current events, we identify the sources as either being left or right or middle of the road. And really, it’s not a panacea. It doesn’t solve everything. But what it does is it gives you some quick context of where the person who wrote that story is coming from, and so you can adjust in your own mind, “Do I have to add a green assault to what I’m reading, because I know this person is coming at it from either a left or a right bias?”

And so, really, we’re just trying to help people sort through. Again, it comes back to putting information in front of people and helping them come to their own conclusions, and it’s really something that just seems to be outside of what the Big Tech world is thinking right now, where they want to guide your thinking.

The other part of it is that we’re trying to search all sorts of content. Our crawler is looking for new content all the time, and we’re expanding that crawl all the time, trying to find new sources of relevant information and highlighting those things. And really, if you go look for news on Google, you’ll find The New York Times pays for that first slot all the time. And so we avoid having that by not having people pay for that slot, and we’re trying to put content up as it is relevant, not as it’s paid for. 

Bluey: Again, I feel like we have a lot of synergy here, as somebody who believes that it’s important to label news and commentary, and we do that on The Daily Signal. I like the fact that you are taking that step and providing users with that additional information.

I imagine, though, so many people that work at left-leaning news outlets tried to hide under the banner of mainstream media. What might they say if they object to the classification that you’ve given them? Have you been in a situation where a news outlet has complained? And if they do complain, what’s your response going to be? 

Ricketts: We have had a couple outlets say that they want to be labeled as middle, so it is interesting you ask that. We’re going to continue to do it our way. We look at several sources. There’s Ad Fontes—an organization that identifies content as left, right, center sort of thinking—and we look at a few others, and we look at it ourselves, too, and identifying language that is either left or right. But we’re going to continue to label things to the best of our ability and as clearly as possible. 

Bluey: Big Tech platforms are promising to combat misinformation almost on a daily basis, be it for climate change or COVID. You’ve talked about this now a couple of times. Why is it important to provide people with the facts and let them think for themselves? 

Ricketts: It goes back to that old saying: One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. And so when you get into this world of what you consider misinformation, it’s a little scary to think that there’s some 25-year-old kid in Silicon Valley that gets to decide that.

I think that people are smart enough to know for themselves what’s good information and what’s bad information, and I don’t think we need to have this thought police that go around telling you that you have to have these thoughts on climate change. What is the consensus on climate change? And I often say, “I’m not a denier, but I like to have an honest conversation.” 

And so any sort of platform that says they’re going to suppress information of people that question the consensus on climate change, that is frightening to me. I think that, at one time, Galileo said the Earth was round and was put in jail because he wasn’t part of the accepted thinking of the Flat Earth Society at the time.

We don’t ever want to be put in one of those positions where we have a society where people who question the morays of the day get canceled. It’s the most horrifying thing.

We’re seeing it everywhere, too, especially in Hollywood. You see people get canceled and labeled as whatever for comments that are just honest comments. And one of the things we want to do is make sure that we don’t cancel people and let people have that platform to speak. 

Bluey: It’s so true. And I think one of the other aspects that you’ve seen social media companies employ, and even some legacy media outlets, is the use of fact-checkers. And those fact-checkers obviously come in with an agenda. And those social media companies will work in tandem with them, and in many cases, try to suppress content that comes from outlets like ours at The Daily Signal or others. So there are a number of challenges and ways that they’re trying to combat “misinformation,” in their words, that ultimately just try to advance a certain agenda that they’re trying to push. 

Ricketts: No, that’s 100%. And that exactly highlights the need for platforms like Freespoke, and there’s going to be others that we need. I don’t know if we’re going to expand beyond search in the future, but if you look at places like Twitter or like Instagram and these other platforms, there’s a real problem out there. As Americans, we need to have all the information and not just one view. 

Bluey: I’m curious on that point, because there has been so much focus in the conservative space, whether it be Truth Social or whether it be other platforms that have emerged recently. What inspired you to focus on search as opposed to some of the other aspects of Big Tech, like a social media platform? Was there a particular thing that you felt that there was maybe an opportunity here that didn’t exist elsewhere? 

Ricketts: I guess there was kind of two parts to it. The first thing, which was completely wrong in my thinking, I’m like, “Well, how hard can it be to build a search engine?” I say that a little tongue in cheek, because it’s incredibly difficult to build any sort of crawling technology that tags things in a way that makes sense. So that was really hard.

But really, the real reason that I thought search was a great place to start is that, going back to Google has such a massive market share that you don’t have to get 50% of the market to have a viable business. If you think that Google has a billion regular users, and you just think to yourself, “Well, if I get 10 million, if I could just get 1% of that market, I have a viable business, or even a 10th of a percent.” So it’s just such a massive market. I felt like that’s where the opportunity presented itself to have a business that’s viable, even if you’re not a market leader. 

Bluey: That is certainly true, and you’ve already seen, I think, in the success that you’ve had in building a community, you call them Freefolk. Tell us about who the Freefolk are and what they’ve been doing to perfect the platform and provide that feedback that has been beneficial in terms of creating a new business. 

Ricketts: The Freefolk is just kind of a fun name that we use for the people who use our search engine. But really, Freespoke is for everybody.

I’m a Republican, but I don’t come to this business thinking, like, “Oh, this is a search engine for Republicans.” This should be everyone who wants to find the truth or educate themselves. It just so happens that those people today tend to be more conservative and more Republican. A lot of people on the left seem to be OK with where the way Google results and other platforms present information.

We’re intended for everybody, and so everybody should be a Freefolk. And I think that if you’re an intellectual person in this country, you should be thinking, “This is a product that I need.” 

Bluey: One of the other things that we haven’t talked about yet, but I think is another important feature, is the fact that you do not track or sell your users’ information. Why was it important for you to build that into the search engine? 

Ricketts: It’s been talked about, but we haven’t seen it in the mass market, but I think as time goes on, people are going to become more and more concerned about their privacy of their personal information that’s out there on the internet.

And even Eric Schmidt from Google, you called it the creepy line. Google tries to walk right up to the creepy line without being creepy, but I think the fact that he even ever said that is creepy.

And so really protecting your privacy on the internet is going to be really important, I think, more and more so as we go forward, as more and more of your information is out there. And people just need to be able to make decisions as to what the world can see about them. 

When you’re on the internet, I think people should always have this in the back of their head, is that if you are not paying for something, you are the product. Your information is being sold to advertisers by that website or that search engine. And so if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product. And so if people can have that mindset when they get on the internet, I think it would go a long ways in protecting their own privacy.

Bluey: I think, particularly as this younger generation emerges and so much of their life, pretty much their entire life, is now online from the time that they were born, I agree with you. That is going to be a bigger issue and it’s a concern that I think all of us have as we see how these companies can sometimes manipulate data and know things about us that we never expected would end up where they are.

Todd, I want to shift for just a moment. Talk about some of your own personal experiences and what led you to this point. You’ve had a tremendously successful life, and as we talked about earlier with Ameritrade and some of the values that your father and your family brought to that company—your brother, obviously, being the governor of Nebraska—why are you a conservative? How did you get to that point in your life? And share with our listeners a little bit more about your own personal story. 

Ricketts: I grew up in Nebraska. It was two great parents that taught us different things. My mom loved sports and always taught us to be competitors. I always say that she taught us to be competitors on the field and kind and compassionate off the field.

And my dad was really just about risk-taking and entrepreneurship. He always felt like you really should always be making mistakes and always failing at something. And if you’re not, you’re not trying enough new things.

And so he started several businesses before Ameritrade became successful, and continues to do that. He’s a little bit of a serial entrepreneur. And I think that sort of bug, or that gene, is in our family. My siblings and I, we’re always trying to push the envelope and test the common thinking and see where there’s markets that have opportunities. 

Bluey: And you’ve obviously had great success with your Major League Baseball team, the Chicago Cubs. As a lifelong baseball fan myself, albeit for the Pittsburgh Pirates, your division rival, I want to spend just a moment here, in closing, to have you tell the story about how you help transform the Cubs, obviously a franchise that had struggled, that hadn’t been to the World Series, and then that moment when you won the World Series championship.

What was it like? You were there. You experienced it firsthand yourself. But it took five years, as I understand it, to really get to that point where you were able to transform an organization that had struggled into a World Series champion. 

Ricketts: There’s a couple facets to it that are pretty interesting. When we bought the team, we had a pretty clear view of what Tribune ownership had been of the Cubs. And so if you keep in mind that they were owned by the Chicago Tribune, which also owned WGN, which was the TV network that they were on, they came at the asset of the Chicago Cubs, looking at it like, “This is great TV content.”

So they were able to broadcast Cubs games and make a lot of money at their television station, and they weren’t so concerned about how the team did on the field as long as they had all that content to put on TV. I think that is the No. 1 reason why the team suffered so much in the ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s.

And so we looked at that and we said, “Look, this is a team that should be winning all the time. This is a team that has great fans in a big city with a great ballpark. And if you just ran it like a business that was trying to win, you would most certainly win.” 

And it took us six years to win the World Series, but I’d say it took us about a year to put our strategic plan in place, which we called the five-year plan. So it took us five years from the time we were able to get our strategy in place.

Really, it was just taking the whole business down to the studs, if you think about it, and renovating a house. We revamped ticketing. We revamped our whole advertising campaign. We revamped everything in baseball. We built new facilities down in the Dominican Republic. We built a new spring training facility in Arizona. We invested heavily in Wrigley Field itself to bring it up to the 20th century as far as a place that people could come and watch a game the way people do today and instead of a 100-year-old building. 

And I think all those things, that seriousness on every level and thoughtfulness at every level, went through the entire organization to a point where people held themselves to a higher standard, and still do hold themselves to a higher standard, in whatever job they have at the Cubs.

With that culminating in a 2016 World Series win, it was such a great feeling to be able to give that gift back to the city of Chicago, having lived in Chicago for 30 years and being a big fan myself, to give that gift to all these fans that had been waiting so long to have that celebration and that sort of success, it was really great. 

Bluey: We hope as conservatives that you have that same success with Freespoke because it’s so difficult, as we know, the competitive environment in Major League Baseball, and the challenge that you’re up against here with Google is a massive one, but it is so needed to have an alternative.

And I think that there are many Daily Signal listeners, people who tune into this podcast or read our site, who are looking for something other than the dominant player in that market.

Before we wrap here, how can people get more information about Freespoke? I understand, obviously, it’s on the web, but you have an app as well. 

Ricketts: One hundred percent. Yeah. We have Freespoke.com, is our online search engine. And then you can go to either the Droid or the Apple Store and download the Freespoke app, so you can use it on your mobile device and just have it there at the ready all the time. And I’ve been showing people how you can move Safari out of your quick access bar down at the bottom of your phone and put Freespoke into it to use it as your default search engine. 

Bluey: That’s a great idea. So often the challenge is that the preloaded settings obviously favor the big competitors, so we should encourage our Daily Signal listeners to do that as well. Todd, thanks so much for being a guest on “The Daily Signal Podcast” today. We appreciate it. 

Ricketts: My pleasure. I would finish by saying freedom and competition are what made our country great, and so we should never let anybody have a 90% market share of anything without a challenge at least.

Bluey: That was Todd Ricketts, co-owner of Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs and the founder of a new search engine called Freespoke. Visit it at Freespoke.com or download the app. 

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How Did Democrats Become So Out of Touch With the American People?

The president of the United States, equal parts senescent and feckless, garners record-shattering low approval ratings seemingly each week. This week, a new Quinnipiac University survey found that a paltry 31% of Americans approve of the way Joe Biden is handling his job. Among political independents, that number is, somehow, considerably lower: 23% approval, compared with 67% disapproval.

Overall, nearly three-quarters of Americans hope that Biden does not seek a second term in office.

It is not difficult to figure out why. The republic is not in good shape. Unforced foreign policy blunders, such as the botched Afghanistan withdrawal, embarrass America on the world stage. Our homeland territorial integrity has never been more undermined, as a wide-open southern border permits an unprecedented flow of smugglers, traffickers and other miscreants.

Homicide and other violent crime, which skyrocketed in the 2020 “summer of love” riots, continue to spike; the New York City subway is unsafe, and Chicago is a veritable war zone. Mobocracy runs amok; a sitting Supreme Court justice just faced a near-assassination attempt. Inflation, now over 9% and smacking those lower on the economic ladder, is at a four-decade high; the national average for gasoline is well over $4 per gallon.

Yet, amidst these remarkable challenges confronting the American people, the Biden administration and Democratic Party elites would rather focus on the overarching imperatives of climate change hysteria, abortion up until birth and a faraway war in Eastern Europe that has become utterly disconnected from the American national interest.

This raises the obvious, but nonetheless crucial, question: How, exactly, did modern Democrats become this out of touch with the American people?

Energy policy is perhaps the best example. Most lower- and middle-income Americans drive cars or trucks as part of their daily commutes; they cannot resort to urban rail, let alone the “work from home” that has become a post-COVID-19 hallmark of the professional-managerial laptop class. Bank account-busting gasoline prices directly cut into stagnant wages, affecting blue-collar families’ very ability to put food on the table.

But Biden, as recently as this month, still continues to deny new drilling permits in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. He failed on his recent Middle East trip to secure a durable commitment from Saudi Arabia, or OPEC more generally, to boost production.

Worse, he openly flirts with declaring a “national emergency” on climate change, the ultimate upper-income “limousine liberal” hobbyhorse, notwithstanding the fact the U.S. only contributes about 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions and the obvious reality that draconian unilateral reductions to fossil fuel extraction and usage would destroy already-battered consumers.

In a bit of loose-lipped candor, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, testifying this week before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, let slip his belief that “the more pain” Americans feel at the pump, “the more benefit” there is for electric vehicle owners.

Such astounding disdain and haughtiness from a Cabinet official, if it were to come under a Republican administration, would make headline-grabbing fodder for weeks. It would dominate the late-night shows, as Jimmy Kimmel poked fun at those nasty, “Gordon Gekko”-esque robber baron Republicans.

Democrats fail to appreciate that America is truly blessed to sit atop such an abundant wellspring of hydrocarbons. To not only ignore and fail to take advantage of that blessing, but to actively thwart it and instead celebrate “pain” by focusing on the alleged virtue of electric vehicle ownership, is downright evil. (Incidentally, the average electric car costs 82% of the median American household income.)

But energy policy, though a particularly acute example, is in this respect hardly unique. Current Democratic priorities have never been so far removed from the sensibilities of the median American citizen.

As the contentious issue of abortion returns to the states following the landmark Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, congressional Democrats rush to statutorily codify national abortion access right up until birth. George Soros-funded “progressive prosecutors,” such as George Gascon in Los Angeles and Alvin Bragg in Manhattan, continue to fan the flames of unrest and anarchy, undeterred by last month’s stunning recall of like-minded San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. The fight for Ukraine, a deeply corrupt country whose security establishment just endured Stalin-esque “treason purges,” is held up as the defining struggle for Western liberal democracy. Rewriting Title IX to encompass transgenderism—by executive fiat, no less—may imperil women’s locker rooms and destroy women’s sports, but is foisted upon us by the neoliberal establishment as “progress,” tout court.

The priorities of the modern Democratic Party are comically out of touch with those of the American people, who simply want safe communities, stable prices, secure borders and to be left alone by the COVID-era biomedical security state. Democrats don’t talk about any of that, at best—and they outright impede those prerogatives, at worst.

The transformation of the Democratic Party from a one-time working man’s labor party into today’s identity politics-driven woke monstrosity did not transpire overnight, but that transformation is now complete. And the result is unseemly.

The dog that is the Democratic Party is manipulated by a multifaceted tail that is a grotesque fusion of criminal adulation, Gaia worship, Malthusian radicalism, eugenicist lust and a gender ideology downstream of the worst excesses of American academia. Maybe that will play well for certain Upper West Side and West Hollywood voting precincts this November, but it won’t play very well in real America.

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Republicans Used to Defend Traditional Marriage. What’s Changed?

When the Supreme Court delivered its blow to marriage in 2015, burning down three dozen state laws and tearing up 50 million ballots, the GOP’s reaction was straightforward. Outrage. With a handful of exceptions, the response that echoed across the two coasts was a collective “How dare they?

As far as Republicans were concerned, what the five justices did on that June day was a betrayal of the people, our system of government, and the pillar that’s upheld society since the beginning of time. “It’s an injustice,” they railed.

Now, seven years later, they finally have a chance to prove it. The question is: will they?

Keep in mind that when the Supreme Court redefined marriage for America in 2015, we became only the 23rd country out of 195 to do so, and only one of seven to have it imposed on us by a court. Still today, there are only 33 countries that have gone down this path of redefining marriage. 

But as time has gone on, Republicans seem to have gotten increasingly comfortable letting the court decide an issue they argued was rightly theirs. That shock was driven home Tuesday when 47 House members walked away from the party’s principles and platform to cast a vote for same-sex marriage. The list included a surprising number of our movement’s friends, men and women we never mistook as anything but conservative.

Now, Senate Majority Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., smelling blood in the water, is eager to drive an even deeper wedge—insisting he’ll move forward with his own vote if he can find 10 Republicans foolish enough to endorse it.

Twenty-four hours later, at least four Republicans have taken the bait, walking into a political trap that could very well eat into the margins the GOP needs in November. To no one’s surprise, liberal Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) are on board, as well as outgoing Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio). But the real bombshells started dropping Wednesday, when more conservatives seemed to be testing the waters on a radical issue that seven years ago they vehemently opposed. Names like Roy Blunt (Mo.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), and Thom Tillis (N.C.) started popping up in news stories as possible “yes”es. 

Just as astounding, only nine Republicans have jumped to marriage’s defense: Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., James Lankford, R-Okla., who spoke to Punchbowl News, Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

A whopping 37, many of them pro-family stalwarts, are either “undecided” or unresponsive, CNN reports. It’s an eerie silence from dozens of Republicans, who—just seven years ago—left zero doubt about where they stood.

Then-Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.:“Today’s Supreme Court decision is a disappointment. I have always supported traditional marriage. Despite this decision, no one can overrule the truth about what marriage actually is—a sacred institution between a man and a woman. I have always believed marriage is between one man and one woman and I will continue to work to ensure our religious beliefs are protected and people of faith are not punished for their beliefs.”

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.: “I’m disappointed in this decision. My view is that family issues in Missouri like marriage, divorce, and adoption should be decided by the people of Missouri.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.: “West Virginia’s greatest strength is our people. Regardless of our differences, we care for our neighbors, friends, and communities in need. Acknowledging that we have differing views, the Supreme Court has made its decision. While I would have preferred that the Supreme Court leave this decision to the states, it is my hope that all West Virginians will move forward and continue to care for and respect one another.”

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont.: “The Court is overriding the will of the people of Montana and numerous other states that have defined marriage as between one man and one woman. I believe marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa: “I am disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision and its failure to recognize the freedom of our states to make their own decisions about their respective marriage laws. While it is my personal belief that marriage is between one man and one woman, I maintain that this is an issue best handled at the state level.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa: “Traditional marriage has been a pillar of our society for thousands of years—one that has remained constant across cultures, even with the rise and fall of nations. I believe marriage is between one man and one woman. Marriage is a sacred institution. Its definition should not be subject to the whims of the Supreme Court where five justices appointed to interpret the Constitution instead imposed social and political values inconsistent with the text of the Constitution and the framers’ intent. Today’s decision robs the right of citizens to define marriage through the democratic process.”

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah: “Today, five justices took a vital question about the future of American society out of the public square, imposing the views of five unelected judges on a country that is still in the midst of making up its mind about marriage. That is unfortunate, but it is not the end of the discussion, as Americans of good faith who believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman will continue to live as witnesses to that truth.”

Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.: “I disagree with the court’s ruling. Regardless of one’s personal view on this issue, the American people, through the democratic process, should be able to determine the meaning of this bedrock institution in our society.”

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.: “I believe in old-fashioned, traditional marriage. But I don’t really think the government needs to be too involved with this.”

Former Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, R-Utah: “I believe that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman, and that’s because I believe the ideal setting for raising a child is where there’s a mother and a father in the home. Other people have differing views and I respect that, whether that’s in my party or in the Democratic Party. But these are very personal matters. My hope is that when we discuss things of this nature, we show respect for people who have differing views.”

Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.: “Today’s ruling is a blow to state’s rights. I believe states have a constitutional role in setting their own policy on marriage. Marriage is between a man and a woman, and traditional families play an important role in the fabric of our society.”

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb.: “Today’s ruling is a disappointment to Nebraskans who understand that marriage brings a wife and husband together so their children can have a mom and dad. The Supreme Court once again overstepped its constitutional role by acting as a super-legislature and imposing its own definition of marriage on the American people rather than allowing voters to decide in the states. As a society, we need to celebrate marriage as the best way to provide stability and opportunity for kids. As President Obama has said, there are good people on both sides of the issue. I hope we all can agree that our neighbors deserve the freedom to live out their religious convictions.”

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.: “I continue to believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. The Supreme Court’s overreach into decisions that should be made by states and the people living and voting in them is disappointing. Moving forward, we must ensure families and religious institutions across America are not punished for exercising their right to their own personal beliefs regarding the traditional definition of marriage.”

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.: “The court has issued its opinion, but on this particular issue, I do not agree with its conclusion. I support traditional marriage.”

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.: “Today, the Supreme Court has ruled that all states must recognize same-sex marriage. Understandably, many people will celebrate this decision. While I disagree with it, I acknowledge the Supreme Court’s ruling as the law of the land.”

What’s changed? Certainly not the significance of marriage—or the Constitution. Not the party’s platform or the role of states’ rights. If anything’s changed, it’s the ferocious war being waged against our children’s innocence, religious freedom, parents, and human biology.

What’s changed is that we have a Republican Party willing to go to the mat for sports but seemingly unwilling to stand up for an institution whose redefinition has ignited a firestorm of persecution in America—the same redefinition that’s at the bitter root so many evils we’re fighting today in school classrooms, public libraries, our daughters’ locker rooms. 

Seven years from now, will we be saying that those issues don’t matter? That the world has “moved on?” That we know someone who’s transgender, and the only way we can love them is to hand society over to their delusions? 

If Republicans want to stick their finger in the cultural winds to decide where they stand on timeless truths, then they are throwing away everything the American people have come to respect about today’s party—their courage, their common sense, their conviction.

Maybe these senators think that linking arms with the left makes them seem more compassionate or contemporary. But real leaders don’t vote out of fear or political calculus. They don’t take their cues from the courts or public opinion.

They do what’s right, no matter what it costs them. That’s what voters respect. And that’s what voters, who have stood by this party’s values, deserve.

Originally published by The Washington Stand.

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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The Media Has Tried and Failed to Sell the Left’s Crazy Agenda

Every reasonably honest observer knows the corporate media has a liberal bias. That bias is displayed more often in the topics they choose to emphasize than in outright misinformation. We all know the major narratives that the media is trying to drive home.

There is none bigger than the idea that Republicans have become extreme, out of the mainstream and even dangerous. There is certainly some craziness on the American right, but it’s misinformation of the highest order to pretend the eccentricities of the right even approach the outright radicalism the left is mainstreaming today. That’s the big lie the media is trying to pull off. It’s not working.

For the first time ever, many in the press openly advocate against balance, fairness and objectivity. Nobody benefits more from this dynamic than President Joe Biden. Yet even with a press corps desperate to prop him up, Biden is plumbing historic depths in unpopularity. It’s hard to say he hasn’t earned it. The list of failures is almost too long for a single column. And the failures are largely self-created by an adherence to a fringe ideology at odds with decades and even centuries of mainstream American political thought.

Biden voluntarily opened the southern border to such an extent that the U.S. now has virtually no control over the flow of immigrants, weapons and illegal drugs. The U.S. government has no idea just how many people are crossing, but it’s in the millions per year.

Dangerous drugs like fentanyl are coming across at previously unthinkable levels. Fentanyl overdoses have skyrocketed as a result. America has had a long history of debating immigration, but truly wide-open borders are simply unprecedented. Like all the left’s radical goals, this one is not sitting well with the American people.

On crime, Biden failed to stand up to the crazies in his own party when they implemented bizarre ideas like defunding the police, getting rid of cash bail and not prosecuting criminals. Crime is now booming in many cities. It’s gotten so bad that even voters in liberal cities like San Francisco are starting to throw extremist left-wing prosecutors out of office. Voters, especially minority voters, are switching parties over this issue.

There were many Americans in both parties who had grown disillusioned by the multi decade war in Afghanistan. But Biden let down every American by handing withdrawal security to the Taliban. In the end, it cost billions in lost weapons and, more importantly, the tragic loss of many brave American troops who had every reason to expect more from their commander in chief. This one was so bad that even the assist from the press corps was tepid as a result. It was flat-out indefensible.

On energy, Biden helped choke off the American energy industry to the detriment of the thousands of working-class Americans in the energy business. In the process, he ruined the family finances for anyone who drives a car or pays a heating bill.

The end result was to empower Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and others to use energy production to harm America’s national security. There is no better example of putting ideology over the interests of everyday Americans.

Perhaps most tragically, Biden pursued an economic agenda that drove up inflation to the unsustainable point it’s at today. His so-called American Rescue Plan dumped billions of new dollars into an already overheating American economy. It helped drive up inflation to record levels.

Somehow, in the face of this tragic error, the president’s response has been to call for even more government spending. Of all the ideologically driven absurdity of the past two years, this may be the most difficult to square with reality.

Rather than hold Biden to account, the press has worked hard to normalize the craziness. It’s an impossible task. These policies are so inept and often so radical that they cannot be effectively marketed to practical American people, even with every major newspaper on board.

Nowhere has the press campaign been more blatant than the coverage of West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. For nearly two years now, Manchin has been holding out against the excesses of his own party. During this period, newspapers have run thousands of articles spurred on by leaks from the Biden White House or left-wing senators celebrating how close a deal was with Manchin for a massive new expansion in government spending or trashing Manchin for subsequently reneging on these purported agreements.

Manchin has consistently denied—on the record—that he was close to a deal, yet the coverage has continued and even intensified over time. Manchin has consistently pointed out the insanity of massive new rounds of government spending at a time of booming deficits and runaway inflation. It’s hard for any sane person to argue with this.

Biden entered office with little mandate. Democrats did not even win a Senate majority. Most Americans—especially those in West Virginia—did not vote to fundamentally reshape the American economy, to rapidly expand the federal government or to completely neuter the American fossil fuel industry.

The press coverage has consistently ignored this. Instead we heard vaunted comparisons of Biden to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and because Manchin stands in the way of the left’s delusions, he’s been attacked repeatedly as an obstructionist.

Luckily, the American public has rejected the press narrative. People can smell crazy. A lot of the policies are too crazy for any amount of media spin to fix. The result is a president in a total freefall.

Somehow, after the closest of elections, with no real mandate to speak of, an aging president and his young staff convinced themselves that Biden was destined to be a truly historic figure ushering in a period of historic left-wing change. Even with a huge assist from the corporate media to sell this narrative, Biden is destined to go down as one of America’s saddest presidents.

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The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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Biden and the Left Exploit Child’s Tragedy, Ignore Illegal Alien Who Raped Her

While the story of the 10-year-old Ohio girl who made national headlines for traveling to Indiana for an abortion after being raped remains in the headlines, the media would rather largely ignore the rest of the story—that the illegal alien suspect in her rape, Gerson Fuentes, has been arrested and charged.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has now placed a detainer on Fuentes as information continues to filter in about how he managed to evade immigration enforcement while working at a cafe and living illegally in Columbus’ Northwest side.

After police had the child identify the suspect in a lineup, Fuentes admitted to raping the young girl multiple times. They obtained a DNA sample from his mouth for testing, and his bond was set at $2 million, as he poses a major flight risk. Currently, he remains at the Franklin County Jail under surveillance.

As sexual abuse coverups are dangerously common, there are concerns surrounding the doctor who provided the abortion and her handling of the situation.

Dr. Caitlin Bernard originally listed Fuentes as 17 rather than 27 years old. If the record had not been corrected, Fuentes would have been charged as a minor instead of an adult.

Bernard has not commented on the incorrectly reported information, nor has she released a statement regarding her clear violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act—which requires her to keep patients’ medical information private—when speaking to the press. Furthermore, investigators have yet to conclude if the doctor reported the rape to local law enforcement, which is a requirement under Ohio law.

Unfortunately, an analysis of federal data shows that illegal aliens commit crimes at a much higher rate than lawful immigrants or U.S. citizens. This tragic case is the latest example of what is sadly a common occurrence.  

Clearly, the left’s already poor immigration policies have been worsened by the Biden administration’s border crisis. Record-high numbers of illegal aliens are crossing into the U.S. via the southern border every month. Crimes associated with illegal aliens have skyrocketed in America due to President Joe Biden’s open border policies.

Innocent victims like this 10-year-old girl illustrate why it’s critical to protect our border.

This case, in light of the Supreme Court recently overturning Roe v. Wade, has sparked outrage as the left continues to push its false narrative that abortion is a constitutional right. The reality is that abortion is not now, nor ever was, a constitutional right.

In Ohio, unborn children are protected after their heartbeat is detected via ultrasound (roughly at about six weeks). The victim was reportedly six weeks and three days pregnant. The left immediately falsely claimed that the state of Ohio had no exceptions for cases such as this little girl’s, failing to point out that the child would have access to an abortion under a “medical emergency exception,” as the state’s attorney general, Dave Yost, cited.

Regardless of the fact that the 10-year-old never needed to leave her state for the abortion, the left continues to use the fact that she traveled to Indiana as a talking point in their pro-abortion messaging and legislative efforts, including in advancing the “Ensuring Access to Abortion Act.” Biden himself continues touting this message, and the media cheers him on.

Rather than focus on the cause of the child’s rape—the illegal alien that committed a horrific crime—the current administration and pro-abortion activists use this child’s abuse to further their political agenda.

Ironically, the left shouts the false notion that pro-lifers fail to care for children after they leave the womb. Of course, with soaring numbers of unaccompanied children crossing the border and the administration encouraging it more every day with its dangerous policies, we already know administration officials have no problem sacrificing children’s safety to continue fueling their border crisis.

Rather than exploiting a 10-year-old girl’s story to make headlines, the Biden administration should focus on fixing the real problem they caused: the disastrous open border. That is the first step in making sure this tragic story does not happen again.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com, and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state. 

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The Left Should Be Happy With Biden

The left should be ecstatic that President Joe Biden has given them everything they wanted.

The left likes inflation. It reduces the value of old money by printing lots of new money. Those richer who have it, lose the value of their money; those poorer who don’t have any money, suddenly do.

When combined with low interest rates, inflation roars even louder. Not since former President Jimmy Carter has a Democrat been so insistent on inflating the money supply.

For decades, the left has amplified former Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s 2008 dream that the government must spike fuel costs up to European levels. That was seen as the best way to force unsophisticated Americans to quit burning gas and transition to renewable energy. Biden took that sermon seriously.

He canceled federal energy leases. He shut down drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He canceled pipelines and warned the oil industry its days were numbered. Biden has done more than any other Democrat to ensure fossil fuels were unaffordable, forcing America’s supposedly unthinking consumers to drive less or consider ditching their gas-engine cars altogether.

The hard American left always wanted unlimited illegal immigration. Biden agreed and has been lax on security at the southern border.

The result is that in less than two years, nearly 3 million illegal aliens have surged into the United States. Nearly all of them arrived unvaccinated, untested, and inadequately vetted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden worries little that record numbers of Americans are dying from drugs that now pour across the border. Cartels became richer and more powerful than ever under his watch, while child traffickers were freed from worries.

Biden did more than any prior Democrat to ensure massive illegal immigration as part of the leftist dream of flipping red states blue by changing the demography.

The left rails about imperialism, neo-colonialism, and military expenditure. Biden, without warning, simply yanked all U.S. troops from Afghanistan. He abandoned a $1 billion new embassy, a $300 million refitted U.S. air base, and $80 billion worth of sophisticated arms and equipment.

In other words, Biden did more than any other prior Democrat to ensure the United States was humbled abroad, and its expeditionary forces taught a lesson about the evils of foreign interventions.

The left fetishizes race. It enshrined the idea of “good” racial discrimination: To stop racial bias, one must be racially biased.

Biden was the first president to promise in advance that his vice presidential running mate had to be both black and female. For his Cabinet picks, Biden ignored most criteria of prior experience or specific expertise, but instead ensured that his administration was “diverse.”

No prior Democratic president has been so beholden to identity politics or so consistently used de facto racial, gender, and sexual identity quotas in his presidential appointees.

The left for years has railed about the criminal justice system. It believes punishment does not really deter crime, which is instead a result of racism and a toxic capitalist system.

Biden agrees. Federal attorneys mimic the so-called George Soros city and county prosecutors who enforce the law largely according to ideological directives.

No prior president has managed to weaponize the Pentagon, the FBI, or the CIA in ways that have transitioned them from traditional institutions to woke avatars of social revolution.

No prior Democratic president has so attacked conservatives, a strict-constructionist Supreme Court, and the Republican Party.

So why is the left so eager to oust Biden or at least ensure that he does not dare seek reelection in 2024?

Strangely, leftists do not grasp that Biden’s current record and unpopularity are due not just to his unmistakable cognitive decline. The problem is not just his often-toxic personality, or his creepy habits of trying to shake the hands of invisible people, or violating the private space of younger women.

Instead, the Biden administration has become an utter failure because voters detest its agendas. They recoil at $5-a-gallon gas. They feel their lives are being destroyed by 9.1% annual inflation and supply chain shortages.

The public is tired of near record annual increases in murders and other violent crime.

They are sickened by the tsunami of dangerous drugs pouring across the border and millions of foreign nationals entering their country without their permission.

They are irate that the Biden Cabinet never responds to these disasters. Instead, the administration denies the crises even exist.

Or it blames its own self-created messes on the Russians, or Donald Trump, or their own Democratic senators who balked at printing more trillions of dollars.

Now the left is looking for a younger, more charismatic, and more glib replacement president to advance their stale unpopular agendas.

But since when has changing an inept messenger ever changed a disastrous message?

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The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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Biden Gets COVID-19, Exposing Huge Double Standard

President Joe Biden has tested positive for COVID-19. We should all hope the president has an easy time. We should not ask for media nastiness and/or glee.

But this presents an obvious occasion to remember just how the “objective” press made a frenetic, mean-spirited, and hyperbolic mess out of former President Donald Trump’s bout with the virus, which was announced on Oct. 2, 2020. In their ardor to get Trump removed from office, they couldn’t imagine acting with decency or restraint.

First and foremost, cable news channels couldn’t pause for a day or two from their routine smear that Trump was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands. Take ex-GOP strategist Rick Tyler on Al Sharpton’s show on MSNBC:

I look at this as a drunk driver who injured himself in a wreck, and killed the oncoming sober driver. Donald Trump has injured himself … and 200,000 people, other drivers, have died due to the coronavirus.

After Trump was infected, CNN analyst Carl Bernstein just doubled down that “his response has been homicidal negligence.” CNN brought on then-Washington Post opinion editor David Swerdlick, who couldn’t get rid of Trump fast enough: “President Trump is the president until at least Jan. 20 at noon, and every day, people’s lives are in the balance.”

So let’s just lay out the numbers again. When Trump left office, we had lost about 400,000 Americans to COVID-19. Since then, under Biden, the death toll is now 1.02 million. But the media blamed Trump for every single death on his watch—and Biden was assigned zero blame for anyone’s demise.

You can loathe Trump’s remarks early in the pandemic trying to downplay the threat, but to accuse him of mass murder—which was routine in 2020—was apparently what the liberals call “reality-based journalism.” No “independent fact-checkers” objected.

On the reliably liberal program “Reliable Sources,” former Fox News reporter Carl Cameron lost all sense of reality after Trump was infected, proclaiming, “This is the collapse of a democratic republic because of its leadership and its honesty.” Democracy was always dying.

But that’s not as bad as Masha Gessen, a Russian American writer for The New Yorker. She told Brian Stelter it could be compared to the Josef Stalin death watch.

There have been a lot of comparisons to the Soviet Union in the last couple of days. I think they are not unwarranted. The particular period I am thinking about is something I have written about a lot, which were the days of Stalin’s death watch, right? When the foreign correspondents and the domestic correspondents, such as they were, all knew what was going on. Nobody was giving them any information. Everybody was expecting the final call, right?

Trump didn’t die, but CNN wanted to speculate about it. For years, CNN loved comparing Trump to Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and Mao Zedong. Stelter even put on his show a kook who proclaimed Trump would kill more people than all of those mass murderers combined.

The real irony of all this was CNN host Don Lemon then offering a glowing tribute to Biden for refusing to politicize Trump’s infection. He proclaimed, “Here you see Joe Biden showing you what a real man does—what a real human being does.” It’s not at all what they did at CNN.

Biden didn’t have to exploit Trump’s illness. He had an entire media-Democrat complex to do it for him. Remember this: Democrats will always find it easier to appear above the nasty fray when they have media hacks like CNN to do all their dirty work for them.

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The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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6 Big Takeaways as House Panel Retraces Trump’s Steps During Capitol Riot

“The dam has begun to break,” Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., asserted early in the eighth hearing held by the House panel investigating the Capitol riot 18 months ago. 

The hearing’s focus Thursday night was on what Donald Trump did and didn’t do at the White House for about three hours as rioters breached the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and the danger to House and Senate lawmakers appeared to grow. 

Cheney, the select committee’s vice chairwoman, presided over the nationally televised hearing while its chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., out with COVID-19, made his introductory and closing remarks remotely. 

“For 187 minutes on Jan. 6, this man of unbridled, destructive energy could not be moved,” Thompson said of Trump. 

Thompson said the committee will work through August, with the next hearing in September. 

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., the only other Republican on the nine-member panel, said that when the committee releases a final report, it would recommend “changes to laws and policies to guard against another Jan. 6.” 

Here are some major takeaways from Thursday night’s hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. 

1. ‘Don’t Want to Say the Election Is Over’

Some of the freshest details aired at the hearing came not from the events of Jan. 6, 2021, but the next day, Jan. 7.

The committee played some outtakes of Trump as he recorded a short speech on video at the White House in which he condemned the “heinous” violence of the Capitol riot. 

After saying early on that rioters “will pay,” the president declines to repeat a similar line later about “breaking the law.” 

“I’m not going to say that. I already said ‘you will pay,’” Trump tells aides after he stops reading the script. 

Later, the video shows Trump reading: “But this election is now over. Congress has certified the results.”

He then says to aides: “I don’t want to say the election is over. I just want to say, I just want to say Congress has certified the results.” 

Trump goes on to say twice: “My only intention was to ensure the integrity of the vote.” He then pounds the lectern as if angry about reading the line wrong. 

The House select committee plays outtakes of President Donald Trump’s recording of a speech on video Jan. 7, 2021, about the Capitol riot the day before. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

2. ‘That Doesn’t Mean He’s the Winner’

The Jan. 6 committee also revealed am audio recording of former top White House aide Steve Bannon speaking before the 2020 election. 

The comments by Bannon were spliced by committee staff, but complete sentences played during the hearing suggested that he said Trump planned to claim victory regardless of the election outcome. 

“He’s going to declare victory, but that doesn’t mean he’s the winner,” Bannon, also a key adviser in Trump’s 2016 campaign, says in the audio recording that the committee said was made four days before the 2020 election. 

“That’s the strategy. He’s going to declare himself the winner,” Bannon said. “So when you wake up Wednesday morning [Nov. 4], it’s going to be a firestorm.”

On election night, Trump appeared to have a lead over Biden as ballots cast in person were counted. But by the weekend, it seemed clear that Biden had won after mail-in ballots were counted. 

Days before the election, according to the committee, Bannon said that Trump would raise a fuss if he appeared to be losing on election night. 

“Also, if Trump is losing by 10 or 11 o’clock at night, it’s going to be even crazier because he’s going to sit right there and say they stole it,” Bannon says in the recording presented by the committee. “If Biden is winning, Trump is going to do some crazy s–t.”

After this audio was played, Cheney said: “Donald Trump’s plan to falsely claim victory, no matter what the facts actually were, was premeditated.”

3. Worried Security Officials

Rioters breached the Capitol as a joint session of Congress met to certify the Electoral College results that would confirm Joe Biden’s election victory over Trump on Nov. 3. 

Then-Vice President Mike Pence, who had a largely ceremonial role in accepting each state’s electoral votes, also was in the building.

The committee hearing included recorded testimony from officials whose identities were obscured to shield them from potential retaliation. 

One security official explained why the president’s protectors were concerned about Trump’s stated intent to walk to the Capitol with those who attended his rally on the Ellipse south of the White House. 

“We were all in a state of shock,” the official said in the video recording. “We all knew what that implicated and what that meant, that this was no longer a rally, that this was going to move to something else if he physically walked to the Capitol.” 

Another official, who was on Pence’s security detail, talked in a distorted audio recording about the detail’s growing concern that afternoon inside the Capitol. 

“There were calls to say goodbye to family members and so on and so forth,” the official said. “For whatever reason on the ground, the VP detail thought this was about to get very ugly.”

He added: “If they are running out of options and getting nervous, it sounds like we came very close to either [Secret] Service having to use lethal options or worse. At that point, I don’t know.”

4. ‘What About the President?’

The committee again showed clips from its deposition of Trump’s White House counsel, Pat Cipillone, with questioning by Cheney. 

Cipillone named several White House staffers that day who wanted the rioters to leave the Capitol. 

Cheney asked: “Who on the staff did not want people to leave the Capitol?”

“On the staff?” the former White House counsel asked.

“In the White House,” Cheney elaborated. 

“I don’t know. I can’t think of anyone who didn’t want them out of the Capitol, particularly once the violence started,” Cipillone said. 

At that point in the deposition, committee member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., asked, “What about the president?” 

Cheney: “Yeah.”

Cipillone: “She said the staff. So I answered.”

Cheney: “No, I said in the White House.”

Cipillone, who consistently has been careful not to share privileged conversations with the president, declined to answer after exchanging glances and words with his lawyer. 

“I can’t reveal communications conversations, but obviously, I think–yeah, ” he said. 

5. ‘Complete Dud’

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., whom House Speaker Nancy Pelosi nixed as a member of the select committee, called the panel “a complete dud.”

Pelosi, D-Calif., made the unusual move of blocking Republican appointees to the select committee investigating the Capitol riot. 

Instead of addressing skyrocketing inflation, surging violent crime, America’s energy crisis or our historic border crisis, House Democrats spent the night on a partisan witch-hunt.

This is what failed leadership looks like.

— House Republicans (@HouseGOP) July 22, 2022

In response, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., withdrew his other GOP appointees. 

Pelosi also blocked McCarthy’s appointment of Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. 

In an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News Channel during the hearing, Banks was dismissive of the select committee’s most recent hearing. 

“The verdict is in. The Jan. 6 committee is a complete dud,” Baks told Hannity. “Remember this was all about blocking Republicans from winning back the House majority and keeping Donald Trump’s name off the ballot when he runs again in 2024.” 

Millions in taxpayer dollars, 8 public hearings and the sham J6 Committee failed to answer a single important question about what happened on January 6. Shameful! @seanhannity pic.twitter.com/2Ex4Q4in7e

— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) July 22, 2022

Banks also said about the committee: 

They are going to end up spending over $10 million. They’ve interviewed over 1,000 people. They have 100,000 documents in their possession, most of which they are not willing to make public. And this is the best they can do? 

This hearing tonight, the capstone event, the prime-time hearing? This is the best they can do? They haven’t proven anything. If anything, they have exonerated President Trump and Republicans who supported him.

Earlier Thursday, McCarthy noted that Thompson had made pursuing information about Pelosi “off limits.”

“Bennie Thompson said there is only one request: Nancy Pelosi is off limits…Shouldn't the very first question be, why was the Capitol so ill-prepared that day?" – @GOPLeader on Pelosi's illegitimate partisan witch-hunt? pic.twitter.com/xTKBH9txw2

— House Republicans (@HouseGOP) July 21, 2022

Trump has said he authorized 10,000 National Guard troops to be deployed to the Capitol grounds before his Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse challenging the election results. The assault on the Capitol began while Trump was still speaking.

Critics of Pelosi have said the House speaker refused the presence of troops.

6. ‘Pouring Gasoline on the Fire’

After Pence announced earlier Jan. 6 that he would not stop the certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory, Trump tweeted at 2:24 p.m. that his vice president lacked the courage to challenge results from some states. 

Former deputy White House press secretary Sarah Matthews, who testified live before the committee, recalled Trump’s tweet about Pence. 

“I remember thinking this was going to be bad for him to tweet this because it was essentially him giving the green light to these people, telling them that what they were doing at the steps of the Capitol and entering the Capitol, that they were justified in their anger,” Matthews said. “He shouldn’t have been doing that. He should have been telling them to go home and to leave.”

Matthews, who testified that she decided to quit that night as deputy press secretary, added of Trump:

I’ve seen the impact his words have on his supporters. They truly latch on to every tweet and every word he says. So I think at that moment to tweet out that message about Mike Pence was him pouring gasoline on the fire.

Former deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger, the other live witness Thursday night, said he also decided to resign after seeing Trump’s tweet about Pence. Pottinger had been part of the Trump administration from the beginning, Cheney noted.

Some rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence” as word spread outside the Capitol of Trump’s anger with his vice president. 

Kinzinger, the only other Republican on the committee assembled by Pelosi, noted a disturbing moment that occurred after Trump’s video message at 4:17 p.m. telling the rioters to go home “in peace.”

As he walked toward the residence, Kinzinger said the evidence showed, Trump told a White House employee: “Mike Pence let me down.”

Ken McIntyre contributed to this report.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com, and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state. 

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The Media Secretly Hated Biden All This Time?

Did you ever read a column and think, “You must be joking”?

That was my reaction to Washington Post columnist Perry Bacon Jr. on Tuesday trying to explain “How media coverage drove Biden’s political plunge.” Bacon tweeted it this way: “One of the biggest challenges for Biden has been facing a mainstream media looking to ‘balance’ its anti-Trump coverage from 2017-2020.”

The media is President Joe Biden’s biggest challenge? Not the wind beneath his erratic wings? Even when they report on inflation or the baby formula shortage or the border crisis, Biden is spared the blame.

It’s bizarre to argue the media is currently whipsawing Biden in an attempt to “balance” anti-Trump coverage from 2017-2020. We’re still overwhelmed by the daily onslaught of anti-Trump coverage from 2021-2022.

One might imagine Donald Trump is still president from the dominance of Jan. 6 hearings on cable news, not to mention its offshoots (like the Steve Bannon trial for contempt of Congress). One might think Trump is still president from the ongoing excitement over Trump “tell-alls” and anti-Trump jeremiads on bestseller lists.

But let’s get beyond Bacon’s wacky tweet. His grand thesis is, “the mainstream media has played a huge, underappreciated role in President Biden’s declining support over the past year.”

The media’s “flawed coverage model” of Biden isn’t just bad for Biden, “it results in a distorted national discourse that weakens our democracy.”

In this man’s leftist worldview, the media has been feverishly itching to wreck Biden. The disastrous Afghanistan pullout “provided journalists the anti-Biden story that I think many of them were desperate to find.” Many would laugh and stop reading about there.

Bacon seriously believes the media has “long-standing biases toward bothsidesism” and an “equally positive and negative to both sides” approach. He hates this notion, which he says “has been challenged by the increasingly radical and antidemocratic Republican Party. Honest coverage of political news often seems anti-GOP.”

This is the arrogance of the liberal media. Any attempt at “honest reporting” trashes all Republicans as “radical and antidemocratic.” So “honesty” is defined as the opposite of “bothsidesism.” Honesty requires keeping the “antidemocratic” radicals off the Jan. 6 committee and off all the respectable TV interview shows. Earth to Bacon: The liberal media distorts the national discourse by barely featuring Republicans who aren’t as anti-Trump as Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

Imagine that. The Washington Post crowd posits that “democracy” requires positioning the conservatives “in darkness.”

Bacon offered more delusions in this column, as in Biden’s flawed approach has been “reducing partisanship in Washington.” Biden runs around insisting Republicans are an extreme “MAGA crowd” pushing “Jim Crow 2.0,” and that’s too bipartisan? But Bacon and his fellow lefties think Republicans should be routinely smashed and trashed, and not treated with any respect.

He explicitly demands more bias: “Yes, I am calling for the media to cover Biden more positively. Not in the sense of declaring Biden a better man than Trump (though that is obviously true).” They should “actually cover America’s problems and whether Biden is solving them—or at least has better policies than the Republicans. That’s the kind of journalism we need.”

We “need” journalism that throbs with anti-Republican energy.

Recent surveys of public trust in the media are showing all-time lows, but inside the media, all the demands are to speak more aggressively on behalf of Democrats and the left. Double down and drink deeply to defeat the hangover, says Dr. Perry Bacon.

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George Soros and the Leftist Takeover of 18 Spanish-Language Radio Stations

A group associated with far-left billionaire George Soros is taking over 18 Spanish-language radio stations, including the iconic conservative talk station Radio Mambi. 

“It’s a stab in the heart of the community,” says Lourdes Ubieta, a former host at Radio Mambi. 

Radio Mambi gained a reputation “as a station that serves the Cuban exile community,” Ubieta says, because it spoke openly about the harms of socialism and communism. 

When Ubieta and her colleague Dania Alexandrino learned that Radio Mambi was going to be part of the new Latino Media Network, they determined it was time to leave. The new network reportedly is funded primarily by Lakestar Finance, an entity affiliated with Soros Fund Management.

“These people from the left, these Democrats, they believe that [by] buying these 18 radio stations, somehow they can control the opinion they deliver [to] the Hispanic community,” Ubieta says.

Ubieta and Alexandrino join this episode of “The Daily Signal Podcast” to explain why the left is targeting conservative Spanish-language media and how Americano Media is working to furthering the values of faith, family, and patriotism.

Also on today’s show, we cover these stories:

  • The Senate prepares to vote on a bill that would enshrine same-sex and interracial marriage in federal law.
  • A bipartisan group of senators reach a deal to clarify the language of an old election law. 
  • The median sales price of an American home hit $416,000 in June.

Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:

Virginia Allen: Eighteen Hispanic radio stations, including the iconic Spanish-language conservative talk show station Radio Mambi in Miami, are being taken over by the political left. Behind this takeover, in part, is the billionaire liberal George Soros. Lakestar Finance has partially funded the takeover of these 18 stations in a $60 million deal, and the investment group is affiliated with Soros Fund Management.

So why is Soros buying up conservative Spanish-language radio stations? Here with us to talk about that is Lourdes Ubieta. She is the former host of a show on Miami’s Radio Mambi. And also here with us is Dania Alexandrino, who also formally worked for Radio Mambi.

Ladies, thank you so much for joining today. It’s a pleasure to have you.

Lourdes Ubieta: Thank you so much.

Dania Alexandrino: Thank you, it’s a pleasure to be here.

Allen: So Lourdes, I want to begin by asking you, what exactly is happening here? Why are these stations, why are these specifically Spanish-language, 18 stations being bought up by the left?

Ubieta: Well, the situation, as you know, with Hispanic voters, they are very conservative, and believe it or not, this conservatism is growing in the United States. These people from the left, these Democrats, they believe that buying these 18 radio stations, somehow they can control the opinion they deliver toward the Hispanic community. So in a way, what they’re trying to do is to silence the conservative voices, to introduce most liberal voices in those iconic radio stations like Radio Mambi.

Allen: OK, OK. And Dania, tell us a little bit about what the mission of Radio Mambi has been. How would you describe that station?

Alexandrino: … Well, I was the newest on-air anchor for Radio Mambi. I actually joined just this past April.

So I’ve always known of Radio Mambi’s history as a station that serves the Cuban exile community, the station where they found a home away from home, a station where they were able to express freely what they thought about the radical left and the Marxist ideals that have destroyed the beautiful island of Cuba for the past over 60 years.

So when I was actually approached to be on air, to me, it was an honor because I am not Cuban, I’m Puerto Rican. So it was odd, but at the same time, it was a great honor because I knew what Radio Mambi represented to the Cuban exile community, what it meant to them, and the prestige that it has in Miami. That’s basically what Radio Mambi was and continues to be, to a certain extent, to the Cuban exile community.

Allen: Yeah. And Lourdes, you have described this takeover of these 18 stations as a stab in the heart. Why do you say that?

Ubieta: Because Mambi has been the—I would say the light. The light of hope, of dignity, of freedom for the Cuban community in exile, for the Venezuelan community also in exile, Nicaraguan community, also in exile.

You see, all these communities gather here in South Florida. And in Radio Mambi, we talk to that people. We are the voice of the exiles. And for me, it’s a stab in the heart of the community. And as you say, and I have said before, and it’s a shame. It’s very painful and it’s very sad, honestly.

Allen: Yeah. So what happens now to your station that you-all have invested a lot of yourselves in, that has been this really strong conservative outlet for so long and voice for your community? What’s going to happen now?

Ubieta: Well, if this continues to go the way it’s going, I mean, I’m talking about the selling of the station, not the process, at the end of the day, they’re going to take over. The Soros people are going to take over the stations. And we will have to see what is going to happen with this iconic signal. For now, there are still there some very conservative people.

The decision to leave Mambi is a very personal decision. I respect the people who leave and also the people who stay, because each of us give a fight the best way we think we can fight.

So, some people think that by staying in the station under these circumstances, they are doing a good job toward freedom of speech, and liberty, and giving the fight. And for others like me, I’m just not going out, playing the games. I just left. I just decided that I don’t want to be part of the deal or be remembered like I was there during these times. No, my decision was just to leave.

Allen: Yeah. But I know that you’re staying in the fight in the sense of, you’re continuing to really be a part of the conservative media space and the Spanish-language conservative media space. Talk a little bit about that.

Ubieta: I’m very happy to be in Americano Media, and I’m going to tell you why. First time they contact me last year and they told me … we want to be the first national conservative media broadcaster in Spanish, I was so excited because we need that so badly in the United States. There’s so much misinformation toward the Spanish community. And I was like, “Oh my God, this is the place I want to be.”

And you know, sometimes you have to be careful with what you wish, because wish has come through. Right now, I’m here and I’m full time now in Americano, and I’m very happy and I’m very happy for my community.

The Hispanic community needs these voices like Dania, like Nelson [Rubio], like Lucia [Navarro]. We’re making a good team here, and I think this is going to be a very successful media network.

Allen: Yeah, yeah. Dania, share a little bit about what the mission is of Americano Media.

Alexandrino: Well, the mission is to actually be the voice of those Hispanic Americans that are proud of the freedoms this country was founded and stands on, and be the voice for those who share our principles, our values, because Latinos or Hispanics, we are conservative by nature.

We believe in God, we believe and fear God. We believe in the family institution, and we’re aspirational. We do not like dependency. We also care a lot about our children’s education. So that’s what Americana represents. Americana represents those fundamental values that have made this country great for many years, since its inception and it’s founding.

That’s what our mission is, is to be the voice for those, who for a long time did not feel that they were being represented by the other national Spanish-speaking networks. And I say this as somebody who worked in those other stations and knew that behind the scenes what was being discussed, but in front of the cameras, most tried really hard to try to sell a perception that they were balanced, but I knew it wasn’t that way.

Then in 2016, a person came out and announced a candidacy that basically removed a mask from all of these national networks, including the Spanish-language national networks. So Americano was born, basically, to give the audience the other side of the story, the side of the story that’s often hidden from our people in order to manipulate them.

So sure, we welcome immigrants, but let’s do this in an orderly fashion. Let’s do it. This is a country of law and order. And so that’s basically what we try to do, is we try to educate our people. We try to be a voice for those who often felt that the other networks did not represent who they are and their values.

Allen: Yeah. When you-all talk to people in your community, what are some of their biggest concerns? What are the things that they’re saying to you? “Oh, you know, I’m thinking about this. This is overwhelming me.” What are you hearing from them?

Alexandrino: One of the main things that I often hear from my listeners, and from whichever of the shows that I do, that I host, is they’re concerned about the route the country has taken. They’re concerned about their financial well-being. Many people are concerned.

For example, our audience at Radio Mambi were senior citizens. Many of them were seeing their savings dwindling. Many of them couldn’t afford to buy medication. They were spending basically their retirement and their Social Security checks in gas money, in groceries because they saw their grocery bill multiplying. So that’s basically one of our main concerns.

Then the other one was the continued attack on God, on our values, on our faith, and how Christians are often under attack, not just around the world, but in this country, particularly from the mainstream media. And the fact that we are a station that defends God, that has God as our main provider, creator, I think that people really appreciate that.

Allen: Yeah. And what is the Hispanic community saying about, really, the left now buying up these 18 radio stations? Have you-all talked to individuals? Do you know what they’re thinking, what their thoughts are on that?

Alexandrino: Oh, well, I’m sure I speak for Lourdes, we get those messages every single day on all of our social media. I mean, we get inboxes, we get comments on our social media post. We get just about every sort of reaction you can possibly imagine.

People are upset, they’re hurting because the one bastion that they saw as the epitome of what being a conservative Hispanic was was under attack.

We’ve been under attack for quite a while, because this attempt at censorship of Hispanic, conservative voices has been ongoing for quite a while. … The Hispanic Congressional Caucus has been deliberate, has been very straightforward about their intent to silence voices like Lourdes, like myself.

I’ve basically challenged Congressman Darren Soto often and on the air to an interview, so that he can come on my show and tell me word-for-word, day, time as to what, according to him, is the disinformation that he claims I provide my audience.

And he’s never accepted an interview. Why? Because he knows that my opinion is substantiated by facts, and that’s what he fears. He fears facts and he fears the fact that people are awake, that people are not woke, and they’re tired of this woke agenda. We see that every day with the messages we get on all of our social media.

People are upset, but they’re ready to fight. They have decided to be silent no longer. And I often say that to my audience. I was like, “You need to leave fear in the drawer, in the closet. Leave it somewhere. But this is not the time to be scared.”

Allen: Mm-hmm. And we see people like newly elected Rep. Mayra Flores of Texas, who is taking a stand. Her platform is her faith, and a love of country, and God, and of family. And that, I think for so many Americans, that’s a message that resonates, right? That’s a message that really speaks to all of us, no matter our background.

Ubieta: … Virginia, we are Latinas, but we are Americans. And we’re Latinas. We are Latinas without an “X,” OK? … No X, no X here, and no taco here. No taco here and no X here. We are Latinas, and we are exactly as Mayra Flores describes us.

We have a God in our life. We try to build our families. We give the fight to provide for our families. We are struggling like anyone in this country with this economy, and we have those values in our heart. But among all this, we are Americans and we are not going anywhere, and nobody’s going to silence us. No one is going to silence us.

That’s why I’m so happy that we have interviews with journalists like you and that we have a place to work like Americano Media. Let me tell you, this is a war against conservatism. And again, conservative host and Spanish.

Now that they know that this is the first minority in the United States, and that the people is switching their vote, when they see that President [Joe] Biden only has 32%, 33% approval of Hispanics vote, they are very scared. They are very scared and they do these crazy things like buying 18 radio stations, like if Hispanics are idiots and they’re going to go vote because someone is telling them what to do from a radio station. That is crazy.

We don’t vote for someone telling us in a radio station what we have to do. We vote because inflation is killing our pockets, because our people who have two, three shifts to make enough money to pay, to provide for their kids.

They are really struggling, Virginia, like any other American. It doesn’t matter if you are African American, or Hispanic, or you are from Oklahoma, or from South Dakota, or from New York City. It doesn’t matter where you were born. If you are in the United States right now, you are struggling. That’s the truth. And Hispanics, they are not idiots, and we are not tacos. We are not Latinx. We are not all the same.

What is common among all of us are those values that this congresswoman said. Those are the values that we all share. Even same if you come from Mexico, if you come from Venezuela, or if you come from Puerto Rico, from Dominican Republic, or from Panama, doesn’t matter from whatever you come.

Alexandrino: Just after what Lourdes says, and it’s something that even … Congresswoman Mayra Flores said, Latinos have these values so grounded in our culture that … God, family, country are so important that everybody becomes family. I mean, Latino families are so big that … even the neighbor becomes “tia” and “tio.”

Ubieta: And the coworkers—”comadre” and “compadre.”

Alexandrino: So that’s how important family is to us. That even people who are close and friends become family. And that’s what’s under attack in this country at this moment. We have God under attack, we have our values under attack, and we have family under attack—the most important things that have made this country great for over 240 years.

And whether you’re an immigrant like Lourdes, who became an American citizen, or whether you’re born an American citizen like myself, who was born in a U.S. territory, we value those principles. We value and we cherish everything that makes America great. And that’s the reason why we do what we do.

Let me just give you an anecdote of an audience member that shared with me something, and he said to me recently, he lost his mother-in-law. He said, “I just want to thank you because for the first time in her life, my mother-in-law voted Republican in 2020. And that was thanks to you. You and your shows made her realize that she was being lied to her entire life.”

It’s stories like that that matter and make what we do here at Americano even more important. It’s preserving those values, preserving that family, preserving everything that makes this country amazing.

Ubieta: And you know something, Virginia, and for your audience I think is important, I am not a Republican and I am independent, and … they also attack us. “No, because all these are Republicans.” First, I’m an independent, a conservative independent.

So, what I want to point out with this is that there are millions of Hispanic conservative independents; that they are not necessarily joining a political party or they are not affiliated to a political party like me. I never affiliated to a political party, not because I have anything against the Republicans, no. Just because, as a journalist, I say, I’d rather be independent, so I can talk, I can attack both of them.

Allen: Keep it there! I love it.

Alexandrino: All the years I worked as a journalist, that’s exactly what I did. I never associated myself with any party, because I didn’t want to have to go to vote in primaries. Basically, as a journalist, I wanted to maintain that independence, and not only that, but in Puerto Rico—I lived in Puerto Rico for 10 years, although I grew up in Boston. Primaries, when you go to vote for primaries, it’s so specific that people know what party you’re voting at, because if you belong in one party, you vote on this side of the Electoral College. If you vote for another party—so people know which party you’re voting for.

That’s another reason why I was completely independent, because I did not want to be seen. I was a TV journalist, so I did not want to be seen on a voting line and be like, “Oh, that’s where she’s registered.” But it wasn’t until the moment that I actually stepped aside from journalism, became a journalism professor, that I actually decided this is where my principles and my values are, I’m not afraid to say it.

I grew up in a very liberal city. A city that had not seen a Republican mayor since 1932, and that’s the city of Boston. But somehow I was different, I thought differently. I always questioned everything, and I guess I was destined to be a lawyer, but I didn’t become a lawyer, so I became a journalist, which is the other option of being, questioning everything. My mom always said my mouth and my questioning would get me in trouble one day.

Allen: So here you are.

Ubieta: So here she is. So that’s what I was saying, and that’s what I wanted to point out there. We are millions of Hispanics that are independent, and they are conservative because of those values that this congresswoman, she suggested, and she’s absolutely right.

Allen: Yeah, yeah. Well, we thank you for so much, for both of you, for the way that you are both standing for those values that, as Americans, we all hold dear. I think that’s so critical, no matter what side of the aisle that you’re on, that we are standing up for faith, that we’re standing up for family, that we’re standing up for our nation. So sincerely, thank you both.

And for all of our listeners, if you would like to learn more about Americano Media, check them out. Be sure to follow the work that both Lourdes and Dania are doing.

Ladies, thank you so much for your time today. We really appreciate you joining the show.

Ubieta: Virginia, thank you. You have to come to our shows in Americano now, you have to. You have to call. You have to come.

Allen: Thank you.

Alexandrino: And I want to say bye and thank you by reminding your audience of one thing that one of our Founding Fathers said: “Stand for something or die for nothing.”

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The post George Soros and the Leftist Takeover of 18 Spanish-Language Radio Stations appeared first on The Daily Signal.

How Big Tech Plans to Keep a Grip on Local Elections Amid Funding Bans

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says he has sworn off bankrolling local election administration, but other Big Tech executives are positioned to play a role in running future elections. 

The Center for Tech and Civic Life distributed $350 million in Zuckerberg-funded election grants to localities in 2020 to promote mail-in voting, drop boxes, and other projects. Now the center has launched the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence with six other nonprofits, to advise local officials across the country on how to run elections. 

The largest funder of the alliance’s $80 million, five-year initiative is The Audacious Project, financed largely by people connected with the Big Tech sector, including Microsoft and Amazon.

Although 21 states enacted bans prohibiting private actors such as Zuckerberg from financing election administration, the Alliance for Election Excellence could be an end run around such laws to ensure more victories for the left, critics say. 

“Zuck Buck bans are a great step forward, but leftists are already moving on to the next step in federalizing our elections: creating a permanent vote-by-mail mess,” Hayden Ludwig, senior investigative researcher at Capital Research Center, a Washington-based think tank that monitors nonprofits, told The Daily Signal. 

The Center for Tech and Civic Life was founded in 2012 by Tiana Epps-Johnson, Donny Bridges, and Whitney May, who previously worked together at the New Organizing Institute, which The Washington Post referred to as “the Democratic Party’s Hogwarts of digital wizardry.” 

Although the Alliance for Election Excellence hasn’t been specific about its goals, the Center for Tech and Civic Life in 2021 called on Congress to provide $20 billion to states to help cover the rising cost of paper ballots. Paper ballots primarily are used for mail-in voting, Ludwig noted:

That means using federal funds to subsidize mail-in ballots, turning the U.S. Postal Service into a ballot-delivery machine, and robbing states of their constitutional authority to run elections. That’s the only way to build in an unfair advantage for Democrats in 2024 and beyond. The worst part is they’re using tax-exempt nonprofits to do it.

>>> Related: How the Left Hopes to Seize Control of Local Election Offices

The $350 million in funding for local election administration in 2020 formally came through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, established by Facebook’s Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan. 

Critics note the money went heavily to Democrat-leaning voting jurisdictions. An investigation by a Wisconsin special counsel produced a report finding that the funding led to an improper, government-sanctioned, get-out-the-vote campaign that favored Democrats. 

In April, Zuckerberg said that he won’t donate to election administration in the future after a public relations fallout that led to the state bans of such activity. 

But other wealthy Big Tech executives are financing the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, according to Inside Philanthropy, which describes these donors as “a tech-heavy group of funders that lean liberal in their grantmaking.”

The alliance is one of nine grantees of The Audacious Project, also known as TAP, with donors including:

—The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, aligned with the Microsoft founder and his ex-wife.

—MacKenzie Scott, the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and her current husband Dan Jewett.

—Ballmer Group, the charity of retired Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

—The Laura and John Arnold Foundation, started by hedge fund manager John Arnold and his wife.

—Pivotal Ventures, a charity started by Melinda Gates.

—The MacArthur Foundation, one of the largest foundations in the U.S., which backs mostly left-leaning causes.

Bridgespan Group, which does consulting work for nonprofits, including Planned Parenthood and NPR. 

Another major partner in the alliance is the Center for Secure and Modern Elections, a project of the Arabella Advisors-sponsored New Venture Fund. 

Arabella has sponsored numerous liberal organizations across the country, some as pop-up groups that exist for a single election cycle, others that spin off to become independent nonprofits.  

The Alliance for Election Excellence also includes:

Center for Civic Design, an election-administration policy organization that frequently partners with left-of-center groups.

—The Arabella-sponsored Center for Secure and Modern Elections, which advocates automatic voter registration.

Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, part of the California university’s school of engineering.

—The Elections Group, which provides consulting to election officials and was established in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prototyping Systems Lab at University of California, Davis, which focuses on designing technology.

 —U.S. Digital Response, which started during the pandemic to help state and local governments with their digital needs. 

The Center for Tech and Civic Life is the organization designated to take press inquiries for the Alliance for Election Excellence. However, neither it nor other partners responded to requests for comment from The Daily Signal. 

The Alliance for Election Excellence did not respond to inquiries from The Daily Signal for this report. 

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The post How Big Tech Plans to Keep a Grip on Local Elections Amid Funding Bans appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Here Are the 47 House Republicans Who Voted to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Forty-seven House Republicans voted Tuesday in support of a Democrat-backed bill to codify same-sex marriage into federal law.

The bill, dubbed the Respect for Marriage Act, passed the House of Representatives 267 to 157. All 220 Democrats voted in favor. Seven Republicans abstained.

The Respect for Marriage Act would formally repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which recognized marriage as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” The 1996 law was effectively invalidated by the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, but it has remained on the books.

In the House floor debate Tuesday, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., stated the bill would “reaffirm that marriage equality is and must remain the law of the land.”

Democrats, who control the House, pushed the bill in response to the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision overturning Roe v. Wade, which returned the right to abortion back to the states to decide. They claimed it was necessary in the event the high court might someday consider also overruling Obergefell or Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 decision outlawing state bans on interracial marriage.  

Ahead of the vote, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, tweeted: “Tonight, a large number (a majority?) of the @HouseGOP is poised to vote FOR formal, legislative recognition of gay marriage while hiding behind interstate recognition of interracial marriage (a solution in search of a problem), allowing Dems to deflect from their failures.”

Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., tweeted: “Today I voted NO on H.R. 8404, the ‘Respect for Marriage Act.’ It’s a slap in the face of our federalist system that is just the latest effort to impose their leftist agenda on the entire country.”

While more than 75% of House Republicans voted against the bill, some expressed support for it.

Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., wrote in a tweet:

We just passed the Respect for Marriage Act out of the House. I’m a big fan of marriage, having done it a few times. And if gay couples want to be as happily or miserably married as straight couples, more power to them. Trust me on this.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., the Republican Conference chairwoman and third-ranking GOP member of the House, and Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, were two other high-profile examples.

The bill’s prospects are questionable in the Senate, where it faces the likelihood of a filibuster.  

The following are the 47 Republicans who voted in favor of the bill:

Reps. Kelly Armstrong (N.D.) 

Don Bacon (Neb.)

Cliff Bentz (Ore.)

Ken Calvert (Calif.)

Kat Cammack (Fla.) 

Mike Carey (Ohio)

Liz Cheney (Wyo.)

John Curtis (Utah)

Rodney Davis (Ill.)

Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.)

Tom Emmer (Minn.)

Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.)

Andrew Garbarino (N.Y.)

Mike Garcia (Calif.)

Carlos Gimenez (Fla.)

Tony Gonzales (Texas)

Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio)

Ashley Hinson (Iowa)

Darrell Issa (Calif.)

Chris Jacobs (N.Y.)

David Joyce (Ohio)

John Katko (N.Y.)

Adam Kinzinger (Ill.)

Nancy Mace (S.C.)

Nicole Malliotakis (N.Y.)

Brian Mast (Fla.)

Peter Meijer (Mich.)

Dan Meuser (Pa.)

Mariannette Miller-Meeks (Iowa)

Blake Moore (Utah)

Dan Newhouse (Wash.)

Jay Obernolte (Calif.)

Burgess Owens (Utah)

Scott Perry (Pa.)

Tom Rice (S.C.)

Maria Elvira Salazar (Fla.)

Mike Simpson (Idaho)

Elise Stefanik (N.Y.)

Bryan Steil (Wis.)

Chris Stewart (Utah)

Mike Turner (Ohio)

Fred Upton (Mich.)

David Valadao (Calif.)

Jefferson Van Drew (N.J.)

Ann Wagner (Mo.)

Michael Waltz (Fla.)

Lee Zeldin (N.Y.)

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The post Here Are the 47 House Republicans Who Voted to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Watch AOC’s Reaction When Police Remove Her From Supreme Court

At least 10 congressional Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., joined pro-abortion demonstrators Tuesday outside the Supreme Court less than a month after the justices overruled Roe v. Wade in a landmark decision.

Protesters blocked the street just outside the Supreme Court Building until police officers arrested and escorted the protesters away for obstructing traffic while calling for a return to abortion on demand.

As an officer held Ocasio-Cortez’s left arm while escorting her and another woman out of the street, the New York Democrat put both her hands behind her back, as if she had been handcuffed.

She briefly raised her right fist in the air before quickly lowering it and placing both wrists together behind her back again.

Ocasio-Cortez was the highest-profile detainee, but other members of the “squad” of younger female Democrats present included Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. Other lawmakers also were arrested by police, the New York Post and other outlets reported.

Here is video from the scene Tuesday:

Weeks after the overturn of Roe v. Wade, small protests continue to break out outside the court. There are a a number of representatives here including Rep. Sylvia Garcia from Texas. pic.twitter.com/rF2abBqmhB

— Douglas Blair (@DouglasKBlair) July 19, 2022

.@AOC has just been escorted by police away from the Supreme Court. pic.twitter.com/F9DOoLq8yJ

— Douglas Blair (@DouglasKBlair) July 19, 2022

A group of detained protesters, including at least 10 Democrat members of Congress, wait for police to give them further instructions. @AyannaPressley and @AOC were taken outside the court by police. pic.twitter.com/gLoHVkIKne

— Douglas Blair (@DouglasKBlair) July 19, 2022

Seems like the whole Squad is here. pic.twitter.com/XDtU3USSur

— Douglas Blair (@DouglasKBlair) July 19, 2022

As protesters wait to leave, @RepAndyLevin tells gathered press that the Senate must abolish the filibuster and force through abortion legislation. pic.twitter.com/053WT6yUki

— Douglas Blair (@DouglasKBlair) July 19, 2022

Ocasio-Cortez and other Democrats have defended pro-abortion protesters who have marched and chanted outside the homes of Supreme Court justices, despite laws against doing so, ever since someone leaked a draft majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on May 2 to the news outlet Politico.

This report has been modified to clarify that Ocasio-Cortez and other lawmakers were arrested.

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