Very sad to report that the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin, passed away today at home in Detroit at 76 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. While she sang in genres from soul to rock, blues to disco to jazz, her voice always conveyed the power, emotion and authenticity that she developed growing up singing gospel in church as the daughter of a Baptist minister. Her first album, at age 14, was called “Songs of Faith.”
Her many hits “(R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” “Chain of Fools,” “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman,” “Freeway of Love” and so many more) earned her 18 Grammy Awards from 1968 to 2008. She landed 112 singles on the Billboard charts, with 77 reaching the Hot 100. And did you know she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a year before the Beatles were? Aretha Franklin lived a long and amazing life, but not nearly long enough. My deepest condolences to her family. For the rest of us, what better way to memorialize her than by playing some of her music?
Colorado in the news
Did you really think that when the Supreme Court slapped down the liberal Colorado officials who tried to destroy Christian cake designer Jack Phillips for declining to create a same-sex wedding cake, that those officials would actually obey the Court and stop their attempts to force him to violate his Constitutional right to religious freedom?
Well, of course, they didn’t. The Alliance Defending Freedom that represented Baker is once again suing the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for attempting to discriminate against him by targeting his business because he asserts his First Amendment right to freedom of religion. This latest case is déjà vu all over again: a liberal lawyer lodged a complaint when Davis declined to create a cake celebrating the attorney’s gender reassignment (there were other complaints about him refusing to make a marijuana leaf cake and cakes with Satanic symbols and explicit messages, which the ADF attorneys believe were also concocted by the same attorney.)
Instead of rejecting this obvious attempt at religious harassment, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission found “probable cause” to believe that Phillips must bake the gender transition cake, starting the whole expensive, time-wasting, business-threatening process of investigations and hearings all over again. Phillips’ attorneys say it’s clear that because leftist officials despise Phillips' religious beliefs, they’re going to keep misusing government authority to allow leftist activists to target him every time he opens his business, despite the Supreme Court ruling. They’re asking the courts to put a stop to it. Funny, I thought the highest court of all already did.
Unfortunately, as I warned at the time, the SCOTUS tried to thread the needle by not issuing a definitive ruling but finding for Phillips only on narrow grounds specific to that case. When the Court yanked a right to same-sex marriage out of the air, the dissenting judges warned that it would create clashes between a newly-invented “right” and an enumerated First Amendment right. The majority tried to finesse that by papering over it with vague words, but now, it’s obvious they opened a Pandora’s box and they don’t want to deal with the consequences of their actions.
It’s long past time for the Supreme Court to face up to its duty and clean up the mess it created by issuing a definitive ruling that First Amendment rights are paramount. The Founders listed them first for a reason. If they’d wanted the right to harass people for not approving of same-sex marriage or gender reassignment surgery to take precedence over religious freedom, then they would have listed that first…or even mentioned those subjects AT ALL.
Today’s the day when more than 200 newspapers will attempt to prove that President Trump is a paranoid nutjob for thinking a coordinated liberal media are colluding against him by colluding to run 200 coordinated editorials against Trump at once. That’ll show him!
Actually, it’ll just show us all that Trump’s right, but only if anyone bothers to read these editorials. It’s like the old question, “If a dead tree paper falls on its sword for the Democrats and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?” At the link, a terrific article by Andrew Malcolm on what he calls the “briar-patch level genius” of the media in colluding to attack Trump for accusing them of colluding to attack him.
Malcolm spent 40 years in newspaper journalism, and wrote quite a few editorials himself, but he explains why most Americans have grown to viscerally distrust these pompous elitists lecturing to them from the editorial page, and it began long before Trump entered politics. They didn’t listen when all those newspapers endorsed Hillary Clinton, and they’re certainly not listening now. That’s why, for all of the power these editors think they’re mustering by attacking Trump collectively, most Americans won’t even read the editorials, and even those who still subscribe will likely send them unread to the bottoms of their bird cages the next day.
Another interesting take: this anti-Trump editorial blitz was organized by the Boston Globe. They have accused Trump of launching a “dirty war on the free press.” But as the Boston Herald reminds us, Trump has yet to shut down a single media outlet (he hasn’t even put any reporters under surveillance and spied on their phone and email records, the way Obama did, and they worshiped Obama.)
But do you know who has abused its political power to kill a newspaper? The Boston Globe! The Globe used its connections to destroy one of its competitors. In terms of success at killing outlets of the free press, the current score is Boston Globe 1, Trump 0. Here are the details:
The idea that the low approval of the news media is the result of Trump accusing them of bias and fake news is like blaming your venereal disease on the doctor who told you have it. Public distrust and distaste for the liberal media had been building for decades before Trump came along. It stretches back to the 1930s, when Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Walter Duranty was whitewashing Stalin’s atrocities. Flash forward to the ‘60s, when Walter Cronkite and CBS demoralized Americans by reporting that North Vietnam’s Tet Offensive was a terrible defeat for America when it was actually the opposite.
I’m also old enough to recall Ronald Reagan being characterized as a dumb, belligerent Hollywood cowboy who was going to get us into a nuclear World War III. George Bush was too nice to assail, so they attacked Vice President Dan Quayle every day for four years. The bias picked up steam when they ignored Bill and Hillary Clinton's scandals I knew only too well, instead marveling at how “power crackles from Bill's jeans!” Then we saw the vicious treatment George W. Bush got (the first example of the media sowing distrust in a presidential election came with the “selected, not elected” narrative, even though the media’s own Florida recounts showed that Bush would’ve won a recount.)
With Obama, the bias became so fawning, it was almost embarrassing, like watching your kid sister throw herself at the varsity quarterback. But the 2016 campaign was the first time the news media jettisoned even the pretense of feigning to claim impartiality and declared themselves to be “with her,” which is why Republicans keep rewatching their stunned Election Night tears on YouTube over and over while munching popcorn and laughing hysterically. After going from watchdogs to lapdogs overnight for Obama, the media’s instant self-righteous transformation into attack dogs the second Trump was elected seemed even more preposterous.
And that only takes us up to the night Trump won. You see, the media had squandered its journalistic integrity and reputation for fairness and accuracy long before Trump came on the scene. I spent a year or so writing a book about their arrogant disconnection from most Americans outside the NYC/L.A./D.C. bubble, “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy,” and it was published six months before Trump even announced his candidacy.
Do you know how I knew that many Americans held the media and political establishment in contempt? Because I live and travel in “flyover country,” and I heard it everywhere: from cab drivers, factory workers, hotel desk clerks, small business owners and all sorts of other “deplorables.” I wrote the book to try to warn them that if they didn’t come down off their high horse, the people were going to do something drastic and knock them off it. Well, they did. If the only solution the media can come up with is trying to climb back up on the same horse, then they shouldn’t blame Trump when they end up on landing in the manure again.
Cuomo shoots himself in his foot
Republicans should chip in and send a gift basket to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for giving them the perfect video clip for the November and 2020 elections. In a speech that drew an audible gasp even from his partisan Democratic crowd, Cuomo tried to attack President Trump by declaring, “We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great.”
Cuomo accomplished the neat trick of making his dad, famous liberal Mario Cuomo, sound like Donald Trump in comparison (see the link for what his dad said on this subject that apparently didn’t get handed down to his arrogant and ungrateful son.)
Cuomo’s aides desperately tried to extract his foot from his mouth, quickly issuing this “clarification”:
“Governor Cuomo disagrees with the President. The Governor believes America is great and that her full greatness will be fully realized when every man, woman, and child has full equality. America has not yet reached its maximum potential."
Except that’s not what he said…at all. He didn’t say America is great but could be even greater. He said, “America was never that great.” And I think he meant it, because that’s what most people on the left think these days: that America is and has always been a racist, sexist, oppressive, imperialist force of evil in the world that needs to be cut down to size. I would invite these people to go forth into the world and find a better place to live. I’m sure they won’t want to return here from whatever socialist paradise they find, but they can send us an email telling us about it
Personally, I believe that America has always been great (although it’s sometimes been harder when people like Andrew Cuomo were in charge), but one of the greatest things about it is that its people have the freedom to constantly be working to make it even greater. Because of that, America will never reach its “maximum potential,” because there are no limits on America’s potential. Just as there are no limits on Andrew Cuomo’s ability to screw up anything he runs, even his mouth.
Looking for bad news
I wrote yesterday about the Washington Post awarding Rep. Nancy Pelosi “Four Pinocchios” for her resurrection of a false quote attributed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that she must've known had been debunked. It was the claim that he said Republicans’ top goal was to make sure Obama’s Presidency failed. He actually said, “I don’t want the President to fail, I want him to change.” He was talking about opposing Obama’s liberal agenda, but being willing to work with him if he would compromise in ways Republicans think would help Americans. Pelosi not only falsely accused McConnell of wishing Obama to fail, but also painted that as “unthinkable” and even “racist.”
One thing I didn’t go into earlier was the whiplash-inducing hypocrisy of a top Democrat going into a huff (po) over the shamefulness of hoping for a President to fail. These days, you can’t turn on any liberal media source without encountering some anti-Trump partisan talking about the chances of the economy crashing or the North Korea nuclear talks breaking down, or some calamitous failure that would harm most Americans but hurt Trump and Republicans politically. Bill Maher openly wished for a recession. Currently, liberal media outlets are seemingly trying to tank the stock market by trotting out one gloom-and-doom prognosticator after another to warn that the bull market is almost sure crash any day now (“And please, God, please let it be before the election,” they would say, if they believed in prayer.)
None of these self-centered elites seem to care about the hardships such a crisis would inflict on everyday Americans, who are only now finally starting to recover from the jobless, low-growth Obama years. I think the most outrageous example of liberals grasping at straws (not plastic straws, of course) was an article I read that attempted to gin up fear of the terrible consequences of potential rising inflation because of numbers showing that real wages were finally starting to edge up after years of stagnation. Workers couldn’t even enjoy having a few extra bucks in their paychecks before liberals started wailing that it will lead to the “end of the world!” Because…”TRUUUUUUUUUMP!!!!” This is why so few workers are spending those extra bucks on newspaper subscriptions.
At the link, Jeffrey Folks of the American Thinker chronicles some of the left’s recent attempts to find bad news amid the historic low unemployment rates and GDP growth that’s twice what they condescendingly assured us was no longer possible (to be fair, it wasn’t when they were in charge) and their selfish wishes for any disaster that will help their political fortunes, even if it harms America’s. The article is called, “Let the Bad Times Roll.” Nancy Pelosi is right about one thing: this kind of selfish doom-spreading at the expense of your countrymen is unthinkable. So do us all a favor, Democrats, and stop thinking it.
Congratulations to FoxNews.com, which has surpassed CNN.com in total page views for the first time ever (I like to think that’s because I link to FoxNews.com.) Fox’s website has also beaten the CNN, New York Times and Washington Post websites in terms of engagement and time spent by individual readers.
This is a real coup for Fox, which had to come from behind and catch up on the web, even though it’s long been the dominant cable TV news channel in the ratings. I have a feeling they hate to brag too much about beating CNN, though, since the latest Neilsen ratings show that CNN’s primetime lineup was even beaten by the History Channel, whose shows that outdrew CNN include “Ancient Aliens,” a pseudo-science wackfest about how space aliens in flying saucers built the Pyramids. I guess viewers just found it more credible than CNN.
John Brennan and a tale of two security clearances
You’d think nobody had ever lost a security clearance before.
Former CIA Director John Brennan, who served under President Obama and is now the darling of the anti-Trump media as a contributor on MSNBC, can’t stop fuming publicly about what he perceives as punishment for disagreeing with President Trump: losing his top-secret clearance. He says Trump is trying to intimidate him and interfere with his freedom of speech, and he says it, and says it, and says it some more, whenever he wants, with no threat of repercussion, because nobody is interfering with his freedom of speech.
No one has the right to a security clearance. CIA directors have traditionally been allowed to keep theirs after they leave; it’s renewed every five years as a courtesy and also in case current staff wish to rely on their expertise in a given situation. There’s a condition, however: that former CIA directors “behave like current CIA employees.” Brennan has failed spectacularly to fulfill that requirement.
He’s also shown himself to be so heatedly partisan and deranged that he simply can’t be trusted on national security issues. And after he went so far as accusing the President of committing treason (a death penalty offense) simply for holding a press conference with Vladimir Putin, it’s hard to imagine a situation in which the current administration would wish to call upon him for anything, except maybe to do the opposite of what he says.
But if for some unfathomable reason they did need him, his security clearance could be reinstated. Peter Strzok’s was reinstated before his recent testimony before congressional oversight committees. (I assume it was yanked again right afterwards but don’t know for sure.) So, hypothetically, if the next administration were a bunch of “progressive” Democrats who were so “inclusive” they’d want to give a security clearance to a mouthy ex-spook who admitted during a polygraph when he joined the CIA in 1980 that he'd voted for the Communist Party in the ‘70s --- how did this man get to be in the CIA at all, let alone end up running it? --- they could always (shudder) give it back to him.
The anti-Trump media have gone wild, nonstop, over this. It was “authoritarianism in its purest form” (that from Ben Rhodes on MSNBC), “a brazen act of intimidation,” and "something you might see out of a dictatorship or authoritarian regime."
The intelligence community has been ridiculously free with security clearances, seemingly handing them out like candy. An estimated 4 million Americans have them, including an unbelievable 1 million with top-secret clearance. (I think about half of those people are now contributors on CNN and MSNBC. No wonder there are so many leaks.) And is it any wonder we’re uncovering so much inappropriate –- and illegal –- political activity going on in our intelligence community when John Brennan has shown himself to be “Exhibit A”? All of those involved need to lose their clearances.
Former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino pointed out on “Tucker Carlson” Wednesday that Brennan was the one who, on August 25, 2016, briefed Sen. Harry Reid about elements in the Christopher Steele “dossier” that were then put in an open letter to James Comey at the FBI, providing a pretense for the FBI investigation into then-candidate Trump. He’s bound to have been up to his eyeballs in the attempt to take down Trump, and it’s easy to agree with Bongino that he’s “a disgrace and a stain on the United States whose legacy will only be as a cautionary tale told to future CIA leaders about how not to act.”
But back to my original point. This certainly isn’t the first time a security clearance has been revoked, and Rowan Scarborough writing in the WASHINGTON TIMES has come across an interesting and very timely one. This is the story of Adam Lovinger, a 12-year strategist in the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment who complained to his superiors in the fall of 2016 about “sweetheart” contracts given to Stefan Halper, whom we now know was an FBI informant who spied on the Trump campaign. (Lovinger blew the whistle on some other contracts, too, given to a close friend of Chelsea Clinton). On May 1, 2017, his security clearance was revoked and he was relegated to clerical duties.
According to Lovinger’s complaint, Halper had been contracted by James Baker, who ran the Office of Net Assessment, to conduct “foreign relations” when that task was supposed to be confined to government officials. Halper had also been awarded contracts totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Pentagon support agency called the Washington Headquarters Service and, according to Lovinger’s attorney, was being paid “astronomically more than others similarly situated.”
As the attorney tells it, the people around the office had no idea what he was doing. The work they knew about seemed to be subcontracted; he was just acting as the middle man.
Halper’s name should ring a bell; he’s the “confidential human source” (SPY) who approached George Papadopoulos and also contacted Carter Page. For daring to speak up about the odd arrangement his bosses had with this man and other examples of what he saw as cronyism, Lovinger lost his security clearance. Ironically, he seems like just the sort of person who should have one.