Good morning! Here are the top stories from this week that I think you will want to read. Topics include:
- Netflix and Disney, are cracking due to self-inflicted wounds
- Consider this not just a warning bell, but a five-alarm fire
- Just how blackmail-able is President Biden?
- Elon Musk's Invaluable Service
- Libs of TikTok
DAILY BIBLE VERSE
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28 NKJV
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Netflix and Disney, are cracking due to self-inflicted wounds
This article was published on April 23.
What happens when an irresistible force like “Too big to fail” meets an immovable object like the ironclad law, “Get woke, go broke”? It appears that what’s happening is that some of the most powerful entertainment megacorps are cracking up due to self-inflicted wounds caused by putting leftist virtue signaling ahead of serving their core customer base. Cases in point: Netflix and Disney, two companies that got very woke, very arrogant and are having a very bad week/year.
Wednesday, Netflix suffered a 35.1% drop in its stock price, the worst since 2004, after announcing that instead of the expected first quarter subscriber increase, it lost 200,000 subscribers. Including Wednesday, Netflix’s stock is down 62% for the year.
Netflix’s plunge dragged down other large streaming services, including Disney, which dropped by 5.6%.
Of course, there are a number of contributing factors. People are going back to work after the pandemic (Note to Washington: the pandemic is OVER!) and not streaming Netflix all day. There’s rising competition. Netflix just raised its prices at a time when Americans are cutting expenses due to high inflation. All of these things give them cover to ignore a cancer they’d rather pretend doesn’t exist, but Elon Musk, as usual, dared to voice the unspeakable truth on Twitter: “The woke mind virus is making Netflix unwatchable.”
And he’s right: Netflix used to provide fun movies to distract us from the problems of the world. Now, they concentrate more on creating “original” programming (I have to put "original" in quotation marks) that pushes woke messages and undermines traditional moral values. It was admirable that they actually refused to “cancel” Dave Chappelle for daring to tell jokes about radical LGBTQ activists, but they still knuckled under by vowing to spend millions on shows pushing their message. In fact, they’ve squandered tons of money on woke message shows that hardly anyone is watching.
And Robert Spencer at PJ Media reminds us of some of Netflix’s recent brilliant programming decisions, from a documentary narrated by Barack Obama (can you imagine them asking Trump to narrate a show?) to a cartoon series that attacked Christians in a vulgar fashion to the execrable “Cuties,” which was basically an attempt to mainstream kiddie porn.
And they wonder why people refuse to pay to pipe this sewage into their living rooms?
Meanwhile, Disney has its own set of self-created problems. Wednesday, Florida’s Senate voted to end the self-governing status Disney has enjoyed since Walt Disney World was built. It’s expected to pass the House, and Gov. Ron DeSantis will likely sign it, since he already called for it.
While popular with most on the right, some are protesting that it’s anti-free speech to punish Disney for taking political stands. Others, however, say the reason is unimportant; that kind of crony capitalism should’ve ended long ago anyway.
Personally, I think they should be viewed as two separate issues. No, Disney shouldn’t have such a sweetheart deal. And yes, both Florida political leaders and parents are justifiably outraged. Disney isn’t just “taking a political position.” They’re diving headfirst into leftist political activism. They’re also destroying their nearly century-old reputation as a creator of safe, wholesome family entertainment in favor of pushing inappropriate sexual messages and LGBTQ propaganda onto small children.
If the current CEO thinks that mollifying the loudest, most radical activists on his staff is more important than maintaining the company’s reputation and customer base, then it deserves to drop in stock value and lose business. And he deserves to be replaced. There are already whispers of that happening. Couldn’t happen fast enough, if you happen to be a Disney stockholder.
By the way, if Netflix and Disney would rather go into the grooming and indoctrination business than provide family-friendly entertainment, there are any number of other companies ready and willing to fill the void. Ben Shapiro of the Daily Wire recently announced a $100 million investment in creating children's entertainment.
Here’s another new channel that “Full House” star Candace Cameron Bure is helping to launch.
And our pop culture guru Pat Reeder listed some others recently, which I’ll repost below. So it’s not as if we’ll run out of anything to watch if we don’t have Netflix or Disney:
From Pat: If you’re looking for Christian-oriented programming for the whole family, first stop would be TBN, where we do the “Huckabee” show. With that shameless plug out of the way, there are also lots of other great shows on TBN. They even have a 24-hour free streaming service of programs for kids ages 2-12. It’s called Smile of a Child TV, and you can sign up here:
Some other popular Christian streaming services that offer movies, family-friendly TV series and kids programming are Pureflix (https://www.pureflix.com), Minno (https://www.gominno.com), Faith Life TV (https://faithlifetv.com), Up Faith & Family (https://uptv.com) and the Dove Channel (https://www.dovechannel.com.) If you’re just looking to stream movies, there’s Christian Cinema (https://www.christiancinema.com) and Vid Angel, which offers regular movies with the objectionable material edited out, the way broadcast TV does -- or used to (https://www.vidangel.com.)
If you have an Amazon Prime membership for free shipping, it includes all sorts of other benefits, including free streaming of music and thousands of movies and TV shows. And if you have any cable service with Turner Classic Movies, you can get the TCM app for your Firebox, Roku, etc., and stream a constantly-changing assortment of classic films from the days when Hollywood made movies instead of political speeches.
YouTube is owned by Google, which I hate to support, but if you’re willing to sit through brief commercials, you can watch it for free. There are now hundreds of full-length movies on YouTube, as well as episodes of older TV shows and classic cartoons, where Bugs Bunny in a dress is the closest you'll get to gender politics messages.
Or you could just watch old sitcoms on Hulu. But you should know it’s owned by Disney.
Consider this not just a warning bell, but a five-alarm fire
This article was published on April 23.
This week, top Pentagon official Preston Dunlap, the founding chief architect officer of the U.S. Air Force and Space Force since 2019, announced his resignation. In doing so, he released a frightening warning about the state of readiness of the US Defense Department.
He described the US government as the world's largest bureaucracy in which people were more concerned with defending their turf than defending America, and competing with each other instead of China. He said on his first day of work at creating what should be a branch of the armed forces on the cutting edge of technology, he instead found a dinosaur:
“I arrived to find no budget, no authority, no alignment of vision, no people, no computers, no networks, a leaky ceiling, even a broken curtain.” He said that as he was writing his resignation, “I received notification that the phone lines are down at the Pentagon IT help desk. Phone lines are down? It’s 2022, folks.”
And in what I assume is preaching to the choir here, he added, “By the time the Government manages to produce something, it’s too often obsolete; no business would ever survive this way, nor should it.”
I hear a lot of complaints about letting billionaires like Elon Musk take over space technology. But when you consider Washington’s recent track record, I fear that if the current government brain trust had been in charge of NASA in the ‘60s, they not only wouldn’t have made it to the moon, they’d still be arguing over whether any lifeforms we might find on Mars are diverse enough.
Just how blackmail-able is President Biden?
This article was published on April 20.
This might be the calm before the storm for the Hunter Biden laptop story. Discussion seems to be moving from the contents –- we’ve got the idea and need to take repeated showers with antibacterial soap –- to the significance of those contents. On Wednesday, The Hill reported that Biden has told Obama he intends to run again in 2024. But on the same day, Townhall ran a piece by Oliver North and David Goetsch entitled “Biden’s Family Scandal: Never Underestimate the Power of Blackmail.”
Not long ago, we went to Andrew C. McCarthy’s book BALL OF COLLUSION to look at the corruption in Ukraine, the so-called influence peddling in which so many on both sides of the aisle engage. The context was Paul Manafort and how he ever became Trump’s campaign chairman, but this is the same environment where the “Biden family business” thrived. And just as Manafort became politically vulnerable because of his activities and connections, so did the Bidens. That can especially be said of the patriarch, Joe Biden, who had by far the most to lose. The chorus is growing that this scandal isn’t about Hunter, but about the President.
That’s precisely the point made in the Townhall piece. “All Hunter ever peddled to China, Russia and Ukraine was access to his father,” it says. “Hunter not only compromised his father but set him up for blackmail.”
Amazingly, the two enemies President Biden is having to face down in 2022, Russia and China, happen to be the very nations in which he is eminently blackmail-able.
Ah, but you might say that neither Russia nor China has released anything on him. That must mean there's nothing else.
Au contraire. Blackmail is like revenge –- best served cold. Meanwhile, the blackmailer holds on to whatever he has so he can hold the threat of using it over his victim. In the meantime, he WANTS his stooge to remain where he is. The victim knows that if his blackmailers are displeased, they’ll “release the Kraken.”
And since what we already know is so bad –- assuming that Joe was “the Big Guy” and the plan was to give him a 10 percent cut of the action –- one might imagine that “the Kraken” is exponentially worse. (Or, as Biden might say, “expodentially.”)
The Chinese, especially, are masters of blackmail. Joe Biden might swear up and down that he never profited from his family’s business dealings, but the authors of this piece pose a provocative question: “How did a lifelong politician who often claimed to be ‘the poorest man in the United States Senate’ suddenly become a multimillionaire on the Vice President’s salary, which in 2017 was $230,700?”
(Aside: That question is right up there with, “How did a couple of grifters from Arkansas go from being ‘dead broke’ to flying high in the wealth stratosphere, seemingly protected from any legal consequences of their actions?” I digress.)
Also recall the email that refers to Joe wanting to talk to Hunter “about his [Joe’s] future earnings potential.” We’ll ask again: Why would he be asking his son about that?
As FBI Director Chris Wray said in 2020, “China uses a diverse range of sophisticated techniques, everything from cyber intrusions to corrupting trusted insiders” to get what it wants. He went on to say that blackmail is one of their favorite tactics.
That’s one reason why it was so shocking to learn that California Rep. Eric Swalwell had had a close relationship with a Chinese agent, “Fang Fang,” that started even when he in his first political job, on a city council. Playing the long game, she helped groom him for higher office. Finally, she realized her cover was blown and high-tailed it back to China.
Congress didn’t take that revelation seriously enough –- might some of them be compromised, too? Swalwell takes a lower profile for now, but he’s still around and, amazingly, still has his seat on the HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE, where he once investigated President Trump over bogus ties to Russia.
Moving on...As reported by Jason Chaffetz on FOX News Sunday, a group of 16 GOP legislators is calling on the “Justice” Department to brief Congress on the federal investigation into the President’s son, telling Attorney General Merrick Garland in a letter, “It is imperative that the Department of Justice brief Congress on the nature of Mr. Weiss’s investigation into Hunter Biden. Congress has a constitutional obligation to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch an a moral obligation to examine if the President of the United States or any senior official in his administration is ethically compromised or injured.”
Chaffetz asked his guest, Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, what U.S. District Attorney David Weiss, head of the Delaware investigation into Hunter’s taxes that was made public in December 2020 (note: AFTER the election), might use as an excuse not to brief Congress. “The only excuse they might have,” Biggs said, “is that they don’t want to give us the information.” Yes, it’s typical for them to say they don’t comment on ongoing investigations. But, as Biggs said, 51 former intel officials signed a now-infamous letter saying the laptop had “classic earmarks” of Russian disinformation. They didn’t seem to mind talking about THAT, even when what they were saying wasn’t true.
“That was to suppress this for the election in 2020,” Biggs said. “...If they’re not going to give us information, it does continue to look like the cover-up that we suspect it to be.” He’s concerned that not only might Joe Biden and his family be compromised, but “quite frankly, certain folks and assets within DOJ” might be as well.
What Congress needs, Chaffetz said, is “information about the flow of money.” Biggs, a member of the House Oversight Committee, said they’ll keep pushing. Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, is also committed to doing so.
California Rep. Darrell Issa, who also appeared on the show, took a take-charge stance and announced that Republicans in Congress are not waiting for the “Justice” Department to appoint a special counsel. They have a copy of the laptop’s hard drive and will just start their own investigation, thank-you-very-much. They don’t have subpoena power, though, unless (until!) they retake Congress.
Mr. Weiss is a Trump appointee. Ironically, Biden couldn’t request his resignation, as is customary in a new administration, because Weiss already headed the ongoing investigation. (This isn’t Ukraine, after all.)
In late February, law professor Jonathan Turley commented on Weiss and the investigation going on in Delaware. Weiss apparently has called numerous witnesses to testify about Hunter’s lavish lifestyle. Turley’s biggest question is the scope of the investigation, saying the uncertainty surrounding that is the reason increasingly being cited for the need to appoint a special counsel, which Merrick Garland still refuses to do, “despite the clear basis for such an appointment.” Turley’s piece is a must-read…
Oh, and wouldn't want to forget this:
Elon Musk's Invaluable Service
This article was published on April 19.
Whether Elon Musk ultimately buys Twitter or not, he’s done the world an invaluable service by forcing leftists to admit (A.) that Twitter (and other social media outlets) are incredibly biased and censorious, and (B.) that there is nothing that terrifies them more than the thought of the people having freedom of speech.
I’ve always operated on the assumption that if you are so afraid of defending your ideas that you feel you have to silence anyone who would challenge them, then you must not be able to back them up intellectually. I’m confident enough in my beliefs that I happily invite liberals to come on my shows for a friendly debate, although I notice that hardly any of them take me up on it.
These days, leftists seem to believe, despite massive evidence to the contrary, that their opinions are objective truth. If that were true, they wouldn’t be so terrified of letting the other side talk, but instead, they’re desperate to maintain a highly censored public square with themselves, naturally, in charge of determining whose ideas are worthy of voicing.
When you have so-called “thought leaders” like Robert Reich and Max Boot actually arguing that Musk’s free speech agenda is the dream of every dictator on earth (Really? Name one) or that “For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less,” you know are engaged in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.
Instapundit had a good wrap-up on what an important day last Thursday was, a turning point in the left revealing its true attitude about freedom of speech.
As Glenn Greenwald put it, “It was the day they were forced to explicitly state what has long been clear: they not only favor censorship but desperately crave and depend on it.”
And speaking of victories for free speech: Congratulations to philosophy professor Nicholas Meriwether, who was punished by Shawnee State University for refusing to call a male student by his “preferred” female pronouns because it violated his religious beliefs. Meriwether said he treats all students with dignity and respect, and he offered to call the student by name, but that wasn’t good enough. He sued, with his attorney saying that nobody should be forced to contradict their core beliefs just to keep their job.
Last month, the 6th US Court of Appeals found in his favor, ruling that the university violated his First Amendment rights. As part of a settlement, the university agreed to rescind the written warning issued to him, and pay his attorney’s fees and $400,000 in damages.
Congratulations to Prof. Meriwether and a big salute for fighting to defend both First Amendment free speech rights and correct grammar.
Libs of TikTok
This article was published on April 20.
There are very few stories that pop up and go through so many twists and turns in so short a time as the Washington Post’s attempt to dox the creator of Libs of TikTok. Follow me closely, and I’ll attempt to bring you up to speed as quickly as possible.
Libs of TikTok is a Twitter account that makes the left look dangerous and ridiculous, not by attacking them or spreading “disinformation,” but by simply reposting things they put onto social media themselves. It’s enraged the left because it’s started being noticed by influential people, like conservative reporters and parents who are shocked to see teachers openly bragging about flying their freak flags in the faces of first graders.
In time-honored “kill the messenger” form, liberal politicians and media figures aren’t angry at the people who expose their lunacy to the world, they’re angry at the Twitter account for shining a brighter spotlight on it. The account has already been suspended a couple of times by Twitter (even though, again, it simply retweets posts from leftist accounts that weren’t suspended – you couldn’t cut the hypocrisy with a chainsaw.)
So this week, in an attempt to intimidate the anonymous private citizen behind the Libs of TikTok account into silence, Washington Post “tech reporter” (i.e., blogger) Taylor Lorenz ran an article that was a thinly disguised attempt to dox her – that is, to reveal details of her identity so that unhinged leftists could threaten her and her family, demand she be fired, and all the other loathsome things online leftist mobs have become notorious for. Lorenz even went to the home of the woman’s relatives.
This rightly ignited major blowback, especially since Lorenz herself had recently been literally crying in a TV interview about how people’s mean tweets to her were “horrifying” and amounted to harassment of women.
Instead of apologizing for this outrageous breach of ethics, WaPo defended it, in the process telling outright lies, like claiming the creator’s identity was already public knowledge and that they didn’t publish any private details about her (it wasn’t and they did.) Quickly removing it after being called on it didn’t change the reality.
All this journalistic malpractice and bullying got the attention of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, who asked some uncomfortable questions of WaPo about the source of the private information they used to try to dox the site creator. Carlson connected their source to a German-based intelligence operation that he said is trying to “silence and intimidate an American citizen,” and asked if that’s legal and if Lorenz is registered as a foreign agent.
Libs of TikTok’s creator said she’s been forced to flee her residence because of the doxing and threats, but she refuses to be intimidated into silence, and she’s garnered even greater attention and support. So it appears that an attempt to bully another conservative has blown up in WaPo’s face like one of Wile E. Coyote’s Acme Roadrunner Missiles.
Putting a cherry on top, the CEO of the satirical site The Babylon Bee (which has also been suspended by Twitter for running humorous pieces that were too truthful) announced that he’s struck a deal with the creator of Libs of TikTok to “turn her heroic, high-risk work into a career.”
So a cancel culture leftist set out to silence someone for exposing the truth about the left, inadvertently exposed the ugly truth about herself and her employer, and it all ends up with her intended victim getting a career, a big boost of attention, and an even bigger public platform.
Who says stories these days never have happy endings?
By the way, I would like to point out to WaPo and all the other liberal media outlets that I’ve been reporting and making fun of the insane things leftists say and do for over a decade. So if they’d like to give me some free publicity, my name is Mike Huckabee.
America The Beautiful
God's creation is all around us. To learn more about Yosemite National Park, visit its website here.
Pain from Ukraine: Manafort as Trump's campaign chair
This article was published on March 29.
While writing about the Hunter Biden laptop story, we still had the same nagging question: How did Paul Manafort, with all his heavy Ukraine-lobbying baggage, get to chair Donald Trump’s campaign in the first place? So we started looking.
Oddly, when we did a Yahoo search on that question, the first link that came up was to an entity called Just Security, funded in part by Open Society Foundations. What? Thanks, but no thanks, Yahoo; George Soros isn’t exactly the person to tell us the truth about Manafort (or anything else). Don’t click the link unless you want to see billionaire Soros staring back at you with those lifeless eyes, no doubt from his Bond villain-style subterranean lair, complete with piranha tank. All he needs is a white Persian cat.
The next story Yahoo selected for us appeared more promising: an article in Time magazine from October 2017, just a few days after he’d been indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller. The article says that in mid-2016, “when his nomination seemed in peril, Trump turned to a longtime acquaintance, Paul Manafort, who owned a condo in Trump Tower and had a political pedigree that peaked in the 1970 and ‘80s, despite Manafort’s reputation for representing foreign autocrats.”
Not much information there, but the Time article at least asks the question we’re asking: “How did such a colorful political operative, known for his international clientele and larger-than-life reputation, wind up trading in the jet-setting pace for one more domestic political campaign?” They said they found Trump’s decision to hire him “confounding.”
The problem with this article, though, is that its sources can’t agree on why Trump thought hiring Manafort would be a good idea.
The piece summarizes three basic theories and offers some interesting background on Manafort’s relationships with other Trump associates such as Roger Stone.
We also learn how Manafort and his baggage quickly became problematic and led to infighting. Too much of the campaign became about him.. Trump said “You’re fired!” on August 19, 2016. Manafort had chaired the campaign for only three months.
But as Columbo would say, “There’s something about this that bothers me...” The presence in Trump’s campaign of Manafort, with his previous work for a couple of pro-Russia political parties in Ukraine, seems all too convenient for those working so hard to falsely tar Trump as an ally of Putin. Is there more to this story than we have heard in the media?
Fortunately, we found a mother lode of information about Manafort, his dealings in Ukraine, and how they relate to what happened later with the Trump campaign and special counsel. It’s Andrew C. McCarthy’s book BALL OF COLLUSION, specifically Chapter 3. Read this chapter, and you’ll be taken on a guided tour of the Washington DC and Ukraine swamps, going back decades. And it’s swampier and murkier than you ever imagined, populated with Russians and Ukrainians, Republicans and Democrats.
In “An Old Story: Beltway Consultants as Agents of the Kremlin,” McCarthy explains that when the Soviet Union disintegrated at the end of 1991, “suddenly, a gravy train roared through the badlands of ‘gangster capitalism’...the spoils of a fallen empire that became available to the shrewdest and most ruthless bidders.” On one side were the oligarchs, who often came up from nothing in Soviet Russia through alliances with organized crime and corrupt government officials. On the other were the well-connected American lawyers and lobbyists who worked as political operatives.
This is the muck Manafort swam in, and I suppose there’s a certain skill in prospering there without ending up sleeping with the fishes in the Black Sea. As McCarthy puts it, “The guys with their snouts in the trough are the same guys who write and enforce the laws, the benefits accruing as they glide between the ‘public service’ and the private lobbying sides of the revolving door –- the door between political office and political consultancy, between law enforcement and law evasion.”
If you’re like me, when you read that sentence, you realize our own country can increasingly be described this way. We don’t have to go to Ukraine to encounter it –- it’s here.
In fact, you might be shocked at some of the names of Americans politicians and bureaucrats that turn up in this story: the venerable Bob Dole, John McCain (a lot), former FBI Director William Sessions, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller, Hillary (of course) and many more. I’ll quote one key paragraph: “Most Americans are not familiar with the fraught history and politics of Ukraine...the netherworld of Washington political lobbying for foreign interests –- especially for despots and Mafiosi-turned-magnates. When Hillary Clinton lost an election, and it came time for her progressive sympathizers and Republic anti-Trump agitators to pin her defeat on Russian espionage, it was easy to craft a narrative that painted Trump political consultants who’d worked for Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs as Putin’s puppets. All that was necessary was for the rest of us to forget the last quarter-century, to develop amnesia about Washington’s projection of post-Soviet Russia as a political and business partner, an effort that Mrs. Clinton herself had been in up to her neck...”
And though Manafort seems like a villain right out of Central Casting, McCarthy explains that in his role as a consultant he was toeing a line, constantly playing one sordid side against the other, and even playing Europe against Moscow. It was a balancing act. Claiming that Manafort was “Putin’s puppet” is revisionist history.
Read this chapter, and you’ll see how ridiculous it was to malign Manafort as an agent of Russia. Influence peddling is not the same thing as collusion. What he was doing as a consultant was the norm --- it was "unsavory but legal."
The various personalities in Manafort’s world are too numerous to mention here –- encompassing many of the people involved with the “dossier” –- but it’s not necessary to keep track of them all. There were Republican consultants, Obama consultants and Clinton consultants. In McCarthy’s words, “The Ukrainian politician is navigating a minefield of power centers, amid rampant corruption and organized crime.”
So in the end, given the pervasiveness of The Swamp, I guess it’s not so strange after all that someone with these shady connections ended up heading a presidential campaign –- Trump’s or anyone else’s –- though it sure came in handy for Trump’s enemies when they were looking for anything to attack. Keep in mind, too, that those from the most prestigious firms would not work for Trump. Heck, I’ll bet some would work for a corrupt Russian oligarch before they’d work for Donald Trump!
So he might not have had much to choose from. Remember how hard it was for him to find attorneys when he was impeached? Law firms that might've agreed to represent him were threatened and ostracized. We’ll keep looking for more on this story, but for now, this seems to be an explanation that actually makes sense. It could just be that Manafort was super-aggressive, had handled many campaigns, would actually take the job, and, hey, had a condo right there in Trump Tower. Where the FBI probably spied on him.
I Just Wanted to Say:
Thank you for reading the Sunday Standard.