Mid-Day Digest

Apr. 20, 2017

IN TODAY’S EDITION

  • Predictions of increased crime after DC’s handgun ban was shot down haven’t come true.
  • Bill O'Reilly’s firing provides a glimpse at why we elected to be advertising free.
  • The Supreme Court heard arguments in a critical religious liberty case yesterday.
  • Daily Features: Top Headlines, Cartoons, Columnists and Short Cuts.

THE FOUNDATION

“[A] good moral character is the first essential in a man, and that the habits contracted at your age are generally indelible, and your conduct here may stamp your character through life. It is therefore highly important that you should endeavor not only to be learned but virtuous.” —George Washington (1790)

TOP RIGHT HOOKS

No Spin: Killing Bill O'Reilly

By Mark Alexander

After 21 years at Fox News, Bill O'Reilly, who entered the national media market as an infotainer with CBS’s tabloid-gossip nightly, “Inside Edition,” is out. According to Fox, “After a thorough and careful review of the [sexual harassment] allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.” In other words, after paying more than $13 million to hush sexual harassment suits in recent years, once the complaints became public, advertisers pressured Fox to can O'Reilly.

Though we have criticized O'Reilly in the past, particularly over his libelous “biography” of Ronald Reagan, he was an effective promoter of some conservative ideas, mostly by over-talking his guest victims. That effectiveness is precisely why The New York Times exposed his alleged transgressions.

Regardless of what you think about O'Reilly, the real story here is the calculation by the Times that exposing O'Reilly would result in advertisers boycotting the show — and the network. Thus, Fox News, which is first and foremost devoted to maintaining market share (a.k.a. advertising revenues), had to fold its hand. Fox already has to blast now-ubiquitous “Fox News Alert” banners, ad nauseum, in order to keep its viewers interested through their 24/7 news cycle. As that tactic wears thin, so will ad revenue, and the network could not afford to keep O'Reilly on.

While this episode publicly exposes the power and influence that advertisers have in regard to who is delivering the news, the question every consumer of news from any commercial outlet should ask is this: How often do editors make decisions about what news to cover, and how, based on their concern for how advertisers will respond? The answer: Every day, all day.

At The Patriot Post, we made a commitment from day one to decline advertising. You will note that our website and email publications are free from annoying ads, pop-up screens, or any other sponsored content. When asked on occasion by our supporters why we do not supplement our revenues with advertising, I refer them to our mission and operations statement, which notes plainly: “We are not sustained by any political, special interest or parent organization, and we do not accept advertising to ensure our advocacy is not restrained by commercial influence.”

It is for that reason that The Patriot Post is funded entirely by the generous support of fellow Patriots. We’re accountable only to you — not the plethora of advertisers who shape the editorial content of commercial print and television outlets.

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Dems’ Dire Warnings After Heller Prove False

A recent analysis has determined that since the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller Supreme Court decision overturning DC’s handgun ban, there has been no increase in violent crime. If anything, there has been a slight decrease in the number of murders committed with a firearm — from nearly 80% of all homicide victims between 2000 and 2007 to 74% in 2008, the year following the court’s decision. That number has continued to decline since the decision.

The pre- and post-Heller numbers also show that the worst year for gun-related homicides in the District was 2002 with 262, while, after the ban’s removal, the worst year was 2015 with a total of 162 such homicides. John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, said, “I expect murders to fall. How they fall is a different question. The people who generally obeyed the ban were law-abiding citizens and not criminals.”

This sentiment certainly wasn’t shared by many anti-gun groups or Democrats at the time of the Heller ruling. Then-DC Mayor Adrian Fenty warned, “More handguns in the District of Columbia will only lead to more handgun violence.” And the queen of anti-gun hyperbole herself, Dianne Feinstein, falsely predicted, “The people of this great country will be less safe because of it.”

While DC still has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, Lott noted the Heller decision has “legalized people being able to use guns in self-defense.” In reality this analysis of the numbers comes as no surprise to those of us who have ardently defended the wisdom of our Founding Fathers in crafting the Second Amendment, which was specifically intended for the right of citizens to protect themselves — not just from crime but from tyrannical government.

Speaking of tyranny, recent news out of Venezuela serves as yet another reminder of the aforementioned truth. Having outlawed private gun ownership in the recent past in the name of combatting crime, dictator Nicolas Maduro’s increasingly oppressive government is now arming his own thugs in order to enforce control over the growing dissident movement of citizens who are fed up with his authoritarian rule and literally starving. Feinstein and Co. must be looking on with envy.

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Top Headlines

  • Report: Trump rolls back $60 billion more in regulatory savings. (The Washington Free Beacon)

  • War on cops? U.S. murder rate expected to rise 8% in 2016. (Washington Examiner)

  • Iowa becomes the 35th state to adopt “stand your ground” legislation. (National Review)

  • AG Sessions: MS-13 gang could be designated as terrorist organization. (The Hill)

  • How did New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo make $783,000 on memoir that sold 3,200 copies? (The Buffalo News)

  • UC Berkeley rewards liberal violence by not allowing Ann Coulter speech. (The Daily Signal)

  • Modern college yields results: Census says more Americans 18-to-34 now live with parents than with spouse. (CNS News)

  • Trump signs bill giving vets more choices for health care. (CNS News)

  • U.S. considers re-imposing all sanctions on Iran, dismantling nuke deal. (The Washington Free Beacon)

  • Assad repositions Syrian planes near Russian base, expecting Trump won’t dare to bomb there. (Hot Air)

  • Policy: The economy is rushing toward a fiscal reckoning. (American Enterprise Institute)

  • Policy: Renewable energy myths abound. (Heartland Institute)

For more, visit Patriot Headline Report.

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Don’t Miss Alexander’s Column

Read The Shot (Still) Heard ‘Round the World!. The fight for American Liberty originated in defiance of government confiscation of income and firearms.

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FEATURED RIGHT ANALYSIS

What Does a Playground Have to Do With Religious Liberty?

By Allyne Caan

What could pro-LGBT advocacy group Lambda Legal possibly have against a state-funded grant to fix a pre-school playground? When the playground sits on the property of a church that is at the center of a potentially landmark Supreme Court ruling, the answer is: a lot.

On Wednesday, the High Court heard oral argument in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer. At issue is whether Missouri can discriminate against religious institutions in public aid programs. In 2012, the Missouri church, which also runs a daycare center and preschool program, applied for a grant through a state program that helps non-profits install rubber playground surfaces. The church’s application ranked fifth out of 44 submissions, yet Trinity was disqualified from receiving one of the 14 grants. The reason? The state claimed giving the church funds would violate the state constitutional provision against providing public funding for religious organizations.

Trinity Lutheran sued, and after losing in federal district court and on appeal in the Eighth Circuit, the church now faces SCOTUS’ judgment.

The case is significant for more than one reason. For starters, it represents Justice Neil Gorsuch’s first major religious liberty case since joining the Court. While SCOTUS agreed to hear the case before Justice Antonin Scalia’s death last year, the Court delayed oral argument until nine justices were seated, suggesting concern there may be a 4-4 ruling otherwise. And while it’s nearly impossible to predict what a newly minted Supreme Court justice will do, Gorsuch’s record on the Tenth Court of Appeals — where he sided with Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor against ObamaCare mandates — suggests his respect for religious liberty. Yet, as The Daily Signal cautions, Gorsuch “has yet to rule on a [religious liberty] funding case. So this could be different territory.”

Perhaps even more notably, this case could have tremendous impact nationwide not only on public funding for religious institutions in general but on school choice specifically. In 2002, SCOTUS ruled in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris that including religious schools in school voucher programs does not violate the Constitution’s establishment clause. Now, Trinity could take this ruling one step further. As American Enterprise Institute director of education-policy studies Frederick Hess and research assistant Grant Addison explain, “Having determined in Zelman that states are constitutionally permitted to include religious schools in school-choice programs, the Court will now decide whether states are prohibited from discriminating against religious schools when providing public services.”

Currently, 38 states have constitutional restrictions against using public funds for religious organizations — so-called “Blaine Amendments,” named for Representative James G. Blaine, who in the late 19th century proposed a federal constitutional amendment prohibiting tax dollars designated for public education from going to religious sects. That amendment was the product of anti-Catholic bigotry.

Although Blaine’s federal amendment failed, 38 states implemented similar provisions. Indeed, Missouri used its own Blaine amendment to deny Trinity Lutheran’s grant application. The program has nothing to do with religion, and it will not fund the church’s religious activities at all, but the Show Me State rejected the application on the basis of religion. Needless to say, then, a SCOTUS ruling that Trinity Lutheran cannot be excluded from competitive state grants solely because it is a religious institution could have wide-reaching consequences.

It’s precisely because of this potential that groups from both sides of the culture war — from Lambda Legal and the National Education Association to the Christian Legal Society, the Institute for Justice, and many others — have taken a keen interest in this case.

It’s not about whether a playground will be re-surfaced; it’s about whether our nation will continue twisting the First Amendment to make it as hostile to religion as possible.

While the Court could dismiss the case — especially after Missouri’s new governor, Eric Greitens, recently announced a reversal in state policy that will allow religious organizations to compete for grants — SCOTUSblog reporter Amy Howe concludes it seems more likely the justices will issue a ruling. And if the line of questioning at yesterday’s oral argument hints at that ruling, the majority may conceivably not be a slim one. Howe reports that Justice Stephen Breyer seemed “unconvinced” by some of the state’s argument and Justice Elena Kagan “signaled a willingness to vote for the church.”

Of course, judicial reactions during oral argument have led prognosticators astray before, and this case still may come down to one vote when a ruling is issued, likely in late June. No matter the outcome, it’s a ruling that impact religious liberty for decades to come. Either such discriminatory Blaine amendments remain on the books in 38 states, or they’re eroded and religious liberty gains ground. In this case, literal ground.

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MORE ANALYSIS FROM THE PATRIOT POST

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

For more, visit Right Opinion.

OPINION IN BRIEF

Victor Davis Hanson: “Shortly after the 2008 election, President Obama’s soon-to-be chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, infamously declared, ‘You never let a serious crisis go to waste.’ … [I]n Alice in Wonderland fashion, just as drilling was supposedly no cure for oil shortages, building reservoirs was no remedy for water scarcity. In the same manner, neglecting the maintenance and building of roads in California created a transportation crisis. Until recently, the preferred solution to the state’s road mayhem and gridlock wasn’t more freeway construction but instead high-speed rail — as if substandard streets and highways would force millions of frustrated drivers to use expensive state-owned mass transit. These days, shortages of credit, water, oil or adequate roads are no longer seen as age-old challenges to a tragic human existence. Instead of overcoming them with courage, ingenuity, technology and scientific breakthroughs, they are seen as existential ‘teachable moments.’ In other words, crises are not all bad — if they lead the public to more progressive government.”

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “The collection of taxes which are not absolutely required, which do not beyond reasonable doubt contribute to the public welfare, is only a species of legalized larceny. The wise and correct course to follow in taxation is not to destroy those who have already secured success, but to create conditions under which everyone will have a better chance to be successful.” —Calvin Coolidge (1873-1933)

Telling it like it is: “We are under attack from terrorists both within and outside of our borders. They are without conscience, and they operate without rules. They despise the United States, because we are a nation of rights, laws, and freedoms. They have a single mission, and that is our destruction. And I tell you, without exaggeration, they try to carry out this mission each and every single day and no one can tell you how to stop it. No one.” —DHS Secretary John Kelly

Non Compos Mentis: “Trump and the climate-destroyers he brought into office with him such as Rex Tillerson and Scott Pruitt are not driven by compassion for victims. They are animated by a callous and rapacious search for profits for themselves and their cronies. If they cared about children killed by noxious gases, they wouldn’t want to ban Syrian refugees like the Kurdis [sic] from the United States. Nor would they want to spew ever more tons of the most noxious gas of all into the blue skies of the only planetary home the human race has.” —professor Juan Cole in The Nation (Yes, CO2 is so dangerous that Professor Cole wouldn’t be alive to pen this nonsense without it.)

Doomed to repeat failure? “Yes [Trump will be re-elected]. I think that the Democrats have overplayed their hand. … [W]hat the Democrats needed to do — and what the major media … needed to do — was to do some soul-searching.” —Camille Paglia

Alpha Jackass: “So we know that he is an unstable man who has nuclear weapons. About to deal with an unstable man who has nuclear weapons. What could possibly go wrong?” —Sen. Elizabeth Warren portraying Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un as equally dangerous

Late-night humor: “JetBlue is holding a sweepstakes where if you owe money to the IRS, you can enter to win a free flight. And get this, United’s offering just to drag the tax collector out of your home.” —Jimmy Fallon

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Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Managing Editor Nate Jackson

Join us in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families.