Mid-Day Digest

Aug. 16, 2018

THE FOUNDATION

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.” —Thomas Paine (1777)

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IN TODAY’S EDITION

  • For cynical political purposes, Colorado again targets the same baker.
  • Was the infamous Trump Tower meeting itself a Clinton setup?
  • The Media’s ‘Day of Rage’ — 350 anti-Trump editorials.
  • The SCOTUS nominee litmus test may be shifting.
  • May the (Space) Force be with you.
  • Brennan’s security clearance revoked for good reason.
  • Daily Features: Top Headlines, Memes, Cartoons, Columnists, and Short Cuts.

IN BRIEF

Colorado Goes After Cake Baker … Again

Thomas Gallatin

Less than a month after the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the state of Colorado violated Jack Phillips’s right to free expression by demonstrating an overt animus against his religious convictions, the Masterpiece Cakeshop owner and custom baker finds himself targeted by the state yet again. First it was over a custom cake for a same-sex wedding. Now the Colorado Civil Rights Commission cited Phillips for his refusal to bake a custom cake celebrating a “gender transition.”

According to Alliance Defending Freedom, on June 26, 2017, the same day the Supreme Court agreed to review Phillips’s case, a lawyer named Autumn Scardina contacted Masterpiece Cakeshop asking the store “to create a custom cake with ‘a blue exterior and a pink interior’ — a cake ‘design’ that, according to the lawyer [reflected] the fact that [the lawyer] transitioned from male-to-female and that [the lawyer] had come out as transgender.” But this was only one of several order requests Scardina made for overtly offensive cake designs, several of which included requests for explicit sexual and/or anti-Christian elements. In other words, it’s clear that Scardina’s order requests were intentionally designed to harass Phillips.

But worse than Scardina’s campaign of harassment is the malicious attitude displayed by the Colorado Civil Rights Division — specifically its director, Aubrey Elenis, who found on June 28 “probable cause” that Phillips violated Scardina’s civil rights. That’s particularly vindictive in light of the fact that SCOTUS specifically rebuked the division over its animus against Phillips’s religious convictions. This is the equivalent of Elenis and her cohorts giving SCOTUS the middle finger.

As National Review’s David French notes, “With its probable-cause finding, the Colorado Civil Rights Division demonstrates it’s as foolish as it is malicious. It has just launched yet another legal campaign against Phillips based on nothing more than a bad-faith complaint from an angry troll. It hasn’t cured its devotion to double standards. And by seeking to punish Phillips when the expressive message of the proposed cake is crystal clear, the Division has only strengthened his First Amendment claim.”

So why would the Colorado Civil Rights Division make a decision it knows it’s are almost certain to lose? Politics. As we previously noted, Democrats and their Leftmedia propaganda machine will seize upon this as a campaign issue, spinning it as evidence of continuing discrimination against the civil rights of “LGBT” individuals and arguing that Donald Trump must be stopped from appointing more judges. Secondly, it serves as an effective fundraising issue that Dems can exploit by playing to the emotions of their biggest and most loyal constituency, women voters.

This case is an egregious instance of government overreach by what is ostensibly a “civil rights division” seeking to use its power to compel individuals to conform to and espouse only speech it finds “correct.” Government should be defending the First Amendment rights of every citizen, not burning them in the oven of hateful intolerance.

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Infamous Trump Tower Meeting: A Clinton Setup?

RealClear Investigations’ Lee Smith made an in-depth investigation into the infamous Trump Tower meeting, where staff members of Donald Trump’s campaign met with a Russian lawyer with the intention of gleaning dirt on Hillary Clinton. That meeting has long been treated by Democrats and their cohorts in the mainstream media as the “smoking gun” of a Trump/Russian collusion conspiracy. However, contrary to the Leftmedia’s popular narrative, Smith asserts that “a growing body of evidence … indicates that the meeting may have been a setup — part of a broad effort to tarnish the Trump campaign involving Hillary Clinton operatives employed by Kremlin-linked figures and Department of Justice officials.”

Smith, who has been meticulously piecing together public records evidence that the MSM has largely ignored, found that the recent evidence the DOJ handed over to Congress contains significant pieces of a puzzle that point to the real collusion conspiracy members. It is well documented that the Clinton campaign hired and financed Fusion GPS’s production of the dubious anti-Trump dossier via ex-British spy Christopher Steele. It has also been confirmed that the FBI relied heavily and almost solely upon the “unverified and salacious” dossier in obtaining its FISA warrants for running surveillance on members of Trump’s campaign.

But this most recent document release, which the DOJ and FBI turned over only after months of receiving threats from members of Congress, shows just how far the Clinton campaign appeared to go in its efforts to smear Trump. It now seems that Clinton operatives were the ones who initially contacted the Trump campaign way back in March 2016 offering “potentially damaging information” on Clinton — as bait. As Investor’s Business Daily puts it, “They were in effect live-trolling the campaign.” In other words, it was a setup in which officials within the DOJ and FBI — months after the election — leaked news of the meeting to the press, conveniently spinning the narrative of a Trump/Russia collusion conspiracy.

As Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) explained to Fox News on Sunday, “So here you have information flowing from the Clinton campaign from the Russians.” He added that it was likely that information “was handed directly from Russian propaganda arms to the Clinton campaign, fed into the top levels of the FBI and Department of Justice to open up a counterintelligence investigation into a political campaign that has now colluded [with] nearly every top official at the DOJ and FBI over the course of the last couple years. Absolutely amazing.”

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Top Headlines

  • Trump picks record number of new judges (Reason)
  • Trump revokes security clearance for former CIA director John Brennan (Fox News)
  • Botched CIA communications system helped blow cover of Chinese agents (Foreign Policy)
  • With a quarter million comments in, EPA set to move on contentious “secret science” rule (Washington Examiner)
  • Democrats discard Washington platform in bid for House control (The New York Times)
  • New poll reveals shocking results: Black approval of Trump is twice as high as last year (The Daily Wire)
  • Drugs killed more than 70,000 Americans in 2017 (The Washington Free Beacon)
  • Good news: Police officer jumps off overpass to save boy’s life in daring New York rescue (WLTX 19)
  • “Bottom” Story of the Day: San Francisco launching “Poop Patrol” to combat crappy streets (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Humor: Colorado baker forced to bake cake celebrating possible closure of his own business (The Babylon Bee)
  • Policy: The divisive consequences of the Census Bureau’s committee on race (The Daily Signal)
  • Policy: A late summer budgetary nightmare (Real Clear Policy)

For more of today’s news, visit Patriot Headline Report.

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TODAY’S MEME

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For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.

TODAY’S CARTOON

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For more of today’s top cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

Don’t Miss Alexander’s Column

Read From Uncivil Discourse to Civil War?. Historic socialist assaults on Liberty were not as organized and targeted, nor did they have the tacit approval of a major political party.

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BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

FEATURED ANALYSIS

The Media’s Day of Rage

Arnold Ahlert

“We have met the enemy and he is us.” —"Pogo" comic strip creator Walt Kelly

For those who enjoy a collective temper tantrum, few things compare to what is best described as the mainstream media’s very own “Day of Rage.” Today, in an effort to embrace collectivist victimhood, more than 350 newspapers have published a coordinated series of editorials aimed at countering the president’s ongoing assertions that fake news is an “enemy of the people.” In short, a media obsessed with “Russian collusion” is engaging in massive collusion of its own — to assert its legitimacy, no less. If there were a Richter Scale for measuring hypocrisy, the reading would be off the charts.

This effort was the “brainchild” of Marjorie Pritchard, deputy editor of the Boston Globe. Last Saturday, she told CNN that “we have more than 100 publications signed up, and I expect that number to grow in the coming days.” The American Society of News Editors and the New England Newspaper and Press Association have joined Pritchard in an effort to get additional newspapers on board, and the deputy editor is proud that publications in both big and small markets are “enthusiastic about standing up to Trump’s assault on journalism.”

Pritchard is especially enthusiastic about the fact that each paper will have published its own editorial, rather than the exact same message. “The impact of Trump’s assault on journalism looks different in Boise than it does in Boston,” she insisted. “Our words will differ. But at least we can agree that such attacks are alarming.”

Alarming? Compared to what? In 2013, the Obama administration’s DOJ seized — without notice — the cell phone and home phone records of more than 100 Associated Press reporters. “There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of the Associated Press and its reporters,” stated AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt in a letter of protest sent to then-Attorney General Eric Holder.

In an editorial entitled “Spying on the Press,” The New York Times characterized the administration’s behavior as something that “looks like a fishing expedition for sources and an effort to frighten off whistle-blowers.”

Obama and Holder weren’t done fishing. A week after the AP debacle was revealed, America learned that Fox News correspondent James Rosen was cited as a possible criminal “co-conspirator” in a Justice Department affidavit. Rosen was investigated for publishing a 2009 story leaked to him by a government advisor about North Korea’s intention to conduct a nuclear test ahead of UN sanctions. During the investigation, the feds tracked Rosen’s State Department visits and movements via his security badge, helped themselves to his email logs, and even investigated the phone records of his parents.

It gets worse. In a 2013 interview with NPR, Holder revealed he didn’t know how many other times the DOJ seized journalists’ records. “I’m not sure how many of those cases … I have actually signed off on,” Holder stated. “I take them very seriously. I know that I have refused to sign a few [and] pushed a few back for modifications.”

In a 2016 column, CNN’s Jose Pagliery revealed the same Obama administration “used the Espionage Act to hunt down whistleblowers who leaked to journalists more than all previous presidential administrations combined, according to several studies by news organizations.”

What was the media pushback on what could arguably be characterized as an effort to criminalize journalism? An indignant letter sent to Eric Holder signed by several media entities.

As for media collusion, this latest Trump-bashing effort isn’t the first time the Fourth Estate has behaved like a Fifth Column. In 2008, more than 400 leftist “Journo-lists” from media, academia, and think tanks coordinated their coverage of Obama to insulate him from the racist rants of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Anyone who brought up the former president’s two-decade association with the hate-spewing “reverend” was labeled a “racist.”

Media collusion was also an integral part of the 2016 election cycle. Emails disseminated by Wikileaks revealed the media’s contemptible alliance with Hillary Clinton and DNC leadership, and their plot to slant coverage against Bernie Sanders.

Undermining Sanders was only part of the equation. Other examples of coordinated media/DNC malfeasance include Politico’s Ken Vogel giving DNC officials a look at an article about Clinton fundraising before showing it to his own editor; CNBC’s John Harwood asking Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta what questions to ask Jeb Bush in an interview; Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank requesting and receiving Trump opposition research from the DNC; and DNC interim chairwoman and CNN contributor Donna Brazile forwarding debate questions to Clinton ahead of the debate itself.

What sticks out like a sore thumb? The egregious and routine double standard. It is virtually impossible to catalogue all of the Obama administration scandals the media either downplayed or simply ignored, a reality that stands in stark contrast to its ongoing effort to shape the Trump-Russia collusion Narrative, almost invariably relying on “unnamed” or “anonymous” government sources to do so.

Media assertions of Trump’s “assaults” on the press ring exceedingly hollow. They get even hollower when they are asserted by those whose coverage of Trump and his administration has been 91% negative, whose Democrat members outnumber Republican members by four to one, and whose political contributions favored Clinton over Trump by a 96% to 4% margin, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

The media’s relationship with the public? According to a Gallup poll taken in June, public trust in the media has reached historic lows.

Nonetheless, CNN’s Brian Stelter remains hopeful. “Although there’s a longstanding debate about the effectiveness of newspaper editorials, there is certainly strength in numbers — the greater the number of participants, the more readers will see the message.”

And therein lies the ultimate expression of self-imposed obliviousness: How is the Trump-bashing “message” today remotely distinguishable from the glut of Trump-bashing messages routinely disseminated by the media for more than three years?

To paraphrase The Who, “Meet the new bash, same as the old bash.”

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MORE ANALYSIS FROM THE PATRIOT POST

OPINION IN BRIEF

Hans von Spakovsky: “The Manafort trial is about alleged criminal activity by Manafort and Gates. If Manafort had not spent less than five months working as a volunteer on the Trump presidential campaign he might never have even been charged with a crime. However, Manafort’s short time in a high-visibility role with the campaign placed all his past activities — having nothing to do with Donald Trump — under the microscope. In the unlikely event Manafort had been charged with the same crimes but had never joined the Trump campaign his trial would no doubt have attracted only a small amount of media attention. Only his association with Trump has turned his trial into a major news story. The Manafort trial is complicated. It is receiving enormous news coverage. Most Americans don’t have the time or interest to follow every detail on a daily basis. So it’s understandable that many people assume the trial has something or other to do with President Trump and his campaign. But that assumption is a mistake. Whether you support President Trump or oppose him, the simple and indisputable fact is that nothing in the Manafort trial so far has revealed any evidence of collusion with Russia or any other misconduct by President Trump or his campaign. This trial is about Paul Manafort and Rick Gates — not Donald Trump.”

SHORT CUTS

Good questions: “Is Pennsylvania the only state in the nation that has done a full investigation into predator priests and the coverup thereof? Given what that Pennsylvania grand jury and [PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro] found, shouldn’t every state AG now be doing this?” —Jake Tapper

Braying Jenny: “Look, [Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court] is not a done deal. Donald Trump has made his nomination. And he picked somebody off a list that has been prescreened … by not one but two right-wing extremist groups [The Federalist Society and The Heritage Foundation].” —Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

Braying Jackass: “This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics. It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out. My principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent.” —John Brennan on losing his security clearance

Alpha Jackass: “We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great.” —NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo

There’s something fundamentally immoral and wrong about socialism: “I think that there is an understanding there is something fundamentally immoral and wrong about a nation in which we have three people who own more wealth than the bottom half of the American people. That does not make sense.” —Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

And last… “In these polarized times, Americans are not so much angry that newspapers and magazines fire reporters, or that Robert Mueller indicts those under suspicion. What bothers them is that our guardians of morality do not offer any principles to explain why some people’s lives are harmed or destroyed, and others’ lives are not. When there is no blind code of justice, people suspect that our institutions define wrong behavior and bad words as those in service to the wrong political agenda. And they are right.” —Victor Davis Hanson

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Nate Jackson, Managing Editor
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