“It is the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the SUPREME BEING, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping GOD in the manner most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious profession or sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship.” —John Adams (1776)
IN TODAY’S EDITION
- The Supreme Court heard an important case about a war memorial cross.
- Cohen’s testimony may have actually helped Trump.
- There’s a strategy behind the NoKo walkout.
- Daily Features: More Analysis, Columnists, Headlines, Opinion in Brief, Short Cuts, Memes, and Cartoons.
Militant atheists have long attacked memorial crosses over supposed First Amendment violations. From the Mt. Soledad cross near San Diego several years ago to the case heard by the Supreme Court Wednesday regarding Maryland’s Bladensburg cross, these memorials to Patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend this great nation are unacceptable to a certain litigious contingent.
In the Maryland case, lower courts disagreed on whether the 40-foot cross, erected in 1925 by the American Legion to honor 49 Marylanders killed during World War I, represents an “establishment” of religion. In 2015, a federal judge in Maryland rejected a suit by the American Humanist Association, saying, “The predominant and nearly exclusive use of the Monument has been for annual commemorative events held on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.” However, the Fourth Circuit Court later ruled the cross unconstitutional, asserting that any reasonable observer would conclude the cross’s “inherent religious meaning” means the government “either places Christianity above other faiths, views being American and Christian as one in the same, or both.”
Jurisprudence in similar cases has been inconsistent — as Justice Clarence Thomas put it last year, the Court’s “establishment clause jurisprudence is in disarray” — so the justices have a chance to clear up a larger issue if Chief Justice John Roberts doesn’t insist on another narrow ruling. As the American Legion said in its brief, “If a century-old war memorial that is only in government hands because of traffic safety considerations arising 40 years after it was built is unconstitutional, it is difficult to conceive of any cross-shaped monument that will survive.”
There are hopeful signs for a right outcome, whether narrow or broad. While the women on the Court’s left wing seemed hostile to the cross, the other justices appeared amenable to keeping it. And it’s worth remembering however the justices rule that when Thomas Jefferson wrote of a “wall of separation between Church and State,” it was in a private letter, not constitutional language. Jefferson clearly didn’t intend for the metaphor to become legal doctrine as modern courts have made it. The leftist interpretation is a myth.
“The Democrats don’t care,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said in his opening remarks at Wednesday’s House Oversight Committee hearing for President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Jordan then zeroed in on the real reason behind the Democrats’ call for Cohen’s testimony: “They just want to use you. You are the patsy today. They want to find someone somewhere to say something so they can remove the president.” That would be impeachment. From there, the hearing descended into several heated exchanges between members of both parties with one another and with Cohen.
There were a few important points to note, however. First off, Cohen did nothing to negate Trump’s recent characterization of him as “proven liar” who was “lying to reduce his jail time.” In fact, it appears Cohen lied again during his testimony when he claimed that he did not want a job in the White House. That statement does not comport with what he had privately told friends and colleagues, captured in seized text messages — that he expected to get an important job within the administration.
As we noted yesterday, Cohen admitted he had no evidence to support the long-running Trump/Russia collusion narrative. But he did try his best to continue spinning the Democrats’ favorite conspiracy narrative, suggesting that Donald Trump Jr. may have alerted Trump to the infamous Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer. “Mr. Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgment of anyone in the world,” Cohen said, “and also Don Jr. would never set up any meeting of any significance alone — and certainly not without checking with his father.” However, when he was pressed on whether Trump actually colluded, Cohen hedged, “I wouldn’t use the word ‘colluding.’”
Ironically, Cohen’s testimony actually exonerates Trump of the charge of Russian collusion and undercuts his own claim of campaign-finance violations. Cohen stated that Trump never really intended or expected to win the election; rather his aim was “only to market himself and to build his wealth and power.”
If, according to Cohen, Trump had no intention of winning but was simply running to build his own brand, then there would have been no reason to engage in collusion with Russia or to pay legally specious hush money to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. In other words, Cohen’s testimony on Trump’s motivations was contradictory.
In the end, little new information was gleaned from Cohen, and none of it appears to be legally damaging to Trump — even as much of the mainstream media seeks to spin it as such. That said, the factor that may be most damaging to Trump is having hired Cohen in the first place. What does it say about Trump’s decision-making when he hired and retained for over a decade a man of Cohen’s obviously poor character?
“Sometimes you have to walk,” said President Donald Trump after walking out of a summit meeting with North Korean despot Kim Jong-un. In a move reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s stand at Reykjavik in 1986, Trump concluded that Kim was insufficiently willing to move on some key negotiating points, so he left.
“It was about the sanctions,” Trump said. “Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that. They were willing to denuke a large portion of the areas that we wanted, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that.” He added, “I’d much rather do it right than do it fast. We’re in position to do something very special.”
In other words, he was not looking for a Barack Obama-style legacy check mark like the disastrous Iran nuke deal.
As we have said many times, these nuclear negotiations are closely tied to trade negotiations with Kim’s puppet masters in Beijing. So while talks were stalling in Hanoi with Kim, The Wall Street Journal reports, “In the strongest sign yet that an accord is near, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Wednesday that the U.S. was abandoning for now its threat to raise tariffs to 25% on $200 billion of Chinese goods.”
Both moves are part of Trump’s bigger strategy to keep pressure on China and North Korea alike. Always keep that in mind when the Leftmedia treats them as entirely separate issues.
ON OUR WEBSITE TODAY
- Featured Analysis: Boys Will Be Girls? — A kerfuffle over two boys competing in track as girls highlights the insanity of “transgenderism.”
- House Dems Are Pushing Gun Control — Again — Dems seek to pave the way for a back-door federal gun registry.
- Charitable Giving Rises Despite New Tax Law — But growing at just 1.6%, there are a few possible culprits to take into account.
- Keep the Pressure on China — From trade negotiations to a military buildup, Beijing should be put in check.
- Video: Is Harvard Racist? — Harvard University’s admissions policy is proof that some are doomed to repeat history.
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“Kevin Briggs has been called the "Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge”. He got the nickname while working as a California Highway Patrol officer for more than 23 years. Briggs spent most of that time positioned on the Golden Gate Bridge. But the job turned out to be a lot more than he originally thought he was signing up for.
“When Briggs started out in 1994, he was trained to handle traffic incidents but had never received training on how to deal with people contemplating suicide. He didn’t know at the time how pervasive the issue of suicide on the bridge was. ‘There were four to six cases of suicidal folks on the bridge each and every month. And I had no idea about this, and I grew up in Marin County, which connects to San Francisco via that Golden Gate Bridge. … I had no training to handle these types of situations.’”
Read more at CBC.
BEST OF RIGHT OPINION
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.
TOP HEADLINE SUMMARY
- “The U.S. economy grew last year at its fastest rate since 2015,” CBS News reports, albeit the 2.9% annual growth rate in 2018 fell just shy of Trump’s promise to hit 3% growth.
- “Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled an ambitious proposal on Tuesday to move all Americans into the government’s Medicare health insurance program… The bill … would transition the U.S. healthcare system to a single-payer ‘Medicare for All’ program funded by the government in two years. … It is unlikely to gain the support of any Republicans in the House or the Senate, who have derided single-payer healthcare as a socialist policy and oppose government interference in healthcare. It also remains unclear whether Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will bring the legislation up for a vote.” (Reuters)
- National Review reports: “Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib apologized after she called Representative Mark Meadows ‘racist’ during Michael Cohen’s heated congressional hearing Wednesday. The freshman Michigan Democrat had choice words for Meadows after the North Carolina conservative introduced Lynne Patton, who is black and a former employee of the Trump Organization, in an effort to dismantle the claim from Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer, that Trump is racist. … ‘I was not referring to you at all as a racist,’ the congresswoman said, adding that Meadows’s actions are still a ‘racist act.’” Meanwhile, National Review also reveals, “The Democratic National Committee and Senator Elizabeth Warren both used Michael Cohen’s highly anticipated congressional testimony in fundraising pleas addressed to supporters Wednesday.”
- “Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’s signature is all that remains to include Colorado among the ranks of states prepared to abandon the Electoral College system in favor of nationwide popular voting for the next presidential election. Colorado would bring the number of states who have joined the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact to 12, plus the District of Columbia. … States have the constitutional right to manage the awarding of electoral votes in national elections, with many states opting for winner-take-all. If states with 270 electoral votes — or the number needed to elect a president — agree to award their votes to the majority-vote holder, it could effectively convert the presidential election to popular vote. Colorado makes the total electoral votes represented by National Popular Vote Interstate Compact states 181.” (The Daily Caller)
- “A federal judge in Texas ruled that state officials ‘created a mess’ when they questioned the citizenship of about 98,000 voters and mistakenly concluded that many of those voters were not eligible to cast ballots. The sharply written ruling by U.S. District Judge Fred Biery of San Antonio ordered Texas officials to halt the removal of any registered voter from state voter rolls. … Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton … said the federal judge was ‘improperly assuming control’ over the state’s voting system.” (NPR)
- “The Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Monday violent crime dropped across the country in 2018. The agency released the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report comparing the first six months of 2018 with the first six months of 2017. … The FBI report found violent crime decreased by 4.3 percent between 2017 and 2018. … Robbery and burglary saw the largest decrease of the crimes tracked by the FBI with the former dropping 12.5 percent and the later dropping 12.7 percent. Arson dropped 9.4 percent, property crime fell 7.2 percent, murder was down 6.7 percent, larceny fell 6.3 percent, car theft fell 3.3 percent, and aggravated assault was down 2 percent. Rape, the only crime to see an increase, was up 0.6 percent.” (The Washington Free Beacon)
- Humor: Liberals pinning all hopes and dreams on testimony of seedy lawyer (The Babylon Bee)
- Policy: “A new report raises questions about how the U.S. Department of Education monitors the performance of its wide-ranging elementary and secondary education programs. The department currently receives $38 billion for its major K-12 education programs. Yet the assessment says those programs are plagued by ‘complex and persistent’ challenges, many of which have been identified previously, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). … Given the ongoing problems with the department, in contrast to the growth of successful state-level parental choice programs, it is well worth considering abolishing the U.S. Department of Education once and for all.” (The Federalist)
- Policy: “Are India and Pakistan lurching toward a war? An escalating confrontation between the South Asian neighbors means that we can no longer rule out the possibility. … For now the path out of the current crisis appears straightforward: Pakistan should return the captured Indian pilot and take concrete steps to rein in jihadist groups like JeM and Lashkar-e-Taiba that target India. For its part, India needs to ensure that its official rhetoric remains measured, and that its next steps are not driven primarily by domestic political considerations.” (American Enterprise Institute)
For more of today’s editors’ choice headlines, visit In Our Sights.
OPINION IN BRIEF
Larry Elder: “[Jussie] Smollett’s alleged hoax raised many interesting questions, one of which is this: How often do people lie to or about the police? In 2012 in the city of Rialto, California, with a population of approximately 100,000, cops were randomly assigned body cameras based on their shifts. Over the next year, a follow-up analysis showed use-of-force incidents on the shifts with body cams were down 59 percent compared to those without cameras. But something else rather extraordinary also happened. Complaints against all Rialto police officers — with or without body cams — were down 87.5 percent from the prior year. Why? It was not because officers changed their behavior. They applied the same training they used before body cams. It was the civilians who changed their behavior. It turned out that when civilians knew they were being recorded, they behaved better and stopped making false accusations. … When Smollett’s hate crime claim imploded, [ABC’s Robin] Roberts called Smollett’s story ‘a setback for race relations.’ About the assertion made by many blacks that cops engage in ‘systemic’ or ‘structural’ or ‘institutional’ racism, one must ask this question: What impact do false accusations against cops play in pushing the ‘cops are out to get us’ narrative?”
For the record: “[Michael Cohen’s testimony] was above all a reminder that Americans elected a President in 2016 who had spent decades in the sleazier corners of New York business and tabloid life. He surrounded himself with political rogues like [Roger] Stone, legal hustlers like Mr. Cohen, and even brought in a Beltway bandit from central casting, Paul Manafort, as his campaign chairman for a time. Republicans knew all this when they nominated Mr. Trump, and now he and the GOP will pay a political price as Democrats marinate in that blue past in hearing after hearing. Character does matter, especially in Presidents.” —The Wall Street Journal
Non Compos Mentis: “President Donald Trump’s critics are increasingly focused on the question of which Democrat will challenge him for the presidency in 2020. It’s an important question, but another one might be even more important: Regardless of who runs in 2020, if Trump loses, will he leave the Oval Office peacefully?” —CNN contributor Joshua A. Geltzer
Witch hunt: “Well, we will obviously subpoena the report. We will bring Bob Mueller in to testify before Congress. We will take it to court if necessary. And in the end, I think the [Justice] Department understands they’re going to have to make this public.” —House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff
Cat’s out of the bag: “As far as anybody who says, ‘Well, this bill wouldn’t have solved this incident,’ the only thing that will solve every one is to do away with guns.” —Rep. Mike Thompson
Friendly fire: “I’m really surprised that Senator Sanders could not at least call [Nicolas Maduro] a dictator.” —Sen. Bob Menendez
Friendly fire II: “Now, in terms of the Green New Deal, that goes beyond what our charge is. Our charge is about saving the planet. They have in there things like single-payer and … what is it? Guaranteed income? And then they have, I don’t know if it’s single-payer or Medicare for All. … It’s kind of, like, a broader agenda. All good values, but nonetheless, not what we hope to achieve.” —Nancy Pelosi
Braying Jackass: “When you say that the cause of migration is legal loopholes or bad judicial decisions, rather than the dire conditions of violence and poverty in these people’s home countries that’s literally driving them from home, I think it’s easier to slam the door against these kids and these families. … Following orders is no more an excuse today than it was back in Germany.” —Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon
And last… “Remarkably Cohen’s testimony exonerates Trump. He says Trump never directly told him to lie, he has no evidence of collusion, and Trump only worked on the Moscow project because he thought he wouldn’t win, which means he wasn’t trying to leverage the presidency for financial gain.” —Matt Walsh
For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.
For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.
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