April 29, 2017

President Trumps Federal Land Grabs – A Very Positive Sign

Draining the swamp doesn’t just mean shrinking the size of federal bureaucracies. It means reducing the role of government throughout our society—including its ability to seize land.

A good place to start is President Donald Trump’s executive order, which calls for a review of national monument designations—a tool long used by presidents to unilaterally restrict land use. Also, see our article of November 21, 2016, Becky Lockhart: Western Lands Must Be Returned to States.

The tradition of presidents designating national monuments began in 1906 when President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act.

That law was intended to prevent the looting of archaeological and Native American structures and objects, and it gave the federal government an expeditious path to do so.

Unsurprisingly, its use has evolved into a federal power tool for making land grabs that cater to special interests, rather than welcoming input from local affected parties, such as the outdoor tourist industry, Native American tribes, or simply the people living in the community.

Such land grabs date way back before President Barack Obama. Before his last-minute monument designations, 16 presidents designated more than 140 monuments covering over 285 million acres of land and marine areas.

Like every other environmental decision ordered by a new administration, the left responded to Trump’s executive order by predicting that it will reduce America the Beautiful to a dumpster fire.

As one publication put it, the order is a “sop to right-wing radicals who are hostile to public lands—and really hate Obama.” (They forgot to mention the hatred for puppies and rainbows, too).

Contrary to the media spin, the issue at hand is not about environmental stewardship, but taking decisions away from states, private citizens, and local interests.

For more than a century, the president of the United States has had the power to unilaterally designate land as a national monument, without input from Congress or the affected states.

Such action from the president either prohibits or restricts economic opportunity in the area, and often does more environmental harm than good.

Reading The Washington Post article on Trump’s order, one could easily assume that there is no local opposition to the controversial 1.35 million acre monument designation at Bears Ears declared by Obama in the final days of his presidency—one of the presumed targets of Trump’s executive order.

The Post gives the false impression that only elected Republican members of Congress opposed Obama’s designation.

The article highlights that a coalition of tribes, environmentalists, archaeologists, and outdoor industry groups all lobbied Obama for the protection at Bears Ears. Yet the author conveniently fails to include opposition from, you know, the local tribes and people that actually live in San Juan County.

For instance, members of the Navajo of San Juan County tribe—the county where Bears Ears resides—rescinded their support for the monument designation. Chester Johnson, of the Aneth Navajo chapter said,

At that time when they switched to national monument they didn’t share it back with the community what their intent was. Aneth is the only one chapter that had the backbone to stand up and say, ‘Look central government, you don’t do that. You share it with us what the intent is for our region, the land that we use for centuries.’

Another Aneth chapter member, Susie Philemon, fought back tears as she urged opposition to the designation, underscoring the fact that they have strong incentives, both economic and spiritual, to protect and preserve the land.

She stressed that “[t]here are people that still graze there, they reside there, and they make that place their livelihood and you cannot just take that away.”

San Juan County leaders staunchly opposed Obama’s designation.

Native American Rebecca Benally, the first woman elected to the San Juan County Commission, voiced opposition to the centralized decision, saying, “My constituents do not want a national monument in San Juan County because it’s just another federal overreach with empty promises.”

As loudly as the local community, the Navajo of San Juan County tribe, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, and members of Congress and state officials voiced their concerns, they all fell on deaf ears.

The problem of unilateral land designation dates much further back than Obama and Bears Ears.

Although Obama designated the contentious Bears Ears monument in Utah as he walked out the White House door, the use of the Antiquities Act is a bipartisan problem. Presidents from both parties have abused the power to restrict land use.

A review of the use of the Antiquities Act designations is a welcome and necessary first step, but ultimately Congress needs to intervene.

Congress should recognize that states, local governments, and private citizens are the best arbiters of how to manage land and should repeal the Antiquities Act or limit the president’s power by requiring congressional, state, and local approval for any national monument designation.

Whether the issue is logging, recreation, conservation, or energy extraction, such decisions are most effectively made at the state and local levels. An antiquated law more than 110 years old shouldn’t ruin the lives of communities.

By Nicolas Loris

Portrait of Nicolas Loris

Nicolas Loris, an economist, focuses on energy, environmental and regulatory issues as the Herbert and Joyce Morgan fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Read his research.

Walter Williams: Environmental Calamity Predictions Have Always Failed

Each year, Earth Day is accompanied by predictions of doom.

Let’s take a look at past predictions to determine just how much confidence we can have in today’s environmentalists’ predictions.

In 1970, when Earth Day was conceived, the late George Wald, a Nobel laureate biology professor at Harvard University, predicted, “Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

Also in 1970, Paul Ehrlich, a Stanford University biologist and best-selling author of “The Population Bomb,” declared that the world’s population would soon outstrip food supplies.

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In an article for The Progressive, he predicted, “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next 10 years.”

He gave this warning in 1969 to Britain’s Institute of Biology: “If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

On the first Earth Day, Ehrlich warned, “In 10 years, all important animal life in the sea will be extinct.”

Despite such predictions, Ehrlich has won no fewer than 16 awards, including the 1990 Crafoord Prize, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ highest award.

In International Wildlife (July 1975), Nigel Calder warned, “The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind.”

In Science News (1975), C.C. Wallen of the World Meteorological Organization is reported as saying, “The cooling since 1940 has been large enough and consistent enough that it will not soon be reversed.”

In 2000, climate researcher David Viner told The Independent, a British newspaper, that within “a few years,” snowfall would become “a very rare and exciting event” in Britain. “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said. “Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past.”

In the following years, the U.K. saw some of its largest snowfalls and lowest temperatures since records started being kept in 1914.

In 1970, ecologist Kenneth Watt told a Swarthmore College audience:

The world has been chilling sharply for about 20 years. If present trends continue, the world will be about 4 degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990 but 11 degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.

Also in 1970, Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wis., wrote in Look magazine: “Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian (Institution), believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”

Scientist Harrison Brown published a chart in Scientific American that year estimating that mankind would run out of copper shortly after 2000. Lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver were to disappear before 1990.

Erroneous predictions didn’t start with Earth Day.

In 1939, the U.S. Department of the Interior said American oil supplies would last for only another 13 years. In 1949, the secretary of the interior said the end of U.S. oil supplies was in sight.

Having learned nothing from its earlier erroneous claims, in 1974 the U.S. Geological Survey said the U.S. had only a 10-year supply of natural gas.

The fact of the matter, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, is that as of 2014, we had 2.47 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas, which should last about a century.

Hoodwinking Americans is part of the environmentalist agenda. Environmental activist Stephen Schneider told Discover magazine in 1989:

We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. … Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.

In 1988, then-Sen. Timothy Wirth, D-Colo., said: “We’ve got to … try to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong … we will be doing the right thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.”

Americans have paid a steep price for buying into environmental deception and lies.

By Walter E. Williams

11 Ways Trump Has Rolled Back Gov Regulations in First 100 Days

As President Donald Trump reaches his 100th day in the White House on April 29, he will have worked with Congress to rescind more regulations using the Congressional Review Act than any other president.

“We’re excited about what we’re doing so far. We’ve done more than that’s ever been done in the history of Congress with the CRA,” Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., told The Daily Signal in an interview, referring to the law called the Congressional Review Act.

The Congressional Review Act, the tool Trump and lawmakers are using, allows Congress to repeal executive branch regulations. Once the House and Senate pass a joint resolution disapproving of a particular regulation, the president signs the measure.

Passed in 1996 in concert with the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act and then-Speaker Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America reform agenda, the Congressional Review Act is what the Congressional Research Service calls “an oversight tool that Congress may use to overturn a rule issued by a federal agency.”

The law also prevents agencies from creating similar rules with similar language.

Until this year, the law had been used successfully only once—in 2001, when Congress and President George W. Bush rescinded a regulation regarding workplace injuries promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration during the Clinton administration.

Here’s a look at the 11 regulatory rollbacks Congress has passed and Trump has signed:

1. Regulations governing the coal mining industry (H.J. Res 41).

Mandated by President Barack Obama and finalized in  2016, these regulations “threatened to put domestic extraction companies and their employees at an unfair disadvantage,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said.

The resolution, signed by Trump in February, repealed the rule and “could save American businesses as much as $600 million annually,” Spicer said.

2. Regulations defining streams in the coal industry (H.J. Res 38).

“Complying with the regulation would have put an unsustainable financial burden on small mines,” Spicer said.

The so-called Stream Protection Rule included “vague definitions of what classifies as a stream,” Nick Loris, a fellow in energy and environmental policy at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email, and undoing it does away with ambiguities:

For many regulations promulgated by the Obama administration, they fundamentally disregarded the nature of the federal-state relationship when it comes to energy production and environmental protection.

The Stream Protection Rule … removed flexibility from mining steps and simply ignored that states have regulations in place to protect water quality. State and local environmental agencies’ specific knowledge of their region enables them to tailor regulations to promote economic activity while protecting the habitat and environment.

3. Regulations restricting firearms for disabled citizens (H.J. Res 40).

This rule, finalized during Obama’s last weeks in office, sought to “prevent some Americans with disabilities from purchasing or possessing firearms based on their decision to seek Social Security benefits,” Spicer said.

The repeal protects the Second Amendment rights of the disabled, Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said.

“Those rights will no longer be able to be revoked without a hearing and without due process. It will take more than the personal opinion of a bureaucrat,” Grassley said on the Senate floor.

But Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif.,  said the regulation didn’t cover “just people having a bad day,” adding:

These are not people simply suffering from depression or anxiety. These are people with a severe mental illness who can’t hold any kind of job or make any decisions about their affairs. So the law says very clearly they shouldn’t have a firearm.

4. A rule governing the government contracting process (H.J. Res. 37).

Undoing the regulation will cut costs to businesses and free federal contractors from “unnecessary and burdensome processes that would result in delays, and decreased competition for federal government contracts,” Spicer said.

5. A rule covering public lands (H.J. Res. 44).

The rule gave the federal government too much power “to administer public lands,” in the words of the official website of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, told The Daily Signal in an interview that the Bureau of Land Management’s rule restricted the control that states and their citizens had, especially in the West.

“The Obama administration wanted to shift land policy from local governments with specific expertise to the federal government, basically shifting even more of the land management policy away from those affected by it,” Lee said.

“Repealing this harmful rule will go a long way toward empowering local stakeholders and ensuring that Arizona’s cattlemen, miners, and rural land users have a voice in the planning process,” Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said in prepared remarks.

6. Reporting requirements regarding college teachers (H.J. Res. 58).

The rule mandated annual reporting by states “to measure the performance and quality of teacher preparation programs and tie them to program eligibility for participation in the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education grant program,” Spicer said.

Anne Ryland, a research assistant in education policy at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email that the rule “gave the federal Department of Education power to evaluate teacher preparation programs at universities, and to link college students’ access to federal financial aid in the form of TEACH grants to the rating of the programs.”

“University programs,” Ryland added, “would be rated based on the effectiveness of their teaching graduates, with effectiveness determined by elementary and secondary students’ test scores and achievement gains.”

7. Regulations on state education programs (H.J. Res. 57).

Congress and Trump rescinded federal rules that “require states to have an accountability system based on multiple measures, including school quality or student success, to ensure that states and districts focus on improving outcomes and measuring student progress,” Spicer said.

The repeal is the first step in “a reconceptualization of Washington’s role in education,” Ryland said.

“These regulations were prime examples of federal micromanagement,” she said. “They were highly prescriptive and highly complex, serving only to put more power in the hands of bureaucrats and to distract schools and teachers from the work of educating students.”

8. Drug-testing requirements (H.J. Res 42).

Spicer said the regulation mandates an “arbitrarily narrow definition of occupations and constrains a state’s ability to conduct a drug-testing program in its unemployment insurance system.”

Four Republican governors—Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Greg Abbott of Texas, Gary Herbert of Utah, and Phil Bryant of Mississippi—wrote Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, to ask that states be allowed to implement their own policies.

“We believe this rule should be replaced with a new rule that allows increased flexibility for states to implement … drug testing that best fits the needs of each state,” the governors said in the February letter.

9. Hunting regulations for wildlife preserves in Alaska (H.J. Res 69).

These regulations restricted Alaska’s ability “to manage hunting of predators on national wildlife refuges in Alaska,” Spicer said.

In a formal statement, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, called the rule “another example of the federal government’s determination these past eight years to destroy a state’s ability to manage their wildlife.”

10. Internet privacy rule (S.J.Res. 34).

Published during the final months of Obama’s presidency, the rule sought to force “new privacy standards on internet service providers, allowing bureaucrats in Washington to pick winners and losers in the industry,” Spicer said.

Flake, who sponsored the resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, said repeal helps keep consumers in charge of how they share their electronic information.

“My resolution is the first step toward restoring the [Federal Trade Commission’s] light-touch, consumer-friendly approach,” Flake said. “It will not change or lessen existing consumer privacy protections. It empowers consumers to make informed choices on if and how their data can be shared.”

11. Rule for logging workplace injuries (H.J. 83).

This rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sought to squelch a more lenient one from the Labor Department. Spicer said the rule “disapproved” of a Labor regulation “extending the statute of limitation for claims against employers failing to maintain records of employee injuries.”

“This OSHA power grab was completely unlawful,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., chairman of the House workforce protections subcommittee. “It would have done nothing to improve workplace safety while creating significant regulatory confusion for small businesses.”

Through extensive use of the Congressional Review Act, Collins said, Trump is establishing a “legacy” of deregulation.

“I think there’s really a legacy really to be had here,” the Republican congressman from Georgia said.

Congress, with backing from Trump, is making good on promises and saying, “We’re not going to allow our jurisdiction and our constitutional authority to be overrun by the executive branch,” Collins said.

Past administrations from both parties, he said, have not been so devoted to deregulation.

“There was a definite disconnect between the previous administration, and even previous Republican administrations, on doing things on their own and not going through the proper legislative process,” Collins said.

Sarah Sleem contributed to this report.

Report – AG Lynch Tried to Bury Hillary Email Investigation

FBI Director James Comey distrusted former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and senior officials at the Justice Department, believing they might provide Hillary Clinton with political cover over her email server, according to a new report published Saturday by The New York Times.
The Times described Comey’s “go-it-alone strategy” in the Clinton probe as emerging largely from his suspicions that Lynch and others at Justice might seek to subtly downplay the Clinton investigation.
As an example, the Times reported that Lynch, during a meeting in September 2015, called on Comey to use the word “matter” instead of “investigation” when publicly discussing the case, three people who attended the meeting told the Times.

Lynch reportedly reasoned that the word “investigation” would raise a number of other questions. Furthermore, she argued that the department should maintain its policy of not confirming investigations.

After referring to the FBI the question of whether classified information had been improperly handled by Clinton through her use of a private server, a step toward a criminal investigation, Justice clarified that it was not a “criminal referral.”
This also raised suspicions at the FBI, according to the Times. Clinton seized on the wording to say that what the FBI was conducting was “not a criminal investigation.”
Lynch came under pressure to recuse herself from the investigation entirely after she had a discussion with former President Bill Clinton in June 2016 on he plane as it sat on the tarmac of Phoenix’s airport.
Lynch did not recuse herself, but the situation did lead her to say she would accept whatever conclusions career prosecutors and the FBI reached.
More tensions between the FBI and Lynch’s office came up later in the case.
Months after Comey held a press conference to announce that the FBI would not bring criminal charges against Clinton, new emails were found through a separate investigation into former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who was married to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
The findings put the FBI in a difficult spot, as Comey wanted to tell Congress about what the FBI had found. He worried that if Congress was not notified, it would appear that the FBI was withholding information just before the election.
Lynch, the Times story said, did not want Comey to send the letter but decided against ordering him not to send it.

Dem Leader Howard Dean: Conservative Speech ‘Not Protected by First Amendment’

Howard Dean Claims The First Amendment Doesn’t Protect Ann Coulter Expressing her Traditional Opinions

Howard Dean, former DNC Chairman, and prominent voice of the left, has publicly declared a view of the US Constitution that is becoming extremely popular among leftists, which is that any opinion that differs from that of the left is not protected “free speech” under the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Couching any such opposing opinions as “hate speech,” and claiming that Coulter engages in such hate speech by voicing her support of traditional Constitutional and American values, Dean says that Coulter should not be allowed to speak publicly.

Indeed, UC Berkley, once a bastion of the right of free speech, when that free speech was Anti-American and anti-traditional values, has tried repeatedly to stamp out all but the most radical left voices in America, stopping conservatives from expressing traditional values on its campus.

Of course, Dean, like nearly all liberals, claims that outrageously offensive speech that is anti-American and anti-morality is profoundly protected by the First Amendment, with chants of killing police officers and the US President, and works of art depicting the same, and anti-religion depictions being more than welcome on college campuses and at liberal gatherings and public places.

The left has attempted to shut down all public debate by blocking centrist / conservative speakers from appearing in public, and by canceling their speaking engagements. Even now, Berkley is doing its best to prevent Ms. Coulter from speaking on its campus, and after taking public heat for outright blocking her, is trying to mitigate the damage by rescheduling her for a less convenient time.

The Democratic Party has been taken over by radical leftists, and that realization is beginning to become apparent to the Democratic rank-and-file members, who are beginning to migrate to the center, leaving the Democratic Party gutted and powerless in many American precincts, as demonstrated by the electoral map of the Trump vs. Clinton election. (Red=Republican)

The left is simply repeating what totalitarian governments have done since they began taking over the world in the early 20th Century–shutting down opposition voices, divesting populations of personal liberties, including the right to keep and bear arms to protect themselves from those governments, and redistributing private property. The Democratic Party has overplayed its hand, and revealed itself as nothing more than a radical leftist movement which seeks these things, and it will shut down any speech that opposes them.

By James Thompson

Rush Limbaugh Cites Daniel Greenfield: ‘The Civil War is Here’

The left doesn’t want to secede. It wants to rule.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.

A civil war has begun.

This civil war is very different than the last one. There are no cannons or cavalry charges. The left doesn’t want to secede. It wants to rule. Political conflicts become civil wars when one side refuses to accept the existing authority. The left has rejected all forms of authority that it doesn’t control.

The left has rejected the outcome of the last two presidential elections won by Republicans. It has rejected the judicial authority of the Supreme Court when it decisions don’t accord with its agenda. It rejects the legislative authority of Congress when it is not dominated by the left.

It rejected the Constitution so long ago that it hardly bears mentioning.

It was for total unilateral executive authority under Obama. And now it’s for states unilaterally deciding what laws they will follow. (As long as that involves defying immigration laws under Trump, not following them under Obama.) It was for the sacrosanct authority of the Senate when it held the majority. Then it decried the Senate as an outmoded institution when the Republicans took it over.

It was for Obama defying the orders of Federal judges, no matter how well grounded in existing law, and it is for Federal judges overriding any order by Trump on any grounds whatsoever. It was for Obama penalizing whistleblowers, but now undermining the government from within has become “patriotic”.

There is no form of legal authority that the left accepts as a permanent institution. It only utilizes forms of authority selectively when it controls them. But when government officials refuse the orders of the duly elected government because their allegiance is to an ideology whose agenda is in conflict with the President and Congress, that’s not activism, protest, politics or civil disobedience; it’s treason.

After losing Congress, the left consolidated its authority in the White House. After losing the White House, the left shifted its center of authority to Federal judges and unelected government officials. Each defeat led the radicalized Democrats to relocate from more democratic to less democratic institutions.

This isn’t just hypocrisy. That’s a common political sin. Hypocrites maneuver within the system. The left has no allegiance to the system. It accepts no laws other than those dictated by its ideology.

Democrats have become radicalized by the left. This doesn’t just mean that they pursue all sorts of bad policies. It means that their first and foremost allegiance is to an ideology, not the Constitution, not our country or our system of government. All of those are only to be used as vehicles for their ideology.

That’s why compromise has become impossible.

Our system of government was designed to allow different groups to negotiate their differences. But those differences were supposed to be based around finding shared interests. The most profound of these shared interests was that of a common country based around certain civilizational values. The left has replaced these Founding ideas with radically different notions and principles. It has rejected the primary importance of the country. As a result it shares little in the way of interests or values.

Instead it has retreated to cultural urban and suburban enclaves where it has centralized tremendous amounts of power while disregarding the interests and values of most of the country. If it considers them at all, it is convinced that they will shortly disappear to be replaced by compliant immigrants and college indoctrinated leftists who will form a permanent demographic majority for its agenda.

But it couldn’t wait that long because it is animated by the conviction that enforcing its ideas is urgent and inevitable. And so it turned what had been a hidden transition into an open break.

In the hidden transition, its authority figures had hijacked the law and every political office they held to pursue their ideological agenda. The left had used its vast cultural power to manufacture a consensus that was slowly transitioning the country from American values to its values and agendas. The right had proven largely impotent in the face of a program which corrupted and subverted from within.

The left was enormously successful in this regard. It was so successful that it lost all sense of proportion and decided to be open about its views and to launch a political power struggle after losing an election.

The Democrats were no longer being slowly injected with leftist ideology. Instead the left openly took over and demanded allegiance to open borders, identity politics and environmental fanaticism. The exodus of voters wiped out the Democrats across much of what the left deemed flyover country.

The left responded to democratic defeats by retreating deeper into undemocratic institutions, whether it was the bureaucracy or the corporate media, while doubling down on its political radicalism. It is now openly defying the outcome of a national election using a coalition of bureaucrats, corporations, unelected officials, celebrities and reporters that are based out of its cultural and political enclaves.

It has responded to a lost election by constructing sanctuary cities and states thereby turning a cultural and ideological secession into a legal secession. But while secessionists want to be left alone authoritarians want everyone to follow their laws. The left is an authoritarian movement that wants total compliance with its dictates with severe punishments for those who disobey.

The left describes its actions as principled. But more accurately they are ideological. Officials at various levels of government have rejected the authority of the President of the United States, of Congress and of the Constitution because those are at odds with their radical ideology. Judges have cloaked this rejection in law. Mayors and governors are not even pretending that their actions are lawful.

The choices of this civil war are painfully clear.

We can have a system of government based around the Constitution with democratically elected representatives. Or we can have one based on the ideological principles of the left in which all laws and processes, including elections and the Constitution, are fig leaves for enforcing social justice.

But we cannot have both.

Some civil wars happen when a political conflict can’t be resolved at the political level. The really bad ones happen when an irresolvable political conflict combines with an irresolvable cultural conflict.

That is what we have now.

The left has made it clear that it will not accept the lawful authority of our system of government. It will not accept the outcome of elections. It will not accept these things because they are at odds with its ideology and because they represent the will of large portions of the country whom they despise.

The question is what comes next.

The last time around growing tensions began to explode in violent confrontations between extremists on both sides. These extremists were lauded by moderates who mainstreamed their views. The first Republican president was elected and rejected. The political tensions led to conflict and then civil war.

The left doesn’t believe in secession. It’s an authoritarian political movement that has lost democratic authority. There is now a political power struggle underway between the democratically elected officials and the undemocratic machinery of government aided by a handful of judges and local elected officials.

What this really means is that there are two competing governments; the legal government and a treasonous anti-government of the left. If this political conflict progresses, agencies and individuals at every level of government will be asked to demonstrate their allegiance to these two competing governments. And that can swiftly and explosively transform into an actual civil war.

There is no sign that the left understands or is troubled by the implications of the conflict it has initiated. And there are few signs that Democrats properly understand the dangerous road that the radical left is drawing them toward. The left assumes that the winners of a democratic election will back down rather than stand on their authority. It is unprepared for the possibility that democracy won’t die in darkness.

Civil wars end when one side is forced to accept the authority of the other. The left expects everyone to accept its ideological authority. Conservatives expect the left to accept Constitutional authority. The conflict is still political and cultural. It’s being fought in the media and within the government. But if neither side backs down, then it will go beyond words as both sides give contradictory orders.

The left is a treasonous movement. The Democrats became a treasonous organization when they fell under the sway of a movement that rejects our system of government, its laws and its elections. Now their treason is coming to a head. They are engaged in a struggle for power against the government. That’s not protest. It’s not activism. The old treason of the sixties has come of age. A civil war has begun.

This is a primal conflict between a totalitarian system and a democratic system. Its outcome will determine whether we will be a free nation or a nation of slaves.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.

Document Suggests Media Matters is Behind O’Reilly Advertiser Exodus

An email obtained by conservative radio host Glenn Beck suggests that progressive media watchdog group Media Matters orchestrated the advertiser exodus from embattled Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s program.

“For years,” the email begins, “Bill O’Reilly has been one of the worst purveyors of misinformation on Fox News. A serial misinformer, pushing many of the most extreme, sexist, racist, homophobic, and xenophobic conservative theories on TV.”

The correspondence was written by Mary Pat Bonner, president of the Bonner Group.  According to the New York Times, Bonner served as a “donor adviser” to former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Through her firm, Bonner connects big money donors to liberal groups seeking donations. Bonner’s contracts give her company a sizable commission — around 12.5 percent — on any money she brings in. In addition to Clinton, the Bonner Group has also advised Media Matters and the American Bridge super PAC.

“The Bonner Group gets us the best fundraising product for the lowest cost,” David Brock, founder of Media Matters and American Bridge, told the Times. “In my experience, the commission incentivizes the fundraiser to meet the ambitious goals we set.”

In the email, which was sent April 13, Bonner heralds the success of her firm and Media Matters’ “advertiser education campaign” against O’Reilly.

“We are currently at a critical juncture in this campaign,” she wrote, before inviting recipients to join a couple of “update calls” on Thursday and Friday.

Bonner’s email was revealed just hours after one of O’Reilly’s lawyers, Marc Kasowitz, claimed that the Fox anchor “has been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America.”

“This law firm has uncovered evidence that the smear campaign is being orchestrated by far-left organizations bent on destroying O’Reilly for political and financial reasons,” he continued. “That evidence will be put forth shortly and it is irrefutable.”

Dozens of advertisers have pulled their commercials from O’Reilly’s 8 p.m. time slot in the weeks since the Times reported that O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox, Fox News’ parent company, have settled to the tune of $13 million with at least five women who have accused the network host of sexual harassment.

And according to Media Matters, the number of brands that have shifted ads away from “The O’Reilly Factor” has topped 80, “with dozens more quietly taking the action or keeping them off in the first place.”

Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters,  said “many expect more women will come forward” with allegations against O’Reilly. He also asserted Fox News Co-President Bill Shine “will go too.” Carusone offered no evidence to support either claim.

What’s happening now is a giant smear campaign, and they work

,” Beck said on his radio program Wednesday morning, later adding that the left is “splitting the conservative movement and they’re taking the bear out of the door.”

The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by News Corp, a media conglomeration founded by Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch, reported Tuesday night that the news network is preparing to sever ties with O’Reilly.

The Journal’s report comes the week after news broke that 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch was reportedly ready to cut O’Reilly, who is on vacation until April 24. However, at the time, Rupert Murdoch, James’ father, and 21st Century Fox Co-Chairman Lachlan Murdoch, James’ older brother, were “more inclined” to stand by the host.

But now it appears the Murdochs are nearing a unanimous decision. And in Beck’s mind, it’s all about money — not principles.

“They’re making the decision based on money, and money has nothing to do with principle,” he said, after earlier telling listeners he “would not be saying this if I had personal information” that the accusations against O’Reilly were true.

If the harassment claims end up being true, Beck said he would be “highly disappointed” with O’Reilly. “If there is evidence that something happened, that’s something different,” he said.

By

The Redistribution of Freedom

Individual rights exist in the empty spaces that government is forced out of.

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called the right to be left alone the “most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by a free people.” It would even be fair to say that without the right to be left alone no other rights exist.

Amendments one through ten of the Bill of Rights are essentially an enumeration of the ways that government is obligated to leave people alone. This is most explicitly true of the First Amendment which definitively sums up areas of human life into which government under no circumstance may trespass on.

Unlike other amendments, the territory that the First Amendment deals with is intellectual and spiritual, the world of ideas, the realm of faith and the defining right of political advocacy. The freedoms of the mind, heart and voice are the most essential of freedoms because they free us to be individuals. They allow us to have our own values. Without these freedoms, no society is free.

Those who sought to undermine these “Freedoms from Government” did so by offering alternative “Freedoms of Government.” Countering the Founding Fathers’ DMZ’s of self-determination, they promised freedom from social problems. A second Bill of Rights would offer the freedom from fear and want. Instead of a liberation from government, the new rights would trade social benefits for freedoms. A right would not mean a zone of freedom from the government, but a government entitlement.

The Orwellian inversion of rights has meant that civil rights perversely take away rights. No sooner is a right created than it is used to deprive other people of their rights. Instead of rights freeing people from government repression, they act as a means of government repression. Freedom is treated as a limited commodity which, like wealth, must be redistributed to achieve maximum social justice.

The right to be left alone, freedom of speech and conscience, have taken a back seat to the redistribution of freedom. Government rights violate individual rights by compelling everyone to participate in the process of distributing entitlements.

A wedding photographer in New Mexico was ordered by a court to participate in a gay ceremony violating both her First Amendment rights to Freedom of Religion as a Christian and her right to Freedom of Speech as an artist. A baker in Colorado was ordered to make a gay wedding cake or face penalties ranging from fines to a year in prison. The ACLU is after even bigger game suing Catholic hospitals for not engaging in abortion contending that patients are being deprived of their rights.

The fundamental issue in all these cases is whether our rights are defined by the ability to be left alone or by the opposing ability to compel others to do what we want them to. Is the right to force someone else to participate in your wedding or perform your abortion more compelling than the right to opt out of being forced to engage in behaviors that violate your deepest religious convictions?

America is a nation founded by religious dissenters. Its founding documents, from the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution and its Bill of Rights make the moral case for dissent. The Declaration of Independence begins by setting out a moral case for separation, for the divorce of authority, based on the moral principle of individual freedom. It makes government conditional on liberty, rather than making liberty conditional on government.

Today the national establishment is intolerant of dissent. It traps the current of freedom in dams of entitlements. It pits the right to be against the right to receive and makes certain that the right to receive, not only the property of others, but their very conscience, mind and liberty, always wins out.

The United States is following the European course of rendering the distinction between the state and the church irrelevant by making the state into the church and mandating that everyone worship it. As in 19th century Europe, deliberate clashes are being stirred up between the values of the state and religious values for the purpose of demonstrating that the values of the state are supreme.

The expansion of state power is rapidly becoming limitless. The old legal justifications that linked Federal intervention in civil rights to interstate commerce and public accommodation have given way to a redefinition of any and all establishments as public accommodations. Courts argue that once an individual begins to sell a product or service, he loses access to all his Constitutional freedoms.

The core issue transcends the hot button social issues such as gay marriage and abortion embraced by the elites of a permissive society and addresses the deeper inversion of rights that is at the heart of the problem.

Reproductive rights and gay rights activists both campaigned to be left alone. There are still gay protests with placards arguing that their marriages are no one else’s business and pro-abortion rallies demanding that politicians stay out of the bedroom. But if the marriage of Adam and Steve shouldn’t be at the disposal of Harry and Julie, why should Harry’s bakery and Julie’s talent be at the disposal of Adam and Steve? If the government should stay out of the bedroom, then why must it dive into the bedroom to compel the owners of companies like Hobby Lobby to subsidize violations of their faith?

Cases like these show that the issue is not rights, but control. If the only way to obtain what you call your rights is by compelling someone else to give up theirs then what you are really demanding is not a right, but a means of imposing your values and your convictions on someone else. And that is not a matter of civil rights. It is an ideological and religious war with government siding with whoever has the most money to invest in strategic campaign contributions for the culture war.

Individual rights exist in the empty spaces that government is forced out of. Government rights however do not exist until everyone is forced to provide them. That is true of the redistribution of wealth and property, but it is even truer of the redistribution of freedom and the confiscation of conscience.

Whatever right government has to the seizure of wealth, it has none to the seizure of conscience. If there is any place that the government has no right to intrude, not in the name of social justice or political correctness or the progressive utopia awaiting us on the other side of the regulatory mirror, it is the territories of the First Amendment, sacred not only in idea, but also in practice.

There can be no faith, no ideas and no individuality without the First Amendment. Without the right to be left alone in your beliefs, your values and your convictions, there can be no other rights and the very notion of rights, no matter how often it is used to describe everything from free health care to gay marriage, cannot exist.

And it is into this sacred territory that the judicial activists of gay marriage have dared to intrude.

Rights can either be defined by the virtue of the individual in his liberty or the virtue of the government in its authoritarianism. But it cannot be defined by both. Either you have the right to be free or you have the right to the property and the service of another human being. The choice is the fundamental one between freedom and slavery.

Social justice denies the virtue of freedom, it rejects the possibility of self-determination without external intervention, it dismisses the idea that people can be free without a system of redistributing freedom from the oppressors to the oppressed so that the oppressed become the new oppressors. It rejects any alternative to entitlements as entitlement and any alternative to privilege as privilege.

The moral argument for freedom is the self-organizing principle of individuals. The moral argument for compulsion is that the system is superior to individuals. The left has chosen central planning in human rights as it has in every other area of life. It believes with the paradoxical perversity of doublethink that freedom can only come from government because only a central authority is qualified to provide the equal distribution of freedom within carefully planned limits.

This abrogation of freedom is the logical end result of the left’s entire pattern of reasoning which rejects the individual for the collective, the working man for the planner and the people for the ideological expert. These forms of repression are expressions of its rotten notion that the left may do anything and everything in the name of freedom except actually allow the people to be free.

Without the right to be left alone, there are no other individual rights. Without individual rights, there is no such thing as a free society.

Every group is sooner or later faced with choosing whether it wants to win a final conclusive victory over its enemies or whether it wants to be free. The tyrannical choice is tempting, but it unleashes a cycle of conflict and repression that can only end with extermination. And once that choice is made, the formerly oppressed forfeit all their moral authority as they abandon freedom for tyranny.

 Reprinted from article on December 18, 2013

Leftist Soros Used US Tax Dollars to Consolidate Power in Colombia

In a recent letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, six U.S. Senators asked for an investigation into whether the United States Agency for International Development was promoting the Open Society Foundations’ left-wing policies abroad.

State Department career officials gave the senators the runaround, but if Tillerson does launch the probe, he need look no further than Colombia.

That South American country offers plenty of evidence that U.S. tax dollars are indeed being used to advance George Soros’ agenda—all under the banner of “peace.”

In November 2016, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed a “peace agreement” with the Marxist narco-terrorist group FARC. Though Colombians had earlier rejected the deal in a plebiscite, Santos and the Congress—which his party controls—found a loophole to ratify it, placing it above the Constitution.

The effect of this is that Santos now virtually rules by decree, answering only to an oversight commission—a junta comprised of three terrorists, three Santos cronies, and a few foreign observers.

The separation of powers has been abolished and a new peace tribunal, known as the Jurisdiccion Especial para la Paz has replaced the nation’s courts.

This act to circumvent Colombia’s Constitution was supported by many outside interests, including Scandinavian countries and the Nobel Committee, which awarded Santos the Peace Prize.

Also supportive was the Obama administration—partly through USAID—and Soros-backed nongovernmental organizations, which jointly helped launder the image, atrocities, and fortune of the world’s leading cocaine cartel.

I asked a USAID official last month whether USAID and the Open Society Foundations were coordinating in Colombia. He answered: “USAID is not funding any activities with Open Society in Colombia, directly or through any past or existing mechanism.”

But just scratching the surface of USAID activities tells a different story.

For example, Verdad Abierta, a web-based portal created by Teresa Ronderos, director of the Open Society Program on Independent Journalism, boasts on its website that it receives support from USAID.

Abierta has helped rewrite Colombia’s history, elevating terrorists to the same level as the legitimate police and military forces, and rebranding decades of massacres, kidnappings, child soldiering, and drug trafficking by a criminal syndicate as simply “50 years of armed conflict.”

Fundacion Ideas para la Paz, once led by peace negotiator Sergio Jaramillo, now a member of the oversight “junta,” is funded by the Open Society Foundations and has received more than $200,000 in U.S. tax dollars.

The left-wing news portal La Silla Vacia, another Open Society initiative, also boasts of being a USAID grantee. Its columnist, Rodrigo Uprimny, whose NGO DeJusticia also partners with USAID and Open Society, is considered one of the architects of the peace deal.

Former National Liberation Army terrorist Leon Valencia—Open Society collaborator and grantee—has received at least $1,000,000 in USAID funding through his NGOs Corporacion Nuevo Arco Iris and Paz y Reconciliacion, and left-wing news portal Las Dos Orillas, which he co-founded.

Leon Valencia, director of the Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation, speaks at a March 2017 press conference in Bogota, Colombia to support the "peace agreement" reached with the guerilla group FARC. (Photo: Leonardo Muñoz/Efe/Newscom)

Leon Valencia, director of the Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation and former guerilla member, speaks at a March 2017 press conference to support the “peace agreement” reached between the government and FARC. (Photo: Leonardo Muñoz/Efe/Newscom)

The list goes on. I’ve written in a separate piece about the long history of collaboration between Soros-funded NGOs and the U.S. State Department to undermine Colombia’s institutions, particularly through the work of Human Rights Watch.

While terrorists are rewarded with unelected seats in Congress and impunity, those who combated them will either confess to crimes they haven’t committed or go to jail.

This leads to Soros’ crowning achievement: Of the five commissioners chosen to select the judges for the new peace tribunal, three are key players in Soros’ network.

Diego Garcia-Sayan is chairman of Open Society’s Global Drug Policy Program, Juan E. Mendez is a 15-year veteran of Soros-funded Human Rights Watch, and Alvaro Gil-Robles collaborated with Open Society on the issue of Roma rights, eventually leading to the creation of the European Roma Institute—a joint initiative of the Open Society Foundations and the Council of Europe.

I recontacted USAID with follow-up questions regarding all the above. The press office declined to answer any of them, but a spokesperson did amend the original statement: “USAID is not funding any activities through Open Society in Colombia.”

Understanding the full scope of USAID and Open Society collaboration requires a government investigation. USAID‘s biggest contracts involve agreements with organizations that aren’t always transparent.

Take Chemonics. This USAID contractor received more than $20 million in 2015 alone. Some of that—USAID declined to say how much—went to formalizing relations between illegal miners in Segovia, Antioquia, and Gran Colombia Gold, the concession holder.

While the sustainability and benefits to the environment of the project are not clear (lawlessness in Segovia has intensified), certainly the company benefitted from a trained workforce not stealing its gold—albeit temporarily—courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.

One of the major shareholders of Gran Colombia Gold just happens to be Frank Giustra, a trustee of the Soros-funded International Crisis Group, along with Soros himself.

The six U.S. senators, then, are right to ask for a full accounting of USAID programs. Start with Colombia, where U.S. assistance should be for the purposes of maintaining and strengthening the gains from Plan Colombia.

By Lia Fowler / /

Watch: MOAB Super-Bomb Makes Impact against ISIS Tunnels in Afghanistan

Video released by the Pentagon on Friday showed the “Mother of all Bombs” plummeting from the sky and exploding in eastern Afghanistan, as military officials said it flattened a cave-and-tunnel complex controlled by the Islamic State terror group.

The Department of Defense released the video Friday, less than a day after it dropped the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) atop the Achin district of Nangarhar province, which is close to the Afghan-Pakistan border. Officials said 39 ISIS fighters were killed.

In the 30-second video, the 21,000-pound bomb – the largest non-nuclear weapon in the U.S. military arsenal – could be seen dropping before it exploded midair. Smoke quickly rose from the impact zone, which officials said was more than a mile wide.

The U.S. military headquarters in Kabul said in a statement that the bomb was dropped at 7:32 p.m. local time Thursday.

President Donald Trump, who said he authorized the attack, called it a “very, very successful mission.”

“As [ISIS’] losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers, and tunnels to thicken their defense,” Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against [ISIS].”

The MOAB was first tested in 2003, but hadn’t been used in combat before Thursday.

The MOAB had to be dropped out of the back of a U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo plane due to its massive size.

“We kicked it out the back door,” one U.S. official told Fox News.

Ismail Shinwari, the governor of Achin district, said the U.S. attack was carried out in a remote mountainous area with no civilian homes nearby. He said there has been heavy fighting in the area in recent weeks between Afghan forces and ISIS militants.

The strike came just days after a Green Beret was killed fighting ISIS in Nangarhar, however, a U.S. defense official told Fox News the bombing had nothing to do with that casualty.

“It was the right weapon for the right target, and not in retaliation,” the official said.

The U.S. estimates that between 600 to 800 ISIS fighters are present in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar. The U.S. has concentrated heavily on combating them, while also supporting Afghan forces battling the Taliban.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

‘Referendum on Trump’ Fails for Dems – GOP Winner in Kansas

GOP SURVIVES FIRST TEST

Kansas state Treasurer Ron Estes held off a stronger-than-expected challenge from Democratic civil rights attorney James Thompson Tuesday night as the GOP won the first special congressional election since President Trump’s inauguration. Estes won 53 percent of the vote to take the seat vacated by CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES:

When President Trump plucked conservative members of Congress to fill his Cabinet, it set off a slew of special elections — starting with Tuesday’s contest in Kansas.

These were supposed to be no-brainer affairs.

Trump easily won the Wichita-area district held by Mike Pompeo, now the CIA director, since 2011. The opening offered an easy elevation for the party-picked candidate, Ron Estes, the state treasurer.

But that’s not what happened. Democratic unrest over Trump made this race — and the others coming — a referendum on the new administration.

Democrats have rallied around the underdog, James Thompson, putting him in striking distance.

The political newcomer’s resume made him a candidate to watch: He was homeless as a child, joined the Army and later went to college, becoming a civil rights attorney. He and his wife have one daughter, Liberty.

A Republican loss so early in the special-election season — with an even closer race shaping up next week in Georgia’s 6th District in the Atlanta suburbs — has put the party on high alert.

Trump tweeted support of Estes on Tuesday morning and recorded a robocall, according to the Wichita Eagle.

“Ron Estes is running TODAY for Congress in the Great State of Kansas. A wonderful guy, I need his help on Healthcare & Tax Cuts (Reform),” Trump tweeted.

Top Republican lawmakers, including Sens. Ted Cruz  of Texas and Pat Roberts of Kansas, offered their services.

Losing one seat to Democrats wouldn’t necessarily be devastating for House Republicans. They are in no immediate danger of losing their robust majority.

But a win would carry big symbolism for Democrats, who continue to struggle to find their political footing after the 2016 loss to Trump.

And it could set the stage for the summer as campaigns start forming for the 2018 midterm elections, when Democrats will try to win back seats from the GOP majority in the House and Senate.

In what is sure to be a low-turnout spring vote, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report shifted its assessment of the GOP’s hold on the Kansas seat from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican.”

“Even a single-digit finish in a seat like KS-04 … would portend big trouble for Republicans in next week’s special primary election in GA-06,” according to the Cook analysis. “There is a real chance Democrat Jon Ossoff, who is dramatically outspending the rest of the field while the main GOP contenders turn on each other, could hit 50 percent on April 18 and avoid a runoff. As such, we are moving GA-06 to Toss Up.”

New Global Warming Study, Terrible News for Alarmists, Good News for Plants, Animals and People

A new study published in the highly influential journal Nature suggests rising global temperatures during the 19th and 20th centuries may be linked to greater plant photosynthesis.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California at Merced, estimated based on its models “the sum of all plant photosynthesis on Earth grew by 30 percent over the 200-year record captured,” according to an article published on the UC Merced website.

Photosynthesis is the process of converting carbon dioxide into carbohydrates, which power plants, using sunlight.

According to the UC Merced article, “The research did not identify the cause of the increased photosynthesis, but computer models have shown several processes that could, together, create such a large change in global plant growth.”

“The leading candidates are rising atmospheric CO2 levels, a result of emissions from human activities; longer growing seasons, a result of climate change caused by CO2 emissions; and nitrogen pollution, another result of fossil fuel combustion and agriculture,” the article also claims.

In other words, more carbon dioxide, which is being produced by humans at record levels, has improved plant growth, which in turn improves food production for humans and animals.

“The rising CO2 level stimulates crops yields,” said lead researcher Elliott Campbell, a professor at UC Merced.

Campbell said the evidence shows “a fundamental shift in the Earth’s plants” and that “global plant growth should be a central goal for the human race.”

However, don’t too excited, Campbell warns. He says despite the researchers’ findings, which clearly show global warming helps plants—and thus also helping humans and animals—global warming has many negative effects, too, such as causing “climate change, which will increase flooding of coastal cities, extreme weather and ocean acidification.”

The researchers’ study in Nature provided no proof of the claim global warming is caused by humans or that global warming will cause the severe problems Campbell said it will in the quotes provided by the UC Merced article. The study also offered no solutions for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions without causing severe economic and social problems for billions of people.

The study did, however, show increased carbon-dioxide levels have, generally, helped plants and crops.

By  

Gorsuch Sworn in as Supreme Court Justice

Justice Neil Gorsuch was sworn in to the Supreme Court Monday, capping a grueling confirmation process and filling the seat once held by the late Antonin Scalia.

Gorsuch took the Constitutional Oath in a private ceremony, administered by Chief Justice John Roberts in the Supreme Court’s Justice’s Conference Room. He was accompanied by his wife Louise, who held the Bible, and his two daughters.

Later, in a public ceremony at the White House, Justice Anthony Kennedy – Gorsuch’s former boss – administered the Judicial Oath.

“We are here to celebrate history,” President Trump said, calling Gorsuch a man of “unmatched qualification” and “deeply devoted” to the Constitution.

“I have no doubt you will rise to the occasion, and the decisions you make will protect our Constitution today and for many generations of Americans to come,” he said.

Gorsuch takes the seat of the late Justice Scalia, who died in February last year, and whom Gorsuch has been compared favorably to by conservatives hopeful for another originalist on the court.

Gorsuch is likely to cast a deciding vote in a number of high-profile cases, which in part explains the terse and partisan hearing the 49-year-old faced. The high stakes led Republicans to trigger the “nuclear option” last week to kill the 60-vote filibuster threshold for Supreme Court nominees.

Here’s a preview of what Justice Gorsuch will be looking at:

Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Pauley

Seen as the hot-button case of the Court’s sitting, this case involves a Lutheran preschool in Missouri that was denied state funds to improve a playground due to a law banning prohibiting government aid to schools with religious affiliations. Trinity Lutheran and supporters are hoping that, given Gorsuch’s rulings on past church-state issues, he will back them in this one.

Weaver v. Massachusetts and Davila v. Davis

The first case surrounds a 16-year-old who murdered a 15-year-old in 2003, and his lawyers claim his Sixth Amendment rights were violated and he was given inadequate representation after a court kept his family locked out while a jury was selected and his lawyers did not object.

The Davila case involves a Texas gang member convicted of killing a 5-year-old and her grandmother in a shooting. But lawyers claim he was given ineffective counsel, and specifically they question the legal remedies given to capital defendants.

Maslenjak v. U.S.

Justices will hear the case of an ethnic Serb from Bosnia, who was stripped of U.S. citizenship for lying about how she came to the country. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled that a naturalized citizen can be stripped of citizenship in a criminal proceeding based on immaterial false statements. Gorsuch’s record is unclear on immigration issues, and he only ruled on a few in his time on the 10th Circuit.

California Public Employees’ Retirement System v. ANZ Securities, Inc.

This case involves the question of whether certain class-action securities lawsuits can be barred because they were filed too late.

The retirement fund in California has sued various financial institutions over their alleged role in the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers.

How the justices rule in this case is expected to have serious consequences for institutional investors and also will determine whether putative class members must file individual complaints before the three-year period imposed by Section 13 of the Securities Act has run out.

Fox News’ Bill Mears and Andrew O’Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Washington Post Calls Susan Rice a Liar on Syria Chemical Weapons

Former Obama official Susan Rice’s claim just a few months ago that the Assad regime “voluntarily and verifiably” gave up its chemical weapons stockpile earned a full rebuke from a prominent fact-checker on Monday in the wake of last week’s chemical attack.

The Washington Post fact-checker gave the former national security adviser a rating of “four Pinocchios” — the worst rating on their truth scale.

“The reality is that there were continued chemical-weapons attacks by Syria,” the Post wrote.

This was after another fact-checking outfit, PolitiFact, retracted its “mostly true” rating for a 2014 claim from then-Secretary of State John Kerry that “100 percent” of those weapons were removed from Syria.

Rice’s claim, however, was more recent. In January, she told NPR that the Obama administration was able to “find a solution” on Syria that didn’t require the use of force – and still dealt with the chemical weapons threat, using diplomacy.

“We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile,” she claimed.

Then came last week’s attack that killed dozens and that the U.S. suspects involved sarin nerve gas. The strike prompted President Trump to launch missiles late last week against the base suspected of being used to carry out the attack.

Rice’s comments about the 2013 agreement to purge the Assad regime’s chemical weapons quickly were called into question, along with the claims of other Obama officials.

The Washington Post noted, “the Obama administration had a tendency to oversell what was accomplished, perhaps because Obama received so much criticism for not following through on an attack if Syria crossed what Obama had called ‘a red line.’”

“The reality is that there were continued chemical-weapons attacks by Syria — and that U.S. and international officials had good evidence that Syria had not been completely forthcoming in its declaration and possibly retained sarin and VX nerve agent,” the Post wrote.

Citing Rice’s exact words, the fact-check column ruled: “She did not explain that Syria’s declaration was believed to be incomplete and thus was not fully verified — and that the Syrian government still attacked citizens with chemical weapons not covered by the 2013 agreement. That tipped her wordsmithing toward a Four.”

FoxNews.com

Judge Gorsuch confirmed to Supreme Court

The Senate confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court on Friday, filling the critical ninth seat that has been vacant for over a year and capping a tumultuous debate that saw Republicans overhaul the way the chamber operates in order to overcome what they described as an unprecedented Democratic filibuster.

The 54-45 vote, in which three Democrats crossed party lines to support the appeals court justice, is expected to restore a 5-4 conservative tilt on the bench. Once sworn in, Gorsuch will join the court and begin to hear cases, in the seat once held by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016.

“He’s going to make the American people proud,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.

Republicans lauded Gorsuch as an eminently qualified jurist and a fitting successor to Scalia. But Democrats accused him of giving evasive answers during his confirmation hearing, and claimed his past rulings showed a tendency to favor business interests over workers. More broadly, Democrats remain furious that Republicans under McConnell’s leadership blocked consideration of former President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland, in turn allowing Trump to nominate Gorsuch.

These partisan tensions exploded on the Senate floor this week, as Democrats mounted a filibuster against Gorsuch, prompting Republicans to use what’s known as the “nuclear option” Thursday to force a final vote.

Each party blamed the other for the escalation, accusing the other side of damaging long-standing institutions.

“Damage was done to our democracy,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Friday. “Raw political power has been exercised to break the rules and norms of this body.”

But McConnell claimed that Republicans only triggered the nuclear option to “restore norms” that Democrats had defied.

Republicans pursued that course after Democrats blocked the nominee on Thursday, denying him the 60 votes needed to proceed to a final roll call. McConnell in turn executed a series of parliamentary maneuvers that resulted in the threshold being lowered to 51 votes. With that standard, Gorsuch easily advanced to the final vote on Friday.

McConnell said he made the move “for the sake of our country.”

McConnell’s predecessor as Senate majority leader Harry Reid, now retired, took the first step down the “nuclear” road by lowering the threshold for other nominees in 2013 – a controversial move Republicans frequently brought up on the road to Friday’s final vote.

But lowering the threshold for a Supreme Court pick is a more significant step. It means for the foreseeable future, the minority party will have significantly less leverage to oppose any nominee to the highest court in the land, no matter who is president.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said there will be “less faith in the Supreme Court” going forward.

Republicans say Democrats have been unfair to an otherwise qualified nominee and have wrongly cast him as an ideologue.

“Rarely has this body seen a nominee to the Supreme Court so well-qualified, so skilled, [with] such command of constitutional jurisprudence, with such an established record of independence and such judicial temperament,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Friday.

All Republicans present voted yes on Friday; Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., struggling with health issues, did not vote. Vice President Pence presided.

The three Democrats who voted for Gorsuch were North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Indiana’s Joe Donnelly — all moderate Democrats facing challenging reelection bids next year in red states.

Gorsuch is expected to take the oath on Monday.

By Fox News’ Chad Pergram and Bill Mears contributed to this report.

GOP Pushes Nuke Button, Opening Way for Gorsuch Confirmation

Senate Republicans have voted to stop the Democrats’ filibuster of President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, invoking the so-called nuclear option.

Following a precedent set by Democrats under Harry Reid, senators voted 52-48 along party lines to change the Senate’s precedent, lowering the threshold for advancing Neil Gorsuch from 60 votes to a simple majority.

They then immediately voted 55-45 to advance the nominee to a final confirmation vote, which is expected to occur Friday afternoon after thirty hours of more debate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) initiated the rules change by raising a point of order asserting that simple-majority votes should advance Supreme Court nominees to final confirmation votes.

Democrats tried to delay it by offering motions to postpone a vote and to adjourn the chamber, but both fell short as Republicans remained unified.

Earlier Thursday, McConnell said the rules change would restore the Senate’s tradition of considering a Supreme Court nominee based on credentials instead of ideology–something the Democrats have transformed over a period of decades. He called the Democratic filibuster of Gorsuch “a radical move” and something “completely unprecedented in the history of our Senate.”

“This threatened filibuster cannot be allowed to succeed or to continue for the sake of the Senate, for the sake of the court and for the sake our country,” he said.

McConnell accused Democrats of having steadily ratcheted up the “judicial wars” over the years and noted that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Bill Clinton’s pick for the court in 1993, once advocated for the abolishing Mother’s Day but was still confirmed by a 96-3 vote.

The American Bar Association rated Gorsuch as unanimously well-qualified, but Democrats criticized him for not revealing his personal judicial philosophy during confirmation as well as for several opinions they said showed he tended to favor powerful interests over “the little guy.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) argued that Republicans didn’t have to change the rules to put Gorsuch on the court, and that the more sensible option would have been to ask Trump to pick a new nominee. Of course, his argument is twisted and self-defeating. He said replacing Gorsuch would be fair after Republicans refused to give President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, a hearing or a vote last year.

Republicans said they wanted to seat Gorsuch on the court no matter what it took, praising him as an eminently qualified judge who a decade ago would likely have won strong bipartisan support for confirmation.

Times of have changed since the Senate confirmed Chief Justice John Roberts, who was nominated by President George W. Bush, to the court in 2005 with an overwhelming vote of 78-22.

PUBLIUS, with contributions from

GOP Goes Weak in the Knees, Again–Nunes Steps Aside

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes on Thursday stepped down temporarily from his role leading the committee’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and possible surveillance of Trump associates by the prior administration.

Nunes in a statement cited the efforts of “several leftwing activist groups” to lodge “entirely false and politically motivated” accusations against him with the Office of Congressional Ethics as his reason for sidelining himself.

Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, is now set to lead the committee “with assistance” from Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla.

Nunes said he would “continue to fulfill all my other responsibilities as Committee Chairman” and had requested to speak with the Ethics office “in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims.”

In a written statement, Nunes suggested the accusations against him were timed to distract from reports about the names of Trump associates being “unmasked” in intelligence files during the latter weeks of the Obama administration by former National Security Adviser Susan Rice.

“The charges are entirely false and politically motivated, and are being leveled just as the American people are beginning to learn the truth about the improper unmasking of the identities of U.S. citizens and other abuses of power,” he said.

A source close to Nunes called the alleged Democrat-led campaign to file complaints with the Office of Congressional Ethics a “clever political trick.” Even if vindicated — which Nunes believes he will be — too much political damage had already been done for Nunes to remain in his role leading the Russia/spying investigations, the source said.

Another congressional staffer agreed with the claim that the complaints were a “coordinated tactic” organized by Democrats, and said the move was made to get the conversation off of Rice. The staffer said the news came on the eve of the Easter recess in order for it to have maximum impact.

In a statement, the House Committee on Ethics said it was looking into allegations that Nunes “may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct.”

Nunes last month held a news conference in which he discussed viewing classified reports that appeared to show the unmasking of Trump associates. He then controversially went to brief the president before meeting with the intelligence committee.

Some detractors have wanted Nunes removed from the investigation for awhile, pointing to his role as a member of Trump’s transition team and arguing that he could not lead an impartial investigation. Viewing the classified documents on White House grounds and briefing Trump only added fuel to the fire.

House Speaker Paul Ryan backed Nunes’ decision.

“Devin Nunes has earned my trust over many years for his integrity and dedication to the critical work that the intelligence community does to keep America safe,” Ryan, R-Wis., said in a statement. “He continues to have that trust, and I know he is eager to demonstrate to the Ethics Committee that he has followed all proper guidelines and laws.”

Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has publicly criticized Nunes’ conduct and characterizations for weeks, however, he was conciliatory on Thursday.

“I know this was not an easy decision for the Chairman, with whom I have worked well for many years,” Schiff said in a statement. “He did so in the best interests of the committee and I respect that decision.”

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and John Roberts contributed to this report.

Failure to Launch-Time to Shut Down North Korea

The Pentagon now assesses the North Korean missile launch Wednesday likely was a failure, Fox News has learned.

The missile did not go as far as intended, officials with knowledge of the latest intelligence reports said. It did not reach Japanese waters and may have “pinwheeled in flight,” according to one official.

What’s more, the missile might be an older SCUD and not the advanced land version of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (KN-15), as first assessed by the U.S. Pacific Command last night. North Korea launched a KN-15 missile in February — as President Trump hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Florida.

In a 23-word statement, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made it clear the administration was moving in a new direction: “North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.”

U.S. officials have said they hope China will play a larger role in easing tensions in the region. While China opposes the deployment of a U.S. military anti-ballistic missile system to North Korea, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Wednesday called for de-escalation of tensions. “China has noticed such reports, we all know that the Security Council at the United Nations has issued regulations related to the missile launch by North Korea. We think that all sides involved should exercise restraint and not do anything that will escalate the difficult situation in the region.”

The Pentagon continues to see signs North Korea is close to conducting another nuclear test, after two tests last year.

The KN-15, known as “Pukguksong-2” in North Korea, uses pre-loaded solid fuel, which shortens launch preparation times, boosts its mobility and makes it harder for outsiders to detect ahead of liftoff. Most North Korean missiles use liquid propellant, which generally must be added to the missile on the launch pad before firing.

The South Korean military said the missile was fired from land near the east coast city of Sinpo and flew about 40 miles.

Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum CSIS think tank in Honolulu, said he was expecting North Korea would do something significant to coincide with President Trump’s first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week.

The missile launch may be a precursor, with more to come as the summit starts Thursday, Cossa said. “I’ve joked before that they don’t mind being hated but they definitely hate to be ignored.”

Analysts also say North Korea might time nuclear and long-range rocket tests to the April 15 birthday of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, the late grandfather of current leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea is pushing hard to upgrade its weapons systems to cope with what it calls U.S. hostility. Many weapons experts say the North could have a functioning nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the continental U.S. within a few years. North Korea carried out two nuclear tests last year.

The rogue nation’s latest missile launch also came during annual military drills between the United States and South Korea. North Korea sees the drills as an invasion rehearsal.

By Lucas Tomlinson / The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow Lucas on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews

Rice Caught in Lie on National TV: ‘I Know Nothing About This’

Susan Rice claimed ignorance on Trump team surveillance, before role in unmasking revealed

Less than two weeks before sources said it was Susan Rice who requested to unmask the names of Trump associates caught up in sensitive intelligence reports, former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser said she knew “nothing about” surveillance allegations.

Rice told PBS on March 22 that she “was not aware of any orders given to disseminate that information.” She did skirt the issues of whether she herself unmasked or disseminated information outright. Rice also limited her remarks to Trump’s debunked early March tweet claiming a wiretap of Trump Tower and vague remarks made by House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes.

“I know nothing about this.” – Susan Rice, on the unmasking of Americans

“I know nothing about this,” Rice said at the time. “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today … So today, I really don’t know to what Chairman Nunes was referring. But he said that whatever he was referring to was a legal, lawful surveillance and that it was potentially incidental collection on American citizens.”

Fox News reported that the names, once unmasked, were widely disseminated through the intelligence community – and to some in the Obama White House.

Rice’s remarks on March 22 focus on the strict legality of the issue — instead of whether the unmasking was appropriate or of intelligence value. Since Monday’s reporting, her defenders have downplayed the significance of her apparent requests.

“What I know is this … If the intelligence community professionals decide that there’s some value, national security, foreign policy or otherwise in unmasking someone, they will grant those requests,” former Obama State Department spokeswoman and Fox News contributor Marie Harf said on “The First 100 Days.” “And we have seen no evidence … that there was partisan political notice behind this and we can’t say that unless there’s actual evidence to back that up.”

Harf stressed that just because Rice requested names doesn’t mean she leaked them either.

The identities of U.S. citizens collected during surveillance on foreign targets are supposed to be shielded unless they are unmasked by a top official, ostensibly for national security reasons.

Rice hasn’t made any public statements since her PBS appearance and a Wall Street Journal op-ed released the same day excoriating the behavior of the Trump administration. In the opinion piece, Rice scolded the Trump White House, saying it “deliberately dissembles and serially contorts the facts.”

Rice, however, has her past issues with public statements.

She infamously went on Sunday morning talk shows in the wake of the Benghazi terror attack to claim the assault was spurred on by a little-known YouTube video, an allegation that proved false.

She also said former Taliban hostage Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction” in June 2014, soon after his release from enemy captivity. Seven months later, Bergdahl was court martialed on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

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Gorsuch Wins Senate Panel Endorsement

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Monday along party lines to endorse Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, setting up a showdown between Democratic and Republican senators in a series of final votes expected later this week.

The 20-member committee voted 11-9 for Gorsuch, President Trump’s pick for the high court seat left by conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016.

“The nominee’s opponents have tried to find a fault with him that will stick. And it just hasn’t worked,” said committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who allowed all 20 members to speak before the final vote. “Judge Gorsuch is eminently qualified. He’s a mainstream judge who’s earned the universal respect of his colleagues on the bench and in the bar. He applies the law as we in Congress write it.”

Despite such praise from the GOP side, all Democrats on the committee voted against the nominee, in a sign of the clash to come as the nomination advances to the full Senate.

The chamber’s Democratic leaders appear ready to try to hold up the nomination through what’s known as a filibuster. Republicans have 52 senators and would need the support of eight Democrats to reach the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster and head to a final vote.

That appears out of reach. Prior to the committee vote, more than 40 Democrats said they were willing to block the Gorsuch nomination — increasing the likelihood that majority Republicans would use the so-called “nuclear option” to push the nomination through.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s top Democrat, returned to her party’s repeated argument that Judge Merrick Garland, former-President Barack Obama’s nominee, should have been considered for the Scalia seat, but leaders of the Republican-controlled Senate held off until after the 2016 presidential election.

Feinstein also revisited a ruling Gorsuch made on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, in Colorado, in which he sided with a company that fired a trucker for disobeying orders by unhitching his vehicle from a malfunctioning tractor-trailer and driving off — after waiting hours for help in sub-zero temperatures.

“So this is not the usual nominee,” she said. “Therefore, I cannot support the nominee.”

So far, just three Senate Democrats have announced support for Gorsuch, a graduate of Columbia University, Harvard Law and Oxford University.

They are Sens. Joe Donnelly, of Indiana; Heidi Heitkamp, of North Dakota; and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — all representing states Trump won in November and all up for re-election next year.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that Gorsuch nevertheless will be confirmed by Friday.

He was noncommittal on whether he was prepared to trigger to so-called “nuclear option,” a change in precedent that would allow the Senate to break the filibuster with a simple majority of 51 votes.

But on Monday, a Republican colleague spoke bluntly and indicated the party would go that route. South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Judiciary committee member, said: “This will be the last person subject to a filibuster. … Ironically, we are going to change the rules … for somebody who has been a good judge over such a long time.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., predicted Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Gorsuch would not pass the 60-vote benchmark and argued that Trump should “try to come up with a mainstream nominee.”

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat on the committee, like Feinstein argued that Gorsuch had too often sided against the “little guy.”

“In case after case, he favored corporations, lawyers and the special interest elite … over workers, consumers, people of disability and victims of discrimination,” he said.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican on the committee, said Gorsuch likely thought the firing of the trucker was “foolish.”

“But that wasn’t the question before him,” Lee said. “The law, as he carefully analyzed it, would not allow judicial intervention.”

FoxNews.com / The Associated Press contributed to this report.