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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

House Intelligence Panel Issues SEVEN SUBPOENAS in Russia Probe

Four are related to Russia investigation, three to ‘unmasking’ controversy, individuals say

Former CIA Director John Brennan testifying before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last week.

Byron Tau
The House Intelligence Committee issued seven subpoenas on Wednesday, in a sign that its investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election is ramping up in scope and intensity, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Republican-led committee issued four subpoenas related to the Russia investigation. Three subpoenas are related to questions about how and why the names of associates of President Donald Trump were unredacted and distributed within classified reports by Obama administration officials during the transition between administrations.
The committee has subpoenaed the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency for information about what is called “unmasking.” Republicans on the committee have been pushing for a thorough investigation of how the names of Trump campaign officials became exposed in classified intelligence reports based off intelligence community intercepts.
Those subpoenas seek information on requests made by former national security adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan and former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power for names to be unmasked in classified material. The three didn’t personally receive subpoenas, the people familiar with the matte said. Mr. Brennan, Ms. Rice and Ms. Power didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Ms. Power hasn’t previously been reported as a potential witness in the probe so her inclusion in the subpoenas may mean Republicans are broadening their areas of investigation.
Typically, information about Americans intercepted in foreign surveillance is redacted, even in classified reports distributed within the government, unless a compelling need exists to reveal them. Unmasking requests aren’t uncommon by top intelligence community officials but Republicans want to know whether any of the unmaskings of Trump campaign officials during the transition were politically motivated.
The four subpoenas related to the Russia investigation remain unknown but Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the panel, has previously said that former national security adviser Mike Flynn would be subpoenaed by the panel. It is unclear if Mr. Flynn is one of the four targeted Wednesday.
The House Intelligence Committee is one of two bodies currently probing the question of whether Russian meddled in the 2016 election and whether anyone from Mr. Trump’s campaign played a role. The Senate Intelligence Committee is conducting its own investigation and has already issued subpoenas to Mr. Flynn and his businesses. Mr. Trump has said there was no collusion with Russia and called the investigation a witch hunt. Russia has denied the allegations.
The House panel also sent a letter to former White House press aide Boris Epshteyn asking him to voluntarily submit information to the committee. Mr. Epshteyn briefly served as special assistant to the president in the Trump administration before departing his post earlier this year.
“Like many others, Mr. Epshteyn has received a broad, preliminary request for information from the House Intelligence Committee,” an attorney for Mr. Epshteyn said Wednesday. “This is a voluntary request. Mr. Epshteyn has not been subpoenaed nor do we anticipate that he will be. We have reached out to the committee with several follow up questions and we are awaiting their response in order to better understand what information they are seeking and whether Mr. Epshteyn is able to reasonably provide it.”

Trump to EXIT Paris Climate Accord in MAJOR BLOW to Obama’s Legacy

President Donald Trump at his desk in the Oval Office.

Sally Persons and S.A. Miller

President Trump is laying the groundwork for withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, launching a process that is likely to take some years.
The details of the withdrawal are still in the works and the effort is being led by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, according to Axios, which reported Wednesday on the direction the administration is taking.
I will be announcing my decision on the Paris Accord over the next few days. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
A source told The Washington Times different options for withdrawal are being explored, but that no final decision to withdraw has been reached.

The agreement was the centerpiece of President Obama’s international agenda, and was meant to tie the U.S. to certain targets for greenhouse gas emissions, as part of an international deal. But Mr. Obama refused to submit the deal to the Senate for ratification as a treaty, instead insisting it was a presidential accord that amounted to pressure, but not to a binding treaty.
The new administration has fiercely battled over what to do about the agreement, which then-candidate Trump promised to cancel during the campaign.
State Department officials — many of them holdovers from the Obama era — fought to stay in the agreement, and were aided by new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Mr. Trump’s own family.
Leading the withdrawal charge were Mr. Pruitt and top Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon. The White House’s top lawyer, Donald McGahn, also ended up tilting against the agreement.
Mr. Trump spent much of last week meeting with European leaders, who pressured him to remain in the deal. Pope Francis also added his voice to the pressure, even given the president a copy of the papal encyclical urging the world to battle climate change.
Sen. Mike Lee, who advocated for a full withdrawal from the climate agreement, said that binding the U.S. to an international agreement was a bad idea because other countries will not uphold their end of the agreement.
“When the United States commits to something it abides by the rule of law. When other countries do the same it doesn’t necessarily have the same effect,” said the Utah Republican on MSNBC.
“When we tie ourselves to an agreement internationally, we know that other agreements might not abide by their limits. When we ourselves tie them to it we know that we will to ours. I’d hate to see us harm our own economy by agreeing to something that other people, who we agree with, aren’t going to follow.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal disagreed and said pulling out of the agreement will undermine America’s credibility, and fall behind in job creation in solar and other environmental technology.
“I think that our credibility will be undermined,” said the Connecticut Democrat on CNN. “If other countries lose confidence in our commitment to climate change, they may cut back their commitment. They’re going to fill the gap. China now is producing jobs and economic progress based on solar and wind investments. Other countries will in effect create more jobs and similarly surpass us.”
Michael Brune, executive director of the environmentalist Sierra Club, denounced the decision.
Donald Trump has made a historic mistake which our grandchildren will look back on with stunned dismay at how a world leader could be so divorced from reality and morality,” he said in a statement. “Trump has abandoned the standard of American leadership, turned his back on the what the public and the market demand, and shamelessly disregarded the safety of our families just to let the fossil fuel industry eek out a few more dollars in profits.”
The Obama administration filed its “acceptance” of the agreement in September, committing the U.S. — at least on paper — to reduce its emissions in 2025 by 26 to 28 percent below the level they were at in 2005.
Mr. Obama had previously tried to win a carbon-emissions control scheme from Congress, so he instead issued a series of regulations imposing tight controls, hoping to force the economy to reach the targets that way.
The Trump administration has already signaled its rollback of many of those key regulatory steps, so even if the U.S. remains in the Paris agreement it would be difficult to force changes in the economy.
The League of Conservation Voters spewed invective at the Trump administration Wednesday, calling the reported decision “a new low” and a “wildly irresponsible decision,” saying it “prioritized polluter profits over kids’ health.”
“With or without U.S. leadership, other countries, businesses, states, cities and citizens are continuing the unstoppable march toward the clean energy economy,” said Gene Karpinski, president of the LCV.
Environmentalists are hoping that businesses are either already locked into lower-emissions decisions, or choose to follow that path because of market or public relations pressures.


Republicans are reviled when talking about God and Democrats, not so much

Illustration on the origin of American constitutional rights by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times
Illustration on the origin of American constitutional rights by Alexander Hunter

 Dave Brat
Liberal elected officials are free to invoke God in the public square. They do so regularly when attempting to gain support for a new federal program or, more recently, to stop Republican efforts to reform Obamacare.
During her floor speech on the Republican health care bill, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi quoted Pope Francis and said Congress’ responsibility to health care was “biblical.” President Kennedy once outlined his vision of public service by saying, “Here on earth, God’s work must truly be our own.”
Whether for political gain or because of deeply held beliefs, both Mrs. Pelosi and Kennedy were right to observe that biblical commandments play an integral role in our civil society. The dignity of every life from the unborn baby to those with disabilities to the elderly is rooted in natural law and the commandment to “love thy neighbor.”
But there is a double standard for Republican politicians.
My Virginia colleague, Rep. Donald McEachin, regularly hosts his town hall meetings in churches without protest from the left. When I held a town hall at a church in early May, I was criticized for holding it on church property.
Some in the audience booed the pastor’s opening prayer, but the disrespectful behavior did not just end there. At times, four-letter expletives were hurled across the church sanctuary at me and at other members of the audience who dared disagree.
One woman carried a sign quoting scripture, Matthew 25:40. Yet, she was part of the crowd booing loudly when I suggested that the Establishment Clause did not mean a total separation of church and state and that our rights come from God. I was shouted down for pointing out that the Judeo-Christian tradition is one of the three pillars, along with the rule of law, and the free markets, that made America the greatest nation on earth.
Our Founders explicitly outlined where our rights came from in the Declaration of Independence. In fact, the writings of our Founders were full of references to the great thinkers of their time, who unequivocally believed our rights emanated from our Creator. Even though some of our Founders were not outwardly religious, none conceived of a day when the Judeo-Christian tradition did not at least form the moral backdrop for our country.
The early motto of Harvard, which was founded in 1636, was “Truth for Christ and the Church.” Harvard has long abandoned that motto, yet the Judeo-Christian tradition is rooted in all of the earliest acclaimed educational institutions in our country.
Today by contrast, philosophy departments of educational institutions are teaching that everyone can have their own version of the truth and that rights are fluid and changing. While that might work in the classroom, it does not play out very well when governing. Foreign leaders who reject the dignity of human life and commit atrocities cannot be left to simply practice their own version of truth.
History reveals too many examples of human rights violations and horrific genocides as a result of totalitarian regimes that abandoned God and natural law. Dictators thrived with the toxic combination of a big state and a godless philosophic foundation. Examples include Rome to the influence of Karl Marx on the Cold War-era Soviet Union and China. Or consider the stark difference we see between the economic flourishing and religious freedom in South Korea versus the bleak conditions of North Korea.
If you examine those in the Western tradition who fought to end slavery and advance the value of human rights, you will see individuals who were willing to stand up for the voiceless because their faith was what grounded them. This includes individuals like Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Ronald Reagan. All stood up for the “least of these” because their religious beliefs informed their views on the value of human life.
The source of natural law must reference a higher universal power and the divine. Without it, we are left with gaping holes that struggle to explain the meaning and purpose of life. Complete separation of church and state leaves rights to be defined not by a loving God, but the unpredictable whims of man. It is dangerous to believe rights come from fallible men and governing authorities; because what man can give, he or she can just as easily take away.
This pillar of our country’s founding received the loudest booing of the night at my town hall. But if we remove natural law from our vocabulary and try to strip it out of the Declaration of Independence, we are left without any common foundation or truth. Government no longer will exist to protect the unalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness — but it will be free to arbitrarily define and prescribe your freedoms.
The left may boo me for vowing to protect their God-given rights, but I will protect them anyway.

Obama’s REGULATIONS in 2016 to DRAIN ECONOMY by $2 Trillion

President Trump has ordered the dismantling of former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan that would regulate carbon emissions in U.S. power plants. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

 David Sherfinski

The Obama administration issued a record number of new regulations on its way out the door in 2016, leaving an administrative state that saps the economy of nearly $2 trillion a year, according to a new report being released Wednesday.
The government itself spent $63 billion in 2016 to administer and enforce all of its own regulations, the Competitive Enterprise Institute said.
With Republicans in Washington looking for reasons to streamline Washington and roll back President Barack Obama’s accomplishments, the new report is likely to be ammunition.
“The federal government’s reach extends far beyond its taxes, deficits, and borrowing. Federal environmental, safety and health, and economic regulations affect the economy by hundreds of billions — even trillions — of dollars annually,” Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. wrote in the CEI’s 2017 “Ten Thousand Commandments” report on federal regulations.
He counted 3,853 federal rules that were finalized in 2016 — the most for any year since 2005.
All told, during his time in office, Mr. Obama issued 685 “major” rules — generally defined as having an economic impact of at least $100 million — compared to 505 during President George W. Bush’s tenure, the CEI report said.
The page count for the Federal Register, which publishes regulations, topped 95,000 new pages in 2016, setting a record, the report said.
The Department of the Treasury led the way among executive branch agencies by accounting for 469 rules among agency priorities, followed by the Interior, Transportation and Commerce departments and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Financial regulations and federal land use issues in the western part of the U.S. were two big battles during the Obama administration.
President Trump already has made regulatory reform a key part of his agenda. He ordered the dismantling of Mr. Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which was a push to regulate carbon emissions in the nation’s power plants, and teamed up with Congress to repeal about a dozen last-minute Obama-era regulations.
But the CEI report said Congress should also bear more responsibility for the “hidden tax” of regulatory costs, which it said gets passed on to consumers to the tune of $15,000 per household.
For example, rather than vote to create new job training programs — and accept the consequences of adding to the federal deficit — lawmakers can instead pass a law requiring major companies to provide job training under rules they delegate to the Labor Department, Mr. Crews wrote.
“The latter option would add little to federal spending but would still let Congress take credit for the program,” he wrote. “By regulating instead of spending, government can expand almost indefinitely without explicitly taxing anybody one extra penny.”
The growth of the so-called “administrative state” has become a major issue in conservative legal circles, with some scholars saying it’s time to push the federal courts to roll back regulatory power and force it back into the hands of Congress.
Newly installed Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch drew praise from some conservative circles with his opinion in a case last year in which he said it may be time for the high court to show less deference to regulatory agencies’ decisions.
On Capitol Hill, Republicans are pushing another solution: fewer regulations all around.
In January the House passed the REINS Act, which would require Congress to vote on major rules before they can take effect. That legislation hasn’t gone anywhere in the Senate.
Congress has, however, used the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn a dozen last-minute Obama-era regulations. Previously the tool had been used just once to overturn a Clinton-era rule.
Democrats have tried to throw up roadblocks to Republicans’ deregulation efforts, saying many rules are intended to protect consumers, notably in the area of financial oversight.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said earlier this month that the recent uses of the CRA were more about helping special interests than rolling back burdensome regulations.
“They are giveaways to big oil, big gas, big coal, big mining and wealthy special interests,” he said.
The total federal regulatory cost was $1.963 trillion in 2016, which marked an increase of about $100 billion since 2012, according to Mr. Crews’ analysis.
Mr. Trump can also order reviews within his own administration, hoping to knock out rules that tie the economy’s hands.
But White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said it’s not always easy to unwind long-embedded regulations.
“As we’ve been through the process, what we’ve learned is, it’s not that hard to slow down an agency on creating new regs,” Mr. Mulvaney recently told the Senate Budget Committee. “But when you ask an agency, a bureaucratic agency that is designed to create regs, to start to deregulate themselves … it’s a muscle that they have not used for a long time, if ever.”
Still, Mr. Obama’s penchant for using regulations as an end run around Congress means some of them are easier to undo now, said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity.
“Right now we’re seeing enormous progress rolling back the extreme environmental regulations of the Obama years precisely because our side was successful in stopping the extreme environmental legislation during the eight years of Obama,” said Mr. Phillips, whose group lobbies for lower taxes and fewer regulations.

Kabul BLAST! Massive Explosion KILLS 80, 350 Injured

A massive explosion rocked a highly secure diplomatic area of Kabul during rush hour on Wednesday morning, killing at least 80 and injuring 350. 
Authorities said the blast-- believed caused by a suicide car bombing--was so heavy that more than 30 vehicles were either destroyed or damaged at the site of the attack.
"We don't know at this moment what was the target of the attack, but most of the casualties are civilians," said Najib Danish, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Signmar Gabriel said employees of the German Embassy in Kabul were wounded and an Afghan security guard was killed. The Foreign Ministry activated a crisis team to help deal with the aftermath
Windows were shattered in shops, restaurants and other buildings up to a half mile from the blast site.
"There are a large number of casualties, but I don't know, how many people are killed or wounded," said an eyewitness at the site, Gul Rahim.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast but both the Taliban and the Islamic State group have staged large-scale attacks in the Afghan capital in the past.
The blast comes a day after a massive bomb outside a popular ice cream parlor in central Baghdad and a rush hour car bomb in another downtown area killed at least 31 people in Iraqi.
The neighborhood is considered Kabul's safest area, with foreign embassies protected by dozens of 10-foot-high blast walls and government offices, guarded by police and national security forces. The Afghan Foreign Ministry and the Presidential Palace are in the area as well.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has strongly condemned the massive attack, saying in a statement "the terrorists, even in the holy month of Ramadan, the month of goodness, blessing and prayer, are not stopping the killing of our innocent people."
Last month, the Afghan Taliban announced the beginning of their spring offensive, promising to build their political base in the country while focusing military assaults on the international coalition and Afghan security forces.
The United States now has more than 8,000 troops in Afghanistan, training local forces and conducting counterterrorism operations. In the past year, they have largely concentrated on thwarting a surge of attacks by the Taliban, who have captured key districts, such as Helmand province, which U.S. and British troops had fought bitterly to return to the government.
The Associated Press contributed to this report


Michael Goodwin

Breaking news from 2025: The New York City Council gives its Hero of the Year award to Hamza bin Laden, a son of Osama bin Laden. In making the award, the Council declares that the bin Laden family has suffered enough since the “unfortunate events” of 9/11 and credits Hamza, who took over al Qaeda, for being an “inclusive fighter for Muslim rights.”
Time does not heal all fools and when it comes to stupidity, the future looks a lot like the present. No, the City Council will never learn.
In case you haven’t heard, Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is the prime suspect in the decision by the board of the Puerto Rican Day parade to honor a convicted terrorist, Oscar López Rivera, as a National Freedom Hero.
Her “hero” was found guilty of trying to overthrow the government of the United States with FALN, a terrorist organization that carried out 120 bombings in New York, Chicago and elsewhere.
Its 1975 bombing at Fraunces Tavern in Manhattan killed four people.
López Rivera defended violence as necessary to free Puerto Rico from American colonialism so it could become a socialist country.
None of that makes him an American hero — except to Mark-Viverito, a radical Puerto Rican with a long affinity for homicidal maniacs. She was photographed three years ago wearing a communist beret and standing next to a woman wearing a Che Guevara ­T-shirt. Later, she shared a computerized image of herself in Che Guevara likeness.
So her campaign for López Rivera’s release from federal prison was no aberration. After President Barack Obama commuted his sentence, Mark-Viverito flew to Puerto Rico to escort him to a public rally.
On the other hand, Mark-Viverito only joined in the Council’s recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag about the time she became speaker.
Like López Rivera, she wants independence for Puerto Rico. Alas, the vast majority of Puerto Ricans don’t, with proposals to that end getting only a sliver of the islands’ vote. Violence was the FALN response.
It’s also worth noting that Puerto Rico’s current governor, Ricardo Rossello, slammed the decision to honor López Rivera, calling it “beyond comprehension.” He told The Post that “I firmly reject this being associated with the people of Puerto Rico.”
For her part, Mark Viverito musters only the tired argument that “ultra right-wing forces” in Puerto Rico are stirring up opposition. This from the same pol who equated President Trump’s immigration policies with “ethnic cleansing.”
Her history and this incident show how far from the mainstream Mark-Viverito is, but what’s remarkable is that her terror-coddling hasn’t stopped her rise in the Democratic Party. Mayor Bill de Blasio supported her for Speaker, as did other borough leaders and her colleagues, and the mayor is planning to join her in the parade on June 11, marching beside or behind Lopez Rivera.
Of course, de Blasio himself is a card-carrying lefty from way back, having sneaked into Cuba for his honeymoon and waxed nostalgic for the good old days of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua — who also killed and tortured their way to power.
Yet with the exception of Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz, Jr, no other top Democrat in the city or state will march this year because of López Rivera. Good for the boycotters, but it would be even better if they spoke forcefully about why.
Gov. Cuomo, for example, waited for police organizations and major sponsors to pull out before he made the choice not to march — without explaining why. Only on Memorial Day did he give a reason to a reporter, saying, “This has been an injection of politics into the parade that I think, frankly, was unfortunate.”
Sorry, but terrorism is not “politics.” It is terrorism and sweeping it under the rug with euphemisms isn’t leadership.
Nor did Cuomo criticize de Blasio and others for marching, saying, “Everybody has to make their own decision.”
Now imagine a pro-Trump rally. Would Cuomo stand silent about Dems who marched to support the president of the United States who is from another party? Or would he denounce them?
On the national stage, Democrats have been accused of losing touch with working-class Americans. They have been accused of pursuing boutique causes, of slavish adherence to group-identity politics and of courting elitists at the expense of middle-class values.
Guilty as charged, and the López Rivera case is a perfect homegrown example. It’s the same phenomenon of ignoring the concerns of working families, only this time the boutique cause is a convicted terrorist.
Cuomo clearly has national ambitions, and the Democratic Party is looking for leaders to save it from oblivion. This would seem, then, the perfect time for the governor to mount his bully pulpit and demand that the mayor join the boycotters unless the parade rescinds its award to López Rivera.
Or have Democrats become so addicted to ethnic pandering that even denouncing terrorism is forbidden?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Fusion Party. DEMOCRATS & the Progressive MEDIA

The Democrats are following the lead of the progressive media — together, they now form the anti-Trump brigade.

Image result for dnc chair tom perez


Is there a Democratic-party alternative to President Trump’s tax plan? Is there a Democratic congressional proposal to stop the hemorrhaging and impending implosion of Obamacare? Do Democrats have some sort of comprehensive package to help the economy grow or to deal with the recent doubling of the national debt? What is the Democratic alternative to Trump’s apparent foreign policy of pragmatic realism or his neglect of entitlement reform? The answers are all no, because for all practical purposes there is no Democratic party as we have traditionally known it. It is no longer a liberal (a word now replaced by progressive) political alternative to conservatism as much as a cultural movement fueled by coastal elites, academics, celebrities — and the media. Its interests are not so much political as cultural. 

True to its new media identity, the Democratic party is against anything Trump rather than being for something. It seeks to shock and entertain in the fashion of a red-carpet celebrity or MSNBC talking head rather than to legislate or formulate policy as a political party. The result is that in traditional governing terms, the Democratic party has recalibrated itself into near political impotency. Barack Obama ended the centrism of Bill Clinton and with it the prior Democratic comeback (thanks to the third-party candidacies of Ross Perot) from the disastrous McGovern, Carter, Mondale, and Dukakis years. Indeed, Obama’s celebrity-media/identity-politics/community-organizing model brought him more new voters than the old voters he lost — but so far, his new political paradigm has not proven transferable to any other national candidates. No wonder that over the eight years of the Obama administration, Democrats lost the majority of the state legislatures, the governorships, local offices, the Senate, the House, the presidency, and, probably, the Supreme Court. Most Democratic leaders are dynastic and geriatric: Bernie Sanders (75), Hillary Clinton (69), Elizabeth Warren (67), Diane Feinstein (83), Nancy Pelosi (77), Steny Hoyer (77), or Jerry Brown (79). They are hardly spry enough to dance to the party’s new “Pajama Boy” and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” music.

 Yet those not past their mid-sixties appear unstable, such as the potty-mouth DNC head Tom Perez and his assistant, the volatile congressman Keith Ellison. Or they still believe it is 2008 and they can rally yet again around “hope and change” and Vero possumus. That politicos are talking about an amateurish Chelsea Clinton as a serious future candidate reflects the impoverishment of Democratic political talent. In such a void, a traditionally progressive media, including the entertainment industry, stepped in and fused with what is left of the Democratic party to form the new opposition to the Republican party and in particular to Donald Trump. The aim now is to alter culture through the courts and pressure groups rather than to make laws. A disinterested observer would have seen that the Democratic antidote to Trumpism was a return to Bill Clinton’s focus on working-class, pocketbook issues — the issues that might win back swing voters in the proverbially blue-wall states. But that won’t happen. The Democratic party is now in the hands of Obama progressives, who in turn follow the lead of the hip, cool, and outraged media that have no responsibility other than to appear hip and cool and outraged. 

Trump apparently understands that and so focuses most of his invective not against a tired Nancy Pelosi or the shrill Chuck Schumer but at the major networks, mainstream newspapers, and Hollywood celebrities — the heart now of the progressive fusion party. Trump’s strategy is understandable. A recent study released by the Harvard Kennedy School and Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy reported that in Trump’s first 100 days, 80 percent of major-media news coverage was negative (double the figure during President Obama’s first three months). More important, anti-Trump news constituted 41 percent of all media news coverage, a percentage three times greater than coverage accorded prior presidents. In clinical terms, we might call that an obsession. 

If it were not for Fox News’s much caricatured “fair and balanced” coverage (52 percent of its Trump coverage was negative, Harvard reported) to average in with other major print and television media, the anti-Trump bias would have been far greater — given that CNN and NBC ran almost no media coverage that portrayed Trump in a positive light (their coverage was 93 percent negative). The symptoms of the Media-Democratic party fusion range from the trivial to the profound. The merger is emblematized by the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, which has now fully morphed from a self-congratulatory night for Washington media insiders to a star-studded Petronian banquet of progressive celebrities.

Operationally, the celebrity world and the media have institutionalized political obscenity and street theater.

Operationally, the celebrity world and the media have institutionalized political obscenity and street theater. On Inauguration Day, Madonna dreamed out loud of blowing up the White House; Ashley Judd went on a crude, incoherent rant about Trump. Since then, media fixtures such as Steven Colbert and Bill Maher have melted down, the one suggesting on the air that Trump had committed a sex act on Vladimir Putin, the other that he commits incest with his daughter. Yet both were simply amplifying the prior gross slur from Politico reporter Julia Joffe: “Either Trump is f***ing his daughter, or he’s shirking nepotism laws. Which is worse?” Democrats in Congress and party functionaries have parroted the media’s obscenity and its pettiness. Sixty-seven representatives boycotted the inauguration. 

A new Democratic-party T-shirt reads “Democrats Give a S*** About People.” The head of the DNC, Tom Perez, routinely uses “s***” as if he were a stand-up on late-night TV. John Burton finished chairing the California Democratic convention with group chants of “f*** Trump,” with collective outstretched middle fingers. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) cried out that if the Democrats could not offer an antidote to Trump, then “we should go the f*** home.” California senator Kamala Harris, supposed icon of the future of the party, rushed in with her own four-letter obscenities. Celebrity ex-felon Martha Stewart thinks it’s hip to flip the bird to a photo of Donald Trump while simultaneously flipping the V-sign to an image of rapper Snoop Dogg, the violent ex-felon and former pimp who was most recently in the news for shooting an effigy of Donald Trump. Obscenity has become the media tail wagging the Democratic-party dog, even though such vulgarity might shock television audiences rather than win voters.

Role playing, rumor peddling, and virtue signaling, in lieu of winning elections and offices, are the new Democratic agendas.

Note also the media’s idea of the “Resistance” to Trump, as if multimillionaire celebrities attacking Trump while camped out in the scrub of the Hollywood hills were our version of the World War II maquisards who ambushed Waffen SS patrols in rural France. After the media hyped the “Resistance,” even sore-loser Hillary Clinton piled on that she too had enlisted. Role playing, rumor peddling, and virtue signaling, in lieu of winning elections and offices, are for now the new Democratic agendas. Instead of formulating policy, the fusion party targets its opponents in Whac-A-Mole fashion. After moving on from the smear of First Lady Melania Trump as an illegal alien and call girl, we went to Steve Bannon, the Charles Lindbergh–style fascist; then Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the duplicitous Russian patsy; on to daughter Ivanka Trump, the incestuous peddler of trinkets; then to National Security Council member Sebastian Gorka, the Hungarian Nazi sympathizer; and now presidential adviser Jared Kushner, the Russian collaborator.

 Each “scandal” got its 15 minutes of cable-news outrage and unhinged tweets from celebrities, before the wolf cries howled on to the next target. The media brag that they now more or less run the Democratic agenda. Univision’s Jorge Ramos (whose daughter worked for the Hillary Clinton campaign) recently thundered: Our position, I think, has to be much more aggressive. And we should not expect the Democrats to do that job. It is our job. If we don’t question the president, if we don’t question his lies, if we don’t do it, who is going to do it? It’s an uncomfortable position. In other words, Ramos confessed that the Democratic party apparently has neither new ideas nor a political agenda that would win over the public, and thus self-appointed journalistic grandees like him would have to step forward and lead the anti-Trump opposition as they shape the news. 

Fellow panelist and CNN’s media correspondent Brian Stelter answered Ramos, “You’re almost saying we’re a stand-in for the Democrats.” Thereby, Stelter inadvertently confirmed Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon’s widely criticized but prescient assertion that the media are in fact “the opposition party” — and should be treated as such. During the 2016 campaign, James Rutenberg of the New York Times reminded journalists that they should feel no need to treat the exceptional Trump candidacy by “normal standards,” a de facto admission that journalistic crusaders would take the political lead in opposing Trump. Christiane Amanpour said nearly the same thing in reference to Trump’s stance on global warming: Journalists are now to be advocates, not disinterested reporters of the news. In the matter of the Podesta WikiLeaks trove, it was often difficult to determine whether reporters such as Glenn Thrush and Dana Milbank were colluding with the reelection efforts of Hillary Clinton, or whether an inept campaign without ideas had turned to such reporters and columnists to develop its campaign talking points and strategies. 

When Thrush was caught massaging his stories with the Clinton campaign and confessed himself to be a hack, he received a career boost: The New York Times hired him. The message seemed to be that more reporters should do what the Democrats could not. The common theme of the Obama-era Journolist, Ben Rhodes’s “echo chamber,” the Washington Beltway power media/politics marriages and sibling connections, and the WikiLeaks revelations was that the media and the Democratic party were more or less indistinguishable.

Clinton modeled her talking points on media-driven agitprop such as Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and global-warming activism.

Most of Hillary Clinton’s agendas and campaign themes were not policy-oriented; nor did they grow from a coherent and detailed political ideology shared by Democratic officials. Instead, Hillary Clinton modeled her talking points on media-driven agitprop such as Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and global-warming activism. Yet outside Hollywood, New York, and Washington, the issues facing voters are not income redistribution, transgendered bathrooms, the division of Americans by race, or the radical alteration of the economy to supposedly address recent climate change induced by carbon emissions. In a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in late 2016, the media earned only a 19 percent favorable rating, which raises the question of whether the fusion between Democrats and the media is the old party’s salvation or suicide. 

Donald Trump has been given a great gift in that his gaffes are seen by most Americans in the context of an obsessed and unhinged Democratic-media nexus. He is pitted against a new fusion party of media elites and aging political functionaries, who all believe that America should operate on their norms, the norms of Washington, New York, Hollywood, and Malibu — all places that symbolize, to most Americans, exactly how the country has gone wrong.