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Commentary

David Davenport: Free Speech

Compromise

This summer, Commentary magazine published a forum on the question: Is free speech under threat in the United States?

Ironically, in a country where the Constitution and the courts carefully protect free speech, many people do not feel free to speak freely. Why? Because of a smothering blanket of political correctness that starts in our colleges and permeates our society.

Speakers with points of view that differ from the liberal orthodoxy are not welcome on many campuses, and in some cases have been subject to threats and violence. Students are supposed to be protected from so-called trigger words and microaggressions in the classroom. So much for free speech and the open debate of competing ideas.

The problem is that the First Amendment protects free speech from limitations by government, but the big challenges to free speech come from our culture and our campuses. It will take a strong fight to protect free speech, which is clearly under threat.

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Michael Medved: Defying the “Success Sequence”

Opioid

The New York Times recently acknowledged that some of the recent changes in marriage and childbearing have damaged our country. Noting that a big majority—55 percent—of first children born to millennial couples are now born outside of marriage, columnist David Leonhardt explained that this “new normal” violates the “success sequence” established long-ago by the Brookings Institution.

That research proved that young people, whatever their background, could minimize any chance of long-term poverty by taking thee simple steps: graduating from high school, getting a job—any job—right after graduation from high school or college, and bearing children only after marriage, not before.

The success sequence shows that good choices can help all people avoid bad outcomes, even if they’re disadvantaged, while bad choices are likely to produce bad outcomes, even for the more privileged. Welcoming children in their traditional context of marital commitment will benefit those children, their parents and society at large.

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The Impeachment Crusade Is Costly

Jordan Peterson

Over the past six weeks or so, there has been a steady drumbeat of impeachment talk from the elite press and the opposition party.

As a result:

• Google searches on “impeachment” have spiked by 1,200 percent per day.

• London odds makers have raised the odds that Trump will not finish out his term by 21 percent.

• And the stock market? The seven weeks after Trump was elected, markets exploded upward 8.3 percent. But in the same period of time after the impeachment push, it has gone up by only 1 ½ percent.

There is little doubt that the effort to keep impeachment on the table is hurting markets, which means it’s hurting retirements, pensions and college savings programs.

If there were proof of wrongdoing, then of course, justice counts more than money. But Americans should not be forced to endure even more economic stagnation for the sake of scoring higher ratings and political points by the Trump opposition.

Simply put: The impeachment crusade is costing you money.

 

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Hugh Hewitt: Winning In Washington

U.S. Senate

What does it mean to “win” in Washington? I’ve long described “progress” as the ongoing, incremental expansion of liberty and literacy in a growing number stable regimes in or aligned with the West. And by that definition, much of the agenda of President Trump’s administration could well be described as “winning.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have become the domestic policy stars of the Trump administration, joining Defense Secretary Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary Kelly and CIA Director Pompeo as foreign policy counterparts off to successful starts. Each of the five brought to the task discipline and passion to lead their agencies.

The key, however, is that all five have sought and received buy-ins from the president and Vice President Pence on their policy directions and priorities—and, even more, that they pursue and defend their missions with little or no reference to the raging battle between the West Wing and the media elites.

Any assessment of the Trump administration ought to include a clear-eyed evaluation of where they are in fact wining.

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Michael Medved: Double Standards In The War Between White House And Media

Opioid

For all his vast power, the President of the United States is always at a structural disadvantage in a “war” with the media. The First Amendment protects press rights to criticize the government, and everyone expects such criticism. But if government—or the president, as head of government—strikes back by assailing media, there’s an uneasy hint of bullying or oppression.

President Trump isn’t exceptional in generating media hostility, but Barack Obama was exceptional in avoiding such scrutiny for eight years. What’s more, there’s a double standard on defining victory in battles between the administration and the press. CNN would celebrate if it ever won 20 percent of the available viewing audience, but presidential approval ratings of just 20 percent would undermine chances for legislative and re-election success.

A president can’t win by exclusively catering to his most enthusiastic base, but a cable news operation can’t lose if it solely rallies its hard-core fans.

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Hugh Hewitt: Americans And Contact Sports

U.S. Senate

The United States of America isn’t defined by Beltway or Manhattan elites, nor by those in Los Angeles or Silicon Valley. The mainstream media gets its cues from the collective consciousness of these four isolated reserves of great power, wealth and fame.

Donald Trump’s sparring with elites, though, is deeply satisfying to much of the rest of the country that doesn’t live in those four sectors… at least that sparring is satisfactory most of the time. There’s a limit, however, to how much good the president does by dominating media. The president met and exceeded that limit with the escalation of his war with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski via tweets. These tweets were wrong because they were cruel. They don’t energize the base, except at its far fringes. They shrink it.

Americans do love contact sports. We swoon for heated rhetoric. If Trump can resolve to stay combative but back off cruel, it won’t matter whether he tweets once or 100 times a day.

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Michael Medved: Infatuation With Obama; Rage Against Trump

Opioid

President Trump and his supporters are absolutely right that there’s a glaring contrast between the way media treat this president and way the press handled his predecessor, Barack Obama.

With Obama, potentially devastating scandals—Benghazi, the IRS, Fast and Furious, the VA—never gained momentum; the press never blamed Obama personally when things went wrong in his administration. For Trump, he’s blamed personally for every embarrassment or disappointment under his watch. But conservatives are wrong to suggest that the treatment of Trump is exceptional. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton also got rough handling by the press; it was the always-forgiving, generally glowing treatment of Obama that was exceptional, extraordinary, in fact.

Maybe it was his image as a “hip cool dude,” or his historical status as the first non-white president, but media infatuation with Obama set a dangerous precedent that distorts press-relations with the current administration.

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