We Hear You: Term Limits, the Russia Probe, the NFL, Religious Freedom, and Other Obsessions of 2017

Editor’s note: For our roundup of letters at year’s end, we thought we’d highlight some letters from The Daily Signal’s audience that we meant to publish earlier. Enjoy, and don’t forget to write us at letters@dailysignal.com.Ken McIntyre

Dear Daily Signal: In my view, the No. 1 problem in D.C. is that congressmen and senators constantly are re-elected and do not have term limits like the president does. They end up serving for decades, and their focus shifts from serving their country and constituents, if that was ever their motivation, to getting re-elected and gaining more power.

The year 2017 amply demonstrated this issue. The Founders anticipated this, and gave a means to rectify it in Article 5 of the Constitution. Article 5 deals with amending the Constitution, and provides two means.

The one that has been used exclusively to date is that Congress passes a proposed constitutional amendment and sends it to the states, three-fourths of which (38) must ratify the amendment for it to be approved.

The other way to amend the Constitution is for two-thirds of the states (34) to propose convening a constitutional convention. If the states approve the same charter, a convention is convened and may consider any amendment to the Constitution.

This has been used as a red herring by opponents who say any crazy thing could be proposed. When the organization making this push convened a mock convention, though, that didn’t happen because of the rules in place. But even if something crazy was proposed, it would be sent tc the states, and 38 would have to approve it before it became an actual amendment to the Constitution.

The organization pursuing this effort is called Convention of States, of which I am not a part. To date, 12 states have approved a resolution calling for a convention, so organizers need 22 more.

All kinds of potential amendments could be considered, including ones requiring a balanced budget, setting term limits for Supreme Court justices, and specifying the ability of Congress to overturn Supreme Court decisions. The website lists them. But the single most important amendment is congressional term limits: two six-year terms for senators, six two-year terms for congressmen.

I urge The Daily Signal’s readers to go to the website and, if they support the effort, get involved and pass the word. Congressional term limits are the key to draining the swamp.—George O’Neal, Dayton, Ohio

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Dear Daily Signal: Americans elected Republicans to stand behind President Trump and work out any plan that needs help being passed. If we had wanted to vote for Democrats to have the numbers to win, we would have voted that way. We gave the power to the Republicans, but they are siding with Democrats and nothing is getting done.

Cleaning the swamp must be done, and Democrats are determined not to let this happen. I never believed in term limits for our elected officials, but I’m ready to vote that way. I think so many elected officials get in office and do nothing to support the president. And why is it that Democrats and Republicans can’t work together on repealing broken-down Obamacare?

I am tired of all the scares we get, day in and out, to take something else from federal employees. We are retired and haven’t had a real raise in years. Every time we get a raise, our health premiums go sky high.

I can tell President Trump a place he can take money from: Look at all the perks our elected officials enjoy. Meal tickets, travel expenses, expense cards that allowed thousands of dollars for a pizza party and Nancy Pelosi’s buying thousands of dollars of alcohol. Why are taxpayers paying for all their perks? They make more than enough money to pay their own way in Washington.—Mary Tuttle

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Dear Daily Signal: Congress is not going to repeal Obamacare because lawmakers are beholden to campaign donors. You can’t have health care reform unless and until the health care industry stops the price gouging, particularly the pharmaceuticals and insurance companies interested mostly in big profits. These entities and lobbyists all have a seat at the table and donate to campaign funds. This appears to be a racket.

People are forced to purchase generic medications mostly from offshore suppliers. Big problem there, too. What is in these drugs that is causing all the dangerous side effects? And why are there medications that people can’t get off? Time for a full investigation.

It is past time for a cure for cancer and other diseases, but the industry obviously doesn’t want a cure. They make too much money on treatments. Also, fraud and overbilling are not being addressed. Pharmacies are having a field day with nursing homes. Who investigates all of this overbilling?

So many problems in the health care industry easily could be remedied, but there is no real interest. It is all for show.Norma Mabry, Columbia, S.C.

Building a Wall, Paying for Border Patrol

Dear Daily Signal: I’m a retired state trooper. After reading Fred Lucas’ story on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (“How GOP Attorneys General Forced Trump to Act on DACA“), I was thinking: What is the big opposition to the border wall?

Answer: Money. Well, how about figuring out the cost and efficiency of a wall versus Border Patrol officers?

The wall would be a solid barrier that could have an assortment of electronic detection and/or cameras rather than wages, vehicles, and retirement benefits for an overwhelming force that so far really hasn’t stopped border crossings.

Border officers still will be needed, but a much smaller force could seek out those detected at the wall. Stopping the action before it happens would lessen costs for holding facilities, hearings, courts, and so on.

It would seem the wall could break even in cost in a short period of time and be more efficient.—Ken Parsons

The Left’s Problem With American History

Dear Daily Signal: Thanks for Jarrett Stepman’s informative article on Christopher Columbus (“The Truth About Columbus“). I am a retired senior citizen, and I must admit I needed to refresh my knowledge. This article did that.

To me, there are those who wish to strip and tear apart the very fiber of our nation. This is deplorable. In my opinion, most of these divisive, far-left liberals do not even know what they are speaking of.

They need to re-educate themselves on world history and U. S. history, written by truly objective sources. Perhaps in the long run that would not help, because they seem to have closed minds. But at least they could become better educated about which they speak and protest against.

The Daily Signal is a beacon of hope and clarity for me, and I thank Mr. Stepman and all the staff at The Daily Signal. Your articles are always “first class.”

I am disabled and live on Social Security. While I couldn’t contribute due to disproportionate medical costs in 2017, I certainly will be able to do so starting in January 2018. Please continue to report the truth, because the so-called mainstream media is not doing so.—Randolph L. Groninger

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Regarding Jarrett Stepman’s commentary, “How a Radical Left-Wing Historian Birthed the Anti-Columbus Movement“: If Howard Zinn is a valid historian, why does he not realize that we have memorial statues of communist mass murderer Vladimir Lenin standing in Seattle, New York City, and Los Angeles that are not a part of U.S. history and should be destroyed?—Aubrey Yancey 

The National Anthem and the NFL

Dear Daily Signal: Genevieve Wood is exactly right in her NFL commentary (“The Hypocrisy of the NFL“). When it comes to political statements and acts by employees while on the job, they can do whatever their employer lets them do.

If there are ramifications, the employer will be the first to suffer or benefit and the first to have to explain the conduct to the customers (in this case football fans).

As an employee you have the right to say whatever you want or act however you want (within the law) constitutionally, but your employer has the absolute right to fire you or condone what you do as well.

So it looks to me like some NFL managers and owners decided to take a political stand. That entitles them to suffer the positive or negative consequences as well. It’s a business decision. We’ll see how it goes. As for me, I decided I wouldn’t be watching any games at all. I’m sick of it, and I don’t have to be a victim of their politics.—Dave, Florence, Ore.

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I have stopped watching the NFL until the league decides to step in and stop these protests during the national anthem.

I served in the Navy during the Vietnam War, and have no respect for these overpaid athletes who disrespect the things that set us apart from other countries.  If they don’t like it, they should leave with all the Hollywood jerks who threatened to do so after Donald Trump was elected.

President Trump is voicing what many in the country have no venue to do.  Who wants to listen to me or will publicize what I have to say?  You may be surprised how much support he has, as do Genevieve Wood and The Daily Signal for your commentary.—John Cox, North Carolina

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Thanks for Genevieve Wood’s video commentary, which I shared.  The NFL has successfully branded itself as a home for heroes—bigger, faster, stronger, better. They come into our homes via TV, and we cheer for our favorites. We are loyal to our team and individual players, and believe we know them. We like them and believe they like us.

But fans are slowly beginning to realize that the NFL image is incredibly deceptive—a product of ultraslick marketing. The NFL is all about its fame, fortune, and political agenda—an agenda that many patriotic Americans oppose. Maybe it’s time to question our loyalty to the NFL. Maybe it’s time for a boycott.—Patriotic Moms

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I have been a diehard NFL fan for over 45 years, since I was a kid.  If these players cannot respect our national anthem when soldiers fought to raise our flag in numerous wars to give them the right to play football and they do not respect that, I do not need to watch them.

Isn’t there a better way to protest than our anthem, which represents the land of the free? Why don’t these players turn in their jerseys and go overseas to Iraq, Afghanistan, or North Korea, so we can have equal rights in our country?

Do they think the women of these countries are treated fairly? Take off your jersey and give away your million-dollar salary and really stand up for what you believe. What a bunch of cowards, kneeling for our flag.—Tommy Van Ess, Madison, Wis.

Equating a Christian Baker With Nazis

Dear Daily Signal: Regarding Kelsey Harkness’s video report on baker Jack Phillips, I don’t understand why people think his religious views make his right to refuse service less than their right to have a cake made (“Underreported: Christian Baker Reacts to Government Official’s Comparing Him to a Nazi“). If you, for any reason, force what you want on someone concerning a service they provide, you might as well just say, “And spit in my food while you at at it.”

I wouldn’t want to make someone provide a service for me. Their rights and beliefs should be respected, too. And the happy same-sex couple who caused themselves and this guy so much grief should have just moved on down the road and found a baker that was more than happy to make their cake. Without the spit.—Brenda Reardon

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I enjoy Kelsey Harkness’ reporting of truthful facts that help give the other side of the story about American values. Much of the rest of the current media does not do that.

Their information is slanted, liberal gibberish found within the circles of biased, talking heads with an agenda taken from scripted, anti-American journalists.

My question to them is: When your freedoms are gone and the Constitution is only a fading memory, who will you turn to when you are silenced?

Please continue to unmask those who will continue to come after our freedoms with a vengeance that is right out of the un-American playbooks of the fascist parties. America needs to wake or be overrun from outside our borders.—John Buckley

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The Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is a legal union, equal to heterosexual marriage in all civil matters such as Social Security spousal benefits, spousal health care benefits, spousal benefits in tax matters, and so on. The ruling did not include a decree that everyone also must accept that gay marriage is a religious union ordained by God.

It’s not included because the Supreme Court is not authorized to speak for God. That’s outside their jurisdiction.

However, because of the First Amendment, if a gay couple wants to believe their marriage is a religious union, they have a right to believe that.  But they don’t have a right to force anyone else to believe that.  The Supreme Court cannot force anyone to believe that.

The court does not have the authority to dictate to anyone what their religious beliefs must be.  So people who believe in traditional marriage—that the only marriage ordained by God is the union of one man and one woman—have the right to that religious belief and the “free exercise thereof.”—Anita Goodspeed

Sessions, Mueller, the FBI, and Russia

Dear Daily Signal: As 74-year-old voter, I always felt that Attorney General Jeff Sessions would be weak when it came to prosecuting “his” own people, namely Congress (“Amid Trump’s Threats, Conservatives Rally Around Sessions“).

Rudy Giuliani has the capabilities, the toughness, and the proven fortitude to do the job that needs to be done. This yearlong, ridiculous witch hunt into Russia should be stopped immediately. It is a political vendetta.Maureen Waite

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Please, someone out there with public exposure, advocate for Jeff Sessions to cancel his recusal from the Russia probe when special counsel Robert Mueller goes beyond his original mandate of campaign-related investigations. That was the context of the recusal, and it should change when that mandate is exceeded.

We are well past that point, with Mueller going into Trump business matters 10 years gone by. Sessions is fully, credibly qualified to reverse his recusal and take control of his department.Robert Toews

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Trump needs to take the political heat. Fire Mueller and explain why to the American people. If the president leaves Mueller in place, this is not going to end well. He is going to find something made up, half true, a process crime, whatever. Trump should also fire Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein for making such a bad decision and folding under pressure so fast.Bob Trento

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The attorney general should have done something long ago rather than waiting until now to issue another vague and empty warning (“Jeff Sessions Warns Sanctuary Cities About Missing Out on Help to Fight Crime“).M.D. Barber

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How about an article on the merits of President Trump’s firing the FBI director and threatening to fire his attorney general and the special counsel due to Trump’s highly questionable relationship with the Russian government (“Legal Experts Weigh in on Trump’s Right to Be Riled at Sessions, DOJ“)?

Your article should deep-dive into the problems for our country if we have a president who has been financed for years by the Russian government and the oligarchs it controls. Of course, you would never write that article.

The Heritage Foundation has become a hypocritical door mat for Trump.  You have lost all credibility on all subjects. Close down shop. Trump’s supporters, like himself, do not read. So unless you are spoon-feeding his cult leaders, Rush and Hannity, no one is reading you. Hopefully your donations reflect this as well.Mary C. Oliver

NASA and the American Spirit

Dear Daily Signal: Regarding the commentary by Bonner Cohen and James Conway, NASA lives in myriads of fantasies and wastes the taxpayers’ money (“How to Make NASA Great Again“) How much more money is going to be allowed to go to waste by NASA?  The foolishness is so extravagant.

The people cannot and will not take care of this planet, yet NASA seeks somewhere else to make a complete garbage dump, and at the cost of their lives in propelling their foolish desires.

Was it ever possible to replenish Mars with plant life and treatable air and water? A child would possibly think in these terms, yet educated clowns are demanding that we try these insidious fantasies.

What does the immense cost for a Mars expedition supply for our nation? Initially a certain cost figure will come out, but it will escalate exponentially in ensuing years. We should stop the whimsical ideas immediately and focus on the real needs of mankind here on terra firma.—Ivars Loce

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While there are some flaws to this commentary on NASA, the basic concept is accurate. Landing a man on the moon in less than a decade was a great accomplishment, but it was a disaster for the long-term exploration of space.

The correct approach is to build a space infrastructurewhich should include the International Space Stationthat would allow for regular visits to the moon and elsewhere at the lowest cost with the greatest amount of safety.

I’ll also say that NASA should not be deciding where they should go. That’s a job for Congress and the president. NASA is primarily an engineering organization that should be given goals to achieve, not set them itself.—Kevin W. Parker

Future of the Filibuster 

Dear Daily Signal: The parties in the Senate are so diametrically opposed, it is difficult to see how any meaningful legislation will get passed (“Conservatives to Trump: Short-Term Victories From Killing Filibuster Could Be Costly“).

The legislators in each party, particularly the Democrats, march to the beat of their leaders. They are loathe to step out of line, even for the good of the country.

What a bunch of puppets. The common good and logic seem to have departed the legislative process in recent administrations.

It does seem the filibuster is too easy to engage, with 60 votes (20 percent more than a majority) necessary to override one. Perhaps 55 to 57 votes would achieve desired results.

Maybe the filibuster is an excuse for inaction and kicking the can down the road.  The can is getting worn out.Brad Kocher

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Thanks for being a voice of reason and truth. I would like to see your White House correspondent, Fred Lucas, who I follow closely, do an article on the reasons for getting rid of the filibuster in the Senate.

First, remember that it was then-Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who got rid of it for federal judges, thus allowing President Obama to pack the courts with liberal activist judges who have been doing everything they can to slow or stop President Trump’s agenda.

Second, it was current Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who killed the filibuster for Supreme Court justices.

So here is where we stand. President Trump can’t fulfill his agenda due to opposition by the congressional swamp. If this continues, he will be blamed instead of Congress. We will likely take a beating in 2018.

This is what the Democrats are planning for. And if they win back the Senate, here is exactly what will happen: The new Democrat majority leader immediately will abolish the filibuster, and the liberals will unleash a socialist/communist attack on this country that will destroy us.

Wake up to reality. The Democrats play hardball while Republicans play badminton.

Republicans should get rid of the filibuster and pass every bit of the Trump agenda.  This would give the economy a huge boost, create massive jobs and wealth, and actually make America great again. No Democrat would dare attempt to undo this, as they would be laughed out of office.

The future of our country is at stake, and it seems to me that Republicans are totally clueless. God help America.—Dale Athanas, Old Lyme, Conn.

More on Those Banned Farmers

Dear Daily Signal: The case of Steve and Bridget Tennes, the Michigan farmers banned from the farmers market, is a can of worms that should never have been opened (“Farmer Fights Back Against City Ban of Traditional Marriage Supporters From Farmers Market“).

However, now that it’s opened, I stand with the farmers and religion. It would serve the city of East Lansing right if the farmers all banded together and boycotted the farmers market. But that solves no problems and could hurt everyone.

So the only amicable solution I see is for the city to back off and make amends. Yeah, the city’s feelings are going to be hurt. But more than likely, city officials won’t relinquish their “power.” Then the public will have their say. It might just be the end of the farmers market.Stanley Howey

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I read with interest Kelsey Harkness’ article about Steve and Bridget Tennes being prohibited from selling their produce at the farmers market in East Lansing, Michigan (“Couple Banned From Farmers Market Over Same-Sex Marriage Views Speak Out“).

I pray the Supreme Court will rule in favor of the Colorado baker with similar problems.   Perhaps it will play an important factor in the Tennes family’s case. Keep informing us about the stories we never read about in the mostly liberal press with a biased agenda.Jo Ann Rinaldo

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Thank you for covering this important story. I fully support the Tenneses in their right to free speech and freedom from an intolerant government. Please keep us up to date.

This is what is hugely wrong with our country today, the intolerance of government. I am a conservative who is extremely disillusioned with Republicans currently serving with my president.Maribeth Hueber, Cincinnati

What’s Great About America

Dear Daily Signal: As sad as it is to see the devastation from Hurricane Harvey, it is watching people come together that gives us hope in these troubling times (“Hurricane Harvey Brings Out the Best in Americans“).

Prayer helps. No looting, no marching, no protestsvery reassuring, despite the tragedy. It is wonderful to hear this nice news in the face of all the bad. Thanks for making my day a little lighter.

Now we need to realize we will all have to sacrifice to help our neighbors. God bless us and keep us and make us see we are one.—Susan Rose

No, They’re Not Liberals

Dear Daily Signal: I admire and look forward to your daily reports. I have only one quibble, and it is the use of the term “liberal.” What a wretched misnomer.

“Liberal” once meant a philosophy opposite to that of a “conservative” party, but no genuine liberal party exists anymore. In fact, we have more true liberal politics on the right than anywhere else.

George Will observed that the party on the left are really “progressives” who believe history has a destination known only to them, and they want to take us there. They have zero right to the name liberal.

In “The Road to Serfdom,” Friedrich A. Hayek long ago commented: “It has been part of the camouflage of leftist movements in this country, helped by the muddle-headedness of many who really believe in liberty, that ‘liberal’ has come to mean the advocacy of almost every kind of government control.”

Call them “progressives” or lefties, police-staters or what you will, but please don’t dignify them with the honorable term liberal. They are anything but.Tom Anderson, Eureka, Calif.

This and That

Dear Daily Signal: I just wanted to thank Kelsey Harkness for doing such a great job. The mix of fun and satire on her “Problematic Women” show is wonderful (“Why Wonder Woman Is a Problem for Feminists“).

I know that the issues we face are serious, but fighting the irrational views of the left with a smirk is so much fun.

I loved the Windex commercial too. Maybe it is because I have a 9-year-old daughter, but it actually made me cry. Keep up the good work.—Pastor Dominick Cuozzo, New Egypt, N.J.

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If these “Dreamers” are wanting to stay in the United States, why have they not tried to become legal residents (“Trump Signals Willingness to Trade ‘Dreamers’ Amnesty for Merit-Based Immigration Reform“)?

I believe all they want is free stuff, education we pay for, and food and housing they get free or subsidized by us, the taxpayers. It is time they step up  and admit they broke the laws of the USA. No other country would let this go on.

Americans are taxed above and beyond to pay for those who do not do the right thing, morally or legally.—Cindy Haschke

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I’m writing about Rep. Phil Roe’s commentary, “Union Bosses Have Too Much Control.” I got laid off from my job after 10 years. It was a union job, and our union was useless to say the least. Its only purpose that I saw was to make sure people who should have been fired a dozen times over kept their job over a paperwork technicality.—Ryan Woody

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President Trump should cancel by executive order all exemptions from Obamacare (“How Trump Could Force Congress and Its Staff to Live Under Obamacare“). Congress does not think it is a severe punishment on American citizens, so they should be allowed to live under the program they support.—David Jerome

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Having graduated from a well-known scientific and technology college, I see absolutely no reason why more women are not studying engineering and related subjects. It is their choice and their choice alone.

My school has had an extensive drive the past eight years to enroll more women, with great success. The current freshman class is nearly 50-50. You start at the freshman year in high school trying to convince young women that math and science are not evil subjects to be avoided at all cost.—Merle Southern

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Regarding recent riots and protests, I see many participants dressed in what I regard as terrorist garb such as black-hooded shirts and masks. Anyone dressed like that is asking for a possible deadly response from an old fellow like me. A masked person typically represented someone bent on deadly violence in my day.

What does it take for our law enforcement to react to this sort of ignorant and aggressive behavior? Why is deterrent action not taken before violence begins? Where are the water cannons of yesteryear? This is getting serious, folks.—John H. Ross, Montrose, Colo.

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They say every vote counts, but does it (“Get Involved Locally. You Might Just Save the Country“)? When I was young. I wanted everything done for me, but my parents didn’t agree with me, thank goodness. Today, just where are the parents and are they collecting any and every government handout?

At some point in my life, I came to the realization that if I wanted something then I needed to figure out what it was and how to get it. Somehow, I figured out that if government gave it to me, someone else had to pay for it since government doesn’t earn a dime.

I have nothing against helping people, but if I’m going to help them they need to put something in the pot as payment. States like Maine are changing their laws to require that. Seems when that happens the lazy folk move to another state, and costs to states like Maine decrease.Sinclair Doggett

How Are We Doing?

Dear Daily Signal: Thanks for writing about the news the way I hear it and understand it. The Daily Signal is the best. Now I want to know how to get the news across to my liberal friends so they will listen.

One radio commentator suggested that President Trump register to run as an Independent in the next election. I think that would be a good idea.  If 60 percent of the rest of the country splits 30/30 between Democrats and Republicans, Trump would win with his 40 percent.—Susan Rose

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I thank you for your complete, accurate, and honest reporting of cultural and governmental problems.  To add interest, often included in the reports are previous decades’ contribution to the cause and history of an event.  This gives a citizen a way to pray for the event or topic, and for those involved, and for solutions—including things for which the citizens of the country must take responsibility.—Nancy Shaffer, Warsaw, Ind.

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Exactly what have the conservatives done for our country in the past 37 years? There is so much horrible stuff you guys have done to unravel a generally peaceful society, which still does not have health care for all.

And you wonder why the conservatives are not talked about glowingly? The Daily Signal is sending all the wrong signals to the citizenry.—Chris Chalogias

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Thank you for inspiring messages and columns, such as those by Walter Williams.—Don Ranck, Paradise, Pa.

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The blocking of highways, kneeling and raising fists during NFL games, and police shootings all have stemmed from the disruptive  “resistance” movement.  After hearing how good the stock market is, and how a lot of jobs are opening up, just what is the left complaining about? The losers are turning into anti-America.—Carol Crowe

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After 55 years of being a liberal Democrat, having been raised at the altars of FDR and LBJ, I became disgusted and frankly embarrassed by the “Democrat” Party. What happened? So here comes Mr. Trump and brings with him my governor, Mike Pence, and pulls me into his triumph of November 2016.

I now am a contributor to The Heritage Foundation, and am re-reading Robert Rector (no relation, sadly), with a different eye. The Daily Signal is my wake-up paper.—Anne Rector, Indiana

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Love the “We Hear You” page. Many contributions are knowledgeable, articulate, and even eloquent. Many with lots to contribute to our democracy have been silenced already, i.e. no one hears us. Please continue this feature, at least weekly. It’s nice to know we are not alone.Liana Silsby

The post We Hear You: Term Limits, the Russia Probe, the NFL, Religious Freedom, and Other Obsessions of 2017 appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Appeals Court Rules Bakers Must Pay $135,000 for Not Making Wedding Cake

A husband-and-wife baking team must pay a $135,000 fine for declining to make a cake for the wedding of two women, Oregon’s second-highest court has ruled.

A three-judge panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld a decision by a state agency that led to the fine and forced Aaron and Melissa Klein to close their bakery.

The court ruled that baking wedding cakes is not “speech, art, or other expression” protected by the First Amendment. The judges said the state did not “impermissibly burden the Kleins’ right to the free exercise of religion” because it compelled the Christian bakers only to comply with “a neutral law of general applicability.”

Oregon law prohibits businesses from refusing service because of a customer’s sexual orientation, as well as because of race, gender, and other personal characteristics.

“We are very disappointed in the court’s decision,” Michael Berry, deputy general counsel at First Liberty Institute, which represents the Kleins, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview Friday. “I think that punishing people for their religious beliefs is … not American, and it’s wrong.”

“It does not matter how you were born or who you love,” one of the lesbians, Laurel Bowman-Cryer, said in a written statement following the ruling. “All of us are equal under the law and should be treated equally. Oregon will not allow a ‘Straight Couples Only’ sign to be hung in bakeries or other stores.”

Boyden Gray, former White House counsel to President George H.W. Bush, argued the Kleins’ case. Gray told the three judges that the state violated the two bakers’ rights to free speech, religious freedom, and due process.

The Kleins had owned and operated Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a bakery in Gresham, Oregon.

>>> Bakers Accused of Hate Get Emotional Day in Court

After the Kleins declined in 2013 to make a cake for the wedding of Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, citing their Christian religious beliefs that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, they also faced protests that eventually led them to shut down their bakery.

In July 2015, an administrative judge for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled that the Kleins violated state law by discriminating against the Bowman-Cryers on the basis of their sexual orientation. The judge ordered the Kleins to pay the $135,000 for physical, emotional, and mental damages to the two women, as The Daily Signal previously reported.

Brad Avakian, Oregon’s elected labor commissioner, had affirmed the heavy damages against the Kleins, the Oregonian reported.

Berry, the First Liberty attorney, said his legal team is deciding how they will move forward, which could mean appealing to the Oregon Supreme Court.

“We’re evaluating our options at this point, obviously in terms of whether we are going to appeal, etc., and we’ll discuss all those options with Aaron and Melissa Klein and decide on the best course of action for them,” Berry said.

In a written statement, Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit legal organization dedicated to protecting religious liberty, said the Kleins are being denied free speech.

“Freedom of expression for ourselves should require freedom of expression for others,” Shackelford said. “In a diverse and pluralistic society, people of good will should be able to peacefully coexist with different beliefs. We are disappointed that the court ruled against the Kleins.”

Berry said the Kleins’ situation is an abuse of their religious freedom.

“I think it’s a sad day for our Constitution and for the rule of law in this country when a family-owned bakery can be put out of business simply for trying to follow their religious beliefs,” he said.

The post Appeals Court Rules Bakers Must Pay $135,000 for Not Making Wedding Cake appeared first on The Daily Signal.

New York Democrat Governor Pardons 18 Illegal Immigrants

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo mimicked California Gov. Jerry Brown’s approach to immigration Thursday, pardoning 18 convicted illegal immigrants who were facing deportation.

Cuomo, a Democrat, praised himself on Twitter for his compassion, before linking to a New York Times article supporting the move. Cuomo claimed the federal government is “tear[ing] families apart” with the current immigration policy and felt he was taking the “critical step” to defend those who were unfairly targeted.

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Brown, a Democrat, has also taken up the cause of defying federal immigration law in California by pardoning two men from Cambodia who were about to be deported. One of the men was convicted of felony joyriding in 2003 and sentenced to a year in prison, while the other was convicted of a felony weapons charge in 1995, Fox News reports.

Brown faced backlash in the media Wednesday for his sanctuary state policy from a man whose son was killed by an illegal immigrant in 2010. Don Rosenberg lost his son Drew Rosenberg when Roberto Galo from Honduras slammed into him with his car and continuously ran him over in an attempt to escape.

Galo had been stopped by the San Francisco police months earlier for driving in the wrong direction down a one-way street without a license. He was not arrested, and instead police cited and released him.

San Francisco was recently the center of a national debate on immigration, after a jury found Jose Ines Garcia Zarate not guilty of the murder of Kate Steinle. Zarate was in the country illegally and admitted to shooting Steinle but claimed it was an accident. He was only found guilty of felony possession of a weapon.

Brown signed a sanctuary state law in October, limiting the ability of local law enforcement to coordinate immigration efforts with the federal government. The law also prevents police officers from questioning or detaining people based on civil immigration violations.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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California Democrat Wants to Mandate State Colleges Have Abortion Pills Ready for Students

California lawmakers are debating whether to adopt a bill that would require California’s public universities and colleges to offer abortion drugs at their health centers.

Senate Bill 320, sponsored by state Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, will mandate that the state’s community colleges and public universities provide women with abortion pills for up to 10 weeks of pregnancy so they don’t face the “burden” of traveling to obtain an abortion.

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While the bill—if passed—isn’t set to take effect until 2020, it would also require the state’s public university health centers that don’t already offer abortion pills to provide transportation to an abortion facility or to arrange an abortion for students requesting the procedure.

“If a UC, CSU, or community college already has a student health center, it makes sense that they provide this health care service within that facility so that students do not have to travel many miles away from their work and school commitments in order to [have an abortion],” Leyva said, according to LifeNews. She claims the bill is a necessity so that young collegiate women don’t have to foot the cost of abortions themselves or travel long distances to have abortions.

The state’s health centers already provide reproductive services like birth control, condoms, and STD testing, but this bill seeks to stretch its offerings to a whole new level. The bill would also require the schools to cover the cost of the abortions.

“Not only will this bill destroy the lives of innocent children, but the chemical abortion medication being mandated has a notorious reputation for being very painful and traumatic,” California Family Council CEO Jonathan Keller said, LifeNews reports. “These drugs are known for not just causing physical pain to the mother, but psychological anguish that could last a lifetime,” he added.

“These pills will hurt our daughters and end the lives of our grandchildren by forcefully inducing a miscarriage up to 10 weeks of pregnancy, with hemorrhaging and delivery of the baby into the dorm room toilet,” said Californians for Life, according to LifeNews. The pro-life group is made up of a diverse coalition of students, educators, legislative advocates, churches, families, business owners, and citizens who are united together to end abortion in California, according to its website.

Pro-lifers are also displeased that the already taxpayer-funded colleges would require citizens against abortion to fund those procedures at the state’s public higher education institutions.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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Best Daily Signal Videos of 2017

In 2017, we increased our video production efforts, and hit a new record of 125 million video views. Thank you for watching!

Above we have five of our best mini-documentaries. And just below is our compilation of a few of our best commentary videos.

And here are some of our most popular social videos of 2017:

We’re looking forward to continuing to travel around the country and bring you more firsthand reporting, insights, and powerful videos in 2018. Stay tuned!

The post Best Daily Signal Videos of 2017 appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Religious Liberty Is Eroding in Canada. Here’s What Americans Should Learn.

Outside of watching the occasional hockey game or purchase of maple syrup, most Americans pay little attention to Canada.

We may know of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s colorful socks, but little of how unpopular he is among his constituency. We may discuss the single-payer health care system, but are unfamiliar with the government’s disrespect for religious liberty of our neighbors to the north.

Faithful patriots in this country who are concerned by the attacks on free exercise of religion in America should also be concerned by the similar attacks on liberty echoing within Canada, a country with strong protections for religious liberty in its Charter for Rights and Freedom.

In light of the immense trade between our two countries, we must determine if religious intolerance is an intangible export that has escaped our notice.

Last month, Alberta’s Child and Family Services barred a Christian couple from adopting a child because their religious views about sexuality—views shared by orthodox Jews and Muslims—were incompatible with “the official position of the Alberta government.”

The Ministry of Children’s Services stated that the couple’s belief that sexuality should not be experienced or explored until a person is married, would not create a “safe, healthy, loving, and inclusive home.”

And in June, Ontario passed a law that gave state agencies the power to prevent families from adopting or fostering children if the parents would not affirm the child transitioning their “gender identity” from male to female or vice-versa, calling such a denial “child abuse.”

Similarly, the ACLU is suing the state of Michigan over legislation that allows faith-based adoption agencies to only place children into homes with mothers and fathers while under government contract.

And much like Ontario, Illinois is requiring foster parents to affirm the gender identity of any child in their care and aid in any medical procedures the child wishes to undergo.

The Canadian government has unilaterally taken positions on sexuality without the consent of its citizenry, much like the Obama administration’s unilateral decision to reinterpret the definition of “sex” to include sexual orientation and gender identity in Title IX.

But if Americans and Canadians can’t adopt or foster children because they don’t affirm a child undergoing potentially harmful hormone therapies and sex-reassignment surgeries or sexual activity outside of marriage, will the government also begin using this criteria for “good parenting” of biological children?

Will they treat the parenting practices of orthodox Christians, Jews, and Muslims as suspect if they simply refuse to adopt the latest sexual trends?

Also in Canada, the Supreme Court will soon determine if attorneys who hold orthodox religious beliefs on sexuality are eligible to practice law.

Before Trinity Western University could even open its law school, the accrediting legal societies within Nova Scotia, Ontario, and British Columbia, voted not to accredit graduates from the university’s School of Law, because the Christian university has orthodox Christian beliefs about marriage and sexuality.

Trinity Western University is the only Canadian university to have received an A+ grade in quality of education over the past seven years, yet in 2014, the Law Society of Upper Canada labeled the students’ views as “abhorrent” and “not welcome in the public marketplace.”

Without a degree from an accredited law school, students cannot practice law in the province.

Similarly, in 2015, the mayor of Salem, Massachusetts lambasted Gordon College, a Christian University, for its beliefs about marriage after the university president wrote to President Barack Obama asking a for religious exemption from a forthcoming executive order on hiring practices related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

The mayor decided to prohibit Gordon College and its students from using a local meeting hall they had used for years. Lynn Public Schools then banned Gordon College students who were majoring in education from training as student teachers at local public schools.

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges even held a special meeting to consider revoking Gordon’s accreditation.

In both the United States and Canada, governments and accreditors are threatening the ability of graduates of Christian universities to work in the professions for which they have been trained.

Canadian members of parliament also denied MP Rachael Harder the chance to chair the Status of Women Committee led by the Liberal Party solely because of her pro-life views. Despite the chair position being procedural, not political in nature, the Trudeau government refused to allow Harder’s “outrageous” views into any kind of position of authority.

Much like a scene from “Mean Girls,” politicians staged a walkout to protest Harder’s appointment because of her viewpoint on abortion. Ultimately, they gave the position to a member of Parliament who did not want it.

In the United States, senators including Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Al Franken, D-Minn., and leftist organizations like the American Bar Association have smeared judicial nominees like Judges Amy Barrett and Steve Grasz and public officials like Kelvin Cochran and Russell Vought as “unqualified” and “hateful,” simply because of their Christian beliefs.

Their ability to serve as judges, work in government, or lead a fire department is being questioned solely because of their religious views.

In both the United States and Canada, the ability to work in government and pursue your dreams is becoming increasingly dependent on one’s beliefs about sexuality, biology, and the beginning of human life.

These developments should concern all those who believe in the right to not only hold religious beliefs in private, but to exercise them in public.

Canada was founded on the idea of religious pluralism, allowing Catholics living in Quebec to freely practice their faith. The United States was founded as a refuge for religious dissenters, as the Puritans fled persecution from the Church of England.

It is this commitment to religious liberty for all that has led America to defend religious minorities around the world, including Jews, Muslims, Bahai’s, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians.

The U.S. and Canada were the only two countries that had ambassadors for international religious freedom. But Trudeau opted to dissolve Canada’s office of ambassador of religious freedom.

If America and Canada, who are traditionally the foremost defenders of religious freedom around the world, are now forsaking that value, what will happen to the Rohingya Muslims in Burma, the Christians and Yazidis facing genocide by ISIS, and the Jews who are facing renewed anti-Semitism in Europe, all of whom the U.S. has fervently advocated for?

Right now, Canadians and Americans of faith have the opportunity to form strategic alliances, especially as they relate to marriage, family, and the free exercise of religion. But the growing threats to religious liberty and freedom of conscience make it especially urgent that these partnerships develop quickly.

Many of the world’s most dire and violent religious conflicts are rooted in lack of respect for religious freedom and religious diversity. There is no time to waste.

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Most Problematic Women of 2017

2017 was a rough year for conservative women. Public figures such as Ivanka Trump, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and the anchors at Fox News were constantly attacked for their appearance.

“Please welcome that dumpster, smokey-eyed raccoon, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders!” said Chelsea Handler on her self-titled Netflix series.

Attacking women for their looks was a theme among self-proclaimed feminists, who time and time again found a reason to call conservatives “problematic.”

To highlight the hypocrisy on display from liberal women in 2017, The Daily Signal and The Federalist teamed up to declare the most problematic women of the year. For more, tune into our podcast and Facebook Live “Problematic Women” show every Thursday.

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‘First Stop to Hell’: Father of Son Killed by Illegal Immigrant Slams Sanctuary States

The father of a young man killed by an illegal immigrant slammed California’s sanctuary state law on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday, and said Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown should go straight “to hell.”

“I wish he would get on the bullet train, first stop to hell, and he should get off and stay there,” Don Rosenberg said. “His concern for criminals, be they legal or not, is outrageous and has cost the live of many Californians.”

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Rosenberg’s son, Drew Rosenberg, was killed by Roberto Galo, an illegal immigrant from Honduras, in 2010. Drew Rosenberg was on his motorcycle in San Francisco, when Galo made a last-second turn and collided with him. Galo continuously ran over Rosenberg’s body in an attempt to flee, before finally jumping out of his car and running away.

Galo was stopped by the San Francisco police months earlier for driving without a license and going the wrong way down a one-way street. Instead of being arrested, Galo was cited and released, according to CBS News.

Don Rosenberg said the charge against Galo was originally vehicular homicide, but was then reduced to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. Galo only spent 43 days in jail for killing Drew Rosenberg, and was allowed to continue living in the United States for two more years until he was deported.

“When [Barack] Obama was president we couldn’t even talk to anybody,” Don Rosenberg said. “There was no response whatsoever.”

He also expressed concern over a potential deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and said the government should fix the rest of the immigration system before addressing the issue.

“Our position is you don’t do anything about DACA until you take care of everything else with illegal immigration and I’m very nervous about that one,” Rosenberg said.

San Francisco is a sanctuary city, and recently came under fire for finding Jose Ines Garcia Zarate not guilty for the murder of Kate Steinle. A jury found the illegal immigrant not guilty on all counts, except for felony possession of a weapon. Steinle’s murder sparked a national debate about the legality of sanctuary cities and the politicization of immigration.

Rosenberg appeared in a television ad in May where he referenced Steinle and his son, saying, “California should be a sanctuary, for Californians.” He appealed to Brown not to sign the bill making California a full sanctuary state, but Senate Democrats passed the bill on a party-line vote and Brown signed the bill into law in October.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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Another Planned Parenthood Clinic Shuts Its Doors

An Iowa Planned Parenthood clinic will close its doors Friday after government defunding forced it to discontinue operations.

“After nearly two decades in the Quad Cities, on Friday, December 29, 2017, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland will officially close their Bettendorf location, a move directly resulting from defunding by extreme Iowa lawmakers,” Planned Parenthood said in a statement, according to LifeNews.

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The Iowa abortion affiliate received roughly $2.7 million every year from taxpayer dollars, but after the state changed its laws—redirecting that money to family planning services and other organizations that provide reproductive health care but do not perform abortions—the Planned Parenthood clinic couldn’t sustain its activities.

“Gov. Kim Reynolds and anti-woman lawmakers forced us to make some extremely difficult changes this year in order to continue providing care for as many patients as possible,” Planned Parenthood Heartland President Suzanna de Baca said in the statement. “It is as devastating today as it was last spring to announce that we are no longer able to serve our patients in Bettendorf,” she added.

Pro-lifers, however, see this shutdown as yet another win for those who value life. Planned Parenthood now operates fewer than 600 abortion clinics in the U.S. after 33 clinics closed in 2017. The abortion giant opened only five new clinics in 2017, according to LifeNews.

The organization ran 938 clinics in 1995 when Planned Parenthood was at its peak operational level, and it has closed 36 percent of its clinics since 1995, according to an American Life Leagues report about Planned Parenthood.

Ten states account for 60 percent of all Planned Parenthood facilities in America: California, New York, Washington, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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8 Freedom Fighters You Should Know About From 2017

There are talkers and doers, sowers of dissatisfaction seeds and agents of lasting change.

Much of my column work over the year is dedicated to exposing the worst in politics, pop culture, media, and the policy arena.

But to ring out 2017, I’m raising a toast to some of my favorite bulldogs—vigilant citizens, independent journalists and bloggers, and dedicated activists who work tirelessly to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Angel Moms and Dads

These brave parents of victims of illegal immigrant crime keep the legacies of their lost loved ones alive by fighting for secure borders and immigration enforcement to prevent more needless suffering.

After President Donald Trump spotlighted several members on the campaign trail in 2016, liberal journalists attacked them as a “hate group”—never mind the fact that many are legal immigrants and naturalized citizens themselves.

As open-borders lobbyists fight hard this coming year for amnesty, sanctuary cities, and border wall sabotage, look for the Angel Moms and Dads to step up and speak for the voiceless.

Terri LaPoint

An Alabama-based writer and investigative reporter, Terri runs MedicalKidnap.com for Health Impact News. She exposes the dangerous alliance between child welfare bureaucrats and elite medical institutions that undermine parental rights and separate sick kids from their families in the name of saving them.

While the Justina Pelletier and Charlie Gard cases prompted international outrage, most medical kidnappings go unnoticed and unreported on a chillingly routine basis. LaPoint is the go-to resource for families under siege for defending their medical autonomy.

Luke Rosiak

This prolific investigative reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation has broken dozens of stories on the Democrats’ information technology scandal involving what Rosiak calls a “massive cyber breach on Congress and cover-up.”

For the past year, he has hammered away at House Democrats who employed IT aide Imran Awan and his family members to the tune of at least $4 million in taxpayer funds between 2009 and 2017.

Thanks to Rosiak’s work, we learned that Awan and his brothers were under investigation for equipment theft and accessing congressional computer networks while working for several Democrats who served on committees that handle highly sensitive national security information.

Awan was wiring gobs of cash to Pakistan; his brother Abid ran a used-car lot with no inventory, a fake sales staff, and funding from a “Hezbollah-linked fugitive.” While Rosiak collects and connects the shady dots, the rest of the media is still snoozing.

Kimberly Corban

This Colorado mom is a passionate Second Amendment defender who directly challenged President Barack Obama’s support of gun control by sharing her experience as a rape survivor in 2006.

More than 10 years later, Corban speaks regularly to young women on college campuses and defies the left-wing feminist orthodoxy of rape survivors as perpetual victims. She has weathered death threats and hate attacks online, but remains undeterred in her quest to help empower women through armed self-defense.

Obianuju Ekeocha

This Nigerian-born pro-life speaker and organizer is president of Culture of Life Africa.

With her megawatt smile and razor-sharp tongue, Ekeocha takes on the abortion ghouls in Hollywood, the BBC, and at the United Nations armed with data and backed by African women who uphold the sanctity of life in word and deed.

Ekeocha uses Twitter and social media masterfully to unmask left-wing cultural imperialism and build a global culture of life.

Brian Bates

An Oklahoma private investigator, Bates’ website on the case of former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw’s wrongful convictions (holtzclawtrial.com) is a rare challenge to prosecutorial misconduct and crime lab incompetence in the Sooner State.

If not for his work, I would not have embarked on my own continuing investigative journey into a case that represents the worst miscarriage of justice in the criminal justice system that I’ve covered in 25 years.

Stay tuned as many more independent experts and advocates weigh in on the case in 2018 while Holtzclaw fights for his exoneration.

Judicial Watch

The D.C. watchdog foundation is simply the best muckraking giant on the right—shining bright light on the sleazeballs and scam artists in the Beltway swamp.

Tom Fitton and his crew have spent decades fighting against government corruption and misconduct by using the Freedom of Information Act and challenging evaders in court.

Michael Morisy & Mitchell Kotler

These transparency advocates founded MuckRock in 2010 to assist journalists filing public records requests across a complicated landscape of local, state, and federal agencies.

MuckRock tracks the process from start to finish, sends follow-up messages to foot-draggers, and helps crowdsource the results.

I’m not just a fan of their passion project. I’m a regular user of the site, and you can see my Freedom of Information Act requests on MuckRock.

Check out all of my Bulldog Award winners at CRTV’s Michelle Malkin Investigates, and here’s to more effective exposure and hell-raising in 2018. Cheers!

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