Trump’s ‘no more apologizing for America’ foreign policy helps Republicans in November

One of the all-time best lines in television and politics was delivered by the late Fred Thompson on “Law and Order.” To his assistant district attorney he advised, “Jack, it’s not enough to do good. You have to be seen doing good.”

So too with presidents and national security. It’s not enough to keep America secure. Voters must feel more secure.

One of the key themes of the 2016 GOP convention in Cleveland was, “Make America Safe Again.” Turns out that a huge number of voters did not feel safe under Obama policies, despite his tenure being widely celebrated around the world. Demand for change was fed by talk of open borders, unenforced red lines, flexibility with Russia, ISIS, Benghazi, plus lost opportunities in manufacturing and energy.

Trump famously broke all predictive models in building a new electoral college coalition in 2016. He may be defying history and the “best and brightest” predictive models for the mid-term elections in 2018, with strategic moves on trade and foreign policy playing a major role.

Trump is winning on trade and diplomacy and that will help energize his base in midterms. People are proud after a long era of Democrats apologizing for America. ISIS is gone from the headlines. Finally, we have a president who puts muscle behind rebalancing alliance and trade relationships in our favor. Most “experts” mistake his approach as a revival of nationalism or isolationism, but in reality, Trump represents a new pro-American internationalism, without apology. And mainstream Americans support it.

Turns out it also is popular to keep promises made during a campaign. The U.S. embassy is now in Israel’s capital. The U.S. exited bad deals – the Paris Climate Accord and Iran deal. No more disappearing red lines and no more nation-building. And no more multilateral trade deals that weaken American sovereignty or our economy. Unconventional tweets and summits resonate with flyover America. Economic revival at home projects strength and opportunity abroad.

Absent a shock between now and election day, most Americans feel safer and more confident in America’s role in the world. Trump themes of sovereignty, security, fair trade, and international realism resonate strongly with mainstream America and are hard for Democrats to oppose.

Not only has the president and Congress made America safer, most Americans feel safer and better off. Republicans running on this record, together with the strong economic revival at home, stand a very good chance of defying history this election cycle. We’re not tired of winning.

Newt Gingrich: Here are three big lessons from the primaries this week

The first is that President Trump’s power in the Republican primaries continues to be extraordinary.

The second is that the continuing investment by the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) in state legislators is giving the Republican Party a farm team that is providing strong candidates for many key races.

In the process, Matt Walter and his team at the RSLC have devastated the Democrats’ farm teams. Democrats lost more than 900 state legislative seats when President Obama was in office.

Third, the radical extremist wing may do well in Democratic primaries but could pose big problems for the entire Democratic ticket in the general election.

The best example of the Trump effect on Tuesday was the upset victory by former Minnesota state legislator and current Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, who had won the state’s GOP convention endorsement in the race for governor in June, over former Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Barry Casselman, one of the most insightful observers of Minnesota politics told me following Johnson’s win that the victory was a “big upset: The GOP-endorsed candidate for governor, Jeff Johnson, defeating former Governor Tim Pawlenty. Polls indicated that Pawlenty was ahead and better known, but Johnson ran social media ads asserting he was the only true supporter of President Trump in the race, citing a Pawlenty criticism of candidate Trump in 2016. Johnson apparently ran better-than-expected in outstate areas where Trump support is still strong.”

Casselman’s other observations about Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa can be found here.

Pawlenty had been a very able two-term governor of Minnesota, and this primary was a further wakeup call about the mood of Republican voters. Johnson had campaigned in a RV with the slogan “Overthrow the Status Quo” emblazoned on its side. It was a compelling example of the impact Trump conservatism and demands for real change are having on the GOP.

The growing weight of state legislators in the GOP is also continuing to increase. Consider that Johnson was a former state representative in Minnesota. The GOP nominee for Al Franken’s former U.S. Senate seat, Karin Housley, is a state senator.

Next door in Wisconsin, state Sen. Leah Vukmir is the GOP winner of a very tough primary for the Republican nomination to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin. This impact is a big deal.

Another big story coming from the Tuesday primaries is the potential general election disaster of radical extremist nominees on the Democrats’ general election campaigns.

In Minnesota, radical U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (someone who is comfortable wandering around in a T-shirt proclaiming “I don’t believe in borders” and advocating for a radical extremist Democratic Party) won the nomination for attorney general. Ellison is so far to the left of most Minnesotans that he may endanger the entire ticket for Democrats.

One Democrat from the iron range country of northern Minnesota commented to me that the Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) Party was being replaced by a Twin Cities Socialist Democratic Party and driving the rest of the state into an unofficial Republican Farmer Labor Party.

Ellison’s radical views already created the easy target of asking each Democratic candidate if he or she agrees with him on open borders, a $15 minimum wage, government-run health care, and other left-wing issues.

This is going to be a special problem for the appointed replacement for Sen. Franken, former Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, who is up for election this November. She co-sponsored an open borders bill with Sen. Diane Feinstein’s, D-Calif. Supporters of open borders are a distinct minority among ordinary Americans – even in traditionally liberal Minnesota.

Over the weekend a news story broke that Ellison was accused of physically abusing a former girlfriend. In a party that drove Al Franken out of the Senate and has become extraordinarily intense about men bullying or harassing women, Ellison is going to become a problem. There will likely be pressure for him to resign from the race. All Democratic nominees will be asked if they support him.

The fall campaign in Minnesota is going to be interesting. According to Casselman and other experienced observers, it has the potential to become similar to the kind of meltdown that cost the Democrats two senators and a governor in 1978 (although no one thinks U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is particularly vulnerable).

Tuesday’s primaries were incredibly didactic. Come November, in almost every state, the general election is going to be fascinating.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s incredible statement dissing America shows bankruptcy of Democratic ideas

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, facing a Democratic primary for re-election Sept. 13 against far-left “Sex and the City” actress Cynthia Nixon and no doubt considering a race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, wants you to know America isn’t great, it’s never been great and it’s not going to be great again.

In an apparent attempt to polish his credentials as a member of the anti-Trump resistance, Cuomo took a verbal jab at President Trump’s “Make America Great” slogan at a bill-signing ceremony in New York Wednesday – and wound up punching himself in the face, drawing gasps from the audience for the absurdity of his statement.

“We are not going to make America great, America. It was never that great,” Cuomo said. “We have not reached greatness. We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged.”

You can be sure Republicans will keep that incredible comment alive for as long as Cuomo remains active in politics. In fact, they owe the governor a debt of gratitude for giving them a video clip they can use in attack ads for years to come.

The New York Times reported: “The clip was quickly packaged by Republicans, and Marcus Molinaro, the Republican candidate for governor, said that Mr. Cuomo owed the nation an apology. ‘America, with its imperfections, has always been great,’ Mr. Molinaro said.”

And President Trump weighed in on Twitter, writing: ‘“WE’RE NOT GOING TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, IT WAS NEVER THAT GREAT.’ Can you believe this is the Governor of the Highest Taxed State in the U.S., Andrew Cuomo, having a total meltdown!”

Cuomo’s statement creates all sort of possibilities for memorable campaign slogans for his current campaign and possible run for president: “Make America Unexceptional Again.” “Make America Less Awful.” “America’s a Lousy Place, But It’s Home.”

Why is it that people who hold such contempt for this country want to represent it? Aren’t they the ones who say hate isn’t an American value?

Clearly, Cuomo has a lot to complain about in America under President Trump. Those federal tax cuts that have supercharged our economy – mere crumbs. The near record-low unemployment for Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans, and Asian-Americans – no biggie. The unemployment rate for women that’s at the lowest it’s been since 1953 – small potatoes. What about an economy that grew by a booming annualized rate of 4.1 percent in the last quarter? FUGGEDDABOUTIT.

After Cuomo dug himself into a hole with his silly comment, his press secretary, Dani Lever, tried to dig him out of it with a mea culpa, saying in a statement: “The Governor believes America is great and that her full greatness will be fully realized when every man, woman, and child has full equality. America has not yet reached its maximum potential.”

Hmm … there’s another winning slogan in there somewhere: “Make America Maximumly Great!” Yeah, go with that.

Andrew Cuomo’s comments contradict what his father – the far more eloquent and politically savvy then-Gov. Mario Cuomo – said at the Democratic National Convention in 1984. The elder Cuomo lauded America as the “greatest nation” while telling the story of his parents, who came to the U.S. from Italy, learned English, worked hard and watched him go on to become governor.

Mario Cuomo said his parents “were able to build a family and live in dignity and see one of their children go from behind their little grocery store in South Jamaica on the other side of the tracks where he was born, to occupy the highest seat, in the greatest state, in the greatest nation, in the only world we would know, is an ineffably beautiful tribute to the democratic process.”

Andrew Cuomo’s not in the same league as his late father. Where Mario Cuomo praised the greatness of our great nation, Andrew Cuomo says – hey, it’s not so hot.

Andrew Cuomo and other Democrats are absolutely desperate to bring down President Trump. So they’re falling back on a strategy of the same old stale liberal talking points – the president is sexist, racist, unhinged, whatever. Basically he’s just an awful human being who hates everybody – so all Americans should hate him. Get it?

However, that spin isn’t as effective as the Democrats would like. A new CNN poll showed that President Trump’s approval rating of 42 percent is higher than the 39 percent rating for former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton in August of their second year in office, and it’s even slightly above the 41 percent rating for President Reagan in August of 1982.

The younger Cuomo, like most members of the liberal elite today, just hates President Trump – but that’s not exactly a political philosophy or campaign theme that will win elections. The scary truth is that their hatred for Trump is greater than their love for America. The president could cure cancer, save all the baby whales and feed every homeless person – and they’d still criticize him and be ashamed of our country and want it to fail.

Remember when comedian Bill Maher said he was rooting for a recession? Nothing like another 10 or 20 million people on food stamps. But hey, the end justifies the means, right Mr. Marx, uh, Maher?

“I’m hoping for it because one way you get rid of Trump is a crashing economy. So please, bring on the recession,” the oh-so compassionate Maher mused. “Sorry if that hurts people but it’s either root for a recession or you lose your democracy.” How warm, sensitive and caring of the millionaire celebrity.

Cuomo is in good company with his arrogant attitude toward our great nation. In February 2008, during her husband’s presidential campaign Michelle Obama said: “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.” For the first time? She was 44 years old in 2008. And she only came around to being proud of her country because her husband was running for president?

The message we can take from Democrats is that when the political pendulum is swinging their way, America is great and they are proud of their country. However when it swings the other direction, our country quickly becomes a deplorable, shameful place and we should root for its failure, no matter how much we’re thriving.

This week in New York, President Trump challenged Cuomo to run against him in 2020: “Please do it. Please.”

Yes, please do it, governor.

Most Americans vote for the things that make their lives better, the things that make our country succeed – the things that make America great. They reject bitterness and malaise, but if that’s what you want to sell as your campaign platform, Gov. Cuomo, good luck with that. You’ll need it.

Trump was right to revoke Brennan’s security clearance

President Trump was right to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan on Wednesday. Brennan, who now works as a national security analyst for MSNBC and NBC News and frequently appears on TV, has no business browsing through our country’s most important and sensitive national security secrets.

Clearance to classified information is granted based on a “need to know.” Brennan has none, so there was no reason to allow him continued access. He does have a long pattern of misuse of his authority and lying about it.

It has been customary to allow former senior officials to keep their clearances so current officials can consult with them. No one in the Trump administration is or should be consulting with someone as partisan as Brennan, so pulling his clearance was right and proper.

Some are claiming this is political retribution, but the overtly political nature of Brennan’s attempts to undermine the Trump administration are a real problem. And even if he had a reason to keep his clearance, his actions and statements are grounds to cut him off.

Extending Brennan’s clearance was a privilege no longer justified by any value he provides to the government. His unhinged rants against President Trump would land any serving clearance holder with a suspension and possibly even a referral for psychiatric evaluation.

These include an unfounded claim on television that President Trump is being blackmailed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying the Russians “may have something” on President Trump, and tweets that do not represent the communications of a stable person.

To cite just one example, Brennan tweeted in March, directing his comments to President Trump: “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America…America will triumph over you.”

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., pointed out that Brennan has a history of unethical actions around classified information and has lied to Congress. Paul stated: “I filibustered Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA in 2013, and his behavior in government and out of it demonstrate why he should not be allowed near classified information”

Paul also questioned Brennan’s role as a paid TV commentator, tweeting last month: “Is John Brennan monetizing his security clearance? Is John Brennan making millions of dollars divulging secrets to the mainstream media with his attacks on @realDonaldTrump?”

I recognize that revoking security clearances could set a bad precedent for future administrations. A Democratic president could pull clearances of former officials who worked under a Republican president.

But the blame for the revocation of Brennan’s clearance lies with Brennan – not President Trump. Brennan is not being punished for his political views. He is being removed from any proximity to vital information because he has shown clearly he cannot be trusted with it.

Brennan is widely believed to have been a source for media outlets reporting on the Trump-Russia faux scandal. If Brennan leaked classified information, that would be cause enough take away his clearance.

It is almost certain that the Trump administration is conducting a counterintelligence investigation of Brennan to ascertain if – or more likely, how much – he leaked classified information. This investigation may have already led to more reasons to revoke his clearance than officials can make public.

Brennan is dedicated member of the anti-Trump “resistance,” which is chock full of people who actively oppose America’s very nature. If he has shared his inside information with them, we have no idea where it could have spread. We need a full accounting of all his actions and if there were crimes committed he should feel the full weight of the criminal justice system.

Brennan had every right to oppose the Trump administration and speak publicly about it. No one has limited his freedom of speech or ability to criticize.

But the former government official and current TV commentator and activist has lost a security clearance he no longer has any reason to be enjoying. His handling of classified information deserves a full and through investigation.

Gregg Jarrett: Ex-CIA Director Brennan shouldn’t have a security clearance – He’s a national security risk

Former CIA Director John Brennan is a serious national security risk, and President Trump was wise and correct to revoke his security clearance Wednesday.

Brennan has repeatedly shown he cannot be trusted with classified or top-secret information. He has a history of leaking and exploiting confidential material for partisan reasons. Maybe it keeps him on TV, but it also jeopardizes national security.

The primary job of the agency Brennan ran for President Obama is to collect, process, and analyze intelligence information from all over the world. This valuable material is then utilized to protect Americans from harm.

However, Brennan has demonstrated that he is all too willing to use this information to harm Americans, including President Trump. He did so in the 2016 presidential election.

As I explain in Chapter 6 of my new book, “The Russia Hoax,” Brennan politicized and weaponized what was false intelligence to damage the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump.

Gregg Jarrett book cover

Brennan surely knew that the anti-Trump “dossier” paid for by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign was nothing more than a preposterous collection of rumors, innuendo, supposition and wild speculation. He knew it was derived from multiple hearsay accounts from inherently unreliable and anonymous sources in Russia who specialize in lies and disinformation.

Yet Brennan did more than anyone to promulgate the fabricated and uncorroborated “dossier.”

The author of the document, former British spy Christopher Steele, was trained in deception and chicanery, and was inherently untrustworthy. Steele was on the record telling the U.S. Justice Department that he was“desperate that Donald Trump not get elected” and “passionate about his not being president.”

It is improper to use a discredited source with such severe and pervasive bias. Yet Brennan and his FBI counterparts didn’t care. Even after Steele was fired for lying, they continued to use him as a covert source in their illicit scheme to frame Trump for crimes he never committed.

Brennan was the instigator. By advocating the use of the “dossier,” he managed to orchestrate the investigation of Trump that was formally launched by FBI Director James Comey and his underlings, including Peter Strzok and Andrew McCabe. All three have since been fired for their egregious misconduct.

Griff Jenkins has the details from Washington, D.C.

But it was Brennan who played a central role in promoting the fictitious Trump-Russia “collusion” narrative.

There is no good or legitimate reason for Brennan to maintain a security clearance. We expect CIA directors to be nonpartisan and apolitical. Brennan, always the devoted Clinton acolyte and sycophant, was not.

Brennan’s constant political and personal condemnation of President Trump only underscores his devious motivations for misusing classified information and disseminating false intelligence.

Consider this Brennan Twitter rant aimed at President Trump:“When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history.”

Tired clichés aside, is this the kind of person who should have access to classified information during a Trump presidency – or any presidency?

Consider also the ominous warning issued by President Obama’s United Nations ambassador, Samantha Power: “Not a good idea to piss off John Brennan.”

The former CIA director is clearly capable of malevolent action. He should not be armed with the nation’s secrets to inflict even more damage than he has already wrought.

Hatred of Israel prompts a UN official to discuss action against the Jewish state

Fox News reported exclusively this week that a senior United Nations official has suggested that Israel’s U.N. membership may need to be reviewed or suspended for violating international law.

The U.N. official – Michael Lynk, special rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territories – also said that other nations may need to “review their relationships with Israel in the military, political, and economic investment spheres.”

If Lynk’s denunciation of Israel was just the sentiment of one hate-filled U.N. official that would be bad enough.

But in truth, Lynk’s threat of international action to possibly suspend or even expel Israel from the U.N., isolate it, and cut off trade and investment is just one in a long list of examples of how the U.N. has targeted Israel for decades with hatred, discrimination, prejudice and absurd lies.

This is truly bullying of a small nation on an international scale.

U.N. officials have not threatened to suspend or revoke membership of North Korea, which imprisons people in slave-labor camps. They have not tried to boot out Syria, where a ruthless dictator has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in a civil war in the past seven years.

Russia has illegally invaded Ukraine and Georgia and annexed Crimea, but remains a member of the powerful U.N. Security Council. Iran – which deprives its citizens of basic human rights, supports terrorism, sends fighters to wage war in neighboring countries, and would love to get nuclear weapons – does not face threats of being kicked out of the U.N.

But Israel is targeted for more condemnation than any other country. This is despite the fact that Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East, governed by an elected prime minister and parliament; a country with an independent court system, free expression and other human rights that are guaranteed to all; and – not coincidentally – the only Jewish nation on Earth.

And Israel – a country where Jews have lived for 3,000 years – is absurdly branded the “occupier” of the ancient homeland of the Jewish people.

Israel is a tiny country one-twentieth the size of California. It faces 200,000 rockets and terrorist attacks from Hezbollah in the north and from Hamas in the south. And it hears daily threats from the fanatic rulers of Iran to wipe the Jewish state off the map – and the Iranians are serious about this murderous goal.

While the non-existent “state of Palestine” and some U.N. officials try to figure out a way to expel Israel from the U.N., American Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley stands strong and courageously in defense of truth and justice for Israel.

Yet Haley has failed to convince the Security Council and General Assembly to denounce terrorist Hamas’ serial use of civilians to violently breach Israel’s international border abutting Gaza.

“Attacking Israel is their favorite political sport,” Haley lamented, quite accurately, from the U.N.’s podium.

Hamas knows that no U.N. agency will ever condemn it for murdering Jews, even if it does this by putting Gaza’s women and children in harm’s way.

To the contrary. Just days after 62 Palestinians were killed during a Hamas-led attempt to breach Israel’s border security fence to enable armed terrorists to attack civilian communities in Israel, the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council convened a special session that voted to investigate Israel – but not Hamas.

This came despite the admission by a Hamas official that 53 of the dead were members of Hamas or affiliated with another terrorist group, Islamic Jihad.

Speaking at that debate, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, described the Gaza Strip as “a toxic slum.” But whose fault is it? Al-Hussein neglected to mention that Hamas has diverted humanitarian shipments of building materials sent to Gaza – earmarked for repairs of civilian houses – for use in expanding its labyrinth of terror tunnels that reach into sovereign Israeli territory.

The U.S. had enough. The next day, Ambassador Haley announced that America was leaving the U.N. Human Rights Council for its unending bashing and serial outrageous resolutions singling out the Jewish state.

Then there is ironically named, United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which employs more than 11,000 people in the Gaza Strip, including medical personnel as well as teachers and administrators in schools.

UNRWA claims to have 267 schools servicing over a quarter-million students in Gaza. But far from serving as a voice of reason, peace and reconciliation, UNRWA deploys its unique math of servicing fifth- and sixth-generation Palestinian “refugees.” This feeds the culture of victimhood.

UNRWA’s self-declared “peace curriculum” would be a joke if it wasn’t so tragic. Its textbooks never identify the state of Israel – it’s all Palestine, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River.Israel isn’t demonized in the curriculum; it simply doesn’t exist.

And the teachers and administration of UNRWA schools? They announced, out of the blue, that schools and offices would be closed on May 14 and 15. Those were the very days that Hamas was planning the deadliest riots at the Gaza border, to coincide with the historic opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

Clearly, by closing UNRWA schools the U.N. employees meant to encourage youngsters to become cannon fodder for Hamas’ deadliest macabre theatre. I doubt there is a more powerful exhibition of mass child abuse in our time.

Speaking of protecting children, UNICEF is recipient of massive financial support for its global efforts in this area. Indeed, in the years from 2012-2017, Japan donated $50 million toUNICEF projects, including for a project defined as “documentation of grave violations against children.”

But the UNICEF report did no such thing. If the report really did intend to document child abuse, it would have to shine the light upon the U.N.’s own client – the morally corrupt Palestinian leadership.

The report says nothing about Hamas’ summer camps where it brainwashes little children to hate Jews, its use of women and children as human shields, or its use of U.N. school grounds to launch missiles at Israel. No, you will only read lies demonizing the Jewish state with mendacious propaganda.

Against this backdrop, presidential senior adviser Jared Kushner and his Middle East peace team deserve credit for demanding that Arab states must grant citizenship to fellow Arabs who have lived there for decades. The team is trying to end the ludicrous coddling of sixth-generation Palestinian “refugees,” who vie for international aid while more than 60 million legitimate refugees need the world’s help to secure their future.

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres should fire Michael Lynk, the “human rights expert” whose idea of contributing to peace is to punish the victim of terrorist attacks –Israel – instead of the violent terrorist group Hamas.

Guterres must take control of the U.N. or he may have to look for new funders beyond the U.S. to underwrite the travesty and folly that his international organization is descending into. American taxpayers have had about enough and now we have a president who just might shut the U.N. checkbook permanently.

If North Korea won’t denuclearize, here’s what the US should do

National Security Adviser John Bolton recently told Fox News that North Korea has “not taken the steps we feel are necessary to denuclearize,” adding that “what we need is performance from North Korea on denuclearization.”

The statement shows that while the Trump administration is willing to give North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un more time to begin getting rid of his nuclear weapons, the administration’s patience won’t last much longer without progress.

Luckily, even if talks falter, President Trump has made no significant concessions to North Korea, even though Kim returned American hostages, suspended testing of ballistic missiles that could reach the United States, and suspended testing of nuclear weapons. Kim also partially dismantled key testing facilities.

Consequently, we are no worse off for having tried real diplomacy. And President Trump could still succeed, especially if North Korea understands the downside it faces if it fails to denuclearize, as Kim told President Trump he would do.

President Trump and his aides have made clear that downside will continue to include the “maximum pressure” campaign that he has implemented from the earliest days of his administration. The campaign has targeted Pyongyang’s various sources of cash, including its illicit trade in goods and slave labor.

But President Trump should go further if North Korea reneges on its commitment to denuclearize and take five steps that could dramatically decrease the likelihood of the Kim regime’s survival and its ability to threaten America:

First, the administration could target Chinese banks that do business with North Korea.

When the U.S. sanctioned a Macau-based bank in 2005 for laundering money for North Korea, the sanctions led to near-death experiences for both the bank and the North Korean government.

Most banks now avoid any dealings with North Korea, but large Chinese banks perceive immunity because of their political connections and past U.S. diffidence toward Beijing. Cutting them off from the U.S. financial system would hurt the cash-starved North Korean regime and also demonstrate to Beijing that we won’t tolerate collaboration with Pyongyang.

Second, we could dramatically reposition our military to defend against a growing North Korean threat.

This repositioning would also help deter China. President Trump could relocate one or two aircraft carrier groups from the low-threat Atlantic to the high-threat Pacific, close obsolete bases in Europe in order to fund additional defenses in the Pacific, and test and deploy modern nuclear weapons and more reliable missile defenses positioned in orbit

The U.S. should also ask Japan to double its military spending to equal at least 2 percent of its economy. And we should also press South Korea to defray the full cost of our armed forces in that country. The Chinese would hate these actions, which is partly the point, as they would incentivize Beijing to pressure North Korea to reform.

Third, we could pay writers, performers and artists to satirize and ridicule the North Korean regime.

The U.S. already supports news broadcasts directed at North Korea, in an effort to inform and embolden critics of the regime.

These broadcasts could be supplemented with entertaining, sardonic jibes at the regime’s leadership, similar to when President Trump called Kim “little rocket man.” At the State Department, some of us used to joke that “commies love pageantry,” in part because of North Korea’s massive choreographed “games” involving up to 100,000 of people.

Communist governments are the world’s most protocol-obsessed and enthralled with pageantry because, deep down, they know they lack the legitimacy enjoyed by other forms of government. Emphasizing this lack of legitimacy by ridiculing Pyongyang’s leadership could further erode its stability.

Fourth, President Trump could bring post-regime planning into the open.

Let’s not just talk quietly about how to secure loose nukes in the event of a North Korean conflict or governmental collapse. Let’s talk openly about what the allies should seek to control in a crisis and what would fall to China. (The narrow part of the Korean peninsula just north of Pyongyang probably makes the most sense as a dividing line.)

Let’s ask our Taiwanese allies to pose as North Korea in an exercise and allow a mock incursion by American, Japanese and South Korean military and humanitarian forces to simulate a crisis. Of course, the Chinese and Russians would be infuriated by these steps – that is part of the point, since they would see the acute need to pressure North Korea more.

Fifth, let’s ensure the South Korean capital of Seoul has the most sophisticated missile defense and counter-artillery systems in the world.

Seoul needs to be protected by a system superior even to Israel’s miraculous “Iron Dome” defenses.

The main reason successive U.S. presidents haven’t disabled North Korea’s nuclear program with military force is the threat that Pyongyang would use artillery against Seoul or conventional or nuclear missiles against greater South Korea and Japan. Minimizing these risks would make the threat of pre-emptive allied force against North Korea more believable, thus increasing the chances for diplomacy to work.

All of these steps could both degrade North Korea’s stability and be used as additional bargaining chips in negotiations. Hopefully none of them are necessary and North Korea is sincere (if reticent) about its pledge to denuclearize. If not, we have the power to make life much more uncertain for Pyongyang and its enablers.

Todd Starnes: Masterpiece Cakeshop owner targeted for refusing to make transgender-themed cake

The owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and Gov. John Hickenlooper claiming he has been bullied and targeted for his religious beliefs.

In June the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Jack Phillips, the owner of the cake shop, who had declined to create a cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony.

On June 26, 2017, the same day the Supreme Court agreed to take up the case, an attorney contacted the cake shop and asked Phillips to create a cake to celebrate a gender transition from male to female. The caller asked for the cake to be pink on the inside and blue on the outside.

Phillips, who is a devout Christian, declined the request because the cake would have expressed a message about sex and gender identity that conflict with his religious beliefs.

The attorney, identified in state documents as Autumn Scardina, filed a discrimination complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and the state notified Phillips that it had found probable cause.

The commission declared that Scardina “is a member of protected classed (sic) based on her sex (female) and transgender status (gender identity).”

Former federal attorney Emily Compagno shares her insight on 'Fox & Friends First.'

Alliance Defending Freedom, the law firm that represented Phillips before the Supreme Court, blasted the commission’s investigation.

“Jack is being targeted,” ADF attorney Kristen Waggoner said on the Todd Starnes Radio Show. “He’s being bullied by the state of Colorado.”

Waggoner said the attorney, who she called an LGBT activist, “essentially set him up.”

“It’s nothing more than hostility towards people of faith,” she said on the nationally syndicated radio program. “How could you say this kind of cake – blue on the outside, pink on the inside – how can you say that doesn’t have a message? It clearly has a message.”

The lawsuit accuses the government of anti-religious hostility.

“The Constitution stands as a bulwark against state officials who target people – and seek to ruin their lives – because of the government’s anti-religious animus,” the lawsuit states.

For more than six years Colorado has been on a crusade to crush Phillips. At one point, commissioners compared his belief to slave owners and perpetrators of the Holocaust.

“Even though Jack serves all customers and simply declines to create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in violation of his deeply held beliefs, the government is intent on destroying him – something the Supreme Court has already told it not to do,” Waggoner said.

Phillips and his attorneys are asking for punitive damages – and they deserve every single penny.

The court needs to send a very strong message: there is no place for anti-religious bigots in government. And any government leaders, whether elected or appointed, who use their office to abuse Christians or others based on their religious beliefs must be punished.

Phillips is a good and decent man. He serves all customers regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. He simply declines to create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in violation of his deeply held religious beliefs.

Phillips refuses to make Halloween cakes. He refuses to make custom cakes promoting alcohol or drug usage. And he refuses to create cakes that include disparaging messages – including those targeting people within the LGBT community.

And yet, a mob of social justice warriors – enabled by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission – will not let this man run his business in peace.

And be warned. If this can happen to Jack Phillips, you’d better believe it can happen to your business, too.

Todd Starnes: Air Force general is attacked by extremist group because he prays for others

Several months ago I was delivering a speech to a group of patriots in our nation’s capital when I suddenly became ill and collapsed.

The following day, as I was recovering in the cardiac wing of a nearby hospital, I received a visitor – Col. John Teichert, then the commander at Joint Base Andrews.

I was a bit puzzled and surprised to see someone of Col. Teichert’s stature standing in my hospital room – seeing how I did not know the man.

It turned out a mutual friend, a pastor in California, had summoned the colonel to my bedside. And for a little while he prayed for me and shared his testimony along with several encouraging passages from the Bible.

I was particularly moved by the colonel’s kindness and his compassion – a brother in the Lord who took time out of his very busy schedule to pray at the bedside of a stranger.

So you can imagine my surprise when I received a news release from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation calling for the arrest of now Brig. Gen. Teichert – the new wing commander at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is an organization that trolls military bases in search of any public display of the Christian faith. The group is typically triggered by Nativity scenes and Bibles placed on Missing Man tables.

Foundation founder Mikey Weinstein was especially angered to learn that Teichert owns a website called “Prayer at Lunchtime for the United States.”

The website encourages “Bible-believing Americans to take time to specifically pray for our nation at lunchtime every day.” It also features a prayer list – including among others President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Congress and the military.

Weinstein demanded that Defense Secretary James Mattis launch an immediate investigation – calling Teichert a “fundamentalist Christian tyrant and religious extremist predator.”

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation claims to represent 41 people at Edwards Air Force Base who are allegedly offended by the general’s personal website.

“Brigadier General Tiechert’s disgraceful, illegal and brazen promotion of his personal flavor of his weaponized version of Christianity represents one of the worst and most egregious cases MRFF has ever encountered in its 13 years of First Amendment civil rights advocacy,” Weinstein said in a prepared statement.

Weinstein went on to allege the general’s website violates the Uniform Code of Military Justice and demanded that Teichert be investigated, prosecuted, convicted and punished.

“General Teichert should be doing time behind prison bars, not commanding a Wing wearing a General’s stars,” Weinstein said.

The Pentagon has not responded to my inquiries about Weinstein’s complaint, but the allegations are so outlandish they deserve no response.

“The Air Force appears to be doing exactly what it should upon receiving a complaint from Mikey Weinstein: ignoring him,” First Liberty Institute attorney Mike Berry told me. “Likeso many complaints by the MRFF, thiscomplaint is vindictive, intolerant, and completely without merit.”

First Liberty Institute is one of the nation’s most respected law firms handling religious liberty cases. It is not representing Teichert.

“Bigoted demands that an officer be thrown in military prison because he prays for others should be rejected out of hand,” First Liberty Institute’s Berry said.

During the Obama administration, Weinstein once bragged about having a hot line to the Pentagon. It’s beyond time for the Trump administration to disconnect the number.

It’s time to put a stop to these vile and hateful attacks on Christian members of our military. Demanding that a general be imprisoned because he prays? Calling him an extremist predator? Outrageous!

It seems to me the only fundamentalist, extremist predator in this case is the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

These seven words changed Anthony Hopkins’ life – They can change yours, too

More than 40 years ago, when actor Anthony Hopkins was appearing on Broadway in the hit drama “Equus,” he would play a practical joke on his audience each night. The moment the curtain fell on Act I, he would quickly repair to a bar around the corner from the theater. Astonished theatergoers would find the star of the show they were attending tossing back drinks, even before they could get their own orders in. The practice also made Hopkins, in his own words, “disgusted, busted and not to be trusted.” Shortly thereafter, Hopkins says, he attended his first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. He showed up at the meeting because he was sick and tired of hangovers and of being called “very difficult to work with,” as he recently told a Los Angeles audience.

At that 1975 meeting, a woman said seven words that transformed Hopkins’ life, put him on the road to more than 40 years of continuous sobriety, and helped make him one of the most successful motion picture stars in the history of the industry. The seven words: “Why don’t you just trust in God?” Hopkins took that advice, and the results speak for themselves. He went from being hung over and difficult to work with to become one of the most beloved movie stars of all time. And what worked for Hopkins can work for anyone.

What works for people in 12-step recovery also can work for anyone. If your life isn’t working and you think you might need God’s help, all you have to do is ask for that help. People wonder what Alcoholics Anonymous is all about, and why there is so much talk of God in the program. The short answer is that the founders of A.A. recognized that a reorganization of one’s spiritual principles was necessary to escape the grip of addiction.

They identified addiction as a spiritual issue as well as a physical and mental one, which meant that a spiritual solution was in order. And that’s why, 40 years after the program was founded, a woman asked Anthony Hopkins in an A.A. meeting: “Why don’t you just trust in God?”

There’s a story in an A.A. book called “Experience, Strength, and Hope” about a newcomer who approached A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson at a meeting in the late 1930s. “I’ve made a jumble of my life,” the newcomer sadly said. “What about asking God to unjumble it?” Wilson replied.

That’s what God does. He unjumbles our lives – but only if we let Him.

As another A.A. member, Chuck C., wrote in his book, “A New Pair of Glasses,” “God is a gentleman – he doesn’t go where he isn’t invited.”

The good news is that God wants nothing more than to help people who ask for help – and often, those who don’t as well. “The Big Book,” the basic text of A.A., addresses the question in a chapter directed to agnostics: “We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him.”

In other words, if you want to pray in a manner following the dictates of an established religion, go ahead. But God is equally amenable (pun intended) to a prayer as basic as “Please unjumble my life,” or even, more simply, “Help me.” Early members of A.A. discovered that by inviting God into their lives they were able to overcome their addictions to alcohol. And then they found that by keeping God in their lives, they were able to meet all of life‘s challenges as never before – in Bill Wilson’s words, “to match calamity with serenity,“ This is just as true for non-alcoholics who sense a need for a spiritual solution to seemingly intractable problems in their lives. “God loves to hear from strangers,” as A.A. members laughingly put it.

If you need help, just ask.

A.A. is not an opponent of organized religion – far from it. In fact, many members who for decades had never darkened the doorstep of a church or synagogue find themselves returning to the religions in which they were raised. But that’s not an obligation – not for people in A.A., and not for anyone else.

Is it easy to trust God, an invisible, unprovable force? Well, that’s why they call it a “leap of faith” – not a “crawl of faith.” It took courage for Anthony Hopkins to trust God after decades of uncontrolled drinking and other negative behaviors. But he made that leap of faith, and by trusting God, he has inspired others for more than 40 years to do likewise. Those who know Hopkins personally through A.A. could tell you story after story about his kindness and selflessness – not the typical behavior associated with big-time movie stars. It’s hard to find the words “Hollywood A-lister“ and “role model“ in the same sentence, but those terms both apply in his case. So if, like Hopkins back in 1975, you need a drink or two to get ready for your second act, you might follow his example and give God your trust.

After all, as we say in A.A., “if you were feeling distanced from your Higher Power, who moved?”