‘SNL’ Apology Is the Real Deal

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This past weekend “Saturday Night Live” showed how an apology is done.

Producer Lorne Michaels, cast member Pete Davidson, and writers of the show expressed their sincere contrition for the wrong committed during the previous week’s show. In an interesting sidebar to “SNL”’s faux pas and subsequent public apology, it looks as though a new GOP figure has emerged with a future as bright as the stars.

Dan Crenshaw, a veteran of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, ran for Congress in the recent mid-term elections in a district in Houston, Texas. The former Navy SEAL wears an eye patch, because his right eye was lost as a result of an I.E.D. explosion that took place in Afghanistan while he was serving the nation.

Crenshaw was the object of vicious “SNL” ridicule, when, during the “Weekend Update” segment of the show, Davidson, displayed a picture of him with his eye patch intact and said, “You may be surprised to hear he’s a congressional candidate from Texas and not a hit man in a porno movie.”

“I’m sorry, I know he lost his eye in war, or whatever,” Davidson added with a smirk.

Three days after being mocked on “SNL,” the congressional GOP candidate won his election by a resounding 8 point margin. During his victory speech, Crenshaw acknowledged the “SNL” swipe at him, saying, “I’m from the SEAL teams. We don’t really get offended.”

The following day, in an appearance on “Fox & Friends,” the representative-elect was asked about the “SNL” skit, and he shared that it may have helped him secure a victory in the election.

“I have to imagine it probably helped. There are a lot of veterans out there who would not think their wounds would be the source of poor jokes in bad taste to a hysterically laughing audience,” Crenshaw said.

After the segment aired, Michaels, Davidson, and “SNL” received sharp criticism from folks on both sides of the political aisle. Davidson’s comments were even denounced by fellow “SNL” cast member Kenan Thompson, who in an appearance on “The View” said, “It’s never somewhere I would go, in the offense territory towards veterans, because my father is one.”

“They’re figuring out a way to right that wrong, I’m pretty sure,” Thompson added.

The “SNL” producers and writers proved Thompson correct by coming up with a way to express the show’s regret to Crenshaw in a manner that was humorous, effective, and inspiring.

Davidson once again took to the “Weekend Update” desk, this time saying, “In what I’m sure was a huge shock for people who know me, I made a poor choice last week.”

He continued, “I mean this from the bottom of my heart. It was a poor choice of words. The man is a war hero, and he deserves all the respect in the world. And if any good came of this, maybe it was that for one day, the left and the right finally came together to agree on something. That I’m a [expletive].”

Suddenly, in a surprise cameo Crenshaw appeared in a seat next to Davidson and said, “You think?”

Davidson then thanked him for coming, to which Crenshaw cracked, “Thanks for making a Republican look good.”

After Davidson offered his face-to-face apology, Crenshaw graciously accepted it. Immediately, the congressman-elect’s cell phone began ringing with the distinct sound of an Ariana Grande ringtone. The rub is that Grande happens to be Davidson’s former fiancée.

Crenshaw was then afforded the opportunity to have even more fun at Davidson’s expense. As unflattering pictures of Davidson were displayed, Crenshaw, with impeccable timing and stand-up flair, delivered the following punch lines:

“He looks like if the meth from Breaking Bad was a person.”

“He looks like a troll doll with a tapeworm.”

“Pete looks like Martin Short in The Santa Clause 3.”

“By the way, one of these people was actually good on ‘SNL.’”

Davidson acted as though he was taking the tough ribbing in stride, but the whole thing was, of course, pre-planned. However, the final portion of the segment turned out to be serious and quite compelling.

Crenshaw displayed formidable statesman-like skills as he spoke about how “Americans can forgive one another.”

“We can remember what brings us together as a country and still see the good in each other,” he noted.

He also referenced Veterans Day and encouraged the audience to express their respect and gratitude to our veterans, especially through the use of one particular phrase.

As Crenshaw explained, “When you say ‘never forget’ to a veteran, you are implying that, as an American, you are in it with them — not separated by some imaginary barrier between civilians and veterans, but connected together as grateful fellow Americans who will never forget the sacrifices made by veterans past and present.”

In a touching reference to Davidson’s loss of his own father, who was a New York firefighter and first responder on that tragic Sept. 11 day, Crenshaw said, “… never forget those we lost on 9/11, heroes like Pete’s [Davidson] father. So I’ll just say, Pete, never forget.”

“Never forget,” Davidson said, as the two shook hands.

Davidson then turned to the audience and said, “And that is from both of us!”

At that moment, if you listened with your heart you could hear the echoes of the sentiment resonate across our land: #NeverForget.

Bono Talks with Pope Francis about Economics, Environmentalism, and the Church Scandal

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It is not easy to obtain a meeting with the Pope, but U2’s front man was somehow able to pull it off.

Pope Francis is the current leader of the Catholic Church. But he is also a head of state, with all of the power, influence, and interconnection with governments across the globe that goes along with being the Bishop of Rome.

At this critical time when Pope Francis is under unprecedented scrutiny, due to unanswered allegations that he knowingly protected a sexually abusive cardinal and additionally had a role in defending a clerical sex offender in Argentina, one might assume that the Pope’s schedule was being highly scrutinized by Vatican officials. Assumptions, though, often lead to mistaken conclusions, which may well be the case in this instance.

Puzzlingly, Paul David Hewson, a.k.a. Bono, lead singer of the rock group U2, was granted a meeting with the pontiff, which reportedly lasted for at least 30 minutes. At the meeting, which took place at the Casa Santa Marta hotel where Pope Francis maintains his residence, the rock singer and the Holy Father are said to have discussed topics ranging from capitalism and the environment to the clerical sex abuse scandal.

Well known as an adherent to the Christian faith, Bono is the son of a Protestant father and Catholic mother. He grew up in Ireland, a place where in the not so distant past Protestants and Catholics took up arms against one another; this was happening at the same time that the rock singer was coming of age.

Bono has actually discussed his belief in Jesus in a number of media interviews over the years. He was, however, highly criticized in Spring of 2018 by Christians of all stripes.

It was during this time period that Bono and his U2 band mates were publicly seeking to bring about the repeal of the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution, an action that would ultimately lead to abortion-on-demand becoming the law of the land in the Emerald Isle.

U2 upset a sizable portion of its fan base as well as millions of pro-life adherents around the world on May 1, 2018, when it tweeted a heart-shaped graphic that read “Repeal the 8th.” The tweet essentially urged Twitter followers and fans to cast a vote for abortion in the Irish referendum. The Catholic Church was firmly opposed to the country’s proposed legalization of the life-ending procedure.

It seemed to many at the time that Bono had set aside his Christian beliefs and abandoned the vulnerable pre-born. On May 25, 2018, after all advocates, including Bono and his band, had completed their roles, the Irish people voted to repeal the constitutional amendment that had previously secured for pre-born babies the fundamental right to life.

This is why, for so many people, the sight of a sunglass-wearing rock star briefing reporters following a papal meeting was so surreal.

After his audience with the Pope, Bono addressed the Vatican press corps. Not mentioning whether his role in promoting the legalization of abortion in Ireland had been discussed, he noted that he had spoken with the pontiff about capitalism as well as about other issues in which the two shared a common interest.

Bono indicated to journalists that he and the Pope had discussed sustainable development, climate change, and the need for an equal distribution of the Earth’s resources.

“We have to re-think the wild beast that is capitalism,” the multimillionaire explained. “Although it is not immoral, it is amoral and it requires our instruction and he [Pope Francis] is very keen on that.”

Bono then revealed that a topic the two had discussed involved one about which the Pope has chosen to remain silent, i.e., the recent revelations regarding a multitude of sexual abuse allegations against the clergy of the Catholic Church.

Regarding the sex abuse scandal, Bono said, “I explained how it looks to some people like the abusers are being more protected than the victims, and you could see the pain in his face,” the U2 lead singer said, adding, “I thought he was sincere.”

In 2018 new allegations surfaced against the Catholic Church, which indicated that major church figures had protected priests who were accused of sexually abusing children, and Pope Francis himself was brought directly into the scandal.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who previously served as the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States, accused the current pope of having knowledge of the serious accusations against former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was accused of taking sexual advantage of young seminarians.

Archbishop Viganò asserts that Pope Francis “knew from at least June 23, 2013, that Cardinal McCarrick was a serial predator.” He further asserts that instead of the Pope holding Cardinal McCarrick accountable, he shielded him and made him a trusted counselor.

Pope Francis has not yet publicly responded to the allegations. In August 2018, when the Pope was asked about the subject by reporters, he replied, “I will say sincerely that I must say this, to you and all of you who are interested: Read the document carefully and judge it for yourselves.”

“When a little time has passed and you have the conclusions, perhaps I will talk,” the Pope added.

The issues discussed by Pope Francis and Bono have worldwide political, economic, and ethical implications.

It is odd, to say the least, that Pope Francis’s communications on such serious matters would have come to the international public square via a publicist in celebrity clothing.

Rebel Comics Rock, Seinfeld, Allen, Miller, and Brooks Speak Out

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Chris Rock has recently been attacked by the left because he tweeted some words of praise for his comedic colleague Jerry Seinfeld.

In his tweet, the comedian and filmmaker included a link to an article from The Federalist, titled “Seinfeld’s ‘Comedians In Cars’ Is A Welcome Respite From The Insufferable Wokeness Of Comedy.”

“Wokeness,” or the abbreviated “woke,” is the term that is being used by the so-called resistance movement to describe an individual or group’s commitment to oppose President Donald Trump.

Author of the article Ellie Bufkin argues that the value in Seinfeld’s show is that its emphasis on being funny, as opposed to actively engaging in leftist political messaging, “has created a wonderful escape from the political insanity of our day…”

As pointed out in the article, Seinfeld had been chastised by the Vulture website and others for not inserting “woke” politics into his show. Bufkin and Rock were essentially commending Seinfeld for not joining the ranks of the numerous late-night Trump bashers who in today’s cultural climate are delivering patently predictable comedy to their audiences night after night.

Further infuriating the left, Rock concluded his tweet with the following words: “Thank God for Jerry.”

Meanwhile comedic actor Tim Allen told Entertainment Weekly that the current politically correct restrictions imposed on public expression are posing an actual danger for comedians.

“It’s a very icy time. I’ve been a comedian for 38 years and I’ve never seen it, like Lenny Bruce said at the Purple Onion, ‘we’ve gone backwards,’” said Allen, whose series “Last Man Standing” is set for a return to television in September on FOX.

“There are things you can’t say. There are things you shouldn’t say. Who makes up these rules? And as a stand-up comic, it’s a dangerous position to be in because I like pushing buttons. It’s unfortunate,” Allen added.

Humor is an important relief valve for individuals as well as the whole of society, and in a cathartic manner allows people to observe new and differing perspectives on potentially polarizing topics. It is therefore critically important to examine the left’s penchant for weaponizing identity politics and the degree to which the strategy has resulted in the serious side effect of silencing laughter itself.

Human response to comedy is uniquely spontaneous. Comedian, actor, and best-selling author Dennis Miller wrote, “Laughter is one of the great beacons in life because we don’t defract it by gunning it through our intellectual prism. What makes us laugh is a mystery — an involuntary response.”

Today’s late-night comedians are often comfortable operating joke free, no longer seeking laughs but instead pursuing applause via material that panders to their like-minded niche audiences. In the same interview in which Rock told New York Magazine that he gave up performing at colleges due to hyper-political correctness on campuses, he talked about the manner in which technology and social media spur comedians to censor their own material.

Stand-up practitioners have a particularly pressing need to try out their material before exposing it to a larger audience.

“It is scary, because the thing about comedians is that you’re the only ones who practice in front of a crowd. Prince doesn’t run a demo on the radio. But in stand-up, the demo gets out. There are a few guys good enough to write a perfect act and get onstage, but everybody else workshops it and workshops it, and it can get real messy. It can get downright offensive,” Rock said.

The prevalence of smart phones, which have the capacity to record and share, has altered the way reactions to stand-up presentations are communicated.

“Before everyone had a recording device and was wired…, you’d say something that went too far, and you’d go, ‘Oh, I went too far,’ and you would just brush it off. But if you think you don’t have room to make mistakes, it’s going to lead to safer, gooier stand-up. You can’t think the thoughts you want to think if you think you’re being watched,” Rock added.

In comedy clubs back in the day, when members of an audience were offended, they simply got up and left the club. Today if someone does not like a joke, the outrage over the offending material can easily be spread in geometric fashion to an enormous number of people via social media.

Social media at the present time is extremely unfriendly to any attempts at being funny that do not fit within the strict parameters of the politically correct crowd, who are on an endless hunt for PC violators. With the advent of Twitter mobs, some of which are artificially enhanced, humor is routinely being re-labeled as hate speech.

In a recent interview with the U.K. Telegraph, legendary filmmaker Mel Brooks warned the world that society’s “stupidly politically correct” sensibilities will lead to the “death of comedy.” Brooks explained that political correctness is “not good for comedy,” since “comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks.”

Surprisingly, Brooks believes that his iconic western parody “Blazing Saddles” could not co-exist with the current climate because it has a racial theme within the plotline.

Once upon a time rational people discussed whether or not humorous content had crossed into the territory of being too offensive.

Today, however, with digital monitoring, persecution via social media, and the constant addition of favored groups that can never be the subject of comedic material, humor is in danger of becoming extinct.

‘Roseanne’ without Roseanne Barr?

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After Disney and ABC gave Roseanne Barr the severest of penalties for her ill-fated tweet by canceling her television show “Roseanne,” sources indicate that the ABC brass are now looking into the idea of continuing the sitcom in some fashion without Barr.

TMZ first reported the following: “The powers that be at ABC are exploring the possibility of re-branding the show and focusing on the character Darlene instead of Roseanne.”

A pitch meeting is set to take place between the producers of “Roseanne” and Disney ABC executives on June 4 to explore a revival of the “Roseanne” reboot with a new name minus the show’s namesake.

The key individuals that have been pursuing the continuation of the sitcom include co-star and executive producer Sara Gilbert, showrunner and executive producer Bruce Helford, and executive producer Tom Werner.

Gilbert was the driving force behind the initial “Roseanne” reboot. Helford was the co-creator and executive producer of “The Drew Carey Show” as well as the executive producer and writer for the original “Roseanne” during season five of the series. Werner co-founded the Carsey-Werner Company and was executive producer of the original “Roseanne,” along with “The Cosby Show,” “A Different World,” “3rd Rock from the Sun,” and “That 70s Show.”

Even if ABC greenlights a revival of a reboot, financial and legal obstacles may end up thwarting its plans. Carsey-Werner owns the lion’s share of the rights to “Roseanne.” However, Barr was the co-creator and executive producer of the show and has contractual financial interests in the series.

ABC is aware of the fact that a competing network faced a similar problem when it removed the lead actor from a top sitcom. Charlie Sheen was fired from “Two and a Half Men” in 2011, and Ashton Kutcher became the star of the show. Sheen also possessed contractual financial interests in the show and filed a $100 million lawsuit to pursue those interests, which concluded with a settlement of $25 million.

Barr has indicated via her Twitter account that she is thinking about fighting back against the cancellation of her reboot. Depending on the provisions in her contract, she may be able to legally challenge the attempt to create a spinoff that has the same characters and similar plotlines.

Disney ABC attorneys could even find themselves working overtime to negotiate a buyout of Roseanne’s rights in order to move forward with a project without her.

Another significant challenge involves the cast. Key members may not wish to be associated with the show or may have conflicting projects. Actors need to know that a project is real so that they can reserve time on their calendars.

It would be crucial for the producer to secure co-stars John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf for the new project. Goodman is a sought after character actor, and Metcalf just snagged an Oscar nomination for “Lady Bird” and is additionally doing well on Broadway. The aforementioned Gilbert has her continuing spot on CBS’s “The Talk” to protect.

The writing staff would have to be contracted as well. Ironically, on the very same day that ABC cancelled “Roseanne,” the writers had gathered at the studio lot to begin work on the upcoming season.

Despite the cancellation, ABC and Carsey-Werner reportedly have a contractual obligation to pay key cast members and writers for the upcoming season on a 10-episode guarantee, which provides an incentive to revive the series reboot.

There are other shows that have continued on following the departure of their lead actors. Current streaming programs “House of Cards” and “Transparent” have both made the transition following the removal of their respective stars Kevin Spacey and Jeffrey Tambor.

An example often cited by industry experts is one from the 1980s. A successful sitcom, “Valerie,” starred Valerie Harper as a career mother, who along with a somewhat invisible airline pilot husband is raising her three sons. After Harper had a dispute with the show’s producers, she was written out of the series. Sandy Duncan joined the cast as the boys’ aunt, who moved in and became their de facto parent. The series was renamed “Valerie’s Family: The Hogans,” which was later shortened to “The Hogan Family.”

However, the unprecedented success of the “Roseanne” reboot differs from the run-of-the-mill television project. Barr had built a sizable reservoir of conventional fandom during her syndication run of 25 years. What gave the reboot such exceptional impetus was the bond that she shares with millions of people, many of whom voted for President Trump, who were chiefly responsible for the phenomenal ratings of the show and who managed to transform a television debut into a cultural event.

A “Roseanne” series without Roseanne may initially draw the curious. But without the show’s comedic and cultural core cast member, it would likely end up as a shadow of its former self.

Disney Stunned as ‘Solo’ Stumbles at the Box Office

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The “Star Wars” franchise has been a sure winner for Disney, well worth the $4 billion the studio paid for Lucasfilm in 2012.

When a “Star Wars” movie is released, it is nothing short of a spectacular event accompanied by an interstellar performance at the box office, but not this time.

Box-office proceeds of the latest “Star Wars” installment, “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” has hit Disney executives hard, with a lower than expected three-day opening of $84.7 million and a projected four-day opening of $103 million; all this while the movie carried a production budget of over $250 million.

The “Solo” results were 46 percent lower than the previous “Star Wars” release, “Rogue One,” causing

Lucasfilm and Disney to reexamine the management of the “Star Wars” asset.

The overseas performance thus far for “Solo” has been an abysmal $65 million, including a tepid take of $10.1 million in box-office receipts in China. Since foreign box office can be up to 70 percent of a studio release’s overall gross revenue, “Solo” will likely bring in a far lower proportion of overseas money, so Disney has to be concerned that the film will not come close to the more than $1 billion in global gross that “Rogue One” delivered.

“Solo” tells the story of the younger days of iconic character Hans Solo, from the original “Star Wars” movie. The lead character was so deeply defined into the cultural memory by Harrison Ford that it posed an extremely difficult casting job.

Alden Ehrenreich has some very big shoes to fill, and it is safe to say that no actor could recreate the roguish character that the world came to love in the original “Star Wars” trilogy.

Movie experts cite a number of reasons for the latest “Star Wars” film’s lack of box-office energy, including politically correct plotlines, weak directing, poor casting, and “Star Wars” weariness.

As to the fatigue factor, it does not help that “Solo” was released a mere five months after another “Star Wars” movie, “The Last Jedi.”

Disney seems to have learned its lesson on the timing of releases and will probably avoid premiering “Star Wars” sequels, reboots, or spin-offs more than once per year.

The Mouse House is run by some of the most effective business people in the entertainment world. Last year the studio changed the release date of the upcoming “Star Wars” installment, “Episode IX,” from Memorial Day to December of 2019.

When it comes to the “Star Wars” series, year-end releases have been very good for the studio. “Force Awakens,” “Rogue One,” and “The Last Jedi” were all released during the Christmas season. Each movie brought in revenue in the $1 billion range and ended up being the top box-office performers during the year in which the movie release took place.

Disney execs also wisely brought back J.J. Abrams, who directed 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” to co-write and direct the upcoming “Star Wars: Episode IX.”

Ron Howard had been tapped by the studio at the production’s halfway point to direct “Solo” after Christopher Miller and Phil Lord left the project.

As an enterprise, Disney has so many other film irons in the fire that it will easily weather the “Solo” disappointment. The company’s Marvel franchise offering, “Avengers: Infinity War,” has at the time of this writing accumulated a box-office bonanza of $622 million domestically and $1.9 billion worldwide.

The family friendly “Incredibles 2” will be released June 15, 2018, and is projected to open in the $130 million range.

Most importantly for “Star Wars” fans, the next scheduled release of a “Star Wars” movie is not until December of 2019.

Like the proverbial football coach at the half, Disney will have the time to determine what went wrong with “Solo” and make the necessary adjustments to its strategic thinking regarding its revered “Star Wars” franchise.

How to Get Real News in a World of Fake News

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There was a time when three dominant television networks had the power to control the news and information narrative. Societal sources of information, though, have been constantly shifting over the past several decades due in great part to changes in technology.

The widespread reliance on digital information today has allowed ta trio of technology companies to be in a position to increasingly influence cultural and political conversations in a host of ways.

When it comes to establishing the news narrative, the big three consist of Google, Facebook, and Twitter. It is the tech giant Google, however, that has managed to morph into a monolithic kingdom of web search.

Google has become a digital pathway to information for almost the entire world, having secured approximately 70 percent of the global search market share. The usage of the search site for exploring the net is almost double the amount of its nearest competitor, Bing.

Additionally, as the owner of the principal video sharing site YouTube, Google is second only to Facebook as a social media platform.

Using its extraordinary algorithms and artificial intelligence, search giant Google unfortunately displays blatant and explicit biases against conservative viewpoints, all the while favoring left-leaning positions.

This partiality is underscored by discrimination lawsuits filed by former Google employees James Damore and David Gudeman against their prior employer. Damore alleges that he was fired for writing a memo criticizing Google’s diversity policies, while Gudeman claims he was blacklisted and let go for holding conservative beliefs, particularly for his support of now President Donald Trump.

The lawsuits describe a systemic ultra-liberal atmosphere at the tech giant. What is of major concern for the unknowing public is the fact that the radically left-leaning Google culture has manifested itself in distorted and biased search results.

In 2017 researchers from Northeastern University and the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology presented a paper that demonstrated a pervasive bias favoring Hillary Clinton existed in Google search results regarding the 2016 election.

Later in the year a research report written by Leo Goldstein of the group Defeat Climate Alarmism used data from Alexa.com to determine that Google searches were biased in favor of liberal domains and against conservative domains.

Using a current news story that broke over this past weekend concerning the Democratic memo, which was released to counter the Republican FISA abuse memo, a search on Google was conducted by this article’s author using the term “democrat memo.”

The results of the search were as follows: Two articles that appeared on the first line as “Top Stories” were one-sided pro-Democrat pieces from the The New York Times and Vox.

It was not until halfway down the third page of the Google search listings that a single article with a divergent point of view appeared. The article titled “What The Democrats Left Out Of Their Memo” was from the Daily Caller website.

The Google search exhibited the results, despite the fact that a plain reading of the Democratic memo indicated significant facts set forth in the Republican memo were left unanswered.

Particularly disturbing was the lack of any mention in the Democratic memo of the DNC and Clinton campaign funding of the infamous Steele dossier, or any mention or explanation of why that information was not provided to the FISA Court.

Assuming that Google’s bias is extensive and is unlikely to be addressed, conservatives cannot sit idly by and continue to use the search site.

In the business world, there are antitrust laws that exist to protect consumers from monopolies, which artificially raise prices and stifle innovation. Perhaps people who are seeking objectivity should consider using an alternative approach when conducting Internet searches.

Considering the fact that Google and most other search engines track and mine personal information without an individual’s knowledge or consent, it becomes even more important to adopt an alternative approach.

This brings us to some Google alternatives that may surprise the reader. DuckDuckGo.com not only provides unbiased news and information, it also maintains personal privacy by not engaging in tracking, data mining, or retention of search history. It is as comprehensive as Google and allows customization of its interface. It enables searches to be free from adult content via a safe setting similar to Google.

Ixquick’s Start Page claims to be the world’s most private search site. The site does not participate in data mining or tracking and additionally offers users the ability to visit sites via proxy, thus rendering searchers the protection of invisibility to the sites that appear in the search results.

Yippy is a search engine that also protects privacy with the added benefit of delivering child-friendly results. Yippy pulls search results from other search engines and groups topics together, organizing the results in clusters. Although the site filters out topics to which children ought not be exposed, including gambling, pornography, and other inappropriate material, adept teenagers may still find a way to obtain unsuitable results.

Conservatives may enjoy the experience of a search engine that gives results of a right-leaning nature. 4conservatives.com will do just that. The search engine delivers content from a conservative perspective and uses reputable sources.

By using more objective search alternatives, we can move toward a world with less fake news and more real news.

#HashtagWars

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The new reality, in which billions of people are able to interact and converse via social media about anything and everything, has undergone an evolution that has enabled order to emerge out of chaos.

A hashtag is an essential linguistic element in the new media discussion, which is being used to relay a message and establish a meme surrounding an issue, opinion, and even a desired action.

The use of hashtags on Twitter began with the placement of a number symbol (#) in front of a key word or phrase for the purposes of gathering together posts from different users into a single category. Posts with matching hashtags are jointly aggregated and then viewed simultaneously by a large number of people.

The idea of using media to focus public attention on a singular topic is in no way new. However, the scope of this particular digital phenomenon is. So, too, are the capacity and speed at which a hashtag can potentially influence public opinion. A carefully honed one oftentimes has the power to move individuals en masse from one side of a debate to another.

In 2008 then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama held a digital advantage over GOP rival presidential candidate John McCain, due to Obama’s deeper involvement with Facebook, Twitter, and other social media online platforms. Social media missives and hashtags became commonplace means through which campaign messages were propelled through cyberspace.

In the 2012 presidential election, GOP standard bearer Mitt Romney stepped on to social media territory when he purchased a hashtag as part of his campaign efforts. Through his acquisition, #RomneyRyan2012 became a trending topic. Romney’s campaign was reportedly the first to buy Twitter advertising in the form of a hashtag.

In the 2016 election cycle, then-GOP candidate Donald J. Trump was making a run for the presidency, and his campaign bought the following trending hashtag: #GetYourTrumpGear. The nexus between social media and politics was further established and so was a new virtual rubric.

Fast forward to the present. President Trump is the first occupant of the Oval Office to truly understand and fully embrace the digital universe in which we all find ourselves immersed. And many people who are acclimated to the digital climate, yes, even captivated by the virtual experience, are loving it.

It comes, then, as no surprise that his enemies do not share the same sentiment, and they continue to try to discourage the president from fully participating in social media activity. The digital debate continues to escalate as does the virtual war.

Most notably, a recent four-page memorandum that has been circulating in Congress, which reportedly reveals alleged United States government surveillance abuses, has been depicted in the following manner by legislators who have had the opportunity to preview its contents: “shocking,” “troubling,” and “alarming.”

The memo reportedly details the Intelligence Committee’s oversight work for the FBI and Justice Department, including FISA surveillance. Sources close to the committee indicate that it references text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, which appear to verify that the dubious Trump dossier was used to justify and obtain FISA warrants.

A recent vote by the committee to release the memorandum to lawmakers broke down along party lines, with Democrats voting against making the memo available to all members of Congress. If the committee votes to do so and there are no objections from the White House within five days, the memo can additionally be released to the public.

The hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo, which calls for the memorandum to be revealed to the public, has gone viral. WikiLeaks has added an additional dimension to the hashtag initiative by offering a reward of up to $1 million to anyone who can send them a copy.

Meanwhile the government shutdown is resulting in a tug-of-war for the very minds of social media users. This is occurring via a hashtag battle of the epic kind. At issue is who is to blame for the failure in the Senate to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government up and running.

Both sides have lined up their hashtags, with Democrats brandishing the #TrumpShutdown in their tweets and Republicans wielding #SchumerShutdown in their social media posts.

Both hashtags are trending high, but #SchumerShutdown has the edge as the most memorable and effective. Its double alliteration makes the phrase roll off the tongue, and it has the distinct ring of truth.

Because it deals with an individual who has also earned the brand of “Cryin’ Chuck,” imagery tends to float to the forefront in the minds of listeners, viewers, and/or participants in the Internet fight.

Democrats have traditionally controlled the narrative, when it comes to government shutdowns. One of the problems that they presently have is that although the objective may be to lay responsibility for the partial government shutdown on President Trump’s shoulders, they and their mainstream media allies have already used up an inordinate amount of digital capital trying to pin the blame on the elephant instead of the donkey.

The Democrats have another serious impediment to winning the narrative wars this time around. It is none other than the president himself, the duly elected outsider who has the power to bypass traditional news outlets with his social media savvy.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders employed the #ShumerShutdown language when she tweeted an official statement from the White House. And President Trump used his Twitter account to point out who was responsible for causing the government shutdown. His tweeted response read: “Democrats are far more concerned with Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great Military or Safety at our dangerous Southern Border,” followed by the hashtag #WeNeedMoreRepublicansIn18.

In another tweet, the president celebrated the one-year anniversary of his presidency by posting the idea that in creating the shutdown “the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present.” He followed the tweet with the hashtag #DemocratShutdown.

In a digital punctuation mark, President Trump tweeted out one of the primary themes of his presidency, which has never failed to stir the hearts of his supporters.

“#America First!”