Does Either Side Know What “Defund” Means?

Last month, when calls to “defund the police” were popularized by the “Black Lives Matter” movement, politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle quickly understood just how controversial and consequential of an idea it was.

After all, the common understanding of “defund” can be echoed by simply Googling the word: “prevent from continuing to receive funds.”

Even in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, and the identification (and public condemnation) of serious race-related problems within a number of police forces, it’s difficult to think of a more societally irresponsible and politically suicidal measure than removing all police funding. Such a move would effectively end law enforcement as we know it, and just about everyone understands that to be a colossally bad idea.

So, people on the political right understandably (and fairly) jumped on the slogan and exploited it (along with some empathy expressed for the sentiment by liberal leaders) as a testament to just how radical the left has become. In turn, people on the political left worked diligently (and comically) to redefine the very meaning of the word “defund.”

The clean-up effort was pretty exhaustive. In fact, if you go back on over to Google (I swear I’m not a company stockholder) and search on the phrase “defund the police,” you’ll find a seemingly endless list of columns by left-leaning writers explaining what those calling for the action “really” mean.

The liberal-commentary consensus: “defund the police” represents a less crazy directive: redirecting a portion of police budgets to social programs not directly tied to law enforcement, but rather poverty, mental illness, homelessness, etc.

Of course, that’s not the proper usage of “defund,” as righties continued to point out while mocking the left’s tap-dancing on the issue.

More prominent Democratic leaders have steered clear of the rhetorical contortionism on this matter. Presidential candidate Joe Biden has stated outright that he doesn’t want to “defund” the police, but work toward reform. Bernie Sanders has surprisingly taken a similar stance.

Yet, on Fox News last Sunday, President Trump insisted to Chris Wallace that Biden does indeed support defunding and even abolishing the police. When Wallace pushed back against the assertion, Trump cited a “charter” Biden had put together with Bernie Sanders. The president was referring to a document on Biden’s campaign website titled “Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations.” In dramatic fashion, he even called for an aide to hand him a copy of it, which he then thumbed through.

There was just one problem: nothing in the 100+ page document supported Trump’s assertion. It was an embarrassing moment for the president, who couldn’t uphold the words that had just left his mouth. Perhaps more damaging was that his team had been running campaign ads promoting the narrative.

Trump and Wallace moved on, but quite a few pro-Trump folks in the media didn’t, electing instead to try and save their guy some face by suddenly adopting the left’s alternate, previously ridiculed definition of “defund.”

Here’s Charlie Kirk from Turning Point USA, citing a recent Biden interview:

And here’s Byron York from the Washington Examiner:

“In interviews with liberal activists, Biden has presented a much more nuanced position on defunding the police, suggesting he supports redirecting police funding toward other purposes, like mental health counseling and affordable housing. Such redirection would be, in fact, defunding police.

They (and many others) are mostly right about what Biden has been saying in recent interviews. The presumptive Democratic nominee has indeed entertained the idea of redirecting some police funding to social programs. I emphasize the word “some” because York forgot to include it in his framing of the argument.

So now, the right-wing media and left-wing media seem to have found bipartisan agreement that “defund” actually means the redirection of a portion of funds. In other words, they’ve finally discovered an issue on which they agree.

Celebrate good times, come on!

But now I’m even more confused. Because if that’s what “defund” means, didn’t President Trump defund the U.S. military when he directed some of their funding to the construction of the border wall?

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find it kind of horrifying (in these linguistically challenging times) that the 2020 presidential election is now a “binary choice” between defunding the police and defunding the military.

And by horrifying, I mean, “causing horror; extremely shocking,” not whatever dopey, intellectually flexible definition the political class decides to come up with.

Order John A. Daly’s novel “Safeguard” today!

Bernie’s Q&A: NYT vs. Tom Cotton, Joe Biden, Chris Cuomo, and more! (6/12) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)

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Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):

I am stunned by Joe Biden saying between 10 and 15 percent of the people in America are not very good. That equates to about 35M to 52M people. Will a statement like that help in bringing people together? Or would it contribute to the opposite? — Ray K.

Biden’s comment may bring back memories of Hillary’s basket of deplorables, which didn’t do her a lot of good. But let me ask you a question Ray: What percentage of Americans do you think are bad people? My problem with Biden’s comment wasn’t that he was totally wrong — there is some percentage that are bad. My problem is that I suspect the entire group he targeted were Americans who support Donald Trump. Are they really the only bad ones in this country? What about the looters? Do they count in Joe’s calculation? What about young men who shoot and kill other young men in places like Chicago and Baltimore. Are they bad people in Joe’s world?

If there are so many false narratives out there, and misreported and misinterpreted facts, such as the statistics behind unarmed black deaths vs all other police related deaths and then silence when there is black on black death & cop killings; who then is failing the country by not providing the truth required to quell these false narratives and subsequent consequences?

Both the current rioting and the Covid situation have significantly damaged this country and innocent lives based on a lot of misinformation. Who is really failing us? — ScottyG

Good question, Scotty. The media are failing us. Their agenda doesn’t included real statistics about rogue cops killing unarmed black men. That percentage is very small. But you’d never


know that by watching CNN or MSNBC. Journalists also fail us when they interview activists who say things that are provably wrong, but the reporter just sits there like a potted plant and doesn’t challenge the false information. Politicians are also failing us. They just say what will help them win re-election. Not many are speaking truth to power. Activists want to defund or flat out eliminate police departments. Cowardly politicians say good idea. I’ve had enough! All of this has me searching for mindless television at night. I can’t take the BS anymore.

Seems to me that if Trump wins in November we will have more violence and riots in the big cities (possibly even before the election too as a warning to scare people). If Biden wins, do you see the Dems being magnanimous or viewing the results as a mandate to go further left. If police forces in blue areas are emasculated what happens to enclaves like Beverly Hills etc ? — Michael F.

If Biden wins he will cave to the hard left. He doesn’t strike me as a strong guy with real convictions. If Trump wins you may very well be right about more violence and riots. The left is on a new kick to defund the police. But as you rightly ask, what happens when the thugs go after homes in Beverly Hills? What happens, Michael, is that the same lefties who don’t like cops, will demand police protection.

From one day to the next, you have to ask yourself, “what the ****.” We have had over a week of rioting and looting,with perhaps more to come, and what do we hear out of the Progressive Left: defund the police, some calling for doing away with police all together, leave policing to community groups. Yeah that’ll work! And how about those who have said the burning and looting might be just what was needed?!! The AG of Massachusetts actually said a good burn might be the purge this country needed. When leading law enforcement officials are saying things like that, I mean, are you kidding me? And finally, all that said, you have to wonder who would want to be a cop these days? Mediocre pay, treated like dirt. Can you imagine how the NYPD felt knowing that all the people they arrested for looting and vandalism would be right back out on the streets within 24 hours thanks to NY’s “bail reform laws”….book em and release em, no bail involved. Every time I think Trump is doomed and can’t win in November [much of it of his own doing ] when I hear things like this it gives me hope that the average Joe&Jane would not at all be happy with the the way the Dem’s have moved further to the left with their policies. Less police, no police, seriously.???? — John M.

Let me address your last point, John — about the average Joe and Jane out there. I’ve wondered if there is a new Silent Majority out there. I honestly don’t know. If there is, it will help Trump. But if we’ve moved left as a country, if more and more Americans think the country is fundamentally racist and so excuse rioting, say hello to President Biden. To me, this is the big political question of the moment: Does the Silent Majority exist in America today?

The police are always in the news. There are lots of good cops and a few bad cops. I’m a white guy – sort of – Italian, and I’ve been all over the world, many times, for work and pleasure … to the EU, all over Asia, Mexico, and the rest of the third world … and stopped by the police numerous times for numerous reasons. I smile. I ask questions in a respectful way. I have nothing to hide. I live through it. My advice to anyone of any color … if the police ask you to do something … do it, respectfully. If they say, “Stop!”, then stop. If you don’t, then all bets are off (serious implications). If the “request” is not appropriate, there are scores of ways to complain, however, “Just do it”. My two cents. — Mike S.

My feelings precisely, Mike.

A few quick points/queries: how long before God Bless America and The Pledge of Allegiance will effectively be banned? If The Democrats could rewrite the Constitution, what would they add or eliminate? Or does it not matter so long as you have the “right” judges? Will Keith Ellison try the Minn. cops just before the Nov elections? Finally, have the past 10 days proven that violence works and the threat of violence (or the occasional “boisterous protest” ( gotta be PC) ) can be used from time to time to keep issues alive and keep certain groups more engaged? — Michael

Regarding your first question … if the left takes control of this country, there’s a good chance they will impose speech codes. They are the biggest single threat to freedom of speech. Will they ban God Bless America or the Pledge of Allegiance. Let’s just say they sure as hell won’t encourage either.

Violence, I’m afraid, does work … in that it gets the attention of the media and politicians. But not in a good way. They give lip service to saying rioting is bad, but their emphasis is on the conditions that supposedly led to rioting and looting. You’ll never hear any liberal journalist state what to me is obvious: Some people just plain like breaking windows and stealing stuff. They’re not doing it because they’re oppressed. They’re doing it because they like sneakers and Rolex watches — especially when they’re “free.”

Quick question on journalistic ethics (since I honestly don’t know the answer): Let’s say you’re asking someone questions for a story, and the person is giving you all kinds of newsworthy information. Then, the person suddenly says, “That’s all off the record, by the way.” From a journalist’s perspective, is it really off the record, or does that person need to tell you beforehand that it’s off the record? Thanks! — Tom R.

The person must tell you beforehand that what he or she said is off the record. Otherwise it’s not. That said, I’m sure it doesn’t always work that way. If the source has given the journalist good information in the past, it’s not likely the journalist will risk losing the source over a failure to say, “This conversation is off the record.” Also if the source says something that might hurt a cause the journalist agrees with — that too might lead to keeping the conversation off the record. But as a general practice: The ground rules have to be established before the interview starts.

I find the article you wrote on Monday, at this time, a distraction. To me it is just like when white people throw the Black on black crime card up. Yes there are problems in the back community. But why does no one ever talk about white on white crime? People kill and harm people in their own communities. Let see the numbers across the board. I am sure you will see they are all within a few percentage points. My other problem is that your article and many people ignore the steps that are taken locally in Chicago to curb this trend. It may not be perfect. But to imply that nothing is being done, or that the communities don’t care, is wrong. But if you are not in the community, how would you know? And don’t get me started on systematic policies that have broken up the black family. Why cant we give the current movement time to breathe. Pun intended. — Douglas S.

Hey Douglas … my point is that elite white liberals — in order to show their good racial manners — will lament white on black crime but virtually ignore black on black crime. And it makes me wonder: Don’t those lives matter … or is homicide only an issue when the victim is black and the perpetrator is white?

Isn’t the sad fact that the leading cause of death among young black men is homicide a legitimate topic to write about — at this time or any time?

I defer on these matters to Shelby Steele who has written extensively and eloquently about white liberal guilt. He’s far more blunt than I’ve been. He’s black.

I wasn’t saying that nothing is being done. My complaint is with elite white liberals — not people in the community trying to do good. I never said those communities don’t care. So your point that I’m not in the community isn’t relevant.

I hate what that white cop did to George Floyd. But I also hate the mayhem that has become all too routine in parts of Chicago. And as a journalist, I lament the fact that 85 shootings in one weekend and more than 20 deaths isn’t big news. Re-read what Lee Habeeb says about that. Thanks, Douglas — and feel free to let me know what you think of my Off the Cuff this week on the subject of “systemic racism”.

What are the facts and your opinion on what just happened at the New York Times? I’m referring to James Bennett’s resignation as its editorial page editor. And what about the publisher, Sulzberger – does he have blood on his hands as the woke are eating their own? — Steve R.

What happened at the NY Times is this: The children at the newspaper of record threw a temper tantrum because the read an op-ed they didn’t agree with … and the so-called grownups, instead of telling these snowflakes to grow up, caved … and agreed that the Times had made a terrible mistake. And Bennett resigned or was forced out. This is what’s been happening on college campuses for a while now. The liberal authoritarians are on a roll. Kind of like the French Reign of Terror without the guillotines — yet.

Dear Bernie, CNN’s Chris Cuomo was “unknowingly” caught in the background of his wife’s online Yoga video… naked. Him, not her. Given Cuomo’s high opinion of himself and the shape he’s in, along with his flare for Reality TV-style broadcasting (like that staged “emerging from the basement after covid” silliness), what do you think the chances are that this incident was not “accidental” at all, and that it was a publicity stunt for his show? — Bruce A.

I have absolutely no idea. But that’s not to say you’re not onto something, Bruce.

“Time Magazine Person of the Year?” … Wait for it … The Hypocrite. Potus and family, many members of Congress, lots of evangelicals, priests, pastors, reporters, political commentators, CEO’s, Hollywood persona … and I, are all hypocrites. I feel I am an environmentalist. I’m a vegetarian. I live part-time in a spectacularly beautiful part of the world, off the grid – in East Maui, near Hana. On my property, I watch over at least 2000 mature trees in this lush rainforest. I used to feel slightly superior to most of you. I’m not. Far from it. My wife works for a major airline. We fly for free. I fly all over the place, burning up the atmosphere that my trees help produce, as we go. I have more than one home, and more than one car, and not a Tesla to be found. I am in a serious dilemma. You, Bernie, might be one of the few true non-hypocrites out there … or is it, I dare say, unanimous? — Aloha, Mike

You may be a hypocrite, Mike, but life seems pretty damn good. But if you’re troubled by your supposed hypocrisy … here’s a suggestion: Go off to a monastery for a few months; take your wife with you … and leave the house keys under the doormat for my wife and me. Your place sounds pretty nice. Deal?

Your Wednesday Off the Cuff was your best to date. I would like for your thoughts to make it to the minds of most of the people in the USA. How can we help make that happen? — Ival S.

Thanks very much Ival.  But be assured, as a friend of mine put it, there’s a better chance that they’ll join the KKK then go along with my idea.  Put the word out anyplace you can about this website.  The more people who listen and read my commentary, the greater the chance that some of these ideas will catch on. Word of mouth is a powerful force.

I’m hearing that much of the violence and rioting and looting had the hooligans picking up devices that were planted alongside the roads so that rioters could easily use these devices to break into stores and cause damage. I’m also hearing that “white supremacists” have infiltrated the peaceful protesters and deliberately caused mayhem and destruction to denigrate the cause. Is there any evidence that white supremacist groups have been doing this? Or is this a left-wing talking point being used to deflect focus away from anarchist groups such as ANTIFA, whom I believe that left wingers support? Thankfully I can say this (and what I wrote last week) here because the woke crowd has apparently taken over TWITTER. Your thoughts? — “It was our ENEMIES who did it, NOT our ALLIES” Regards From The Emperor

Hello Your Emperorness.  Let me start with your question about weapons planted alongside the road.  Every time I hear that on TV, I become suspicious.  If the reporter knows this, and others presumably know this, where’s the video?  Why aren’t you showing it to your audience?  I’m guessing it’s because it’s a phony story.  Someone heard it and it soon took on a life of its own.  I’ll believe it when I see it.

As for white supremacists infiltrating peaceful demonstrations:  I’m not buying that either.  I think left wing pols and activists planted the story to put blame supposed Trump supporters for the mayhem.

Once upon a time we had editors/producers who checked scripts to make sure the reporter got his or her facts right before putting stories on the air.  Those were the good old days.


Thanks, everyone! You can send me questions for next week using the form below! You can also read previous Q&A sessions by clicking here.

Breaking: Bernie Goldberg Joins Trump Admin as “Fake News Czar”

President Trump with newly named Fake News Czar, Bernie Goldberg.

President Trump with newly named Fake News Czar, Bernie Goldberg.

FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLICATION: Former CBS News correspondent and Fox News media analyst, Bernie Goldberg, has accepted the newly created White House position of Fake News Czar.

Goldberg’s new job will see him holding weekly “Fake News” meetings, on behalf of the Trump White House, with select members of the mainstream media. The stated purpose: dealing with “Fake News lies“ and “making the media great again.”

“I love this guy, Goldberg,” President Trump told reporters this morning, just before stepping aboard Marine One. “He’s like an iceberg, not a Goldberg. That’s what I call him, ‘Bernie Iceberg.’ Because he’s the iceberg and the fake news media is the Titanic. And we all know what happened when the Titanic hit that iceberg. Did you see that movie? Nobody really knew what happened to the Titanic until that movie came out. Very sad.”

Despite Goldberg’s vocal criticisms of bias in the mainstream media for over 20 years (which include multiple bestselling books on the topic), his hire by the White House will assuredly surprise many.

Goldberg has been a frequent critic of President Trump’s personal conduct and his broad “Fake News” attacks on the national media. In fact, many speculate that such critiques were behind the Fox News Channel sidelining Goldberg for nearly a year, until his contract as a network contributor expired.

The president hasn’t always been a fan of Goldberg’s either. Prior to today, Trump’s last public statement on Goldberg came from a tweet in late 2015, in which Trump wrote that Goldberg (a winner of 14 Emmys and 3 duPont awards), “just doesn’t know about winning!”

Goldberg shed some light on his unlikely partnership with the White House in an early-morning conference call with reporters.

“To be honest, I’m just getting sick and tired of people on social media confusing me with Bernie Sanders,” said Goldberg. “I figured that if I actually work for the Trump administration, on the opposite side of the political aisle from Sanders, people may eventually figure out that not all white-haired Jewish guys named Bernie are the same person.”

Not everyone is convinced that Goldberg’s motivations are quite so innocent. According to Twitter handle “@NotRussianBot_2343225800231,” Goldberg is “a dAm #NeverTrump LIBTARD” and “deeeep state SPY!” who’s intent on “UNsitting our duly elexted POTUS!!!”

“Not so,” says Goldberg, who insists that it really is all about the Sanders thing. “Put yourself in my position. I lean conservative on most everything. I believe in capitalism. I comb my hair, for God’s sake! I’ve been in front of the cameras for years and years, exposing media bias, and criticizing liberals and socialism. But just because I have white hair, my name is Bernie, and I sometimes say critical things about our president, people suddenly think I’m that crazy socialist guy who keeps running for president on a platform of giving everything away for free. It’s annoying! I mean, what would you do?”

According to a well-placed White House source (speaking under the condition of anonymity), Goldberg’s responsibilities during his weekly “Fake News” meetings with the press will include (but are not limited to):

  • rolling his eyes and saying, “You should be ashamed of yourself” in response to legitimate questions from reporters
  • discounting all negative economic numbers as a “media hoax”
  • making jokes about George Stephanopoulos’s height
  • staging substance-abuse interventions with CNN’s Brian Stelter, in hopes of breaking him of his Fox News addiction
  • proposing print-copies of the New York Times and Washington Post as viable alternatives for everyday Americans in dealing with the national toilet paper shortage
  • shouting “Fake News” and “you’re not the story” while firmly pressing his finger into the chest of White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, until Acosta is brought to tears.

Update: In light of the global pandemic and the White House’s temporary media rules on social distancing, Goldberg has confirmed that he’ll be using a broomstick to poke Jim Acosta.

More on this developing story as it comes in…

Off the Cuff: When I Interviewed George Carlin…

A couple decades ago, I interviewed comedic legend, George Carlin. The two of us hit it off…but not without some awkwardness. That’s the topic of today’s Off the Cuff audio commentary.

You can listen to it by clicking on the play (arrow) button below.


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New Year’s Predictions — What to Look for in 2020

Before I get to my annual predictions for the new year (here from my long-weekend perch in the crisp Colorado high country), I wanted to take a second to thank you all for your readership (well, maybe not those of you who typically just read the first paragraph of my columns, then angrily scroll down to the comment section. 😉) It means a lot that you take the time for my work, and I hope you’re having a great holiday season with family and friends.

There were few dull moments in 2019, and I expect 2020 to be even more needlessly dramatic (because that’s how we roll in America these days). With lots of topics to cover, I’ve gone through the painstaking task of keeping my number of predictions to just four (because five would have been too predictable).

See what I did there? Anyway, enjoy!

Know your audience

In May, as part of a sweeps-month effort, Fox News will debut an 8-part weekend mini-series entitled “Trumped by an Angel.” The show will star the popular social-media duo of Diamond and Silk as angels tasked from Heaven to bring pro-Trump messages and guidance to anti-Trump liberals and dispirited conservatives who have yet to accept our president as their one true god and savior.

Each episode will end with a Trump detractor of the week recognizing the error of his or her ways, reversing long-held positions and personal standards of decency, pledging holy servitude to the president, and receiving a complimentary Trumpy Bear (the show’s sponsor) from Diamond and Silk.

Special guest stars will include Sean Hannity (playing Slobert De Niro, a brash Hollywood A-lister), Jesse Watters (playing Grim Acosta, a chief White House correspondent for a left-leaning, low-rated cable news network), and Greg Gutfeld (playing Choke Romney, a former Republican presidential candidate and current U.S. Senator, who repeatedly commits the cardinal sin of directing honest, principled criticism at our president).

The ratings success of Trumped by an Angel (especially in the coveted 75+ age demographic) will compel other networks to add modern political themes to their fall lineups. The surprise hit of the season will be an all-male CBS television adaptation of the 2000 film, Coyote Ugly, starring former presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke as a failed politician who parlays his trademark campaign maneuver of negotiating the tops of bars and tables into a successful career as a pub dancer.

The devil is in the details

In early fall, contract-renewal negotiations between CNN and Brian Stelter will stall when Stelter inquires about the network seemingly changing his job title.

“So…they want me to be a Media Analyst now?” Stelter will confusedly ask an unnamed CNN producer.

Baffled by Stelter’s question, the producer will pull up the commentator’s previous multi-year contract and identify an unfortunate spellcheck mishap, in which the intended word “Analyst” had inadvertently been replaced with the word “Apologist.”

Believing that he had been working for the network as a Media Apologist since 2013 (and performing that job with distinction), Stelter will ask his CNN colleagues why they let him defend and blow off the abundant mistakes and biases of the mainstream media for “7 freakin’ years” without ever saying a word to him about it.

An internal probe will be launched to determine the answer to that question, and later reveal that no one at the network actually watches Stelter’s show, Reliable Sources. Furthermore, it will be discovered that the only people who actually do watch the program are Fox News producers and conservative bloggers looking for content to fill up their “Liberals Gone Crazy!” segments.

Stelter will leave CNN in late November, after reading up on the role of Media Analyst and deciding “it sounds like a lot of work.”

“I need your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle”

With curiosity piqued by the below observation about the tweeting habits of millennial political activist Charlie Kirk, an anonymous Twitter employee will run a series of diagnostic tests on Kirk’s account and make a shocking discovery.

It will turn out that Kirk’s tweets are not the result of manual entry, but rather a simple algorithm keying off of headlines (using an RSS feed). The revelation will explain the complete absence of irony and self-awareness in each Kirk tweet, and also advance speculation that Kirk himself is an artificial life-form sent from the future by George Soros’s technologically preserved brain to assist in a diabolical effort to replace core principles of conservatism with nothing more than lame memes, glaring double standards, and incessant “lib owning.”

Back to the intergalactic well

Following the extraordinary popularity of the super cute “Baby Yoda” character from season one of The Mandalorian, Disney+ will decide to up the ante in season two by introducing another toddler version of a notable Star Wars character: Jabba the Hutt.

“Baby Jabba,” as fans will creatively name him, will show up in episode #3 when bounty hunter Din Djarin returns to the desert planet of Tatooine in search of fellow Mandalorian, Boba Fett, who was last seen there.

Upon discovering that Mr. Fett was devoured by a giant sarlacc as part of an outlandish action sequence five years earlier, Djarin will leave Tatoonie with an unexpected stowaway who had waddled aboard his ship following the scent of a pot of three-day-old Gungan stew in the ship’s galley.

Now finding himself the surrogate father of two unexpected kids — one dealing with serious child obesity issues (including limited mobility), Djarin will be forced to make some tough choices between his family and career. He’ll ultimately elect to scale his bounty hunting profession down to part-time, while establishing a successful work-from-home business around the knitting and sale of unique clothing accessories for wookie youths and protocol droids.


In all seriousness, I wish you all a happy and healthy new year. Whatever disagreements we may have in 2020 (and as in recent years, I predict there will be many), I’m hoping we can approach them with relative civility and — at times — a good laugh.

Megyn Kelly, on John A. Daly’s new novel, Safeguard.