Daily Digest

Jan. 28, 2016


“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.” —Thomas Paine, 1776


Silver Linings — Challenger STS-51-L

By Mark Alexander

Scobe is center, front row

This day 30 years ago was a day so tragic for my friend June Scobee Rodgers and her children that I can’t imagine the anguish they experienced. June, and the families of other crew members, watched as her husband’s Challenger Space Shuttle disintegrated just after liftoff. At T+68, Commander Dick Scobee confirmed, “Roger, go at throttle up” — the last communication she, and the nation, heard from Challenger. That evening, President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation, saying, “The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’”

In the years that followed, June has turned that tragedy into a triumph, honoring the loss of her beloved husband and his crew with the establishment of the Challenger Centers for Space Science Education. There are now 40 Challenger STEM learning centers across the nation inspiring countless young people toward careers in the sciences. I know few people who embody June’s level of character and integrity. You can read her story in a tribute, “A Silver Lining to Storms of Sorrow.” Watch an interview with June filmed this week about her experience that day.

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Trump, Fox and ‘The Veterans’

Donald Trump says he’ll be a no-show for the GOP debate tonight in Iowa. He claims it’s because he has “zero respect for Megyn Kelly,” adding “I don’t think she is very good at what she does. I think she is highly overrated.” Recall if you will, that Kelly asked Trump at an earlier debate, “You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs, dogs and disgusting animals.’ … How will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton that you are part of the war on women?” After the debate, Trump responded, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her — wherever.”

Actually, here’s the real reason why Trump is declining the debate: First and foremost, it’s a good strategic play. By not being present, he pits Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio against each other without getting caught in the crossfire. Second, just ahead of the Iowa caucus, he won’t have to defend his typical elitist and derogatory references, in this case comments like, “How stupid are the people of Iowa?” He won’t have to excuse his liberal “New York values,” or his own assertions about how his “views are different than if I lived in Iowa.” And third, he won’t get called out on the fact that he disgracefully played the “9/11 Card” in the last debate, using the victims of that attack as political fodder to dodge questions about his New York values.

“I like debating,” Trump claims. “I just don’t like being used.” But Trump is a master user, and once again he is playing the now-familiar “Veterans Card,” using veterans as political fodder to dodge this debate. Trump perfected that play when he threatened to skip the CNN debate unless Jeff Zucker, president of CNN, donated all the ad revenues to “the veterans.” Of course, Trump showed up for the debate, and CNN didn’t send a dime to any veterans support group. Trump merely invokes “the veterans” in a play to rally support from those of us who hold veterans in high regard. But as with the “9/11 Card” play in the last debate, this is nothing more than a crass political ploy.

Regardless of whether Trump shows for the debate or not, the reality-TV billionaire will remain the focus of the media.

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Green Beret Punished for Protecting Child

In 2011, two Green Berets in a remote outpost in Afghanistan discovered that a commander in the Afghan Local Police (ALP) had kidnapped a young boy and raped him. When the rapist admitted what he did and laughed about it, Captain Dan Quinn picked up the man and slammed him into the ground. Sgt. First Class Charles Martland joined in, helping to drag the man outside the compound. The two told the rapist to never return. But the Army has policies to respect Afghan “culture,” and beating a child rapist is evidently in violation of those rules.

After Army Human Resources Command recommended Martland be removed from service, Rep. Duncan Hunter sent a letter to Sen. Pat Roberts asking him to assist in keeping Martland in the Army. “I am not offended by, nor do I take any issue with, Martland’s confrontation of the child rapist,” Hunter wrote. “Martland was part of a small team of Green Berets, entrusted to keep America safe in ways that often go unreported or unnoticed, whose mission was being put at risk due to the illegal action of a corrupt ALP commander. The Afghan justice system continually failed to uphold individual human rights, and we would expect any of our elite warriors to protect a child from a known and admitted rapist.”

If nothing else is done, then Martland’s military career will end March 1. Meanwhile, the Obama administration is content to let Army bureaucracy run its course, as Obama spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters last year that Afghanistan has its legal system to handle these sorts of cases. Or not handle it. Because cultural sensitivity is more important to Obama than our soldiers.

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Civil Disobedience Only Works for Liberals?

By Arnold Ahlert

A couple of stories this week are indicative of a society increasingly unmoored to common sense and common decency, much less Rule of Law.

In Houston, the results of that city’s investigation of a Planned Parenthood clinic’s trafficking in baby parts has resulted in an indictmentof the whistleblowers. Californians David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt have been charged by a Harris County grand jury for tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Adding insult to injury, Daleiden, the leader of the videographers from the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) that published the exposé, was also charged with the same misdemeanor he had accused Planned Parenthood of committing — namely the purchase or sale of the organs of unborn babies.

“As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us,” said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, a registered Republican. “All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case.”

Their decision is a travesty. The series of videos published by CMP are a compendium of outrages. In one, the organization’s Chief Medical Director, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, is shown casually discussing the various abortion techniques employed to preserve as much fetal tissue as possible. In another, Dr. Mary Gatter, president of the Planned Parenthood Medical Directors’ Council, is shown discussing the “less crunchy” abortion techniques needed to procure “whole specimens,” and haggling over fetal tissue sales prices because she wants “a Lamborghini.” In still another, Melissa Farrell, Director of Research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, promotes that branch’s track record of fetal tissue sales, and its ability to “get the best specimens.”

Planned Parenthood claimed the videos were “heavily edited,” but that is simply a lie. Nothing was cut or juxtaposed, and the videos are available in full at the CMP website.

The only thing heavily edited here was Leftmedia coverage of this story.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who had called on Harris County District Attorney’s Office and the State senate to investigate, insisted the Senate would continue its work because “the horrific nature of these videos demand scrutiny and investigation.” Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton vowed to continue their own investigations as well.

Regardless, Planned Parenthood was basking in the glow of its ostensible victory. “It’s great news because it demonstrates what we have said from the very beginning, which is that Planned Parenthood is following every rule and regulation, and that these people came into our buildings under the guise of health when their true intentions were to spread lies,” said Rochelle Tafolla, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, which runs the Houston clinic as well as facilities in Louisiana.

CMP released a statement of its own: “The Center for Medical Progress uses the same undercover techniques that investigative journalists have used for decades in exercising our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and of the press, and follows all applicable laws. Planned Parenthood still cannot deny the admissions from their leadership about fetal organ sales captured on video for all the world to see.”

There is something else all the world should see: Lauren Reeder, one of the prosecutors in the Harris County district attorney’s office, is also a Planned Parenthood board member — of the Gulf Coast facility targeted by Daleiden. And despite Operation Rescue and other pro-life groups that asked last August for a special prosecutor, Anderson declined, assuring the public that Reeder “will not be involved in any manner in this investigation.”

Judge Andrew Napolitano was disgusted by the seemingly Orwellian outcome of the probe. “These are what we call ‘crimes of intent,’” he said, referring to the charge of soliciting fetal body parts directed against Daleiden. “You have to intend to commit the crime. You can’t just utter the words.” As for the DA declining to charge Planned Parenthood, only to go after the activists that exposed them? “Absolutely this is a political hit job,” he insisted.

Which brings us to political hit job number two, courtesy of a jury in Snohomish County, Washington. In September 2014, five people subsequently known as the Delta 5 were arrested for blockading train shipments of oil and coal at a BNSF Railway yard in Everett. The protest by the two women and three men was organized by Rising Tide Seattle, “a grassroots, all-volunteer collective taking direct action to confront the root causes of climate change,” according to its website. The protesters set up a tripod of poles over the tracks with a woman perched on top and the others chained to the three legs. Trains were prevented from operating for eight hours until railroad police called local officers who removed the woman atop the tripod and cut the cables tied to the demonstrators.

The jury found the quintet not guilty of obstruction. And in what Daily Beast writer Ted Hamilton characterizes as a “master class” in “principled lawbreaking,” the jury heard “testimony that defendants’ criminal actions were justified by ‘climate necessity,’” described effusively by the columnist as “the argument that it’s better to break the law while getting in a few punches at the fossil fuel system than to sit back and lawfully watch the world burn.”

At the last minute, the judge barred the jury from considering such a defense, but Hamilton remained optimistic, envisioning a future where “esteemed justices will grasp the depth of the warming problem and the shallowness of Congress’ ability to deal with it.” In Cortlandt, New York, a group known as the Montrose 9, on trial for blocking the entrance to Spectra Energy’s construction site, also plans to use the “climate necessity” defense.

These actions, and the legal machinations attempting to justify them, are championed by the Climate Disobedience Center, a group advocating “civil” disobedience as the “single most effective tool for cracking the consensual climate hallucination,” even as they dedicate themselves to “supporting those who hold allegiance to a higher moral law through the legal process and consequences of action.”

If these stories are indicative of anything, perhaps it is the reality that millions of Americans feel increasingly alienated by what constitutes acceptable behavior in our society. They are repelled for example, not only by the notion that babies and their body parts can be reduced to salable commodities, but by the reality that so many fellow Americans seem to abide, or even champion, the idea. They are equally contemptuous of the idea that the enforcement of the law can be rendered null and void based on pretensions of self-aggrandizing “nobility.” The sense that “up is down” or “black is white” is becoming increasingly pervasive, and one has the sense we are one election away from rediscovering American exceptionalism — or institutionalizing our irrevocable decline. A nation can withstand many shocks to the system. A complete lack of moral clarity isn’t one of them.

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Victor Davis Hanson: “Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is now thinking of retroactively taking away one or two of [Gen. David] Petraeus’ four stars. … Petraeus accepted two years of probation and paid a $100,000 fine for allowing his mistress, Paula Broadwell, to read classified information for research on the biography she was writing about Petraeus. … Yet there is no evidence that Broadwell (who enjoyed a military security clearance of her own) ever shared the classified information with anyone or disclosed it in the biography. That does not excuse the bad judgment of Petraeus. But it does invite an obvious comparison with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She not only sent classified information over her unsecured email to several individuals, but remains untruthful about that fact. … By any sense of commensurability, the Obama Justice Department should charge Clinton in the fashion it did Petraeus. If she goes free, the Obama administration confirms the suspicion that there are no longer any security laws for government officials — particularly when they are powerful and their politics agree with the president’s. Petraeus was not just any four-star general. He was the most effective and talented American general since Gen. Matthew Ridgway, who saved what appeared to be a lost Korean War. … Petraeus has lost his reputation. He resigned his job as CIA director. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor. He was fined. He was put on probation. Enough is enough with Petraeus. It is time to move on for an administration that threw away a stable Iraq — once saved by the man it still hounds.”

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Insight: “Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” —Harry S. Truman (1884-1972)

Upright: “One widely touted source, YouGov, reports that only 13 percent of Trump voters describe themselves as ‘very conservative’ versus 20 percent that describe themselves as liberal or moderate. Only 30 percent of them say that they identify with the Tea Party movement, according to a Newsweek summary of the YouGov data on Trump. In short, the ‘Trump is not especially conservative’ refrain doesn’t work with his supporters because neither are they.” —R.B.A. DiMuccio

For the record: “[Donald Trump has] gotten what he wants, which is blanket wall-to-wall coverage of him, wiping out everything else going up to the debate. … This is a competition between his narcissism and his cattiness. I would guess his narcissism, meaning staying out, is going to win over.” —Charles Krauthammer

The BIG lie: “[A]nybody who knows me knows you can’t buy me.” —Hillary Clinton (Just don’t pay attention to the Clinton Foundation.)

Non Compos Mentis: “I do not think it is right to be going to people who suffered because of the Republican recession and asking for you to help us make the investments for the future. I want you to take advantage of them, but I want to go where the money is. And the money is at the top, and that’s where we need to be shifting our tax system.” —Hillary Clinton

Race bait: “I’m an African-American quarterback [and] that may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to.” —NFL quarterback Cam Newton

Late-night humor: “Ben of Ben & Jerry’s has come out with an ice cream inspired by Bernie Sanders. A carton costs $3.99, but when you include tax, it’s $200 million.” —Conan O'Brien

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Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis!
Managing Editor Nate Jackson

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