Daily Digest

Jan. 29, 2016


“If by the liberty of the press were understood merely the liberty of discussing the propriety of public measures and political opinions, let us have as much of it as you please: But if it means the liberty of affronting, calumniating and defaming one another, I, for my part, own myself willing to part with my share of it, whenever our legislators shall please so to alter the law and shall chearfully consent to exchange my liberty of abusing others for the privilege of not being abused myself.” —Benjamin Franklin, 1789


Finally, a Debate Without Petty Insults

For the first time this election cycle, last night featured a Republican debate with only Republicans on stage. Yet it was the “elephant” not in the room that dominated pre- and post-debate coverage. As for those on stage, we have two primary observations.

First, as Mark Alexander predicted yesterday, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were baited into attacking each other, especially on immigration. That was Donald Trump’s strategic play. By not being present, he pitted his chief rivals against each other without getting caught in the crossfire just ahead of the Iowa caucus. That said, Cruz began the night by humorously pretending to play the part of Trump: “I’m a maniac and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat and ugly. And Ben [Carson], you’re a terrible surgeon. Now that we’ve gotten the Donald Trump portion out of the way…”

In fact, many of the questions were negative attack bait, roughly following the formula: You or someone else said something awful or outrageous…explain why your remark wasn’t terrible, or attack the other candidate. The questions were largely designed to generate fratricidal arguments between the Republican candidates rather than focus on how each Republican would approach policy matters different from Democrats.

Second, the Google/YouTube/ advertising sponsorship, as with the Facebook sponsorship in the last debate was at best, grating. As they previously did with Facebook “mentions,” the efforts to incorporate “search words” and videos into the debate — including one YouTube question from a Bernie Sanders supporter (seriously!) — was ridiculous and little more than cross-platform advertising.

Finally, the quote of the night might just go to Rubio, because he managed to pack so much about himself and why he’d be a formidable general election candidate into one answer: “[L]et me be clear about one thing. There’s only one savior and it’s not me. It’s Jesus Christ, who came down to Earth and died for our sins. … As far as the polls are concerned, Iowa, on Monday night you’re going to go to a caucus site and you’ll be the first Americans that vote in this election. You will be the first Americans that get to answer a fundamental question: ‘What comes next for this country after seven disastrous years of Barack Obama?’ Let me tell you what the answer better not be: It better not be Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders is a socialist. I think Bernie Sanders is a good candidate for president — of Sweden. We don’t want to be Sweden. We want to be the United States of America. And Hillary Clinton — Hillary Clinton is disqualified from being the commander in chief of the United States. In fact, one of her first acts as president may very well be to pardon herself because Hillary Clinton stored classified information on her private server and Hillary Clinton lied to the families of those four brave Americans who lost their lives in Benghazi, and anyone who lies to the families of Americans who have died in the service of this country can never be commander in chief of the United States.”

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Trump Didn’t Want to Be at His Own Veterans Benefit

As with his 9/11-card play in the last debate, Donald Trump’s veteran-card play is nothing more than a crass political charade. While seven GOP candidates had a policy-focused debate Tuesday night, Trump eschewed questioning from Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and instead held an event cross town that was supposedly to benefit veterans. But Trump admitted the event really wasn’t for the men and women who risked their lives for the country. It was all about him. “I didn’t want to be here, I have to be honest,” Trump said. “I wanted to be about five minutes away. … But you have to stick up for your rights. When you’re treated badly, you have to stick up for your rights.”

Trump was betting that he was the only reason the large broadcast news organizations were getting good ratings during the televised debates. But viewer estimates and the number of people searching Google for live streams of the debate versus Trump’s event show that the debate was still more popular than the frontrunner’s stunt. As for the event, it was as phony as Hillary Clinton’s email security. His staff quickly posted a webpage, “Donald Trump for Vets,” asking visitors to “Honor their valor. Donate now to help our Veterans.” But the proceeds go to Trump’s personal foundation, which has given more than $100,000 to draft-dodging Bill Clinton and his wife — far more than to veterans’ causes.

Oh, and if Trump showed up for the debate, perhaps Kelly could have asked him why he wanted veterans, who are doing their best to make ends meet as street vendors, kicked off of 5th Avenue. Trump wrote a letter to his leftist friend, former mayor Michael Bloomberg, complaining of the vendors, “Whether they are veterans or not, they should not be allowed to sell on this most important and prestigious shopping street. The image of New York City will suffer.” He concluded, “I hope you can stop this very deplorable situation before it is too late.” The same could be said of his candidacy.

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Oregon’s Social Agenda Has No Moral Basis

Oregon is so politically correct it’s wrong. Harmony Daws used to work at Sparkling Palaces, a cleaning business based in Portland. But when her boss learned that she was recently elected as president of a pro-life group, she fired her, saying Daws’ pro-life beliefs caused her to discriminate against other employees. In a statement, Daws said, “Firing someone based on their religious or political beliefs is a civil rights violation. I’m a libertarian and I support my former employer’s right to hire and fire as she chooses. … [Fifty]-eight million children have lost their lives since 1973. Losing a job in my stand for their right to life was a small price to pay.”

Last July, Oregon’s Labor Commissioner ordered a small bakery pay $135,000 to a lesbian couple after the bakery refused to bake a cake for the couple’s state-sanctioned same-sex wedding. But Oregon isn’t just holding the line on the Left’s social agenda. Heck, even Martin Luther King Jr. isn’t “diverse” enough for some of the “enlightened” liberals in the state. At the University of Oregon, the Oregon Student Union discussed removing MLK’s quote — “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” — from the wall of the student center because the definition of “diversity” is, oh, so much more complex today than it was back then. The state is using its power to force an agenda that lacks any moral basis, ties to history or even rational thought.

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Picking to Pack the Supreme Court

By Michael Swartz

55, 61, 62, 66, 68, 78, 80 and 83.

No, these aren’t the latest Powerball numbers. They’re the ages of the nine justices of the Supreme Court as of Jan. 20, 2017. Assuming all of them survive this year, it’s likely that our next president could select three or more new members to the Court.

Those three highest numbers actually belong to four members of the Supreme Court: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be 83, both Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia turn 80 this year, and right behind them is Stephen Breyer. There are two each from the “conservative” and “liberal” wings of the Court — if Kennedy, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan after Senate Democrats shamefully “borked” Robert Bork, can be deemed something other than an unreliable and incoherent swing vote.

And while it may seem logical for Ginsburg and Breyer to step down now while a Democrat president can still appoint their replacements, the feisty Ginsburg, who is battling pancreatic cancer, has consistently thumbed her nose at those fellow liberals who suggested it. Back then, Democrats still had the Senate; liberals now know that window has closed. Barack Obama can name anyone he wants, but it’s not likely the Republican Senate would roll over without a fight for a SCOTUS nominee, even though they mostly have done just that for lower courts of late. Moreover, the Senate has an unwritten rule that they won’t act on filling judicial vacancies during the waning months of a president’s term.

But the impact of a president can be felt long after he is gone based on the Supreme Court justices he selects. Both Scalia and Kennedy were Reagan appointees, and they are still on the court 27 years after he left office and almost 12 years after his death. Imagine, for example, what sort of impact a President Ted Cruz or President Marco Rubio could have with three or four Supreme Court appointees.

On the other hand, we could see the death of constitutionalism if Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders were allowed to remake the High Court with their own lifetime appointees. We get the sense that Donald Trump would also work in this direction, given that he thinks his ultra-liberal, pro-abortion sister (a federal judge) would make a “phenomenal” Supreme Court justice. He has no constitutional moorings, leaving his decisions essentially guided by the roulette wheel at one of his casinos.

One man who won’t soon don a black robe is Barack Obama. In a shameless suck-up to the man who will ultimately decide whether she is indicted for her reckless handling of state secrets (and the man whose coalition she must mobilize if she has any chance of becoming president), Clinton gushed this week that placing Obama on the Supreme Court is “a great idea … I love that.”

Obama spokesman Josh Earnest, however, threw cold water on the prospect. “My guess,” said Earnest, “is that his aspirations for his post-presidency extend beyond a Supreme Court appointment.” Obama stated in 2014 he wasn’t interested in such a confining job. Tee times await, if not far bigger things like a shot at being secretary general of the UN.

This presidential election is a critical one for many reasons, but a key aspect is having the opportunity to make lifetime appointments throughout the federal judicial system and the Supreme Court in particular. In eight years, Obama has placed hundreds of left-wing activists in the nation’s appellate and district court system, many of whom replaced selections from the Reagan/Bush era. We will surely be stuck with his appointees for many years, which is all the more reason to keep Clinton from adding her touch to the bench.

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Erick Erickson: “Conservatives, particularly evangelicals, have lost their ability to discern wolves in sheep’s clothing. Donald Trump calls himself a Christian, but has never asked God for forgiveness and sees no need to repent. Point that out to many an evangelical Christian and they will be quick to accuse you of judging Donald Trump. And if you point out that 1 Corinthians 5 makes clear that Christians are to judge anyone who calls himself a Christian, Trump defenders will proclaim they are not electing a pastor. Paul wrote, ‘[Do not] associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler.’ The Bible also implores the faithful to seek out godly men for their leaders. … As Screwtape wrote to Wormwood, ‘[W]e want a man hag-ridden by the Future — haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth — ready to break the Enemy’s commands in the present if by so doing we make him think he can attain the one or avert the other — dependent for his faith on the success or failure of schemes whose end he will not live to see. We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.’ Many a pastor and Christian for Trump seems hag-ridden by the Future and ready to pursue a rainbow.”

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Insight: “Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burned women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.” —Justice Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941)

For the record: “[Ethanol] is government moonshine, and like moonshine in the 19th century, it’s sold as snake oil for what ails ya. … [T]he ethanol subsidy isn’t the reason we should get rid of the caucuses, it’s an illustration of the problem. We’ve created a monster. It hasn’t always picked the winner, but they all bent the knee to an un-representative cabal of consultants, politicians and plutocrats. In effect, the Iowa caucuses are a subsidy for the Iowa political establishment. Get rid of that subsidy, and maybe some others will go with it.” —Jonah Goldberg

Observations: “It was a very spirited debate, much more substantive than any other and there were almost none of the ad hominem insults that were heard in the earlier debates. It was a lot of hard questioning and tough exchanges, but it did not have anything to do … with the kind of personal level that we heard before. I’ll leave it to the viewers to figure out why.” —Charles Krauthammer

Alpha Jackass: “If the Republicans win, we’ll all lose. They want to roll back the clock on civil rights. They want to make it harder for African-Americans to vote — not easier. And they’ve got no plan to deal with gun violence or any of the issues we’re facing in our communities.” —Eric Holder

Braying Jackass: “Democrats will win in November, and we will have a Democratic president succeeding me — just in case there’s any confusion about that.” —Barack Obama

The BIG lie: “I’m not worried … about this party staying united. The other side may have some stuff to work out.” —Barack Obama (Actually, the Democrat Party is wrestling its own disarray.)

Late-night humor: “An analyst for Time magazine says the key to the survival of the Republican Party is bringing in young women. When told this, Bill Clinton said, ‘Hey man, that’s the key to every party.’” —Conan O'Brien

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