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Daily Digest

Feb. 25, 2016


“The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.” —Alexander Hamilton, 1775


Former NSA Chief Skeptical of FBI’s Backdoor Demand

When news broke last week that the FBI was demanding a backdoor into the iPhone of a San Bernardino terrorist, we cautioned that doing so wasn’t just a case of breaking into just this one phone this one time. The FBI was really asking two things: a backdoor to iPhones in general, and a legal precedent for using it. Apple is fighting the demand.

They’re not alone. No less than Michael Hayden, the former chief of both the NSA and CIA as well as a retired four-star Air Force general, isn’t convinced the government is right. “In this specific case,” he said, “I’m trending toward the government, but I’ve got to tell you in general I oppose the government’s effort, personified by FBI Director Jim Comey. Jim would like a backdoor available to American law enforcement in all devices globally. And, frankly, I think on balance that actually harms American safety and security, even though it might make Jim’s job a bit easier in some specific circumstances.”

Indeed, the government has more phones for Apple to crack.

Hayden also said rather honestly, “Look, I used to run the NSA, okay? Backdoors are good. Please, please, Lord, put back doors in, because I and a whole bunch of other talented security services around the world — even though that back door was not intended for me — that backdoor will make it easier for me to do what I want to do, which is to penetrate. … But when you step back and look at the whole question of American security and safety writ large, we are a safer, more secure nation without backdoors [because] a lot of other people would take advantage of it.”

And speaking of precedents, Apple CEO Tim Cook noted, “If a court can ask us to write this piece of software, think about what else they could ask us to write. Maybe it’s an operating system for surveillance. Maybe it’s the ability for law enforcement to turn on the camera. I mean I don’t know where this stops.” In other words, what is the limiting principle for government power?

Perhaps that’s one reason why Apple’s already developing a way to thwart the workaround the FBI seeks…

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Rick Perry Cleared of Governing While Republican

After costing him time, money, effort and possibly tarnishing his presidential bid, former Texas Governor Rick Perry on Wednesday was finally cleared of charges that he abused his office when he threatened a veto and then issued it in 2013. His real crime? “Governing While Republican.”

Perry said he would veto a bill funding the state’s Public Integrity Unit if its head, then-Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, didn’t step down. Why? Lehmberg had been arrested for driving with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit, and she was so belligerent with police officers that they strapped her into a restraint chair and slipped a spit mask over her. When she refused to resign, Perry vetoed the bill.

To a Democrat-influenced grand jury, Perry’s actions of, well, governing, meant he coerced a public servant and abused his office, and they issued an indictment. But Judge P.J. Keller, who wrote the court’s majority opinion dismissing the case, disagreed. “No law passed by the Legislature can constitutionally make the mere act of vetoing legislation a crime,” Keller wrote, and the court system cannot “examine the motives behind the veto or second-guess the validity of a veto.” Nevertheless, the frivolous prosecution did serve the Left’s goal: to stall a strong conservative’s political career. How much more support could the cowboy-boot wearing governor have generated if donors and voters weren’t wary that the indictment would stick?

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When Hunters Leave Africa

Last year, the bleedin’ heart liberals lost their collective mind over the fact that dentist Walter Palmer shot and killed a lion named Cecil during a hunting trip to Zimbabwe. Big whoop. Hunters go to Africa. They kill animals, and the licensing fees help the conservation efforts on the continent. But thanks to the outcry, hunters are no longer booking trips to the African Savanna. Now, the place where “Cecil the Lion” was bagged and tagged is facing a bit of a lion problem. The lion population at Bubye Valley Conservancy has ballooned to more than 500 felines. Combined with a dry summer that caused the grassland to grow stunted, the lions are laying waste to the other animal populations. As a result, the conservancy is saying it might have to go out and kill 200 lions.

“The astronomical fees foreign hunters paid to shoot animals in Africa directly supported the continent’s conservation efforts,” wrote The Truth About Guns’ Nick Leghorn. “It was a mutually beneficial, self-sustaining system. Now that the hunters are gone, there isn’t enough money to support Hwange National Park’s operation and the ecosystem is out-of-whack. Lions will be killed, anyway, without any of hunting’s enormous economic benefits.”

Furthermore, think of the economic loss to the region. Think of the lost jobs, the money not coming into the area because there are not the hunters willing to pay for lodging, food, transportation and guides. Anti-hunting groups had their field day, but they aren’t going to be concerned about the effects of their rabid protesting.

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Don’t Miss Alexander’s Column

Read The Trump Freight Train, on the three factors propelling Trump’s lead to the finish line.

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The Only Way to Beat Trump?

By Allyne Caan

Once upon a time, the idea of Donald Trump’s securing the Republican nomination for the presidency existed only in the realm of fantasy. But as primaries in four states now reside in the history books, and The Donald has claimed three wins and 81 delegates, fantasy is merging with possibility, if not quite yet reality.

True, Trump has a long way to go to reach the 1,237 delegates needed to cinch the nomination, but with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio a distant second and third (17 and 16 delegates, respectively), and the Trump train racing full-speed ahead, Republican “leadership” sentiment is shifting from “It will never happen” to “We’d better make sure it never happens.”

Short of Trump’s dropping out (sorry folks, not happening) or a sudden political catastrophe that stops his momentum — very unlikely since the more crazy things he says, the more his supporters like him — some are positing that a Rubio-Cruz unity ticket might be the way to derail the Trump train. Jonah Goldberg, for example, wrote, “One possibility [to stop Trump) would be for Rubio and Cruz to cut a deal. Republican disarray is largely attributable to the fact that no so-called ‘establishment candidate’ secured much support from the conservative grass roots, and no grass-roots candidate secured much support from the establishment. If the two factions — which make up the overwhelming majority of Republican voters — could be unified, it might be enough to stop Trump.”

Of course, the key word is “if.” And judging by the present state of affairs, it’s a pretty hefty “if.”

After all, the Cruz-Rubio feud has pitted the two against each other in an attempt to “out-conservative” the other, while Trump — anything but a conservative — climbs atop the mayhem en route to the plurality podium.

As Mark Alexander noted yesterday, “Shamefully, one of the key factors propelling Trump’s candidacy among the larger field of contenders is the absurdly self-defeating fratricidal attacks between Republicans, most notably Cruz and Rubio.” Cruz is trying to paint Rubio as an “establishment” candidate. Meanwhile, Rubio is touting his refusal to attack fellow Republicans; namely, Trump — while simultaneously attacking fellow Republicans; namely, Cruz. (Though there are signs Rubio is starting to go after Trump.)

Indeed, the race for second is awfully heated where the prize is more appropriately titled “first loser.”

Yet, if the two would bury the hatchet — or at least hide it — they could potentially catalyze a primary win for conservative principles. Again, Alexander pointed out, “[I]n national head-to-head matchups, where Trump faces only Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, he loses to both. But as long as Trump has three or more opponents, he’ll continue to win state primaries all the way to the GOP convention.”

Is a Rubio-Cruz (or Cruz-Rubio) ticket remotely possible? As David Harsanyi writes, “How likely could it be after all the bad blood? Well, it wouldn’t be unique. There were hard feelings between Reagan and the man who coined the phrase ‘voodoo economics,’ George H.W. Bush. The promise of power heals all wounds.”

While we’re not placing bets that Marco and Ted will hug and sing kumbaya any time soon, they should start seriously considering it. If they don’t, odds are increasing that Republicans may produce a nominee with a track record only a liberal could love.

A final thought from Charles C.W. Cooke: “[Thursday] night, as they stand on either side of Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz must find their resolve and all-but-machine-gun the man to the floor. Without breaks for water or silence for applause, they must explain that Trump is an entitled mess whose business record is so questionable that he managed to bankrupt a casino; that he is an unashamed fraud who didn’t even wait to be elected president before folding on Planned Parenthood and Obamacare, exactly like the ‘feckless’ Congress he is running against; that he is feigning religiosity to appeal to people he believes are rubes; and, above all, that whatever he may be pretending now, he has spent a lifetime screwing the little guy. They must repeat verbatim his previous words on amnesty; they must outline in detail how his policies will make life worse for everyone; and they must point out that a Trump nomination designed to ‘mix things up’ will result, eventually, in more of the same.”

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Jeff Jacoby: “Obama makes no secret of his eagerness to visit Cuba, but as recently as December he insisted that there would be no such trip until human rights and civil liberties on the island had improved. … By all accounts, the Castro regime’s repression has grown worse, not better, since the renewal of diplomatic ties with the United States in 2014. Beatings and arrests of dissidents have soared. There has been a crackdown on churches and religious groups. … [H]is desire to go to Havana isn’t about the plight of Cuba’s dissidents. It’s about making his diplomatic embrace of the Castro government a permanent fact of life. As deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters Thursday, the president’s goal is ‘to make this an irreversible policy.’ So far, Obama’s ‘engagement’ with the Castros hasn’t opened even a crack in their Stalinist system. It is folly to imagine that his trip next month will do anything to expand freedom or justice for Cuba’s beleaguered people. But, oh, what a boon it will be for their brutal rulers: the ultimate stamp of approval for the only totalitarian regime in the Americas. … From Cape Verde to Belize to Taiwan, there are worthy destinations aplenty for a president seeking to make a statement about American values and friendships. Cuba isn’t one of them, and Obama shouldn’t be going.”

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Insight: “A free society is as much a threat to the intellectual’s sense of worth as an automated economy is to the workingman’s sense of worth. Any social order that can function with a minimum of leadership will be anathema to the intellectual.” —Eric Hoffer (1902-1983)

The question: “[W]e are fighting for everything here and a plurality of the Right’s voters are sleepwalking in lockstep with the other side. How, one wonders, will future generations look back at this behavior? How will they comprehend that at the end of February 2016 under 10 percent of all super PAC spending had been trained on Donald Trump? How will they see John Kasich’s admission that he doesn’t know if he should even be president, or process that Ben Carson put the construction of his own political shopping network above the country he supposedly loved? And what will they make of the fact that Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio wasted so much time pretending that they meaningfully disagreed with each other? Now is the time to throw everything at Trump, and to stop this disaster in its tracks. Will our children wonder why we were so reluctant?” —Charles C.W. Cooke

Non Compos Mentis I: “We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.” —Donald Trump after winning Nevada

Non Compos Mentis II: “The polls show that I picked up many Jeb Bush supporters. … When others drop out, I will pick up more. Sad but true.” (Probably the truest words Trump has spoken the entire campaign season!)

“Well, this is one thing I agree with Donald Trump on — Planned Parenthood does amazing work for two and a half million patients every single year. I appreciate his kind words. We’re very proud of our work here.” —Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards

Profiles in courage: “I think the middle class would be better served by Hillary. I also think she’s the woman to be the first President of the United States that’s a female.” —Harry Reid endorsing Hillary Clinton … four days after his state’s Democrat caucus

Late-night humor: “Hillary came to Los Angeles and she visited the set of the political drama, ‘Scandal.’ There was an awkward moment when Hillary told the writers, ‘Man, have I got some ideas for you.’” —Conan O'Brien

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Managing Editor Nate Jackson

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