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Mid-Day Digest

Mar. 29, 2016


“[A]s peace is better than war, war is better than tribute.” —James Madison (1816)


Bad Policing Before and After Brussels

Could the Brussels attack have been prevented if Belgian law enforcement realized sooner the extent of the Islamist threat? At least in hindsight, the signs were glaringly obvious, and though the realization would have come at the eleventh hour, it might have been enough to prevent three jihadists from wheeling bomb-laden bags into the Brussels airport. When Belgian authorities arrested suspected Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam, they ignored the weapons and detonators investigators discovered in the safe house where they found Abdeslam’s fingerprints. They read him their version of the Miranda rights, waited for him to recover a bit from surgery, and never asked Abdeslam for details about a forthcoming attack.

“Abdeslam’s questioning is a textbook example of why the law enforcement model for interrogating terrorists is a disaster,” wrote Marc Thiessen, a counterterrorism research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “As we saw in Brussels, law enforcement officials are in no hurry to extract answers from a detainee, because they are questioning terrorists after an attack has occurred. Their goal is to extract a confession in order to secure a conviction. In such circumstances, patience is a virtue.”

For years, Belgian law enforcement lived in an alternate reality. It placed politically correct policing above national security. That allowed the festering of neighborhoods of jihadist sympathizers that helped shelter the Paris and Belgium attackers. The assumption was that the Islamic State didn’t have a network established in the country, and that Abdeslam was an anomaly from a threat still beheading people in the Syrian desert hundreds of miles away.

But as The New York Times makes painfully clear, the Islamic State was miles ahead of the Belgian police. Even before the group declared itself a caliphate, the Islamic State was sending jihadists to Europe with general directions and deadlines for small-scale attacks so that the network was obscured. Predictably, “enlightened” European leaders dismissed those attacks as isolated incidents perpetrated by mentally unstable lone wolves. Islam is the Religion of Peace™, after all. But the Islamic State was probing — hitting singles instead of swinging for the jihadist version of a homerun. Who knows how many cells are still in Europe, or how many are in the United States, waiting, planning?

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Obama Preparing to Placate Iran. Again.

A new report in The Washington Free Beacon suggests that pretty soon we could be adding another broken promise to the Obama legacy: “Leading foreign policy voices in Congress say they are preparing to fight against an Obama administration effort to provide Iran unprecedented access to U.S. financial resources as part of an expanded package meant to address new demands from the Islamic Republic’s for greater economic concessions. … The Obama administration is currently exploring new options to grant Iran more sanctions relief than promised under the comprehensive nuclear agreement reached last year, just days after Iran’s Supreme Leader gave a speech accusing the United States of interfering with Iranian banking.”

As Mark Dubowitz and Jonathan Schanzer note in The Wall Street Journal, “[T]he Obama administration vowed that the Islamic Republic would never get the ultimate prize: access to the U.S. financial system or dollar transactions. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew was adamant during a congressional grilling last July. ‘Iranian banks will not be able to clear U.S. dollars through New York,’ he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, or ‘hold correspondent account relationships with U.S. financial institutions, or enter into financing arrangements with U.S. banks.’ Yet as Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.) noted in a March 22 letter to the White House, Mr. Lew, during a Financial Services Committee hearing earlier that day, ‘appeared to leave the door open’ to Iran getting access to the U.S. financial system.”

Remember, Iran already received a $100-150 billion windfall when sanctions were lifted, all of which apparently has already been spent. (Can’t imagine on what.) Rep. Mike Pompeo quips, “As if a windfall of over $100 billion in sanctions relief was too small, and the massive cash influx into Iran from new business deals too paltry, President Obama appears to be looking for ways to make further concessions to Iran. This would be comical if it wasn’t so dangerous.” In his final year, the only thing Obama’s asking is: What’s one more broken promise? The sum of all lies is growing by the day.

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Is NATO Obsolete?

“NATO is costing us a fortune, and yes, we’re protecting Europe with NATO, but we’re spending a lot of money,” said Donald Trump last week. “I think NATO as a concept is good, but it’s not as good as it was when it first evolved.” He stood by the assessment this week — indeed, he went even further, calling NATO “obsolete” as well as “disproportionately” and “extremely” expensive for the U.S. “We should readjust NATO,” he said. “And it’s going to have to be either readjusted to take care of terrorism, or we’re going to have to set up a new coalition, a new group of the countries to handle terrorism, because terrorism is out of control.”

Trump may be relying on a national security team of one, so maybe he doesn’t realize NATO spent a decade fighting terrorism with the U.S. in Afghanistan. But that doesn’t mean he’s totally off the reservation. Dwight Eisenhower, who became supreme commander of NATO in 1951, once said, “If in 10 years, all American troops stationed in Europe for national defense purposes have not been returned to the United States, then this whole project [NATO] will have failed.” And an even greater American general-turned-president, George Washington, warned in his Farewell Address, “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world.”

In other words, as with immigration, trade and other issues, the concerns Trump raises are not unfounded. But his prescription depends on what he means by “readjusted.” In another interview, Trump gave some indication: “We are getting ripped off by every other country in NATO. They pay almost nothing.” It’s certainly fair to call on other NATO countries to carry their weight with defense. Far too many simply rely on the U.S. to do all the heavy lifting — besides the U.S., only Great Britain, Estonia, Greece and Poland spend more than 2% of GDP on defense, while 23 other NATO nations do not. But it’s also an exaggeration to say other nations — again, our allies — do nothing. Barack Obama has spent the last seven-plus years generally insulting our allies. Is it wise to pass the reins to someone seemingly so ready to continue that tradition? National security is a primary responsibility of a commander in chief. Half-right gut instincts aren’t going to cut it.

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For more, visit Right Opinion.


Vetoing Religious Liberty

By Paul Albaugh

On Monday, religious liberty took another hit when Georgia Republican Governor Nathan Deal vetoed a bill passed by the state legislature earlier this month. We have long warned that the path to same-sex marriage was a slippery slope because the Rainbow Mafia won’t stop their bullying until they get total acceptance of their way. And it’s made worse when proper protections can’t be put in place.

Deal apparently caved to the pressure of big business and chose to side with economic interests over Liberty and common sense. For a governor who has a reasonably conservative track record, this compromise on the principles of Liberty comes as a double blow. But it also demonstrates how the homosexual lobby along with big businesses that support that agenda won’t even tolerate the mildest form of protection for those who cherish religious freedom.

As the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson notes, “The Georgia religious freedom bill that Deal vetoed would have safeguarded clergy from having to officiate same-sex weddings, prevented faith-based organizations from being forced to hire someone who publicly undermines their mission, and prohibited the state government from discriminating against churches and their affiliated ministries because they believe marriage is between a man and a woman.”

But he also noted the bill was “the result of a series of compromises that significantly watered down the original version.” For example, the bill did not protect bakers, florists and other small business owners who might be involved in wedding ceremonies. Those are the ones who would benefit most from this legislation, but nevertheless several big business executives from Disney, Apple, Time Warner, Intel and Salesforce called governor Deal asking him to veto the legislation. The NFL and NCAA also threatened to yank future sporting events from the state.

Apparently the economic pressure, and threats of boycotts and of canceling football championships were too much for the governor and he sided with uncommon sense over the common good.

Anderson notes that in explaining his veto, Deal argued that the religious liberty bill “doesn’t reflect the character of our state or the character of its people.” He also added that states should not pass any religious freedom laws, for religious freedom “is best left to the broad protections of the First Amendment.”

Ideally, he’s correct, but the governor is missing the point behind the bill that he just vetoed. As Anderson notes, “Americans need both broad protections and specific protections.”

Yes it is true that the First Amendment shields Americans from government encroachment on religious freedom. But it is also true that the Rainbow Mafia is increasingly aggressive in its fascist efforts to enforce “tolerance” — to force individuals and businesses to either violate conscience or be charged with discrimination.

This bill was designed to protect pastors, churches and Christian schools in Georgia from being forced to comply with the demands of homosexual activists. It is not enough for the homosexual activists and big businesses that support them to recognize that there are already some so-called churches and religious organizations that do accept and promote their lifestyle. No, they want everyone to accept and celebrate it.

Where is the tolerance in this? If you believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, yet you can’t operate a business or a church on that belief, then where is the freedom? Obviously, there is no tolerance, only compliance, and if there isn’t compliance then there are and will be penalties.

Deal missed the perfect opportunity to take a stand for the truth. And by not taking a stand on principle, the liberty of the pastors, churches and religious schools in the Peach State is jeopardized, while the Rainbow Mafia is emboldened by a victory.

Our culture has and is changing, and for that reason alone it is essential that state and local governments preserve liberty for those who desire to maintain the traditional view of marriage being between one man and one woman.

There will be numerous legal challenges ahead, regardless of the outcome in Georgia. While this battle for religious liberty was lost, the war for our culture will continue. We must not cave to the pressures from those who seek to strip away one of our most fundamental freedoms.

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For more, visit Patriot Headline Report


Thomas Sowell: “[T]he ‘advice and consent’ provision of the Constitution is a restriction on the President’s power, not an imposition of a duty on the Senate. It says nothing about the Senate’s having a duty to hold hearings, or vote, on any Presidential nominee, whether for the Supreme Court or for any other federal institution. The power to consent is the power to refuse to consent, and for many years no hearings were held, whether the Senate consented or did not consent. … When the shoe was on the other foot, the Republicans made the same arguments as the Democrats are making today, and the Democrats made the same arguments as the Republicans are now making. The obvious reason, in both cases, is that the party controlling the Senate wants to save the appointment for their own candidate for the Presidency to make after winning the upcoming election. The rest is political hypocrisy on both sides. … If judges confined themselves to acting like judges, instead of legislating from the bench, creating new ‘rights’ out of thin air that are nowhere to be found in the Constitution, maybe Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominees would not be such bitter and ugly ideological battles. Chief Justice Roberts himself practically repealed the 10th Amendment’s limitation on federal power when he wrote the decision that the government could order us all to buy ObamaCare insurance policies. When judges act like whores, they can hardly expect to be treated like nuns. Politicians, journalists and judges should all spare us pious hypocrisy.”

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Insight: “[T]he burden of government is not measured by how much it taxes, but by how much it spends.” —Milton Friedman (1912-2006)

Circle the wagons: “Legally … there is a big bar that you have to get over to prosecute anybody for these crimes, much less somebody who is running for president. … [W]e can’t have a system in which we are constantly charging people who are running for president of crimes.” —Ron Fournier defending Hillary Clinton (Then maybe we shouldn’t have criminals running for president.)

The BIG Lie: “Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest and trustworthy.” —Jill Abramson, former executive editor of the New York Times

Another swipe at the Obama legacy: “People in both parties are upset by the fact that 80% of the American people haven’t gotten a pay raise since the crash.” —Bill Clinton

Village Idiots: “[The Republicans’] rhetoric is also counterproductive when it comes to protecting the American people. And that’s a significant problem, particularly when you’re the commander in chief and you are on the hook. You are the one that’s primarily responsible for the safety and security of the American people.” —Josh Earnest

Anything but Islam: “We have had more than our share of mass killings. Some committed by inspired terrorists, but the vast majority committed by American citizens living here who have access to firearms. Newtown was an example of that. All those young children killed by an American citizen. So the bigger threat at the moment is from our own citizens than from those abroad.” —NYPD Commissioner William Bratton

Late-night humor: “I read that George Clooney emailed Hillary Clinton supporters a letter endorsing her for president. Or as Hillary put it, ‘That’s one email I’ll never delete.’” —Jimmy Fallon

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Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis!
Managing Editor Nate Jackson

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