Mid-Day Digest

Feb. 17, 2017

IN TODAY’S EDITION

  • The media was taken to the woodshed Thursday at Trump’s press conference.
  • Get ready for travel ban 2.0, as Trump issues a better order on refugee vetting.
  • What’s the story with Trump and Russia?
  • Daily Features: Top Headlines, Cartoons, Columnists and Short Cuts.

THE FOUNDATION

“During the course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been levelled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare.” —Thomas Jefferson (1805)

TOP RIGHT HOOKS

Trump Eviscerates the Mainstream Media

Donald Trump held a White House news conference Thursday in what turned into a presidential dressing down — he took the mainstream media to the woodshed.

Trump, clearly most comfortable in his off-the-cuff style, took umbrage with the Leftmedia’s coverage of his presidency, saying, “The media is trying to attack our administration because they know we are following through on pledges we made, and they’re not happy about it.” He contended, “I turn on the TV, open the newspapers, and I see stories of chaos. Yet it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine, despite the fact that I can’t get my cabinet approved.”

When asked by CNN’s Jim Acosta, “Aren’t you concerned, sir, that you are undermining the people’s faith in the First Amendment, freedom of the press … when you call stories you don’t like ‘fake news’?” Trump slyly delivered the best line of the press conference: “I’m changing it from fake news, though. Very fake news.” He continued, “It’s so important to the public to get an honest press. The public doesn’t believe you people anymore.”

Continuing the topic of the mainstream media’s untrustworthiness, Trump opined, “Unfortunately, much of the media … speaks not for the people but for the special interests and for those profiting off of a very, very obviously broken system. The press has become so dishonest. … The level of dishonesty is out of control.”

Trump also expressed the reasoned sentiment that prompted millions of Americans to vote for him: “I ran for president to represent the citizens of our country. I am here to change the broken system so it serves their families and their communities well. I am taking on this very entrenched power structure. … As a result, the media is going through what they have to go through to distort … but we’re not going to let it happen.”

“I won with news conferences and probably speeches,” he elaborated. I certainly didn’t win by people listening to you people. That’s for sure. But I’m having a good time. Tomorrow, they will say, ‘Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.’ I’m not ranting and raving. I’m just telling you. You know, you’re dishonest people. But I’m not ranting and raving. I love this. I’m having a good time doing it.“

We could tell.

The motivating factor for the press conference was the media reports of spies keeping intelligence from Trump. CIA Director Mike Pompeo flatly denied that charge, stating, "The CIA does not, has not and will never hide intelligence from the president. Period. We are not aware of any instance when that has occurred. [Wednesday’s] Wall Street Journal report is dead wrong and impugns the integrity of thousands of professional intelligence officers by peddling gossip without citing a single example supporting its claims.” And the Office of the Director of National Intelligence denied the story as well saying, “Any suggestion that the U.S. Intelligence Community is withholding information and not providing the best possible intelligence to the president and his national security team is not true.”

As a side note, though: Remember Evan McMullin, the former CIA agent and third-party “Republican” candidate who opposed Trump? He has now made opposing Trump his full time job. Just keep in mind that it’s possible McMullin is one of the conduits for the CIA leaks designed to damage Trump.

In any case, Trump is correct to call out the mainstream media for its continued negative, antagonistic and dishonest reporting. Much of the media has become little more than a leftist propaganda machine and a willing accomplice in what may best be described as Barack Obama’s shadow government.

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Trump’s Travel Ban 2.0

A week ago, we asked if Donald Trump could win by losing. The issue was his temporary travel ban, first blocked by a federal judge and then stifled by the Ninth Circuit Court. Trump was perfectly correct legally, but he could have executed better, and we hoped he’d skip the next appeal and craft a better order. At his press conference Thursday, Trump still insisted he’s going to appeal, but also noted that he’ll issue a new order next week: “The new order is going to be very much tailored to what I consider to be a very bad decision.”

The Washington Examiner’s Daniel Allott explains the problem with the original order: “Trump’s initial executive order, issued in late January, raised constitutional and humanitarian questions as nobody seemed to know exactly who was barred from the county. The poorly written order created confusion, as travelers from affected countries who were in transit were detained at airports. The order was enforced against people who already had visas, including permanent U.S. residents.”

Trump’s objective with a temporary ban is to implement better vetting for incoming refugees — clearly, that’s desirable. The seven nations subject to a temporary ban (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan) are particularly troublesome in this regard. Bleeding heart liberals fuss that we should welcome all refugees with open arms, but how are we to tell the difference between a person genuinely displaced by regional violence and a person — maybe even genuinely displaced — who is bent on causing havoc or death here in the U.S.? It’s not as if people always tell the truth about their intentions. Democrats should know this better than anyone, given their expertise in deception.

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Top Headlines

  • Border wall could save taxpayers five times its cost over 10 years. (CNS News)

  • Trump wisely drops the fight against the travel ban ruling, and plans to replace it with a new executive order. (The Washington Times)

  • Nearly two million non-citizen Hispanics illegally registered to vote. (The Washington Times)

  • Grassroots conservatives have an advocate in Trump’s budget chief. (Associated Press)

  • Trump nominates Alexander Acosta for labor secretary. (The Washington Post)

  • House Oversight Chairman Chaffetz refers Clinton aide Bryan Pagliano to DOJ for charges. (Hot Air)

  • 14 arrested in raids related to $16 million food stamp fraud. (CBS Baltimore)

  • Washington State Supreme Court rules against florist in same-sex wedding “discrimination” case. (Seattle Times)

  • Media Analysis: The MSM is comfortable with fake news. (National Review)

  • ObamaCare subsidies projected to more than double over the next decade. (Washington Free Beacon)

  • Policy: GOP leaders release details of plan to replace ObamaCare. (The Daily Signal)

  • Policy: Do whites benefit disproportionately from welfare? (National Review)

For more, visit Patriot Headline Report.

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FEATURED RIGHT ANALYSIS

Seeing Russia From the White House

By Michael Swartz

For close to a century, America and Russia have been on opposite sides of a philosophical divide. America is the shining city on a hill, beacon of Liberty and free-market capitalistic powerhouse, while Russia has retained much of the mindset that’s made it a den of czarist and communist tyranny for centuries. The fleeting moment of detente created during the Reagan/Gorbachev era has long since departed, and, since the ascension of Vladimir Putin, the Russian bear has sought to sink its teeth into its erstwhile Soviet province of the Ukraine and surrounding regions while threatening NATO allies, including the Baltic states.

Mitt Romney was right in 2012: Russia is our greatest geopolitical opponent.

Those of us of a certain age still recall the constant Cold War threat of the Soviet Union, and how some presidents dealt more forcefully with them than others. Yet Donald Trump has spoken glowingly about Putin, even going so far as to slam America by way of dismissing concerns about Putin. When news broke about Russian hacking into the DNC computer system — with the politically embarrassing results eventually released via WikiLeaks — many presumed it was done in order to make sure Trump was elected. Since November, that’s the narrative Democrats have hung their hat on. Never mind that Hillary Clinton ran a dreadfully incompetent campaign — it was Russia’s fault!

With several close Trump associates also having Russian ties, the smoke was enough to get the Democrats — and a handful of Republicans — yelling, “fire!” Despite those allegations, which began coming out well before last November’s election, the American people chose Trump over Hillary “Reset Button” Clinton.

Since November, though, we’ve been treated to constant Leftmedia messaging about how much influence Russia has over Trump. Recent revelations of contact between his now-former National Security Advisor Gen. Michael Flynn and Russian intelligence fit right into that template. When it was learned that Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence about those conversations, there was little choice but for Flynn to go, even though there’s been no evidence of his criminal wrongdoing.

Emboldened, the allegations have spread, The New York Times tells us, to Trump “campaign aides” who had “repeated contacts with Russian intelligence” last year. Under a different president, this would scarcely have merited mention, but not with Trump. Everything old is new again, and felonious leaks of classified information are considered whistleblowing instead of criminal activity. (Scooter Libby, call your office.) The narrative at The Washington Post is now that Trump has a “credibility gap.”

Yet if we read between the lines, we find the Times and Post are parsing words and making the largest mountain they can out of a molehill of occasional contacts by unnamed Trump associates. “It is unclear whether the conversations had anything to do with Mr. Trump himself,” the Times sheepishly admitted deep in its article, after misleading with a killer headline implying just the opposite.

To step back and take a sober look at the situation is to know the following: There are three Trump aides who have departed from the campaign or administration due to close Russian ties, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has a long relationship with Russia as well, including the receipt of one of Moscow’s highest civilian awards, the Order of Friendship. Paul Manafort, who left the Trump campaign last fall, spent five years advising former Ukraine Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, who was ousted in 2014 and reportedly has safe haven in Russia. Manafort allegedly received over $12 million from Yanukovich’s pro-Russian political party over the period. So one could reasonably be concerned by the closeness between Russia and Trump, especially when the Russians rattle sabers as they have a couple times of late.

That is to say there’s reason to keep a watchful eye.

On the other hand, there are political hacks in the intelligence community who have a more sinister purpose in mind — discrediting Trump in service to their master, Barack Obama. Retired Col. James Waurishuk says that some “in the intelligence community are using intelligence apparatus and tools to be used politically against an administration official.” Retired CIA Clandestine Service agent Frederick Rustmann was more blunt: “I would not be surprised if Trump did not finish four years because of the vendetta [those who leaked the classified information] have out for him.”

One thing this whole Russia diversion has clearly done, though, is slow the ambitious Trump agenda of his first 100 days. His cabinet picks are being confirmed at a glacial pace, and it’s taking a Republican Senate that’s utilizing the “nuclear option” put in place by Harry Reid to get nominees through on party-line votes. Yet as this scandal-in-the-making drags on, the pressure will mount on Republicans to turn on Trump as they eventually did on Richard Nixon.

If Vladimir Putin wanted to sow the seeds of discontent in Washington to provide a distraction as he strings the old Soviet empire back together, he’s certainly found some allies among his fellow travelers in the Leftmedia, the Democrat Party and, evidently, in our own intelligence community.

None of that, unfortunately, means there isn’t something to the feeling that all isn’t quite right about Trump and Russia. It’s up to him and his administration — and maybe Congress — to clear the air.

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MORE ANALYSIS FROM THE PATRIOT POST

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

For more, visit Right Opinion.

OPINION IN BRIEF

David Limbaugh: “The Left doesn’t care about the truth of the matter. Once liberals obtained what they considered a colorable morsel of damning evidence, they insisted their fears about Trump were already vindicated. He was guilty as charged. Except that he wasn’t. … Trump got off to an incredibly impressive start, but liberals have now delivered a blow to his momentum, and they are poised to finish the job. They are strategically placed in our cultural institutions and throughout our vast bureaucracy and are coordinating in every state to stage planned protests that look spontaneous. Richly funded by George Soros and other like-minded America haters, they are inspired by the shadow leadership of former President Obama and his activist organization formed for this very purpose. I will not defend misconduct on the part of elected officials and their appointees — if it actually occurs — just because they are Republicans. But I am not going to sit by silently as the Left continues to smear and sabotage this newly inaugurated president based on shards of facts that don’t prove their allegations.”

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SHORT CUTS

Insight: “The single most exciting thing you encounter in government is competence, because it’s so rare.” —Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003)

Blood in the water: “Gen. Flynn’s resignation is not the end of the story. It is merely the beginning.” —Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

“In the days and weeks ahead, the Trump administration has many serious questions to answer. These questions must be asked by independent and unbiased law enforcement officers. … I hope our Republican colleagues will join us in this call because the crisis here rises above party.” —Chuck Schumer

The bottom line: “The puzzle remains. Why did Flynn lie? Until we answer that, the case of the cover-up in search of a crime remains unsolved.” —Charles Krauthammer

Alpha Jackass: “The one thing Congress has done on guns since Sandy Hook is to make it easier for very mentally ill people to get guns. Think about being a parent in Sandy Hook and knowing that the only thing that Congress has done since that massacre is to make it easier for people like [Sandy Hook killer] Adam Lanza to get their hands on assault weapons. This is outrageous.” —Sen. Chris Murphy

And last… “For pundits on the Left, the idea that conservatives can judge the presidency issue by issue is completely unacceptable. As important as attacking Trump is, depicting conservatives as fellow travelers who enable fascism confirms every preconceived notion they harbor about the Right.” —David Harsanyi

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Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Managing Editor Nate Jackson

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