Mid-Day Digest

Mar. 24, 2017

IN TODAY’S EDITION

  • Trump tells House Republicans he’s done negotiating on health care. Will it work?
  • The wiretapping saga continues to be a distraction.
  • There are many challenges in building a border wall, but it’s pretty important.
  • Daily Features: Top Headlines, Cartoons, Columnists and Short Cuts.

THE FOUNDATION

“From the Nature of the Constitution, I must approve all parts of a Bill, or reject it in total. To do the latter can only be Justified upon the clear and obvious grounds of propriety; and I never had such confidence in my own faculty of judging as to be over tenacious of the opinions I may have imbibed in doubtful cases.” —George Washington (1793)

TOP RIGHT HOOKS

The Trump Ultimatum

Donald Trump’s vision for government is not a limited one, and he is not a conservative in any meaningful sense (which doesn’t mean some results aren’t conservative, but stick with us). Paul Ryan’s goal is a government that works efficiently for the best price — he is generally conservative, but technocratically so. Moderate and establishment Republicans want favorable media coverage and to be considered the “serious” ones. Members of the House Freedom Caucus are ideologically committed to limited government.

The necessity of these groups working together to repeal and replace ObamaCare has brought Washington to where it is now: an apparent impasse. A planned Thursday House vote on the GOP’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) was postponed until at least Friday afternoon because Freedom Caucus members still had a list of demands. If more than 22 House Republicans vote against the bill, it will fail in the face of united Democrat opposition. Whether enough palms can be greased in backroom deals remains to be seen.

The Congressional Budget Office didn’t help matters, releasing an updated estimate Thursday night based on changes made to the legislation. The updated bill wouldn’t cut the deficit as much as the first version, while still leaving 24 million more Americans uninsured. There are plenty of problems with the CBO’s analysis, but that doesn’t change the media narrative.

Conservatives generally hate the bill that Trump calls “a great plan!” But Trump issued an ultimatum — straight out of “The Art of the Deal” — to House Republicans to pass the AHCA because he’s done negotiating. If the bill fails, he says he’ll move on to other priorities. As veteran political strategist Dick Morris put it, “Like a rug buyer at a Turkish bazaar, Donald Trump has tired of haggling and is walking away, looking over his shoulder to see if the seller is chasing after him, agreeing to his price.” Just wait for Trump to then blame the Tea Party for saving ObamaCare.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), the Freedom Caucus’s longest-serving member of Congress, doesn’t want that narrative to take hold. “You want to score a touchdown, but sometimes, on the fourth down, you kick a field goal,” he said. “The choice is yes or no. I’m not going to vote no and keep ObamaCare. That’d be a stupid damn vote.”

Oh, by the way, the Senate will have something to say about it, so whatever the House does is a long way from any final version.

Perhaps the greatest irony in all of this is that GOP primary voters chose a man to blow up Washington and the Republican Party. And now they’re mad at what’s happening amidst the wreckage.

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Little New News From Nunes

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) stated again Thursday that he had seen intelligence reports which included names of Americans associated with Donald Trump’s transition that had been incidentally collected in intelligence monitoring. Nunes said, “What I’ve read seems to be some level of surveillance activity, perhaps legal, but I don’t know that it’s right and I don’t know if the American people would be comfortable with what I’ve read.” What’s not legal is leaking that information, which was most likely done by leftover Barack Obama lackeys.

On its face it may appear that Nunes' statements contradict those of FBI Director James Comey, who testified this past Monday that there was no evidence supporting Trump’s allegation that Obama ordered a targeted surveillance of Trump and his campaign. But a closer examination suggests otherwise. The key words being “incidental collection.”

Comey confirmed that an investigation into Russian interference into the election was initiated and remains ongoing. He also confirmed that the investigation is looking into any possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign. None of this is new news. Nunes' statements agree with Comey’s testimony in that there was no targeted surveillance of the Trump team, but that doesn’t rule out that intelligence was collected. It’s a bit of a game of semantics. The trouble is that Trump’s reckless tweet earlier this month accusing Obama of “wiretapping” has, unfortunately, served to muddy the water and needlessly diminished his credibility.

Trump’s fight with the media and Democrats over controlling the election investigation narrative is only proving to cloud legitimate questions on the scope and legality of government’s surveillance into Russian interference. It does little good for Trump to continually make a habit of throwing out demonstrably false or factually inaccurate statements, even if they contain elements of generalized truth. Trump should be communicating with disciplined and thoughtful statements that expose the truth or state an important policy position. He needs to leave conjecture to others.

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Top Headlines

  • Freedom Caucus' list of demands (Washington Examiner)

  • New Analysis: ObamaCare regulations drove up premium costs by up to 68%. (The Daily Signal)

  • Obama emerges to defend his health care law (The Washington Times)

  • Grassley: If Democrats filibuster Gorsuch, they’d filibuster anybody. (Washington Examiner)

  • Federal law enforcement resources overwhelmingly spent on immigration crime. (The Washington Free Beacon)

  • Trump approves Keystone pipeline. (The Hill)

  • Stalinist North Korea blasts Trump’s immigration policies: Treating aliens “like criminals.” As opposed to North Korea, which treats its citizens as prisoners. (CNS News)

  • Man deported four times accused of child sex assault, two stabbings in New York. (NBC Houston)

  • National Safety Council: Lowest accidental firearms-related deaths since 1903. (The Truth About Guns)

  • U.S. Senate votes to overturn Obama broadband privacy rules. (Reuters)

  • Policy: U.S. energy boom depends on deregulation. (Investor’s Business Daily)

  • Policy: A tale of two economic crises foretold. (U.S. News & World Report)

For more, visit Patriot Headline Report.

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FEATURED RIGHT ANALYSIS

The Barriers to the Wall

By Brian Mark Weber

The border wall became a powerful and controversial symbol of Donald Trump’s candidacy, and now his presidency, but it wasn’t that long ago that the idea of a wall was embraced by both parties as a reasonable and common sense measure to address illegal immigration.

For years, most Americans didn’t give the project a second thought. About one quarter of the border already features a physical barrier constructed in the 1990s. But now that Trump’s contribution is about to get underway, serious obstacles (no pun intended) may very well keep the “big, beautiful wall” from ever living up to the image engrained into the American consciousness.

In the 1990s, Bill Clinton asserted, “We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it.” Sounds a lot like President Trump, doesn’t it? And at the time, both Republicans and Democrats supported the idea.

In 2006, the Secure Fence Act moved through both houses of Congress to be signed into law by George W. Bush. The act called for several hundred miles of triple-fencing. Neither the Clinton- nor Bush-era border plans faced significant opposition, but as hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens became millions, any semblance of bipartisanship on the issue came to end.

The real political chasm developed when Democrats recognized the tremendous benefit of turning immigrants (and their children) into a long-term constituency. At the same time, establishment Republicans realized the value of cheap labor and certain other elements of the conservative coalition fell in line.

Democrats moved even further to the Left by embracing amnesty and characterizing any attempt to limit immigration (legal or illegal) as antithetical to the values of our country. They then brought out the race card against anyone who opposed amnesty and turned illegal immigrants into victims deserving of constitutional protections and government services.

Characteristically, Republicans had no response other than tripping over themselves to reach across the aisle while parroting the phrase “comprehensive immigration reform.” That is, until Donald Trump made the wall a cornerstone of his presidential candidacy.

But to go from the bold idea of a wall to the actual construction of it may be a considerable challenge — we are talking about the federal government, after all. But this doesn’t mean giving into the Democrats.

Some of these challenges include the public’s high expectations, the geography of the Rio Grande, the reality of funding (don’t expect Mexico to pay up), and the necessity to acquire private property to build portions of the wall. To address many of these issues, Trump’s plan even calls for additional attorneys to litigate a wide range of logistical issues.

As for the problem of building along a river that traverses hundreds of miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, the Rio Grande itself has been a natural barrier to illegal immigration for years. But the Trump administration wants to build there anyway. Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott opposes this idea, as well as Trump’s plan to build the wall through the Big Bend National Park. Thus, the wall is becoming one of those government projects (like prisons and waste disposal facilities) that Americans overwhelmingly support but don’t want in their own backyards. And that’s a real problem.

Looking back, one wonders if Trump over-sold the wall. Had Candidate Trump simply pushed for sections of it to complement a broad range of border-enforcement measures, many of the current problems could have been avoided. But now everyone is expecting something “big and beautiful,” even if they don’t support it.

What’s interesting is that illegal immigration is already dropping precipitously, but not because of any specific action. The mere fact of Trump’s stand on the issue has resulted in thousands of illegals leaving the country on their own and has stopped even more from trying in the first place.

The good news for conservatives is that President Trump seems to be tackling immigration from multiple angles. The wall by itself won’t completely stop the flow of illegal aliens and drug dealers, but a more multi-faceted approach will help.

At the same time, Trump made the wall such a critical component of his campaign that it’s come to symbolize his presidency. In other words, Trump must not only build this wall to protect our southern border; he must build it if he hopes to have a successful presidency.

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MORE ANALYSIS FROM THE PATRIOT POST

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

For more, visit Right Opinion.

OPINION IN BRIEF

Rich Lowry: “After Republicans accused the Democratic Congress of jamming through an Obamacare bill in eight months, they have been trying to pass their own hugely consequential bill in four weeks. If the Republican leadership hasn’t covered itself in glory, neither has the rank and file. The conservative Freedom Caucus says it wants a ‘full repeal’ and laments that the party isn’t simply passing the repeal-only it sent to President Barack Obama’s desk in 2016. But that bill also left core Obamacare regulations in place. What many of these conservatives really mean when they say they want ‘full repeal’ is that they don’t want a replacement, which is even less defensible than what the leadership has been trying to do. The fact is that the party is deeply conflicted on a promise it has made to voters for years, and it shows in the patchwork House bill. Paul Ryan is the wonk, and Donald Trump is the populist, and neither did his job in formulating and pushing an incoherent bill that will lead to fewer people having insurance. Even if they manage to pull off the major political win of getting their bill through Congress, they won’t be done with it — no, not for a very long time.”

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SHORT CUTS

Insight: “It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.” —David Hume (1711-1776)

Upright: “This situation is not sustainable, nor is it acceptable. Republicans believe the office of the president comes with some inherent dignity. President Trump is hurting that dignity and himself. Polling suggests white voters, white men, and Republicans are souring on the constant distractions and on the president himself. If someone gave President Trump a Samsung Galaxy Note 7, it would probably self-destruct. The president would then be on a Twitter hiatus, which just might be the best thing for his presidency.” —Erick Erickson

Non Compos Mentis: “Mandatory voting would drastically increase civic participation and transform the political arena by making politicians more reflective of the constituents that elected them.” —New York assemblywoman Deborah Glick, whose proposed legislation would violate the Constitution by implementing a $10 fine for failing to vote

Non Compos Mentis: “The preliminary indications we have was that this was a consensual encounter, not a rape in any sense. … It’s not just what has been in the initial sensational headline.” —attorney David Moyse, legal representative for illegal immigrant Henry Sanchez-Milian, who allegedly raped a teenage girl at Rockville High School

Braying Jenny: “The fact is, if this [health care] bill were to fail today — rookie day — I stand ready to negotiate with [Republicans] on how we can go forward, incorporating some of their ideas — saving face for them in some areas, but doing what is right for the American people.” —Nancy Pelosi

And last… “No one should be fooled. [Democrats' threat to filibuster Neil Gorsuch] isn’t about principles; it’s about power. The Democrats are still seething at the GOP’s raw exercise of power in blocking Merrick Garland’s nomination, and now the Democrats are responding with their own power play.” —David French

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Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Managing Editor Nate Jackson

Join us in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families.