Mid-Day Digest

Sep. 12, 2017


  • As Texas and Florida recover from hurricanes, a shortage of construction workers looms.
  • The UN Security Council once again unanimously issues further sanctions on North Korea.
  • GOP infighting continues apace, but to what end?
  • Daily Features: Top Headlines, Cartoons, Columnists and Short Cuts.


“When Men are employ’d they are best contented.” —Benjamin Franklin (1771)


Construction Worker Shortage Acute After Hurricanes

The demand for construction workers, which was already high before Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, will now become even more acute as Texas and Florida seek to rebuild. Just this past June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were 225,000 construction job openings — a 30% jump from last year and a 125% increase since 2012. The Associated General Contractors of America anticipates that a whopping 86% of construction firms nationwide will be seeking to hire workers.

The trouble is there’s a shortage of workers. And that shortage is not due to low pay, as construction workers and day laborers’ wages have steadily increased. In Texas, for example, carpenters’ wages have increased 55% in just three years to an average of $25 an hour. There are three primary factors that have contributed to the shortage. First, after the last housing boom and ensuing downturn, a lot of construction workers left the industry, either for other jobs or retirement. Second, there are fewer young men pursuing trade and vocational education, further depleting the pool. Third, Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration has impacted the industry.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a significant amount of the cleanup and rebuilding was done by illegal alien workers. In Louisiana 29% of construction workers were illegals; in Texas it was 23% and in Florida 15%. That’s by no means a recommendation for illegal labor but rather an explanation for the shortage.

It’s estimated that around 30,000 homes were destroyed by Harvey in Houston, and the damage from Irma is yet to be assessed. Fortunately, Florida was spared greater damage by Irma’s ultimate course, but homes and businesses statewide will need repairs and the rebuilding will be going on for years to come.

First, Trump should work with Congress on an Irma disaster relief package that includes more guest-worker visas to immediately cover worker shortages. Second, more young people should be encouraged to seek vocational skills and apprenticeship programs, which can set them on rewarding career paths while avoiding higher educational debt. The truth is that college isn’t for everyone, but work is. Especially when rebuilding from hurricanes.

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Unanimous: New Sanctions Against North Korea

The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously Monday to impose new restrictive sanctions against North Korea. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley stated, “Today we are saying the world will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.” Haley continued, “We are not looking for war. North Korea has not yet passed the point of no return.”

This latest round of sanctions is the most restrictive to date, covering some 90% of North Korea’s exports. Energy imports to the rogue country are significantly reduced — oil imports by 30%, capped at four million barrels annually, while natural gas imports are banned entirely. There will also be an embargo placed on all of the hermit nation’s textile trade, accounting for some $760 million in revenue last year.

It’s significant to note that this resolution was unanimously agreed upon. Both China and Russia, by far Kim Jong Un’s largest trade partners, are concerned enough about his ongoing illegal missile and nuclear weapon development programs to side with the U.S. in seeking to stop him. Thus far China has been happy to leverage Kim’s aggressive behavior as an opportunity for covering over its own regional power grab, as well as for tipping the scales of trade with the U.S. in its own favor. Russia and China have repeatedly called for the U.S. to dismantle the missile defense system it set up in South Korea known as THAAD, which Haley called “insulting” for their false moral equivalence between the U.S. and North Korea.

But these latest sanctions, and the unanimity of the vote, should go a long way in further pressuring and isolating the rogue nation from the rest of the world, while encouraging other nations in the region. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the resolution “raises the pressure on North Korea to an unprecedented new level and expresses the clear will of the international community that we must change the policies of North Korea.”

One thing is for certain: Donald Trump is doing everything in his power to reel in the fat tyrant, short of declaring war. We hope it doesn’t come to that.

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Top Headlines

  • It’s official: Debt tops $20 trillion for first time; jumps $317,645,000,000 in 1 day (CNS News)

  • Battered Florida tries to assess scope of Irma’s destruction — 13 million without power (Associated Press)

  • When the lights go out in a hurricane, blame climate change policies, not climate change (Washington Examiner)

  • Illegal immigration in Southwest doubled over past four months, but still lower than under Obama (The Washington Times)

  • White House: Border wall funding doesn’t have to be tied to DACA legislation (The Hill)

  • Dems fall in line on single-payer, as Sanders prepares to launch Medicare-for-all “campaign” (Fox News)

  • Half off: Retailers slash prices on Hillary book before it even hits the shelves (The Daily Wire)

  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been pushing the Trump White House to demand that Israel return millions in military aid (The Washington Free Beacon)

  • Menendez aide: You bet he committed official acts on behalf of donor (Hot Air)

  • ESPN continues ratings slide for politicizing sports as show cohost calls Trump “white supremacist” (DCF)

  • Policy: How Uncle Sam tempts people into hurricanes’ paths. (New York Post)

  • Policy: To help the middle class, cut payroll taxes. (Real Clear Policy)

For more, visit Patriot Headline Report.

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What’s the Point of Republican Infighting?

By Paul Albaugh

If there was ever a time when Republicans in Washington should be accomplishing a lot, it’s now. Sadly, since the election of Donald Trump and with Republicans holding majorities in both the House and the Senate, much of the president’s agenda is stalled. Republicans have failed to push it through simply because there is so much infighting within the party. No wonder people hate the swamp.

Republicans in Congress are acting more like a fratricidal circus than a political party. At a time when they should be uniting together, advancing a conservative agenda (or at least rolling back some of the last eight years) and working for the people who elected them, the opposite is happening. Thus, virtually nothing is being done, and if something is accomplished it’s usually so full of compromises with Democrats that it doesn’t make a difference.

Trump won the election because people are fed up with the political class in Washington, and Trump promised to take down the establishment. He campaigned on “draining the swamp,” and his strident rhetoric, nationalist sentiments and populist appeal resonated for many. People overall were — and still are — tired of their senators and representatives not doing what they said they would do once they arrived in Washington, and people were — and still are — hoping Trump could change the status quo.

As Rich Lowry writes, “If Republicans didn’t hate their own leaders, Trump never would have won the nomination or become president in the first place.”

Since the election, however, little has changed within the halls of Congress. Specifically, Republicans in Congress who have been there for decades have opposed Trump’s agenda since before he was even elected. They clearly did not get the message that people were tired of the business-as-usual mentality in Washington.

Enter Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon. Bannon, who left the White House in August, has returned to Breitbart News and is the executive chairman of the website. Since leaving his post in the Trump administration Bannon has basically re-declared war against Republicans in Congress. During an interview with CBS’s Charlie Rose on “60 Minutes,” Bannon made it very clear that he will be leading an effort to oust those Republicans in Congress who have been an affront to Trump’s agenda.

Bannon accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) of “trying to nullify the 2016 election.” He blames them for failing to repeal and replace ObamaCare and said, “They’re not going to help you unless they are put on notice.” He added, “They’re going to be held accountable if they do not support the president of the United States. Right now, there’s no accountability.”

Bannon has decided to lead an effort to back several primary challengers to incumbent candidates in the upcoming 2018 election.

Bannon also made a bold prediction about the 2020 election, saying that the outcome will depend on which party can best capture the populism that has soared in our country. He argues that if Trump is able to deliver on his populist promises and if Republicans make gains in both the House and the Senate in the 2018 midterm elections, then Trump will win re-election in a landslide.

To be sure, Bannon’s effort could be costly for conservatives, if not for him. He’s a diehard nationalist and, for him, if his primary challengers defeat incumbent Republicans but lose in the general election to Democrats, there’s a sense in which it’s still a win. Why? Because Bannon himself is not the most conservative individual on all matters and, for him, beating entrenched Republicans but losing to Democrats would send a message to the Old Guard GOP members that the populist movement is indeed a force to be reckoned with. And that’s a moneymaker for Breitbart

Bannon’s move could also backfire in a very bad way. If Democrats regain control of Congress, they will no doubt try everything possible to impeach Trump.

In one respect, Bannon’s political calculation looks very appealing to many conservatives. We have been lied to over and over again by Republicans in office who claim to be principled conservatives that, if given control of the House, the Senate and the presidency, would advance a conservative agenda. That has not happened and many people have had enough. There are too many elected Republicans in Washington who claim to be conservative until it comes down to voting — then they end up opposing conservatives.

Of the infighting, Philip Wegmann explains the cost: “Warring against each other while wearing the same uniform, Republicans often obscure their own position. This type of infighting sunk healthcare the first time around and now threatens to torpedo tax reform. It’s brutal and messy and, for now, it occurs mostly behind closed doors.”

So the question facing all Republicans, including Bannon, is this: What’s the point of the infighting? Is it to pass the agenda, or is it little more than vendetta and grandstanding? We don’t know that answer, and it likely differs for the various players. But if the GOP wants to remain in the majority and accomplish something, each Republican will have to answer.

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For more, visit Right Opinion.


Dennis Prager: “To the Left, America is essentially a racist, sexist, violent, homophobic, xenophobic and Islamophobic country. The Left around the world loathe America, and it is hard to imagine why the American Left would differ in this one way from fellow leftists around the world. Leftists often take offense at having their love of America doubted. But those left-wing descriptions of America are not the only reason to assume that the Left has more contempt than love for America. The Left’s view of America was encapsulated in then-presidential candidate Barack Obama’s statement in 2008. ‘We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America,’ he said. Now, if you were to meet a man who said that he wanted to fundamentally transform his wife, or a woman who said that about her husband, would you assume that either loved their spouse? Of course not.”


Insight: “The possession of power over others is inherently destructive both to the possessor of the power and to those over whom it is exercised.” —George D. Herron (1862-1925)

Braying Jenny: “[Donald Trump] was quite successful in referencing a nostalgia that would give hope, comfort, settle grievances for millions of people who were upset about gains that were made by others. … Millions of white people.” —Hillary Clinton, who peddles both race and class warfare to … settle grievances for millions of people upset at the gains of others

Non Compos Mentis: “I wasn’t just running against Donald Trump. I was up against the Russian intelligence apparatus, a misguided FBI director, and now the godforsaken Electoral College.” —Hillary Clinton, who was evidently not informed until after she lost that the Founders set up the Electoral College

Don’t miss The Washington Free Beacon’s super cut of her excuses.

Race bait: “The attorney general’s [DACA] statement was something that was the equivalent of the worst statue you could ever think of. I mean, it was about white people in America, and it was a terrible, terrible statement. It was consistent with what the Bannon folks talk about when they want the purification of America. That’s why they want to export — they want to deport so many — the 11 million people in our country.” —Nancy Pelosi

Demo-gogues: “There is no justification for what President Trump did. His termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a stunning betrayal to nearly one million DREAMers. … Trump is responding to their contributions to our country with nothing short of immoral cruelty.” —Nancy Pelosi

For the record: “I feel compelled to speak out because I see a pattern emerging. A pattern of hostility toward people of faith who come before this body. … These strange [religious] inquisitions have nothing to do with the nominees’ competency, patriotism, or ability to serve Americans of different faiths equally. In fact, they have little to do with this life at all. Instead, they have to do with the afterlife.” —Sen. Mike Lee

And last… “It is breathtaking that Senate Democrats are counting individuals’ orthodox Christian faiths as a demerit when evaluating them for official posts. By interrogating Amy Coney Bennett about her Catholic faith, they are arrogantly abrogating their oath of office to the United States Constitution.” —Rep. Trent Franks

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Managing Editor Nate Jackson

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