Mid-Day Digest

Jan. 10, 2018

IN TODAY’S EDITION

  • Feinstein released the Fusion GPS testimony transcript for a reason.
  • With 36 GOP House members preparing to leave, Democrats see opportunity.
  • Immigration reform is a chess match, as Trump’s meeting yesterday illustrates.
  • Google is intolerant and vindictive when it comes to conservative white males.
  • Americans like soccer more than baseball? What is the matter with people?
  • The “raw water” fad reminds us that natural isn’t always better.
  • Plus our Daily Features: Top Headlines, Memes, Cartoons, Columnists and Short Cuts.

THE FOUNDATION

“It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf.” —Thomas Paine (1776)

IN BRIEF

Behind the Fusion GPS Transcript

By Thomas Gallatin

The mainstream media is abuzz over Sen. Diane Feinstein’s (D-CA) unilateral decision to release a semi-redacted transcript of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s closed-door meeting with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson last August. As the ongoing investigation into Russian election meddling continues to roll on and as more information is learned, this latest move by Feinstein is somewhat puzzling. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was certainly not pleased, saying, “Her action undermines the integrity of the committee’s oversight work and jeopardizes its ability to secure candid voluntary testimony relating to the independent recollections of future witnesses.” He further noted that none of the other congressional panels had released interview transcripts of closed-door meetings related to the Russia interference investigation.

Feinstein may be reacting to Grassley’s recent criminal referral of British ex-spy Christopher Steele, author of the infamous Hillary Clinton-funded anti-Trump dossier, to the Justice Department. Grassley wants DOJ to investigate Steele for possibly lying to the FBI. Feinstein may also not like the fact that the investigation has started to probe more deeply into Clinton and Democratic National Committees connections to Fusion GPS. Whatever her rationale, Feinstein’s actions may inform the public while at the same time muddy the investigation.

So what has been learned from Simpson’s interview? It’s clear that he and Fusion GPS are worried about protecting themselves. Simpson attempted to absolve himself of any guilt regarding the promotion of misinformation with the dubious dossier, saying, “By its very nature the question of whether something is accurate isn’t really asked. The question that is asked generally is whether it’s credible. You don’t really decide who’s telling the truth.” Simpson argued it wasn’t his job to ascertain whether or not the dossier’s information was true. He explained his reason for giving the dossier to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), saying, “We just wanted people in official positions to ascertain whether it was accurate or not.”

The transcript also shows how Simpson conveniently flips, seeing Russian connections as both good and bad, depending upon his relationship with Russians. The short of it being that he saw no conflict of interest in his work for the Russian firm Prevezon Holdings, while at the same time arguing that Trump’s campaign was guilty of collusion.

Simpson appears to have been convinced that the Trump team was guilty of colluding with Russia, but we also learn that Simpson based this belief on a dossier that he admits he never verified for accuracy. He sees ex-spy Steele as a trustworthy individual, and that even if there were holes in the accuracy of information, he believes that the overall narrative is essentially true. In other words, for Simpson, the political end game was more important than facts and truth.

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36 House GOP Reps. Vacating Seats

By Jordan Candler

It will be extremely interesting to see how this November’s elections play out. To date, 36 Republican representatives have either resigned or announced they are retiring or seeking another office, according to the House Press Gallery’s Casualty List. This is more than twice the number of departing Democrats. Republicans currently have a 46-seat lead in the House (239 Republicans versus 193 Democrats), meaning Democrats will need to flip two dozen seats to regain the majority.

How likely is that to happen? It depends. As long as the Republican casualty list grows, the outlook could brighten for Democrats. Republicans will likely retain control of most of these seats because of the states they’re in, but other seats are less definitive. For example, California Rep. Ed Royce just published a statement in which he announced this will be his “final year of my Foreign Affairs Committee chairmanship,” and by extension his congressional career.

As Hot Air’s Allahpundit explains, Royce’s seat isn’t nearly as safe from Democrats: “Royce was probably the party’s only chance of holding the seat, and even that was no sure thing. Without him, CA-39 likely turns blue.”

This is a quagmire, both strategically and ethically. On the one hand, Republicans need to retain as many seats as possible. But Royce has been on Capitol Hill for a quarter-century. As Allahpundit explains, he cannot remain chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee because of committee term limits enacted by the Republican Party. This is the likely reason for his vacating. Which is ironic — in one sense he’s hanging up the cleats because of committee chair term limits. Yet he has been a lawmaker in the House for 25 years. Terms limits did end up ending his career in the House, but not in the way you’d expect.

Moreover, Allahpundit continues, “Royce is the seventh committee chairman in the House to announce his resignation this year; faced with the prospect of running an uphill race in November and winning, only to return to the House as a backbencher instead of his committee’s head honcho, he decided to pack it in.” In other words, the inevitable reality of his (and others) going back to an second-tier status prompted his retirement. Some voters who support term limits also support doing anything and everything to retain the majority — including electing someone time and time again. No one is saying the solution is an easy one, but they might not be able to have it both ways.

And while it’s proving exceptionally difficult for Congress to adopt term limits for everyone, these cases show that they do work. After all, most were committee chairs only because of the power that came with it.

Finally, just as we go to press, Darrell Issa (R-CA) announced he too will not seek re-election. Stay tuned as the exits get even more crowded.

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Top Headlines

  • Trump suggests two-phase immigration deal for “Dreamers” (Associated Press)

  • Illegal entry at Mexican border at record low in 2017 (The Washington Free Beacon)

  • U.S. judge blocks Trump move to end DACA program for immigrants (Reuters)

  • Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney, files lawsuits against Fusion GPS, BuzzFeed over infamous “dossier” (ABC News)

  • FBI agents’ text messages spur congressional probe into possible news leaks (The Hill)

  • Google’s new fact-check feature almost exclusively targets conservative sites (The Daily Caller)

  • Bannon steps down as executive chairman of Breitbart News (Fox News)

  • Success: EPA set to reduce staff 50% in Trump’s first term (Washington Examiner)

  • 33% of NFL fans say they purposely stopped watching this year (Hot Air)

  • Humor: Littoral combat ship actually figurative combat ship (Duffel Blog)

  • Policy: The wall is not enough. Here’s how to solve illegal immigration (The Daily Signal)

  • Policy: Tax reform is keeping promise “Fight for $15” couldn’t (The Daily Signal)

For more of today’s news, visit Patriot Headline Report.

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FEATURED ANALYSIS

The Art of the Immigration Deal

By Lewis Morris

President Donald Trump brought some focus to the immigration debate during a meeting Tuesday with key lawmakers (though notably absent were party leaders) over a fix to the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and other immigration reforms. Indeed, Trump did something far different from meetings Barack “I Won” Obama held with Republicans — he listened to both Republicans and Democrats and expressed the desire to reach a deal on how to both secure the border and the interior, as well as figure out how to handle the 800,000 or so young adults brought here by their parents — the so-called Dreamers.

Recognizing the chasm that exists between the parties on immigration, Trump suggested a willingness to take on proposals in stages, focusing first on DACA and border security in what he called a “bill of love.” Despite his change in tone from mocking Jeb Bush for similar sentiments on the campaign trail, Trump has been pretty consistent on the substance of what he’s doing on the issue.

But decipher these remarks from the meeting: “I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with. I am very much reliant on the people in this room. I know most of the people on both sides, I have a lot of respect for the people on both sides, and what I approve is going to be very much reliant on what the people in this room come to me with. I have great confidence. If they come to me with things that I’m not in love with, I’m going to do it, because I respect them.”

The overall picture is far clearer than that, as we’ll see.

The meeting took place against the backdrop of a looming government shutdown, which will happen on Jan. 19 unless lawmakers can agree on a spending package to avert the first fiscal catastrophe of 2018. It also happened just as U.S. District Judge William Alsup, a Bill Clinton nominee operating in the sanctuary city of San Francisco, inside the sanctuary state of California, temporarily blocked Trump’s move to end the DACA program.

Initially, Democrats demanded that a DACA fix be part of any spending agreement that is reached to avert a shutdown. This should come as no surprise, as holding government solvency hostage in exchange for other legislative tidbits is a specialty among Democrats. Trump, following California Democrat Dianne Feinstein’s lead, suggested he would agree to a clean DACA fix, albeit adding that border security must be part of that clean deal, with a more comprehensive bill to come later.

As Trump put it during the meeting, “To me, a clean bill is a bill of DACA, we take care of them, and we also take care of security.” He also tweeted, “As I made very clear today, our country needs the security of the Wall on the Southern Border, which must be part of any DACA approval.”

This means funding the border wall, one of the most potent symbols of the Trump divide — it rallies his supporters and drives his critics mad. Never mind that some of the very Democrats who today oppose the wall voted to fund a border wall in 2006. Never mind that Republican and Democrat presidents and legislators have called for a stronger border for decades. Democrats can no longer stand the idea of such a measure now for two reasons. One, deep down, they know that Trump is not just paying lip service to the idea; he means to make it happen. And two, their real immigration strategy is an electoral gambit for votes. Don’t take our word for it — take their own words.

DACA will expire March 5, thanks to a Trump executive order from 2017 ending the unconstitutional Obama-era program. Trump has indicated all along that he is open to a legislative fix to DACA, which is the way any such program should have come about in the first place. At this point, he may get that legislative fix and funding for the border wall along with it. Comprehensive measures to fix the visa lottery program and switch to merit-based immigration can come later.

What is taking place here is an elaborate chess game. Trump recognizes that his base is skeptical of any immigration deal with Democrats. And with good reason. The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, put together by Democrats, led to decades of chain migration and a massive wave of illegal immigrants. Likewise, the 1986 immigration reform law led to millions more illegal immigrants after Democrats flat out broke a deal with President Ronald Reagan to increase border security in exchange for amnesty for the then-three million-plus illegals residing in the country.

Democrats have proven time and again they cannot be trusted on this (any?) issue. But in a deeply divided Washington, Trump likely can’t get a border wall or any other reforms without them. So, he must cut a deal.

If Trump is going to deal with slippery Democrats, he has to make sure Republicans have his back. This means proving his bona fides on immigration. Last year’s executive orders repealing DACA, instilling a ban on immigrants from known terrorist countries, Trump’s most recent action to refuse renewing Temporary Protected Status to 200,000 people from El Salvador who have been here since 2001, and a handful of other enforcement priorities all demonstrate the president’s willingness to get tough on immigration. And it also demonstrates his respect for the Rule of Law, which means a lot to Republicans, even if Democrats can’t really describe what that concept means.

It’s working, too. “The final border apprehension numbers of 2017, specifically at the southern border, undeniably prove the effectiveness of President Trump’s commitment to securing our borders,” said Tyler Houlton, the acting press secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. “This administration has overseen a 40 percent decrease in 2017 compared with the last year of Obama’s presidency. U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions in Fiscal Year 2017 were at the lowest level in 45 years.”

Just as Richard Nixon was the only person who could conceivably go to China, perhaps Trump is the only person who can work with Democrats on immigration.

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TODAY’S MEME

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For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.

TODAY’S CARTOON

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For more of today’s top cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

MORE ANALYSIS FROM THE PATRIOT POST

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

OPINION IN BRIEF

Star Parker: “There’s plenty to celebrate in the December Bureau of Labor Statistics report showing black unemployment at 6.8 percent, the lowest ever since they started reporting the data in 1972. … Donald Trump was onto something when he asked blacks, during the presidential campaign, ‘What do you have to lose?’ … Black unemployment peaked at 16.8 percent in March 2010 during President Obama’s efforts to recover from the 2007-2008 economic collapse. But the irony is that the collapse was driven by government policies put in place to help low-income Americans to make housing purchases. … An ocean of new regulations on financial services, enacted as part of the Dodd-Frank Act, was the Democratic Congress’ answer to their own misdiagnosed analysis of what caused the collapse. As a result, we had a slower-than-normal economic recovery. These are the discussions we need today. How do we get out of the big government mindset that has been a drag on our economy and has perpetuated economic underperformance in low-income communities? In this context, Trump is right to boast. He is bringing badly needed new thinking on issues concerning low-income America. It’s already making a difference.”

SHORT CUTS

For the record: “Andrew [Breitbart] saw [his] site as a weapon in the fight against what he called the ‘Democrat-Media Complex,’ destroying left-wing narratives crafted by the faux-objective media. Andrew believed that his site could play an outsized role in the culture war, and he saw culture as upstream of politics. And Andrew wanted to do so in the mold of the ‘happy warrior,’ not as the grim-faced, stubble-bearded force of darkness Bannon attempted to project. … Now, [Bannon] has nothing. He built a monument to himself, and it collapsed. … At least for today, it’s a good day for Andrew Breitbart. May they all be good days from now on.” —Ben Shapiro

Upright: “There’s no polite way to tell houseguests who’ve overstayed their welcome that it’s time to go, but perpetual amnesty for illegal aliens … will only beget more illegal immigration.” —Michelle Malkin

Non Compos Mentis: “Christopher Steele, who oversaw Russia desk for British intelligence, so loved America he ensured material he believed put her at risk made it to @SenJohnMcCain who hand carried, without judgement, to Director Comey. Patriots all. I’ll be damned to allow this to get twisted.” —John Weaver

Fear-mongering: “We have just 59 days to do our part to save our children from an endless cycle of crop-killing droughts one year, and rivers spilling their banks the next. To save salmon from dying in ever warming rivers, and our forests from being reduced to plumes of ash.” —Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee stirring fear into the legislature before it adjourns

And last… “Underlying this very rare opportunity for the public to watch our leaders hash out policy was the recent assertion in Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury, that the president repeats himself every 10 or 15 minutes and may be suffering from dementia. What we saw in the White House meeting on Monday was anything but a man suffering from any degenerative disease. Rather, it was a president taking on a room full of supporters, skeptical supporters, and outright critics and running one hell of a meeting.” —David Marcus

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