Mid-Day Digest

Mar. 22, 2018

IN TODAY’S EDITION

  • Mark Zuckerberg offers an unconvincing fix for Facebook’s privacy issues.
  • McCabe was investigating Sessions, which the Leftmedia says was firing justification.
  • The Supreme Court heard critical arguments in a free-speech case in California.
  • YouTube targets the First and Second Amendments with its hypocritical video bans.
  • The Cloward-Piven approach to illegal immigration.
  • Bureaucracy, Parkland, Venezuela, and much more.
  • Plus our Daily Features: Top Headlines, Memes, Cartoons, Columnists and Short Cuts.

THE FOUNDATION

“Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech.” —Benjamin Franklin (1722)

IN BRIEF

Zuckerberg’s Facebook ‘Fix’

By Nate Jackson

In the midst of the brouhaha surrounding Facebook data collection, the company’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post, “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you. I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.”

He promised three steps to protect user data, including investigating and auditing all apps, restricting developers’ data access and adding a tool on the News Feed for users to manage privacy settings. Furthermore, Zuckerberg indicated in interviews that government regulation might be needed. “I’m not sure we shouldn’t be regulated,” he said. “I actually think the question is more, ‘What is the right regulation?’ rather than ‘Yes or no, should it be regulated?’”

There are two things that could come out of such regulations, one good, one bad. More transparency obviously would be good. As we noted yesterday, social media users aren’t paying for the product, which means users are the product. Full transparency about what data is collected would be welcome. But we fear what is more likely is regulation of free speech, by law and by Facebook’s continued algorithm suppression of conservative sites.

Remember, Barack Obama collected data on four times the number of people Donald Trump did — he was permitted by Facebook “to suck out the whole social graph” (users’ map of social relationships) because he was the desired candidate — and people thought Obama was a campaigning genius. Only now is this a crisis. That speaks of the totalitarian mindset of the Left when it comes to determining what speech is acceptable from what entities or individuals.

Finally, there’s another issue at play. Leftists — led by Hillary Clintonstill can’t get over the fact that Trump won, and they’re making Facebook one of many scapegoats. Zuckerberg is willing to play along, likely as an excuse for more speech suppression.

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McCabe’s Secret Probe of Sessions — More Deep-State Manipulation

By Thomas Gallatin

It appears that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is a bigger deep-state player than was previously known. After his firing last Friday, news broke Wednesday revealing that, a year ago, McCabe opened a secret criminal investigation into his newly appointed boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. ABC News reports, “McCabe oversaw a federal criminal investigation into whether Sessions lacked candor when testifying before Congress about contacts with Russian operatives.” Ironically, it was McCabe who was subsequently fired by Sessions for a “lack of candor.”

Predictably, the mainstream media immediately spun this “bombshell” news as exposing Sessions’ true vindictive motivation for firing of McCabe — this was really about Sessions exacting his pound of flesh for having been the subject of McCabe’s secret investigation. Oh, what juicy palace intrigue, but for one important detail. Sessions was unaware that he had ever been the subject of a secret FBI investigation.

And what came of McCabe’s probe? Well, nothing, or so reports ABC News: “Two months ago, Sessions was interviewed by Mueller’s team, and the federal inquiry related to his candor during his confirmation process has since been shuttered, according to a lawyer representing Sessions.” Sessions’ lawyer, Chuck Cooper, stated, “The Special Counsel’s office has informed me that after interviewing the attorney general and conducting additional investigation, the attorney general is not under investigation for false statements or perjury in his confirmation hearing testimony and related written submissions to Congress.” In reality, McCabe’s investigation did produce results — it got Sessions to recuse himself from any Trump/Russia collusion investigation.

What would have prompted the deputy director to open a criminal investigation into Sessions in the first place? The answer is simple: furthering the Demo/MSM narrative of the Trump/Russia collusion conspiracy. Recall that during his confirmation hearings Sessions was grilled over whether he had had any contact with Russians. He denied that he had colluded with any Russian or had any meetings out of the norm. He was subsequently confirmed, but then, lo and behold, information was leaked to the press that Sessions did have at least two previously undisclosed “meetings” with Russians. Never mind the fact that those meetings amounted to little more than typical diplomatic greetings in large crowded rooms. Sessions was then dragged before Congress and forced to explain why he “misled” lawmakers. This circus eventually resulted in Sessions, much to the chagrin of President Donald Trump, recusing himself from involvement in any Trump/Russia-related investigation.

It is becoming apparent that both former FBI Director James Comey and his No. 2, McCabe, were actively working to undermine Trump via leaking damaging information to the press, while playing at being straitlaced, nonpartisan public servants. So, while the MSM will play up McCabe’s firing as an indictment against Sessions, it is instead an indictment against McCabe, further justifying his firing.

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Top Headlines

  • Congressional leaders finalized a sweeping $1.3 trillion budget bill (Associated)

  • Dear Nancy Pelosi, Tax Foundation reports top 10% paid 71% of federal income taxes, bottom 50% paid 2.8% (CNS News)

  • Austin bomber recorded 25-minute “confession” to his deadly crimes (Fox News)

  • Fed lifts rates in Powell’s first meeting, says economic outlook has strengthened (MarketWatch)

  • Mississippi has its first female senator, but is Cindy Hyde-Smith conservative enough for state Republicans? (The Clarion-Ledger)

  • House approves ‘right-to-try’ bill giving seriously ill patients access to experimental drugs (USA Today)

  • Senate passes controversial online-sex-trafficking bill (The Hill)

  • Sessions instructs prosecutors to seek death penalty for drug dealers (National Review)

  • Germany selling Iran chemical weapons tech, boosting anti-Israel efforts as U.S. Dems block Trump ambassador (The Washington Free Beacon)

  • Humor: Nation begins to wonder if allowing huge tech companies to surveil them 24/7 might be a bad idea (The Babylon Bee)

  • Policy: The structural roots of budget dysfunction (Real Clear Policy)

  • Policy: Guns, youth and misguided marches (The Washington Times)

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

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FEATURED ANALYSIS

Free Speech on Trial in NIFLA Pro-Life Clinic Case

By Caroline C. Lewis

Can the government force you to speak a message it chooses? Can the government force you to speak a message contrary to your beliefs? Can the government force you to advertise for something you oppose? These are the deepest questions surrounding the Supreme Court case NIFLA v. Becerra, which delivered oral arguments on Tuesday.

The case involves a California law that forces pregnancy centers to advertise for the abortion industry. It began in 2015 when California enacted the Reproductive FACT Act, a law requiring pregnancy centers to post disclaimers regarding either their unlicensed status or referring clients to an abortion clinic, including “free or low-cost access” provided by the state. Supporters of the law included the pro-abortion advocates at NARAL Pro-Choice California and the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. This case, however, does not only apply to the abortion issue. At its root, the case will decide whether the government can force individuals to speak the government’s “favored” messages and if the government can weaponize the law to advance a specific political message through forced advertising.

The law targets both licensed and unlicensed pregnancy centers, which face steep fines for non-compliance. It requires licensed pregnancy centers (those licensed to provide medical services such as ultrasounds and pregnancy tests) to post the following:

California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the county social services office at [insert phone number].

Unlicensed pregnancy centers that provide counseling services and material support (such as diapers and baby formula) must post a disclaimer (in print, online and at their physical location) that they are not a licensed medical facility and have no doctor on staff. This notice must appear in 48-point font in up to 12 languages depending on the county.

Either requirement forces pregnancy centers to speak a government-mandated message, which violates the Free Speech clause.

Planned Parenthood, in its amicus brief, argued that the law regulates “professional” and “commercial” speech “to further the State’s interest in ensuring that women seeking reproductive healthcare services have necessary and accurate information about, and access to medically accepted options.”

The state assumes, by conjecture, that women who receive services from pregnancy centers are being misinformed in their options, without objective evidence that this is actually the case. In reality, pregnancy centers discuss all options with their clients: parenting, adoption and abortion, as well as the physical and psychological ramifications of each. In addition, many pregnancy centers offer post-abortive counseling for mothers who choose abortion — because they need it.

By compelling pregnancy centers to advertise for abortion, the law limits choices for women. In reality, “pro-choice” really means pro-(only one) choice. The abortion industry does not seek to give women multiple options, but only one option, abortion. But if you are given only one option, is that even considered a choice?

In addition, Planned Parenthood’s brief notes that professional speech or commercial speech must be regulated by the state for the “welfare of the people.” This prompts the question, “Is the welfare of the people harmed if a woman chooses not to have an abortion?” No. Yet the general welfare of the abortion industry, which financially profits from a women’s “right to choose,” is harmed because it just lost a customer.

Secondly, pregnancy centers aren’t commercial enterprises. They aren’t selling anything. They are non-profits that give counseling, pregnancy tests, diapers and baby wipes away for free. The pro-abortion side argues that even though pregnancy centers offer services pro-bono, they are still participating in a transactional relationship. Yet if anyone should be regulated for commercial speech defined by making a “transaction,” shouldn’t it be the multimillion-dollar abortion industry?

In addition, California’s Reproductive FACT Act regulates content and viewpoint, discriminating against those with whom it disagrees. By doing so, the law silences those with a minority message. This law does not regulate the “professional speech” of the abortion industry. It does not require abortion clinics to display referrals to pregnancy centers. Rather, it specifically targets pro-life pregnancy centers by forcing them to post a disclaimer or refer services that violate their deeply held religious beliefs. This obvious discrimination could be at least part of the law’s downfall.

Ultimately, this case decides the future of free speech. Michael Farris, CEO, president and general counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom who argued the case before the Supreme Court, notes, “This case is a direct assault not only on free speech in the pro-life context but all free speech. If the government can force you to give a message that is contrary to what you believe, there is no limit to that principle. And it’s extraordinarily dangerous.”

The Court is expected to issue a decision by late June. The Federalist’s Nicole Russell writes, “Generally, arguments went as expected and based on the transcript it looks as if the justices may lean toward striking down the California law, if only narrowly.” Let’s hope she’s correct.

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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.

Don’t Miss Alexander’s Column

Read But One Life to Lose for My Country. Two events, almost a century apart, are irrevocably linked by “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.”

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MORE ANALYSIS FROM THE PATRIOT POST

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

OPINION IN BRIEF

Victor Davis Hanson: “What have we learned about North Korea in the past 65 years? North Korea’s cunning usually trumps America’s ideals of fair play and self-confidence. Empty threats do not work. Appeasement with infusions of food, cash and fuel makes things worse. China finds its North Korea client useful. Russia is usually against anything we are for. South Korea appeases North Korea when it senses U.S. weakness. It stands firm only when America does. What should Trump do after seven decades of North Korean aggression? Ratchet up the embargo of North Korea. Do not give it any aid — no matter the pleas and threats. Put more pressure on China. Do not barter with Pyongyang until it is proven that it has no more nukes.”

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “If the Union was formed by accession of States then the Union may be dissolved by the secession of States.” —Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

For the record: “It probably won’t be celebrated at the White House, but the Trump administration passed a major milestone last week: It added its first $1 trillion to the national debt.” —Michael Tanner

Upright: “No, I don’t like that [Trump congratulated Putin], but you know what I like even less? There’s someone close to him leaking this stuff out. … If you don’t like working for the president, you should resign your job.” —Sen. Marco Rubio

Dubious, to say the least: “I am committed to doing things objectively and independently and by the book. … I will tell you that my commitment to making sure that our process is followed, that it relies on objective input, and that, most importantly, it is not based on political or partisan influence is something I am utterly unyielding on.” —FBI Director Christopher Wray

Belly laugh of the week: “One thing we’re not is the opposition. We’ve never tried to be part of the political debate, but people want to drag us [the press] into it. We shouldn’t take the bait. We’re simply a voice of truth.” —NBC’s Chuck Todd

Would you say this about Obama? “I mean, this is where the Second Amendment comes in quite frankly, because you know, what if the president was to ignore the courts? What would you do? What would we do?” —Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY)

Plausible satire: “As we look in Arizona, we often look into the dangers of the southern border. But if these dangerous policies continue out of California, we might need to build a wall between California and Arizona as well to keep these dangerous criminals out of our state.” —Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ)

Late-night humor: “Robert Mueller wants to interview Trump, but the president’s lawyers want to limit the conversation to certain topics. So right now they’re trying to compromise based on what Mueller wants to talk about and what Trump wants to talk about. … Mueller wants to talk about George Papadopoulos. Trump wants to talk about John Kelly. They’re compromising and talking about Papa John’s.” —Jimmy Fallon

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Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis

Nate Jackson, Managing Editor
Mark Alexander, Publisher