Mid-Day Digest

Apr. 16, 2018

IN TODAY’S EDITION

  • Trump enforces Obama’s red line, but what about his authority to do so?
  • Another leftist takes a bite out of Chick-fil-A over its belief system.
  • Will Republicans fight or take flight in 2018? We know which one voters want…
  • Entitlements reveal not just fiscal but moral bankruptcy.
  • Twitter’s CEO endorses silencing Republicans.
  • Plus our Daily Features: Top Headlines, Memes, Cartoons, Columnists and Short Cuts.

THE FOUNDATION

“Of all the cares or concerns of government, the direction of war most peculiarly demands those qualities which distinguish the exercise of power by a single hand. The direction of war implies the direction of the common strength; and the power of directing and employing the common strength, forms a usual and essential part in the definition of the executive authority.” —Alexander Hamilton (1788)

IN BRIEF

Hitting Assad, and Putin, Where It Hurts

By Harold Hutchison

From the squawking that has come from certain corners of the commentariat, you’d think that Donald Trump and his administration put no thought into hitting Syria again. That assumption is way off the mark — we needed to respond to (at least) the third use of chemical weapons against civilians by Syria’s murderous dictator, Bashar al-Assad. Even Great Britain and France joined the U.S. strike, and not without the risk of angering their own burgeoning Muslim populations.

In 2013, Assad first crossed the “red line” of using chemical weapons. Predictably and unfortunately, Barack Obama didn’t follow through on his threats against Assad and foolishly chose to trust Vladimir Putin with a deal to remove those weapons. When Assad used chemical weapons again in 2017, testing the resolve of the Trump administration, Trump hit an airfield pretty hard, targeting the Su-22 Fitter ground-attack planes at that base.

Assad has once again tested Trump’s mettle. While we have made significant strides to contain the Islamic State, Assad is challenging how far the administration will go to subdue the Syrian regime now that Putin has provided him with human shields in Russian uniforms.

After strikes on top of the sustained economic and diplomatic efforts, will Assad, and Putin, get the message this time? Probably not. Moreover, given that Assad isn’t hesitant about using chemical weapons on his own people, he’s not likely to think twice about handing them off to terrorists like Hezbollah or Hamas.

The good news from this second round of strikes is that we have diminished Putin’s shield. Russia did not use its advanced S-400 systems to try to protect Assad, and in fact moved his ships out of the way. Furthermore, Trump, who is already trying to leverage Putin, has now improved his chances by tying Putin closer to Assad.

Putin now has two unappetizing options: He can either hang Assad out to dry and lose credibility as an ally in the region, or he can be seen as defending a government that uses chemical weapons on its own people. So Trump’s strategy now is to negotiate a way for Putin to save some face — maybe by offering to lift some sanctions if Putin can talk Assad into leaving power and accepting exile in Russia.

This situation, though, isn’t risk-free for the United States. If Assad uses chemical weapons again, restoring deterrence would require either escalating the fight or folding. Hopefully, though, Putin and Assad will blink first.

A final note on the constitutional authority — or lack thereof — for these strikes. It must be reiterated that Trump is aiming to clean up the mess his predecessor left him, and that can limit options. He is also enforcing the Geneva Convention prohibition against the use of chemical weapons. He declared “mission accomplished” already and has no intent (yet) to expand U.S. military action in Syria. That said, he should have sought Congress’s backing. For its part, Congress has no interest in taking such tough votes, and thus happily cedes authority to the president, which has become a terrible precedent going back many administrations. But the Authorization for Use of Military Force against al-Qaida and its safe-haven nations does not cover action against Assad’s regime. Nor does the 1973 War Powers Resolution, because this was not an act of self-defense against an immediate threat to the U.S.

The U.S. hasn’t formally declared war since 1941. That’s not likely to change any time soon, no matter the administration or the Congress.

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The Left Hates Chick-fil-A Because of Christianity

By Thomas Gallatin

Evidently for the Left, tolerance is no longer in vogue; instead, overt anti-Christian bigotry has become its siren call. This attitude is exemplified by a recent article in The New Yorker entitled “Chick-fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City.” In the piece, Dan Piepenbring, rather than critique Chick-fil-A over the flavor of its Spicy Chicken Sandwich or the speed of its service, blasts the growing success of Chick-fil-A over its “infiltration” of New York with “its pervasive Christian traditionalism.”

Piepenbring sees as problematic the fact that Chick-fil-A’s Atlanta headquarters facility “is adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet,” and that “its stores close on Sundays.” Piepenbring writes, “There’s something especially distasteful about Chick-fil-A, which has sought to portray itself as better than other fast food: cleaner, gentler, and more ethical, with its poultry slightly healthier than the mystery meat of burgers.” He adds, “Its politics, its décor, and its commercial-evangelical messaging are inflected with this suburban piety.”

He wasn’t done. Piepenbring relates, “The restaurant’s corporate purpose still begins with the words ‘to glorify God,’ and that proselytism thrums below the surface of the Fulton Street restaurant, which has the ersatz homespun ambiance of a megachurch.” Wow, so any company with traditional Christian beliefs that dares to apply its beliefs is “an infiltration.” How “woke” of him to call out this consistent belief system.

If any fast-food restaurant deserves praise not just for its quality food and service but also for its treatment of employees, community engagement and public generosity, it’s Chick-fil-A. There’s a reason it’s on course to becoming the third-largest fast-food chain behind only McDonald’s and Starbucks, and that’s not in spite of founder S. Truett Cathy’s “Christian traditionalism” but because of it. What is “creepy” is the number of deeply insecure leftists who produce, promote and feed on this kind of intolerant and hypocritical groupthink. Image if the fast-food chain in question was Muslim-owned — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio would be rolling out the red carpet for it instead of calling for a boycott.

Piepenbring epitomizes the rapidly spreading bigotry of leftists, who are completely unwilling to offer the same tolerance and deference to opposing views and opinions that they demand from others. Meanwhile, they hypocritically lay claim to the “pro-diversity” moniker. Specifically, the Left hates conservative Christianity because it refuses to bow to its “new morality.” So, no matter how well-made the product or how good the service, if the business’s owner holds a traditional conservative and Christian worldview, then leftist dogma demands it be opposed and maligned.

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Top Headlines

  • U.S. to hit Russia with new sanctions for aiding Syria’s Assad (Associated Press)

  • James Comey calls Trump “morally unfit” to be president in searing interview (Washington Examiner)

  • Inspector general report faults former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for unauthorized disclosure of information, misleading investigators (The Washington Post)

  • Paul Ryan backs Kevin McCarthy for speaker: He’s “the right person” (The Hill)

  • FCC rejects Senate Democrats’ plea to investigate Sinclair for “news distortion” (The Washington Times)

  • Trump announces support for legalizing marijuana (Reason)

  • ‘Racist + Rapist’: Thomas Jefferson statue vandalized at UVA (Washington Examiner)

  • Polar opposite: NY Times outraged by climate “denialists” pointing out polar bear population increase (The Washington Free Beacon)

  • Protests follow outrage after two black men arrested at Philly Starbucks (NBC News)

  • Humor: American Cancer Society recommends getting your nation checked for communism annually (The Babylon Bee)

  • Policy: Amid push for knife control, UK shows gun control doesn’t increase safety (The Daily Signal)

  • Policy: The costs, opportunities, and limitations of the expansion of 529 education savings accounts (Brookings Institution)

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

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FEATURED ANALYSIS

Republicans in 2018: Fight or Flight

By Robin Smith

The midterm elections are Nov. 6, 2018. If viewed through the lens of conventional wisdom, they will be a disaster for the Republican Party.

The November 2016 election was a political earthquake. Democrats failed in their well-orchestrated efforts to hand-off Barack Obama’s progressive legacy to Hillary Clinton. This failure was only made worse by losing to a complete political novice whose résumé was never polished or positioned for elected office.

The Democrat base is energized not by policy but by sheer hatred for President Donald Trump. Leftists’ disdain drips with irrationality. Special elections and state election cycles since 2016 have reflected the mobilized anger of the political Left, with more than 30 wins for Democrats, including seats typically carried by Republicans.

This is no outlier effect or polling anomaly. According to Politico’s recent analysis, “If you do the math, you find that in the last 21 midterms, the party holding the White House lost an average of 31 seats.” Looking even further back, the American Journal of Political Science published a piece in 1986 declaring, “The President’s Party Midterm Elections: Going from Bad to Worse.” In fact, that analysis found, “One of the few iron laws of politics is the loss of seats by the president’s party in midterm House elections.” It proves consistent dating back to the advent of the current two-party system in the 1860s.

Take these trends into consideration with a quick pause to remember what center-Right voters were asked in 2010 when Republicans took the House majority: “We need to win the Senate.” Then, in 2014, when the Senate moved to the GOP, the call was, “We need to win the White House.” Now, in 2018, while the math is still unfavorable in the Senate due to the perverted use of the filibuster rule, what do Republican voters see?

Is there a renewed call to bridge the narrow gap in the Senate and hold the House? Are we seeing a unified GOP touting the economic confidence and improvement with historic employment levels?

Uh, nope. Republicans are heading for the exits.

The Atlantic has a Congressional Retirement Tracker, and last week the magazine asserted, “2018 is shaping up ominously for Republicans, who will be defending twice as many open seats this fall as Democrats.” Specifically, “there will be 19 open House seats vacated by Democrats and 40 by Republicans.”

In the House, Republicans have observed rules limiting the tenure of committee chairmen to promote advancement in leadership. Six of the exits from the House are those who would lose their gavel due to caucus governance. So, while term limits work to grow the ranks of new GOP leadership, the idea of leaving the chairman’s chair is not appealing to its occupants who’ve decided to retire instead. In the Senate, Democrats will be defending more seats on the ballot, yet two open seats due to retirements announced by Senators Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona leave the Senate’s fragile majority in question.

Subscribing to the prevailing wisdom of political science and the vocal-and-always-outraged #Resistance of the Democrats, Republicans should just hang it up, right?

Well, that’s what we were told after Trump won the GOP presidential primary. Americans were told by the prognosticators, pollsters and professional political class that the reason Trump won the primary was the division among the ranks yielding a fractured vote that spat out a not-ready-for-primetime novice. Americans were also told that Trump would be — snicker, chortle, sniff — handily beaten by Hillary Clinton.

The same American voters are seeing Democrats applaud the repeal of the Second Amendment in an overreaction to the violence witnessed by troubled students and adults alike. They’re seeing Democrats make an effort to model America after California’s politics, which features the practice of harboring illegal immigrants while rejecting the enforcement of current immigration law, to go along with one of the highest tax burdens in the nation. Add that to the sniveling of Nancy Pelosi and some of her parrots in declaring the Trump/GOP tax cuts to be mere “crumbs” as major American companies issued $1,000 bonuses and increased wages in response the to those cuts.

In simplest terms, the November elections this year could be a complete disaster … if Republicans don’t fight for Americans. The reason Donald Trump won in both the GOP presidential primary and the general election of 2016 was his fearless approach to fight for the interests of Americans. He called for the enforcement of immigration law, not an open border; he demanded free and fair trade, not continued pretense of fairness when all the negotiations favored our foreign trade partners; he called a terrorist “evil” and allowed the military to fight to win, rather than lead from behind; and he exposed the very prevalent bias of the national media against all things conservative, especially Christianity, instead of pacifying a never-appeased Leftmedia.

Republicans can win if they fight for Americans. It’s the fight in Trump that endears him, despite his long list of imperfections, to the working American. You see, those willing to fight for something tend to have the moral high ground of credibility regarding principle.

Finally, Republican President Theodore Roosevelt’s proclamation to the critics is characteristic of the Trump era: “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Which is it Republicans, flight or fight?

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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

Rebecca Hagelin: “There’s no doubt that the annual White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) dinner historically has been a grand affair. … [But] I simply refuse to sit through the sexist, hypocritical, divisive, incredibly crude shtick of this year’s chosen emcee, ‘comedian’ and radical feminist Michelle Wolf. Ms. Wolf fashions herself a heroine of the #MeToo movement, but she totally misses the mark. She trashes men, in general, as sexual predators, while insinuating that all women are blameless. Of course, she doesn’t directly say so, but her message is loud and clear in recent monologues. For instance, in one, she insists that every man even accused of sexual impropriety in the workplace be replaced with a woman. Except that she doesn’t call men ‘men’ but refers to them using a pejorative for male genitalia. Always after the cheap laugh, her humor is non-creative and sophomoric — and so very boring. And the double standard practiced by this female entertainer, who now is celebrated by the WHCA, is mind-numbing. Imagine for a moment a male comedian who refers to women with a pejorative for female genitalia being invited to headline the single biggest media event of the year. It wouldn’t happen. Or imagine inviting a male who says that every female executive accused of wrongdoing must be replaced with a man. Such sexism would not be tolerated by the WHCA, let alone celebrated. … The media elite are concerned with only one thing: their own stardom. My preference is to have my political views challenged on an intellectual level. It’s impossible to even consider Ms. Wolf’s views as legitimate when she routinely trashes men and offers sainthood to women.”

SHORT CUTS

The Gipper: “We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment are created from the bottom up, not the government down.”

Throwing stones from glass houses: “I think [Donald Trump is] morally unfit to be president.” —James Comey, hawking his political hackery book

Braying Jackass: “I’d like a lot fewer American adults and a lot fewer American children being killed by guns every single day. … Our nation values our guns more than we value our kids. And our kids are paying a real price for that.” —Obama’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan

Alpha Jackass: “When [Republicans] repeat lie after lie after lie to further their political agenda or to protect people they want in power, then they do incredible damage to our Republic. More damage than ISIS has ever done to America.” —ABC News’ Matthew Dowd

The BIG Lie: “Our first responsibility … when we take back the House will be what it was when we took back the House in ‘06, and that is to make the future better for the American people. That is our purpose. A better deal, better jobs, better pay, better future is our theme and our purpose. … We take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and that is our responsibility and we honor it.” —Nancy Pelosi

Well, bye: “I don’t even know how to talk about the last year under our new administration. But racism is much more alive and well than people thought. We can’t deny it anymore. … There are a lot of times when I look at my kids and I’m like, If this continues, I might have to [emigrate]. Because the last thing I want is for my children to feel unsafe.” —actress Charlize Theron

And last… “If investigators prefer informal interviews instead of grand juries, as Comey said he did with Hillary, then why is Mueller doing the opposite with Trump? It still seems like the FBI and DoJ rolled over for Hillary, while Mueller is being tough with Trump.” —Ari Fleischer

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Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis

Nate Jackson, Managing Editor
Mark Alexander, Publisher