Mid-Day Digest

Jul. 17, 2018

THE FOUNDATION

“Foreign influence is truly the Grecian horse to a republic. We cannot be too careful to exclude its influence.” —Alexander Hamilton (1793)

IN TODAY’S EDITION

  • The Left wants Trump’s Russia blunder to be the only story. It’s not.
  • Baltimore’s rising crime rate confirms the Ferguson Effect.
  • Democrat-run San Francisco is turning into a literal cesspool.
  • Could Roe v. Wade be overturned? If so, what then?
  • Daily Features: Top Headlines, Memes, Cartoons, Columnists and Short Cuts.

FEATURED ANALYSIS

Trump’s Blunder Isn’t the Only Story

Lewis Morris

President Donald Trump’s summit this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin has been boiled down to a few sound bites that allow Trump’s opponents to claim that he is in the pocket of the Russian strongman.

The media buys and sells sound bites because that’s all most Americans can handle. Trump gave them a terrible sound bite yesterday, and that’s entirely his fault. But it’s the result of him refusing to concede an inch on the Democrat/Leftmedia narrative about collusion. They deliberately conflate two things: the phony idea that Trump colluded with Russia to steal the election and actual Russian election interference to undermine voter confidence.

But rather than explain that nuance, Trump did as he typically does — he let his ego obscure the issue as he blundered through a bad answer on the Russia investigation.

During a joint post-summit press conference, Trump first correctly insisted, “The [Russia] probe is a disaster for our country. I think it’s kept us apart. It’s kept us separated. There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it.”

Too bad he didn’t leave it at that.

In the sound bite that has people on both sides rankled, Trump went on to imply that he believed Putin’s denial about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election over his own intelligence agencies. “I have great confidence in my intelligence people,” Trump said of their assessment of Russian interference, “but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.” He also said, “[Putin] just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

Oh really? The Soviets have only been interfering in Western elections for a century — sometimes at the invitation of Democrats (see 1984).

Notably, Democrats have, by way of the Trump/Putin collusion charade, done more to undermine election confidence than Putin ever could — which has been precisely their objective.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich criticized Trump for his careless wording, saying, “President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected — immediately.”

The current speaker, Paul Ryan, was equally forceful: “There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world.”

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats defended U.S. intelligence, saying, “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.”

Trump’s other assertion receiving a lot of attention was, as we argued yesterday, directed at the previous administration. “I hold both countries responsible [for bad relations]. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish.” Unfortunately, Trump’s wording was sloppy and left him harshly criticizing his own country on foreign soil, which presidents should not do.

Again, Ryan correctly responded, “There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.”

The real problem is that Trump’s statements breathe new life into the collusion story by his appearing to side with the lying, murderous tyrant Putin over his own government. Trump has thrown the American intelligence community under the bus before, but to do it in so public a forum and while standing next to Vladimir Putin is unlikely to do him or the country any favors.

Trump is famous for working a long game that the media and his opponents don’t see, but it’s hard to fathom how his “Art of the Deal” strategy is working here. Perhaps he doesn’t want to upset negotiations with Russia, but the optics of Trump placating Putin are going to be hard to overcome. Either way, the fact remains that there is still no evidence of any collusion between Trump and Putin, and Trump seems uninterested in trumpeting anything else.

That said, if we want to see what Putin manhandling a U.S. president looks like, and if we want to investigate Russian collusion with a U.S. administration, then we should focus on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. From the silly “reset” button to Obama’s famous hot-mic admission to former Russian President (and Putin placeholder) Dmitri Medvedev to Clinton’s shady uranium deal and her family’s foundation hanky-panky, there is plenty of evidence that can prove collusion. But this isn’t the collusion the media or Mueller want to prove.

Trump has correctly placed much of the blame on his predecessor for the sad state of affairs between the two nations. Obama and Clinton, in her capacity as secretary of state, presidential candidate, and Clinton Foundation gadfly, did a fine job of mucking things up with their arrogance and shortsighted worldview. If they had not proved so anti-American, Putin would not have been emboldened to run roughshod internationally.

Mitt Romney famously pointed out in the 2012 presidential campaign that Russia was a problem that was only going to get worse. He was ridiculed only to be proven right over the next four years. Democrats are only coming around to this idea now because Trump is seeking better relations. In their Never-Trump worldview, whatever Trump seeks, they must seek the opposite.

It’s difficult to know at this point if any substantive ground was covered between Trump and Putin because the press conference overshadowed any other details from their meeting. There were a host of issues on the table beyond Russian interference in the American election, including Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Putin’s stranglehold on the press and political opponents at home and abroad, assassinations and attempted assassinations of political opponents in Russia and in Europe, what to do about Syria, and Russia’s breaking of the 1987 INF Treaty.

The two men met in private for over two hours before speaking with reporters, and there has been little indication that any progress was made in any of these areas.

It’s worth noting, as CBS’s Michael Graham does, that Trump’s record is key: “Despite all the pillow talk with Putin, Trump has kept Obama-era sanctions in place, added new sanctions of his own, reversed Obama policies by giving offensive weapons to Ukraine and missile-defense systems to Poland, and allowed our military to wipe out a large group of Russian mercenaries fighting for Syria’s Assad regime.” That’s in addition to economic pressure he’s applied via oil and gas in particular.

Trump went to Helsinki with hopes of improving relations with Russia, and both he and Putin said afterward that they made progress toward that goal. If Trump truly wants better relations, then he should follow Ronald Reagan’s model of peace through strength. Reagan never backed down from the Soviet Union and he never missed an opportunity to call out the Soviets on their bad behavior, even while maintaining a cordial relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev. Trump has shown some backbone in his dealings with Russia, but he needs to be more consistent. Monday’s Helsinki press conference was a missed opportunity for him to put Putin in his place.

But there will be others.

On a final note, we’ll conclude with Trump’s strongest remarks: “As president, I cannot make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics or the media, or Democrats who want to do nothing but resist and obstruct. Constructive dialogue between the United States and Russia affords the opportunity to open new pathways toward peace and stability in our world. I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics. As president, I will always put [first] what is best for America and what is best for the American people.”

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IN BRIEF

Baltimore Crime Rate Confirms Ferguson Effect

Last year Baltimore, Maryland, led the nation in homicides, continuing its growing trend in violent crime that began in 2015 following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. That happened during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests across the nation. Feeling the pressure, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake refused to back the city’s police department, thus precipitating days of violent rioting only quelled after the National Guard was brought in.

Six Baltimore city police officers were put on trial over Gray’s death, resulting in three acquittals and the city dropping the case against the other three. Barack Obama’s Justice Department investigated Baltimore’s police department and accused “Baltimore’s police of arresting thousands of people without a valid legal basis, using unjustified force and targeting black neighborhoods for unconstitutional stops.” Needless to say, the message had a chilling effect upon the city’s law enforcement.

Now USA Today reports, “The surge of shootings and killings that followed has left Baltimore easily the deadliest large city in the United States. Its murder rate reached an all-time high last year; 342 people were killed. The number of shootings in some neighborhoods has more than tripled. One man was shot to death steps from a police station. Another was killed driving in a funeral procession.”

While the city’s police officers have been as vigilant as ever in responding to crimes, what has changed has been proactive policing. As USA Today further explains, “Millions of police records show officers in Baltimore respond to calls as quickly as ever. But they now begin far fewer encounters themselves. From 2014 to 2017, dispatch records show the number of suspected narcotics offenses police reported themselves dropped 30 percent; the number of people they reported seeing with outstanding warrants dropped by half. The number of field interviews — instances in which the police approach someone for questioning — dropped 70 percent.”

A retired police officer explained the attitude, stating, “These guys aren’t stupid. They realize that if they do something wrong, they’re going to get their head bit off. There’s no feeling that anybody’s behind them anymore, and they’re not going to do it. Nobody wants to put their head in the pizza oven when the pizza oven is on.” In other words, it’s the “Ferguson Effect,” and it is deadly. And more often than not, black people are the victims. For all their protesting and rioting, in the end it appears that saving the lives of black people is less important to BLM than is impugning police for alleged institutional racism as part of the fight for leftist “social justice” causes.

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San Francisco’s Rank Number Two

Thomas Gallatin

San Francisco — who would want to live in that feces hole? (Donald Trump allegedly had another word for such places.) That sentiment quite literally is a problem that the city’s newly elected Democrat Mayor London Breed is facing. You see, San Francisco has an excrement problem — an excrement problem directly linked to its massive population of homeless people. Some 7,500 vagrants are currently living (and doing their business) on the city’s streets. Breed recognizes the stinky problem, stating, “There is more feces on the sidewalks than I’ve ever seen growing up here. That’s a huge problem and we are not just talking about from dogs — we’re talking about from humans.” Well, at least admitting there’s a problem is a start.

Throwing money at the problem hasn’t helped. Last year alone San Francisco spent $275 million on supportive housing for the homeless. That was up from $241 million the year before, and this year the city is projected to spend upwards of $280 million.

The root of San Francisco’s mess can be tied directly to decades of Democrats enacting their leftist policies. San Francisco has the highest rent in the world, coming in at an average of $3,500 a month. The median home price is a whopping $1.5 million, an amount that only 12% of residents can afford.

And the biggest contributor to this obscenely high cost of living is onerous laws. Columnist Rachel Alexander reports, “Zoning regulations and building codes have increased the cost of housing. … Due to the high cost of living, a family making $117,400 annually is considered ‘low income.’ A family making $73,300 is ‘very low income.’ The minimum wage is $15 an hour, but it’s not enough to rent a two-bedroom apartment. In order to live comfortably in San Francisco, an annual salary must be at least $110,000.”

Exorbitantly high cost of living and yet the city is increasingly becoming a slum. No wonder residents are leaving the city in droves. No U.S. city lost more residents in the last quarter of 2017 than did San Francisco. Here is yet another sad example of a long-time Democrat-controlled city whose residents are suffering — and smelling — the consequences.

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Top Headlines

  • Trump fires back at criticism of Putin press conference (The Hill)
  • Despite botched summit with Putin, Trump’s policies are still pressuring Russia (The Federalist)
  • Video: Chris Wallace interviews Russian President Vladimir Putin (Fox News)
  • The DOJ charges a Russian with attempting to infiltrate the NRA (National Review)
  • Right on cue, Kavanaugh accused of hiding sexual harassment (The Daily Wire)
  • CA judge halts deportations of reunited migrant families (NBC News)
  • House GOP reverses, cancels vote on Dem bill to abolish ICE (The Hill)
  • New details emerge about Mossad raid to obtain Iranian nuclear secrets (The Washington Free Beacon)
  • Communists brutally murdered Russia’s last royal family 100 years ago today (The Federalist)
  • Humor: The Bee explains Democratic Socialism (The Babylon Bee)
  • Policy: What’s next for U.S.-Russia relationship (The Daily Signal)
  • Policy: The immigration scandal no one is talking about (The Daily Signal)

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

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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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BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

MORE ANALYSIS FROM THE PATRIOT POST

OPINION IN BRIEF

Dennis Prager: “The reason we worry so much about vast numbers of immigrants is that too many immigrants in too short a period of time will change American culture and values. Our concern is not rooted in xenophobia; it is rooted in values-phobia. Why is this an issue now? Because the vast majority of past immigrants changed their values, not America’s, when they came to this country. They came here to become American, not only in terms of language, citizenship, and national identity but also in terms of values. But while some immigrants still do, the majority does not. They want to become American citizens in order to better their lives — a completely understandable motivation — not to embrace American values and identity. The majority of today’s immigrants from Latin America, for example, wishes to become wealthier … Latin Americans. Tens of millions of people have been coming to America with non-American values — essentially, values of the Left such as big government and a welfare state. And thanks to the Democratic Party and the Left, they don’t jettison these non-American values at the border and are encouraged to hold on to them. … Large-scale Muslim immigration to Europe will do to Europe’s values what large-scale northern-state immigration has done to Florida and what large-scale European immigration did to the native culture of North America. So, while the issue appears to be whether one is for or against large-scale immigration into America, the real issue is whether one wants to preserve American values or see them changed. The Left wants them changed. Conservatives don’t.”

SHORT CUTS

Advice: “[Vladimir] Putin knew exactly what he was doing, was always in control, and never said anything to undercut his own country [during yesterday’s confab]. In this sense, if no other, Trump should take notes from the man he refuses to criticize.” —Rich Lowry

Braying Jenny: “Every single day, I find myself asking: what do the Russians have on [Donald Trump] personally, financially, & politically? The answer to that question is that only thing that explains his behavior & his refusal to stand up to Putin.” — Nancy Pelosi

For the record: “The political Left was giddy as Obama negotiated a nuclear deal with the Holocaust-denying regime of Iran as its agents were killing U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama didn’t want Congress to vote on it, and parts of the deal were kept secret from Congress. He flew pallets of cash to Iran in the middle of the night. He refused to prosecute Hezbollah for drug trafficking. Maybe we should be asking what Iran has on Obama!” —Gary Bauer

Alpha Jackass: “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin.” —former CIA Director John Brennan, who once voted for a communist presidential candidate

Non Compos Mentis: “We’re starting to see that the people who create value in society are not experiencing any portion of the value that they are creating. So I do think that, absolutely, capitalism was the most efficient and best economy, perhaps, for the time that it was at, perhaps. But as we evolve, as automation begins to take out extremely large industries, we have to say that we aren’t going to throw those people away.” —"Democratic socialist" Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

And last… “Hate is not a policy, and the Democrats are so devoid of policies that they have run out of even bad ones. This once-great party used to have at least some leaders with integrity. Now they are only about destroying the president and grabbing power once again. What would they do with power if they got it?” —Cal Thomas

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