“Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.” —Samuel Adams (1749)
IN TODAY’S EDITION
- Should partisan hacks have security clearance? Trump considers it.
- The Ninth Circuit upheld the Second Amendment … for now.
- Trump should follow his own advice to “be cautious” on red lines with Iran.
- Daily Features: Top Headlines, Memes, Cartoons, Columnists, and Short Cuts.
On Monday, we learned that President Donald Trump is considering revoking the security clearances of several Barack Obama-era officials and another from George W. Bush’s term following his meeting with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders responded to a reporter’s question over whether Trump was looking to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance: “Not only is the president looking to take away Brennan’s security clearance, he’s also looking into the clearances of Comey, Clapper, Hayden, Rice, and McCabe. The president is exploring the mechanisms to removing security clearance because they’ve politicized and in some cases monetized their public service and security clearances. Making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the president is extremely inappropriate, and the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.”
Early on Monday, Paul tweeted about his meeting with Trump, “Just got out of WH meeting with [Trump]. I restated to him what I have said in public: John Brennan and others partisans should have their security clearances revoked.” He added, “Public officials should not use their security clearances to leverage speaking fees or network talking head fees.” Paul was referencing the fact that both Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper are currently contributors to NBC/MSNBC and CNN respectively.
Last week, Paul described Brennan as unhinged for his history of repeated vitriolic partisan statements against Trump: “John Brennan has a history of leaking information. Not only for political reasons. … Who in their right mind would want to let him have the power still to look through everybody’s records?”
Paul also blasted Obama and his intel heads for “ginning up” the whole Russia collusion conspiracy and then lying about it. Paul has even suggested a broader revocation of security clearances for all those leaving sensitive positions within government, saying, “I would probably have it as a universal policy … when you leave.”
Brennan does indeed deserve to have his security clearance revoked, as he has proven himself to be both an untrustworthy liar and an extremely partisan hack. Government officials retaining a security clearance after leaving office isn’t necessarily a bad thing, specifically because it allows for later administrations to freely question former officials privy to sensitive information without having to go through the long, arduous, and costly process of reinvestigation to renew that clearance. Paul’s broad suggestion of revoking all clearances for officials once they leave the government is seemingly helpful for combating potential deep-state partisanship, but it would in truth be more problematic than beneficial.
Unfortunately, Trump finds himself in a situation like no other previous president, having a former CIA director attack him in a purely politically partisan manner — going so far as to label him as “treasonous.” And as Paul notes, Brennan sought to undermine Trump’s presidency using the apparatus of the intelligence community. Brennan still has top security clearance, but this privilege should immediately be revoked. It may be unprecedented, but it’s not undeserved. While Democrats wail and moan over Trump supposedly politicizing the intelligence community, the truth once again is that leaders within these agencies — like Brennan and former FBI Director James Comey — brought this reputation upon themselves.
In a ruling that can only be described as surprising, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with gun rights defenders and issued an injunction that temporarily blocks the enforcement of California’s confiscatory ban on “large-capacity” magazines. In its ruling, the Ninth Circuit decided to uphold the district court’s decision. That opinion reads in part:
Violent gun use is a constitutionally-protected means for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves from criminals. The phrase “gun violence” may not be invoked as a talismanic incantation to justify any exercise of state power. Implicit in the concept of public safety is the right of law-abiding people to use firearms and the magazines that make them work to protect themselves, their families, their homes, and their state against all armed enemies, foreign and domestic. To borrow a phrase, it would indeed be ironic if, in the name of public safety and reducing gun violence, statutes were permitted to subvert the public’s Second Amendment rights — which may repel criminal gun violence and which ultimately ensure the safety of the Republic.
This is indeed good news, even if it’s temporary. It is very likely that California will petition for a wider panel of the Ninth Circuit judges to review this decision, which would likely mean a ruling in the state’s favor. One way or another, it’s very possible that this issue will reach the Supreme Court, making it an opportunity for Brett Kavanaugh to make his mark, assuming he is confirmed.
As David French of National Review notes, “Gun-owners choose large-capacity magazines for good reasons, the same reasons why police carry large-capacity magazines in their service weapons. When a deadly encounter occurs, the amount of ammunition can make the difference between life and death. The state cannot be permitted to take a common means of self-defense from its citizens. Thankfully, even in the Ninth Circuit, confiscation has been held at bay.”
- Trump tax cut benefits all congressional districts, up to $44,697 per family (Washington Examiner)
- Poll: Majority say Dem candidates “out of step” with most Americans’ thinking (The Washington Free Beacon)
- Devin Nunes: “Certain members of the press” working for the Democratic Party (Washington Examiner)
- Senate overwhelmingly confirms Robert Wilkie to lead VA (The Washington Free Beacon)
- House GOP chairman introduces draft of infrastructure plan (The Hill)
- Smugglers flood border with migrants to divert security forces from drug interdiction (Washington Examiner)
- U.S. “benign China” policy ending (The Washington Free Beacon)
- North Korea begins dismantling its main missile-engine test site, satellite images indicate (Fox News)
- Air Force base replaces Bible with generic “Book of Faith” (The Daily Wire)
- Humor: Dozens of White Houses materialize from temporal vortex as Trump’s changing account of Putin meeting tears apart space-time (The Onion)
- Policy: The perils of an ALL CAPS foreign policy (American Enterprise Institute)
- Policy: How “green” energy subsidies transfer wealth to the rich (The Daily Signal)
For more of today’s news, visit Patriot Headline Report.
For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.
For more of today’s top cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.
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BEST OF RIGHT OPINION
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.
This week saw the latest in a long line of seemingly intemperate Twitter blasts by the president. Responding to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s public remarks that war with Iran would be “the mother of all wars,” President Donald Trump released this reply shortly before midnight on Sunday (caps lock key stuck in the original):
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
For better or worse, Twitter is part of the modern media and political landscape. Millions of people around the world use it as a source of information on breaking news, emergency warnings, celebrity gossip, sports updates, and numerous other topics. Trump often uses it to wonderful effect in talking over the media and directly to the American people. The White House and the Office of the President should have a Twitter account for legitimate public release of information. But that is a very different matter from the president sitting alone in the White House residence early in the morning or late at night, stewing over grievances and firing off whatever retort comes to mind. That may not be what’s actually happening, but it’s often how his tweets come across.
In one sense, Trump’s tweet is part of a detailed strategy to increase pressure on the Iranian regime just two months after Trump nuked Barack Obama’s nuclear deal. Indeed, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also making relevant declarations Sunday, all but urging the Iranian people to revolt: “I have a message for the people of Iran: The United States hears you. The United States supports you. The United States is with you.”
Yet as we have said before, Twitter is not a medium that lends itself to thoughtful, well-considered public statements. Quite the opposite — it lends itself most readily to juvenile, petty insults hurled in a moment of anger, which fits perfectly with President Trump’s style and temperament. Such statements from ordinary citizens may lead to nothing more than public embarrassment. But coming from the president of the United States they can lead to far worse consequences.
One such consequence now looms as a result of the president going all-in with his tweet. “Never, ever threaten the Unites States again” draws a line in the sand, as does the threat of “consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.” Obama once set a “red line” that he had little intention of enforcing and it yielded catastrophic results.
What happens when an Iranian official sends back an equally fiery reply threatening to sink the entire Fifth Fleet if the United States dares to impose more sanctions? What happens if Rouhani claims that any action blocking Iranian oil exports will be considered an act of war? The president has boxed himself into a situation in which the only options are: backing down; continuing to belittle both himself and the position of president of the United States by engaging in a contest of schoolyard insults; or following through and unleashing said consequences “the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered.” None of these options are appealing. His tweet may play well to his loyal base (some of whom in our experience are rather fond of the caps lock key), but it might just make a deadly serious situation even more fraught with real danger.
The Washington Examiner’s editorial board gets it right:
Trump’s Iran strategy is rightly focused on a new nuclear arrangement that ends Iran’s long-term access to nuclear weapons, constricts Iran’s ballistic missile program, reduces Iranian terrorist activities, and empowers Iran’s young, impoverished population. That strategy is well-defined and eminently achievable. We also celebrate Trump’s departure from his predecessor’s delusions over what the Islamic revolutionary republic of Iran is. After his appeasement of President Vladimir Putin, Obama’s gravest foreign policy mistake took root in his assumption that Iran’s leaders are moderates waiting to be unveiled. Where Obama wrote letters to [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei seeking friendship, Trump treats the Ayatollah with the disdain his policies have earned.
Yet a policy of focused strength is poorly served by the presentation of tough-sounding yet vague threats.
And as Rich Lowry observes, “The last time Trump theatrically threatened a regime with destruction, he quickly turned around and had warm talks with Kim Jong-un in Singapore. Since then, his Twitter account has lost some of its deterrent force.”
The president would be well served to stick to a strategy of specific carrots and sticks with Iran that serve legitimate U.S. interests. Significantly, Trump has successfully increased economic pressure on the Iranian regime. As with other things, his policies are working; the same can’t always be said for his rhetoric.
Be cautious, indeed. The president should heed his own advice.
OPINION IN BRIEF
Dennis Prager: “If truth mattered to the media, their ongoing narrative would be: ‘Democrats and the Left still do not accept Trump victory.’ If truth mattered to the media, every American would know Trump has been harder on Russia than former President Barack Obama was. Every American would be reminded that Obama reassured Putin’s right-hand man, then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, that he wouldn’t be too tough on Russia. … If truth mattered to the media, every American would be reminded that Obama sent Army meals to Ukraine and Trump has sent anti-tank missiles and other arms to repel the Russians. If truth mattered to the media, every American would be reminded that Obama watched Syria burn and Russia come to dominate that country, while Trump has bombed Syrian military installations, including one where Russians were killed. If truth mattered to the media, every American would be reminded that it is Trump who has weakened Russia’s ally Iran, while Obama immeasurably strengthened it. Instead the media scream ‘treason,’ ‘impeachment,’ and the like 24/7; Hollywood stars curse the president; others curse his daughter or the first lady (one of the most regal in American history) and show President Trump in various death poses. Meanwhile, leftist mobs shout at administration officials and Republican members of Congress while they eat in restaurants, shop in stores, and sleep in their homes. If you vote Democrat this November, you are voting for hysteria, lies, socialism, and even the cheapening of the Holocaust. But more than anything, a vote for Democrats in November is a vote for hysteria — the greatest and darkest in American history.”
Demo-gogues" “Democrats, please, please don’t lose your minds and rush to the socialist left. This president and his Republican Party are counting on you to do exactly that. America’s great middle wants sensible, balanced, ethical leadership.” —James Comey after being outed as a partisan hack
Friendly fire: “Hey Jim, we got this covered. No one is asking for your advice. As we saw during the campaign, your judgment isn’t great! All the best, everyone.” —former Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor to James Comey
A blind squirrel finds a nut: “We have got to get away from this constant effort to destroy a presidency, whoever’s it is. It is tearing our country apart, and I think it is very, very dangerous for our democracy.” —John Kerry
Braying Jackass: “If [Brett] Kavanuagh would have let Nixon off the hook, what is he willing to do for President Trump? This should set off alarm bells.” —Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Alpha Jackass: “This is textbook treason. This is what treason looks like. The fact that it’s been so brazenly committed, and on an ongoing basis over a two-year period, is blinding. … I think after the Helsinki summit people … now have to see the light of day. We now have to realize and call this what it is. This is treason.” —University of California, Berkeley professor M. Steven Fish
Non Compos Mentis: “One of the terrible realizations of the last year and a half for me is that the damage that the Russians have done to our democracy by meddling in our election is nothing compared to the damage our own president is doing to our democracy by attacking the Justice Department and by denigrating our press. … It’s … quite possible that the Russians have compromising material on him, that the Russians were laundering money through his businesses — and he knows that, and they know that. … But in terms of the United States and our national security and our interests, what matters most is the president’s actions. And he is acting like someone compromised.” —Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)
And last… “It’s pretty depressing that the quickest avenues for success as a conservative pundit are hysterical anti-Trumper or hysterical pro-Trumper. Neither of which are particularly conservative positions.” —Bethany S. Mandel
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