Mid-Day Digest

Nov. 30, 2018

THE FOUNDATION

“Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust must be men of unexceptionable characters.” —Samuel Adams (1775)

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IN TODAY’S EDITION

IN BRIEF

The MSM’s ‘Collusion’ Reality TV Show

Nate Jackson

The Leftmedia is ever in search of salacious fodder to keep Americans on the edge of their seats and tuned in 24/7. And in a strikingly similar vein, Robert Mueller’s investigation into Donald Trump’s supposed “collusion” with Russia in 2016 — or at least Russian interference in the American election — has the distinct whiff of an investigation in search of a crime to justify its existence. Mueller and the media have made quite a team over the last 18 months, keeping President Trump under a constant cloud of suspicion. Then again, Trump does like his “reality” TV…

The latest “smoking gun” is that Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the chronology of Trump’s business dealings in Moscow. Trump and Cohen regularly and categorically denied business interests in Russia after January 2016, when in fact Trump was pursuing building a Trump Tower in Moscow well into the summer of 2016. The tower was never built, so Trump didn’t technically lie even if he was far from forthright. A billionaire developer is going to have some dealings that look shady if not skirt the law or create ties with those who have. That includes 30 years of dealings in Russia.

Meanwhile, Team Mueller for the first time let it be known that Trump is “Individual 1” — and a major subject of interest — in the investigation. Cohen admitted to making false statements “to be consistent with Individual 1’s political messaging and to be loyal to Individual 1.” That all goes back to the infamous Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and a Russian attorney ostensibly offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. Trump denied knowing about the meeting, though Cohen now says he gave Trump direct updates in advance.

Naturally, Democrats seized on the revelations to accuse Trump of lying and colluding, while Trump and his defenders dismissed the entire thing once again as a “witch hunt.” Liberal Harvard constitutional law professor Alan Dershowitz put things in perspective: “This is politically damaging, but I’m not sure how legally damaging it is. This is all about questionable political behavior. It’s a good reason for people voting against Trump. But I don’t see a crime yet.” To give you an idea of how upset leftists are with their own man, The Washington Post identifies Dershowitz as “a Trump ally.”

Certainly, this story doesn’t look good for Trump — any more than Cohen taking the fall for campaign-finance violations in connection to paying off Trump’s adulterous porn-star dalliances. But neither has Mueller proved any underlying crime. His only charges so far, beyond the aforementioned campaign-finance violations, are for perjury committed during the investigation. Business dealings and lying about those dealings do not constitute “colluding” with Russia to steal the 2016 election — not even remotely.

Yet as former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy put it, “Rather than ending the investigation because the suspected crime cannot be established, Mueller is apparently determined to prove ‘collusion’ that is not criminal, however nefarious it may be made to appear.”

In fact, notes Byron York, “The Cohen plea agreement also made news in what it did not cover. Specifically, it spoke volumes — without saying a word — about a key allegation of the Trump dossier, the charge that Cohen traveled to Prague to arrange secret payments to Russian hackers attacking the Clinton campaign. The accusation is the heart of the collusion allegation, and Trump-Russia special counsel Robert Mueller’s deal with Cohen strongly suggests that prosecutors have not found evidence to support it.” Reminder: That dossier was opposition research funded by Hillary Clinton.

On a final note, Trump was perfectly within his rights to continue doing business as a candidate. But it was Barack Obama who told the Russians he would have more “flexibility” after his reelection, with clear implications of collusion putting our national security at risk.

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Declining U.S. Life Expectancy Reflects Cultural Depravity

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Mortality in the United States, 2017” report reveals that, while mortality hasn’t cliff-dived — the aggregate rate of 78.7 years in 2016 fell just a tenth of a point to 78.6 years in 2017 — some of the chief contributors are greatly disconcerting.

In 2017, 47,173 Americans took their own lives, propelling the suicide rate to a half-century high. According to the Associated Press, “The suicide rate was 14 deaths per 100,000 people. That’s the highest since at least 1975.”

The AP adds, “Drug overdose deaths also continued to climb, surpassing 70,000 last year, in the midst of the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in U.S. history. … Accidental drug overdoses account for more than a third of the unintentional injury deaths, and intentional drug overdoses account for about a tenth of the suicides, said Dr. Holly Hedegaard, a CDC injury researcher.”

We’ve come a long way in terms of life expectancy, of course, and we’re still better off than European and Asian nations with higher suicide rates. But the trend has unfortunately become transposed. “For decades,” the AP explains, “U.S. life expectancy was on the upswing, rising a few months nearly every year. Now it’s trending the other way: It fell in 2015, stayed level in 2016, and declined again last year, the CDC said. The nation is in the longest period of a generally declining life expectancy since the late 1910s, when World War I and the worst flu pandemic in modern history combined to kill nearly 1 million Americans. Life expectancy in 1918 was 39.”

Thankfully, today’s mortality is nowhere near that. But taking into account the technology age that has revolutionized medicine, the fact the rate is falling at all signals a deeper issue. It speaks to the cultural rot that has inflicted America to an ever-worsening degree. Even researchers partially acknowledge this.

According to Dr. Robert Redfield, “These sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.” Dr. William Dietz added, “I really do believe that people are increasingly hopeless, and that that leads to drug use. It leads potentially to suicide.”

But what causes hopelessness? The Left and Right differ greatly on the answer. But common sense suggests the collapse of the family and even technology are foremost culprits. Fewer than 20,000 people are murdered every year (less than half of those with firearms), meaning suicides and drug overdoses vastly outnumber homicides. Yet far more attention is paid to murders and “gun violence.” But make no mistake: All of them are linked by an indifference for earthly life, which in turn stems from a mentality that’s devoid of gratitude, meaning, and, most importantly, spiritual direction. For these reasons, don’t hold out hope for the secular, fearmongering media to provide the right remedy.

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ON THE WEB TODAY

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

TOP HEADLINES

  • High-tension G20 opens, dominated by Trump quarrels (AFP)
  • Trump cancels plans to meet with Putin (The Hill)
  • U.S., Mexico, and Canada ink new trade agreement, but final ratification remains big hurdle (USA Today)
  • Ninety-one percent of Central American asylum seekers have bogus claims (Townhall)
  • One-third of migrants in caravan are being treated for health issues (Fox News)
  • Paul Ryan says immigration and federal debt are his biggest regrets (National Review)
  • The House speaker is right: California’s election laws are vulnerable to fraud (The Federalist)
  • CNN fires commentator Marc Lamont Hill after he called for eliminating Israel (Washington Examiner)
  • Marriott says its Starwood database was hacked on approximately 500 million guests (Reuters)
  • Humor: Border Patrol, migrants locked in epic game of “Red Rover” (The Babylon Bee)
  • Policy: Three ways Washington can save a nickel for every dollar in 2020 (The Heritage Foundation)
  • Policy: Here’s what opponents of criminal justice reform get wrong (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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For more of today’s top cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

FEATURED ANALYSIS

The Second Class Second Amendment?

Brian Mark Weber

The Left has, over time, perpetuated the idea that the Bill of Rights, whose 10 amendments were designed to protect individual citizens from government tyranny, somehow includes a Second Amendment that empowers the government to determine when and where those citizens can carry weapons. But why would the Founders go to the trouble of ensuring such rights while allowing the government to snatch them away from an undefended population?

Still, in 2008 the Supreme Court held 5-4 in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment was an individual right, a decision that former Justice John Paul Stevens called the worst of his tenure. The Federalist’s David Harsanyi writes, “Earlier this year, in fact, Stevens implored Americans to do what he couldn’t while on the court, and repeal the Second Amendment.”

The fact that the Heller decision was even necessary reveals just how far we’ve fallen since our founding. The ruling came far too late to push back against decades of leftist propaganda and activism designed to convince millions of Americans that the Second Amendment was far different from the other nine rights — that it was neither individual nor narrowly limited but collective and extremely limited.

Since then, lower courts have had a field day misinterpreting the Constitution and upholding laws making it harder for citizens to acquire guns. For example, in 2016 the infamous Ninth Circuit Court determined in Peruta v. California that one must show “good cause” in order to carry a concealed weapon. Sadly, these kinds of outrageous decisions are free to stand as long as the Supreme Court refuses to hear key cases rather than establishing strong precedents that would put the issue to rest.

As John Yoo and James C. Phillips write at National Review, “Despite the text of the Second Amendment, supporters of a right to bear arms have rooted their arguments in a murky pre-constitutional right to self-defense. As a result, the Supreme Court has shied away from halting the spread of federal and state schemes for gun control, for which the cries will only rise higher after the recent mass shootings. Unless the new conservative majority on the Court, solidified by Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s arrival, places the right to bear arms on a par with the rest of the Bill of Rights, the coming blue wave of gun-control proposals may swamp what the Framers considered a core constitutional right.”

Justice Clarence Thomas made this clear when he recently wrote, “The Framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense. I do not think we should stand by idly while a State denies its citizens that right, particularly when their very lives may depend on it.”

In order to clarify the intent of the framers, Second Amendment proponents cannot merely fall back onto the amendment itself, but must go back further to understand its history. We must arm ourselves with centuries of natural law and English common law principles in order to smash the collective-right theory of the 1960s. For now, conservatives are losing the public relations battle that works against the Second Amendment every time there’s a new mass shooting.

And we had better act swiftly. Nancy Pelosi and company aren’t about to sit back when they take the reins from House Republicans in January.

Mark Walters writes that, with Democrats in power, “We will see a renewed push for expanded background checks and a ban on so-called high capacity magazines. And I expect we will see some form of ‘assault weapons’ ban as well as a push for federal Extreme Risk Protection Orders and red flag laws. These red flag laws disarm American citizens by violating their due process rights based simply on an allegation that someone may be a danger to themselves or others.”

All this would be of less concern if the Supreme Court and its new, more conservative majority would simply take up more Second Amendment cases and decisively reestablish the self-evident right of American citizens to defend themselves. Indeed, the High Court may be the last best hope for securing this right against a leftist obsession to take it away.

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OPINION IN BRIEF

Marc A. Thiessen: “A Chinese scientist’s claim to have created the first genetically edited babies has evoked widespread condemnation from the scientific community. … Playing with humanity’s genetic code could open a Pandora’s box. Scientists will eventually be able to alter DNA not just to protect against disease but also to create genetically enhanced human beings. The same techniques that can eliminate muscular dystrophy might also be used to enhance muscles to improve strength or speed. Techniques used to eliminate dementia may also be harnessed to enhance memory and cognition. This would have profound societal implications. … If we begin to create perfect children in labs, over time society will begin to develop an intolerance for imperfection. If your children have an illness because you didn’t genetically eliminate it, or if they can’t keep up because of their unenhanced cognitive abilities, then that makes them an unjust burden on the rest of us. As we are separated into the enhanced and unenhanced, respect for the dignity of every human life will be diminished. So will personal responsibility. … We should not be playing God. Genetic research holds the promise to prevent, cure and even eliminate disease. But when it is used to create made-to-order ‘super children,’ we have crossed a moral line from which there may be no return.”

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “Who besides a degraded rabble would voluntarily present itself to be graded and classified like meat? No wonder school is compulsory.” —John Taylor Gatto (1937-2018)

For the record: “This week the Senate Judiciary Committee had to halt progress on confirming talented judges thanks to GOP Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona. … Mr. Flake’s stunt will have zero effect on President Trump or Mr. Mueller, and he’s compromising a substantive principle to make a futile political gesture. Mr. Flake is hurting the cause of confirming conservative judges who would enforce the Constitution in the name of a bill that is unconstitutional.” —The Wall Street Journal

Belly laugh of the week: “Canada has done such a good job of both managing its contemporary diversity and it has a very interesting immigration system. And yet it’s still Canada. And I just think that you can model the idea that you can become more diverse and still keep your culture and your values. It’s really very good for a modern economy. And the United States will have to return to that if it expects to play a positive role in the future.” —Bill Clinton

Non Compos Mentis: “My country gassed children. There are no words for my horror. To those who will immediately speak of ‘doing it the right way’, who will ‘blame the parents for putting the children in this position’, or say ‘they were storming the wall’, and ‘they were throwing rocks’: the only human response to this monstrous use of force against LEGAL asylum seekers — against children — is condemnation, shame, and rage. For those that still believe in voting for the man who recommended using lethal force on families fleeing violence and persecution: this is the policy you like?” —Anne Hathaway

Braying Jackass: “Donald J. Trump is now the face of climate denial. … There will be an opportunity, a little bit less than two years from right now, for people who’ve had enough of this stuff to register and vote in large numbers and make a statement — that we want to get back on the track to the real America, and the real American Dream.” —Al Gore

Family squabbles: “If Beto O'Rourke wants to go and run for president … he should put his hat in and make his case. But he lost. You don’t usually promote a loser to the top of party.” —Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (Unless you’re promoting Hillary Clinton, of course.)

And last… “It’s no coincidence that as societies become more progressive, they also become less Christian, and vice versa. This has obviously happened in Europe, and numbers show it’s happening in America. Government replaces God.” —Allie Beth Stuckey

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Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis

Nate Jackson, Managing Editor
Mark Alexander, Publisher

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