Mid-Day Digest

Dec. 19, 2018

THE FOUNDATION

“The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all citizens.” —Thomas Jefferson (1816)

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IN TODAY’S EDITION

IN BRIEF

Flynn’s Sentencing Delayed by Berating Judge

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan on Tuesday delayed sentencing former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn at the request of his attorneys. The events leading up to the judge’s decision were bizarre to say the least. Following Sullivan’s instruction last week to Robert Mueller and the Justice Department to provide documents related to the FBI’s interview of Flynn to the court, many were speculating that Flynn’s guilty plea may have been in doubt, which would have certainly served as a reprimand against Mueller.

However, what transpired was anything but a criticism of the FBI. Instead, Sullivan proceeded to blast Flynn for “treasonous” acts before backtracking somewhat as he delayed the sentencing until March.

Sullivan berated Flynn, stating, “All along, you were an unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the national security advisor to the president of the United States. That undermines everything this flag over here stands for. Arguably, you sold your country out.” But after a short recess, he walked it back, saying, “I’m not suggesting [Flynn] was committing treason. I was just curious if he could have been charged. Lots of conspiracy theories out there. … I was just trying to determine the benefit and the generosity of the government. Don’t read too much into the questions I ask.”

For the record, Sullivan never served a day in uniform.

Ironically, Sullivan’s statements even caught Mueller’s team off guard, as it was they who pushed back against the judge’s suggestion of treason, asserting, “The government has no reason to believe [that Flynn] committed treason.” Flynn was not guilty of being an “unregistered agent,” and when even the prosecution pointed that out, Sullivan walked back his accusation.

Consider constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley’s assessment: “When you read these [FBI interview report] 302s, this is a rather anemic crime that borders on the pathetic. I mean [Flynn] gets a call [while] on vacation; he talks to the Russian ambassador. None of that is strange or unprecedented, and certainly not unlawful.”

Meanwhile, this was an enlightening exchange from James Comey’s testimony Tuesday: Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) told Comey, “You were so concerned that Michael Flynn may have lied … to the vice president of the United States, but … once you got that confirmed … you didn’t believe that it was appropriate to tell the president of the United States.”

Comey replied, “That is correct. … We had an open investigation, criminal investigation, counterintelligence investigation. There was no way I would discuss that with the president.”

By the way, Comey also recently admitted that sending agents to interview Flynn outside of normal protocol was “something I probably wouldn’t have done or maybe gotten away with in a more … organized administration.” He explained, “If the FBI wanted to send agents into the White House itself to interview a senior official, you would work through the White House counsel, and there would be discussions and approvals and who would be there. I thought: ‘It’s early enough, let’s just send a couple guys over.’”

So where does this leave things? Sullivan granted Flynn’s request for a delay in sentencing as he is still cooperating with Mueller in an investigation into two of his former business partners who were indicted Monday for violating lobbying rules. As for the theory that Sullivan was about to throw out Flynn’s plea deal over FBI entrapment, that was shown to be completely wrong. In fact, this latest development seemingly serves only to further strengthen Mueller’s hand.

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Second Amendment: Nunchucks and Bump Stocks

Thomas Gallatin

“The centuries-old history of nunchaku being used as defensive weapons strongly suggests their possession, like the possession of firearms, is at the core of the Second Amendment,” wrote U.S. District Court Judge Pamela Chen in her Tuesday ruling overturning a 44-year-old New York ban on nunchucks.

Back in 1974, following the exploding popularity of martial arts in the U.S. thanks in large part to Bruce Lee, New York lawmakers took it upon themselves to play nanny and enacted a ban against the possession of nunchucks based upon the rationale that the dangerous tool enticed children to engage in violence. In fact, they were so dangerous, lawmakers reasoned, that not even professional martial-arts teachers would be allowed to possess them in their own homes. (How ironic that the 1980s were dominated by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who dwelled in New York City sewers and one of whom specialized in wielding nunchucks.)

Eventually, this ban precipitated a lawsuit brought by James Maloney, a martial-arts enthusiast who had created his own style of fighting known as “Shafan Ha Lavan.” He had been cited for possession of nunchucks in his home in 2000.

In her ruling, Judge Chen noted recent Supreme Court decisions, stating that “both Heller and McDonald suggest that broadly prohibitory laws restricting the core Second Amendment right … are categorically unconstitutional.” Her ruling finally brings vindication to Maloney and it’s a clear defense of Second Amendment rights, clarifying that the bearing of arms is not limited to firearms.

On a somewhat related note, President Donald Trump’s Justice Department announced a new regulatory rule that now bans the possession of controversial bump-fire stocks primarily used for AR-15 rifles. The new rule is certain to raise objections over Second Amendment infringement concerns. However, we have argued that bump-fire stocks are intentionally designed as a workaround of the federal law that severely restricts the sale and possession of fully automatic firearms. If a federal ban on unregistered automatic firearms is unconstitutional, it would be preferable to work to overturn that law rather than creating devices to exploit loopholes in order to “legally” violate the law. That said, the practical reality is that the banning of bump stocks will likely have little to no impact on preventing future mass shootings. In fact, the only known instance of its use in a crime was the Las Vegas massacre.

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ON THE WEB TODAY

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

TOP HEADLINES

  • Senate to vote on funding bill, easing shutdown threat (Associated Press)
  • Sarah Sanders: Trump asked every agency to see if they have money for the wall (CNS News)
  • Trump says he’s eager to sign sweeping criminal justice bill (Associated Press)
  • DC court dismisses lawsuit seeking Trump’s tax returns (The Hill)
  • Five takeaways from Betsy DeVos’s school safety report (The Daily Signal)
  • Seventy-three percent of top U.S. universities do not guarantee the presumption of innocence in Title IX sexual misconduct trials (Reason)
  • U.S. pledges $10.6 billion in aid for Central America and southern Mexico (Associated Press)
  • Trump administration plans to pull U.S. troops from Syria immediately (The Washington Post)
  • Nation of Islam receiving federal cash to teach prisoners (Washington Examiner)
  • Humor: Death panel orders life support removed from ObamaCare (The Babylon Bee)
  • Policy: Senate’s conservative prison reform advances Trump’s public safety and economic growth agendas (The Daily Signal)
  • Policy: Obama’s school discipline guidance could be doomed — here’s why that’s great news (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

Call for Human Self-Extinction Is Foolish and Nihilistic

Louis DeBroux

As the world’s 2.2 billion Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah sent by God the Father to save mankind from sin and death, The New York Times has published an article calling for mankind to be eradicated from the earth.

In a piece entitled “Would Human Extinction Be a Tragedy?”, Clemson philosophy professor Todd May argues that humanity is a scourge of the planet, and the world would be better without us. He’s seemingly taking his cue from Marvel’s “Infinity War” and its villain Thanos, who [spoiler alert] wipes out half of all life in the universe for the same reasons May expounds.

What horrific crimes has humanity committed making us worthy of self-extinction? According to May, humans are (1) responsible for the “climate change” that is “devastating ecosystems,” (2) increasing population encroaching on the ecosystems of animals, and (3) factory farming animals, causing them “nothing but suffering and misery” before they are slaughtered for food.

In summary, “Humanity, then, is the source of devastation of the lives of conscious animals on a scale that is difficult to comprehend.”

Interestingly, May never mentions man’s inhumanity to man, as with the Holocaust, or genocide in places like Rwanda, as a cause for concern. No, only cruelty to cows, chickens, and pigs warrants his sympathy, and displacement of the snail darter his wrath. Apparently, the thought of inadvertently impacting a species through our development of the earth’s resources for human use, or exercising dominion over animals for human good (i.e., for food or labor) is repulsive to May. But the thought of the global extermination of humanity in order to return the earth to its natural state is perfectly acceptable.

May acknowledges that “nature itself is hardly a Valhalla of peace and harmony,” noting, “Animals kill other animals regularly, often in ways that we (although not they) would consider cruel.” But he then argues the predatory nature of humans is far worse than any other species. That is, however, a subjective judgment that only humans possess the intelligence to make.

After a philosophical exercise in the relative worth of a human soul, in which he highlights the positive contributions of humanity (an advanced level of reasoning, our ability to create art, literature, music, etc.), he contemplates whether it would be worth saving humanity to perpetuate its positive attributes … before concluding it would not.

May argues, “Unless we believe there is such a profound moral gap between the status of human and nonhuman animals, whatever reasonable answer we come up with will be well surpassed by the harm and suffering we inflict upon animals. There is just too much torment wreaked upon too many animals and too certain a prospect that this is going to continue and probably increase; it would overwhelm anything we might place on the other side of the ledger.”

Unless we believe that there is a profound moral gap? Yes, that is exactly what we believe!

Of course, quite hypocritically, May is not quite ready to sacrifice himself to the cause. Instead, he argues that existing humans should take steps to prevent any more humans from coming into the world.

This twisted philosophy finds a welcomed home in the hearts of modern progressives, who have long argued for population control through methods like sterilization and abortion. They paint a bleak, hopeless picture of humanity’s future.

In the 1970s, they warned of a “coming Ice Age” that would kill off most of humanity, followed by the dark specter of apocalyptic “climate change,” coercing us into abandoning the abundant energy and higher standard of living that comes with industrialization. Harvard biologist George Wald declared in 1970 that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years.” Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, argued that due to scarce food supplies “the death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” Ehrlich also insisted that by 1980 “urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution,” and he proclaimed “the life expectancy of a man would plummet to just 42 years.”

Since then, the global population has more than doubled from 3.7 billion to 7.7 billion, yet rapid advances in technology allow us to grow vastly more food on far less land and with fewer resources, drastically reducing world hunger and poverty. Life expectancy has mostly lengthened, not plummeted. Technology has resulted in cleaner air and water in advanced societies, indicating human ingenuity is the solution, not the problem.

Sadly, it is this contempt for the worth of human life, deeply rooted in the death cult of progressivism, which has truly resulted in unfathomable human (and animal) suffering over the last century. The variants of totalitarian socialism (in which the state is god) have resulted not only in the deaths of six million Jews in the Holocaust, but in the brutal deaths of more than 100 million people whose communist governments deemed them of no value beyond their labor.

America alone has seen 60 million unborn children slaughtered in abortion clinics since 1973. Around the world, Down Syndrome children are being aborted into extinction, and throughout Europe thousands of the sick, elderly, and mentally ill are being euthanized without their consent.

This is the inevitable result when humans no longer believe human life has intrinsic value. Ironically, those who share May’s nihilistic view of humanity bring about the greatest suffering.

Though flawed, mankind is also capable of goodness and self-sacrifice. In our absence, animals would be no less predatory, and nature no more forgiving. With humanity, the earth is capable of breathtaking beauty, kindness, and progress. We think we’ll stick around.

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OPINION IN BRIEF

Ben Shapiro: “Last month, the New York State Education Department made a crucial decision: Commissioner MaryEllen Elia handed authority to local school boards to veto the right for private schools to operate. … If you choose to send your child to a non-approved yeshiva, you must be policed and your child threatened with truancy. If, however, you are a parent who decides to expose your 11-year-old son to risk of sexual perversion, then you’re open-minded and noble. What else are we to take from the story of Desmond Napoles? Napoles is an 11-year-old boy who dresses in drag for national press, and who was squired — presumably by his parents — to a gay bar in Brooklyn, New York, called 3 Dollar Bill, where grown men proceeded to hand dollar bills to him. As writer Matt Walsh has pointed out, were Desmond a girl being paraded by her parents before the leering stares of grown men, child protective services would be called. But since Desmond is a celebrity who has been exploited by his parents, this is all worth celebrating. Which is, perhaps, one of the reasons so many religious parents don’t want the state of New York determining what they should and should not be allowed to teach their children.”

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “To most of us nothing is so invisible as an unpleasant truth. Though it is held before our eyes, pushed under our noses, rammed down our throats — we know it not.” —Eric Hoffer (1902-1983)

Observations: “To our liberal media, every illegal immigrant is assumed to be a virtuous person and more virtuous than the Border Patrol.” —L. Brent Bozell & Tim Graham

Grandstanding: “At some point, someone has to stand up, and in the face of fear of Fox News, fear of their base, fear of mean tweets, stand up for the values of this country and not slink away into retirement, but stand up and speak the truth.” —ex-FBI Director James Comey

Braying Jackass I: “For some reason, if you meet with Minister Farrakhan and you don’t throw him away wholesale, then you’re castigated in a way that doesn’t happen with anybody else. I worked on Fox News for many years. No one ever said, ‘Why … are you sitting with Bill O'Reilly? Why are you sitting with Sean Hannity? Why are you sitting with Ann Coulter?’ … Why does every black leader have to ritually denounce Farrakhan in order to sustain a position? That doesn’t happen to anyone else. Again, Mr. Farrakhan is my brother.” —Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill

Braying Jackass II: “The New York City police — they’re killing us but they’re trained by Israeli security forces. … So there’s a connection between the two.” —Marc Lamont Hill

And last… “Whatever you make of the Flynn case, it’s hard to get over the fact that the same DOJ was handing out immunity deals to everyone on Hillary’s staff — [people] who were smashing phones & bleaching servers. I think a lot of anger comes from the disparate treatment.” —David Harsanyi

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Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis

Nate Jackson, Managing Editor
Mark Alexander, Publisher

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