Mid-Day Digest

Jan. 28, 2019

THE FOUNDATION

“It behooves you, therefore, to think and act for yourself and your people. The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counselors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail.” —Thomas Jefferson (1775)

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IN TODAY’S EDITION

IN BRIEF

Shutdown Politics: Where to Now?

Nate Jackson

After 35 days, the partial government shutdown is over. President Donald Trump conceded to an increasingly painful reality Friday afternoon, signing a bill to reopen the government until Feb. 15, during which time he will continue to try to persuade Democrats to negotiate for a border barrier. They won’t. And then the president will “really have no choice” but to declare a national emergency so he can allocate funds to build a couple hundred miles of barrier. There’s little question that Friday’s deal was a temporary defeat for Trump and a big victory for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But there’s a lot more to this fight than meets the eye, and it’s certainly not over yet.

Trump arguably misstepped when he told “Chuck and Nancy” in their December meeting that he’d happily take responsibility for a shutdown. That sound bite only made blaming him for the shutdown easier for the media. Two other factors strengthened the Dems’ position. First, Trump Derangement Syndrome means anything Trump pitches — and he campaigned heavily on a “big, beautiful wall,” paid for by Mexico — is anathema. Second, Pelosi had taken to calling a border wall “immoral,” and there is simply no compromise when an issue has been made that black and white.

So what was Trump’s play in forcing the shutdown? He’s been floating an emergency declaration since December, but he couldn’t do it out of the blue. He needed to prove that the border is in a state of emergency. Over the course of the last five weeks, Trump showed just how intractable and entrenched Democrats really are, leaving him with no other recourse but to declare an emergency. Trump looked like the reasonable one by agreeing to a deal that included nothing he wanted, and Pelosi’s approval/disapproval spread is far worse than Trump’s. In fact, Trump’s support among Hispanics is up 19% in just one month.

Granted, declaring an emergency isn’t a clean play either. With 31 active emergencies on the books, Trump has a case. But Democrats will immediately challenge him in court, specifically where an activist Obama judge will block him, and such a declaration could set a precedent for a President Kamala Harris to tackle climate change with an emergency declaration. Moreover, it’s likely such a move by Trump would actually divide Republicans more than defeat Democrats.

Speaking of that, where was the congressional GOP in all of this? Senate Republicans couldn’t have been clearer about their disinterest in backing Trump. Recall too that the GOP controlled both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue for the previous two years and did nothing about the border. Was immigration not an emergency then? Border security was Trump’s signature issue, but his administration did little to push a legislative effort until the GOP had lost the House. And Congress cared little for doing anything without his leadership. We’ll borrow one of Trump’s favorite words to describe this collective lack of effort: “Sad!”

Republicans also had unified control of Washington from 2001-2006. They did little on immigration. Democrats held power in 2009 and 2010. They did nothing — well, except take over the health and financial sectors of the economy. We’re left to conclude that both parties believe they benefit not from solving the major national problem of immigration but by exploiting it for political purposes.

A final note: Trump wanted $5.7 billion for a border barrier, while Washington University professor Liberty Vittert estimates the shutdown cost the American public approximately $40 billion — enough to pay for “the entire wall to be built and maintained for 40 years.” A more conservative estimate by the Congressional Budget Office still puts the economic toll at $11 billion, including $3 billion that’s permanent.

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‘Peace Deal’ for Afghanistan Departure?

Thomas Gallatin

Is the end of the U.S.‘s nearly two-decades-long war in Afghanistan finally in sight? The New York Times reported this morning that a draft framework for a peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban had been agreed to in principle. “We have a draft of the framework that has to be fleshed out before it becomes an agreement,” stated Zalmay Khalilzad, the American envoy. He added, “The Taliban have committed, to our satisfaction, to do what is necessary that would prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a platform for international terrorist groups or individuals.”

Since 2010, the U.S. and the Taliban have been attempting to broker a peace deal that would effectively allow for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. This latest news represents a significant step forward in seeing that goal realized — on the basis of conditions on the ground, not Barack Obama’s electoral timetable. However, it’s far from a done deal. As Afghan President Ashraf Ghani noted, “We want peace … soon, but we want it with prudence. Prudence is important so we do not repeat past mistakes.”

The Taliban has in principle agreed to never allow Afghanistan to become “a platform for international terrorist groups or individuals,” like al-Qaida. We’ll believe it when we see it. The second U.S. demand, which Taliban leadership is still considering, is to enter into a cease-fire agreement with the Afghan government. The U.S. has made it clear that American troops will not withdraw without a cease-fire. That the Taliban is even considering this is significant given that it has long refused to engage in any talks with the Afghan government.

There is no timeframe set for a potential withdrawal of U.S. troops — and there shouldn’t be — but there may be a light appearing at the end of this long Afghan tunnel. The important issue for Americans is to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a threat to the U.S. again. Unfortunately for the people of Afghanistan, the threat posed by the Taliban continues.

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ON OUR WEBSITE TODAY

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

TOP HEADLINES

  • Trump casts doubt on seeing a budget deal that he’d accept (Associated Press)
  • Pelosi: State of the Union still isn’t happening (Townhall)
  • U.S. delays returning asylum seekers to Mexico (Agence France-Presse)
  • Caravan 2.0: The numbers are massive, even by Mexico’s count (Townhall)
  • HHS moves to protect religious liberty in adoptions, foster care (The Washington Free Beacon)
  • Roger Stone indictment underscores that there was no Trump-Russia conspiracy (National Review)
  • Kamala Harris draws bigger crowd than Obama for launch of White House bid (Washington Examiner)
  • British newspaper agrees to pay Melania Trump “substantial damages” over false reporting (The Daily Wire)
  • Venezuela’s Maduro rejects election ultimatum as U.S. envoy defects to opposition leader (NBC News)
  • Humor: Statement by Pinocchio rated four Ocasio-Cortezes (The Babylon Bee)
  • Policy: Helpful reforms are on the way at Veterans Affairs (Washington Examiner)
  • Policy: The “Green New Deal” is a prescription for poverty (Washington Examiner)

For more of today’s editors’ choice headlines, visit In Our Sights.

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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 cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

OPINION IN BRIEF

Hans von Spakovsky: “Roughly 700,000 immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children are protected from deportation by DACA. The argument in favor of the program is that the children didn’t choose to break the law and so should not be punished because their parents violated immigration laws by bringing them to the U.S. But the central issue at stake in the DACA case is not whether the young people now protected by DACA deserve or don’t deserve to be allowed to stay in the U.S. The issue at stake is what power the Constitution gives the president to act alone by issuing executive orders, without seeking approval from Congress. The framers of the Constitution very deliberately set up a system of government where power was divided between the president and Congress, with the courts given the power to rule on disputes. These checks and balances were created to prevent one person from ruling the country as an all-powerful king or dictator. The system has worked brilliantly. To preserve that system of checks and balances, the Supreme Court should hear the appeal of the lower court case on DACA and give President Trump the authority to end the program.”

SHORT CUTS

The Gipper: “If all of this seems like a great deal of trouble, think what’s at stake. We are faced with the most evil enemy mankind has known in his long climb from the swamp to the stars. There can be no security anywhere in the free world if there is no fiscal and economic stability within the United States.” —Ronald Reagan

Advice: “It was one thing for [New York] state leaders to carry out their threat against the unborn, and another thing altogether to revel in it — cheering wildly as Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) signed the warrant for the execution of more innocents. … Sometimes, I think we become so focused on Congress and what’s going on in Washington, D.C. that people forget the importance of being involved locally — on city councils, school boards, and legislatures. The people behind this evil will come again — to your state. If there’s any hope of stopping them, we need to engage now.” —Tony Perkins

For the record: “[Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez is the celebrity bus driver with no GPS. The liberal media treat her like a political genius, mainly because they are as dumb as she is about the benefits of things like capitalism and border walls. But despite what she and her fellow socialists in the Democrat Party think, they are not going to lead the country to a better, greater place in 2020. They’re just leading their party over a cliff.” —Michael Reagan

Upright: “So long as our nation’s newsrooms are ideological monocultures, not even the best of intentions can block the formation of a partisan press.” —David French

Race bait: “The wall itself … is a 4th century strategy for a 20th century challenge that has become a racist symbol.” —Sen. Jeff Merkley

Alpha Jackass: “Working people throughout America empathized with federal workers and were aghast at what the president was doing to them. Hopefully now the president has learned his lesson.” —Chuck Schumer

Broken clock: “I also happen to believe that the Hispanics should work harder at assimilation. … You know, they ought not to be just codified in their communities but make sure that all their kids are learning to speak English and that they feel comfortable in the communities.” —Tom Brokaw, who subsequently apologized for enraging the leftist mob

And last… “What the president wants is not unreasonable. It’s a fraction of what Democrats have voted for in the past. And … achieving border security is the key that unlocks the door to doing other things on immigration that he’s expressed a willingness to do. … So, I hope people will separate the tactics from the policy, because I think the policy is reasonable and solid.” —Marco Rubio

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Join our editors and staff in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families. We also humbly ask prayer for your Patriot team, that our mission would seed and encourage the spirit of Liberty in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis

Nate Jackson, Managing Editor
Mark Alexander, Publisher

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