Mid-Day Digest

Jan. 30, 2019

THE FOUNDATION

“America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” —James Madison (1787)

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IN TODAY’S EDITION

IN BRIEF

Leftmedia Spin on the U.S. Intelligence Threat Assessment

President Donald Trump loves this country and strongly advocates and advances an “America First” foreign policy. Whether it’s withdrawing from the terrible nuclear deal with Iran or the hamstringing climate accord from Paris, he’s moved to undo the “America Last” agenda of his globalist predecessor. And the Leftmedia hates him for it.

So we’re treated to New York Times headlines such as “On North Korea and Iran, Intelligence Chiefs Contradict Trump” that are meant to portray Trump as an uninformed rube blundering his way through foreign policy. The topic at hand is the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment prepared by the U.S. intelligence community. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and FBI Director Christopher Wray testified Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding the assessment.

The trio warned about threats from Russia and China, which the assessment says are “more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s.” They also addressed North Korea, Iran, and ISIS. On each nation, Coats, Haspel, and Wray did indeed contradict some of Trump’s more brash assertions. For example, in announcing the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, Trump declared, “We have won against ISIS; we’ve beaten them, and we’ve beaten them badly.” By contrast, Coats said the Islamic State will continue “to stoke violence” in Syria.

In our humble shop, however, we consider this to be another instance when Trump should be taken seriously but not literally. While Barack Obama effectively created ISIS, Trump has done a lot to beat it back. Unfortunately, by making hyperbolic, black-and-white declarations, he opens himself up to eye-rolling “fact-checks” by the media and others. Trump has a maddening ability to be both wrong and right at the same time.

On North Korea, he did the same thing, saying after his summit with Kim Jong-un, “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” Yes, there is, says the intelligence assessment. “We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities, because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival,” Coats said. “Our assessment is bolstered by our observations of some activity that is inconsistent with full denuclearization.”

Naturally, a good deal of time was spent on Russia’s election interference through Facebook. But Terence Jeffrey astutely argues what grassroots Americans are thinking: “The top national security issue facing the federal government today has nothing to do with deceptive political speech on social media. It has everything to do with our southern border.”

In the final analysis, the intelligence threat assessment is done in conjunction with the White House — these are executive agencies, after all — and the apparent disagreement arguably strengthens the American position in negotiations with our geopolitical foes. How? By keeping them off balance and on the ropes. Meanwhile, here at home, the Leftmedia is happy to keep churning anything that can be spun to make Trump look bad, reporting on complicated issues as checker games rather than chess matches.

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About Those Omitted Judicial Nominees…

Thomas Gallatin

Has President Donald Trump caved to Democrat demands in his choice of judicial nominees? That’s the position taken by The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board in a piece entitled “A Bad Judges Deal.” The Journal notes that the names of three judicial nominees that had previously appeared on a list of more than 50 judges Trump sent to the Senate last year were conspicuously omitted when the list was resubmitted earlier this month. Those three individuals had been nominated for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. So why were they removed?

The Journal speculates that the omissions are due to White House interactions with the two Democrat senators from California: “Ms. [Dianne] Feinstein and the White House counsel’s office have been pen pals on this for some time. In a November letter to new White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Ms. Feinstein and Ms. [Kamala] Harris requested ‘that the White House work with us to reach an agreement on a consensus package of nominees.’ The Democrats want to pick one name from the White House list, one from their own, and a third consensus nominee.”

Clearly, there has been some backroom dealing going on, possibly in an effort to get Democrats to end their obstructionist tactics that have effectively slowed the judicial confirmation process to a crawl. As we have repeatedly noted, Trump is way behind his predecessors in judicial confirmations and that is entirely due to Democrat obstruction. Being in the Senate minority, Democrats can’t prevent Trump’s judicial nominees from being confirmed; they can, however, play procedural games to slow-walk the process as much as possible. Has a frustrated White House opted to try to make a deal with Dems in order to get them to end their delay tactics?

Possibly, but there is very likely much more behind this decision than merely a deal with Democrats to speed up the confirmation process. Before getting too concerned, it would be best to wait and see who Trump nominates rather than ring alarm bells over what names have been omitted.

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ON OUR WEBSITE TODAY

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

TOP HEADLINES

  • Trump’s 2020 budget delayed by shutdown (The Hill)
  • Economic growth paid for 20% of GOP tax cuts, new CBO data show (Investor’s Business Daily)
  • Pentagon will be sending several thousand more troops to the southern border (Associated Press)
  • In break with past policy, U.S. tells first asylum seeker to wait in Mexico (ABC News)
  • Georgia gubernatorial loser Stacey Abrams to give Democrat response to State of the Union (CBS News)
  • Kamala Harris waffles on health care less than 24 hours after spurring outrage (The Daily Wire)
  • Virginia Democrats push for legalizing abortion during child birth (The Resurgent)
  • Polar plunge freezes Midwest with snow, dangerously cold air (Reuters)
  • South Dakota becomes latest state to pass constitutional carry (The Daily Wire)
  • Humor: Report: Americans totally unable to remember what they were outraged about last week (The Babylon Bee)
  • Policy: Banning government shutdowns is a terrible idea (National Review)
  • Policy: Why “Medicare for All” isn’t really Medicare at all (American Enterprise Institute)

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

Marc A. Thiessen: “Trump should call [the Democrats’] bluff. He should go back to the experts at the Department of Homeland Security and ask them: If Democrats refuse to give you the addition physical barriers you have said are essential to secure the border, what other funding would you need to make up for it? How many extra border agents would you need in the absence of a wall? How many more canine units? How much more for improved coordination with state and local law enforcement in our border communities? How many more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents for interior enforcement? How much for underground sensors, radar, unmanned drones and fixed towers with infrared cameras? How much more advanced detection technology at our ports of entry? How many more portable scanners to detect smuggled narcotics, weapons and other dangerous materials? How much for construction of new ports of entry? How many more immigration judges? How much for employment eligibility verification? How much more in humanitarian assistance and medical support for those detained at the border? How many more detention beds and temporary housing units for migrant families? How much more for DNA testing to establish family relationships? How much to set up a new system that will allow Central American minors to apply for asylum in their home countries? The total, he should tell the border professionals, can be far more than $5.7 billion. Just tell me what you need — the sky’s the limit.”

SHORT CUTS

For the record: “[Howard] Schultz may be a boring billionaire, but at least he isn’t pushing proposals so loony they alienate vast swaths of the American public. Democrats want to have it both ways: They want to push radical leftist policy, but they don’t want the blowback such policies entail. They want to pretend that radical leftism is popular even as they implicitly acknowledge the fact that it’s not all that popular.” —Ben Shapiro

Friendly fire: “I want you to understand the speed with which the Democratic Party has moved in just four years. You would never have heard the Democratic nominee in 2016, Hillary Clinton, say that. And here we are, you know, three years later from that, and Kamala Harris, one of the big contenders for the nomination, is saying do away with private insurance and embrace socialized medicine.” —CNN political director David Chalian

Demo-gogues: “There is no philosophical debate about the notion that health care should be a right for all and not a privilege for a few. The Democratic primary will have a debate about how do we get from 90% coverage to 100% coverage. There are some who advocate for ‘Medicare for All’; there are some who will advocate for a market-based approach.” —DNC Chief Tom Perez

Braying Jenny: “I think that somebody should have required — and this is going to sound very harsh — I think somebody should have required all those members of Congress to go in a room, in a locked room, no press, nobody else, and look at the autopsy photographs of those babies [killed at Sandy Hook]. And then you vote your conscience [on gun control].” —Kamala Harris, who probably wouldn’t very much like to look at dismembered babies before voting on abortion laws

Non Compos Mentis I: “The agriculture in North America is going to have to move north into … Canada, and we don’t have the infrastructure … to get food from that area to where we need it around the world.” —Bill “The Science Lie” Nye

Non Compos Mentis II: “For the last 40 years we have tried conservative economic policy and the deficit has risen, income inequality has grown, middle class is shrinking, and our infrastructure is falling apart. Why wouldn’t we see if progressive economic policy could do a better job?” —Matthew Dowd (“We did, for eight years under Obama. It didn’t work.” —Brit Hume)

And last… “When you’re trying to cross a border, and there’s a 20-plus foot steel slated barrier in your way, it seriously inhibits your ability to cross. A sensor tells a Border Agent, miles away, that they have to find you now. I wonder which one works better.” —Dan Crenshaw

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Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis

Nate Jackson, Managing Editor
Mark Alexander, Publisher

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