Mid-Day Digest

Mar. 22, 2019

THE FOUNDATION

“Public opinion sets bounds to every government, and is the real sovereign in every free one.” —James Madison (1791)

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IN TODAY’S EDITION

IN BRIEF

Trump Acts to Protect Free Speech at America’s Universities

“Under the policy I announced today, federal agencies will use their authority under various grant-making programs to ensure that public universities protect [and] cherish … the First Amendment rights of their students, or risk losing billions and billions of dollars in federal taxpayer dollars,” President Donald Trump stated on Thursday as he signed his executive order directing America’s colleges and universities to protect free speech. By signing the executive order, Trump made good on the promise he made at CPAC earlier this month.

Trump defended the need for his order by noting, “Under the guise of speech codes, safe spaces, trigger warnings, these universities tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity, and shut down the voices of great young Americans. … Taxpayer dollars should not subsidize anti-First Amendment institutions — and that’s exactly what they are, anti-First Amendment. Universities that want taxpayer dollars should promote free speech, not silence free speech.”

Trump’s order is low on specifics, but it does note that only research grant money doled out by the federal government to colleges and universities every year would be affected and not aid programs for federal student loans. As Reason’s Robby Soave observes, Trump’s EO “mostly serves as a declaration of support for the First Amendment, and a sign that the Trump administration is looking at doing something to help graduates drowning in debt.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a nonpartisan free-speech-promoting watchdog organization that rates America’s colleges and universities for their adherence to free speech, gave guarded support for the spirit of the order while voicing a wariness to federal overreach. “FIRE will watch closely to see if today’s action furthers the meaningful, lasting policy changes that FIRE has secured over two decades — or results in unintended consequences that threaten free expression and academic freedom.”

When Trump first brought up issuing an executive order on protecting campus free speech, we too agreed with his sentiment but were concerned that it could run into the realm of executive overreach. Upon seeing the order, those concerns are somewhat alleviated, as the order appears to be more of a symbolic gesture designed to publicly highlight the growing problem of silencing speech on many of America’s college and university campuses. Trump is using the presidential bully pulpit to shine a national spotlight on the problem that much of the mainstream media has ignored and that many leftist university professors deny even exits. As he has constantly done in highlighting the leftist bias in the MSM, Trump is similarly seeking to expose the massive leftist bias that exists within the halls of America’s institutions of higher learning.

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Victory Over ISIS?

The Islamic State’s “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria was the physical — and temporary — manifestation of what we’ve long called Jihadistan — a borderless nation of Islamofascists with global reach. America’s long war with these asymmetric adversaries arguably began in 1993 with the first bombing of the World Trade Center, and it continues today. Its very asymmetry is part of why the fight has been so difficult.

It’s important to keep this in mind when reading reports such as this from Fox News: “The caliphate has crumbled, and the final offensive is over.” Embedded journalists in Baghouz, Syria, report that the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has waged a successful campaign against the last stronghold of ISIS. “This final corner of the caliphate was in the far eastern desert of Syria,” Fox reports. “It was where ISIS first captured territory, and it is where they finally lost.”

Reuters reports, “U.S.-backed Syrian forces were sweeping on Thursday through the final enclave that had been held by Islamic State fighters, and said they would declare the group defeated once a search for hidden mines and jihadist holdouts was complete.”

ISIS was driven out of Iraq in December 2017.

We’d caution against declaring any final victory for the reasons stated above. ISIS may indeed have lost its territory, but its twisted and radical ideology is still alive and not bound by geography. Nevertheless, President Donald Trump has implemented a remarkable turnaround in American national-security policy. Whereas Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton effectively created the Islamic State, Trump — albeit with a rather schizophrenic approach to action in Syria — has worked to bring about its territorial destruction. That’s worth celebrating.

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ON OUR WEBSITE TODAY

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

TOP NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  • Late last year, numerous inert bombs were dispatched by a criminal sociopath specifically earmarked for Trump critics. Yesterday, the perpetrator pleaded guilty. According to the AP, “He could get life in prison at sentencing Sept. 12 on 65 counts, including 16 counts of using a weapon of mass destruction and mailing explosives with intent to kill. In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped a charge that carried a mandatory life sentence.”
  • According to National Review, “The Republican governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant, signed a bill Thursday banning abortions past the point in pregnancy where a fetal heartbeat can be detected.” However, “The law … is expected to face legal challenges from abortion-rights groups before July 1, when it is scheduled to go into effect. Such groups immediately blasted the bill, saying it infringes on a woman’s right to choose to obtain the procedure.” It would also face legal challenges at the federal level under a John Hickenlooper administration. This week the Democrat presidential candidate revealed, “I would make sure as president that … any state that violated a woman’s right to decide her own health care would be met with litigation immediately.”
  • “European Union leaders on Thursday night agreed to a short-term Brexit extension in order to allow British Prime Minister Theresa May more time to get her withdrawal agreement through Parliament — just a week before Britain was scheduled to leave the bloc. … May is expected to put her deal again to Parliament next week. … The European Council … had appeared skeptical of giving any delay without a firm plan, but on Thursday night announced they had agreed to a pause until May 22 — although that is conditional on British lawmakers approving the deal next week.” (Fox News)
  • Morris Dees is out, and now a former Southern Poverty Law Center staffer is supplying some insider perspective. Bob Moser branded the beleaguered institution as “a ‘highly profitable scam’ that ‘never lived up to the values it espoused,” The Daily Caller reports. Moser also charged the SPLC with “'ripping off donors’ while turning a blind eye to sexual harassment and racial discrimination within its own ranks.”
  • “The American Bar Association is warning of an ‘existential crisis’ over the unprecedented surge in the number of immigration cases clogging up courts,” according to the Washington Examiner. “In a new 176-page report that repeatedly raps the Trump administration’s policies, the ABA said that the backlog in immigration courts is over 1 million. … Without fast changes, the lawyer’s group added, the immigration court system will collapse. President Trump has sought to increase the corps of immigration court judges.” Thanks, obstructionists.
  • “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” President Trump announced yesterday, to which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu replied: “At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Thank you President Trump!” The Hill notes that Trump’s remarks yield “a diplomatic win for … Netanyahu ahead of a tough reelection race.”
  • Humor: Local Chick-fil-A declares itself a “sanctuary space” for undocumented cows (The Babylon Bee) (Based on a true story.)
  • Policy: National Review’s Alexandra DeSanctis reveals that Medicare for All “would guarantee ‘free’ abortions for all women — or at least, as ‘free’ as every other type of health care ostensibly would be under [leftists’] implausible regime, which is to say abortion would be underwritten, along with everything else, by taxpayers.”
  • Policy: Lee Friday says, “If [Universal Basic Income] proponents are genuinely concerned about those on the lower rungs of the income ladder, they should abandon their minimum income crusade and instead pressure the government to do two things. First, immediately abolish all regulations which prohibit people from earning income. Second, announce that all welfare programs will be abolished in six months.” Read more at the Foundation for Economic Education.

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

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OPINION IN BRIEF

David Harsanyi: “Most of the Founding Fathers believed that a diffuse democracy would weaken the ability of politicians to scaremonger and rely on emotional appeals to take power. Most of them believed that proportional voting would blunt the vagaries of the electorate and help ensure national stability. Democrats agree, which is why they want to scrap the system. … Some people like to point out that the Electoral College couldn’t really be important, seeing as we’ve had only four elections in which it was in conflict with the ‘popular vote.’ The opposite is true. The Electoral College isn’t about outcomes; it’s about process. … What’s truly silly is treating proposed constitutional amendments as if they were equally consequential. No, there’s nothing particularly radical about partisans proposing additions that reflect their positions (a balanced budget amendment or an equal rights amendment). None of the ones the GOP has proposed fundamentally challenges one of the core ideas of our governing process. The idea of maintaining proportional voting and states’ rights and decentralized power is not the same as an amendment dealing with bookkeeping.”

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.” —G.K. Chesterton

Friendly fire: “If you just broadly endorse the Green New Deal, you are liable to upset one side of the aisle or the other. And that’s not constructive. The idea that you could go 100 percent [renewable energy] in 10 years would require a lot of things happening perfectly, simultaneously.” —SunPower CEO Tom Werner

Friendly fire II: “We love the enthusiasm the Green New Deal has brought to the climate issue … but we need to operate in political reality.” —Solar Energy Industries Association’s Dan Whitten

What could possible go wrong? “We must follow New Zealand’s lead, take on the NRA and ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons in the United States.” —Sen. Bernie Sanders

Braying Jenny: “The president has decided to be in defiance of the Constitution, to deface it with his actions.” —House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who spearheaded passing ObamaCare, the “stimulus,” and massive financial regulations, to name but a few major constitutional violations

The BIG Lie: “We do not need any walls. … You and I will be forced to take [someone’s] property to solve a problem that we do not have.” —Beto O'Rourke

Federalism? What’s that? “I would make sure as president that every issue within any state that violated a woman’s right to decide her own health care would be met with litigation immediately.” —John Hickenlooper

Delusions of grandeur: “If Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, [and] Donald Trump for the last two years had complete sway, they wouldn’t have just changed policy, which is nice; they would have hurt people in my community. Literally doing policies that could cause people’s death.” —Sen. Cory Booker

And last… “If you want to alleviate the discrepancies between large states and small states, you would be better spent advocating for a larger House of Representatives.” —Jay Cost

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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.


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Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis

Nate Jackson, Managing Editor
Mark Alexander, Publisher