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Mid-Day Digest

Jun. 3, 2019

THE FOUNDATION

“Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.” —Samuel Adams (1749)

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IN TODAY’S EDITION

IN BRIEF

Obama’s Iranian Cabal Still Undermining Trump

More than two years into Donald Trump’s presidency, Barack Obama and his minions are still working on ways to protect the former president’s legacy. One aspect of that effort has been the reportedly ongoing efforts of former Obama officials to undermine Trump’s policy toward Iran.

The Daily Beast reports on the efforts to stop Trump’s “scorched-earth campaign” against Tehran, which includes briefing congressional Democrats:

As the Trump administration sent warplanes and an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, a small group of former Obama administration officials reached out to their contacts in the Iranian government, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Their message to Iran: Don’t take Trump’s bait. Stay calm.

Conversations between former Obama officials and Iranian government officials have been ongoing since November 2016. Zarif, who visits the U.S. every year for the U.N. General Assembly in New York, usually meets with lawmakers, think tanks, journalists, and former officials when he is in town.

While The Daily Beast doesn’t name the three officials, the cabal is likely to include at least Ben Rhodes, who confessed to pushing a deceptive narrative on the Iran nuclear deal so as to create a media “echo chamber” to sway public opinion. He explained that seemingly independent experts “were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

Another possible Obama official talking to Iran is John Kerry, the former secretary of state who crafted the Iran deal. Kerry admitted last year to meeting with Zarif “three or four times” since leaving office, and he’s clearly just as invested as Obama is in saving his own legacy. If Kerry isn’t among the three officials in the Beast’s story, he still looms behind the scenes.

In any case, Kerry has a history of imposing himself into foreign affairs and undermining U.S. negotiations, starting with his meetings with the North Vietnamese in Paris in 1971, when he was still a military officer, as the United States was attempting to negotiate an end to the Vietnam War. Put another way, Kerry has a long history of aiding and abetting American enemies, and he should have been charged with treason nearly 50 years ago.

It was just last month that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo specifically rebuked Kerry, saying, “It is ahistorical and completely unhelpful when previous secretaries of state are continuing to engage in the tasks that they engaged in when they were the secretary of state. I’ll leave it at that in the sense of it’s time to get off the stage for the previous administration. I understand they have different views than we have; they are entitled to those views. But talking with senior leaders around the world and suggesting to them somehow that waiting out this administration is the best course of action for those countries is something that is unheard of. It is fundamentally different than any previous administration has undertaken, and they ought to leave the foreign policy to us.”

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Twitter Users Dumbed Down

A recently published study performed by a team of Italian researchers concluded that using Twitter negatively impacts an individual’s cognitive abilities. Surprise!

Gian Paolo Barbetta, professor of economic policy at Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan and the study’s lead author, explained, “It’s quite detrimental. I can’t say whether something is changing in the mind, but I can say that something is definitely changing in the behavior and the performance.”

The Washington Post reports the researchers found that “using Twitter reduced performance on [an understanding and comprehension] test by about 25 to 40 percent of a standard deviation from the average result, as the paper explains. Jeff Hancock, the found director of the Stanford Social Media Lab, described these as ‘pretty big effects.’” The Post further noted, “The decline was sharpest among high-achieving students, including women, those born in Italy and those who had scored higher on a baseline test. This find, the paper notes, bolsters the conclusion that blogs and social networking sites actively impair performance, rather than simply failing to augment learning.”

Karen North, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, observed, “It’s the same problem that we have with the level of political discussion. People get 280 characters, and it’s not enough. Without the full background, you’re more likely to be led astray.”

Twitter responded by noting that it’s not in the business of making people smarter.

That may be the understatement of the year, especially when Twitter is suspending people like Erick Erickson for having the “audacity” to poke fun at Elizabeth Warren. He tweeted, “Elizabeth Warren set to introduce the Wrecking American Prosperity Under Marxism, or WAMPUM Act, wherein she gives everything away for free.” For that, he was suspended for “violating our rules against hateful conduct.” It would have been more honest to say that Twitter’s too dumb to understand what he meant.

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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

  • VIRGINIA HATE-CRIME VICTIMS: “The 12 people killed after a man opened fire at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center in Virginia on Friday included decades-long employees of the city, officials said. Their identities were released by City Manager Dave Hansen at a news conference on Saturday. ‘They leave a void that we will never be able to fill,’ he said.” (NBC News)
  • TRUMP CROSSES THE POND: “President Trump touched down at Stansted Airport outside London on Monday morning, kicking off his first official state visit to Britain.” (CBS News)
  • TRADE-TALK MOVEMENT: “China and Mexico both signaled a willingness to negotiate with Washington over escalating trade issues, while the Trump administration took to the airwaves to defend its use of tariffs to gain concessions from trading partners.” (The Wall Street Journal)
  • HASSETT OUT: “Kevin Hassett, the White House’s top economist, will leave the administration. … Hassett said in an interview Sunday night that his departure was unrelated to the escalating trade conflict.” (The Washington Post)
  • MEXICO YIELDS? “Mexico’s president on Saturday hinted his country could tighten migration controls to defuse U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on Mexican goods, and said he expected ‘good results’ from talks planned in Washington [this] week.” (Reuters)
  • DHS AIDS GUATEMALA: “Dozens of Homeland Security agents and investigators will deploy to Guatemala as part of the Trump administration’s desperate attempt to slow unauthorized migration to the United States from Central America.” (The Washington Post)
  • ILLINOIS EMBRACES CULTURE OF DEATH: “A bill that establishes a ‘fundamental right’ for women to get an abortion in Illinois cleared the state Senate late Friday night, sending the sweeping measure to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who already has signaled his support.” (Chicago Tribune)
  • STRZOK UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: “A top Republican wants to know if a high-ranking FBI official who leaked ‘sensitive’ information and improperly accepted a gift from the media was Peter Strzok, the former FBI agent who is well known for his text messages displaying a negative opinion of President Trump.” (Washington Examiner)
  • AOC GIVES MILITARY COLD SHOULDER: “Military veterans who attended a recent private event with socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) stormed out of the meeting after Ocasio-Cortez reportedly bashed U.S. foreign policy and attacked Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.” (The Daily Wire)
  • POLICY: Trump can help the UK out of the Brexit madness (Washington Examiner)
  • POLICY: The phony case for electric cars (Issues & Insights)
  • NOT HUMOR: Hillary Clinton to serve as keynote speaker at cyber defense summit (Fox News)
  • HUMOR: Hillary Clinton to give keynote speech on winning elections (The Babylon Bee

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

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OPINION IN BRIEF

Gary Bauer: “Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, has joined the left-wing assault on Georgia’s new pro-life law. He said it would be ‘very difficult’ for Disney to continue working in Georgia if the heartbeat law remains in effect. So what he essentially said was that if Georgia does not allow the continued killing of unborn children, Disney cannot continue making films for children in Georgia. Shouldn’t Disney want more children to be born? I don’t know how they did it, but somehow Hollywood managed to make a lot of great movies in America well before Roe v. Wade became law. Walt Disney must be rolling over in his grave.”

SHORT CUTS

The Gipper: “The size of the federal budget is not an appropriate barometer of social conscience or charitable concern.” —Ronald Reagan

For the record I: “Mueller’s shrewd staffers accomplished exactly what they hoped to accomplish: Make sure the report was disclosed to Congress intact, with 200 pages of obstruction evidence, a legal analysis that tends toward a finding of obstruction, and an express assertion by the special counsel that if he had found Trump did not commit a crime, he would have said so. And now, for good measure, Mueller took pains [in his press conference] to stress that, in our system, it is Congress’s duty to address presidential misconduct. For partisan lawyers who saw their special-counsel gig as an opportunity to play congressional impeachment counsel, it is Mission Accomplished.” —Andrew McCarthy

For the record II: “Mueller made a big deal out of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election on Wednesday and stressed in his written report how deeply involved they were. But you don’t hear the Democrats in Congress and the liberal media talking about the importance of stopping the Russians from interfering in our elections. All we’re hearing is the ‘I’ word — impeachment.” —Michael Reagan

Upright: “As long as both sides are focused on the Steele dossier and claims about coordination that are disproven by Mueller, neither party in Washington has a vested interest in dealing with the actual issues raised by Mueller. That provides an opening for Russia and other foreign powers in 2020.” —Erick Erickson

Blind squirrel: “We hurt our boys by calling something toxic masculinity. … I don’t find putting those two words together [is helpful] … because women can be pretty f—ing toxic.” —Meryl Streep

The BIG Lie: “Gun laws in the United States don’t make much sense. Anybody can buy any weapon, anytime, without, you know, without much if any regulation. They can buy over the Internet. They can buy machine guns.” —Barack Obama

Distractions: “The president didn’t know about it. I didn’t know about it. We think it’s much ado about nothing.” —acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on the flap over the USS John McCain

And last… “In his statement, Mueller noted that the Russians he indicted are ‘presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.’ Apparently, for congressional Democrats, that presumption of innocence does not extend to Trump. All Mueller’s news conference did is muddy the waters. Any congressional testimony would do so 10 times over. He should have heeded his own advice, left the building quietly, and, as he put it in his statement, let ‘the office’s written work speak for itself.’” —Marc A. Thiessen

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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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Nate Jackson, Managing Editor
Mark Alexander, Publisher

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