Mid-Day Digest

Aug. 21, 2019

THE FOUNDATION

“The foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens, and command the respect of the world.” —George Washington (1789)

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IN TODAY’S EDITION

IN BRIEF

Dems Feign Backing Away From Medicare for All

In an effort to court the increasingly hard-left base of the Democrat Party, several current Democrat presidential candidates eagerly jumped aboard Sen. Bernie Sanders’s socialist bandwagon to cosponsor his Medicare for All bill two years ago. This represents the future, they all insisted, parroting Sanders’s insistence that health care is a right. The Medicare for All cosponsors touted their support for the socialist program … until recent polling data showed that a majority of Americans aren’t fans of the obvious policy boondoggle.

Now every Democrat presidential candidate save Sanders is running away from Medicare for All as if it were toxic sludge. Sen. Kamala Harris (CA), the first cosponsor of the bill, had been one of its most vocal supporters, but she has clearly struggled in her herky-jerky attempts to distance herself while attempting to claim that she was never fully onboard. “I have not been comfortable with Bernie’s [Medicare for All] plan,” Harris stated on Tuesday. This sentiment certainly doesn’t comport with her position back in 2017 when she defended cosponsoring the bill as “the right thing to do.” Nor does it jive with Harris’s claim this past April that “Medicare is the most popular health plan in the country because it works.”

But Harris isn’t the only Medicare for All cosponsor clearly flip-flopping, as Sens. Cory Booker (NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), and even Elizabeth Warren (MA) are also seeking to distance themselves from a politically unpopular policy.

So, are Democrats suddenly having a change of heart? Not likely. In truth, they’re merely realizing that despite all their moralizing rhetoric surrounding Medicare for All, the vast majority of Americans want to keep their current health insurance. Recently, Harry Reid, a political pragmatist if there ever was one, was asked whether Medicare for All is “problematic” for Democrats. “Of course it would be,” he answered. “How are you going to get it passed?” Reid further advised Democrats to run on the message of “improving ObamaCare” because, he argued, “People understand that. They would appreciate that. It locks in many important things.” That, by the way, is Joe Biden’s plan.

Many Democrat presidential candidates are attempting to rhetorically tack back toward the center. However, the question now is, having gone so far to the extreme Left, can they find their way back to even semi-reasonable ground without being exposed as complete sellouts willing to say anything to get elected? If Harris’s sinking poll numbers are any indication, then the answer is no.

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Is Facebook’s Audit Merely Window Dressing?

Former GOP Sen. Jon Kyl was tapped by Facebook to conduct a Robert Mueller-like investigation into accusations of the company’s bias against conservatives. Kyl publicly released his findings Tuesday. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed he wrote:

Facebook placed no restrictions on how I could conduct the work. My team at the law firm Covington & Burling LLP began conducting interviews in May 2018. We cast a wide net to include as many aspects of conservatism as possible — from organizations focused on Christian values or protecting free expression to those focused on tax policy and small government. We identified individuals, groups and lawmakers who either use, study or could potentially regulate Facebook, and interviewed 133 of them. To encourage them to speak freely, we told interviewees we wouldn’t publish their identities. We presented our preliminary findings to Facebook in early August 2018 and have been discussing them with the company ever since.

A year later, we now know that Kyl “found conservatives’ concerns generally fall within the following six buckets: Content distribution and algorithms. … Content policies. … Content enforcement. … Ad policies. … Ad enforcement. … Workforce viewpoint diversity.” We’ve addressed many of those concerns in the past, and we won’t rehash it all here, but the short of it is that Facebook certainly seems to discriminate against conservative viewpoints in each of those “buckets.”

But Kyl says, “Facebook has made several changes that are responsive to our findings, and we understand more are being considered.” Those changes include things like an oversight board for content-removal appeals, explanations and transparency for algorithms, four more staff to deal with complaints, and ad-policy changes that would effectively allow for more pro-life content.

We’d generally conclude two things. First, Kyl obviously wants to show that he was “effective,” so winning some concessions from Facebook is a feather in his hat. Second, Facebook has a vested interest in the appearance of fairness. Axios, which first reported the findings, sums up the leftist view of the optics: “While there has been little evidence that Facebook is knowingly biased against conservatives, the release of the audit, and further continuation of it, shows that company takes the allegations seriously.” Not that it matters to conservatives, Axios gripes: “Accusations of political bias against Facebook and Big Tech have become a political weapon wielded by conservatives. It’s doubtful an audit will stop that effort.”

Pardon us, but conservatives didn’t make this a political weapon. Facebook did by its proven biased standards, Axios’s cavalier dismissal of “little evidence” notwithstanding. And we have little reason to believe that Facebook’s response to a chummy audit — even by a Republican for the smoke-and-mirrors purpose of “objectivity” — is anything but window dressing. In that sense, Axios is right and, as Kyl put it, “Conservatives no doubt will, and should, continue to press Facebook to address the concerns that arose in our survey.”

Remember, Facebook claims to be a platform for users to express opinions freely, but it behaves like a publisher in choosing what content is acceptable. Having it both ways is not conducive to free speech.

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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

DENMARK VOYAGE CALLED OFF: Yesterday, President Donald Trump intoned, “Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time.” He continued, “The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!”

MIXED SIGNALS: “The White House pushed back late Tuesday on claims by the National Rifle Association (NRA) that President Trump had purportedly said universal background checks were off the table… Earlier in the day, The Atlantic published an article saying Trump had opted against expanding federal background checks, citing a ‘person briefed on the call.’ But a White House official told Fox News that ‘meaningful’ new background checks remain a legislative option, and denied that Trump said he supported universal background checks.” (Fox News)

MARCH FOR OUR GUNS: The anti-gun group March for Our Lives has introduced “A Peace Plan for a Safer America,” which The Washington Post explains “goes much further than the current debate over universal background checks and ‘red flag’ laws.” In fact, “The Peace Plan would create a national licensing and gun registry, long a nonstarter with gun rights advocates; ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; implement a mandatory gun buyback program; and install a ‘national director of gun violence prevention’ who would report directly to the president and coordinate the federal response to what advocates call a national public health emergency.” NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter responded, “The gun-control community is finally being marginally honest about their true wish list. The simple fact remains their proposals and ideas are out of the mainstream, and most people will understand their real intent goes beyond what they publicly state.”

FLORES SETTLEMENT TABLED: “The Trump administration is seeking to terminate the Flores settlement, an immigration-related court order that prevents most migrant family units from being held in detention centers for more than 20 days,” reports The Daily Caller. “Eliminating the Flores settlement would allow the U.S. government to hold migrant children and their families indefinitely while they await court proceedings. … The termination of the Flores Settlement will likely face legal challenges from immigrant activist groups who accuse the administration of detaining immigrants without proper due process.”

SPACE COMMAND LIFTOFF: “The new United States Space Command will officially be up and running by the end of the month, Vice President Mike Pence said [yesterday] … at a meeting of the National Space Council. The U.S. Space Command will be the military’s unified combatant command in charge of the country’s defense operations in space. It will become the Defense Department’s 11th unified combatant command, alongside the U.S. Strategic Command, the U.S. Special Operations Command and other commands that serve specific functions or geographic regions.” (Space.com)

NO PAIN, NO GAIN: “President Donald Trump acknowledged his aggressive China trade policies may mean economic pain for Americans but insisted they’re needed for more important long-term benefits. He contended he does not fear a recession but is nonetheless considering new tax cuts to promote growth.” (Associated Press)

RISKY ENDEAVOR: “Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez plans to hold party fundraising events with the American expatriate community in Mexico City next month. … The registration form on the DNC website requires that attendees be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and enter passport or green card numbers. It is illegal for foreigners to contribute to American political campaigns.” (Bloomberg)

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: “Facebook is launching a long-promised tool that lets you limit what the social network can gather about you on outside websites and apps. The company said Tuesday that it is adding a section where you can see the activity that Facebook tracks outside its service via its ‘like’ buttons and other means. You can choose to turn off the tracking; otherwise, tracking will continue the same way it has been.” (Associated Press)

MELTING HEARTS: Iceland holds funeral for first glacier lost to climate change (The Guardian)

POLICY: Progressives promote disrespect for cops — at our peril (New York Post)

POLICY: Red-light cameras undermine rule of law (The Hill)

HUMOR: Two million sign up for Facebook event to storm DNC HQ to find secret candidate who isn’t a socialist nutball (IMAO)

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

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OPINION IN BRIEF

Marc A. Thiessen: “[Ilhan Omar] has said ‘Israel has hypnotized the world’; has declared her hope that Allah will ‘awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel’; supports a boycott of Israel, a country she has compared to Nazi Germany; accused her House colleagues who support Israel of pushing ‘for allegiance to a foreign country’; and declared that support for Israel is ‘all about the Benjamins.’ … How is it that she continues to sit on the congressional committee that helps set U.S. policy toward Israel? When Rep. Steve King defended white-supremacist views, the GOP leadership in the House stripped him of his committee assignments and voted 424 to 1 on a clear resolution condemning the Iowa Republican. Yet, after Omar made virulently anti-Semitic comments, Democratic leaders in the House could not bring themselves to do the same. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., actually defended Omar’s ‘allegiance to a foreign country’ remarks, saying ‘I don’t believe it was intended in an anti-Semitic way.’ I’m sorry, what other way could she have intended it?”

SHORT CUTS

Friendly fire I: “Liberals have become utterly, pathetically illiberal, and it’s a massive problem. What’s the point in calling yourself a liberal if you don’t allow anyone else to have a different view? You know, this snowflake culture that we now operate in … it’s all completely skewed to an environment where everyone’s offended by everything, and no one’s allowed to say a joke.” —Piers Morgan

Friendly fire II: “People want a fair immigration system. They don’t want an open-door invitation for everybody to come at once.” —former Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Endorsements you don’t want: “Your candidate might be better on, I don’t know, health care, than Joe is, but you’ve got to look at who’s going to win this election, and maybe you have to swallow a little bit and say, ‘Okay, I personally like so-and-so better,’ but your bottom line has to be that we have to beat Trump.” —Jill Biden

Non Compos Mentis: “Bobby Kennedy and Dr. King had been assassinated in … the late ‘70s.” —Joe Biden

Drinking the Kool-Aid: “['Assault weapons’] are weapons of mass slaughter. I don’t see any need for them in everyday society. I think the assault weapons ban is timely now, especially in view of the shooting in El Paso and Dayton” —Rep. Peter King

Dezinformatsiya: “The bottom line is the greatest terrorist threat in this country are white men.” —CNN commentator Angela Rye

Class warfare: “As president, I will repeal Trump’s tax scam and give the middle class the most significant tax cut in generations.” —Sen. Kamala Harris

Power broker: “I have not been comfortable with Bernie’s [Medicare for All] plan.” —Medicare for All Act cosponsor Kamala Harris (“The reason I’m supporting Medicare for All is really quite simple: it’s the right thing to do.” —Harris, Sept. 2017 | “Medicare is the most popular health plan in the country because it works.” —Harris, April 2019)

The BIG Lie: “The Electoral College is, in fact, a scam. … The Electoral College has a racial injustice breakdown. Due to severe racial disparities in certain states, the electoral college effectively weights white voters over voters of color, as opposed to a ‘one person, one vote’ system where all are counted equally. … The Electoral College has got to go.” —Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Pandering: “Like anyone who’s being honest with themselves, I know that I have made mistakes. I am sorry for harm I have caused. I have listened and I have learned a lot, and I am grateful for the many conversations that we’ve had together. It is a great honor to be able to partner with Indian Country, and that’s what I’ve tried to do as a senator, and that’s what I promise I will do as president of the United States of America.” —Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Biblically challenged: “The Bible, if it is about anything, is about justice. It is about reaching out to people in need. It is about standing up to the wealthy and the powerful.” —Sen. Bernie Sanders

And last… “If you hear ‘Chick-fil-A’ and your first thought is ‘They hate gay people!’ you live in a bubble.” —Frank J. Fleming

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TODAY’S MEME

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TODAY’S CARTOON

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