Mid-Day Digest

Aug. 26, 2019

THE FOUNDATION

“Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence, (I conjure you to believe me fellow citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government.” —George Washington (1796)

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IN TODAY’S EDITION

IN BRIEF

As Trade War Escalates, China Calls for Calm

Over the weekend President Donald Trump was in Biarritz, France, for the G7 summit. However, the world’s attention was on Asia following the latest dust-up between China and the U.S. in the ongoing trade war. Following Beijing’s announcement of new tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. goods, Trump blasted China with tariffs on another $550 billion in Chinese products. A clearly agitated Trump had earlier issued a statement that brought a wave of condemnation — he “ordered” American companies “to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.”

Obviously, the president cannot compel U.S. companies to do as he says; America is not communist China. But that’s the point — it appears that Trump’s message was primarily intended for Beijing. He rightly blames China for this trade war and has no intention of backing down. Indeed, Trump’s comments in context demonstrate his thinking: “Our Country has lost, stupidly, Trillions of Dollars with China over many years. They have stolen our Intellectual Property at a rate of Hundreds of Billions of Dollars a year, & they want to continue. I won’t let that happen! We don’t need China and, frankly, would be far better off without them. The vast amounts of money made and stolen by China from the United States, year after year, for decades, will and must STOP. Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China…”

News of the latest round of tariffs sent markets plunging, especially the Asian markets. In an effort to mitigate some of the effects of Trump’s tariffs by making Chinese goods cheaper, Beijing let its currency, the yuan, drop to an 11-year low. However, by early Monday Beijing was signaling to Washington that it wants to “calm” things down to seek an end to this trade war. Trump’s announcement on Sunday that Japan and the U.S. had agreed “in principle” to a new bilateral trade deal may have also played a significant factor in China’s sudden call for calm.

Again, this ongoing trade war is one Trump did not start, but he has willingly taken up the fight. It’s no secret that China has been playing dirty on trade for a long time. And it’s not as if Beijing has suddenly decided to change its ways. Earlier this year, Vietnam accused China of mislabeling its products as “Made in Vietnam” in an effort to avoid U.S. tariffs. While there is no way to avoid the impact of fighting this trade war, and there’s plenty to criticize Trump over, one thing for which he should rightly be commended is his willingness to stand and fight for the American people.

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ISIS Is Not Dead

A suicide bomber blew up a wedding in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing 63 people last weekend. The Islamic State claimed credit soon after the attack. “The militant group lost its self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria earlier this year,” The Washington Post reports. “But the bombing showed that the Islamic State remains a potent force beyond the borders it once claimed and fixed a glare on one of its lesser known but growing affiliates: the Islamic State in Khorasan, as the Afghanistan branch is known.” Exactly as we warned in March.

But Afghanistan is not the only place where ISIS is once again seeking to regain regional power. Syria and Iraq remain in the crosshairs. As The New York Times notes, “The Islamic State can still tap a large war chest of as much as $400 million, which has been hidden in either Iraq and Syria or smuggled into neighboring countries for safekeeping. It is also believed to have invested in businesses, including fish farming, car dealing and cannabis growing. And ISIS uses extortion to finance clandestine operations: Farmers in northern Iraq who refuse to pay have had their crops burned to the ground.”

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump declared that ISIS had been defeated and its caliphate destroyed, and it was. However, ISIS’s defeat geographically does not mean that all the members of the terrorist movement are dead. Clearly, like any criminal organization, if the good guys aren’t there to vigilantly police and address any criminal actions, then those groups will inevitably grow. Barack Obama infamously shrugged off ISIS as the “JV team” only to have it practically take control of half of Iraq, spreading its terroristic rule over 12 million people. Trump would be wise to act carefully in drawing down U.S. troops so as to prevent a repeat of Obama’s folly.

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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

G-7 CONCLUDES: The Group of Seven summit wraps up today. “The final day was set to be pivotal for the leaders, as they sought to cap a summit marked more by whiplash, mixed signals and surprises than by concrete results,” The Washington Post reports. According to Trump, “There’s total unity. I’m talking about all the seven countries, and it’s been really good. We’ve had great unity even with Iran.”

OPPORTUNISM: According to The Washington Free Beacon, “Former Illinois Republican congressman Joe Walsh announced his plans to primary President Donald Trump during a Sunday interview with George Stephanopoulos.” Political commentator Erick Erickson fumes, “He is being pushed by a bunch of people who claim character really does matter. So they’ve settled for an opportunistic grifter and birther conspiracist. They might as well back Donald Trump instead of mini-Trump humper turned Trump dumper. What a spectacular admission of failure that Walsh is the best they could come up with. And that they would settle for him suggests they really aren’t that concerned with character.”

WITCH HUNT: “The House Judiciary Committee will subpoena former White House staff secretary Rob Porter as part of its probe into President Trump’s alleged attempts to obstruct special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. … The White House has thus far blocked senior White House officials from complying with lawmakers’ oversight requests, asserting that high-level officials enjoy ‘absolute immunity’ from testifying before Congress. That claim is now being challenged in the courts by Democrats seeking testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn.” (National Review)

WIN FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: A Minnesota Christian couple in the videography business was attacked by the Rainbow Mafia, though thankfully they were vindicated last week by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. National Review’s David French provides background and explains why this was “a powerful blow for free speech and religious freedom.”

SMOLLET PROBED: “A Chicago judge appointed a special prosecutor on Friday morning to lead the investigation into the handling of the Jussie Smollett case. Cook County Judge Michael Toomin appointed former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb to the position to investigate the way the case was handled — specifically, why the 16 criminal charges against Smollett were dropped and to potentially reinstate the charges or even add additional charges against Smollett.”

NOKO PROVOKES: “North Korea fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles into the sea on Saturday morning, South Korea’s military says. The launch is the seventh carried out since North Korea ended a 17-month hiatus on testing at the end of July. … Japan’s Defence Minister, Takeshi Iwaya, confirmed the missiles had not landed in Japanese territorial waters, but described them as a clear violation of UN resolutions.” (BBC)

HONG KONG VIOLENCE: “Violence returned to the streets of Hong Kong on Saturday, as the police fired tear gas and protesters threw stones and gasoline bombs, signaling the end of a period of relative calm in the city. The clashes in the district of Kwun Tong, in eastern Kowloon, were a marked departure from the peaceful, if sometimes tense, gatherings that had taken place over much of the last two weeks.” (The New York Times)

POLICY: The right way to regulate Big Tech (National Review)

POLICY: “Green” cities: Higher costs, lower electricity reliability (Heartland Institute)

HUMOR: It’s time to address the real underlying motivation for climate denial: racism, xenophobia, and misogyny (NPC Daily)

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

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OPINION IN BRIEF

Burt Prelutsky: “I’m not calling for homosexuals to be stoned or even shunned, but I have gotten tired of hearing the perversion defended on the grounds that people are just born that way and that if anyone should be blamed, it’s God. That’s pretty skimpy as excuses go. … Homosexuals would point out that their behavior is limited to consenting adults, but of course that’s not always true. Sex involving adults and teenagers is not all that uncommon, and it’s not regarded as pedophilia. We’re all born, you may have noticed, unable to speak or think rationally. It’s our mission in life to improve on the basic raw material and actually make something better of ourselves.”

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere.” —Ronald Reagan

Upright: “‘Capitalism is characterized by greed.’ Not quite. Capitalism allows radical generosity just as it allows radical greed. In a free society, you will always have both. But in a socialist society, while people can become even more greedy, they can never become more generous.” —Allie Beth Stuckey

Observations: “Whether you’re a supporter, a hater, or somebody who made peace with his volatility because you prefer him to any Democrats, the bottom line is that Trump should not be expected to change at all.” —Philip Klein

Friendly fire: “I don’t agree with [Ilhan Omar] on her positions on Israel and I certainly don’t agree with anti-Semitic comments.” —Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Hyper hypocrisy: “If there’s anything I can’t stand it’s the abuse of power.” —Joe Biden, who stood by and cheered as Barack Obama abused power for eight years

D'oh! “What’s not to love about Vermont in terms of the beauty of it? … I mean, this is sort of a scenic, beautiful town.” —Joe Biden in Keene, New Hampshire

Non compos mentis: “Trump is as destructive a person in this century as Hitler, Stalin, Mao in the last century. He may be responsible for many more million deaths than they were.” —Dr. Alan Frances, former chairman of the Psychiatry Department at Duke University

Alpha jackass: “David Koch, of the zillionaire Koch brothers, died of prostate cancer. I guess I’m going to have to re-evaluate my low opinion of prostate cancer. … He and his brother have done more than anybody to fund climate science deniers for decades, so f—k him! The Amazon is burning up. I’m glad he’s dead and I hope the end was painful.” —HBO’s Bill Maher

And last… “Democrats: the Bible teaches socialism! Let’s have socialism! Republicans: the Bible teaches all life is sacred and life begins at conception. Let’s end abortion! Democrats: Screw you, you theocrats!” —Erick Erickson

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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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