Mid-Day Digest

Sep. 4, 2019

THE FOUNDATION

“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” —James Madison (1822)

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IN TODAY’S EDITION

IN BRIEF

Walmart’s Vacuous Virtue Signal

Walmart has bravely stepped into the void and forever solved the problem of gun violence. Alright, forgive the utter sarcasm. On Tuesday, the retail behemoth announced its new policy of no longer selling handgun or some rifle ammunition — after stores sell out of current inventory, of course — as well as asking customers to no longer open carry in its stores. Asked if that will have any effect on crime committed with guns, former Walmart CEO Bill Simon said “it’s very difficult to say.”

Actually, Mr. Simon, it’s not difficult to say at all: Walmart’s new policy is meaningless virtue signaling that will merely transfer sales and customers to eager small gun stores while doing absolutely nothing to stop a single shooting, most of which happen with illegally possessed guns on Democrat-run urban poverty plantations. Only 7% of firearm-related homicides are committed with guns purchased from licensed dealers.

Yet Simon argued that the mass murder of 22 people in an El Paso Walmart last month (along with other recent mass shootings) meant the company was “left with no choice” but to “take some sort of action.” Current CEO Doug McMillon insisted, “In a complex situation lacking a simple solution, we are trying to take constructive steps to reduce the risk that events like these will happen again. The status quo is unacceptable.”

The 21-year-old murderer in El Paso used an AR-15. Walmart stopped selling such rifles in 2015, and in 2018 it raised the minimum age for purchasing any other gun to 21 from 18. Neither policy change stopped the El Paso psychopath. Walmart does account for 20% of the nation’s ammo sales, but ceasing those sales won’t stop a determined evildoer in the future; it will only inconvenience law-abiding Americans.

As for open carry, well, our position may be unpopular, but we believe it’s a tactically foolish and provocative gesture that gives more heartburn than protection. Yet we’d far prefer that gun owners reach that conclusion on their own rather than a retailer dictate it.

On a final note, when is Walmart going to stop selling high-sugar junk food, which it promotes primarily to lower-income customers? Those products are a far more deadly and health-cost burden than firearms. Far more people who become sugar and fat junkies die from the resulting heart failure, strokes, and other diseases related to obesity. And what about selling alcohol and auto parts, each of which also contribute to far more deaths than firearms? The answer, of course, is that there’s no political party calling for any of that.

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Mattis: Obama and Biden Empowered ISIS

President Donald Trump’s former defense secretary, James Mattis, just released his book, Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, and it’s not what many within the Leftmedia were hoping for — a rebuke of Trump’s leadership. In fact, if anything Mattis does the opposite by offering stinging criticism of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Mattis, who abruptly left the Pentagon last year following a disagreement with Trump over his decision to withdraw troops from Syria, explained his rationale for refusing to offer any criticism of Trump: “There’ll come a time when I speak out on strategic issues, policy issues, that I do not have a question about. But I need to give some period of time to those who have to carry out the responsibility to protect this country in a very, very difficult age.”

Meanwhile, since both Obama and Biden are no longer in office (though Biden wants Trump’s job), Mattis freely offers his critique of their leadership (or lack thereof), specifically regarding U.S. involvement in the Long War and their inept handling of Iran. For example, Mattis noted that both Obama and Biden summarily dismissed his objections to pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq, as Mattis warned that Iraq would slip back into violence. As we’ve noted, Obama practically did create ISIS. Mattis pinpoints the reason for Obama’s rejection of his warnings, writing, “At the top, then as now, there was an aura of omniscience. The assessments of the intelligence community, our diplomats, and our military had been excluded from the decision-making circle.”

Following Obama’s dismissal of Mattis, he writes, “I was leaving a region aflame and in disarray. The lack of an integrated regional strategy had left us adrift, and our friends confused. We were offering no leadership or direction. I left my post deeply disturbed that we had shaken our friends’ confidence and created vacuums that our adversaries would exploit.”

Mattis’s criticism of Biden, while not biting, leaves one with little confidence that Biden would really listen to advice. “I found him an admirable and amiable man,” Mattis says. “But he was past the point where he was willing to entertain a ‘good idea.’ He didn’t want to hear more; he wanted our forces out of Iraq. Whatever path led there fastest, he favored. He exuded the confidence of a man whose mind was made up, perhaps even indifferent to considering the consequences were he judging the situation incorrectly.”

Effectively, Mattis may be offering one more warning to Trump: Don’t follow the same failed path taken by your predecessor. Furthermore, it serves as a warning to the American people against electing Biden, who just recently boasted, “If I have any expertise, it’s American foreign policy.”

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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

BORDER FORTIFICATION: “Defense Secretary Mark Esper has signed off on spending $3.6 billion in Defense Department construction funds for 175 miles of wall on the southern border with Mexico. … Use of the money had been frozen by lower courts while a lawsuit proceeded. Last month, however, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the use of about $2.5 billion. A border wall was a keystone of the president’s 2016 election campaign, but Congress has resisted funding all of it. This year it allocated $1.4 billion, but the president wanted much more.” (Fox News)

HURRICANE DORIAN UPDATE: “Hurricane Dorian gradually leaves Florida behind Wednesday, setting its sights on the coasts of Georgia and then the Carolinas. These areas face a triple threat of ‘destructive winds, flooding rains, and life-threatening storm surges,’ according to the National Hurricane Center. While Dorian has stayed far enough off the coast to largely spare Florida from the worst of its wrath, it is forecast to make a much closer approach to the coastline of the Carolinas between late Wednesday and Thursday and could even make landfall. Impacts are thus expected to be more severe.” (Capital Weather Gang)

BACKGROUND-CHECK LOOPHOLE: According to National Review, “The lone gunman who killed seven and injured 22 in a series of drive-by shootings in Odessa and Midland, Texas on Saturday obtained the firearm he used in the attack through an illegal private sale. Local police told ABC News and other outlets that the shooter … previously attempted to purchase a firearm from a licensed seller but was denied after failing a background check due to his history of ‘mental illness.’ He then purchased the ‘AR-15 type’ rifle that he used in the attack from a private seller who was under no legal obligation to conduct a background check on him.” This is one of the few legit gun loopholes that conservatives might feel obligated to address.

SOLVING THE BIG PROBLEMS: “The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has passed a resolution declaring the National Rifle Association a "domestic terrorist organization” and urged the federal government to do the same — the latest escalation in the heated rhetoric from Democrats regarding the NRA in the wake of several deadly mass shootings.“ (Fox News)

DISTRICT SMACKDOWN: "A North Carolina court on Tuesday struck down the state’s current legislative districts for violating the rights of Democratic voters, forcing districts to be withdrawn ahead of the 2020 election. The three-judge panel’s opinion says that North Carolina’s General Assembly ‘had a partisan intent to create legislative districts that perpetuated a Republican-controlled’ assembly when drawing maps in 2017.” (The Hill)

WARNING SIGNS: “A key U.S. factory gauge unexpectedly contracted for the first time since 2016, sending stocks and bond yields lower and boosting expectations for interest-rate cuts as global manufacturing woes deepen. The Institute for Supply Management’s purchasing managers index fell to 49.1 in August, weaker than all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of economists, data released Tuesday showed. Figures below 50 indicate the manufacturing economy is generally shrinking. The group’s gauge of new orders dropped to a more than seven-year low, while the production index hit the lowest since late 2015.” (Bloomberg)

BREXIT BLOCKADE: “British prime minister Boris Johnson’s government was defeated in a [328]-301 vote on Tuesday by a group of rebel lawmakers who have opted to seize control of parliament in order to block the no-deal Brexit that Johnson has repeatedly threatened. A block of the Conservative Party sided with the opposition Labour Party in voting to seize control of parliamentary business on Wednesday in order to pass a bill that would prevent Johnson from exiting the European Union on the October 31 deadline without a deal.” (National Review)

HONG KONG CONCEDES: “Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said she will withdraw the highly controversial extradition bill which triggered months of protests. The proposal, introduced in April, would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China. The bill was suspended in June when Ms Lam called it ‘dead’, but she stopped short of withdrawing it.” (BBC)

POLICY: Giving mass shooters the death penalty is a useless virtue signal (Washington Examiner)

POLICY: To lower residential energy costs, “waive” goodbye to the Jones Act (American Enterprise Institute)

SATIRE: Walmart discontinues auto part sales to prevent car accidents (The Babylon Bee)

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

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OPINION IN BRIEF

Rich Lowry: “Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson has, to his credit, seized the initiative in the battle over whether Britain will truly exit the EU, and on what terms. But no one can know how this high-stakes gamble will turn out. Johnson just lost his slender parliamentary majority, and the prospect of a new election looms. If things break the wrong way, the winner could be opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, a throwback leftist redolent of the bad old days of Britain’s self-imposed stagnation. It’s hard to exaggerate the threat represented by Corbyn and Co. taking control of our most important ally. In U.S. terms, Corbyn is a mashup of Bernie Sanders and the Squad, mixing orthodox socialist economics with a hostility to U.S. foreign policy and Israel. … Every election in a democratic society is important. But Britain in the coming weeks will be faced with unquestionably momentous choices: Whether to take back its full sovereignty from the EU, and whether to throw in with a dangerous radical. Its modern history, and perhaps that of the West, is in the balance.”

SHORT CUTS

Food for thought: “A potential silver lining to Washington’s polarized politics is that it may prevent lawmakers from getting things done.” —James Freeman

Upright: “A gun ‘buyback’ is not a thing. The govt can’t buy back something they never owned. The govt never owned my firearms. A gun buyback is a misnomer for forced gun confiscation by the govt.” —Liz Wheeler

Good advice: “The media should stop using absurdly lazy phrases like ‘mandatory gun buybacks.’ … What Democrats propose can be more accurately described as ‘the first American gun confiscation effort since Lexington and Concord.’” —David Harsanyi

Friendly fire: “How does it get better for Donald Trump? Well, you have Democrats getting worse. You have Democrats saying, ‘You know what we are going to do? We’re going to decriminalize crossing the border illegally. You know what we’re going to do? We’re going to take away health insurance from 160 million Americans. You know what we’re going to do? We’re going to give healthcare coverage to people who cross the border illegally.’ … Bernie said it this past week: ‘We’re going to forgive all medical debt.’ … I want Donald Trump to get beaten and I will vote for anybody that will beat Donald Trump, but the Democrats moving in that direction give Donald Trump his only chance.” —MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough

Political futures: “Um, I’m not sure, to be quite honest with you. I hadn’t planned on running again.” —Joe Biden on whether he’d be running for president if Trump hadn’t been elected

Intra-campaign dissent: “[Iowa is] the key to the kingdom. You can’t get out through Iowa, you can’t go any further.” —Joe Biden (“Do I think we have to win Iowa? No.” —an unidentified senior adviser*)

Braying Jenny: “Of course, we need universal background checks; we need to close all loopholes; we need to outlaw bump stocks; and we need to outlaw assault weapons and the bullets needed to shoot them.” —Marianne Williamson

Non compos mentis: “AR15 are [sic] the symptom of small penises.” —Fox News’s Geraldo Rivera (“I have several AR-15s, Geraldo. Is it because I have a small penis?” —Dana Loesch)

And last… “The AR-15 is the most popular rifle in America. I’m not sure why anyone would believe trying to confiscate them wouldn’t result in significant violence.” —The Washington Free Beacon’s Stephen Gutowski

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TODAY’S MEME

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TODAY’S CARTOON

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