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Mid-Day Digest

Oct. 17, 2019

THE FOUNDATION

“To be prepared for war, is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” —George Washington (1790)

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IN TODAY’S EDITION

IN BRIEF

Battle Lines Over War Powers

Wednesday in Washington held more political theater than just President Donald Trump’s reality-TV meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. This time it’s a struggle over constitutional war powers.

The House voted 354-60 (including 129 Republicans siding with all Democrats) to pass a toothless resolution of disapproval for Trump’s troop-shifting in Syria. U.S. troops are in Syria because of an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed after 9/11 to empower the president to deploy troops against the responsible terrorists and any “associated forces.” Some argue that doesn’t apply because ISIS isn’t al-Qaida, but that’s a distinction without a difference.

In any case, members of Congress want all of the political benefit from criticizing the president with none of the responsibility for the policy. The president wants the freedom to move troops without the partisan and political squabbling inherent in going before Congress. No one seems to remember the Constitution’s general prescription for war.

As political analyst David Harsanyi argues, “If you want to stop Donald Trump from making unilateral decisions regarding war and peace, then stop letting all presidents make unilateral decisions about war and peace. It’s really quite simple.”

Put another way, The Washington Times editorial board asserts, “If Congress is so adamant that U.S. forces should be fighting in the Syrian civil war, then Congress should vote to declare war.”

Back in 2013, Barack Obama half-heartedly asked Congress for an AUMF in Syria … to remove its dictator, Bashar al-Assad. Obviously, Assad’s a bad actor backed by Iran and Russia, but removing him was not going to end well. (For more information, see Obama’s misadventures in Libya.) Congress declined to give Obama the AUMF.

Obama sent troops to fight ISIS in Syria anyway, as a cleanup for having created the Islamic State in the first place. Trump took that to another level, effectively destroying the caliphate — primarily thanks to the Kurds we’re now leaving to the Turkish wolves.

As far as Trump making a coherent case for his policy, don’t hold your breath. On Wednesday, we learned of Trump’s bizarre and cartoonish letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appealing for “a good deal” and warning Erdogan, “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!”

And then we heard Trump make callous comments about the Middle East: It contains “a lot of sand they can play with,” he said. “We have a situation where Turkey is taking land from Syria. And Syria is not happy about it. Let them work it out. We shouldn’t be over there.”

If only it were that simple.

As Victor Davis Hanson outlines in a must-read column on this difficult subject, the situation with Turkey, Syria, and the Kurds is very complicated. And the commander-in-chief should spend more time laying out his case instead of insulting just about everyone in an effort to simply make the “right” people mad.

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Dems Play Political Theater in Walkout of Trump Meeting

President Donald Trump intended a White House meeting with congressional leaders from both parties to be an opportunity to confront the bipartisan opposition to his decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria. But it quickly descended into political theater as Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, suddenly stood up and left the meeting.

Rushing to the media like a bunch of schoolyard children running to the nearest teacher to tattle on a particularly disliked peer, Pelosi and company huffed that Trump had a “meltdown.” They further claimed that Trump had called Pelosi “a third-rate politician” — or was it “a third-grade politician”? They weren’t sure. But Pelosi was sure that Trump was so unhinged that she patronizingly announced, “I pray for the president all the time. … Now we have to pray for his health — because this was a very serious meltdown on the part of the president.”

Democrats claimed that Trump was so disrespectful that they couldn’t take it anymore and left. The White House, on the other hand, found Democrat behavior “baffling, but not surprising.” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham nailed it: “[Pelosi] had no intention of listening or contributing to an important meeting on national security issues. While Democratic leadership chose to storm out and get in front of the cameras to whine, everyone else in the meeting chose to stay in the room and work on behalf of this country.”

This is orchestrated political theater by the Democrats. It’s designed to take advantage of a rather unique situation in Trump’s presidency: Solid majorities in both parties stand in opposition to his decision regarding Syria. Thus far, Trump has failed to articulate a winsome argument for his decision, and the opposition has clearly frustrated him. Pelosi and company decided to take advantage and play up their “Trump is crazy and not fit for office” mantra in an effort to bolster their devious not-yet-voted-on “impeached inquiry.” It’s all a game of political optics, never mind what the truth is. The swamp runs deep in Washington.

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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

RIP: Powerful Democrat congressman Elijah Cummings has died of complications from longstanding health problems (Associated Press)

FRAUD, PART I: Estimated cost of Sanders-Warren healthcare plan rises to an inevitably still conservative estimate of $34 trillion (Washington Examiner)

FRAUD, PART II: Elizabeth Warren scrubs DNA test video from Twitter (The Washington Free Beacon)

FRAUD, PART III: Ilhan Omar continues to divert campaign funds to alleged boyfriend’s company (The Daily Caller)

AID RESTORED: Trump administration to reinstate aid to Central American countries that signed asylum deals (The Daily Caller)

GAME OF CHESS: Turkey’s NATO status complicates U.S. response to Erdogan’s Syria incursion (The Washington Times)

SANITY PICK-SIX: Youth football coach faces possible $500 fine for team’s blowout win (NBC Philadelphia)

PLOT TWIST: Cop who fatally shot black woman wasn’t sent on welfare check (New York Post)

BREXIT DEAL DOA? “Negotiators from the U.K. and EU reached a draft Brexit deal in 11th-hour talks Thursday, although there are serious doubts that the agreement will be approved by U.K. lawmakers back in Westminster.” (CNBC)

POLICY: U.S. must prevent rise of new ISIS caliphate in Syria following our troop withdrawal (The Daily Signal)

POLICY: House Democrats’ new bill would drive up college costs even further (The Daily Signal)

HUMOR: In response to question about raising taxes, Elizabeth Warren comes out as a gay man (The Babylon Bee)

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

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OPINION IN BRIEF

Cal Thomas: “Democrats have nothing to offer but ‘free’ stuff and impeachment. They are trying to make the president’s personality central to what some have called a ‘coup.’ He is helping them. It is one thing to be combative, but quite another to be mean. The president is pushing back against his critics in ways no other recent Republican president has done and good for him for doing so. But there is a way to do it that wins votes and prevails in the next election and another way that detracts from the president’s multiple achievements and could lead to political disaster. The Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, rhetorically asks, ‘Can a leopard change his spots?’ At his age President Trump may not be able to change his ‘spots,’ but he can tone down the invective against opponents, which is only giving them and everyone else who hates him permission to fire back in a similar manner.”

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?” —Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

The bottom line: “The chief problem is that the Kurds are our friends but not our legal allies. In contrast, the Turks are not really our friends anymore but are legal, treaty-bound allies.” —Victor Davis Hanson

For the record: “You’ve got millionaires arguing with millionaires over who hates the millionaires the most.” —Mike Rowe on the Democrat debate

Ouch: “You have a better chance of getting a fair justice system in China than you do in Speaker Pelosi’s movement here inside the House.” —House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

Friendly fire: “[Elizabeth Warren] was more specific and forthcoming about the number of selfies she’s taken than about how [Medicare for All] is going to be funded.” —Pete Buttigieg in reference to Tuesday night’s debate

Hell hath frozen over: “Let’s put this in perspective: if you eliminate every single solitary soldier, tank, satellite, nuclear weapon, eliminate the Pentagon and it would only pay for 4 months of Medicare for All. 4 months. Where do the other 8 months come from? Your paycheck.” —Joe Biden

Good luck with that: “I think just as in any law that is not followed or flagrantly abused there have to be consequences or else there is no respect for the law. So in that case I think there would be a visit by law enforcement to recover that firearm and make sure that it is purchased, bought back, so that it cannot be potentially used against somebody else.” —Beto O'Rourke

Who needs free speech anyway? “[Trump] has lost his privileges and [his Twitter account] should be taken down…. [Social media outlets] are directly speaking to millions and millions of people without any level of oversight or regulation. And that has to stop.” —Sen. Kamala Harris

And last… “Kamala Harris owns a gun — but she doesn’t want you to own one. Bernie Sanders flies on private jets — but doesn’t want you to. Barack Obama is a multimillionaire — but doesn’t want you to be one. Elizabeth Warren picks her own doctors — but doesn’t want you to. See the pattern?” —Charlie Kirk

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TODAY’S MEME

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TODAY’S CARTOON

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