Mid-Day Digest

Dec. 11, 2019

THE FOUNDATION

“How much more do they deserve our reverence and praise, whose lives are devoted to the formation of institutions, which, when they and their children are mingled in the common dust, may continue to cherish the principles and the practice of liberty in perpetual freshness and vigour.” —Joseph Story (1833)

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IN TODAY’S EDITION

IN BRIEF

Barr Hammers FBI Clinton Cadre’s ‘Gross Abuses’

Two days after dropping his lengthy report on FBI malfeasance and incompetence in its efforts to surveil and investigate Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning.

Meanwhile, Democrats chose yesterday to unveil their underwhelming two articles of impeachment against Trump, and the House Judiciary Committee will vote today to advance them. It’s quite the juxtaposition, given that it reveals one thing: The swamp has been out to get Trump for a long time.

Some of Horowitz’s testimony will no doubt focus on the fact that Attorney General William Barr challenged Horowitz’s assessment that there was no evidence of political bias at play in the FBI’s myriad mistakes. “No evidence” … other than the inconvenient fact that every single “mistake” the FBI made worked against the opposition candidate (Trump) and for the party in power.

Barr called the FBI’s Trump probe a “travesty” that relied on “rubbish” and for which there’s a possibility of “bad faith.” He argued, “I think our nation was turned on its head for three years based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by an irresponsible press. And I think that there were gross abuses of FISA and inexplicable behavior that is intolerable in the FBI.”

The attorney general noted that the Trump campaign was “clearly spied upon” and that it marked “the first time in history that this has been done to a presidential campaign.” Moreover, the investigation and spying continued into Trump’s presidency. The fundamental question Barr asks is this: “What was the agenda after the election that kept [FBI agents] pressing ahead after their case collapsed? This is the president of the United States.”

As for establishing evidence of political bias, Barr said, “That’s why we have Durham.” He’s referencing the more important and wider-ranging probe led by federal prosecutor John Durham, who is looking into the origins of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane counterintelligence probe into Trump (the one former FBI Director James Comey lied to Congress about having started). Durham’s probe has become a criminal investigation, but Barr says Durham’s report is not due until “late spring, early summer” of 2020. Durham, too, publicly disagreed with Horowitz, and Barr rightly notes that’s because “he will have a broader appreciation of all the facts and a determination [on bias] can be made.” Until that report is out, Barr cautioned, “It would be premature to make any judgment, one way or the other.”

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Wrong Wray — It’s NOT the Whole FBI

On Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray issued his response to the Justice Department’s FISA report, concluding: “Finally, we will review the performance and conduct of certain FBI employees who were referenced in the Report’s recommendations — including managers, supervisors, and senior officials at the time. The FBI will take appropriate disciplinary action where warranted. Notably, many of the employees described in the report are no longer employed at the FBI.”

But in a follow-up interview, when asked if he had any evidence that the FBI unfairly targeted Trump’s campaign, Wray replied, “I don’t.” If his response was specifically related to the FISA report evidence that was limited in its scope, then Wray’s comments are in line. But if he was suggesting that there is no evidence of bias among “managers, supervisors, and senior officials at the time,” that assertion is ludicrous and earned this response from Donald Trump: “I don’t know what report [Wray] was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me.”

Moreover, Director Wray was asked a leading question as to whether he was offended by suggestions that the FBI is part of the “deep state.”

He took the bait on a broad question: “I think that’s the kind of label that is a disservice to the 37,000 men and women who work at the FBI who I think tackle their jobs with professionalism, with rigor, with objectivity, with courage … so that’s not a term I would ever use to describe our workforce and I think it’s an affront to them.”

Wrong, Wray — the question asked was absurd and disingenuous. He knows better and should have chosen his words much more carefully. The “deep state” assertions have always been limited to a handful of FBI personnel Wray identified in his response — those high-ranking “managers, supervisors, and senior officials” with strong bias in favor of Hillary Clinton. This has never been about the FBI at large.

Almost two years ago, in “The FISA Memo and the Demos’ Deep-State Operatives,” I noted:

Democrats and their Leftmedia outlets are promoting the diversionary false narrative that serious questions about the political motives of those who seeded the FISA warrants are a “broad assault on the Department of Justice and FBI” by President Trump and Republicans. According to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), “This wasn’t about oversight. This is about … attacking the DoJ and FBI, a transparent attempt to discredit these institutions.”

As I noted then, in fact, it is Democrats like Schiff who are broad-brushing the FISA memo inquiry to include “institutions” rather than “individuals.” The memo names a handful of corrupt Democrat deep-state operatives in the DoJ and FBI who colluded to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump and who, after his stunning upset, sought to undermine the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency.

As I also noted then: “The vast majority of the 12,484 special agents and 2,950 intelligence analysts in the FBI steadfastly abide by their oaths ‘to support and defend’ our Constitution. They also strive to live up to the FBI motto: Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity. Indeed, most FBI agents, whose reputations are being sullied by the corrupt actions of a few high-ranking officials, are both personally and professionally offended by that corruption.”

Again yesterday in “The DoJ FISA Report — Trump Was Right,” I noted that “Hillary Clinton’s backers were high-ranking FBI bureaucrats” — as Wray identified in his response.

For the record, it was and remains Democrats who, by advancing this charade to take Trump down, have cast a cloud over the entire FBI — a cloud that will take years to dissipate. When Wray answers loaded media questions without redress, he also throws his whole agency under the bus.

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Pelosi Announces Impeachment, Then Trump’s Trade Win

One hour after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi somberly announced the Democrats’ articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, she was back in front of the press happily announcing that Democrats had agreed to sign off on Trump’s U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), an update to the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). “There is no question, of course, that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA,” Pelosi declared, echoing Trump’s sentiments. However, Pelosi was quick to spin credit for the deal onto Democrats, asserting that the new USMCA deal was “infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration.”

The incongruent optics of Pelosi’s back-to-back announcements are enough to leave one suffering whiplash. How can the Democrats be moving to impeach Trump because he’s supposedly an imminent threat to the country and then turn around and give him one of the biggest policy wins of his presidency?

The answer many be found in the fact that the Democrats’ impeachment gambit hasn’t paid off. If anything, their gamble has cost them in the eyes of the American public, as there is no reasonable possibility that Trump will actually be removed from office. Republicans have taken advantage of Pelosi and company’s anti-Trump obsession and have painted them as “do nothing” Dems. Republicans wonder, “How has the Democrats’ impeachment crusade benefited the country?” And Pelosi knows that if the “do-nothing” label sticks, it could prove to be the most damaging result from their whole impeachment charade.

The public’s (accurate) perception is that while Trump and Republicans have been hard at work making America great (look at their success in spurring a booming economy), Democrats have become singularly focused on impeaching Trump to the neglect of everything else. When Americans elect a president from one party, they don’t want the opposing party in Congress to spend the entirety of his presidency doing everything in their power to derail his agenda and resist him at every turn. Americans expect a government that works for them, not a bunch of politicians fighting for power at all costs.

Pelosi’s calculation is to make sure Democrats can claim some credit for helping American workers and the economy by signing off on USMCA, even if it means giving Trump a win. She’s banking on this move dispelling the “do nothing” label.

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No, the Nativity Is Not About Immigration

It’s no longer uncommon during the Christmas season to hear stories of “offended” leftists complaining over a publicly displayed Nativity scene. Often the “offended” people dubiously argue that the display infringes on the Constitution’s prohibition against government sanctioning of religion. The truth is the display of Jesus’ birth has little to do with politics; nor does it seek to force anyone into believing something against their will. The real offense to these leftists is the fact that there are Christians who are free to publicly share and display their faith, and remind everyone who cares to listen what Christmas is truly all about.

However, there are instances when a church’s message is more about politics than Scripture. A recent example comes via Claremont United Methodist Church in a suburb of Los Angeles, California. This past Saturday, the church began displaying an intentionally provocative Nativity scene in which Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus are separated — each in their own chain-link cage topped with barbwire. “Our intent is to focus on the asylum seekers and the ways they are being greeted and treated and to suggest there might be a more compassionate way to show God’s love,” explained the church’s pastor, Rev. Karen Ristine. She added, “I think as Christians we have a responsibility to proclaim a narrative that might be counter to what the world thinks.”

In an attempt to justify likening Joseph, Mary, and Jesus to the Central American migrants caught illegally crossing the U.S. southern border, Ristine points to the fact that the Holy Family fled to Egypt after being warned of King Herod’s desire to find and kill Jesus. Therefore, to leftists the point of Christmas is the promotion of leftist open borders and lawlessness. It appears that the reverend’s political inclinations are informing her beliefs, rather than Scripture guiding her worldview.

How about displaying the Nativity with the goal of directing people back to the historical Biblical account that transcends all earthly and temporal political concerns? How about addressing infinitely more important questions of who Jesus is and why He came in the first place? Furthermore, regarding the issue of immigration in the current U.S. context, the Biblical account of Joseph and Mary fleeing to Egypt with Jesus fails to support leftist “just let everyone in” agenda. Notice that Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem obeying a decree by Roman Caesar Augustus, who had ordered all residents of his empire to go to their ancestral home towns to register for his census. When Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fled to Egypt, as they were directed to do by God via a dream, they fled as genuine refugees, and there is no indication that their action was in any way illegal.

Why continue to perpetuate the lie that only the Trump administration engaged in temporarily separating children from adults, when the Obama administration did exactly the same thing? Why ignore the fact that the separation of families is no longer practiced? Are Ristine and her fellow travelers really interested in telling the truth of Scripture, or are they more concerned with peddling an anti-Trump narrative?

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Help Us Finish Strong

We regularly request your support at this time each year and appreciate your patience with us during this current campaign. The generosity of readers like you has kept our doors open since 1996. Our funding deadline is close: Please help us finish this campaign today. We have approximately $175,000 left to raise in order to meet our operations budget into the new year. Thank you for your support! —Christy Chesterton, Director of Advancement

ON OUR WEBSITE TODAY

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

TOP NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

UPPING THE ANTE OF A SPENDING BILL: Clinton-appointed judge bars Trump from building border wall with military funds (Bloomberg)

NO EVIDENCE OF MISLEADING: New York judge rules in favor of Exxon in climate-change fraud case (National Review)

SPEEDY TRIAL: Republicans prepare to call no witnesses during Senate impeachment trial (National Review)

FOR AFTER THE TRIAL: Senate will not take up new NAFTA deal this year, declares McConnell (The Hill)

*WORST. HOMOPHOBIC. PRESIDENT. EVER. Senate confirms openly gay Trump nominee to 9th Circuit (The Washington Times)

*WORST. NAZI. PRESIDENT. EVER. Trump to sign executive order combating anti-Semitism (The Washington Free Beacon)

*(Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds for the taglines.)

SAUDI SECURITY REVIEW: U.S. grounds Saudi pilots, halts military training after base shooting (Reuters)

ENSURING REGULATORY CONFORMITY: Defense Department Inspector General’s office to probe use of military personnel on U.S.-Mexico border (National Review)

PRONOUN WARS: “They” declared 2019 “Word of the Year” by Merriam-Webster (The Daily Wire)

CREATING AND ENABLING A VICTIM: Greta Thunberg named Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year (ABC News)

OUTBREEDING THE INFIDELS: For the first time ever, Muhammad has made the list of top ten baby names in America (PJ Media)

POLICY: Paid family leave: Avoiding a new national entitlement (The Heritage Foundation)

POLICY: The cost of America’s cultural revolution (City Journal)

HUMOR: Report: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were actually detained under the Obama administration (The Babylon Bee)

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

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OPINION IN BRIEF

Walter Williams: “In a free market society, income is neither taken nor distributed. Income is earned by serving one’s fellow man. Say I mow your lawn. When I’m finished, you pay me $50. Then, I go to my grocer and demand, ‘Give me two pounds of sirloin and a six-pack of beer that my fellow man produced.’ In effect, the grocer asks: ‘Williams, what did you do to deserve a claim on what your fellow man produced?’ I say, ‘I served him.’ The grocer says, ‘Prove it.’ That’s when I pull out the $50. We might think of dollars as ‘certificates of performance,’ proof of serving our fellow man. Free markets are morally superior to other economic systems. To have a claim on what my fellow man produces, I’m forced to serve him. Contrast that requirement to government handouts, where a politician says to me: ‘You don’t have to get out in that hot sun to mow your fellow man’s lawn. Vote for me and I’ll take what your fellow man produces and give it to you.’ … In a word or so, our protest should not be against capitalism. People should protest crony capitalism, where people use the political arena to buy government favors. If millennials and others want to wage war against government favors and crony capitalism, I’m with them 100%. But I’m all too afraid that anti-capitalists just want their share of the government loot.”

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “There can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth.” —George Jacob Holyoake (1817-1906)

For the record I: “Abuse of power is the most ambiguous, vague reference to an impeachment that you could ever have. You can make it anything you want. You don’t like [that] the president got up and wore a red tie? That’s abuse of power.” —Rep. Doug Collins

For the record II: “People are not making a big enough deal over the corrupt Dems’ sudden, whiplash-inducing shift from ‘bribery’ to ‘abuse of power.’ Just hours ago they swore they had an airtight case on bribery. THIS IS THE IMPEACHMENT OF THE US PRESIDENT & they’re just saying, ‘Never mind’?” —David Limbaugh

Upright: “America deserves an apology from Adam Schiff for all of the now confirmed lies in his infamous Schiff memo about FISA abuse. No one in the media should allow this fool on their network until he accounts for the myriad of lies in the document.” —Dan Bongino

Dezinformatsiya: “If I were a news director of a global reporting organization, I would devote a lot of resources and reporting energy to investigating the relationship between President Trump, his administration and business, and Saudi Arabia. I don’t think we have seen the full picture.” —fake newsman Dan Rather

Grand delusions: “Barr and Durham disagreeing with the IG report is merely a microcosm. The MUCH larger story is that Trump is slowly undermining (or replacing!) the individuals and institutions that hold him accountable. At some point, only loyalists will remain.” —Daily Beast columnist Matt Lewis

Non sequitur: “Puppies aren’t separated from their moms until ~8 weeks. Less than that is thought of as harmful or abusive. One of the most common lengths of US paid family leave is ~6 weeks. So yes, when we ‘let the market decide’ on parental leave, ‘the market’ treats people worse than dogs.” —Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Preborn babies at Planned Parenthood unavailable for comment…)

And last… “I think our nation was turned on its head for three years based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by an irresponsible press. And I think that there were gross abuses of FISA and inexplicable behavior that is intolerable in the FBI.” —Attorney General William Barr

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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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