Mid-Day Digest

Jan. 9, 2020

THE FOUNDATION

“In times of peace the people look most to their representatives; but in war, to the executive solely.” —Thomas Jefferson (1810)

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IN TODAY’S EDITION

IN BRIEF

Capitol Hill War Powers Dust-Up — Symbolism Over Substance

Much of the mainstream media made hay over comments from two Republican senators — Mike Lee (UT) and Rand Paul (KY) — following the Trump administration’s briefing of lawmakers over the airstrike that took out Iran’s top terrorist, Gen. Qasem Soleimani. “It was probably the worst briefing I’ve seen at least on a military issue in the nine years I’ve served in the United States Senate,” Lee complained, adding that he found the responses from administration officials “insulting and demeaning.” Though Lee supported taking out Soleimani, he declared he’s now in favor of the Democrats’ recently introduced resolution on war powers, which is designed to prevent President Donald Trump from further military action against Iran without explicit authorization from Congress.

However, other Republican senators disagreed with Lee and Paul’s assessment. Marco Rubio (FL) argued that the brief was “compelling,” before asserting, “Anyone who walks out & says they aren’t convinced action against #Soleimani was justified is either never going to be convinced or just oppose everything Trump does.”

So, what’s going on here? There are two important things to note. First, both Lee and Paul are well known for their libertarian bent, which informs their noninterventionist instincts — and those instincts arise from their laudable concerns for adherence to the constitutional separation of powers. The trouble is, as we have repeatedly argued, Congress long ago abdicated much of its war power to the executive branch. That was most particularly done via the 1973 War Powers Act, which ostensibly was designed to rein in the executive branch’s authority to engage in armed conflict. Yet, in practice, the law has proved to be a convenient way for Congress to avoid political accountability by passing its own responsibilities to the executive branch.

Second, Wednesday’s briefing was not designed or intended as a forum for senators to carry on a debate over the question of war powers. Its purpose, as Rubio cogently pointed out, was to inform members of Congress on the specifics surrounding the decision to take out Soleimani. Administration officials weren’t going into the meeting with the mindset of defending the question of war powers; their job was to explain and defend the merits of the decision. It’s a significant distinction that the mainstream media failed to note.

Given the fact that the House will vote on a war powers resolution that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and company ridiculously argue is necessary to prevent Trump from starting a war with Iran, it’s understandable to view Lee and Paul’s comments as only lending support to the Democrats’ anti-Trump efforts. However, the reality is that even if the Senate were to pass the Democrats’ resolution, it would do so by a slim margin and would not be able to overturn Trump’s certain veto. Lee and Paul know this, so their comments serve more as a symbolic expression of their principles than any serious threat to limit Trump’s ability to confront Iran.

Footnote: Regarding the dispute over Iranian missile funding… Trump said during his remarks Wednesday, “The missiles fired … at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration.” Mark Alexander noted yesterday that this is essentially correct, as it falls under the “take Trump seriously, not literally” maxim. Money is fungible, as even The Washington Post “fact checker” conceded … before proceeding to take Trump literally in order to “disprove” his assertion. But anyone with any sense knew what Trump meant. Barack Obama gave the Iranians billions of dollars in appeasement cash, which, along with his overall policy toward Iran, made those missiles possible. No one will find an invoice specifically tying those Obama bucks to those missiles, but Trump means to say those days are over.

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VA Dems Target Shooting Ranges

In their ongoing efforts to curtail and severely limit Virginians’ Second Amendment rights, the commonwealth’s Democrat lawmakers, led by Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam, have proposed and pre-filed a litany of gun-control bills. One of them is House Bill 567, which, if passed, would essentially make it unlawful for a private company to run an indoor shooting range in a building that employs 50 or more people.

H.R. 567 states:

It is unlawful to operate an indoor shooting range in any building not owned or leased by the Commonwealth or the federal government unless (i) fewer than 50 employees work in the building or (ii) (a) at least 90 percent of the users of the indoor shooting range are law-enforcement officers, as defined in § 9.1-101, or federal law-enforcement officers, (b) the indoor shooting range maintains a log of each user’s name, phone number, address, and the law-enforcement agency where such user is employed, and (c ) the indoor shooting range verifies each user’s identity and address by requiring all users to present a government-issued photo-identification card.

The most obvious target of this clearly malicious legislation is the National Rifle Association, which maintains an indoor shooting range at its corporate headquarters in Fairfax. What possible constitutionally legitimate rationale is there for seeking to eliminate all large privately owned and operated indoor shooting ranges?

Fortunately, Virginians aren’t content to sit back and watch their Second Amendment rights be eroded without a fight. The Second Amendment Sanctuary movement continues its rapid spread, with the commonwealth’s largest city, Virginia Beach, declaring itself a “Second Amendment Constitutional City” on Monday. Currently, 88 of Virginia’s 95 counties are 2A sanctuaries, along with 30 cities.

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BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

TOP NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

“SEND THEM OVER”: Senators Dianne Feinstein and Joe Manchin join Democrats pressuring Pelosi to send impeachment articles to Senate (Fox News)

“THE LAWSUIT SEEKS ALL SUBPOENAS”: Watchdog group suing Adam Schiff over release of private phone records (The Daily Wire)

$3.6 BILLION IN MILITARY FUNDS: Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifts injunction against border-wall funds (National Review)

PROPAGANDA: Iranian TV reports a different version of missile attack on U.S. bases in Iraq (USA Today)

WAR BY OTHER MEANS: Texas facing 10,000 potential cybersecurity attacks from Iran per minute, Gov. Greg Abbott says (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

EPIC FAIL: Those who can’t find Iran on a map (and there are plenty of them) are less likely to support the strike on Soleimani (Washington Examiner)

JUSTICE: Mexican national who killed Brian Terry has been sentenced to life in prison (Townhall)

NEARLY 3,000 DEATHS AND COUNTING: 2020 on track to be worst flu season in decades (The Hill)

WELCOME NEWS: Cancer death rates drop by largest amount on record (Axios)

SEEKING ANSWERS: Judge orders Google to turn over Jussie Smollett’s emails (Associated Press)

POLICY: Why repealing the 1991 and 2002 Iraq war authorizations is sound policy (The Heritage Foundation)

POLICY: Banning dollar stores to prevent food deserts is unjust (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

HUMOR: “He was a great man”: Deceased Iranian General Soleimani surges into fourth place in Democratic primary race (Genesius Times)

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

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OPINION IN BRIEF

The Wall Street Journal: “The showdown with Iran is far from over, and the mullahs may strike again in the coming months using proxy forces that give it deniability. On that score the President missed an opportunity to make clear that an attack on Americans by an Iranian-linked group would be treated as an attack by Iran. The immediate battleground will continue to be Iraq. Mr. Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo should focus on maintaining the U.S. presence to help patriotic Iraqis resist becoming another satrapy of Tehran. The other challenge is Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, and Mr. Trump asked the U.K., Germany, France, Russia and China to join him in seeking to renegotiate the 2015 pact. The latter two won’t agree, but it’s past time for the Western Europeans to realize that the deal has fatal flaws including its early end date within a decade.”

SHORT CUTS

For the record: “This is a parody of impeachment. House Democrats said they had to rush to vote before Christmas because President Trump poses a clear and present danger, but now the urgency is gone. The House didn’t subpoena John Bolton, the former national security adviser, but now the Senate must call him or the trial won’t be fair. The House refused to call witnesses requested by the GOP minority, but now the Senate GOP majority is supposed to heed every request by the Democratic minority.” —The Wall Street Journal

Non compos mentis I: “We should have a foreign policy that is focused on climate change and not endless wars.” —Ben Rhodes

Non compos mentis II: “We should not be allowing plastic. And what we should do is phasing [sic] it out.” —Joe Biden

Grand delusions: “What scares me is every time you go back to the scientists, they tell you two things: It’s worse than we thought, and we have less time. That means we’ve got to be willing to do things, for example, like regulation. By 2028, no new buildings, no new houses, without a zero carbon footprint.” —Sen. Elizabeth Warren

The BIG Lie: “I believe that President Obama had a strategy … that would prevent Iran from becoming nuclear. There weren’t these incidents during the Obama administration. We didn’t have protests against our embassies, the killing of American contractors. Americans were safe at that time.” —Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) (As Charlie Kirk put it, “4 years ago Iran captured US Troops, held them captive, and made them pose for humiliating photos. John Kerry ‘thanked’ Iran for how our troops were treated. Barack Obama sent them $1.7 billion in cash just weeks later.” And that’s not to mention four dead Americans, including a U.S. ambassador, at our consulate in Benghazi.)

Braying jackass: “We live in a time where Republicans pretty much right now the party of hypocrisy. It’s not the old Republican Party, the party of principles, the party of values, the party of Max Boot … where character counts. It’s a party of hypocrisy.” —CNN’s Don Lemon

And last… “[Democrats] mourn Soleimani more than they mourn [with] our Gold Star families who are the ones who suffered under Soleimani.” —Rep. Doug Collins

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TODAY’S MEME

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TODAY’S CARTOON

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