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Mid-Day Digest

Jan. 16, 2020


“If we move in mass, be it ever so circuitously, we shall attain our object; but if we break into squads, everyone pursuing the path he thinks most direct, we become an easy conquest to those who can now barely hold us in check.” —Thomas Jefferson (1811)

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Sanders and Warren Face Impeachment Conundrum

While media talkingheads obsess over Elizabeth Warren’s whiny complaint to Bernie Sanders post-debate that he “called me a liar on national TV,” the two Democrat senators have a bigger problem: impeachment.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally signed articles of impeachment Wednesday and sent them to the Senate — a supposedly “somber” occasion marked by much ridiculous fanfare, including laughing while passing out signing pens. And it was all nearly a full month after the House voted to approve those articles. Of Pelosi’s impeachment delay, Washington Post columnist Henry Olson proposed an interesting theory, arguing that the “real” reason behind it has little to do with pressuring Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell into accepting her witness-calling preconditions and everything to do with “intra-party tensions.”

Olson argues that delaying sending the impeachment articles until this week ensures that the trial, which starts today with Pelosi’s impeachment managers reading charges in the Senate, will then likely drag out into the Democrats’ Iowa caucuses. This would effectively prevent both Sanders and Warren from spending time campaigning in Iowa as they would be, by Senate rule, tied up in Washington during the impeachment trial. (This affects Sen. Amy Klobuchar as well, but let’s be realistic — she’s not going to win anything.)

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy agrees: “This harms Senator Sanders, who is in first place and could become their nominee, because he will be stuck in a chair because Nancy Pelosi held the papers.”

It’s an intriguing theory that the Democrat establishment, having never fully embraced Sanders, nor he them, is underhandedly plotting to diminish his chances of winning Iowa and therefore the nomination in lieu of their favored candidate, Joe Biden. It has the ring of legitimacy after the DNC’s shenanigans in 2016 worked to prevent Sanders from defeating Hillary Clinton.

However, it’s ultimately a lame attempt by Olson to get around the fact that Pelosi has royally botched the Democrats’ impeachment gambit. She’s not involved in a 4D chess move to ensure that Biden becomes the Democrat nominee. Her aim the entire time has been to damage not just Trump — as demonstrated by her crowing Wednesday that Trump has been impeached “forever” — but also Senate Republicans up for reelection. Pelosi would welcome a Sanders or Warren presidency just as warmly as she would a Biden one because Democrats, establishment or not, are united in their desire to see Trump out of office.

That said, the trial does indeed create a campaign problem for Sanders and Warren. Senate rules dictate that senators must be present in session Monday through Saturday over the duration of the impeachment trial. The real conundrum arises if Democrats drag the trial out by demanding witnesses. Will Sanders and Warren go along with this, or will they claim that although Trump deserves to be impeached it won’t happen since Republicans won’t vote to remove Trump, so why waste time on a no-win proposition when they could be focusing energy on defeating Trump at the ballot box in November?

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Trump Signs China Trade Deal, Pelosi Signs Impeachment Articles

On the same day that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat gleefully signing, with multiple pens, the Democrats’ articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, the president sat down in the White House to sign Phase One of his new trade deal with China. The juxtaposition of the two signing events perfectly captured the stark divergent political objectives between the two.

By almost all measures, Trump has had a great start to 2020. He strongly faced down Iran’s provocative behavior, hitting the mullahs right where it hurt by taking out their top terrorist Gen. Qasem Soleimani following their orchestrated attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. His decisive action sent a clear message to Iran and the world: Don’t to mess with the U.S.

On the illegal-immigration front, Trump has clearly made significant headway with the recent announcement of 100 new miles of a border wall, as well as a 70% decline in the number of individuals attempting to illegally cross the U.S. southern border. There is still much work to be done, but things are clearly going in the right direction.

The economy continues to hum along nicely, and there’s no sign of recession anywhere in sight, dashing one of the Democrats’ best hopes.

And now regarding the trade war with China, Trump’s aggressive efforts via raising tariffs appears to be paying off. While yesterday’s signing of Phase One is only an incremental step, it is still a significant step forward in Trump’s efforts to force China into ending its unfair trade practices. Here are a few of the reforms included in the deal as listed by the White House:

  • Importantly, the reforms included in the agreement are fully enforceable and include a strong dispute resolution system to ensure effective implementation and enforcement.

  • For the first time in any trade agreement, China agreed to end its practice of forcing companies to transfer their technology to Chinese companies in order to gain market access.

  • China will address numerous longstanding intellectual property concerns in the areas of trade secrets, trademarks, enforcement against pirated and counterfeit goods, and more.

  • The agreement includes significant commitments by China on accepting United States agricultural biotechnology products.

On top of this trade win, the Senate is poised to pass Trump’s reworked and updated NAFTA trade deal, now called USMCA. This would be Trump’s biggest win on trade to date, further fueling the booming U.S. economy.

Meanwhile, Pelosi is content to play games with impeachment, making a mockery of the Constitution while passing out the pens she did it with, and Democrat presidential candidates are in a dust-up over who was the one lying on the debate stage Tuesday evening. What a contrast for the 2020 election.

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A FISC-Deep State Alliance?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last three years, you recall that Barack Obama’s FBI used Hillary Clinton’s opposition research to generate a surveillance warrant against Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Thus you’ll no doubt be relieved to hear that an Obama-era FBI apologist and left-wing blogger has been tapped to oversee reform.

As Angelo Codevilla, former staff member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, put it, “Possibly the saddest fact about the intelligence deep state’s conspiracy against Trump is that at least some of the federal judges who sit on the FISA court apparently have been and continue to be part of it.”

Even as arguably the biggest scandal in the history of the nation was unfolding, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), managed to remain immune from accusations of impropriety. Ostensibly, all the contemptible machinations — “mistakes,” according to Inspector General Michael Horowitz — that enabled the spying on Trump’s presidential campaign were committed solely by the FBI, the Justice Department, and the CIA.

Such assumptions are belied by reality.

The latest machinations involve the man appointed to oversee the reforms demanded by former FISC presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer, who has since retired. FISC’s new presiding Judge James Boasberg has appointed former Obama-era Justice Department official David Kris to do the job.

To say that Kris brings a bit of “baggage” with him to the job is an understatement. “Kris appeared in locations that pushed the false Russia collusion narrative, such as Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show, the Lawfare blog, and Twitter, to defend the FBI and attack President Trump and other critics of the harmful surveillance campaign,” explains columnist Mollie Hemingway. “He once wrote that Trump ‘should be worried’ that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into treasonous collusion with Russia meant ‘the walls are closing in.’”

As Fox News reveals, Kris has “also written extensively in support of the FBI’s surveillance practices.” In a published piece at Lawfare, a leftist blog site run by James Comey’s friend Benjamin Wittes, Kris asserted that the now-vindicated Nunes memo “tried to deceive the American people in precisely the same way that it falsely accused the FBI of deceiving the FISA Court.” He further asserted that the agency had “probable cause” to conclude former Trump aide Carter Page “was a Russian agent.”

Per the IG report, Americans now know that evidence pertaining to Carter was deliberately doctored.

In a piece for The Washington Post, Kris also defended the Steele dossier. He conceded that while some parts “apparently remain both salacious and unverified,” he argued that “other parts may well have been verified by independent investigation” and thus “would strengthen the credibility of the remainder.”

The truth? The IG report revealed the FBI withheld evidence undercutting that very idea. It also noted the agency failed to disclose damaging information about Steele’s credibility and reliability, despite the fact that one of Steele’s main dossier sources told FBI agents in January 2017 that Steele had misrepresented and exaggerated the dossier’s contents.

Kris’s take on the IG report itself? “First, the report repudiates the claims of a coup and related deep-state conspiracies in the FBI as advanced by President Trump and his supporters,” he tweeted on December 9, 2019.

His take on the FISC is equally biased. In September 2018, he asserted that that “FISA applications are subjected to exacting … and serious scrutiny” and “the FISA Court is not a rubber stamp.”

Really? In 33 years of of surveillance requests the FISC has rejected 0.03% of them, as in only 12 of 38,169 requests for surveillance warrants between 1979 and 2015.

Moreover, there have been no rejections since 2009.

And for those who only see the potential for abuse through a partisan lens, Codevilla reminds us that if the FISC had existed in 1972, “Nixon’s ‘plumbers’ would easily have gotten a warrant to get everything they wanted out of the DNC secretly. Their application need only have cited the McGovern campaign’s plentiful links to North Vietnam and the Communist world.”

Nunes has Kris’s appointment exactly right. “The FBI lied to the FISC, and to help make sure that doesn’t happen again, the FISC chose an FBI apologist who denied and defended those lies,” he asserted. “The FISC is setting its own credibility on fire.”

Or, maybe they’ve had help. One might ask where Chief Justice John Roberts has been. He has named every member of the current court and the separate three-judge panel called the Court of Review that hears appeals of FISC orders. His silence is hardly reassuring — at best.

At worst? America is heading toward a new “post-constitutional” normal where “justice” is whatever secret courts, unelected bureaucrats, documented apologists, and conspiracy theorists say it is — all championed by useful-idiot “resisters” naive enough to believe they are insulated by their ideological bona fides.

Until they aren’t.

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‘Jeopardy!’ Jeopardizes Facts About Israel

Even seemingly innocuous game shows like the legendary “Jeopardy!” aren’t immune to social-justice mobs. This much was revealed in a recent episode during which a clue within the “Where’s That Church?” category intimated: “Built in the 300s A.D., the Church of the Nativity.” You can probably already guess where this is heading. One contestant asserted, “What is Palestine?” In what would be correct refereeing in a rational world, host Alex Trebek rejected the answer. Another contestant subsequently (and correctly) replied, “What is Israel?”

Cue the politically correct outrage. As Variety reports. “The episode prompted a furor online, drawing criticism over its handling of the answer. ‘Unacceptable!! Bethlehem is in the Palestinian territories which Israel illegally occupies,’ tweeted Omar Baddar, deputy director of the Arab American Institute, adding that he believes ‘Jeopardy!’ owed [the initial respondent] an apology ‘for endorsing Israel’s universally-condemned illegal takeover of Palestinian lands.’”

For the record, “Jeopardy!” endeavored to sidestep any potential fallout altogether. In a statement, the game show explained, “In the process of taping this clue … we became aware that the clue was flawed as written and that determining an acceptable response would be problematic. In accordance with our rules and in the interest of fairness, we voided the clue and threw it out.” The statement continued, “We then continued the game with [a] replacement clue. Unfortunately, through human error in post-production, the uncorrected version of the game was broadcast. We regret the error and we will make every effort to ensure this never happens again.”

Though it failed in the end, it’s perhaps understandable that “Jeopardy!” would attempt to prevent any blowback given our tumultuous civic environment. Still, that doesn’t mean the decision to implement a replacement clue wasn’t shortsighted. The plain fact of the matter is that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a city in ancient Judea. We know it today as a city enshrined in the West Bank of central Israel — “Palestine” is not a country. Only those ensconced in revisionist history would argue otherwise.

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Texas Church Shooting Hero Receives Medal of Courage

“Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday presented the state’s highest civilian honor to the 71-year-old man who stopped a gunman in a deadly shooting at a church in North Texas in December, CBS Austin reported. Abbot gave a medal of courage to Jack Wilson, who is the head of the volunteer security team at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, near Fort Worth.

"Throughout the event, Abbott called Wilson a hero, a title he has pushed back against in the weeks since the shooting.

”‘I feel more as a protector than I do a hero,’ Wilson said with the medal around his neck. ‘I feel very honored that God allowed me to have that capability to do what needed to be done that particular time.’“

Read more at CBS News.

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GRANDSTANDING: Pelosi marks sad, solemn, prayerful impeachment with souvenir signing pens for Trump-deranged Democrats (Hot Air)

THE GRAND "FINALE”: Senate takes over Trump’s impeachment after House handoff (Associated Press)

HARDLY IMPARTIAL: Nearly all of Pelosi’s impeachment managers supported impeachment before whistleblower complaint was filed (The Daily Caller)

BUREAUCRATIC BATTLE: Federal watchdog finds OMB violated law by withholding Ukraine aid — conveniently timed for the beginning of the Senate impeachment trial today. (Axios)

TRADE WIN: Trump signs phase one trade deal with China (National Review)

JUDICIAL OBSTRUCTION: Judge blocks Trump order that lets states, cities reject refugees (United Press International)

THE TRUTH HURTS: “You called me a liar,” Warren told Sanders post-Iowa debate (Associated Press)

AND YET LIFE CONTINUES: The last decade was the warmest on record, NASA and NOAA find (NBC News)

VILLAGE ACADEMIC CURRICULUM: California teachers could be required to teach about climate change (CBS13)

“CREDIBLE THREATS,” OR CONSTITUTIONAL END-RUN? Northam declares state of emergency, Capitol weapon ban ahead of gun-rights rally (Associated Press)

STRENGTHENING HIS IRON FIST: All senior Russian officials resign as Putin announces reforms that would weaken his successor (National Review)

POLICY: Today is Religious Freedom Day: Why America must recommit to religious freedom (The Daily Signal)

POLICY: Counter Iran with an independent Kurdistan (Washington Examiner)

HUMOR: All-white Democrat debate mistaken for KKK rally (The Babylon Bee)

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

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


Insight: “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” —Eric Hoffer (1902-1983)

For the record: “One billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty since Bernie first started to use the phrase ‘race to the bottom’ to describe international trade agreements.” —Matt Welch

Belly laugh of the week: “In Iowa, the Democrat candidates were downplaying the economy. But come Wednesday, November 4th, just about the only unemployed Americans will be failed Democrat presidential candidates! (Granted, that’s a lot of people.)” —Gary Bauer

Ouch: “Given the circus in the House, I’m surprised she didn’t use crayons.” —Sen. Ted Cruz on Nancy Pelosi giving out signing pens after signing impeachment articles

Political theater: “They claim it’s a somber, serious occasion they’re heartbroken over… and then they pass out impeachment-signing pens with special cases. Folks, you can’t make it up.” —Rep. Mark Meadows

Braying jenny: “On December 18th, the House of Representatives impeached the president of the United States — an impeachment that will last forever.” —House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Non compos mentis: “The allegations, for which there is a mountain of evidence, are that the president betrayed his country by trying to extort the [sic] Ukraine by withholding $391 million dollars in military aid that Congress had voted in order to get Ukraine to announce an investigation of a domestic political opponent. That’s the allegation. Any witness who has information about whether that is true or not true is a relevant witness. Anybody, like Hunter Biden, who has no information about any of that is not a relevant witness.” —House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler

Dezinformatsiya: “This impeachment has now set into motion a removal trial. The big question is, what about all of this new evidence emerging of clear wrongdoing? Can the Senate really choose to ignore it?” —CNN’s Chris Cuomo

Not-so-friendly fire: “I think you called me a liar on national TV.” —Elizabeth Warren to Bernie Sanders after their debate spat

And last… “All I want is Trump to host a rally during a Dem debate but instead of him doing his normal speech, he watches the debate with the crowd and adds live commentary.” —Caleb Hull

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For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.



For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

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