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Mid-Day Digest

Jan. 17, 2020

THE FOUNDATION

“It is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our Government… Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever persuasion, religious or political.” —Thomas Jefferson (1801)

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IN TODAY’S DIGEST

FEATURED ANALYSIS

Schiff Show Gets Underway in Senate

Chief Justice John Roberts swore in all 100 senators Thursday as the Democrats’ orchestrated impeachment trial against President Donald Trump officially got underway. “Coincidently,” blocks from the Capitol building, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released an eight-page report alleging that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had violated the law when it temporarily withheld military aid to Ukraine. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi eagerly declared the report is “new incriminating evidence” that the Senate needed to accept.

So, how serious is this latest “bombshell”? In short, it’s a complete dud, which Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey does a great job of exposing. Furthermore, the GAO, an ostensibly nonpartisan agency that is uniquely an arm of the legislative rather than the executive branch, was urged by Democrat Sen. Chris Van Holland (MD) to state that Trump’s action on withholding aid was in violation of the law. Apparently, GAO General Counsel Thomas Armstrong, a Barack Obama appointee, obliged Holland’s wish and timed the report’s release to bolster Pelosi’s campaign to pressure Senate Republicans into caving to Democrats’ demands that witnesses and any “new evidence” they may come up with be accepted into the trial.

Pelosi sent articles to the Senate Wednesday. The GAO report released Thursday. That is not a coincidence for the party that colluded with the whistleblower to launch this whole charade in the first place.

The GAO’s report conveniently comes on the heels of Lev Parnas’s interview with rabid anti-Trumper Rachel Maddow in which he dubiously claimed that Trump was fully aware of the alleged scheme to pressure Ukraine’s president to investigate the Bidens. But Parnas is hardly a reliable source, as he has an obvious motivation to seek a deal as a means of getting out from under federal charges he currently faces for running a scheme to funnel foreign money to U.S. political campaigns.

Clearly, this is all part of an orchestrated ploy by Pelosi and company to put Senate Republicans on the defensive by claiming they are not interested in finding the truth but only in acting out of a partisan bias to exonerate Trump. Pelosi’s aim is to pressure the Senate into holding an open-ended impeachment trial based not only upon the vacuous charges and evidence the House supplied in its articles of impeachment but also upon any new “evidence” or “witnesses” Democrats may come up with as they continue their ongoing investigation. As Andrew McCarthy observes, “[The Democrats’] goal is to pressure the Senate not merely to conduct a trial but to complete the investigation that the House failed to complete — calling witnesses and gathering evidence, as if a trial were nothing more than an extension of an open-ended grand-jury probe.”

If Pelosi and company were truly concerned about constitutional fidelity and conducting a fair, nonpartisan trial after having supposedly uncovered new significant evidence, they would immediately request that the Senate hold the articles in abeyance or vote to dismiss the charges without prejudice so that the House could fully complete its investigation. But doing so would undermine Pelosi’s true goal: damaging Trump’s and Senate Republicans’ reelection bids.

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Religious Liberty Finds an Ally in Trump

Thursday was National Religious Freedom Day, which, as Gary Bauer notes, “commemorates the day in 1786 when the Virginia General Assembly adopted the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, written by Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson’s statute became the foundation for the First Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees religious freedom, among other key liberties.”

To mark the occasion, President Donald Trump hosted in the Oval Office students, teachers, and others whose expressions of faith have been silenced in public schools, as well as those who’ve fought in the court system to protect those rights. He declared that he’s fighting back against the “growing totalitarian impulse on the far left that seeks to punish, restrict, and even prohibit religious expression.” Indeed, he ordered nine federal agencies to roll back regulations that restrict religious liberty — most of them issued during the tenure of the most faith-intolerant regime in the history of our Republic.

Schools won’t be forced to sponsor religious activities. The guidance states, “For example, teachers and other public school officials, acting in their official capacities, may not lead their classes in prayer, devotional readings from the Bible, or other religious activities.” Yet, the order also states, “Students and teachers do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

Moreover, each year, states must provide a list of districts or local schools that have “a policy that prevents, or otherwise denies participation in, constitutionally protected prayer.” And Fox News notes, “States are also required to report local schools that do not certify to the state that they don’t have unconstitutional prayer policies.”

While anti-religious zealots complained that Trump’s budding theocracy “undermines” civil rights and will have “dire consequences” for homosexuals and religious minorities, the truth is that he’s doing what he was elected to do — protect the religious liberty enshrined in the First Amendment.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins praised the administration’s new rules, saying, “For years, we’ve watched secularists pressure school administrators into telling students that they can’t pray, read their Bibles, or talk about their faith in class. Now, the tables are turned. For once, the onus isn’t on kids or districts to defend their freedoms — it’s on states to certify that they’re compliant and respectful of these basic rights. Thanks to President Trump, the government is finally standing up to schoolyard bullies who make a living trying to intimidate and silence students.”

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People Who Hate Their Country Won’t Serve It

There was a time in America when each generation learned about love of country and the importance of service. It didn’t matter whether a kid grew up in the Bronx or in a small town in Mississippi. Despite our geographic and cultural differences, there was a common thread that tied us all together.

What happened to that America?

During Ronald Reagan’s farewell address in 1989, the former president asked, “Are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American.”

Reagan continued, “We absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn’t get these things from your family you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture.”

This is one of the most striking differences between America in 1989 and in 2020. Millions of young people today are taught by their parents, teachers, and certainly by Hollywood elites that the country they were born into is racist, sexist, and unworthy of patriotic pride. The very founding principles of our nation are unjust and deeply flawed, they say.

Even the Declaration of Independence, humanity’s greatest document of freedom, is now regarded by young Americans as the product of racists, oppressors, and purveyors of genocide. And we wonder why our children grow up to reject the very notion of service to country. Instead, they envision a future in which our traditions, institutions, and values are burned to the ground amid the battle cries of “social justice” warriors.

Is it any wonder that our military lacks representation from urban and coastal population centers, where American values are more likely to be denigrated than inculcated, and where parents and grandparents are less likely to have served? And is it any wonder that the opposite is true in smaller towns and in more conservative families and communities, where love of country is still the rule rather than the exception?

“More and more, new recruits are the children of old recruits,” Dave Phillips and Tim Arango report in The New York Times. “In 2019, 79 percent of Army recruits reported having a family member who served. For nearly 30 percent, it was a parent — a striking point in a nation where less than 1 percent of the population serves in the military.” According to their research, significantly fewer numbers of recruits come from northern states or big cities on the coasts such as New York or Los Angeles.

They add, “In communities where veterans are plentiful, teachers, coaches, mothers, uncles and other mentors often steer youths toward military service. In communities where veterans are scarce, influential adults are more wary.”

Put more bluntly, liberals and their progeny are less likely to serve, and recent research seems to validate the claim that more conservative regions of the country are generally more pro-military.

Sociology professors at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley published research indicating that party affiliation has shifted in the U.S. military. Denise Marie-Ordway writes at Journalist’s Resource that the research shows “among those [service personnel] who came of age before World War II, 55.4 percent identified as Democrats, 38.3 percent identified as Republicans and 6.2 percent considered themselves Independents. Fast forward several decades and party ties look quite different. About a third of veterans who turned 18 between 1972 and 2016 identified as Democratic. Just more than half said they were Republican, and 16.7 percent were Independent.”

If our country seems to be coming apart at the seams, we need look no further than this seismic shift in military service and the root causes behind it.

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Yes, Virginia, There are Second Amendment Defenders

One of the bellwether elections of the 2018 “blue wave” was the prior year’s state-level balloting in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Not only did the Democrats retain the governor’s office, swapping out Terry McAuliffe for his lieutenant, Ralph “Blackface” Northam, but they also came within a single vote of securing the Virginia House of Delegates, a remarkable shift from its previous 66-34 Republican majority. Last November, the Democrats finished what they started, gaining six more House seats and flipping the Virginia Senate, where the GOP’s narrow majority had stood since 2015.

With their legislative majority firmly established, a governor limited to one term, and the 2018 Charlottesville strife still fresh in their minds, Virginia Democrats decided to begin this year with a virulently anti-Second Amendment gun-control agenda. Perhaps having seen this writing on the wall, a vast majority of Virginia’s counties and independent cities have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries, vowing not to enforce draconian gun-confiscation laws if passed.

To be sure, this made for a tense start to the legislative session in Richmond — and it’ll be even more so next week with a major Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) lobbying day slated for Monday. Citing the presence of “credible threats,” Gov. Northam ordered a preemptive strike: the declaration of a state of emergency, which allowed him to ban weapons from the state capitol grounds. Democrat lawmakers had already banned weapons from the Capitol building itself earlier this month. Not surprisingly, hundreds of 2A backers have expressed their displeasure with the newly proposed suite of 12 gun-control bills, three of which just passed the state senate.

This week’s lobbying day, sponsored by the National Rifle Association, actually drew praise from Northam for its amicable discussion of differences. “Earlier this week, the NRA hosted its annual lobby day … and the day passed without incident. That is what peaceful events look like,” said Northam, who called on the VCDL to show similar restraint. The NRA had a different request, though, and its advocacy got results: The most egregious anti-gun bill, a bid to confiscate AR-15 rifles, was withdrawn, and other measures were amended to weaken the anti-gun bills.

Along with Northam’s “credible threat” of violence this coming Monday comes an equally credible threat that far-left groups may stir up trouble. In a release obtained by the Washington Examiner, the VCDL asserted, “The Democrats are afraid of the voters and want to portray this peaceful assembly of law-abiding gun owners in the worst possible way. They would love for it to degenerate to ‘violence, rioting, and insurrection’ in order to smear gun owners. Has the Democrat leadership actually invited violent groups to attend for the purpose of disrupting our peaceful assembly?”

As the Virginia GOP notes, “Northam and the rest of the Virginia Democrats have made their session goal crystal clear: a disarmed, vulnerable, and subservient citizenry.” Somewhat less reserved was the neighboring state of West Virginia, which rolled out the welcome mat for more of Virginia’s counties to join the state. As Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw adds, “Virginia would immediately turn blue, but they’d lose some congressional seats while West Virginia would become an even darker shade of red and gain some seats.”

Clearly, it would’ve been better to have this discussion prior to the state’s 2019 election, when the citizenry could have denied Democrats their legislative majority. But here we are, and Virginia’s Second Amendment defenders appear ready for a fight.

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Putin Proposes Russia Return to Tyranny

In a not-so-shocking turn of events, Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev and his entire government resigned following President Vladimir Putin’s proposed constitutional changes — changes that would effectively extend his rule indefinitely. As NBC News reports, “Russian President Putin on Wednesday proposed a nationwide vote on sweeping constitutional changes that would shift power from the presidency to parliament and the prime minister, a move that could allow him to extend his rule after leaving the Kremlin.” Well, it looks like Putin has hit that old “reset” button again…

Medvedev, Putin’s long-time lackey, resigned so as to give Putin near-unilateral authority to change the constitution, and Putin’s changes effectively swing power away from the presidency to the parliament and more specifically the prime minister. Seeking to paint the move with the veneer of democracy, Putin called for a nationwide vote on his changes.

This move is reminiscent of Putin’s manipulations from 2008 to 2012, when he relinquished the presidency in order to observe the constitution’s term limits, yet became the prime minister with Medvedev serving as his puppet president. Washington Examiner’s Tom Rogan observes, “It’s pretty clear that Putin is creating new political structures to restrain the power of future presidents. An important factor to consider is that while these amendments seem declarative, Putin will play an outsize role in their interpretation and action. Again, this is about ensuring that no future leader can wrest control from Putin in a way that would jeopardize his interests.” And, Rogan adds, “The key takeaway here is that whether in the shadows or otherwise, Putin is going to be the Russian czar for a long time to come.”

Finally, Mark Alexander notes, “There is an arguable parallel between Putin’s efforts to erode the Russian constitution’s voter protections and Democrat efforts to erode our Constitution’s voter protections by eliminating the Electoral College.”

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Impeachment Fatigue

Grassroots Perspective from Roger Helle

“The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun,” was the headline of The Washington Post … on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017. For the past three years, IMPEACH, IMPEACH, IMPEACH has been the Left’s drumbeat day after day after day after day. Americans have gone deaf to this charade. Democrats wanted to remove a president duly elected by American citizens before he had a chance to do one thing in the Oval Office.

I remember a justice system where you were innocent until proven guilty. But not with President Trump; the Left says, “He’s guilty, so prove to us he’s innocent.” Anyone remember Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accusing presidential candidate Mitt Romney of not paying his taxes for 10 years? He told Romney to prove he had. Later, when asked by the media about his lying, Reid simply said, “He didn’t get elected, did he?” So, lying to achieve your goals has become accepted in politics?

With President Trump we first had “Russian collusion.” Nearly two years of a special counsel investigation costing over $30 million, found nothing. Open hearings with Special Counsel Robert Mueller were a huge disappointment. No evidence whatsoever! Someone needs to shake down Adam Schiff to get the evidence he told us he had!

Then came the “whistleblower,” but he was not really a whistleblower. President Trump talked to the Ukrainian president and leftists didn’t like what he said. Strangely, no one who testified actually heard the call. The accusations were of corruption, bribery, treason, and, my personal favorite, a quid pro quo. Apparently, none of these polled well so we had two lame Articles of Impeachment voted on by the House of Representatives.

But thank God, the Left was able to get this done before Christmas because Trump was a clear and present danger to the country. He needed to be removed yesterday! Then a month passed where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not send the articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial. She wanted a fair trial, she said. I’m all for it. Let’s use the same rules the House used! They should be fine with that, right? Finally judgment day for President Trump has arrived. The Senate has the articles of impeachment and the trial will begin.

Wow, that took a lot of work to save the country from President Trump. I don’t know how they were able to get anything else done. Wait! Actually, they haven’t gotten anything done. Meanwhile, the economy is roaring along. Wages are up, the stock market has set more than 100 records, and unemployment for African-Americans, Hispanics, women, Asians, and teenagers is at an all-time low. Two of the top terrorists in the world have been killed and trade deals favorable to the U.S. (for a change) are being made. But all Speaker Pelosi has on her “to-do list” is to impeach Trump.

If laws were broken, and not just feelings hurt, let’s get evidence and then make a case. That’s why America is a nation that operates on the Rule of Law. Prove a crime was committed. “I don’t like him” is not a reason to tie our nation’s business up for three years. Move on!

Something to think about?

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NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

ANOTHER TRADE VICTORY: USMCA passes in the Senate, despite Schumer and 2020 Dems voting “No”; the 89-10 vote is interesting in that it occurred on the same day the impeachment trial started (Townhall)

TRUMP DEFENSE: Trump impeachment defense team will include Clinton prosecutor Ken Starr and Democrat constitutional law professor Alan Dershowitz (CNBC)

AND YET THE TIMES SUGGESTS THE TIMING IS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED: Justice Department investigating years-old leaks and appears focused on James Comey (The New York Times)

FOR THE RECORD: No evidence ties Trump to troubling surveillance of Marie Yovanovitch (Washington Examiner)

MARITAL FRAUD: Investigators with ICE, FBI reviewing criminal allegations against Ilhan Omar (The Daily Wire)

NOT COMPLETELY UNSCATHED: Eleven U.S. troops were injured in January 8 Iran missile strike (Defense One)

RECIPROCATION: Army may send missile-defense systems to Middle East to counter future Iran strikes (Military.com)

AN ASSAULT ON COMMON SENSE: Thirteen states, DC, and New York City sue Trump administration over food-stamp work requirements (National Review)

RAINBOW MAFIA: Media label Tennessee religious liberty bill as “anti-gay” (Washington Examiner)

POLICY: A fracking ban would trigger a global recession (Manhattan Institute)

POLICY: Why it’s not simple to just raise the corporate income tax (American Enterprise Institute)

HUMOR: “We’ll take good care of these,” says Mitch McConnell while placing impeachment articles in special rectangular filing bin (The Babylon Bee)

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

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VIDEOS

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

SHORT CUTS

Observations: “I’m so old I remember when the Democrats were shrieking for justice for the people of Iran, right up until the people of Iran began agreeing with Trump about their government’s corruption. Man, those were the days.” —Candace Owens

Upright: “One hundred United States Senators [have been] sworn in to serve in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. Four of those senators must recuse themselves for their unparalleled political interest in seeing this president removed from office.” —Rep. Marsha Blackburn

Yep: “Nothing says seriousness and sobriety like handing out souvenirs. As though this were a happy bill-signing instead of the gravest process in our Constitution.” —Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Braying jenny: “I don’t know who’s the puppet, Trump or the attorney general.” —House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Innocent until proven guilty? “It’s not a question of saying what proof. It says what allegations have been made and that has to be subjected to scrutiny as to how we go forward, but it should not be ignored, and the context of other events that have happened that would substantiate some of that.” —Nancy Pelosi

Grand delusions: “I would argue that not only is this an impeachment trial but that the very integrity of the United States Senate is on trial. What is before us are charges that are arguably the most serious charges that have ever been leveled against a president of the United States.” —Sen. Kamala Harris

Well-timed political theater: “The GAO found that it was illegal — illegal — for President Trump to withhold military assistance from Ukraine to pressure them to interfere in the 2020 elections. Both the revelations about Mr. Parnas and the GAO opinion strengthen our push for witnesses and documents in the trial. The GAO opinion especially makes clear that the documents we requested in our letter to Leader McConnell are even more needed now than when we requested it last month. Because President Trump, simply put, broke the law.” —Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

Dezinformatsiya: “Adam Schiff, the lead House impeachment manager, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, was very somber, very serious. He read these two articles of impeachment — abuse of power by the president of the United States, obstruction of Congress by the president of the United States — repeatedly saying that the president of the United States engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors, which the U.S. Constitution says is the reason for a president potentially to be impeached and, if convicted in the Senate, removed from office.” —CNN’s Wolf Blitzer

And last… “Fact: Adam Schiff was first elected to congress to replace a Republican House Impeachment Manager. He began his career campaigning against rabid partisanship. Now he is the lead manager in the only partisan impeachment in history.” —Charlie Kirk

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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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