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Mid-Day Digest

Jan. 31, 2020

THE FOUNDATION

“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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IN TODAY’S DIGEST

FEATURED ANALYSIS

Impeachment Charade Almost Over?

Thursday was the second and final day for the Democrat House managers and President Donald Trump’s defense team to make their arguments for and against impeachment as they responded to written questions submitted by senators. However, the biggest development yesterday came in the evening, as one of the four Republican senators the Democrats were counting on to side with them in calling for new witnesses unequivocally declared that he would vote against doing so.

Explaining his decision in a statement, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander argued, “The framers believed that there should never, ever be a partisan impeachment. That is why the Constitution requires a 2/3 vote of the Senate for conviction. Yet not one House Republican voted for these articles. If this shallow, hurried and wholly partisan impeachment were to succeed, it would rip the country apart, pouring gasoline on the fire of cultural divisions that already exist. It would create the weapon of perpetual impeachment to be used against future presidents whenever the House of Representatives is of a different political party.”

We speculated that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s partisan impeachment vote would come back to bite Democrats, and it certainly appears that’s the case.

Speaking of Pelosi, she pompously declared that Trump “will not be acquitted,” regardless of the Senate vote. Why? “You cannot be acquitted if you don’t have a trial. And you don’t have a trial if you don’t have witnesses and documents.” But that raises a big question: On what evidence did the House Democrats rest their impeachment case if they need new witnesses that they themselves refused to call and more documents that they failed to obtain?

Pelosi might want to check with Joe Biden. Back in 1999, then-Sen. Biden explained why the Senate didn’t need to call additional witnesses in Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial. “The Senate may dismiss articles of impeachment without holding a full trial or taking any evidence,” Biden said then. “Put another way, the Constitution does not impose on the Senate the duty to hold a trial. … In a number of previous impeachment trials, the Senate has reached the judgment that its constitutional role as a sole trier of impeachments does not require it to take new evidence or hear live witness testimony.”

Meanwhile, among the most notable questions Thursday was one from Sen. Rand Paul, which Chief Justice John Roberts refused to read for reasons that were not clear. Paul then posted his question publicly: “My exact question was: Are you aware that House intelligence committee staffer Shawn Misko had a close relationship with Eric Ciaramella while at the National Security Council together? … My question is about the actions of known Obama partisans within the NSC and House staff and how they are reported to have conspired before impeachment proceedings had even begun.”

What Paul endeavored to force Democrats to answer is precisely what Mark Alexander has asserted from the early days of this charade and reiterated Wednesday in his column, “Topping My Impeachment Witness List: Adam Schiff” — Schiff and his staff colluded with Ciaramella. “Schiff has coordinated the entire impeachment narrative and is its principal author and director. Thus, subjecting Schiff to Republican cross-examination would reveal his collusion with the ‘whistleblower’ — which would unravel the entire case against Trump.”

While Roberts blocked Paul’s question, he did read a similar one from Sen. Ron Johnson that asked about Schiff’s reported hiring of an individual who had contact with the whistleblower — a hiring that occurred the day after Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president. Schiff responded with righteous indignation suggesting that the question itself was a “smearing of the professional people that work for the Intelligence Committee” and that he “will not dignify those smears on my staff by giving them any credence whatsoever; nor will I share any information which I believe could or could not lead to the identification of the whistleblower.”

But Chief White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was having none of Schiff’s obfuscation. He argued, “So I think [the senators] deserve an answer to that question, and I think it’s time in this country that we stop assuming that everybody has horrible motives, in the puritanical rage of just everybody’s doing something wrong, except for you. ‘You cannot be questioned’ — that’s part of the problem here.”

Finally, it looks likely that wily Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has once again rallied Senate Republicans to hold the line and vote against calling any witnesses. If that does indeed happen, then the vote for acquitting Trump should occur soon afterwards, finally ending this Democrat partisan impeachment charade by this evening. This would be a huge win for Trump, Republicans, and the entire country. Of course, as the saying goes, it ain’t over until the fat lady sings. Here’s hoping she’s singing loud and proud tonight.

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Americans Are Feeling Pretty Optimistic

Amidst all the partisan rancor and hatred spewing from our nation’s capital — at the apex of the Democrats’ impeachment charade — it’s worth remembering that most Americans actually feel pretty upbeat about the country and their own prospects.

A Gallup poll this week revealed some fascinating findings. Most encouraging is this: An astounding 84% said they’re satisfied with “the overall quality of life,” and “Americans’ overall satisfaction with the country’s direction is at its highest point since 2005.”

Gallup also says, “Average satisfaction across 27 issues is higher than when [President Donald] Trump took office.” Issues with wide satisfaction include the economy (68%), “the opportunity for a person to get ahead by working hard” (72%), and military strength (81%). All three areas have gained tremendously since Trump was elected.

It’s no surprise that there’s plenty of dissatisfaction, though. Income distribution, race relations, immigration, healthcare, abortion, poverty and homelessness, and “the moral and ethical climate” are all areas where dissatisfaction runs high. Frankly, there’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem there. Are politicians constantly talking about those issues because people are unhappy, or are people unhappy because politicians won’t leave those issues alone?

In any case, we find it heartening that while one party is doggedly trying to impeach the president from the other party, most Americans see clearly the problems we face but have a positive view of the greatest nation on earth.

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The Flu and You: Perspective and Preparedness

By Mark Alexander

Thursday, the UN’s World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in connection with the spread of the latest coronavirus mutations and concern about human-to-human transmission. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted, “The main reason for this declaration is not what is happening in China but what is happening in other countries.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, generally far ahead of the rest of the world regarding potential pandemic threats, is always watching this and other bugs for early warning signs of spread in the U.S. Taking additional measures, the Trump administration’s Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has empaneled a task force to ramp up preparedness and response to the spread of this contagion. Azar declared, “Americans should note this is a potentially very serious public health threat.”

Officially, the communist Chinese government claims about 220 deaths and 10,000 infections. Our sources indicate that the actual rates of infection and deaths in China are much higher, and, in fact, official reports may only represent 5-7% of the actual dead and infected. The so-called “popup hospitals” now being constructed in Hubei province where the coronavirus outbreak originated double as isolation morgues.

In the U.S., the CDC is now reporting human-transmitted cases and has confirmed five cases in Arizona, Washington state, Illinois, and California, while officials are investigating four more — two in Washington, DC, and one each in Maryland and Virginia. The CDC is waiting on test results for more than 100 other patients suspected of coronavirus infection. Accordingly, the U.S. has issued a strong travel advisory for China, but we believe the CDC should increase the isolation period for those who are suspected of being infected to 14 days.

What do you need to know — and do?

First some perspective. Global deaths from the Ebola epidemic originating in 2014 are estimated now at more than 13,200. But deaths from the the 2009 H1N1 Swine Flu outbreak, while officially put at 18,449, are now estimated by one CDC study to be as high as 284,000. The vast majority of these deaths occurred in third-world nations where containment and treatment are rudimentary. Most deaths were at both ends of the age spectrum — the young and old.

While domestic concern about the coronavirus is warranted, it is worth noting that the current influenza B/Victoria viral strain in the U.S. is deadly. There have been more than 8,000 deaths associated with influenza across the country in this flu season. “Influenza is going to cause thousands more hospitalizations and I’m afraid many, many deaths that will make the coronavirus impact on our country very tiny in comparison,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University infectious-disease specialist. He added, “The risk from influenza is real and present.” (Did you get that flu shot this year?)

What can you do?

Be prepared. As I noted in “The REAL Pandemic Threat,” “Clearly, there are significant pandemic threats posed by viral infections that mutate into much more contagious forms and can spread regionally, nationally, and internationally, causing significant loss of life. I have advised for years that the primary defense against such contagions is the capacity to shelter in place. What originates in China or Africa one week can be in your suburb the next.”

For that reason, years ago we developed a resource page on Disaster Preparedness Planning, including a Two Step Individual Readiness Plan and a section on how to shelter in place.

We encourage you to visit each of these pages, because national preparedness begins with individual preparedness.

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The UK Steps Away

It was a revolution by ballot, not by bullet, but Great Britain’s departure from the European Union (best known by the term “Brexit”) becomes official later today. At 11 p.m. local time, the United Kingdom enters a “transition phase,” in which the UK and European Union begin to unwind their intricately woven economies and governments. It’s an exciting time and it yields an uncertain future, but it’s also what the people of the UK voted for in 2016 and reaffirmed with a smashing victory by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party in national elections this past December.

For Great Britain, it’s been an exhausting affair. Former Prime Minister Theresa May lost her job for failing to deliver Brexit, and Parliament’s week-kneed intransigence gave hope to the “Remain” side as negotiations with the EU dragged on. This stoked fears of a “hard Brexit” as the deadline for withdrawal drew closer. For a time, it appeared that the nation that gave the world Winston Churchill had lost its nerve, but the people prevailed. After two delays pushed the timeline back from last April to the present day, the deal should be completed next January 1.

What will change? For one thing, the British no longer have representation in the European Parliament. Nor will they attend regular EU meetings unless specifically invited. The British and their erstwhile EU partners will need to hammer out a new trade deal, but breaking loose from the EU also allows Great Britain to pursue deals with allies of its choosing, with the United States likely at the head of the line. That prospect worries the diplomatic crowd, which fears that the new order will place France and Germany at odds and make the continent more susceptible to Russian influence.

“What happens now matters far beyond Britain’s shores, or Europe’s,” opines The Wall Street Journal editorial board. “A Brexit that goes badly, with failed reform and stagnation in Britain and trade friction with the EU, would drag down Britain and weigh on continental economies not strong enough to take the strain. The effects would ripple toward America and Asia, and perhaps embolden dangerously disruptive political movements in Europe.”

As the test case for other European countries, the UK is no longer bound by a relatively stagnant economy within which some nations have succeeded while others like Greece and Italy have dragged down the whole. Nor is the UK still subject to the EU’s controversial migration policies or its ridiculous Brussels-based bureaucracy.

Brexit also resonates here in the U.S., as we push back against a bureaucratic swamp that has, at times, put the EU nanny state to shame: regulating mud puddles, anyone? Fortunately, the Obama-era Waters of the United States rules were recently overturned by the Trump administration, which wholeheartedly hailed the results of the UK’s December election. Expect him to be among the first to look for a deal with the newly liberated Brits.

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‘Compassionate’ Dems Just Can’t Solve Homelessness

The problem of homelessness in Los Angeles has drawn national and global attention in recent years. Some of the city’s streets are lined with makeshift dwellings and blighted by needles and human feces. The threat of disease is very real, and the city’s residents have reached the breaking point.

The Los Angeles Times reports, “As people living in tents, RVs and makeshift shelters become a fact of life in neighborhoods far and wide, homelessness is now an all-consuming issue in Los Angeles County, with 95% of voters calling it a serious or very serious problem,” according to a new poll conducted for the Times and the Los Angeles Business Council Institute.

“The courts have upheld the rights of homeless people in recent years,” adds the Times, “saying that cities cannot ban sleeping in public unless they provide enough beds for those who want them.” Along these lines, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in December 2019 not to take up a lower court’s ruling protecting the homeless from prosecution for sleeping outside.

Of course, we can neither round up and imprison the homeless nor simply ignore them. And the crisis has gotten the attention of President Trump, who threatened the city with federal intervention.

But those bold steps were stopped by Congress in December, which voted to restrict how the administration could spend federal funds designed to alleviate conditions in Los Angeles. Nonetheless, as The Washington Post reports, “Administration officials now hope to work closely with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D). They are considering whether to send hundreds of federal workers and additional money for services if a deal can be reached.”

When it comes to addressing homelessness, money appears to be the primary consideration. Phillip Molnar writes at The San Diego Union-Tribune, “San Diego, and other California cities, have spent millions of tax dollars on the homeless issue, including shelters, storage facilities and numerous programs.”

Money and new legislation clearly aren’t enough, especially when so-called leaders enact bad laws that make matters worse.

Thus, to the north in Washington state, Republicans are taking a more comprehensive approach to homelessness that goes beyond merely throwing money at the problem. As Seattle’s Ashley Archibald writes, “A group of Senate Republicans held a press conference Jan. 21 to articulate their vision of how to end homelessness in Washington, which would rely on existing funding and could strip the progressive stronghold of Seattle and King County of some authority to implement its own existing policies.”

Archibald adds, “One such proposal, the SHELTER — Serious Homelessness Engagement Leads to Effective Results — Act from Sen. Phil Fortunato (R-Auburn), would require counties of a certain size to have at least one large shelter facility, guarded by police, that would also have counseling and job services at hand.”

On the other side of the country, New York City houses the homeless in shelters and, for nearly 50 years, in commercial hotel rooms. But Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to end that practice by 2023 as part of the city’s Turning the Tide on Homelessness plan, a costly initiative that seeks to address the complexities of the problem.

These innovative ideas won’t end homelessness in America, but focusing on the root causes is a good start — and a far better alternative to allowing homeless tent villages to spring up on city streets, bringing lawlessness, violence, drug use, and disease.

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Crime, Punishment, and the Second Amendment

Patriotic Virginians should be furious. The state’s new Democrat-controlled legislature, which was elected in no small part thanks to a one-two punch of Michael Bloomberg’s cash and Andrew Cuomo’s campaign against the National Rifle Association, is now pushing for gun-control laws that clearly violate the Second Amendment and would punish law-abiding citizens for crimes and acts of madness they had nothing to do with. They would also ignore the failure of our government to enforce the laws already on the books — a failure that costs lives.

One need only look at Chicago to see that the laws being pushed by Bloomberg and his fellow gun-grabbers don’t work. In fact, Chicago enacted an outright handgun ban from 1983 to 2010, which was ultimately undone by the Supreme Court in McDonald v. Chicago. Of course, the bad guys still got their guns during the nearly three-decade ban, and they used them to murder thousands.

Why? Because criminals break laws, including 18 USC 922, whether by stealing them or by using a straw purchaser. Even the National Firearms Act provisions on short-barrel shotguns have been flouted for decades. Passed in 1934, that particular law boasts an 86-year track record of failure.

Believe it or not, actual enforcement of federal gun laws has been tried — and it worked. Project Exile began in Richmond, Virginia, which had sought to address its high murder rate. As the project took hold, aided by a PR campaign using ads on buses and billboards, the crime rate dropped, and crooks stopped using guns — because they knew they’d be put away for a long time.

Curious what a small gun-running operation can lead to in terms of prison time? The NRA ran a tab back in 1999, and the results are quite instructive about the state of current law. Imagine what could be done to those who make multiple runs — or a bigger run.

Yet despite the success of Project Exile, politicians representing Chicago at the local, state, and federal levels have responded over the years by demanding that other states (like neighboring Indiana) and the federal government punish law-abiding citizens instead of the Windy City’s criminals. Simply put, the enforcement of laws aimed at the misuse of firearms could save a lot more lives than so-called universal background checks or a ban on modern semiautomatic firearms. Instead, we’ve witnessed a stunning betrayal of law-abiding citizens, who are being scapegoated in place of proper enforcement of the current provisions of 18 USC 922, 18 USC 924, and 26 USC 53.

Thankfully, the NRA and other pro-Second Amendment groups are fighting for the rights of those citizens.

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NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

“THIS IS ONLY THE FIRST SALVO”: Ex-Trump aide Carter Page files suit against DNC over dossier (Fox News)

PICK ME! PICK ME! Watch Schiff’s hilarious attempt to stop Nadler from delivering closing remarks (Townhall)

ADDRESSING EXPLOITATION: Trump to sign executive order combating human trafficking (The Hill)

IDEOLOGY TRUMPS MORALITY: Warren vows to give “young trans person” veto power over her secretary of education pick (National Review)

MEMO TO DON LEMON: Trump supporters score higher on verbal ability tests (The Volokh Conspiracy)

“TIME TO VOTE AGAINST THE IRAQ WAR”: Trump ally Matt Gaetz calls for AUMF repeal (CNSNews)

ATTACK FALLOUT: Fourteen more U.S. troops diagnosed with brain injury following Iranian missile attack, bring the total to 64 (NBC News)

POLICY: Do subprime auto loans threaten the U.S. economy? (RealClearPolicy)

POLICY: Poverty stats greatly overstate how many Americans are destitute (Intellectual Takeout)

HUMOR: BREAKING: The Senate will call impeachment witness John Blasey Bolton (Genesius Times)

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

The Patriot Post is a certified ad-free news service, unlike third-party commercial news sites linked on this page, which may also require a paid subscription.

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VIDEOS

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “A bureaucrat is the most despicable of men, though he is needed as vultures are needed, but one hardly admires vultures whom bureaucrats so strangely resemble. I have yet to meet a bureaucrat who was not petty, dull, almost witless, crafty or stupid, an oppressor or a thief, a holder of little authority in which he delights, as a boy delights in possessing a vicious dog. Who can trust such creatures?” —Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC)

Upright: “The problem today is not that religious people are trying to impose their views on nonreligious people, it’s the opposite — it’s that militant secularists are trying to impose their values on religious people and they’re not accommodating the freedom of religion of people of faith.” —U.S. Attorney General William Barr

For the record: “John Roberts did nothing while the FISA court which he personally oversees illegally spied on an American citizen. He did nothing when DOJ determined the court was defrauded. But when a senator asked a question? Roberts shut that down. Twice. What a disgraceful coward.” —Sean Davis

Braying jenny: “I don’t know how [Trump’s attorneys] can retain their lawyer status, in the comments that they’re making. I don’t think they made the case. I think they disgraced themselves terribly in terms of their violation of what our Constitution is about and what a president’s behavior should be.” —House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Moving the goalposts: “You cannot be acquitted if you don’t have a trial. You don’t have a trial if you don’t have witnesses and documentation and all of that.” —Nancy Pelosi

A blast from the past: “The Senate may dismiss articles of impeachment without holding a full trial or taking any evidence. Put another way, the Constitution does not impose on the Senate the duty to hold a trial. In fact, the Senate need not hold a trial even though the House wishes to present evidence and hold a full trial.” —Sen. Joe Biden, January 5, 1999

Non compos mentis: “This was not a partisan impeachment … even if it was a party-line vote.” —Joe Biden

Hyper hyperbole: “We are watching the crowning of the president with Mitch McConnell holding the crown.” —Sen. Mazie Hirono

Grand delusions: “Imagine Donald Trump deciding, sometime in June, ‘Well, I heard this conspiracy theory that a whole lot of illegal immigrants voted in California. So, I’ve decided that, during the presidential election, California has to undergo extreme vetting.’ This is literally the kind of thing he will do now. We’re not talking hypotheticals, anymore.” —MSNBC pundit Jason Johnson

Non sequitur: “January 31, 2020: Britain withdraws from Europe and America withdraws from the Constitution.” —University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato

And last… “Democrats embarked on an effort doomed to failure from the start, and [they’re] now shocked and outraged that it failed.” —Rich Lowry

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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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