“The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society.” —James Madison (1788)
IN TODAY’S DIGEST
- Sanders: Don’t Let Bloomberg ‘Buy the Presidency’
- Trump’s Clemency for Blagojevich Raises Questions
- Florida’s ‘Red Flag’ Applied Over 3,500 Times in Just Two Years
- The Answer to Bullying Is Strength, Not Submission
- Can Liberals Be Reached in 2020?
- Daily Features: News Executive Summary, Videos, Best of Right Opinion, Short Cuts, Memes, and Cartoons.
In 2002, our elected representatives passed the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, sometimes known as “McCain-Feingold” after its sponsors. It’s also sometimes called the Incumbent Protection Act because it restricts political speech in the form of campaign contributions in a way that greatly advantages incumbents over challengers. In any case, Democrats and not a few Republicans gloated about “getting the money out of politics.”
Not quite two decades later, Michael Bloomberg is trying to buy the presidency with his own vast fortune. While the average citizen can give just $2,800 to a candidate each election cycle, a billionaire can spend whatever he wants on his own candidacy. This isn’t the space to rehash the constitutionality of such restrictions, but let’s just say it’s incredibly suspect.
The billionaire former New York City mayor who once described multimillion-dollar ad buys as “obscene” because you “annoy people” has already spent $417 million, almost solely on campaign ads. That’s compared to “just” $194 million for fellow billionaire Tom Steyer, and Bloomberg’s binge is 10 times the money spent by Bernie Sanders or Pete Buttigieg. (By comparison, Donald Trump spent $66 million of his own fortune in 2016, though he still beat Hillary Clinton despite being vastly outraised and outspent.)
“[The] number one priority is to get rid of Donald Trump,” Bloomberg says. “I’m spending all my money to get rid of Trump.”
Sanders, for one, isn’t happy about that. “Mr. Bloomberg, like anybody else, has a right to run for president,” Sanders lectures. “He does not have a right to buy the presidency.”
Bloomberg is buying ads; Sanders is trying to buy votes with a quid pro quo — promises of “free” taxpayer giveaways of all sorts. Bloomberg’s pretty generous with his money (albeit for his own causes); Sanders wants to be generous with your money. Bloomberg has yet to win a single delegate and won’t be on a ballot until Super Tuesday; Sanders is arguably the Democrat front-runner, winning New Hampshire and, arguably, Iowa, while building a vast lead in Nevada.
In fact, Bloomberg has yet to participate in a debate, though that will change tonight in Las Vegas. And watching the 78-year-old millionaire Sanders attack the 78-year-old billionaire Bloomberg will be entertaining.
Finally, Bloomberg isn’t just spending his fortune on political office. He bankrolls hordes of lawyers around the nation to litigate climate cases. And Everytown for Gun Safety, the anti-Second Amendment group co-founded by Bloomberg, received a reported $38 million from him in 2018 alone. In short, Bloomberg with his billions is one of the archenemies of Liberty. That doesn’t make Sanders any better.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump issued pardons and clemencies to 11 individuals — including disgraced former Democrat Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was serving a 14-year sentence for several corruption-related crimes, the most notable being his attempted selling of Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat. Defending his controversial decision to commute the remainder of Blagojevich’s sentence, Trump argued, “He’s been in jail for seven years over a phone call where nothing happens — over a phone call which he shouldn’t have said what he said, but it was braggadocio, you would say. I would think that there have been many politicians — I’m not one of them, by the way — that have said a lot worse over the telephone.”
Trump’s decision didn’t sit well with five GOP representatives from Illinois. They expressed their “disappointment” in a joint statement in which they noted that Blagojevich’s sentencing was “appropriate and fair” and represented “the low-end of the federal sentencing guidelines for the gravity of his public corruption convictions.” They further asserted, “Blegojevich is the face of public corruption in Illinois, and not once has he shown any remorse for his clear and documented record of egregious crimes. … We shouldn’t let those who breach the public trust off the hook.”
None of the other individuals Trump pardoned yesterday raised nearly the eyebrows or controversy as Blagojevich, which has most everyone wondering what was behind this decision. One thing’s for certain — this was a long-calculated move that Trump had been publicly mulling since 2018. Was it a setup by Trump to justify an eventual move to pardon those caught up in the Russia-collusion hoax — individuals like Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, and Roger Stone? Possibly. It would certainly take some of the wind out of the sails of those who would claim he was acting on purely partisan instincts given that Blagojevich is a Democrat. And if that is indeed part of Trump’s thinking, would he wait until after the election to act?
Furthermore, Trump can use this to call attention to his efforts on criminal-justice reform, a policy agenda that Democrats have long touted as their own and have used effectively against Republicans, especially with minority voters. Trump has seized that political ground.
Still, that Blagojevich used his power as governor to pursue personal gain is exactly the type of corrupt swamp creature Trump campaigned on cleaning up. It’s easy to see why critics blast Trump’s decision as a clear contradiction of that commitment.
Two years have passed since a mentally unstable young man shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The atrocity sparked a massive campaign by gun-control advocates pressing for more laws limiting Americans’ Second Amendment rights. Within three weeks of the school attack, Florida’s legislature passed several new firearms regulations, including a bipartisan “red flag” bill that was signed into law by then-Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican.
Since the law’s implementation, it has been used more than 3,500 times to temporarily confiscate people’s firearms, and, the Associated Press reports, “the pace accelerat[ed] during the last half of 2019.” The question remains: Has the law demonstrably proven to effectively prevent people from harming themselves or others? Predictably, answers vary depending on who is asked.
On the one hand, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri asserts, “We have needed this law for decades.” On the other hand, sheriffs from several other Florida counties — who have never issued red-flag orders — noted that the reason was that they simply hadn’t needed them.
The crux of the problem with red-flag laws is the violation of constitutional protections for due process. For example, with Florida’s law, if a civil court issues a confiscation order, it’s up to the defendant to not only prove his innocence but also to provide for his own counsel. As the AP notes, “Others say it discriminates against the poor: Because the hearing with a judge is not a criminal proceeding, low-income defendants aren’t provided with a free lawyer.”
Following the red-flag confiscation of firearms, a hearing is held within two weeks wherein a judges decides if the person’s firearms will be withheld for a year. Once again, no actual law has been broken by the individual; confiscation happens merely based upon the arguments and evidence presented by law enforcement that an individual in question poses a threat. The fact remains that these red-flag laws create a highly problematic and dubious system rife with the potential for rampant corruption and the trampling of people’s constitutional rights. The experience of gun owners in Florida largely proves it.
Our society has become a worried society. We worry about everything imaginable. Some worries are legitimate, like the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic on families. Others, like “gun violence” or bullying, should concern us but also need to be put in proper context.
To watch the mainstream media, one would think we’re living in the most violent time in the history of America. In reality, gun-related murders in general, and school shootings in particular, are less frequent now than 30 years ago.
Another “epidemic” that causes anxiety for parents is bullying. But is it really an epidemic? Is bullying more common, or crueler, than in previous generations? Or are we simply raising a generation of victims, discouraged from standing up for themselves and incapable of dealing with the types of bullies that have been around forever?
“Many states have even passed anti-bullying laws, only to discover that the laws not only fail to fix the problem but probably make it worse,” notes The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh. “We have sent armies of psychologists into the schools, with the hope that medicalizing the problem might do the trick if legislating it didn’t work. And if all else fails, we have recourse to anti-bullying PSAs, anti-bullying seminars, anti-bullying websites, anti-bullying posters, and anti-bullying bumper stickers. But there is little evidence that any of these measures have made a significant impact.”
Many of today’s parents remember being told when they were children, “You better not start a fight, but if someone picks a fight with you, you’d better end it.” Not so now. Today, the bully and the victim are treated as moral equals if the victim has the temerity to actually fight back.
The idea that “it doesn’t matter who started it” is logically ludicrous and morally reprehensible. It absolutely does matter who started it. To say otherwise would be to argue that, if a rape victim fought back and killed her attacker, she and the rapist bear equal blame for the outcome. No sane person would take such an obviously idiotic position.
To say otherwise sends a horrible message to children, who should be taught that there is nothing laudable about being weak or cowardly. There is nothing praiseworthy about allowing evil to prevail uncontested.
Children are told that they should be the “bigger person” and walk away from bullies. That’s fine, to an extent. Certainly, we should not encourage children to throw punches if someone mocks their new haircut or criticizes their shirt. But what should the response be to relentless public humiliation? To being slapped, kicked, punched, or tripped? How many times should the victim walk away? And what message does it send to the bully when they are allowed to be school-aged tyrants who torment their peers without consequence?
Bullies thrive on power. They lust for the feeling of dominion they get over a submissive, terrified victim. Like a junkie, they get high on the feeling of dominating a weaker person. And like a junkie, over time it takes more and more to achieve that same high. The hateful, humiliating words get viler. The physical abuse gets more aggressive.
Even worse, when a child walks away from a bully out of fear rather than from a position of strength, no matter what lofty praise parents or teachers heap on the child, the child will still feel the shame and embarrassment of cowardice.
In the end, the only way to deal with bullies is for the victims to fight back. It can be frightening, but it will teach them the lesson that courage is not the absence of fear; rather, it is the willingness to persevere in the face of fear.
As Archbishop Desmond Tutu so eloquently stated, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
Grassroots perspective by Willie Richardson
We have all been in that situation at church, work, a community event, the barber shop, a doctor’s office, or sitting at the table at Thanksgiving dinner. That moment when awkward silence looms large and the room seems like the air has been sucked dry. That moment when someone says something negative about a political candidate/party you support, not knowing they are targeting you.
Last week, I encountered two similar situations. Assuming I was the typical “black Democrat,” one woman spoke negatively about President Donald Trump while performing my routine physical, and the other was offended by a meme that depicted liberals as being, um, liberals. The latter woman was a retired high-school teacher who came up to me after I spoke at a local high school for Black History Month about Frederick Douglass. She wanted to understand the difference between “liberals and conservatives.” I obliged, smiled, and said, “Let’s talk.”
Just from knowing this woman, I would never figure she was a liberal. She believes in personal responsibility, limited government, the right to life, and fiscal accountability. “Growing up, we were poor,” she shared. “My mom received assistance and that’s why I vote Democrat. I believe they are for the poor.” I understood her allegiance to the Democrat Party was a heartstring that had been pulled as a young daughter. Although assistance was helpful, she grew up believing in creating the life she wanted instead of waiting on the government to do it for her. I shared the values of the Democrat Party and she said, “I’m a Christian and don’t believe in this platform!” I looked at her and said, “But you vote for it.” She became sober-minded and realized her decision to vote for liberal policies went against everything we both knew she stood against. “You’ve really helped me understand some things,” she told me. “I thought my conservative friends were just crazy, but when I think about it I believe the same things.” I allowed her to draw her own conclusions. If you are ever cornered between a political wall and a hard place, remember these three easy steps to reaching liberals, especially if they are professing Christians:
Listen more than you talk. Liberals like to complain about almost everything. The president, the economy, schools, guns, and tolerance. Let them get it all out and even if you’re tempted, don’t say a word. Let the awkward silence happen a few times. When you keep quiet you actually gain leverage when your voice is heard.
Stay in control of your emotions. Don’t let your feelings affect your messaging. If you begin to attack or defend your position out the gate, you will ruin your chances of having meaningful dialogue.
Intelligently speak your position. Wait until they say something you both know he/she doesn’t agree with — same-sex marriage, forcing children to attend failing schools, abortion, gun laws, big government, and the destruction of the traditional family. When you speak, remind them of the facts. You will see how they begin to agree with the facts and all you’ll end up doing is nodding your head in agreement. Tell them, “You certainly don’t sound like a Democrat based on what you believe in. Has anyone told you that before?” A close family member or friend has always said something to them about their liberal political leanings to no avail, until now!
If they trample on Trump, help them to decipher between political personalities versus political policies. This woman told me, “But Barack Obama was so smooth and polished. Trump just comes out with it all.” I told her being smooth allowed our former president to get away with policies that would not be accepted otherwise. She agreed and realized that it is not about the personality of the president but what he actually puts into policy.
This exchange of ideas was productive. I learned how to calmly approach those who have different political ideologies. I believe she learned what she actually believes doesn’t line up to what she votes for. Win-win situation!
CLOSING ARGUMENTS BEFORE THE CAUCUS: The ninth Democratic presidential debate is set for Wednesday in Las Vegas, and it will feature a new billionaire on the stage (NBC News)
MEMO TO MICHAEL: Bloomberg School of Public Health says there’s no evidence “assault weapon” bans reduce mass shootings (The Daily Wire)
FAKE NEWS: DOJ pushes back at reports William Barr considered quitting over Trump tweets (Fox News)
THE FIRST STEP TO RECOVERY: Trump acknowledges Barr’s complaint about his tweets: “I do make his job harder” (National Review)
LEFTISM FATIGUE: Secession in the Pacific Northwest? Some Oregon residents petition to join Idaho (USA Today)
BUT HIS OPPONENT CLAIMS VICTORY TOO: President Ashraf Ghani named Afghan election winner after five-month dispute over the vote (The New York Times)
CRACKDOWN ON COMMUNIST RHETORIC: U.S. imposes new rules on state-owned Chinese media over propaganda concerns (Reuters)
POLICY: The hammer and sickle should be treated like the swastika (Foundation for Economic Education)
POLICY: School vouchers improve public schools (National Review)
HUMOR: Bernie Sanders selects Bernie Madoff as running mate, citing experience in Ponzi schemes (Genesius Times)
For more of today’s editors’ choice headlines, visit In Our Sights.
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- Video: Sanders’s Scary History of Socialist Praise — Sanders was once full of praise for violent socialist regimes in Cuba, Russia, and Nicaragua.
- Video: Virginia Lawmakers Reject Gun Ban — The pressure put on them by brave citizens standing up for the Second Amendment quashed the vote.
- Video: Bloomberg Says Farmers Are Stupid While Media Insult NASCAR Fans — Why? Because this is what they think of you.
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.
Political futures: “Soon, Democrats may end up choosing between [Michael] Bloomberg, a 78-year-old Jewish billionaire who lives in New York City and is running as a benevolent billionaire, and Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders, a 78-year-old Jewish millionaire from New York City who built his career on bashing the excesses of millionaires and billionaires.” —USA Today columnist Jason Sattler
Belly laugh: “Bloomberg seems to have acquired his knowledge of farming by watching Hee-Haw.” —Fox News’s Brit Hume
Owning up: “I do make [William Barr’s] job harder. I do agree with that. I think that’s true. Everybody has the right to speak their mind. I use social media. I guess I use it well because here I am. I probably would not have gotten here without social media, because I certainly don’t get fair press.” —Donald Trump
Upright: “He’s a very straight shooter. We have a great attorney general, and he is working very hard. And he’s working against a lot of people that don’t want to see good things happen, in my opinion. That’s my opinion, not his opinion. You will have to ask what his opinion is.” —Donald Trump
Epic lack of self-awareness: “I’m not gonna tell other Christians how to be Christians, but I will say I cannot find any compatibility between the way this president conducts himself and anything I find in Scripture.” —Pete Buttigieg, who is “married” to another man and, among a plethora of other evils, supports abortion up to the moment of birth
Straight from the horse’s mouth: “The question of whether it leaves private insurance intact, that’s actually up to the insurance companies. Either they’ll come up with something better that’ll compete with the plan I’m putting out there, or they’ll fail. And to be honest, I don’t care.” —Pete Buttigieg
Non compos mentis: “My view is that Medicare for All, the bill that we wrote, is already a compromise. It is a four-year transition period.” —Sen. Bernie Sanders
Communism ≠ a higher path: “It is my very strong belief that the United States must reject [the] path of hatred and divisiveness and instead find the moral conviction to choose a different path, a higher path, a path of compassion, justice, and love. And that is the path that I call democratic socialism.” —Bernie Sanders
Dezinformatsiya: “They’ll figure out a way to use the Justice Department to disadvantage a particular Democratic candidate in the primary. Or maybe to disadvantage a few of the Democratic candidates in the primary so that the president can have more of his favorite choice as to who he wants to run against in the general [election]. I mean, I realize that scenario is crazy. … But it kind of feels like that’s pretty much what it’s come to, just in terms of what we’ve learned and how they’ve behaved just since the end of the president’s impeachment trial.” —MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow
And last… “At this point in 2016, the Republican primary field still featured black and Latino candidates. But the 2020 Dems have already kicked all of their racial minority candidates to the curb. We need to have a national conversation about racism in the Democrat Party. Very troubling!” —Matt Walsh
For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.
For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.
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Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis