Mid-Day Digest

Feb. 21, 2020

THE FOUNDATION

“Foreign influence is truly the Grecian horse to a republic. We cannot be too careful to exclude its influence.” —Alexander Hamilton (1793)

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IN TODAY’S DIGEST

FEATURED ANALYSIS

Another Bogus ‘Russian Interference’ Intel Report

Nate Jackson

Bolshevik Bernie Sanders must be laughing all the way to the Gosbank and the Democrat National Convention. The Leftmedia is awash today with stories that Russia is at it again. The New York Times broke the story: “Intelligence officials warned House lawmakers last week that Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected.”

We’ve seen this pathetic movie before, so there’s no need in rehashing how Democrats and their Leftmedia super PAC seized on phony allegations that Trump “colluded” with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016. They spent nearly three years yammering about it only to finally be distracted by the Ukraine fiasco. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some aspects of this story that deserve a refresher.

First of all, this isn’t new. As Mark Alexander argues, “Russia has strived to interfere with American elections since the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and the rise of the Soviet communists. The only thing new about this ‘interference’ is that it has been, and remains, fodder for the Left to undermine Trump’s presidency. The irony is, leftists and their Leftmedia propagandists are, as they were in 2016, backing a communist who they hope will defeat Trump.”

Anyone remember when Ted Kennedy requested Soviet interference to help defeat Ronald Reagan in the 1984 election? The New York Times doesn’t, because that inconvenient history doesn’t help Democrats now.

Today’s news follows the same template used in 2017. As the Times reminds us, “The intelligence community issued an assessment in early 2017 that President Vladimir V. Putin personally ordered a campaign of influence in the previous year’s election and developed ‘a clear preference for President-elect Trump.’ But Republicans have long argued that Moscow’s campaign was intended to sow chaos, not aid Mr. Trump specifically.”

Republicans were exactly right. Besides, Trump has been tough on Russia throughout his presidency, and his work to bolster U.S. energy production (especially via fracking), strengthen NATO, and stabilize Europe and the Middle East are directly counter to Putin’s objectives. The idea that Putin truly prefers Trump over Sanders or any other Democrat is ludicrous.

Moreover, Moscow generally interferes in a way that supports the expected loser in order to undermine the eventual winner. Given that everyone thought Clinton was going to win in 2016, that left the Russians with the obvious choice of “backing” Trump. Their objective succeeded beyond Putin’s wildest dreams, as Democrats aided him in peddling the narrative that American election integrity was compromised and a duly elected president was somehow corrupt, even going so far as to impeach that president. Putin got four years of chaos out of a few Facebook ads. Of course he’s going to run that same play (with necessary operational tweaks), and Democrats, the Leftmedia, and apparently some deep-state intelligence officials are all too eager to help him.

One final history lesson: Barack Obama’s administration was well aware of Russian efforts to interfere all throughout 2016, yet Obama and his cadre of deep-staters said and did nothing to stop it, in part because it was so ineffectual but primarily because they didn’t want to taint Clinton’s supposedly certain victory. Only when Trump shocked the world by winning did Obama’s gang decide to turn this “crisis” into an opportunity to undermine the incoming president with the Russia-collusion hoax.

After last week’s report to Congress, Trump removed acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire and chose German ambassador Richard Grenell to take his place. It’s part of a general and much-needed house cleaning after Trump’s impeachment and acquittal. Nevertheless, the Democrats’ 2020 playbook is now evident.

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Stone’s Sentence Exonerates Barr, Proves Trump Correct

Thomas Gallatin

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Roger Stone to three years and four months in prison for lying to and obstructing Congress. Significantly, the sentence falls well short of the seven to nine years Justice Department prosecutors had initially recommended — a recommendation that Attorney General William Barr called excessive, leading him to overrule and withdraw the prosecutors’ recommendation.

Controversy was sparked after President Donald Trump publicly weighed in on the excessive sentencing recommendation prior to Barr’s announcement of his review. Much of the mainstream media claimed Trump had pressed Barr to act. Barr responded to Trump by essentially telling him to stop publicly commenting on DOJ criminal cases as it was making it “impossible” for him to do his job.

Seeking to fuel the false narrative of a Trump-Barr collusion scandal, all four prosecutors on the Stone case withdrew in protest of the DOJ leadership’s decision. Predictably, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted Barr’s decisions and called for an investigation: “It is outrageous that DOJ has deeply damaged the rule of law by withdrawing its recommendation. Stepping down of prosecutors should be commended & actions of DOJ should be investigated.”

This was a self-inflicted controversy Trump could have avoided. As Mark Alexander observed, “Trump unintentionally set up Barr for claims of collusion and corruption, and left Barr in between a rock and hard place. As Barr noted: ‘Once [Trump’s comment posted], the question is, now what do I do? Do you go forward with what you think is the right decision or do you pull back?’”

Fortunately, irrespective of the MSM narrative and Pelosi’s politically calculated objections, Judge Jackson agreed that the federal prosecutors’ original sentencing recommendation was excessive, proving the assessments of both Barr and Trump correct. However, Judge Jackson did excoriate Stone in her sentencing, stating, “The truth still exists; the truth still matters. Roger Stone’s insistence that it doesn’t, his belligerence, [and] his pride in his own lies are a threat to our most fundamental institutions, to the foundations of our democracy. If it goes unpunished, it will not be a victory for one party or another. Everyone loses. The dismay and disgust at the defendant’s belligerence should transcend party.”

It has become apparent that Trump is acting to establish his own narrative to counter that of the Democrats and their media allies. As ham-fisted as he may be at times, he is likely setting the stage for his eventual decision to pardon Stone and others caught up in the Democrats’ and the deep state’s politically motivated Russia-collusion hoax. And Trump is correct in noting that they were all targeted in a concerted effort to seek his removal from office. Will Trump act to pardon Stone before the election?

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Study Insists Journalists Aren’t Swayed by Leftist Bias

Thomas Gallatin

A recent research paper published by the University of Virginia dubiously concludes, “There is No Liberal Media Bias in the News Political Journalists Choose to Cover.” While the researchers did find that the vast majority of mainstream journalists lean hard to the left — to the left of even socialist Bernie Sanders — they still maintained that this reality doesn’t skew their reporting.

Of course, if this were genuinely the case, the political leanings of mainstream-media journalists would be a mystery to us — at least insofar as their reporting is concerned.

“The funny thing about this study is that it purports to show that even though journalists are overwhelmingly liberal, their political bias doesn’t affect the stories they choose to cover or not cover,” observes Power Line’s John Hinderaker. “Which is why the press paid a hundred times as much attention to the biggest political scandal in US history, the coordinated effort by the CIA, the FBI and the Department of Justice to swing the 2016 election to Hillary Clinton, or, failing that, to disable the Trump presidency, as to the entirely fabricated, implausible and politically paid-for fantasy that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. Right?”

The fact of the matter is, an individual’s political bias is both inescapable and influential — and journalists aren’t somehow magically exempt from human nature. This bias can only be mitigated if it is recognized, acknowledged, and balanced with competing ideological perspectives. If mainstream-media journalists continue to maintain the fiction that their reporting is impervious to their personal bias, they’ll continue to earn the enmity and deep distrust of the American people. And rightly so.

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Fighting for Free Speech on Campus

Brian Mark Weber

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump signed an executive order requiring institutions of higher learning “to promote free and open debate.” Progressives largely opposed the measure, claiming the perceived assault on free speech is exaggerated.

Campus hostility toward conservative and libertarian speakers is an ongoing problem, but it goes further. There’s a powerful culture in academia that strongly discourages students from expressing traditional views on a range of topics. This culture is reinforced by the books they’re assigned, the classes they take, the papers they write, and the policies and programs implemented by the administration.

College students today must embrace, for example, the “LGBTQ” agenda, open-borders policies, theories of systemic racism, and a certain kind of socialist “solution” to climate change. They must be open to criticizing America’s and Western civilization’s founding principles. Students who conform are embraced and engaged by their classmates and professors. Those who don’t are marked as the enemy.

“Currently, I would estimate that around a quarter of Americans not only are indifferent to free speech as a fundamental value of our society, but are determined to snuff it out as soon as they have the power to do so,” John Hinderaker writes at Power Line. “They represent, generally speaking, the activist wing of the Democratic Party.”

One insidious way that colleges and universities promote leftist ideology is through mandatory student fees.

David French, former director of Alliance Defending Freedom’s Center for Academic Freedom, writes at The Dispatch, “Vast amounts of money are channeled into specifically and intentionally ideological enterprises. Student fees prop up interest groups, and sometimes they support ideologically driven campus ‘centers’ dedicated to gender equity or LGBT equality.”

Sure, conservative and religious clubs and organizations on campus may get a few dollars here and there, but that’s merely done to make the system look unbiased. “The end result is that students are involuntarily forced to fund an enormous amount of campus activism,” French adds. “It’s a comprehensive system of compelled speech that would be shockingly unconstitutional virtually everywhere but the academy.”

Of course, the crackdown on free speech goes well beyond student fees. The effort is multi-pronged, and it’s designed to embrace and promote a system of higher education built on anti-American ideas.

Older professors are being replaced with young, leftist ideologues already programmed in the new groupthink by teacher-education programs. They set up shop in their offices, eager to regurgitate their philosophy to unsuspecting students who haven’t a clue that they’re part of a reeducation program.

The result is that conservative students engage in self-censorship, itself a powerful way for the Left to silence opposing viewpoints instead of engaging them in the marketplace of ideas. Students holding traditional views fear speaking up in class or challenging those with so-called progressive viewpoints, even when their own worldview is openly attacked. Likewise, conservative professors remain silent in faculty meetings and elsewhere.

Of course, colleges and universities have official statements affirming their commitment to free speech and open dialogue. To the uncritical eye, the spirit of the First Amendment seems to be in good hands.

Don’t be fooled. There’s no such thing as free speech in the academic world, and it should worry all of us. We only need to look to Europe to get a glimpse of what awaits us when this next generation of radicals assumes power.

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Bezos Props Up the Greens With His Own Green

Michael Swartz

It’s no secret that many of the world’s richest people are strong supporters of leftist causes, even as they owe their fortunes to a system routinely denounced by the Left: free-market capitalism. Still, it’s eye-popping to imagine someone having a spare $10 billion just laying around to throw at a cause.

In this case, that someone is Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos. His $10 billion pledge, dubbed the Bezos Earth Fund, is intended to assist “scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world.” Added Bezos, “I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share.” This new commitment dwarfs the $2 billion previously pledged to his Bezos Day One Fund, which sponsors pre-schools and endeavors to help the homeless in struggling communities.

With this funding commitment in place, Bezos can now move to corner the “green” sector in much the same way he’s cornered e-commerce with Amazon. And thanks to his ownership of The Washington Post, he’ll enjoy priceless and unerringly favorable media coverage as his highly influential news organ helps set the political agenda.

Bezos’s lack of specifics about his Earth Fund also makes it an attractive pile of easy money for potential grifters, con artists, and rent seekers who’ve discovered the power of slapping a “green” or “renewable” or “sustainable” label on just about any half-baked idea.

As an often publicly subsidized private business, Amazon is perfectly entitled to combat climate change by pledging to be “carbon neutral” by 2040 and making plans to buy 100,000 electric delivery vehicles. But the real question is whether it will attempt to tip the scales by purchasing public policy. Leaked memos regarding a recent closed-door meeting between a number of state officials and environmental advocacy groups reveal the officials who speak glowingly about the green industry in public are more candid behind closed doors. Predictably, The Washington Post refuses to report on these politically and economically inconvenient truths.

There would likely be no significant market in renewables today if not for federal and state incentives combined with state-level carve-outs mandating a small but steadily growing share of electricity generation from non-fossil sources (except nuclear power). It’s a sweet deal for everyone — except consumers. Oftentimes, utilities that can’t create their share of renewables contribute a penalty payment to the state, which may be described as the modern-day price of doing business but in the end comes out of our pocket.

We have nanny-staters and leftists (but we repeat ourselves) like Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer trying to spend their way into the Oval Office, while George Soros and his globalist ilk have been buying political influence for decades. Given his unmatched power over commerce and media, it bears asking whether Jeff Bezos is trying to be the next left-wing kingmaker, and whether he’s forgotten the capitalist system that made it all possible.

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Political Midgets

Grassroots perspective by Roger Helle

When I first began to draft this article I was not thinking about Mike Bloomberg, but as my momma used to say, “If the shoe fits, wear it!” But more on little Mike later. In recent years, politics has taken a very critical turn. For the Left it has become all-out warfare! If they lose elections, it’s only because Republicans cheated. It can’t be because of flawed policies.

Slander, lies, and rumors are now daily staples of political campaigns. And it’s not just on the national level, but in local elections as well. Because there is no such thing as truth in advertising anymore, you have to really do your homework to find out who’s lying and who’s telling the truth.

The current campaign for the Democrat nomination has been something to behold, especially for a Baby Boomer like me. The entire field of candidates is proposing policies that will destroy our nation’s economy, civil rights, free speech, and Second Amendment rights. Do you think I’m being paranoid?

We have candidates that want to give free healthcare to illegal immigrants and some want to tear down the border wall, allowing unrestricted immigration. All want abortion right up to birth and several think it would be okay after the baby is born to kill it. Two candidates have publicly said there’s no room in the party for pro-life Democrats. Joe Biden has changed his position on so many things it’s hard to keep up with what he believes today — except he hates Trump!

Bernie Sanders, the communist sympathizer who never met a dictator he didn’t like, wants to undo everything that caused our economy to become a global powerhouse. He hates greedy millionaires — well, billionaires now that he is a multimillionaire himself. Elizabeth Warren is now a millionaire, too, but she doesn’t want you to be one.

Then, there’s the New Green Deal that will destroy our economy, though we’re told that we’ll all die in 12 years if we don’t do something NOW. No one can tell me why our country’s economy needs to be destroyed because the biggest polluters, China and India, are not going to destroy their economies. The Green New Deal won’t change the climate, but we have to take drastic measures now!

Their message: “Raise the minimum wage, even though it will mean cutting jobs. Raise everyone’s taxes and take healthcare away from more than 160 million workers and go to single-payer coverage. And the best part is, it will all be free if you vote for us.”

But suddenly, hope has arisen for us all! Mike Bloomberg has bought his way … I mean, he’s thrown his hat in the ring. We’re saved! An old white gazillionaire has decided to save the country from Donald Trump. The man has spent hundreds of millions to take our guns and, as mayor, told New Yorkers how much soda they could drink, made racially insensitive and misogynist remarks, and is an elitist who thinks anyone who works with his hands is stupid and worthless. But hey, he’s a BILLIONAIRE! The Democrat Party is suddenly changing rules and moving the goalposts so little Mike can play. Is this a great country or what?

Something to think about?

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NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Jordan Candler

CORROBORATION: Pal of Rep. Ilhan Omar says congresswoman married her own brother (The Washington Free Beacon)

LOOKING GOOD: GOP fundraising record: $60.5 million in January; RNC nearly doubles DNC (Washington Examiner)

KEEP AMERICA GREAT: “National satisfaction” reaches 15-year high, “greatly increases” Trump reelection chances (Washington Examiner)

BELIEVE IT WHEN YOU SEE IT: U.S., Taliban agree to landmark ceasefire en route to aspirational peace deal (The Washington Free Beacon)

RAINBOW MAFIA: Use trans pronouns or get fired, Ohio court tells Christian professor (The Daily Wire)

COMMUTATION DENIED: Tennessee executes Nicholas Sutton, killer of fellow inmate in 1985 after slaying 3 in 1979 (Fox News)

ADMISSIONS-SCANDAL DISTRACTION: University of Southern California to make tuition free for “low income” students (National Review)

DESPITE MARQUEE GUN LAWS: Nine killed by “deeply racist” shooter in Germany (BBC)

POLICY: How to think about the coronavirus and how to respond (The Heritage Foundation)

POLICY: Social Security cannot survive in its present form (Mises Institute)

HUMOR: Michael Bloomberg’s housekeepers brace for another day of dressing up like DNC candidates and letting boss beat them in debate (The Onion)

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

Insight: “Virtue runs no risk of becoming contemptible by being exposed to view, and it is better to be despised for simplicity than to be tormented by continual hypocrisy.” —Roman statesman Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BC-AD 65)

Ban all the things: “I’m going to do everything in my power in office or out of office to get those assault weapons off the street, which I have done once already. And to get those clips that have multiple bullets in them not for sale, not be able to sell silencers, all those things.” —Joe Biden

Stop digging, dude: “I’m in pretty good health, but, look, I guarantee you this: If anything changed in my health, making it incapable for me to fully exert all the energy and mental acuity that was needed to be done, then I give you my word: I would not run again.” —Joe Biden

Non compos mentis: “I not only support a Green New Deal, I don’t think it goes far enough. I also have a Blue New Deal ‘cause we have got to be thinking about our oceans as well that we need to protect.” —Elizabeth Warren

Victimitis: “[My resignation is] also partly because I’m a woman. We haven’t seen as many of the sex scandals with women, but the bisexuality is a huge part of it, right? There is a fantasy element of it — there’s biphobia that is rampant still — and certainly misunderstanding of what bisexuality is.” —former Rep. Katie Hill, who was compelled to resign for taking advantage of a same-sex subordinate in a “throuple”

Alpha jackass: “I have never seen @BernieSanders supporters being unusually mean or rude. Can someone send me an example of a 'Bernie Bro’ being bad. Also, are we holding all candidates responsible for the behavior of some of their supporters? Waiting to hear.” —Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison (“I can think of an example.” —Rep. Steve Scalise, who, along with other Republicans, was nearly murdered by a deranged “Bernie Bro”)

And last… “You know what’s scarier and deadlier than Coronavirus? Communism.” —Allie Beth Stuckey

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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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