Mid-Day Digest

Mar. 10, 2020

THE FOUNDATION

“The confidence of the people will easily be gained by a good administration. This is the true touchstone.” —Alexander Hamilton (1788)

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IN TODAY’S DIGEST

FEATURED ANALYSIS

Markets Plummet Over Oil Games

Thomas Gallatin

Following last week’s volatility in the stock market over Wuhan coronavirus fears and the impact the virus may have on the global economy, the unexpected news of an “oil war” erupting between Russia and Saudi Arabia over the weekend sent the markets plummeting once again on Monday morning. As The Wall Street Journal reports, “Oil prices fell through the floor Monday with Brent crude closing at $34.36 a barrel, down 24% from Friday and 50% from its recent peak on Jan. 6. The shock triggered a fall in equities around the world, as investors fled to gold and bonds, with the Dow falling 7.8% Monday. A morning plunge of more than 7% triggered the New York Stock Exchange ‘circuit breaker’ to pause trading for the first time since 1997.”

Fortunately, the market appears to be gaining a good bit of that back as we go to press, but stay tuned.

Yet again, the ridiculous Democrat and Leftmedia narrative that President Donald Trump was Vladimir Putin’s puppet is once again refuted by reality. Russia’s actions against Saudi Arabia are in many ways directed at the U.S. and Trump in particular. As reported by CNBC, “It was only three weeks ago that the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Russian oil giant Rosneft for transporting Venezuelan oil. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo believes that in helping Venezuela sell oil, Russia is effectively propping up the Maduro regime. Rosneft is run by Igor Sechin, a former employee and close friend of Putin.” It appears then that Putin’s actions are ultimately a retaliation directed at the U.S. oil industry.

Lower gas prices are great, but this is not good news for the U.S. economy, which has been humming along with record-low unemployment levels and a lot of other good indicators. The bottom falling out of the oil market would produce a much more serious blow to the economy than media-ginned panic over COVID-19. To help prevent a serious economic slowdown, President Trump called on Congress to pass a temporary payroll-tax cut and expanded sick leave. “It’s not their fault. It’s not our country’s fault,” Trump argued in pressing Congress to act on his plan. “The main thing is we’re taking care of the American public.”

Predictably, the Democrats who have been longing for an economic downturn in the hopes of pinning it on Trump have no interest in working with the president.

The Federal Reserve last week announced an emergency interest-rate cut in hopes of combating the presumed negative economic impact of the virus and to stabilize markets. Now CNBC is reporting, “The New York Fed said Monday it will increase the amount of money it is offering to banks for their short-term funding needs. To make sure the funding, or repo, markets are working properly, the central bank said it will up the amount it offers in overnight operations from $100 billion to $150 billion through Thursday.”

Wall Street is obviously worried, but the “oil war” between Saudi Arabia and Russia could be short-lived, especially if Trump reminds Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman who’s had his back in his conflict with both Iran and Yemen and encourages him to pull back on production. In the meantime, if you have any disposable income and some patience, now might be a great time to buy energy stocks.

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Bernie ‘Versus’ the Media

Nate Jackson

There are six more primaries today, as the Joe Biden vs. Bernie Sanders tilt continues. Democrat voters in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Washington will weigh in on just how far left they want their nominee to be. The big question is whether Biden will repeat his Super Tuesday performance.

But Berne vs. Joe isn’t the only cage match happening these days. Bernie vs. Leftmedia is another intriguing bout between ideological kindred spirits.

Sanders rightly complains that many in the mainstream media have not been kind to him, though that has more to do with his crankiness toward media pundits than actual policy disagreement. Bernie has spent his entire career attacking the “corporate media” and the “oligarchic business models in the media industry.”

Bernie does have a point, and we’ve made it repeatedly: The Leftmedia is driven not just by ideology but by advertising revenue. Wall-to-wall coverage of coronavirus, for example, is largely driven by a desire for eyeballs.

Yet the truth is that most journalists are arguably to the left of Sanders politically. It’s not that pundits don’t want Medicare for All or the Green New Deal; it’s that they don’t like being scapegoated by populist politicians. And many journalists fear that a communist-defending Sanders won’t accomplish their primary goal: defeating Donald Trump in November.

Ben Smith, the BuzzFeed co-founder who is now the media editor for The New York Times, writes, “Mr. Sanders has his own plan for the media revolution. He wants to break up big media and tech conglomerates, increase funding for public media and empower journalist unions.” Sanders insists that taxpayer-funded alternative media is preferable. He advocates an “effort to substantially increase funding for programs that support public media’s news-gathering operations at the local level — in much the same way many other countries already fund independent public media.” Spoken like a true socialist.

In any case, Sanders has discovered that his toughest opponents are the media activists who want his agenda … without him.

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Twitter’s ‘Biden Protection Rule’

Thomas Gallatin

Twitter has labeled a Trump campaign video as “manipulated media” in line with a new standard the company recently introduced in its attempt to cut down on “fake news.” The video in question featured a clip of Joe Biden at a campaign rally stumbling over his words as he appears to inadvertently give an endorsement for President Donald Trump. The clip shows Biden saying, “We can only reelect Donald Trump,” but it’s cut off before Biden goes on to plug himself as the answer to Trump.

Trump’s campaign team quickly blasted Twitter for its biased and uneven application of its new standard, which it called the “Biden protection rule.” The Trump camp specifically noted several Biden campaign videos that are clearly “doctored and deceptively edited” yet untouched by Twitter. “The Biden campaign is scared as hell that voters will see the flood of unedited and embarrassing verbal stumbles that will continue to go viral if ‘Status Quo Joe’ is the nominee,” said Andrew Clark, the Trump campaign’s rapid-response director. “Twitter shouldn’t be an enforcement arm of Joe Biden’s campaign strategy, but if they choose to police every video clip they must hold his own campaign to the same standard.”

In fact, Biden’s campaign has produced a slew of deceptively edited and manipulated video clips of Trump that clearly run counter to Twitter’s new standard. One in particular truncates and splices Trump’s comments to make him say things he didn’t say. Yet Twitter has failed to label them as “manipulated media.” To any objective observer, it sure seems that Twitter is actively assisting and protecting Biden.

This news comes as no surprising to conservatives who have long blasted Silicon Valley’s social-media giants for blatant politically leftist bias and active suppression of free speech. Twitter’s refusal to hold both political campaigns to the same standard only serves to once again underscore the fact that social-media giants aren’t interested in fairness or freedom. Instead, they’re concerned only with forcing their perspective onto the entire population.

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The Big Apple’s Big Crime Wave

Lewis Morris

The results are in on New York’s new “bail reform” law that prohibits requiring cash bail for people arrested for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. Shock of shocks, it’s a complete disaster.

Just two months after the new law implementing so-called bail reform went into effect, crime in New York City has skyrocketed. Major crimes are up 22% compared to a year ago. And the New York Police Department reports, “In the first 58 days of 2020, 482 individuals who had already been arrested for committing a serious (felony) crime such as robbery or burglary were rearrested for committing an additional 846 crimes. Thirty-five percent, or 299, were for arrests in the seven major crime categories — murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny and grand larceny auto — that is nearly triple the amount of those crimes committed in the same 58 days in 2019.” This doesn’t distinguish between crime committed by citizens and illegal aliens, but the latter are responsible for a vastly disproportionate number of crimes.

Bail reform was rammed through the New York State Legislature after Democrats seized control of both houses in the last election. The goal was to remove cash bail to help reduce the city’s prison population. It was also believed that cash bail was unfair because a large number of suspects couldn’t afford it and would be stuck in jail awaiting trial. In some extreme cases this has led to suspects spending extraordinary amounts of time behind bars before having their day in court.

This is another great example of leftist cost transference. Prisons are less crowded, but everything else is much, much more expensive.

The right to a speedy trial is enshrined in the Constitution, but there are surely better ways to address prison overcrowding than to remove a judge’s power to determine a suspect’s danger to the public and guarantee whether a suspect shows up for trial. According to the law, judges can set a cash bail in situations where it is proven that the suspect is a flight risk. There are also ankle monitors and police check-ins to ensure the suspect hasn’t flown the coop.

The problem with the bail-reform law is that the criminals being released are often serial offenders who many times proudly exhibit their lack of respect for the law.

Take turnstile jumper Charles Barry, who, after being arrested 139 times for various subway infractions, was let back out on the street. He told a reporter from the New York Daily News, “I’m famous! I take $200, $300 a day of your money, cracker! You can’t stop me!”

Then there is Gerod Woodberry, who committed four bank robberies between December 30 and January 8. But because he did not use a gun to pull off the stickups, he is out on the street. He could commit a fifth robbery tomorrow, and the NYPD would have to let him go. “I can’t believe they let me out,” Woodberry told the New York Post. “What were they thinking?”

The short answer is, not much. As might be expected, leftist groups like the Legal Aid Society have doubled down on support for bail reform, claiming that publicizing stories like Barry’s or Woodberry’s is a “scare tactic.” It has even started a TV ad campaign running throughout New York State urging citizens to reject any changes to the law.

Citizen support for bail reform, which was never great to begin with, has plummeted. Even Democrat New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted publicly that the recent sharp rise in crime was due to the bail-reform law. Whether he will put his diminishing political power behind changing the policy is yet to be determined.

In sharing the recent crime statistics with reporters, NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said, “Each number represents a victim.” He’s right, and the victims are who law enforcement and the court system should be most concerned with, not serial offenders with no respect for the law.

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Greitens Case Should Alarm All Americans

Harold Hutchison

A year and a half ago, most Americans were surprised when then-Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens was indicted on felony charges for invasion of privacy. The charges stemmed from an extramarital affair and eventually drove Greitens out of office.

But that case fell apart. It wasn’t even a week after the resignation that the charges were dropped. But the damage was already done — even without proof of wrongdoing outside adultery: Greitens, once a rising star, was now out of office in disgrace.

Unlike Spygate, we’re seeing some measure of accountability with the investigator facing multiple felony perjury charges and a charge of tampering with evidence. But this is still part of a very disturbing trend.

We’re not just talking Spygate. We’re talking Lois Lerner and the IRS scandal, John Doe abuses in Wisconsin, and Andrew Cuomo’s attacks on the National Rifle Association in New York. Elizabeth Warren also vowed to sic the IRS on the NRA.

We could go further back in time. There was the dubious indictment of Tom DeLay in 2006. DeLay eventually was cleared after a years-long legal battle, but again note that, once indicted, he was forced out as House majority leader. The GOP lost a very capable legislative strategist just before the Obama years.

There were also threats by state attorneys general to use RICO against so-called “climate deniers.” In reality, the “crime” was opposing the ecofascists’ agenda.

The pattern is pretty clear — leftists are willing to use government power against those who oppose their agenda. This isn’t to necessarily obtain court convictions, although actually jailing some conservatives would likely please the increasingly totalitarian Left in this country. That’s just a bonus.

The real goal is to remove particularly effective Republicans and Patriots from the debate, either through dubious indictments or by using politically motivated investigations. This creates a cloud of suspicion over opponents of various left-wing causes and forces targets to spend time, money, and energy defending themselves instead of promoting Liberty. The application of this very strategy against the NRA by Cuomo and New York Attorney General Letitia James is one of the big reasons why the 2018 and 2019 elections went so badly for Republicans.

In essence, the investigations don’t become a means to determine if any wrongdoing happened; instead, it turns process and procedure into a form of punishment in and of itself. It’s easy to win a political argument if you have bankrupted opponents who were willing to speak out and if you intimidate others into acquiescence.

The Greitens case is just the latest episode in this serial abuse of power, and it should have Patriots motivated to vote at every level. If this can be done to a governor, it can easily be done to people with a much lower profile and fewer resources. Patriots should vote — and act — accordingly.

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NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Jordan Candler

EMOTIONAL WHIRLWIND: Global markets pick up after epic plunge on Monday, during which Wall Street had largest drop in 12 years (AP)

“EVERYTHING’S ON THE TABLE”: Congress begins mapping out economic response to virus outbreak (Bloomberg )

NEVER LET A CRISIS GO TO WASTE: Trump has met his Hurricane Katrina, media declare for the umpteenth time (Washington Examiner)

JUST WHAT THE COMMIES WANT: Journalists argue use of term “Wuhan virus” is racist (The Washington Free Beacon)

ORCHESTRATED DISINFORMATION: Chinese propagandists stoke theory that coronavirus originated in U.S. (National Review)

ALL EYES ON SANDERS AND MICHIGAN: Seven things to watch in Tuesday primaries (Washington Examiner)

ALL IN THE FAMILY: Politico uncovers allegations of suspicious business dealings involving Joe Biden’s brother (RedState)

LAST-MINUTE ENTRANCE: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock enters Montana Senate race (Politico)

BEGINNING OF THE END? U.S. troops begin Afghanistan withdrawal as part of peace deal with Taliban (Fox News)

NOT SINCERE: Armored cars, robots, and coal: North Korea defies U.S. by evading sanctions (The New York Times)

POLICY: The Fed panicked, and its rate cut is making the economy worse (Mises Institute)

POLICY: A payroll tax holiday is still a bad idea (American Enterprise Institute)

HUMOR: Biden gives speech from South African jail cell where he’s still imprisoned for supporting Nelson Mandela (The Onion)

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

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VIDEOS

Video: Trump Will Dump Pence, Political Operative Claims — Paul Begala guarantees Trump will replace him on the ticket with former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Video: The Truth About Canadian Healthcare — Canadian-style healthcare might not be as good for your health as you think.

Video: 2015 SNL Skit Accidentally Predicts Trump’s Success — The American people sure are sick of winning!

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “To maintain the ascendancy of the Constitution over the lawmaking majority is the great and essential point on which the success of the [American] system must depend; unless that ascendancy can be preserved, the necessary consequence must be that the laws will supersede the Constitution; and, finally, the will of the Executive, by influence of its patronage, will supersede the laws.” —John C. Calhoun (1782-1850)

Observations: “President Trump has been warning for years about the dangers of rampant globalism and the risks of transferring our manufacturing base to other countries like China. Trump was right, and coronavirus is proving that once again. This virus could deal a body blow to globalism. Let’s hope it hastens the return of U.S. companies who decades ago left for China, even if it means slightly higher prices or lower corporate profits here. I think this virus will bolster political populism on both the right and the left.” —Gary Bauer

For the record: “The first reason Biden will not become president is that no one who served 36 years in the Senate has ever become president. No one who served 30 years in the Senate has ever become president. No one who served 25 years in the Senate has ever become president. No one who served 20 years in the Senate has ever become president. No one who served 15 years in the Senate has ever become president.” —Byron York

Nobody wins 49 states by default: “This was [Rev. Jesse Jackson’s] analysis back then in 1984 that ‘Reagan won not by genius, he won while we were asleep. He won by the margin of despair. He won by the fracture of our coalition. By the margin of racial division. He won by default.’ Does that sound familiar, Michigan?” —Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Non compos mentis: “Just astoundingly gross to call it the Wuhan Virus.” —MSNBC’s Chris Hayes

Dezinformatsiya: “Katrina was the moment when all the things that felt incredibly incompetent about the Bush presidency … were realized. We gave them a proof point that we were indeed incompetent and, also, people died. This has the making, structurally, for the same kind of moment.” —MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace

And last… “The people who are angry that other people are noting that the coronavirus came from China are only expressing anger because they want to blame as much of it on Trump as possible and reminding people that it came from China limits their ability to attack Trump.” —The Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra

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