Mid-Day Digest

Mar. 12, 2020

THE FOUNDATION

“We are either a United people, or we are not. If the former, let us, in all matters of general concern act as a nation, which have national objects to promote, and a national character to support.” —George Washington (1785)

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IN TODAY’S DIGEST

FEATURED ANALYSIS

Did Trump Quell the Panic?

Nate Jackson

President Donald Trump addressed the nation last night to try to quell the panic surrounding coronavirus. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. The stock market, which officially entered “bear market” territory yesterday after losing 20% of its value this year, tanked again this morning. Its 11-year bull run is officially over. The NCAA announced its “March Madness” tournament will be played without fans present. The NBA suspended the rest of its season after a single player tested positive for the virus. Tom Hanks announced that he and his wife have contracted coronavirus. To quote Bill Murray from “Ghostbusters,” there are “cats and dogs living together — mass hysteria.”

But seriously, everyone should calm down.

That was what Trump was trying to convey last night. His tone and remarks were largely spot on:

Today, the World Health Organization officially announced that this is a global pandemic.

We have been in frequent contact with our allies, and we are marshaling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people.

This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history. I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures, we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens, and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus.

From the beginning of time, nations and people have faced unforeseen challenges, including large-scale and very dangerous health threats. This is the way it always was and always will be. It only matters how you respond, and we are responding with great speed and professionalism.

The president reassured the American people that his administration is taking solid efforts to combat a real threat — a threat that is particularly dangerous to the elderly and sick. He also recommended things that should be common sense: “For all Americans, it is essential that everyone take extra precautions and practice good hygiene. Each of us has a role to play in defeating this virus. Wash your hands, clean often-used surfaces, cover your face and mouth if you sneeze or cough, and, most of all, if you are sick or not feeling well, stay home.”

Part of the panic today, however, is driven by Trump’s unfortunate lack of basic clarity on some really key details. That was nowhere more problematic than on Europe:

To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground.

There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval. Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing. These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom.

Trump’s comments — in a prepared speech — were so unclear that he took to Twitter to clarify: “Very important for all countries & businesses to know that trade will in no way be affected by the 30-day restriction on travel from Europe. The restriction stops people not goods.” The administration was also forced to clarify that only foreigners, not returning Americans, would be banned from traveling here.

Businesses depend upon certainty, and Trump accomplished just the opposite with that portion of the speech.

Another blunder was his claim that health-insurance companies “agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments.” Actually, what they agreed to was waiving fees for testing.

Those quibbles aside, the Trump administration’s actions have been laudable. No president can stop the spread of a virus. He can effectively manage the federal response, and, outside of testing failures, Trump is doing that.

Democrats, on the other hand, can’t believe their luck. As usual, they’re exploiting a crisis for political gain. Trump is right that our “vast economic prosperity gives us flexibility, reserves, and resources to handle any threat that comes our way,” but that doesn’t mean it won’t hurt or that Democrats won’t make the pain worse to increase their chances in November.

In any case, the president’s final words truly resonated. “No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States,” he said. “We have the best economy, the most advanced healthcare, and the most talented doctors, scientists, and researchers anywhere in the world. We are all in this together. We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family. As history has proven time and time again, Americans always rise to the challenge and overcome adversity.”

Finally, he noted, “Our future remains brighter than anyone can imagine. Acting with compassion and love, we will heal the sick, care for those in need, help our fellow citizens, and emerge from this challenge stronger and more unified than ever before.”

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The Red China ‘Cover-Up’

Mark Alexander

Wednesday evening, President Donald Trump addressed the nation on our national response to the COVID-19 epidemic. As expected, the World Health Organization has declared the spread of this coronavirus variant a global pandemic.

There are two significant global beneficiaries of a “fear pandemic”-induced U.S. economic recession — and the consequences for Trump 2020. Those beneficiaries are Red China’s Xi Jinping and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

This week, Russia’s wink and nod with the Saudis, combined with China’s WuFlu “fear pandemic,” caused the continued equity-market plummet. That has very real implications for our economy and, by extension, Donald Trump’s reelection prospects.

Having spent a couple of decades as an executive-branch appointee engaged in national-security planning and training for senior military officers, our readiness models have, since World War II, involved preparation for war on two fronts — east and west. The economic impact China and Russia have had on the U.S. in the last week is unmistakably reminiscent of a Sino-Soviet reunion. If you could script surprise economic attacks on two fronts, it would look like events this week. And the impact of those “economic attacks,” combined with the dangerous agendas of domestic enemies of Liberty — the legions of political and media-propaganda leftists — has dealt a devastating blow to our economy and all working Americans and their families.

In our comprehensive coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak, “The Flu and You,” I included a reference to Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who made this connection in January: “We don’t know where it originated, and we have to get to the bottom of that. We also know that just a few miles away from that food market is China’s only biosafety level 4 super laboratory that researches human infectious diseases.” While Cotton was not suggesting that the coronavirus strain responsible for COVID-19 was bio-engineered and then intentionally released, the connection is certainly notable.

The fact is, the Wuhan market where COVID-19 was first contracted is just a few miles from China’s only P4 (Pathogen Level 4) super laboratory researching infectious diseases. The Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology is engaged in research on the Ebola, Nipah, and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever viruses — and, yes, coronavirus variants. By the way, the institute has clear ties to the PRC’s bioweapon programs.

We also noted that the Red Chinese directorate of disinformation, the “Information Department” of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was seeding Chinese social-media networks with rumors that the virus was actually developed by the U.S. and deliberately released in Wuhan. Our sources in the intelligence community conclude that such disinformation is designed to help the communist politburo to counter and deflect any claims by the U.S. that the release is associated with the PRC’s P4 labs in Wuhan.

In fact, China’s state-run media is now all but saying that the U.S. planted the coronavirus contagion in Wuhan. Chinese Ambassador Lin Songtian declared, “Although the epidemic first broke out in China, it did not necessarily mean that the virus is originated from China, let alone ‘made in China.’”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) adds, “The Chinese military portal Xilu.com recently published an article baselessly claiming that the virus is ‘a biochemical weapon produced by the U.S. to target China.”

Gordon Chang, national-security analyst and author of The Coming Collapse of China, declared, “This an all-out assault on the United States. … We all need to unite.”

Cotton notes: “The Chinese Communist Party has once again been caught red-handed covering up, suppressing, and censoring a serious public health risk, which could increasingly be a global public health risk. For weeks, China did not come clean about the coronavirus that they first said was only being passed from animals to humans in a seafood market in Wuhan in China.”

While nobody in the Trump administration is publicly claiming a connection between WuFlu and the Wuhan Institute of Virology (yet), this week National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien affirmed Cotton’s suppression assessment. “This outbreak in Wuhan was covered up,” said O'Brien. “There’s lots of open-source reporting from China, from Chinese nationals, that the doctors involved were either silenced or put in isolation … so that the word of this virus could not get out. It probably cost the world community two months [of prep time].”

According to O'Brien, “If we’d had those [two months] and been able to sequence the virus, and had the cooperation necessary from the Chinese — had a WHO team been on the ground, had a CDC team, which we’d offered, been on the ground — I think we could have dramatically curtailed what happened both in China and what’s now happening across the world. … We’ve sent our condolences to China, but now we’re in a place where we’re having to deal with the crisis here.”

Despite the pandemic threat, O'Brien said that Trump’s travel restrictions on China “bought the United States six to eight weeks to prepare.”

China’s suppression of the facts is because of concerns for communist-party stability. The politburo punished Dr. Li Wenliang, who first issued public warnings about the virus in Wuhan. Li is now deceased. Marion Smith, director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, notes that “on Chinese social media, people [are] referring to him as a 'martyr’ … for the cause of honesty and justice and free speech.”

Tang Yiming, a professor at a Wuhan university, risked saying last week, “If the words of Dr. Li had not been treated as rumors, if every citizen was allowed to practice their right to voice the truth, we would not be in such a mess. We would not have a national catastrophe with an international impact.” He is now subject to central-government rebuke. Chinese law professor Xu Zhangrun, who was removed from his job in 2018, added, “The political system has collapsed under the tyranny, and a governance system of bureaucrats, which has taken [the communist party] more than 30 years to build, has floundered.”

Indeed, according to Chinese specialist Rob Spaulding, the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak is “a terrible blow, coming at exactly the wrong time for Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party.” Heritage Foundation China analyst Dean Cheng adds, “It is going to introduce a lot of political pressures on Xi. I’m not saying that the Chinese Communist Party is all of a sudden going to collapse. What’s going to happen is Xi Jinping’s detractors are going to have increased sway within the party, and then you begin to create fissures within the party, more so than they currently are.”

Predictably, Red Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang put a smiley face on Xi’s actions, declaring: “China’s experience … has set an exemplary standard. President Xi’s visit to Wuhan sent out the message of sure victory to the world.” Laughably, Geng insisted that the government has been “acting with openness, transparency, and a high sense of responsibility to global health security.” The communist government has even published and distributed a book about how well it handled the outbreak — and it has been translated into English, French, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic.

Tragically, there is no truth to any of Geng’s assertions.

Meanwhile, Xi and Putin can’t wipe those smirks off their faces as the U.S. economy — and millions of Americans — suffer.

Footnote: Maybe the institution that should be shut down is Congress … on second thought, don’t.

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Government Seeks to Mitigate COVID-19 Economic Fallout

Thomas Gallatin

With President Donald Trump’s sober address to the nation last night over the growing coronavirus (COVID-19) public health threat, concerns over the economic impact have simultaneously risen. What can be done to mitigate the immediate effects of COVID-19 to the U.S. economy?

First and foremost, politicians from both parties will be eager to act, as the worst thing a lawmaker can be seen as doing during a crisis is nothing. And there are legitimate actions that the government can take both regarding the immediate healthcare challenge presented by COVID-19 and to mitigate the short- and longer-term economic effect on Americans who may suffer significant financial struggles as a result of the viral impact on their jobs.

Focusing on addressing the economic factor presented by COVID-19, Trump has proposed a temporary payroll-tax cut on the theory that this will help people keep more money in their pockets for the immediate future and keep the economy from sinking into a recession. While tax cuts of any type are most often a welcomed proposition, in this particular instance it would be an overly broad-brush solution that would do little to provide the needed financial relief to those who will be most affected: non-salaried, hourly wage workers. Secondly, it would be a recipe for adding more government debt as it includes no offsetting spending cuts.

Besides, as Cato Institute economist Ryan Bourne observes, “Big tax cuts — such as the proposed employee payroll tax cut — seem an expensive blunt instrument for alleviating distress. If social distancing is necessary, we don’t want employees out spending more money because they have more in their pockets.”

Meanwhile, Democrats are exploiting the crisis by proposing a relief package chock full of handouts for their special interests. The Wall Street Journal notes, “Senate Democrats on Wednesday floated a kitchen-sink virus bill loaded with money for every pet program going back to the Great Society. One chestnut is ‘supplemental financial assistance directly to housing authorities’ — that is, the folks at the New York City Housing Authority who spend $1,973 per apartment to install new lighting. Their tenants may need a check if they lose their job, but why reward the housing bureaucrats?”

The immediate focus regarding economic fallout should be on short-term solutions that are narrowly targeted at those who suffer the most negative impact. Most of the country is likely to feel the economic strain, but, as history shows all too often, the government’s short-term “solutions” usually lead to long-term negative consequences.

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But wait — there’s more

Read our other important analysis on FISA, immigration, and refugees.

To FISA or Not to FISA — Reforming government surveillance is a lot more complicated than meets the eye.

ICE Targets Sanctuary Cities — Few things divide America more than the lawless politics of sanctuary jurisdictions.

The High Price of Refugees — Study finds that each refugee the U.S. accepts costs between $60K and $133K.

Don’t Miss Alexander’s Column

Read The Demos’ 2020 Economic Doom Platform — WuFlu Apocalypse. The Pelosi/Schumer tag team is doing what Demos do best — using the misery of others as fodder for their political agenda.

If you’d like to receive Alexander’s Column by email every Wednesday, update your subscription here.

NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Jordan Candler

  • OFFICIAL PANDEMIC: The World Health Organization declares coronavirus a global pandemic (Fox News)

  • PRECAUTIONS: President Trump announces 30-day ban on travel from Europe over coronavirus threat (National Review)

  • BEAR MARKET: Dow is down 20% from last month’s record close (CNBC)

  • SPORTS REPERCUSSION, PART I: NBA suspends season indefinitely after Utah Jazz player tests positive for coronavirus (CNBC)

  • SPORTS REPERCUSSION, PART II: NCAA basketball tournaments to take place “with only essential staff and limited family attendance” (Fox News)

  • RULE OF LAW: Supreme Court justices allow “Remain in Mexico” asylum policy to continue (AP)

  • STAYING THE COURSE: Bernie Sanders vows to stay in race and debate even after crushing primary loss to Joe Biden (New York Daily News)

  • FOR THE RECORD: Ilhan Omar reveals she married the man she denied having affair with (The Daily Wire)

  • JUSTICE: Harvey Weinstein sentenced to 23 years in prison for sexual assault (The Daily Wire)

  • POLICY: How effective would a new fiscal stimulus be? Not very. (National Review)

  • POLICY: Sound policy responses to the economic consequences of the coronavirus (The Heritage Foundation)

  • HUMOR: Trump cancels 2020 election over coronavirus concerns (The Babylon Bee)

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

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VIDEOS

Video: Why Progressive Leftists Can’t Stop Losing — Are Americans much more centrist than what the panjandrums of statism proclaim?

Video: Canadian Collusion! Canucks Are Openly Helping the Bernie Campaign — And nobody cares.

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “Good government generally begins in the family, and if the moral character of a people once degenerate, their political character must soon follow.” —Elias Boudinot (1740-1821)

Perspective: “The thing about comparisons to H1H1 and other flu spreads is that this one is spreading more rapidly globally. It has a lower mortality rate than those, but its spread is faster and wider so the overall death toll could be higher.” —Erick Erickson

For the record: “A lot of people are gonna try to use panic to get the things they’ve always wanted. Don’t be a sheep.” —The Federalist’s Jesse Kelly

Dezinformatsiya I: “At one point during this address the president referred to the coronavirus as a quote ‘foreign virus.’ … I think it is going to come across to a lot of Americans as smacking of xenophobia to use that kind of term in this speech.” —CNN’s Jim Acosta

Dezinformatsiya II: “Trump’s new coronavirus, European travel restrictions have a convenient side effect: They exempt nations where three Trump-owned golf resorts are located.” —Politico

Non compos mentis: “Democrats should include a provision mandating vote by mail in the Coronavirus legislative package. People shouldn’t have to put their lives at risk to vote in the election.” —former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer

Village idiot: “Tom Hanks & Rita Wilson. The NBA! Trumpers? Can we agree that this isn’t a hoax? Can’t you see how dangerous this president is? He’s been lying to us for weeks. Can’t you see how dangerous Fox News is? They’ve been corroborating his lies.” —actress Alyssa Milano

And last… “I understand why Communist China wants to avoid responsibility for unleashing the Wuhan Virus on the world and mismanaging it as it spread, but [it’s] unseemly that some American politicians and media figures are supporting China’s disinformation campaign.” —The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway

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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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