Mid-Day Digest

Mar. 31, 2020

THE FOUNDATION

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” —Thomas Jefferson (1788)

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IN TODAY’S DIGEST

FEATURED ANALYSIS

CARES Act Massively Expands Government

Thomas Gallatin

As the dust settles following Congress’s hurried passage of the emergency relief package known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, spending details of the 880-page, $2.2 trillion behemoth are now becoming known, and it’s not a pretty sight. While billions of dollars go for needed virus relief, roughly $600 billion goes into government coffers. It’s the biggest one-day expansion of government power ever, with the vast majority going to increase the welfare state.

It’s clear that Big Government proponents, especially the Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, followed Rahm Emanuel’s advice and didn’t let this crisis go to waste. What may be an even greater danger than government expansion is the precedent this crisis action has produced. Now, even more Americans will look first to the government to bail them out of a crisis, costing billions and saddling them with all the more Liberty-limiting regulations as the bureaucratic state grows exponentially.

As The Wall Street Journal astutely notes, “Republicans waved much of this through, viewing it as the Democratic price for urgently needed business liquidity. But they should understand the left has every intention of making these spending levels the new normal. Long after this virus has passed, long after the economy is recovering, Democrats will cry foul at any cut. Should they win the presidency or the Senate this fall, the chances of rolling any of this back fall even further.”

The bill’s most glaring and dangerous aspect is that it fails to distinguish between that which is expected to be a temporary expansion of government from that which is permanent — exactly as the Democrats wanted it. The Journal observes, “Democrats successfully exploited the crisis to expand the power of government overall — perhaps for the long term. That’s especially perverse, given it was government that imposed the restrictions that shut down the economy, necessitating this rescue bill in the first place.”

Will Americans one day come to regret the Orwellian-named CARES Act and see it as the cure that was worse than the disease?

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Trump Puts CNN’s Egotistical Maniac in His Place

Nate Jackson

Implementing an exit strategy from the current COVID-19 shutdown of major economic sectors will be the most difficult and complex policy decision by any president in decades, argues Mark Alexander. President Donald Trump is balancing predictions from his medical advisers of 100,000 to 200,000 American deaths from China Virus with Federal Reserve forecasts of perhaps 47 million unemployed American workers due to an economy that has ground to a halt. And he has to do it all without causing panic and while trying to reassure an anxious public.

Enter CNN’s biggest self-aggrandizing Leftmedia jackass, Jim Acosta.

At Monday’s White House press briefing, Acosta asked Trump, “What do you say to Americans who are upset with you over the way you downplayed this crisis over the last couple of months?” Acosta then quoted several things Trump had said: “‘We have it very much under control in this country.’ ‘The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. It’s going to disappear. It’s like a miracle. It will disappear.’ March 4: ‘We have a very small number of people in this country infected.’ March 10: ‘We’re prepared. We’re doing a great job with it. It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.’” Acosta concluded, “What do you say to Americans who believe that you got this wrong?”

Trump replied: “It will go away, and I do want them to stay calm, and we are doing a great job. If you look at those individual statements, they’re all true. Stay calm. It will go away. You know it is going away and it will go away and we’re gonna have a great victory. And its people like you and CNN that say things like that — it’s why people just don’t want to listen to CNN anymore. You could ask a normal question.”

The president continued: “The statements I made are — I want to keep the country calm. I don’t want panic in the country. I could cause panic much better than even you. I would make you look like a minor-league player. But you know, I don’t want to do that. I want to have our country be calm and strong and fight and win. And it will go away. And it is incredible the job that all of these people are doing, putting them all together, the job that they are doing. I am very proud of the job they’re doing, that Mike Pence is doing, that the task force has done, that Honeywell, and Procter & Gamble, and Mike and all of these people have done. I’m very proud; it’s almost a miracle, and it is, the way it’s all come together. And instead of asking a nasty, snarky question like that, you should ask a real question, and other than that I’m gonna go to somebody else.”

The press briefings have caused Trump’s approval rating to rise substantially. Much of that has to do with the informative and steady nature of the briefings themselves, but a big part of it is because people (especially his enthusiastic supporters) enjoy the tiffs he has with White House reporters like Acosta. These talkingheads obviously prefer to make themselves the news by asking ridiculous gotcha questions aimed not at informing or calming the public but at attempting to make the president look bad and score political points for Democrats. It’s Trump Derangement Syndrome at its worst.

To be sure, Trump is well aware of the approval polling and the television ratings, both of which are a big reason why he makes such a show of smacking down jerks like Acosta. But this is a crisis and the president knows it as well as anyone. He — and the American people — shouldn’t have to put up with such nonsense from small men like CNN’s most irritating egoist.

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Are Christians Responsible for China Virus Pandemic?

Thomas Gallatin

There is a long history of Christians being blamed for various ills that have befallen a city, region, nation, or empire. One of the most famous is Roman emperor Nero blaming Christians for the burning of Rome, a fire that many historians believe he was responsible for. Recently, author and journalist Katherine Stewart donned her own inner Nero and delivered an anti-Christian smear op-ed published in The New York Times entitled “The Religious Right’s Hostility Toward Science Is Crippling Our Coronavirus Response.” And by “Religious Right” Stewart makes clear she means evangelical Christians.

In her article, Stewart asserts a false characterization that has been repeated ad nauseam by those on the Left — the claim that evangelical Christians are opposed to science. She writes, “Donald Trump rose to power with the determined assistance of a movement that denies science, bashes government and prioritized loyalty over professional expertise. In the current crisis, we are all reaping what that movement has sown.”

As evidence for this outlandish accusation, Stewart cites a few examples of obviously fringe “Christian” leaders making various ridiculous (and unbiblical) assertions regarding the China Virus. One Louisiana pastor ridiculously advertised, “We’re also going to pass out anointed handkerchiefs to people who may have a fear, who may have a sickness, and we believe that when those anointed handkerchiefs go, that healing virtue is going to go on them as well.”

Kooks and charlatans can be found associating themselves with any religion or group, but for a “journalist” to suggest that such individuals accurately represent the beliefs and practices of evangelical Christians at large is to engage in a blatant smear.

Furthermore, the false assertion that Christians are “anti-science” is quite ironic given the fact that it is Leftmedia “journalists” and outlets like Stewart and the Times that deny the scientific biological reality of gender and reject the fact that a baby in the womb is an actual human being.

Finally, throughout the country Christian congregations have observed and followed the authorities’ orders for social distancing and have engaged in teleconference church meetings. It is a false charge to claim that Christians are opposed to science, and this kind of yellow journalism is exactly why Americans have the lowest opinion of the Leftmedia of any institution during the present crisis.

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Things We Should Value After the Pandemic Shutdown

Harold Hutchison

If you want to find a silver lining about the Wuhan coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, one can look at what we have learned. Not just about dealing with the next outbreak and how to reduce our vulnerability but also about what we ought to value — both now and after the war against this virus is won.

It often takes an event like 9/11 or COVID-19 to make us realize what is truly valuable to us, rather than chasing things. In a world that will be changed — even after COVID-19 is defeated — there are things that we should hold on to.

Family and Faith

The enforced separations we see of medical providers, first responders, senators and congressmen, and even the prime minister of the United Kingdom from family as a result of testing positive should make us aware of the value of family. The inability to travel to be with family also plays a huge part. Not every family dynamic is the same, but we should remember those who are family and make sure to cherish the time we have with them.

In a similar vein, another one of the hardest things has to be the inability to go to one’s place of worship. The free exercise of religion is the first right enumerated in the First Amendment — something that should tell us how valuable faith and the freedom to practice it is. We as a country should look to renew faith, if only for the hope that it provides in the darkest of times.

Local Businesses

While some CEOs of big business have stepped up to absorb the pain, small businesses are taking a big hit. But these small businesses, often run in smaller towns, are also valuable and very vulnerable. The local restaurants, supermarkets, and shops should get some part of that $1,200 stimulus check. They are the people who provide the glue for a local community, and supporting them is a chance to get to know people in your town.

Those Who REALLY Keep America Running

There are the forgotten Americans, too. They stock our grocery stores and drive the trucks that bring the supplies. They are the mechanics who keep the trucks running and the people who make the equipment our medical providers need. They are the clerks at gas station and the folks who run restaurants. They all help to keep the country going.

Sports and Entertainment

This is last on the list, but that doesn’t lessen the importance of the leisure time Americans share. Like a lot of Americans, this author was looking forward to Opening Day and how the Milwaukee Brewers were going to dominate this season. People were eagerly anticipating March Madness and their brackets. The NBA and NHL were headed for playoff season. There was the NFL draft and those wondering how the Nick Foles trade would affect the Bears. Many other entertainment venues have shut down, including movie theaters. But all this will come back in some form — and Americans should take the chance to reclaim what we miss.

The fact is, though, America will win against COVID-19. We will recover from what we had to do to beat it. We will be able to get back to things we miss so much, and we will value those even more.

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Leftist Billionaire Rakes in Billions After Stoking Pandemic Fears

Thomas Gallatin

“Everyone feels, you know, 99% I’ll be okay! But it’s not you; it’s the person you give it to,” declared billionaire hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman in a CNBC interview on March 17, as he called for President Donald Trump to shut the country down for 30 days in light of the China Virus pandemic. Ackman, a longtime Democrat donor who endorsed Michael Bloomberg for president, then got emotional, adding, “I am not going to kill my father, okay!” He further claimed that he had personally locked down in late February after learning how deadly the pandemic was.

Ackman’s emotional plea evoked a critical response, as many noted his statements would only further damage an already hurting market. Former hedge-fund manager Michael Novogratz quipped, “Please Ackman get off CNBC before people start jumping off bridges.”

However, it has now come to light that Ackman’s melodramatic interview may have been more Hollywood than genuine. Days before his CNBC interview, Ackman set up a $27 million hedge that subsequently scored big as the market tumbled on spreading pandemic fear.

And just how big was Ackman’s score? Well, in a letter sent to investors in his Pershing Square Capital Management fund last Wednesday, Ackman noted that he had cashed out a credit hedge to the tune of $2.6 billion in profit. That profit margin prompted one trader to observe, “It looks like a hell of a trade. I guess Bill was crying on TV for a lot of reasons. Tears of joy.”

Ackman sought to downplay criticism of his having profited off of stoking pandemic fears. He told investors that “substantially all of the proceeds” would be used to “purchase more stocks in current investments.” Ah, so stoking fears that led to massive profits on market panic is okay since those profits will be used for buying stocks in hurting industries, like hotels and restaurants? It is profiteers like Ackman who give capitalism a bad name.

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NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Jordan Candler

The Latest on Coronavirus

  • Deaths in the U.S. top 3,000, as New York remains country’s epicenter (Fox News)

  • “A milestone in our war against the coronavirus”: Trump shows off new rapid test kit in Rose Garden, as HHS says one million Americans tested (Fox News)

  • Rep. Nydia Velázquez says she has COVID-19, making her the fifth member of Congress to contract it (The Daily Caller)

  • Johnson & Johnson says human testing of its vaccine to begin by September (CNBC)

  • Virginia and Maryland governors order residents to stay home — Virginia until June 10, Maryland until state of emergency is over (National Review)

  • Arizona governor issues statewide stay-at-home order (KTAR)

  • Tennessee governor orders nonessential businesses to close (The Chattanoogan)

  • Tampa megachurch pastor arrested after leading packed services (FOX 13 News)

  • DC mayor threatens jail time for leaving home during coronavirus (New York Post)

  • 1918 or 2020? This public health order from the flu pandemic sounds a lot like today (Lexington Herald Leader)

Government & Politics

  • “The rule will benefit our economy, will improve the U.S. fleet’s fuel economy, will make vehicles more affordable, and will save lives”: Trump expected to ease Obama-era vehicle mileage standards (Fox News)

  • Mark Meadows resigns from Congress to become Trump’s chief of staff (NBC News)

  • Democrats eye major infrastructure component in next pork-filled stimulus package (The Hill)

  • Sanders, AOC, Omar letter asking the secretary of state to drop Iran sanctions amid coronavirus mysteriously disappears after Pompeo reveals the mullahs’ sinister plot to siphon cash (PJ Media)

Around the Nation

  • Baltimore’s population drops to levels not seen since The Great Depression, implicating the city’s federal funds (Hot Air)

  • Judge deals blow to Texas governor’s decree that abortion is “nonessential” (The Daily Wire)

Closing Arguments

  • Policy: Oil-market central planning: Not just for socialists anymore (National Review)

  • Policy: What’s in the $2.2 trillion stimulus for defense? (RealClearDefense)

  • Humor: Chick-fil-A temporarily changes slogan to “Eat Fewer Bats” (The Babylon Bee)

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

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VIDEOS

Video: The ChiComs’ Major Exports: COVID-19, Defective Tests, and Lies — The Chinese communists did not create the virus, but they certainly enabled its spread.

Video: Conservatives Are the Real Environmentalists — Michael Knowles dismantles the notion that conservatives care more about green pockets than green forests.

Video: Planned Parenthood Claims Abortion ‘Essential and Life-Affirming’ — The abortion mill absurdly cites “insecurity around jobs and food and paychecks and childcare.”

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” —Friedrich August von Hayek (1899-1992)

For the record: “Many of same people who incessantly and cynically warned of the coming Fourth Reich are now blaming the administration for not acting like a dictatorship. It’s difficult to keep up.” —David Harsanyi

Observations: “The epidemic has put in stark relief the pettiness and absurdity of much what has transpired in our national life since Trump won the presidency. This crisis is the unmistakable punctuation mark on that post-2016 era and the beginning of something new. How Trump performs now — finally without Mueller or impeachment, artifacts of another time, dogging him — will determine how it’s remembered.” —Rich Lowry

Amazing, isn’t it? “So you and I can get tossed IN to jail for leaving our house the wrong way but criminals can be let OUT of jail for no apparent reason.” —Allie Beth Stuckey

False dichotomy, part I: “What the COVID crisis exposes is that we can do things differently. We must not go back to the status quo. We cannot do that. What I would like to see … is putting the likely impact on health equity at the heart of all policymaking. That would lead to better environmental policy, it would lead to better social policy, it would lead to better healthcare policy and better political policies.” —WHO commission chairman Michael Marmot

False dichotomy, part II: “Things that needed to have been done but weren’t to prevent the pandemic are similar to the things needed to address the climate and ecological crisis.” —Extinction Rebellion cofounder Dr. Gail Bradbrook

Dezinformatsiya: “America’s response to the coronavirus is the worst in the world, which is shocking and has a lot to do with a leader who is completely unfit, temperamentally and intellectually, for the job.” —New York Times columnist Paul Krugman

Village idiot: “Please stop covering Trump’s briefing/rallies. Please. Please.” —actress Jane Lynch

And last… “It’s a sign of our society’s great brokenness when churches are labeled ‘non-essential’ while abortion businesses continue to operate as ‘essential.’” —Lila Rose

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