Mid-Day Digest

Apr. 28, 2020

THE FOUNDATION

“If men through fear, fraud or mistake, should in terms renounce and give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the great end of society, would absolutely vacate such renunciation; the right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave.” —Samuel Adams (1772)

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IN TODAY’S DIGEST

FEATURED ANALYSIS

Barr Sets DOJ Upon States Infringing on Civil Rights

Thomas Gallatin

Last week, Attorney General William Barr voiced his growing concerns that some state and local governments’ actions in response to the China Virus pandemic may be infringing on Americans’ constitutionally protected civil liberties. On Monday, Barr acted on those concerns, sending a two-page memo to 93 U.S. attorneys instructing them to “be on the lookout” for any state or local authorities who may have overstepped their authority in issuing COVID-19 restrictions. “If a state or local ordinance crosses the line from an appropriate exercise of authority to stop the spread of COVID-19 into an overbearing infringement of constitutional and statutory protections,” Barr wrote, “the Department of Justice may have an obligation to address that overreach in federal court.”

Barr specifically noted the infringement upon First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of religion: “As the Department of Justice explained recently in guidance to states and localities taking steps to battle the pandemic, even in times of emergency, when reasonable and temporary restrictions are placed on rights, the First Amendment and federal statutory law prohibit discrimination against religious institutions and religious believers.” Barr added, “The Constitution also forbids, in certain circumstances, discrimination against disfavored speech and undue interference with the national economy.”

While Barr acknowledge that certain “restrictions have been necessary in order to stop the spread of a deadly disease,” he also noted “there is no denying that they have imposed tremendous burdens on the daily lives of all Americans.” And he cogently concluded, “Many policies that would be unthinkable in regular times have become commonplace in recent weeks, and we do not want to unduly interfere with the important efforts of state and local officials to protect the public. But the Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis. We must therefore be vigilant to ensure its protections are preserved, at the same time that the public is protected.”

Barr tapped Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Eric Dreiband and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Matthew Schneider to lead the effort to “monitor state and local policies and, if necessary, take action to correct them.” This is a welcome and needed development as several state governors and local authorities have clearly exceeded their authority and have stepped all over their constituents’ constitutionally protected rights.

In fact, just yesterday, a judge in southern Illinois ruled that Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s particularly onerous stay-at-home order violated individual civil rights and exceeded the authority of his office. Predictably, the Democrat governor arrogantly asserted that the ruling was “dangerous and people’s safety and health have now been put at risk.” Pitzker also attacked Rep. Darren Bailey, a Republican who brought the lawsuit against the governor, claiming that Bailey was “blindly devoted to ideology and the pursuit of personal celebrity.” It’s telling that Pitzker’s authoritarian instincts allow him to so flippantly dismiss and smear concern over constitutional fidelity as merely a foolish expression of blind devotion. If it wasn’t for the Founders’ “blind devotion” to Liberty, there would be no Constitution, Bill of Rights, or United States.

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Bigger Government Is Always Here to Stay

Lewis Morris

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

What made the Great American Experiment work for a long time was keeping government in check with a well-written Constitution and a strong, self-sustaining private sector. That strategy began falling by the wayside several decades ago, with government using every opportunity available to expand its reach. The China Virus has inspired a bold effort to take big government to the next level.

The federal government has spent over $3 trillion in the last few weeks to combat the pandemic, and more big spending bills are on the way. To put that into perspective, federal spending in all of fiscal 2019 totaled $4.4 trillion. Money is being spread across the economy to support medical care, help the unemployed, keep businesses afloat, bolster individuals and families, and shore up supply chains. Contra the limited powers enumerated in the Constitution, too many civically ignorant Americans want an activist government, but this sort of government activity in times of crisis has consequences.

The Great Depression and World War II provided cover for creating the “social safety net” and a permanent bureaucratic state, the likes of which Woodrow Wilson only dreamed of. The Cold War brought on what Dwight Eisenhower called the “military-industrial complex.” September 11th introduced a new era of wide-ranging public monitoring and intelligence collection. Today, we’re incurring massive amounts of debt as the shutdown wipes out the economy.

Whether you agree or disagree with the reasoning behind these expansions, the point to remember is that government never shrinks back to normal size when a crisis passes. Whatever it was at the height of the crisis becomes the new “normal.” New rules established during the heat of battle don’t go away, and those can have unforeseen consequences that always work in the government’s favor and ultimately harm the country.

Since the federal government’s fiscal response to the pandemic began, Sen. Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have used raw political leverage to push their hyper-leftist agenda. Their latest move is an attempt to completely change the ballot process for the coming presidential election.

Leftists push for bigger government because power is their ultimate aim, and spending is the gateway drug to permanent big government. The more “free money” government dispenses, and the more people depend on that money, the more votes it buys. Unfortunately, Republican elites have been a party (pardon the pun) to this madness. They have been willing accomplices to so many massive spending bills that the GOP is generally no more trustworthy on fiscal issues than are the Democrats.

What about Donald Trump? Trump is many things, but he is not a fiscal conservative. The movement that propelled him to the presidency is a populist one, not a limited-government one. Populists are not as concerned with fiscal outcomes as much as they are with change-making results. Like all politicians, Trump occasionally talks about fiscal discipline while being a willing participant in the spending spree. Trump has to become more proactive on reining in government power. For every abuse uncovered, how many remain? Instead, he seems more focused on engaging in a misguided battle with the media that has essentially moved the crisis itself off-topic.

Big government is here to stay. Again. Did it ever really leave, though? Federal spending as a percentage of the overall economy has yet to fall back to pre-9/11 levels. It hasn’t even come really close. This latest crisis is sure to keep even that weak benchmark out of reach for the foreseeable future.

Rahm Emanuel, one of Obama’s top lieutenants and later mayor of Chicago, told The Wall Street Journal, “The era of Ronald Reagan that said basically the government is the enemy, is over.” Steve Bannon, one of Trump’s lieutenants in the early days, added, “The era of Robert Taft, limited-government conservatism? It’s not relevant. It’s just not relevant.” When two men of vastly opposing worldviews can come to a similar conclusion, one should sit up and take note.

No one political party is going to rein in big government. And what should be media watchdogs are actually complicit in it, so don’t expect much help there. The public has to stand up and watch what’s going on and support candidates who truly do believe in a government that should work in a smaller size.

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DNI Calls WaPo Report ‘Not True’

Nate Jackson

The Washington Post has the latest damning scoop on just how poorly President Donald Trump has governed the country during the coronavirus pandemic: “U.S. intelligence agencies issued warnings about the novel coronavirus in more than a dozen classified briefings prepared for President Trump in January and February, months during which he continued to play down the threat, according to current and former U.S. officials.”

Now, if you don’t take everything reported by socialist billionaire Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post — especially about Trump — with a truckload of salt, then you may need to reevaluate your media consumption.

That said, Trump has not always handled the crisis as well as Americans would hope for from a president. In fact, his disastrous press briefings run the risk of making him the poster child for COVID misery. So it’s entirely possible that Trump, who is reportedly not the biggest fan of reading and is definitely not the biggest fan of intelligence agencies, missed some pretty important information. And we have no doubt that Nancy Pelosi’s crack team of House inquisitors will find the Post’s contribution quite helpful as campaign fodder this fall.

But hold the phone. “This isn’t true,” Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Richard Grenell told The Washington Post via social media. “And we told you this before you wrote. And you put the DNI denial of your premise in paragraph 9.”

Grenell’s denial calls to mind the ABC News report three weeks ago that the Pentagon took the rare step of rebuking. It seems that distorted reports or outright fake news are increasingly eliciting correction by U.S. military and intelligence officials. Yet the million-dollar question is still this: What’s the truth?

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Corrupt Tedros Chides Nations That Didn’t Listen to WHO

Nate Jackson

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been the subject of much debate in recent weeks. The WHO is clearly compromised by allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and President Donald Trump has rightly moved to withhold U.S. funding for the UN agency.

The saga continues. “The world should have listened to the WHO carefully,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO and China’s main man, scolded on Monday. “We can only give advice to countries. We don’t have any mandate to force countries to implement what we advise them,” he lamented. “We advised the whole world to implement a comprehensive public health approach — find, test, contact tracing, and so on. The countries who followed that are in a better position than others.”

The hypocrisy is, as always, disgusting. This is the same WHO that slammed Trump for implementing travel restrictions to China. This is the same WHO that has repeatedly praised China for its incredible “transparency” when the truth is that Chinese lies have cost tens of thousands of lives. And this is the same WHO that parroted Chinese lies as gospel, declaring on January 14 that “Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.”

By the way, January 14 was two weeks after Taiwan warned the WHO about possible human-to-human transmission. Rather than listening to Taiwan — which has provided a good model for handling the pandemic — WHO officials have taken the CCP’s hardline position that Taiwan belongs to China and has no independent standing. It took the WHO until the end of January before acknowledging human transmission, and in early February Tedros was still saying the coronavirus spread was “minimal and slow.”

This is a novel virus and we already know that in hindsight many pronouncements from officials, politicians, and media outlets have proven less than wise or truthful. But for Tedros to chide the world for not listening when he has been nothing but corrupt and wrong is just insulting.

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China Peddles Propaganda in U.S. Media

Harold Hutchison

As states begin to emerge from the China Virus shutdowns, focus has rightly turned to putting the economy on track. At the same time there are some who are rightly adding more scrutiny to the actions of the People’s Republic of China.

We’ve discussed the cover-up that turned an outbreak into a pandemic, but what is also emerging is Beijing’s heavy use of disinformation, and some of it is not as clumsy as claims that the United States military released the virus. In fact, according to a Wall Street Journal report, in at least one case, the ChiComs just spread the lies of others; they didn’t originate those lies.

But regardless of whether it originated or merely passed on the disinformation, China intentionally spread fear and panic. Why do that? To understand, one has to look at China’s situation — and to say it’s in a world of hurt understates things. Still, as we noted last week, the Chinese have gained a lot of influence with our media. In a way, they need it.

For starters, there has been a major hit to their reputation as the cover-up becomes more obvious, even to the American Leftmedia. The cover-up has generated bipartisan calls for retaliation. We have discussed some options to make the Butchers of Beijing pay. One of the big things has been a push to bring manufacturing back to America, which is a great way to address a clear vulnerability.

China has sent (and sold) a lot of equipment around the world, but reports indicate that it’s of such poor quality that it’s useless. Canada is just the latest to find this out the hard way.

Investigations will reveal what we ultimately must do — and just how serious China’s culpability for the pandemic and the thousands of American lives lost really is.

That is why Beijing is now desperately peddling disinformation. The ChiComs hope to leverage access to China’s vast market — and for some news outlets, their parent companies crave that access. If China is unhappy with ABC News, it can close its market to Disney. NBC has similar problems if Universal can’t reach China’s market. Even Bloomberg News has been caught compromising its reporting in order to maintain access in China. Meanwhile, leftists still think it’s a problem when One America News is invited to White House press conferences.

While there is no doubt that China aims for a softer policy from the United States, China’s leverage over our media outlets is alarming. With many mainstream outlets already never fair to Patriots, a hostile foreign power influencing news coverage is a massive problem.

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Widespread Antibodies Raise Questions About State Shutdowns

Thomas Gallatin

The fourth and most recent COVID-19 antibody study — this one conducted in Miami-Dade County, Florida — appears to corroborate three previous studies from California and New York. In short, the virus infection has spread much more widely than has been reported. University of Miami researchers determined that an estimated 6% (or 165,000) of the county’s population has been infected by the virus. The current official number of those having tested positive for COVID-19 in the county is roughly 10,600 and the virus’s death toll in the county sits at 287.

If the findings of the University of Miami’s antibody testing are accurate, it would indicate that the death rate from the virus is around 0.17% — well below the official estimates. Clearly seeking to counter the criticism leveled at the earlier tests, The Miami Herald noted, “UM researchers used statistical methods to account for the limitations of the antibody test, which is known to generate some false positive results. The researchers say they are 95% certain that the true amount of infection lies between 4.4% and 7.9% of the population, with 6% representing the best estimate.” Furthermore, “UM researchers say their findings are more robust than most because they used Florida Power & Light to generate phone numbers in targeted demographic areas, leading to a more randomized selection of participants.”

The more these antibody studies are conducted, the more it appears to corroborate the Stanford University study in Santa Clara, California, which found that the COVID-19 infection rate is vastly higher than reported. In fact, the results of these tests lend more support to those arguing that the state governments’ mandated shutdown and shelter-in-place orders may have been an unnecessary overreaction. Expect these voices to only grow louder, as the damage to the economy is more fully realized over the coming weeks.

Veteran journalist Brit Hume added this perspective: “We were trying to flatten the curve of the growth of the spread of the virus to protect our hospital systems … from getting overwhelmed. Now as it turns out, as a result of these measures … hospitals all across the country … are becoming collateral damage. We may end up doing more damage to our hospital systems because of under-crowding than … overcrowding. … The people who are overwhelmingly vulnerable to this are the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, and if you’re not in that category … it’s not clear we really needed to close everything down.”

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NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Jordan Candler

Above the Fold

  • Attorney General William Barr is “directing each of our United States Attorneys to also be on the lookout for state and local directives that could be violating the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens.” Speaking of overstepping, a judge decreed yesterday that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s lockdown “exceeds his emergency authority and violates individual civil rights,” according to the AP.

  • Tyson Foods chairman John Tyson ominously laid bare this weekend, “The food supply chain is breaking.” He elaborated, “There will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we are able to reopen our facilities that are currently closed.” The shuttering of processing facilities represents a critical crack in the food-supply pipeline. Supply chains are complex, and any disruption can lead to a bottleneck that must be alleviated.

  • Yesterday, the director of the World Health Organization pontificated, “The world should have listened to the WHO carefully.” Recall that in mid-January, the ChiCom-supporting WHO erroneously claimed, “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission” of COVID-19. Moreover, it wasn’t until two months later that WHO finally declared a pandemic.

Government & Economy

  • According to The Hill, “Congress must keep its promise to give insurers billions of dollars in unpaid ObamaCare funds, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.” Justice Samuel Alito, the lone dissenter, “said the Court provided a ‘massive bailout’ for insurance companies.”

  • Chapter 11 bankruptcy has been declared by Diamond Offshore Drilling, “becoming the second major victim of the oil market crash so far, after Whiting Petroleum filed earlier this month,” OilPrice.com reports. Expect a slew of additional bankruptcies in the ensuing weeks and months. However, that’s not a reason for politicians to muddy the waters.

  • Trump lays out new coronavirus testing “blueprint” as states weigh reopening (NBC News)

Second Amendment

  • Supreme Court dismisses New York gun-rights case on technical grounds (the restrictions had already been abandoned) (The Washington Free Beacon)

  • U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez tosses California’s “onerous and convoluted” ammunition purchase law (AP)

  • 24th Judicial Circuit Judge Judge F. Patrick Yeatts says Gov. Ralph Northam’s gun-range shutdown violates state law (The Washington Free Beacon)

Other Notables

  • Two more people come forward to corroborate account of Joe Biden accuser (Bongino.com)

  • Michael Flynn files court documents with evidence he was “deliberately set up” by the FBI (The Daily Wire)

  • Senate will return on May 4 to start Phase 5 coronavirus relief bill (The Hill)

  • New York cancels Democrat presidential primary, angering Bernie Bros (The New York Times)

Closing Arguments

  • Policy: Why can’t America build things anymore? (The Week)

  • Policy: Ending the lockdowns isn’t about saving money. It’s about saving lives. (Mises Institute)

  • Humor: Inspiring: Celebrities spell out “We’re all in this together” with their yachts (The Babylon Bee)

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

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VIDEOS

Video: Pelosi Reacts to Allegations Against Biden and Kavanaugh — Pelosi is “proud to endorse Joe Biden” but wanted Kavanaugh “to withdraw.”

Video: Media Claims Racism Is the Reason for Reopen Protests — Once again for the leftist media, everything is “racist!”

Video: Will Democrats Who Flee Cities Take Urban Values With Them? — Or does geography shape ideology?

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

SHORT CUTS

Observations: “As we go forward, being able to confront communist China and being able to prevail against communist China is going to be much more difficult than it was to prevail over the Soviet Union. Unlike the Soviet Union, there are powerful people, like Bill Gates, and powerful institutions, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and many American universities, that feel an affinity for communist China and who will defend it. They need to be exposed and defeated.” —Gary Bauer

Tongue-in-cheek: “North Korea is way more progressive than the US. Think about it: About to have a female leader. Communist. Christianity outlawed. No billionaires. They’re really putting us to shame.” —Matt Walsh

Belly laugh: “I can’t believe that Stacey Abrams allowed Georgia to open its businesses. I mean she’s the governor, right?” —Ben Shapiro

For the record: “The launch of a military satellite by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, makes clear what we have said all along: Iran’s space program is neither peaceful nor entirely civilian. … This satellite launch vehicle and others launched before it incorporate technologies identical to, and interchangeable with, ballistic missiles, including longer-range systems such as intercontinental ballistic missiles ICBMs.” —Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Non compos mentis: “I don’t think [the House impeachment managers] had any idea how much damage [Trump] would go on to do in the months ahead. There are 50,000 Americans now who are dead in significant part because of his incompetence. … I don’t think we would have ever anticipated that his brand of narcissism and his brand of incompetence, sometimes his brand of malevolence, would be so fatal to the American people.” —Rep. Adam Schiff, whose impeachment charade contributed to those deaths much more than anything Trump did or didn’t do

Dezinformatsiya: “If an American president loses more Americans over the course of six weeks than died over the entirety of the Vietnam war, does he deserve to be reelected?” —New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi to President Trump at Monday’s briefing

And last… “What if we suspend pay of ALL senators and governors and give them $1,200 to live on for 10 weeks. How fast would our country re-open?” —George Papadopoulos

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