Mid-Day Digest

Apr. 29, 2020

THE FOUNDATION

“With reference either to individual, or National Welfare, Agriculture is of primary importance. In proportion as Nations advance in population, and other circumstances of maturity, this truth becomes more apparent; and renders the cultivation of the Soil more and more, an object of public patronage.” —George Washington (1796)

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IN TODAY’S DIGEST

FEATURED ANALYSIS

Interruptions of Food Supply Have Cascading Effects

Louis DeBroux

“It’s funny,” Bernie Sanders once bizarrely mused. “Sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is because people are lining up for food. That’s a good thing. In other countries, people don’t line up for food; rich people get the food and poor people starve to death.”

Well, if long food lines are Bernie’s idea of a good thing, he must be euphoric right now.

“The food supply chain is breaking,” warned Tyson Foods chairman John Tyson. He explained, “There will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we are able to reopen our facilities that are currently closed.” Needless to say, creating a run on grocery stores could lead to further crisis.

Tyson’s letter softened the beaches for President Donald Trump, who signed an executive order Tuesday evening using the Defense Production Act to ensure that food-processing plants remain in operation. “Such closures threaten the continued functioning of the national meat and poultry supply chain, undermining critical infrastructure during the national emergency,” the order states. While CDC guidelines still protect workers, the FDA says a sick person cannot infect meat.

Naturally, unions, Obama minions, and PETA knuckleheads decried the order, but industry leaders praised Trump’s move as a needed unification of policy nationwide. American families who can still find ground beef at the grocery store should be thankful too.

Meanwhile, that’s not the only food problem facing the nation. In the six weeks or so since state governments began forcing businesses to close and citizens to shelter at home, more than 26 million Americans have lost their jobs, forcing previously productive citizens to turn to Bernie-style food lines for their meals. Food banks are reporting a 70% average increase in requests for food assistance. Locations normally serving 200-250 cars a day now struggle with lines stretching for miles, even as they face a 30% decrease in food donations and a shortage of volunteers, many of whom are staying home for fear of contracting the Wuhan virus.

And increasingly, thanks to government regulations, Americans are going hungry even as millions of pounds of meat, fresh fruits, and vegetables rot in the fields and farms, and millions of gallons of milk are dumped.

The bitter irony is that farmers, ranchers, and grocery retailers freely admit there is a surplus of food. About 40% of the country’s fresh produce is purchased by the food-service industry, and with restaurants and schools closed, there is enormous excess without a way to distribute it.

A major part of the problem is the USDA’s mountain of regulations dictating everything from what cuts of meat can be donated to the size of the boxes food can be donated in. The National Potato Council reports having $1.3 billion worth of potatoes and potato products it’s willing to donate to charities and food banks, but government regulations prohibit it.

Enterprising business owners and humanitarians have created online clearinghouses for food, attempting to quickly match up food suppliers with those in need, but their best efforts deal with only a fraction of the problem.

There is the added difficulty in logistics and costs of transporting surplus food to areas of need, and finding refrigerated storage once the food arrives. Though farmers are taking a devastating financial hit, many have harvested the food at their own expense and donated it, taking a loss on their crops and livestock. It would compound their losses to cover the costs of distribution.

The Department of Agriculture has a program that buys $3 billion in excess meat and produce each year, giving it to food banks and charities. But with the current glut, those funds have quickly been drained, leaving farmers with a small fraction of their normal revenue.

The USDA announced it will be spending $100 million per month for the next six months on fresh produce, and another $100 million per month on dairy and cooked meat, which will be assembled into variety boxes for the hungry. USDA officials say they’re “attempting to move at lightning speed,” but the typical procurement timeline for USDA takes months, and these variety boxes will not be available for at least several weeks. Regulations, bureaucracy, and red tape mean taking months to organize something that needs to be handled in a matter of days.

In the meantime, Americans are going hungry, and produce farmers are losing $1 billion per week in desperately needed revenue.

Some states have just begun to reopen businesses under strict health and safety protocols, so the restaurant industry will soon begin to slowly take some of that excess supply from farmers and ranchers. Schools will reopen in the fall, taking up even more of the excess supply, so a complete reconfiguration of the food supply chain doesn’t make logistical or economic sense.

However, the problems with excessive government regulations that have been revealed by this crisis should serve as a factory full of red flags to the American people as to the dangers of a massive, sluggish, unimaginative government bureaucracy during times of crisis. That’s not just a humanitarian crisis; it’s an issue of national security.

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Endorsements, Coverage of Biden Reveal Damning Hypocrisy

Nate Jackson

Democrats picked Joe Biden. Now they’re stuck with him. So we noted two weeks ago, and the situation has only gotten worse for Democrats. And yet the endorsements just keep rolling in. After Biden locked up support from all of his erstwhile primary rivals, his former boss, Barack Obama, finally joined the parade. This week, it’s party matriarchs Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi.

Tara Reade’s allegations that then-Senator Biden digitally penetrated her in 1993 have only gained steam with contemporaneous corroboration that she shared her claims. Reade certainly has far more evidence than Christine Blasey Ford — let alone Deborah Ramirez or Julie Swetnick — had in (falsely) accusing Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

Hillary Clinton, who has been married to a credibly accused rapist for decades, threw her support behind Biden yesterday. “I’ve not only been a colleague of Joe Biden’s, I’ve been a friend,” Clinton said, “and I can tell you that I wish he were president right now, but I can’t wait until he is if all of us do our part.”

Pelosi likewise jumped on the Biden Bandwagon: “I’m proud to endorse Joe Biden for president of the United States because he will be an extraordinary president. He knows how to get the job done.”

Both woman remain mum on the allegations of sexual assault against Biden, despite leading the charge to smear Kavanaugh and generally spearheading the #MeToo movement.

Speaking of women, Biden has promised to pick one as his running mate. There are numerous possible choices, including Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Gretchen Whitmer, and Stacey Abrams. All of them have repeated various strains of the “believe all women” trope in the past, yet they remain remarkably silent or introspective regarding Biden. Abrams went so far as to smugly insist that Reade has been “heard” and that’s good enough. Not only is their response hypocritical, it feeds the stereotype feminists arguably hate most: that some women will do anything to advance their own careers under a man in power.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is probably not on Biden’s VP list, but she did offer, “I stand by [former] vice president Biden. He’s devoted his life to supporting women and he has vehemently denied this allegation.” Strangely, however, Kavanaugh’s vehement denials weren’t enough for her; she insisted on an FBI investigation.

Reade herself leveled both barrels at Clinton in particular, saying, “I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. I voted for her in the primary. I’m a lifelong Democrat. But yet what I see now is someone enabling a sexual predator, and it was my former boss, Joe Biden, who raped me. Hillary Clinton has a history of enabling powerful men to cover up their sexual predatory behaviors and their inappropriate sexual misconduct. We don’t need that for this country. We don’t need that for our new generation coming up that wants institutional rape culture to change.”

Astoundingly, Joe Biden has still not been asked on the record by any media outlet about these accusations, though Team Biden is reportedly preparing “talking points” that include regurgitating the eye-rolling claim that Biden “believes that all women have the right to be heard.” The team then hangs its hat on a piece by The New York Times that supposedly concludes “this incident did not happen.” The truth is the Times article was not only inconclusive, but Team Biden helped edit the story after the fact. It was little more than an attempt to cover for and collaborate with the Democrat presidential candidate. That, in a nutshell, is why the unholy political union of the Democrat Party with the Leftmedia is the most dangerous current threat to American Liberty.

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Lawsuits May Prove COVID Isn’t the Only Pandemic

John J. Bastiat

The parasites are out again — and by “parasites” we mean those dark-hearted lawyers known as “ambulance chasers” — to take advantage of the devastation wrought by COVID-19. Don’t misunderstand: We wholeheartedly acknowledge that many personal-injury litigators and trial attorneys have proper motives and do good things for their communities. Those aren’t the ones we mean. Rather, it’s the sleazy tribe of legal vermin who prey on others’ non-self-generated adversity we wish to address.

Take, for example, the proliferation of ads spamming the airwaves and Internet. The message: “If you or a loved one has become seriously ill from COVID-19 due to someone else’s fault, you should seek legal advice to see if you have a coronavirus malpractice lawsuit.” Sure you should (cha-ching!). “Most businesses are advertising less, but trial lawyers are taking advantage of America’s home confinement to recruit clients on TV,” notes The Wall Street Journal. “Legal finance firms are also capitalizing by lending money for virus lawsuits on condition they receive a dividend from the eventual payout.” Have these companies no shame? The short answer: No. It’s all about the money.

Earlier this month we warned about the impending wave of lawsuits facing the medical community. But of course, as egregious as this fact is, these suits are not enough to satiate the bottom-feeders. Now they’re going after, well, pretty much everyone, as evidenced most prominently by the pending formation of the “Coronavirus Litigation Task Force,” as well as trial-balloon suits against various deep-pocketed businesses. But virtually every brick-and-mortar entity is vulnerable. If its employees or customers get sick, it’s a potential target for the ambulance-chasing crowd. Why? Because, of course, these institutions didn’t take “adequate precautions” to prevent illnesses and/or deaths. Never mind that COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease or that one can be asymptomatic for weeks while still infecting others. No, the important thing is that every one of these entities, large or small, has pockets — some deeper than others, but no matter: pockets are pockets. And the ambulance chasers will certainly be able to find “fault” even where it doesn’t exist.

How to stop this madness from happening once the nation opens for business again? For starters, how about some level of lawsuit immunity for coronavirus-related injuries? At the very least, some form of lawsuit protection should be implemented as a shield against the imminent onslaught of these suits. Even so-called “safe harbor” provisions, in which protection is afforded subject to certain conditions that must be met by those seeking that protection, are better than nothing. Otherwise, forget about having an economy as we’ve formerly known it. The economic locomotive has been slowed to a crawl, as it is. Getting up a full head of steam again is going to take a lot of energy and a lot of clear track ahead to gather the needed momentum.

State governors in hard-hit New York, Michigan, and Illinois have taken measures under their emergency executive powers to stem the wave of suits looming on the horizon. Other states’ legislatures — such as those of Massachusetts, Idaho, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, and Utah — have passed laws or are working through bills addressing relief from various coronavirus-related lawsuit liabilities. These are all initial steps in the right direction.

But as Dan McLaughlin of National Review notes, “There is no one, perfect answer; any approach to limiting lawsuits will involve a balance of interests. More lawsuit protection means more and faster reopenings, but also reduces incentives for workplaces to protect workers and customers from infection.”

Another critical “balance of interests” concerns our system of federalism. Some responsibilities to address COVID-19-related lawsuit liability are best undertaken at the state level, and some at the federal. The proper balance of those responsibilities is a question best tackled by legislators between and in both levels. But the guiding principle in deciding where that line should be drawn in determining these balances is best expressed in this line by our Arnold Ahlert: “In short, ‘first, do no harm’ should be applied as forcefully to the legal profession as it is to the medical profession.”

For our part, that translates practically to erring on the side of restarting the economy at both state and federal levels. Customers — and even employees — will vote with their feet if they don’t feel a business is protecting them enough from harm, but no business is going to survive an unfettered, suit-happy tort bar bent on extracting the last dollar from it before it tanks.

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New Filings Show FBI Set Up Michael Flynn

Thomas Gallatin

One of the biggest scalps claimed by Robert Mueller’s special investigation was that of Gen. Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security advisor. After being accused of lying to federal agents, Flynn, under the advisement of his council at the time, agreed to plead guilty to the charge in exchange for a presumably lighter sentence. President Donald Trump, who fired Flynn during his transition into the White House due primarily to the then-broiling Russia-collusion hoax, has repeatedly stated that he believes Flynn was railroaded and has floated pardoning him.

Well, after last Friday’s court filings by Flynn’s lawyers of documents the Justice Department was forced to turned over due to Brady regulations, Trump may not have to pardon Flynn. According to his attorney, Sidney Powell, Flynn was “deliberately set up and framed by corrupt agents at the top of the FBI.” Powell further stated, “It also defeats any argument that the interview of Mr. Flynn on January 24, 2017 was material to any ‘investigation.’ The government has deliberately suppressed this evidence from the inception of this prosecution — knowing there was no crime by Mr. Flynn.”

When Flynn agreed to plead guilty to lying to FBI agents, it was understood that he had done so to avoid a more severe sentence. Yet these DOJ documents paint a much different picture and provide a much more compelling reason. Prosecutors threatened to go after Flynn’s son and charge him for failing to register with the DOJ as a foreign agent if Flynn didn’t plead guilty.

As Andrew McCarthy observes, “Powell now contends that the new disclosures demonstrate that Mueller’s prosecutors — she specifically cites Brandon Van Grack, who now runs Justice’s FARA unit — did indeed promise Flynn that they would not charge his son if Flynn pled guilty. Worse, Powell avers that the prosecutors coerced Flynn and his counsel to keep this agreement secret. That is, this was to be a side deal that would not be written into the plea agreement and therefore would be kept from the court and the public.” McCarthy then notes, “Under federal law, all understandings that are relevant to a guilty plea must be disclosed to the judge. It would be not merely a serious ethical breach for government lawyers to fail to reveal such an arrangement. It would be a fraud on the court.”

In fact, not only does it appear that Flynn was pressured into issuing his guilty plea via a secret side deal, it also appears that his then-legal counsel, the Washington firm of Covington & Burling, was in cahoots with the prosecution in maintaining the side deal’s secrecy. Politico reports, “Federal prosecutors are studying more than 100 pages of new written declarations from former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s ex-lawyers as the Justice Department decides how to respond to Flynn’s bid to unwind his guilty plea on the grounds that his old legal team failed to give him proper advice.”

Given these latest revelations, it would come as a surprise if the court doesn’t at the very least vacate Flynn’s guilty plea, if not throw out the case entirely. One thing’s for certain: If the court still elects to sentence Flynn, Trump will have more than ample justification for pardoning him.

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More Great Analysis

Did SCOTUS misfire on a key Second Amendment case? Thomas Gallatin considers.

Grassroots perspective from Willie Richardson on yet another Democrat under fire for thanking Trump.

NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Jordan Candler

Above the Fold

  • First-quarter GDP contracted 4.8% — the first sub-growth figure in six years. It’s also the largest contraction in 12 years. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis explains: “The decline … was, in part, due to the response to the spread of COVID-19, as governments issued ‘stay-at-home’ orders in March.” Which is all the more reason to began relaxing those orders.

Government & Politics

  • The Washington Examiner reports that “House and Senate Democrats are escalating calls for an historic federal bailout of state and local governments coping with significant revenue losses due to the coronavirus outbreak.” However, “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said states that had poorly managed budgets before the Covid-19 outbreak sent their economies reeling should not be rescued by the federal government,” according to Bloomberg.

  • A Phase 5 relief bill will soon be in the works. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pledging: “We can’t pass another bill unless we have liability protections. That’s the only way we’re going to ultimately begin to get past this.”

Other Notables

  • The Trump administration asks intelligence agencies to find out whether China and WHO hid info on coronavirus pandemic (Fox News)

  • RIP: At least 80 coronavirus-infected veterans dead in the Invisible War at Massachusetts facility (Fox News)

  • Even the nation’s largest health systems are laying off healthcare workers amid proscriptions on elective surgeries (ABC News)

  • U.S. marriage rate dropped to the lowest level on record in 2018 (The Daily Beast)

  • In France, according to The New York Times, “Local governments are now challenging the primacy of the centralized state, the foundation of French society, after it allowed supplies of virus-fighting masks and test kits to be depleted.” Statism never bodes well — especially in a crisis.

Closing Arguments

  • Policy: The debt clean-up that awaits us (RealClearPolicy)

  • Policy: The path ahead for K-12 education (E21)

  • Satire: Biden assures voters, “It’s not sexual assault; it’s democratic sexual assault” (Genesius Times)

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

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VIDEOS

Video: Bombshell Video on Biden Surfaces — But the networks still ignore his accuser — and even cover for him.

Video: My Brother’s Life-Saving Discovery — John Stossel on why the FDA’s cumbersome approval process is personal to him.

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “Every actual state is corrupt. Good men must not obey laws too well.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Observations: “Never having been required to sacrifice for anything and told we should always expect more and better of everything, we feel our right of entitlement has been unfairly stolen from us. Not knowing what sacrifice looks like we are unable to react to it in a positive way, a way that is more likely to lift us from our current circumstances, or at least sustain us in them. Those previous generations would shake their heads at how we are reacting to current economic challenges.” —Cal Thomas

Irony: “One reason that we didn’t want hospitals to get overrun by COVID-19 patients is that we’d crowd out everyone else needing care, but we’ve ended up crowding out many people needing care as a deliberate choice — even where COVID-19 surges haven’t happened and probably never will.” —Rich Lowry

For the record: “The Democrats don’t wanna come back. I think they should be back here but … they’re enjoying their vacation. … You look at Nancy Pelosi eating ice cream on late-night television. Yeah, I think … they’re having a good time. … I think they should all come back and we should work on this together.” —Donald Trump

Braying jenny: “Every form of healthcare should continue to be available, including reproductive healthcare for every woman in this country. And then it needs to be part of a much larger system that eventually — and quickly, I hope — gets us to universal healthcare. … This would be a terrible crisis to waste, as the old saying goes.” —Hillary Clinton

Demo-gogues: “I wish this were us doing this and my supporting your reelection for president of the United States. You won the majority of the vote.” —Joe Biden

Dezinformatsiya: “China always stands against disinformation campaign. We are victim rather than producer of disinformation. Peddling disinformation and recrimination are by no means prescription for international anti-pandemic cooperation and should be rejected by all.” —Chinese Foreign Ministry, which subsequently bloviated: “When did the first infection occur in the US? Is the US government hiding something? Why they opt to blame others? American people and the international community need an answer from the US government.”

And last… “Two months ago, de Blasio was encouraging New Yorkers to go to the movies. A month ago, he was threatening to close churches permanently. Last night, he said he was going to start rounding up the Jews. The moral of the story is that de Blasio is an evil, incompetent goon.” —Matt Walsh

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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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