Mid-Day Digest

May 14, 2020

THE FOUNDATION

“Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall, when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people, in order to betray them.” —Joseph Story (1833)

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IN TODAY’S DIGEST

FEATURED ANALYSIS

Obama’s Flynn Unmaskers Unmasked

Thomas Gallatin

In a classic display of Shakespeare’s line about “the lady doth protest too much,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Wednesday decried “these ridiculous conspiracy theories on [Barack] Obama.” He complained that Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson “wants to go after Biden and this Hunter Biden conspiracy theory, which came from the Russians, of all people.” Schumer gasped, “This is amazing to me. What alternative universe do they live in? Spending their time on discredited conspiracy theories, against Obama, against Biden.”

Of course, far from being a “discredited” conspiracy theory, this is conspiracy fact — and Barack Obama’s fingerprints are all over it. Justice Department documents declassified and released by acting National Intelligence Director Richard Grenell show that there was a conspiracy by members of Obama’s DOJ to undermine incoming President Donald Trump. On Wednesday, Republican Senators Chuck Grassley (IA) and Ron Johnson (WI) released a declassified list of former Obama officials who had requested and received unmasked information related to Gen. Michael Flynn during the last few weeks of Obama’s presidency.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, “The National Security Agency received and approved requests on behalf of more than three dozen Obama administration officials, including then-Vice President Joe Biden, to ‘unmask’ a U.S. citizen mentioned in classified foreign intelligence reports during the presidential transition, revealing the identity of Michael Flynn.” Included among these three dozen Obama era officials are former CIA Director John Brennan, Obama Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough, and former UN Ambassador Samantha Power, who apparently lied in congressional testimony by claiming to not recall making a request for the unmasking of Flynn — records show she in fact made seven requests.

This revelation is significant because it may help determine who was involved in leaking Flynn’s conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak (classified information) to the press. It was this leaked information that was then used by members of the FBI in entrapping Flynn in the infamous White House meeting on January 24, 2017.

Meanwhile, yesterday brought more evidence that the intelligence community had concluded that the Russians actually favored a Hillary Clinton victory — information about which Brennan would have been fully aware. As Fox News’s Ed Henry notes, that new information in the released House transcripts suggests that John Brennan “had intel saying, actually, Russia wanted Hillary Clinton to win because she was a known quantity, she had been secretary of state, and Vladimir Putin’s team thought she was more malleable, while candidate Donald Trump was unpredictable.” Brennan concealed that information.

However, in an apparent effort to keep spinning as pure partisan fantasy any notion that members of Obama’s DOJ were involved in a massive political scandal to spy on and then undermine Trump’s presidency, Judge Emmet Sullivan took the highly unusual step of inviting outside briefs to weigh in on Flynn’s case, which the Justice Department dropped last week following revelations of malfeasance on the government’s part. Sullivan has demonstrated a clear disdain for Flynn typified by his declaring Flynn guilty of “outright treason” — a statement he later walked back. Rather than throwing out the case, he’s trying to create justification for proceeding and sentencing Flynn anyway. It’s as if Sullivan wants to force Trump to pardon Flynn in an effort to further the Leftmedia narrative of Trump acting corruptly to let off guilty loyalists. The Democrat-Leftmedia conspiracy against Trump is far from over.

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Our Indefensible Media

Arnold Ahlert

Dispatch columnist David French has written an article defending the mainstream media, asserting that much of the criticism coming from precincts on the Right is “lazy and cheap,” “outright dishonest,” and “marked by wild and imprecise generalizations that impose collective punishment for individual failings.” He adds, “Moreover, media critics frequently ascribe evil motives to members of the press and pretend that the press has greater capabilities than it really does — thus rendering it even more culpable when it inevitably makes mistakes.”

Let’s begin with collectivism. If French actually believes the Leftmedia doesn’t have a coordinated agenda, he’s delusional. For almost four years — and almost invariably engendered by leaks from “unnamed current and former government officials,” as well as reporting by former intel officials who work in media — entities like The New York Times, The Washington Post, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, and CNN sustained an utterly baseless lie that Donald Trump colluded with Russia to win the presidency.

Moreover, two of those entities, the Post and the Times, won 2018 Pulitzer Prizes for what the awarders stated was “deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest that dramatically furthered the nation’s understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign, the President-elect’s transition team and his eventual administration.”

It doesn’t get more Orwellian than that. Oh, wait — it does. Nikole Hannah-Jones, who won a Pulitzer Prize last week for her ostensibly historical “1619 Project,” now insists her work was meant to be “journalism” and “not a history.” Perhaps Hannah-Jones might illuminate the difference, in terms of accuracy and honesty, considering she was forced to “revise” her initial assertion that the American Revolution was fought to preserve slavery after being called out by historian Leslie Harris, who “vigorously argued against” its accuracy. Nonetheless, what amounts to revisionist race-baiting will now be taught as history in schools around the country.

In short, the supposedly individual failures French laments are being collectively rewarded for lying.

As for ascribing evil motives to members of the press, a 2017 Harvard study revealed that the media’s negative coverage of the current president dwarfed that of his four predecessors. The Media Research Center conducted a similar survey, viewing 1,007 evening news stories about the Trump White House on ABC, CBS, and NBC from June 1 to September 30 in 2018. They found that coverage of Trump was 92% negative.

The media were also highly selective. At that time, “two-thirds of the Trump coverage came from five topics, including the Russia investigation, immigration, the Brett Kavanaugh nomination, North Korea, and U.S.-Russia relations,” Investors Business Daily reported. Missing in action? The successful economy. The very same economy that now receives relentless coverage because it has been battered by the pandemic lockdown. The very same pandemic to which the very same media insisted the president responded too slowly — after they accused him of racism and xenophobia for responding too quickly by shutting down flights from China and Europe.

What about the assertion that it is pretense to believe the press has greater capabilities than it actually does? For the past eight weeks, the American public has been subjected to what is arguably the greatest fear campaign ever devised. To so much as question the “conventional wisdom,” even as that wisdom “evolved” (remember two million Americans were going to die and we weren’t supposed to wear masks?), was to have “blood on one’s hands.”

No politician evinces that capability more than New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. His media-driven popularity soared as pundits like New York Times columnist Ben Smith asserted that Cuomo is “the executive best suited for the coronavirus crisis,” and Carl Bernstein insisted he is showing “real leadership” that Trump “has not.”

Real leadership apparently consists of not only having a worst-in-the-nation coronavirus death rate that has risen to 1,367 per million people but of implementing an utterly unconscionable policy requiring nursing homes to accept infected residents and allowing workers who tested positive for coronavirus to continue treating them. On Sunday, Cuomo finally relented and announced that hospitals can no longer send infected patients to nursing homes. Yet the “executive best suited for the coronavirus” remained unrepentant, insisting, “Whatever we’re doing has worked, on the facts.”

The facts? More than 5,300 people have died from coronavirus in New York’s nursing homes.

French also attributes media malfeasance to “an internet content monster that is always screaming, ‘Feed me! Now!’” and a “consumer audience that very often doesn’t want to hear the truth.”

Columnist Jim Geraghty agrees. “Once the Internet came along, every publisher could see exactly how many people read each article and feature, and it simply didn’t make sense to continue to invest resources in the sections that attracted the least readers, even if the coverage in those sections was an invaluable public service,” he writes. “To one extent or another, outlets all had an incentive to dumb things down and pitch as much of their coverage as possible to the lowest common denominator.”

In short, media malfeasance is our fault. Hence, concepts such as clickbait, agenda-driven story omission and commission, and “if it bleeds it leads” coverage is a response to a generally simpleminded audience with little appetite for nuance, or one that simply demands to have its prejudices reinforced.

Again, utter nonsense, and utterly dangerous. Blaming the audience for decisions to embrace a revenue-driven business model is an abdication of responsibility, especially when those decisions are made by mega-wealthy corporations that could easily afford to operate news divisions at a loss. Moreover, news organizations that dumb things down simply to enlarge audiences aren’t news organizations at all.

More important, an ad-driven model raises a troubling question: What can we expect in terms of honest reporting about major ad providers? The entire setup reeks of corruption — from the top down, not the bottom up, and the attempt to obscure that reality by blaming the audience is completely disingenuous.

(As a side note, that’s one big reason why, since 1996, The Patriot Post has operated with ZERO ads.)

As for French’s assertion that the audience doesn’t want to hear the truth, he might explore which side of the American divide is far more invested than the other in the contemptible concept known as “my truth.”

In terms of genuine truth, Americans are on the verge of learning about what is likely to be the worst scandal in our nation’s history. Yet even as testimony under oath reveals that truth, a news media that is supposed to be a government watchdog has already begun circling the wagons to protect the corrupt actors at the highest levels of that same government.

Why? In reference to Barack Obama and the calculated avoidance of truth, Victor Davis Hanson nails it: “How could the media, Silicon Valley, Wall Street, the bureaucratic state, academia, and entertainment ever process that reality: that a deity was likely the most corrupt president in a generation?”

They can’t and they won’t. And perhaps it isn’t the news audience that comprises the lowest common denominator of the American public.

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SCOTUS Considers Trump’s Taxing Questions

Thomas Gallatin

President Donald Trump has famously broken many of Washington’s expected political practices of “decorum” to the consternation of many Beltway elites. But one issue that has long stuck in the craw of Trump’s opponents is his refusal to publicize his tax returns. Repeatedly, the mainstream media reminds the American public that all previous presidential candidates since Jimmy Carter have willingly made their tax records public, insinuating that Trump’s unwillingness to do the same indicates he’s seeking to hide something criminal. Trump would no doubt have to answer some taxing questions, but the Left would also undoubtedly make mountains out of molehills.

Indeed, it is this dubious narrative that House Democrats have espoused to justify their attempt to subpoena his private financial records. Trump refused, sending the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, SCOTUS heard arguments in two cases, both aimed at forcing Trump to release his tax and financial records. The first case, Trump v. Mazars, is House Democrats’ argument for subpoenaing Trump’s tax records; the second, Trump v. Vance, is regarding seeking Trump’s financial records as part of a criminal investigation.

The justices were clearly skeptical of the House Democrats’ arguments while expressing concern over balancing the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. Even leftist Justice Elena Kagan seemed reticent to the House’s position, stating, “When the Congress doesn’t seem to be looking into the president, but in a much broader topic, might there not be some heightened need for Congress to say why it is that they’re focusing on presidential records for that purpose?” It seems likely on this count the justices will rule in Trump’s favor, as it is clear that the House Democrats’ motives are purely political and they have no legal precedent to stand on.

The second case may be more up for grabs, as the subpoena of Trump’s financial records is tied to a criminal case. However, as The Wall Street Journal observes, “The Solicitor General makes a compelling argument that there should be a heightened judicial standard for criminal subpoenas directed at a sitting President including a strong showing of critical need. This is important to protect the President from harassment by 50 state Attorneys Generals and 2,300 local District Attorneys who may have political motives.” There’s a good argument that this action is also politically motivated and intended as a means to politically damage a sitting president. The rulings should come in the summer.

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Special Elections and Shifting Political Winds

Nate Jackson

Caveat emptor: Don’t make the mainstream media’s usual mistake of reading too much into a special election. But the GOP House wins in two special elections Tuesday do matter.

“Wisconsin state senator Tom Tiffany was able to maintain the GOP’s control over the state’s conservative-leaning 7th district left vacant by Rep. Sean Duffy,” Fox News reports. Given that the GOP took control of that district in 2010, that’s not especially noteworthy. What really matters is the other race.

“Mike Garcia managed to flip California’s 25th District, becoming the first Republican to do that in the state since 1998,” Fox adds. “Garcia, a former Navy combat pilot, was declared the winner on Wednesday after his Democratic challenger, state assemblywoman Christy Smith, conceded the race. The congressional seat was previously held by Rep. Katie Hill, who resigned last year.”

If the name Katie Hill doesn’t ring a bell, she’s the disgraced Democrat who resigned amidst a sordid bisexual affair last year. Her district, er, swung back the other way, as well.

That California district long had been Republican, but Hill won it in the 2018 Democrat wave. Losing it again after she failed so miserably isn’t terribly surprising. What makes it significant is that, as Fox News noted, Democrats have only gained California districts — at least over the last two decades.

Moreover, The Washington Free Beacon adds that Garcia will be “the only House Republican that represents a district where Hillary Clinton took more than 50 percent of the vote in 2016, an encouraging sign for the GOP with November just months away.”

That said, President Donald Trump is deeply unpopular in the district and California generally. But even that leads us to more encouraging news: CNN buried its own polling showing that Trump leads Joe Biden by healthy margins in 15 battleground states — Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. He won just seven of those states in 2016.

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Kimmel and the Left Reap an Ugly Whirlwind

Harold Hutchison

If you believe what you read on the TV listings, Jimmy Kimmel is a comedic talent who hosts a late-night comedy show. Based on recent years, though, he seems to be more interested in spewing left-wing polemics than in actually entertaining people.

Recently, there was his hit against Mike Pence. It wasn’t very funny, except for the irony of Twitter justifiably slapping him with a manipulated media warning. Kimmel then tried again Monday night, rehashing the usual left-wing lies. True, Kimmel rightly complained about wishes that he and his family die — that sort of thing is not acceptable. But given what Kimmel himself has dished out, he really shouldn’t be surprised.

The pattern of left-wing hate we have seen was, sooner or later, going to evoke a backlash. The fact is, when people are routinely slimed as racists for opposing Barack Obama, slandered as murderers for wanting to repeal ObamaCare, declared child-killing domestic terrorists for objecting to infringements on Second Amendment rights for crimes and acts of madness they didn’t commit, and even accused of wanting kids to eat crap over efforts to fix a busted school-lunch program, they eventually lose patience with those who spread such lies. And there’s a lengthy history of those lies, which have even targeted moderates like John McCain.

The fact is, to accept the advice of some establishment types to continue with what amounts to unilateral political disarmament requires that people ignore what our eyes see and our ears hear. Going back to the IRS scandal (at the very least), Democrats have been telling us who they are and what they intend to do to us. Such police-state tactics continue, and things are getting very touchy as many Americans grow restless over the lockdown.

It doesn’t help when the Left shows contempt for the very legitimate concerns many Americans have about being able to feed their families and keep roofs over their heads. The thing is, the many small businesses that have taken this shutdown on the chin — what is arguably the most sweeping regulatory taking in American history — represent more than that. In many cases, they are someone’s dream, a lifetime of sweat, tears, and, in some cases, blood.

Unlike these local entrepreneurs, Jimmy Kimmel isn’t worried about whether he’ll still have his multimillion-dollar gig next week. He’s not worrying about coming up with the money for groceries. He doesn’t have to hope his landlord will waive rent. But his dismissal of the concerns of his fellow Americans, as well as his past cheap shots on healthcare and gun control, became a classic case of “sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.”

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Don’t Miss Alexander’s Column

Read Obama’s Fingerprints Cover the Coup Crime Scene. “What did [Obama] know and when did he know it?”

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NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Jordan Candler

Above the Fold

  • Reason reports that expenditures at the Centers for Disease Control are up from $590 million in 1987 to $8 billion as of last year. “But spending nearly 14 times as much … did not, apparently, help the CDC combat the emergence of the biggest disease threat America has faced in a century,” the author says. Citing a new Competitive Enterprise Institute report, the author goes on to note that “inflating the CDC’s budget may have weakened the agency’s ability to handle its core responsibility by giving rise to mission creep and bureaucratic malaise.” If there are CDC failures in the coronavirus response, they can’t be laid at Trump’s feet. Rather, they are the corollaries of a bloated bureaucracy.

Government & Politics

  • List of officials who sought to “unmask” Michael Flynn released: Joe Biden, James Comey, and Obama’s chief of staff among them (Fox News)

  • Samantha Power claimed she never tried to unmask Flynn, but records show she unmasked him seven times (The Federalist)

  • FBI serves warrant, seizes phone of Sen. Richard Burr in stock sales investigation (USA Today)

National Security

  • Not good: Senate narrowly rejects plan to require a warrant for Americans’ browsing data (TechCrunch)

  • House Republicans open inquiry into mysterious drone program officials use to police Americans who aren’t social distancing (The Daily Caller)

  • FBI arrests NASA researcher for failing to disclose China ties (National Review)

Culture & Heartland

  • Wisconsin Supreme Court invalidates state’s stay-at-home order (Reuters)

  • Judge orders Massachusetts gun shops to reopen, but imposes unfair restrictions (PJ Media)

  • Los Angeles County announces new “safer at home” order with no end date (FOX 11)

  • Boy Scouts banned from planting American flags on veterans’ graves for Memorial Day (Fox News)

  • Parkland cop, fired after school shooting, will get his job back (South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Other Notables

  • Another 2.98 million Americans file for unemployment benefits (Yahoo Finance)

  • 113-year-old woman, thought to be Spain’s oldest, beats coronavirus (Washington Examiner)

Closing Arguments

  • Policy: The Wuhan virus isn’t the only pandemic to come from China (New York Post)

  • Policy: Coronavirus relief could accelerate America’s path to a debt crisis (E21)

  • Humor: As states reopen, Democrats threaten to stay at home and do nothing, just like before COVID (Genesius Times)

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

The Patriot Post is a certified ad-free news service, unlike third-party commercial news sites linked on this page, which may also require a paid subscription.

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VIDEOS

Video: The Media Used to Be Somewhat Fair and Balanced — The Leftmedia once exposed Joe Biden’s academic lies and plagiarism. Now it insulates him.

Video: How the Pandemic Will Change Your Life Forever — Bill Whittle and Scott Ott on three industries that are permanently altered.

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

SHORT CUTS

Tongue-in-cheek: “Looking back, it’s a good thing we closed everything but Planned Parenthood to save lives.” —Seth Dillon

Perspective: “We have 36.5 million unemployment claims since March. To understand the monstrosity of that number, consider: the worst week of all times before this was 695k. If you had that worst week of all times every week for an entire year — 52 in a row — that would be 36.1m.” —Austan Goolsbee

Wandering minds want to know: “What does marijuana have to do with the coronavirus? Cannabis is mentioned 68 times in Pelosi’s [stimulus] bill! She must have been high on something when she wrote it.” —Gary Bauer

For the record: “We are bailing out out liberal politicians who cannot live within their means and now we are asking Floridians to pay for the incompetence of governors like Andrew Cuomo.” —Sen. Rick Scott

The bottom line: “Vice President Biden is guilty of using government to go after a political opponent.” —Sen. Rand Paul

Observations: “I see the drip-drip crowd stressing that Flynn was supposedly involved in other crimes. It’s a bad defense. If true, the Obama admin [should] have prosecuted him on FARA charges. They didn’t. Instead they railroaded him to keep a rickety Russia investigation going.” —David Harsanyi

Demo-gogues: “These ridiculous conspiracy theories, on Obama — [Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron] Johnson wants to go after Biden and this Hunter Biden conspiracy theory, which came from the Russians, of all people. This is amazing to me. What alternative universe do they live in? Spending their time on discredited conspiracy theories, against Obama, against Biden.” —Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

Non compos mentis: “The unconfirmed, acting DNI using his position to criminalize routine intelligence work to help re-elect the president and obscure Russian intervention in our democracy would normally be the scandal here…” —Ben Rhodes

Braying jenny: “I can’t believe I have to write this sentence, but the president’s son-in-law doesn’t get to decide when the election is.” —Hillary Clinton spreading a ridiculous conspiracy theory

Frogs in boiling water: “Every time you go to school, you don’t go to class once and then graduate with a degree. You go for many days at a time, slowly adding layers and layers upon layers. And we use public events … to help contribute evidence to the analysis of power, which will help people realize how power is concentrated in the United States — which gives us a better foundation to challenge it and then paint and begin to establish alternative structures for a better world.” —Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Village idiot: “[Trump] wants to be reelected. He doesn’t even care how many people die. … The people he pretends to care about are the people he has the most disdain for. He could [sic] care less about them. They might like to tell themselves that or delude themselves, but he doesn’t care about them.” —Robert De Niro

And last… “The curve has LONG since been ‘flattened.’ It’s time to let people live a life of purpose.” —Steven Crowder

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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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