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Mid-Day Digest

May 29, 2020

THE FOUNDATION

“The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all citizens.” —Thomas Jefferson (1816)

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IN TODAY’S DIGEST

FEATURED ANALYSIS

Minneapolis Burning Is No Justice for George

Douglas Andrews

When rioters burned South Central Los Angeles to the ground in 1992, they at least had the decency to wait for due process to run its course. No such luck, however, with the looters, anarchists, arsonists, thugs, and imported agitators currently running roughshod over South Minneapolis.

Thankfully, Minnesota’s largest city has so far been spared the death and destruction that visited LA nearly three decades ago. But things are far from quiet in the wake of George Floyd’s deeply disturbing death at the hands of four Minneapolis cops Monday night.

How bad is it? As the Associated Press reports, “Cheering protesters torched a Minneapolis police station Thursday that the department was forced to abandon as three days of violent protests spread to nearby St. Paul and angry demonstrations flared across the U.S.”

It’s a sad sign of the times that our law-enforcement personnel and institutions are now the target of lawless behavior rather than a reliable force for putting it down. And it’s another sad sign that our mainstream media no longer refers to rioters as “rioters.” Instead, they opt for the more genteel “protesters.” As George Orwell himself put it, “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable.”

Speaking of murder, we should focus for a moment on the cause of all this — namely, the indefensible actions of one Minneapolis cop and three cops-turned-bystanders. As Fox News reports, “Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer caught on camera kneeling on the neck of George Floyd as he gasped for air, has been the subject of 10 conduct complaints and three police shootings that led to no disciplinary action during his 19 years on the job.”

Suffice it to say that Chauvin’s record seems troubling enough without the help of Trump-deranged social-media sickos who couldn’t wait to begin circulating a fake photo of a man who looked like Chauvin wearing a “Make Whites Great Again” hat.

As for the lack of disciplinary action meted out against Chauvin over the years, it may well be that he conducted himself lawfully in every instance. Or it may be that the state’s top prosecutor was simply incompetent, or lacked sufficient fortitude, or both. That prosecutor’s name? Minnesota Senator and former Democrat presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar, who’s rumored to be on the short (and getting shorter) list of Joe Biden’s potential running mates.

Biden has, of course, pledged to put a woman on the ticket — which would likely disqualify Reverend Al Sharpton, the race-baiting agitator of Tawana Brawley and Freddie’s Fashion Mart infamy who showed up in Minneapolis yesterday to foment a nationwide “We Can’t Breathe” movement.

Somehow lost on Sharpton (and the mainstream media) amid all the strife in Minneapolis, however, are the killing fields of Southside Chicago, which saw its deadliest Memorial Day weekend since 2015, and bloody Baltimore, which weighed in with seven shooting deaths of its own.

It’s understandable that, for the moment, Minneapolis is sucking all the oxygen out of press rooms around the country. But there’s still much to be said about the misplaced priorities of the Left, about the failure of Democrat leadership in our nation’s urban areas, and about the runaway death tolls in cities with the strictest gun-control laws in the land.

Perhaps it’s nothing that we haven’t already been saying for years.

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What Trump’s EO on Social Media Actually Does

Thomas Gallatin

On Thursday, President Donald Trump signed his executive order on Preventing Online Censorship. The aim of the order is the protection of Americans’ First Amendment rights to free speech on Internet platforms. And as we have noted before, the crux of the argument hangs on the issue of whether social-media companies like Facebook and Twitter can be rightly classified as “platforms” (a status they currently enjoy) rather than “publishers” (a status that would make them liable for any content uploaded to their site).

Trump’s order, in agreement with Supreme Court rulings, recognizes that online social-media platforms “function in many ways as a 21st century equivalent of the public square” and therefore are not simply private forums where user speech can be censored. However, that perspective isn’t held by all conservatives; some criticize Trump’s order, claiming that, rather than protecting free speech, it will do just the opposite. They see it as unnecessary government regulation and a stepping stone to the reintroduction of the onerous “Fairness Doctrine,” only this time foisted onto the Internet.

Based upon what the actual order explicitly delineates, we’re not convinced those fears are legitimate. Trump’s order focuses on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, essentially clarifying the existing rules and calling for the Federal Communications Commission to engage in greater enforcement and oversight of them. In short, the order is aimed at addressing and ending the abuse of Section 230’s decency provision. Social-media giants have been allowed to get away with censorship by enforcing dubiously defined decency rules that clearly favor a leftist political bias.

Reason’s Stewart Baker further observes, “The order calls on social media platforms to explain their speech suppression policies and then to apply them honestly. It asks them to provide notice, a fair hearing, and an explanation to users who think they’ve been treated unfairly or worse by particular moderators.”

Whether Trump’s order will be effective in curbing abusive censorship practices remains to be seen, though at the very least Trump has brought the issue of Big Tech abuse to the forefront. We can hope that these tech conglomerates’ time of eating their cake and having it too will soon come to an end.

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About That (Face) Unmasking

Mark Alexander

My friend Mark Green, Republican representative for Tennessee, pointed me to a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine that had piqued his interest. I followed that lead because Mark is, shall I say, at the high mark on the intelligence curve — something I can’t say about most members of Congress. He is a USMA graduate (‘86), a former Army Ranger with the 82nd Airborne Division, holds a graduate degree, and is a medical doctor. He did combat tours in both OEF and OIF as a Special Operations Flight Surgeon assigned to the 160th Special Ops Aviation Regiment.

That is all to say, when Mark suggests the review of a medical report, I’m on it.

The NEJM report in question is “Universal Masking in Hospitals in the Covid-19 Era, which regards the efficacy of requiring all medical staff in hospitals to wear protective masks. I will leave that debate to the medical professionals, though suffice it to say, every physician and nurse among our family and friends believes that masking in hospitals is an important safety measure.

But what in this report should be of interest to everyone regarding the use of masks outside of hospitals is the second paragraph, where the authors note: "We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.”

Feel free to read that again, and then forward it to Virginia Governor Ralph “Blackface” Northam, who has mandated, effective today, that every citizen of his state wear a mask when outside their home. And The Washington Post insists that those refusing to wear masks outside their homes are scoundrels. (Notably, in that WaPo article, there are seven advertisements for grossly overpriced and ineffective masks — one more reason The Patriot Post is certified “ad-free”!)

Task Force expert Dr. Anthony Fauci declared in March, “There is no reason to be walking around wearing a mask. When you are in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel better and might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection people think it is, and often there are unintended consequences.”

In April, the CDC clarified its position on using cloth masks. Despite the fact the masks being worn by almost all people outside of hospitals are not surgical standard N-95 respirators, which the more recent NEJM report notes “offers little, if any, protection from infection,” the CDC “recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”

Bottom line: Feel free to wear a mask, especially if your governor is going to throw you in jail if you don’t. But regardless, if you are symptomatic, have the common decency and courtesy to stay home — to stay away from other people in accordance with the basic CDC guidelines. I learned those guidelines from my first-grade elementary school teacher, Mrs. Howell. Apparently some of Ralph Northam’s constituents did not get that far…

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The Quiet Rise of Clarence Thomas

Brian Mark Weber

The mere mention of the name Clarence Thomas evokes a wide range of opinions on both sides of the political spectrum.

What’s unfortunate is that most Americans have a perception about Thomas created by the media and by the Democrats’ “high-tech lynching” of him during his 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Indeed, to get a sense of the real Thomas, one must fight through nearly 30 years of smears, half-truths, and downright lies.

Although the media and Hollywood routinely assassinate the character of every conservative woman or African American who achieves political prominence, the sustained attack on Thomas has been especially vicious. And it’s kept many Americans from ever knowing the true man.

That’s what makes the latest documentary about Thomas a must-see.

“Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in his Own Words” premiered in select theaters around the country earlier this year, but now plays on PBS stations for all to see.

The documentary reveals an amazing American life that even admirers of Thomas may find surprising. For example, the conservative jurist once learned the speeches of Malcom X, marched with black nationalists, and nearly entered the priesthood. Of course, he was also deeply affected by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Less surprising, perhaps, is that Thomas learned important lessons from his childhood such as the value of hard work and a good education.

There’s so much to the man that we rarely see.

“Thomas has been described by the leading lights of the media as bitter, a loner, a brooding recluse,” writes The Spectator’s Robert Curry. “The real Clarence Thomas is the opposite of the fictitious one. Thomas is a man with a sunny disposition who likes people and is liked by the people who know him. He is also brilliant and eloquent.” Curry adds that “his life is one of those great American stories like the life of Abraham Lincoln, a story of overcoming great adversity to achieve great things and personal greatness.”

What’s interesting is that this story is being told in the wake of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, which were eerily reminiscent of Thomas’s own experience in 1991. “Democrats did to Kavanaugh what they had done to Thomas years prior in an attempt to derail Kavanaugh’s confirmation,” explains the Washington Examiner’s Kaylee McGhee. “They elevated not just one but several accusers who could not corroborate their stories or provide substantive evidence backing their troubling, and in some cases, outlandish claims.”

Thomas claims he was “the wrong black man,” alluding to the fact that he wasn’t an ideological successor to the first black man on the Supreme Court, the then-recently retired Thurgood Marshall, and that conservative blacks are held to a different standard than their liberal counterparts.

Thomas survived an unprecedented assault during his confirmation hearings, the centerpiece of which was a dubious accusation of sexual harassment by a former staffer, Anita Hill. The controversial hearings were led by none other than Joe Biden, who was then chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and who now finds himself the subject of accusations of sexual assault. Thomas was ultimately confirmed to the Supreme Court by the narrowest of margins, 52-48. Yet despite three decades of negative media portrayals, today the tide now seems to be turning in Thomas’s favor.

He’s become more outspoken, and both a recent book and film portray him in a more favorable and objective light. To conservatives, Thomas has become something of an icon in the way that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is to the Left.

As a senior member of the Court, Thomas now seems to be hitting his stride. As Nicholas Casey writes in The New York Times, “His legal views spent the 1990s and the early 2000s bottled up as dissents and concurrences that his colleagues often did not sign onto. Now, many are becoming the law of the land.”

Thomas, at 71, is the Court’s third-oldest justice, behind Ginsburg (87) and her fellow leftist Stephen Breyer (81), but recent rumors about him retiring from the Supreme Court are as yet unfounded. His strong, principled voice on the High Court is needed now more than ever, and it’s about time more Americans are finally getting to know him.

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China Steps Up Its Bullying of Hong Kong

Michael Swartz

Ever since the signing of the treaty by which Great Britain agreed to cede its prosperous island colony of Hong Kong back to China, the world has been dreading the day when the fragile “one city, two systems” deal would come to an end. Once the National People’s Congress in Beijing rubber-stamped a new “security” law for Hong Kong — one that passed with no input from the city’s Legislative Council — that day was finally at hand.

Originally, China agreed to a relatively hands-off approach to the island for a 50-year term. But like all good communist dictatorships, China has since found ways to renege on the Sino-British Joint Declaration the parties signed back in 1984 in anticipation of the end of Britain’s lease in 1997. With more than half of the Joint Declaration’s term to go, China’s encroachments have become increasingly overt in recent years. Even so, the new rules imparted by Beijing were still a move that drew rare bipartisan condemnation from Congress.

In anticipation of this edict, worried Hong King citizens made a run on their Apple app store to download virtual private networks in an attempt to avoid surveillance by the ChiCom regime. As expected, protests by the residents of Hong Kong against the new rules were quickly and forcefully quashed.

But there may yet be a price to pay for China. As the editors of National Review point out, Hong Kong alone controls 20% of the Chinese economy, and the reason is simple: Its British tradition lent legal stability to the process of operating in the Chinese market, providing a sound jumping-off point to deal with China’s government. That certainty is no longer present, and business may well suffer as a result.

Also suffering will be Hong Kong’s citizens. Even those who aren’t actively protesting must now fear their impending rule by a government with an abysmal record of abusing human rights.

Of course, China’s power play also affects our foreign policy. In the wake of last year’s Hong Kong strife, Congress passed and President Donald Trump — ever mindful of the economic implications — grudgingly signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Decency Act (HRDA), which created regular milestones for certification that China is respecting Hong Kong’s autonomy. Barely six months after HRDA’s passage, it appears China has failed to meet that measure, meaning that many of Hong Kong’s trade privileges not given to China as a whole may be suspended or terminated. “No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground,” explained Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Congress. “Hong Kong,” he concluded, “is no longer autonomous from China.”

One answer, in the eyes of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, would be sanctions targeting the perpetrators of this roughshod treatment of Hong Kong’s citizenry. “The Trump Administration could impose visa and other restrictions on the Chinese officials behind the national security legislation, as well as [Hong Kong] Chief Executive Carrie Lam,” the Journal tersely notes before urging the president to take action. “Chinese spokesmen are saying he’ll blink and do very little. He needs to send a message that the Chinese Communist Party can’t renege on its international promises without paying a price.”

In many respects, China’s treatment of Hong Kong is a prelude to the way it would likely approach Taiwan. If Beijing can get away scot-free for its roughshod absorption of this “Special Administrative Region,” it will certainly invite ChiCom aggression toward another nearby prosperous island target.

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More Great Analysis

Thomas Gallatin explains why Trump’s move Ejecting the Open Skies Treaty was the right one.

Nate Jackson notes one of the week’s overlooked stories: Durham Probe Expands to Unmasking.

Roger Helle’s grassroots perspective is that many Americans need a Reality Check.

NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Jordan Candler

Above the Fold

  • “Cheering protesters [correction: rioters] torched a Minneapolis police station Thursday that the department was forced to abandon,” the AP reports, while Twin Cities Business adds that a $30 million affordable housing project has likewise been reduced to a smoldering pile of ash. Meanwhile, KSTP-TV notes, “The Minnesota National Guard is being called on to help contain protests in the Twin Cities after a violent past two days after George Floyd’s death.”

  • According to The Daily Wire, “Democrat Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN) declined to prosecute the police officer who is at the center of the death of George Floyd over previous conduct complaints while she was a prosecutor in Hennepin County, which includes most of Minneapolis.” Emily Larsen at the Washington Examiner points out that Klobuchar may need to kiss her veep aspirations goodbye.

Government & Politics

  • Twitter censors Trump’s Minneapolis tweet for “glorifying violence”; the tweet simply stated, “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” (Fox News)

  • Twitter slaps misinformation label on Chinese spox’s tweets claiming U.S. Army started COVID-19 (The Daily Caller)

  • “Tantamount to monopoly”: Trump signs executive order to curb “unchecked power” of social-media giants (Washington Examiner)

  • In 417-1 vote, House passes bill to grant flexibility for small business aid program (The Hill)

  • House again cancels vote on FISA reauthorization due to a dearth of GOP support (The Hill)

Business & Economy

  • Corporate profits drop by 13.9% in first quarter, the most since the 2008 Great Recession (MarketWatch)

  • U.S. economy shrank at a revised 5% annual rate in the first quarter (previous estimate was 4.8%) (CNBC)

Other Notables

  • Possible vendetta? George Floyd, fired officer overlapped security shifts at south Minneapolis club (KSTP.com)

  • For the record: A supposed photo of Officer Derek Chauvin wearing a “Make Whites Great Again” hat is of another individual altogether (The Dispatch)

  • Armed civilians save local businesses during Minneapolis riots (The Washington Free Beacon)

  • Active-duty Fort Leavenworth soldier pinned down shooter with truck, likely saved “countless lives” (The Daily Wire)

  • The more asymptomatic coronavirus cases, the better (Washington Examiner)

Closing Arguments

  • Policy: Florida has proven that a measured, evidence-based response to reopening works (City Journal)

  • Policy: How to reform unemployment insurance for a reopened economy (E21)

  • Humor: Twitter hires French immigrant Hilareaux L'Clintoneux to fact-check Trump’s tweets (The Babylon Bee)

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: Minneapolis Rioters Don’t Care About George Floyd — “These people are not protestors, so don’t call them that.”

Video: Ben Shapiro Responds to Biden’s ‘You Ain’t Black’ Comments — The septuagenarian’s dog whistle says a lot about the state of the nation.

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

SHORT CUTS

Upright: “We know that the coronavirus is highly contagious. So, too, are optimism, courage and action. We should be optimistic about the future. Americans have historically been inventive, creative and persistent. … There is always a third, fourth or fifth option. We just have to figure them out.” —Jackie Gingrich Cushman

For the record: “Photo ID is probably the vote-integrity measure that garners the most vocal opposition. Democrats routinely oppose photo ID laws, claiming that voting is too important a right to be subject to such restrictions, and that photo ID laws impermissibly discriminate against minorities, the elderly and the homeless. In the era of COVID-19, the hypocrisy of that argument is made clear. I looked for states that have imposed photo ID requirements for COVID-19 testing and found plenty… Not only are such tests often a matter of life and death but the populations that have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus also include minorities, the elderly and the homeless.” —Laura Hollis

Non compos mentis (verbatim): “They looting in Minnesota and as much as I don’t like this type of violence it is what it is .Too much peaceful marches,too much trending hashtags and NO SOLUTIONS! The people are left with NO CHOICE .” —rapper Cardi B

Misdirection: “All [social-media platforms] want is to not pay taxes. And they don’t want to be regulated, so they pander to the White House. You see what Facebook’s Zuckerberg is saying today about all this. He just panders.” —House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Non sequitur: “White men … can get armed up and walk into a state capitol, and that’s okay. And the police are benign. They don’t even act afraid. But let black people show up and protest the death of an innocent black man and suddenly … we gotta go full force.” —MSNBC’s Joy Reid

Village idiot: “Until we can overcome Racism in America — no one should be allowed to carry a gun. Most of all cops.” —Madonna

And last… “Why is Twitter censoring the official White House account of our government while allowing Iran’s supreme leader to tweet death notices to Jews and Israel?” —Charlie Kirk

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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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