Mid-Day Digest

Jun. 1, 2020


“Slavery is such an atrocious debasement of human nature, that its very extirpation, if not performed with solicitous care, may sometimes open a source of serious evils.” —Benjamin Franklin (1789)

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Rule of Law vs. Anarchy

Douglas Andrews

Remember when we used to sneer at Venezuela, that sorry failed socialist state to our south? Well, we’re not yet eating dinner out of garbage trucks, but give it time.

Rioting grew more widespread over the weekend, and it soon became apparent that, as Minnesota Governor Tim Walz put it, “The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd. It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great cities.”

How do we know he’s right? For starters, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, the man responsible for the death of Mr. Floyd, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter on Friday, but this clear-cut evidence of both due process and impending justice did little to impress the rioters. Unless we’re to believe that Floyd would’ve approved of the burning of a fellow black man’s business and the incineration of his life savings. (Heritage Foundation President Kay C. James has some additional thoughts on this misplaced anger from a black woman’s perspective.)

In fact, these riots (and the rioters) stopped being about police brutality almost from the onset. Instead, they’re about sowing dissent and disruption. They’re about attacking the legitimacy of our civil society.

Here, former Obama administration National Security Advisor Susan Rice may have accidentally stumbled onto something when she blamed the Russians. Do we think the Russians started all this? Of course not. But there can be no doubt about their common cause with antifa and the other anarchists. Their collective goal, as it was leading up to the 2016 presidential election, is to divide our nation and its people.

As for the “white supremacists” said to be among the rioters, not a single news reporter has provided evidence of their presence, even though the Left, including Governor Walz, has reflexively pointed to it. Could this smoke screen be an attempt to deny what we all know to be true — that there’s not a single Donald Trump supporter among this rabble, not anywhere across the country? In fact, the leading white presence among these rioters is antifa.

For his part, the president announced that he’d designate antifa a terrorist organization. But, as the editors of National Review put it, the first order of business is to restore order.

As for the nationwide mayhem, weak-kneed Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is as culpable as anyone, and perhaps more so. In a Fox News interview, former NYPD Commissioner Howard Safir pointed to a defining moment from Thursday night — a moment that likely set the tone for rioters across the nation. “The fact that the mayor ordered that the [third] precinct be given up was the absolute wrong signal,” he said. “The message that it sent … was, ‘You can do whatever you want, and we’re not going to do anything about it.’ Weakness never works in these kinds of situations.” Commissioner Safir, who served under Mayor Rudy Giuliani from 1996-2000 and helped clean up the crime-ridden Big Apple, got it exactly right.

“It’s a very delicate balancing act,” said inept former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake during the Freddie Gray riots back in 2015, when she explained why she kept her city’s cops from doing their job and instead allowed those who sought to destroy her city “space to do that as well.”

In fact, putting down a riot and protecting the people’s property is only a “delicate balancing act” when you’ve lost sight of the role of government, and of your duty as a public servant.

Law enforcement was once among the noblest of professions. Some of us still think it is. But ever increasing numbers of our fellow Americans have come to see cops as the enemy, as a symbol of oppression and brutality. This can’t stand — at least not in a civilized society.

Next time you pass a cop on the street or at the market, think about the thin blue line that stands between you and the anarchists, between you and the mob. And think about the choice he made. And thank him for what he does.

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Cheering the SpaceX Triumph

Nate Jackson

By all rights, the weekend’s biggest news should have been the inspiring triumph of the America spirit represented by Saturday’s successful SpaceX launch and Sunday’s docking with the International Space Station.

With the retirement of the U.S. Space Shuttle program in 2011, America’s return to space was not assured. Since then, our astronauts have been hitching $90 million rides with the Russians — until this past weekend. But SpaceX, a private company begun by Tesla founder Elon Musk, partnered with NASA to change that. Only the governments of the U.S., Russia, and China had launched humans into space. It’s remarkable that a private company now joins that roster.

From American soil, a Falcon 9 rocket launched the Crew Dragon capsule — the first new American human space transport built since 1981 — and carried veteran NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station (ISS). (Hurley also took part in the last shuttle flight in 2011.) The SpaceX crew even accomplished the astounding feat of landing the rocket on a “drone ship” in the Atlantic after the Dragon detached. Hurley and Behnken will remain on the ISS for one to four months, when the next Dragon launches.

“We don’t want to declare victory yet,” an emotional Musk demurred. “We need to bring them home safely.” Musk, himself an immigrant from South Africa, also offered these thoughts: “America is still the land of opportunity, more than any other place, for sure. There is definitely no other country where I could have done this — immigrant or not.”

While the newly developing Space Force will no doubt play a key role in securing American interests in space in the years to come, Saturday’s launch was, as flight control in Houston intimated, “a magnificent moment in spaceflight history.” Indeed it was, and watching Americans do what NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine rightly called “extraordinary things” should lift the spirits of all Americans during a tumultuous and rancorous time.

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Roberts Fails to Uphold First Amendment Religious Rights

Thomas Gallatin

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against San Diego’s South Bay United Pentecostal Church in its lawsuit against California Governor Gavin Newsom’s restriction limiting places of worship to meetings no larger than 25% of a building’s capacity or no more than 100 people, whichever is less. Tellingly, Newsom has not applied these restrictions on secular venues such as supermarkets, offices, and restaurants — none of which are listed in the First Amendment. This conflict has been a theme during lockdown.

Siding with the four liberal justices against the church, Chief Justice John Roberts contended, “Similar or more severe restrictions apply to comparable secular gatherings, including lectures, concerts, movie showings, spectator sports and theatrical performances, where large groups of people gather in close proximity for extended periods of time. And the order exempts or treats more leniently only dissimilar activities, such as operating grocery stores, banks and laundromats, in which people neither congregate in large groups nor remain in close proximity for extended periods.” Essentially, Roberts views church services as “nonessential” activities. So much for the right to peaceably assemble and freely exercise religion.

Rejecting assertions that Newsom’s order violates Californians’ First Amendment right to religious liberty, Roberts argued a rather tortuous “states rights” rationale for refusing to challenge the constitutionality of the order — and in so doing threw the Court’s credibility under the bus. Roberts lectured, “Where those broad limits are not exceeded, they should not be subject to second-guessing by an ‘unelected federal judiciary,’ which lacks the background, competence, and expertise to assess public health and is not accountable to the people.” In short, Roberts both hid behind a reticence to be an “activist” and appealed to that tired trope of “trusting the experts,” as if all experts are always in unanimous agreement, in order to avoid actually addressing the issue.

Writing for the dissent, Justice Brett Kavanaugh was unequivocal: “I would grant the Church’s requested temporary injunction because California’s latest safety guidelines discriminate against places of worship and in favor of comparable secular businesses. Such discrimination violates the First Amendment. Absent a compelling justification (which the State has not offered), the State may not take a looser approach with, say, supermarkets, restaurants, factories, and offices while imposing stricter requirements on places of worship.” Kavanaugh added, “The State cannot ‘assume the worst when people go to worship but assume the best when people go to work or go about the rest of their daily lives in permitted social settings.”

Finally, it has become increasingly clear that Roberts can’t be counted on to be constitutionally consistent, demonstrated by his chastisement of the conservative justices’ dissenting opinion. What is the job of the judiciary if it is not to judge whether the actions of an executive or the laws passed by legislators are in conformity to the Constitution?

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Government-Run Healthcare Abets the Surveillance State

Arnold Ahlert

In the Chinese city of Hangzhou, the communist thugs that run the government are seeking to permanently track a person’s health status through a smart-phone app — one that would ultimately produce a score based on how much sleep one gets, how much exercise one does, how much alcohol one drinks, and so on.

The app, which became popular during the coronavirus outbreak, generates a QR barcode that can be scanned by various officials to determine whether one is healthy enough to enter a building or travel. And while the usage of that barcode is ostensibly winding down in most of the country — based on Chinese assertions they have the virus under control — Hangzhou apparently remains resolute.

How much detail do they want to track? “The score can be affected by your daily activities: 15,000 steps of daily exercise will increase your score by 5 points, 200 milliliters of baijiu — a sorghum-based Chinese liquor known for its high alcohol content — will lower your score by 1.5 points, five cigarettes will cost you 3 points, and 7.5 hours of sleep will add one point to your score, the demonstration shows,” CNN reports, adding that the effort may also include a “group score” applied to companies and residential committees.

If implemented, the app will add another layer of totalitarian control to a society that already embraces the world’s largest “social credit system” and the widespread use of facial recognition technology.

So why should Americans care? Because our own nation is embracing a similar level of totalitarian surveillance being sold under different auspices. “It’s time for trickle up economics. We need a transitional fed jobs program that trains and hires millions for a federal tracking/tracing/testing program as well as for support for at risk populations including long term care,” asserts billionaire Mark Cuban.

Cuban and others are championing “contact tracing,” as in replacing a phone app with an army of volunteers who will interview people who have tested positive for coronavirus and ask them where they’ve been and with whom they’ve been in contact. This effort will ostensibly mitigate the virus’s spread.

That a troubling percentage of the tests give the wrong results? That contact tracing is a massive invasion of privacy?

The “greater good” must be served.

Moreover, just like in China, our very own tech companies are part of the mix. Apple and Google have announced a joint project that will work with three billion iOS and Android phones, using Bluetooth to determine whether a smartphone’s owner has come into contact with someone who later tests positive for the virus, so they can self-quarantine. Both companies insist the system won’t involve tracking user locations or collecting any identifying data that would be stored on a server.

A 2018 article by the AP reveals the utter folly of trusting such Big Tech assertions about protecting one’s privacy. “Google wants to know where you go so badly that it records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to,” it stated. “An Associated Press investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you’ve used a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so.”

Two years later, nothing has changed — except for the worse. Andy Biggs, Arizona Republican representative and chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, gets it exactly right. “The media has engendered hysteria,” he states. “Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx have engendered panic. And then you move to this really weird dynamic where Dr. Fauci is now advocating for what he’s calling ‘contact tracing,’ where they want to be able to monitor you — everyone, always — and move to the national ID-type of test system and give you a certificate, as you regularly test, that says, ‘I am immune,’ or something like that.”

Biggs sees where this is going. “This type of centralization of spying on American people — that’s not freedom; that is enslavement,” he asserts. “That is totalitarianism, and that’s what you see when you get a big crisis like what we had that have been manipulated, in some ways, to produce hopes for authoritarian outcome.”

“Crisis” is an exceedingly exploitable term. And as the mortality rate for coronavirus continues to decline to levels far lower than we were initially told they would be, Americans might ask themselves how far they’re willing to let government go to implement a privacy-crushing effort wholly embraced by the CDC. How many other diseases, such as the flu, AIDs, or any number of STDs, should precipitate widespread contact tracing?

Or perhaps more simply, what mortality rate per se should precipitate wholesale invasions of privacy?

Americans are not amused. A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll discovered that six in 10 Americans are unwilling or unable to be tracked by Apple/Google. One in six Americans doesn’t have smart phones, and rates of smart-phone ownership are even lower among seniors, the group most vulnerable to the virus. Moreover, since Oxford researchers determined that governments would need a 60% citizen participation rate for such apps to be effective, what then? Mandatory smart phone purchases? More “Obamaphone” giveaways, with mandatory participation requirements?

All of the above is the most important part of a cautionary tale about government-run healthcare. A Fox News poll indicates that such an agenda is favored by a majority of Americans, including a large majority of Democrats who would eliminate private health insurance altogether.

That poll was taken last September — long before the same kind of government bureaucrats who would be empowered to run such a healthcare system capriciously determined who were essential and nonessential Americans, imposed draconian lockdowns, and empowered law-enforcement agencies to free criminals and arrest business owners who needed to work to feed their families. It was taken before they forced nursing homes to take virus-positive patients, precipitating thousands of preventable deaths, even to the point where Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is still enforcing this utterly bankrupt and deadly policy.

Now imagine the same people with the power of mass surveillance, aided and abetted by tech companies more than willing to abet Communist China’s totalitarian ambitions. Add the realization of the VA scandal to the mix, as in the government-run healthcare system where veterans died waiting for appointments — and government bureaucrats responsible got bonuses in spite of that reality.

On a recent day in New York City, a drone warned citizens to maintain social distancing. And when that same drone uses facial recognition technology to identify you, taps into your tech-created government health database, and tells you you’ve exceeded your alcohol intake for the day?

“Governments have been collecting more data during the global pandemic to help fight the virus,” CNBC reports. “But that has raised concerns about heightened surveillance continuing even after the coronavirus is brought under control.”

Really? In the increasing and coordinated assault on Americans’ privacy, who defines “under control”?

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More Great Analysis

China and WHO Earn Trump’s Ire — key excerpts from the president’s remarks.

Misleading Women on Feminism — Robin Smith discusses one woman’s realization.

Black Brutality, Deferred — Patrick Hampton reminds his fellow blacks what’s really at stake.


Jordan Candler

Above the Fold

  • Rioting (not to be confused with legitimate demonstrations) has beleaguered nearly 150 cities since George Floyd’s death. On Sunday, President Donald Trump declared, “The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.” However, former prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy observes that the designation is dubious because terrorist designations are legally relegated to foreign organizations. “The purported designation would be pointless, in that the means of taking aggressive enforcement action against Antifa, and against domestic terrorism generally, are plentiful and ready to hand,” McCarthy writes. He adds, “We can investigate Antifa as terrorists, prosecute them as terrorists, sentence them as terrorists, and give them harsh prison sentences befitting terrorists. But there is neither a need nor a legal basis to ‘designate’ them as terrorists.” If nothing else, though, the designation will hopefully awaken people to antifa’s long but largely ignored history of thuggish behavior.

George Floyd Fallout

  • Minneapolis officer charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter (AP)

  • State Attorney General Keith Ellison to take over prosecutions (NBC News)

  • Minneapolis city councilman and son of Keith Ellison declares support for antifa (Washington Examiner)

  • The daughter of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said “the president of the United States helped to create this atmosphere,” is arrested at Manhattan protest (New York Post)

  • CNN Center in Atlanta damaged during protests riots (CNN)

  • Historic St. John’s Church near White House set on fire (The Christian Post)

  • Rioters breach Treasury Department (The Daily Wire)

Government & Politics

  • Trump says U.S. to sanction China for handling of Hong Kong, terminate relationship with WHO (AP)

  • China, where people who dare protest disappear, trolls U.S. over protests after Trump criticized Hong Kong (Bloomberg)

  • Supreme Court absurdly rejects challenge to limits on church services; Justice John Roberts sides with leftists (Fox News)

  • Picking up where his predecessor left off: DNI John Ratcliffe declassifies transcripts of Michael Flynn-Sergey Kislyak conversations (National Review)

Other Notables

  • Minneapolis police rendered 44 people unconscious with neck restraints in five years (NBC News)

  • SUCCESS! U.S. launches men into space from American soil for the first time in nearly a decade (The Daily Wire)

  • Sweden’s economy actually grew in the first quarter after it opted against a full virus lockdown (CNBC)

Closing Arguments

  • Policy: It’s past time to examine how police unions protect bad cops (National Review)

  • Policy: The free market of space: What we once considered “the final frontier” is now a grand business opportunity (Issues & Insights)

  • Humor: Looting-free zone signs introduced as protest countermeasures in major cities (Genesius Times)

  • Related humor: WHO scientists confirm coronavirus only spreads at conservative protests (The Babylon Bee)

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

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Video: Rioters Burn Down Minneapolis, Because ‘Black Lives Matter’ — As we all know by now, the best response to a black man being killed by the cops is to steal a big-screen TV.

Video: Dems Push for Mail-in Voting, Creating Risk for Substantial Voter Fraud — Matt Walsh also says the more important point is that voting shouldn’t be easy.

Video: WHO’s Sneaky Ties to China’s Most Powerful Communists — Unbeknownst to many, Xi Jinping’s wife is a WHO Goodwill Ambassador.

Video: Middle-Aged YouTuber Answers Fatherless Americans’ Heart Cry — The commenters on his videos seem to find an instant emotional bond with something that, in many cases, they never had.


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


Insight: “We are the showcase of the future. And it is within our power to mold that future — this year and for decades to come. It can be as grand and as great as we make it. No crisis is beyond the capacity of our people to solve; no challenge too great.” —Ronald Reagan

For the record: “Logically, it seems impossible to deny that the lockdowns are a major cause of these once-in-a-generation nationwide protests.” —Timothy Carney

Upright: “Riots aren’t a tool for fighting oppression, they are an oppression.” —Michael Brendan Dougherty

Friendly fire: “This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos. A protest has purpose. When Dr. King was assassinated we didn’t do this to our city.” —Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

Village idiot: “After stoking the fires of white supremacy and racism your entire presidency, you have the nerve to feign moral superiority before threatening violence? ‘When the looting starts the shooting starts’??? We will vote you out in November.” —Taylor Swift

Non sequitur: “I can tell you this, and this is the blunt truth: The president of the United States helped to create this atmosphere, and that’s the tragedy here. It doesn’t matter what your party affiliation is, doesn’t matter what you think of President Trump; there’s been an uptick in tension since he came along. It’s just a fact. And it’s not the reason for any specific act, but it has helped to poison the atmosphere.” —New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose daughter was arrested over the weekend

Braying jenny: “There really was also many people who chose to demonstrate and not abide by the curfew, who felt like they also were terrorized by the presence of tanks, by the presence of the National Guard and a militarized police.” —Representative Ilhan Omar

Demo-gogues: “[Past presidents] have seen their responsibility to be the president of the United States, to unify our country and not to fuel the flame.” —House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Non compos mentis: “One of the largest forms of theft in the US today is wage theft.” —Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose socialist policies would involve all sorts of tax theft

And last… “The protestors deserve justice — more than ‘we feel bad’ with no substantive measures taken. The rioters and other people just trying to make things worse deserve justice against them. More importantly, the people hurt by this need help. We can manage all of this if we want to.” —Frank J. Fleming

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For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.



For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

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