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Mid-Day Digest

Jun. 23, 2020

THE FOUNDATION

“They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” —Benjamin Franklin (1759)

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IN TODAY’S DIGEST

FEATURED ANALYSIS

Coronavirus Leadership Lessons

Douglas Andrews

From the “Told Ya So” files comes economic news that we all knew was coming: The lockdown states are stuck in the mud, while the free states are getting on with their lives.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, “The national jobless rate was 13.3% in May, but 10 states still have unemployment rates above 15%. From highest down, they are: Nevada (25.3%), Hawaii (22.6%), Michigan (21.2%), California, Rhode Island and Massachusetts (16.3%), Delaware (15.8%), Illinois and New Jersey (15.2%), and Washington state (15.1%).”

Looking at these 10 struggling states, one wonders whether any lessons can be drawn from their leadership … or the lack thereof. Perhaps there’s a pattern here somewhere, perhaps related to — why, yes! — the political party of their governors. Indeed, all but one of these states, deep-blue Massachusetts, is run by a lockdown Democrat.

Conversely, the states that reopened more quickly are also recovering more quickly and are thus reducing the economic hardships on their people. Perhaps even more damning, as the Journal notes, “It isn’t clear that those shutdowns reduced the rates of infection and fatalities from the coronavirus compared to other states even as they continue to do more economic harm.”

What was it President Donald Trump asserted back on March 22 — something about not letting “THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF”?

To be fair, this was uncharted territory. Never in our nation’s history had the temptation of statist heavy-handedness been greater for leaders at all levels. But our federalist system worked, and the states and citizens whose governors erred on the side of Liberty appear to have benefited from it — and resoundingly so in some cases. Deep-red Nebraska, whose Republican governor, Pete Ricketts, never caved to the pressure of a long-term lockdown, now leads the nation with a 5.2% unemployment rate.

“Today’s announcement that Nebraska now has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation is good news for small businesses and hardworking families,” said Ricketts last Friday. “This data shows that Nebraska is open for business and that people are getting back to a more normal life while protecting our hospital system.”

Of course, we’re not out of the woods yet. As the Washington Examiner reports, “Cases and hospitalizations have spiked in recent weeks, primarily in Southern and Western states. California, Texas, and Florida have each reported over 22,000 new cases of the coronavirus since June 15. … Arizona, which has seen the sharpest increase in new cases since the start of June, reported another record day for COVID-19 hospitalizations Monday. South Carolina has also emerged as a new hot spot for the coronavirus.”

Speaking of that spike in the Palmetto State, Power Line reports that local Black Lives Matter protest organizers are postponing future demonstrations or moving them online due to increased fears of coronavirus infection. So there’s that.

Ultimately, though, our nation’s battle with COVID-19 will leave behind a case study in leadership approaches: one Democrat and the other Republican, one statist and the other Liberty-based. As the Journal rightly concludes, “The most important decision is letting people return to the business of life and commerce.”

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Don’t Give Up on SCOTUS

Harold Hutchison

After a couple of disappointing rulings — and punting nearly a dozen Second Amendment cases — some are wondering if it’s time to give up on the Supreme Court. This would be a huge mistake. The very nature of the High Court, designed by the Founders to be largely independent of political trends, means it takes a lot of time to turn things around.

Let’s review the state of the Court. We have four justices who can reliably be counted on to vote for a leftist outcome, four who can reliably be considered textualist and/or originalist (Neil Gorsuch’s recent travesty notwithstanding), and Chief Justice Roberts in the middle (though Roberts is more conservative as a swing vote than was Anthony Kennedy). Roberts, though, as chief justice, also tends to be very defensive of the Supreme Court as an institution. That has, ironically, frequently led to ill-conceived rulings that ended up damaging the Court’s reputation rather than strengthening it.

The fact is, the Supreme Court is one of many institutions unmoored from the Founders’ intent. The Left has consistently used it as a combination of a super-legislature and a quasi-constitutional convention. Reversing that has taken time, largely because nominees like Sandra Day O'Connor, David Souter, and Anthony Kennedy didn’t turn out so well for the Republican presidents who nominated them. They ended up as swing votes at best. Souter, a George H.W. Bush appointee, was a horrendous mistake.

Worse yet, a lot of talented textualists have thought twice about seeking a seat on the Court ever since Senate Democrats began turning Republican confirmations into a blood sport. Robert Bork, of course, is the foremost example of a superb jurist being defeated by grotesque and utterly dishonest leftist attacks. Even those who managed to weather the storm have ended up vilified and slandered. Ask Brett Kavanaugh.

One thing President Donald Trump has delivered on is his commitment to appoint good judges. But just as leftists escalated their attacks against past nominees, they have done so with many of Trump’s. Today, many leftists are open about their desire to pack the Court, supposedly in response to “politicization” of the Court. Of course, such a successful packing — which could be perpetrated only by a Democrat president and Senate — could reverse decisions like Citizens United, NIFLA v. Becerra, and Heller.

When it comes down to it, the real problem America faces isn’t that the conservative legal movement has failed. The problem is that its job remains half-done. The fact is, we need more originalist and textualist judges and justices on the bench. Over the short term, two such justices could replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, but to have a good chance of accomplishing that, President Trump must be reelected, and the Republicans need to hold the Senate.

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Escape From New York

Lewis Morris

Real-estate agents in New York City and elsewhere are facing a tough new market as sales, rentals, and overall demand plummet in urban areas. In the wake of China Virus pandemic lockdowns and then looting, rioting, and general urban lawlessness across the country, families and businesses alike are increasingly looking beyond cities to find more stable locations.

Some brokers were already expecting a slower economy in 2020, thanks in large part to the doom-and-gloom predictions of Democrats and their Leftmedia partners who are hoping that a tanked economy would drive President Donald Trump from office in November. But were they prepared for a sustained exodus of people from large urban areas?

The Big Apple’s real-estate market is dealing with record-low condo and co-op sales, and entire swaths of neighborhoods have empty, or soon-to-be empty, apartments as renters elect to pursue other options. Apartment purchases in total were down 80% in May, and the high-end market — sales above $5 million — was down 90%. But don’t expect the poor market to work to renters’ advantage. There are no bargains to be had, as New York City and most urban real-estate markets do not adhere to the rules of supply and demand.

“It’s a reaction to the pandemic, obviously. An emotional reaction,” Steven James, CEO of Douglas Elliman, told CBS New York. “It’s the same thing that happened after 9/11.” However, James is referring specifically to New York City. The pandemic hit everywhere. And cities all over the country are experiencing similar issues.

Even in good times, many city residents frequently reevaluate the costs and benefits of urban living. On one side there are high rents and mortgages and a higher cost of living. On the other side, presumably, is greater access to higher paying jobs and greater cultural and social interaction. For a growing segment of the urban population, however, the current situation has tipped that scale decidedly in favor of leaving metropolis.

When the pandemic hit, isolation and collapsed supply chains were enough to push many to leave the cities. Then came the demonstrations, riots, looting, and random acts of violence. To compound the problem, several city governments have begun defunding and dismantling police departments. As should be expected in such situations, violent crime has risen significantly in these cities, and a pervasive lawlessness has taken hold in many urban neighborhoods across America.

The big question for urban real-estate analysts and brokers is whether the sharp downturn is a reaction to the current situation or a long-term trend that will require major adjustments to the market. One variable that is still unknown is the impact of working remotely. The economic shutdown in the spring revealed that, after a few weeks of working from home, many employees, and in some cases their employers, realized that going into the office is something of a formality. Working from home may become the new normal for many more workers. This will have a major impact on demand for residential and commercial real estate in urban centers.

The best way right now to calm the market in these cities is to reintroduce law and order and common sense. But that’s up to each city and its citizens. And how many people stay and how many go is directly related to the decisions they make.

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From the Department of Corrections

In our story yesterday titled, Desecrating and Whitewashing Our History, we contrasted two statues in Seattle. However, the defaced statue of George Washington is located in Portland, Oregon. The contrast is still applicable, but the location is not. We’ve corrected the error.

Google Is Evil

Douglas Andrews

Last Tuesday marked an anniversary of sorts, but it passed without a whisper. One year ago, Robert Epstein warned Congress about the very real threat Google poses to our republican form of government and how to deal with that threat.

To which our elected representatives have responded by doing pretty much nothing.

Epstein, a Harvard-educated behavioral psychologist and the former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today, gave sworn Senate testimony that began, “I love America and democracy, and I am also not a conservative.” Having established his left-leaning bona fides, he then offered evidence of what every fair-minded person who’s ever done a politics-related Google search have long suspected: “Data I’ve collected since 2016 show that Google displays content to the American public that is biased in favor of one political party — a party I happen to like, but that’s irrelevant.”

“Democracy as originally conceived,” he said, “cannot survive Big Tech as currently empowered.”

Epstein went on to explain what he calls the Search Engine Manipulation Effect, or SEME, which measures how opinions (and votes) can be altered by search algorithms that favor one candidate or party over another.

A month later, Epstein published a Bloomberg op-ed detailing the three biggest threats posed by Big Tech: aggressive surveillance, suppression of content, and “the subtle manipulation of the thinking and behavior of more than 2.5 billion people.” Epstein also proposed a solution involving transparency and competition — two concepts that Big Tech avoids like Brussels sprouts.

More recently, lawmakers and U.S. Attorney General William Barr have been exploring a different solution — that of reevaluating Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which currently grants Big Tech protections against lawsuits aimed at the content on their platforms. Those “platforms” have in recent years been behaving like progressive publishers, however, and they should no longer be able to hide behind Section 230. This is certainly true of Google, which, together with its YouTube subsidiary, controls a monopolistic share (more than 90%) of online searches.

“Unfortunately,” Barr told Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo on Sunday, these tech platforms “started taking down viewpoints and started really being selective and, based on whether they agreed with the viewpoint or not, taking [those viewpoints] down. And that should make them a publisher.”

We know what you’re thinking: Google can’t fool me. But Google doesn’t have to fool you; it can simply fool the other guy. The 2016 presidential election, for example, was decided by fewer than 78,000 votes out of 136 million cast. Donald Trump won Michigan by 0.2 points, and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin both by 0.7 points. Thus, if Big Tech could’ve swayed the votes of just two late-deciders out of each thousand votes cast in Michigan, and just seven out of each thousand cast in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Hillary Clinton would be your president.

Daniel Hannan, a journalist and former member of the British Parliament, wrote about the “unholy alliance of big government and Big Tech,” which evolved out of tech companies’ desire to protect themselves from those who would tax and regulate them, while at the same time setting up a system that kept out new competitors. “Whose fault is all this?” Hannan asks. “I’m afraid it’s yours. You allowed the Big Tech companies to get their hands on your data in the first place. You say you don’t like it, but in practice, you don’t really care.”

Indeed, every time you search with Google instead of, say, Bing or DuckDuckGo, you’re supporting an information colossus that’s working to undo everything you hold dear.

There was a time, up until just a few years ago, when Google lived and worked by the words “Don’t be evil,” which was its unofficial motto. When it removed that language from its corporate code of conduct in 2015, we should’ve smelled a rat.

Tell all your friends: Google is evil.

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Jerry, Barr the Door

Nate Jackson

We opted to let the dust settle on the weekend firing of a U.S. attorney before commenting on the story. For those who missed it, Paul Mirengoff sums it up at Power Line: “Over the weekend, a flap arose about the removal of Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. On Friday evening, Attorney General [William] Barr announced that Berman had resigned. … Berman, however, was having none of it. He said he had not resigned, and intended to stay in the job to ensure that the cases his office is working on continue unimpeded. Barr then fired Berman, saying that President [Donald] Trump had directed the decision.”

Naturally, Democrats are crying foul, alleging that Barr, doing President Trump’s bidding, was attempting to block investigations under Berman’s purview, including one that involved Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani, who himself held Berman’s position in the 1980s, suggested as much. And the Southern District of New York has indeed caused some legal headaches for Trump, including in the matter of his alleged hush-money payments to two mistresses.

The arguably poor execution notwithstanding, this is more likely a case of repeated clashes between Berman and Barr. According to The Wall Street Journal, “The day before Attorney General William Barr abruptly announced plans to replace Geoffrey Berman as the Manhattan U.S. Attorney, supervisors in Mr. Barr’s Justice Department asked Mr. Berman to sign a letter criticizing New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for the city’s enforcement of social-distancing rules to block religious gatherings but not recent street protests, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Berman refused to sign the letter Thursday.”

Protecting religious liberty, particularly during the pandemic, has been one of Barr’s focal points. If Berman’s refusal to cooperate was in line with previous disagreements, it’s no wonder the AG wanted to go in a different direction. He’s had a lot of work to do cleaning house at the overly politicized Justice Department after Barack Obama’s henchmen had done their work.

Nevertheless, Democrats have their sights trained on Barr. Jerry Nadler, the powerful chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, says, “We have begun the process to issue that subpoena” of Barr, who he insists “deserves impeachment” for politicizing the Justice Department — Berman’s firing being but one example for Nadler. Go figure that Barr’s effort to undo Obama’s political weaponization of the executive branch would draw the ire of one of the Democrats’ leading impeachment fanatics.

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NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Jordan Candler

Above the Fold

  • “Rioters gathered Monday in Lafayette Square before the White House where they clashed with police as they attempted to tear down a monument to former U.S. President Andrew Jackson and set up a ‘Black House Autonomous Zone,’” reports The Daily Caller, which adds: “As the rioters were forced to move further away from the statue, they began to get more angry and indignant and began to fight the police, reporters on the ground said. … The rioters then proceeded to vandalize St. John’s church… Rioters spray painted ‘BHAZ’ on the historic church, which stands for ‘Black House Autonomous Zone.’”

  • Meanwhile, Q13 FOX reveals: “Faced with growing pressure to crack down on an ‘occupied’ protest zone following two weekend shootings, Seattle’s mayor said Monday that officials will move to wind down the blocks-long span of city streets taken over two weeks ago that President Donald Trump asserted is run by ‘anarchists.’ Mayor Jenny Durkan said the violence was distracting from changes sought by thousands of peaceful protesters opposing racial inequity and police brutality.” It’s evidently completely lost on Mayor Durkan that this violence is because of the absurd police changes sought not just by these hooligans but by protesters at large.

Government & Politics

  • Biden campaign commits to three brutal debates (The Daily Caller)

  • Trump signs executive order suspending certain work visas through 2020 (The Hill)

  • Congressional Democrats sign letter demanding Education Department allow males in girls sports (National Review)

  • Ex-CNN “reporters” now work for the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda outfit, CGTN (The National Pulse)

  • New York Times taps Intercept alum and bona fide leftist to manage editorial page (The Washington Free Beacon)

National Security

  • Federal Communications Commission shuts down radio station run by Chinese propaganda outlet Phoenix TV (The Washington Free Beacon)

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brands four Chinese state media outlets “foreign missions” (Washington Examiner)

  • Army soldier accused of planning attack on his own unit, giving classified info to Neo-Nazi group (Task & Purpose)

Health

  • Texas Governor Greg Abbott says tougher anti-COVID restrictions might come back (Washington Examiner)

  • Coronavirus cases are increasing, but deaths aren’t (Axios)

  • More evidence that lack of vitamin D is linked to COVID-19 severity (Relaxnews)

  • FDA warns nine hand sanitizers may contain a potentially fatal ingredient (USA Today)

  • Dutch doctor exonerated after euthanizing an unwilling patient (The Federalist)

Business & Economy

  • Taxpayers still on the hook for stadium debts, even though coronavirus canceled sports; but then, those stadiums weren’t likely to bring the growth the cities wanted in the first place (Reason)

  • Due to Seattle’s unrest, a billion-dollar investment firm is moving to Phoenix (KTAR News)

  • North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper vetoes bill to reopen bars and gyms (Washington Examiner)

Culture & Heartland

  • Black NASCAR driver finds noose in garage stall — though we’re awaiting confirmation that it wasn’t a hoax (thanks to Jussie Smollett for making us skeptical of any and all claims) (PJ Media)

  • Funeral for Rayshard Brooks to be held at Martin Luther King Jr.‘s church (AP)

  • Rice University student group demands “Black House,” better ID photos, statue removal (Fox News)

  • Audio emerges of Jimmy Kimmel, a social-justice fraudster and misogynist, using the N-word (The Daily Wire)

  • Friendly fire: Black Lives Matter forces LGBTQ organization to face its history of racial exclusion (NBC News)

  • Colorado passes landmark law against qualified immunity (Forbes)

  • New Jersey ranked least patriotic state in America (New York Post)

Other Notables

  • Andy Ngo: My terrifying five-day stay inside Seattle’s cop-free CHAZ (New York Post)

  • CPAC leader warns “statues of Jesus are next.” Leftists immediately confirm his concerns. (PJ Media)

  • Black Lives Matter founder is an “expert” at George Soros’s Institute for New Economic Thinking who called for “opposing capitalism”; colleague admitted “We are trained Marxists” (The National Pulse)

  • South Korea says John Bolton’s memoir on Trump-Kim summit is distorted (Reuters)

  • Major League Baseball to proceed with 60-game 2020 season (Sports Illustrated)

Closing Arguments

  • Policy: Coronavirus cases are climbing again. So what? (Issues & Insights)

  • Policy: “Hate speech” and the new tyranny over the mind (The Heritage Foundation)

  • Humor: Quaker replaces racist Aunt Jemima with Aunt Karen to remind you of your privilege at breakfast (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: Boston Mayor Backs Petition to Take Down Emancipation Memorial — It’s a statue commemorating President Abraham Lincoln issuing the proclamation that freed black people from bondage.

Video: The Ferguson Lie — Radio host and author Larry Elder presents a factual account of what actually took place.

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “Let the laws be clear, uniform and precise; to interpret laws is almost always to corrupt them.” —Voltaire (1694-1778)

For the record: “It is soft bigotry to excuse lawlessness on the basis of race. If you regard all people equal in God’s eyes, then you don’t assess their conduct differently based on their race. Nor do you give white social justice liberals a pass because they claim to be championing minorities.” —David Limbaugh

Upright: “Let’s be clear, the mobs pulling down statues make no distinction between Confederate and Union, slave-trader or abolitionist, secessionist or pro-Union. They make no distinction between American, Spanish, or Cherokee. They do not care if the monument was erected in the nineteenth century or the twenty-first. … Conservatives should reject the entire notion that tearing down monuments, whether to Confederates or conquistadors, can ever be considered salutary or even conservative in any meaningful sense. To do so would be to accept the left’s corrupted view of American history, which demands we destroy all reminders of our sinful past.” —John Daniel Davidson

Alpha jackass: “Yes, I think the statues of the white European they claim is Jesus should also come down. They are a form of white supremacy. Always have been. In the Bible, when the family of Jesus wanted to hide, and blend in, guess where they went? EGYPT! Not Denmark. Tear them down.” —Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King

Non compos mentis: “Latinos are black. … We have to have conversations around ‘colorism,’ and we have to have conversations around the African and indigenous roots from which we come and how that’s reflected in systems of power.” —Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

And last… “The media has spent more time reporting on President Trump’s rally in Tulsa than a 3 year old boy who was shot & killed in Chicago. That should tell you everything you need to know about their priorities.” —Charlie Kirk

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