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Trump Once Again Places Blame for Shutdown on Pelosi, Schumer

Mon, 2019-01-14 13:11

President Donald Trump placed the blame for the partial government shutdown at the feet of “Nancy and Cryin’ Chuck” in a tweet Monday.

“Nancy and Cryin’ Chuck can end the Shutdown in 15 minutes. At this point it has become their, and the Democrats, fault!” he wrote.

The government shutdown hit Day 24 Monday, setting a U.S. record. It was triggered after a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government expired Dec. 21. At the center of the funding battle is approximately $5 billion in funding for the border wall the president wants to build.

Trump could try to use emergency powers to bring the shutdown to a close, but such an action is likely to be challenged in court. The president said he is open to using emergency powers but has also said the shutdown could last “months or even years.”

Instead, Trump has been tweeting about how Democrats “can easily fix” the shutdown, and he and his proxies have had several sit-downs with Democratic congressional leaders to no avail.

The president had previously said he was “proud to shut down the government for border security,” in a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Dec. 11.

Trump seemed to tease the option of a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals compromise in a tweet Sunday.

“Democrats are saying that DACA is not worth it and don’t want to include in talks,” Trump wrote on Twitter Sunday. “Many Hispanics will be coming over to the Republican side, watch!”

DACA is an Obama administration-era program that allows people brought into the U.S. illegally when they were children. It doesn’t grant them lawful status, but it does remove the immediate threat of deportation for DACA recipients, according to USImmigration.org.

Schumer said Republicans need to “abandon” border wall funding if they want to reopen the government since the start of the shutdown. But DACA advocates, including “Dreamer” Hilario Yanez, who was interviewed on Fox News Wednesday night, said he supports a border wall and sees “opportunities for compromise.”

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

The post Trump Once Again Places Blame for Shutdown on Pelosi, Schumer appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

A Christian Baker’s New Legal Fight With Colorado Is a Matter of Fairness

Mon, 2019-01-14 12:46

Most of us understand the importance of fairness early in life. Whether it’s an umpire’s call in Little League or a teacher’s grading in elementary school, we all intuitively know that fairness is a big deal.

But fairness perhaps is no more important than when our rights are in the hands of courts or other government tribunals. It’s there that we expect not only actual fairness but the appearance of fairness.

That seems reasonable enough. Now imagine that your freedom was on the line. You spent decades building your career, and the government threatens to take it away because of how you practice your faith.

You’re confident in your arguments, but your case is placed before a court that the highest court in the land just said was hostile to your beliefs. You wouldn’t feel very good about your chances, would you? The assurance of fairness would be missing. The legitimacy of the whole process is called into question.

“No worries,” the court tells you, “we have some new judges since we punished you a few years ago.”

That’s supposed to make you feel better, but you dig a little deeper and find that the current judges opposed your appeal in the earlier case. “Well, that’s not a good sign,” you think, but you try to stay optimistic.

Then you learn that the old and new judges alike were selected by the same person. And his selection pool included many judges with ties to an advocacy group that firmly opposed you in your first case. Not feeling too hopeful at this point, huh?

If all this weren’t bad enough, you finally learn that one of the current judges called you a “hater.” Would you believe that you have a fair shot at justice? Not a chance.

But that’s exactly what is happening to Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop. It’s not what you’d consider a picture of justice in action.

The state of Colorado, through the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, an administrative agency that operates as part prosecutor and part jury, punished Phillips a few years ago.

His crime? He could not in good conscience design a wedding cake celebrating a same-sex marriage. He offered to sell the same-sex couple anything else in his shop or to create a different cake for them, but that wasn’t enough for the state of Colorado.

For six years, Phillips defended himself. And just when he began to wonder if all was lost, the Supreme Court intervened this past June and condemned the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for acting with “impermissible hostility” toward his faith.

That hostility consisted in large part of the commission’s unequal treatment of Phillips. While it allowed other bakeries and cake shops like his to refuse to make cakes with religious messages opposing same-sex marriage, it punished Phillips for declining to create a cake celebrating same-sex marriage.

There’s nothing fair about that.

But the hostility didn’t stop with the discriminatory treatment. It extended to commissioners who made hostile statements about Phillips. One referred to his plea for religious freedom as a “despicable piece of rhetoric.” And another took to Twitter to declare: “Freedom OF religion does NOT mean freedom FOR YOUR religion.”

With this sentiment running rampant on the commission, is it any wonder that less than a month after the Supreme Court denounced the state’s hostility, it was targeting Phillips again?

This time, his supposed crime is declining to create a custom cake with a blue and pink design that the attorney who requested it said would reflect and celebrate a gender transition. But Phillips doesn’t believe that people can choose or change their sex.

So the message of that design was not something he could express through his cake art. But Masterpiece Cakeshop told the attorney that Phillips would be glad to create a different cake if the attorney was interested in that.

Even so, the commission has launched another administrative prosecution against Phillips. Oh, but this time he’ll get a fair process, the state says, because the commissioners who made the hostile comments are gone.

The problem is, the state’s unequal treatment continues. It still allows other cake shops to decline to create cakes that express messages they consider objectionable, but insists on punishing Phillips when he does the same thing. The same unfair treatment that the Supreme Court just condemned is present in this new case.

Colorado’s claim that new commissioners are involved doesn’t begin to tell the half of it. All the current commissioners, except one, represented the state in defending the first order punishing Phillips. So even though they might not have been the ones who initially forced him to give up his wedding business, they are the ones who fought to keep that punishment in place.

Also of note, the same person—former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper—put the past and current commissioners in their positions. And one of the governor’s favorite groups to draw commissioners from is One Colorado—an outspoken critic of Phillips during his first case.

One of the commissioners presiding over the new case publicly serves with the National LGBTQ Task Force, another group that openly opposed Phillips the first time around.

Any hope for salvaging a semblance of fairness fades to black when a Twitter rant shows that another current commissioner referred to Phillips as a “hater.”

Fairness for Phillips, under these circumstances, is a mirage—a hopeless fantasy.

Anyone who suggests otherwise should honestly ask themselves a simple question: “Would you feel confident in the neutrality of those decision-makers if they held your fate in their hands?”

To ask the question is to answer it.

So no matter what you think about Phillips, his religious beliefs, or his desire to live them out in the public square, I hope we all can agree that he is entitled to something we’ve all sought since our earliest years—fairness. He can’t get that before this commission, a biased government agency that has targeted him for years.

Because of that, Phillips filed a lawsuit against Colorado in federal court through his attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, seeking to stop the state’s renewed efforts to punish him. The federal court saw enough of the problems to deny the state’s request to dismiss the suit.

State officials’ ongoing “disparate treatment” of Phillips reveals their “hostility towards Phillips, which is sufficient to establish they are pursuing the discrimination charges against Phillips in bad faith, motivated by Phillips’… religion … ,” the court wrote in its order Jan. 4.

Jack Phillips serves all customers, and he is even happy to serve the attorney who lodged the complaint against him. But he doesn’t create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in conflict with his deeply held beliefs.

Because he can’t get a fair shake before the state commission, he deserves to pursue—and ultimately win—his case in federal court. That will finally free him to live his life according to his beliefs, free from government coercion, just as the First Amendment promises.

The post A Christian Baker’s New Legal Fight With Colorado Is a Matter of Fairness appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Podcast: A Bold Conservative Who Is Breaking News and Bringing People Together

Mon, 2019-01-14 03:01

On today’s show, we feature an interview with Bold founder Carrie Sheffield. Based in New York City, Sheffield discusses her political activism, the importance of civility, and what it’s like for a conservative living in Manhattan.

Her digital television network is comprised of three shows, one of which is co-hosted by Clay Aiken, who is famous for his performance on “American Idol.”

“We are trying to break news, but we’re also trying to bring people together,” Sheffield tells The Daily Signal. Listen to our full interview below.

Also on today’s show:

  • We share some of your letters to the editor. Next week your letter could be featured on our show; write us at letters@dailysignal.com or call 202-608-6205.
  • Christian radio station WGTS 91.1 is stepping up to help during the partial government shutdown. With many federal workers at home, WGTS organized a cleanup of the National Mall where trash has been accumulating.

The Daily Signal podcast is available on the Ricochet Audio Network. You also can listen on iTunesSoundCloudStitcher, or your favorite podcast app. All of our podcasts can be found at DailySignal.com/podcasts.

If you like what you hear, please leave a review or give us feedback. Enjoy the show!

The post Podcast: A Bold Conservative Who Is Breaking News and Bringing People Together appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Trump Has a Strong Legal Argument That He Can Declare National Emergency at Border

Sun, 2019-01-13 12:08

President Donald Trump has asked Congress for $5.7 billion to build a wall along the southern border. He has said that, if necessary, he may declare a “national emergency” and act unilaterally, and that he has the authority to do so.

As is the case any time a president attempts to circumvent Congress and act unilaterally, there is the legal question of whether he can do so and the normative question of whether he should do so. This article addresses only the legal question at hand.

In brief, Trump has a strong argument to make that he, in fact, has the authority to act unilaterally. But in order to explain why, let me lay out the relevant facts.

Groundwork for National Emergency Claim

In his primetime address Tuesday night and through other information that has been disseminated by the White House, the president began to lay the groundwork for declaring a national emergency.

Here are some of the points the administration has been making for their case:

  • Arguing that the flow of drugs across the border has dramatically increased, claiming that 90 percent of illegal drugs entering our country come across the southern border and that during the last fiscal year, there was a 73 percent increase in fentanyl (amounting to 2,400 pounds) and a 38 percent increase in methamphetamine and heroin coming over the southern border.
  • Citing profits being made by “coyotes” who carry migrants across the border as well as the horrific conditions to which those migrants are subjected. The administration claims that criminal organizations derive $2.5 billion in profits every year from smuggling migrants into the U.S., and that 68.3 percent of all migrants report having been subjected to an act of violence and 31 percent of female migrants report having been sexually assaulted while en route.
  • Highlighting the fact that during the last fiscal year, Customs and Border Patrol agents stopped 17,000 adults at the southern border who had criminal records, and that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents apprehended 6,000 known or suspected gang members at the border.
  • Pointing to the mayhem wrought by many of the illegal aliens who successfully entered our country. In his speech, the president noted that over the last two years, 266,000 illegal immigrants have been charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 murders.
  • Arguing that with caravans of people arriving at the border, the system is simply overwhelmed. The administration is claiming that during the last fiscal year, 60,000 unaccompanied children and 161,000 family units arrived at the border; that 98 percent of family units and unaccompanied alien children are never removed; that there has been a 2,000 percent increase in asylum claims over the last five years; and that immigration courts currently have a backlog of nearly 800,000 cases.
  • Noting that many Democrats who now oppose building a wall once supported the concept. Indeed, in 2006, 26 Democratic senators—including Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden—voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act, which empowered the Department of Homeland Security to build “physical infrastructure enhancements” along the border. Congress, however, has never appropriated the funds for this purpose.

History of National Emergencies

Should the president decide to act unilaterally, he would invoke the National Emergencies Act, a post-Watergate reform statute that was enacted in 1976 and signed into law by President Gerald Ford.

Prior to the enactment of the National Emergencies Act, many presidents, relying on their implied constitutional authority, had simply declared national emergencies when they believed it was warranted. President Harry Truman’s order to the secretary of commerce to seize control of the steel mills to stop a strike during the Korean War would be one example, although that order was ultimately declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Since the National Emergencies Act was enacted, presidents have declared national emergencies on numerous occasions (including three times by Trump), 31 of which are technically still in effect.

Procedures President Must Follow in Declaring National Emergency

The National Emergencies Act was designed in part to provide some structured procedures for a president to follow when he declares a national emergency. Under the act, a president who declares a national emergency must notify Congress that he has done so and must delineate what other existing laws he is relying upon to justify that declaration and what emergency powers he can exercise under those laws.

In a recent study, the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law identified 136 different provisions of law granting presidents a range of powers he can exercise if he declares a national emergency. The powers that a president can utilize under such circumstances can be quite broad. Indeed, the Congressional Research Service has said:

Under the powers delegated by such statutes, the president may seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial law, seize and control all transportation and communication, regulate the operation of private enterprise, restrict travel, and, in a variety of ways, control the lives of United States citizens.

Laws Trump Might Use to Make His Case

Although it is always perilous to speculate about what authorities the president might cite should he declare a national emergency, there are a few likely candidates.

There is a provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act that gives the president authority to tap into an Immigration Emergency Fund in the case of an “immigration emergency,” which is defined as:

[A]n actual or imminent influx of aliens which either is of such magnitude or exhibits such other characteristics that effective administration of the immigration laws of the United States is beyond the existing capabilities of the Immigration and Naturalization Service … in the affected area or areas. Characteristics of an influx of aliens, other than magnitude, which may be considered in determining whether an immigration emergency exists include: the likelihood of continued growth in the magnitude of the influx; an apparent connection between the influx and increases in criminal activity; the actual or imminent imposition of unusual and overwhelming demands on law enforcement agencies; and other similar characteristics.

It is highly unlikely, however, that this vehicle would provide sufficient resources to build the wall, since Congress appropriates only $20 million per year for that fund.

There are two other laws that the president might cite, but both come with some important caveats.

The first would apply if a president were to declare a national emergency “that requires the use of the armed forces.” If that were to happen, the secretary of defense could authorize the military departments to “undertake military construction projects … that are necessary to support such use of the armed forces” so long as the amount spent on such projects does not exceed “the total amount of funds that have been appropriated for military construction, including funds appropriated for family housing, that have not been obligated.”

The second would apply if a president were to declare a national emergency “that requires or may require the use of the armed forces.” If that were to happen, the defense secretary would be empowered to “(1) terminate or defer the construction, operation, maintenance, or repair of any Department of the Army civil works project that he deems not essential to the national defense, and (2) apply the resources of the Department of the Army’s civil works program, including funds, personnel, and equipment, to construct or assist in the construction, operation, maintenance, and repair of authorized civil works, military construction, and civil defense projects that are essential to the national defense.”

Utilizing one of these authorities, the president does have a valid case to make that he has the authority to act unilaterally.

Regardless of which laws he relies upon, if the president chooses to declare a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act, it is inevitable that someone with legal standing will file a lawsuit (likely several, in fact) in federal court challenging him, and they will look for a friendly forum in which to file those lawsuits. The challengers will no doubt assert what Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the other day—that this is a “manufactured crisis” and that the president lacks authority to build the wall.

When it comes to matters touching upon national security, courts are often reluctant to step in and second-guess a president, leaving it to the other two branches of government to battle it out and reach a political resolution. However, as was made quite clear during the recent challenges to the president’s so-called travel ban, some federal judges are not reluctant at all about second guessing Trump, going so far as to enter nationwide injunctions against the administration.

That may well happen again. If it does, that will increase the likelihood that the Supreme Court will ultimately weigh in on this issue, just as it did in the travel ban case.

The post Trump Has a Strong Legal Argument That He Can Declare National Emergency at Border appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

We Hear You: Transgender Pronouns, School Discipline, the Russia Probe, and Climate Change

Sun, 2019-01-13 06:01

Editor’s note: Many readers admired the high school students who stood up for a teacher who was fired for declining to use male pronouns to refer to a transgender student who was born female. Those comments lead off this week’s mailbag. Don’t forget to write us at letters@dailysignal.com.—Ken McIntyre

Dear Daily Signal: Bless the hearts of the Virginia high school students who noticed something wrong and, as Rachel del Guidice reports, bravely and with good manners defended the Christian teacher who was mistreated by his school board (“2 Students Explain Why They Defended Teacher Fired Over Transgender Pronouns”).

Looking at the warped psychological reasoning of the school board in firing teacher Peter Vlaming reminds me of the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes”: Don’t believe what you know you see, but believe what you’re told to see. This is the same old well-used method of unethical powermongers throughout history.

Those who wrangled through and wrote our Constitution were astutely aware of human nature and history. We must protect it and our Bill of Rights from those who invent excuses to persecute individuals over what word to use in addressing someone who looks and sounds like a man but wants to be a woman—or vice versa.

Kind of like if I dress up like a dog because I want to be a dog, and you’ll be punished if you don’t acknowledge I’m a dog. It’ll hurt my feelings, so you’re bad and need to be punished.

Where’s the legal sanity? Isn’t this a dangerous form of discrimination against common sense and all our rights? And this physical changing of the sex of children is abuse because they are under age and don’t know any better.—Bonnie McGuire

***

Though accused of showing “hate,” this French teacher was, in truth, showing love for all his students at West Point High School.

Young people are buying into the LGBT agenda and the lemming-like mentality of school administrations that believe these measures put in place by unelected officials are legitimate. This is nothing short of an attack on the mental and physical well-being of our youth.—Dahn Carey

As I read Rachel del Guidice’s story, I became extremely proud of these two high school students. It takes a lot of courage to stand up for what you believe when it goes against the status quo.

They have shown a courage that I did not exhibit at their age. I believe these students are true leaders, and it gives me hope that it’s not too late for our country to return to its roots, where “freedom of speech” actually meant freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech is worthless without the freedom to disagree and to reach a compromise that benefits everyone.

This teacher should never have been fired. When someone refuses to comply with a standard because of moral or religious grounds, an exemption should be made for him or her, and he or she should be left alone. Claiming to stand for moral and religious liberty is meaningless unless you can defend a person’s right to disagree with you.

As a Bible-believing conservative Christian, for example, I believe that no matter what changes you make to your physical body, you cannot change who God made you to be. If you were born a biological male, you will always be a male no matter what changes you make physically; if you were born a biological female, you will always be a biological female no matter what changes you make physically.

Even in saying this, I will defend with my last breath a person’s right to make those physical changes. But don’t expect me to call you by the gender you choose for yourself. I will call you by the gender that God created you to be.

I also believe that Superintendent Laura Abel and the other decision makers know they were wrong to fire the teacher. He did everything short of violating his conscience to show respect to this transgender student. His free speech was definitely violated, and the decision makers have the audacity to call him insubordinate.

The teacher did not deny the student free expression. He simply chose not to participate in it.—Keri Lynn Siegel, Delray Beach, Fla.

***

Most of the people who originally came to this country did so for religious freedom. You will find religious freedom as a protected right.

You will not find protected your desire to declare that today you are a different sex, or that you’ve decided to share an intimate relationship with one of your own sex.

I am not religious and I have always supported the LGBT community. But I will stop supporting any group that demands rights for themselves yet seeks to strip others of their rights.—Anthony Alafero

***

The teacher refused to use any pronoun for the transgender student. Pronoun: “The part of speech that substitutes for nouns or noun phrases and designates persons or things asked for, previously specified, or understood from the context.”

It is a linguistic construction. Like the fact that I do not use contractions when I am writing comments. You cannot force me to use them, and you cannot force a teacher to use pronouns instead of proper nouns.

No, it is not about the teacher’s having “harassed and discriminated against the student.” That is a cheap, prima facie claim covering the leftist agenda, which is that it is not sufficient to tolerate this behavior, but required that you enthusiastically celebrate and support their deviant behavior.

Superintendent Laura Abel’s statement supporting student involvement is also a lie, in light of the confiscation of the students’ petition. “Social” interaction of students in the school cafeteria is not disrupting learning.—Donald Campbell

***

If Superintendent Abel were telling the truth, she would have been outside on the picket line with the students, protesting the firing of teacher Peter Vlaming.—Drew Page

***

I am reminded of my favorite children’s story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” in which the entire town is shamed into pretending to believe in something that is not true. In that case, just as in this news story, it is a child who sets things right by stating the obvious.

A girl does not become a boy just because everyone collectively agrees to change her pronouns. A person can no more change his or her gender than change race or species.

If a child is supported in the elective change of her gender at will, then society would be very intolerant toward that same girl if it did not equally embrace every other imaginary construct she elects to devise.

With that in mind, what would the workers in the school cafeteria do if that same mentally ill child declares she is now a male cat? A cat needs a different diet than a person. Are cafeteria workers discriminating against her when they do not add cat food to the menu?

To take it a step further, a cat does not have to go to school. Could the girl complain that the school board is discriminating against her when she is not allowed to quit school and embrace being a cat?

If you think this is too far-fetched, you need to research a group called Otherkin. If this transgender nonsense is not classified and treated as the mental illness that it obviously is, you will hear a lot more about them in the coming years.—Ana Justice

***

Public school officials have been duped by progressives (who are for the most part socialists) and politicians, and are now acting as thought police. As history has shown us, thought police are key to the subversion of the people in communist, fascist, and socialist governments.

The Democratic Party leadership rails against Nazi organizations and hate groups, but these leaders in fact are acting in the same manner as those groups. By pushing identity politics, they are undoing all the significant progress since the 1960s in opportunities and rights for women, minority groups, and gays.

These Democrat leaders are in effect pitting women against men, minorities against non-minorities, and gays against non-gays to create anarchy and chaos so they can justify a government, run by their party, that takes control of our daily lives and tells us what we can and cannot do and think.

In other words, they want us all to be subservient to their will, much like the dictators, monarchies, and emperors of the past.—W.K. Derickson

***

If the student who claims to be transgender has First Amendment rights, then the teacher who is compromised by conscience for a label has rights dictated under the First Amendment as well.

These two young men were constitutionally sound in their actions. Plus, they did not hide their faces, there were no damages, no one was physically hurt.

They did their protest to support the teacher in the correct manner. Stay true to yourselves and maybe one day you will be president or a senator or representative.—Karin Callaway, Florida

***

With all of this PC ordure, society is fast degenerating into a rabid mob seeking someone to destroy. Wake up.—David Rumbaugh

***

If school officials ordered math teachers to teach that 2 + 2 = 5 and a teacher refused, should he or she be fired for insubordination?

If a kid in school believes himself or herself to be Batman or Wonder Woman and demands to be addressed by that name, should school officials force teachers to comply with that demand or be fired?

I hope the fired teacher sues the school district for millions and wins. Perhaps that might encourage local property taxpayers to elect a new school board.—Drew Page

2 Students Explain Defense of Teacher Fired Over Transgender Pronouns https://t.co/NnKqiek2cK @DailySignal #AAG

— All American Girl (@AIIAmericanGirI) December 18, 2018

Another shameful example of the 4 percent of the population identifying as LGBT running roughshod over the 96 percent of the population who identify as God and nature made us.

Kudos to the students who stood up against the school board. The public school system is sick and broken. School vouchers need to be made the law of the land so that parents and teachers can enroll their children in private or charter schools that do not have to follow the politically correct dictates of public school boards.

Time and time again it has been found that private and charter schools provide better education than public schools. With school vouchers, parents can afford to send their children to these private and charter schools. Then the public school system either will be forced to change their curriculum and administration or shutter their doors.

We, the 96 percent, need to take back control of our lives from the 4 percent.—Marion E Daniels-Price

***

Why should a statistically negligible and mentally ill minority be able to change the language of the vast majority, let alone the truth of science? Physical plumbing can be changed, but not sex. It is encoded in a person’s DNA.—Maud St. James

***

This school board is the one in error. Obviously board members have not studied their biology of late. If they had, they would have noted that females are born with two X chromosomes while males are born with one X and one Y.

At present, that is unchangeable. So the whole concept of changing from female to male or male to female is not possible.

People can think any way they want, dress any way they want, act any way they want, and can alter their physical characteristics to reflect who they would like to be. But their gender remains the same as it was at birth.—Rockne Hughes

***

This gay rights nonsense is going too far. If you want to be the opposite sex, do it at home. Keep it out of the schools.

That teacher should be reinstated with back pay. Our schools are there to teach kids how to get along and make a living, not to harass others just because you have different beliefs.—Estell Newton

Obama’s School Discipline Guidance Could Be Doomed. Here’s Why That’s Great News. https://t.co/8cebtI4cEC pic.twitter.com/3S6DGXlNAM

— The Daily Signal (@DailySignal) December 21, 2018

How to Ensure Discipline, Safety in Schools

Dear Daily Signal: Jonathan Butcher’s commentary (“Obama’s School Discipline Guidance Could Be Doomed. Here’s Why That’s Great News”) brings to mind a personal example of school discipline. My son was caught vaping in a bathroom with his friends.

I don’t condone this, and I gladly let my son suffer the three-day suspension he got for “possession of a banned substance.”

None of the students involved was observed by anyone but the student who reported them. They were punished based on their own confessions when asked about that report.

Fast forward a few weeks. A student, who has caused problems in the past, is agitated and argumentative in his classes one day. He finally explodes, yelling that he is going to “shoot up the school.”  This is witnessed by many students, some of whom then struggled with anxiety about his being in school in the future.

His punishment? The same as my son and his friends got—three days’ suspension.

I am not at all suggesting my son and his friends should not be punished, but how are equal punishments valid for these two very different incidents?—Tanya Beckel Redfield

***

Obama administration officials called it “policy guidance to schools to prevent discrimination against minority students?”

This is just another example of Obama’s two-tiered justice system. One for Democrats and another for Republicans, as demonstrated by Obama’s attorneys general and his FBI director.

Kicking out trouble-making students who refuse to follow school rules of deportment and discipline is perfectly OK, if limited to nonminority students.

Minority students, on the other hand, most likely will turn out to be Democrat voters, and we certainly don’t want to alienate prospective Democrat voters.—Drew Page

***

When I was a teacher in a high school classroom, discipline was important to set for maintaining a proper learning environment.

Before smartphones gave me immediate lifelines to parents during class time, school disciplinarians and guidance counselors brought parents into school for me to have a discussion about class conduct.

After smartphones became ubiquitous, I sometimes called parents while misconduct was occurring so parents could actually hear their child’s nonsense over the air. I had few problems after that. Simply knowing his or her parent was on the line at the misbehaving time was mostly enough to stop wacky behavior.

Fewer parent conferences were held; fewer students were recommended for removal from class or school; students became more self-disciplined. Average grades rose in my classes above others in math or computer classes; mine were required, the latter were optional.

No school or district discipline policies were necessary. No guidelines were required when I got parents more directly involved. Take a hint, policymakers.—Bill Lemoine

***

When school discipline is severely restricted or dumbed down, those bad actors feel emboldened to create more havoc in classrooms and bully both teachers and other students because the Obama guidelines protect them.

However, that problem started long before in the mandates of the “Robin Hood” school districts in Texas. Behavioral problems don’t stop on their own. There must be consequences for the bad actor.—Christina Paul

***

There are very few federal agencies that are not a cause of more problems than they were supposed to solve.

Dispatching a bunch of these agencies and decreasing the sway of more would be a good deal.—Thomas L. Stafford

***

It’s normal in the liberal mindset to sacrifice the welfare of the vast majority in favor of the small minority. In this case, Obama sacrificed most of the real students in favor of the juvenile delinquents.—Wayne Peterkin

***

For decades, moronic legislatures have been systematically destroying our education system. First, they created the federal Department of Education and used our tax money to corrupt by threatening to remove funding unless local schools met the department’s demands.

Next, they began dumbing down the schools by insisting that teachers tailor their instructions to the slowest and least intelligent students instead of the average. The gifted students were completely bored, and the average kid learned very little.

Following this brilliance, the all-knowing liberals began to rewrite our history books, invented “new math” and “eubonics,” and generally failed our children by trying to reinvent tried and true subjects and teaching methods.

Finally, along comes Obama, who decides that miscreants, bullies, and outright criminal students should be tolerated in the classroom environs rather than suspended, expelled, or otherwise disciplined. How stupid is that?

The whole Education Department should be dismantled and full authority returned to local control. Even then, getting back to a real education system will take years.—Steve Fowler

***

Apparently the socialist liberal Democrats refuse to consider that a disproportionate number of minority students are disciplined because a disproportionate number of minority students misbehave.

Schools should be focusing on all students learning to the extent of their ability—not the “feelings” of those who deliberately and sometimes dangerously act out. School is for learning facts and proper behavior, not for social justice or feelings.—Maud St. James

***

Parents have less power than the powermongering unions. The parents are just looking for a decent education for their kids.

The parents are not there as power brokers. But the unions are. And the unions don’t want to yield any power to anyone.—Wayne Harmon

***

As one parent at Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, put it:  Sad as it may be, it is important for our children to learn how to protect themselves in a dangerous world (“5 Takeaways From the Trump Administration’s School Safety Report”).

Truer words were never spoken. Now let’s see the return of standards of behavior in the classroom for all students, regardless of any perceived “special” class.—Allie Davis

***

There are over 100 million gun owners in the U.S. And they have over 1 trillion rounds of ammunition. Believe me, gun owners and guns are not the problem.—David Lisk

***

We need to restore corporal punishment to schools.—John Pack Lambert

At year’s end, here's what we know about Mueller’s probe of Trump and Russia. https://t.co/pcYTx7MgpQ via @FredLucasWH @DailySignal

— CSM (@usacsmret) December 21, 2018

Meanwhile, Back at Mueller’s Russia Probe

Dear Daily Signal: Special counsel Robert Mueller, the subject of Fred Lucas’s report, is a Trump-hating Democrat operative (“At Year’s End, What We Know About Mueller’s Probe of Trump and Russia”).

Mueller has a shady history. He is operating on the basis of finding nitpicking “crimes” to use as blackmail,  to get people to say what he wants. At least that is the appearance and the basis of a lawsuit against him.

The Democrats have gone crazy and refuse to accept the election results, probably because they can’t understand how anyone could beat all their cheating.—James May

***

What we know is that Obama had weaponized numerous agencies of the government as political tools for the Democrat Party. This was totally illegal.

As such, these government employees worked to help Hillary Clinton get elected and, failing at that, to destroy Trump. The destroy-Trump part of that is known as sedition—an illegal plot to remove a sitting president.

Every excuse they used to get warrants was bogus. None came close to meeting the standards. Mueller himself was hired when justification for a special counsel was not met. He did not qualify because he was an insider with lots of conflicts.

Instead of legally hiring unbiased investigators, Mueller hired a hit squad, loaded with ex-Hillary henchmen. The people they squeezed to turn on Trump were ambushed, spied on, unmasked, and more, without legal justification. Many of these people should be going to prison for the worst government plot in U.S. history.

Under Obama, they hacked the White House, Congress, the National Security Agency, and even the Pentagon, and no one seemed to care. This ruse is the most transparent thing you’ll ever find in D.C.

Everyone capable of thinking knows it’s a desperate attempt to get rid of Trump, like the efforts of those loony women who lied about Brett Kavanaugh to try to keep him off the Supreme Court.—Anthony Alafero

***

Under Obama, they hacked the White House, Congress, the NSA, and even the Pentagon, and no one seemed to care. This ruse is the most transparent thing you’ll ever find in D.C. Everyone capable of thinking knows it’s a desperate attempt to get rid of Trump, just as those loony women who lied about Kavanaugh to try to keep him off the bench.—Anthony Alafero

***

After all of this juvenile, banana republic food-throwing, the only proven corruption and Russian collusion was by Hillary Clinton, the DNC, and Obama.—Redigo Gubernatio

***

If I hired an investigator to find out if something was out of whack somewhere, I would fully expect to get continuing reports on progress. Since the Justice Department’s assistant attorney general decided to hire Mueller, and is paid for by the taxpayers, why are there no known progress reports to those in charge?

Neither the DOJ nor we the people have any information on this, other than indictments. The cost, after this period of time, warrants a question of who is robbing the bank.—Karin Callaway, Florida

Here's the Daily Signal piece @realDonaldTrump referenced during his interview with @HARRISFAULKNER: @HvonSpakovsky – Trump’s Ex-Lawyer Didn’t Violate Campaign Finance Laws—and Neither Did the Presidenthttps://t.co/yBqu6aNAha pic.twitter.com/q5wNvrydrA

— The Daily Signal (@DailySignal) December 13, 2018

The President’s Former Lawyer Cops a Plea

Dear Daily Signal: What everyone seems to be missing is that the real reason President Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was charged with campaign finance violations was to put him into “a criminal conspiracy” with Trump to justify his violating attorney-client privilege.

In reality, as explained in Hans von Spakovsky’s commentary, “Trump’s Ex-Lawyer Didn’t Violate Campaign Finance Laws, and Neither Did the President,” there was no violation as there is no evidence of criminal intent. Remember former FBI Director James Comey’s tortured finding that Hillary Clinton had no criminal intent, even though the statute she violated does not require such intent?

Cohen’s plea is in effect a fraud on the court. The Supreme Court would find it thus.—Gerald Sornee, Florida

***

Perhaps the reason that Republicans haven’t halted liberal policies before they became law is because, up to two years ago, they haven’t had a leader with the guts to fight against those policies.

I can’t speak to why Republicans have failed to do what they should have for the past 50 years. I live in Illinois and don’t know what a Republican senator looks like. We haven’t had a real Republican senator since Everett Dirkson in the 1960s. We have had so few Republican congressmen from Illinois in the House, it didn’t matter.

Today, we have a Republican president in office and I believe he has done quite a lot in two years in reversing liberal policies. If you can’t see that, you haven’t been paying attention.—Drew Page, Illinois

***

The case Hans von Spakovsky is making in his commentary doesn’t matter one little bit.

The majority of American voters will listen to whatever the Democrats’  press-titutes tell them and swallow it whole. Facts and truth don’t even come into it.—David L. Stinson

***

Cohen pleaded guilty to something that is not a crime, as expressed by the people who make election law, the Federal Election Commission. He did so because he had no deal if he didn’t and faced 20 years for his long list of other crimes unrelated to Trump.

This attempt to bury Trump is a nonstarter. Most of the prior FEC commissioners say that hush money payoffs are not campaign contributions at all. Bradley Smith, who was considered the top campaign law expert in the nation, was appointed by President Bill Clinton at the end of his term. The GOP strongly opposed Smith.

Smith says that Trump broke no laws. So the problem for special counsel Robert Mueller is that the issue is far too unsettled but clearly leaning in favor of Trump. Add to this the fact that this isn’t some small-time politician but a sitting president, and you will never take down a president with a “may be illegal or may not” scenario.—Anthony Alafero

***

This was “all over the news” for the same reason that Russian collusion, Stormy Daniels, trash talk on a bus, tax records, etc., were “all over the news”: because a bunch of Dem sore losers can’t accept the fact that they are losers, and they’re grasping at straws trying to come up with something, anything that might lead to the overthrowing of this presidency.

Good luck with that, Junior. Not going to happen. And if you think those weaselly liberal cowards out there are causing mayhem, destruction, division, and unrest in the country now, wait till a duly elected president is unfairly and illegally overthrown.—J.A. Haskins

***

What we are seeing is a dark chapter in American history—the harnessing by a corrupt Democrat Party of abusive government prosecutorial power against political enemies who committed no crimes. Result: Why would anyone of sound mind ever want to serve in public office in America?

Who would put their families through such slime? Look at how Robert Mueller’s fellow thugs treated a patriot general who served 33 years in the military, five of which were in harm’s way. Mueller is not a patriot. He is a street thug and a disgrace to the legal profession. He has soured more than half the country on the government. He is the poster child for corruption.

I would love to see Clinton, Comey, Strzok, McCabe, Ohr, Brennan, Clapper, Power, and Rice get rousted in the middle of the night by an FBI raid and then watch them do perp walks. As a citizen, I am thoroughly disgusted by our corrupt government and its media cohort. Clinton, Obama, et al., are not above the law. Until they are brought to justice,  justice in America is fake.—Brian Bacon

***

I’ve asked a hundred times why the women involved would not be guilty of extortion. Then, on Tucker Carlson’s TV show, I saw constitutional lawyer Alan Dershowitz say this “is absolutely textbook extortion.”—Michael Langlinais

Here are 4 problems with the new climate change report. https://t.co/SUsfGmGD2v via @NiconomistLoris @DailySignal

— jfdaws (@jfdaws) December 2, 2018

The Government’s Latest Take on Climate Change 

Dear Daily Signal: From Nicolas Loris’s commentary, it looks like proponents of climate change would be happy to spend 30 or 40 percent of our annual gross domestic product to prevent a 10 percent loss in GDP by 2100 (“4 Problems With the New Climate Change Report”).

That’s 82 years from now. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

As for forest fires and their economic impact, there is no proof, let alone evidence, that global warming has any effect on forest fires.

There is ample evidence that leaving a lot of fuel on the ground for the fire to consume has a great effect. The economic impact is a result of more and more people building in and near the forests. A hundred years ago, a fire could burn until it burned itself out without impacting many people because there were fewer people.

After a fire, the forest begins to rejuvenate immediately. I have been in areas that had major growth within a couple years of a fire, and you couldn’t tell there had been a fire by looking at it.

Climate change? Global warming? A new ice age? These are all political constructs intended to prevent man from advancing. They are pure hokum.—Ken Marx

***

The entire concept of global warming or climate change is a bunch of hogwash. The planet goes through a 1,000-to-1,500-year cycle of warm and cold periods. These cycles are caused by solar maxima and minima cycles, and have been going on for eons. Mankind has nothing to do with them.

If you don’t believe science, then believe history. The so-called Roman Warm Period allowed the Roman Empire to grow. That was followed by the disastrous Dark Ages Cold Period, during which people starved because of a very limited food supply.

The Medieval Warm Period followed, allowing the Norse to explore the North Atlantic and colonize Greenland. The following Little Ice Age ended the Norse in Greenland—even New York Harbor froze.

The Modern Warm Period, in which we live, followed. It has allowed the world to prosper once again. It too will be followed by a cold period in 300 years or so. Warm periods are times of prosperity and cold ones are times of suffering due to a great reduction in food supply.

So, tell the climate change activists to use their gray matter for something other than as filler material for their skulls. We don’t need to listen to their bull.—Randy Leyendecker, Kerrville, Texas

***

The costs are only going to accelerate for all control measures due to greater inflation today; resurgence of coal use; lack of Trump administration support for mitigation now; and relaxation of regulations on sea, air, and land.

Seven times in the past decade,1,000-year climate events have occurred, so taking extreme stances isn’t really extreme. It’s here.

Everyone who goes outside knows change is here, not theoretical or deniable.  This means no further delay is conscionable for our children.

Instead of piecemeal taxes for selected industries’ mitigation acts, we need a national, long-term plan to spread the costs. We need to get busy now with cheaper costs, and work in concert with the rest of the world that hasn’t withdrawn from the Paris climate accord.

Any delay, whining about costs, denial of reality, or complaint about costs is extremist in the opposite direction from what is needed. Let’s lead the world, not withdraw from it when evidence already inundates Miami and Norfolk Navy Station, California burns with wildfires, carbon gases proliferate from other nations, and the technology already exists to start.—Bill Lemoine

 ***

How many realized that only the U.S. was going to give millions of taxpayer dollars to Africa for green industries?

India and China were given 30 years to change their behavior with no penalty. The Paris accord was a joke.—Bill Cowart

***

Lefty enviro-extremists won’t admit that it is a fool’s errand to develop desert, scrub-filled hillsides, where there is little rain and endless high winds.

It is also a joke to build homes right next to the ocean (although I always dreamed of having one). The ocean can’t be tamed, even in cooling cycles.—Anthony Alafero

***

The fifth problem is the apparent assumption that there can be no ameliorative effects of a warmer planet, which is patently false.

In that scenario, there would be longer growing seasons to provide more food. Currently, cold weather causes far more deaths than heat, but the effects are not considered.

Also, one of the largest uses of fossil fuels is to heat our homes and businesses during winter. If the average wintertime temperature increased by 2 degrees Fahrenheit, fuel use would drop by about 5 percent, meaning that carbon dioxide emissions would decrease commensurately.—Steve Muckler

Here's what the new socialists in Congress need to know about poverty. https://t.co/ZcCa3Oa3eU via @xbunderwood @DailySignal

— Deana Bass Williams (@deana_bass) December 7, 2018

This and That 

Dear Daily Signal: Regarding the commentary article by Xavier Underwood about modern socialism (“What the New Socialists in Congress Need to Know About Poverty”), I have a daughter, 20, who has been indoctrinated wholeheartedly by her elementary, middle, high school and college experience to hold capitalism responsible for all of our major problems.

My daughter is a Bernie Sanders voter, and the nonsense that she articulates is nearly amusing if it were not for the hypocrisy that she demonstrates–because she knows that she has to work for the extra things beyond the basic needs that we provide her.

Furthermore, she says she is actually a male, and desires the transsexual process. This is something that I feel so sad about. I continue to tell her that she will always be my daughter. And that  socialism doesn’t really work, even though it sounds so good.

I’m a 58-year-old conservative baby boomer who agrees totally with what I read in Underwood’s article. I’m flexible and (to be fair to the opposition) try to understand many liberal views. In a two-party system one has to decide which of two boats to jump in. The divide in this country is basically a choice like that.

I believe nothing is actually “free.” President Lyndon Johnson had many popular socialist inputs, and these youngsters don’t study the history and effects of social programs. It is not in their paradigm. It isn’t taught.

There are more liberal teachers and school mentors than not, and yes, Bernie was a hit with these students. I call that very unfair to parents as well as the kids.

My point is that my daughter got her values from public educators. When she was growing up and “learning” in school, I didn’t know the public schools were indoctrinating these young minds so effectively. Common sense doesn’t soak in, and she can’t believe a Republican father.

Xavier Underwood would be a nice role model for my daughter. Thank you for supporting solid, responsible, conservative values. I wonder when or if the tide ever will turn away from the feel-good promises of the left. The division between the left and right will not close when educators, even professors, are shoveling utopian ideals at a very young age.—Cary Thompson, Des Moines, Iowa

***

Walter Williams’ recent commentary, “Our Ignorance of Socialism Is Dangerous,” pointed out the problem but gave no solutions.

The answer is education. There are tons of information about how free college, free housing, free everything will bankrupt America. These facts need to be put out frequently.

Xavier Underwood’s commentary, “What the New Socialists in Congress Need to Know About Poverty,” is an excellent piece of writing from one who knows its failures. Best of all, he offers solutions. You need more articles that do that.

Discussions are good, but solutions are better.—Pat Ellis, Clinton, Miss.

***

Kudos to Jarrett Stepman for the article “The Green Agenda Burns to Ashes in Paris.” It is well written and, from observation, it is so true.

My husband is a French immigrant. He closely watches the news from his former home.  He told me the rioting would happen because in France this is the only way to get attention from the elite government.

Do some research into how many elected representatives they have in France’s government. My husband is a retired school teacher. His pension, which he paid into all his life, was reduced by his government to 40 percent of what he should be getting.  And they are calling for a further reduction this January. How would we react to such a thing?

Back to the representatives in France. They have more than we do here. They get paid more, each has several assistants, who also have assistants. Usually family is hired. And so much has been revealed lately about government officials who have been scamming money from the people.

I pray our country does not go down this road.  If the American left would go and live in France’s economy, I wonder how their cries would change. God bless America.—Tonie Dalton, Ivanhoe, Va.

***

Listening to a recent discussion on The Daily Signal’s podcast, it troubled me that there was such ready acceptance of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s position (“What It’s Like in France, Amid Heated Protests Over Green Tax”).

Clearly, Daniel Davis and Katrina Trinko are more accepting, or maybe it is tolerance of the Apple position, as they offered less pushback than what is needed.

So let me posit this to The Daily Signal: The internet and social media platforms are different than what has come before in communications. They function differently with respect to what they are, how they work, and their reach. They have the ability to impose censorship, control commerce, and reduce freedom by forced trade-offs and offers of security and convenience.

At the time of the American Revolution, communication was limited to face-to-face verbal exchange, written private communication, and publication through pamphlets, newspapers, and books.

The Founders were nothing if not protective of our individual rights. They understood there can be no group rights unless the rights of the individual are protected … and protective they were.  The Constitution would not have been ratified without the Bill of Rights. How would censorship have been carried out then, and how is it being done today?

In the 19th century, the telegraph came to prominence and radio was invented. In the 20th century, telephone, television, computers and the internet were added.

Communication still includes face-to-face verbal exchange, written private communication, and publication through pamphlets, newspapers, and books. But the passage of time has diminished the importance and relevance of each older form. The technology of communications has changed.

The issue before us, which Mr. Cook spoke to is: Have our values and principles changed? His position is yes and perhaps he is right, but therein lies the problem.

The Fourth Amendment reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Another current example of the danger to our right to be secure in our persons, houses, papers, and effects is the merger of Microsoft and MasterCard.

Think of the impact of putting that level of detailed personal and financial information about each individual in anyone’s hands.

There are implications beyond annoyance with having an information source made unavailable. The threat is to privacy, the conduct of business, and the ability to hold and express political opinion.

The technology industry is adopting and promoting the Chinese form of censorship and social order through personal rating and valuation. The Apple position, which its CEO clearly advocates, is that our values and principles have changed. Hopefully he is wrong.

As just a poor dumb truck driver, please allow me to observe that what is coming is a huge change. It is being installed; it is being sold with a facade of convenience and a side of security. We all should be able to grasp what has arrived in our homes and businesses, and we don’t need an Alexa to do so.

This is civil asset forfeiture on steroids. This is censorship on steroids. This is social engineering like nothing we have ever seen before. This is economic microcontrol.

This is going to be worse than the weaponization of the branches of government. We are giving up our exceptionalism, our liberty, for a pocketful of mumbles.

Hopefully you can sit a little taller in the saddle moving forward.—Marc Abear

***

President Trump is correct that forest management practices play a role in California’s tragic wildfires.  However, climate change also has a profound impact.

It’s important to take note of a 2015 issue of the Forest Service’s journal, “Fire Management Today” and a report titled “Climate Change: The Future is Here.”  This publication states: “Increasing temperatures and changes in precipitation and snowmelt patterns are increasing the severity and size of wildfires in the West.”

It also expresses concern about “the occurrence of fire that is outside the range of our existing experience” and the danger this poses to firefighters and communities.

Hotter temperatures evaporate soil moisture and dry vegetation, making it more likely to burn. According to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, over the past three decades human-caused climate change has doubled the area affected by forest fires in the Western United States.

Given the devastation caused by these fires, it’s not surprising that the Department of Defense calls climate change a national security threat.  President Trump has said his “highest duty is to keep America safe.” Fulfilling this responsibility requires U.S. leadership on climate action.—Terry Hansen, Hales Corners, Wis.

***

We should stop taking care of all the illegal people with free food stamps, education, health care, and housing. With all of the homeless American citizens, many of whom are our veterans and elderly, shame on us!

How in the world have we let this happen? We need to change some of our outdated laws, build the wall, and let President Trump do his job.

Another thing that would help is charging the companies that hire these illegal people with stiff fines and loss of their business license. Maybe jail time.

If we not take hold of these problems, we may end up being a Third World country. We are stronger than that.—Pat Manje

How Are We Doing?

Dear Daily Signal: I so enjoy your articles.  They are a breath of fresh air and sanity in the news today.  I do want to know, however, why media outlets like yours and other ethical media outlets are not setting some standards for all of the media to follow.

Have the schools of journalism been so brainwashed that being soap operas or tabloids is more acceptable than honestly reporting the news?  President Trump and America deserve better than these poor excuses of immaturity.

Are they so ignorant of truth that they just make up lies to justify their time on the air? We must pray for them and set America free. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and to set the captives free.—P. Lange

***

I love The Daily Signal, but I am retired and have time to read. If conservatives want to win with busy people, they need to provide a place to find facts.

When I talk to friends about newsworthy topics, I want to go to a conservative site that lists only facts about immigration, abortion, the  Electoral College, the Second Amendment or whatever, so I have facts to share. It doesn’t do any good to tell them to read a column or two about the subject. They don’t have time.

Where can I find a conservative Snopes? I need to be able to say, “Let me look that up” and then answer: “Obama used pepper spray at the border in 2013.”

Or, “X number of prisoners are illegal aliens” or “X number of illegal children are not with their legal parents when they cross the border.”

Is there a central clearinghouse for facts for conservatives? If we can look them up, we can get around the mainstream media.—Sheila Eyster

***

I thank The Heritage Foundation for providing The Daily Signal. My husband and I read it every day.

I had a thought on illegal immigrants and all the U.S. churches and social groups who encourage and help them settle here. Those groups should instead go to Mexico and other countries, and put their efforts into teaching them how to be activists in their own countries and clean up their governments.

The many young men flowing into the U.S. could summon their courage to fight for their own soil, as our brave Founders did. They need leadership from outside to do this.—Maxine Scott, Indiana

 ***

Thank you for keeping the heat on the unions over the government employees who continue to be billed, in Oregon and elsewhere, when they officially canceled their union memberships.

Liberal states will continue to flout the Supreme Court decision in the Janus case. The Daily Signal’s watchdogs will derail their efforts. Keep up the good work.— Suzanne Kelly, Barnstable, Mass.

***

Keep up the good work. I will be sending in a donation shortly.—Robert Porter

Sarah Sleem helped to compile this edition of “We Hear You.”

The post We Hear You: Transgender Pronouns, School Discipline, the Russia Probe, and Climate Change appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Pompeo in Cairo: ‘The Age of Self-Inflicted American Shame Is Over’

Fri, 2019-01-11 18:41

It’s a new day in American foreign policy.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a forceful speech in Cairo, Egypt, in which he stated that the Trump administration had learned from the mistakes of the Obama administration and has reasserted the traditional U.S. role as a “force for good” in the Middle East and a reliable ally for Arab states threatened by Iran or Islamist terrorists.

Without mentioning former President Barack Obama by name, Pompeo referred to Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech:

It was here, here in this city, that another American stood before you. He told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from an ideology. He told you that 9/11 led by country to abandon its ideals, particularly in the Middle East. He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed, quote, ‘a new beginning,’ end of quote.

Pompeo observed that “the results of these misjudgments had been dire” and paved the way for the rise of ISIS and the emboldening of Iran: “In falsely seeing ourselves as a force for what ails the Middle East, we were timid in asserting ourselves when the times—and our partners—demanded it.”

He promised: “The good news is this: The age of self-inflicted American shame is over, and so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering. Now comes the real new beginning.”

Pompeo thanked Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi for promoting religious freedom and denouncing the “twisted ideology” of Islamist extremism. He called on other regional allies to boost their own efforts to defeat Islamist extremism.

Pompeo also focused on the regional threat posed by Iran and its Shia militia surrogates in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen.

To roll back Iran’s influence, Pompeo promoted the establishment of a Middle East Strategic Alliance that would coordinate the efforts of the U.S., Egypt, Jordan, and the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

After the speech, Pompeo announced that the United States would convene an international summit conference in Poland on Feb. 13 that would focus on pushing back against Iran’s hostile policies.

Pompeo is likely to expand upon these initiatives for building a stronger anti-Iran coalition during the remaining stops of his Middle East tour in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Kuwait.

The U.S. effort to establish a Middle East Strategic Alliance, a NATO-style collective security organization, is likely to be an uphill struggle. Many Arab leaders distrust each other and are divided by regional rivalries.

A major problem is likely to be persistent tensions between Qatar and other Arab states due to Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and its perceived closeness to Iran.

Since 2017, Qatar has been sanctioned and blockaded by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt, who also broke diplomatic ties with Qatar.

Earlier this week, Anthony Zinni, a retired general serving as the Trump administration’s special envoy for resolving the Qatar dispute, resigned due to the unwillingness of regional leaders to accept his mediation effort.

Zinni’s resignation is a sign that the Trump administration’s efforts to organize an “Arab NATO” are unlikely to succeed anytime soon. Although Iran poses a major threat to the region, inter-Arab rivalries remain a formidable stumbling block.

For more on this topic:

U.S. Iran Policy After the Demise of the Nuclear Deal

Pompeo Stands Up for the Iranian People in Major Speech

Top 3 Takeaways from Pompeo’s New Deal for Iran

After the Deal: A New Iran Strategy

President Trump’s Opportunity to Reset the U.S.-Egyptian Alliance

The post Pompeo in Cairo: ‘The Age of Self-Inflicted American Shame Is Over’ appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

‘Equal Rights Amendment’ Advances Pro-Choice Agenda in Virginia

Fri, 2019-01-11 18:03

The deadline for ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment passed back in 1982. But that hasn’t deterred its latest crop of activists.

Down in Virginia, a tag-team of liberal extremists and feminists are joining forces to bring the famous piece of ’70s propaganda back from the grave. And this time, they’re making it quite clear that the campaign has more to do with abortion than anything else.

At a Richmond press conference of pro-life women Thursday, groups like Family Research Council and Susan B. Anthony List called on Virginia leaders to reject the proposal. It’s a waste of time, they argued, in a century “where women are already protected as equals in our legislation and the courts.”

But then, as most Virginia liberals will tell you, this was never really about equality.

“When my rights as a woman [are] dependent on laws, because laws can change as quickly as legislators change their minds, and Supreme Court decisions that allowed me to go to college can always be reversed, but when you enshrine my constitutional rights as a human being equal to men, well, that is the only thing that is acceptable, because amendments do not expire,” Prince William Democrat Jennifer Carroll Foy said on the Virginia Assembly floor.

And what “rights” are those?

Family Research Council’s director of life, culture, and women’s advocacy, Patrina Mosley, thinks it’s obvious. “Women are continually used as props to push an agenda. The ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) is not about women, it is really a smokescreen for abortion,” she insisted.

Tina Whittington, executive vice president of Students for Life of America, agreed: “The only reason to pick the ERA off the dusty floor of history is because of a fierce desire to protect abortion at all costs.”

Equal Rights Amendment Coalition Co-President Jessica Neuwirth fired back that the amendment is “silent” on abortion. But that’s by design.

The reality, Susan B. Anthony List’s Mallory Quigley says, is that the Equal Rights Amendment “would alter the Constitution to create a permanent right to abortion on demand, up until the moment of birth, paid for by you and [me], the American taxpayers. It’s even more extreme than Roe v. Wade, which in a single day struck down every pro-life law nationwide.”

Although Family Research Council legal expert Alexandra McPhee insists that ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment is a moot point, enough Virginia legislators sided with the proposal to send it out of committee by a close 8-6 vote. Whether the measure has enough steam to make it through the full Assembly is another story—one that Virginians can play a part in.

Originally published by Family Research Council’s Washington Update. which is written with the aid of Family Research Council senior writers.

The post ‘Equal Rights Amendment’ Advances Pro-Choice Agenda in Virginia appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Blackburn Bill Would Eliminate All Federal Funding of Abortion Providers

Fri, 2019-01-11 17:45

Newly elected Sen. Marsha Blackburn announced Thursday that she has introduced her first bill in the Senate, one that would end federal funding to all abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood.

“Tennesseans and the American people do not want their tax dollars funding abortions,” Blackburn, R-Tenn., said in a statement posted on her Twitter page Friday.

Blackburn, 66, was elected to the Senate on Nov. 6, beating Democrat Phil Bredesen, a former governor. She had previously represented Tennessee in the U.S. House since 2003, and before that, served in the state Senate.

“They have made this position clear time and again,” Blackburn, Tennessee’s first female U.S. senator, said of state voters. “Hardworking taxpayers do not want to subsidize the business of abortion providers and entities such as Planned Parenthood.”

The bill would ensure that abortion providers would not get funding under Title X of the Public Health Service Act, which gives the secretary of health and human services the authority to “award grants for projects to provide family-planning services to any person desiring such services, with priority given to individuals from low-income families,” according to HHS.gov.

Other pro-life organizations have tweeted support since Blackburn’s announcement went live Thursday.

“We’re so grateful for Sen @MarshaBlackburn, whose first bill as a U.S. senator will protect unborn babies by ensuring not one dime of tax dollars under the Title X Family Planning Program goes to abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood,” Susan B. Anthony List, a grassroots pro-life policy and advocacy organization, tweeted Friday.

National Right to Life also congratulated Blackburn for her efforts to eliminate federal funding for abortion providers.

“Thank you, @MarshaBlackburn, for introducing legislation to exclude abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, from the Title X program.”

Thank you, @MarshaBlackburn, for introducing legislation to exclude abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, from the Title X Program. pic.twitter.com/ltlgixWNsE

— Right to Life (@nrlc) January 11, 2019

The post Blackburn Bill Would Eliminate All Federal Funding of Abortion Providers appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Schumer’s Green Energy Subsidies Cost Much More Than Trump’s Wall

Fri, 2019-01-11 17:44

The government is shut down over border wall funding, but only a month ago Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked President Donald Trump to support billions in green energy subsidies.

Schumer, a New York Democrat, in early December asked Trump to support “permanent tax incentives for domestic production of clean electricity and storage, energy efficient homes and commercial buildings, electric vehicles, and modernizing the electric grid.”

“If left unchecked, the damage caused by climate change will cause untold human suffering and significant damage to the U.S. economy,” Schumer wrote to Trump on Dec. 6.

Extending tax subsidy provisions primarily benefiting wind and solar power would cost nearly $32 billion over the next four years, according to Joint Committee on Taxation estimates. Permanently extending these tax subsidies could add billions more to the tab. The committee estimates solar and wind tax subsidies will cost more than $7 billion in 2019.

Based on committee estimates, continuing solar and wind tax subsidies is nearly six times the $5.7 billion Trump is asking from Congress for a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The total cost of a wall to cover the nearly 2,000-mile southern border could be as high as $25 billion, according to the White House, though other estimates have put the cost of a border wall as high as $60 billion based on the projected per-mile cost.

The battle over border wall funding forced Congress to sideline its year-end debate over “tax extenders,” which includes 11 green energy-related tax benefits that would cost roughly $53 billion over 10 years if they were made permanent, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. Extending these tax credits just one year is estimated to cost roughly $5 billion.

These energy tax subsidies expired at the end of 2017, the costliest of which are tax incentives for biodiesel, alternative fuels, and residential energy efficiency. If made permanent, those programs would cost more than nine times what Trump asked from Congress in border wall funding.

The two costliest green subsidies, the production tax credit and investment tax credit, primarily benefit wind turbines and solar panels, respectively. Many Republicans and conservative groups have called for eliminating green tax subsidies.

Both the production tax credit and investment tax credit are set to expire at the end of 2021. However, given the White House’s opposition to some green energy tax subsidies, some conservatives suggest ending those and put the funds toward a border wall.

“This only makes sense, and with the additional funds we could paint it green,” Dan Kish, a senior distinguished fellow at the free-market Institute for Energy Research, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “It’s a win-win.”

But could a deal like this ever be cut? Dan Whitten, vice president of public affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association, doesn’t think so.

“Given its strong bipartisan support, this seems like a nonstarter,” Whitten told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“As for the notion of terminating the existing ITC (investment tax credit), that is something we would strenuously oppose,” Whitten said. “It is one of the most successful energy incentives to date, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars in economic activity.”

The Solar Energy Industries Association has not asked Congress to extend the investment tax credit, which is set to sunset at the end of 2021. However, there is a permanent 10 percent investment tax credit for solar and geothermal installations.

The American Wind Energy Association did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Sixteen days after Schumer sent his letter, Trump refused to sign legislation to keep the federal government open without $5.7 billion in border wall funding. Congressional Democrats refused and the government shutdown began.

The ongoing shutdown tied with the 1995-1996 shutdown during the Clinton administration, which lasted for 21 days. On Saturday, the current shutdown will become the longest in U.S. history if no deal to reopen the government is made.

Schumer’s office did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

The post Schumer’s Green Energy Subsidies Cost Much More Than Trump’s Wall appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Trump Shares Photo of ‘Strong and Beautiful’ Wall Design

Fri, 2019-01-11 17:30

President Donald Trump shared an image of a “very high, strong and beautiful” portion of wall on the U.S. border with Mexico via Twitter Friday.

“The Fake News Media keeps saying we haven’t built any NEW WALL,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Below is a section just completed on the Border. Anti-climbing feature included. Very high, strong and beautiful! Also, many miles already renovated and in service!”

The Fake News Media keeps saying we haven’t built any NEW WALL. Below is a section just completed on the Border. Anti-climbing feature included. Very high, strong and beautiful! Also, many miles already renovated and in service! pic.twitter.com/UAAGXl5Byr

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2019

He included an image labeled “30-foot Bollard wall constructed and installed” that appeared to be dated Oct. 1. The tweet did not make clear where the portion of wall was located.

Trump shared the photo just a day after visiting the nation’s southern border Thursday. The president is asking for $5.7 billion in funding for a southern border wall and is trying to negotiate his way out of a partial government shutdown that began on Dec. 22 when Democrats refused to fund it.

Trump’s jab at the “Fake News Media” may stem from accusations that the president has claimed an extended border wall is already under way. An NPR fact check found that the president’s Dec. 11 claim that “we’re building new walls right now” rings true. The president discussed building and renovating border barriers. NPR added:

In 2017, the president managed to secure about $1.6 billion for border protection projects, but they are primarily for fortifying existing border fencing, not expanding the current wall.

The U.S.-Mexico border is nearly 2,000 miles long, and about 650 miles of barriers like fencing or walls can be found in certain stretches along the border, according to The New York Times.

In addition, CNN’s Jim Acosta reported from a section of wall in McAllen, Texas, Thursday and his barb at Trump that he did not “see anything resembling a national emergency situation” drew a response from the president.

Trump retweeted Acosta’s video in front of a border wall, adding the phrase “Dear Diary…” Thursday night.

Trump has repeatedly said the wall and greater border security are needed because of a “crisis” at the border.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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Categories: Public Policy

Ukraine’s Leap of Faith Is a Step Toward Ditching Russian Influence

Fri, 2019-01-11 17:15

KYIV, Ukraine—Orthodox Christians celebrated Christmas on Jan. 7, according to the Julian calendar. This year’s holiday was the first for Ukraine’s newly unified, national Orthodox Church, independent from Russian control for the first time since the 17th century.

Monday’s milestone marked a major step forward in Ukraine’s ongoing efforts to diminish Russian influence, highlighting an intractable cultural divorce between the two erstwhile Soviet allies.

“Russia uses the church as one of the tools to influence Ukraine’s domestic politics,” said Julia Kazdobina, head of the Ukrainian Foundation for Security Studies.

By establishing an independent Ukrainian church with support from the Ukrainian government, Ukraine has shown its resolve in defying one of the most potent institutions in Russia,” Kazdobina said. “This is a significant asymmetric blow in response to Russian aggression.”

In a Jan. 6 ceremony in Istanbul, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, foremost leader of the global Orthodox Church, granted the Ukrainian Orthodox Church full independence, or autocephaly, defying Russian claims of authority.

Two breakaway Ukrainian churches formed in the 1990s following Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union, but the Constantinople Patriarchate, historically the most influential center of the global Orthodox Church, had never officially recognized the Ukrainian splinter churches as legitimate and independent from Moscow.

Outside of St. Sophia’s Cathedral in Kyiv on Jan. 7, which was Christmas, according to the Julian calendar. (Photos: Nolan Peterson/The Daily Signal)

During Sunday’s ceremony at St. George’s Cathedral in Istanbul, 39-year-old Metropolitan Epiphanius, who was elected leader of a unified Orthodox Church of Ukraine last month, accepted a document called the “tomos” of autocephaly from Bartholomew. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attended the event, along with other political leaders.

“Together with the prayers of gratitude, we are also praying to God today for our Ukrainian people, who have been suffering for five years from the war brought from outside to our peaceful home,” Epiphanius said Sunday in Istanbul.

Back in Kyiv on Monday for Christmas, Epiphanius held a special service at the 11th-century St. Sophia’s Cathedral. The tomos document—a scroll ornately handwritten in Greek—was unrolled and on display, affixed to a wooden easel with blue and yellow ribbons (Ukraine’s national colors).

After the ceremony, the historic document remained on display inside St. Sophia’s Cathedral for public viewing throughout Christmas Day. On the cobblestone square outside the cathedral, amid subzero temperatures and snow flurries, thousands of people stood in line, waiting for their chance to see the tomos scroll.

The line extended from the cathedral’s arched entranceway for hundreds of meters, passing beneath a decorated Christmas tree, past the Bohdan Khmelnytsky Monument, up to the edge of an outdoor Christmas market where stereos blasted staple American Christmas hits like Bobby Helms’ “Jingle Bell Rock.”

Ukrainians are no strangers to harsh winters. And the gathered people seemed relatively unfazed by the arctic weather. They casually shook off the biting cold, breathing warm air into numbed hands. Some enjoyed a cup of mulled wine procured from the nearby Christmas market.

“I believe that obtaining independence by our church is an important step toward building Ukraine as an independent state,” Andrey Khomenko, a Ukrainian IT specialist who lives in Kyiv, told The Daily Signal.

When it comes to Ukraine’s overall divorce from Russia, “culture is one of the most difficult knots, which gradually needs to be untied,” Khomenko said.

Divorce

Monday was Ukraine’s fifth straight wartime Christmas. In the country’s embattled southeastern Donbas region, Ukrainian troops remain hunkered down in trenches and ad hoc forts along a frigid, 250-mile-long front line opposite a combined force of pro-Russian separatists, foreign mercenaries, and Russian regulars.

It’s a long-range battle, marked by daily exchanges of fire from tanks, rockets, artillery, mortars, and small arms. At some places, no man’s land can be several kilometers wide. At others, the Ukrainians and their enemies are close enough to shout insults at each other.

The operative, Minsk II cease-fire—signed in February 2015—has effectively frozen the conflict along its current geographical boundaries. Yet, in reality, the war never ended. At its pleasure, Russia has maintained a cycle of waxing and waning violence by flaunting the cease-fire’s rules. The war remains a tool for Moscow to destabilize Ukraine and forestall its Western pivot, many security experts say.

A Ukrainian soldier in the front-line town of Pisky enjoys a quiet moment inside a Russian Orthodox church.

Ukrainians’ attitudes toward Russia have hardened after more than four years of war. A December poll by Rating, a Ukrainian think tank, found that 63 percent of Ukrainians label Russia as an “aggressor country.”

Thus, amid the war’s backdrop, many Ukrainians see religious independence from Russia as a singularly patriotic achievement—a defiant act of self-determination, pushing the country further away from its former Soviet overlord.

“In my opinion, the independent church recreated the taste of freedom that has been steadily disappearing after the Euromaidan,” said Alexandra Nazola, a project manager at CFC Consulting, a Ukrainian strategic communications firm that co-founded the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

Ukraine’s pro-Western 2014 revolution is colloquially known as the “Euromaidan,” or “Maidan”—a reference to Kyiv’s central square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti, which was the revolution’s epicenter.

Some worry the historic religious divorce between Russia and Ukraine could upheave the uneasy status quo in the Donbas conflict, especially in the wake of a Nov. 25 naval confrontation in the Black Sea, which nearly escalated the ongoing land war into a broader conflict.

“Russia is unpredictable. I do not think that [Russian President Vladimir Putin] needs any excuse to escalate the conflict in Ukraine,” said Andrii Ianitskyi, head of the Centre for Excellence in Economic Journalism at the Kyiv School of Economics.

“It seems to me that Russia can create an excuse if it wants to attack Ukraine again,” Ianitskyi said.

For her part, Kazdobina, of the Ukrainian Foundation for Security Studies, said any violence due to religious tensions would likely amount to nothing more than “local skirmishes.”

The greater danger, Kazdobina said, remains an escalation of the shooting war in the Donbas, or a maritime crisis in the Sea of Azov spiraling out of control.

Church and State

Negotiations for autocephaly began under Viktor Yushchenko, who was president of Ukraine from 2005 to 2010. Ukraine’s parliament resumed the push in April last year, voting to appeal to Constantinople for an independent Ukrainian church.

For Poroshenko, who faces a tough re-election bid in March, the tomos of autocephaly is a key political win. Yet, despite the historical significance of Ukraine’s religious independence, polling shows that the war and jobs are the top voting issues for most Ukrainians.

Ukrainians lined up outside of St. Sophia’s Cathedral in Kyiv on Jan. 7, hoping to see the document that established Ukraine’s independent national church.

Polling suggests, also, that the creation of an autonomous Ukrainian church is not of paramount concern to most Ukrainians. An August 2018 poll jointly conducted by the Razumkov Center and the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation, two Ukrainian think tanks, found that 35 percent of Ukrainians supported the creation of an independent church, while 19 percent were opposed to it, and 33.5 percent said they were indifferent.

“An independent Ukrainian church is an important step in the divorce of Ukraine and Russia, but only one of many other steps,” Ianitskyi, from the Kyiv School of Economics, said. He cited closer economic ties with the European Union and promoting the use of the Ukrainian language over Russian as other key ways for Ukraine to cut ties with Russia.

“But the new church, of course, will reduce the influence of the Russian church in Ukraine,” Ianitskyi said. “This is an important event, of course.”

Recognition

For his part, Poroshenko has played an outsized role in promoting the new Ukrainian church as a win for Ukraine against Russian influence.

“The creation of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine is the pledge of our independence,” Poroshenko said during the Christmas liturgy at St. Sophia’s Cathedral in Kyiv.

“This is the foundation of our spiritual freedom,” Poroshenko said. “We’ve severed the last ties that connected us with Moscow and its fantasies about Ukraine as the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church.”

The next challenge for the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church is to secure recognition from other Orthodox churches. Yet, to do that, some experts say, Ukrainian church leaders may have to distance themselves from the Ukrainian government and prove the new church is open to outsiders.

“Truly, Ukrainians shall be proud of religious independence happening almost 30 years after the state’s independence. However, this may look like the rise of modern clericalism as church matters are influenced by the Ukrainian political establishment,” said Nazola, the CFC Consulting project manager.

A December poll found that 63 percent of Ukrainians label Russia as an “aggressor country.”

“While Ukraine is becoming less and less affected by Russian cultural and historical narratives, it is important to not let Ukrainian politics fully influence the Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” Nazola told The Daily Signal.

Moscow, for its part, has accused the new Ukrainian church of being an organ of the Ukrainian state—a characterization that Kyiv rejects.

“What nobody wants in Orthodoxy is ethnophyletism, where only Ukrainians are allowed in the Ukrainian Church,” Nicholas Denysenko, an American professor of theology at Valparaiso University, said during an interview with the Religious Information Service of Ukraine.

“The other Orthodox churches, however flawed they are, are unnerved about Ukrainian nationalism,” Denysenko said. “They don’t understand how Ukrainians are discovering their identity, especially in this post-Maidan war period, and embracing patriotism, because they are not living in Ukraine and don’t understand the conditions of war.”

The post Ukraine’s Leap of Faith Is a Step Toward Ditching Russian Influence appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

What Justice Ginsburg’s Absence From the Supreme Court Means—and What It Doesn’t

Fri, 2019-01-11 17:08

The Supreme Court justices returned for the court’s first oral arguments of 2019 this week without America’s favorite octogenarian, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Seasoned litigators and Ginsburg fanatics alike were shocked by Chief Justice John Roberts’ announcement on Monday that Ginsburg would miss oral arguments.

The announcement came less than three weeks after the Supreme Court issued a statement regarding Ginsburg having a procedure to remove from her left lung cancerous nodules, which had been discovered when she was treated for broken ribs following a fall in November.

Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg issued a statement on Friday indicating Ginsburg’s recovery is “on track” and that “[p]ost-surgery evaluation indicates no evidence of remaining disease, and no further treatment is required.”

News outlets are reporting that Ginsburg will be absent from oral arguments next week as well. Those headlines have caused a flurry of speculation from fan and foe alike, but it is important to put this absence into context of Supreme Court history.

It’s common for justices to recuse themselves from participating in cases for a variety of reasons. For example, they might have a financial stake in the litigation. Indeed, Justice Samuel Alito just “unrecused” himself from a case after selling off stocks in one of the parties.

They could have previously participated in the case as a litigant; for example, Justice Elena Kagan’s previous post as the solicitor general of the United States under President Barack Obama led to her recusal in a number of cases in her first few years on the bench.

They also may have ruled on the case as a lower court judge, as we’ve seen with newcomers Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

In all these instances, recusal is expected in the interest of justice and fairness.

Ginsburg is not recused, however, from the cases argued this week. She will still participate—just not in person. Roberts explained on Monday that she will review the briefs and the transcripts of oral arguments before casting her vote.

While a justice’s absence is not ideal, the court faced a much more dire situation when then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist missed 44 oral arguments throughout the 2004-2005 term while he underwent thyroid cancer treatments.

To put this in perspective, the court typically hears between 65 and 75 cases per term. During his absence, Rehnquist reviewed the briefs and transcripts, and he went on to write the majority opinion in four of those cases.

On top of that, the chief justice has a number of duties dealing with the administration of the federal judiciary that an associate justice, such as Ginsburg, does not.

To be sure, a nine-member court is preferable, but the court managed with eight members for nearly 14 months after Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden passing in February 2016.

The main impact was that the court tended to shy away from taking up any new cases raising particularly contentious issues (and, of course, the vacancy had a bit of an effect on the 2016 presidential election).

But of the cases resolved by the eight-member court, only a handful of decisions ended up tying 4-4.

Going further back in Supreme Court history, Justice Robert Jackson took a yearlong leave of absence to serve as the chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials in 1945-1946.

This is all to say that absences are not unprecedented for members of the Supreme Court. They are, however, extremely unusual for Ginsburg. This week marked the first time in her 25-year tenure on the Supreme Court that she missed an oral argument, including when she previously battled cancer in 1999 and 2009, and when her beloved husband, Marty, died in 2010.

It’s also important to note that, while oral arguments receive a lot of attention from the media, they are a small part in the long life of a Supreme Court case. The justices review briefs prepared by the litigants, “friend of the court” briefs filed by other interested parties, lower court opinions, and relevant past Supreme Court opinions.

Ultimately, their decisions are based on much more than an hour of oral arguments. That’s one reason Justice Clarence Thomas has cited for why he does not typically ask questions during oral arguments. Indeed, he has suggested he would eliminate oral arguments if he could.

Few would go that far, but Ginsburg’s absence from oral arguments is not devastating to the integrity of the court by any means.

Even so, Ginsburg’s absence draws great speculation. Whispers that the Trump administration is actively vetting candidates for her position on the high court are heard around Washington, which is still recovering from the bruising Kavanaugh confirmation.

This administration is, perhaps, better prepared to nominate another Supreme Court justice should a vacancy arise than a typical administration. That’s because President Donald Trump already seriously considered several candidates for the past two vacancies (including 7th Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett and 3rd Circuit Judge Thomas Hardiman), and there are plenty of other options on his highly publicized Supreme Court shortlist.

At this point, however, we shouldn’t read too much into Ginsburg’s absence, and instead, we should wish her a speedy recovery.

>>> Listen to “SCOTUS 101,” a podcast with Elizabeth Slattery and friends bringing you up to speed on what’s happening at the Supreme Court.

The post What Justice Ginsburg’s Absence From the Supreme Court Means—and What It Doesn’t appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Democrats’ New House Rules Stifle Conservatives, Critics Say

Fri, 2019-01-11 16:59

Conservatives say Democrats’ new rules, pushed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will stifle conservative lawmakers.

“House Democrats are using parliamentary rules to consolidate power in Speaker Pelosi’s hands, push forward a liberal agenda, and deny conservatives an equal voice in what is supposed to be a legislative body that represents all Americans,” Jessica Anderson, vice president of Heritage Action for America, told The Daily Signal in an email.

“The new Democrat rules package will make it more difficult—and in some cases nearly impossible—to advance conservative positions in the 116th Congress,” Anderson said.

Heritage Action, which published an issue brief on the new rules in the Democrat-led House, is the lobbying and advocacy arm of The Heritage Foundation.

Pelosi, D-Calif., and the Democrats adopted the new rules Jan. 3, when they took over the House. Every two years, the lower chamber votes to adopt a set of rules for that session of Congress.

This is necessary “because the rules of the House do not transfer from one Congress to the next—a tradition unique to the House and not shared in the Senate, which is a continuous body,” the Heritage Action paper says.

Specifically, the new rules package prohibits discrimination against employees with regard to gender identity and sexual orientation, a change that could coerce lawmakers who hold traditional views of marriage.

“This could force members who hold traditional views on sexual orientation and gender to hire employees that disagree with the member’s religious and sincerely held beliefs or political views,” Heritage Action’s paper says.

At the same time, however, the new rules broaden the religious liberty of others by allowing lawmakers to don religious headwear in the House chamber.

The rules require that lawmakers take ethics training each year and prohibit service on corporate boards, NBC News reported.

Reps. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, voted “no” on the rules package.

Ocasio-Cortez and Khanna said on Twitter that they would vote against it because of the inclusion of a “pay-as-you-go” provision.

Also shortened to “pay-go,” the measure “requires that any new legislation that increases deficits (whether through an increase in mandatory spending or decrease in revenues) must be fully offset by other increases in revenues or decreases in mandatory spending so that the new legislation does not add to the budget deficit,” according to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

The new House rules also could be threaten gains made by Republicans’ tax reform legislation, Heritage Foundation policy experts said.

Since the tax cuts and other reforms went into effect Jan. 1, 2018,  Americans have had on average $1,400 more in their paycheck. That increases to just under $3,000 more for married couples with two children, writes Kevin D. Dayaratna, a senior statistician and research programmer in Heritage’s Center for Data Analysis.

The rules also scrap a requirement that three-fifths of House members must vote to increase taxes.

“Without this protection, the House would be able to more easily increase income taxes, endangering the tax cuts passed a year ago,” Romina Boccia, a fiscal and economic expert at Heritage, writes in a commentary co-authored with colleagues Justin Bogie, Adam Michel, and Rachel Greszler.

>>> Related: House Democratic Rules Package Could Mean More Spending, Higher Taxes

The rules also reverse past protocol in which “proposed amendments that would increase or create new spending must be fully paid for,” they write, and make it easier for the House to pass legislation without funding to implement it.

This makes it easier for lawmakers to increase deficit spending, conservative critics say.

“While the Senate and presidency are controlled by Republicans, the threat of an income tax increase is small,” Michel, a Heritage policy analyst who specializes in taxes, told The Daily Signal in an email.

“However, the rule change sends a strong signal that the new House is serious about raising taxes, and if they had their way the threat would be imminent.”

Michel added that House Democrats likely will try to raise taxes on all Americans.

“It is most revealing that they did not go with their original proposal to only remove the supermajority requirement for tax increases on the wealthy,” he said. “Instead they settled on fully repealing the supermajority, signaling they plan to raise taxes on all Americans, not just the wealthy.”

The post Democrats’ New House Rules Stifle Conservatives, Critics Say appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

No, the Electoral College Is Not a ‘Shadow of Slavery’s Power’

Fri, 2019-01-11 16:24

“There you go again,” Ronald Reagan famously joked in 1980 when President Jimmy Carter painted an inaccurate picture of one of his policies. Perhaps he’d say the same of those who are distorting the history of the Electoral College today.

New York’s newest congresswoman, Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has been quick to jump onto this bandwagon, recently labeling the Electoral College a “shadow of slavery’s power on America.” Others have called it a “living symbol of America’s original sin,” an “antiquated relic of slavery,” or even a “pro-slavery compromise.”

Mere hours into the new Congress, a bill was introduced to eliminate this “outdated” system.

Such a view of the Electoral College’s roots threatens to become conventional wisdom, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Obviously, some of the Founders owned slaves. Compromises were made in America’s early years because North and South couldn’t agree on whether to continue the institution. Just as obviously, virtually all Americans today wish that slavery had never existed. It’s a part of America’s heritage that is clearly at odds with America’s founding principles.

That does not mean, however, that the Constitution and its presidential election process are simply a “relic of slavery.” The discussions at the Constitutional Convention were shaped more by the delegates’ study of history and political philosophy, as well as their own experiences with Parliament and the state legislatures. They wanted to avoid the mistakes that had been made in other governments. They sought to establish a better constitution that would stand the test of time.

George Washington expressed this conviction, felt so strongly by the founding generation: “[T]he preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of government,” he concluded, “are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”

His words echoed an argument that James Madison had made about a year and a half earlier. Only a republic, Madison had written, “would be reconcilable with the genius of the people of America; with the fundamental principles of the revolution; or with that honorable determination which animates every votary of freedom to rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.” He thought the experiment worthwhile. The Constitution met these criteria.

Nevertheless, some modern commentators brush this history aside and insist that the compromises at the convention were nothing more than attempts to preserve slavery. Americans, they say, have been fooled into thinking that their heritage is more admirable than it is. The specific charges about the Electoral College in this context are inaccurate, but they need to be addressed since they are raised so often.

First, critics sometimes cite the Constitution’s “three-fifths” compromise, which determined how slaves would be counted in apportioning congressional representation. The South wanted to count each slave as a whole person. The North did not want to count slaves at all—a larger population would give the South more voting power. In the end, convention delegates agreed to count each slave as three-fifths of a person.

But did that compromise really do more for the South or for the North?

If slaves had been counted as whole persons (as the South wanted), then the South would have had even more representatives in Congress. In other words, while the three-fifths compromise is often cited as an advantage for the slave-holding South, it can also be interpreted as a win for the North.

One additional nuance complicates an assessment of the three-fifths compromise—the convention applied the same formula for apportioning direct taxes. The North effectively offered the South a compromise: In return for having fewer representatives in Congress, the South would be assessed less in federal taxes.

A more honest assessment of the three-fifths compromise shows what it really concerned—congressional representation and taxation, not the Electoral College. Indeed, the discussions about the compromise and the discussions about the presidential election system were largely separate. The main reason the compromise is cited today is because, late in the convention, it was decided that each state’s electoral vote allocation would match its congressional allocation.

Overriding all these discussions is a much bigger compromise that was brokered between the large and small states: The large states agreed that representation in the Senate would be based on the principle of “one state, one vote.” The small states agreed that representation in the House of Representatives would be based on population.

This blend between the two types of representation was later reflected in the Electoral College, which gives every state three electors, regardless of its size. The rest of the electors are allocated according to population.

Critics of the Electoral College ignore the larger context of the three-fifths compromise, focusing instead on one statement made by Madison. Taken in isolation, it certainly sounds damning.

“The right of suffrage,” he told the convention in July, “was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern states; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of the negroes.”

Since Madison mentioned presidential electors in his very next sentence, Electoral College opponents contend that he was proposing such a system in order to increase Southern political power and to protect slavery.

But Madison wasn’t the first to suggest the use of electors that day. Rufus King of Massachusetts had already mentioned them. King was not in favor of slavery. To the contrary, he worked against it during his lifetime. William Paterson of New Jersey, another slavery opponent, also endorsed the concept of electors that day.

The reality is that the discussion that day wasn’t about slavery or the three-fifths compromise. Madison’s statement was a tangent to the main discussion, which revolved around the president’s eligibility for a second term of office. If the president were chosen by the legislature and also eligible for re-election, some delegates feared that he would end up working too hard to satisfy legislators. After all, he’d be worried about winning their support so he could be re-elected. Executive independence would ultimately suffer.

Indeed, Madison made exactly this point just before his now-controversial comment about the “right of suffrage” in the South. “[T]he appointment of the executive should either be drawn from some source,” he told the delegates, “or held by some tenure, that will give him a free agency with regard to the legislature.”

The delegates were discussing separation of powers. Slavery was not their focus. Indeed, the debates about the presidential election process never focused on slavery. Instead, the delegates discussed whether legislative selection or a national popular vote was preferable. The division was between large and small states, not between slave and free states.

Some of the larger states had slaves, some did not. Some of the smaller states had slaves, some did not. All of the small states, however—slave and free—were worried about the dangers of a simple national popular vote. As slavery opponent Gunning Bedford of Delaware had said so eloquently, the small states simply feared that they would be outvoted by the large states time and time again.

The Electoral College had everything to do with balancing power between large and small states in America’s new experiment in self-governance. It had nothing to do with slavery. What an inconvenient truth for those who would like to eliminate the system.

This excerpt was adapted and taken with permission from Tara Ross’ book, “The Indispensable Electoral College: How the Founders’ Plan Saves Our Country from Mob Rule” (Regnery Gateway, 2017). Some punctuation in quotations has been adjusted from the original version.

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Categories: Public Policy

Supreme Court: ‘No Evidence’ of Cancer Remaining for Justice Ginsberg

Fri, 2019-01-11 15:55

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recovery from a lung cancer operation is proceeding apace and there are no signs of further disease, the Supreme Court announced Friday afternoon.

Ginsburg had two cancerous nodules removed from her lungs at the Sloan Kettering Memorial Cancer Center on Dec. 21. The procedure is called a pulmonary lobectomy.

“Justice Ginsburg will continue to work from home next week and will participate in the consideration and decision of the cases on the basis of the briefs and the transcripts of oral arguments,” Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said in a statement. “Her recovery from surgery is on track. Post-surgery evaluations indicate no evidence of remaining disease, and no further treatment is required.”

The statement comes amid reports the Trump administration was quietly mobilizing in anticipation of another vacancy on the Supreme Court. The Daily Caller reported Monday that gingerly preparations were underway at the White House and among its allies in the conservative legal movement for a new nomination to the high court.

The justice was also absent from oral arguments this week.

The cancerous growths in Ginsburg’s lungs were discovered after she was admitted to the hospital to treat a rib fracture. On that occasion, she fell in her chambers at the high court and later sought medical treatment due to discomfort in her chest. The injury precluded her from attending Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s ceremonial investiture.

Six weeks after the incident—and just five days before the procedure at Sloan Kettering—Ginsburg told an audience in New York that her health was “fine.”

For her part, Ginsburg has said she will remain at her post for as long as she can fulfill her official duties. She has often said she hoped to serve as long as her judicial hero, Justice Louis Brandeis, whose tenure lasted 23 years. Ginsburg has been on the Court for 25 years.

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Categories: Public Policy

Conservative Groups Targeted in Lois Lerner’s IRS Scandal Receive Settlement Checks

Fri, 2019-01-11 15:39

MADISON, Wis.–Dozens of conservative organizations are receiving late Christmas presents years after the IRS handed them a lump of coal. 

The federal government in recent days has been issuing settlement checks to 100 right-of-center groups wrongfully targeted for their political beliefs under the Obama administration’s Internal Revenue Service, according to an attorney for the firm that represented plaintiffs in NorCal v. United States.

Three of the claimants in the $3.5 million national class-action suit are based in the Badger State. 

“This is really a groundbreaking case. Hopefully it sets a precedent and will serve as a warning to government officials who further feel tempted to discriminate against U.S. citizens based on their viewpoints,” Edward Greim, attorney for Kansas City, Mo.-based Graves Garrett LLC told MacIver News Service.

Most of the claimants will each receive a check for approximately $14,000, Greim said. Five conservative groups that were integrally involved in the lawsuit get a bonus payment of $10,000 each, the attorney said. 

About $2 million of the settlement goes to cover the legal costs of five long years of litigation. IRS attorneys attempted delay after delay, objection after objection, trying to use the very taxpayer protection statutes the plaintiffs were suing under to suppress documents.

The agency has admitted no wrongdoing in what a federal report found to be incidents of intrusive inspections of organizations seeking nonprofit status. Greim has said the seven-figure settlement suggests otherwise. 

An IRS spokesman declined to comment. 

Brandon Scholz, managing director of Wisconsin Small Businesses United, one of the groups receiving a settlement check, said IRS’ conduct had a “chilling effect” on free speech. 

“Shame on those people at the IRS who engaged in putting their foot down on the throats of people who were simply trying to advocate for an issue or express an opinion,” he said. “That stain on the IRS should remain there as a reminder that this should never take place again.” 

Consumer Rights Wisconsin is the other conservative organization receiving a settlement check, according to Greim.

Disgraced former bureaucrat Lois Lerner led the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt groups. A 2013 inspector general’s report found the IRS had singled out conservative and tea party organizations for intense scrutiny, oftentimes simply based on their conservative-sounding or tea party names. The IRS delayed for months, even years, the applications, and some groups were improperly questioned about their donors and their religious affiliations and practices.

Lerner claims she did nothing wrong. In clearing her of wrongdoing, an Obama administration Department of Justice review described Lerner as a hero. But she invoked her Fifth Amendment right in refusing to answer questions before a congressional committee. The plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit took the first and only deposition of Lerner, a document that the former IRS official and her attorneys have fought to keep sealed. 

“At one level, it’s hard to even assess a dollar amount to what they did, it’s so contrary to what we think our bureaucrats in Washington should be doing. It boggles the mind,” Greim said. 

In signing off on the agreement in August, federal Judge Michael R. Barrett said the settlement was “fair, reasonable, and adequate.” 

Greim said the money recovered in the settlement approximates the number of IRS violations involved. 

“That’s about what the evidence showed,” the attorney said. “We felt like we got about everything we could.” 

Originally the class-action included some 400 potential claimants. 

Conservative activists are skeptical of the IRS’ public apologies and its pledge to end such targeting practices. 

“The message is do not let up on the gas pedal. Do not be intimidated,” Scholz said.  

This story has been updated to include the following account: 

Autonomous Solidarity Organization, Inc., a Madison-based grassroots organization, is among a handful of liberal organizations receiving a settlement check. The vast majority of groups targeted were conservative, but the IRS began adding liberal organizations to their intense-scrutiny initiative after the agency got caught.

“In the spirit of democracy, we would have of course preferred that our organization, as well as all of the others in the class, had been treated fairly and equitably in the first place,” Sara Gilbertson, Autonomous Solidarity treasurer, wrote in an email to MacIver News Service. “As generous as the settlement is, there are fundamental differences in the work we were doing and planning in 2013 and 2014 and what is needed today, and money cannot change the past.”

Gilbertson said it took nearly two years for the organization’s 501(c)(3) status to be granted.

“Today, we are pleased that this class action lawsuit has been settled favorably and hope that going forward, no organization will face such unlawful and arbitrary heightened scrutiny,” she added. “We also find it delightfully ironic that the efforts of the NorCal Tea Party and their attorneys have benefited organizations like ours that are working to uphold human rights, social justice, and worker justice, since we would not have had the resources to pursue legal action on our own.”

Bill Osmulski contributed 

Originally published by The MacIver News Service

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Categories: Public Policy

21 Policy Groups Back Lawsuit to End Forced Union Representation

Fri, 2019-01-11 15:25

In what could be the largest labor-related case since Janus v. AFSCME, policy groups from around the country are expressing support for a lawsuit that would prohibit forced representation from public-sector unions.

The lawsuit, litigated by the Ohio-based, free-market Buckeye Institute, received support from 21 different policy groups who filed a joint amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court urging the court to hear the case.

If the lawsuit is successful, it would allow publicly employed individuals to negotiate their own contracts instead of having their contracts negotiated by a union against their will. Although current law now forbids unions from taking money from non-union members, the unions still have the ability to require representation from the union.

The Buckeye Institute is arguing that forced representation violates the First Amendment rights of the workers based on precedent set in Janus. In the prior case, the Supreme Court ruled that forced public-sector union dues were unconstitutional based on the First Amendment right of freedom of association. The Buckeye Institute argues that the precedent should apply not just to fees, but to any form of association with a public-sector union.

The institute is representing Kathy Uradnik, a political science professor at St. Cloud University in Minnesota. She said that she does not want to be represented by the union because—as a non-member—the union negotiates contracts that go against her interest.

“The support Dr. Uradnik’s case has received from other renowned organizations demonstrates a strong concern for public employees’ First Amendment rights to choose who speaks on their behalf,” said Daniel J. Dew, a legal fellow at the the Buckeye Institute. “This is certainly an issue that the Supreme Court will have to decide, and we believe that this case is the perfect vehicle.”

Patrick Wright, vice president for legal affairs at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said his organization signed onto the amicus brief because the lawsuit could impact 7 million public-sector workers.

“The Supreme Court in Janus already recognized that forced association is a significant impingement on First Amendment freedoms,” Wright said. “This case questions whether there is a state interest that is sufficient to overcome these constitutional concerns (sometimes matters that impinge constitutional concerns can be overcome if the state can show a good enough reason). Given what the Supreme Court stated in Janus, it seems natural that this question should arise next.”

Other prominent groups that filed amicus briefs included the National Right to Work Legal Foundation, Americans for Tax Reform, Liberty Justice Center, and the Americans for Lawful Unionism. National Right to Work and the Liberty Justice Center are two nonprofits that helped bring the Janus case.

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to discuss the case on Feb. 15 and at some later date, the court will announce whether it has decided to take up the case.

Originally published by Watchdog.org 

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Categories: Public Policy

Sen. Steve Daines Introduces Bill Withholding Pay From Congressmen During Government Shutdowns, Others Join

Fri, 2019-01-11 13:55

Republican Montana Sen. Steve Daines introduced a bill on the Senate floor Thursday that would withhold the pay of members of Congress during future government shutdowns.

Daines’ introduction of the bill, sponsored by Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn, comes hours after Daines announced he sent a letter requesting the secretary of the U.S. Senate withhold his pay during the ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government.

“Members of Congress are sent to Washington, D.C., to represent the great people of their state and keep the federal government open, working, and funded. So it’s simple. If they can’t do that, they shouldn’t get paid. No work, no pay,” Daines told The Daily Caller News Foundation after the bill was introduced.

The “No Work, No Pay Act,” introduced by Daines, would make it so members of Congress would not be paid if they cannot keep the government funded.

His move to not accept pay was followed by many of his colleagues, such as Cornyn, who said he was excited to join Daines in co-sponsoring the bill. He echoed Daines’ message that members of Congress should not be paid while government agencies are shut down.

Pleased to join my friend Senator Steve Daines of Montana and cosponsor his “No Government No Pay Act of 2019.” Congress shouldn’t get paychecks during a shutdown while honorable federal government employees are denied theirs for no good reason.

— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) January 10, 2019

“The senator is very hopeful his colleagues will follow suit as this is a very important issue in bringing accountability to Washington, D.C.,” Katie Schoettler, Daines’ deputy communications director, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

In the House, Republican Utah Rep. John Curtis introduced a similar bill, which would make it unlawful to pay U.S. senators and representatives during government shutdowns.

Republican Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw also announced Thursday he would refuse to be paid until the government is open, saying he asked the chief administrative officer to withhold his pay until both sides can come to an agreement on border security.

“Democrats aren’t the only people who want this shutdown to end. Republicans have tried to compromise, but Democrats won’t come to the table and negotiate in good faith. I cannot let federal employees take the fall for Democrats’ grandstanding, so I am withholding my pay until this partial shutdown ends,” Crenshaw told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

I cannot in good conscience get paid while federal employees’ financial futures hang in the balance because of this partial government shutdown. I’ve asked the Chief Administrative Officer to withhold my pay until we have come to an agreement to adequately fund border security. pic.twitter.com/2g37vAAtx2

— Rep. Dan Crenshaw (@RepDanCrenshaw) January 10, 2019

Republican Indiana Rep. Greg Pence, another freshman congressman, released a video Thursday, saying he too would not accept his pay until the southern border is secured, echoing President Donald Trump’s message. Trump traveled to the southern border to meet with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

Pence campaigned on fighting the opioid crisis plaguing the country, something he considers a top priority and not a partisan issue.

“We are facing a serious opioid crisis and it seems that some Democrats refuse to acknowledge this,” Pence told The Daily Caller News Foundation Thursday afternoon. “It’s important that we work to solve the crisis, which includes securing our border. Hancock County, for example, had 50 overdose deaths between 2014-2017, and in 29 of the cases, opioids were found. This isn’t a partisan issue.”

Oklahoma Republican Rep. Kevin Hern is donating his salary from the shutdown to veterans organizations, saying they deserve the money over members of Congress in the midst of a partial government shutdown.

“I’ve long held the belief that if you don’t do your job, you shouldn’t get paid. Being elected to Congress shouldn’t exempt us from the standards that any employer would hold. If Congress can’t fund the government, we shouldn’t be paid for failing to do our constitutional duty,” Hern told The Daily Caller News Foundation Thursday night.

Despite the shutdown, members of Congress continue to receive pay. I’m suspending my pay until Congress does its job. I was sent to Washington to secure the border and make government work. I support the president’s proposal to secure the border and it’s time for Congress to act. pic.twitter.com/3ywjBbuqvo

— Rep. Greg Pence (@RepGregPence) January 10, 2019

As the government entered its 19th day of a partial shutdown Wednesday, five Republican lawmakers—Ohio Rep. Bob Gibbs, North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, Indiana Rep. Susan Brooks, Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton, and Virginia Rep. Morgan Griffith—introduced legislation that would require federal workers to be paid during the shutdown.

“While Democrats continue to play politics with border security, federal employees dedicated to their mission of keeping America safe and our border secure are still going to work knowing they will be missing their paychecks,” Gibbs said in a Wednesday statement.

Trump was on Capitol Hill Wednesday meeting with Republican senators to discuss the shutdown and border wall funding. After the meeting, he said Republicans were “unified.”

The president also warned Democrats he might declare a national emergency if they cannot come to an agreement soon.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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Categories: Public Policy

Jeremy Corbyn Has a Sordid Past. Now, He’s Closer Than Ever to Leading Britain.

Fri, 2019-01-11 11:50

The Democratic Party is seriously flirting with socialism. It’s frightening on so many levels.

If you want an idea why, take a look at my country, Britain. We tried “real socialism” two generations ago, and it was a disaster. Yet it has had a Lazarus-like revival in the U.K., inspiring the Democrats in America.

Thanks to the Brexit crisis, that ’70s throwback leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, now has a very real chance of becoming prime minister. Believe me, it is one of 2019’s most chilling prospects.

When I read Andrew Sullivan eulogizing the “logic and power” of Corbyn, I wanted to puke. What is it with sections of the media that they find socialism so seductive?

Let me tear off their holiday gift wrapping. Corbyn is not leadership material. He grew up privileged at an idyllic countryside mansion, attending the kind of elite schools he’d abolish. Yet at 18, he barely scraped by with two E grades in his high school studies (that’s worse than a D by American standards). Only years later he took “trade union studies” at North London Polytechnic, leaving without a degree.

Corbyn has never done a proper job—only politics. He never held office, and for years was regarded as an unserious figure. The bookies quoted odds of 100-1 against him winning the party leadership, and he struggled to get sponsors. One veteran member of Parliament, Margaret Beckett, eventually did out of pity. She cried when he won, calling herself a “moron.”

Yet Corbyn has managed to achieve a “youthquake” in Britain, with 60 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds supporting him.

How? The answer is excellent spinning by social media-savvy acolytes. Think Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. They have formed “Momentum,” a grassroots group backing Corbyn’s leadership of Labour, and flooded the party with their members. They have taught Corbyn how to flip an interviewer’s question: “Am I a communist? No. Do I care about working people? Absolutely.”

They have turned this uniquely unqualified man into a lovable, cool, “cuddly lefty.” He promises young people what they most want—cheaper housing and the abolition of student debt. Both unrealistic.

Supporting Corbyn requires a denial of history. The U.K. had “real socialism” in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and it failed. Income tax rose to 83 percent (98 percent on investment income), and high earners simply left the country. Tax revenue fell. Most large manufacturing industries were nationalized, and withered on the vine. Inflation soared.

The resulting economic chaos required the International Monetary Fund to be called in. The pound bought the equivalent of 2.89 euros in 1964, but only 1.58 by 1979.

Corbynites deny mathematics. Corbyn talks of only small tax increases, and yet simultaneously of spending 500 billion pounds. His last manifesto was described as a “letter to Santa Claus,” a sort of Christmas wish list.

Corbyn’s team struggle to keep their numbers straight. His home affairs spokesperson, Dianne Abbott, stumbled through a interview in 2017 on police numbers: “We will recruit 10,000 officers” costing “300,000 pounds. … No, sorry, 10,000 officers, 80 million pounds.  … No, 250,000 officers.” The interview collapsed.

Corbyn’s side also have an unseemly penchant for appeasing totalitarian regimes. Corbyn actually had a show on Iranian TV for years. To this day he insists Russia is “no real threat,” and believed their version of the Salisbury poisonings. His “anti-imperialism” somehow does not extend to Russia’s actions in Crimea or Ukraine. He even fears “the spread of free market capitalism into North Korea.”

How about fearing these regimes’ appalling human rights abuses, and their support for terrorism?

Shortly after Irish Republican Army terrorists blew up Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s hotel in Brighton, killing five and injuring 31, Corbyn invited an IRA delegation to tea. He agitated to release one of the bombers, just as he did for the terrorists who attacked the Israeli embassy in London. In 2009, he hosted a delegation from Hezbollah, referring to them, and Hamas, as “friends.” He gave more tea to a Palestinian Islamist who claimed “the Jews” were behind 9/11.

Corbyn’s anti-Semitism is rarely off the front page of British newspapers. Consider his laying a wreath at the graves of the Munich massacre—the terrorists, not the victims, that is. He attended events organized by Paul Eisen (author of “My Life as a Holocaust Denier”), and on Holocaust Day in 2010 was even seen at “Auschwitz to Gaza,” an event that clearly equated the Jews with the Nazis. He even defended a wall mural that is one of the most anti-Semitic “works of art” I have seen.

Jewish members of his own party have been subjected to the most horrific abuse from Momentum members. It got so bad that the three Jewish newspapers in Britain ran identical covers, calling Corbyn “an existential threat” to Jews in Britain.

If the Democrats are seeking inspiration from Britain, forget it. Corbyn is worse than anything we had in the 1970s. He adds a Hugo Chavez-style, rule-bending twist. Think one-off taxes on cash deposits and controls on how much money you can take out of the country. Meditate on his comments post-9/11: “We have to look to the causes of this act. … A quarter of the world’s population is in poverty.” 9/11 was caused by world poverty?

Cuddly lefty? No. A disaster waiting to happen? Absolutely.

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Categories: Public Policy

Trump Calls for Halt of Funds for California’s Wildfire Recovery

Fri, 2019-01-11 10:28

President Donald Trump released a statement on Wednesday via Twitter  signaling he would order the Federal Emergency Management Agency to withhold funding for California’s wildfire recovery. The president cites previous funding as a “waste of money” because of the state’s recurring forest fires, which he attributes to poor state-level land management.

“We should not be looking to cut funding to just punish certain states. But we should be looking to reform our disaster funds to return more responsibility to state and local governments across the board,” David Inserra, a policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation’s Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, told The Daily Signal in an email.

In response to Trump, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif,  posted a tweet suggesting that the president needs to combat climate change in order to address the issue.

Californians endured the deadliest wildfire in our state’s history last year. We should work together to mitigate these fires by combating climate change, not play politics by threatening to withhold money from survivors of a deadly natural disaster. pic.twitter.com/uMopf0Z05i

— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 9, 2019

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif, also commented that the president has a responsibility to consult science and experts, and his biggest flaw is “not being aware of what he doesn’t know.”

In November, Northern California’s Camp Fire incurred $16.5 billion in damage costs with at least 85 deaths.

According to Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif, in an interview with The Hill, Trump is overlooking their current mitigative efforts.

“We’re doing a hosting of new management tools for our forests that are cutting-edge,” Costa said. “And this notion he came up with that raking forests would prevent forest fires is just nonsense.”

While many on the left argue addressing climate change is the viable long-term solution, others such as Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif, agree that California’s land management is in dire need of reform.

However, LaMalfa was critical of Trump’s remarks; Trump should not conflate the Federal Emergency Management Agency and land management issues, LaMalfa said.

“I share the same frustration with the land management,” LaMalfa said in an interview with The Hill, “but don’t make it about FEMA and the fire victims.”

Prior research from the Reason Foundation points to poor management, regulation, and lack of reducing excess vegetation as root causes of the surge and exacerbation of wildfires in the Northwest.

Recent commentary from The Daily Signal’s Jarrett Stepman, a native Californian, explains that the surge in wildfires can be attributed to the environmental activism and policies that curtailed the U.S. Forest Service’s once-effective management of public wildlands.

For example, according to the Reason Foundation, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the northern spotted owl as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, the construction of new roads and the use of existing ones were restricted on 49 million acres of National Forests. This “ecosystem management” policy resulted in the reduction in timber harvests, limiting the Forest Service’s ability to thin out the forests and prevent an exacerbation of fires.

The research also notes that while forest fire expenditures have increased drastically, increased funding hasn’t solved the underlying issues.

Now in its 21th day, the partial government shutdown has caused a pause of funding for both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security.

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Categories: Public Policy

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