The most predictable thing about the climate these days is the sensationalism we see in the headlines.
“The weather of Washington’s future: Hellish heat and high water,” The Washington Post wrote after the National Climate Assessment was released. “New U.S. climate assessment forecasts dire effects on economy, health,” said NPR. And not to be outdone, CBS News claimed, “Mass deaths and mayhem: National Climate Assessment’s most shocking warnings.”
It’s not a new trend, but it’s worth pointing out again. Headlines often overstate the actual content of the report, and the report itself often overstates the data.
Let’s take those “mass deaths” (leaving aside the mayhem for the moment). What does the report actually say?
“The health and well-being of Americans are already affected by climate change, with the adverse health consequences projected to worsen with additional climate change,” the National Climate Assessment reads.
More specifically, “In 49 large cities in the United States, changes in extreme hot and extreme cold temperatures are projected to result in more than 9,000 additional premature deaths per year under a higher scenario by the end of the century, although this number would be lower if considering acclimatization or other adaptations (for example, increased use of air conditioning).”
That estimate is based on a 2016 study that applies mortality data to climate models that predict more and more intense heatwaves. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find there’s some real uncertainty about those numbers.
That study references a research letter published in 2016 by the American Geophysical Union.
“These probabilities are typically computed using ensembles of climate simulations whose simulated probabilities are known to be imperfect,” the letter reads. “ … Climate model ensembles tend to be overconfident in their representation of the climate variability which leads to systematic increase in the attributable risk to an extreme event.”
Even those deaths are difficult to pin on extreme temperatures. Rather, scientists say pre-existing conditions can often be exacerbated by extremes. Making projections 50 years out is difficult, and far from “settled science.”
Still, we know what prevents many of those deaths—from both extreme cold and extreme heat. It’s affordable, reliable energy. People cool and heat their homes when they can afford to. Misguided policies like the carbon tax, designed to curb energy usage, would send electricity bills soaring and would achieve the opposite of the National Climate Assessment’s goals.
Energy poverty is deadly, as the European Union is learning. Just last year it established a commission to address the problem.
“More than 50 million households in the European Union are struggling to attain adequate warmth, pay their utility bills on time, and live in homes free of damp and mold,” the EU says. “Awareness of energy poverty is rising in Europe and has been identified as a policy priority by a number of EU institutions, most notably in the European Commission’s ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’ legislative package.”
But back to the U.S.’ National Climate Assessment.
The report also presents some scary predictions for the economy. A highly quoted headline cites that the economic damages from climate change could amount to 10 percent of annual U.S. gross domestic product in 2090. The obvious criticism is that this headline uses the highest estimate of a model where the average cost estimate is around 3 percent.
But digging deeper, there are other questions to be posed about how these economic impacts are calculated.
Premature deaths from extreme temperature (9,300 per year) are said to amount to $140 billion in annual losses. How is it that each premature death is given an economic cost of more than $15 million? Is it reasonable to place an economic value on a theoretical loss of life due to climate change, similar to the way we estimate property damage?
These questions must be asked before we take these “projected costs” at face value.
There’s a real danger here, and that’s in responding to the National Climate Assessment in a way that will make things worse, not better. Already, a carbon tax bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives that would make energy more expensive for American families.
The other danger is in responding to the headlines, not the data. We know the National Climate Assessment is good for frightening news stories. But public policy must be based on solid information, not scary interpretations.
The post Don’t Believe the Scary Predictions From the National Climate Assessment appeared first on The Daily Signal.
MADISON, Wisconsin—As crowds swelled inside and outside the state Capitol and protesters sprayed Republicans with spit, insults, and hatred, Gov. Scott Walker could be forgiven for having a moment of pause, for asking himself if it was all worth it.
Wisconsin’s public-sector unions were calling for Walker’s political head. Some wanted more. They threatened his job, his life, his family.
All because the newly elected Republican governor was willing to challenge the status quo, to find a long-term fix to a state budget that had for so long jumped from crisis to crisis, to restore power to a long-forgotten constituency: Wisconsin taxpayers.
Wisconsin has come a long way since Walker’s first turbulent days in office in 2011. The Republican governor’s loss to Democrat Tony Evers in the Nov. 6 election marks the end of an era of sweeping conservative reforms.
Walker’s signature success, Act 10, is, for many, the defining win of his two eventful terms. But it was just the beginning of a long list of limited-government reforms, the likes of which Wisconsin never had seen before.
As the battle over Walker’s “budget repair bill,” commonly known as Act 10, intensified in the late winter and early spring of 2011, some Republicans saw retreat as the only option.
Walker, according to those who know him best, never considered backing down—even as Democrats and their big labor allies began organizing a political recall campaign against him.
The “tone at the top,” what the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel once derisively described as Walker’s “reptilian calm,” was precisely what this Republican revolution needed to lead a sustained campaign of conservative reforms.
Act 10 holds wage increases for Wisconsin government employees to the rate of inflation and requires them to contribute more—or something—to their taxpayer-funded health insurance plans and pensions. It also requires annual recertification votes and frees public employees from compulsory union dues.
As Walker noted in his 2013 memoir, “Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge,” Wisconsin was the diminished labor movement’s line in the sand. The Badger State was the birthplace of public-sector unions in the 1930s, and in 1959 it became the first state to allow collective bargaining for government employees.
Big labor and its political allies financed an expensive campaign to oust the Republican governor. Walker became the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall attempt.
Despite seemingly endless court challenges and Wisconsin’s version of the “resistance,” Act 10 not only survived, it delivered billions of dollars in relief to state and local taxpayers. It helped fix the $3.6 billion budget mess Walker inherited from his Democrat predecessor, and it brought workplace liberty to tens of thousands of public employees.
Eric Bott, director of Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin and a legislative assistant during the Act 10 battles, said Walker’s legacy in part is his lasting impact on worker freedom.
From the dismantling of compulsory union dues in the public sector to signing the legislation that made Wisconsin the 25th right-to-work state, Bott said, the governor drove a good deal of change.
Even as the budget repair bill and the Capitol protests grabbed the national spotlight, Walker and the Republicans led a flurry of significant limited-government and liberty reforms in the first 180 days of the governor’s first term.
The governor signed into law Wisconsin’s voter ID bill and a measure making Wisconsin the 49th state to allow concealed carry weapons.
And the Legislature expanded Wisconsin’s oldest school choice program, dramatically increasing eligibility in Milwaukee, Racine, and, ultimately, statewide.
Walker and the Republican-led Legislature can lay claim to delivering the largest tax cuts in state history. All told, tax relief tops $8.5 billion.
More than half of that came in the form of income and franchise tax reduction, another $3.56 billion in property tax cuts.
Mike Huebsch, the former state lawmaker who was Walker’s first secretary of administration, said the litany of conservative reforms and Walker’s focus on changing state government’s relationship with business set the stage for soaring state revenue, hefty surpluses, and the tax breaks that followed.
“Property taxes were a big issue. They were driving senior citizens out of their homes,” Huebsch said. “These were the issues that drove us and made it clear we needed to make fundamental changes.”
As Walker began his first term in January 2011, Wisconsin was viewed as the “California of the Midwest,” Bott said.
Walker and the Legislature began working on changing that mentality immediately with a series of regulatory reforms.
One of the first changes came with Act 21, which Bott called “quintessential regulatory reform.” It effectively ended state bureaucracy authority to write rules and regulations that affect laws without explicit and express authority from the Legislature.
Walker saw the dangers posed by unchecked bureaucrats. In 2017, he effectively handed back some executive branch power by endorsing legislation called the REINS Act (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act).
Wisconsin became the first state in the nation to adopt the measure, which provides greater legislative oversight of regulations adopted by state agencies.
The governor pushed a suite of reforms, including adding work requirements for welfare programs, limiting benefits for families of children who are habitually truant, and setting a $25,000 liquid asset limit on Wisconsin food stamp beneficiaries.
Earlier this year, Walker called a special session of the Legislature to take up 10 bills, part of his “Wisconsin Works for Everyone” welfare reform initiative. All but one were approved by the Republican majority.
The reforms underscore Walker’s governing philosophy on limiting the ever-encroaching reach of government in the lives of individuals.
“We want to help those in need move from government dependence to true independence through the dignity of work,” Walker said in April, after signing the nine bills into law.
Legacy of Reform
Today, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is at historic lows, more people than ever are working, and global players such as Amazon and electronics manufacturer Foxconn are making the Badger State home.
Still, to Wisconsin liberals, Scott Walker remains the bogeyman, the fountainhead of their misery, their conspiracies, and their failures over the past eight years.
His limited-government policies were so anathema to their big-government religion that progressives launched a recall movement against him.
They hated him so much that, in one of the darkest chapters in Wisconsin history, they readily endorsed a secret, unconstitutional “John Doe” investigation into Walker, his campaign, and many center-right organizations in the state.
But Walker and the conservative Legislature embraced the battle, and bested progressives at nearly every turn.
Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said Walker’s legacy of conservative leadership emboldened governors and lawmakers in other states “to take on government sector unions, the most powerful force in American politics, and enact similarly bold reforms.”
Just days after his defeat, Walker reflected on his tenure. He said he will be remembered as a reformer.
“I’m particularly proud that, because of our reforms, that enabled the people—not the government—to create more jobs, more opportunities, and higher wages in this state,” Walker said.
He paused, and considered that he may have been too successful on that score.
“We’ve been such a reformer, I may have reformed myself out of a job,” the governor said.
Read more about Gov. Scott Walker’s limited-government legacy at MacIverInstitute.com
The post The Scott Walker Years: Taxpayer-Centered Reforms in Wisconsin appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Coming out of the bitterly-fought midterm elections, it’s easy to feel as though the United States has reached unprecedented levels of partisanship, but new research and lessons from our own history paint a different picture.
The American people actually have more in common on issues that matter than many would believe. The disconnect stems from incivility in our discourse that prevents us from compromising.
A new report, “Hidden Tribes,” based on a comprehensive yearlong study by social scientists, found surprising results about what our fellow citizens really think about politics. It shows that 67 percent of us—the “Exhausted Majority”—are fed up with today’s political polarization, support more moderate policies, and seek compromise rather than political warfare. In fact, only a third of Americans truly occupy the furthest fringes on the left and right.
Then why does the political landscape not reflect this?
Systematic forces in American politics such as gerrymandering and the two-party system could provide some explanation, but there’s a more corrosive problem that has seeped into our everyday lives—the decline of civil discourse.
Party fringes and their toxic rhetoric are garnering prime-time slots in our news segments and feeds. Debasing commentary like categorizing all immigrants as criminals or all policemen as prejudiced incites feelings of hatred, negative attitudes, and undermines confidence in the media. It polarizes us and fosters division where there could be compromise, because potential allies have become enemies or stay decidedly silent.
If we could stop the name calling and hurtful memes, and instead promote open, honest, and civil debate, we would be more likely to find common ground and open the door to compromise. Civility is one of the only ways to reach the die-hard partisans, while giving the moderate voter the opportunity to voice their concerns or support, without being vilified.
At a recent retreat put on by the Fund for American Studies, I had the pleasure of joining young leaders to discuss what civility means in the modern political context. The Fund for American Studies is an educational organization that brings hundreds of Republicans, Democrats, and independents from across the country to Washington, D.C., for programs that prepare them to be tomorrow’s leaders.
But for this event, we actually traveled into the past—and out beyond the Washington beltway—to see how American history could inform current events.
While visiting Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, we studied the landmark Lincoln-Douglas debates, where in 1858, the two politicians faced off with sharply contrasting convictions. Abraham Lincoln had staked his name on limiting the institution of slavery. His opponent, Stephen Douglas, believed with equal conviction that states should make decisions on the question of slavery, arguing for state sovereignty.
The two men laid out their best arguments for the voters of Illinois in seven substantive debates. Despite their differences, both men spoke respectfully—not attacking each other’s characters, but focusing on delivering sound arguments—so voters could leave with a clear idea of where each side stood on the issues of the day.
I would be remiss to say these debates prevented the Civil War—they didn’t. But the civility of each candidate toward one another and their opponents generally helped to defer the war for three years, and once the war ended, Lincoln’s record of civility and compromise had laid the groundwork for bringing the Union back together, albeit slowly.
The idea of a “Lincoln-Douglas debate” format seems quaint today, when even Supreme Court confirmation hearings become opportunities for political grandstanding and divisiveness. However, I came away from Gettysburg with optimism. If Lincoln and Douglas could debate their ideas with civility under those circumstances, there’s no reason to hold modern politicians to a different standard.
Overall, my plea is simple: be kind. The recovery of bipartisanship in America is attainable if we return to civil discourse. We must take it upon ourselves to see an opposing viewpoint as a policy difference and not an existential conflict over race and culture, leaving room for compromise. Because beyond the shouting voices, most Americans still do agree where it matters most.
Some of the world’s worst human rights violations take place in North Korea.
Estimates say between 80,000 and 120,000 individuals are inhumanely detained in North Korea’s six known, operational political prison camps.
A United Nations Commission of Inquiry report on human rights revealed that the North Korean regime regularly committed crimes against humanity, including extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape and forced abortions.
To highlight these serious abuses, Heritage hosted a panel discussion on Oct. 29 with experts Jung Pak of the Brookings Institution, Dan Aum of the National Bureau of Asian Research, and Greg Scarlatoiu of the Committee on Human Rights in North Korea to examine ways to integrate human rights into U.S. negotiations with North Korea.
The purpose of the discussion was to demonstrate that advancing human rights in North Korea and making progress in nuclear negotiations are not mutually exclusive propositions.
Improving human rights in North Korea is directly related to advancing U.S. national security objectives.
In spite of this, human rights issues played little to no role in negotiations with North Korea at the Singapore summit in June.
“Human rights abuse, along with nuclear capabilities, constitute the two pillars that keep the North Korean regime functioning,” Pak said at the Heritage event.
If that’s the case, then both issues should be raised in tandem in negotiations with Pyongyang.
In fact, human rights abuses are part of the reason the regime maintains its grip on power. Fear of detainment for dissenters and their families renders freedom of expression nonexistent.
Inhumane penalties against political dissenters, including the threat of having three generations of their family sent to a political prison camp for voicing opposition to the regime, leave the vast majority of North Koreans powerless.
Addressing these human rights issues can empower the people to confront the regime and its anti-American propaganda. Diplomatic resources may best be utilized supporting the people, rather than entertaining the regime.
Panelists at the event noted that North Korea benefits directly from human rights violations. The 2018 Global Slavery Index estimates that 2.6 million people live in “modern slavery” in North Korea.
Prisoners in “kyohwaso” (re-education camps) are conscripted to lives of hard labor with no pay in inhuman living conditions. It’s estimated that forced labor in North Korea generates $975 million annually for the regime.
Prison camps also serve as a testing ground for the development of weapons of mass destruction in North Korea. Reports from defectors indicate that chemical weapons are being widely developed and tested on political prisoners, for example.
The assassination of Kim Jong Nam—dictator Kim Jong Un’s own half-brother—in February 2017 in Malaysia with VX nerve agent exposed the regime’s ability with chemical weapons.
Leaving such atrocities against human rights unchecked will continue to reinforce the Kim regime, regardless of new diplomatic advancements with the U.S.
According to Aum, human rights is a powerful tool for suasion. Counter to the common understanding that North Korea avoids any discussion of human rights, history shows that putting pressure on Pyongyang produces measurable results.
For example, in 2014, when the U.N. General Assembly took recommendations from the U.N. Commission of Inquiry reports on human rights, North Korea responded by sending its representative to U.N. for the first time in 15 years.
For real progress to be made in North Korea, addressing human rights abuses must be a main objective, not a collateral goal.
As Heritage analysts have long argued, the U.S. should find ways to integrate human rights into negotiations with North Korea.
The U.S. could, for example, request access to political prison camps for the U.N., the World Food Program, or the International Committee of the Red Cross. It could also press North Korea to release all women and children from political prison camps.
It’s time for America to once again be a voice for the voiceless in North Korea and to press Kim to improve his treatment of the North Korean people.
The post Put Human Rights Back on the Negotiating Table With North Korea appeared first on The Daily Signal.
The 115th Congress is wrapping up its legislative business. What will the 116th bring?
One likelihood is a bill to expand the federal judiciary. Here’s how Congress should handle it.
Two months ago, retiring Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Bob Goodlatte, R-Va, introduced H.R.6755, the Judiciary Reforms, Organization and Operational Modernization Act of 2018. Title II incorporates an earlier recommendation of the Judicial Conference to create 52 new judgeships on the U.S. District Court and convert eight temporary district court judgeships to permanent status.
It is impossible to know whether the judiciary needs more judgeships, when nearly 16 percent of the judgeships it already has are empty. We are in the longest period of triple-digit judicial vacancies since the early 1990s.
A total of 48 vacancies already exist across 16 of the 23 judicial districts slated for new judgeships under this legislation. Overall, new case filings in these 23 districts have risen 15 percent in the last five years.
The central district of California, for example, has seven vacancies today. This bill would add seven more judgeships even though new filings have risen less than 4 percent.
The southern district of California has four current vacancies, with another opening next month. This bill would add three more judgeships to a court where new cases have actually decreased over the last five years.
The middle district of Florida would get six more judgeships, even though it already has two vacancies and the number of new cases has risen just 3 percent since 2013.
The eastern district of Texas has three current vacancies but would still get two more judgeships even though new case filings have plunged 21 percent in the last five years.
Put it all together, and the case for needing all these new judges seems weak.
And then there’s the cost. Expanding the federal government never comes cheap. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the proposed expansion would cost approximately $500 million per year for additional salaries, benefits, courthouse modifications, and administrative costs. CBO estimates for previous judiciary-expansion legislation and Senate Judiciary Committee hearing testimony suggest that this is a conservative estimate.
It’s common sense to obtain an accurate diagnosis before getting a prescription. In this case, that does not mean that judicial vacancies must reach absolute zero. But vacancies averaged 6 percent of the judiciary in 1989, the year before Congress last created a significant number of judgeships. The vacancy rate this year has averaged more than 16 percent. There’s just no way to reliably assess how much the judiciary should expand when it’s currently deflated.
Title III of the Issa-Goodlatte bill covered issues related to court operations such as video recording and internet streaming of federal court proceedings. The number of judges and how they must run their courtrooms, however, are fundamentally different issues and, therefore, should be addressed separately.
If similar legislation is introduced next year, Congress should put off creating more judicial vacancies through new judgeships until the president and Senate fill the 100+ current judicial vacancies.
Originally published by National Review
The post Before Congress Adds More Judges, Let’s Fill the Current Vacancies appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Before George H.W. Bush fades from memory into the darkness of history books, one more point needs to be made. It is about the contrast between how most of the major media treated him when he was president and how they mostly (but not completely) did a 180 during their coverage and commentary of his funeral.
Maybe reporters and anchors considered their largely favorable and complimentary coverage of the man in death as penance for their earlier sins during his life, but they still should be held accountable for what they said about him when it mattered.
CBS News anchor Dan Rather interviewed Vice President Bush in 1988, before the Iowa caucuses. This was at the height of the Iran-contra affair during which the White House sought to circumvent a law banning funds to aid the Nicaraguan contras who were fighting communist forces. Bush and Rather shouted at each other in the 10-minute interview on live television.
CBS began its segment on Bush with a taped report that suggested the vice president had played a greater role in the Iran-contra affair than Bush has acknowledged, and Rather hammered Bush about it during the interview, The New York Times reported. The candidate said he had been deceived about the true intent of the interview.
Phone calls swamped switchboards at CBS News in New York and at Bush’s presidential campaign office in Washington. A CBS News official and Bush’s spokesman, said calls were overwhelmingly supportive of the vice president and negative toward CBS, The Times reported.
Bush won the nomination. There would be other moments when the two would face off, but with advantage to Bush.
There was pressure from Democrats and others for Bush to break the famous pledge he made at the 1988 Republican convention: “Read my lips. No new taxes.” They knew it would erode his base of support.
At the 1992 Republican convention, he apologized for breaking the promise. His concession won him no media kudos, however, and he was pilloried in the press.
Even when it came to his most successful foreign policy achievements, many in the media found something to criticize.
After Bush sent U.S. troops to topple and arrest Manuel Noriega, the Panamanian dictator, CBS White House correspondent Wyatt Andrews worried: “Mr. Bush is erasing his old image of being timid, but the new question now, almost overnight, is whether this president is exhibiting signs of being reckless.”
It was for such moments that the phrase “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” was created.
In 1987, shortly after Bush announced his presidential candidacy, Newsweek ran a cover story in which Evan Thomas called Bush a “wimp.” Last week, Thomas wrote a piece for Yahoo News, admitting he was wrong.
A little late, I’d say.
During funeral coverage, a panel of NBC journalists recalled a story that received a lot of attention during Bush’s 1992 re-election bid. Bush visited a grocery store and it was reported that he was amazed by the bar code on a carton of milk. The Associated Press noted that reporters later learned it was a special scanner with advanced features, including a scale to weigh produce–uncommon then–and the ability to read bar codes even if they were torn up.
The New York Times in its obituary chose to allude to the alleged incident as fact. Fake news dies hard.
Most of the media coverage of Bush’s death and funeral was favorable. NBC ran a warm one-hour special on which Bush’s granddaughter Jenna compiled interviews with her “Gampy.” This would have been something inconceivable when Bush was alive and it does not make up for the biased coverage of the past.
For the major media, it would appear the only good Republican is a dead Republican.
(c) 2018 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
The post Major Media Outlets Do 180-Turnaround on George H.W. Bush After His Passing appeared first on The Daily Signal.
The European elites can’t be happy with what is happening in France.
Over the last month, hundreds of thousands of angry French citizens have joined in “yellow vest” protests, initially sparked by proposed carbon taxes on fuel. This weekend, protester turnout was down, but the violence was up.
While the destructive rioting should be deplored, the underlying problems that led to this moment should not be ignored.
French President Emmanuel Macron once heralded as a visionary “centrist” leader who would pull France and the world into glorious modernity, now finds himself in hot water.
Macron once mused that France may need a king, and others compared him to Napoleon.
But as Abraham Lincoln once said to bumbling Union Gen. Joseph Hooker, who incautiously spoke about setting up an American dictatorship: “Only those generals who gain successes can set up dictators.”
The praise of Macron as a transformative leader now seems premature.
Just last year, President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, saying that he would put “no other consideration before the well-being of American citizens.” He also vowed to reject an agreement that would force taxpayers to “absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production.”
The media blasted Trump for his decision while praising Macron, who enthusiastically endorsed the climate pact. Rubbing his thumb in Trump’s eye, Macron went on to campaign on the pledge of “Make Our Planet Great Again.”
It didn’t work out well for Macron or his country. His approval rating has plunged to 23 percent—less than half that of Trump. And Paris is literally burning
As for the climate agenda Macron so warmly embraced: it is turning to ashes as well.
The green agenda bills itself as a movement to save the planet and fight inequality. But in truth, its anti-carbon policies fall hardest on middle-class and working-class people who can’t afford sky-high energy costs and may lose their jobs in industries that the Greens want to put out of business.
Increasingly, however, those hit hard by these policies are realizing that the environmentalist piety projects of the well-to-do also just so happen to make them even more well-to-do in the process.
Revenues from France’s carbon tax were set to subsidize green industries like wind and solar, even as Macron began shuttering 14 nuclear of the nation’s 58 power plants. The Green God of Paris also aims to shut all French coal plants by 2022.
Climate crusaders like Macron may say it’s all about saving the world and stopping climate change, but the process always involves funneling tons of money from constituencies they don’t like to ones they do.
In other words: crony capitalism.
Unfortunately, there is no shortage of people who want to import this disastrous agenda to the United States, even as it immolates Europe. It’s already on its way in California and perhaps in Congress through the so-called Green New Deal proposed by Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
The events in France should serve as an early warning for Americans about the costs of ignoring the forgotten man.
The yellow jacket protests are over more than just a single, obnoxious tax. They arise from the failure of Western leaders, like Macron, to look out for the interests of their people as a whole instead of just their favored classes.
The enraged, resentful citizens in the streets of Paris and rural roads of the countryside have no interest in crowning a new king. But they are fed up with paying ever-rising climate taxes so their “betters” in the drawing rooms of Paris and Brussels can feel good about themselves and pad the wallets of their business cronies.
America has fortunately set another course—one toward prosperity and away from the stifling, job-killing energy policies that have left Paris with boarded-up shop windows and tear gas wafting down the Champs-Elysées.
Originally published by Fox News
The post France Protests Are Warning to American Politicians Who Ignore Forgotten Man appeared first on The Daily Signal.
What parent hopes their child will grow up to be a career criminal? What child dreams of one day living behind the bars of one of America’s 102 federal prisons?
Going to prison is a nightmare, not a dream. And it’s become a terrible reality for many.
Today, more than 2.4 million people are confined in American prisons, jails, or juvenile correctional facilities. Nearly one million of those are African-Americans. It’s estimated that one of every 20 Americans–including one of every four black males—will be incarcerated in a state or federal prison at some point in their lives.
Not everyone in prison is a hardened criminal. Indeed, many are serving lengthy sentences for non-violent and relatively low-level offenses, such as a single drug conviction.
Consider the case of Jamel Dossie. In the words of sentencing Judge John Gleeson, Dossie was “a young, small-time, street-level drug dealer’s assistant.” He was convicted of selling 88.1 grams of crack cocaine. Although Dossie had no prior convictions, mandatory sentencing provisions left Gleeson no choice but to hand down a five-year sentence—a punishment that the judge decried as “unjust,” even as he imposed it.
Criminals must pay their debt to society. But federal prisons can do more than warehouse low-level offenders for years on end. They should provide low-risk inmates who can be rehabilitated a chance to do something positive with their lives once they leave prison.
Our federal prisons house thousands of low-level offenders like Jamel Dossie. Each is a missing father or mother, brother or sister, son or daughter. Their absence stresses families, often tearing them apart. I know the challenges that come with being raised in a home when the father is often absent. And I’ve seen the damage it creates ripple from one generation to another.
As a society, we can and must do better. Treating low-level offenders as individuals, rather than numbers, is key.
To do that, prisons will have to devote time and resources to figuring out what factors—such as lack of education or job skills, mental illness or substance abuse—contributed to the fall of each prisoner, and which prisoners are most likely to benefit from rehabilitative services. Once those questions are answered, the prisons can offer appropriate programs or treatments to those best able to take advantage of them.
This is no “pie in the sky” solution. Dozens of states have been experimenting with various training and treatment programs for years, trying to weed out those that don’t work from those that really do. As it turns out, many of the more successful programs are faith-based.
Admittedly, no program can guarantee success. But quite a few state-tested programs have already demonstrated the ability to reduce recidivism. It’s time to put those programs to work in the federal prison system.
The House has already passed legislation, called “The First Step Act,” that would do just that. The ball is now in the Senate’s court, where Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has added some long-overdue sentencing reforms, such as reducing some of the severe penalties now meted out for low-level drug offenses.
The bill aims to help convicts use their time “inside” to deal with their personal challenges, thus preparing them to lead productive lives “outside.” This is certainly a more promising approach than what we have now.
If we keep warehousing offenders without addressing any of the underlying issues that paved their path to prison in the first place, we’ll keep getting more of the same: people leaving prison even more hardened than when they went in, people who quickly fall back into their old lives and criminal activities, only to land back in jail. That doesn’t do them any good. It doesn’t do their families any good. And it doesn’t do our communities any good.
State evaluations of prisoner rehabilitation programs have already informed successful criminal justice reforms across the country. More than 30 state legislatures have enacted legislation that enabled them to reduce prison populations without sparking an increase in crime.
This solid record of success has led numerous law enforcement organizations—from the Fraternal Order of Police to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National District Attorneys Association, and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives—to express support for FIRST STEP.
Washington should follow the lead of state legislators and enact reforms that offer federal prisoners the kind of individualized, data–driven rehabilitation programs that can help them change their lives and return to their families with a better chance of becoming a blessing to them and their communities.
This was originally published by Fox News
The post Not All in Prison Are Hardened Criminals. We Need to Offer Rehabilitation Possibilities. appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Jon Miller, the White House correspondent for the new Blaze Media, joins us to discuss the new venture’s reach and goals, as well as what it’s like covering the Trump White House as a conservative reporter. Plus: Daily Signal and Heritage producer Thaleigha Rampersad joins us to explain why she doesn’t think “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a good Christmas movie.
We also cover these stories:
- Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California who is expected to be the next chair of the House Intelligence Committee, says he could see “jail time” in President Donald Trump’s future.
- Trump is brushing off claims that an alleged hush money payment made by his lawyer violated campaign finance laws.
- The Trump administration is taking action to promote scientific research that doesn’t come at the expense of unborn babies lives.
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The Supreme Court on Monday missed an opportunity to bring clarity to an area of the law about which the lower courts are divided: Whether states can prevent Medicaid funds from going to pay for non-abortion services at Planned Parenthood clinics.
Justice Clarence Thomas dissented from the court’s decision not to take up the case, joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. Thomas suggested that the other justices’ “refusal to do [their] job here … has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named ‘Planned Parenthood.’” Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not join the dissenters, but that does not mean he (or the other justices, for that matter) agree with the arguments made by Planned Parenthood and the other respondents.
Thomas highlighted that, too often, the fact that abortion is involved in a case causes some members of the court to cast aside traditional legal and constitutional principles. This “abortion distortion” has led the court to twist free speech principles and undermine states’ commonsense health and safety standards to rule in favor of the abortion industry.
Now, the court has ducked the opportunity to clarify something about which the lower courts are in disarray: Does federal law allow individual Medicaid recipients to sue over states’ Medicaid provider decisions?
These cases are about much more than abortion. As Thomas pointed out, “Around 70 million Americans are on Medicaid … . If the majority of the courts of appeals are correct, then Medicaid patients could sue when, for example, a state removes their doctor as a Medicaid provider or inadequately reimburses their provider.”
He continued, “Under the current majority rule, a state faces the threat of federal lawsuit … whenever it changes providers of medical products or services for its Medicaid recipients.” It may even “enable Medicaid recipients to challenge the failure to list particular providers.”
It’s unmistakable that abortion looms in the background of these cases arising out of Kansas and Louisiana. Following the release of videos that raised disturbing allegations of Planned Parenthood profiting from the sale of organs from aborted babies and charges of fraudulent billing practices, several states, including Kansas and Louisiana, sought to cancel their agreements with the abortion giant.
Then, Medicaid recipients sued, and the main legal issue is whether they have a judicially enforceable right to select their health care provider.
The Medicaid Act’s “free choice of provider” provision allows Medicaid recipients to obtain medical care from a qualified provider of their choice, unless that provider is unfit to provide medical services. Most states have provider agreements with Planned Parenthood, which allow Medicaid recipients to receive non-abortion services at Planned Parenthood clinics. So while these cases involve Planned Parenthood, they have nothing to do with the provision of abortion services.
Under 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(23)(A), state Medicaid plans must “provide that … any individual eligible for medical assistance (including drugs) may obtain such assistance from any institution, agency, community pharmacy, or person, qualified to perform the service or services required … who undertakes to provide him such services.”
The lower courts are in disagreement about whether this language creates an individual entitlement that is enforceable in federal court.
In the past 18 months, three courts of appeals have ruled on such cases, adding to the confusion of three appellate rulings in earlier cases. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit concluded that a law directing officials to take an action—which § 1396a(a)23(A) does—does not create a judicially enforceable right.
The court held that it is not clear Congress intended to create an individual right to challenge the disqualification of a health care provider, and Congress’ unambiguous intent is a prerequisite for the lawsuit to move forward.
But the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and 10th Circuit reached the opposite conclusion in cases out of Louisiana and Kansas, holding that federal law affirmatively requires states to allow Medicaid recipients to choose their providers. Louisiana and Kansas both asked the Supreme Court to take up this issue—an invitation the justices rejected.
Thomas concluded his dissent, taking his colleagues to task for failing to see the forest for the trees. He wrote:
Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty. If anything, neutrally applying the law is all the more important when political issues are in the background. The Framers gave us lifetime tenure to promote ‘that independent spirit in the judges which must be essential to the faithful performance’ of the courts’ role as ‘bulwarks of a limited Constitution,’ unaffected by fleeting ‘mischiefs.’
A similar Medicaid case may be pending before the 4th Circuit soon, so the Supreme Court could be presented with another opportunity to clean up, as Thomas put it, the “mess” that has been made over time.
With accusations of fraud and abuse of Medicaid programs by numerous abortion providers, states should be allowed to maintain the integrity of their programs and tailor them to best reflect state priorities. But the Supreme Court’s unwillingness to settle the question of an individual’s private right of action is hindering states’ ability to carry out this basic obligation.
For now, due to the disagreement among the lower courts, Medicaid recipients in different states have different rights. Only the Supreme Court can clarify the confusion.
In short, “it is our job to fix it,” Thomas says—but only he, Alito, and Gorsuch are interested in doing so.
The post Supreme Court’s Refusal to Hear Planned Parenthood Case Is a Missed Opportunity appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Some students at a Georgia college continue to call for removing Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s name from a campus building, but aren’t able to say why.
“We should probably just take his name off of the building,” a young woman tells Campus Reform media director Cabot Phillips in a video posted Monday by the conservative student organization.
“It’s not that big of a deal,” she says.
The subject of the video is the Clarence Thomas Center for Historic Preservation on the campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Sage Lucero, an alumna of the school who created a petition on Change.org titled “Take A Sexual Predator’s Name Off of SCAD’s Building,” canceled the petition in late October, as The Daily Signal previously reported.
During Thomas’s 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Anita Hill, whom Thomas supervised at the Education Department and at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, made international news with accusations that he had made unwelcome sexual advances toward her.
The three-story brick building at the Savannah College of Art and Design, erected in 1908, formerly served as an orphanage and convent for the Missionary Sisters of the Franciscan order.
In the video, when Phillips asks students what they would point to that would justify their signing the petition to remove Thomas’s name, at least eight don’t have an answer.
“Um, um, hmm, do you mind if I get back to you?” a student wearing a pink bandana says.
“I don’t know, I haven’t done much research on this,” a young woman tells Phillips. “I just saw a Facebook petition about it, and that’s kind of the extent of it.”
Thomas grew up poor near Savannah.
“He is a historical figure,” says a student in the video wearing a Saints hat. “So, uh … So is Hitler.”
When Phillips asks whether Thomas had done something to justify removing his name, the student replies: “Not in particular.”
The video, however, does show a few students who support keeping the building named after Thomas.
“No, I really wouldn’t sign that petition,” one male student says. “And I wouldn’t sign that petition simply because I feel that even though the student body might have its certain views and values, just because you don’t agree with somebody doesn’t mean you shouldn’t honor them.”
The post Students Want to Remove the Name of Clarence Thomas From Building, but Can’t Say Why appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Last week, a Virginia school board voted unanimously to fire a teacher after he refused to comply with administrators’ orders to use a female student’s preferred masculine pronouns. The student “transitioned” over the summer and began identifying as a man.
This latest casualty in the culture wars raises the obvious question: Who could be next?
Peter Vlaming went to great lengths to accommodate the student without violating his Christian faith. He used the student’s new name to avoid upsetting the student, but refrained from using pronouns altogether in the student’s presence to avoid speaking against his belief that God created human beings male and female.
“I’m happy to avoid female pronouns not to offend because I’m not here to provoke,” Vlaming told the press, “but I can’t refer to a female as a male, and a male as a female in good conscience and faith.”
However, this was not enough to satisfy the student’s family or the board.
“I can’t think of a worse way to treat a child than what was happening,” said the principal, who had ordered the teacher to use the student’s preferred pronouns against his beliefs.
This incident does not bode well for future conflicts over transgender policies. As more of these conflicts arise in schools, hospitals, shelters, and businesses, America must allow its citizens to think about and debate these issues freely.
No one should fear losing their job because they believe that men and women are biological realities that are not interchangeable.
Unfortunately, government coercion as a weapon of the culture wars is now spreading across the professions.
First, there were cases in the wedding industry where the government tried to force people to violate their belief that marriage is between a man and a woman—florists, bakers, photographers, wedding venues, and so forth.
Now, the government is beginning to penalize people who hold that there are two biological sexes. For example, a Catholic hospital was sued for refusing to remove a biological female’s healthy uterus to pursue gender transition. Meanwhile, two parents lost custody of their teenage daughter for refusing to allow their child to take testosterone and identify as a boy.
This could be just the beginning. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi recently announced that the Equality Act will be a top Democratic priority in 2019. The bill would impose controversial transgender policies on the nation by elevating “gender identity” to protected status in federal anti-discrimination law.
This would have drastic implications for average Americans. It would open up sex-specific facilities like bathrooms, locker rooms, and shelters to members of the opposite biological sex. It would allow biological males to compete on women’s sports teams. It would force health care providers and insurance companies to provide and pay for radical transgender therapies.
In brief, stories like Peter Vlaming’s would become the new normal.
This kind of sweeping, coercive policy is not the answer to current debates about gender identity. Americans must remain free to discuss these policies in a respectful manner—which is why the firing of Vlaming is so disturbing. Instead of allowing the parties involved to find a workable compromise, the school board not only picked sides, it silenced one side.
This is an extremely disturbing precedent.
Sadly, while Vlaming was willing to work to make the student a cherished member of the community, the school board was not willing to work to make the teacher a cherished member as well.
Instead of pursuing a solution that would respect everyone—teacher and student alike—the school board refused to respect Vlaming’s beliefs and terminated him.
Speaking and acting according to one’s conscience should not be a fireable offense. When authorities try to force people to act against their beliefs, it is a blatant abuse of power—one that can easily backfire when political power changes hands. That is why everyone should be concerned about these emerging challenges to freedom of conscience.
Now that Vlaming has lost his job, who could be next?
The honest answer is that someday, it may well be you.
The post This Teacher Was Fired for ‘Misgendering’ a Student. Who Could Be Next? appeared first on The Daily Signal.
In the next five years, one-quarter of all those convicted of terrorism-related crimes in the U.S. will be released from prison, according to a new report from a former propagandist for radical jihadists who became a police official working in counterterrorism.
The report from Jesse Morton, dubbed the “first former jihadi,” calls for the United States to engage in deradicalization programs similar to how prisons treat addiction and other inmate issues, as a way to prevent repeat terrorism offenders.
Although U.S. courts have convicted 400 people on terrorism-related charges since the 9/11 attacks, only violent offenders will spend their lives in prison, the report finds.
Most of these prisoners—convicted of crimes such as making terrorist threats, communicating with terrorist groups, propagandizing or seeking to aid foreign jihadists—eventually will serve their sentences.
Morton understands personally how someone can become radicalized. Today, the former al-Qaeda propagandist is co-founder of Parallel Networks and research coordinator for the Institute for Strategic Dialogue’s Against Violent Extremism Network in North America.
Morton co-authored the new report, titled “When Terrorists Come Home,” with Mitchell Silber, former director of intelligence analysis for the New York Police Department.
“What we propose is that the government should partner with community service organizations,” Morton said Thursday during a panel discussion at The Heritage Foundation’s headquarters on Capitol Hill.
Former jihadists can be productive as they repent, he said.
“Rather than just treat individuals with re-entry and re-integration services, the ultimate idea would be to create a pathway and avenue for them to make a positive contribution, having come full circle,” Morton said, adding:
There are cases where there is going to be a continued, cemented commitment to an ideology, that your objective and part of your treatment plan protocol is simply to minimize risk and protect the public. But there are going to be credible voices to come out of this.
The report looks at successful parallels that are used to help prison inmates transition into more productive lives after their release.
One model is “gang dropout” programs, in which prisoners extract themselves from prison gangs without facing a safety threat. Another is residential drug abuse programs.
“At a national level, if the U.S. government can provide some funding and maybe some standards, and then to some degree you’re going to have to leave it to the local districts to experiment and do it a little bit different in Minneapolis than in Eastern District [of New York],” Silber said at The Heritage Foundation event. “That might be a little bit different from the way L.A. is going to do it. That’s OK because, you know what, they are different.”
Morton said his conversion to Islam was initially a stabilizing factor in his life, helping him to beat a drug addiction and cope with abuse he suffered during his childhood.
“It gave me the first sense of stability,” he said. “I was given a structure and a code to follow and rules to abide by that gave me the first sentiment of stability and comfort that I found in my life.”
A high school dropout, Morton got a college degree and went on to teach college. But, he said, he eventually “adopted a very politicized version of Islam.”
During the 2000s, Morton began to believe that the United States was the enemy in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. He co-founded and was chief propagandist for Revolution Muslim, a New York City-based group that promoted the side of al-Qaeda and the Salafi-jihadist ideology in America.
“I realize today that it was merely a projection of my own frustration and pain with a society that I felt had not protected me, and that it really had little to do with an objective choice of an ideology or an interpretation of a religion, but more to do with my own issues,” Morton said.
Morton was arrested and charged with threatening the lives of the creators of TV’s “South Park,” a politically incorrect cartoon on Comedy Central. He fled to Morocco, where he taught college.
In talks with his students, Morton said, he began to have doubts about his worldview. He eventually was captured and extradited. Because he worked with U.S. officials to thwart terrorist attacks, he served just three years of his 11-year sentence.
Silber, the former NYPD intelligence official, said numerous Americans who either fought with foreign terrorists or sought to leave the country to do so were part of the Revolution Muslim audience.
A New Yorker sentenced to prison for trying to aid al-Qaeda repented after being released, Silber said, and a Chicago man who tried to assist the al-Shabab terrorist group changed his ways after release. So success stories exist, he said, adding:
This is not just a one-off problem. … Close to a quarter of the number of people incarcerated in the U.S. are coming out. What is there for these people? We know the recidivism rate for most types of crimes isn’t zero. Terrorism is a particular type of insidious crime [where] we want the recidivism rate to be zero, but with no programming in place, that’s unlikely to happen.
The post What to Do About Pending Release of 1 in 4 Terrorism-Related Convicts appeared first on The Daily Signal.
On Dec. 10-11 in Morocco, most of the world’s nations will sign on to the United Nations’ Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
The U.S. will not be signing the migration compact—and that’s the correct decision from public policy, national security, and national sovereignty standpoints.
The migration compact was initiated when the U.N. General Assembly unanimously adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants in September 2016.
While the Obama administration enthusiastically supported the New York declaration and the migration compact, the Trump administration has had serious concerns about its provisions and requirements that are inconsistent and contrary to our immigration policy.
On Dec. 2, 2017, the United States announced that it would not participate in the migration compact, as explained by U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley:
America is proud of our immigrant heritage and our long-standing moral leadership in providing support to migrant and refugee populations across the globe.
No country has done more than the United States, and our generosity will continue. But our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone. We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country.
The global approach in the New York Declaration is simply not compatible with U.S. sovereignty.
Since the U.S. decision, however, other nations have likewise signaled that they would not sign the migration compact because of concerns that “it tramples on national sovereignty” and “does not distinguish sufficiently between economic migrants and people in genuine need of international protection.”
At least 10 other nations are expected to join the U.S. in not signing the migration compact, including Australia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Israel, and Poland.
In addition, the compact is causing political controversy and turmoil in some places that its supporters might consider unlikely, such as Belgium, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
The concerns voiced in these countries mirror those of U.S. officials. For example, while the migration compact says that it is the sovereign right of states to “govern migration within their jurisdiction,” they can only do so to the extent it is “in conformity with international law.”
That’s a direct limitation on the constitutional authority of our government to determine our immigration policy regardless of international law.
Similarly, the migration compact says that the due process rights and access to justice provided to migrants must be “consistent with international law.” That imposes another limitation on the authority of the U.S. to determine its immigration policy and the extent of the due process procedures that will be provided to illegal aliens.
There are other, similar caveats contained throughout the migration compact, such as a requirement that a country’s migration policy be consistent with the U.N.’s nonbinding 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
It directs that detention of illegal aliens should only be “a measure of last resort,” a policy that would release large numbers of illegal aliens into the interior of the U.S., where they could disappear and defy our immigration laws.
The migration compact has many other provisions that would extend asylum rights and provide access to a variety of government benefits far beyond what U.S. immigration law provides.
In general, it is in accord with the push by liberal advocacy groups to extinguish the line between legal and illegal immigration to the greatest extent possible.
In addition, the migration compact states that it rests on a number of international agreements, which is important, considering the compact’s frequent references to international law.
Strangely, it makes no distinction between commitments that are legally binding and those that are not—citing, for example, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, alongside the Paris accord and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The compact fails to note that not all states have ratified the treaties listed. The United States, for example, has declined to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, and other treaties referenced in the compact.
The U.S. should avoid even implying that agreements and treaties that it has not ratified constitute binding commitments on this country.
Defenders of the migration compact argue that U.S. concerns are misguided because country commitments under it are nonbinding. Indeed, supporters of the compact lament the lack of a binding treaty on migration.
The purpose of the compact, however, is to be a steppingstone to that goal. To that end, it lays out common commitments and practices on “all aspects of international migration” that signatories will be pressured to honor.
States that fall short of expectations or interpretations of those commitments by the U.N. and nongovernmental organizations will be accused of bad faith and of abandoning their commitments.
We witnessed such criticism when the U.S. pulled out of the similarly nonbinding Paris accord on climate change. Yet, at the recent Group of 20 meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the other governments insisted that the nonbinding Paris accord is “irreversible.”
It is important to note that not signing the migration compact would in no way undermine or reverse America’s generous policy on migration.
The U.S. should work with the International Organization for Migration and other relevant entities to implement the migration compact’s sensible provisions, but it is right to protect jealously its discretion and sovereign authority to set its own migration policies that further U.S. interests.
Signing on to the compact provides no additional authority or ability to adjust U.S. migration policy to meet urgent or ongoing needs. It does, however, serve as an invitation for politically motivated criticism and international pressure.
The U.S. is right to weigh the costs and benefits of this approach and find it wanting. The costs far outweigh the benefits.
The post Why the US Is Right to Refuse to Sign UN Migration Compact appeared first on The Daily Signal.
At 42, some people might celebrate their birthday at a backyard barbecue with friends, others might enjoy a night out on the town. A lucky few get to travel, squeezing the sand between their toes or getting bitten by frost in the French Alps.
But if you’re Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, these sorts of celebrations are old news. So instead, you plan a 10-day meditation vacation to Myanmar, where the U.N. has accused the government-backed military of pursuing a campaign of “genocide” against its Muslim minority since August 2017.
When you return from said vacation, you don’t use your public platform as CEO of one of the world’s largest social media platforms to spread awareness about the ethnic-cleansing campaign happening in your new favorite getaway retreat.
Instead, you share pictures of your less than five-star accommodations and encourage those “willing to travel a bit” to get a slice of the fun. Because who wouldn’t want to meditate in the midst of mass graves? Exclusive ski resorts and private islands are so last year!
It’s safe to assume Dorsey didn’t have any malicious intent when he decided to brag about his international birthday bash. But his shameless tweets go to show the Twitter CEO is at best tone-deaf, and at worst, completely ignorant of the world around him.
In a string of tweets journaling his trip, Dorsey began by saying:
For my birthday this year, I did a 10-day silent vipassana meditation, this time in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar. We went into silence on the night of my birthday, the 19th. Here’s what I know.
For my birthday this year, I did a 10-day silent vipassana meditation, this time in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar ??. We went into silence on the night of my birthday, the 19th. Here’s what I know ??
— jack (@jack) December 9, 2018
Dorsey then explained the purpose of his trip—to “answer the question: how do I stop suffering?”
Vipassana is a technique and practice to “know thyself.” Understanding the inner nature as a way to understand…everything. It was rediscovered by Gautama the Buddha 2,500 years ago through rigorous scientific self-experimentation to answer the question: how do I stop suffering?
— jack (@jack) December 9, 2018
It might be tempting to think Dorsey was referring to the Muslim-minority Rohingya people, who have faced execution, widespread arson, and systematic rape at the hands of the government-backed Buddhist majority. Their suffering in recent months is beyond words, as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof captured on a trip earlier this year:
Myanmar’s ethnic cleansing became impossible to hide with the exodus in August of Rohingya bearing stories of massacres and pogroms. In interviewing those refugees late last year, I was particularly shaken by the account of a woman, Hasina Begum, who told me how soldiers had executed the men and boys in her village, had made a bonfire of their bodies and had then taken the women to a hut to be raped. ‘I was trying to hide my baby under my scarf, but they saw her leg,’ Hasina Begum said. ‘They grabbed my baby by the leg and threw her onto the fire.’
But if you thought Dorsey was tweeting about the Rohingya, you’d be mistaken. It appears he was referring to his own suffering as a self-made billionaire. So how does a Silicon Valley superhero cope with such suffering? Meditation. He shared of his chosen technique:
Vipassana’s singular objective is to hack the deepest layer of the mind and reprogram it: instead of unconsciously reacting to feelings of pain or pleasure, consciously observe that all pain and pleasure aren’t permanent, and will ultimately pass and dissolve away.
Vipassana’s singular objective is to hack the deepest layer of the mind and reprogram it: instead of unconsciously reacting to feelings of pain or pleasure, consciously observe that all pain and pleasure aren’t permanent, and will ultimately pass and dissolve away.
— jack (@jack) December 9, 2018
Sadly, for Begum and the other victims of Myanmar’s ethnic cleansing, vipassana doesn’t cut it. Their pain won’t “ultimately pass and dissolve away,” and only the lucky ones will feel pleasure again.
In true virtue-signaling fashion, Dorsey then describes the sacrifices he made spending 10 days in his “basic” room, which he said is “free,” given to meditators by charity. Only the most virtuous billionaires would choose to stay in accommodations like this.
I did my meditation at Dhamma Mahimã in Pyin Oo Lwin. This is my room. Basic. During the 10 days: no devices, reading, writing, physical excercise, music, intoxicants, meat, talking, or even eye contact with others. It’s free: everything is given to meditators by charity. pic.twitter.com/OhJqXKInD3
— jack (@jack) December 9, 2018
On Day Six, Dorsey “caught a nasty cold.” But on Day 11, he was able to listen to rapper Kendrick Lamar again.
On day 11, all I wanted to do was listen to music, and I again turned to my favorite poet, @kendricklamar and his album DAMN. The greatest effect coming out of silence is the clarity one has in listening. Every note stands alone. https://t.co/FliDncWfnC
— jack (@jack) December 9, 2018
Dorsey then shared photos of different cities and monasteries he visited in Myanmar, which look beautiful only if you can ignore the backdrop of a genocide.
Myanmar is an absolutely beautiful country. The people are full of joy and the food is amazing. I visited the cities of Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagan. We visited and meditated at many monasteries around the country. pic.twitter.com/wMp3cmkfwi
— jack (@jack) December 9, 2018
Then he backtracked—because he forgot to share the 117 mosquito bites he got while meditating in a cave. Ouch! Thankfully, there are remedies for that.
We also meditated in a cave in Mandalay one evening. In the first 10 minutes I got bit 117 times by mosquitoes ? They left me alone when the light blew a fuse, which you can see in my heart rate lowering. pic.twitter.com/rz59Wx9yHF
— jack (@jack) December 9, 2018
When it was finally time to end his thread, which Dorsey managed to do without once mentioning the word “genocide,” the Twitter CEO thanked his followers for reading about his birthday trip.
“Always happy to answer any questions about my experience,” he said.
Since he offered, I do have one thing: Before you blew out the candles, did you wish for the genocide to end?
Thanks for reading! Always happy to answer any questions about my experience. Will track responses to this thread. I’ll continue to do this every year, and hopefully do longer and longer each time. The time I take away to do this gives so much back to me and my work. ?????????
— jack (@jack) December 9, 2018
The post Happy Birthday, Jack! Twitter CEO Celebrates Turning 42 in a Country Engaged in Genocide appeared first on The Daily Signal.
“The Right Side of History” is a podcast dedicated to exploring current events through a historical lens and busting left-wing myths about figures and events of America’s past.
On this week’s episode, hosts Jarrett Stepman and Fred Lucas discuss the legacy of Chief Justice John Marshall and how it relates to today.
Chief Justice John Roberts has criticized President Donald Trump for lambasting an “Obama judge” on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for ruling unfavorably against him.
This brings up the question: Are judges inherently partisan and what does this mean for the concept of an “independent judiciary”?
To discuss this and more, Lucas and Stepman chatted with Richard Brookhiser, an editor at National Review, whose latest book “John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court,” delves into the life of America’s greatest legal minds.
The post Right Side of History: Meet the Man Who Made the Supreme Court appeared first on The Daily Signal.
The Trump administration is investing up to $20 million for the next two years to determine effective alternatives to using tissue from aborted babies for research.
The announcement Monday from the Department of Health and Human Services comes after the administration in September terminated a government contract with California-based Advanced Bioscience Resources Inc. to provide human fetal tissue research.
“We are a pro-life, pro-science administration. This means that we understand and appreciate that medical research and the testing of new medical treatments using fetal tissue raises inherent moral and ethical issues,” HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said in a prepared statement.
After news that the Food and Drug Administration had renewed the contract with Advanced Bioscience Resources, 45 pro-life organizations wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, asserting that it was “completely unacceptable to discover that the FDA is using federal tax dollars and fomenting demand for human body parts taken from babies who are aborted.”
The HHS soon announced that it had terminated the contract. Monday’s announcement marks another step.
“This also means that we place a high value on the work NIH [the National Institutes of Health] does in creating new discoveries that result in cures and improved quality of life,” Oakley said. “Secretary Azar directed the review, which we are approaching with the utmost seriousness and concern.”
NIH on Monday released a notice of intent to publish new funding opportunity announcements inviting applications to develop and refine human tissue models that can be used to accurately model embryonic development or other aspects of human biology but do not rely on the use of fetal tissue obtained from elective abortions.
The NIH will fund research to develop alternative models to the use of human fetal tissue in biomedical research.
“After a recent review of a contract between Advanced Bioscience Resources Inc. and the Food and Drug Administration to provide human fetal tissue to develop testing protocols, HHS was not sufficiently assured that the contract included the appropriate protections applicable to fetal tissue research or met all other procurement requirements,” Oakley said.
“As a result, HHS is now conducting an audit of all acquisitions involving human fetal tissue to ensure conformity with procurement and human fetal tissue research laws and regulations,” she said.
The new announcement is a positive step, said Melanie Israel, research associate with The Heritage Foundation.
“The federal government should promote good science and respect innocent human life—these two principles are not mutually exclusive, and HHS must proceed accordingly,” Israel told The Daily Signal.
The announcement also comes amid blistering attacks from the mainstream media that halting federal funding of fetal tissue research is preventing a study to “discover a cure for HIV.”
The NIH is also reviewing a contract with a laboratory at the University of California at San Francisco that conducted human fetal research.
“In September, HHS issued a statement announcing an audit would be conducted of all acquisitions involving human fetal tissue to ensure conformity with procurement and human fetal tissue research laws and regulations,” Oakley said regarding the San Francisco contract.
“In addition, HHS has initiated a comprehensive review of all research involving fetal tissue to ensure consistency with statutes and regulations governing such research, and to ensure the adequacy of procedures and oversight of this research in light of the serious considerations involved,” Oakley said. “Regarding the extension on the UC San Francisco contract, no final decision has been made. A decision will be made when the contract has been reviewed, pursuant to the ongoing audit/review process. There is a provision for continuity of work while the contract is being reviewed.”
This story was updated to include an HHS comment on the review of the federal contract with the University of California San Francisco.
The post BREAKING: Trump Administration Seeks ‘Pro-Life, Pro-Science’ Alternatives to Fetal Tissue Research appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Reading the headlines this week is like taking a trip to an alternate universe. Ten years ago, if you’d have said that in 2018 teachers would get fired for calling a girl a girl, most people wouldn’t have believed you. Unfortunately, that’s the ridiculous world Americans are waking up to every morning. But to most people’s relief, not everyone is playing along with this charade. And that includes President Donald Trump.
Almost two years in, this administration is still trying to mop up the mess made by Barack Obama. And considering the huge disaster it inherited, it’s amazing how much progress the White House has already made rolling back the absurdity of Obama’s LGBT legacy.
After squashing the government’s gender-free bathroom mandate, Trump moved on to the military. Now, he’s directed his agencies to make one of the most important changes of all: protecting the 54-year-old Civil Rights Act.
Obama chose to read the law the way he wanted—not how it was written by Congress. For the last few years of his administration, he started using his own interpretation of the Civil Rights Act to give special protections to people who identify as transgender. There’s just one problem: that’s not what the 1964 Congress meant—and it’s not what the statute says.
So, Trump issued his own memo. For the purposes of his administration, the Justice Department explained, “sex discrimination” would not include “gender identity.”
That was music to the ears of a lot more than conservatives. In the medical community, experts were relieved to see that the president’s policy matched what was wise and prudent for patients. In a letter to the departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services, a coalition of doctors, bioethicists, therapists, academics, and policy groups all praised the president for taking a scientifically-sound approach.
Dr. Michelle Cretella, head of the American College of Pediatricians, explained why that’s so important in an interview on Thursday’s “Washington Watch.” The letter, she points out, represents the views of more than 30,000 physicians who all understand that gender identity is a very real threat to modern health care.
“Transgenders are saying, ‘I think and feel this way, therefore, I am.’ And it’s one thing for us to, as physicians, [to] treat the person with respect and honor their name change, but it would be a complete malpractice to treat them as the opposite sex.”
As she explains, there is nothing any of us can do to change our binary, biologically-determined-at-conception sex. “A man on estrogen is not a woman. He is a man with a male physiology on estrogen, and that’s how a physician must approach him.” The very serious problem, she points out, is that people are so ideologically-driven that they want to ignore the medical research.
More than ever, Cretella says, “Medicine is at the point now where we understand that men and women have—at a minimum—6,500 genetic differences between us. And this impacts every cell of our bodies—our organ systems, how diseases manifest, how we diagnose, and even treat in some cases.”
Treating a person differently based on their feelings isn’t just harmful, she argues, but deadly. In cases like heart disease, certain drugs can endanger women and not men. Even diagnoses present differently in men and women. The symptoms for certain diseases, she explains, can manifest themselves in completely opposite ways. “And these are nuances that medicine is finally studying and bringing to light. And it’s actually ironic that the transgender movement [is] so anti-science.”
“There is absolutely no rigorous science that has found a trait called ‘gender identity’ in the brain, body, or DNA. Now sex—I can show you that. It’s in our chromosomes. It’s in the body. It’s in the reproductive organs. Over 99.98 percent of the times, our sexual development is clearly and unambiguously either male or female.” The sex differences, she explains, are real and consequential.
If she had one message for America, Cretella said, it would be this: “Stick with science.” Thank goodness for us, the president has.
This was originally published in Tony Perkins’ Washington Update, which is written with the aid of Family Research Council senior writers.
When it comes to alarming projections of global warming-induced sea level rise, veteran climate scientist Judith Curry says people need to cool it.
“Projections of extreme, alarming impacts are very weakly justified to borderline impossible,” Curry told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Curry’s latest research, put together for clients of her consulting company near the end of November, looks in detail at projections of sea level rise. Curry’s ultimate conclusion: “Some of the worst-case scenarios strain credulity.”
“With regards to 21st century climate projections, we are dealing with deep uncertainty, and we should not be basing our policies based on the assumption that the climate will actually evolve as per predicted,” Curry told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Climate variability and change is a lot more complex than ‘CO2 as control knob,’” Curry said. “No one wants to hear this, or actually spend time understanding things,” Curry said.
That’s really the opposite message of what we usually hear from prominent scientists in the media. Much of the worry over sea level rise has centered on the western Antarctic ice melt, which studies say has accelerated in recent years.
The global average sea level has risen about 7 inches since 1900. For perspective, sea level rise has averaged about the thickness of two pennies every year.
But if warmer temperatures substantially increase melt from the world’s glaciers and ice sheets, some scientists and activists say sea level rise could be devastating. Warming also increases thermal expansion of the ocean, scientists warn.
Former NASA head climate scientist James Hansen warned in 1988 that New York City’s West Side Highway would be underwater in 20 to 40 years. More recently, Hansen warned “the planet could become practically ungovernable” from sea level rise due to melting ice forcing millions of people to flee coastal cities.
Pacific islands national leaders went before the United Nations in 2015 to warn that unchecked global warming would overwhelm them, forcing thousands to emigrate to the continents—so far, there’s little evidence of island nations being engulfed by the sea.
“Now if you ask us, we have to say maybe closer to 6 to 8 feet,” Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann warned at a debate in June. Curry also participated in the debate in Charleston, West Virginia.
Mann said that was the “best estimate” of sea level rise by the end of the century, which is considerably higher than he said it was just five years earlier.
“We’re talking about literally giving up on our coastal cities of the world and moving inland,” Mann warned in September 2017.
Curry, however, sees estimates of sea level rise above 2 feet by the end of the century as “weakly justified,” even at high levels of warming. In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change puts the likely range of sea level rise at 10 to 32 inches.
Alarming sea level rise predictions are based on “a cascade of extremely unlikely-to-impossible events using overly simplistic models of poorly understood processes,” Curry wrote in her report.
Current sea level rise is well within natural variability of the past few thousand years, according to Curry. Curry said coastal communities should base their future flood plans on likely scenarios, such as 1 to 2 feet, rather than high-end scenarios.
“There is not yet any convincing evidence of a human fingerprint on global sea level rise, because of the large changes driven by natural variability,” Curry wrote. “An increase in the rate of global sea level rise since 1995 is being caused by ice loss from Greenland.”
However, the “Greenlandic ice loss was larger during the 1930s, which was also associated with the warm phase of the Atlantic Ocean circulation pattern,” Curry wrote.
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I don’t often quote sources from The New York Times, but in mid-November, David Brooks wrote a piece called “Fighting the Spiritual Void.” He stated without equivocation that “[t]rauma is a moral and spiritual issue as much as a psychological or chemical one.”
He could not be more correct.
The Heritage Foundation convened a panel to discuss post-traumatic stress disorder and veteran suicide from the faith angle. The panel was chaired by myself, a 30-year veteran of the Army Special Forces, and the members included Richard Glickstein, an advocate working to move the government to appropriately address the crisis; Dr. David LeMay, a medical doctor who specializes in rehabilitation; and Lt. Col. Damon Friedman, an active-duty Air Force special operator, who also leads a veterans service organization called Shield of Faith Missions.
The panel laid out quite a story.
Friedman presented several personal anecdotes from his own trauma, and those of some of the veterans with whom he works. The depth of despair some of our warriors face is profound, and the fact that they are not getting the help they need is discouraging. He also showed how faith-based programs like his own often take the lead in helping these veterans.
LeMay discussed the science showing the emotional, psychological, and physical effects of applying faith solutions to the rehabilitation process. A key point here is that the specific confession or organization has not proved significant to outcomes, but faith in a divine being has. All such beliefs had a beneficial effect.
Glickstein highlighted the way government efforts have failed—and offered a possible solution. He said that in the last 10 years, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs have together run 1,100 different programs addressing PTSD and veteran suicide, at enormous expense. During that time, the average of 21 veteran suicides per day has not changed.
Absorb that: 10 years, 1,100 programs (none with a faith basis), and no change in the suicide rate.
And recent data actually shows the problem growing. A top VA official recently said that “[s]uicide rates among veterans 34 and younger have spiked in the last two years, leading the Department of Veterans Affairs to focus more on the 18- to 34-year-old age group than civilian programs for suicide prevention.”
The government’s effort has actually been fairly broad-minded. It offers programs that use pharmaceuticals, psychological techniques of all sorts, acupuncture and other “alternative medicine” methods, as well as individual and group approaches. Just no faith-based programs.
In fact, when Glickstein spoke with legal advisers at the Pentagon, he was told that they could not endorse such means, as there were small but vocal (and active) elements that would sue to keep such programs “out in the cold.”
Glickstein also pointed out how a major two-year study by the Defense Department on the value of faith-based initiatives was ruined. After experts created the survey questions, a team of lawyers massively revised them to be more politically acceptable. The study was carried out with these new, modified questions.
When the study was peer reviewed, researchers concluded that the lawyers had so badly adulterated the questions with their own political correctness that the results were not scientifically valid. Intentionally or not, the lawyers had killed the study in its cradle.
Such are the obstacles to pursuing faith-based solutions. Some are determinedly opposed, even as current methods of treatment continue to fail our veterans.
As we saw in the Q&A portion, even those senior leaders who did not have a personal foundation of faith still wanted these programs. They clearly articulated their desire to have every possible “tool” in the toolbox in order to assist their troops amid a personal crisis and the “soul wound” of PTSD.
One other noteworthy nongovernmental organization mentioned by the panel was Mighty Oaks Warriors. Friedman praised its track record: Of the more than 2,000 veterans with PTSD and suicide ideation who had been through the program, all are still alive today.
While no one advocated pushing troops to use faith programs, our panelists agreed on the need to make this useful option available and robust enough to handle the caseload.
Why would legal advisers fight this seeming “no brainer,” even during a presidential administration that appears to be more open to faith-based perspectives?
The answer seems to lie in the residual presence of Obama-era political correctness. It is still there, and it permeates the legal advisers’ offices and holds at bay any move to add faith back into the mix.
So what can be done today?
The panel concluded that the administration should take one of two courses. One is more bold, the other a bit more limited.
The first is for the president to issue an executive order to immediately remove all roadblocks to the inclusion of faith-based programs, and to immediately introduce such programs into both the VA and Department of Defense. This should include maximum use of the chaplaincy in both departments, mandated cooperation between the chaplains and the medical personal, and the leveraging of existing (albeit small) nongovernmental organizations like Shield of Faith Missions, which already exist around the country.
The more limited option would be for the president to mandate a study on the effectiveness of faith-based approaches, which would add to existing research. This time, the survey instruments should be left to the experts, and the lawyers should be kept away. This would not be as rapid or robust as the first option, but it would put to rest any further debate—one way or the other—as to the use of faith programs.
The panelists also agreed to convene an event in the immediate future to which senior retired leaders—generals, admirals, members of Congress, and others—would be invited. The goal would be to get VA Secretary Robert Wilkie and Defense Secretary James Mattis to address the group and commit to finding any and all ways to help our troops. They have sacrificed so much. We must make every effort to help them find healing.
The bottom line is that action is needed. We can no longer be satisfied with 21 suicides a day. The 1,100 existing programs have kept the numbers from going higher, but if faith-based approaches can lower it, they should be tried. These would not replace other methodologies, but would simply add a long-needed and potentially effective tool to a toolbox designed to help our vets.
Do we not owe them the effort to try?
The post What Faith-Based Efforts Can Do to Help Prevent Veteran Suicide appeared first on The Daily Signal.