After over two years of speculation and endless media coverage, the Mueller report arrived with a dud.
This is, without a doubt, the biggest media miss of the Trump presidency.
The fact is that after nonstop allegations and insinuations that Trump was a Manchurian candidate and a puppet of the Putin regime, there appears to be no evidence whatsoever to back up those claims.
This, after devoting almost endless airtime to the issue.
A NewsBusters report found that: “From January 20, 2017 (Inauguration Day) through March 21, 2019 (the last night before special counsel Robert Mueller sent his report to the Attorney General), the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts produced a combined 2,284 minutes of ‘collusion’ coverage.”
Mainstream networks spent almost three minutes every night for 791 days on this topic alone.
And it wasn’t just broadcast networks who ran with this narrative. Axios reported that: “533,074 web articles have been published about Russia and Trump/Mueller, generating 245 million interactions,” citing data from NewsWhip.
This coverage fueled the wild fantasies of progressive activists around the country: bizarre viral Christmas songs and stories of elderly critics attempting to stave off death to see the Mueller report, to name just a couple.
All for nothing.
Trump is now 2-0 against the media—first, beating Hillary Clinton after reports said it could never happen, and now, coming out on top in the Mueller report.
Trump takes a lot of flak for his attacks on the press, but it’s clear that the media itself has done the most lasting damage to its own credibility, only ensuring that Trump’s criticisms leave a mark.
We should be grateful for the handful of dissenting media voices who questioned this narrative from the beginning, most of them operating outside the large legacy media outlets that set the tone for political coverage in America.
The elite media’s unforced errors in the Trump era have exposed the media’s partisan bias and have undermined its credibility.
At the very least, the cratering of the elite media’s credibility may provide an opening for others to fill the quality void, and create pressure from the American people for tighter standards in the journalistic profession.
The media elite are unlikely to change on their own, but the way is becoming ever clearer for other voices to take their place.
There’s no doubt that one of the flashpoints of the modern culture war in America is the debate over our nation’s history.
On one side, there are Americans who believe that the United States is a unique country, a shining city upon a hill that while flawed, has been exceptional from the beginning.
On the other side is a growing block of Americans who believe America was rotten from its conception, its history worthy of both figuratively and now literally destroying, and that its only hope is in some kind of fundamental transformation to purge it of its past sins and injustices.
In simpler terms, it’s a battle of gratitude vs. grievance.
Few perhaps represent the grievance side better than former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, who took the opportunity on Wednesday to scoff at the concept of “Make America Great Again.”
“Exactly when did you think America was great?” Holder said on an MSNBC panel in response to supporters of President Donald Trump.
“It certainly wasn’t when people were enslaved. It certainly wasn’t when women didn’t have the right to vote. It certainly wasn’t when the LGBT community was denied the rights to which it was entitled,” Holder said.
Apparently, greatness is entirely dependent on the norms of 2019.
This is absurd.
Perhaps one of the most profound rebukes to Holder and those who share his view are the words of Frederick Douglass.
Douglass had been born a slave in Maryland. Having received cruel treatment from several masters, he later escaped.
He had more reason than any American today to hate his country and the Founding Fathers.
Douglass delivered his famed speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” at a time when slavery not only existed in America, but was spreading. Yet in that speech he said that America and the men who founded it were truly “great.”
Douglass pulled no punches when it came to slavery, which he considered a great hypocrisy in light of the Founders’ statement that all men are created equal. Yet this great sin did not convince Douglass that America’s foundations were hopelessly flawed.
Far from it.
“I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic,” Douglass said. “The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men too—great enough to give fame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men.”
Douglass insisted that the Founding generation was worth celebrating for all time.
“With them, nothing was ‘settled’ that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were ‘final;’ not slavery and oppression. You may well cherish the memory of such men. They were great in their day and generation.”
America, in the eyes of Douglass, had always been great. To say otherwise was nonsense.
Douglass understood the difference between his country’s timeless ideals and its failure to live up to them. He only demanded that Americans, if they wished to remain an exceptional country, uphold the sacred principles that their ancestors had bravely fought for.
It’s through this kind of patriotic criticism that Douglass convinced many of the need to extinguish the evil of slavery, or the promise of their nation would fade and crumble.
Later, when slavery was defeated, Douglass looked back not with contempt, but with gratitude for the country and fellow citizens who made such an achievement possible.
He hoped that this sentiment of thankfulness would “never die while the republic lives.”
So Americans today, who will never feel the sting of slavery, who all have the monumental privilege of living under the Constitution and the stars and stripes, should be thankful and cherish our founding ideals and the advancements we’ve made to live up to them.
Surely, America was great when a handful of Pilgrims arrived on our shores and through toil, hardship, and prayer planted the seeds of liberty in the New World.
America was great when a few colonists at the edge of the world pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to the cause of independence, based on the timeless concepts of inalienable, God-given rights and the notion that “all men are created equal.”
America was great when more than half a million of our countrymen gave their lives in a civil war so that others could be free and their nation might remain one.
America was great when, miraculously, it climbed out of the wreckage of a civil war that would have destroyed most other peoples, and rebuilt itself, ultimately becoming stronger and freer than it had ever been.
America was great when it harnessed free enterprise and the rule of law to produce the most explosive and dynamic economy known to man, allowing the common man to rise up into success, drawing millions from around the world desperately seeking a better life.
America was great when it stood in World War II as the prime bulwark of freedom and unleashed the arsenal of democracy against Axis powers, which would have plunged the world into darkness and barbarity.
America was great when it engaged in the long twilight struggle against communist powers, and showed the world an alternative to the despair of godless collectivism—and won.
If that nation is not great, then no nation has even been great.
Yes, there have been injustices in our history, and there have been moments we aren’t proud of, but that in no way outweighs the profound accomplishments of this country or what it ultimately stands for.
America has not been, nor will ever be a perfect country. If that is the standard by which our greatness is measured, then it will surely always fail.
We live in a fallen world, after all.
Worse, if we don’t accept that we will never be perfect, we risk being paralyzed by the grievance and self-loathing that already plagues a growing number of our fellow citizens.
In loathing the past, we darken our future, and cloud the genuine triumphs that have helped create the present.
So Americans have a choice.
We can decide to build on the incomparable successes of our past, celebrate what made us who we are, and firmly fix our gaze on an even greater future, as all generations of Americans have done.
Or, we can plunge ourselves into bitterness like Holder, who despite having been given so much by this country, remains contemptuous of the fact that America never met his standard of perfection.
If America is to be great and remain great, the former ethos must triumph over the latter.
This is the simple but profound crossroads our nation faces.
The post ‘Exactly When Did You Think America Was Great?’ Says Eric Holder. Here’s the Answer. appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Will the federal government block solutions that may help cigarette smokers kick their habit?
The next commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, who will be chosen to replace the soon-departing Scott Gottlieb, will have to answer that critical question.
In a 2017 announcement, the FDA welcomed tobacco harm reduction and innovative solutions to help people quit smoking. Tobacco harm reduction is the simple idea that there could be significant benefits when smokers switch to less harmful means of getting their nicotine.
That doesn’t mean alternative products, such as e-cigarettes, have zero risk, but they do appear to have less risk than smoking cigarettes.
In the most comprehensive government report of its kind, Public Health England described e-cigarettes in 2015 as “95 percent less harmful that tobacco cigarettes.”
The FDA, however, hasn’t embraced these innovative alternatives to delivering nicotine. Instead, it has used concern over youth usage of e-cigarettes to create a narrative that demonizes these products and to push intrusive government intervention.
The FDA’s draft proposal is not very specific, but as reported, it would require brick-and-mortar retailers selling such products to prevent minors from entering stores or have physically separate rooms to sell these age-restricted products.
That action is allegedly designed to address concern over flavors appealing to kids. However, there’s strong research indicating that flavors are also extremely important to adult smokers and their decision to quit smoking. The FDA seems to ignore that latter point.
Youth usage of nicotine-delivery products should be a concern. That same type of concern also exists for other products that are not intended for kids, such as cigarettes or alcohol. Yet, there’s rightfully no federal intervention of this magnitude to make it impossible—or at least extremely difficult—for retail outlets to sell these other legal products.
Ironically, it would be easier to sell cigarettes than these products to help people quit smoking.
The FDA is fully capable of enforcing restrictions blocking youth access to e-cigarettes while at the same time allowing smokers to have access to e-cigarettes and the full range of options (including flavors) that make these products appealing for adults.
If enforcement remains a concern, that’s a justification for thoughtfully working on solutions, not an excuse to severely restrict the sale of legal products.
The FDA, however, hasn’t taken that path. It has been so focused on the costs of allowing the sale of e-cigarettes, it has failed to analyze the costs of not allowing (or restricting) their sale.
How many smokers could suffer from disease and even early death if they were not able to get access to products that could help them stop smoking? That question might seem extreme, but it reflects what could be at stake.
The FDA should be allowing private solutions that reduce the amount of cigarette smoking, not leading efforts that would help maintain it.
This entire issue might seem like a major problem for Gottlieb’s successor as FDA commissioner, but it isn’t a problem, so much as an incredible opportunity. There are now real and effective products to help smokers quit.
The next FDA commissioner should embrace this opportunity and craft a path that would allow smokers to have easy access to these important products, while still taking appropriate and reasonable steps to ensure that youth don’t gain access to them.
The post Why the Next FDA Chief Shouldn’t Block Alternatives to Cigarettes appeared first on The Daily Signal.
The founder of an organization of community care clinics that cater to women praises the Trump administration for deciding to give her group $5.1 million over three years for use in California, a grant that once might have gone to Planned Parenthood.
“With this grant, the administration has opened up a new avenue of health care choices for low-income and underserved women and their families in California,” Kathleen Eaton Bravo, CEO and founder of The Obria Group Inc. and Obria Medical Clinics, said in a prepared statement provided to The Daily Signal.
Obria, which operates 21 health clinics and 11 mobile clinics in five states, does not perform abortions.
“Many women want the opportunity to visit a professional, comprehensive health care facility—not an abortion clinic—for their health care needs; today, HHS gave women that choice,” Bravo said.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that Obria Group will receive three years of Title X family planning funding to expand services to low-income individuals and families in four California counties.
Obria Group will oversee the work of seven clinic partners, including three of its own California affiliates, according to a release from CRC Public Relations.
“Our goal is to basically say we’re going to build a model of comprehensive, holistic medical clinics so that a woman [facing an unplanned pregnancy] never has to darken the door of a Planned Parenthood again,” Bravo told The Daily Signal in an interview Tuesday.
“We are her health care provider,” she said. “It is a brand that has been desperately needed for 45 years, to unite the [pro-life] movement under this medical model.”
Obria Medical Clinics, which is fully licensed, provides professional medical consultations, including pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, pre-abortion screenings, abortion education, abortion pill reversal, prenatal care, health education, and referrals, according to Obria’s Facebook page.
>>> Related: Would Women Be OK Without Planned Parenthood?
With the HHS grant, Bravo said, she hopes to expand Obria’s reach through “branding, getting our name out there so we can bring more clinics,” and expanding medical services.
And, she said, “really just uniting the pro-life movement, coming together and start working together instead of being fractured.”
Bravo, 66, has three sons of her own. She said Obria was born out of her own experience as a post-abortive mother who wishes she had a life-affirming option to consider when she had the abortion in 1980.
She said she gave up the engineering consulting firm she owned following her return to church one day after staying away for a time. She heard a talk from a woman after Mass who spoke about reaching out to women in crisis pregnancies.
Bravo decided to become a counselor at a pregnancy resource center, and that ultimately led her to start up Obria:
I launched Birth Choice Clinics, and then of course knew that we had to rebrand into a name that millennials would embrace—one word, one name, and a name that we could trademark so that we can define what it is and nobody else could take it. So, I hired a branding company [and] we became Obria and hit the ground running.
Bravo founded Obria Medical Clinics in 2012. Five years later, she started Obria Group, whose mission is to “partner with the best pregnancy medical clinics across the country who share a vision to offer patients a full scope of medical services,” according to the website.
Obria also has a telemedicine app, which the organization says is a first because it “connects potential patients to an Obria medical professional via live text chat, video chat, email, or phone.”
The app is designed to compete with a Planned Parenthood app that dispenses the abortion pill RU-486 to women anywhere in the country.
“We … are getting most of our abortion-pill-reversal patients through our telemedicine app,” Bravo told The Daily Signal. “It’s national, and we’re dropping it into every clinic as they’re joining us.”
“Everybody said, ‘Kathy, you’re gonna build this, [and] nobody’s come to your party,’” recounted Bravo, who lives with her husband, Frank, in Seattle.
“Listen, I’m not building it, God is,” she said. “If nobody comes to the party, I won’t hang my head.”
“I felt like God asked me to do it. We did it. It was a lot of work. And we launched, and they’re coming.”
The post EXCLUSIVE: HHS Makes $5.1 Million Grant to Pro-Life Community Clinics appeared first on The Daily Signal.
One doesn’t bring posters of tauntauns, Aquaman, and President Ronald Reagan riding a velociraptor while firing a submachine gun to the Senate floor without expecting a little bit of controversy.
If you are going to poke fun at the prevailing pieties of progressivism on a national stage, a little pushback should be expected.
But what was surprising about the reaction to my speech on the Green New Deal is which chart garnered the most vehement anger. It wasn’t Reagan riding a dinosaur or Utah Gov. Gary Herbert battling tornado-propelled sharks or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asserting that the resolution’s own supporters don’t know what’s in it.
No, the most controversial poster of the 14-minute speech turned out to be a simple image of six smiling babies.
Why such an aggrieved reaction to such a heart-warming image?
I’ll let Emily, a 28-year-old woman who talked to ABC News from Spokane, Washington, explain.
We have physical proof that we cause a lot of harm to the planet, and I think the statistics show an imperative to reduce the footprint of our population, which has grown so fast. I think that having children can be immoral for a lot of reasons.
Emily is not alone in suggesting that having children is immoral. An author of the Green New Deal recently said on Instagram, “Our planet is going to hit disaster if we don’t turn this ship around, and so it’s basically like, there’s a scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult. And it does lead, I think, young people to have a legitimate question, you know, ‘Is it okay to still have children?’”
Emily and the authors of the Green New Deal are not the first people to believe that bringing children into this world is a morally questionable act. Quite the opposite. The belief that the human population must be limited and controlled by government is a founding principle of the environmental movement.
As far back as 1798, when scholar Thomas Malthus published “An Essay on the Principle of Population,” utopian-seeking elites have made the case that human population growth must be controlled in order to ensure a sustainable society. These well-intentioned beliefs led to policy changes like the Corn Laws, which raised taxes on grain imports to the United Kingdom.
Opposed by classical economists like David Ricardo, who warned that such laws would make food more expensive, the Corn Laws were eventually repealed after they worsened the Great Famine in Ireland, when over 1 million people died of hunger.
Fast forward to 1968 when American biologist Paul Ehrlich published “The Population Bomb,” a book arguing that the government must take urgent action to limit population growth or humanity would face imminent ecological disaster. Ehrlich’s gloom-and-doom prophecies were quite popular with a segment of the American public as the book went on to be a best-seller.
But many economists pushed back—including University of Maryland professor Julian Simon who believed that humanity, if left free to innovate, could find new ways to make limited resources provide for an ever-expanding world population.
Simon and Ehrlich even made a bet testing their beliefs in 1980, picking five commodities to track over a 10-year period. In 1990, Ehrlich was forced to admit he lost, mailing a check to Simon in the amount that the commodities had fallen in price over that 10-year span.
Since that time, the earth has added billions more people, all while global poverty continues to fall.
What Malthus, Ehrlich, Emily, and the authors of the Green New Deal keep failing to understand is that human consumption and production patterns are not static.
Since the beginning of our species, humans have constantly been innovating and changing the world around them. In fact, it is our ability to function as a collective learning brain that sets us apart from every other animal on earth.
And, as Harvard University Department of Human Evolutionary Biology Chairman Joseph Henrich explains in his book “The Secret of Our Success,” the size of our population does matter:
The most obvious way the size of a group can matter is that more minds can generate more lucky errors, novel recombinations, chance insights, and intentional improvements. … So, bigger groups have the potential for more rapid cumulative cultural evolution.
Now the size of a population is not the only thing that matters. A society must also have in place institutions, cultural norms, and a legal framework that encourages experimentation, innovation, and creativity.
And here is where the failure of the Green New Deal as a serious response to climate change is the clearest. Instead of fostering an open-ended approach to addressing climate change, it demands top-down policy programs that forbid certain avenues of exploration, like nuclear energy, while also tacking on irrelevant policy goals, like universal health care, that have nothing to do with the issue the authors of the plan claim is so urgent.
Climates change. It’s what they do. There is even evidence that humans have been affecting the climate since at least the Neolithic era. And these changes to the climate have always presented a challenge to humanity. Today is no different.
We have always survived, and even thrived, in new environments. Just look at California. Left in its natural state, the Los Angeles river basin can support maybe 100,000 people. Today, thanks to a creative web of dams, aqueducts, canals, and pipelines, there is enough water for over 10 million people to live there.
This is the creative, practical, life-affirming path that will help us solve the climate change challenge. Instead of looking to limit and even shrink humanity’s footprint on the world, we should be looking to improve and expand it.
And yes, this means more babies.
The post Yes, Babies Are a Better Solution to Climate Change Than the Green New Deal appeared first on The Daily Signal.
The city of Chicago threatened Jussie Smollett on Thursday with a new charge if he doesn’t pay $130,000 to cover overtime costs incurred by police during their investigation into a hate crime the actor allegedly staged against himself in January.
In a letter sent to Smollett’s attorneys, the Chicago Corporation Counsel requested that Smollett pay up within seven days, noting that the “Empire” actor could face a new charge for making a false statement if he doesn’t pay in a “timely” manner.
“[Y]ou made a police report in which you falsely claimed that two men had attacked you while yelling racial and homophobic slurs. The Chicago Police Department conducted an extensive investigation into this report,” the letter stated, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “Over two dozen detectives and police officers participated in the investigation, ultimately spending weeks investigating the false claims, including a substantial number of overtime hours.”
Smollett case takes another twist. City of Chicago sends letter demanding $130K in reimbursement for police overtime:
“Please submit a money order or certified cashier’s check payable to ‘City of Chicago’ … within seven days of the date of this letter.” pic.twitter.com/qQd1Iz0hJw
“In an attempt to resolve this matter without further legal action, the City requires immediate payment of the $130,106.15 expended on overtime hours in the investigation of this matter,” the letter stated. “If the amount is not timely paid, the Department of Law may prosecute you for making a false statement to the City under section 1-21-010 of the Municipal Code of Chicago.”
The letter was made public just hours after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on WGN Radio the city would bill Smollett for the entire cost of the investigation into the actor’s alleged hoax.
Smollett, 36, faced 16 charges for allegedly filing a false police report claiming that two individuals wearing “Make America Great Again” hats attacked him on the street with a chemical substance and a noose.
Prosecutors shocked the nation Tuesday when they abruptly dropped all charges against Smollett, citing the actor’s prior community service and his agreement to forfeit his $10,000 bail to the city of Chicago.
Emanuel said the $10,000 bond “doesn’t even come close to what the city spent in resources” investigating Smollett’s alleged hoax.
“They’re saying $10,000 and two days of community service is good enough,” Emanuel told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday. “I don’t believe, not only is it not good enough—especially when he’s walking around thinking he’s innocent.”
“He is also guilty of a moral crime,” Emanuel added, “which is to use the hate crimes to advance his career for his own selfish reasons.”
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The post Chicago Demands $130,000 From Smollett, Threatens New Charge If He Doesn’t Pay Up appeared first on The Daily Signal.
People who pursue a cross-sex identity aren’t born that way, and children should not be encouraged to “transition” to the opposite sex, according to a reference work endorsed by the American Psychological Association.
Yet every day I hear from another parent who tells me that a child’s therapist, after an appointment or two, strongly recommends that the parent allow the child to change his or her name and personal pronouns, live as the opposite sex, and get on the track toward irreversible medical interventions.
Among those findings, cited on page 744 of Volume 1:
—“In no more than about one in four children does gender dysphoria persist from childhood to adolescence or adulthood,” with the majority of affected boys later identifying as gay, not transgender, and up to half of affected girls identifying as lesbian, not transgender.
—“Early social transition (i.e., change of gender role, such as registering a birth-assigned boy in school as a girl) should be approached with caution to avoid foreclosing this stage of gender identity development.”
—“Early social transition may be necessary for some; however, the stress associated with possible reversal of this decision has been shown to be substantial.”
Yet we all have been bamboozled by distorted claims to the contrary from sex-change advocates, who insist the science is settled.
They say people who identify as the opposite sex will never change their mind, the cross-sex identity is fixed and the earlier the child, teen, or adult is affirmed as the opposite sex and makes the transition, the better off he or she will be.
In fact, however, the American Psychological Association and the weight of historical evidence both challenge society’s affirmation of cross-sex identities.
The preface to the APA Handbook of Sexuality and Psychology, published in 2014, says it is endorsed and approved by the American Psychological Association, which describes itself as “the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and the largest association of psychologists in the world.”
I underwent my own “sex change” in April 1983. I had no idea then that I would be here today talking about the subject, or that the evidence against “born that way” had started oozing out as early as 1979, four years before I was mutilated.
In 1979 an endocrinologist, Dr. Charles L. Ihlenfeld, sounded a warning on using hormones and surgery on the transgender population in remarks to a group of clinicians. Ihlenfeld had administered hormone therapy for six years to a large sample of 500 trans-identified adults.
Ihlenfeld, who is gay, told the clinicians that “80 percent of the people who want to change their sex shouldn’t do it.” Desires to change sex, he said, “most likely stem from powerful psychological factors—likely from the experiences of the first 18 months of life.”
Ihlenfeld’s comments 40 years ago foreshadowed the evidence provided in the APA Handbook, where page 743 of Volume 1 says that identifying as the opposite sex is “most likely the result of a complex interaction between biological and environmental factors.”
“Research on the influence of family of origin dynamics,” it adds, “has found some support for separation anxiety among gender-nonconforming boys and psychopathology among mothers.”
Ihlenfeld and the APA, generations apart in time, came to a similar conclusion: The desire to change sex most likely stems from early life experiences and psychological factors.
As to the wisdom and effectiveness of using cross-sex hormones and sex-change surgery to treat gender dysphoria, the evidence does not exist.
>>> Above: The author, Walt Heyer, takes part in a related panel discussion at The Heritage Foundation. His remarks begin at 47:30 in the video.
In the United Kingdom, the University of Birmingham’s Aggressive Research Intelligence Facility conducted a review in 2004 of 100 international medical studies of “post-operative transsexuals.” It found “no conclusive evidence [that] sex-change operations improve the lives of transsexuals.”
Additionally, the evidence showed that the transsexual person, after undergoing reassignment surgery, “remains severely distressed to the point of suicide.”
A professor at Oxford University, Carl Heneghan, is one recent voice questioning cross-sex hormone use in children and adolescents. Heneghan is editor-in-chief of a respected British medical journal, BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine.
On Feb. 25, Heneghan and a fellow researcher reported significant problems with how evidence is collected and analyzed, concluding:
Treatments for under 18 gender dysphoric children and adolescents remain largely experimental. There are a large number of unanswered questions that include the age at start, reversibility, adverse events, long-term effects on mental health, quality of life, bone mineral density, osteoporosis in later life and cognition.
So the negative findings stack up, and alarms are raised about the lack of proof concerning effectiveness and safety. But administering unnecessary hormones and rearranging healthy body parts with sex-change surgeries continue undaunted by a deaf medical community.
I feel like I’m standing alongside the road shouting to warn approaching drivers: “The bridge is out! The bridge is out!”
Because I know—I drove off that cliff, and I’m still affected 35 years later.
The APA Handbook of Sexuality and Psychology, again, says that transgender people are not born that way, that cross-sex identification can change, and that the majority of children grow out of a desire to change sex if they don’t engage in social transition.
Strangely, the medical and psychological community doesn’t follow its own evidence and seems oblivious to the experiment they’re conducting on real lives, especially those of children.
The sex-change cheerleaders falsely claim, “Affirmation is the only solution.” They use distorted doctrine to lobby for laws that punish counselors and parents who say otherwise, laws that take away the rights of patients to choose their own therapy goals.
Meanwhile, accounts such as these of families and lives being ripped to shreds by sex change appear in my inbox daily. I have compiled 30 of the stories I’ve received, along with recent research, in my own book “Trans Life Survivors.”
We must wake up and use the evidence provided in the APA Handbook to counter those who say transgender people are born that way.
Instead, we must fight loudly for the rights of patients to choose their counseling goals and against laws that legislate affirmation as the only therapy allowed.
The post Kids Aren’t Born Transgender, So Don’t Let Advocates Bamboozle You appeared first on The Daily Signal.
New York lawmakers announced an agreement Thursday to ban all plastic bags in an effort to reduce waste and make the state as green as possible.
A ban on plastic bags will be included in the state’s budget due April 1, according to New York Democratic Sen. Todd Kaminsky, CBS New York reported. “The idea is to go not from plastic to paper but from plastic to reusable.”
The move is intended to encourage and force customers to bring their own bags to shop rather than rely on food and service companies to provide plastic bags to customers.
Most states do not ban plastic bags but require customers to pay a small fee, usually 5 cents, for every plastic bag they use. If the ban is implemented, New York will be the second state to outright ban plastic bags across the state, according to CBS.
California was the first state to ban plastic bags in August 2014. Hawaii also bans non-biodegradable plastic bags in its most populated counties, and the District of Columbia requires all outfits that sell food or alcohol to charge 5 cents for plastic and paper bags, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“[I]n New York we are moving forward with the nation’s strongest environmental policies and doing everything in our power to protect our natural resources for future generations,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in January after announcing the proposal. The move will “create a cleaner and greener New York for all,” according to Cuomo.
Grocery and convenience stores and other food, beverage, and service establishments will be banned from using or selling plastic bags under the proposal. Food delivery and carry-out services, however, will not be prohibited from using plastic bags for deliveries.
New York counties and municipalities will decide whether to charge customers 5 cents for paper bags, according to CBS. Approximately 40 percent of the bag tax will remain with the county and 60 percent will go to the state under the agreement, according to Kaminsky.
New Yorkers have mixed opinions about the proposal. “It’s about time, right?” said Hell’s Kitchen chef Marco Santos, CBS reported. Others aren’t so enthused.
“I’m all for the environment and I believe in global warming and that kind of stuff, but this stuff is a little petty. I don’t believe it’s gonna work,” said New Yorker Kevin Clarke, according to CBS.
The ban, if enacted, will take effect in March 2020.
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The Pentagon commemorated the 36th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative in dramatic fashion on Monday by reaching a new technological milestone.
The military conducted a successful test of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system against the most complex simulated threat to date.
On March 23, 1983, in that historic speech to the nation, Reagan asked:
What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack, that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies?
Monday’s test validates the wisdom of his vision born from the Strategic Defense Initiative program. The Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system is currently the only system protecting the United States against long-range ballistic missiles, such as those that North Korea periodically threatens to use against us.
It never would have been possible without people of vision and the courage to dream big.
Monday’s test involved a simulated intercontinental-range ballistic missile target and two Ground-Based Midcourse Defense interceptors.
The first interceptor successfully destroyed the target, while the second intercepted the second-most lethal object in the threat cloud since the primary target was already destroyed—exactly the result that the Pentagon hoped for.
The test involved a first-ever Ground-Based Midcourse Defense salvo-engagement and utilized space, sea, and ground-based radar data. The test is welcome good news for a program that has had difficulties in prior years with performance.
While the success of this test is remarkable, too much attention placed on successful intercepts is not particularly conducive to the development of the program.
After all, the best metric for a test success is whether we’ve learned as much as we could from it. That’s how the United States gets the best buck for its testing money.
Sometimes, we learn more from a failure than from a success.
It is better to design missile defense tests in a way that pushes the system’s envelope, even if it means a higher likelihood of a failure—in this case, a non-intercept. It is better that a system fails during a test, rather than in a real-life situation when it’s too late to improve upon it.
Such philosophy is not new in the U.S. programmatic approach, but over time, we seem to have forgotten the lesson—namely, that success depends on “bleeding-edge” experimentation.
For example, the Polaris missile, the Navy’s first submarine-launched ballistic missiles, suffered six consecutive test failures between September 1958 and April 1959.
Twelve of the 17 missiles failed to meet their test objectives in the first year when the missile was tested. Yet, the leaders persevered, and the missile was successfully deployed as one of the pillars of America’s nuclear deterrence well into the mid-1990s.
Today, programs often take decades to complete and endure criticism starting from the first test. That’s a far cry from how we achieved such success in the past.
As Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, aptly summarized the situation: “I don’t know how it happened, but this country lost the ability to go fast.”
In the era of great power competition, the consequences of not keeping up with U.S. adversaries would be grave.
With this successful Ground-Based Midcourse Defense test against an intercontinental ballistic missile target, the United States is demonstrating it can make missile defense happen when it sets its mind to it.
The post Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative Has Reached a New Milestone appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Former GOP Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz said Republicans should target Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff’s security clearance, following the release of the Mueller report.
“I think the one that has been the most discredited through this entire process is Adam Schiff,” Chaffetz said Thursday on “Varney & Co.”
“I think he should lose his security clearance and I don’t think he should be on the House Intelligence Committee,” Chaffetz continued.
I wish the Republicans would gather in force and demand that change. Nancy Pelosi knows better. It is a privilege to sit on this committee but he’s used the guise of ‘Hey, I see classified information and nobody else does and I’m telling you I’ve seen it firsthand.’ He’s the only person on the planet because he’s making it up and he shouldn’t have a security clearance if you’re going to act like that.
He also claimed President Donald Trump fully cooperated with the Russia probe and cleared himself, but insisted on a new investigation to find out how the allegations began.
“[Trump’s] had to sit back for the last two years, and think about it. All the Democrats tried to do is say, ‘Oh, he was going to take out Mueller. He was going to do this, he was going to do that.’ He didn’t do anything. He waived privilege, he gave them tons of documents, access to all the emails,” Chaffetz said earlier in the interview.
Donald Trump Jr. was in there for hours and hours testifying. I don’t know that the president could have done anymore for openness and transparency through this investigation. And it turned out exactly the way he said. He’s in the clear. But now there has to be a review of how this whole fiasco started.
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The post Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz Says Rep. Adam Schiff Should Lose Security Clearance appeared first on The Daily Signal.
The Supreme Court has turned down two bids to halt the Trump administration’s ban on bump stocks, an accessory that increases a semiautomatic rifle’s rate of fire.
The new federal prohibition, prompted by the deadly Harvest music festival massacre in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017, took effect Tuesday.
Chief Justice John Roberts rejected one application to stay the bump stock ban on Tuesday. A second and final effort to delay implementation of the bump stock rule was rejected Thursday. As is typical of orders of this nature, the Supreme Court did not give reasons for rejecting the application. There were no noted dissents. Both challenges to the bump stock prohibitions will continue in the federal courts.
The ban requires any person or entity in possession of bump stocks to destroy or surrender them to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives by March 26. The penalty for noncompliance is up to 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine.
Gun Owners of America, the plaintiff in one of the cases before the high court, said the administration was creating a new criminal offense without congressional authorization.
“The [bump stock ban] is the very embodiment of a violation of the separation of powers—congressional authority being wielded by an administrative agency,” its stay application reads. “What’s more, this case does not involve a run-of-the-mill regulatory provision. Rather, the agency has created a new crime—felony ownership of a bump stock—out of whole cloth.”
There are 500,000 bump stocks in circulation, according to Gun Owners of America.
Writing for the Trump administration, Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the justices that the government could legitimately regulate bump stocks under the National Firearms Act and subsequent federal statutes that practically ban machine guns. The government says it can regulate bump stocks under those laws because the accessory turns an ordinary semiautomatic rifle into the functional equivalent of a machine gun.
“Implementation of the rule promotes that public interest by protecting the public from the dangers posed by machine guns prohibited by federal law,” Francisco wrote.
Gunman Stephen Paddock used bump stocks to perpetrate the Harvest music festival massacre, which left 58 people dead and more than 500 injured.
Federal investigators never identified a motive for Paddock’s rampage, which was the deadliest in U.S. history.
The post Supreme Court Turns Down Bids to Stop Trump’s Bump Stock Ban appeared first on The Daily Signal.
For the past two years, a large swath of the media engaged in a mass act of self-deception and partisan group think. Perhaps it was Watergate envy, or bitterness over Donald Trump’s victory, or antagonism toward Republicans in general—or, most likely, a little bit of all the above.
But now that special counsel Robert Mueller has delivered his report on Russian collusion, it’s clear that political journalists did the bidding of those who wanted to de-legitimatize and overturn Trump’s election.
While bad behavior from partisan sources should be expected, the lack of skepticism from self-appointed unbiased journalists has been unprecedented.
Any critical observer could see early on that Trump-era partisan newsroom culture had made journalists susceptible to the deception of those peddling expedient stories. Our weekly bouts of Russia hysteria all sprung from one predetermined outcome: The president was in bed with Vladimir Putin.
The natural disposition of journalists—even opinion journalists—should be skepticism. Like him or not, the notion that the president of the United States, a wealthy showman who’s been in the limelight for decades, and ran one of the most chaotic major political campaigns in history, had been secretly conspiring with Russia to steal a 50-state election should immediately have been deemed too good to be true by any decent journalist.
Yet, once-respectable, if biased, mainstream outlets churned out one deceptive and faulty story on the matter after the next. Even when corrected, these debunked pieces helped foster an environment that allowed the Big Myth to fester.
And for all the alleged reporters who spread tales of conspiracy, there were also an endless number of pundits and liberal writers who regularly accused the president, not of being merely mendacious or incompetent, but of sedition.
A bunch of crackpots were transformed into social media stars. Cable news paraded out officials with axes to grind, like John Brennan and James Clapper, and a slew of supposedly credentialed talking heads as experts. They all claimed that the most remarkable conspiracy in American history had transpired.
No one, of course, will take responsibility for two years of panic-driven coverage. Margaret Sullivan, a media columnist at The Washington Post, argues that mainstream journalists—not the ones who were rightly dubious about the collusion narrative—should be “proud” of the exemplary job they did.
Sullivan might not be aware that it was The Washington Post that helped ignite the Russia scare with two “scoops” that turned out to be completely false in early 2017: the first, a piece on Russia hacking a Vermont power grid and the other a breathless story about the reach of Putin’s fake news operations.
“There’s been so much solid reporting about the Trump-Russia mystery,” wrote Brian Stelter, CNN’s chief media correspondent, “but the media ecosystem tends to reward speculation over straight news.”
He would know. Not only was feverish speculation regularly batted around on CNN panels, but also most of the network’s anchors allowed guests to perpetuate conjecture without any pushback.
CNN’s reporters, in fact, were some of the worst offenders. It got to a point where the network had to stop firing people for acts of journalistic malpractice.
There were many false alarms. And every time a story was debunked, we were told that reporters, like all humans, make mistakes. It’s true. Unlike everyone else, though, theses allegedly innocent blunders by mainstream reporters were almost always skewed in the same direction. That takes a lot of luck.
“I’m comfortable with our coverage. It is never our job to determine illegality,” New York Times editor Dean Baquet explained, “but to expose the actions of people in power. And that’s what we and others have done and will continue to do.”
In reality, The New York Times and other outlets have hurt their ability to expose the actions of the powerful, because, even when they’re right, many Americans will have a difficult time believing them. And the powerful will certainly have an a lot easier time dismissing them as tools of the Democratic Party.
Now, I’m no fan of Trump’s use of the fraught phrase “enemy of the people” to attack the media. It’s undeniable, though, that the media have done more damage to trust in American institutions, including their own, than the Russians could ever have hoped with their Twitter trolls and Facebook ads.
Polls show that a majority of Democrats still believe Russians tampered with their votes. The 2016 election wasn’t Pearl Harbor. It isn’t the worst attack on America since 9/11. You have free will. No one determines your vote but you. In truth, Russia didn’t really “meddle” in the election. Russia, as it has always done and always will, tried to meddle in the American election.
Trump antagonists, with the help of the media, used fear over Russia to try to reverse the results of a legitimate election. Nothing like this has ever happened in modern American history.
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The post The Media Have Done Tremendous Damage to the Country and Themselves appeared first on The Daily Signal.
There’s a conservative health care plan that could reduce costs and help Americans get better access to medical care. Marie Fishpaw, director of domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation, joins us to share what lawmakers would have to change, and how the plan would work. Read the transcript, posted below, or listen to the podcast.
We also cover these stories:
- Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are calling on Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who chairs the committee currently, to step down from that position.
- The House of Representatives took a symbolic vote to condemn the president’s ban on transgender service members in the military.
- Eric Holder, former attorney general under President Barack Obama, went after the “Make America Great Again” slogan, saying America really wasn’t ever great.
The Daily Signal podcast is available on Ricochet, iTunes, SoundCloud, Google Play, or Stitcher. All of our podcasts can be found at DailySignal.com/podcasts. If you like what you hear, please leave a review. You can also leave us a message at 202-608-6205 or write us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy the show!
President Donald Trump: Deductibles are way too high. Obamacare is a disaster, so we’re going to be—and I said it yesterday, and I mean it 100 percent. I understand health care now especially very well. A lot of people don’t understand it. We are going to be, the Republicans, the party of great health care.
Kate Trinko: That was President Trump this week reigniting the health care discussion. However, there was media skepticism at his pivot to health care. CNN, for instance, headlined a piece, “Trump says GOP will be the party of health care but provides no plan.”
Joining us today is Marie Fishpaw, director of domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation. Marie has been working with other conservative groups for over a year on a conservative health care plan that would lower costs and help improve medical care. Marie, can you please tell us about your Health Care Choices Proposal plan and what it would change?
Marie Fishpaw: Absolutely. It’s definitely fake news that there is no such plan right now. Conservatives have been working with lawmakers and the president’s administration since 2017 when we saw the very disappointing failures in the Senate to fulfill a campaign promise to lower health care costs and improve choices by repealing and replacing Obamacare.
In the wake of that failure, conservatives and others across the country have gotten together and come up with a plan that we call the Health Care Choices Proposal. What we like about it is it answers Americans’ real concerns about their health care, the things they’ve been telling us that they’re afraid of, that they don’t like happening, and that they do want to happen.
The big results from it are that costs would go down. We have estimates showing that premiums would decline by about as much as one-third, in some cases, and that people would be able to pick the right plan that works for them, unlike under Obamacare where costs have skyrocketed and choices have really fallen.
People can’t see the doctors they want because networks have narrowed. People would really be able to start. We’d see those trends reverse, and we would see people having the care that they’d like to have.
Daniel Davis: How exactly would it do that? What steps would the government take?
Fishpaw: It’s a couple steps. Step one is we need to stop the failed entitlement spending scheme that we have under Obamacare. This is a really backward entitlement spending scheme where insurance companies literally get more tax dollars from you and from me every time they raise their prices. That has been exactly a recipe for what we have seen, which is costs have gone up, and value has gone down.
We’re going to get rid of that failed entitlement spending scheme and replace it with a approach that takes the money that’s currently going to insurance companies through tax credits or Medicaid expansion and send it in a grant to states.
States would have to do a couple things with that. They would have to make sure that everybody could access coverage of their choice and not just insurance. People would be able to use it for those products. States would have to make sure that vulnerable people, so this is people with pre-existing conditions and lower-income people, can access care. I’d be happy to get into more details about how that’s useful.
Trinko: What you’re basically saying is in a state that is chosen to expand Medicaid after Obamacare, instead of giving Medicaid to people who now qualify, they would give them health care through these other means, like they would have the money to spend it in a different way?
Fishpaw: That’s right. The money and the system would remain to some extent largely intact. What changes is what it’s spent on and who gets to spend it.
Right now, dollars are going to insurance companies, in this case. Those insurance companies can only offer very specifically and tightly defined plans that are huge, every bell and whistle under the sun. They have a lot of restrictions on the types of products that people might offer.
Instead of that approach, individuals would get to say if they qualify for a subsidy, they get to go buy the plan that they think is the right one for them.
That could include things like religious sharing ministries—which is where people get together and help each other pay their bills, they don’t go through a formal insurance company—and arrangements where people want to work directly with a doctor, not going through a middle man. A lot more options rather than what’s happened today, which is people have really, particularly on Medicaid, been put into substandard plans.
If you’re sick, this is the whole myth that the leftist is pushing, which is that they like to claim that Obamacare has been really great for sick people. The reality is, if you are very sick, and you’re on Medicaid, you’re not going to be able to see the doctors that you need in most cases because specialists and doctors don’t take Medicaid.
Davis: Does this get those patients out of situations where they’re paying for plans that literally have to cover everything and that are high-premium?
Fishpaw: It does a couple things. Because the emphasis is on choice and letting people choose what works for them, yes. If you want to use your subsidy, or if you want to access a plan that covers everything, you can do that. If you want something that’s arranged a bit differently where you might pay more through a higher deductible and a lot less in premiums, you can do that.
The point is if you like what you have right now, you’re not going to lose it. You’re just going to have a lot more options.
Trinko: So this wouldn’t affect people who are not currently on Medicaid or any other government plan, if this went through? Is that right?
Fishpaw: That’s right. This only impacts people who are currently on Obamacare, people who are on Obamacare’s version of Medicaid, so not traditional Medicaid.
If you’re aged, disabled, nothing changes to how you’re getting your health care. The people who would really be impacted are the people who work for small businesses. Maybe their employer’s insurance had gotten so expensive they can’t afford to offer it anymore, the self-employed. These are the people who’ve really been hurt under Obamacare, in addition to those who are sick and need to get specialist care.
Trinko: You mentioned that this would reduce costs by up to one-third.
Fishpaw: It would reduce costs of up to one-third. We have independent estimates from a group of estimators who are bipartisan who have taken a look at what the result on premiums would be. They would come down by one-third, and it would also do so, and that is what’s important, in ways that continue to make sure that people with pre-existing conditions can access to care. …
This is a plan that is building on things that we know are already succeeding. It’s not a mythical pie-in-the-sky idea.
Today under Obamacare, some states can get some relief from the mandates that have really resulted in driving up costs and reducing people’s choices.
We’ve seen seven states that have taken advantage of that relief, and Heritage Foundation scholars Doug Badger and Ed Haislmaier have looked into those states. It’s both red states and blue states. It’s not a partisan thing, it’s a thing that works.
It’s states that are diverting a bit of the money that currently goes to insurance companies, and instead are giving it to arrangements that help people who have high health care costs pay those costs without raising the costs on everybody else. The results of these changes have been really striking. In some states, premiums have gone down by as much as around 40 percent.
Fishpaw: Right? All using tools that protect people with pre-existing conditions. I keep coming back to that because it’s become hard to listen to people on the left claiming that anybody who doesn’t want big government wants people to suffer, particularly if they’re sick.
Trinko: And die.
Fishpaw: And die.
Trinko: I think Sanders was asking how many people would die under some conservative health care scenario the other day.
Fishpaw: Yeah, he’s made some comments like that. I think it’s incredibly unfair because I think Americans are … we are wealthy and compassionate people, and we take care of each other. We’re not arguing about people getting access to care. What we’re arguing about is what’s the right way to do it?
We’ve seen Obamacare fail. This is not a successful program. It did not achieve the goals it laid out to achieve. Premiums have more than doubled in four years, a long litany of things that haven’t gone right.
The left’s solution to this is to double down on all those failures and do more with what Sanders is calling Medicare for All, which really means outlaw any kind of private coverage arrangement and put everybody on a new government plan.
The left wants to replace Obamacare, too. They’re just doing it in a way that, I think, would lead to more pain and suffering, like we’ve seen under the last few years.
Davis: Yeah. So the plan you outlined, it really seems to hit the sweet spot. Trump has talked about protecting people with pre-existing conditions, and yet getting rid of Obamacare, rolling that back. Where’s the GOP stand on this plan?
Fishpaw: I’m going to answer that question, but … we have some pretty broad-based support outside the Beltway. I think that’s important because part of the things that failed last time in 2017 were very much Beltway-driven products.
This is a proposal where we started with 13 people who signed onto it this time last year. We’re now at almost 100, and these are leaders across the country, national think tanks, state think tanks. We have two governors who have endorsed our proposal.
We think the reason for that is that we have really listened to what people were telling us that they needed, what problems they needed to be solved.
When it comes to where’s the GOP on this, President Trump has called on Republicans to return to this issue. He knows it’s important to Americans. That’s something that they need to be figuring out, if they’re going to accept his challenge.
Trinko: Do you think it’s important that politicians should tackle this issue? Obviously, there’s a lot of people who would prefer not to touch health care again.
Fishpaw: Americans want Congress to deal with this issue. When you look at polls, health care polls as one of the top issues for people over, and over, and over again.
I think they’re right to be frustrated. Republicans were elected, I think, over a course of eight years to deal with this, and then they didn’t.
The real vacuum right now, if there’s a leadership vacuum among Republicans, the Democrats would love that with doubling down on more of the things that have given to the problems we have right now, and that’s Medicare for All.
I do think that politicians need to deal with it. The left has their answer, I don’t think it’s the right one. I don’t think this is something you can avoid dealing with if you’re an elected politician.
Davis: Yeah, some really interesting polls, which I know you’re aware of, but for our listeners, Medicare for All polls a lot better than the details of Medicare for All. When people hear about the details of what it is they like it a lot less.
It seems like Republicans have been scared for years now that the left will just hit them with this … Do you think the country might be a bit more to the right on health care than Republicans tend to think?
Fishpaw: That’s an interesting way of putting the question. I look at it a little bit differently, which is Americans over, and over, and over again have said they care about their health care. They tell us they care about a couple things.
They fear that someone they love or that they themselves might not be able to see a doctor when they needed if they have a pre-existing condition, or they might lose access to coverage. They also fear having their private plan taken away from them.
They hope for more choices, they hope for lower costs. Nobody has really decided on who to blame just yet. The left would like to blame too many big businesses.
I think what’s important for people who work on these issues to remember is that this is really a choice about, are you on the side of an insurance company, which is where Obamacare has been; are you on the government’s side, which is where Bernie Sanders wants us to be; or are you on people’s side?
That’s where this plan would be, which says that people, families, individuals can make good decisions about their health care, if they work with their doctors and they’re given the tools to do so.
Right now, everything in our government system works against that. Just an example on that, if you are, say, a lower-income person and you qualify, you have an employer-sponsored plan, maybe you work at Walmart, but your income is too low to afford that plan, what our government today has said is that you get to go beyond Medicaid, which we know lots of doctors don’t want to take that. It’s as if let’s just put you on this thing and say you’re taken care of, but you’re not taken care of.
What’s great about the plan that we were talking about, that the conservatives have been working on for so long, is that it would say, “We do trust you to be able to make a good decision. If you want to stick with what the government gave you, OK, but if you want out, if you want to pick something that works better for your family, you now have the ability to make that decision.”
I do think that’s one of the transformative aspects of this plan, and why the stakes could not be higher when we start thinking about the direction of health care for our country.
Trinko: OK. Thanks so much for joining us, Marie.
Fishpaw: You’re welcome.
A toxicology specialist has found a connection between legalized marijuana and a threefold increase in related visits to emergency rooms in Colorado for heart and other issues, confirming that cannabis poses health risks.
Marijuana may be a recreational activity for many, but marijuana-infused “edibles” in particular have been subject to scrutiny because of their ties to a jump in patients seeking medical treatment.
The new study from researchers with the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that marijuana-related ER visits tripled between 2012 and 2016.
The study also found that people consuming marijuana edibles suffer from toxic reactions at higher rates than those who simply smoke the drug. These edibles typically include brownies and other baked goods.
Dr. Andrew Monte, an associate professor at the medical school’s Anschutz campus, was lead author of the research paper published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, touted as the first study to show an increased rate of adverse health events linked to marijuana edibles.
“Some patients will have psychosis, hallucinations, or they will hear things,” Monte, also an emergency medicine and toxicology specialist at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, told the website UCHealth. “The more common thing is acute anxiety, panic attacks, and very high heart rates.”
“There’s a much higher risk with taking edible agents,” he added. “It’s so unpredictable in terms of the effects.”
Colorado legalized medical marijuana shops in 2009, then legalized recreational marijuana use in 2014. Since the legalization of marijuana in some jurisdictions across the U.S., public health experts have called for better quality control of marijuana.
ER visits by those consuming marijuana edibles have risen since Colorado legalized marijuana use, for both cardiac and psychiatric problems, the study found.
From 2012 to 2016, the study found, a total of 10,000 ER visits were tied to patients who previously smoked marijuana or used edibles.
More than 25 percent of the ER visits involved symptoms related to marijuana use. Visits related to toxic reactions from marijuana edibles were 33 times higher than expected, the study found.
Another finding: Marijuana users often suffered from nausea and vomiting, a condition known as cannabinoid hyperemesis.
Although sales of edibles make up a small share of Colorado’s marijuana market, the number of patients suffering from toxic side effects was found to be 11 percent.
Edible marijuana products also were tied to unpleasant psychiatric symptoms and, though rarely, death, according to the study. It also found that marijuana users who sought treatment generally were younger and male.
“When people take something to get high, they generally don’t want to get high three hours later and be high for 12 hours,” Monte told UCHealth, referring to the potency of some edibles.
Edibles containing greater concentrations may produce cyclic vomiting syndrome, he warned.
Enjoying pot-infused edibles “isn’t completely safe,” Monte said, but it’s hard to pinpoint all the side effects because of a lack of clinical trials.
What a mess. So many questions, and so little transparency in this nutty, high-visibility case.
For example, why did the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office drop the case against Jussie Smollett? Why did it agree to have the record sealed? Why didn’t it consult with the police who investigated the crimes before disposing of the case?
Why did it give Smollett a sweetheart deal, rather than force him to go to trial or at least insist on a guilty plea, or even a plea of no contest? Was there political pressure to drop the case? And if so, who exerted the pressure on whom, and to what end?
These questions demand answers. The way this case ended leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, much like the college admissions scandal angered everyone. This was not a just result for such a serious allegation, which proved to be a sick hoax.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson were understandably furious about the outcome. “Where’s the accountability in the system? You cannot have, because of a person’s position, one set of rules applies to them and another set of rules apply to everyone else,” steamed Emanuel.
Johnson, who is black, stood by his department’s investigation and conclusions, stating, “At the end of the day it was Smollett who committed this hoax.” Earlier he said, “Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false allegations? How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol … how can an individual who has been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false claim?”
The explanation offered by the State’s Attorney’s Office, that if he was found guilty, it was unlikely that Smollett would have gone to prison and his punishment would likely have just been restitution and community service misses the point. Even if this were true, Smollett would have been found guilty of this heinous hoax. He would have received the legal and societal opprobrium he deserves.
And what to make of the texts and emails from Tina Tchen to Kim Foxx? Tchen, a former Obama administration official, and friend of Foxx, weighed in on Smollett’s behalf. Did that influence the ultimate disposition of the case, and if so, how?
These, and other related questions, cry out for answers.
We already have some answers, however. Here we will unpack the case, the investigation, the indictment, why and how cases are usually resolved, why this case matters, and wrestle with lingering questions of how this ended the way it did.
The Facts of the Case and Investigation
According to news reports, on Jan. 22, Smollett says he received a letter at the Chicago studios where the television show “Empire” is filmed. (For those who don’t watch much television—like me—Smollett is/was a star in the series.) The letter allegedly contained white powder, a drawing of a stick figure hanging from a tree, and cutout letters stating, “Smollett Jussie you will die black f—.”
During an interview with ABC News, Smollett said that the return address was in large red letters and said MAGA, a reference to the Trump moniker “Make America Great Again.” That case was turned over to the FBI, and was not part of the Chicago Police Department investigation or the state’s attorney’s case against Smollett.
We don’t know what the FBI, or for that matter the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago), has done with that investigation, or whether Smollett, or anyone else, is a “person of interest” in that case. But President Donald Trump has called on the FBI to investigate why the state charges were dropped, so there may be more to this story in the weeks to come.
A week later, Smollett alleged that on Jan. 29, at 2 a.m., as he was walking to his residence, he was “approached by two offenders who engaged in racial and homophobic slurs” directed at Smollett. The two men struck Smollett “about the face and body causing minor injuries.” The police reports released so far (which were released by the police to rebut Smollett’s claims of innocence) contain these allegations.
There are other police reports in this case that have not been released by the Chicago Police Department, and the ones that have been released have been (properly) redacted to cloak the identities of persons and sensitive addresses.
Among the as-yet unreleased reports would be the original police report when Smollett first reported the attack, and any supplemental reports stemming from that initial report. We also don’t know if there are other police reports that document how and when police first suspected, then investigated the possibility that Smollett, not two random men, orchestrated the attack against himself.
And finally, none of the released police reports state exactly what the alleged assaulters actually said to Smollett during their attack, or how and where they poured the bleach on Smollett during the attack. And there are pages missing from the released police reports as well.
But the released reports evince a thorough professional investigation by the Chicago Police Department, and also point to one inescapable conclusion: This case is not a whodunit. Smollett orchestrated this fake hate crime attack on himself, as the evidence against him is overwhelming.
According to the reports, Smollett enlisted the help of two brothers, Abimbola Asundairo and Alabinjo Asundairo, to carry out the attack against him. The Asundairos are both black males. According to the indictment, Smollett alleged that one of his attackers was a white male (not true), that the white male wore a ski mask, and that as they beat him, they poured a liquid onto him and put a rope around his neck and pulled him by the rope.
How the police figured out who the Asundairos were is not clear from the police reports, but it likely happened because of the extensive video surveillance police reviewed from hotels, stores, and street cameras.
Police eventually identified and spoke with the Asundairos, who told police about the wild scheme. They said that Smollett gave them a check for $3,500 on Jan. 27, and that he also gave them a $100 bill on Jan. 25, which they used to purchase the rope, gloves, face masks, a red hat, and other items.
Police recovered video surveillance that confirmed the two purchased those items at the store, and checked their bank records and confirmed a deposit on Jan. 28—one day before the assault—of a check for $3,500 from Smollett.
They told police about the bleach. Police had recovered a bottle of El Yucateco Hot Sauce on Feb. 7 near the location of 406 North New Street, which the Asundairos later confirmed was the bottle they filled with bleach and poured on Smollett.
Police obtained photos of Smollett’s car and showed the Asundarios the photos. They admitted that the car in the photo was the same car Smollett drove them in on two separate occasions right before the assault.
There is also extensive video surveillance footage referenced in the police reports that refute Smollett’s claims and bolster the case against him.
Smollett was indicted on 16 related offenses under Illinois law. All 16 charges allege a violation of 720 Illinois Compiled Statute 5/26-1(a)(4), Disorderly Conduct. The charges all center around the activity on Jan. 29, and relate to knowingly transmitting false information to Chicago Police Detective Kim Murray and Chicago Police Officer Muhammed Baig. Each of the separate charges contain specific facts related to criminal conduct by Smollett.
If the State’s Attorney’s Office had refused to give Smollett a plea deal, and if he decided to go to trial, it is likely the defense would have filed a motion to dismiss some of the charges as duplicative.
Even if the judge refused to grant the defense motion and Smollett was convicted of each charge, it is likely that the sentencing judge would have merged the offenses for sentencing purposes given the overlap between the charges. In other words, his sentence would not have gone up simply because he was charged with 16 (allegedly) different charges.
Plea Bargains Are the Norm, but Not This One
Most criminal cases end in some form a disposition short of trial. This is true across the country, in every prosecutor’s office in every state and jurisdiction.
But the final outcome of this case was anything but routine or normal. Smollett was allowed to walk away from the case without admitting guilt, he forfeited his $10,000 bond, the prosecutor gave him credit for 16 hours of community service, his case was sealed by a hand-selected judge, and he was allowed to maintain his innocence.
At least now, the city has turned around and is seeking $130,000 from Smollett to cover the costs of the investigation.
Yet squandered city resources and the 16 hours of community service Smollett had to perform is nothing compared to the harm he caused, and the very real possibility of the violence that could have come from this hoax. Sixteen hours of community service is what a judge awards a juvenile first-time petty thief.
Prosecutors have myriad options for disposing of cases short of trial, while also ensuring justice is done (which is the duty of the prosecutor). Common dispositions short of trial include:
- Guilty pleas to each and every felony charge.
- Guilty plea to some felony charges in exchange for dropping others.
- Guilty plea to one felony charge in exchange for dropping all other charges.
- Prosecutor can reduce a felony to a misdemeanor in exchange for a guilty plea to the misdemeanor.
- Prosecutor can drop some misdemeanor charges in exchange for a guilty plea to some or one misdemeanor charge.
- Prosecutor can drop all misdemeanor charges in exchange for a guilty plea to one misdemeanor charge.
- Prosecutor can agree to a conditional guilty plea and diversion into a specialized program, successful completion of which results in the dismissal of the charges.
- Defendant can agree to plead no contest to a charge or charges, in exchange to the prosecutor agreeing to dismiss other charge(s).
- Prosecutor can agree not to indict a defendant with a felony if he pleads guilty to a specific misdemeanor(s).
- A prosecutor can dismiss the charges for any number of reasons, to include:
- Factual innocence.
- Inability to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Inability to admit key evidence necessary to convict.
- Loss of a key witness necessary to convict.
- If doing so is in the interests of justice.
There are other more obscure dispositions of cases one can find around the country, but these are the most common.
In virtually all of those scenarios, the prosecutor informs the victim of the crime of the disposition of the case, and in most circumstances, the prosecutor is required to inform the victim of the plea bargain in order to give the victim a chance to object.
Similarly, prosecutors routinely work closely with and notify the police who investigated the case that a plea bargain is in the works. Police are used to cases being disposed of short of trial, as most cases don’t go to trial.
There is a natural and usually healthy tension between the prosecutor’s office and the local police department. Police work hard, investigate crimes, and bring cases to the prosecutor in the hope that the prosecutor will pursue charges.
In many instances, when the police investigate a crime and hand the case over to the prosecutor, the prosecutor will—after making an independent evaluation of the facts, evidence, and strength of the case—file charges against the suspect.
Sometimes police agree with the charges; other times, they disagree. But the relationship goes on, as long as each side communicates and individuals trust each other.
Why This Case Matters
This case is important on a number of levels.
First, Smollett staged a despicable crime, according to Chicago Police and the state’s attorney. The sick script evoked one of the ugliest chapters of America’s past—where African-Americans were routinely lynched by white supremacists just for sport—and tied it to anti-Trump hatred by feeding the narrative of some who believe Trump endorses white supremacists.
The noose, the MAGA hat, the bleach (ostensibly to “make” Smollett’s skin white), the white perpetrator were all designed to fan the flames of a country on the razor’s edge regarding race, equality, and justice. He knew the pot he was stirring would come to a boil if the hoax wasn’t discovered.
Second, the case also matters because the public needs to have confidence in the criminal justice system. No one is above the law. This case sends a loud and clear message to the public that there is a two-tiered justice system—one for the rich and well-connected, and one for the rest of us.
Even the National District Attorneys Association, which represents America’s 2,700 prosecutor offices around the country, strongly criticized the handling of this case. In a sharply worded statement, it pointed to grave deficiencies in the handling of this case that, in its opinion, diminished the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system.
It noted that when Foxx, the elected state’s attorney, recused herself from the case, the entire office should have been recused.
Second, as the National District Attorneys Association noted, prosecutors “should not take advice from politically connected friends of the accused.” Rather, each case should be approached with the “goal of justice for victims while protecting the rights of the defendant.”
Third, when a prosecutor tries to resolve a case through diversion or an alternative to prosecution, the defendant must be required to acknowledge his culpability. As the National District Attorneys Association explained, a case “with the consequential effects of Mr. Smollett’s should not be resolved without a finding of guilt or innocence.”
Fourth, expunging Smollett’s record “at this immediate state is counter to transparency.” As noted above, the state’s attorney had numerous ways to dispose of the case short of trial that still held the defendant accountable. Yet for some reason—not yet known to the public—Foxx gave Smollett a pass and sealed the record so no one could see the truth.
And finally, the National District Attorneys Association noted that “hate crimes should be prosecuted vigorously,” but the burden of proof should not be “artificially increased due to the misguided decisions of others.”
This case has been a mess for Chicago and a sad episode for America. Chicago’s recent decision to seek $130,000 from Smollett is a sign he may not have the last word, and it remains to be seen whether federal prosecutors will at some point choose to step in.
The case may be sealed, but it certainly isn’t over.
February was a good—albeit controversial—month for discussions about race in this country. Not only was it the traditional Black History Month, but two race-centric bombshells rocked the country within the same news cycle.
First, newly elected Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam admitted that he was the blackface character featured in his medical school yearbook page. Not surprisingly, he later changed his position and stated that he was not the blackface character. Likely as a result, he still remains governor of Virginia.
As Virginia and the nation were reeling from the Northam scandal, it was also discovered that Jussie Smollett, star of the Fox TV show “Empire,” had fabricated what was initially deemed a racially charged assault upon himself in a pathetic attempt to increase his salary. Instead, his cowardly actions only served to prey on America’s knee-jerk paranoia when it comes to racial issues and acts of overt racism.
These two episodes are fantastic case studies of how Americans have pivoted far off the course of healing and reconciliation around race. Furthermore, it is worth pointing out that episodes like these—particularly one that involves a totally fabricated, racially motivated attack—undo years of racial progress and only serve to further damage race relations and deepen the divide within our country.
Let’s examine these two vignettes, which, on paper, could not be more different—a tale of two men who would never meet in a lifetime of lifetimes.
On one hand, there is Northam, who clumsily, perhaps even stupidly, entered the court of righteous public judgment and was deemed guilty before his statehouse press conference was even over.
On the other, you have Smollett, whose case was a beautiful example of the racial hatred that continues to stain this nation and President Donald Trump only encourages—or so it seemed.
News commentators, Hollywood actors, and politicians alike were all quick to blindly offer support to Smollett, despite his questionable account of events, simply because his “story” fit perfectly into their anti-Trump narrative.
For Northam, on the day of his atonement, his answers were awkward and clumsy. He looked more clueless than calculating in his public defense. Yet those around him were unmerciful. Yet somehow, he remains, to this day, governor of Virginia while Smollett, rightfully, was indicted on 16 felony charges.
In the aftermath of all of this, I wonder, how do we begin a new level of discussion and, hopefully, healing in America?
As a society of many colors, not just black and white, are we not able to or perhaps not allowed to openly admit that mistakes dealing with race and prejudice of many other ilks are—as in Northam’s case—most often driven by insensitive foolishness and prejudice rather than maniacal hatred?
Perhaps rather than defaulting to “mob rule” in instances like the Northam case, we should use these difficult times as teaching moments. If we don’t, we’re likely to encourage more Smolletts who see opportunities to profit financially and politically from America’s current paranoia and mob rule insistence on a lifetime of politically correct behavior. Perhaps Northam and Smollett and cases like theirs can be catalysts that usher in awareness and understanding.
When examined separately from each other, the stories of Northam and Smollett may simply be two different and isolated examples of race and racism. Yet a closer look reveals how similar these two events are. At their core, they both represent a mob-style reaction to accusation.
We’ve come to the point in America where everything can be lost and destroyed in a media-fueled frenzy of hatred. Sometimes, as in Smollett’s case, the accusers can be caught and their lies exposed. Sometimes, those who falsely accuse and prosecute are found to have been the true criminals. Yet, even if the truth comes out in time—or in a court of law—those who find themselves attacked in the media suffer greatly.
They have to endure the destruction of their reputations and deal with hardship at home as their family reels from relentless media harassment, and—whether they must pay to defend themselves in a court of law or merely in the court of public opinion—they are often stung with a financial cost that can exceed millions of dollars.
Where do we turn for help and for hope? I think we need to turn to people who have gained the wisdom that can sometimes come only from suffering. Consider, for example, how former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is now serving us all.
McDonnell’s story, in case you don’t remember it, represents one of the true miscarriages of justice in recent American political history. Hounded by the media and opposition politicians and prosecutors, McDonnell was charged with felonies on flimsy evidence and false reasoning. He was convicted. His family was put through years of media harassment and stung with millions of dollars in debt.
Ultimately, McDonnell’s case made its way to the Supreme Court of the United States of America, where it found—unanimously—that McDonnell was innocent. Yes, you read that right.
A governor was charged, convicted, harassed, and humiliated for years, and he was innocent all along. Imagine how you or your family would feel in a case like that? Well, McDonnell could have engaged in his own pity party and portrayed himself as yet another victim of politics. Instead, today, he’s leading a much-needed honest and heartfelt conversation on race and reconciliation.
Few Americans have suffered what McDonnell did, but perhaps we can all take from his example. We all have within us the power to help others heal if, despite the pain of the past, we have the courage to engage in honest conversation.
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