Half of young Americans would rather live in a socialist country, according to a new poll.
The Harris Poll found that 49.6 percent of millenials prefer living in a socialist country.
Pew Research Center defines millennials as those born between 1981 and 1996, ages 23 to 38 in 2019, and Gen Z, those born between 1997 and 2012.
Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Foreign Policy, told The Daily Signal in an email that the trend toward socialism is due to politically biased education.
“For several decades now we have forced-fed American students a love of government interventionism and a disdain for our founding virtues,” Gonzalez said. “Our education schools, where our teachers are trained, are especially ideological. Is it any wonder that our youngest generations have no idea about the threats of socialism, how it has failed everywhere it has been tried? They haven’t been taught that.”
The poll, which was released exclusively to Axios, also found that 73.2 percent of young Americans think the government should provide universal health care, and two-thirds think the government should pay for college tuition.
However, the poll found as well that 78.9 percent of millenials and Gen X think the government should allow private insurance.
Medicare for All, a health care plan pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., that would likely eliminate private health insurance, comes with a price tag estimated at $32.6 trillion over 10 years, according to the Mercatus Center.
The poll also found that 43.1 percent of millennials and Gen Z support abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“The word ‘socialism’ does not carry the same stigma it did in the past, now that it has been resurrected by celebrity politicians like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” wrote Axios’ Stef W. Kight. “Young people’s political views often change as they grow older, but their support for socialistic policies is a sign that the old rules of politics are changing fast.”
Ocasio-Cortez, the freshman lawmaker from New York, is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.
She discussed her peers’ view of socialism during an interview with Business Insider in December.
“So when millennials talk about concepts like democratic socialism, we’re not talking about these kinds of ‘Red Scare’ boogeyman,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We’re talking about countries and systems that already exist that have already been proven to be successful in the modern world.”
The poll also found that 67.1 percent of millenials and Gen Z think that high earnings are a result of free enterprise, versus 71.2 percent of the total participants.
The post Half of Young Americans Want to Live in a Socialist Country appeared first on The Daily Signal.
The Supreme Court is currently deliberating over what is arguably the biggest case of the term.
The court heard oral argument on Feb. 27 in The American Legion v. American Humanist Association, a dispute over the constitutionality of a World War I veterans’ memorial. The pending outcome could make it one of the most important First Amendment cases in a generation.
The legal dispute involves the Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial, also known as the Peace Cross. In 1925, Gold Star Mothers and The American Legion erected the memorial to honor the 49 men from Prince George’s County, Maryland, who fought and died in World War I.
Sadly, nearly a century after its construction, an activist organization filed a lawsuit to have the memorial torn down because it happens to be in the shape of a cross.
Although a trial court judge upheld the memorial’s constitutionality, a federal appeals court ruled that it is unconstitutional because, according to the court, it “has the primary effect of endorsing religion and excessively entangles the government in religion.”
Those words come from the infamous “Lemon test,” named for the 1971 Supreme Court case of Lemon v. Kurtzman. Since 1971, Lemon has been the test used to determine whether the government has violated the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which forbids Congress from making any law “respecting the establishment of religion.”
The test says that a policy or statute is unconstitutional if a “reasonable observer” perceives it as a government endorsement of religion.
The Lemon test has led to some absurd outcomes in the real world. It has been used to strike down numerous displays, from nativity scenes to veterans’ memorials to Ten Commandments monuments. Surely those who drafted the First Amendment did not envision a nation purged of all such passive displays.
The late Justice Antonin Scalia famously referred to it as a “ghoul in a late-night horror movie.” Justice Clarence Thomas also appears to be no fan of Lemon, complaining that the Supreme Court’s “jurisprudence has confounded the lower courts and rendered the constitutionality of displays of religious imagery on government property anyone’s guess.”
Although predicting the outcome of a case based purely on oral argument is daunting, if the oral argument is any indication, Scalia and Thomas may have larger company.
During the argument, Justice Neil Gorsuch, referring to Lemon as a “dog’s breakfast,” pondered whether the time has come to “thank Lemon for its service and send it on its way.” The court’s newest member, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, added that “the lower courts need some clarity” about whether Lemon has expired.
Lemon’s real damage has been the bitter seeds of religious hostility it has sown into American life. As a constitutional attorney, I’ve lost count of how many government officials have responded in doubt and fear to a complaint about some kind of passive religious display, ultimately capitulating under the threat of a lawsuit.
Notably, Gorsuch pointed out that such lawsuits are an oddity in the first place.
Any first-year law student can tell you that one of the necessary elements to a lawsuit is standing. During oral argument, Gorsuch identified that in arguably no other area of law is a citizen permitted to bring a lawsuit against the government simply because he or she sees something they find offensive.
This “offended observer” doctrine is a byproduct of Lemon. But Lemon has another, even more sinister byproduct.
When government officials become wary of any potentially offended observers in their midst, their default response to any passive display that even remotely touches on religion becomes “remove it” or “tear it down.” Those hostile to religious freedom have seized upon this phenomenon and use it in their crusade to cleanse the public square of any religious symbols.
The time has come, indeed, to thank Lemon for its service and send it on its way. Our judges deserve better, our government officials deserve better, and we deserve better.
The Supreme Court is the last hope for preserving the Bladensburg World War I Memorial. It may also be the last hope for returning the First Amendment to its original intent and meaning.
The post Peace Cross Ruling Could Be a Decisive Moment for Religious Toleration appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Peddlers of the Green New Deal know that the only way for their radical agenda to become reality is if Americans buy into the wildest claims of climate extremists.
It’s clear that some of the most enthusiastic supporters of this radical agenda are young people.
This was on full display in the now viral video of a meeting between Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and a group of children from the Sunrise Movement.
This is how @SenFeinstein reacted to children asking her to support the #GreenNewDeal resolution — with smugness + disrespect.
This is a fight for our generation's survival. Her reaction is why young people desperately want new leadership in Congress. pic.twitter.com/0zAkaxruMI
Perhaps children and young Americans are more likely to buy into the extreme environmentalist doomsaying due to the fact that they weren’t around for the laughably wrong predictions of the past that never came true.
Panics over looming environmental and climate apocalypse have been with us for a long time. Thomas Malthus famously predicted in his 1798 book “An Essay on the Principle of Population” that population growth would overtake food supply and mass starvation would result unless population controls were implemented.
Of course, his predictions were utterly wrong, since free enterprise greatly increased the food supply as the population increased.
The modern environmentalist movement has picked up a Malthusian ethos of its own and, when combined with the politics of climate change, has produced numerous egregiously wrong predictions about global trends.
Here are five of the biggest misses:
1. Population Bomb to Cause Global Famine by 2000
The first Earth Day, in 1970, was filled with hyperbole and exaggerations about mankind’s future. Much of the craziness was unearthed in a remarkable expose in 2000 by Reason contributor Ronald Bailey.
One of the most common ideas, in a throwback to Malthus, was that the global food supply simply couldn’t keep up with population growth.
Peter Gunter, a professor at North Texas State University—now named the University of North Texas—wrote about how mass starvation was in the world’s near-term future. Gunter spoke in language that should be all too familiar to those who have paid attention to the debate over climate change in modern times:
Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions. … By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.
Ah, yes, all the scientists agree that the world will end by the year 2000.
Of course, this didn’t come to pass. In fact, a remarkable reduction in poverty has occurred around the globe since 1970. A chart published by Human Progress demonstrated just how dramatically global hunger has decreased in the past few decades.May 18, 2017
2. Air Pollution Will Be So Bad That City Dwellers Will Have to Wear Gas Masks
Another grand prediction at Earth Day 1970 (it was full of doozies) was that the air pollution problem common to many American cities would continue to get exponentially worse without widespread government control of the American way of life.
One particularly extreme claim came from the January 1970 edition of Life magazine, as quoted by Bailey:
Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support … the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution [and] by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.
Again, such remarkable accuracy from these all-knowing scientists.
This didn’t happen, in part due to federal, state, and local restrictions on emissions. But it had much more to do with the general societal response to the problem.
Wealthier, more prosperous societies simply have more means and more of an inclination to make trade-offs to enjoy cleaner air. Free societies such as the United States found ways to reduce pollutants as a means to improve quality of life.
It’s very different in countries like, say, China, where pollution in some cities is unbearable due to the developing nature of the country combined with the authoritarian nature of government, which is more preoccupied with growth in gross domestic product than the comfort and well-being of individual citizens.
The fact is, free societies began solving this problem long ago, and our cities have become much better, not worse.
3. Entire Nations Could Be Wiped Out by 1999
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-N.Y., a self-avowed socialist, recently claimed that the world would end in 12 years if we don’t radically transform our economy to combat climate change.
The decadelong window of pronounced doom seems to be a favorite among climate alarmists.
A recently resurfaced report from the Associated Press shows how an almost identical, but more precise, prediction was once made by a high-ranking United Nations official in 1989.
AP reported: “A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.”
Noel Brown, director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program, claimed in 1989 that human beings had a mere 10 years to stop the effects of global warming.
Brown said: “Ecological refugees will become a major concern, and what’s worse is you may find that people can move to drier ground, but the soils and the natural resources may not support life. Africa doesn’t have to worry about land, but would you want to live in the Sahara?”
Brown pronounced doom for Canada and the United States, where the entire East Coast would be flooded and conditions would be like the 1930s Dust Bowl.
But fear not, Brown did offer hope to humanity: He also predicted that the Soviet Union might produce “bumper crops” during this time.
4. Ice Caps Will Melt Away
Predictions about the polar ice caps melting have been common. Dramatic pictures of polar bears floating on tiny icebergs have been some of the iconic images of the climate change movement.
Former Vice President Al Gore said at a conference in 2009 that a scientist predicted a “75 percent chance that the entire polar ice cap during some of the summer months could be completely ice free within five to seven years.”
In 2014, the ice caps were still there. In fact, it’s 2019 and the ice caps are still there.
Gore wasn’t the only one to make such bold prognostications about the future of Arctic ice.
In his book “A Farewell to Ice,” Peter Wadhams, a professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University, predicted that polar ice in the Arctic would be gone by mid-decade.
Not only have the ice caps survived these predictions of doom, but they have occasionally grown in size. Between 2012 and 2016, Arctic ice increased from an average of 2.2 million square miles to 3.3 million square miles, according to The Telegraph.
5. The Coming Ice Age
In 1958, Betty Friedan, one of the leading thinkers of radical, modern feminism, wrote an article in Harper’s magazine describing the “coming ice age.”
It seems the mixing of climate science and radical left-wing politics is nothing new.
Friedan based her article on the work of two scientists, geophysicist Maurice Ewing, director of Columbia University’s Lamont Geological Observatory, and geologist-meteorologist William Donn.
She explained how these scientists foresaw American port cities being drowned by rising oceans, and how a giant glacier would cover Europe and North America. The scientists described conditions by which the earth would dramatically warm and then cool, sending us into another ice age.
These scientists were more cautious in their predictions than others, but this didn’t stop Friedan from speculating that, based on their calculations about the rate of warming, a layman could conclude that “the Arctic Ocean will be open and the Ice Age [will] begin in another twenty years.”
As Iain Calder wrote in Newsmax, this was just part of a tide of predictions about how a looming ice age soon was going to plunge the world into a deep freeze. Calder wrote:
Between 1973 and 1977 the great Time magazine had a number of blaring Page One covers like: ‘The Cooling of America,’ ‘The Big Freeze’ and ‘How to Survive the Coming Ice Age’ (with a subhead: ‘Things You Can Do to Make a Difference.’)
Needless to say, despite the chilly winter, the ice caps are still with us and the new ice age hasn’t come.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from all of these predictions, it’s not that scientists are always wrong or that we shouldn’t be good stewards of the environment. Instead, we should treat extreme predictions with skepticism, especially if they mean upending our way of life.
We should be particularly suspicious of schemes such as the Green New Deal, which would entirely derail the American economy and place it under the power of government.
One way or another, free societies will do a better job of adapting to any change in climate than the Venezuelas of the world, where the folly of man causes starvation and not natural disaster.
The post Here Are 5 Hysterical Environmentalist Claims in Modern History appeared first on The Daily Signal.
PRISTINA, Kosovo—A former soldier whose nom de guerre was “The Snake,” Kosovar President Hashim Thaçi demonstrates both the easygoing demeanor characteristic of a combat veteran and the polished charisma of a politician as he explains how he has put old animosities aside for the sake of his country’s future.
“I want to achieve lasting peace with an old enemy,” Thaçi tells The Daily Signal during a recent interview at his offices in Kosovo’s capital city of Pristina. “I want to avoid more tragedies. I want to make peace for the benefit of future generations.”
Kosovar President Hashim Thaçi mingles with the Independence Day crowds in Pristina. (Photos: Nolan Peterson/The Daily Signal)
Thaçi, 50, folds his hands on the tabletop as he waits for the interpreter to finish. Then, with a more somber tone—understandable in any language—and a head nod for emphasis, the Kosovar president continues.
“But honestly, every time I sit down with [Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic], all these memories, emotions come back into my mind,” Thaçi says. “I was, myself, convicted by the same regime that Vucic belonged to. But should we remain hostages of these past hatreds and animosities?”
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and is Europe’s newest country.
However, Kosovo’s leaders acknowledge that ongoing diplomatic skirmishes with Serbia have siphoned away time and energy from much-needed domestic economic reforms, underscoring how the legacy of the war still shapes political priorities.
Despite billions of dollars in international aid, Kosovo has the third-lowest gross domestic product per capita on the continent. And with an unemployment rate of around 30 percent and youth unemployment at roughly 55 percent, tens of thousands of Kosovars have moved abroad in search of work during the past decade.
“I’m proud of independence, but people are not happy with the postwar status,” says Arben Krasniqi, 24, who works at a café in downtown Pristina.
“Why should Kosovo have so many economic problems when we have the help of so many countries?” says Krasniqi, adding that he’s already applied for a German working visa.
With an average age of about 28 years, Kosovo has the youngest population of any European country.
A NATO air war in 1999 stopped Serbia’s ethnic cleansing campaign against Kosovo’s majority ethnic Albanian civilians. After the war ended in June 1999, a special United Nations mission administered Kosovo.
A NATO peacekeeping operation called Kosovo Force, or KFOR, remains in Kosovo today. It comprises 4,000 troops from 28 countries, including 685 Americans.
“America and NATO stopped the genocide here and made Kosovo free,” Enver Hoxhaj, Kosovo’s deputy prime minister, tells The Daily Signal in an interview.
“We are an independent state, and we will forever exist as an independent state, but the question is how to build normal relations with our neighbor in the north,” Hoxhaj adds, referring to Serbia.
Kosovo’s current generation of politicians generally came of age and rose to power during the war, when NATO’s military intervention spared Kosovo from catastrophe.
For them, consequently, the recruitment and maintenance of international support remains an existential priority. And when it comes to contemporary relations with Serbia, diplomacy is key.
“We would like to open a new chapter of cooperation between the two nations, and as a small democratic state, we think that dialogue is the only instrument,” Hoxhaj says.
However, some 20 years after the war ended and 11 years after independence, Kosovo’s relationship with Serbia remains at loggerheads.
Moving on from the war is a key step for Kosovo’s economic development, officials say.
For one thing, Serbia still doesn’t recognize Kosovo as an independent country, despite the fact that more than 110 countries have done so and the International Court of Justice ruled in favor of Kosovo’s independence in 2010.
Serbia also actively campaigned to block Kosovo’s admittance to international organizations such as Interpol, as well as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). For its part, Russia, Serbia’s traditional ally, has threatened to exercise its veto power on the United Nations Security Council to block Kosovo’s prospective bid to join the U.N.
“Today we have a status quo, which for me is not really a status quo. It means Kosovo is actually regressing,” Thaçi says. “We have a frozen conflict that poses threats for renewed conflicts and tragedies.”
In order to refocus attention on domestic economic reforms, Thaçi and his allies in government want to end the diplomatic deadlock in 2019—even if that means making unpopular compromises with Serbia for the sake of securing recognition as an independent country.
“I’m ready to face any accusations, any attacks, in order to achieve this peace,” Thaçi says. “If we make peace with Serbia … I see an opportunity for the transformation of Kosovo’s society.”
Several advisers flank Thaçi during his Feb. 14 interview with this correspondent. The Kosovar president speaks, for the most part, through an interpreter, although he interjects a sentence or two in English from time to time.
Thaçi has just emerged from marathon meetings with his own government regarding negotiations with Serbia for recognition of Kosovo’s independence.
“This is the year of the agreement between Kosovo and Serbia,” Thaçi says confidently. “We are already late; the right time was yesterday. Because the more we postpone this, the more we create the conditions for new tragedies, for new conflicts.”
Handsome, trim, with clean-cut salt-and-pepper hair and a charismatic demeanor, Thaçi is a natural politician.
During Pristina’s Independence Day celebrations Feb. 17, he mingles in the crowds, shakes hands, listens to children’s songs. He seems to be in his element—and his eagerness to interact with the masses leaves his retinue of bodyguards visibly uneasy.
During the war, Thaçi led the political directorate of the Kosovo Liberation Army. His wartime exploits spanned the gamut from gunrunning treks over mountain passes into Albania to hashing out peace plans with international leaders in the gilded halls of Europe.
Kosovo recently stood up its own national army—a move that riled Serbia.
Thaçi’s prominence in the Kosovo Liberation Army earned him Serbia’s ire. He has survived assassination attempts. In 1997, the Serbian government sentenced Thaçi to 10 years in prison—a sentence he never served.
Of all the lessons he learned in the war, Thaçi says, the most important was his education in the value of international support, even if it comes at the cost of tough domestic compromises.
“I had no illusion that we would be able to force Serbia to leave Kosovo, using those ancient weapons that we possessed,” Thaçi says, incredulously shaking his head. “I knew that I could not move mountains with my bare hands. But what I knew was that our actions will attract the attention of the international community.”
Building a Society
In the postwar decades, Thaçi—who previously served as Kosovo’s prime minister—has faced sometimes withering domestic criticism for his efforts at dialogue with Serbia. However, Thaçi and his allies in government say diplomacy with their former wartime adversary is the only option to break the cycle of violence.
“It’s not easy for me to be attacked on a daily basis about why I’m negotiating with Serbia,” Thaçi says. “But new generations will know about the war from history books. We cannot hold them hostage to the narratives of the war.”
The author, left, with Kosovar President Hashim Thaçi.
Thaçi, too, lost friends and family in the war. He acknowledges that the war’s toll casts a long shadow over his own life, and it can be a challenge to put the past to rest:
This is, of course, at the personal, emotional level for me. Because my son, for example, in his phone he keeps a picture of his uncle who was killed in the war. So I face this on a daily basis. But I’m convinced that looking beyond my personal emotions, this is the most right, just, and strategic decision for Kosovo. And I’m convinced the future will prove me right.
Hoxhaj, Kosovo’s deputy prime minister, shares Thaçi’s assessment about the wisdom of dialogue with Serbia. For him, a durable peace would clear the way for Kosovo’s democratic society to flourish.
“Not staying in the status quo, this is how you always get the support and trust of the people, if they have a sense that things are moving forward,” Hoxhaj says. “The goal—why we would like to close the chapter on 100 years of conflict with Serbia—is to move Kosovo from state-building to society-building.”
The Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint Mother Teresa in Kosovo’s capital city of Pristina.
Hoxhaj got his start as a leader in Kosovo’s underground resistance to Serbian rule as a university student during the 1990s. With a doctorate in history to his name, Hoxhaj went on to serve as Kosovo’s minister of foreign affairs and assumed the office of deputy prime minister in 2017.
“We’ve built peace here from scratch,” Hoxhaj says. “And in the last 10 years, we’ve created a state from scratch.”
As with Thaçi, the ongoing dialogue with Serbia consumes Hoxhaj’s daily schedule. However, he finds time at the end of a busy workday to speak with this correspondent, which he does without the aid of an interpreter.
The deputy prime minister possesses the consummate communication skills of a seasoned diplomat—he’s both engaging and purposeful with his words. Yet he goes beyond rehearsed policy talking points.
Hoxhaj, 50, explains that one of the formative experiences of his life was backpacking across Europe as a university student. He remembers the dynamism of Europe at that time, during the closing years of the Cold War, and he draws parallels to the current climate in Kosovo.
Today, Hoxhaj has a son, 17, and a daughter, 13. He says his children “don’t have the same clichés and the same legacy in thinking as me because I spent half of my life in former Yugoslavia, and then the other half of my life so far in transition from war to peace.”
“We’ve always had a strong culture of hope here,” Hoxhaj adds. “And, in my view, we are not the same society in 2019 as we were in 1999.”
One bright spot in the historically contentious relationship between Serbia and Kosovo is the current frequency with which the leaders of those two countries engage each other.
And not just at the presidential level. Behind the scenes, too, scores of diplomats and other officials regularly conduct panels and negotiations, hashing out the framework for a comprehensive deal by which Serbia would recognize Kosovo’s independence.
Kosovo and Serbia have painstakingly built a habit of diplomatic dialogue. This is a key step, many experts and officials say, toward reducing the risk of another war.
“The best thing to do is to sit down and talk. That’s better than hostile actions. As long as we’re sitting at the same table, that’s a good sign,” Thaçi says. “But there are also voices, both in Pristina and in Belgrade, that still want war.”
Kosovo has floated the idea of negotiated “border corrections” with Serbia. The hypothetical move would swap an ethnically Serb-majority enclave in Kosovo’s north for a swath of Serbian land on Kosovo’s southeastern frontier, which is predominantly inhabited by ethnic Albanians.
Pro-American displays were common among the crowds gathered to celebrate Kosovo’s 11th Independence Day on Feb. 17.
Thaçi says any potential adjustments to the currently recognized borders would not be a land swap, per se. Rather, the move would be a final agreement on where Kosovo’s borders exist.
“This is in no way an exchange of territories,” Thaçi explains. “Historically, Kosovo never actually decided where its borders are.”
President Donald Trump’s administration has suggested it is open to border corrections. European leaders, however, generally oppose the idea, arguing it could open a Pandora’s box of territorial grievances worldwide—particularly in the Balkans, a region that remains a tinderbox of ethnic conflicts.
Although Thaçi says border corrections have “never been on the table,” he cautions that Kosovo needs to “reach a border consensus with Serbia” for the sake of a long-lasting peace.
“Recognition of Kosovo by Serbia will not come as a present,” Thaçi says. “It has to be an agreement that balances the interests of both countries.”
Points of Friction
Despite all the dialogue, Kosovo and Serbia remain locked in a diplomatic tit-for-tat, which threatens to derail the two countries’ fragile relations.
After Serbia campaigned to block Kosovo’s request to join Interpol in November, Pristina retaliated with a 100 percent tariff on imports from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The move sparked protests from Belgrade as well as condemnations from Brussels and Washington.
For their part, Kosovar officials downplay the tariffs and reaffirm their overall commitment to diplomacy.
“Tariffs are just a mechanism to balance, but our policy toward Serbia is dialogue,” Hoxhaj says. “It’s a kind of chess match we’re playing.”
Pristina’s decision late last year to establish its own army drew a rebuke from Moscow. Serbian leaders went so far as to threaten the possibility of an armed intervention in Kosovo. Reaction from the West was split. The U.S. praised the move, while NATO’s head official called it “ill-timed.”
“Having an army is Kosovo’s sovereign right as an independent state,” Thaçi says. “It’s a done deal.”
Kosovar officials say Kosovo’s widespread pro-Americanism is a hedge against Russian hybrid warfare.
Kosovo’s army, called the Kosovo Security Force, comprises 5,000 active-duty troops and 3,000 reservists. In comparison, Serbia’s army comprises roughly 40,000 active-duty troops and 50,000 reservists.
“Having an army that might protect us in the future is important for the people here,” Hoxhaj says. “Security is not only physical, it’s also emotional. It’s a perception.”
U.N. membership requires approval by the Security Council, on which Russia holds one of five permanent seats wielding veto power. If approved, Kosovo’s application for membership would move to the U.N. General Assembly, where an affirmative vote by two-thirds of member states is needed for final approval.
However, due to the threat of a Russian veto at the Security Council, Kosovo has not yet applied for U.N. membership.
“So far, Serbia has opposed our independence, but Serbia is just a member state of the United Nations,” Hoxhaj says. “But Russia, on behalf of Serbia, has threatened us to use the veto whenever we might apply for admission.”
Yet, there could be a way to break the impasse. Thaçi says he believes Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence would spur Russia to drop its opposition to Kosovo’s membership in the United Nations.
Many Kosovars have strong pro-American sentiments due to the United States’ role in NATO’s 1999 air war, which reversed Serbia’s ethnic cleansing campaign against Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian civilians.
“Now we have a leadership in Serbia that is willing to sit at a table and discuss a final agreement between Kosovo and Serbia,” Thaçi says. “What is different now is that we have very encouraging signs from Moscow that Russia is ready to accept an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.”
In a short meeting in Paris last November, Thaçi says, Russian President Vladimir Putin assured him that Moscow wouldn’t stand in the way if Serbia decided to recognize Kosovo.
I asked [Putin] very directly, ‘How will you and Russia react if Kosovo and Serbia reach an agreement?’ And his reply was that, ‘We will accept that agreement.’ My second question was, ‘What will be your reaction in the Security Council in case the agreement is reached?’ And again, his reply was, ‘We will accept it since we cannot be greater Serbs than the Serbs themselves.’
Thaçi acknowledges that Putin’s opinion on the matter could change, but the meeting in Paris left him hopeful, and determined, for a breakthrough this year.
“If Serbia accepts an agreement with Kosovo, I don’t think that Russia would go as far as to refuse the will of the two states,” Thaçi says.
Russia has not recognized Kosovo’s independence, but it maintains a liaison office in Pristina.
Kosovo has made some measurable progress since independence.
According to the World Bank, Kosovo’s gross domestic product grew by 4.2 percent in 2018. And that number is projected to grow by 4.5 percent in 2019—a significant improvement from 1 percent annual GDP growth in 2007, the year prior to independence.
Kosovar officials also point to key reforms in education and health care as other positive steps.
“There’s no denying that Kosovo has made progress,” Thaçi says. “But, again, this is not sufficient. This is not enough.”
Within a territory about the size of Delaware, Kosovo’s population of about 1.8 million is the youngest in Europe, with 53 percent under the age of 25. The war, therefore, is not a living memory for roughly half the country.
Unlike the older, war-hardened generations, whose gratitude for peace tempers the urgency of their economic expectations, Kosovo’s younger generations regard postwar progress as too slow. They aren’t satisfied with peace—they want prosperity, too.
“I’m happy, but not so much,” says Florentina Llapashtica, 19, a university student in Pristina studying to be a general nurse. “I’m happy because we’ve made some decent progress, but we don’t have the right economic conditions yet. Especially for students.”
When asked what she wants the most, Llapashtica replies: “I want a better future.”
The post Kosovo’s Leaders Say a Durable Peace With Serbia Is Key to Economic Growth appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Budget season is officially upon us.
On Monday, President Donald Trump released a preliminary sketch of his fiscal year 2020 budget proposal. The outline reflects a good first step toward restoring fiscal sustainability. It would cut spending by trillions of dollars and rejects the notion that another massive budget cap-lifting deal is essential to provide for national defense.
Yet much more is needed if the U.S. is going to stave off a future budget meltdown. Trump’s proposal would fail to reach balance in 10 years and would do little to address unsustainable entitlement programs, which are driving much of the budget’s projected long-term spending growth.
The bottom line is that absent economically destructive tax increases, without fundamentally reforming Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, it will be impossible to achieve a sustainable budget over the long term.
The document released Monday is just a preview of what’s in the president’s full budget proposal, which will be released March 18. Here’s what we know so far.
Like the fiscal year 2019 budget, this budget proposal would not balance within the 10-year budget window. Yet the administration projects that it would reach surplus by 2034. In total, it would cut spending by $2.7 trillion over the next decade.
Of the $2.7 trillion in spending cuts, $2.1 trillion of the savings would come from cuts to mandatory programs. But concerningly, only 24 percent of these cuts would be implemented during the first five years of the budget window.
Taxpayers would be better served if reforms took place immediately, not years down the road.
Under the president’s budget, deficit and debt levels would start to decline. After reaching a deficit of $1.1 trillion in 2021, the deficit would decline to $202 billion by 2029. The administration projects that debt held by the public will rise by $7.5 trillion over the next decade, but will decrease as a share of the economy from 79.5 percent to 71.3 percent.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the president’s fiscal year 2020 budget is how it could shape the debate over the future of the Budget Control Act spending caps. The caps are set to run through 2021, yet some lawmakers are already pushing for another two-year deal to increase the limits.
The president’s treatment of the budget caps this year stands in contrast to his previous two budgets. Both the 2018 and 2019 budget proposals would have eliminated the firewall between defense and nondefense spending, creating one overall cap on discretionary spending. This allowed the administration to prioritize defense spending without breaking the total spending limit.
In both the president’s previous budgets, every dollar increase in defense spending was equally paid for by a cut to nondefense programs.
The fiscal year 2020 budget takes a different approach. The president’s proposal would maintain both the defense and nondefense caps put in place by the Budget Control Act. That means that in 2020, base defense funding would be $71 billion below fiscal year 2019 levels.
To compensate for this, the budget calls for a cap-exempt overseas contingency operations adjustment of $174 billion—a backdoor way of raising defense spending. Trump’s proposal would follow the same approach in 2021, proposing $156 billion in overseas contingency operations funds that year.
Under the Budget Control Act, nondefense spending is currently set to fall from $597 billion to $543 billion in 2020. The president’s budget calls for a nondefense cut of 4.6 percent, which would save $27 billion compared to current law. Yet the administration assumes the enactment of a rescissions package and budgetary gimmick savings through Changes in Mandatory Programs to further reduce nondefense spending to the Budget Control Act level.
The president should be commended for wanting to properly fund the military while staying within the budget caps, but the way this budget does it is not ideal.
The president should follow his previous two proposals and propose eliminating the firewall between defense and nondefense spending. This would force Congress to focus on its constitutional obligations, like ensuring a strong national defense, without breaking the budget caps.
It is possible to fully fund the military while reducing spending and cutting taxes. The Heritage Foundation’s “Blueprint for Balance” illustrates a path to do just that. There is no reason to use overseas contingency operations funding as a gimmick to evade the spending caps any more than there is a need for another deficit-increasing budget deal.
Budget observers are anxiously awaiting next week’s full release of the president’s budget. As is so often the case, the devil is in the details, and more information will be needed to fully understand the implications of this proposal.
But one thing is already clear: While the president’s budget would make progress on controlling spending and reducing the national debt, there is much work yet to be done.
It’s now up to the president and Congress to work together and find a responsible path forward that cuts spending, reduces the national debt, and ensures economic prosperity and opportunity for all Americans.
The post Trump’s Budget Would Chip Away at the Debt, but More Work Still Needed appeared first on The Daily Signal.
An app developer launched a program designed to tell customers which restaurants and business are safe for Trump supporters following a slew of attacks on persons who support President Donald Trump.
The new app, 63red Safe, provides “reviews of local restaurant and businesses from a conservative perspective, helping insure you’re safe when you shop and eat,” according to its description.
The app rates restaurants and businesses on their willingness to serve guests “of every political belief” and “protect its customers if they are attacked for political reasons.” Establishments that receive “safe” ratings on the app permit customers to carry a concealed weapon and do not publish politicized social media posts and ads, according to The Hill.
“We want to make sure everyone’s safe out there,” app creator Scott Wallace said, The Hill reported. Wallace expects the app’s popularity to grow ahead of the 2020 presidential election, saying, “I think Antifa was nothing compared between now and what’s coming in 2020,” The Hill reported.
A California restaurant announced in January that it wouldn’t serve customers wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. “If you come to my restaurant wearing a MAGA cap, you aren’t getting served, same as if you come in wearing a swastika, white hood, or any other symbol of intolerance and hate,” the restaurant’s chef-partner, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, wrote in a since-deleted Tweet.
The app’s launch comes after a slew of persons supporting or working for the president have been assaulted or refused services.
A Virginia restaurant, Red Hen, refused to serve White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in June to protest her work for the president.
Authorities apprehended and charged a woman for attacking a man wearing a MAGA hat at a Falmouth, Massachusetts, restaurant in February. Immigration and Customs Enforcement then took the woman into custody after they discovered she is unlawfully present in the U.S., “The Howie Carr Show” first reported.
A Georgia vape store clerk verbally attacked a customer sporting Trump attire in December. “ F—— off! Get the f—— out of here! … F—— your f ——ing president! He’s a racist, stupid piece of s—— ! You’re a racist, stupid piece of s——! F—— off!” the clerk screamed.
An 81-year-old New Jersey man was reportedly assaulted in a supermarket in late February. Tennessee man James Phillips also reportedly pulled a firearm on a man wearing a MAGA hat at a Sam’s Club in Kentucky earlier that month.
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The post Is a Restaurant Safe for Trump Supporters? New App Aims to Inform You appeared first on The Daily Signal.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday will hold its fourth judicial confirmation hearing of the 116th Congress, this one featuring two nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. This hopefully signals that the new chairman, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., will continue a robust pace for hearings on President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees.
As of March 11, 144 positions across the federal judiciary are vacant—35 percent higher than when Trump took office. We are in the longest period of triple-digit vacancies since the early 1990s.
Even worse, 60 percent of those vacancies have been designated “judicial emergencies” because they have been pending for an average of more than 800 days and have such a negative effect on judicial caseloads.
During the 115th Congress, Trump made 44 percent more nominations, and the Judiciary Committee held a hearing for 40 percent more, than during the same period under his five predecessors. Yet the Senate confirmed only 52 percent of Trump’s nominees. Today, 42 judicial nominees are still waiting on the full Senate’s executive calendar.
The nominees before the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday have provoked some controversy, but not because of their qualifications.
Kenneth Lee, currently a partner at Jenner & Block, has nearly 15 years of private practice under his belt and was an associate White House counsel during the George W. Bush administration. Last year, Lee made the Los Angeles Business Journal’s list of “Most Influential Minority Attorneys.”
Even the American Bar Association, which has been cited for bias against Republican nominees, unanimously gave Lee its highest “well qualified” rating.
The other nominee, Daniel Collins, earned his law degree from Stanford University in 1988, and went on to clerk on the 9th Circuit for Judge Dorothy Nelson and on the Supreme Court for Justice Antonin Scalia. He has been a federal prosecutor and associate deputy attorney general and has been in private practice for more than two decades.
If these nominees are controversial, it is only because the senators from California, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris—both Democrats—want to pick a fight with the president whenever they can. They have refused to return their “blue slips,” the form used by Judiciary Committee chairmen to solicit the views of senators about judicial nominees who would serve in their state.
Today, at least, Democrats want the views of home-state senators to control the entire confirmation process. Opposition from even a single senator, they say, should stop the process cold and veto consideration of a nominee.
The truth is that no chairman is required to solicit the views of home-state senators at all, let alone put them in the confirmation driver’s seat.
No, the standard used for decades by chairmen of both parties is that a negative or withheld blue slip does not stop a nominee—especially to the U.S. Court of Appeals—unless the White House did not consult with the home-state senators. If that good-faith consultation occurred, as it did regarding Lee and Collins, then the confirmation process can move forward.
Left-wing groups are using familiar tactics to attack these nominees. For example, they use sentence fragments from articles Lee wrote more than 20 years ago to suggest certain personal views about race, sex, or sexual orientation.
Not only do these groups misrepresent what Lee wrote, but they apparently believe that judges should use their personal views to decide cases. Judges shouldn’t, and Lee won’t.
Harris, the junior senator from California, tweeted on Jan. 31 that she will “oppose every nominee to an appellate court” until there is “a fair process in place.” Of course, by “fair process,” she means one in which the president and the Senate majority comply with her demands for judicial appointments in California and the 9th Circuit.
This week, the Senate should also confirm the nominations of Paul Matey and Neomi Rao to the 3rd Circuit and D.C. Circuit, respectively. That will leave just 10 current vacancies on that court—44 percent below the average over the last three decades.
Partisan gimmicks and false claims should not slow the Judiciary Committee, and the full Senate should launch a full-court press to fill the ranks of the U.S. District Court.
The post Senate Should Keep Pedal to the Metal on Judicial Nominees This Week appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Democratic Florida Rep. Ted Deutch criticized Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar on Thursday for spreading “classic anti-Semitic lies” and said his fellow House Democrats aren’t doing enough to hold her accountable.
Deutch criticized Democrats for changing a House resolution condemning anti-Semitism to include other forms of hate.
“Why are we unable to singularly condemn anti-Semitism? Why can’t we call out anti-Semitism and show that we’ve learned the lessons of history? It feels like we’re only able to call the use anti-Semitic language by a colleague of ours, any colleague of ours, if we’re addressing all forms of hatred. And it feels like we can’t call it anti-Semitism, unless everybody agrees it’s anti-Semitism,” Deutch said in a passionate speech on the House floor.
Referring to Omar, the congressman added, “When a colleague invokes classic anti-Semitic lies, three times, then this body must condemn that anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is worthy of being taken seriously on its own. It’s worthy of being singularly called out.”February 26, 2019
“Jews control the world? Jews only care about money? Jews have dual loyalty and can’t be patriotic members of the country in which they live? Words matter. For generations, they have had dangerous consequences, for me, for my family, and for my people. This shouldn’t be so hard,” Deutch said.
Democrats have been divided in whether to criticize Omar for alleging supporters of Israel have “allegiance to a foreign country,” and for attributing support for Israel to money from pro-Israel donors.
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The post Rep. Ted Deutch Calls Out Fellow Democrats for Leniency on Rep. Omar’s ‘Anti-Semitic Lies’ appeared first on The Daily Signal.
An investigation is needed to determine if socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the media magnet on the far-left fringe of the Democratic Party, has broken federal campaign finance laws. If convicted of criminal conduct, she could get up to five years in prison for each violation.
We don’t know at this point if the New York congresswoman has engaged in improper conduct. But she and her chief of staff and former campaign manager Saikat Chakrabarti are accused of serious charges in a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission by the National Legal and Policy Center.
The accusations against Ocasio-Cortez are ironic because she has criticized the use of untraceable money in political campaigns and portrayed herself as a champion of campaign finance reform. Her Twitter biography says she is “100% people funded, no corporate PAC $.”
In addition, Ocasio-Cortez is a big supporter of H.R. 1, a bill with numerous new campaign finance law requirements that would severely restrict and burden political activity and speech.
And when Ocasio-Cortez questioned President Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen about the president’s tax returns and his business dealings when Cohen testified before a House committee last month, her questions were so thorough and detailed that Vanity Fair headlined a story: “A.O.C. AND COHEN TEAM UP TO GIVE TRUMP A FINANCIAL COLONOSCOPY HE’LL NEVER FORGET.”
But apparently what’s good for the gander isn’t good for the goose in terms of public disclosure, as far as Ocasio-Cortez is concerned.
Is the New York congresswoman—who claims to be an honest and upstanding crusader for good government and transparency—really a hypocrite who improperly hid her own campaign spending in a complex maze of fundraising groups?
As a former FEC commissioner who has studied the complaint against Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti, I have concluded that there is unquestionably more than enough evidence to justify the FEC opening a civil investigation. And there’s also enough evidence for the U.S. Justice Department to seriously consider opening a criminal investigation.
The National Legal and Policy Center complaint is complicated. It alleges that Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti legally controlled a political action committee called Justice Democrats PAC when Ocasio-Cortez was a candidate in the Democratic primary for the House seat she now holds.
At the same time, Ocasio-Cortez headed up her own separate campaign committee managed by Chakrabarti.
The Justice Democrats PAC—controlled by Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti—was supporting the election of about a dozen Democratic candidates, including Ocasio-Cortez.
The complaint also claims that Chakrabarti ran two other shell organizations—Brand New Congress LLC (limited liability company) as well as another related political action committee called Brand New Congress PAC.
Now here’s where it gets even more confusing—and strange, if Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t trying to hide anything.
According to the FEC complaint, Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign committee paid almost $20,000 to Brand New Congress LLC for “strategic consulting” during the 2018 election campaign.
The Justice Democrats PAC that Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti controlled also paid Brand New Congress LLC more than $600,000 for “strategic consulting.”
And Brand New Congress PAC paid Brand New Congress LLC an additional $261,000.
So what’s the significance of all this shifting of money from one group to another? It doesn’t make sense to argue this was done in the name of transparency and public disclosure.
The complaint by the National Legal and Policy Center claims that the organizations that Ocasio-Cortez and/or Chakrabarti controlled paid Chakrabarti’s shell organizations almost $900,000 for “strategic consulting.”
Altogether, Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign committee and her political action committee, Justice Democrats PAC, raised a combined $4.6 million, according to The Daily Caller.
Brand New Congress LLC, which was the recipient of the $900,000 for “strategic consulting,” “employed all of the staffers working for federal campaigns” according to the FEC complaint.
Chakrabarti himself said in an MSNBC interview that Brand New Congress LLC created the “campaign infrastructure and fundraising” operations for the candidates—including Ocasio-Cortez.
If these allegations are true, there are numerous problems.
First, the campaign committee of Ocasio-Cortez and her political action committee, Justice Democrats PAC, may have violated federal reporting requirements.
Federal law (52 U.S.C. §30104) and the pertinent FEC regulation (11 CFR §104.3(b)(4)) require any political committee—and both of these entities would qualify—to provide itemized descriptions of all their expenditures over $200.
Simply listing “strategic consulting” for almost $900,000 in disbursements to an organization that admits it was doing all of the administrative work of the campaign—including fundraising, campaign advertisements, organizing rallies and speaking events, and handling volunteers—certainly does not meet this requirement.
In fact, it looks like the campaign was using the PACs and the LLC to avoid disclosing the actual spending and work being done for Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign.
Moreover, if it is true that Ocasio-Cortez and/or her campaign manager controlled Justice Democrats PAC and Brand New Congress PAC, they would be considered “affiliated” organizations to her campaign organization.
Since the PACs were handing out money to the LLC to work on her campaign, the PACs and the campaign committee would be treated as the same organization by the FEC under federal law.
That means that the limit on a campaign contribution to a federal candidate ($2,700 in the 2018 election cycle) would apply to all three organizations.
In other words, if someone gave Ocasio-Cortez a $2,700 contribution and then gave another contribution to either of the other two PACS that Ocasio-Cortez and/or Chakrabarti were running, her campaign violated federal law by receiving and keeping a contribution above the legal limit. Each excessive contribution received is a separate violation of the law.
Finally, if Brand New Congress LLC was set up to create the “campaign infrastructure and fundraising” operations for the candidates, as Chakrabarti said, then his LLC may have been making undisclosed in-kind contributions to all of these campaigns—unless the campaigns were actually paying the fair market value of the services.
These are serious allegations. As election attorney (and former FEC lawyer) Michael Bayes told me: “This is certainly an unusual arrangement, and there are lots of opportunities for violations. From funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign spending through LLCs, to running separate PACs to support her own campaign, this sounds like something the FEC should look into.”
Charles Spies, a lawyer and campaign finance law expert, told The Daily Caller that if a “campaign and PAC are under common control and the PAC was funding campaign staff and activities as an alter-ego of the campaign committee,” that would be “blatant” abuse of the rule governing PACs.
Former FEC Chairman Brad Smith said the facts that have been revealed should “trigger a serious investigation.”
Civil violations of federal campaign law are enforced by the FEC with civil penalties. It takes four votes on the six-member commission to authorize opening an investigation.
But the FEC currently only has four commissioners—two Republicans, one independent, and one Democrat. So it will take the votes of all four commissioners to authorize an investigation, meaning that any one commissioner could prevent the FEC from undertaking a probe.
That shouldn’t happen, given all the evidence of possible violations of the law that has already been made public.
Criminal violations of federal campaign finance law, on the other hand, are enforced by the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Justice Department.
Civil violations often involve inadvertent or unintentional violations of the law. Criminal violations occur when someone “intentionally and willfully” violates federal campaign finance law (52 U.S.C. § 30109 (d)). Conviction of these charges carries a prison sentence of up to five years for each violation.
There seems to be enough evidence here to justify opening a criminal investigation. As the Washington Examiner reported, Chakrabarti appeared to be operating a “slush fund.” Campaign finance attorneys called this arrangement “really weird.”
The complaint to the FEC says Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff “orchestrated an extensive off-the-books operation to make hundreds of thousands of dollars of expenditures in support of multiple candidates for federal office.”
We don’t know what further investigation will find. But it is clear an investigation is needed to determine if Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti broke the law.
The post Ocasio-Cortez and Top Aide Should Be Investigated for Possible Campaign Finance Violations appeared first on The Daily Signal.
The lawyer for Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann will likely sue CNN next, and the stakes could be higher than their suit against The Washington Post.
L. Lin Wood is representing Sandmann in another suit against The Washington Post calling for $250 million in compensatory and punitive damages over its coverage of the student’s interaction with Native American activist Nathan Phillips, according to Fox News.
“I expect because of the way [CNN] went after Nicholas so viciously, that the claim for his reputational damage will be higher than it was against The Washington Post,” Wood told Fox News host Mark Levin.
“CNN was probably more vicious in its direct attacks on Nicholas than The Washington Post. And CNN goes into millions of individuals’ homes,” Wood continued during an interview that will air on Fox News Channel Sunday.
The suit will likely be issued Monday or Tuesday, Wood told Levin. Wood said that Sandmann did “absolutely nothing wrong.”
“But you have a situation where CNN couldn’t resist the idea that here’s a guy with a young boy, that Make America Great Again cap on. So they go after him,” he said, adding, “The CNN folks were online on Twitter at 7 a.m. retweeting the little one-minute propaganda piece that had been put out. … They’re out there right away going after this young boy. And they maintain it for at least two days. Why didn’t they stop and just take an hour and look through the internet and find the truth and then report it? Maybe do that before you report the lies.”
Wood said he has a team of “young, smart lawyers” working on the potential suit.
“I’ve got some young, smart lawyers that are working hard as we can,” he told Levin. “Double-checking, and listen, when we file complaints, we’ve investigated it because we want to get it right. Maybe CNN can learn from that.”
Wood and Todd McMurtry, an attorney also representing Sandmann, released a statement Monday addressing an editor’s note issued by the Post March 1 about the outlet’s coverage of the Covington Catholic boys.
“The Friday night efforts by the Post to whitewash its wrongdoing were untimely, grossly insufficient and did little more than perpetuate the lies it published—lies that will haunt and adversely impact Nicholas for the rest of his life,” part of the statement read.
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Last year, the Trump administration implemented a three-year tariff-rate quota on residential washing machines and parts.
The tariffs were implemented because the government determined that washer imports were injuring Whirlpool Corp., the petitioning company and primary domestic manufacturer.
The U.S. International Trade Commission recently initiated an investigation to monitor the impact of the tariffs. Specifically, the commission will seek to determine whether the tariffs have helped domestic washer manufacturers, such as Whirlpool, make a “positive adjustment to import competition.”
The trade commission will soon discover, however, that protectionist tariffs have not benefited industry giants like Whirlpool. In fact, the tariffs on washers, coupled with tariffs on steel and aluminum, have come at great costs for Whirlpool and its customers.
The Wall Street Journal reported in late January, “Whirlpool shares, down more than 30% over the past 12 months, fell 6.6% in after-hours trading.” The company “also posted its first annual loss since 2002.”
Moreover, the company’s fourth-quarter sales worldwide declined by 4.4 percent. Whirlpool and other washer manufacturers increased the price of their products by upwards of 20 percent in the second quarter of 2018 because of higher input costs and barriers on foreign competition.
That has prompted many American consumers to forgo the purchase of new appliances.
Marc Bitzer, chief executive officer of Whirlpool, acknowledged that “the net impact of all remedies and tariffs has turned into a headwind for us.”
Investors’ expectations were downgraded when taking into account the cost of the steel and aluminum tariffs, an issue stemming from the U.S.-China trade disputes.
Whirlpool “expects about $300 million more in expenses due to higher import duty on raw materials [such as steel] used in its appliances,” Reuters reported.
With higher costs and less demand for its products, Whirlpool has cut production, adversely affecting its employees. In fact, the company’s new $200 million factory in Clyde, Ohio, is not operating at full production capacity, and the factory’s employees are not working all available shifts.
Likewise, Whirlpool’s return on assets has been negative for the past three quarters. That means that the company is doing a bad job at turning its resources and investments into profits—a sign that the company is not being operated efficiently.
Tariffs have clearly not made Whirlpool more resilient toward foreign competition and have actually been detrimental for its workers, customers, and the American economy.
The U.S. International Trade Commission should recommend that the washer tariffs be removed immediately, and the president also should eliminate the tariffs on steel and aluminum.
The post Whirlpool Advocated for Tariffs on Washers. Now, It’s Going Through the Wringers. appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Few issues have animated conservatives as much as Obamacare. But there’s a new threat on the horizon. It’s called Medicare for All—and it would be a massive government takeover of your health care.
The Daily Signal spoke with three medical doctors who are serving in the U.S. House—Reps. Scott DesJarlais, Paul Gosar, and Andy Harris—to talk about Medicare for All and their solutions for a patient-centered alternative. Listen to the podcast or read the transcript below.
Rob Bluey: I want to ask about not only some of the problems we find in health care today, but also solutions. Some of your colleagues on the left have put forward quite a radical proposal called Medicare for All. As doctors, I want to ask you to weigh in on what you think about it. Congressman Harris, would you like to begin?
Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.: The Medicare for All plan that was announced a couple weeks by my Democrat colleagues, over 100 of them, really will result in care for none. That’s the bottom line.
You can’t offer free care to everyone and expect anything but rationing to be the result. The costs are huge. We already have a trillion-dollar deficit in federal government spending. To add more to it will result in rationing.
When you dissect this plan piece by piece, including the elimination of all private insurance, not even socialized medicine in England has that. We go well beyond the socialized medical schemes of Europe in the Medicare for All plan. It’s just going to be a nonstarter.
Bluey: Congressman DesJarlais, we have a question from Tennessee from Katherine of Murfreesboro, Tenn. “With your experience and your medical practice, can you explain why Medicare for All is a bad idea when it comes to quality of care, provider satisfaction, fiscal impact, and the patient-provider relationship?”
Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn.: Thank you, Katherine. It’s always good to hear from Tennessee. When I think of Medicare for All, I think, “What can you compare that to? What would it be like?”
I think right now, a system that everybody knows and is aware of is the VA system. The VA system, in a way, is similar for the veterans. The biggest complaint you hear most times out of the VA system is long wait times or sometimes poor access to specialists. Can you just imagine what it would be like if you turned the whole country into a system right now that we can’t handle on a smaller scale?
I think that the relationship with providers would be diminished because access would be inferior. Right now, if you go to a VA and you can’t be seen within a reasonable amount of time at that VA, you’re farmed out to a specialist in the area. Often times that’s dubious too because specialists sometimes are reluctant to take patients because the payer system is so poor. You find it harder and harder to get access to these specialists.
I think, one, the relationship between the patient would be poor. Your access to medical care would be poor and delayed, and honestly, I think it’s inconceivable that it would even work or get off the ground, be cost prohibitive.
Bluey: Congressman Gosar, your colleagues in the Democrat Party say it’s so popular—and who doesn’t like free things? What are the consequences of a policy like this?
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.: The thing about it, when they say it’s free, it’s always popular, but when they actually find out how much their taxes are going to be raised, it drops dramatically, in the 30 percent approval aspect. That’s the key here is that nothing is free.
But, there’s alternatives here. Once again, how about market-driven applications that we haven’t seen since 1964? Making insurance compete for the marketplace. Taking away the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust exemptions so that they compete not only for your business, but for the doctor’s provisions? All these things can be revolutionized and who knows what can actually happen.
Bluey: Let’s talk about some of those solutions. Congressman Gosar, you’re a dentist. In terms of the dental profession, what would Medicare for All mean and what is a market-driven, patient-focused solution?
Gosar: First of all, dentistry never took onto Medicare. It walked away from the Medicare discussions in the 1960s. Therefore, the same dollar you spent in the 1970s, is basically the same dollar you spent today in dentistry with inflationary only.
Medicine’s nowhere close to that because what’s happened is there’s been cost shifting. What the government hasn’t covered, somebody else has had to pick up. That’s why you got problems. It is, in essence, a Ponzi scheme where you’re flushing one group of people paying for the services of somebody else’s.
That’s why I keep coming back to market forces. How about getting everybody broken down so they’re competing for the marketplace so that people are patient-focused, patient-friendly, patient-centered, and have the insurance industry actually compete for that marketplace?
It’s amazing what actually happens. You see lower premiums, lower drug prices, lower doctor and hospital visits. It empowers people to create new ideas. Making a market-driven solution is actually beneficial.
Bluey: Congressman DesJarlais, you had a family practice. What would it mean for those patients you are serving?
DesJarlais: Well, again, I think access is the big thing. There just is not enough to go around. When you consider that Medicare for All would eliminate what over half the country realizes now in an employer-based plan, and most people, despite all the horrors we’ve heard about Obamacare, which is really bad, get their insurance through their employer. It would change that and eliminate private insurance altogether. People would be left with what the government tells them they can have.
That was one of the biggest problems with Obamacare, that it mandated the type of the health care you could have, mandated what you had to pay for. People were paying for things that were more expensive than they needed. That left a lot of people on the sidelines or with policies that they couldn’t afford, or, in the case if they could afford, they couldn’t go to see the doctor because the deductibles and copays.
I think that it really created a struggle among a certain group of people in the country that didn’t have employer-covered health care, weren’t on Medicare, or weren’t on Medicaid. It really picked on a small group who had to disproportionately pay, as Dr. Gosar said.
Bluey: I want to follow up on a couple of those points, but I want to give Congressman Harris an opportunity. As a physician, what would you say from your perspective?
Harris: I was an anesthesiologist. Still am. I work with specialists, mostly specialists. I didn’t work with primary care doctors in the operating room.
I will tell you, under the current Medicare program, you already have problems having access to specialists because the payment rates are low. The fact of the matter is, when the government determines a payment rate, it’s going to determine a low payment rate. You’re not going to have physicians that are going to be willing to deal with it.
My district is over half rural. It’s very hard to find a specialist who will see a Medicare patient without getting in line to see it. That’s not what Americans expect. Medicare for All is not patient-driven, it’s bureaucrat-driven. It’s going to be some bureaucrat deciding what you need and how to deliver care in your community. It doesn’t work.
You’ve got to give the patients choice, give them not a one-size-fits-all insurance policy like ACA did. Let them buy an insurance policy that fits them, fits their families. If you’re young and healthy, you might choose a catastrophic policy with a medical savings account or health savings account. Give people more options and let the marketplace work.
Bluey: On that note, you have a leading senator, a liberal senator, who wants to end private insurance, says that’s the solution that we need to be pursuing. You’re painting quite a different picture. Can you talk to us about what that would mean?
Harris: Sure. Look, if you like the DMV, you’ll like government-driven health care. The bottom line is, when the government controls something to a monopoly, what they’re talking about is a monopoly. No private insurance. The DMV is a monopoly. Do you like it? Because, if you like it, you’ll love Medicare for All.
Bluey: Any other thoughts on that, Congressman DesJarlais?
DesJarlais: I just kept thinking about what Medicare for All would cost. One of the biggest things we’ve looked at since we’ve been in Congress—we all came in together in the same class—was the how are we going to pay for Medicare in the future?
It’s unsustainable in its current form. The costs are projected to go up and up and up. Same thing, Medicaid doesn’t have enough money. The VA doesn’t have enough money. You have three government systems that have been failing us all along and yet they want to pivot, put everybody into a failing system that we can’t afford now and make it even bigger. It just doesn’t make sense.
Gosar: I look at the aspect of what’s on the other side? What Medicare for All is actually is victimizing the patient. That’s the key, that they’re forced to do something. How about empowering them?
The second part that I always talk about is HSA reform where you’re actually empowering people to invest in themselves. Health care’s an individual sport, believe it or not. The doctor-patient relationship is very sacrosanct.
When you empower that, particularly when you start looking at empowering those patients to put money aside, and then also maybe looking at maybe redirecting the CSRs to veterans, to Medicare recipients. Rebuild that marketplace. Amazing what happens when patients are empowered with money to make their own decisions. I think most people like to be empowered versus victimized.
Bluey: Congressman Gosar, I’m going to stay with you because we have a question from Arizona. This comes from Bill Williams in Gold Canyon.
Gosar: He’s in my district.
Bluey: He says, “We face a massive problem with growing entitlements,” as you just mentioned. “Congress is willfully blind. Assuming that most elected officials wish to avoid a future train wreck and that solutions will inevitably be needed in time, what do you think we should start doing to solve this long-term entitlement crisis?”
Gosar: First of all, I always come back to keeping it simple stupid and that is break everybody down to the lowest common denominator. I don’t think we know what the final solution looks like because we haven’t liberated the market.
No. 1 is empowering physicians to create new markets. That means making the insurance industry, which is the primary means of reimbursement, start competing whereas right now, they’re in a collusionary-type action. There’s no necessity for them to branch out to put out new market products.
Make them compete against each other. That way physicians actually make more, they’re empowered to be better entrepreneurs, but also to put new, innovative ideas out there. For example, like starting and using the iPad, iWatches to help monitor patients. There’s a lot of different opportunities here.
Then, I think, the other part to that is is maybe tie in people with high risks to the certification of insurances like a blind high-risk pool. Those shouldn’t be scary applications. Those are actually in situations that actually work for rewarding people for solutions on those high-risk pools instead of pushing them to a side.
Bluey: Thank you for that answer. We’ve been talking a lot of policy ideas here, but that’s only part of the equation. The other part is communicating ideas to the American people.
As we saw in the 2018 election, health care was consistently ranked as one of the top concerns on the minds of many voters. They trusted Democrats more than Republicans on that issue, or liberals over conservatives. What is it that conservatives need to do to get their ideas across and gain the trust of the American people when it comes to health care?
Harris: I’ll tell you, if Medicare for All doesn’t scare the American public, it will. … I tell people, “Look, they want coverage. God forbid you have a pre-existing condition because everybody either has one or is afraid they’re going to have one and knows someone who has one.”
Once we clear that hurdle and we make it clear that our plans always cover someone with that, whether it’s, as Dr. Gosar says, a high-risk pooling mechanism or re-insurance pooling mechanism like we have in Maryland, we just have to make sure that the American people understand. We’ve always talked about that.
Our American Health Care Act had it in it. We made sure that, God forbid, that if you have a pre-existing condition, you’re covered. You have some coverage.
For other people, you’ve got to make it affordable. That’s the most important mechanism. … Make sure that they can get it and make sure that it’s affordable.
I will tell you, if a state wants to make universal health care and wants to pay for it, God bless them. I’m a Federalist. Let them go ahead and do that. Vermont and California thought about it and they both rejected it, both very liberal states rejected it because of the huge costs of a government-run program like this.
Bluey: Congressman DesJarlais, how are you communicating this to your constituents?
DesJarlais: I think we’re at a real messaging disadvantage and we have been certainly since President Trump took office. If you look at the coverage of anything President Trump has done, it’s about 90 percent negative as compared to President Obama who it was maybe 20 percent negative. That’s a hurdle that we face.
I think, like Dr. Harris said, if the people really understood what Medicare for All meant, that it doesn’t just mean free health care, they would be very frightened by it.
Messaging has always been key, but President Trump has taken some great steps already to solve the health care problem. We got rid of the individual mandate when we passed the tax reform bill that people are enjoying now.
He’s also dealt with the pharmaceutical companies to bring more drugs to generic price. It doesn’t make sense that here in America, we pay two or three or four times as much for the same drug you can get in Canada, Mexico, or other places in the world, so he’s taken steps to address that.
Then, the association health care plans where these people don’t have insurance through their employer, they can band together and actually find lower premiums.
I think Dr. Gosar brought up two really good points, the health savings account empowers people and they realize that they have a card that they can swipe when they go to the doctor and they pay for it right then and there and that’s money that they put in an account that’s tax-deferred. We need to expand those and we’ve taken a lot of steps.
He mentioned the high-risk pools. States like Maine have successfully done that and that was center in the debate, but we don’t get a fair and honest debate in the mainstream media.
Bluey: No, you certainly don’t. Congressman Gosar?
Gosar: I think it is that we actually have to bring the debate forward. It’s that instead of playing defense, we have to go on the offense. This group of gentleman right here were very responsible in regards to having those solutions that actually lowered rates, gave patients choice, and took in pre-existing conditions. These three guys were actually responsible for that.
We shouldn’t be afraid of it. We should actually be going toward that. I think anytime you look at the application and say, “Listen, the British system is failing. The Canadian system is failing. Aren’t we better than that?” When we start looking at the market-driven solutions, we haven’t had a market-driven solution since 1964. It’s been artificially based on government reimbursement rates.
Aren’t we better than that? Can’t we do something better that empowers the patient, empowers the doctor, and recreates that system where patients are responsible, doctors are responsible, but there’s an open market out there?
I think when you start to look at that, it’s enticing what can possibly be happening. Get people dreaming again.
Bluey: Last year, a federal district court in Texas ruled that Obamacare was unconstitutional. Can you bring us up to speed on what that means about the future of this debate on health care and where you might expect that case ultimately ends up?
Harris: You know the background is that, of course, the landmark ruling, which Chief Justice Roberts, we think, took the wrong side on, was declaring that since it was a tax, the individual mandate was a tax, therefore the process was legitimate.
Once we removed the tax by removing the individual mandate in our reconciliation bill, the bottom line is that argument was removed. It’s going to be up to federal courts to say, “OK, now that there’s no tax, is this, in fact, a legitimate plan?”
Look, a court could rule now that, in fact, it’s out the window. It gives us a chance to learn the lessons. What did we learn? We learned that the American people really, really want coverage of pre-existing conditions and make it clear to them that that exists. We learned it. We’re going to do it. We also know that that scheme was unaffordable because it didn’t share risk across board categories.
We learned a lot from it so I’m not scared of a federal judge saying that that’s unconstitutional because we have a lot of knowledge. Hopefully, this time, we would have a bipartisan solution because when you enact anything this large in the government, nothing works over time unless it’s a bipartisan plan. The ACA was clearly not a bipartisan plan.
Bluey: Congressman DesJarlais, President Trump just spoke at CPAC and said exactly that message—that he would like to bring together Republicans and Democrats to have a bipartisan solution to health care. Do you think that that’s possible?
DesJarlais: I think it should be because health care should be a nonpartisan thing. When I was in practice, I never treated a Democrat or a Republican, I just treated patients. I think that that’s the way most people look at it and they’re very frustrated with what’s going on in Washington with the bickering.
I would like to think we could come together on this. It’s going to be a difficult road, but certainly, we’re sitting here willing to have those conversations.
Bluey: Congressman Gosar, go ahead.
Gosar: I think it’s how you creatively get this done. One of the first things I brought up is breaking down the anti-trust exclusion for the medical insurance industry. That’s not a Democrat or Republican application.
I think bringing that up in this partisan foil or this atmosphere, no one’s going to vote for their insurance company over their constituents. This is a golden opportunity for that ball to drop.
No. 2 is, why isn’t the Senate having that conversation about HSA reform? The Hoover Institution said it was the next best thing that we could do after the tax reforms that we passed last year or in 2017. Why not have that conversation right now, pre-emptively have that, empowering patients?
Who is actually going to say no to patients controlling their destiny on their health care with their own tax dollars? Interesting. If you’re creatively looking at CSRs, everybody wants to spend the money so it’s spent. Why not creatively build it so that actually people are empowered to be fundamentally part of the system instead of being victimized again?
I think there’s some ways that we can change the ground rules even in this partisan climate, that you actually set up a success instead of looking at being victims again of the system.
Bluey: Congressman Gosar, this comes to you again. It’s from Bill Casale of Prescott, Arizona. He says, “The radical left controls the agenda and they seem only interested in endless witch hunts against the president and pushing socialist programs.” He thanks you for being a stalwart conservative but asks, “What we can do to move beyond some of the headlines and get to these serious issues?”
Gosar: Once again, one of the things that we’ve actually done, and Bill, that was a great question, is, how do we set up the system or how do you work the system for your benefit? Looking at what I just brought forward, now we’re seeing introduction of McCarran-Ferguson, which is that repeal of the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust exemption in the Senate. Amazing, and it’s bipartisan. Who is going to stop that?
Once again, the same thing we’re asking over in the Senate is start the conversation about HSA reform. There’s a way when you have a divided government to steer that conversation so that people are actually having that conversation and having to vote on it.
Bluey: Any other follow-up comments?
Harris: Look, this issue’s not going to go away until, as you suggested, the Supreme Court rules one way or another. In a divided Congress now, the only solutions are bipartisan solutions. We’ll have another election. We’ll discuss it again next year and I’m sure people are going to watch.
Bluey: If we could do a lightning round, I’m getting some questions that are not on the topic on health care but are quite pertinent to debates that we’re having in Congress right now. I’d like to ask you some of those.
The first one is about efforts to protect human life. Of course, the Senate had a vote that failed on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. I know there’s a move here in the U.S. House in a discharge petition. There are other things that you’re trying to do in terms of asking for unanimous consent on those consistently. What can you update our listeners on in terms of what’s going on with that legislation?
Harris: Well, we’re waiting for the clock to run out on the petitioning, which would be around mid-April. But I think every member of Congress should have a position. Obviously, the Senate, every member of the Senate is now on record. Fortunately, a majority of senators, but not a large enough majority to proceed to debate and final passage, thinks that it is wrong to have a baby born alive and not do everything you can to keep it alive.
Having worked in the delivery room, seen thousands of deliveries, I can’t imagine a baby being born and everybody not rushing to it to see to it that it’s going to be resuscitated and living. I can’t imagine that kind of world, but apparently, a minority in the Senate can imagine that kind of world.
I want to see if it’s a majority, minority in the House. I hope the speaker has the courage to put this up for a vote, let people say yes or no. Do you think that’s appropriate?
Gosar: I would look at it and I would advise and warn the American public that if you can do this to the innocence of a child, they will do it at the other end of the life spectrum.
If you think this is not binding to you as an aged American, it actually implies that you’re another victim of the circumstance. Remember, on Medicare for All, if you’re a burden to this system, in this scenario, you’re easily eliminated.
Bluey: Congressman Gosar, I’ll stay with you for a moment. We have a question from Myrna Lieberman also of Prescott, Arizona. She says, “I believe Dr. Gosar is the lone voice in Arizona for a need to get a border wall in place. Does Dr. Gosar believe that is going to happen?”
Gosar: Remember the president has about $4.5 billion at his disposal, even before the emergency fund. He’s actually going to be building that as he promised. It’s sad, though, that so many people don’t understand the emergency that’s our southern border.
The influenza that you’re seeing, the different diseases coming in, measles, mumps, a bacterial-resistant tuberculosis, typhoid, this is an emergency coming in here. You look at the sheer numbers coming across now that are now being reported. This is an emergency of umpteenth degree.
You either address it as individuals in leadership or you become victims of it. I’m tired of those people from around the country, from New York and other states that don’t believe that an infrastructure project in my backyard, our backyard, is very important. Andy Biggs, by the way, is also a big supporter. I’m not by myself.
Bluey: Thanks for that. Congressman DesJarlais, the House [passed] H.R. 1, the For the People Act. You’ve had some opposition even from the left, the ACLU coming out against it. What can you tell us in terms of what the bill would do and why conservatives need to be concerned?
DesJarlais: Basically, the Democrats have taken all the reasons they weren’t successful in the last election and tried to rig the game in their favor. To me, this is more of a show vote on their part. It’s dead on arrival in the Senate.
It’s just part of a poor loser syndrome and they’re wanting to say that people in this country shouldn’t have to show an ID to vote, which I think is ridiculous. Almost everyone I know has to have an ID to do almost anything and that’s one of the most fundamental, important things we do is vote and have the vote be reliable.
They’re basically trying to loosen the restrictions and let people who are not eligible to vote, vote to try to tilt the advantage to their favor. I think that the bill is a desperate attempt on their part to try to rig the game.
Bluey: Finally, I want to ask each of you from your own experience as a doctor to share with what it was about that experience that motivated you to come to Congress and what message you’d like to leave with them in closing as we think about this issue of health care. Congressman Harris, you begin.
Harris: This is simple, when I was trained almost 40 years ago, the bottom line is the relationship between the patient and her doctor was the most important. That was it.
Fast forward to now. You’ve got an insurance company in the room. You’ve got a government bureaucrat in the room. You have a pharmacy benefits manager in the room. You’ve got all these outside parties that are now involved in that relationship. We have got to come full cycle and restore it to the primacy of a patient and her doctor. That’s it.
Bluey: Thank you. Congressman DesJarlais?
DesJarlais: There are a lot of doctors that came in in our class. I think there was six of us and we probably all pretty much agree. Different specialties, but in my case with primary care, that relationship was paramount.
When somebody came in, they didn’t want to just talk about what was wrong with them. They wanted to talk about football or hunting or their children’s sports. You had time to do that in the good old days. You had time to actually be a doctor, get to know them. In that conversation, you tend to elicit more information, because the history is so important when treating patients.
With the government intervention, that’s getting pushed aside, even with the invent of medical records, which maybe made things more efficient, but it made them more impersonal.
Anybody who had a doctor pre-electronic record knows that the doctor spent time examining you, talking to you, and not just tapping on their keyboard inputting data to satisfy big brother.
I think that when my patients started complaining about the government, about health care, and all the problems instead of the common things they talk about, I knew there was a problem in our government and I felt compelled to try to do something about it.
Bluey: Congressman Gosar?
Gosar: I think the biggest key is that people want an individualized health care that was personalized to their needs. What I may want is different than what Andy may want. The physician always tried to tailor that. When the government got involved, that went away.
What I think is magical about the doctors caucus is that in order to solve a problem, we had to ask the patient what hurts, how can we help you? A lot of suggestions that we’ve brought forward today and continue to bring forward have come from Main Street, from you, the patient.
We’re trying to empower you to get back your health care, making everybody accountable, make you centered and focused. When the market competes on you, making sure you’re satisfied with the decisions you make, we all win.
Bluey: Thank you for the work that you’re doing. Thank you for the unique perspective that you bring to this issue of health care as doctors. I know that I benefited from this conversation.
The post These 3 Doctors in Congress Diagnose the Problems With Medicare for All appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Teacher unions are now using strikes as a form of extortion.
For the second time this year, a state’s teachers union and its members have closed schools and are refusing to work until lawmakers stop considering proposals to give students with special needs more learning opportunities.
In recent days, the Kentucky teachers union, and administrators and teachers, in Jefferson, Bullitt, and Oldham counties closed schools and protested at the Capitol chanting “Teachers vote!”
Their opposition is to a proposal that would allow some K-12 students in Kentucky—including children in the foster care system and children with special needs—to access scholarships to attend private schools.
Unions, district administrators and teachers are no longer just demanding higher pay, the issue at the center of the strikes and school closures in 2018. Now, they want to run the Capitol.
Kentucky teachers from the state’s largest district, Jefferson County, are making demands in spite of years of critical reports about district operations. The Louisville Courier-Journal reported three years ago this week that Jefferson County was grossly underreporting the number of times it physically restrained children with special needs.
It reported that the district drastically underreported the number of times children with special needs were “physically held down” or “confined to a room.”
The newspaper said that district records showed that officials used physical restraint or removal on children with special needs some 4,400 times, but that the Jefferson County Public Schools only reported 174 cases.
At one school, reporters found that “school staff slammed students’ heads into walls.”
District board members and national advocates for children with special needs said they were shocked by the scope of the findings.
The Courier-Journal reported problems were continuing as recently as last month.
It should be no wonder, then, that lawmakers are considering providing children in the state with more school options. And as more of the Jefferson County Public Schools’ woes are made public, parents should be demanding nothing less.
As if that weren’t enough of a problem, Jefferson County Public Schools have struggled to bridge a yawning achievement gap between minority students and their peers.
The Bluegrass Institute’s staff education analyst, Richard Innes, looked at Kentucky’s progress on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called “the nation’s report card,” and didn’t like what he saw.
“Based on Kentucky’s performance so far, it will literally take several centuries for the state’s black students to reach a reasonably high rate of proficiency on NAEP reading assessments in both the fourth and eighth grades,” Innes says.
There are also reports of indefensible overhead expenses. As research by The Heritage Foundation reported last year, a 2014 audit found the Jefferson County Public Schools had 150 central office positions making $100,000 or more annually, a figure that far exceeded other districts of similar size around the country.
A 2018 management audit of the district said there is “a pattern of a significant lack of efficiency and effectiveness in the governance and administration of [the Jefferson County Public Schools].”
These strikes are part of a disturbing trend. About two weeks ago, the West Virginia teachers union and their members refused to work because lawmakers considered a proposal that would have allowed for the creation of seven charter schools in the state and 1,000 education savings accounts.
As in Kentucky, children with special needs would have been among the beneficiaries of these new learning opportunities.
In the wake of strikes last spring—which, then as now, included teachers unions in Kentucky and West Virginia—lawmakers gave in to union demands, agreeing to raise teacher salaries and even increase taxes in some states in order to spend more on government schools.
Yet state legislators did not ask for anything in return. Such inaction is remarkable considering the disturbing Jefferson County Public School audits in Kentucky, or the examples researchers found of vacant and underused school buildings that districts left open at taxpayer expense in states such as Arizona and Oklahoma.
It should come as no surprise, then, that unions are closing schools and refusing to work again this year—this time in an effort to intimidate lawmakers into abandoning certain education-policy reforms.
It’s a tragedy that children with special needs will be losing out.
Lawmakers need to remember that they represent the children and families in their states—along with the unions and their members who are breaking the law by going on strike.
State legislators should point to the waste and inefficiencies in places such as the Jefferson County Public Schools and say families at least deserve the option to choose where and how their children learn.
Before deliberating over spending increases, lawmakers should at least call for school district leaders to improve district operations and eliminate waste.
Until that happens, teachers unions will continue to be the schoolyard bully.
The post How Teachers Unions Are Holding Children with Special Needs Hostage appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Four years ago, I wrote about my decision to live as a woman in The New York Times, writing that I had wanted to live “authentically as the woman that I have always been,” and had “effectively traded my white male privilege to become one of America’s most hated minorities.”
Three years ago, I decided that I was neither male nor female, but non-binary—and made headlines after an Oregon judge agreed to let me identify as a third sex, not male or female.
Now, I want to live again as the man that I am.
I’m one of the lucky ones. Despite participating in medical transgenderism for six years, my body is still intact. Most people who desist from transgender identities after gender changes can’t say the same.
But that’s not to say I got off scot-free. My psyche is eternally scarred, and I’ve got a host of health issues from the grand medical experiment.
Here’s how things began.
After convincing myself that I was a woman during a severe mental health crisis, I visited a licensed nurse practitioner in early 2013 and asked for a hormone prescription. “If you don’t give me the drugs, I’ll buy them off the internet,” I threatened.
Although she’d never met me before, the nurse phoned in a prescription for 2 mg of oral estrogen and 200 mg of Spironolactone that very same day.
The nurse practitioner ignored that I have chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), having previously served in the military for almost 18 years. All of my doctors agree on that. Others believe that I have bipolar disorder and possibly borderline personality disorder.
I should have been stopped, but out-of-control, transgender activism had made the nurse practitioner too scared to say no.
Jamie Shupe identifying as a transgender woman in May 2015. (Photo: Jamie Shupe)
I’d learned how to become a female from online medical documents at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital website.
After I began consuming the cross-sex hormones, I started therapy at a gender clinic in Pittsburgh so that I could get people to sign off on the transgender surgeries I planned to have.
All I needed to do was switch over my hormone operating fuel and get my penis turned into a vagina. Then I’d be the same as any other woman. That’s the fantasy the transgender community sold me. It’s the lie I bought into and believed.
Only one therapist tried to stop me from crawling into this smoking rabbit hole. When she did, I not only fired her. I filed a formal complaint against her. “She’s a gatekeeper,” the trans community said.
I should have been stopped, but out-of-control, transgender activism had made the nurse practitioner too scared to say no.
Professional stigmatisms against “conversion therapy” had made it impossible for the therapist to question my motives for wanting to change my sex.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th Edition) says one of the traits of gender dysphoria is believing that you possess the stereotypical feelings of the opposite sex. I felt that about myself, but yet no therapist discussed it with me.
Two weeks hadn’t passed before I found a replacement therapist. The new one quickly affirmed my identity as a woman. I was back on the road to getting vaginoplasty.
There’s abundant online literature informing transgender people that their sex change isn’t real. But when a licensed medical doctor writes you a letter essentially stating that you were born in the wrong body and a government agency or court of law validates that delusion, you become damaged and confused. I certainly did.
My trauma history resembles a ride down the Highway of Death during the first Gulf War.
As a child, I was sexually abused by a male relative. My parents severely beat me. At this point, I’ve been exposed to so much violence and had so many close calls that I don’t know how to explain why I’m still alive. Nor do I know how to mentally process some of the things I’ve seen and experienced.Jamie Shupe as a preteen. (Photo: Jamie Shupe)
Dr. Ray Blanchard has an unpopular theory that explains why someone like me may have been drawn to transgenderism He claims there are two types of transgender women: homosexuals that are attracted to men, and men who are attracted to the thought or image of themselves as females.
It’s a tough thing to admit, but I belong to the latter group. We are classified as having autogynephilia.
After having watched pornography for years while in the Army and being married to a woman who resisted my demands to become the ideal female, I became that female instead. At least in my head.Jamie Shupe as a soldier at Fort Hood. (Photo: Jamie Shupe)
While autogynephilia was my motivation to become a woman, gender stereotypes were my means of implementation. I believed wearing a long wig, dresses, heels, and makeup would make me a woman.
Feminists begged to differ on that. They rejected me for conforming to female stereotypes. But as a new member of the transgender community, I beat up on them too. The women who become men don’t fight the transgender community’s wars. The men in dresses do.
The best thing that could have happened would have been for someone to order intensive therapy. That would have protected me from my inclination to cross-dress and my risky sexual transgressions, of which there were many.
Instead, quacks in the medical community hid me in the women’s bathroom with people’s wives and daughters. “Your gender identity is female,” these alleged professionals said.
Trans men are winning in medicine, and they’ve won the battle for language.
The medical community is so afraid of the trans community that they’re now afraid to give someone Blanchard’s diagnosis. Trans men are winning in medicine, and they’ve won the battle for language.
Think of the word “transvestite.” They’ve succeeded in making it a vulgar word, even though it just means men dressing like women. People are no longer allowed to tell the truth about men like me. Everyone now has to call us transgender instead.Jamie Shupe on hormone replacement therapy in November 2018. (Photo: Jamie Shupe)
The diagnostic code in my records at the VA should read Transvestic Disorder (302.3). Instead, the novel theories of Judith Butler and Anne Fausto-Sterling have been used to cover up the truths written about by Blanchard, J. Michael Bailey, and Alice Dreger.
I confess to having been motivated by autogynephilia during all of this. Blanchard was right.
Trauma, hypersexuality owing to childhood sexual abuse, and autogynephilia are all supposed to be red flags for those involved in the medical arts of psychology, psychiatry, and physical medicine—yet nobody except for the one therapist in Pittsburgh ever tried to stop me from changing my sex. They just kept helping me to harm myself.
Escaping to ‘Non-Binary’
Three years into my gender change from male to female, I looked hard into the mirror one day. When I did, the facade of femininity and womanhood crumbled.
Despite having taken or been injected with every hormone and antiandrogen concoction in the VA’s medical arsenal, I didn’t look anything like a female. People on the street agreed. Their harsh stares reflected the reality behind my fraudulent existence as a woman. Biological sex is immutable.
It took three years for that reality to set in with me.Jamie Shupe identifying as non-binary in October 2018. (Photo: Jamie Shupe)
When the fantasy of being a woman came to an end, I asked two of my doctors to allow me to become non-binary instead of female to bail me out. Both readily agreed.
After pumping me full of hormones—the equivalent of 20 birth control pills per day—they each wrote a sex change letter. The two weren’t just bailing me out. They were getting themselves off the hook for my failed sex change. One worked at the VA. The other worked at Oregon Health & Science University.
To escape the delusion of having become a woman, I did something completely unprecedented in American history. In 2016, I convinced an Oregon judge to declare my sex to be non-binary—neither male nor female.
In my psychotic mind, I had restored the mythical third sex to North America. And I became the first legally recognized non-binary person in the country.
The landmark court decision catapulted me to instant fame within the LGBT community. For 10 nonstop days afterward, the media didn’t let me sleep. Reporters hung out in my Facebook feed, journalists clung to my every word, and a Portland television station beamed my wife and I into living rooms in the United Kingdom.
Then, before the judge’s ink had even dried on my Oregon sex change court order, a Washington, D.C.-based LGBT legal aid organization contacted me. “We want to help you change your birth certificate,” they offered.
Within months, I scored another historic win after the Department of Vital Records issued me a brand new birth certificate from Washington, D.C., where I was born. A local group called Whitman-Walker Health had gotten my sex designation on my birth certificate switched to “unknown.” It was the first time in D.C. history a birth certificate had been printed with a sex marker other than male or female.Jamie Shupe identifiying as non-binary in June 2016. (Photo: Jamie Shupe)
Another transgender legal aid organization jumped on the Jamie Shupe bandwagon, too. Lambda Legal used my non-binary court order to help convince a Colorado federal judge to order the State Department to issue a passport with an X marker (meaning non-binary) to a separate plaintiff named Dana Zzyym.
LGBT organizations helping me to screw up my life had become a common theme. During my prior sex change to female, the New York-based Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund had gotten my name legally changed. I didn’t like being named after the uncle who’d molested me. Instead of getting me therapy for that, they got me a new name.
A Pennsylvania judge didn’t question the name change, either. Wanting to help a transgender person, she had not only changed my name, but at my request she also sealed the court order, allowing me to skip out on a ton of debt I owed because of a failed home purchase and begin my new life as a woman. Instead of merging my file, two of the three credit bureaus issued me a brand new line of credit.
Walking Away From Fiction
It wasn’t until I came out against the sterilization and mutilation of gender-confused children and transgender military service members in 2017 that LGBT organizations stopped helping me. Most of the media retreated with them.
Overnight, I went from being a liberal media darling to a conservative pariah.
Both groups quickly began to realize that the transgender community had a runaway on their hands. Their solution was to completely ignore me and what my story had become. They also stopped acknowledging that I was behind the non-binary option that now exists in 11 states.
The truth is that my sex change to non-binary was a medical and scientific fraud. Consider the fact that before the historic court hearing occurred, my lawyer informed me that the judge had a transgender child.
I should have been treated. Instead, at every step, doctors, judges, and advocacy groups indulged my fiction.
Sure enough, the morning of my brief court hearing, the judge didn’t ask me a single question. Nor did this officer of the court demand to see any medical evidence alleging that I was born something magical. Within minutes, the judge just signed off on the court order.
I do not have any disorders of sexual development. All of my sexual confusion was in my head. I should have been treated. Instead, at every step, doctors, judges, and advocacy groups indulged my fiction.
The carnage that came from my court victory is just as precedent-setting as the decision itself. The judge’s order led to millions of taxpayer dollars being spent to put an X marker on driver’s licenses in 11 states so far. You can now become male, female, or non-binary in all of them.
In my opinion, the judge in my case should have recused herself. In doing so, she would have spared me the ordeal still yet to come. She also would have saved me from having to bear the weight of the big secret behind my win.
I now believe that she wasn’t just validating my transgender identity. She was advancing her child’s transgender identity too.
A sensible magistrate would have politely told me no and refused to sign such an outlandish legal request. “Gender is just a concept. Biological sex defines all of us,” that person would have said.
In January 2019, unable to advance the fraud for another single day, I reclaimed my male birth sex. The weight of the lie on my conscience was heavier than the value of the fame I’d gained from participating in this elaborate swindle.Jamie Shupe obtaining a new military ID card with male sex designation in February 2019. (Photo: Jamie Shupe)
Two fake gender identities couldn’t hide the truth of my biological reality. There is no third gender or third sex. Like me, intersex people are either male or female. Their condition is the result of a disorder of sexual development, and they need help and compassion.
I played my part in pushing forward this grand illusion. I’m not the victim here. My wife, daughter, and the American taxpayers are—they are the real victims.
The post I Was America’s First ‘Non-Binary’ Person. It Was All a Sham. appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Editor’s note: Amy Swearer’s commentaries on mental illness, gun control, and the anniversary of the Parkland shooting stirred responses from our audience. We lead off with some of them. Don’t forget to write us at email@example.com.— Ken McIntyre
Dear Daily Signal: Amy Swearer hit the nail squarely on the head with her commentary article about the reduction of institutional beds for the mentally ill and its impact on society (“How Mass Deinstitutionalization Harmed the Mentally Ill”).
When we were younger, my wife and I adopted a son and brought him home when he was a day old. When he was 9, we noticed some very bizarre behaviors.
We had him seen by various psychiatrists and he was determined to be bipolar, rapid cycling, and likely psychopathic. By that time we had two other biological children.
It was a nightmare. Our son became so violent and out of control while we tried different medications that we put him in a private residential facility. Unfortunately, the facility was designed for behavior issues, not mental illness. After a year and over $60,000, they told us to come get him, that there was nothing they could do.
On his 18th birthday, he took what he could carry, had a friend pick him up, quit taking his meds, and chose to live a life of poverty.
Our son is now 25, has been in and out of prison several times, and uses drug rehab as an escape from drug dealers looking to collect. He stays for a couple of weeks and then gets kicked out for noncompliance.
Based solely on my 25 years of experience with him, I see several impacts on society that never are mentioned. Of course there are the crime, drug use, and theft to pay for the drugs, which then lead to violent drug dealer turf wars. Yes, our prisons are full of undiagnosed and/or unmedicated, mentally ill inmates.
What isn’t talked about, though, is that much of our poverty is a result of mental illness. The mentally ill have an irrational thought process; my son and his friends have no concept of the future. They live for today and the moment. If they have a job but a friend has a problem and needs help, they just don’t go to work and then lose their job.
When they get paid, they don’t save the money to pay bills or to buy groceries, it’s used for recreational purposes such as drugs, alcohol, eating out, buying gadgets. Then when they have to pay the rent, car payment, insurance, or the electric bill, they can’t. Eventually they lose where they are living and then quit their job to deal with life.
It’s a cycle that they repeat for most of their lives. It’s not a lack of education; you can’t teach a rational thought process. When our son was 12, he could describe trickle-down economics and how reducing taxes improves the greater economy. Yet when he has two nickels, he’s looking to spend a quarter.
The way we treat the mentally ill today is to give them free housing, utilities, food, clothing, a phone, cash, and maybe a job and means to get to work. We house them in compounds we call subsidized or government housing, and as long as they stay in their area, we really don’t care what they do.
They can do all the drugs and alcohol they can find, sit around watching TV and playing video games. But as soon as they slip out and interact with normal people, we put them in the system, giving them probation requirements that they can’t comply with, and then send them to jail and prison where they network and learn how to be a better criminal.
Over the years, we tried inpatient hospitalization. Beds are too few, and if the patient refuses to take his meds or to participate, he or she is kicked out.
Of course they are noncompliant. What I have seen is that they think there is nothing wrong with them; it’s the rest of the world that’s wrong.
Look at Eric Harris, one of the teenage shooters in the Columbine massacre. Upon reading the psychiatric evaluation from the FBI psychiatrist, our blood ran cold. Many of the basic behaviors Harris exhibited were also exhibited by our son and his friends.
I know all too well how expensive treatment is. But given the cost of incarceration, the cost of various social programs, the cost of crime, I’m not sure that actually treating the root cause would be any more expensive in the long run. And regardless, it’s the right thing to do.
While our son was incarcerated, we tried to get the judge to force him to take his medications. The judge said our son had rights, and the court couldn’t force him.
The system is horribly broken. At least some of these citizens could be somewhat productive and contribute to supporting themselves as well as society, if we were to treat the root cause and not the symptoms.
Thank you for the insight your articles provide.—Mark Smith, Manchester, Tennessee
Thanks for Amy Swearer’s excellent article on deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill. It would be nice if it got greater coverage. I will do my part by tweeting it.—John Jamison
The problem, it seems to me in reading Amy Swearer’s commentary, is that we as a nation are more interested in protecting the aliens who illegally came here instead of our own (“The Role of Mental Illness in Mass Shootings, Suicides”).
Treatment for the mentally ill has been ignored, same as the homeless here in the United States. If more treatment were provided to the mentally ill, the murder rate and suicide rate should drop.—Mary Brandeberry
Cliche: Guns don’t kill people, people do . Can we go deeper in the root cause?
The sanctity of life is at an all-time low. Many reasons and many answers—individual selfishness and a lack of fear of God among them.—Raymond Schrem
If the government would stop interfering with families and their disciplining of their children, things would be better.
Remember, the government through the public schools forbids any signs of Christianity, supports all kinds of sexual debauchery, forces the homosexual agenda on our children, violates children’s constitutional protections, and counsels children against their parents’ authority.
So, yes, I hold the government fully responsible for all these shooting incidents.—Bob Shoemaker
If we don’t include the increasing addiction of elementary school students to violent video games, in addition to older teens and other adults, we will be missing an important piece of the puzzle.
Check the profiles of young mass shooters, and you’ll find heavy use of violent video games. Elementary school kids are hooked for hours a day on the game “Fortnite,” and unsuspecting parents haven’t a clue what their vulnerable kids are watching on the family computer and at friends’ houses.—Marcy Thobaben
Schizophrenia was mentioned at least once in Amy Swearer’s commentary. Though not brought out here, schizophrenia has also been mentioned as a possible result (or probable, depending on the commentator) of the use of marijuana.
Increased occurrences of this illness need to be considered in light of the trend toward total legalization of marijuana, which was found back in the 1970s to be a risk to mental health.
Recent writings have explored the idea that legalization of this drug is not the result of later research concluding that earlier research was faulty, but the result of intense lobbying by entities with a financial interest.—Bob Robb
Regarding Amy Swearer’s commentary on the anniversary of the Parkland school shooting, one factor ignored by gun control proponents is the reality of evil in human nature (“A Year After Parkland Shooting, Gun Control Activists Still Misdiagnose the Problem“).
NPR recently interviewed Robert Runcie, superintendent of the Broward County school district in Florida where the Parkland shooting occurred.
A male who tries to kill someone for no reason is not a “gentleman” but an evil monster, and his shooting of the future superintendent’s mother was a criminal act of attempted murder, not a “hate crime.”
Until our society and leaders address the intrinsic evil in human nature and quit hiding behind mental health and gun violence as convenient excuses for sadistic acts, we will never be able to effectively cope with this problem.—Bert Chapman
Many children are addicted to their phones and don’t engage in actual conversation very much. Many parents are also addicted to phones and don’t talk to their children very much.
As a result, the children don’t learn empathy and morality. In addition, I read that use of marijuana can cause mental illness such as schizophrenia, especially in the concentrated form now in use.
Intelligent animals such as apes, dolphins, cats, dogs, and humans engage in play to wire their brains properly, according to a book I read. Our society and our schools are depriving children of play, and this can cause brain malfunction.
These factors of excessive phone use, drug use, and play deprivation can cause mental problems that lead young people to go on a shooting spree at a school. We should look to other factors rather than guns as the problem.—Gary Woodburn
Trump Predicts Supreme Court Will Give Him a Win in Legal Fight Over National Emergency https://t.co/9yiKHp8Jwt— The Daily Signal (@DailySignal) February 15, 2019
A Letter to Fellow Americans
Dear Daily Signal: My father, P.R. Krantz, is 92 and deeply concerned about the security of our country. At his request, I have written a letter to our fellow Americans proposing a solution, a suggestion meant to prompt a favorable response.
I am hoping the letter will inspire an experienced individual to create a “Build the Wall” fundraising organization and encourage all citizens to donate. Here it is:
Our American culture is at risk. When so many nations are dealing with the same issue, we find hope only in what we can do for our homeland.
What a commendable idea President Trump had in proposing the border wall. Sadly, it has come to this, rather than Mexico and the United States embracing their individual cultures.
Mexico is such a beautiful country. The people and their traditions are so wonderful. It is difficult to comprehend this exodus from Mexico.
The United States is our home. How can we continue to stand proud if what we have is jeopardized? There are so many diverse nations on this earth. What an awful suggestion that we bleed into only one. All of the world’s beauty would then become extinct.
Imagine patriots remaining in and fighting for the improvement of their own native lands. This would be the moral answer. Not the act of invading other nations.
We must demonstrate allegiance to our nation. In this time of crisis, let us act to maintain freedom.
In a country of approximately 326 million people, surely some do subscribe to the concept of a border wall. If a decisive sum were sacrificed among supporters, could this structure be erected? I believe such a goal to be obtainable.
Purposefully combining public aid with federal resources is essential to construction costs. Through working in union as a people and a government, we can proceed to “Make America Great Again,” Mr. President.
Retaining independence as a nation requires diligence. By creating a trust fund to raise the protective wall, our heritage can prevail.—Christy Krantz, Krotz Springs, La.
What six of @realDonaldTrump’s predecessors considered to be national emergencies.
How Many Times Trump’s Predecessors Declared a National Emergency https://t.co/bPD8M5mFBo via @FredLucasWH @DailySignal pic.twitter.com/6l9Azg97ba
Dear Daily Signal: Watching “Fox News Sunday” recently, I became absolutely incensed. The falsehoods, fallacy, and ignorance being passed off as facts, knowledge, and argument by host Chris Wallace and others opposing the president’s emergency declaration regarding the southern border are appalling.
The media are deliberately creating an unnecessary, divisive controversy by falsely reporting what has occurred and its constitutional implications. What’s being manufactured is the controversy, not the crisis.
Having practiced constitutional law for several decades in the federal courts, I perhaps have an edge in recognizing this. But it is hard to believe that Wallace and others are not acting out of deliberate indifference to the truth.
Wallace began by peppering White House aide Stephen Miller with false-premise questions, then rudely and repeatedly interrupting to prevent Miller’s delivery of accurate responses.
Wallace insisted, for example, that Congress has refused to appropriate funding for additional border barriers. That is obviously false, and Wallace certainly should know so. Congress passed, and never repealed, legislation requiring additional barriers.
Congress just passed an additional appropriation for barrier construction. That Congress has failed to fund a project completely or adequately is neither the factual nor legal equivalent of denying funds or prohibiting completion.
Wallace then argued that uncontrolled drug smuggling cannot justify a need for remote border barriers when most seized drugs are interdicted at ports of entry.
Contraband seized at ports of entry is only a tiny fraction of the total coming across the border; drug abuse would otherwise be virtually nonexistent. It is obvious that far greater amounts of contraband and human smuggling evade interdiction because they pass through uncontrolled parts of the border.
Every crossing of the border other than at a port of entry is a crime, and a large percentage of those illegal entries are felonies. Barriers are needed to impede those crimes and divert that illegal traffic to ports of entry.
Minutes later, another journalist claimed that the president cannot resort to the statute authorizing construction by the military when the work will not be on or around a military base. Has no one bothered to read the statute (10 U.S.C. §284)? It specifically authorizes emergency military construction, not to protect military bases but to aid civilian law enforcement in suppressing smuggling and transnational organized crime.
This statute plainly authorizes exactly what the president proposes. It also shows a congressional determination that transnational crime that isn’t controlled by civilian law enforcement constitutes a national emergency. The current emergency has grown by increments, but it is no less an emergency because gross negligence allowed it to fester.
Wallace later interviewed Rush Limbaugh and tried to equate President Obama’s illegal establishment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program with President Trump’s declaration.
Does Wallace really not recognize that executive action that actually makes new law, and overrides what Congress actually enacted, is very different from the use of already-appropriated funds for purposes expressly authorized?
If there is any confusion, it exists mostly because the current declaration, unlike most prior declarations, actually identifies an emergency close to the core of what the National Emergencies Act of 1976 was meant to address. Journalists are acting like some folks who long have been using a hammer as a doorstop, and no longer can recognize it is meant for driving nails.
At the heart of Wallace’s apparent discontent is basic ignorance of, or disagreement with, how Congress delegates authority to the executive. Article I of the Constitution does not support micromanagement by a committee of over 500. Those who drafted and approved it were not such fools.
The Supreme Court and its subordinate courts have consistently recognized that Congress must vest the executive with discretion to determine how policy is put into effect and how funds will be spent.
The National Emergencies Act provides that an emergency, once declared, shall continue until the president declares it at an end, or Congress has passed a joint resolution terminating it. There is no provision for review by courts.—Lyle D. Aldridge, Tucson, Ariz.February 13, 2019
Two Views of High-Speed Rail
Dear Daily Signal: Responding to David Ditch’s commentary (“California’s High-Speed Rail Failure Shows the Insanity of Green New Deal”), until five years ago we lived most of our lives near Portland, Oregon, where they built a 60-mile light-rail system over 31 years.
At $50 million per mile, the Portland MAX System (Metropolitan Area Express) is known locally as the Crime Train because every community in which its tracks are laid incurs a soaring crime rate.
The Portland metro population when we left was barely over 2 million. Ridership then was 2.44 percent and supported by 97.6 percent of a highly taxed population that never rides that Crime Train.
Which begs the question: Why is it fair that the majority of working Americans fund cheap transpiration for a minority of our population? Would it not be better to encourage that population to improve their standard of living enough to become self-sufficient citizens?
Communities in that area resist with a vengeance having tracks laid in their communities, as no one wants increased crime reducing property values and personal safety. As we moved away, the Clackamas community received tracks after politicians who had lost re-election bids secured deals financing the project just before their terms expired.
Referring back to your article, it’s counterproductive for any community to receive light-rail tracks with increased personal taxes to support their existence. Elected representatives who choose to promote personal agendas versus insuring better community standards need to be held personally liable.
But how does one do that when they have created laws protecting their secret deals, ultimately removing their accountability to the voters who elected them?
Remove the laws protecting crooked politicians and watch the values of common sense–best for our nation and its communities–return.—Ron Dale, Boise, Idaho
From a physics perspective, travel by rail represents the most efficient means to move people and goods (“Trump Demands California Pay Back Federal Government for Canceled Bullet Train Project”).
In a day and age of climate change caused by the unfettered burning of fossil fuels, coupled with the increasing challenges to extract these dwindling fuels, it would seem that developing high-speed rail would be the best path forward. It is also an excellent means to reduce traffic congestion on our overused and clogged highways.
Many other nations such as China and Japan are far ahead of us in implementing high-speed rail as a practical alternative to long-distance mass transit. For the world’s superpower not to have advanced high speed rail is shameful and embarrassing.
It’s high time for our leaders to revitalize and update our railroads for the 21st century to help save our planet and our economy.—Michael Pravica, Las Vegas
Editor’s note: Michael Pravica, Ph.D., is a professor of physics at the University of Nevada.January 6, 2019
This and That
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., along with other socialists and left-wing politicians, have been on a “seek and destroy” mission to demonize capitalists in our country.
They are using their power to attempt to redistribute other people’s wealth by progressively taxing the rich. According to the socialists and others, wealthy capitalists are enemies of the state. Before we trade in our American capitalist system for a socialist regime, do we know if we’ll be getting a bargain?
Socialism is an economic system of collectivization and government centralization of the production and distribution of goods. Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is a perfect example of socialism.
The Green New Deal would centralize government control of our health care, energy use, business, homes, travel, technology, labor, finance, education, including social engineering projects.
This government control would cost us higher taxes, the loss of private businesses, property rights, and free markets, slow economic growth, and a decrease in the standard of living. It would bankrupt our economy.
Capitalism is an economic system that allows trade and private ownership of business and industry for profit. Our capitalist system encourages innovation and competition, and creates jobs.
Throughout America’s history, “wealthy capitalists” like Ben Franklin, George Washington Carver, Jonas Salk, and Bill Gates were the entrepreneurs, philanthropists, inventors and scientists who, given freedom from government interference, made our country the envy of other nations.
Russian chess great Garry Kasparov wrote in 2016: “A society that relies too heavily on redistributing wealth eventually runs out of wealth to redistribute. … Once you give power to the government it’s nearly impossible to get it back, and it will be used in ways you cannot expect.”—Marcia Brunelli, Havertown, Pa.
The socialist wing of the Democrat Party rolls out the Green New Deal for the future of America, and those who have thrown in their hats for the 2020 election stomp all over each other to sign on to a plan that will doom the country once and for all.
The greatest country on the planet, purposely flushed right down the drain. Not that we shouldn’t be seeking energy-saving technologies. But to think this can be accomplished in 10 years is a plan hatched by those who have their own branch reserved for them, way up there on the stupid tree.
This country is run on carbon technology and will be for quite some time. Those who think otherwise should seek medical help. This plan is totally unworkable, and it is surprising that so many people are so willing to jump on an inevitable train crash.
This would devastate the country, and about two to three years from now people should have wrapped their little pea brains around the absolute fact that this is impossible. Getting Ocasioed or Bernied will be a national disaster. Everything in its time, and that “Star Trek” time is many years away.
OK, enough of all of this. And since I have planned to take my wife to Hawaii in 10 years, we better make our reservations on that high-speed train that these socialists plan for us.—Robert Patrick, McCormick, S.C.
I just found out that Prager U videos were being restricted on YouTube. I am appalled that morally bereft videos of gyrating, half-clad women are not restricted, but PragerU’s videos are.
I have watched many of the videos and although I am an atheist, I find nothing that offends me but much which I am thrilled is being put out there.
I am planning to use PragerU videos to help me bring some reality to my grandchildren when they are old enough to comprehend the concept. I worked in the public education system for a time, but left because I couldn’t stomach what was and was not being taught to children as young as 5.
Thanks to Dennis Prager for all he and his team are attempting to do for children and adults who stumble upon the videos and get an alternative view. As a result they are able to question, research perhaps, and get an opportunity to make their own informed decisions about their beliefs.
I applaud this one giant step for free speech.—Erin Martin
After two years of this nonsense, the time finally has arrived for cable, network, and print media to give President Trump some breathing room.
The president is desperately fighting for the nation. He is battling to deal with a drug scourge, human trafficking, and an invasion of illegal immigrants.
Yet media types never tender the slightest element of favor toward the man for his efforts. Which makes one to pause to consider whether the nation’s media monolith is controlled by a cabal of anarchists.
Prior to Trump’s presidency, politicians ran to the man with their greedy little hands out, crying for campaign money. The media sucked up to, idolized, and followed the man around like little puppy dogs, begging for a minute of his time. But now, their daily missions involve incessantly trashing the man and his family.
Given his wealth, the president could have bypassed the White House by remaining in New York’s Trump Tower. He chose instead to attempt to restore some semblance of order to Washington’s rat-infested swamp.
But as strong as the president is, he will never clean out this political cesspool. Washington’s state of affairs has gone not only beyond the point of no return, but also redemption.—Earl Beal, Terre Haute, Ind.
Sarah Sleem and Courtney Joyner contributed to this edition of “We Hear You.”
The post We Hear You: Guns and How We Treat the Mentally Ill appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, stirred controversy again with an anti-Semitic tirade last week, declaring to a packed audience, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country [Israel].”
According to the Media Research Center, “CBS This Morning” devoted 30 seconds of air time to Omar’s comments Monday—while the other two broadcast networks didn’t cover it at all.
Many in the media have downplayed this incident. ABC News even called it a, quote, “family feud.”
And others in the media seem to be making excuses for the representative.
Liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman actually argued that he’s not worried about anti-Semitism when it comes from the left, and insinuated that only right-wing anti-Semitism is bad.
He wrote in a Tweet: “There are three things in life that are certain: death, taxes (unless you’re Donald Trump), and persistence of anti-Semitism. But only one brand of antisemitism scares me – and it’s not on the left.”
There are three things in life that are certain: death, taxes (unless you're Donald Trump), and persistence of anti-Semitism. But only one brand of antisemitism scares me – and it's not on the left pic.twitter.com/bvWmFfM945— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) March 6, 2019
Amazingly, bigotry is now excused as long as you are on one side of the political spectrum.
While the dismaying surge of anti-Semitism in Congress is a worrying sign, it does not represent the American people in general.
As a whole, America has been a shining city upon a hill for Jews, a place where all may live according to the dictates of their conscience under just and equal laws.
In 1790, George Washington set the tone for his new country when he wrote to a Jewish congregation in Newport, Rhode Island.
Washington wrote, quote: “May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”
The words of Washington should stand as a rebuke to those maligning Jews, who have contributed greatly to the history of this country and our success today.
The post Media Misses: Media Ignores Ilhan Omar’s Anti-Semitic Comments appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Last month, we documented some extraordinary examples from January of armed citizens relying on their Second Amendment rights to protect themselves and others.
We pointed out that these were average, everyday Americans who were just going about their lives. They did not go looking for evil but were nonetheless prepared to deal with the evil that found them.
February has produced even more evidence that the fundamental right to keep and bear arms is not an anachronism that no longer deserves constitutional protection, but a vital tool safeguarding individual liberty.
Studies routinely indicate that every year, Americans use their firearms in defense of themselves or others between 500,000 and 2 million times. Very few of these defensive gun uses receive national publicity—if they receive publicity at all.
Below, we’ve highlighted just a handful of the many times during the month of February that law-abiding Americans demonstrated the importance of the Second Amendment.
- Feb. 2: A restaurant owner in Akron, Ohio, scared off a masked man who attempted to rob him with a knife. The man fled, and police believe he successfully robbed a different restaurant just hours later.
- Feb. 5: A Nashville, Tennessee, woman was attacked from behind by a would-be purse thief, who proceeded to repeatedly slam the woman’s head into a wall when she resisted him. The woman’s husband heard her cries for help and came to her defense, firing his gun at the thief and causing him to flee.
- Feb. 9: When three armed men attempted to rob a Little Caesar’s restaurant in North Fort Myers, Florida, a patron inside pulled his own firearm to defend other customers. One suspect was shot and the other two fled.
- Feb. 12: A homeowner in Jackson County, Georgia, heard someone trying to break into her house through a window. She found a man standing outside and warned him not to come into the house. Nevertheless, the man broke the glass window, so the armed homeowner shot him.
- Feb. 13: Sullivan County (Tennessee) Sheriff Jeff Cassidy praised the actions of a concealed carry permit holder who ended a deadly domestic violence incident at a dentist’s office. The armed citizen shot and detained an active shooter who killed his wife and may have planned to harm others in the office.
- Feb. 14: An Evans, Georgia, mother shot and killed her boyfriend after he began violently assaulting the woman’s 15-year-old son during an argument.
- Feb. 16: Two masked assailants attempted to rob 35-year-old Antonio Santiago in Allentown, Pennsylvania, pepper spraying his face and “pistol whipping” him with a BB gun that appeared to be real. In an act of self-defense, Santiago grabbed his own handgun and fired at his attackers, killing one of them. Two other suspects fled, but were eventually arrested and tied to two other recent crimes in the area.
- Feb. 17: An armed Good Samaritan in Daytona Beach, Florida, intervened and fired a shot to stop a knife-wielding man, who had already stabbed someone, from stabbing other people outside a convenience store.
- Feb. 20: A 79-year-old Commerce, Georgia, homeowner called 911 to report a burglary in progress after she heard someone breaking into her home. The burglar ignored her threats and came in through an upstairs window before police could arrive. The homeowner shot at the burglar, who was so scared that he hid in a closet until the police arrived.
- Feb. 24: Three armed men ambushed a Houston, Texas, couple who were walking out of their apartment complex, forcing them back inside to rob them. The boyfriend retrieved his own firearm from within the apartment and exchanged fire with the three men, injuring one of them.
- Feb. 26: The Mobile County (Alabama) Sheriff’s Office posted a Facebook video showing an armed local homeowner’s recent encounter with two would-be burglars. The burglars attempted to enter the occupied home in broad daylight, and were only deterred when the homeowner fired her handgun at them.
- Feb. 27: A group of teenage thieves entered a pawn shop in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and tried to flee with two guns they grabbed from behind the counter. Armed store clerks chased the teens and held them at gunpoint until the police could arrive, preventing the future unlawful use of those stolen firearms. Police believe these teens are responsible for other gun thefts and may be able to take other illegally possessed guns off the streets as a result of these clerks’ actions.
- Feb. 28: Two men helped rescue a woman from a would-be kidnapper in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, after seeing her struggle to escape on the side of the road. After the two men stopped their car, one of them pulled out his handgun, prompting the suspect to flee. He was later apprehended and confessed to kidnapping the woman.
These individuals were all law-abiding citizens whose lives and livelihoods depended upon their ability to exercise their natural right of self-defense. Without a robustly protected right to keep and bear arms, the Americans in the cases above would have been left to the mercy of criminals who don’t much care for the rights of others.
Despite this reality, gun control activists and lawmakers have spent the last month pushing legislation that would severely hamper the ability of law-abiding Americans to defend themselves and others.
They have proposed effectively stripping young adults of their Second Amendment rights by raising the legal age for firearm purchases. Apparently, while law-abiding 18-to-20-year-olds are mature enough to vote, serve on juries, and be drafted into the military, they can’t be trusted to legally purchase a handgun with which to defend themselves and their families.
The bill for universal background checks, which recently passed through the House of Representatives, would compound this problem by depriving young adults of the ability to receive firearms via private transfers.
Gun control advocates have introduced bills that would limit magazine capacity for privately-owned firearms and that would prohibit future civilian purchases of semi-automatic rifles that serve as some of the most effective guns for home defense.
The irony is that, while civilians would be stripped of the right to immediately defend their lives and property with these guns, the law enforcement officers who respond—perhaps too late—to calls for help overwhelmingly choose those same firearms precisely because they are the most effective.
All of these proposals would significantly burden the exercise of a constitutional right that, as the data from February shows, is commonly used by average Americans to enforce their inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property.
We don’t make law-abiding citizens safer by disarming them or making them less capable of fighting back against criminals. We only make them easier targets.
The post New Cases of Armed Citizens Stopping Criminals in February appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Just over one year ago, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to repeal the network neutrality rules it adopted in 2015. However, the FCC regulation could make a comeback if House Democrats have their way.
Lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced legislation Thursday to restore the rule.
Sponsored by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., the three-page bill makes no attempt to modify or improve the 2015 rule. It simply declares that the 2017 order repealing net neutrality “shall have no force or effect.”
>>> Related: Debunking the Left’s Myths on Net Neutrality
Formally titled “the open internet order,” the FCC imposed the rule four years ago under its Democratic chairman, Tom Wheeler. But the political battle over net neutrality has gone on close to 17 years.
A Columbia University law professor, Tim Wu, coined the term “net neutrality” in 2002. Wu argued that because internet service providers such as Comcast and AT&T enjoy near-bottleneck control over the traffic going to web users, they should be prohibited from favoring any web content over another.
In other words, according to Wu, internet service providers should be required to treat content providers neutrally.
But regulation can make problems of its own. Today’s market for internet access is not perfectly competitive, but it is also clearly not a monopoly. Most Americans have the ability to choose from at least two service providers.
In addition, net neutrality would do nothing to increase the number of companies that compete in the market for access. In fact, it could make it harder for new entrants to compete effectively with existing market leaders.
That’s because one of the best ways to get a foothold in a market is to differentiate your service. For instance: T-Mobile, to differentiate itself in its struggle to compete with industry leaders AT&T and Verizon, pioneered “zero rating” pricing plans that allow free access to content from participating content providers without incurring a charge against your data cap.
T-Mobile’s free-data option has made wireless broadband available to millions at affordable rates. Zero-rating nevertheless has been condemned by many as a violation of net neutrality, and could be banned should Congress restore the rule.
Net neutrality is not needed to save the internet, but in fact could jeopardize it.
The FCC was right to reject net neutrality rules completely. Congress should do the same.
>>> Related: Time to End Net Neutrality Rules Once and for All
Anything the left can’t control, it aims to destroy.
From campaigns to abolish the Senate to the growing movement to upend the Electoral College after Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 presidential election, progressives have few qualms about getting rid of long-standing constitutional institutions.
Now they’re doubling down on their efforts to wage war on the Supreme Court.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that Democrats should consider court packing during an appearance at Yale, noting that he would try to add two seats if he were president.
Eric Holder said in an appearance at Yale today that Democrats should look at possibly packing the Supreme Court, per a spox. pic.twitter.com/60Q6Uq2pg7— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) March 7, 2019
The left has relied on the Supreme Court to solidify their policy gains over the past half-century in particular. Now they face the prospect of an originalist-leaning institution overturning some progressive precedents.
Left-wing groups are openly advocating that the next Democrat president pack the Supreme Court to expand the number of justices behind the now traditional nine.
Politico reported that one initiative, appropriately named “Pack the Courts,” is trying to get 2020 presidential candidates to sign onto a pledge to do just that.
“At Demand Justice, we strongly believe that reforming the court–especially by expanding it–is the cornerstone for rebuilding American democracy,” said Brian Fallon, director of Demand Justice and a former Hillary Clinton press secretary, according to Politico. “The Kavanaugh court is a partisan operation, and democracy simply cannot function when stolen courts operate as political shills. We are thrilled to work in coalition with the team at Pack the Courts to undo the politicization of the judiciary.”
Some Democrats, at least initially, have resisted the court-packing temptation.
2020 Watch: Likely Democratic presidential contender @RepSwalwell – asked in NH if he would consider 'packing' the #SupremeCourt if elected to the White House, tells @foxnewspolitics "I wouldn’t. I think nine is good number." #nhpolitics #FITN #2020Election #CApolitics pic.twitter.com/VcOF74sGPS— Paul Steinhauser (@steinhauserNH1) February 25, 2019
However, the left will exert enormous pressure on Democrats to buckle under the power of a left-wing base that is unconcerned about preserving institutions that they see as standing in the way of social justice.
This partisan attempt to pack the court under the guise of “reform” is nothing new. When Justice Anthony Kennedy–often seen as a swing vote on the high court–retired, some progressives immediately jumped in to make the case that it was time to use full-blown court packing once they return to power.
The fact that progressives made this argument before Justice Brett Kavanaugh even sat on the high court shows that there wasn’t really a deeper problem with “the Kavanaugh court” other than the fact that it now contained more originalists.
One has to imagine too that if President Donald Trump simply took the left’s advice and started carrying out his own court-packing, they would denounce him as a tyrant.
However, it’s far too much to expect intellectual consistency in this matter. The Supreme Court as traditionally constituted is a threat to the left’s ability to radically transform America.
It must be destroyed.
While this brazenly partisan attempt to blow up the Supreme Court has certainly been an uncommon phenomenon in recent political debates, it’s not entirely unprecedented.
The Constitution actually says nothing about the number of Supreme Court justices, who serve for life, or more specifically “during good behavior.”
In the early 19th century, the Supreme Court’s size changed a few times with little fanfare. In part due to the lesser capacity of the federal government in those days, the court wasn’t seen as powerful and important as it is today.
The high court settled into having nine justices in 1869, and has stayed that way ever since.
Only once was this number seriously challenged after that time. President Franklin Roosevelt infamously attempted court-packing in the 1930s.
When the Supreme Court struck down many of his cherished New Deal programs, FDR threatened to pack the court with new justices. Specifically, he requested that Congress allow him to appoint a new justice for every current justice over 70.
Roosevelt cited age and caseload as the reasons to carry out his plan. But as popular as FDR was in 1937, the country responded negatively.
The plan was met with fierce resistance. Democrats had almost unprecedented control of Congress, but many lawmakers recoiled at the idea of bludgeoning the Supreme Court and undermining its independence.
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Erwin Griswold, a professor at Harvard Law School, said dramatically in 1937, according to Smithsonian Magazine:
There are at least two ways of getting rid of judges. One is to take them out and shoot them, as they are reported to do in at least one other country. The other way is more genteel, but no less effective. They are kept on the public payroll but their votes are canceled.
Many Americans saw FDR’s move as a naked power grab, not unlike Thomas Jefferson’s attempt to impeach Federalist justices when he was president (which didn’t go well).
Almost paradoxically, these perceived partisan attacks on the court have served to strengthen its reputation in the American mind, for good or ill.
But can we be so sure that the country would be united in thwarting such a brazen scheme today?
Openly embracing socialism was once thought unthinkable in mainstream American politics, too.
For now, the movement to pack the court may just be a palliative to soothe the anger of the left-wing base. However, if these ideas ever came to fruition they would cause further damage to the notion that we live under a constitutional system that puts laws over men.
Sen. Burton Wheeler, a staunch Democrat ally of Roosevelt, gave perhaps the most succinct reason to oppose such a court-packing scheme in a 1937 speech:
Create now a political court to echo the ideas of the executive and you have created a weapon. A weapon which, in the hands of another president in times of war or other hysteria, could well be an instrument of destruction. A weapon that can cut down those guarantees of liberty written into your great document by the blood of your forefathers and that can extinguish your right of liberty, of speech, of thought, of action, and of religion. A weapon whose use is only dictated by the conscience of the wielder.
It’s certainly correct to worry about the power of the Supreme Court, which has become distended compared to the original intent of the Founding Fathers.
But taking a partisan ax to the way the court is structured won’t fix the problem.
The post The Left Is Doubling Down on Schemes to Pack the Supreme Court appeared first on The Daily Signal.
On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employers added 20,000 jobs in February, falling well below expert predictions that estimated 180,000 jobs added.
While this number can and should be higher, the report also reflects that the job market in general is still strong; posting 101 consecutive months of job creation, showing a steady increase of wages for Americans.
More Americans are employed than ever before.
The report showed that the unemployment rate fell from 4 percent in January to 3.8 percent in February, and the labor force participation rate was essentially unchanged. In addition, the U-6 unemployment number, which measured both discouraged workers who aren’t currently looking for work as well as those holding jobs part time for economic reasons, fell to a five-month low from 8.1 percent to 7.3 percent.
This signals that those who want to find job, can easily find one. In addition, upward revisions from December and January added 12,000 jobs to the workforce.
Among the major worker groups: The unemployment rates for adult men (3.5 percent), whites (3.3percent), and Hispanics (4.3 percent) decreased in February. The jobless rates for adult women (3.4 percent), teenagers (13.4 percent), and Asians (3.1 percent) showed little or no change over the month.
While African-American unemployment did increase slightly, climbing from 6.8 percent in January to 7 percent in February, the unemployment rate for disabled Americans dropped to a low of 8 percent in 2018.
Digging deeper into the jobs numbers: We saw gains in professional and business services (+42,000), health care (+21,000 jobs), wholesale trade (+11,000), and manufacturing (+4,000). We did, however, see losses in construction (-31,000 jobs) and mining (-5,000 jobs).
One of the more positive aspects of the report showed the continuation of a steady increase in wages, as average hourly earnings for all employees rose by 11 cents to $27.66. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.4 percent—far outpacing the rate of inflation, and continuing to show that employers are serious about filling the now 7.3 million open jobs in America.
But we can do better, and policy matters.
Manufacturers, farmers, and business owners all around the country are trying to plan for the future, and it’s difficult to do that when uncertainty exists. The president and Congress were right to lower taxes and reduce regulation for all Americans.
However, imposing new taxes in the form of tariffs is throwing cold water on the fire.
In addition, any boost tax cuts and regulatory reform given to the economy continues to be gobbled up by out-of-control spending by the federal government—driven by both sides of the aisle.
The jobs report is just one of many signals of the health of our economy.
While the total number of jobs created in February was lower than predicted, the economy continues to show many signs that we are headed in the right direction.
It’s time for both sides of the aisle to come together and enact policy that will ensure this month is an outlier.
The post February Jobs Report Underwhelms, but Economy Remains Strong appeared first on The Daily Signal.