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Dear Gillette: Ads About ‘Toxic Masculinity’ Won’t Get Men to Buy Your Blades, or Be Better Men

5 hours 9 min ago

For some reason, one of the world’s largest razor companies decided to air a commercial chastising “toxic masculinity.”

Gillette’s commercial, which debuted on Sunday, begins with the flimsy premise that traditional masculine culture promotes unrestrained violence and sexual urges, while other men condone it by shrugging and saying, “Boys will be boys.”

The commercial’s solution is to quote journalists and celebrities scolding men to fix themselves—somewhat ironic, given the fact that the most egregious #MeToo stories have come from journalists and celebrities.

The message is that by curbing traditional masculinity—and, um, by not being jerks—men can somehow become “the best that a man can be.”

That’s hardly a bad message, but doesn’t it seem a bit hollow and even obnoxious?

The commercial concludes: “The boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.”

This all seems like a strange message for a razor blade company to be sending, but an Axios report may shed some light on why Gillette has suddenly taken the path of corporate virtue signaling.

“Gillette’s share of the U.S. men’s razor business fell to 54 percent in 2016, from 70 percent in 2010,” according to Axios. “Most of the market share has shifted to Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s, etc., according to the [Interactive Advertising Bureau’s] latest brand economy study.”

It’s hard to say what the Gillette commercial has to do with shaving, but it does follow the trend of companies using lame, ham-handed virtue signals—like Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad from last September—to boost sales with certain demographics, while hoping that the loss of others won’t hurt their bottom line.

Yet one wonders exactly who Gillette is trying to appeal to. Loyal Gillette customers are now boycotting the company left and right.

I've used @Gillette razors my entire adult life but this absurd virtue-signalling PC guff may drive me away to a company less eager to fuel the current pathetic global assault on masculinity.
Let boys be damn boys.
Let men be damn men. https://t.co/Hm66OD5lA4

— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 14, 2019

I’ve been shaving since I was 12, since the beginning I used Gillette because that’s what my father used, now I will never use it again, and neither will my father, collectively been your customers for 50+ years never again #BoycottGillette #Gillette

— Ary (@ary31574363) January 15, 2019

@Gillette has made it clear they do not want the business of masculine men.

I will grant their wish.

I have used #Gillette razors since they sent me a free sample on my 18th birthday, and will no longer buy any of their products.

— Rule The Wasteland (@MongoAggression) January 14, 2019

And competitor brands like Dollar Shave Club cleverly trolled Gillette in response.

Welcome to the Club.

— Dollar Shave Club (@DollarShaveClub) January 14, 2019

As a consumer of disposable razors, the only factor going through my mind when I make a purchase is the price compared to the quality of the blade. That’s what many, if not most men are considering.

If anything, Gillette’s attempt to rope in the #MeToo movement to boost sales looks to be having the opposite effect.

But are feminist progressives more likely to buy Gillette products after this?

That doesn’t seem very likely.

Masculinity Isn’t the Problem

As for the larger cultural debate, it’s silly to portray masculinity as mere fighting, bullying, and chauvinism that can only be cured by feminist harping. That sets up a straw man that doesn’t comport with reality.

Yes, masculinity is prone to its own pathologies, but that doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as true, good masculinity that is worth preserving.

If anything, the rise of destructive male traits are the result of the fact that we’ve jettisoned traditional ideas of masculinity and femininity in favor of the view that all genders are essentially the same, and that the unrestrained life of defining yourself however you like will lead to happiness and prosperity.

It’s folly to think we can now simply tell men not to do “bad things” and hope it will all work out, given that we are losing a frame of reference for what a good man can be.

Liberal America no longer celebrates or even acknowledges “manly virtues,” such as strength, devotion to duty and family, integrity, and self-reliance. To call them such has become a stigma.

Having abolished any objective view of male and female, we are left with a furious castigation rather than understanding, and sanctimonious commercial campaigns to make people feel good and buy grooming products rather than seriously grappling with what ails us.

Even the American Psychological Association has come out against “traditional masculinity,” which it described as “a particular constellation of standards that have held sway over large segments of the population, including: anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence.”

This is an absurd definition, though I’d say we are all better off for the sense of “adventure” and “risk” that put a man on the moon. I’m also thankful for the “violence” that led to the end of slavery and the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Recovering Virtuous Manhood

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro noted that when the American Psychological Association comes out against masculinity, it is actually undermining the ways human society has channeled common male traits into something positive by treating them as merely malignant.

“If you want to raise a generation of men who will treat women well, act as protectors rather than victimizers, and become the bedrock for a stable society, you need more masculinity, not less,” Shapiro wrote.

This is correct.

Instead of denying or trivializing our natures as artificial constructs, we have to get both men and women to understand themselves as they are, then create a culture that fosters their strengths while diminishing their weaknesses.

This is a tall order for an American culture increasingly in denial that gender distinctions exist, or that if they do, they are simply a matter of choice.

We should take cues from our Constitution, which was premised on the belief that men are neither beasts nor angels. Instead, we are prone to vice, but capable of great virtue if we are trained in moderation.

After all, ambition and risk-taking can lead a man to become a Napoleon, but also a George Washington. The problem isn’t the ambition and risk-taking nature, but the way it is shaped.

Our culture should look to recapture this vision of the moderate man. Embrace the realities of masculinity and femininity, but tame them. Channel them into something productive rather than engaging in the fool’s errand of trying to stamp out nature itself.

No amount of hectoring will fix the problem of “toxic masculinity.” If anything, it will exacerbate it by ignoring the root problem and provoking men to reactionary forms of masculinity.

Yes, boys will be boys, but we no longer expect boys to become men as we once did, nor are we fostering the traits that would allow them to do so.

We are sacrificing our Washingtons in the hope of abolishing the Napoleons.

If our virtue-signaling establishment were serious about helping men become Washingtons and not Napoleons, they’d start by acknowledging the goodness inherent to masculinity. And they’d produce fewer Harvey Weinsteins and Matt Lauers.

Finger-wagging commercials don’t help much at all.

The post Dear Gillette: Ads About ‘Toxic Masculinity’ Won’t Get Men to Buy Your Blades, or Be Better Men appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

7 Big Takeaways From William Barr’s AG Confirmation Hearing

5 hours 29 min ago

William Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee he wouldn’t be intimidated by anyone, including President Donald Trump, who nominated him to serve as attorney general.

“I am not going to do anything that I think is wrong, and I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong. By anybody. Whether it be editorial boards, or Congress, or the president,” Barr said Tuesday in response to questions by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

“I’m going to do what I think is right,” he said.

Barr testified all day before the Senate committee, talking about issues ranging from abortion and the First Amendment to Hillary Clinton and the controversial Uranium One deal.

Here are seven big takeaways from the first of two days of confirmation hearings for Barr.

1. ‘You’re Crazy’: On Independence

Much of the questioning from senators revolved around special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and Moscow’s potential ties to the Trump campaign.

Barr’s general assertion of independence, however, could affect more issues if he is confirmed, as expected.

Having served already as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush from November 1991 through January 1993 allows him to be more independent, Barr said.

“Over the years, a lot of people–some politicians–have called me up saying, ‘You know, I think I’m going for the attorney general position in this administration,’” Barr told senators.

Barr continued: “And I say, ‘You’re crazy, because if you view yourself as having a political future down the road, don’t take the job. If you take this job, you have to be ready to make decisions and spend all your political capital, and have no future because you have to have that freedom of action.’”

At age 68, Barr said, this sets him apart as ready to lead the Justice Department.

“I’m in a position in life where I can do the right thing and not really care about the consequences, in the sense that I can truly be independent,” Barr said.

Trump ousted his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, after expressing frustrations for months that Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe and didn’t prevent or rein it in.

“President Trump has sought no assurances, promises, or commitments from me of any kind, either expressed or implied, and I have not given him any, other than that I would run the department with professionalism and integrity,” Barr said. “My allegiance will be to the rule of law, the Constitution, and the American people.”

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked Barr: “Do you believe Attorney General Sessions had a conflict because he worked on the Trump campaign?”

“I think he probably did the right thing recusing himself,” Barr replied.

Democratic lawmakers threw hypothetical questions his way, and in most cases Bar answered.

The top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, asked: “If the president orders the attorney general to halt a criminal investigation for personal reasons, would that be prohibited?”

Barr was not ambiguous.

“I think it would be a breach of the president’s duties to faithfully execute the law,” Barr said.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked: “Do you believe a president could lawfully issue a pardon in exchange for the recipient’s promise to not incriminate him?”

Barr asserted, “No. That would be a crime.”

Trump’s nominee added: “If a president attempts to intervene in a matter that he has a stake in to protect himself, that should first be looked at as a breach of his constitutional duties.”

2. No ‘Witch Hunt’ by Mueller 

Barr put some distance between himself and the president on one major issue–Mueller’s investigation. Trump repeatedly has called the Russia probe a “hoax” and a “witch hunt.”

Graham: “Do you believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt against anybody?”

Barr: “I don’t believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt. … On my watch, Bob will be allowed to finish his work.”

At one point, Barr said he and his wife are “good friends” with Mueller and his wife.

Graham and Feinstein both asked whether Mueller’s final report will be made available to the public.

“I am going to make as much information available as I can, consistent with the rules and regulations that are part of the special counsel regulations,” Barr said.

In response to a question from Leahy about whether the White House could “correct” the report before its public release, Barr said, “That will not happen.”

Feinstein: “Have you discussed the Mueller investigation with the president or anyone else in the White House?”

Barr: “I discussed the Mueller investigation, but not in any particular substance.”

Feinstein: “Will you commit to ensuring that special counsel Mueller is not terminated without good cause consistent with department regulations?”

Barr: “Absolutely.”

However, the nominee for attorney general stressed to committee Democrats that he would not pledge to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation or to follow the recommendations of the Justice Department’s career ethics officials if they say he should recuse himself.

“I am not going to surrender the responsibilities I have,” Barr said, adding:

You would not like it if I made some pledge to the president of the United States that I was going to exercise my responsibilities in a particular way, and I’m not going to make a pledge to anyone on this committee.

Senators also raised Barr’s unsolicited June 2018 memo to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller as special counsel and oversaw his Russia probe after Sessions recused himself.

Barr’s memo questioned Mueller’s investigation of a specific instance of alleged obstruction of justice.

The special counsel reportedly was examining Trump’s firing of James Comey as FBI director in May 2017 and his telling Comey earlier that he hoped the FBI director wouldn’t pursue a case against Michael Flynn, his short-lived national security adviser.

Barr explained that his memo was “narrow, explaining my thinking on a specific obstruction of justice theory under a single statute that I thought the special counsel might be considering.”

“The memo did not address or in any other way question the special counsel’s core investigation into Russian efforts to interfere in the election,” Barr said.

Graham asked about a Jan. 11 report in The New York Times that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation after Comey’s firing to determine whether Trump was an agent of the Russian government.

“Would you promise me and this committee to look into this and tell us whether or not it was opened?” Graham asked.

Barr said he would do so.

Graham followed up by talking about text messages exchanged between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page during the 2016 race for president.

Barr said he would “look into what happened with 2016” and that he was “shocked” by texts between Strzok and Page in which they talked about working to prevent Trump from getting elected and an “insurance policy” in case he was elected.

3. Border Security and a Barrier

Senators also addressed the ongoing partial shutdown of the government, affecting 25 percent of federal agencies, over the lack of funding sought by Trump for a border wall.

Barr voiced support for a physical barrier along the southern border, which is opposed by Democrats and championed by Trump.

“It is a critical part of border security that we need to have barriers on the border,” Barr said. “We need a barrier system on the border to get control.”

He said he wants an end to the partial government shutdown.

“I would like to see a deal reached whereby Congress recognizes that it’s imperative to have border security, and that part of that border security is barriers.”

On the issue of Trump’s unilaterally building a wall, possibly after declaring a national emergency, Barr was noncommittal.

“There are monies that the president may have power to shift because of statutory authority,” he said.

4. First Amendment and Avoiding Violence

Barr fielded questions about freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press.

The Justice Department is at the end of a process of reviewing its policy toward subpoenaing information from the news media, a senior administration official confirmed to The Daily Signal.

That review pertains to how much advance notice would be provided to a news organization before the government pursued information.

The Hill’s John Solomon first reported Monday that the Justice Department is considering the policy, citing an unnamed source.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., noting that her father was a reporter asked: “Will the Justice Department jail journalists for doing their jobs?”

Barr did not discuss specifics of the review.

“I can conceive of places where, as a last resort and a news organization has run through a red flag, there could be a situation as to whether someone could be held in contempt,” Barr said of reporters.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, asked first about free speech amid controversies over suppression of free speech on college campuses across the country. Sessions pointedly spoke out against such incidents.

“Free speech is at the core of our system because we believe in democratic process and power shifting through elections,” Barr said.

He added that free speech prevents disputes from being settled by other means.

“Another important role of free speech is allowing people to disagree without resorting to violence,” Barr said. “When speech is suppressed, pressure can build up and result in violence.”

Cruz followed up by asking about religious freedom, the subject of some recent Supreme Court cases.

“The framers believed our system only works if people are in a position to control themselves. Part of that self-control comes from religious values,” Barr said.

“I believe in the separation of church and state, but I am sometimes concerned that we not use governmental power to suppress the freedoms of traditional religious communities in our country.”

5. Roe v. Wade: ‘Would You Defend It?’ 

During his Senate confirmation hearing in 1991, Barr said he opposed the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973 that legalized abortion across the nation, taking the issue away from the states.

At the time, Democrats such as then-Judiciary Chairman Joe Biden, D-Del., who went on to become vice president, praised Barr for his honesty on the issue.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., asked Tuesday: “You said you believe Roe v Wade should be overruled. Do you still believe it?

Barr: “I said in 1991 [that] as an original matter it was wrongly decided.”

“I don’t see it” being overturned, he added, because recent confirmed justices to the high court made it clear that the decision was established precedent.

Blumenthal asked: “Would you defend it if challenged?”

Barr wasn’t entirely clear in his response.

“Would I defend Roe v. Wade? Usually the way this would come up would be a state regulation,” he said. “I would hope the solicitor general would make whatever arguments are necessary to address that.”

Abortion rights groups such as Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, and NARAL Pro-Choice America sent letters to the committee opposing Barr’s nomination.

6. On ‘Pursuing’ Uranium One 

Leahy brought up the Uranium One scandal, which, The New York Times reported in 2017, Barr thought the Justice Department should investigate.

“Just about everybody has debunked the Uranium One controversy. I think probably the nail in the coffin was President Trump’s biggest supporter, Fox News, debunked it. Am I missing something here?” Leahy asked.

The Times, in 2017, quoted the nominee as saying: “Although an investigation shouldn’t be launched just because a president wants it, the ultimate question is whether the matter warrants investigation. To the extent it is not pursuing these matters, the department is abdicating its responsibility.”

“Barr said he sees more basis for investigating the uranium deal than any supposed collusion between Mr. Trump and Russia,” the Times reported.

Barr, in response to Leahy, challenged the reporting by the Times. He also said that he understood that U.S. Attorney Jon Huber, of Utah, is investigating the matter as part of a larger review of Justice Department conduct.

“You’ll notice there were no quotes around that,” Barr said of the Times paraphrase, adding:

My recollection of that, I think it was relating to a letter and the appointment of Huber in Utah to look into a number of things. The point I was trying to make there was that whatever the standard is for launching an investigation, it should be dealt with evenhandedly. Whatever that trigger is should be applied to all. I have no knowledge of the Uranium One [deal]. I didn’t particularly think that was something that should be pursued aggressively.

The mining company Uranium One contributed $2.4 million to the Clinton Foundation during Clinton’s four-year tenure as secretary of state under President Barack Obama, the Times reported in 2015.

Figures associated with Uranium One also paid $500,000 to former President Bill Clinton to speak in Moscow. In a 2010 deal approved by a government committee including Hillary Clinton and eight other members of Obama’s Cabinet, a Kremlin-connected entity obtained 20 percent of America’s uranium production by acquiring Uranium One from a Canadian company.

7. Enforcing Prison Reform

During his first tenure as attorney general, Barr supported strict mandatory sentencing and since that time has opposed some proposals for criminal justice reform.

The American Civil Liberties Union cited this record in opposing his nomination.

Trump recently signed prison reform legislation, passed on a bipartisan basis, known as the First Step Act.

The new law allows inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes, if they complete certain education and training programs, to earn credits toward serving more of their sentences in supervision outside prison, in a halfway house, or in home confinement.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the senior Republican on the committee, asked Barr whether he would support implementation of the law, despite his past advocacy.

“Even though you’ve opposed criminal justice reform in the past, will you commit to implementing the First Step Act?” Grassley asked.

Barr said he would, but stressed that circumstances at the time of his past policy view were not comparable to the present.

“In 1992, when I was attorney general, violent crime rates were the highest in American history,” Barr said. “The sentences were extremely short. Typically, in many states, the time served for rape was three years, for murder, the time served was seven years.”

Barr continued:

The system had broken down. I think through a series of administrations—Reagan, Bush, Clinton—the laws were changed, and we targeted chronic violent offenders—especially those using guns. And I think the reason the crime rate is much lower today is because of those policies.

I don’t think comparing the policies that were in effect in 1992 to the situation now is really fair. And I’ve said, right now, we have greater regularity in sentencing. There’s broader recognition that chronic violent offenders should be incarcerated for significant periods of time to keep them off the streets. And I think the time was right to take stock and make changes to our penal system based on current experience. I have no problem with the approach of reforming the sentencing structure. And I will faithfully enforce that law.

The post 7 Big Takeaways From William Barr’s AG Confirmation Hearing appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

The Left, the Wall, and the Truth

5 hours 35 min ago

Democrats and others on the left offer three reasons for their opposition to building a wall on America’s southern border.

  1. A wall is ineffective.
  2. A wall is too expensive.
  3. A wall is immoral.

Each one is false, so false as to constitute lies. So, the only question is: Do Democrats and others on the left believe these lies?

This question has plagued me all my life. Leftism is built on lies—and has been since Lenin. That’s why he named the Communist Party’s lying newspaper “Pravda” (“truth”).

Did my left-wing professors at Columbia University really believe the United States and the Soviet Union were equally responsible for the Cold War? Did they really believe one of the most genocidal regimes in history—which butchered tens of millions its own people, starved as many as 4 million Ukrainians, enslaved seven Eastern European countries under totalitarian rule, and created the monstrous North Korean communist regime—was no more responsible for the Cold War than the United States, the freest country in human history?

Did my left-wing professors really believe men and women are the same except for body parts? And do today’s leftists really believe human beings with double X chromosomes, a vagina, a uterus, ovaries, menstrual periods, and lactating breasts are not necessarily female?

Do leftists really believe American universities constitute “rape cultures”? If so, why does any left-wing parent send his or her child to college? Would you send your daughter to a place you believe is permeated by rape?

Do leftists really believe that the statement “There is only one race: the human race” is a racist statement? That is the official position of the University of California.

Do leftists really believe that virtually every criticism of former President Barack Obama emanated from racism, that all opposition to lowering college admission standards for blacks is racist, that all attacks on George Soros are anti-Semitic?

If leftists believe any of the above, let alone all of it, they are deluded people. And the existence of tens of millions of deluded people in a society can only portend catastrophe.

If leftists do not believe those claims, they are not deluded; they lie for effect and, therefore, engage in evil. The existence of tens of millions of people consciously committed to lying means society has little hope.

Now to the wall.

Do leftists believe the country cannot afford $5.7 billion? As the Democrats have approved $1.3 billion for border security, the difference is about one-tenth of 1 percent of U.S. federal spending ($4.5 trillion).

Democrats and the rest of the left make this argument. Yet they are the very people who, for more than half a century, have successfully pushed for unprecedented expansion of government spending; the very people who are overwhelmingly responsible for local, state, and federal government debts of such magnitude that they cannot be paid without massive decreases in spending and the likely social disruption they entail.

It is not possible these people believe America cannot afford to pay for a wall. They are, therefore, lying when they claim the price tag is too high.

California Democrats have allocated some $77 billion to pay for a high-speed train between San Francisco and Los Angeles that will be ready in 2033 at the earliest. It will undoubtedly rise to more than a hundred billion dollars. And, thanks to the left and the Democrats, California is spending this money despite being an estimated $2 trillion in debt (between debt and pensions).

The left says a wall (or steel barrier) would be “ineffective” at preventing illegal immigration. We know it doesn’t believe this, because just five years ago, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., supported a bill that required the construction of 700 miles of border fencing. And Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was one among the “Gang of Eight” Republicans and Democrats who also supported 700 miles of fencing at the border. Every Senate Democrat voted for the Gang of Eight bill, including 36 Democrats who serve in the Senate today.

Do Schumer and Pelosi and all these other Democrats regard fencing as effective, but a wall as ineffective? Do Democrats deny that Israel’s barrier has virtually ended Palestinian terrorism? Do they believe Turkey’s just-built 500-mile wall across nearly its entire border with Syria will be ineffective? Do they know about the effective walls/barriers between the Turkish- and Greek-controlled areas in Cyprus; between Hungary and Serbia and Croatia; Morocco and Algeria; India and Pakistan; and elsewhere?

As for the Democrats and others on the left declaring a wall “immoral,” it is difficult to know which is preferable: that they are living in delusion or lying. On what grounds is it “immoral”? They never say.

Is there a Democrat or leftist who regards walls or other physical barriers surrounding homes or communities as immoral? One doubts it. For one thing, many of them live behind a physical barrier. So, then, why isn’t a physical barrier that protects America equally moral? The only possible answers are that these people don’t really regard America as their home or they are lying about a wall being immoral.

So why all the lies?

Because lies are effective in achieving left-wing goals. There are people in every political, social, and religious group who lie. And there are people within every one of those groups who are truth tellers. But—and this is a “but” whose significance cannot be overstated—while truth is a liberal value and truth is a conservative value, truth has never been a leftist value. For the left, there is always something more important.

In this case, it is the humiliation of the president of the United States.


The post The Left, the Wall, and the Truth appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Majority of Americans Say Abortion Should Be Restricted, New Poll Finds

5 hours 45 min ago

A poll released Tuesday just ahead of the 46th March for Life demonstration in Washington, D.C, shows the majority of Americans support tighter restrictions on abortion, and would even like to see the landmark Roe v. Wade decision “reinterpreted” to allow more restrictions.

The annual survey conducted by Marist in partnership with the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, reveals that three-quarters of Americans oppose taxpayer funding for abortion abroad, even though 55 percent of Americans polled identify as pro-choice.

Additionally, 75 percent of Americans—including those who identify as Republican (92 percent), Democrat (60 percent), and independent (78 percent)—said abortion should be limited to the first three months of pregnancy.

“As in past years, this poll shows that the pro-choice label on the abortion issue is simply insufficient,” said Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson in a statement.

“The majority of Americans—in both parties—support legal restrictions on abortion,” Anderson added. “Two-thirds of Americans want Roe revisited to allow for state regulation of abortion or to ban it altogether. The majority of the American people deserve to have their opinions heard.”

Now in its 11th year, the poll, which randomly selected and surveyed 1,066 American adults about their opinion exclusively on abortion, found that 83 percent of Americans agree that laws can protect both the health and well-being of a woman and the life of the unborn.

“The abortion landscape in terms of where Americans are is substantially different from what you might glean from the way the debate sometimes plays out in terms of an all-or-nothing scenario,” said Andrew Walther, vice president of communications and strategic planning at the Knights of Columbus.

Additionally, the findings show that between 2008 and 2019 the percent of Americans who identify as pro-life and pro-choice bounced between 40 and 60 percent. For this reason, said Marist Poll Director Barbara Carvalho on a call with reporters, the terms surrounding the debate mischaracterize and oversimplify Americans’ opinions on abortion.

With 3 in 4 Americans in support of substantial restrictions on abortion, “the American public is more in line with the March for Life than the Women’s March regarding abortion,” Carvalho added.

The Women’s March is schedule for Jan. 19, immediately following the March for Life.

The post Majority of Americans Say Abortion Should Be Restricted, New Poll Finds appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Trump Touts Low Veteran Unemployment Numbers

10 hours 33 min ago

President Donald Trump celebrated low unemployment numbers for veterans Tuesday on Twitter while simultaneously taking a jab at the media.

“Just announced that Veterans unemployment has reached an 18 year low, really good news for our Vets and their families,” Trump wrote. “Will soon be an all time low!”

The president appears to be referencing recent media reports, including one from the Military Times, which cites data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and claims that “unemployment among post-9/11 veterans is the lowest it’s ever been.”

The unemployment rate for all generations of veterans fell to 3.5 percent in 2018, according to a Jan. 4 press release from the Department of Labor, which is down from 3.7 percent in 2017 and reflects the lowest annual average unemployment rate for veterans since 2000.

December 2018 saw an even lower unemployment rate of 3.2 percent. 

Just announced that Veterans unemployment has reached an 18 year low, really good news for our Vets and their families. Will soon be an all time low! Do you think the media will report on this and all of the other great economic news?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 15, 2019

Trump also took the chance to question whether the media would report on the numbers, given that it’s “good news.”

“Do you think the media will report on this and all of the other great economic news?” Trump asked.

Trump subsequently cheered that Volkswagen will be spending $800 million to expand a factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“They will be making Electric Cars. Congratulations to Chattanooga and Tennessee on a job well done. A big win!”

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

The post Trump Touts Low Veteran Unemployment Numbers appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

EPA’s Andrew Wheeler to Face Tough Congressional Confirmation Hearing

11 hours 3 min ago

Environmental Protection Agency acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the agency, is preparing for what could be the toughest congressional hearing of his life Wednesday.

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold Wheeler’s confirmation hearing as Democrats and environmentalists push for a delay.

Committee Democrats tried to derail Wheeler’s hearing by calling into question his use of political and career staff to help him prepare for his confirmation hearing. Democrats suggested Wheeler’s use of EPA officials for hearing preparation may violate the Antideficiency Act.

In a letter sent Friday to the EPA, Democrats also said Wheeler’s preparation during the shutdown “is diverting resources that are intended to be used to ‘protect life and property’ to prepare you for your confirmation hearing,” alleging even more dire consequences to public health.

The Antideficiency Act prohibits executive branch agencies from spending money or incurring obligations outside those provided by Congress or federal law.

Both EPA and the White House Office of Management and Budget said the EPA staff helping Wheeler prepare for his confirmation hearing were “excepted” from furlough, meaning their participation is legal.

“EPA has excepted a limited number of employees to prepare the Acting Administrator for the hearing on January 16th,” said EPA General Counsel Matt Leopold in a statement, The Hill reported.

Also on Friday, prominent environmental activists called on the Senate to delay Wheeler’s confirmation hearing while the federal government is shut down.

“It is profoundly unfair for Mr. Wheeler to audition for a promotion to lead an agency while the entire agency workforce is locked out and denied their paychecks, making it difficult to pay their bills and mortgages and provide for their families,” prominent liberals, including John Podesta, former Hillary Clinton campaign chair, wrote in a letter to Senate leadership.

The Sierra Club, whose executive director Michael Brune signed the letter with Podesta, hopes to dig up more dirt on Wheeler as the Senate considers his confirmation.

The group won a federal court victory in early January ordering EPA to release 20,000 emails between industry groups and more than two dozen Trump administration officials, including Wheeler, within 10 months.

Wheeler began serving as EPA’s acting administrator in July after former Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned amid a flurry of ethics allegations.

Critics have pointed to Wheeler’s lobbying work for Murray Energy, a coal company whose founder donated $300,000 to Trump’s inauguration in 2017.

Wheeler’s supporters say Democrats and environmentalists don’t want to see him head the EPA because he’s a Washington, D.C., insider and experienced attorney who can effectively implement Trump’s agenda.

“He understands how the regulatory process works and the type of effort that is required to develop effective and legally defensible regulatory reforms,” said Jeff Holmstead, a former George W. Bush administration EPA official who is now a partner at Bracewell LLP.

Wheeler can expect a tough grilling before Congress, but is likely to be confirmed since Republicans increased their Senate majority in the 2018 midterm elections. Wheeler may even peel away a Democrat or two, including West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

“Although the Democrats don’t always agree with him, they like and respect him, and I am confident that he will be confirmed,” Holmstead said in an emailed statement.

Even so, Wheeler should not expect any support from Democrats on the committee. Its ranking Democrat, Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, was critical of Wheeler’s handling of the EPA since July.

“I’ve been very disappointed in acting administrator Wheeler’s performance with regard to making progress on those issues and to charting a new course for the agency’s future,” Carper said in a statement.

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Categories: Public Policy

Most Young Adults Disagree With Democrats on Abortion

11 hours 30 min ago

The Democrats’ national platform doesn’t just lack common decency when it comes to unborn life—it lacks common ground. For the last three years, the party of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton has been fighting to do away with consensus limits on abortion—and based on the latest polling, that isn’t exactly endearing them to voters.

In 2016, the Democratic National Committee decided to take Democrats where no party had gone before. Clinton’s radical call to repeal the Hyde Amendment, the only thing standing between taxpayers and government-funded abortion, wasn’t just unpopular with Democratic leaders like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois, but Americans, too. She went on to lose the election, and a lot of pundits—including The Washington Post’s—think her extreme social views were a big reason why.

The DNC didn’t listen to Americans then, but if it cares about the millennial vote, it may want to listen now. Most people—the media included—assume the under-34 crowd is in the left’s back pocket. But a new survey from Students for Life of America shows what a mistake that assumption has been.

On abortion, the DNC is turning out to be its own worst enemy. Not only are millennials one of the larger voting blocs in America, they’re also one of the most cautious when it comes to taking human life. In a poll that should scare the daylights out of the Democratic Party, only 7 percent of the 18-34 crowd agree with the DNC’s national platform on abortion—which is no legal limits and funded by taxpayer dollars.

Another 7 in 10 support restrictions on abortion, with 42 percent opposing abortion “broadly.” That’ll come as a shock to the Democrats’ system, which is betting most of its credibility on a surprisingly pro-life age group.

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life, thinks this poll ought to be a wake-up call to any liberal taking the millennial vote for granted. Obviously, she said, “labels like pro-life, pro-choice, access, health, or women’s rights often camouflage the true realities of the policies that today crisscross the country.” Just because some young people call themselves “pro-choice” doesn’t mean they’re anti-regulation.

That’s especially bad news for liberals, who’ve spent the better part of a decade fighting commonsense restrictions on abortion. Now, caught in an incredibly shrinking tent, Democrats might be forced to reconsider their opposition to things like parental notification or the pain-capable abortion ban. Of course, that much has been clear for a while.

According to the Marist poll, people of every age think abortion does more harm than good. “Seventy-four percent of Americans—including 54 percent who identify as ‘pro-choice’—are in favor of ‘significant restrictions’ on abortion.” And that crosses every racial, gender, and political line.

Young people also had a surprisingly unfavorable view of Planned Parenthood. “By about a 3 to 1 margin (48 percent to 17 percent), millennials said they preferred that their tax monies went to Federally Qualified Health Centers rather than the abortion giant, Planned Parenthood.”

Democrats are losing their grip on this demographic—and soon. If there is a future for the party, one thing’s for sure: they’d better rethink their abortion platform.

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

The post Most Young Adults Disagree With Democrats on Abortion appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Memo to Liberals: Higher Taxes Have Already Been Tried

12 hours 27 min ago

When you receive your paycheck and look at the withholding for federal, state, and sometimes city taxes, along with Social Security and Medicare, you probably don’t think you’re underpaying governments and want them to take more.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio believes that if you have played by what used to be called “the rules” and are making a decent living, taking care of yourself and your family, and not relying on government, your taxes should be increased.

In his State of the City address last week, de Blasio said, “…brothers and sisters, there’s plenty of money in the world. There’s plenty of money in this city. It’s just in the wrong hands.” He continued:

You haven’t been paid what you deserve for all the hard work. You haven’t been given the time you deserve. You’re not living the life you deserve. And here is the cold, hard truth: It’s no accident. It’s an agenda.

He blamed presidential administrations from Reagan to Trump.

The mayor ignores the tax cuts and in some cases spending reductions that have fueled an economic boom, producing more wealth for individuals and more revenue for governments.

The mayor is not alone in promoting unvarnished liberalism, which the many on the left have tried to mask behind the “progressive” euphemism.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., suggests we institute a 70 percent tax rate on the wealthy. Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio and Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary, who just announced he is running for president, has resurrected the “fair share” lingo of past Democrats. In an interview with ABC News, Castro seemed nostalgic for a time when the top marginal tax rate was 90 percent.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who has formed a presidential exploratory committee, hasn’t said what top tax rate she favors, but she told CNBC last July that “Ninety percent sounds pretty shockingly high.” Why, because it would stifle incentive? What about 80 percent? Why not confiscate all private-sector money and let the government decide how much each of us should be allowed to have? Wouldn’t pure socialism be a dream come true for the far left?

It’s not that higher taxes and more government spending hasn’t been tried. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, a series of U.S. programs charged with totally eliminating poverty and racial injustice in the country, is but one example. Johnson failed to achieve his goal of wiping out poverty because his social programs began in Washington, not in individual hearts and minds.

The Wall Street Journal recently carried a column about Sweden’s experience with socialism. It was written by Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde, a professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania, and Lee E. Ohanian, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor of economics at UCLA. The authors noted:

Until the mid-20th century, Sweden pursued highly competitive market-based policies. By 1970 Sweden achieved the world’s fourth-highest per capita income. Then increasingly radical Social Democratic governments raised taxes, spending and regulation much more than any other Western European country. Economic performance sputtered. By the early 1990s, Sweden’s per capita income ranking had dropped to 14th. Economic growth from 1970 to the early 1990s was roughly 1 percentage point lower than in Europe and 2 points lower than in the U.S.

In 1991, they write, a market-oriented government assumed power and instituted major reforms. As a result, the country is now “richer than all of the major EU countries and is within 15 percent of U.S. per capita GDP. While Sweden still has a larger government than the U.S., its tax code is flatter. The progressivity of the U.S. tax code distorts incentives.”


Sweden’s experience with socialism has a lesson for Americans and especially millennials, a majority of whom favor socialism over capitalism, according to a 2016 Harvard University survey. Maybe they should take a closer look at their pay stubs and ask themselves whether they would be OK with handing over more of their net pay to federal, state, and local governments that irresponsibly and unnecessarily spend their money on programs that don’t work.

2019 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Categories: Public Policy

Podcast: Reaching Minority Students

20 hours 47 min ago

In our abbreviated episode today due to the snowstorm that hit the Washington, D.C., area, we feature an interview with C.J. Sailor of the Gloucester Institute, a nonprofit that works to engage minority students on campus.’

The Daily Signal podcast is available on Ricochet, iTunesSoundCloudGoogle Play, or Stitcher. All of our podcasts can be found at DailySignal.com/podcasts. If you like what you hear, please leave a review. You can also leave us a message at 202-608-6205 or write us at letters@dailysignal.com. Enjoy the show!

The post Podcast: Reaching Minority Students appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Feinstein’s Scattershot Anti-Gun Bill Badly Misses the Mark

Mon, 2019-01-14 19:26

Democrats promised that if they retook control of the House, gun control would be a top priority. They have wasted little time in seeking to restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, both D-Conn., introduced the latest version of the so-called “assault-weapons ban” with 26 other Democrats as co-sponsors.

The bill would prohibit the future sale, transfer, manufacture, and importation of “military-style assault weapons” and “high-capacity” magazines—in other words, it would keep law-abiding Americans from buying many of the most popular firearms used for hunting, shooting sports, and self-defense.

The bill appears to be similar to ineffective legislation passed in 1994, in California and in Canada. If passed, it would have the same ineffective results.

The bill’s text is not yet available to the public, but the senators’ press release indicates that the bill would prohibit, among other things, the purchase or transfer of:

  • 205 firearms by name
  • Any firearm that has a detachable magazine plus one or more “military” characteristic, like a pistol grip, barrel shroud, or telescoping stock
  • Magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds
  • Bump stocks
  • Pistols that weigh more than 50 ounces (per the 1994 ban)
  • Pistol-stabilizing braces

Furthermore, Feinstein’s bill would require universal background checks for the future purchase or transfer of the firearms covered by the bill. That’s a bit baffling, given that their future purchase or transfer would be prohibited entirely.

And while the tens of millions of Americans who already own these firearms would have them “grandfathered in,” the bill would require the guns to be kept with a trigger lock or in some form of “secure storage” when not in use.

Finally, the bill apparently would exempt 2,200 guns for “hunting, household defense, or recreational purposes.” It is unclear which types of guns would be exempted or why, but given the bill’s purpose and the rhetoric surrounding certain firearms, it’s unlikely that the exemptions would include the most popular “assault weapons,” such as the AR-15 or full-size Glock handguns.

Fallacies of the ban

If the press release is any indication, Feinstein’s bill is premised largely on anti-gun rhetoric and isn’t based on facts. It uses purposefully misleading terminology and focuses on the firearms least likely to be involved in firearm-related deaths.

Most importantly, it uses a framework that has already failed to save lives in the United States.

1.) Misleading terminology:  The title of the bill itself uses language that has no technical value, but is intended solely as a scare tactic.

There’s no such thing as an “assault weapon,” and the use of the term is intended to associate these commonly used semi-automatic firearms with “assault rifles,” which have long been heavily regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and are not commonly owned by civilians.

Actual assault rifles are military-grade, fully automatic firearms. In fact, the term “assault rifle” is a military term, and is defined by the U.S. military to mean a compact weapon capable of selective fire and utilizing an intermediate-power cartridge.

In other words, an “assault rifle” can fire in fully automatic, burst, and semi-automatic modes, and uses a bullet caliber higher than that of a typical handgun.

But the firearms banned under Feinstein’s bill are not military-grade at all, even if they mimic military appearances. While the popular AR-15 may fire an intermediate-power cartridge, it is a civilian gun that cannot fire in burst or fully automatic modes.

Further, many “AR-15-style” rifles prohibited by the bill can be purchased in lower calibers that are no more lethal than a handgun—a fact the bill does not take into account when defining “assault weapon.”

Instead of focusing on lethality, the bill focuses on cosmetic features. Ironically, this means that law-abiding civilians will be stripped of the very features that enable them to fire safely and more accurately.

A pistol grip, for example, helps inexperienced or smaller shooters maintain a more stable base—something of vital importance when making a life-or-death shot.

2.) It doesn’t address real problems: The fact of the matter is that banning future sales of “scary-looking” guns won’t save lives. Simply put, semi-automatic rifles and factory-standard magazines holding more than 10 rounds are not the problem.

Consider the following:

  • In 2016, 22,938 of 38,658 firearm-related deaths were suicides. In other words, magazine capacity was unquestionably not at issue in nearly two-thirds of firearm-related deaths.
  • Further, studies have shown that the use of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds does not increase the lethality of mass public shootings, largely because shooters compensate by bringing multiple magazines, which can be switched out in just a few seconds.
  • Only 4 percent to 6 percent of firearm-related homicides are facilitated by rifles of any kind. The overwhelming majority of firearm deaths involve handguns.
  • Mass-shooting deaths—the major impetus for bans on “assault weapons”—account for roughly 1 percent of all annual firearm deaths. Even then, 73 percent of those shootings involve handguns or shotguns.
  •                                                                                                                          3.) It doesn’t work in states that already have it: If those numbers aren’t enough, similar “assault-weapon” bans have failed to prevent mass public shootings in places where they already exist.

California has long prohibited the purchase and possession of these firearms, and yet experiences a higher ratio of mass public shootings relative to its population than do other, less gun-restrictive states.

Finally, the United States already tried Feinstein’s solution with the 1994 federal assault-weapons ban, which expired in 2004 and on which her current bill is based.

The official assessment of the ban was less than glowing, noting that the relative rarity of deaths involving these types of firearms made it impossible to attribute lower firearm-related crime rates or homicide rates to the ban.

How to Actually Save Lives

Gun violence is a serious problem, and just because Feinstein’s bill doesn’t offer an effective solution doesn’t mean solutions don’t exist. So, what can policymakers do without broadly infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens?

  • Lower the time it takes to confront armed criminals—and particularly mass shooters—in part by allowing law-abiding citizens to arm themselves more often and in more places. This year, Americans will use their firearms for lawful defense of life and property between 500,000 and 3 million times. Armed civilians have also stopped numerous mass public shootings.
  • More effectively utilize existing mental health frameworks to ensure that individuals with suicidal tendencies receive necessary help. This can include imposing so-called “red-flag laws,” as long as adequate due process is afforded and there is a restoration mechanism to ensure that individuals who are no longer a heightened risk of danger receive their Second Amendment rights back. Sixty percent of mass shooters have been diagnosed with a mental disorder or demonstrated clear signs of serious mental illness prior to the attack.
  • Increase educational and economic opportunities in struggling urban areas that are most susceptible to gang- and drug-related gun violence, which accounts for a significant portion of gun-related homicides. Gang- and drug-related activity drive black market firearms transfers.

The worst part of Feinstein’s bill isn’t that it picks an unnecessary fight with law-abiding gun owners or demonizes the firearms least likely to be involved in crime.

It’s that this unnecessary fight turns the public focus away from actual solutions to very real problems. In the meantime, lives will continue to be lost.







The post Feinstein’s Scattershot Anti-Gun Bill Badly Misses the Mark appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

New Oversight Chairman Calls All-Out Probe of Trump ‘a Fight for the Soul of Our Democracy’

Mon, 2019-01-14 19:18

The new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee says he will do all he can to investigate President Donald Trump and his administration over the next two years.

“We are in a fight for the soul of our democracy,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” that aired on Jan. 13. “And you’ve got to understand that. This is serious business.”

Cummings said that, as chairman of the committee, he has the authority to investigate anything he deems appropriate to examine.

“We can look at anything,” Cummings said, concurring with CBS’ Steve Kroft’s suggestion that the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency, for example, are fair game for investigation.

Ryan Zinke, former secretary of the Interior Department, resigned Dec. 15 and left office Jan. 2, owing to “multiple probes tied to his real estate dealings in Montana and conduct while in office,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Scott Pruitt, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, resigned in July due to “unrelenting attacks” on him and his family, which “have taken a sizable toll on all of us,” CNN reported.

“The fact that we can look at anything is part of the problem,” Cummings said. “There’s so much. No, … I’m serious. There’s so much.”

The Maryland lawmaker, who has sat on the oversight committee under four presidents, says he thinks Trump is making a profit from his business dealings, even though Trump reportedly resigned from “each and every office and position” he held, according to a January 2017 letter provided to CNN by the Trump Organization.

Cummings said he thinks Trump is making “a lot of money,” and says the American people should know if that’s the case.

“It’s not OK,” the Baltimore Democrat said. “And, but this is the other piece. I still believe that people—the average citizen, the guys on my block—they ought to know if the president is making a deal, whether he’s making it, making it in his self-interest or that of the country.”

CBS reported that Cummings has already made “64 requests for subpoenas on things like White House security clearances, hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico, and the Justice Department’s refusal to defend the Affordable Care Act,” which were subsequently stopped by the Republican chairman of the committee in the previous Congress.

Cummings said Republicans have been working together to protect Trump, and that he plans to “look at anything” to get answers.

“Basically, what the president has done, and the Republicans have done, they’ve joined hands,” he said. “And the Republicans have been basically not only blocking, but become the defense counsel for the president.”

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Categories: Public Policy

The German Government Forcibly Removed These Children From Their Parents Over Homeschooling

Mon, 2019-01-14 19:00

The Wunderlich family wanted to do what thousands of families in America do with no questions asked: educate their children at home.

But homeschooling is not allowed in Germany, and the state has relentlessly pursued the Wunderlichs and even seized their children. One morning in August 2013, 33 police officers and seven social workers showed up at their front door, threatening to open it with a battering ram. The parents cried as their children were carried screaming out of their home.

The children were later returned, but ordered to attend public school. Since then, the Wunderlichs have continued their fight in court, ultimately reaching the European Court of Human Rights.

Last week, they lost their case. The court sided with Germany, reaffirming that Germany’s ban on homeschooling does not violate the family’s rights under international law.

I represent the Wunderlich parents. The question I most commonly get from people when I explain their case is, “But what’s so bad about school?”

I understand where they’re coming from. I went through a state school system and, generally speaking, didn’t mind it. But the fact that I did not “mind” school, and the fact that the person asking the question doesn’t see any problems with state-run school, misses what this case is about.

The Wunderlichs’ case was never about whether state-run schools are good or bad, but about who has the right and the responsibility to raise children.

Education Belongs to Parents, Not the State

Parents are the natural nurturers of children. They create children, provide for them, and make a whole host of judgments about how they will raise them. Education is just one of those areas of parental judgment.

It’s hard to imagine many decisions bigger than where your child will go to school. Indeed, in my country, parents literally sell homes and move to the other side of the same street to get into a particular school’s zone in order to make the educational choice they want.

Dirk and Petra Wunderlich wanted that same freedom. For a combination of religious, philosophical, and practical reasons, they decided they wanted to educate their children at home.

And they are not alone. Millions of other parents have decided to homeschool their children, too. In fact, homeschooling is growing in many parts of the world, and statistics from the U.S. estimate that more than 2 million American children are homeschooled. This right is protected by every major human rights treaty that exists. Major documents like the European Convention on Human Rights protect the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children.

Germany has agreed to be bound by these documents, and yet is one of very few countries that do not allow homeschooling, going so far in some states as to criminalize parents who try.

The German rationale is to prevent “parallel societies” from emerging. Lawyers representing the state presented this rationale to the European court without any evidence to support it as a theory.

We presented evidence to the contrary, showing that in countries with the longest history with homeschooling and the highest number of homeschoolers, the practice is tested, credible, and continues to grow.

Yet the court sided with Germany.

We should all be worried when the state overrides a parent’s decision based on the vague notion that it will be “better for society.”

A Case That Should Never Have Been Brought

Even the German government’s early findings show that this case should never have been brought.

Prior to the children’s removal, the Wunderlichs met with an official from the Youth Welfare Office, who reported positively about their homeschooling situation: “We had the impression that all children were developing according to their age. On the part of the Youth Welfare Office there is currently no need for action.”

But the schooling authority disagreed. In a response we have now obtained, this official—who had not visited the home, and had not met with the children—wrote, “I am certainly of the opinion that there is a danger to the children, because they are systematically withdrawn from all social aspects of society and live in a so-called parallel society.”

That is raw ideology, not concern for the children. And that’s what is really at issue in this case.

The people who have consistently shown the most concern for these children through proceedings are the parents, who have fought for justice ever since their children were seized. From the beginning, they chose to live a more frugal life so they could be at home with their children as they grew up.

In its decision last week, the European Court of Human Rights has undermined its claim to being the “conscience of Europe” and pitted parents against children. The court was set up to adjudicate disputes between individuals and the state, and yet it misframes this case as one in which the courts must mediate between parent and child: “[International law] requires that a fair balance must be struck between the interests of the child and those of the parent.”

The overt assumptions here—that parents do not have their children’s best interests at heart, and that the state knows better—should trouble any parent, whether your children are educated at home or at school.

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Categories: Public Policy

Cohen’s History of Falsehoods Makes His Upcoming Congressional Testimony Worthless

Mon, 2019-01-14 18:32

Before he begins a three-year prison sentence for lying to the Internal Revenue Service about the taxes he owed, lying to financial institutions, and lying to Congress, Michael Cohen—President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney—is scheduled to testify about Trump at a congressional hearing Feb. 7.

Anti-Trump Democrats and others who hate the president are sure to love Cohen’s testimony. While Cohen said in 2017 that he would “take a bullet” to protect Trump, that turned out to be yet another lie.

It turns out Cohen secretly recorded phone calls with Trump—hardly ethical behavior for a lawyer dealing with a client. And he has spent over 70 hours talking with federal prosecutors in New York City and from the office of special counsel Robert Mueller about his own crimes and making allegations of wrongdoing by Trump.

Trump opponents can be sure that if Cohen goes ahead with plans to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee his words will be music to their ears.

Once demonized by the anti-Trump crowd, Cohen has since been embraced by many of his former critics for turning on his former boss, who provided him with a paycheck for 12 years until they parted ways last year.

But with his long record of lying again and again, why should anyone believe a word Cohen says regarding Trump or anything else?

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., will preside over the hearing where Cohen testifies. Now that Democrats are the majority party in the House, they have promised to aggressively investigate the president’s activities in the private sector, in his personal life, and in government.

Cohen himself issued an unintentionally ironic statement about his upcoming testimony, blithely asserting that he looked forward to having “a platform with which to give a full and credible account of the events which have transpired.”

This from a man already convicted of lying to Congress—among other felonies.

Can we really expect a “full and credible” account from Michael Cohen? Or will his testimony be just another piece in what acting U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami of the Southern District of New York called Cohen’s “pattern of deception,” designed to make himself look good and to shift blame for his misdeeds onto the president?

Khuzami has described Cohen as someone who “repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends.” Cohen’s illegal conduct was “marked by a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life” and he engaged in “extensive, deliberate, and serious criminal conduct,” according to Khuzami.

Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court to willful tax evasion, false statements to financial institutions, illegal campaign contributions, and making false statements to Congress. Khuzami noted that all of the crimes bore a “common set of characteristics.” Each involved “deception” that was “motivated by personal greed and ambition.”

In his testimony scheduled for Feb. 7, Cohen will swear an oath to tell the truth. But he previously swore—falsely and repeatedly—that the tax returns he submitted to the IRS were “true and accurate.”

Khuzami faulted Cohen for his submissions to prosecutors in which Cohen “repeatedly attempted to minimize the seriousness of his decision not to report millions of dollars of income over a period of years by blaming his accountant”—assertions that prosecutors said “are simply false.”

Do we have any reason to expect Cohen to change his stripes when he comes before Congress next month?

Cohen didn’t lie to just the IRS and prosecutors. Khuzami’s sentencing memorandum noted that Cohen told “numerous financial institutions” a “long-series of self-serving lies” about his assets and liabilities.

Well, at least Cohen’s behavior is consistent.

Cohen previously lied to Congress about a real estate deal in Russia that the Trump organization had been negotiating for 30 years. Nothing about the deal itself was unlawful, but Cohen’s ham-handed lies seemed intended to minimize the fact that he was still discussing this deal during the first half of 2016.

Now that the House Oversight Committee is run by Democrats, Cohen has every incentive to shift the blame for this potentially embarrassing deal to Trump. He probably has little fear that Democrats would want to see him prosecuted for misrepresenting what happened—as long as it advances their narrative that Trump is guilty of something.

This is because congressional Democrats aren’t really interested in Cohen. They’re interested in using Cohen to make accusations of wrongdoing against Trump.

There’s no doubt that Cohen will be asked about the hush-money payments he made to two women in exchange for not making public their unproven allegations—denied by Trump—of extramarital affairs that supposedly occurred many years before Trump ran for president.

Cohen pleaded guilty to breaking campaign finance laws by making these payments. But as I have explained before, many campaign finance experts and former members of the Federal Election Commission do not believe that the payments actually broke any federal law. As a former member of the Federal Election Commission and an attorney who has worked extensively on election law issues, I share this view.

Yet even in arranging the payments to the two women, the sentencing memorandum notes, Cohen “used sophisticated tactics to conceal his misconduct.” And when news stories about the payments began to surface, the memorandum says Cohen responded by telling “shifting and misleading stories.”

If members of the House Oversight Committee want to know why Cohen has embraced a “pattern of deception,” they should be sure to read the last part of the sentencing memorandum. Khuzami says Cohen’s behavior was driven by “his own ambition and greed.”

Originally, Cohen expected to be “given a prominent role and title in the new [Trump] administration,” according to the memorandum. When that didn’t materialize, he “successfully convinced numerous major corporations to retain him as a ‘consultant’ who could provide unique insights about and access to the new administration.”

That turned out to be a lie as well. Khuzami notes that although Cohen made more than $4 million as a consultant, he provided “little or no real services.”

The sentencing memorandum adds this kicker: Cohen “undertook similar acts of deception in his private life.”

Khuzami summed it up this way: “Cohen’s consciousness of wrongdoing is fleeting … his remorse is minimal, and … his instinct to blame others is strong.”

And this is the witness Cummings can’t wait to put on national television, so millions of Americans can hear him attack the president of the United States.

Cohen has zero credibility. Anything he says—under oath or in casual conversation—should be treated with extreme skepticism, at best.

Originally published on Fox News.

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Categories: Public Policy

The Barr Exam: 5 Expected Issues for Trump’s Attorney General Pick

Mon, 2019-01-14 18:11

President Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general faces a Senate committee Tuesday in what could turn into a proxy fight and speechifying over the probe of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

Nominee William Barr, who was attorney general 27 years ago, will act to head off some questions from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee by calling it “vitally important” that special counsel Robert Mueller complete his investigation of Russia’s interference and any cooperation from the Trump campaign.

“For that reason, my goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law,” Barr plans to say in his prepared remarks for the committee, according to NBC News.

“I can assure you that, where judgments are to be made by me, I will make those judgments based solely on the law and will let no personal, political or other improper interests influence my decisions,” Barr says in the prepared text.

Barr previously has been critical of the Mueller probe, sending a memo about it to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in 2017. In it, he said the Uranium One scandal surrounding Hillary Clinton might merit an investigation more than alleged collusion between Trump and the Russians.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., earlier called on Trump to withdraw the Barr nomination, contending he was too partisan.

Barr, 68, was attorney general under President George H.W. Bush from Nov. 26, 1991, to Jan. 20, 1993. Before that he was deputy attorney general beginning in May 1990.

Questions to Barr about Mueller could take multiple angles. Here’s a look at what to expect from the hearing:

1. What About Barr’s Mueller Memo?

Barr, as a former attorney general, sent a unsolicited memo to Rosenstein in June 2018 that was critical of one aspect of the Mueller probe.

Specifically, Barr didn’t view the Mueller probe of obstruction of justice to be legitimate.

The special counsel reportedly was investigating Trump’s firing of James Comey as FBI director and his telling Comey that he hoped the FBI director wouldn’t pursue a case against Michael Flynn, his short-lived national security adviser.

In his memo to Rosenstein, Barr said he was “in the dark about many facts” that Mueller was privy to, but based his view on publicly reported information.

“As I understand it, his theory is premised on a novel and legally insupportable reading of the law,” Barr wrote. “Moreover, in my view, if credited by the Justice Department, it would have grave consequences far beyond the immediate confines of this case and would do lasting damage to the presidency and to the administration of law within the executive branch.”

He called this approach “grossly irresponsible” with “potentially disastrous implications,” adding:

I know you will agree that, if a DOJ [Department of Justice] investigation is going to take down a democratically elected president, it is imperative to the health of our system and to our national cohesion that any claim of wrongdoing is solidly based on evidence of a real crime—not a debatable one. It is time to travel well-worn paths; not to veer into novel, unsettled or contested areas of the law; and not to indulge the fancies by overly zealous prosecutors.

Barr’s memo has been misread by some, Gregg Nunziata, the former Republican chief nominations counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, told The Daily Signal.

“The memo doesn’t say the president is above the law or that he can’t be prosecuted for obstruction of justice. It explicitly says the president can be prosecuted. It argued a very narrow legal point, which I agree with,” said Nunziata, who played a key role during the George W. Bush administration in the Senate confirmations of two men on the Supreme Court—Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito—as well as Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

The memo from Barr is not inconsistent with letting the Mueller probe continue, said Kendall Coffey, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

“Barr’s views on what constitutes obstruction of justice are not unique,” Coffey told The Daily Signal. “For a president to tell an FBI director, ‘I hope you see a way clear to not arresting Michael Flynn’ is not the same as suborning perjury, falsifying evidence, or destruction of evidence.”

Barr has a stellar reputation, Coffey added, and doesn’t need the job of attorney general again. He said he doubts Barr has any motivation to kill Mueller’s Russia probe.

“He has spoken clearly that he is not interested in interfering in the investigation,” Coffey said. “He can credibly say he will have an open mind until the Mueller investigation is completed and will not inhibit the investigators from doing their jobs.”

Rosenstein’s saying that he would leave the Justice Department after the Mueller probe wraps up is helpful, said Cleta Mitchell, an election lawyer in Washington who has worked for the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee and the National Rifle Association.

“The fact that Rod Rosenstein says he will not resign until after the Mueller investigation is complete relieves some pressure,” Mitchell told The Daily Signal. “Otherwise, all the Democrats and the media would do is pressure [Barr] not to interfere. Rosenstein removes this as an excuse.”

2. Will Barr Recuse Himself?

Trump was highly public about his outrage that his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from the Russia investigation and allowed it to continue. Sessions was an early supporter of and participant in Trump’s 2016 campaign.

So Democrats could be inclined to ask any Trump nominee for attorney general to recuse himself from overseeing the probe. Legal experts say that’s not the best option.

“Bill Barr should stick to his guns on his critique of the Mueller investigation,” Mitchell said regarding the Judiciary Committee hearing.

Going forward, she said, Barr should oversee Mueller as he would any other Justice Department prosecutor.

“Neither Bob Mueller nor anyone else should be treated like a czar beyond the reach of the normal process in the Justice Department,” Mitchell said. “Part of an attorney general’s role is oversight of employees, to ensure they are doing their jobs and not going beyond that.”

It’s not likely Barr will give Democrats on the Judiciary Committee exactly what they are seeking—which would be assurance of a complete hands-off approach, said Curt Levey, president of the Committee for Justice, a conservative legal group.

“They will look for a firm commitment,” Levey said. “But, a firm commitment would not be responsible. To say you absolutely would not do something would be shirking your duty as attorney general.”

Coffey concurred that Barr would allow Mueller to complete the probe, but would exercise oversight.

“He might not say what Democrats want him to say, which is that he’ll recuse or stay out of the investigation and whatever Robert Mueller does is fine with me,” Coffey said. “But I think he will conduct himself with high standards.”

3. What of Hillary, the Clinton Foundation, and Uranium One?

Trump and some Republicans in Congress repeatedly have vented frustration that the Justice Department apparently wasn’t investigating legal questions surrounding Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent in 2016.

Questions about potential legal conflicts emerged regarding Clinton decisions as secretary of state and donors to her family’s Clinton Foundation.

Barr told The New York Times in 2017 that there was nothing wrong with Trump’s calling for an investigation into the Uranium One scandal.

The Times reported: “Barr said he sees more basis for investigating the uranium deal than any supposed collusion between Mr. Trump and Russia.”

“Although an investigation shouldn’t be launched just because a president wants it, the ultimate question is whether the matter warrants investigation,” Barr told The Times. “To the extent it is not pursuing these matters, the department is abdicating its responsibility.”

The mining company Uranium One contributed $2.4 million to the Clinton Foundation during Clinton’s four-year tenure as secretary of state under President Barack Obama, the Times reported in 2015.

Figures associated with the mining company also paid $500,000 to former President Bill Clinton to speak in Moscow. In a 2010 deal approved by a government committee including Hillary Clinton and eight other members of Obama’s Cabinet, a Kremlin-connected entity obtained 20 percent of America’s uranium production by acquiring Uranium One from a Canadian company.

“We don’t know there’s not an investigation going on now,” Levey, of the Committee for Justice, said. “The question is: Would it be more visible [under Barr]? Perhaps, if only because we have some different judgment. If the question is, ‘Do previous comments mean he will?” the answer is no. I don’t know that a personal opinion translates into Justice Department policy.”

Levey predicted that the Clinton Foundation and Uranium One would emerge as an issue in Barr’s confirmation hearing. However, he said he isn’t sure it would help either Democrats or Republicans on the committee.

“It’s just a guess, but it probably will come up, but it will not be a huge issue,” Levey said. “It’s not in the Democrats’ best interest to dredge that up. It’s usually Republicans—when someone is bashing Trump—who say, ‘Well, look at Hillary.’ But they might want to make Barr look like a partisan any way they can.”

It’s possible that Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas or another Republican might bring up the Clinton-Russia tie, he said, noting that many House Republicans have talked about it.

“I can think of a lot of Republicans in the House that would love to bring this up. I’m not sure about Republicans on the [Senate Judiciary] Committee,” Levey said. “Some will be tempted, but again, it’s not in their best interest. Their goal is to get Barr confirmed.”

4. Do Iran-Contra Pardons Provide a Clue?

Most of Barr’s time as attorney general wasn’t controversial.

However, his advice to the elder Bush on pardoning figures in the Iran-Contra scandal likely will be the other major issue, alongside the Mueller questions, said John Malcolm, director of the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

“The question isn’t about whether these are legitimate concerns,” Malcolm told The Daily Signal. “Democrats on the committee believe these are legitimate. The question is whether this is grounds to deny his confirmation. I would say it’s not.”

As attorney general, Barr has said, he urged Bush to pardon several figures in the Iran-Contra scandal that erupted during Ronald Reagan’s presidency when the administration sold arms to Iran to help finance rebels in Nicaragua.

The senior Bush’s most notable pardon was of former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, who was indicted in an October surprise before the 1992 presidential election, which Bush lost to Bill Clinton.

“I went over and told the president I thought he should not only pardon Caspar Weinberger, but while he was at it, he should pardon about five others,” Barr said in 2001.

Barr told journalist Bob Woodward, in an interview for the 1999 book “Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate,” that he considered removing Iran-Contra independent counsel Lawrence Walsh for “misconduct” in 1992 after the Weinberger indictment seemed motivated by the election.

He told Woodward he ultimately opted against removing Walsh.

However, if Democrats try to tie Barr’s Iran-Contra advice to the current probe, it could be politically risky, Levey said.

“I don’t see them delving into the Iran-Contra pardons, since George H.W. Bush just passed away,” Levey said. “A Democrat will probably ask about it. But, to make it a core point might come across as unseemly.”

5. Another Partisan Slugfest?

Last fall, the Senate weathered divisive confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Coffey, the former federal prosecutor from Florida, said he expects a “handful” of Democrats to vote for Barr.

“It’s going to be a partisan crossfire, but much more civil than the now-Justice Kavanaugh hearing,” Coffey said.

“I think the senators know the Kavanaugh process was bruising and no one wants more ‘Spartacus’ moments,” he said, referring to remarks made by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.

Even if that’s the case, it’s a far cry from the unanimous confirmation vote Barr got in 1991 to become attorney general.

“I do think he will be confirmed with some Democratic votes; it’s unfortunate it won’t be unanimous like last time,” said Nunziata, the former Judiciary Committee counsel. “If the Democrats would speak candidly, they would say this is one of the most qualified attorney general nominees in history.”

Besides Booker, committee Democrats include Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Kamala Harris of California, and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

“Some of the most liberal Democrats are on that committee and some are running for president,” Levey said. “I expect some Democrats will support him for the appearance of bipartisanship—barring some Christine Blasey Ford surprise. I think he will have Democratic votes.”

“This isn’t Kavanaugh,” he added. “But it’s going to be a show.”

The post The Barr Exam: 5 Expected Issues for Trump’s Attorney General Pick appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Democratic Senators Are Getting Way Too Comfortable With Religious Tests

Mon, 2019-01-14 17:51

This New Year will quickly reveal to the American people whether some Democrats in Washington have resolved to abandon their overused—and unconstitutional—religious test for office.

Two Democrats in the Senate, Sens. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Kamala Harris of California, recently objected to the nomination of Brian Buescher to a U.S. district court in Nebraska based on his membership in the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization.

Their objections, premised on the organization’s affirmation of Catholic teaching, hearkens back to California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s now-infamous criticism of the “dogma” of Judge Amy Coney Barrett and other Democratic senators who have vocally opposed religious nominees.

These “extreme positions,” according to Hirono, should require Buescher to recuse himself from any future case related to the subject matter. Harris, employing the two most formidable weapons in the progressive arsenal—ignorance and audacity—asked Buescher if he was aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed abortion when he joined.

Sadly, this is nothing new for judicial nominees facing their version of a secular inquisition, formerly known as “confirmation.”

Catholics, Protestants, and others without any religious affiliation recoiled at the sight of a U.S. senator questioning a nominee’s fitness to serve based on the “dogma” of a particular religion. In spite of what some view as Feinstein’s violation of Article VI of the Constitution, Barrett was confirmed by the full Senate with a vote of 55-43, including three Democrats voting in favor.

Apparently this did not serve as the much-needed reminder of our Constitution’s prohibition of religious tests for public office. Hirono and Harris picked up precisely where Feinstein left off.

Beyond their typical disregard for the primacy of religious liberty in the Bill of Rights and the explicit restraints and limitations placed on our government by the Constitution, these incidents demonstrate the radical left’s notion of an ideal religion—one that is confined to the minds and pews of adherents on Sunday and shunned from the life of the nation the rest of the week.

It is debatable whether a devout Catholic like John F. Kennedy would be welcome in today’s Democratic Party. One similarly devout Catholic, Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., holds strongly to his church’s teaching on abortion, and as a result has found himself pushed to the fringes of his own party on the issue.

If a neutered and liberalized religion is the only sort of religion the Democratic ruling class in Washington is comfortable with, it’s easy to see why people like Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, and future judge Brian Buescher make them so uncomfortable.

Moreover, if one sees the judiciary as an unelected super-legislature responsible for making policy from the bench—as so many on the left do—a judicial nominee’s belief system becomes fair game. But Buescher’s response to Harris’ unconstitutional line of questioning was as humble as it was correct: Judges don’t enforce their personal beliefs, they enforce the law.

Leftists like Harris and Hirono don’t think that is possible, and if a devout Catholic isn’t willing to subvert his faith to the political orthodoxy of the day, then he or she must not be allowed to serve. If that means establishing a religious test for office in direct contradiction to the Constitution, so be it.

For over two hundred years, the Constitution has stood as a bulwark against government intrusion into religious matters. Jurists who strictly adhere to the text of the Constitution and the proper role of the judiciary are essential to the preservation of our liberty. This, in turn, places an enormous responsibility on the president and the Senate when it comes to filling judicial vacancies.

Evaluating a nominee should include a number of closely scrutinized qualifications—but religion isn’t one of them.

The post Democratic Senators Are Getting Way Too Comfortable With Religious Tests appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Youngest Black Legislator in America’s Philosophy? God, Guns, and Babies

Mon, 2019-01-14 17:50

The West Virginia House of Delegates convened Wednesday with a record-setter in its midst—freshman Del. Caleb L. Hanna, who became the nation’s youngest black legislator following his election at age 19 in November 2018.

“I always knew that I was not satisfied with the leadership I was getting within my own house district,” Hanna told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview. “I told myself if I ever had my opportunity to take that, I would give it my shot.”

At first, his small Republican campaign was designed to push Democratic incumbent Dana Lynch to be “more proactive in the legislature,” Hanna told The Daily Caller News Foundation. But things shifted when Hanna realized he could win the Republican primary—even if he was running his campaign from his dorm room at West Virginia State University, where he studies economics.

Leading up to the general election, Hanna faced doubts about his age and experience, a shoestring budget, and one instance of racist flyers he reported to law enforcement. But Hanna defeated Lynch by roughly 25 points in West Virginia’s House of Delegates District 44 in November, with results reported as 60.3 to 35.7, according to Ballotpedia.

Making It to Charleston

Hanna is in the state capital, Charleston, as a member of the majority party in the House of Delegates. He said he’s ready to get to work on the economic issues that motivated West Virginia voters in 2018 and stand for his principles, which he sums up as “God, guns, and babies.”

Gun rights is one of the first issues Hanna wants to dive into as a legislator by co-sponsoring a campus carry bill. It’s an issue that has attracted the attention of party leadership in the House of Delegates, reported West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

“The Constitution clearly lays out our constitutional right to keep and bear arms, not just in our homes but also in our places of work and our places of study,” Hanna told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I live in my college dorm while I’m at the legislature. … I consider that to be my home. I feel like I should have the right to protect myself in my home.”

Help Along the Way

Learning the ropes of being a lawmaker hasn’t been easy, but Hanna said his colleagues, including those in leadership, are always ready to answer his questions.

“Not far from my office is Del. Ben Queen, who is only 23. He’s served a term here already, and he’s also a young member, so he kind of was in the same shoes as me. He was a great inspiration for me to learn from,” Hanna said.

Queen said he first met Hanna when the younger man was in high school. They were both fired up over the success of former West Virginia Del. Saira Blair, who upset a Republican incumbent in the primaries and became the youngest lawmaker in the U.S. at age 18 in 2014.

Hanna is eager to listen to others and learn about issues, which are qualities that make a young lawmaker successful, Queen told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Putting your name on the ballot is intimidating enough, let alone going through with a campaign,” Queen said of Hanna. “It’s really nice to have a seat at the table. I think that’s what young people are looking for here in West Virginia.”

Hanna’s district is rural and spread out. He recalls driving for hours to cover enough ground while door-knocking. At least 70 percent of voters in each of the four counties in Hanna’s district voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, according to Politico.

“For them to elect a young African-American goes to show that I don’t think racial discrimination in Trump supporters is actually there,” he said.

Generation Z Enters the Political Arena

Hanna traces his interest in running for office to former President Barack Obama.

“It had nothing to do with policies,” Hanna told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I was in third grade at the time, but I knew that that was something new. That wasn’t something normal, to have an African-American hold the highest office in the United States. I kind of thought to myself in that moment, ‘If he can do it, I can do it.’ That’s when I started following politics.”

Hanna is in the vanguard of Generation Z politicians. He chuckled at a comparison between himself and Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a millennial who became the youngest woman to be elected to Congress at 29. Before Ocasio-Cortez, Republican New York Rep. Elise Stefanik held the record for youngest woman elected to Congress.

“I’m not a huge fan of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s policies, the way that she goes about things, but I respect that she is a young person who set out to make a difference. I think you’re starting to see that throughout the country,” Hanna told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We realize we have to stand up as Americans to do what’s best. That’s one thing I ran on in my campaign. We may be Republicans, and we may be Democrats, but we’re all West Virginians, so we all have to come together.”

Hanna is wary of making a career out of politics, however. He envisions starting a family and doesn’t think that’s something he wants to do in the public eye.

“I didn’t come from a political family,” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I’m living it one thing at a time.”

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

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Categories: Public Policy

Pelosi’s Equality Act Could Lead to More Parents Losing Custody of Kids Who Want ‘Gender Transition’

Mon, 2019-01-14 17:33

Americans have long understood that children are best cared for by their parents. The state can only intervene in the family when there is demonstrable evidence of abuse and neglect.

This has long been established in our laws. But now, transgender ideology is silencing doctors and challenging the way courts define parental abuse and neglect.

Last year in Ohio, a judge removed a biological girl from her parents’ custody after they declined to help her “transition” to male with testosterone supplements. The Cincinnati Children’s Gender Clinic recommended these treatments for gender dysphoria (the condition of being distressed with one’s biological sex).

When her parents wanted to treat her with counseling instead, the county prosecutor charged them with abuse and neglect, while transgender activists and pro-trans doctors compared their decision to denying treatment for asthma or even cancer patients.

That all happened without federal legislation.

But now, one of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s top legislative priorities, the Equality Act, could give the transgender community a vice grip over the medical profession. It could open the floodgates for lawsuits against doctors who don’t fall in line with transgender ideology.

Politicizing the medical treatment of gender dysphoria could lead to more prosecutions against parents who refuse to aid in the sterilization of their children. As more doctors recommend that children take puberty blockers at age 11, cross-sex hormones at 16, and undergo “sex-reassignment” surgeries at 18, parents who resist could face charges of child abuse and lose custody of their children.

The tragedy in Ohio could be repeated in families across America.

Turning the Law Into a Sword Against Doctors

The transgender movement wants to dominate the field of medicine, and to do so it is threatening doctors and hospitals with penalties.

Some states have already passed laws similar to Pelosi’s Equality Act. In New Jersey and California, transgender activists have sued Catholic hospitals for “discrimination” on the basis of gender identity because they wouldn’t perform sex-change surgeries for patients with gender dysphoria.

These lawsuits may seem preposterous, but they were enabled by state anti-discrimination laws that treat sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes and health care facilities as public accommodations. The text of the Equality Act that was introduced in the 115th Congress does the same.

>>> Check out Ryan T. Anderson’s book, “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment

Pelosi’s bill would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, making hospitals and doctors across America vulnerable to costly litigation if they don’t follow the medical recommendations of the transgender movement. It would turn anti-discrimination law—which was meant to protect disenfranchised minority groups—into a coercive sword to threaten doctors into submission to transgender ideology.

Does Transgender Ideology Make for Good Medicine?

Part of the reason some doctors resist transgender ideology is that it is incompatible with good medicine and would harm rather than help their patients.

The American Psychological Association’s manual of mental disorders classifies gender dysphoria as a mental illness. Research shows that 75 to 95 percent of children with gender dysphoria who go through puberty without any transgender treatments actually become comfortable with their bodies.

But the transgender movement ignores these statistics, aggressively pushing for gender-dysphoric children to be treated with non-FDA-approved uses of drugs, even though side effects can include loss of bone density, decline of cognitive ability, and infertility.

Dr. Michelle Cretella, executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, describes it as “institutionalized child abuse.”

>>> I’m a Pediatrician. How Transgender Ideology Has Infiltrated My Field and Produced Large-Scale Child Abuse.

Transgender activists have already tried to silence doctors who warned patients about these dangers. The Human Rights Campaign—a leading LGBT group—devotes an entire website to trying to discredit Dr. Paul McHugh, the former lead psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University Hospital who put a stop to the hospital’s sex-reassignment surgeries. McHugh says the surgeries were “fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness.”

Trans Activists Are Putting Children and Doctors in the Driver’s Seat

Transgender activists and pro-trans physicians often seek to exclude parents from the process of medical decision-making. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s Transgender Health Clinic says parents may be excluded from interviews because they might make their children feel uncomfortable asking questions.

Remarkably, this clinic has deemed 100 percent of the patients seeking care to be “appropriate candidates for continued gender treatment.” Even the Ohio judge who terminated one couple’s parental rights expressed “concern” at this astoundingly high approval rate.

Transgender advocates dismiss these concerns by sounding an alarm that gender-dysphoric children will be at higher risk of suicide if they don’t receive hormone treatment.

But the evidence suggests transgender treatments can actually increase the likelihood of suicide. A study in Sweden on adults who underwent “sex-reassignment” surgeries showed they were 19 times more likely than the general population to commit suicide after undergoing operations. This is particularly noteworthy because in Sweden, cultural support for those who identify as transgender is very strong, so social stigma is less likely to account for the suicides.

>>> I Wish I Had Been Told About These Risks Before I Had Gender Surgery

We should be particularly cautious with experimental treatments on children because the long-term effects of transgender treatments have yet to be seen. Even the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid under the Obama administration pointed out that “mortality from this patient population did not become apparent until after 10 years.”

Endocrinologist Dr. Michael Laidlaw also warns that the long-term harms to kids may not show up until years later when as young adults, they start asking: “’How come I can’t have children at this point?’ Well, it’s because their fertility was destroyed by some combination of puberty blockers, wrong sex hormones, and surgery.”

And Dr. Stephen B. Levine, professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, asks the pertinent question: Are children really capable of comprehending the way that hormone treatments will alter their lives and render them unable to have their own children? There’s a reason we have informed consent laws—to protect people, like children, from being taken advantage of.

Expediting a Bad Trend

In this cultural and political climate, doctors and courts are more and more likely to seek to exclude parents from life-changing decisions about their children.

America has seen an explosion of “gender clinics” and diagnoses of “gender dysphoria” in just the past few years. In 2013, America had only three gender clinics. Today, there are more than 41. These clinics report 400 percent increases in children and teens identifying as trans.

The Equality Act would expedite this trend by giving the transgender movement a powerful legal weapon to drive medical consensus that could undermine the rights of parents.

As more parents wrestle with finding the most loving and helpful solutions for their children struggling with gender dysphoria, the government must support them—not undermine them. Parents must remain central to the decision-making process when it comes to the medical care of children suffering from gender dysphoria.

The post Pelosi’s Equality Act Could Lead to More Parents Losing Custody of Kids Who Want ‘Gender Transition’ appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Trump’s Shutdown Differs Greatly From Obama’s

Mon, 2019-01-14 13:50

Services typically suspended during government shutdowns have continued to operate under the Trump administration, with insiders pointing to acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought as the reason why.

Agencies impacted by government shutdowns are forced to severely cut back on operations, suspend services, and often send workers home without pay. The Office of Management and Budget has been using creative solutions to blunt the burden, according to a senior administration official and several prominent Republicans.

Vought joined the OMB in early 2018 and assumed the role of acting director Jan. 3 after Director Mick Mulvaney became President Donald Trump’s acting chief of staff.

“My marching orders from Russ is to make this shutdown as painless as possible,” a senior administration official, who asked to speak on background so they could speak frankly, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The response by the Trump administration has differed greatly from that of the previous administration during the 2013 shutdown.

“What the marching orders in the last administration were was to weaponize the shutdown, to make it as painful as possible,” the official continued. “They did things as a policy matter, to not keep programs running, to not keep services running, to not have federal workers delivering services as a policy matter and as a political matter.”

The Republican-led House passed a stopgap funding bill Dec. 20 that included appropriations to construct a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. However, with a 51-seat majority, Senate Republicans fell short of the necessary 60 votes needed to send it to Trump’s desk for his signature. Consequently, a partial government shutdown has been in effect since funding expired Dec. 21.

“In many cases, Russ has been the one keeping things straight at OMB [while Mulvaney has been running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau],” Marc Short, the former White House director of legislative affairs, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Nobody wants the shutdown, but it’s not as if Russ was thrown into the fire. The reality is that Russ was already managing the OMB, and he’s very capable to handle the challenges the shutdown presents.”

Skeptics, however, charge Vought’s limited governing experience prevented the OMB from providing a clear direction during the shutdown.

“I feel like they are making up the rules as they go along here and are going to get themselves in trouble legally,” William Hoagland, a Republican who served as staff director on the Senate Budget Committee during a government shutdown in 1995, told The Washington Post. “I’m not sure Russ’s strong suit is on the legal side and the management side.”

One example of the differences in action is this year, the Internal Revenue Service will be able to, for the first time, issue tax refunds during the shutdown.

“I don’t know anybody who has greater expertise at the budget [than Vought] … he’s got an incredible work ethic,” former Republican Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, who chaired the House Financial Services Committee, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I’ve got to tell you, he doesn’t lose his head in a fight. He is committed, he is focused, he is smart, and I just don’t know of anybody on Capitol Hill who can match his budgetary expertise.”

The senior administrative official noted other agencies are also implementing Vought’s directive to make the shutdown as painless as possible. An example of this is the IRS’ move to restart verifying mortgage applications.

“We give guidance to the agencies about how to look at things, how to have the mindset that where can we find money,” the official explained. “[The Department of the Treasury] determined that even though the program has run out of funding, they were able to identify fees that they had collected that they could actually transfer into this program. Perfectly legal. They came to OMB to approve it.”

The OMB also amended budgeting rules to extend Coast Guard salaries through the end of 2018 and the Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that low-income Americans will continue to have access to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits through the month of February.

“I don’t wish to make light of the families who very much count on [a federal] paycheck. But I think for the vast majority of Americans, they are not seeing this temporary lapse in appropriations,” Hensarling continued. “That’s attributed to [Vought’s] skillful ability to manage this process.”

President Barack Obama was accused of political theater after he fenced up war memorials, preventing veterans from honoring their fallen brethren.

In 2013, after the Republican House and Democratic Senate failed to come to terms, the federal government spent money to maximize disruption, including shutting down parking lots to President George Washington’s privately owned home, removing the handles from bike path water pumps, closing private shops and restaurants on federal lands, fencing off a Capitol Hill turtle statue, creating new government websites to explain the existing websites weren’t funded, and taping Capitol Hill community notice boxes shut.

Conversely, the Trump administration has kept national parks and monuments open by tapping into entrance fees to generate the revenue needed to provide basic services. Former National Park Services Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith hailed the move as an “extraordinary step.”

“You’re always going to have criticism, but I’ll take our record of trying to make it as painless as possible against the last administration, or any administration for that matter,” the senior official said.

“Any time there’s a shutdown the media will look to drive hysteria about it, so that makes anyone’s job tough,” Short told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “By all accounts I think Russ is doing a great job.”

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

The post Trump’s Shutdown Differs Greatly From Obama’s appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Trump Once Again Places Blame for Shutdown on Pelosi, Schumer

Mon, 2019-01-14 13:11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Public Policy

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

Mon, 2019-01-14 12:46

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s nothing fair about that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To ask the question is to answer it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Public Policy