With Father’s Day just upon us, a recent public conversation about the stigma of mental health in the black community emphasized the significant impact absent fathers have on a child’s emotional wellness.
“It’s time for us to have a conversation that’s been delayed and long overdue,” said Josh Landon, a Fox 2 News anchor, as moderator of the June 1 event in Corktown, a district of Detroit. “I want to have a kitchen table conversation on the unaddressed mental health awareness in our community. Let’s remove the social stigma and share positive reflections.”
The panel was hosted by the Detroit Police Athletic League in partnership with the National Association of Black Journalists as part of the group’s “Black Male Media Project,” an effort to help create a more positive narrative for black males in media. Each of the panelists had a background in children and mental health.
Panelist Dr. Curtis Longs, a staff psychiatrist of the Juvenile Assessment Center of Wayne County, said that almost all of the young black males he’s encountered in a juvenile detention facility had never met or barely know their father.
A 2018 report by the Administration for Children and Families shows 48% of non-Hispanic black children lived in a mother-only household, compared to 25% of Hispanic children and 18% of non-Hispanic white children.
When The Daily Signal asked Longs about the prominence of fatherless black families, he said:
The answer is it’s devastating. If I can just have a list of kids that I’ve seen and look at their record and all of this stuff, and you see this kid, they know you’re going to talk about their dad. When it’s all said and done, these kids, bigger than I am, will start crying. It’s devastating not to be in our kids lives.
Panelist Karlin J. Tichenor, who holds a doctorate in marriage and family therapy and has worked in schools, elaborated on the emotional consequences for fatherless children.
“The impact of fatherlessness on males and females…is around emotional neglect within the family dysfunction,” said Trichenor, adding:
There’s a baseline standard that we are all supposed to experience in our home to make us whole, to make us transcend to the lives we’re supposed to live. If we have any absence of those emotional inputs, our ability to transcend is lessened significantly, in particular, when instead of those positive examples, we’re exposed to negative examples that can teach us things that we do not need to know, even though that are helpful in a community in order to survive, and not necessarily helpful for us to thrive emotionally with balance.
The panelists also talked about the long-term effects of untreated mental illness in the black community. Longs said toxic masculinity is an issue because black men are encouraged to hide their emotions.
“It’s killing us, whether by suicide or homicide, and if not, in other forms like obesity, cardiac issues, diabetes. We ignore our health care and the long-term effects kill us,” he said.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, mental health is rarely discussed in the black community.
The Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health notes that African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population, including major depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, suicide, and post-traumatic stress disorder, “because African Americans are more likely to be victims of violent crime.”
“There’s an overwhelming impact of fatherlessness on the emotional level and other things that could be considered,” Trichenor added. “I think it’s important to know that so as we think about ‘the absence of fathers,’ we find other helpful models that can counteract it to some level.”
Other speakers on the panel included: Kevin Fishcer, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Michigan; Robert Jamerson, interim CEO of the Detroit Police Athletic League; and Rev. L.T. Willis, behavior specialist and pastor of New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church.
#Inspireblackmen circulated on Twitter as part of the campaign to change the perception of black men in news and society. The initiative launched nationwide with panels, workshops, and events.
The post Forum on Black Male Mental Health Highlights the Importance of Fathers appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Hispanics and pro-life advocacy go together naturally, in no small part because of Hispanics’ Christian faith.
Studies have shown that most Hispanics are religiously observant, with about 83% of them affirming a religious affiliation. More important than statistics, however, and more indicative of their views on the issue of abortion, is the emotion with which they explain their culture and views on life.
Pilar Sanchez, 46, a resident of Elizabeth, New Jersey, responded with a finger pointed up at the ceiling. “Firstly, it is an offense to God,” she said.
She has lived in the United States for less than 10 years, in a city where 61% of the population speaks Spanish. She perceives the pro-choice culture a greater threat here than it was back in her native country of Colombia.
“I’m sure things have changed on the political [front] since we left [Colombia]. [Abortion is] legal now there, too, but inside the home, things will always be the same. Our families always taught us about what it means to be a family. It means children come first,” Sanchez said.
“I don’t think Latino families will stop teaching their children to value the family, just because legislation is passed to permit something that is intuitively wrong,” she added.
Sanchez views it as her duty to raise her children with her Christian values, no matter what they are taught outside of the home.
Polls show that Hispanic public opinion on abortion is almost evenly split, but Sanchez said that polls and legislation do not reflect the views of most people like her who aren’t politically active, since they have heavy work schedules, yet are no less resolute in their convictions.
Sanchez smiled while stating her view on abortion directly but kindly. “Definitively and completely against it,” she said.
She shifted her hand gestures from pointing at herself to pointing at her children, who were sitting with her at their kitchen table.
“It is something that I talk about with my children, always telling them never to abort or support abortion,” she said.
Sanchez said that her church discusses the issue during its weekly Masses, and her parish priests have made the subject a part of their homilies. “I attended a women’s forum, in fact, that talked about this very topic,” she said.
In March, Sanchez recalled, she attended a bilingual women’s conference at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, promoted by the Archdiocese of Newark. She recalled seeing various pro-life displays and tables at the event, at which one of the speakers was Lucia Baez Luzondo, co-founder and executive director of Renovacion Familiar, or Family Renewal Ministries, and director of mediation, public policy, and Catholic multicultural ministries at Live the Life Ministries.
“For decades, Hispanics have been targeted by agenda-driven, pro-abortion establishments, media, and lobbyists. This is not surprising, as the contraception and abortion industry, with its eugenics, anti-faith, and anti-family agenda, focuses on vulnerable and easily influenceable minorities as its main prey and a principal source of income,” Baez Luzondo said.
“Sadly, most of the main U.S. Hispanic television stations and other Hispanic media outlets are megaphones, who echo liberal and ‘progressive’ politicians, to misinform and indoctrinate Hispanics in favor of contraception and abortion, thus dehumanizing them and their offspring, many of whom don’t get the opportunity to be born and contribute to their communities and American society,” Baez Luzondo said.
Sanchez would presumably agree with that statement, especially since she, too, mentioned the importance of inculcating pro-life values to her children despite the outside influences of the media.
“The problem is that New Jersey is a liberal state,” said Sanchez’s son, Santiago, 17. “It is assumed that you have to be in favor of abortion, and when you talk about it with your friends, it’s not a fair conversation.”
He explained that it’s difficult to express dissenting opinions on the topic. “We don’t talk about abortion in health class or in school, so most of the views we hear about it are through social media. Then, when friends talk about it, it’s always the same point of view.”
His sister, Alejandra, 14, had a similar experience. “We don’t really talk about that in school, either. We just watch movies in health class,” she said.
While there’s a worry that younger generations might deviate in political and religious views from their parents, there is strong evidence that Hispanic youths, no matter the political affiliation, will sustain their pro-life support, in large measure due to the strong moral teachings of mothers like Sanchez on her children, the ministry work of women like Baez Luzondo, and the efforts of churches across the country.
“Nevertheless, thanks to the effort of Christian churches, especially the Catholic Church, and conservative entities and think tanks, and their effective outreach, they are reaching the minds and hearts of many Hispanics,” Baez Luzondo said, optimistically focusing on what’s yet to come.
“I believe that the Hispanic pro-life culture in the United States is beginning to hit critical mass, and more and more Hispanics are seeing past the smokescreen of lies promoted by the pro-abortionists, and are defending and supporting the sanctity and dignity of human life from the time of conception to natural death,” she said.
Shouldn’t Environmental Protection Agency regulations do more good than harm?
The agency hasn’t always thought so.
In 2012, under President Barack Obama, the EPA finalized a rule to reduce emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants. In doing so, the agency decided that it didn’t need to consider the rule’s costs, estimated at $9.6 billion per year — roughly 2,000 times more than its annual benefits of only $4 million to $6 million.
Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court directed the agency to take costs into consideration based on specific Clean Air Act language applicable to that rule. If the EPA had its way though, costs wouldn’t have been considered.
That cavalier attitude is evident in other major air regulations, where the EPA didn’t bother to quantify whether there would be any benefits for reducing emissions of the regulated pollutant.
Now, however, there’s reason to hope that some common sense might finally be coming to the EPA.
In May, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler issued a memorandum directing the agency to “ensure that its regulatory decisions are rooted in sound, transparent and consistent approaches to evaluating benefits and costs.”
The full scope of what this process will entail isn’t clear. However, it appears that various offices within the EPA will be proposing rules to codify important principles of cost-benefit analysis into the agency’s work.
The memo explains that “the EPA should evaluate and consider both benefits and costs in decision-making.” The fact that such an obvious point has to be made is sadly instructive.
This entire effort shouldn’t be, and doesn’t appear to be, a scheme to reduce regulations per se. But the need for a reasonable, objective and predictable way to make regulatory decisions is quite evident.
Regulators shouldn’t be allowed to work backwards, deciding what policy they want and then gaming (or ignoring) cost-benefit analysis to reach their preferred policy outcomes. By codifying basic regulatory principles through the rule making process, the EPA will have a more difficult time going back to the “anything goes” mentality that exists now.
There must be a reasonable and transparent process in how the EPA comes up with their regulations. Make no mistake, these EPA regulations have a major impact on the lives of all Americans. In addition to environmental objectives, these regulations impact everything from energy costs, infrastructure development and transportation, to whether a farm includes some dry land that is actually a regulated water under the Clean Water Act.
In moving forward with this process, the EPA should codify basic principles of cost-benefit analysis that have been well-established over the years through various means, including executive orders and Office of Management and Budget documents.
For example, the agency should carefully evaluate to what extent existing regulations or laws contribute to the problem that the agency wants to address. The EPA should also evaluate alternatives to regulation and choose an alternative that achieves the regulatory objective while posing the least burden on society.
The EPA should identify where regulations are outdated, duplicative and unnecessary. Further, unless expressly prohibited in statute, the EPA should assume that cost-benefit analysis is required across the board.
As with the EPA, Congress delegates far too much power to other agencies and is arguably unlawfully delegating its lawmaking power. This is certainly a critical problem that needs to be addressed.
But to the extent agencies are able to exercise this enormous and largely unchecked power, there should be some reasonable rules of the game so that their decision-making is based on sound economic principles. This in no way should suggest that cost-benefit analysis is a panacea for sound policymaking, but applying reasonable principles is far better than having none at all.
This article originally appeared in The Washington Times.
The post Common Sense Finally Coming to EPA With Cost-Benefit Analysis appeared first on The Daily Signal.
If you’re Muslim living in China today, turning down alcohol, refusing to smoke, or wearing a beard could be treated as a crime.
To date, China’s internment camps, which they call “re-education camps,” contain over 1 million Uighurs, who are a minority group made up of mostly Muslims living in the autonomous regions of Xinjiang and Tibet. They have long been in conflict with the Chinese Communist Party, whose camps are operated with the end goal of Sinicizing religious beliefs, or making them conform to the party’s ideology.
The Heritage Foundation held an event last week titled “The Crisis in Xinjiang” to discuss the injustice being perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party and why those who treasure religious freedom should care.
Olivia Enos, a foreign policy analyst for the Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation, said that Uighurs who visibly live out their religious life are the very reason the Chinese government deems them suspicious. Their religious expressions act as cultural red flags to government authorities, Enos said, and for this reason, the current Uighur crisis in Xinjiang is a repetition of the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and ’70s.
“I don’t think that I expected in my lifetime that I would be reading about elements of the Cultural Revolution essentially repeating themselves over again, but I think that that’s really where we’re at today,” Enos said during the event.
During the Cultural Revolution, roughly 4% of the urban population was interned by the Chinese government. Today in Xinjiang, she estimated as many as 15% of the population are being held inside these re-education facilities.
“This principled re-education didn’t just come about today. It’s something that has been a historical part of the Chinese government’s own thinking,” she said.
The Chinese Communist Party’s internment of Uighurs is more than cultural racism, said Enos: “It is essentially an attack on religious beliefs,” adding:
The Chinese Communist Party has essentially identified all forms of religion as extremism when they passed their regulations on religious affairs last year. In particular, the Uighurs have been facing perhaps some of the most severe consequences of that decision to so-called “Sinicise” religion, which is China’s attempt to make religion conform with the Chinese Communist Party’s thinking.
Back in the Cultural Revolution, their primary objective was to rectify “wrong thinking,” and–this comes from ‘The Black Book of Communism’–“to make it so that it aligns with Marxism, Leninism, faith in Maoism and socialism, the Communist Party, and the democratic dictatorship of the people.”
This is not unlike what we’re seeing happening with the Sinicization of all religion today.
Analysts have discovered at least nine different types of internment camps, said Adrian Zenz, a presenter who works as an independent lecturer on China ethnic policy and public recruitment in Tibet and Xinjiang. But according to his research of Chinese government documents, China admits to running just one kind of internment camp–a “re-education school.”
Zenz showed the audience a 3-D map of a recreation of the inside of the “schools,” sent to him from an anonymous source. The illustration showed women of all ages in classrooms, learning basic Chinese. The students were behind high metal fences to protect the teachers from any backlash from their students.
Nury Turkel, who spoke at the event as a U.S.-based Uighur activist, attorney, and former executive director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, was born in a re-education camp. He said he believes the internment of Uighur Muslims in China is something Americans ought to take seriously.
“First of all, we need to acknowledge and recognize what is happening in China and China’s government’s attempt to exploit those methods, affect your democratic system, your rule of law, [and] free expression,” Turkel said. “If you don’t address this, if you don’t recognize this, it’s going to be very difficult to come together to rectify this situation. And the way that we handle this, recognize this, eventually find a solution, defines in what kind of world do we want to live.”
Turkel went on to quote the Chinese Communist Party secretary: “‘These camps were designed to teach like a school, be managed like the military, and defended like a prison, with a specific purpose to break the Uighur lineage, break their roots, break their connection, and break their origin.’”
Zenz agreed with Turkel, and explained that the Chinese Communist Party uses religious terms to promote the internment camps in an attempt to undermine and replace the religious values:
The narratives that we are seeing in Xinjiang are like salvation narratives. One of the documents I came across in the last weeks literally talked about the detainees who go through the training and the camps and then being put to labor, are like–the term was they are [in the] process of being born again. I looked it up, the exact same Chinese phrase as in John 3:6, when Jesus says we must be born again…
There’s a lot of copy-catting going on from religion. And of course communism seeks to replace religion. It’s a very dedicated effort to change the core allegiance of what really people identify with first. The re-education camps are a really brutal fight over the human heart.
Former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback spoke at the event as U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. He emphasized that all religions have come under increasing attack from the Communist Party, not just the Uighurs, but did offer some hope.
“You may have some success on a near term basis, but on a long-term basis, you’re attempting to control a religion and the soul of man,” Brownback said. “No government has ever been successful doing this. You can push it back for a while, you can hold it down for a while, but just like a sapling that comes up through the sidewalk, it will be back.”
The post China Holding Over 1 Million Uighurs in Internment Camps appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Live Action’s Pinterest account has been permanently suspended for violating Pinterest’s policies on “misinformation.”
Alison Centofante, Live Action director of external affairs, tweeted about the incident Tuesday as the organization appealed Pinterest’s decision.
“LiveAction.org” is the only pro-life website included on Pinterest’s list of banned websites, Centofante said in a tweet. The nonprofit educates on, reports on, and investigates the abortion industry, according to its webpage, and seeks to inspire others in the pro-life movement.
Project Veritas, an undercover investigative journalism nonprofit, received and published information from Pinterest employee Eric Cochran, revealing the social media platform added Live Action’s website to a list of sites blocked for pornographic content. The whistleblower has since lost his job at Pinterest, and was interviewed Wednesday on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” about his decision to speak out.
“I saw a big tech company saying quietly behind closed doors that they believe Live Action shouldn’t have a platform to speak…I want them to have to say this explicitly,” Cochran told host Tucker Carlson.
Lila Rose, founder of Live Action, told her Twitter followers Wednesday that though Live Action was initally put on Pinterest’s pornography blocklist, Pinterest later changed its story, calling Live Action’s content “inaccurate.”
Pinterest is a social media website that allows users to share or “pin” photos, recipes, videos, and other content they collect to their account. When Pinterest bans a website, its users are blocked from creating or sharing any content that links back to that page.
“What exactly is Pinterest attempting to block?” Centofante said in a tweet. “Inspirational messages to pregnant mothers, ultrasound images showing the science of prenatal development, and images saying women deserve better than abortion industry leader Planned Parenthood.”
Centofante tweeted an update later Tuesday that Pinterest had “doubled down” in response to Live Action’s appeal. Rose posted Pinterest’s decision to permanently suspend Live Action’s account due to its “harmful misinformation,” including “medical information and conspiracies that turn individuals and facilities into targets for harassment and violence.”
UPDATE: @Pinterest has now permanently suspended @LiveAction’s account (my account remains suspended), claiming our pro-life content is “medically inaccurate information” & “conspiracies” that lead to “violence.” #LifeCensored pic.twitter.com/zSoIgbVcSX— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) June 11, 2019
Centofante pointed out that Planned Parenthood was not included on Pinterest’s list of banned sites though the organization has illegally profited from selling baby parts, has been accused of mistreating pregnant women, and whose clinics have violated health codes with unsanitary equipment and unsafe practices.
Live Action included a thread on Twitter of “actually dangerous” content Pinterest allows, including do-it-yourself, at-home abortions.
“Pinterest has targeted Live Action, I believe, because our message is so effective at educating millions about the humanity of the preborn child and the injustice of abortion,” said Rose in a press release. “Pinterest says that their mission is to ‘help empower people to discover things that they love,’ but despite the fact that millions of people love babies and the pro-life cause, they are secretly censoring our life-affirming messages. Pinterest users deserve to know the truth and our messages deserve to be treated fairly.”
Several pro-life activists rallied outside Pinterest headquarters Wednesday in San Franciso in response to the alleged censorship.
Pinterest did not respond to The Daily Signal’s multiple requests for comment.
The post Pinterest Suspends Pro-Life Organization, Places it on Pornography Blocklist appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Our economy is strong, but so is the possibility that it may have an Achilles heel – the national debt. That was the consensus of participants in a recent panel discussion at The Heritage Foundation.
The unmatched power and recently strong economic growth of the United States masks a dangerous hazard which could lead to our collective downfall, the panel agreed. And if left unchecked, debt could threaten the prosperity of future generations.
It’s a bipartisan issue, the panel pointed out. Americans agree, in overwhelming numbers—as in 94 percent of Republicans and 92 percent of Democrats,, according to recent polling by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation—that future generations will be better off if the national debt is managed.
Marc Goldwein, senior vice president and senior policy director at the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget, said at the event that national debt crowds out investment as investors purchase government bonds rather than buying private assets or otherwise investing in the private sector. Over time, he argued, that could result in “slower wage growth, slower income growth, and a smaller overall economy.”
Deficit spending tends to promote consumption, whereas the private investment Goldwein believes is crowded out otherwise would go toward elements of economic growth, such as “buildings, equipment, tools, software, and education.”
Every bond issued by government might mean a factory that doesn’t open, a building that doesn’t get built, a worker who doesn’t get trained, Goldwein said. Meanwhile, deficit spending most often feeds less productive parts of the economy, such as public housing, college funding, and entitlement-based consumption.
The debt also exerts pressure on the U.S. government. Goldwein said spending on interest on the debt will exceed Medicaid within a year. In just five years, it will overtake all defense spending, creating a potential threat to national security. In 30 years, it is projected to be the single largest federal expenditure.
Monetary institutions also feel the pressure: As Romina Boccia of The Heritage Foundation said, fiscal irresponsibility encourages loose and corrupt policy from the Federal Reserve and drives it out of independence. Already, Fed chair Jerome Powell has made Federal Reserve “crisis policies” permanent, choosing not to sell off the glut of assets it purchased during the recession.
Although the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 propelled strong economic growth and decades-low unemployment rates, current economic growth does not mean the debt is irrelevant. High debt causes an erosion of economic stability and government’s ability to act in times of crises, until, as Goldwein said, “like the frog in boiling water, we may not notice it until it’s too late.”
What does “too late” look like? A spike in interest rates or another kind of shock to the bond market could likely cause a crisis to top the Great Recession, according to Goldwein.
As David Ditch of The Heritage Foundation notes, the “looming bankruptcy” of Social Security and Medicare could require the government to drastically increase deficits over a short period , possibly precipitating such a crisis. These programs are popular, but, as Ditch said, a typical American makes $50,000 annually, “getting up in the morning, going to work, putting in [a] 9-to-5 grind, getting up the next morning and doing it again for an entire year.” Entitlement spending and other high expenditures are pushing deficits to $1 trillion, which would be “20 million people’s worth of effort” added to the debt: a high and dangerous human cost that politicians rarely acknowledge and voters rarely act on.
To defend against the risks of high national debt, the country must be protected from the federal government’s proclivity for unfunded spending. Ditch likened the U.S. budget process to an “all-you-can-eat-buffet” of deficit spending and argues that the government needs a proverbial diet.
Boccia highlighted fiscal restraints like those in Switzerland, Sweden, and Germany as examples of how such a ‘diet’ might work. The restraints work, she said, because they stick to it and allow flexibility to deal with crises, and they could work here too if Congress is willing to abide by their terms, the panelists said.
Unless significant entitlement reforms are implemented now, before America’s fiscal position becomes too treacherous, the only option available to lawmakers could be to drastically increase taxes, cut government services, or both, the panelists said. More spending now means higher taxes and a poorer quality of life for future Americans.
It is up to all of us to save the country from its Achilles’ heel. If America cannot stop its debt from destroying its economy, then it will be condemned to the same fate as Achilles at Plutus: remembered only for its timely and deserved demise.
Maine on Wednesday became the eighth state (plus the District of Columbia) to legalize physician-assisted suicide—a practice that turns medicine on its head.
Instead of promoting the health and wholeness of the patient, physician-assisted suicide promotes the dangerous idea that some lives are not worth living.
That message has far-reaching effects for the medical profession, familial relationships, and the culture.
Physician-assisted suicide remains controversial within the medical field. The American Medical Association recently reiterated its opposition to physician-assisted suicide as “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer[.]”
The AMA also clarified its terminology and recommended that the term “physician-assisted suicide” continue to be used. Euphemisms like “medical aid-in-dying” obfuscate the cold, hard reality: What is at stake here is suicide, plain and simple.
The AMA’s action is a step in the right direction, but clearly insufficient to stem the rising tide of state laws.
Policymakers continue to play an important role in educating the public about the dangers of physician-assisted suicide and protecting the most vulnerable from this grave evil.
So, what’s so wrong about physician-assisted suicide?
Physician-assisted suicide is antithetical to the practice of medicine. Medicine is supposed to be about promoting the well-being of the patient, not doing away with the patient.
Once physician-assisted suicide is on the table, doctors, families, and insurers encounter perverse incentives to end the lives of the most vulnerable—the sick, the disabled, the very young, or very old.
No amount of superficial safeguards can prevent doctors and family members from pressuring their loved ones to prematurely end their lives.
None of the most common safeguards—written consent, mandatory waiting periods, witnesses—address the monetary incentives for insurance companies to end the lives of patients who require more care (and therefore cost more).
When physician-assisted suicide is an option, there are fewer incentives to pursue ethical alternatives in end-of-life care.
Physician-assisted suicide is not just a threat to individual patients. It is like Pandora’s Box: Once it’s open, it’s nearly impossible to contain its negative effects.
Once our culture grants the premise of physician-assisted suicide—that some lives are more valuable than others—we begin our descent down a slippery slope.
Other countries that have legalized physician-assisted suicide paint a dreary picture.
In Canada, as legislators contemplated expanding who qualified for physician-assisted suicide, Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children unveiled a plan to expand this practice to children, with or without parental consent.
In the Netherlands, where caretakers recently allowed a teenage girl to starve herself to death because of her trauma after several sexual assaults, there has been frequent abuse, including the nonvoluntary euthanasia of patients.
Even Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the architects of Obamacare, noted in the Atlantic as far back as 1997, “[T]he persistence of abuse and the violation of safeguards, despite publicity and condemnation, suggest that the feared consequences of legalization are exactly its inherent consequences (emphasis added).”
Physician-assisted suicide leads to euthanasia practically by necessity.
Everyone deserves to die with dignity, but physician-assisted suicide does not provide dignity. It undermines it. It treats life as disposable, and that ultimately jeopardizes the most vulnerable.
Physician-assisted suicide is a dangerous practice that creates victims out of patients to the detriment of all of society.
This new law in Maine is a mistake, for which we will pay dearly.
There is still time to change course, to move the conversation away from suicide and toward ethical alternatives for the terminally ill.
That conversation begins now.
The post Maine’s Adoption of Physician-Assisted Suicide Accelerates an Ominous Trend appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Lawmakers intended with the 2017 tax cuts not only to promote economic growth, job creation, and allowing American families to keep more of their hard-earned money, but also to make the federal tax code more neutral toward state tax policy.
But state-based tax credit scholarship programs got unintentionally caught up in the broader reform.
Now available to more than 270,000 students in 18 states, tax credit scholarship programs allow state taxpayers to receive a full or partial credit against their state tax obligations if they contribute to nonprofit organizations that grant scholarships to eligible children so they can attend a private school of their choice. They are an important and growing tool for expanding school choice.
The Treasury just saved them from what could have been a crippling blow.
The new tax law placed a cap of $10,000 on the amount taxpayers could deduct from their federal taxes for state and local taxes, which advanced the bipartisan goal of treating similar taxpayers similarly, by diminishing the previously unlimited subsidy for high taxes in states like California and Connecticut.
To implement the cap as intended by Congress, the Treasury Department released proposed regulations that disallowed use of new state schemes set up to game the charitable deduction and circumvent the cap.
But legitimate state-based tax credit scholarship programs were included in the rule, which means the ability to donate was limited for the 10% of taxpayers who itemize but don’t max out their deductions for state and local taxes.
In some cases, the cost of donating would increase from zero to as much as 37% of the donation amount.
In the final regulation and accompanying notice, the Treasury fixed the problem and re-established the federal tax system’s neutrality toward state tax credit programs, as recommended by The Heritage Foundation in a public comment.
The notice allows donors to scholarship programs to still take the deduction for state and local taxes up to the cap of $10,000. A new rule codifying this will be proposed in a few months.
The new regulations and guidance mean there is no new tax cost for taxpayers who donate to a state tax credit scholarship program. This preserves every state taxpayer’s ability to earmark their tax payments for increased education choice.
The Treasury notice fixes the tax problems of the original proposal but could open the door to the question of whether donations to tax credit organizations are charitable donations or redirected government money.
The precedent established in Arizona v. Winn makes clear that these are still donations. The tax was never collected by the state, so it remains a donation that is distinct from a voucher program.
Although the regulation could be improved by continuing to allow these deductions as charitable contributions, the Treasury’s proposal is more straightforward and easier to administer.
The new rules should come as a relief to scholarship organizations around the country. These opportunities, which benefit thousands of children, can now continue unencumbered by the federal tax code.
The post Treasury Department Just Fixed an Issue That Threatened School Choice appeared first on The Daily Signal.
The Trump administration unveiled this week a final rule that will dramatically improve workers’ ability to access health insurance of their choice.
The new rule will significantly expand the permitted uses of tax-advantaged health reimbursement accounts, or HRAs.
Today, these special employer-based accounts, in which funds can be rolled over year to year, are used by employees to cover medical expenses, including out-of-pocket costs and services uncovered by traditional insurance.
But with this rule, for the first time in the history of these tax-free accounts, the administration would allow employees to use them to pay premiums for individual health insurance.
This change will not only expand health insurance coverage, but will also lower health care costs.
The rule is the product of the combined efforts of the U.S. departments of the Treasury, Health and Human Services, and Labor. It will take effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
A Big Change for Workers Whose Companies Don’t Offer Insurance
With this regulatory initiative, the Trump administration is making a major change in health care financing.
Employers who do not, or cannot, offer health insurance at the place of work, would henceforth be able to deposit tax-free funds into health reimbursement accounts on behalf of employees who wish to use those funds to buy health insurance plans in the individual insurance markets.
While announcing the final rule, administration officials said they expected that the new rule, within a five-year period, could encourage as many as 800,000 businesses to sponsor health reimbursement accounts to fund individual coverage for more than 11 million workers.
This change is a major component of the Trump administration’s efforts to repair Obamacare’s damage to the badly battered individual and small group health insurance markets.
Trump administration officials expect regulatory relief would be most beneficial to small business employers and their workers, a class of Americans hit particularly hard by the dramatic Obamacare premium and deductible increases in the small group market.
In recent years, there has been a serious decline in the number of small and mid-size firms offering their workers group health care coverage.
Not surprisingly, administration officials expect that most of the firms that will take advantage of the new rule will have fewer than 20 employers. The new rule thus holds potential to reverse the decline in health coverage among small business employees.
Benefits Extend to Those Whose Workplaces Offer Insurance
For current and future employers who already offer health reimbursement accounts alongside traditional group health insurance, the new rule would create an “excepted benefit HRA.”
It would allow employers to provide their workers an additional $1,800 yearly (indexed to inflation) in their health reimbursement accounts to reimburse them for certain medical expenses, including dental and vision benefits.
In the case where an employee would turn down the offer of a job-based health insurance plan, for one reason or another, this health reimbursement account funding could be used to offset employees’ premiums if they chose to instead buy a new short-term, limited duration health plan, which can be renewed for three years.
These plans have broad networks, and are much less expensive than the pricey Obamacare health plans.
Beyond the shrinkage of employer-sponsored coverage among small firms, there has also been little choice in terms of health care plans for small business employees.
Trump administration officials highlight data that shows that among small businesses (with fewer than 200 employees), 81% offered only one health plan. Among larger firms, with 200 or more workers, 42% of employers offered only one health plan. One choice is, of course, no choice.
The new health reimbursement accounts rule has the potential to rectify this problem, and expand employees’ choices well beyond the limited options they have today.
With this change, the Trump administration expects the individual health insurance market to grow significantly, and become more robust as an arena for health plan participation and competition.
This, of course, would partially reverse the disastrous decline in health plan choice and competition that has marked the last six years.
Creating a Fairer Tax Code
The greatest impact of the Trump administration’s change to the existing health reimbursement account regulations is the liberalization of the federal tax treatment of health insurance.
Under current law, employers and employees enjoy unlimited tax relief for the provision and purchase of health insurance—but if, and only if, that insurance is provided under the conventional umbrella of employer-sponsored group coverage.
For the many small businesses that cannot afford to offer such coverage, many workers and their families, deprived of any individual tax relief to offset their health insurance costs, face the dilemma of either buying inordinately expensive individual coverage on or off the Obamacare exchanges or going without any coverage at all.
By extending the federal tax advantages of traditional group health insurance coverage to health reimbursement accounts for the purchase of individual insurance, the Trump administration rule would give employers who do not, or cannot, offer job-based coverage the chance to help their workers and their families with their premium costs.
There is no cap on the employers’ tax-free contributions; they can give as much as they wish to help their workers.
The rule, in effect, allows for an employer-based defined contribution for health insurance, precisely the kind of financing mechanism that could spur a resurgence in consumer choice, personal ownership of portable health plans, increased plan participation, and robust competition in the nation’s health insurance markets.
However, administrative changes, no matter how beneficial, are no substitute for legislative solutions.
The Trump administration can make a rule change, and the next administration can just as easily unmake a rule change. Good, sound, and stable public policy can only be assured through congressional action. Transient regulation is no substitution for permanent law.
President Donald Trump is practicing addition, not subtraction by offering more options, not fewer.
The president has done what he can within the law to improve the market environment for personal health plan choice and competition. His actions will doubtless contribute to an increase in health insurance coverage.
Now, Congress needs to step up. First, Congress should codify the president’s rules in statute. Second, Congress should fix the nation’s badly broken health insurance markets.
The roadmap for that reform is the Health Care Choices Proposal, widely supported by a broad coalition of health policy analysts.
It would return most regulatory power over health insurance markets back to the states, guarantee financial help to the poor and the sick, and allow any person in a government health program to redirect their public funding to payment for a private or employer plan of their choice.
Americans need relief. They want lower costs and more choice. Trump’s team has taken a good step in that direction and Congress should follow suit.
The post Trump’s Expansion of Health Reimbursement Accounts Improves Health Care Choices appeared first on The Daily Signal.
U.S. crude oil imports from the Saudi Arabian-led OPEC fell to a 30-year low, according to the latest federal figures.
OPEC imports fell to 1.5 million barrels per day in March, which is the lowest level since March 1986, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Thursday. The Energy Information Administration said OPEC imports fell “as domestic crude oil production has increased.”Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Petroleum Supply Monthly
“Americans are no longer dependent on foreigners for their energy, and Americans are getting good jobs producing that oil and gas right here at home,” Dan Kish, a distinguished senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“The threat against American energy security has shifted from OPEC to the halls of Congress, where members talk of the Green Raw Deal and carbon taxes that could torpedo our energy miracle,” Kish said.
The last time Americans were this independent from OPEC oil former President Ronald Reagan was in office and Halley’s Comet was visible in the night’s sky. The Energy Information Administration also noted that U.S. sanctions on Venezuela drove imports to a record low, including periods when the U.S. took no oil from it.
The U.S. also imported less from Iraq. Other OPEC members shipped less to the U.S. as part of the oil cartel’s strategy to keep crude prices up in the face of booming American production.
“In the first three months of 2019, the volume of U.S. crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia and Iraq—the two largest sources of imports from OPEC in 2018—have averaged 26% and 28% below their 2018 average levels,” the Energy Information Administration reported.
The Energy Information Administration also reported the West Coast supplanted the Gulf Coast as the largest destination for OPEC crude oil. In fact, the Gulf Coast is now a net exporter of oil while West Coast states, led by California, are more reliant on OPEC crude.Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Petroleum Supply Monthly
While the U.S. is less reliant on OPEC crude, the oil cartel can still have a drastic effect on prices. That’s currently on display as tensions between the U.S. and Iran escalate after an attack on two oil tankers Thursday in the Strait of Hormuz.
The attacks sent crude prices soaring on news of the attacks, which occurred in the world’s biggest oil choke point. U.S. officials blamed Iran for the attacks, but Iranian officials denied any connections.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t be fooled by the Americans behind the camera. In today’s Hollywood, there’s one director—and that’s China.
As important as U.S. audiences are, filmmakers know there’s a bigger one. And they’re willing to do anything they can to tap into it, even if it means becoming co-conspirators with one of the most evil censorship operations in the world.
It’s the biggest partnership no one knows about, and according to some experts, the most dangerous.
The majority of Americans probably have no idea when they buy a ticket to the latest blockbuster that the film they’re about to see was either partially financed by China or altered because of it.
In the last several years, there hasn’t been a more powerful influence over Hollywood than the communist regime—and with Chinese ticket sales set to overtake the U.S., the situation is only going to get worse.
There’s a sinister side to all of this, which is that the more Hollywood relies on China’s market to make movies, the more those movies are going to cater to the country’s demands.
The Heritage Foundation’s Mike Gonzalez has been tracking the major revolution in filmmaking because of the Chinese market and thinks more Americans need to be paying attention.
“Hollywood does all kinds of things to make sure they have a slice of the Chinese pie,” he told listeners on “Washington Watch.” “And they’re quite open about it. They don’t hide it. They’re quite happy to submit to the censorship of the Chinese Communist Party.”
“It goes something like this,” he explained. “In order for the U.S. film to crack the Chinese market, certain themes cannot be portrayed, certain products must be taken out, and certain speech must be limited.”
The process has become so rigorous that a lot of studios are actually flying over these Chinese censors to sit in on filming.
In some instances, entire scripts have been changed—either to conform to the communists’ messaging or showcase China in the best possible light.
Others try to save themselves the time and money of those overhauls by just co-producing their movies with the Chinese from the start—including, in 2018, some of the biggest box office successes: “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” “Venom,” “The Meg,” and “Pacific Rim: Uprising.”
The obvious result of all this, Gonzalez argues, is that:
American audiences are being submitted to censorship—not our own censorship, but a foreign power’s censorship—and a Communist Party censorship.
We get shown a very benign view of China, in which China is a normal country, no different from Paris, or Britain, or Germany. That isn’t the case, obviously.
If you speak against the government in Germany, nothing happens to you. If you speak against the government in China, they’ll throw you in jail.
By letting China call the shots, these filmmakers have actually become complicit in the attack on free expression—their expression.
Just think about it, Gonzalez said:
How come there’s never been a movie about the Tiananmen Square massacre? That was drama there. There were students who were crushed by soldiers. There was blood, there was death, there was scheming.
And yet Hollywood has never made a movie about Tiananmen. Why? Because any studio who makes a movie about Tiananmen knows that will be shut out forever from the Chinese box office market.
This is a country with such suffocating strictness that even Winnie the Pooh is banned. Why? Because the government is worried he’ll be compared to President Xi Jinping. (Maybe they don’t want the world’s worst human rights abusers to look soft.)
Either way, Hollywood is going along with it, prostituting its voice—and America’s influence—in the process.
Of course, most people probably aren’t surprised that Tinseltown would sell its soul to make a few bucks. What they are amazed by is all of the political sanctimony from filmmakers here at home.
This is an industry in partnership with the Chinese government, a notoriously brutal regime, who’s turning around and telling places like Georgia: We’re not doing business with you because you passed pro-life laws.
Unbelievable. Hollywood has no problem climbing down from its moral high horse to sell tickets in China—where people are being viciously tortured and killed—but decides it can’t possibly ally itself with states that protect their own people.
They’d rather be a puppet of the communist state and its nightmarish record on human rights than support a democratic process that saves lives. That’s 100% hypocrisy no matter what language you speak.
If the entertainment industry wants to wrap itself in the Chinese flag, that’s literally its business. Just don’t be shocked when the alliance backfires. Because in a world of bad actors, the People’s Republic is the worst.
Originally published in Tony Perkins’ Washington Update, which is written with the aid of Family Research Council senior writers.
Connecticut has put in place diversity quotas for certain magnet schools, meaning the racial breakdown of those schools has to stay relatively fixed. That policy is backfiring on the state, which is now being sued by parents—largely African American—saying that it adversely affects their kids. I recently sat down with Gwen Samuel, the plaintiff in that case, and today we’ll share that exclusive interview. Plus: CNN’s Jim Acosta says the media is doing a great job and there’s no bias. Rachel and I will discuss.
The Daily Signal podcast is available on Ricochet, iTunes, SoundCloud, Google Play, or Stitcher. All of our podcasts can be found at DailySignal.com/podcasts. If you like what you hear, please leave a review. You can also leave us a message at 202-608-6205 or write us at email@example.com. Enjoy the show!
Daniel Davis: I’m joined now by Gwen Samuel. She is from Meriden, Connecticut, and she is the founder of the Connecticut Parents Union, which is involved in a court case against the state of Connecticut in school education. Gwen, thanks for joining us on the podcast today.
Gwen Samuel: Thank you, young man, for having me.
Davis: Gwen, tell me about the case and how your organization became the plaintiff against the state of Connecticut.
Samuel: I think is important for your listeners to know that Connecticut is known as the Constitution State, but yet we are violating children’s constitutional rights like it didn’t exist.
Right now we are suing the state of Connecticut because in our public magnet schools we have racial quotas. That means we are turning children away from quality public schools because of the color of their skin, which is a constitutional violation, period.
Davis: Tell me about that. How has that been specifically happening? Because most people would say that’s ancient history.
Samuel: Thirty years ago it looks like … I’m from Meriden, Connecticut, and Hartford is our state capitol. It’s a majority urban community. Thirty years ago, a black mom said that the surrounding suburban towns were getting more resources, so they sued. Mind you, 30 years ago. They sued, the judge ruled in their favor and said that you need to provide equitable resources. Again, this is just for Hartford. The judge never told them to violate anyone’s constitutional rights. The judge never said, “Treat children differently.” It just said, “All deserve equal access to opportunity.”
So what does the great state of Connecticut do? They implement racial quotas. That means you have to have so many black and Hispanic children, so many white children, and so many Asian children.
What’s happening in a majority urban town, to me, it’s not segregation. If it’s a majority urban town, that means your school’s going to be majority of color. But what is happening is, if the white and Asian children don’t attend, they keep the seats empty and leave kids on the wait list at the door.
Davis: Just to keep the percentages.
Samuel: Just to keep the percentages. When did the Constitution stop at the schoolhouse door? It doesn’t. In Hartford, black and Hispanic parents sued, and who is opposing us? The NAACP. The NAACP supports forced integration. … And I am an African-American mom. Imagine how distraught … Racial discrimination is being supported by an entity that was in place to protect the rights of all children.
So fast forward, we thought it was just a Hartford issue. The Connecticut Parents Union, we didn’t even know this was happening until we found out that these black and Hispanic parents were being attacked by their own communities. Unions were attacking them. Lawmakers weren’t speaking favorable.
So they called us and they let us know about Pacific Legal Foundation, which is a conservative lawyer foundation who took the case. People were attacking us. “You’re with conservatives?” This is about freedom for all, period. We’re not going to get stuck in all these ideologies and rhetoric that harm children.
Then when I met Pacific Legal, I told them who we were, the Connecticut Parents Union, and I told them we were concerned that the state doubled down on unconstitutional laws and applied this racial quota to the whole state.
First, it was just Hartford, and you’re going to apply racial quotas to the whole state. We’re not having it. So we reached out to Pacific Legal Foundation. We asked them, “Would they represent our organization to protect the rights of parents across the whole state?” And we just filed this year.
Last year, Robinson v. Wentzell filed in the Supreme Court, and the judge just ruled that the case can proceed, which is a huge victory. Now we’re just waiting to hear if our case moves forward because we had to prove that we had standing. I thought that was very interesting. Here are parents who have the right, the natural right, to the upbringing of their children, have to prove standing. How does that work?
Samuel: But anyway, we submitted the documents, and again, they’re doing this all pro bono and we’re just so grateful to Pacific Legal Foundation, who believe in liberty and justice for all, not some.
Davis: How did the state legislators respond to your getting involved in this?
Samuel: They called me and they were like, “Gwen, what are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing?”
As lawmakers, you take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, and in that Constitution there are 14th Amendment protections. Children deserve to be treated fairly, regardless of their race. And yet, you chose to pass an unconstitutional law in a state that is known as the Constitution State.
How do all those oxymorons work? All this [is the] total opposite of everything in the Constitution and freedom stands for.
Davis: What about the teachers unions? How are they involved in this case?
Samuel: When I learned that they were part of the plaintiffs—we’re the plaintiffs, the defendants team—I went to their website before they took it down. I had to screenshot it.
Davis: Oh, OK.
Samuel: And I’m like, wait a minute. The teachers union’s fingerprints are all over this because they benefit from forced integration.
Davis: How so?
Samuel: Because they’ll say, “Oh, we need more money. Black children are just poor, they can’t learn, so we need more money to guarantee our jobs,” versus ensuring every school in the state of Connecticut is a quality school.
If you believe all children deserve to be justly educated, why would you have racial quotas that leave [out] the very children that these schools were designed for, in Hartford, Connecticut, one of those top five poorest districts in this country? Then why would you support something that discriminates against them? Unless you have an agenda?
Samuel: The agenda is forcing those kids out of the quality schools. They’re being indoctrinated, not encouraged to be free thinking, to be self-governing. Then you’re forcing those children that you won’t allow in these schools back into the unsafe, many of our traditional public schools.
Samuel: So they have a self-interest. It’s a guaranteed job because there’s money in failure. They’re failing over the things they are creating. Imagine that. The lawmakers who want the campaign donations, who don’t want the unions upset, cater to them at the expense of their constituents.
If you’re willing to sell your constituents to the highest bidder, you shouldn’t be in office, period. That’s why I take this Leadership Program of the Rockies Class so that we can inform and engage citizens. Don’t just pull the lever because you think they’re a nice guy.
Samuel: Will they uphold the freedoms that so many of our military and troops fought for throughout American history? We shouldn’t be compromising that sacrifice for a special interest, like a teachers union.
Davis: Well, it’s an amazing case and one that deserves national attention, frankly.
Samuel: That’s why we’re on your podcast. So we will start with that little bit.
Davis: That’s right. That’s exactly right. Well, Gwen Samuel, thanks for sharing about your case and for leading the charge and creating this Parents Union. Thanks for joining me here.
Samuel: Thanks for giving us a voice to be able to make this a national conversation, because we will be sharing your podcast everywhere we can. Thank you.
Davis: Fantastic. Thank you.
The post How Racial Quotas Are Hurting Minority Kids in Connecticut appeared first on The Daily Signal.
The Trump administration came to the defense of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, sharply rejecting a call from a federal watchdog that she should be fired for criticizing political opponents during TV interviews at the White House.
The Office of Special Counsel issued a report asserting that Conway violated the Hatch Act, a 1939 law that prevents federal employees from engaging in political activities on federal property.
The Office of Special Counsel previously found two of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet secretaries had violated the Hatch Act in 2012 and 2016, but neither was punished.
The letter to Trump called Conway a “repeat offender” for talking about Democratic presidential candidates in TV interviews while on White House grounds. The letter called for the president “to remove Ms. Conway from her federal platform immediately.”
“Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions,” the letter states. “Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system—the rule of law.”
Conway, the first woman to manage a successful presidential campaign, told reporters Thursday, “I have no reaction.”
The White House is standing behind Conway. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote a response to special counsel Henry Kerner, claiming the report was based on “numerous grave, legal, and procedural errors.”
“First, even assuming that the Hatch Act applies to the most senior advisers to the President in the White House, OSC has violated its statutory obligation to provide Ms. Conway a reasonable opportunity to respond, violated Ms. Conway’s due process rights, and abused its discretion by issuing a report tainted by inappropriate external influences,” the White House counsel’s letter says, adding:
Second, OSC’s overbroad and unsupported interpretation of the Hatch Act risks violating Ms. Conway’s First Amendment rights and chills the free speech of all government employees.
In fact, OSC had no legal authority to promulgate guidance on social media use that it treats effectively as binding rules in order to enforce its overbroad interpretation of the act.
Third, contrary to your letter, Ms. Conway’s Twitter account and her social media appearances do not violate even the standards used by the OSC itself. Worst of all, OSC’s call to the President ‘to remove Ms. Conway from her federal platform immediately’ is as outrageous as it is unprecedented.
Career government officials who violate the Hatch Act can be fired, suspended, demoted, or fined $1,000. The federal civil service system distinguishes career employees from political appointees.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, who is leading multiple congressional probes of the Trump administration, called for Conway’s immediate ouster based on the OSC findings.
“Complying with the law is not optional. President Trump should terminate Ms. Conway’s employment immediately in light of these dozens of violations of federal law,” Cummings said in a statement.
“Allowing Ms. Conway to continue her position of trust at the White House would demonstrate that the president is not interested in following the law—or requiring his closest aides to do so,” he said.
The president and vice president are not subject to the law.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has on numerous occasions declined to answer questions from reporters about political candidates or political campaigns, referencing federal law.
During the Obama administration, the Office of Special Counsel found then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius in violation of the Hatch Act for endorsing a North Carolina Democratic candidate for office during a 2012 speech in her HHS capacity to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT group.
Obama’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president from his HUD office during a 2016 interview.
The Office of Special Counsel for a time also investigated Obama’s first Labor secretary, Hilda Solis, but dropped the matter when she resigned from the Cabinet to run for office in California.
Before that, the Office of Special Counsel determined that under President George W. Bush, the White House Office of Political Affairs violated the Hatch Act for its promotion of Republican congressional campaigns.
The Office of Special Counsel is an existing federal agency that investigates whether federal employees violated rules on politics and other matters. It’s not to be confused with the office of former special counsel Robert Mueller.
The Office of Special Counsel’s report found in March 2018 that Conway violated the law during two TV interview advocating for and against candidates in a special election in 2017 for a Senate seat from Alabama. That report did not recommend her firing.
The White House counsel’s response to the letter was “devastating,” said Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow with The Heritage Foundation.
“It raises serious questions of partisan bias in OSC’s investigation, as well as OSC’s mistaken and error-filled interpretation of the Hatch Act that violates basic First Amendment rights,” von Spakovsky told The Daily Signal.
“It is also clear that OSC didn’t follow its own procedural rules designed to provide due process protections to federal employees in rushing out a report, because OSC admitted it was ‘personally’ offended by Conway’s criticisms and supposed ‘disrespect’ towards OSC,” von Spakovsky said.
“This OSC report seems to have been generated due to Kerner’s personal animus towards Conway,” he said.
The post White House Rebukes Calls for Firing of Conway Over Alleged Hatch Act Violations appeared first on The Daily Signal.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will leave her post at the end of June and will return to Arkansas.
President Donald Trump announced the departure on Twitter late Thursday afternoon.
After 3 1/2 years, our wonderful Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be leaving the White House at the end of the month and going home to the Great State of Arkansas….— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2019
….She is a very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job! I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas – she would be fantastic. Sarah, thank you for a job well done!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2019
“After 3-½ years, our wonderful Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be leaving the White House at the end of the month and going home to the Great State of Arkansas,” Trump tweeted. “She is a very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job! I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas – she would be fantastic. Sarah, thank you for a job well done!”
Sanders, who took the job in July 2017 after initially serving as deputy press secretary, also worked on the Trump campaign. She is the daughter of Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate.
Trump called her up to the stage during a prison-reform event in the East Room of the White House.
“This has been the honor of a lifetime; the opportunity of a lifetime. I couldn’t be prouder than to have had the opportunity to serve my country and particularly to work for this president,” Sanders said.
Sanders is Trump’s second press secretary. She replaced Sean Spicer, who held the job from January through July 2017.
She initially shortened the daily press briefings, which traditionally ran for about an hour, to about 20 minutes, before reducing them to once a month or less.
Sanders is the third woman to hold the position of White House press secretary and the first mother to do so.
“I have loved it. I love the president. I love the team I’ve had the opportunity to work for—the most incredible and talented people you could ever imagine. It has been a special experience,” she said. “The only one that I can think of that might top it a little bit is that I’m a mom. I have three amazing kids, and I’m going to spend a little more time with them.”
Previously, Dana Perino, now a Fox News host, was press secretary for President George W. Bush for the final 16 months of his term. Dee Dee Myers was the first female White House press secretary, serving under President Bill Clinton for the first 23 months of his administration.
Sanders frequently engaged in sparring sessions with reporters, such as CNN’s Jim Acosta.
“It has truly been something I will treasure forever. It’s one of the greatest jobs I could ever have. I’ve loved every minute, even the hard minutes,” she said.
The post Trump Lauds Departing Press Chief Sanders as ‘Special Person’ for Doing ‘an Incredible Job’ appeared first on The Daily Signal.
In what is hard to characterize as anything other than poetic justice, Oberlin College and its former vice president and dean of students, Meredith Raimondo, has been hit by an Ohio jury with a multimillion-dollar judgment for libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress against a local family business, Gibson’s Bakery and Candy, which led to a boycott of the bakery over false charges of racism.
What began as a simple shoplifting incident took on a life of its own because of the bakery’s proximity to one of the country’s preeminent institutions of political correctness and progressive thought.
It demonstrates the dangers of jumping to conclusions before the facts are in and the damage done by false charges of racism.
Gibson’s Bakery is a century-old business owned and operated by three generations of the Gibson family.
On Nov. 9, 2016, the day after President Donald Trump’s electoral victory, a black Oberlin student shoplifted two bottles of wine from Gibson’s after he first tried to buy them with a fake ID. He was chased out of the store by the Gibson grandson.
This was the 41st shoplifting incident in five years (40 adults had been arrested previously, including six African Americans).
When the grandson tried to take a picture of the shoplifting student with his phone, he was knocked down and assaulted by the student and two of the student’s friends.
When police arrived on scene, “they [found] Gibson on his back, with [the three undergraduates] punching and kicking him. All three were charged, [the thief] with robbery and his friends with assault.”
Ordinarily, stealing from a private establishment would not merit a national news story or a libel lawsuit, but because the Gibson family is white, and the student black, Oberlin’s ceaselessly “woke” campus erupted with cries that the bakery was engaged in racial profiling of the student and was a “racist” establishment.
We know this is not true because the shoplifting student and his pals eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges, including attempted theft, aggravated trespassing, and underage purchase of alcohol.
As part of their plea bargains, they admitted committing the crimes and that the actions of the baker had not been racially motivated, i.e., no discrimination had occurred.
But the students and administrators at Oberlin College weren’t interested in the facts. Instead, they immediately acted against Gibson’s.
For example, a flyer was distributed making the false claim that the bakery was a “RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION” and urging an economic boycott.
The president of Oberlin, along with its vice president and dean of students, sent out an email trying to excuse the students’ behavior by blaming it on the outcome of the presidential election.
They were “deeply troubled because we have heard from students that there is more to the story than what has been generally reported.”
Oberlin ignored the findings of the police investigation that found no evidence of racism.
Instead, Oberlin suspended its long-time business relationship with Gibson’s.
Oberlin’s faculty and administration helped students copy and distribute flyers against the bakery, orchestrated and attended protests against the bakers, and actually gave students academic credit for skipping class and participating in the boycott campaign.
An Oberlin trustee paid the legal retainer for a criminal defense attorney for the shoplifting student, and the university provided the student with a limo to transport him to meet the lawyer.
In a private meeting with the Gibsons, the college demanded that the bakery institute a policy of not filing criminal charges against first-time student shoplifters or call the police.
According to the complaint, a Facebook rant was posted by Oberlin’s Department of Africana Studies claiming that the bakery had been “bad for decades, their dislike of Black people is palpable. Their food is rotten and they profile Black students. NO MORE!”
The Washington Post writes that court documents also “revealed how Raimondo and another administrator shared a sense of outrage after a professor spoke against the [school’s] boycott. ‘[Expletive] him … I’d say unleash the students if I wasn’t convinced this needs to be put behind us.”
Expletive-laced comments from the vice president and dean of students at what U.S. News and World Report ranks as the country’s 30th-best liberal arts school.
All of these actions “‘devastated’ the bakery’s revenue, which forced staffing cuts.” At least six members of the Gibson family were forced to work without pay for months, just to keep the business afloat.
Social justice fervor is nothing new on Oberlin’s campus. In the past five years, students have protested against the cultural inauthenticity of dining hall cuisine, requested trigger warnings for storied works of Western civilization, and submitted a 14-page letter to the school’s board and president with 50 nonnegotiable demands that are the essence of political correctness.
That letter claimed that Oberlin “functions on the premises of imperialism, white supremacy, capitalism, ableism, and a cissexist heteropatriarchy.” And it demanded that the college offer “guaranteed tenure” to an African American professor who claims that the U.S. and Israel planned the 9/11 attacks.
Student complaints about the cultural appropriation of food centered around using incorrect ingredients, such as substitutions for a traditional Vietnamese bánh mì of ciabatta bread, pulled pork, and coleslaw instead of a crispy baguette with grilled pork, pate, pickled vegetables, and fresh herbs.
Even today, the facts apparently don’t matter. In late April, The Oberlin Review wrote that “a black student attempted to make a purchase at Gibson’s Bakery and was accused of shoplifting. The student ran outside the store … and [the son of the owner and the student] got into a physical altercation.”
That phrasing makes the shoplifting seem like an innocuous misunderstanding between a student and rash shopkeeper, rather than a century-old, family-owned bakery being looted in an undergraduate’s attempt to subvert state drinking laws.
And, according to the lawsuit, guides giving campus tours sponsored by Oberlin have continued to tell prospective students to boycott the bakers because it is a “racist establishment” that “assaults students.”
Just as the student body still views the case as a sign of racism, presumably in an effort to divert attention away from their fellow undergraduates’ culpability, so too the school refuses to take responsibility, even after the recent verdict.
In an email to the school’s alumni association, Oberlin claimed it was not responsible for the actions of its students, denying the reality of the college’s participation in, and instigation of, the unfair actions taken against the bakery.
The jury awarded $11 million in compensatory damages and $33 million in punitive damages. The college certainly has the ability to pay the judgment. Oberlin’s endowment is just under $890 million, and tuition is $52,762 per year as of 2018.
This case shows how much damage false claims of racism can cause. And it shows just how infected school administrators and many students are with the absurd victimization culture that predominates in academic culture, and how ridiculous claims of “imperialism, white supremacy, capitalism, ableism, and a cissexist heteropatriarchy” are poisoning their minds.
The post A Hub of Political Correctness Gets Hit With a Big Judgment appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Rising support for socialism in the United States comes at a time when politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., promise a great many “free” services, to be provided or guaranteed by the government.
Supporters often point to nations with large social programs, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Scandinavian states, particularly when it comes to health care.
Never mind that these are not true socialist countries, but highly taxed market economies with large welfare states. That aside, they do offer a government-guaranteed health service that many in America wish to emulate.
The problem for their argument is that, despite these extremely generous programs, some of these countries are seeing steady a growth of private health insurance.
“Medicare for All,” the prominent socialized medicine proposal in the United States, is most similar to the Canadian system in which providers bill the regional office administering the program.
In Medicare for All, there would be no cost-sharing schemes and all coverage would be comprehensive, including prescription drugs, dental, vision, and other services deemed necessary by the secretary of health and human services.
The Scandinavian systems are similar to Medicare for All in the respect that they use regional offices to administer reimbursements to providers.
Yet they differ in critical ways: They employ cost-sharing for certain services, they are less comprehensive in their coverage, and they allow for private health insurance plans to complement or supplement the government system to cover out-of-pocket expenses and to circumvent wait times or rationed access to specialists.
These are precisely the things Medicare for All would abolish. It’s intriguing that while socialists in America would rush to nationalize the health care system, Norwegians, Swedes, and Danes are all gradually increasing their use of private health insurance.
Between 2006 and 2016, the portion of the population covered by private insurance increased by 4% in Sweden, 7% in Norway, and 22% in Denmark.
The increases in Sweden and Norway are modest but noteworthy, considering that most out-of-pocket payments have a relatively low annual limit.
Private plans in Sweden and Norway are mainly designed to supplement the government-run plan.
In addition to covering out-of-pocket costs, these plans also guarantee prompt access to specialists or elective procedures, which the state plans often fail to provide.
Denmark also allows “complementary” insurance plans, which cover services that are partially or not at all covered by the national system, including dental and vision services.
This growing European interest in private health insurance typically stems from dissatisfaction with the state-run systems, which often provide poor or incomplete coverage and long wait times.
By contrast, private plans offer wider coverage, shorter wait times, access to private facilities, and more flexibility in patient choice.
For instance, in a 2009 survey, nearly half of Danes felt waiting times were unreasonable while only about a third disagreed. In 2007, the Danish government enacted a wait time guarantee of one month to receive treatment.
Most of the private health insurance in Denmark, as well as in Sweden and Norway, is employer-based. In Denmark, the increase in private insurance is likely due, in part, to employers seeking to recruit top-tier talent by including health coverage as part of a benefits package.
In turn, private insurers make a strong pitch to employers, informing them that having private coverage minimizes their employees’ time lost to illness and ensures they have prompt access to medical care.
In that 2009 survey, the largest portion of respondents believed the most important factor driving employer-based coverage was that it results in “less sickness absence due to quicker treatment.”
The second and third most popular responses were that it provides access to private hospitals and circumvents long wait times in the public system.
In this way, private options create value for average Danes getting premium health coverage as a perk of employment, for Danish employers who can compete for the high end of the labor market, and for the insurers who are selling this service.
Private insurance plans even create value for the government because it decreases public health expenditure. Roughly half of respondents in the survey had their last hospital visit paid by a private insurer.
Recall: This would all be illegal under Medicare for All. Private health insurance would be abolished for everyone.
Danes are right to deny that they are a socialist country, but their generous welfare programs, and those of the Swedes and Norwegians, are clearly objects of envy for American socialists.
While the Scandinavian health care systems are each different in their own ways, they all offer universal coverage for citizens, and any cost-sharing comes with low annual limits.
They provide nearly everything that a proponent of socialized health care could ask for—and yet each of these countries host a growing private health insurance sector.
It behooves us to ask why this is before we outlaw our own private care.
The post ‘Socialist’ Nordic Countries Are Actually Moving Toward Private Health Care appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Recent Agreement With Mexico Will Alleviate Border Crisis, but Further Reforms Needed for Long-Term Solution
After a week of negotiations, the U.S. and Mexico came to a landmark deal on addressing the Central American migration crisis. If implemented correctly, it could usher in a new era of joint action in addressing illegal immigration.
With this new agreement, the U.S. and Mexico now have an operational framework for bilateral and individual measures on reducing migration flows.
Mexico has committed to an expansion of the Migration Protection Protocols, otherwise known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy.
This means that Mexico has agreed to hold an increased number of Central American migrants in Mexico while they await processing of their U.S. asylum claims.
Previously, Mexico was accepting an average of 250 individuals per day; this number is expected to rise to 1,000 people. In addition, Mexico is reportedly open to accepting assistance from the U.S., which would expedite its capabilities.
The Mexican government has also agreed to additional enforcement mechanisms on both its border with the U.S. and more notably on its shared border with Guatemala.
Mexico has committed to a 6,000 Mexican National Guard personnel deployment and sharp uptick in arrests. This component of the deal heralds a decisive shift in Mexico’s approach to its southern border.
Reportedly, Mexican officials have said that this will be “the first time in recent history that Mexico has decided to take operational control of its southern border as a priority.”
Within the agreement, Mexico has vowed to take broader measures individually and alongside the U.S. at addressing the criminal networks involved in human trafficking and smuggling.
This component of the agreement creates a platform for deepened cooperation amongst U.S. intelligence officials and law enforcement and their Mexican counterparts.
The joint declaration and subsequent reports from U.S. and Mexican officials indicate an attempt at creating a regional migration management system with key transit countries in Latin America.
This proposal aims at forming a regional arrangement in which asylum-seekers would apply for sanctuary in the first country they reach.
For both the U.S. and Mexico, there is much to be celebrated.
The challenges posed by the surge of Central American migrants transiting to Mexico en route to the U.S. has become a key issue for Mexican President Lopez Obrador.
The drastic uptick has resulted in a significant financial and resource burden on the Mexican government.
Additionally, the smuggling and trafficking of these migrants is facilitated by organized crime, fueling dangerous organizations within Mexico and the region.
Adopting the proposals in this new framework focused on enforcement measures is a decisive shift from Mexico’s traditional perspective on Central American migration.
The parameters mandated by the agreement compel the government of Mexico to elevate illegal Central American migration as a national security priority.
Should the enforcement measures reduce the burden on both countries as expected, this could lead to a permanent and decisive shift in Mexico’s future policies.
This deal is also the first time there are measurable outcomes the U.S. and Mexico must achieve.
Both countries have also agreed to meet and revisit the agreement in 90 days should the migrant numbers not decline.
Moving forward, the U.S. ought to be mindful that alongside enforcement actions, deepening cooperation with the Northern Triangle’s El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras is the backbone to addressing the border and regional crisis.
Increased enforcement and border controls are important but equal importance must be given to the long-term project of building government capacity, supporting economic development, and rooting out corruption.
Addressing these factors that drive outmigration must remain key pillars of the U.S.’ policy toward the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
Should the U.S. and Mexico need to revisit the agreement, the U.S. must seek other negotiating tools besides the threat of tariffs. With Mexico policy, economic penalties must not be linked with migration or other security related matters.
Mexico is the U.S.’ largest trading partner and our integrated economies have made it so that the cost of tariffs on Mexico would be immediately felt by American consumers and businesses. Bilateral engagement occurs on a broad range of issues and there will be diminishing returns to economic coercion.
The bottom line is that the agreement is a positive step forward in curtailing illegal immigration from Central America and relieving the humanitarian crisis on the U.S.’ southern border.
It is also an indicator of the health and durability of the U.S.-Mexico relationship.
Both countries must remain committed to their end of the deal and finding long-term solutions to the destabilization in the Northern Triangle.
Planned Parenthood joined several other groups in suing the Trump administration on Tuesday over the “conscience” rule, which would allow health care workers to refuse to conduct abortions due to religious or moral beliefs.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) “conscience” rule “protects individuals and health care entities from discrimination on the basis of their exercise of conscience in HHS-funded programs,” according to the HHS website.
Among those suing the Trump administration to block the rule are “Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Inc, the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association and Public Health Solutions Inc.,” according to Reuters.
The organization said if the rule is passed, it could affect more than 613,000 health care centers around the country.
“Trust is the cornerstone of the physician-patient relationship,” Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen said in a statement. “No one should have to worry if they will get the right care or information because of their providers’ personal beliefs.”
HHS said it is prepared to defend the bill against its opponents, Reuters reported. The department did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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The post Planned Parenthood Suing Trump Administration Over ‘Conscience’ Rule for Abortions appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey recently signed into law a bill that makes the Grand Canyon State the nation’s first to broadly recognize occupational licenses from other states for people licensed for at least a year in another state. The change is a win for working women and everyone who wants the option of moving to another state and finding a job.
“House Bill 2569 is a common-sense reform that will help expand economic opportunity by making it easier for people to move to Arizona to further their careers,” said Paul Avelar, managing attorney of the Institute for Justice Arizona office. Under traditional state licensing regimes, individual states require people to meet certain, specific requirements in order to get a license to practice an occupation, so moving across a state line requires a new license.
Thanks to Arizona’s new law, workers licensed in one state will have an easier time if they move to Arizona. The law applies to athletic trainers, barbers, cosmetologists, funeral directors, massage therapists, nurses, and real estate agents, among others.
This is simply good policy—after all, massage therapists don’t forget how to give massages when they cross state lines, and presumably passing state requirements in one state is enough to protect the public health and safety in another.
This blow against needless red tape is a win for economic mobility. Occupational licensing requiring education, training, exams, and/or fees makes it more costly to move to another state and continue working.
For those who don’t have a choice, it means they have to give up work.
Take active duty military spouses, 93% of whom are female. Military families move an average of once every three years. Careers that demand families move on short notice or move frequently make it hard for anyone to maintain a career. For those who work in careers that require licenses, the cost can be prohibitive and make working next to impossible. Some state legislatures have addressed this issue for military spouses through temporary licensure or just requiring a current license in another state and fees.
But this step is not enough. Unnecessary occupational licensing requirements should be repealed.
Occupational licenses are justified as a means to protect the public health and safety. In some cases, they serve this purpose. But often, occupational licensing requirements are primarily barriers to entry meant to limit competition to existing workers and businesses.
Occupational licensing is increasingly common. Today, occupational licensing covers nearly 30% of the U.S. workforce, up from 5% in the 1950s.
Some licensing requirements are clearly ridiculous.
To become an interior designer in Louisiana, for example, an applicant must: complete six years of post-high school education and training, such as graduating from an interior design program of four years and completing two years of “interior design experience;” pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam which costs more than $1,000; and pay a $150 licensing fee.
Sixty-nine percent of interior designers are women. No one is going to get hurt by an interior designer picking the wrong couch pillows. But strict licensing does keep the competition out.
In contrast, Louisiana only requires EMTs pay $110 in fees, complete 110 hours of education, and pass two exams to get a license. It’s clear that it isn’t public safety that is dictating licensing policies in Louisiana.
If a woman who is talented in design can’t become an interior designer, she might try to become a florist, but that’s not an easy task in Louisiana either. Louisiana is the only state that requires florists to obtain a license. The state eventually ended the practical part of its exam, which as Shoshana Weissmann and C. Jarrett Dieterle explained in USA Today, involved subjective judgment of bouquet-arranging. DATA USA found 71% of workers in the retail florists industry group are women.
In addition to being unfair to individuals seeking to find employment or start a small business, overregulation through state occupational licensing negatively affects the economy. Overall, occupational licensing may cost the economy more than $183 billion each year in misallocated resources, according to a 2018 Institute for Justice report.
Rolling back state occupational licensing doesn’t have to be a partisan issue. In April, former Vice President Joe Biden said,“Why should someone who braids hair have to get 600 hours of training? It makes no sense…They’re making it harder and harder in a whole range of professions, all to keep competition down.”
Arizona’s move should be the first step in rolling back licensing requirements that are needlessly costly, time-intensive, and, in many cases, have no demonstrative purpose besides keeping competition out.
This is a women’s empowerment agenda that everyone should get behind.