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Updated: Fri, 23 Feb 2018 14:01:28 -0600

 



Trump Calls for Arming Many Teachers, More Guards at Schools

2018-02-23T00:00:00Z

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump told conservatives that even Second Amendment supporters can get behind steps to fight gun violence, offering a red-meat call for arming teachers Friday while avoiding mention of other elements of his approach opposed by the National Rifle Association. Basking in the glow of a cheering crowd, Trump also offered a greatest-hits recap of his campaign themes during wide-ranging remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference. He urged activists to help Republicans in the fall midterm elections and heed his recent calls to address gun...WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump told conservatives that even Second Amendment supporters can get behind steps to fight gun violence, offering a red-meat call for arming teachers Friday while avoiding mention of other elements of his approach opposed by the National Rifle Association. Basking in the glow of a cheering crowd, Trump also offered a greatest-hits recap of his campaign themes during wide-ranging remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference. He urged activists to help Republicans in the fall midterm elections and heed his recent calls to address gun violence. Trump questioned the inaction of an armed officer who failed to stop the gunman who carried out last week’s Florida massacre. Departing the White House for CPAC, Trump told reporters that “when it came time to get in there and do something,” Florida deputy Scot Peterson “didn’t have the courage or something happened.” Long supported by the National Rifle Association, the president has sought to maintain his backing among gun rights activists even as he has called for strengthening background checks and raising the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles in the wake of the mass killing. Trump said that past efforts to address school safety and gun violence had faded and “nothing ever gets done. We want to see if we can get it done. Let’s get it done right, we really owe it to our country.” He added, “most of it’s just common sense. It’s not ‘do you love guns, do you hate guns.’ It’s common sense.” Trump’s speech at CPAC came at the end of a week that included meetings with students and teachers and state and local officials on ways to bolster school safety and address gun violence. He said the “evil massacre” of 17 people at the Florida high school had “broken our hearts.” Trump declined to reiterate his proposal to increase age restrictions for the purchase of firearms, an idea the NRA has opposed. But at separate event with the nation’s governors, who are attending a weekend conference, Vice President Mike Pence noted that Trump had called for raising the age to 21, part of what Pence called “working with leaders in the Congress to bring this evil in our time to an end.” The White House has said Trump will soon lay out a package of school and gun safety proposals for Congress to consider. Connecticut Chris Murphy, an outspoken advocate for more gun restrictions after the 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, said he expected to meet with White House aides next week. “I’m here to hear the White House out,” Murphy said. Trump said designating schools as “gun-free zones” puts students in “far more danger.” He reiterated his push for “gun-adept teachers and coaches” to be able to carry concealed firearms and said it was “time to make our schools a much harder target for attackers — we don’t want them in our schools.” If a teacher had been carrying a concealed firearm at the Florida school, “the teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened,” Trump said. Officials announced Thursday that Peterson never went inside to engage the gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School while the shooting was underway. Peterson has resigned. Turning to this year’s elections, [...]



Trump Urges Conservatives to Focus on 2018 Midterms

2018-02-23T00:00:00Z

President Trump on Friday called for his biggest supporters to avoid complacency ahead of this year’s midterm elections, saying they need to stay engaged and rally behind congressional Republicans.   In a 75-minute speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference held just outside Washington, Trump acknowledged the historic difficulties faced by a president’s political party in off-year campaigns following presidential elections and urged his...President Trump on Friday called for his biggest supporters to avoid complacency ahead of this year’s midterm elections, saying they need to stay engaged and rally behind congressional Republicans.   In a 75-minute speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference held just outside Washington, Trump acknowledged the historic difficulties faced by a president’s political party in off-year campaigns following presidential elections and urged his supporters not to be complacent.   “What happens is you fight so hard to win the presidency, and you fight, fight, fight,” Trump said. “By the time you start campaigning, it's a year. And now you got to go and fight again. But you just won. So nobody has that same drive that they had.”  The president volunteered the fact that Democrats are highly energized against him -- “they’re crazed,” as he put it -- while calling on his voters to marshal similar levels of enthusiasm.   “You're sitting back, you're watching television. ‘Maybe I don't have to vote today. We just won the presidency.’ And then we get clobbered,” Trump cautioned. “We can't let that happen.”  The speech, given in front of die-hard Trump supporters and conservative activists, was reminiscent of Trump’s 2016 campaign rallies. It included calls from Trump to build a wall on the Mexican border, along with "Lock her up!” chants from the audience when the president mentioned Hillary Clinton. It also touched on a variety of current issues, such as touting tax cuts signed into law late last year, criticizing Democrats over the lack of an agreement on immigration, and pushing for a response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida last week -- with most of Trump’s emphasis placed on school security, including allowing some teachers to carry guns.  But Trump consistently returned to the midterm elections and his hope that his supporters will stay engaged. The Democratic Party base was energized throughout 2017, with strong turnout in off-year elections helping them secure victories in a number of statewide and local races, even in GOP territory -- a mini-wave that Democrats hope will swell into a tsunami this year. Trump remains immensely popular with his supporters and the GOP base, however, which means that preserving their congressional majorities depends on the ability of Republican incumbents and challengers to transfer enthusiasm for Trump into votes for themselves -- even when the president’s name isn’t on the ballot.   The effort will be particularly necessary in Senate races, with 10 Democrats running for re-election in states Trump carried in 2016, including five he won overwhelmingly. But Republicans in House races, facing an energized and organized opposition from Democrats, could be facing serious problems if Trump supporters don’t turn out in force. Democrats need to win 24 seats to flip the House majority, and The Cook Political Re[...]



Most Hated Man; Homicide Epidemic; Infrastructure; Documenting War

2018-02-23T00:00:00Z

Good morning, it’s Friday, February 23, 2018. Seventy-three years ago today, the U.S. Marines raised the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima. Captured on film by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal, the image became an instant classic that helped buck up a war-weary nation. It is still an iconic symbol of the war in the Pacific -- and of the United States Marine Corps itself. The provenance of that photo, and the details of the men pictured in it, has long been the source of some scrutiny, which we’ll revisit in a moment. First,...Good morning, it’s Friday, February 23, 2018. Seventy-three years ago today, the U.S. Marines raised the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima. Captured on film by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal, the image became an instant classic that helped buck up a war-weary nation. It is still an iconic symbol of the war in the Pacific -- and of the United States Marine Corps itself. The provenance of that photo, and the details of the men pictured in it, has long been the source of some scrutiny, which we’ll revisit in a moment. First, I’d point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following: * * * The Takeaway: Most Hated Man in D.C. Tom Bevan’s weekly polling roundup is here. Cities Need Solutions, Not Scapegoating, to Solve Murder Epidemic. Stacy Washington writes that it’s time to get back to basics in addressing the problem. 5 Facts About Trump's Infrastructure Plan. The bipartisan group No Labels breaks it down in RealClearPolicy. Public Unions Violating Workers' Constitutional Rights. Also in RCPolicy, Jacob Huebert asserts that the upcoming Supreme Court case is about the First Amendment, not whether public-sector unions are good or bad. How Do Stock Market Fluctuations Influence Retirement Patterns? In RealClearMarkets, Gary Burtless tries to divine the implications of the recent market correction.   “Fifty Inventions” Both Dazzles and Severely Disappoints.  RCM editor John Tamny reviews Tim Harford’s new book that contends, among other things, that the iPhone wouldn't exist sans government.  * * * Of the 9,000 U.S. Marines in the initial landing force at Iwo Jima, 550 were killed and another 1,800 wounded in the first day of fighting. On the fourth day, the 28th Marine Regiment approached the foot of Suribachi. As the highest point on the island, the volcanic mountain was strategically crucial. Using flamethrowers, snipers, grenades, and other explosives, the Americans systematically rooted the Japanese defenders out of their caves and pillboxes -- though not all of them. The fighting would rage for another 31 days, at a cost of 6,800 American lives, including three of the Marines present in the February 23, 1945 flag-raising photograph. The flag-raising was first recorded by Marine photographer Sgt. Louis R. Lowery. As he descended the mountain, Lowery informed Joe Rosenthal of the AP and two Marine photographers what he’d got on film. The trio continued to the summit where they were fortunate to see a second flag-raising ceremony with a larger and more photogenic flag. It was this picture that was viewed by the American public (including President Roosevelt) and which won Rosenthal a Pulitzer Prize. But Pulitzers and other awards are not why journalists bravely tread into war zones armed only with cameras, tape recorders, and their pens and notebooks. They do it, as intrepid American war correspondent Marie Colvin said, because the world needs to know about war, especially when civilians are the targets. Colvin went to Yale intending to become an anthropologist. Then she happened to take a seminar with John Her[...]



Cities Need Solutions, Not Scapegoating, to Solve Homicide Epidemic

2018-02-23T00:00:00Z

While Baltimore and Chicago grab headlines, St. Louis counts its dead quietly. For the fourth year in a row, St. Louis reigns supreme as the per capita murder capital of America. The 2017 murder rate was 66 per 100,000 people – three times as high as that of Chicago. If St. Louis were as populous as the Windy City (the Gateway City has 311,000 residents, while Chicago has in excess of 2.7 million residents), the tally of murder victims would exceed 1,780 a year. Add to this that most victims’ families never get justice in St. Louis, with approximately 61 percent...While Baltimore and Chicago grab headlines, St. Louis counts its dead quietly. For the fourth year in a row, St. Louis reigns supreme as the per capita murder capital of America. The 2017 murder rate was 66 per 100,000 people – three times as high as that of Chicago. If St. Louis were as populous as the Windy City (the Gateway City has 311,000 residents, while Chicago has in excess of 2.7 million residents), the tally of murder victims would exceed 1,780 a year. Add to this that most victims’ families never get justice in St. Louis, with approximately 61 percent of the cases in 2017 still considered “open” – that is, unsolved. Of the 205 murders in St. Louis last year, at least 193 of the victims were black. Of even more concern, 72 percent of those homicide victims were aged between 17 and 40. The “American carnage” to which President Trump so often refers is mostly young black men felled by other young black men in urban areas. This must end. In 1961, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King asked a church congregation to own up to some devastating facts on black crime, “Do you know that Negroes are 10 percent of the population of St. Louis and are responsible for 58 percent of its crimes? We’ve got to face that. And we’ve got to do something about our moral standards. We know that there are many things wrong in the white world, but there are many things wrong in the black world, too. We can’t keep on blaming the white man. There are things we must do for ourselves.” Fifty-six years later, it is well past time to have “the talk” again – but, this time, no scapegoating, only solutions. Today, we are no longer Negroes, and 47 percent of the population of the city of St. Louis is black per the U.S. Census Bureau. But the share of black crime is much larger than its population, and victims of black crime are their neighbors, their classmates, and their families. The prevailing sentiment among many is to shirk responsibility and lay blame on others. Academics like Michelle Alexander and self-proclaimed community leaders like Al Sharpton throw charged yet meaningless rhetoric around and jump on every instance of overt racism as evidence of “a new Jim Crow” or “institutionalized racism.” For them, there seems to be a Klansman under every rock. So, naturally, when black on black crime is mentioned, it’s immediately countered with charges of racism. Don’t get me wrong; capital-R racism exists. Just after the New Year, two white teens in a beat-up Honda called my husband and me “niggers” outside a mall in suburban St. Louis. In 2018! But does highlighting every instance of ignorant, boorish behavior advance the plight of those trapped in failing schools or destitution? So what can be done? More blacks in roles of power? Surely, that alone cannot be the answer – black leaders have run major cities across the country for decades, without significant change. Last November, lily-white Saint Paul, Minnesota elected a black mayor for the first time, as did Charlotte, North Carolina. But St. Louis, like many urban metro regions with high murder rates, remains extremely racially segregated, fostering distrust and serving as a barrier to the spread of positive, productive behavior. According to the 2015 Where We Stand R[...]



The Takeaway: The Most Hated Man in Washington

2018-02-23T00:00:00Z

Intriguing tidbits from the week in election surveys and public opinion polls. Out of Favor: A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that Americans hold unfavorable views of all the major party leaders in Washington D.C. Forty-six percent of voters hold an unfavorable view of Vice President Mike Pence, compared with only 36 percent who view him favorably. Yet Pence’s net favorable rating of -10 (subtracting his favorable rating from his unfavorable rating) is the best of the six political leaders identified by Quinnipiac. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is second with a net...Intriguing tidbits from the week in election surveys and public opinion polls. Out of Favor: A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that Americans hold unfavorable views of all the major party leaders in Washington D.C. Forty-six percent of voters hold an unfavorable view of Vice President Mike Pence, compared with only 36 percent who view him favorably. Yet Pence’s net favorable rating of -10 (subtracting his favorable rating from his unfavorable rating) is the best of the six political leaders identified by Quinnipiac. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is second with a net favorable rating of -11, followed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi tied with a net -13. President Donald Trump is also deeply underwater with a net favorable rating of -22, but that’s nothing compared to Trump’s GOP frenemy Mitch McConnell. The Senate Republican leader scored a dismal -36 net favorable rating: just 15 percent of voters view him favorably while 51 percent view him unfavorably. Americans and Their Guns: In the wake of the horrific mass shooting at a Florida high school last week, pollsters sought to measure public opinion on guns. As YouGov points out, they’ve surveyed Americans after nearly every recent mass shooting, and the numbers barely change: a slim majority, 53 percent, say gun laws should be made more strict. The partisan breakdown is 36 percent of Republicans, 46 percent of Independents, and 76 percent of Democrats. A Morning Consult poll pegged the number backing stricter guns laws at 64 percent, with 30 percent opposed. Meanwhile, feelings about what action would be taken and what effect it might have also vary. Forty-three percent of respondents in the Morning Consult poll said chances were “slim” that Congress will enact stricter gun control legislation. A Rasmussen survey showed that 39 percent said stricter gun laws would help reduce violent crime, while an equal amount said it would have no effect. Fifteen percent said tighter controls would actually increase violent crime. Nearly six out of ten Americans do not trust the U.S. government’s ability to enforce current or future gun control laws. One final note: the NRA’s standing with the public remains highly polarized. A Quinnipiac University poll asked whether the NRA supports “policies that are good (or bad) for the U.S.” Eighty percent of Republicans said NRA policies are “good” for the country, while 83 percent of Democrats said “bad.” Independents responded 38 percent “good,” and 52 percent “bad.” Trump’s Bright Spot: The president’s overall approval rating has ticked up slightly in recent weeks, although it remains mired in the low 40’s. However, Trump has seen a solid increase in voter approval of the job he’s doing on the economy. A new Gallup survey released this week shows Trump’s approval rating on the economy at 51 percent, a six-point jump from September. Looking specifically at Independents, Trump’s approval rating on the economy stands at 47 percent, a bump of seven points from November. Gallup’s findings mirror recent results from other pollsters, and you can see what a significant shift this represents by looking at the chart of the RCP Average of Trump’s job approval [...]



Trump and the GOP Won't Act on Gun Control. So We Must.

2018-02-23T00:00:00Z

WASHINGTON -- They won't do anything meaningful about guns until you force them to with your votes. This time, following the Parkland massacre, does feel different from all the other times. But I fear the outcome will always be the same -- thoughts, prayers, furrowed brows and no real action -- until the Republicans who control Congress and so many state legislatures start losing elections because of their obstinacy on gun control. They need to fear you and me more than they fear the National Rifle Association. No amount of moral suasion will work. The slaughter of 20 first-graders in...WASHINGTON -- They won't do anything meaningful about guns until you force them to with your votes. This time, following the Parkland massacre, does feel different from all the other times. But I fear the outcome will always be the same -- thoughts, prayers, furrowed brows and no real action -- until the Republicans who control Congress and so many state legislatures start losing elections because of their obstinacy on gun control. They need to fear you and me more than they fear the National Rifle Association. No amount of moral suasion will work. The slaughter of 20 first-graders in Newtown, the murder of 58 innocent country music fans in Las Vegas, the near-fatal shooting of one of their own, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La. -- no atrocity has been senseless or vile enough to shame the GOP into doing something to keep military-style assault weapons out of killers' hands. Why should the deadly rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School be the tipping point? Optimists might point to two wild-card factors we've never seen before: the fierce eloquence of the young Parkland survivors and the inconstancy of President Trump. The students' activism began immediately, nullifying the customary first move in the GOP-NRA playbook, which is to solemnly pronounce that it is "too soon" after an act of unspeakable horror to even mention the instruments of that horror. Anyone who tries to open a debate on gun control is accused of politicizing tragedy. "This is not the time," Republicans say, fully intending to make sure that the time never comes. In Parkland, though, the voices quickly calling for action on guns were those of students who hours earlier had seen their classmates mowed down by a troubled young man with an AR-15 -- students who could easily have been victims themselves. No one could question their right to speak. And they did not mince words. The issue, they made clear, was the gun. A 19-year-old known to acquaintances and authorities as disturbed and potentially violent had been able to buy a powerful weapon designed to rip human bodies to shreds on the battlefield. Practically anyone can walk into a gun shop and buy such a weapon. As long as we make such instruments of mass destruction so available, what on earth do we expect? Republicans would like to change the subject to mental health or background checks, but the students from Parkland have unique standing to keep the focus on guns, where it belongs. Opponents of sensible gun control are so unnerved that they have made shameful efforts to discredit these young activists -- a slimy campaign of lies and innuendo that fortunately has backfired. The kids are staying on message. The NRA's little helpers can only bleat and squeal. Yes, this face-off is different. And yes, it's encouraging. And then there's Trump. He took an absolutist guns-for-everybody position on the Second Amendment during the campaign, and stuck with it even after the Las Vegas mass shooting, the worst in modern U.S. history. But before he entered politics, he was no diehard opponent of gun control. He could not help but be affected by his meeting Wednesday with gun violence survivors. And despite what he told them, if you strapped him to a lie detector I'd bet you'd discover -- before the exhausted machine gave out -- that he doesn't really think arming homeroom teachers is a so[...]



CNN's Shameful Town Hall Is a Clarifying Moment on Guns

2018-02-23T00:00:00Z

CNN recently hosted an anti-gun town hall featuring a number of grieving children and parents from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who aimed their ire at the National Rifle Association, politicians peripherally associated with the NRA and anyone who didn't say exactly what they wanted to hear. It was an event where a student could compare Sen. Marco Rubio to a mass murderer and question whether NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch truly cares about her children without ever being challenged. I hope CNN got the rating it was looking for, because it's almost guaranteed that...CNN recently hosted an anti-gun town hall featuring a number of grieving children and parents from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who aimed their ire at the National Rifle Association, politicians peripherally associated with the NRA and anyone who didn't say exactly what they wanted to hear. It was an event where a student could compare Sen. Marco Rubio to a mass murderer and question whether NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch truly cares about her children without ever being challenged. I hope CNN got the rating it was looking for, because it's almost guaranteed that NRA membership and gun sales are about to spike. Between all the demonizing, heckling, sophistry, gaslighting, platitudes and emotional appeals, members of the crowd -- people who should never be the target of conspiracy theories or ad hominem attacks but shouldn't be exempted from a real debate either -- booed a rape survivor's story and cheered at the idea of banning "every semi-automatic rifle in America." Maybe someone will ask them if they support banning every semi-automatic in America period, since the latter is responsible for the preponderance of gun homicides. One death is too many, after all. Whatever the case, these young people are about to be hit by a harsh reality, because banning semi-automatic rifles or handguns is not only impractical and likely unconstitutional but, for many millions of Americans who worry about the Second Amendment, also highly undesirable. Yet a star-studded lineup of liberals, many of whom are funding the activism of Parkland students with big checks, cheered with them. Do they all agree that every semi-automatic rifle in America should be banned? Do they agree that anyone who supports legal semi-automatic rifles has "blood on their hands"? Someone with access should ask. What we do know is that the entire liberal political class couldn't stop praising the activism and lack of "cynicism" displayed by these kids (a selective admiration reserved for those who coincidentally align with their positions). The kids were indeed earnest, even if they were generally uneducated about gun laws, legal process and the underpinning of the Second Amendment -- which is to be expected. Those who use them as political shields, on the other hand, are cynical. Those who put them on TV to participate in a national Airing of Grievances are cynical. Those who point to the bodies of victims and argue with every American who refuses to accept the left's framing of the issue are the ones who deserve contempt. What we've learned from the events of the past few days is that most liberals are uninterested in a holistic answer to school shootings -- a unique problem detached from general violent crime, rates of gun ownership, region or age. While there is no cure-all, a mix of improved background checks, a better reporting system, better law enforcement reaction to threats, more community involvement and mental health reform could lower the number of shootings. Pulling back from the massive wall-to-wall coverage, which probably helps glorify these shooters for the next madman, might also help. Yet as far as I can tell, banning or inhibiting gun ownership seems to be the only answer for the left. For instance, while we can never truly quantify how many shooters are dissuaded by new laws or restr[...]



Trump Mulls Pulling Immigration Agents From California

2018-02-23T00:00:00Z

SAN DIEGO (AP) — President Donald Trump said Thursday that he may pull the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency out of California, an idea so unlikely that some of his staunchest critics dismissed it as an empty taunt against the state over immigration policies. Withdrawing ICE, partially or completely, runs counter to Trump’s record of dramatically increasing deportation arrests and pledging to beef up the agency with an additional 10,000 employees. The administration has been threatening more — not less — immigration enforcement in...SAN DIEGO (AP) — President Donald Trump said Thursday that he may pull the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency out of California, an idea so unlikely that some of his staunchest critics dismissed it as an empty taunt against the state over immigration policies. Withdrawing ICE, partially or completely, runs counter to Trump’s record of dramatically increasing deportation arrests and pledging to beef up the agency with an additional 10,000 employees. The administration has been threatening more — not less — immigration enforcement in California in response to a new state law that sharply limits cooperation with federal authorities. The president’s suggestion, however impractical, was his latest attention-grabbing statement to pressure so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions, which the administration claims are a magnet for immigrants who commit crimes. “Frankly, if I wanted to pull our people from California you would have a crime nest like you’ve never seen in California,” he said at the White House during a meeting with state and local officials on school safety and gun violence. “All I’d have to do is say is, ‘ICE and Border Patrol, let California alone,’ you’d be inundated. You would see crime like nobody has ever seen crime in this country.” “If we ever pulled our ICE out, and we ever said, ‘Hey, let California alone, let them figure it out for themselves,’ in two months they’d be begging for us to come back. They would be begging. And you know what, I’m thinking about doing it,” he continued. Withdrawing ICE from the state with the largest number of people in the country illegally, two of its largest detention centers and thousands of investigators had never been floated or seriously considered. ICE referred questions to the White House, where spokesman Raj Shah said the administration wanted California “to actually enforce immigration law rather than get in the way of it.” The National ICE Council, the union representing detention officers and an early supporter of Trump’s presidential bid, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Thomas Homan, ICE’s acting director, has been saying for months that limits on cooperation in local jails would lead to a more active street presence of deportation officers. “California better hold on tight,” he told Fox News last month. “They’re about to see a lot more special agents, a lot more deportation officers in the state of California. If the politicians in California don’t want to protect their communities, then ICE will.” Last Friday, as ICE announced results of an operation in the Los Angeles area that included more than 200 arrests, Homan declared, “Fewer jail arrests mean more arrests on the street, and that also requires more resources, which is why we are forced to send additional resources to those areas to meet operational needs and officer safety.” Trump’s comments were part of a broader swipe against heavily Democratic California, which gave Hillary Clinton a resounding victory in the 2016 presidential race. He said the state was “doing a lousy management job” and critic[...]



Trump Says Raise Age for Buying Assault Rifles, Defying NRA

2018-02-23T00:00:00Z

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation should keep assault rifles out of the hands of anyone under 21, President Donald Trump declared Thursday, defying his loyal supporters in the National Rifle Association amid America’s public reckoning over gun violence. He also pushed hard for arming security guards and many teachers in U.S. schools. “There’s nothing more important than protecting our children,” Trump said, adding that he’d spoken with many members of Congress and NRA officials and insisting they would go along with his plans in the wake...WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation should keep assault rifles out of the hands of anyone under 21, President Donald Trump declared Thursday, defying his loyal supporters in the National Rifle Association amid America’s public reckoning over gun violence. He also pushed hard for arming security guards and many teachers in U.S. schools. “There’s nothing more important than protecting our children,” Trump said, adding that he’d spoken with many members of Congress and NRA officials and insisting they would go along with his plans in the wake of last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead. But there were no words of support from the NRA for his minimum-age proposal — and outright opposition from organizations of teachers and school security guards for the idea of arming schools to deal with intruders. “The NRA will back it and so will Congress,” Trump contended as he called for raising the legal age of purchase for “all” guns from 18 to 21. A spokesman later said Trump was speaking specifically about semi-automatic weapons. The president’s proposal came just hours after the NRA affirmed its opposition, calling such a restriction an infringement on gun owners’ rights. Trump has spent the past two days listening to ideas about how to stem gun violence at schools after last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. On Wednesday, he heard from students and family members of those killed in recent shootings and on Thursday from local and state officials. In Florida, meanwhile, funerals continued. And a sheriff’s deputy who had been on duty at the school but never went inside to confront the shooter resigned after being suspended without pay. Trump has been proposing a growing list of ideas, including more stringent background checks for gun buyers, reopening some mental institutions to hold potential killers and banning “bump stock” devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to mimic machine guns. He said Thursday that many teachers have military experience and suggested they be paid bonuses for the added responsibility of carrying weapons. He also appeared open to other proposals to “harden” schools, such as fortifying walls and limiting entry points. One idea he didn’t like: the “active shooter” drills that some schools hold. He called that “a very negative thing” and said he wouldn’t want his own son participating. Spokesman Raj Shah later said Trump was concerned about the name and would prefer calling them safety drills. In Florida, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said he now is open to raising age requirements for long-gun purchases. That was the day after he was confronted at a CNN town hall by Parkland students and parents over his pro-gun votes and support from the NRA. Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, another Republican, told reporters during a visit to the Kansas Statehouse that he supported raising age requirements, saying: “Certainly, nobody under 21 should have an AR-15.” NRA leaders emerged in unannounced appearances at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, blaming the FBI and local reporting failures for the Florida shooting. &l[...]



Graham, Guns and Common Tongue

2018-02-23T00:00:00Z

The Rev. Billy Graham is now with his Creator. I suspect there will be no more men who can transcend the divides of this country in the way Graham could. He was unique in his ability to share the gospel through radio, television and even the internet. He did so with an intensity in charm that one lacking familiarity with his message could capture his point while those who were intimately familiar with the faith could fall deeply in love with it. To the extent Graham's death has elicited criticism and attack, much of it has to do with his common man approach. Some were left wanting....The Rev. Billy Graham is now with his Creator. I suspect there will be no more men who can transcend the divides of this country in the way Graham could. He was unique in his ability to share the gospel through radio, television and even the internet. He did so with an intensity in charm that one lacking familiarity with his message could capture his point while those who were intimately familiar with the faith could fall deeply in love with it. To the extent Graham's death has elicited criticism and attack, much of it has to do with his common man approach. Some were left wanting. Others see a common man who garnered uncommon attention and think there must be something fraudulent about him. Elite opinion makers and leaders, often drawn to worldly comfort and not gospel suffering, have a hard time relating to Graham because they have a hard time relating to the common man. That lack of ability to relate to common people is also one reason we see elite opinion makers in America champion Planned Parenthood, which actually does kill thousands of children each year, while savaging the National Rifle Association, which has never killed a child and whose members have actually saved others' lives. Planned Parenthood gets a government subsidy to cover the costs of rich, white hedonism. Therefore, it must be protected at all cost. The NRA, on the other hand, likely has its sticker on the back of a gas guzzling pickup truck, and must be evil. Into this modern American divide, it is hard to see how a new Billy Graham could take hold. The phenomenon of the Bill Graham crusade seems only possible in a post-World War II world where Americans still shared a common tongue of idiomatic expressions. We have become so tribal that it is hard to imagine many people able to transcend their tribe. It is harder still to imagine anyone claiming Jesus Christ as the only way to eternal life being able to transcend the divide. American gun culture is increasingly wrapped up in that divide. There are 320 million Americans and just as many guns. There are gun owners who favor restrictions on guns, but the most ardent proponents of gun control want nothing less that a total confiscation of guns. They see an Australian gun buy back program as a model for the United States while ignoring the second amendment. They have concluded they can reshape the Supreme Court instead of amending the constitution. But that desire pushed a lot of people to vote for the present President. Coastal elites in this country, the very ones who would have ridiculed the mass of people at a Billy Graham crusade, will also ridicule gun owners and gun rights. These opinion leaders blame the NRA for the deaths of kids in school. At the CNN forum, anti-gun zealots heckled the story of a rape victim who wished she had a gun for protection. Another told Senator Marco Rubio it was as if Rubio himself had gunned down students. Good luck trying to find common ground. Except, the truth is guns remain one of the last shared bits of commonality in the United States. There are Democrats in places like Montana, West Virginia, Missouri, and Indiana who hunt, shoot recreationally, and have houses full of guns. The San Francisco and New York left may scoff at them, but thei[...]



Syria Desperately Needs a Pathway to Stability

2018-02-23T00:00:00Z

MUNICH -- The abiding image from last weekend's security conference here was of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu theatrically brandishing a piece of an Iranian drone shot down over Israel a week before -- and starkly warning Tehran: "Do not test Israel's resolve." Are Israel and Iran heading toward war, in their new jockeying for influence amid the rubble of Syria? Probably not, but a delicate game of brinkmanship has certainly begun. Policymakers in Washington, Jerusalem, Moscow and Tehran are struggling to define and communicate the rules. The Israel-Iran confrontation...MUNICH -- The abiding image from last weekend's security conference here was of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu theatrically brandishing a piece of an Iranian drone shot down over Israel a week before -- and starkly warning Tehran: "Do not test Israel's resolve." Are Israel and Iran heading toward war, in their new jockeying for influence amid the rubble of Syria? Probably not, but a delicate game of brinkmanship has certainly begun. Policymakers in Washington, Jerusalem, Moscow and Tehran are struggling to define and communicate the rules. The Israel-Iran confrontation is the most dangerous new factor in Syria, which has become a gruesome cockpit once again after some months of relative quiet. The Syrian regime is now trying to crush resistance in Ghouta, east of Damascus, where rebels once had support from the CIA but are now struggling on their own. The bloodbath there has been horrific, and the U.N. Security Council on Thursday debated a resolution for a 30-day cease-fire. Russia resisted, evidently wanting to complete the bloody campaign. This grim new phase of the Syrian conflict is a replay of the siege of Aleppo -- with the added new danger of a regional war between Israel and Iran. It's this latter problem that most concerns U.S. and Israeli officials, especially after the shootdown of an Israeli F-16 during a retaliatory strike after the Iranian drone incident. A senior Trump administration official this week summarized the deterrence strategy against Iranian forces in Syria: Israel must maintain its freedom of action to strike Iranian threats anywhere in Syria; the U.S. and Russia should expand the buffer zone in southwest Syria where Iranian-backed forces aren't allowed to operate. That exclusion zone is now about 10 kilometers; the U.S. wants to widen it to 20. But this simple formula doesn't address the larger questions that are lurking in the new Israel-Iran standoff. Should Israel work more closely with Russia to decrease Iranian influence? (And does Moscow have the power to deliver?) Should America use its military presence in eastern Syrian to check Iranian forces? There's also a controversial new twist that's being discussed quietly by some U.S. and Israeli officials. If it's unrealistic to expect that U.S. military forces and their Syrian Kurdish allies will indefinitely occupy Syrian territory east of the Euphrates, then should the U.S. begin working to gradually restore the authority of the Syrian government to that part of the country? "Return of the state, not return of the regime" is how some officials are describing this approach. There's an important caveat: This strategy cannot mean restoration of power for President Bashar Assad, whose massacres of his people won't be forgiven by millions of Syrians. Assad's toxic role was dramatized by this week's slaughter in Ghouta. Experts in Washington, Moscow and Tel Aviv are weighing whether there might be an eventual deal between America's key ally in Syria, the Kurdish-led "Syrian Democratic Forces," and a reformed Syrian army and state. That Kurdish-government alliance might be a better bulwark against Iranian influence than an unsustainable American occupation; it could also be the backbone of a reformed Syr[...]



Protect Kids or Confiscate Guns?

2018-02-23T00:00:00Z

In days gone by, a massacre of students like the atrocity at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School would have brought us together. But like so many atrocities before it, this mass murder is tearing us apart. The perpetrator, the sick and evil 19-year-old who killed 17 innocents with a gun is said to be contrite. Having confessed, he faces life in prison. For the next half-century, Nikolas Cruz will be fed, clothed, sheltered and medicated at the expense of Florida taxpayers, including the families of those he murdered. Cruz's punishment seems neither commensurate with his crimes nor a...In days gone by, a massacre of students like the atrocity at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School would have brought us together. But like so many atrocities before it, this mass murder is tearing us apart. The perpetrator, the sick and evil 19-year-old who killed 17 innocents with a gun is said to be contrite. Having confessed, he faces life in prison. For the next half-century, Nikolas Cruz will be fed, clothed, sheltered and medicated at the expense of Florida taxpayers, including the families of those he murdered. Cruz's punishment seems neither commensurate with his crimes nor a deterrent for sick and evil minds contemplating another Columbine. It didn't use to be this way. On Feb 15, 1933, anarchist Giuseppe Zangara tried to assassinate President-elect Franklin Roosevelt in Miami. His arm jostled, he killed instead Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak. Five weeks later, on March 20, 1933, Zangara died in the electric chair. Swift, sure and pitiless, but that legal justice system worked. With Cruz, the system failed up and down the line. Cruz should never have been allowed to purchase or possess a gun. He was angry, alienated, isolated. Police had been to his family home to deal with complaints 39 times. Yet he had no arrest record when he purchased his AR-15. Classmates at Douglas High had speculated that if there ever were a school shooting, Cruz would be the one to do it. The FBI was alerted a month before that Nikolas Cruz was a time bomb ready to explode. The NRA was not responsible for the system-wide failure from Douglas High to the FBI. As the NRA's Dana Loesch told CPAC Thursday: "The government can't keep you safe and some people want us to give up our firearms and rely solely upon the protection of the same government that's already failed us numerous times to keep us safe." As for the AR-15, it is the most popular rifle sold. Five million to 8 million are in circulation. Veterans since Vietnam have trained with, and many fought with, the M16, which is first cousin to the AR-15. Veterans are among the millions who own them. While all agree AR-15s should be kept out of the hands of crazies like Cruz, the establishment insists that it is the gun that is the problem. We hear demands that AR-15s be banned and confiscated. Proponents should put that proposition to a vote. But a prediction: The moment it is brought up for a vote, sales of AR-15s will explode, as they have before. If the weapon is banned, as alcohol was banned in Prohibition, millions of law-abiding Americans will become law-breakers. And who will barge into America's homes to seize and collect the rifles? Moreover, if people have decided to mass murder classmates or co-workers, inviting "suicide by cop," are they going to be stopped from acquiring a semiautomatic by a Congressional law? Have our drug laws halted drug use? Many of the guns confiscated by police are in the possession of thugs, criminals and ex-cons who have no legal right to own them. Yet, if we are going to prosecute the illegal sale or transfer of weapons severely, we will have hundreds of thousands more in prisons, at a time when we are instructed to empty them of nonviolent offenders. As for mental illne[...]



School Shooting Solutions

2018-02-23T00:00:00Z

As almighty as the government thinks it is, it can't legislate hate away. It can't eradicate mental illness, undo a bad childhood or make an evil person good. But what it can do in the wake of the horrific school shooting in Parkland -- the worst in Florida's history -- is implement a series of common-sense measures to keep our kids safe in school. The first would be addressing gun laws that allowed the accused Parkland shooter to legally purchase an assault rifle despite the fact that he'd been treated for mental illness and behavioral problems; posted violent threats on...As almighty as the government thinks it is, it can't legislate hate away. It can't eradicate mental illness, undo a bad childhood or make an evil person good. But what it can do in the wake of the horrific school shooting in Parkland -- the worst in Florida's history -- is implement a series of common-sense measures to keep our kids safe in school. The first would be addressing gun laws that allowed the accused Parkland shooter to legally purchase an assault rifle despite the fact that he'd been treated for mental illness and behavioral problems; posted violent threats on social media, including saying he wanted to be a "professional school shooter"; and displayed other red flags that should've restricted his ability to buy a firearm of any kind. At this juncture, Americans ought to come to a consensus that gun control isn't a Republican or Democratic issue; it's a common-sense issue. Dangerous individuals with a long history of troubling behavior shouldn't be allowed to buy a gun. Period. Some strict Second Amendment advocates will argue that tougher gun laws wouldn't stop criminals from getting guns illegally on the black market. This is true, and the gun violence in Chicago, a city with tough gun laws, is a prime example. But tougher gun laws would've blocked the accused Parkland shooter from legally buying a gun, and that fact must not be overlooked. It's not a zero-sum game. Next, the Department of Justice and Congress must address the FBI's goliath failure to take appropriate action after receiving credible tips about the accused shooter's deranged and violent social media posts, along with other major indicators that a massacre was imminent. This inexplicable incompetence has prompted Florida Gov. Rick Scott to call for FBI Director Christopher Wray's resignation. With good reason. What's the point of an FBI tip line if credible tips that warrant intervention go unchecked? What happened at the FBI is both a managerial and a procedural breakdown that must be fixed immediately, with or without Wray's resignation. Then there is the issue of onsite school safety. All schools across the nation must review their existing protocols and evaluate what they could do to enhance security overall. This includes the placement of metal detectors at schools and increasing the presence of armed guards, as well as having key faculty members, such as the principal and vice principal, become trained to use a firearm, an idea President Donald Trump weighed in on this week. He tweeted: "History shows that a school shooting lasts, on average, 3 minutes. It takes police & first responders approximately 5 to 8 minutes to get to site of crime. Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive. GREAT DETERRENT!" He added: "If a potential 'sicko shooter' knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won't go there...problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won't work!" What should also be considered is turning K-12 schools into gated communities. Fencing would be install[...]



Don't Take The Onion's Pessimism Too Seriously

2018-02-23T00:00:00Z

"Study: 90 Percent Of Americans Strongly Opposed To Each Other." That's the headline on a story in what, on some days, seems to be America's most reliable news outlet, The Onion. We laugh (or at least I did) because it strikes a chord. Americans of many different political outlooks today seem united in believing that we are experiencing the worst times in the nation's history. President Donald Trump's detractors talk about how he's a neurotic neo-Nazi establishing a dictatorship. Trump's fans talk about the existence of a deep state that uses secret..."Study: 90 Percent Of Americans Strongly Opposed To Each Other." That's the headline on a story in what, on some days, seems to be America's most reliable news outlet, The Onion. We laugh (or at least I did) because it strikes a chord. Americans of many different political outlooks today seem united in believing that we are experiencing the worst times in the nation's history. President Donald Trump's detractors talk about how he's a neurotic neo-Nazi establishing a dictatorship. Trump's fans talk about the existence of a deep state that uses secret protocols to undermine voters' choices. Both sides have some cause for complaint. But their claims are overheated. Anyone familiar with the long course of American history -- perhaps a smaller category than in times past -- knows that, whatever our problems, things have been worse, far worse, before. Many of us look back to a time when Americans shared a consensus on cultural values and when we are told that high school graduates or even dropouts could easily snag well-paying blue-collar jobs. That's a reasonably accurate description of America in the 1950s on cultural values and of parts of America -- the unionized industrial areas -- on those jobs. Trump's unspecific slogan, "Make America Great Again," probably strikes most listeners as a promise to restore the seemingly culturally unified America of the two decades after World War II. Democrats' calls for strengthening labor unions and job protections evoke the 1950s, the time of peak union membership. But this was a short period -- I call it the Midcentury Moment -- and the exception rather than the rule in American history. That tends to get overlooked by those lamenting polls showing low confidence in institutions. The benchmarks against which they are measured are inevitably when pollsters first asked those questions in the 1950s. But that was a time when big institutions -- big government, big corporations, big unions -- had just finished leading Americans to victory in a world war and to unanticipated prosperity in the years that followed. They had arguably earned the confidence they enjoyed. If you had been able to ask Americans those questions in the years before George Gallup conducted his first poll in 1935, it's likely that they would often have expressed low confidence, as they did starting in the late 1960s. The years of rapid industrialization and high immigration and farmer rebellion, the period after World War I, the Great Depression -- all of which brought lots of discord and disillusion -- would have made for negative marks. Not to mention the arguments over slavery that led to the Civil War -- or the bitter Adams-Jefferson debates. Talk about 90 percent of Americans being opposed to each other! Against these events, today's woes seem less fearsome. We are told that Russian internet trolling is the worst foreign attack since 9/11. But it's nothing like what we faced with the Soviet-controlled Communist Party, which, with many well-placed advocates, opposed Franklin Roosevelt in 1940 (during the Hitler-Stalin pact), supported him in 1944 (when the Soviets were U.S. allies) and opposed Harry Truman in 1948. Anti[...]



Could Armed Teachers Stop Shootings?

2018-02-22T00:00:00Z

(AP) -- In the aftermath of yet another mass school shooting, President Donald Trump says that if one of the victims, a football coach, had been armed “he would have shot and that would have been the end of it.” Revisiting an idea he raised in his campaign, Trump’s comments in favor of allowing teachers to be armed come as lawmakers in several states are wrestling with the idea, including in Florida, where the 17 most recent school shooting victims are being mourned. Assistant football coach Aaron Feis, hailed for shielding students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas...(AP) -- In the aftermath of yet another mass school shooting, President Donald Trump says that if one of the victims, a football coach, had been armed “he would have shot and that would have been the end of it.” Revisiting an idea he raised in his campaign, Trump’s comments in favor of allowing teachers to be armed come as lawmakers in several states are wrestling with the idea, including in Florida, where the 17 most recent school shooting victims are being mourned. Assistant football coach Aaron Feis, hailed for shielding students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, “was very brave,” Trump said Wednesday during a listening session with parents and survivors of school shootings. “If he had a firearm, he wouldn’t have had to run.” Florida Republican Sen. Greg Steube said gun-free zones like schools are easy targets and has proposed allowing specially trained educators with military or law enforcement backgrounds to be armed. “Our most valuable, most precious resources are our children. Why in the world are we going to put them in a circumstance where there is nobody that is armed and trained at any of our schools to be able to respond quickly to an active shooter situation?” Steube told The Associated Press, even as students, including survivors of the Parkland shooting, rallied at the state’s capitol in support of changes in gun laws. Similar discussions have taken place in Kentucky, Colorado, North Carolina and Alabama in recent days and Wisconsin’s attorney general said he’s open to the idea. “Our students do not need to be sitting ducks. Our teachers do not need to be defending themselves with a No. 2 pencil,” Republican Alabama Rep. Will Ainsworth said in proposing a bill days after the Valentine’s Day shooting in Florida. The debate breaches statehouse walls, and teachers — and the public — are divided on the issue. A poll released this week by ABC News/Washington post says 42 percent of Americans believe teachers with guns could have prevented the Florida shooting. Salt Lake City, Utah, teacher Kasey Hansen said the idea to arm herself in school began with the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults died. “It just really hit home that these teachers, all they could do was pile those kids in a corner and stand in front of them and hope for the best,” said Hansen, who carries a concealed handgun as she teaches special education students. “I’m not here to tell all teachers that they have to carry a gun,” she said. “For me personally, I felt that it was more of a solution than just hiding in a corner and waiting.” Utah is among at least eight states that allow, or don’t specifically prohibit, concealed weapons in K-12 schools, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. In Austin, Texas, teacher Tara Bordeaux can’t easily see herself taking on that role, preferring to leave it to trained law enforcement o[...]



Gun Politics; PA-18 Confusion; Mueller and the Dossier; Father Knew Best

2018-02-22T00:00:00Z

Good morning, it’s Thursday, February 22, 2018, the day officially recognized as George Washington’s birthday. When I was growing up, this birthday was celebrated on its own, as was Abraham Lincoln’s February 12 birthday. Today, they’re lumped together as Presidents’ Day, but I’m interested this morning in George Washington’s boyhood. Yes, I’m referring to the infamous cherry tree story. Let’s cut to the chase: No matter what the revisionists tell you, the tale is probably true. It’s not really...Good morning, it’s Thursday, February 22, 2018, the day officially recognized as George Washington’s birthday. When I was growing up, this birthday was celebrated on its own, as was Abraham Lincoln’s February 12 birthday. Today, they’re lumped together as Presidents’ Day, but I’m interested this morning in George Washington’s boyhood. Yes, I’m referring to the infamous cherry tree story. Let’s cut to the chase: No matter what the revisionists tell you, the tale is probably true. It’s not really about kids who are too virtuous to lie, either. It’s about parenting -- how to raise virtuous young men and women. For those of you who read this note faithfully, this may ring a bell. That’s because I’ve written it before -- as recently as last year, in fact -- and I’m going to keep doing so until my version catches on. It’s not just my interpretation, either. The great historian Garry Wills agrees with me, as you’ll see (again) in a moment. First, I’d point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following: * * * Gun Politics Stir Up Florida Midterm Races. Caitlin Huey-Burns reports on how the Parkland school shooting has roiled contests in a state that has long championed gun-owners’ rights. Redrawn Pa. Maps Add Uncertainty to Special Election. James Arkin highlights the implications -- and confusion -- surrounding the state Supreme Court’s redistricting decision. Mueller Still Relying on Discredited Steele Dossier. In RealClearInvestigations, Paul Sperry has the story. America Needs to Reorient Its South Asia Policy. In RealClearDefense, Akhilesh Pillalamarri urges the U.S. to disengage from Afghanistan and focus on the broader geopolitical landscape to achieve its security and economic goals. Congress, Follow the White House's Lead on CFPB Reform. In RealClearPolicy, Daniel Press praises the administration's efforts to rein in the controversial agency. Net Neutrality Would Make the Internet More Expensive. Also in RCPolicy, Julian Adorney takes issue with a legislative push to resurrect the internet regulations. Why Warren Buffett Is Wrong. In RealClearMarkets, George Harbison argues that corporate tax rates make a huge difference, despite the Oracle of Omaha’s insistence otherwise. Veterans Deserve Easier Access to Their Medications. In RealClearHealth, Chad Souers calls for reforming the military prescription drug system. The Case for Genetically Modified Coffee. RealClearScience editor Ross Pomeroy writes that creating Arabica coffee resistant to disease would bring economic stability to the many developing nations that produce it.  * * * The most iconic vignette of George Washington's boyhood comes from a hagiographic work produced quickly after the great man's death. This biographer was Ma[...]



Trump Hosts Listening Session on Gun Violence With Students, Teachers, Families

2018-02-22T00:00:00Z

WASHINGTON (AP) — Spilling out wrenching tales of lost lives and stolen security, students and parents appealed to President Donald Trump to set politics aside and protect America’s school children from the scourge of gun violence. Trump listened intently to the raw emotion and pledged action, including the possibility of arming teachers. “I turned 18 the day after” the shooting, said a tearful Samuel Zeif, a student at the Florida high school where a former student’s assault left 17 dead last week. “Woke up to the news that my best...WASHINGTON (AP) — Spilling out wrenching tales of lost lives and stolen security, students and parents appealed to President Donald Trump to set politics aside and protect America’s school children from the scourge of gun violence. Trump listened intently to the raw emotion and pledged action, including the possibility of arming teachers. “I turned 18 the day after” the shooting, said a tearful Samuel Zeif, a student at the Florida high school where a former student’s assault left 17 dead last week. “Woke up to the news that my best friend was gone. And I don’t understand why I can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war. An AR. How is it that easy to buy this type of weapon? How do we not stop this after Columbine? After Sandy Hook?” Trump promised to be “very strong on background checks.” And he suggested he supported allowing some teachers and other school employees to carry concealed weapons to be ready for intruders. On Twitter Thursday, Trump continued to discuss arming teachers and others at schools, though said that didn’t mean giving guns to all teachers. “I never said ‘give teachers guns’ like was stated on Fake News @CNN & @NBC. What I said was to look at the possibility of giving ‘concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience - only the best,’” he said. Trump continued to argue that armed school employees could fire back against shooters. He said: “ATTACKS WOULD END!” and “GREAT DETERRENT!” The president had invited the teen survivors of school violence and parents of murdered children in a show of his resolve against gun violence in the wake of last week’s shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and in past years at schools in Connecticut and Colorado. The latest episode has prompted a renewed and growing call for stronger gun control. Trump asked his guests to suggest solutions and solicited feedback. He did not fully endorse any specific policy solution, but pledged to take action and expressed interest in widely differing approaches. He largely listened, holding handwritten notes bearing his message to the families. “I hear you” was written in black marker. Besides considering concealed carrying of weapons by trained school employees, a concept he has endorsed in the past, he said he planned to go “very strongly into age, age of purchase.” And he said he was committed to improving background checks and working on mental health. Most in the group Wednesday were emotional but quiet and polite. But Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed last week, noted the previous school massacres and raged over his loss, saying this moment isn’t about gun laws but about fixing the schools. “It should have been one school shooting and we should have fixed it and I’m pissed. Because my daughter, I’m not going to see again,” said Pollack. “King David Cemeter[...]



Trump Pushes Low-Cost Obamacare Alternative Health Plans

2018-02-22T00:00:00Z

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration Tuesday spelled out a plan to lower the cost of health insurance: give consumers the option of buying less coverage in exchange for reduced premiums. The proposed regulations would expand an alternative to the comprehensive medical plans required under former President Barack Obama’s health law. Individuals could buy so-called “short-term” policies for up to 12 months. But the coverage would omit key consumer protections and offer fewer benefits, making it unattractive for older people or those with health...WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration Tuesday spelled out a plan to lower the cost of health insurance: give consumers the option of buying less coverage in exchange for reduced premiums. The proposed regulations would expand an alternative to the comprehensive medical plans required under former President Barack Obama’s health law. Individuals could buy so-called “short-term” policies for up to 12 months. But the coverage would omit key consumer protections and offer fewer benefits, making it unattractive for older people or those with health problems. The plans would come with a disclaimer that they don’t meet the Affordable Care Act’s safeguards, such as guaranteed coverage, ten broad classes of benefits, and limits on how much older adults have to pay. Insurers could also charge more if a consumer’s medical history discloses health problems. Nonetheless, administration officials said they believe the short-term option will be welcomed by people who need an individual health insurance policy but don’t qualify for the ACA’s income-based subsidies. Those in this largely middle-class crowd make too much for subsidies and have absorbed years of price hikes. Some say they now face monthly, mortgage-size payments of well over $1,000 for health insurance. Then they usually have to pay a deductible of several thousand dollars. Research indicates the uninsured rate among these customers is growing. “If you are not subsidized, the options can be really unaffordable for folks,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters. The administration estimates monthly premiums for a short-term plan could be about than one-third of what a comprehensive policy costs. Democrats swiftly branded it a return to “junk insurance,” and the main insurance industry lobbying group said it was concerned the Trump plan could divide the healthy from the sick in the market and make it more expensive to cover those with health problems. Democrats say the solution is to increase government subsidies, so that more middle-class people will be eligible for taxpayer assistance to buy comprehensive coverage. The Obama administration had limited short-term plans to periods of no longer than three months, making them impractical for many consumers. “We shouldn’t be in the business of providing people with worse care,” said Sam Berger, a former Obama aide now with the liberal Center for American Progress. “What we should be focusing on is finding ways of reducing the cost of high-quality care.” Trump administration officials reject the notion that they’re trying to undermine the ACA. Instead, they say they are trying to make things more workable for people who are not being helped by the health law. The administration estimates that only about 100,000 to 200,000 people will drop coverage they now have under the ACA and switch to cheaper short-term policies. They also say they expect short-term plans could[...]



Gun Politics Stir Up Florida Midterm Races

2018-02-22T00:00:00Z

In the wake of last week's school shooting that left 17 people dead and sparked an unprecedented wave of youth activism about guns in America, Florida finds itself at the center of the political universe. In the more immediate term, the Republican-led state legislature is under pressure to consider proposals spurred by the mass shooting before the legislative session ends on March 9;  the outcome could be a harbinger for federal gun measures. And it could also shape high-profile races in November, as the state will be hosting competitive contests for governor, U.S. Senate and...In the wake of last week's school shooting that left 17 people dead and sparked an unprecedented wave of youth activism about guns in America, Florida finds itself at the center of the political universe. In the more immediate term, the Republican-led state legislature is under pressure to consider proposals spurred by the mass shooting before the legislative session ends on March 9;  the outcome could be a harbinger for federal gun measures. And it could also shape high-profile races in November, as the state will be hosting competitive contests for governor, U.S. Senate and multiple congressional seats. For example, term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Scott is expected to challenge Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson for the U.S. Senate. House Speaker Richard Corcoran is likely to wage a bid for governor, facing a primary against Rep. Ron DeSantis, who is backed by President Trump, and state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who has made gun-owner rights a pillar of his campaign. Meanwhile, Democratic candidates for these offices are united in calling for a ban on assault weapons and enhancing other gun-control policies, a signal of where their base is on the issue even in a purple state. Florida has long been considered a bastion for expanded gun rights and looser restrictions, leading the way on issues like concealed carry and Stand Your Ground laws. Governor Scott signed two new laws during his tenure that were ultimately deemed unconstitutional by the courts: one that would expand the current Stand Your Ground law and another that would bar doctors from discussing guns with their patients. The state legislature did not take action on guns after shootings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, which killed 49 people in 2016, and at the Ft. Lauderdale airport, which killed five people last year.  And earlier this week, as student survivors from the Parkland shooting filled the state capitol in Tallahassee, the legislature voted down a motion to consider a ban on semi-automatic rifles. Yet there have been some signs to indicate that the politics could be shifting under the new public pressure. In a CNN-sponsored town hall in Broward County Wednesday night, Sen. Marco Rubio said he would support increasing the age limit for purchasing rifles and putting in place restraining orders that would take guns from those considered mentally unstable. He also said he would oppose arming teachers, after Trump suggested doing so earlier in the day. Perhaps most notably, Rubio, who voted against a bipartisan measure to expand background checks in 2013, said he would reconsider his opposition to banning high-capacity magazines, a centerpiece for gun-control advocates. The Florida Republican said he learned information through the Parkland shooting that he couldn't reveal but that caused him to revisit the issue. While such a ban would not have prevented the shooting, he said, it might have saved the lives of three of four students. "I believe we can reach a compromis[...]



Gun Control Is About Saving Lives, Not Waging Culture Wars

2018-02-22T00:00:00Z

WASHINGTON -- You have perhaps heard the joke about the liberal who is so open-minded that he can't even take his own side in an argument. What's less funny is that on gun control, liberals (and their many allies who are moderate, conservative and non-ideological) have been told for years that if they do take their own side in the argument, they will only hurt their cause. Supporters of even modest restrictions on firearms are regularly instructed that their ardent advocacy turns off Americans in rural areas and small towns. Those in favor of reforming our firearms laws are scolded...WASHINGTON -- You have perhaps heard the joke about the liberal who is so open-minded that he can't even take his own side in an argument. What's less funny is that on gun control, liberals (and their many allies who are moderate, conservative and non-ideological) have been told for years that if they do take their own side in the argument, they will only hurt their cause. Supporters of even modest restrictions on firearms are regularly instructed that their ardent advocacy turns off Americans in rural areas and small towns. Those in favor of reforming our firearms laws are scolded as horrific elitists who disrespect a valued way of life. And as the mass killings continue, we are urged to be patient and to spend our time listening earnestly to the views of those who see even a smidgen of action to limit access to guns as the first step toward confiscation. Our task is not to fight for laws to protect innocents, but to demonstrate that we really, honestly, truly, cross-our-hearts, positively love gun owners and wouldn't for an instant think anything ill of them. It's odd is that those with extreme pro-gun views -- those pushing for new laws to allow people to carry just about anytime, anywhere -- are never called upon to model similar empathy toward children killed, the mourning parents left behind, people in urban neighborhoods suffering from violence, or the majority of Americans who don't own guns. Depending on the survey, somewhere between 58 and 68 percent of us live in households without guns. But nobody who belongs to the National Rifle Association is ever told to prove their respect for our way of life. Rarely is it pointed out that the logic of the gun lobby's position is to create a world in which everyone will need a gun, whether we want one or not. ("Arm the teachers!" "Arm the students!") I reported on the Lebanese civil war in the 1980s, and I can assure you that a heavily armed country is not an ideal (or safe) place to live. The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, an institution that suffered the worst effects of our inaction on guns, have not gotten the memo that they are supposed to shut up, and may they be blessed for this. You can tell their angry outspokenness is having an impact, and not only because President Trump has taken modest steps to suggest he hears the message. More telling is that some of the very right-wingers who demand deep respect for gun culture have shown no scruples about trashing the kids. Bill O'Reilly was so upset at the attention their protests are drawing that he accused the media of "promoting opinions by teenagers who are in an emotional state and facing extreme peer pressure in some cases." The condescension is revolting, and never mind that without emotionalism and peer pressure to conform, O'Reilly's former employer, Fox News, would go out of business. Former Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., doubted the capacity of these students to think or act for themselves. "Their sor[...]



The Paradoxes of the Mueller Investigation

2018-02-22T00:00:00Z

Special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russian nationals for allegedly conspiring to sow confusion in the 2016 presidential election. The chance of extraditing any of the accused from Vladimir Putin's Russia is zero. Some of the Russians' Keystone Cops efforts to disrupt the election favored Donald Trump (as well as Bernie Sanders). Yet Mueller's team made it clear that the Russians neither colluded with any U.S. citizens nor had any material effect on the election's outcome. But from here on out, there will be ironies, paradoxes and unintended consequences with...Special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russian nationals for allegedly conspiring to sow confusion in the 2016 presidential election. The chance of extraditing any of the accused from Vladimir Putin's Russia is zero. Some of the Russians' Keystone Cops efforts to disrupt the election favored Donald Trump (as well as Bernie Sanders). Yet Mueller's team made it clear that the Russians neither colluded with any U.S. citizens nor had any material effect on the election's outcome. But from here on out, there will be ironies, paradoxes and unintended consequences with just about everything Mueller does. Is it now time to prosecute foreigners for attempting to interfere with a U.S. election? If so, then surely Christopher Steele, the author of the Fusion GPS dossier, is far more culpable and vulnerable than the 13 bumbling Russians. Steele is not a U.S. citizen. Steele colluded with Russian interests in compiling his lurid dossier about Donald Trump. Steele did not register as a foreign agent. And Steele was paid by Hillary Clinton's campaign to find dirt on political rival Trump and his campaign. In other words, Steele's position is far worse than that of the Russians for at a variety of reasons. One, he is easily extraditable while the Russians are not. Two, his efforts really did affect the race, given that the dossier was systematically leaked to major media and served as a basis for the U.S. government to spy on American citizens. Three, unlike with the Russians, no one disputes that American citizens -- Hillary Clinton, members of the Democratic National Committee, and anti-Trump partisan Glenn Simpson and his Fusion GPS team -- colluded by paying for Steele's work. Mueller's team has also leveraged a guilty plea from former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn for making false statements to FBI investigators. If the Flynn case is now the Mueller standard, then we know that a number of high-ranking officials are vulnerable to such legal exposure. Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr deliberately omitted on federal disclosure forms the fact that his wife, an expert on Russia, worked on the Fusion GPS dossier. Steele himself probably lied to the FBI went he claimed he had not leaked the dossier's contents to the media. Hillary Clinton aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills likely lied to FBI investigator Peter Strzok (who had also interviewed Flynn) when they claimed they had no idea that Clinton was using a private and illegal email server until the story went public. In fact, Abedin and Mills had communicated with Clinton over the same server -- as did then-President Barack Obama, who likewise denied that he knew about the improper server. Former FBI Director James Comey likely lied to Congress when he claimed that his exoneration of Clinton came after he had interviewed her. We now know from documents that he drafted a statement about the conclusion of the investigation even before he met with her. A[...]



Redrawn Pa. Maps Add Uncertainty to Special Election

2018-02-22T00:00:00Z

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s redrawing of congressional district maps this week threw confusion and uncertainty into the competitive and closely watched special election for a House seat in Western Pennsylvania next month. The new maps do not alter the district lines or ballots for the March 13 election in the 18th Congressional District. But the change for November has implications both minor and far reaching that could affect both the outcome next month and the approach from both parties to races in the area come the midterms. Republicans are challenging the redrawn lines,...The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s redrawing of congressional district maps this week threw confusion and uncertainty into the competitive and closely watched special election for a House seat in Western Pennsylvania next month. The new maps do not alter the district lines or ballots for the March 13 election in the 18th Congressional District. But the change for November has implications both minor and far reaching that could affect both the outcome next month and the approach from both parties to races in the area come the midterms. Republicans are challenging the redrawn lines, which are said to benefit Democrats, in the U.S. Supreme Court, adding another layer of confusion as both sides wait to see whether the state court’s action will prevail. “It’s another thing you have to do in that maelstrom of a special election,” said Christopher Nicholas, a longtime Republican strategist in the state. “Specials are always very special and can be pains in the butt, and this is another level of pain for folks in both camps.” Mike Mikus, a veteran Democratic strategist who ran a 2010 special election in the area, said the situation is unprecedented, meaning there is no campaign playbook for how to handle the change or communicate about it to voters. “I don’t remember ever seeing a situation like this anywhere in the country, let alone here,” Mikus said. “We really don’t know, and anybody who says they know is lying.” The race was highly competitive before the court’s decision threw a wrench into it three weeks before Election Day. President Trump won PA-18 by nearly 20 percentage points in 2016, but Democrats see an opening with Conor Lamb, a veteran and former prosecutor, as their candidate against state Rep. Rick Saccone. (The seat opened up when Rep. Tim Murphy resigned amid a sex scandal.) A public poll showed Saccone with just a three-percentage-point lead last week. Strategically, the new map likely changes nothing for either party. National Republicans and GOP outside groups have spent heavily on Saccone’s behalf, running millions of dollars’ worth of ads backing him and attacking Lamb, hoping to stave off an embarrassing defeat in a Trump-heavy district. House Republicans’ campaign committee introduced a new ad Wednesday going after Lamb’s record as a prosecutor, while a super PAC aligned with Speaker Paul Ryan launched an ad tying him to Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. (Lamb has said he would not support Pelosi continuing in that role.) National Democrats, meanwhile, have avoided wading in except for limited television advertising, concerned both about raising expectations and nationalizing a close election in unfriendly territory. Lamb’s campaign has been on the airwaves without national support to push back against the GOP onslaught, and released an ad Wednesday [...]



Time to Change the Election Game

2018-02-22T00:00:00Z

For political junkies, Monday's release of a new map for Pennsylvania's Congressional Districts was one of the biggest news events of the 2018 midterm elections. The State Supreme Court imposed new District boundaries for every single district in the state and created more opportunities for Democrats. The impact of this ruling has national implications. Prior to the new Pennsylvania map, the projections at ScottRasmussen.com showed that even with a decent midterm turnout for the Democrats, the GOP might cling to a narrow 219-216 majority in the House of Representatives. With the new...For political junkies, Monday's release of a new map for Pennsylvania's Congressional Districts was one of the biggest news events of the 2018 midterm elections. The State Supreme Court imposed new District boundaries for every single district in the state and created more opportunities for Democrats. The impact of this ruling has national implications. Prior to the new Pennsylvania map, the projections at ScottRasmussen.com showed that even with a decent midterm turnout for the Democrats, the GOP might cling to a narrow 219-216 majority in the House of Representatives. With the new map, the same projections show the Democrats picking up three more seats and winning control of Congress. Of course, there's a long way to go until November and the battle for control of Congress may not end up as close as it appears today. But the fact that a court ruling in a single state could alter control of Congress reveals a much deeper problem with American politics. Rob Richie, Executive Director of FairVote has spent years stating the uncomfortable truth that "American voters don't select their Representatives, the Representatives select the voters." More precisely, both Republicans and Democrats draw district boundaries to select groups of voters who will vote for their team. While there will be elections in all 435 House Districts this year, the way the boundaries were drawn pre-ordained the winner in at least 390 of them. In November, over 90% of voters will have no meaningful choice and no say as to who represents them in Washington. That's why Members of Congress typically have more job security than a tenured college professor. This wretched dynamic contributes mightily to the dysfunction of Congress and to the nation's toxic political environment. It is time to seriously explore and experiment with other mechanisms for electing Members of Congress. It's worth pointing out that the Constitution does not mandate our current system of electing representatives by District. Originally, the states were allowed to select their Representatives in whatever manner worked for them. It would be great to once again allow and encourage states to experiment with new approaches to empowering voters. One experiment might be to use some form of proportional representation. If 60% of the voters in a state voted for a Republican, 60% of the Representatives would be Republican. That has a certain intrinsic appeal and insures that every vote would truly count. It would also provide an opening for third parties to gain traction because they could attract enough support to win a seat or two in Congress. That can't really happen in the winner-take-all district approach. There are other approaches worthy of consideration as well. Check out FairVote.org to learn about Ranked Choice voting and additional alternatives. It would be wonderful for our nation to have state and local gover[...]



In Facing Russia, We Don't Even Have a Neville Chamberlain

2018-02-22T00:00:00Z

"Darkest Hour" follows Winston Churchill's struggle to rouse Britain to confront the Nazi menace. Winning the war was step two. Step one, the movie's theme, was to get the country to agree to wage war. And he did no buttering. "I have nothing to offer," Churchill famously told his nation, "but blood, toil, tears and sweat." And that's what it got as the price for saving civilization. There's no mention of Donald Trump, obviously, but it's hard to see the movie without feeling some heartbreak for an America now enduring a dark hour -- that..."Darkest Hour" follows Winston Churchill's struggle to rouse Britain to confront the Nazi menace. Winning the war was step two. Step one, the movie's theme, was to get the country to agree to wage war. And he did no buttering. "I have nothing to offer," Churchill famously told his nation, "but blood, toil, tears and sweat." And that's what it got as the price for saving civilization. There's no mention of Donald Trump, obviously, but it's hard to see the movie without feeling some heartbreak for an America now enduring a dark hour -- that is, Russia's ravaging of our democratic core. Our political culture is under threat, but we have no Churchill to fight back. We don't even have a Neville Chamberlain. With the World War I bloodbath still haunting Europe, Chamberlain held that appeasing Hitler would save Britain from annihilation by the superior German war machine. But he never questioned who was behind the Nazi peril. Vladimir Putin does not hold the whip hand against the United States. We have the technological genius and creativity to defend ourselves in this information war and exact a price for the Russian aggression. Putin holds the whip hand only against Trump. Trump won't go so far as to verbally criticize Putin. There's much speculation on why he seems so ghastly afraid of the Russian leader. Putin may possess embarrassing video or hard evidence of collusion during the campaign. He undoubtedly controls the Russian bankers who could harm the Trump real estate empire if the president doesn't jump high enough. These suspicions grew after the Mueller investigation's indictment of Russians for interfering in the 2016 election. The report noted that its American targets were unwitting dupes, which Trump at first heralded as proof of "no collusion" on his campaign's part. His mood soured as the reality sank in that prosecutors were referring only to "this indictment." That does not preclude findings of collusion in future indictments. A courageous Trump could have become a movie antihero -- the personally flawed man who suddenly rises to serve a cause greater than himself. So his helpers paid off porn stars and centerfolds. If Trump led America to victory in an information war against a hostile power, much would be forgiven. But as American democracy is being hijacked, Trump won't even harden the cockpits. The scariest part is how many Republicans don't seem to mind. Churchill stirred his nation to fight to the last man and woman. To think, today's information war need not involve shooting, and Trump nevertheless remains in hiding. In any case, why would the Russians bother shooting Americans when they can get Americans to shoot one another? They've been pretty good at it so far: Just unleash trolls to stoke hatred and resentment among various groups. Gum up the public discourse with bald lies. Drum up support for the NRA and its sick willingness to flood the United[...]



Race and Sports: It's Not 1947 Anymore. Let's Not Pretend That It Is

2018-02-22T00:00:00Z

ESPN recently re-aired a three-part documentary about the long rivalry between two storied NBA basketball teams, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, and their two marquee players, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, respectively. After another devastating Laker loss, this time in the 1984 finals, Laker star Magic Johnson said he felt so disappointed, in part, because he let down blacks. So many black fans were pulling for him, including, he discovered, many black residents of Boston. As a Los Angeles native, I, too, wanted the Lakers to win. But how did the Lakers of the era become the...ESPN recently re-aired a three-part documentary about the long rivalry between two storied NBA basketball teams, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, and their two marquee players, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, respectively. After another devastating Laker loss, this time in the 1984 finals, Laker star Magic Johnson said he felt so disappointed, in part, because he let down blacks. So many black fans were pulling for him, including, he discovered, many black residents of Boston. As a Los Angeles native, I, too, wanted the Lakers to win. But how did the Lakers of the era become the "black team" and how did the Bird-led team become the "white team"? Sure, the Celtics were led by Bird -- a white player -- but the Celtics' coach, K.C. Jones, was black, as were several key players, including guards Dennis Johnson and Gerald Henderson, as well as center Robert Parrish and forward Cedric "Cornbread" Maxwell. Meanwhile, the Lakers' head coach was Pat Riley, a white man. No doubt many whites pulled for Bird because he's white. As a white friend and Larry Bird fan once told me, "White people have pride, too." And no doubt that many black people pulled for Magic Johnson over Bird because Johnson is black. Who cares? Something can be racial without being racist. One black Celtic player said it bothered him that some blacks considered him to be playing for a "white team." But another black player, M.L. Carr, said he could not have cared less about the black-versus-white nonsense and just wanted to beat Los Angeles. It's also worth noting that Bird never played into the "Great White Hope" nonsense. When an opposing ballplayer, Isiah Thomas, suggested that if Bird were a black player he "would be just another good guy," Bird did not take the bait. He could have fired back and accused the black player of racism. But he wanted nothing to do with what he perceived as a media-made controversy. When the player apologized, Bird accepted it, and that was that. Bird said: ''The main thing is that if the statement doesn't bother me, it shouldn't bother anybody. If Isiah tells me it was a joking matter, it should be left at that. The NBA is sometimes not the easiest thing to be in, and after a game like that, in the heat of the locker room, it's probably not the best time to talk to us. I've answered a lot of questions about it, and talked about it to my family, and they still love Isiah Thomas." Now how about a little perspective? In 1950, the first black player entered the NBA. The '60s saw the breakout of black superstars like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Elgin Baylor, Walt Bellamy, Hal Greer and many more. Fast-forward to today. As of 2017, 75 percent of the roughly 500 players in the NBA are black. Of the 30 coaches in the NBA, eight of them -- 27 percent -- are black[...]



Gun Violence

2018-02-22T00:00:00Z

The reality is that if we knew what leads to mass shootings at high schools, the problem would already have been resolved - sadly, we don't. We need to address all of the factors that contribute to these circumstances, methodically and as part of a systemic approach, not as a series of bullet point solutions. Are guns to blame, or is it mental illness that's often overlooked? This is the reoccurring question that we as a nation ask ourselves when innocent children die in high school mass shootings. Are we really serious about minimizing the most dangerous places for violence in...The reality is that if we knew what leads to mass shootings at high schools, the problem would already have been resolved - sadly, we don't. We need to address all of the factors that contribute to these circumstances, methodically and as part of a systemic approach, not as a series of bullet point solutions. Are guns to blame, or is it mental illness that's often overlooked? This is the reoccurring question that we as a nation ask ourselves when innocent children die in high school mass shootings. Are we really serious about minimizing the most dangerous places for violence in America? What is our priority? Parents want to see change that leads to overwhelmingly positive outcomes, not the political rhetoric and grandstanding that often shape these conversations. Within hours of the Florida shooting, some on the left were quick to call for massive gun control, arguing that it could have prevented what occurred. However, no evidence suggests that is ever the case. For example, Chicago has an assault-weapons ban in Cook County, and at one point, even banned handguns in the city limits altogether until a 2008 Supreme Court ruling. However, despite Chicago's strict laws on the types of guns an individual can have, or even its attempts to outlaw guns in the city altogether, there were more than 4,000 shooting victims in the city of Chicago in 2016 according to NPR, and the city continues to suffer from a massive amount of gun crimes. A study by the University of Chicago crime lab titled: "Gun Violence in Chicago, 2016" noted that the number of homicides sharply rose, a majority of which were the result of gun violence. Despite their attempts, gun crime in Chicago continues to be a major problem, which indicates that restricting guns isn't the issue, but a lack of opportunity in places like Chicago and mental illness in places like Florida should be where we place our focus. Much of mental health issues are related to how children are nurtured and how trauma is dealt with in the home. Friends, co-workers, neighbors and even the family that took the shooter in knew he had been troubled all of his life, just like those before him who have committed similar mass shootings. Throughout high school, instead of the eventual terrorist being suspend or expelled, school officials and family members had the option to seek institutional treatment. Professional help would have voided him of his ability to legally purchase a gun, which could have at the very least prevented the carnage. While no violence committed is ever guaranteed when a person want's to cause harm, mental help early on could have been a viable solution. Why did the media unfairly lambast President Trump for accurately laying blame with parents and everyone else? Why is it that we do not want to do the emotional digging[...]



Is Trump Guilty, or Does He Just Look Guilty?

2018-02-21T00:00:00Z

When absorbing news about the Mueller investigation, I can't help thinking of Saddam Hussein. No, I'm not equating our president with the late Iraqi dictator. I'm thinking more about our assumptions regarding Saddam's guilt. In the run-up to the Iraq War, the whole world was asking whether Saddam had a secret program for weapons of mass destruction. The head of our CIA said it was a "slam dunk." Our allies' intelligence agencies agreed. There were good reasons to think it was true. Saddam had used chemical weapons against the Kurds. He had threatened to...When absorbing news about the Mueller investigation, I can't help thinking of Saddam Hussein. No, I'm not equating our president with the late Iraqi dictator. I'm thinking more about our assumptions regarding Saddam's guilt. In the run-up to the Iraq War, the whole world was asking whether Saddam had a secret program for weapons of mass destruction. The head of our CIA said it was a "slam dunk." Our allies' intelligence agencies agreed. There were good reasons to think it was true. Saddam had used chemical weapons against the Kurds. He had threatened to "burn half of Israel." He had used nerve gas against Iran in the Iran-Iraq war. Following the first Gulf War in 1991, the coalition was surprised to find Iraq's nuclear program quite advanced. Throughout the decade of the 1990s, Saddam thwarted and harassed international weapons inspectors. In 1998, signing the Iraq Liberation Act, President Bill Clinton cited Saddam's long cat-and-mouse game with international inspectors and declared, "It is obvious that there is an attempt here ... to protect whatever remains of his capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction ... (and) the missiles to deliver them." But as we later learned, it was mostly a bluff. During interrogations in 2004, Saddam told the FBI that he had encouraged the world to believe he had WMDs so as to deter Iran. This isn't to say that Saddam's strategy was smart -- he invited a U.S. invasion that could have been avoided if he had come clean -- but it was a strategy. He was acting guilty for a reason other than being guilty. Which brings us to President Donald Trump. He sure acts guilty. Let us count some of the ways. He chose Paul Manafort, well-known for shady Russia ties, as campaign manager. He picked Carter Page, a wannabee Russian agent, as a campaign foreign-policy adviser. Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Manafort met with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer. The president reportedly dictated a false statement about the meeting when it became public. With the Trump campaign's approval, Page traveled to Moscow in July 2016. WikiLeaks was in touch with Trump Jr. After Michael Flynn, who failed to disclose his lobbying for Russia and Turkey, was fired for lying to the vice president, Trump asked James Comey to go easy on him. The fact that Flynn lied to the FBI is odd. Why lie? It's routine for incoming administration officials to have contact with other governments. Jared Kushner attempted to set up a back channel to communicate with Russia through the Russian embassy. Trump told the Russian ambassador in an Oval Office meeting that he had fired Comey, thus relieving "great pressure" regarding Russia. Trump resisted sanctions on Russia and, after they passed by veto-proof margins, failed to implement them. Trump suggested, after meeting the Russian[...]



Manufacturers to American Workers: We're Hiring

2018-02-21T00:00:00Z

For manufacturers in America, the past year has been transformational. We hear it every day from manufacturers of all types, from large iconic brands in big cities to family-owned businesses in small towns: We’ve never been this optimistic about the future.  At the end of 2017, the National Association of Manufacturers surveyed its membership and the results were recording-breaking. Almost 95 percent of respondents felt positive about the outlook of their businesses — an all-time high in the survey’s 20-year history.  Manufacturing is in the...For manufacturers in America, the past year has been transformational. We hear it every day from manufacturers of all types, from large iconic brands in big cities to family-owned businesses in small towns: We’ve never been this optimistic about the future.  At the end of 2017, the National Association of Manufacturers surveyed its membership and the results were recording-breaking. Almost 95 percent of respondents felt positive about the outlook of their businesses — an all-time high in the survey’s 20-year history.  Manufacturing is in the spotlight, with elected leaders and the American people cheering for us. Demonstrating where manufacturers sit in today’s America, three of the guests of honor for President Trump’s State of the Union address were manufacturers — Steve Staub, Sandy Keplinger and Corey Adams from Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Dayton, Ohio.  Manufacturers’ newfound confidence didn’t happen by accident. Major developments in Washington, D.C., dramatically improved the business climate in the United States, most notably regulatory relief and, at the end of the year, historic tax reform.  It all freed up time, energy and resources that would otherwise have gone toward complying with complicated federal rules and the highest tax rates in the developed world. As a result, manufacturers are investing in their people and communities. We’re seeing story after story of businesses expanding their operations, offering raises or bonuses, buying new equipment and hiring new workers.  On the policy front, there’s still more that can be done, including a bold investment in our nation’s infrastructure, further regulatory relief, immigration reform and expanded trade.  But there is also a generational challenge that requires more than just a shift in government policy: building the modern manufacturing workforce.  Yes, the fact is that new technology doesn’t reduce the need for workers. Just the opposite is true: It increases the demand for people with the knowledge and skills to harness the power of these new innovations, which include everything from robotics to virtual reality.  Emerson, the global manufacturer based in St. Louis, develops and uses many of these new solutions. Right now, Emerson is looking for technicians, welders and electricians, as well workers to fill roles in additive manufacturing and programming software for manufacturing automation and safety.  According to analysis from the NAM’s Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, manufacturers in the United States will need to fill about 3.5 million jobs by 2025. But about 2 million of those jobs may go unfilled because it is so difficult [...]



Billy Graham Was Consumed by Grace

2018-02-21T00:00:00Z

WASHINGTON -- Billy Graham was easily the most influential evangelical Christian of the 20th century -- a man at home in the historical company of George Whitefield and John Wesley. But this would be hard to tell from reading his sermons, which even close associates described as ordinary. His books are hardly more memorable. So what was it that compelled hundreds of millions of people to attend and watch his evangelistic "crusades" and to find personal transformation in his words? Graham's global ministry was the triumph of complete sincerity, expressed with a universally...WASHINGTON -- Billy Graham was easily the most influential evangelical Christian of the 20th century -- a man at home in the historical company of George Whitefield and John Wesley. But this would be hard to tell from reading his sermons, which even close associates described as ordinary. His books are hardly more memorable. So what was it that compelled hundreds of millions of people to attend and watch his evangelistic "crusades" and to find personal transformation in his words? Graham's global ministry was the triumph of complete sincerity, expressed with a universally accessible simplicity. "There is no magic, no manipulation," said publicist Gavin Reid. "The man just obviously believes what he says." Graham could display charisma in meetings with presidents and queens. In the pulpit -- the place of his calling from an early age -- he was nearly transparent, allowing a light behind him to shine through him. He had the power of a man utterly confident in some other, greater power. American fundamentalism from the Scopes monkey trial to the 1950s was traumatized, marginalized and inward-looking. Graham's achievement was to turn the face of fundamentalism outward toward the world -- shaping, in the process, a distinct religious movement. His evangelicalism was more open and appealing, more intellectually and culturally engaged. Graham took his fellow evangelicals from the margins to the center -- from the sawdust trail to the White House. He managed to be winsome without being compromised. And evangelical Christians felt grateful to have a public representative who -- through his integrity and consistency -- brought credit to their faith. There was initial resistance to Graham's work among mainline Protestants. As Graham announced more and more crusades, theologian Reinhold Niebuhr was not amused. Graham, Niebuhr warned, would "accentuate every prejudice which the modern, 'enlightened' but morally sensitive man may have against religion." Graham responded: "I have read nearly everything Mr. Niebuhr has written and I feel inadequate before his brilliant mind and learning. Occasionally I get a glimmer of what he is talking about ... [but] if I tried to preach as he writes, people would be so bewildered they would walk out." Nearly 2 million people walked into Graham's 16-week, New York crusade in 1957. And Graham was joined one night at Madison Square Garden by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There was also resistance among some fundamentalists. I grew up in a theologically conservative Calvinist church in which the reformation was refought on a weekly basis. The man who would become my father-in-law -- blessed with a fine voice -- decided to sing in the choir at a Billy Graham crusade that came into town. [...]



What Most Threatens the Economy? You Might Be Surprised.

2018-02-21T00:00:00Z

WASHINGTON -- Here's today's quiz: What poses the greatest threat to America's economy? (a) federal budget deficits; (b) China; (c) trade deficits; (d) ineffective schools; (e) the internet; (f) none of the above. The correct answer is (e), the internet -- the technological wonder of the age. True, all the other threats are real. Runaway budget deficits could raise interest rates. China could overtake the United States in some high-technology industries. Inadequate schools could mean scarcities of skilled workers. All these developments could slightly slow economic...WASHINGTON -- Here's today's quiz: What poses the greatest threat to America's economy? (a) federal budget deficits; (b) China; (c) trade deficits; (d) ineffective schools; (e) the internet; (f) none of the above. The correct answer is (e), the internet -- the technological wonder of the age. True, all the other threats are real. Runaway budget deficits could raise interest rates. China could overtake the United States in some high-technology industries. Inadequate schools could mean scarcities of skilled workers. All these developments could slightly slow economic growth or raise unemployment. By contrast, the internet -- if turned against us through hacking and cyberattacks -- could conceivably shut down most of the economy. It represents a "potential threat to all Americans using any information and communications technologies" -- that is, almost everyone. We have this warning not from some obscure academic or business group but from the annual report of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, which devotes a whole chapter to the dangers of a hostile internet. It cites one study estimating $1 trillion worth of damage from an attack on "critical infrastructure" -- say, the power grid or the payment system. Even this figure seems far too low. Virtually everything depends on reliable electricity: elevators, lights, computers, refrigerators. The list goes on. A crippled power grid would broadly disrupt everyday activities and routines. The potential damage and disorder to the $20 trillion U.S. economy could be massive and, possibly, incalculable. What we now know is that the internet has many warlike features. Curiously, the study has no discussion of Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, but the omission reinforces the basic message: Despite the good it does, the internet makes possible destructive behaviors that, only a decade ago, were barely imaginable. Relying on data from Verizon, the CEA study classifies cyberwarriors into four major groups: (1) nation-states that spy on or disrupt their adversaries; the major players here are China, Russia, North Korea and Iran (the United States should probably be added to this list); (2) criminals engaging in identity theft and "ransomware" -- the stealing of data that is promised to be returned upon payment of a given fee; (3) business competitors that steal proprietary technologies and trade secrets; (4) company "insiders," usually disgruntled workers "looking for revenge or financial gain." In addition, there are various freelancers: people with a political agenda or who hack for fun. According to the Verizon data, about half the "threat actors" are criminals and about a fifth are groups affiliated with nation-sta[...]



The Zelig of Russian Covert Action

2018-02-21T00:00:00Z

WASHINGTON -- Every good spy story needs a shadowy operative who does the dirty work for the boss, and thanks to the indictment issued Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller, we now have a nominee for that role in the Russia investigation. He's a billionaire oligarch named Yevgeniy Prigozhin, and based on Russian and other accounts, he sounds like a real-life version of a James Bond villain. Prigozhin's fingerprints appear to be on three of the most sensitive operations launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin: meddling in the 2016 U.S. election; supporting separatist fighters...WASHINGTON -- Every good spy story needs a shadowy operative who does the dirty work for the boss, and thanks to the indictment issued Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller, we now have a nominee for that role in the Russia investigation. He's a billionaire oligarch named Yevgeniy Prigozhin, and based on Russian and other accounts, he sounds like a real-life version of a James Bond villain. Prigozhin's fingerprints appear to be on three of the most sensitive operations launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin: meddling in the 2016 U.S. election; supporting separatist fighters in Eastern Ukraine; and providing military muscle for the Syrian regime. Russia's hidden combatants are often described as "Little Green Men," and Prigozhin may be the Jolly Green Giant who helps this machine function. Prigozhin has been painted in press accounts as "Putin's chef," because he got his start as the future president's favorite restaurateur in Russia's wild frontier capitalism of the 1990s. He started with food stalls in his native St. Petersburg and eventually built an elegant floating restaurant there where Putin hosted foreign leaders. Billion-dollar contracts to cater for the Russian military followed. But he started as a tough guy: Back in 1981, prior to gaining Putin's favor, Prigozhin was reportedly jailed for nine years for robbery, fraud and child prostitution, according to the Russian news website Meduza. Mueller's indictment of 13 Russians alleged that Prigozhin was a key funder of the Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg "troll farm" that sought to plant pro-Kremlin information on social media. The indictment charged that, through several subsidiaries branded as "Concord," Prigozhin "spent significant funds" to support the organization's "information warfare" against the U.S. Prigozhin has denied involvement in the troll factory. His defiant reaction to being named in Friday's indictment: "I am not at all disappointed that I appear in this list. If they want to see the devil -- let them." Prigozhin has been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury since 2016 because of his activities in Ukraine. Mueller's indictment describes a complex effort to manipulate American public opinion through fake accounts, false fronts and stolen identities. The troll factory's election bias was evident in the ads it purchased, including: "Hillary is a Satan, and her crimes and lies had proved just how evil she is," and "Among all the candidates Donald Trump is the one and only who can defend the police from terrorists." The cheeky Russian operatives even arranged to photograph an American in front of the White House several days before Prigozhin's 2016 bir[...]



Do Not Let the Children Lead

2018-02-21T00:00:00Z

Where are all the grown-ups in times of crisis and grief? Don't bother searching America's prestigious law schools. Two adult men, occupying lofty perches as law professors, argued this week that the voting age in the U.S. should be lowered to 16 because some high school survivors of the Parkland, Florida, shooting who want gun control "are proving how important it is to include young people's voices in political debate." That was the assertion of University of Kentucky law professor Joshua Douglas on CNN.com. He praised some student leaders at Marjory Stoneman...Where are all the grown-ups in times of crisis and grief? Don't bother searching America's prestigious law schools. Two adult men, occupying lofty perches as law professors, argued this week that the voting age in the U.S. should be lowered to 16 because some high school survivors of the Parkland, Florida, shooting who want gun control "are proving how important it is to include young people's voices in political debate." That was the assertion of University of Kentucky law professor Joshua Douglas on CNN.com. He praised some student leaders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who've been making the rounds on TV, shouting at President Trump, Republicans in Congress and the NRA "to demand change" -- which Douglas defines obtusely as "meaningful gun control," whatever that means. Because these children are apparently doing a better job at broadcasting his own ineffectual political views, Douglas asserts, "we should include them more directly in our democratic process" by enfranchising them now. Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe similarly tweeted, "Teens between 14 and 18 have far better BS detectors, on average, than 'adults' 18 and older." On what basis does distinguished Professor Tribe make such a claim? On a foundation of pure, steaming BS. Undaunted, gun control advocate Tribe urged: "Wouldn't it be great if the voting age were lowered to 16? Just a pipe dream, I know, but . . . #Children'sCrusade?" This is unadulterated silliness. It's hashtag hokum from a pair of pandering left-wing profs exploiting a new round of Democratic youth props. I have called this rhetorical fallacy "argumentum ad filium:" If politicians appeal to the children, it's unassailably good and true. This is not compassion, but abdication. America is not a juvenilocracy. It is a constitutional republic. There is a reason we don't elect high school sophomores and juniors to public office or allow them to cast ballots. There are many, many reasons, actually. Pubescents are fueled by hormones and dopamine and pizza and Sonic shakes. They're fickle and fragile and fierce and forgetful. They hate you. They love you. They need you. They ignore you. They know everything. They know nothing. All in the span of 10 seconds. I know. I have two of them. If you're lucky, they've only Googled "Should I eat Tide pods?" or "What happens if I snort Ramen powder?" and not actually attempted the latest social media stunt challenges. But that's what kids do. Because they're kids. Many may be exceptionally smart, passionate and articulate beyond their years, but they do not possess any semblance of wisdom because they have not lived those years. Their knowledge of his[...]



The Churchillian Mr. Trump

2018-02-21T00:00:00Z

In a country tired of protracted war, its global position and power in question, its government in the hands of the far left, a well-known figure long derided by elite opinion stood to argue for a new brand of nationalism. It was time, he said, for his nation to step down from its war footing and place new emphasis on the home front, specifically the domestic, private economy. “Of course,” he proclaimed, “if you keep one and a half million men drumming their heels, when they should be recreating our vanished wealth, it is easy to cast away the public...In a country tired of protracted war, its global position and power in question, its government in the hands of the far left, a well-known figure long derided by elite opinion stood to argue for a new brand of nationalism. It was time, he said, for his nation to step down from its war footing and place new emphasis on the home front, specifically the domestic, private economy. “Of course,” he proclaimed, “if you keep one and a half million men drumming their heels, when they should be recreating our vanished wealth, it is easy to cast away the public treasure.” At stake was the national competitive edge, under assault by savvier world powers. One of these foreign powers, by the accounting of its president, expected a “two and a half times” increase in metalworking from before the time of war. But at home? There, “not a single peacetime manufactory … will be producing 100 percent, and many will be far short of 60 and 70 percent” of prewar output by the same date. The man making this comparison and issuing this warning? Winston Churchill, the former British prime minister, still a member of Parliament in December 1945 but ousted from Downing Street by a stunning Labour victory in July of that year. The competitor to which he referred, and the president he cited? The United States and Harry Truman. It may come as a surprise to many today, but the great wartime leader Churchill was no simple militarist. Military power was, for him, but one tool the statesman might employ—and reluctantly so—in defense of the national interest. Churchill did not seek war. He instead sought, through a long and storied career, to do nothing less than put Britain, and the British Empire, “first.” Even the alliance, the “special relationship” he so valued with the United States, still had as its aim the good and welfare of the British people. After his inauguration last year, President Trump famously returned a bronze bust of Churchill—unceremoniously removed by President Obama—to the Oval Office. It now stands on an ornate side table and overlooks the Resolute Desk, itself a gift of Queen Victoria. The symbolism of this is powerful. In certain profound ways, Trump is the living heir to the politics and vision of Winston Spencer Churchill. Laugh if you wish. It would be appropriate. Both men endured plenty of laughter in the years before their ascents. Both were questioned, and mocked, along very similar lines—for lack of “judgment,” for having bad “temperaments,” for being “extreme.&rdqu[...]



Trump Orders Ban on 'Bump Stocks' Used to Convert Guns

2018-02-21T00:00:00Z

WASHINGTON (AP) — As a grieving Florida community demanded action on guns, President Donald Trump on Tuesday directed the Justice Department to move to ban devices like the rapid-fire bump stocks used in last year’s Las Vegas massacre. It was a small sign of movement on the gun violence issue that has long tied Washington in knots. “We must do more to protect our children,” Trump said, adding that his administration was working hard to respond to the shooting in Parkland that left 17 dead. After past mass killings yielded little action on tighter gun...WASHINGTON (AP) — As a grieving Florida community demanded action on guns, President Donald Trump on Tuesday directed the Justice Department to move to ban devices like the rapid-fire bump stocks used in last year’s Las Vegas massacre. It was a small sign of movement on the gun violence issue that has long tied Washington in knots. “We must do more to protect our children,” Trump said, adding that his administration was working hard to respond to the shooting in Parkland that left 17 dead. After past mass killings yielded little action on tighter gun controls, the White House is trying to demonstrate that it is taking the issue seriously. The president, a strong and vocal supporter of gun rights, has not endorsed more robust changes sought by gun control activists. But the White House cast the president in recent days as having been swayed by the school shooting in Florida and willing to listen to proposals. In a tweet Tuesday night, Trump indicated he wants to strengthen the background check system, but offered no specifics. Trump said: “Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks!” Asked at a press briefing Tuesday if Trump was open to reinstating a ban on assault-type weapons, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said White House officials “haven’t closed the door on any front.” She also said that the idea of raising the age limit to buy an AR-15 was “on the table for us to discuss.” Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat and leading advocate for tighter gun controls, said Trump’s directive suggested the president was aware of fresh energy on the issue and called it a sign that “for the first time” politicians are “scared of the political consequences of inaction on guns.” A bipartisan legislative effort to ban bump stocks last year fizzled out. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced in December that it was reviewing whether weapons using bump stocks should be considered illegal machine guns under federal law. Under the Obama administration, the ATF had concluded that bump stocks did not violate federal law. But the acting director of the ATF told lawmakers in December that the ATF and Justice Department would not have initiated the review if a ban “wasn’t a possibility at the end.” The Justice Department had not made any announcement regarding its review when Trump on Tuesday signed a memorandum directing the agency to complete the review as soon as possible and propose a ru[...]



Churchillian Trump; Help Wanted; Calling In the Feds; John Quincy Adams

2018-02-21T00:00:00Z

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, February 21, 2018. On this date in 1848, as he stood at his desk in the House of Representatives, John Quincy Adams suffered a massive stroke that would claim his life two days later. Until his last breath, this son of New England employed both passion and reason in carrying the argument against slavery to the Sons of the South serving in Congress. Adams certainly didn’t start the abolitionist movement in Congress. Quaker-sponsored petitions to end slavery -- signed by Benjamin Franklin, among others -- were sent to lawmakers beginning in...Good morning, it’s Wednesday, February 21, 2018. On this date in 1848, as he stood at his desk in the House of Representatives, John Quincy Adams suffered a massive stroke that would claim his life two days later. Until his last breath, this son of New England employed both passion and reason in carrying the argument against slavery to the Sons of the South serving in Congress. Adams certainly didn’t start the abolitionist movement in Congress. Quaker-sponsored petitions to end slavery -- signed by Benjamin Franklin, among others -- were sent to lawmakers beginning in 1790. Southern Democrats in the House grew so tired of them that in 1836 they succeeded in passing a rule automatically tabling such petitions. A son of Founding Father John Adams, and the only former U.S. president to serve in Congress, Quincy Adams opposed every legislative move to expand slavery, including the annexation of Texas after the Mexican-American War. He also backed every parliamentary maneuver designed to abolish it. His greatest fight, and it lasted from 1836 until his voice was stilled on this date in 1848, was against that infamous “gag rule.” I’ll have more on this man in a moment. First, I’d point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following: * * * The Churchillian Mr. Trump. Augustus Howard details similarities between the two leaders -- more than one might expect to find. Manufacturers to American Workers: We’re Hiring. David Farr and Jay Timmons write that technical training is all that stands in the way of securing well-paying “new collar” jobs. School-Choice Foes Called In the Feds, and Called the Shots. In RealClearInvestigations, James Varney examines an Obama Justice Department inquiry practically run behind the scenes by liberal opponents of school choice in Wisconsin. What Do Would-Be Governors Have to Say About Education? In RealClearPolicy, Frederick M. Hess and Sofia Gallo spotlight policy priorities of this year's gubernatorial candidates. America's Dangerous Foreign Mineral Dependence. In RealClearEnergy, Matthew Kandrach asserts that an increasing reliance on imported minerals and metals needed to make electric cars and other consumer goods carries economic risk. America Needs NAFTA to Maintain Energy Dominance. A[...]



Latest Trump Accusers Not #MeToo Women

2018-02-21T00:00:00Z

The media are jumping on stories of President Donald Trump's past dalliances with Playboy Bunny Karen McDougal and stripper Stormy Daniels. They're linking these women to the #MeToo movement. Don't buy it. Real #MeToo women, battling workplace harassment and domestic abuse, want to be judged by their achievements, not their bra size. They're the opposite of strippers and Playboy Bunnies who sell their sexuality. Turning McDougal and Daniels into poster women for the #MeToo movement shamelessly distorts an important cause. New Yorker Magazine writer Ronan Farrow lionizes...The media are jumping on stories of President Donald Trump's past dalliances with Playboy Bunny Karen McDougal and stripper Stormy Daniels. They're linking these women to the #MeToo movement. Don't buy it. Real #MeToo women, battling workplace harassment and domestic abuse, want to be judged by their achievements, not their bra size. They're the opposite of strippers and Playboy Bunnies who sell their sexuality. Turning McDougal and Daniels into poster women for the #MeToo movement shamelessly distorts an important cause. New Yorker Magazine writer Ronan Farrow lionizes McDougal as a victim whose story exemplifies "abuses by high-profile men." McDougal, who claims she had a nine-month affair with Trump in 2006 to 2007 and later sold her story to a tabloid, once posed for centerfolds. Farrow has her posing as part of the #MeToo movement. "Every girl who speaks," he quotes her as saying, "is paving the way for another." Not this "girl." McDougal says she met Trump In 2006 while he was taping "The Apprentice" at the Playboy Mansion. Anyone who read Playboy was familiar with McDougal's "body of work" as Playmate of the Month for December 1997 and 1998's Playmate of the Year. By her own account, she used her physical attributes to land Trump in bed and enjoy months of travel, entertainment and elbow rubbing with the glitterati before the affair ended. McDougal brags Trump was instantly attracted to her, even though he was married. After nine months, she broke it off, worrying what "her mother thought of her," Farrow reports. A reasonable concern. But McDougal didn't let her conscience impede her profit-seeking instincts. Nine years later, when she saw Trump running for president, she sold exclusive rights to her story to American Media International, publishers of the National Inquirer, for $150,000. They chose not to publish. She claims AMI took away her "rights." Not so. She didn't have to sell to them. She could have peddled her story anywhere. So who's the abuser? McDougal, for converting her private consensual relationship into gold. Now she's gone back on her word to AMI and given her story to Farrow, who says McDougal is troubled about "the moral compromises of silence." McDougal says, "I feel braver" about coming forward because of the #MeToo movement. Vox author Anna North repeats that absurdity, likening McDougal to other "survivors" who feel safe "going public" because of #MeToo. NPR News, the Los Angeles Times, and other media outlets all repeat the spin that McDougal is courageously speaking out beca[...]



Stop Laughing, Putin

2018-02-20T00:00:00Z

WASHINGTON -- President Trump is right about one thing: They must be "laughing their asses off" in Moscow. At him. Faced with compelling evidence that Russian cyber-saboteurs worked to sway the 2016 election, influencing swing-state voters with lies on social media and even staging real-life campaign rallies, Trump's only response has been a frantic and pathetic attempt to protect his own delicate ego. "But wasn't I a great candidate?" he pleaded Sunday on Twitter. Protecting our democracy obviously concerns Trump not at all. But you're probably not...WASHINGTON -- President Trump is right about one thing: They must be "laughing their asses off" in Moscow. At him. Faced with compelling evidence that Russian cyber-saboteurs worked to sway the 2016 election, influencing swing-state voters with lies on social media and even staging real-life campaign rallies, Trump's only response has been a frantic and pathetic attempt to protect his own delicate ego. "But wasn't I a great candidate?" he pleaded Sunday on Twitter. Protecting our democracy obviously concerns Trump not at all. But you're probably not surprised. In a stunning indictment announced Friday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller laid out in painstaking detail how a group of paid internet trolls based in St. Petersburg, Russia, worked diligently to "sow discord in the U.S. political system." They began with the aim of creating general mischief, but "by early to mid-2016, Defendants' operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump ('Trump Campaign') and disparaging Hillary Clinton." There it is, in black and white: Trump was elected with the active help of Russian President Vladimir Putin. While Putin is not named as a co-conspirator, the man behind the scheme -- an oligarch named Yevgeniy Prigozhin -- is a longtime crony known in Russia as "Putin's chef." The idea that he would meddle in a U.S. election without orders from Putin is ludicrous. The 13 named defendants are presumably in Russia, beyond the reach of U.S. justice. Mueller's account of what they allegedly did is simply infuriating. Voters who saw the Russians' Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts were led to believe they were being lobbied by their fellow citizens -- not by an adversarial foreign power. They tried to convince Muslim voters that Clinton was anti-Islam and convince anti-Muslim voters that she favored imposing sharia law. They tried to suppress the African-American vote with an Instagram account named "Woke Blacks" that called Clinton "the lesser of two devils" and argued "we'd surely be better off without voting AT ALL." They purchased online ads calling Clinton "a Satan," falsely accusing her of voter fraud and claiming that "Donald Trump is the one and only [candidate] who can defend the police from terrorists." They organized and promoted actual pro-Trump and anti-Clinton rallies in Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, according to the indictment, and they targeted their social media campaigns at other swing states. To pay for all of this, they established fraudulent U.S. identiti[...]



The Age of Trump Induces Reagan Nostalgia

2018-02-20T00:00:00Z

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. -- A Presidents' Day weekend visit to the Ronald Reagan presidential library here provoked an unfamiliar and unexpected emotion: Reagan nostalgia. Seriously. I was a young reporter in Washington, fresh out of college, when Reagan was elected. It felt like nothing less than a hostile takeover of the government. The Reagan people swept in for the inauguration with their furs and their limousines and their Heritage Foundation briefing books and proceeded, as Stephen Bannon would say years later, to deconstruct the regulatory state. I covered some of Reagan's finest...SIMI VALLEY, Calif. -- A Presidents' Day weekend visit to the Ronald Reagan presidential library here provoked an unfamiliar and unexpected emotion: Reagan nostalgia. Seriously. I was a young reporter in Washington, fresh out of college, when Reagan was elected. It felt like nothing less than a hostile takeover of the government. The Reagan people swept in for the inauguration with their furs and their limousines and their Heritage Foundation briefing books and proceeded, as Stephen Bannon would say years later, to deconstruct the regulatory state. I covered some of Reagan's finest moments -- his nomination of the first female Supreme Court justice, Sandra Day O'Connor, for one -- but also some of his least attractive -- for me, as a Justice Department reporter, the undermining of the Civil Rights Division. So while every presidential library presents an air-brushed portrait of the president it celebrates, I did not expect to emerge with something of a Reagan glow -- certainly not with my dyed-in-the-wool-Democrat husband dragged along. And yet, glow there was. First, about Reagan and the media. The Reagan administration saw the full flowering of the presidency in the television age, with its focus on message management and staged events and more worry over perfect lighting than precise facts. The president himself was often sheltered from reporters' pestering questions. But pick up the handset at the museum and listen to Reagan, back in 1976, talking about the traveling press corps that covered his losing primary challenge to President Gerald Ford. "I knew many of them had written pre-campaign commentaries about me questioning ... whether I was for real," Reagan recounted during one of his weekly radio commentaries. But in the course of the campaign -- "on tour together," Reagan said -- "I saw ... the long hours when the day was done for me but they were still filing stories. I have to say their treatment of me was fair. They were objective, they did their job. ... We parted friends." That was, no doubt, a glossy view of a relationship with built-in strains. Yet it is impossible to listen to Reagan's words and not hear Donald Trump's thuggish campaign trail assault on reporters as "lying, disgusting" "absolute scum" or, more alarming, the Trump administration's "fake news" effort to delegitimize any reporting with which they disagree. Second, about Reagan and the art of the apology. Admitting error does not come easily to any of us, and it is fraugh[...]



Breaking Through Barriers: Glenn, Lincoln and Douglass

2018-02-20T00:00:00Z

John Glenn passed away since I last wrote about him. He died last winter at age 95, and was buried in the spring of 2017 at Arlington National Cemetery. On this date in 1962, he was given an important task by his government, and one thing about John Herschel Glenn Jr. was that when his country asked, he always answered the call. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942 and fought in World War II and the Korean War, became a NASA astronaut in 1959, served in the U.S. Senate from 1975 to 1999, and ran for president in 1984. He didn’t win the Democratic nomination that year, and...John Glenn passed away since I last wrote about him. He died last winter at age 95, and was buried in the spring of 2017 at Arlington National Cemetery. On this date in 1962, he was given an important task by his government, and one thing about John Herschel Glenn Jr. was that when his country asked, he always answered the call. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942 and fought in World War II and the Korean War, became a NASA astronaut in 1959, served in the U.S. Senate from 1975 to 1999, and ran for president in 1984. He didn’t win the Democratic nomination that year, and wouldn’t have defeated Ronald Reagan in any case, but when Barack Obama draped the Presidential Medal of Freedom around his neck in 2012, it was hard to think of an American who had earned it more. * * * Fifty-six years ago today, at 8:35 a.m., retired USMC Col. John Glenn placed a phone call to his wife, Annie, from Florida’s Cape Canaveral. “Well,” he said with studied nonchalance, “I’m going down to the corner store and buy some chewing gum.” The 40-year-old astronaut was speaking in code. Not government code, Glenn family code. “Chewing gum” was a phrase John and Annie Glenn employed to steady each other’s nerves as Glenn flew off on some dangerous assignment or another. There had been many in his storied career: the 59 sorties over open water in the South Pacific during World War II; the 90 combat missions during the Korean War; the 1957 flight from California’s Los Alamitos Naval Air Station to Bennett Field in New York in which he set the trans-America speed record. But there had never been a flight like this one. At a time when the United States needed a Cold War icon, John Glenn was strapped into his capsule, Friendship 7, as an Atlas rocket prepared to launch him into orbit. At home in Arlington, Virginia, Annie Glenn sucked in her breath and replied simply, “Don’t take too long.” The dutiful Marine obliged his wife, and a waiting nation, orbiting the Earth three times -- and traveling some 81,000 miles -- in just 4 hours and 55 minutes and 23 seconds. “Boy, that was a real fireball of a ride!” Glenn radioed as the capsule completed its nerve-wracking re-entry into the atmosphere. By 4:10 that afternoon, Glenn was on the phone with John F. Kennedy. “I have just been watching your father and mother on television,&rdq[...]



Guns and Midterms; Redrawing Pa.; Memo to Comey; Breaking Barriers

2018-02-20T00:00:00Z

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, February 20, 2018. I hope you had a meaningful three-day weekend, although this Presidents’ Day was riven by bitter and ever-escalating debates over gun control, the FBI investigation into Russia spying, and President Trump -- as well as Trump’s flurry of Twitter commentaries over guns, Russia, and the FBI. Sometimes in this morning note, I try to provide perspective by pointing out how problems similar to those we face today have been confronted, and overcome, before. Other times, and this is the easier path, I point to an uplifting...Good morning, it’s Tuesday, February 20, 2018. I hope you had a meaningful three-day weekend, although this Presidents’ Day was riven by bitter and ever-escalating debates over gun control, the FBI investigation into Russia spying, and President Trump -- as well as Trump’s flurry of Twitter commentaries over guns, Russia, and the FBI. Sometimes in this morning note, I try to provide perspective by pointing out how problems similar to those we face today have been confronted, and overcome, before. Other times, and this is the easier path, I point to an uplifting historical anniversary, which is what I’m doing today. John Glenn has passed away since I last wrote about him. He died last winter at age 95, and was buried in the spring of 2017 at Arlington National Cemetery. On this date in 1962, he was given an important task by his government, and one thing about John Herschel Glenn Jr. was that when his country asked, he always answered the call. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942 and fought in World War II and the Korean War, became a NASA astronaut in 1959, served in the U.S. Senate from 1975 to 1999, and ran for president in 1984. He didn’t win the Democratic nomination that year, and wouldn’t have defeated Ronald Reagan in any case, but when Barack Obama draped the Presidential Medal of Freedom around his neck in 2012, it was hard to think of an American who had earned it more. In a moment, I’ll have a further word on John Glenn, and on two other great American heroes whose sacrifices should be remembered on this date. First, I’d point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following: * * * Democrats Push for Gun Control as Campaign Issue. James Arkin reports on the challenge the party faces in keeping the issue current given that Election Day is nine months off. How Much Will Redrawn Pa. Map Affect the Midterms? Sean Trende has this analysis of the court-ordered redistricting. Memo to Comey: The Cost of Secrecy. In a column, I consider the lack of full transparency in the former FBI director’s revelations about his conversations with Donald Trump. When Bedlam Reigned in Lake Placid. The Pyeongchang Olympic[...]



Trump Knows Well That Everyone Has a Price

2018-02-20T00:00:00Z

On April 29, 1962, John F. Kennedy gave a White House dinner for Nobel Prize winners. The president famously observed that his guests were "the most extraordinary collection of talent ... that has ever been gathered together at the White House -- with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." Many years later, in 2007 to be exact, Donald Trump hosted an event in Los Angeles to launch his brand of vodka. At his table were his eldest son and his daughter-in-law -- as well as Trump's alleged mistress du jour and Kim Kardashian. Thomas Jefferson, likely, was not...On April 29, 1962, John F. Kennedy gave a White House dinner for Nobel Prize winners. The president famously observed that his guests were "the most extraordinary collection of talent ... that has ever been gathered together at the White House -- with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." Many years later, in 2007 to be exact, Donald Trump hosted an event in Los Angeles to launch his brand of vodka. At his table were his eldest son and his daughter-in-law -- as well as Trump's alleged mistress du jour and Kim Kardashian. Thomas Jefferson, likely, was not mentioned. Of course, JFK had his own troubled relationship with virtue -- he was, we now know, no slouch in the mistress department. But when it comes to a guest list, nothing in the annals of presidential biography quite compares to that LA event. It turns out, though, that the Kardashian phenomenon -- she became famous that very year because of a leaked sex tape -- has lasted longer than Trump Vodka. In retrospect, it's a wonder she's not president. The account of the 2007 vodka event comes from The New Yorker, wherein the indefatigable Ronan Farrow tells the tale of Karen McDougal, Playboy's 1998 Playmate of the Year. McDougal claims she had an affair with the future president and, like another alleged Trump mistress, porn actress Stormy Daniels (who was also at the vodka party), got a payoff to guarantee her silence. McDougal says hers was arranged through American Media Inc. -- the publisher of the National Enquirer -- whose CEO is Trump friend David Pecker. Farrow is a careful journalist who last year exposed Harvey Weinstein as an alleged sex thug. Along with The New York Times, Farrow transformed Weinstein from movie titan to rehab patient and set off a cascade of charges that threatens to take down more men than the 1918 flu pandemic. Farrow's latest article is solidly reported but it hardly advances our deep understanding of Trump. The Wall Street Journal had earlier published the bones of this story. Still, the most attentive and apprehensive of Farrow's readers have got to be that clutch of evangelical leaders who endorsed Trump's presidential bid and have stuck with him ever since. Their hypocrisy is being sorely tested. After all, McDougal appears believable. She handwrote a contemporaneous account of her alleged affair, which was examined by The New Yorker and found, as the lawyers sa[...]



The Most Important Man in American Politics for the Moment

2018-02-20T00:00:00Z

MT. LEBANON, Pa. -- For the next three weeks, he's the most important candidate for anything in American politics. While pundits widely focus on his Democratic rival Conor Lamb (understandably, as Lamb is young and progressive, has a military background and comes from a pedigree political family), Rep. Rick Saccone may just be the one to watch. Why? Because everything that is at stake for both political parties rests on his shoulders. If Lamb wins, then every Democrat running in a swing district across the country will try to adapt the Lamb strategy: Avoid the press; take no strong...MT. LEBANON, Pa. -- For the next three weeks, he's the most important candidate for anything in American politics. While pundits widely focus on his Democratic rival Conor Lamb (understandably, as Lamb is young and progressive, has a military background and comes from a pedigree political family), Rep. Rick Saccone may just be the one to watch. Why? Because everything that is at stake for both political parties rests on his shoulders. If Lamb wins, then every Democrat running in a swing district across the country will try to adapt the Lamb strategy: Avoid the press; take no strong stands on any issue; and just focus on saying over and over again that, as a candidate, you support new leadership on both sides of the aisle. If Lamb loses, it's back to the #Resistance. In this district that Trump won by 20 points, a Lamb victory would confirm the prediction that the world has shifted away from both President Trump and the Republican Party. And if we are being completely honest, even if Saccone wins, the world shifting away from Trump and Republicans will still be the story. Lamb gets a lot of attention for being a former U.S. Marine captain -- rightly so -- not just for his service to his country but because it is a candidate background the Democrats have shied away from since 2006. Saccone is a U.S. Air Force veteran who served as a counterintelligence and special agent for over a decade and then served as a civilian employee of the U.S. Army in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. And during the George W. Bush administration, he held the distinction of having served as a diplomat to North Korea from 2000 to 2001 and been the only U.S. citizen living in Pyongyang at the time. Saccone went back to school, completed his Ph.D. in international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh and then became a professor at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe. He is unapologetically anti-abortion, pro-Second Amendment and not afraid of tough races; he won both of his state House seats by a couple hundred votes in a district that had been held by a Democrat for over 20 years and been drawn to favor Democrats. "I approach every race as the underdog," he says. "Remember, my first election, I was in a 76 percent Democrat district gerrymandered to keep a Democrat in power for 26 years. It worked well. My wife and I knocked on 18,000 doors. We got our message out in front of peopl[...]



When Bedlam Reigned in Lake Placid

2018-02-20T00:00:00Z

One cannot help being awed by the glitz and glamor of the 2018 Winter Olympics now running full tilt in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Watching the spectacle unfold on television, I am reminded of the less-glitzy-and-glamorous Olympic competitions staged on snow and ice 38 years ago in Lake Placid, N.Y.   I was there for the full two weeks, covering the news, not sports, for Gannett News Service when I worked out its state capital bureau in Albany. Yes, I was at the memorable “Miracle on Ice” hockey game where the underdog United States team beat the mighty Soviet Red...One cannot help being awed by the glitz and glamor of the 2018 Winter Olympics now running full tilt in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Watching the spectacle unfold on television, I am reminded of the less-glitzy-and-glamorous Olympic competitions staged on snow and ice 38 years ago in Lake Placid, N.Y.   I was there for the full two weeks, covering the news, not sports, for Gannett News Service when I worked out its state capital bureau in Albany. Yes, I was at the memorable “Miracle on Ice” hockey game where the underdog United States team beat the mighty Soviet Red Army team at a time when the Cold War was still going strong. More about that later. What was the “news” out of Lake Placid prior to the big hockey game? First, it was about the breakdown of the bus system designed to shuttle Olympic officials, workers, reporters and spectators from hotels and parking lots to the various sports venues sprinkled around a 15-mile radius from the center of town. There weren’t enough buses to handle the crowds. The shortage turned many of us into hitchhikers. The motel where I and dozens of other reporters were housed was 16 miles from the press center. Cars without special permits were banned from the roads. I can still feel the wind chill of one bitter-cold morning when a scrum of scribes, myself included, frantically scrambled onto the back of a pickup truck filled with milk cans and bounced our way into town. Naturally, with reporters forced to suffer the same indignities as the spectators, the bus snafu became a big news story for the first few days of the games. It turned out that a union dispute played a big part in the bus shortage, which took several days to resolve. The opening ceremonies where athletes representing the various nations march into the arena behind their country’s flag was held on an open field lined with bleachers. There was no fancy strobe-lit stadium as in Pyeongchang. But there was a political news angle. Host-country President Jimmy Carter declined to attend, explaining that he was too busy dealing with the then-three-month-old crisis of more than 50 Americans held hostage in Iran. Vice President Walter Mondale attended in his place. Another political controversy focused on the host governor, New York’s Hugh Carey. He too refused to attend the opening cer[...]



Democrats Push for Gun Control as Campaign Issue

2018-02-20T00:00:00Z

Democrats have renewed their calls for tighter gun control measures in the wake of the mass shooting at a Florida high school last week, vowing to make it a campaign issue this year. Despite minimal success galvanizing voters around such measures in past elections, some advocates are hopeful it could be a more salient issue in this year’s midterms. It’s difficult to predict if that will be the case, especially when recent history shows that the public’s attention diminishes once the immediate horror and aftermath of a shooting fades. Democrats repeatedly pushed...Democrats have renewed their calls for tighter gun control measures in the wake of the mass shooting at a Florida high school last week, vowing to make it a campaign issue this year. Despite minimal success galvanizing voters around such measures in past elections, some advocates are hopeful it could be a more salient issue in this year’s midterms. It’s difficult to predict if that will be the case, especially when recent history shows that the public’s attention diminishes once the immediate horror and aftermath of a shooting fades. Democrats repeatedly pushed the issue before the 2016 election, holding filibusters in the Senate and a sit-in on the House floor to highlight their concerns, but those efforts made little difference in November. However, an effort is underway to sustain momentum for change after the Florida shooting. Students from the high school have spoken out on cable news and in op-eds, calling on elected officials to act to prevent such shootings. Students nationwide are planning a walkout next month to protest inaction on gun violence, an event planned by the organizers of the Women's March following Donald Trump's inauguration. And several gun control advocacy groups are organizing a protest -- "March for Our Lives" -- in Washington and across the country later in March to demand action.  TV ads, campaign mail and other direct voter contact will be needed to make the issue a driver of turnout come Election Day, but for now, some Democrats in swing districts see an opportunity to go on offense talking about gun control. Jason Crow, an Amy veteran challenging Rep. Mike Coffman in a suburban Colorado district -- which includes the site of the movie theater mass shooting in 2012 -- issued a press release Thursday calling on Coffman to return donations from the NRA. Crow, who has been endorsed by the gun control group founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords, said in an interview he wanted to give an aggressive response to the shooting. “The fact that now we’ve had numerous mass shootings with a lot of people killed in this country in the past year and it’s becoming kind of normalized for folks is not okay,” Crow told RCP. He emphasized his support for expanded background checks, banning military-style assault weapons, and closi[...]



How Much Will Redrawn Pa. Map Affect the Midterms?

2018-02-20T00:00:00Z

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recently revealed its newly drawn maps for the commonwealth.   If you’re interested in a down-in-the-weeds analysis of what the court’s 5-2 Democratic majority did with each congressional district, I recommend this explainer from the New York Times.  The bottom line is this: The court acted largely within the confines of its initial order, which demanded compactness, contiguity and minimal jurisdictional splits.  Within those confines, however, it repeatedly made choices that increased the...The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recently revealed its newly drawn maps for the commonwealth.   If you’re interested in a down-in-the-weeds analysis of what the court’s 5-2 Democratic majority did with each congressional district, I recommend this explainer from the New York Times.  The bottom line is this: The court acted largely within the confines of its initial order, which demanded compactness, contiguity and minimal jurisdictional splits.  Within those confines, however, it repeatedly made choices that increased the Democrats’ odds of winning districts. For example, under the old map (and under maps extending back to 1942) Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District was largely based in Bucks County, a suburban/exurban county to the northeast of Philadelphia.  To achieve population equality, that version of the district also took in parts of Montgomery County -- and those portions leaned Republican.  The court’s map, by contrast, places areas of Montgomery County that lean toward Democrats in the district, making it bluer. This doesn’t really serve any of the criteria the court announced, but it does make the district (now numbered as the 1st) about a point more Democratic. Indeed, had the court selected areas near the Montgomery/Bucks border somewhat to the north of the current lines or somewhat to the south, the district would be redder than it is under the current confines of the map.  Northeastern Philadelphia, an essentially suburban area that probably makes more sense appended to either the 8th or to the 13th District (which is based in Montgomery County, and is now renumbered as the 4th), is now placed into a district that approaches downtown Philly. This unusual choice set off a chain reaction to the southwest of the city: The old 7th District (now numbered the 5th) is based in Delaware County, but is pushed into southern Philly.  I didn’t think the court would make this move, because it in turn requires the 7th (5th) to be split among three counties, but I guess the court was okay with this.  The court then selected parts of Montgomery County to place into the 7th (5th) rather than parts of Chester County.  This then creates a three-way split of Montgomery County, and means that the Che[...]



Against Gun Control: the 'I Want To' Factor

2018-02-20T00:00:00Z

So, let's imagine that in response to the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting, the government, federal or state, strongly tightens control of firearms. And then what? No more shootings? No more Nikolas Cruzes and such like, taking out their personal malice on the innocent and unwary? I speak as a lifelong non-owner of guns when I say we ought not count on governmental control of firearms as a broad, asphalted, tree-lined avenue to the elimination of gun violence -- perhaps not even to its diminishment. The gun-massacre problem, we routinely fail to acknowledge, is double-sided. On one...So, let's imagine that in response to the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting, the government, federal or state, strongly tightens control of firearms. And then what? No more shootings? No more Nikolas Cruzes and such like, taking out their personal malice on the innocent and unwary? I speak as a lifelong non-owner of guns when I say we ought not count on governmental control of firearms as a broad, asphalted, tree-lined avenue to the elimination of gun violence -- perhaps not even to its diminishment. The gun-massacre problem, we routinely fail to acknowledge, is double-sided. On one side is opportunity: the "sure I can" stuff. Taking Nancy Pelosi's advice to go once more to the well on gun control, government can make the acquisition of certain firearms harder than now. This fails to deal with the other side of the problem: the "sure I can and I will because I want to!" side. Opportunity and motivation go together: a reality of which the gun control debate, if you call it a debate (knockdown, drag-out match seems to me more the case), is almost completely innocent. Happily for the sake, at least, of clarity, we know Nikolas Cruz to be nutty as a fruitcake, and, may I add, an object of some pity, inasmuch as his descent into murderous derangement might have been arrested by early intervention. A national mood dating back to the 1960s discourages disparagement or involuntary confinement of the mentally defective. To talk of Cruz's derangement is highly appropriate, but such talk really ought not be allowed to skirt the problem that underlies all human violence -- the problem of evil. Here's where we really get down to it. Whenever these horrors occur, someone in authority calls them "evil." Florida Gov. Rick Scott, the day of the Parkland shooting, noted that "you finally come to the conclusion that this is absolutely pure evil." Meaning what, though? Twenty-first-century residents aren't well-equipped to talk about, far less consciously resist, evil, having inherited the Enlightenment concept of steady human improvement. Better and better we live, by the accounting of Steven Pinker, a Harvard psychology professor, who in a new book called "Enlightenment Now," avers that our replacement of "superstition and magic" with "science" has [...]



Pa. Congressional Map Raises Democrats' Hopes, Legal Test Ahead

2018-02-20T00:00:00Z

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The map of congressional districts imposed by Pennsylvania’s high court for the state’s 2018 elections will set off a new legal battle, reconfigure perhaps dozens of campaigns and give Democrats a boost in their mission to wrest control of the U.S. House. The map of Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional districts is to be in effect for the May 15 primary and substantially overhauls a Republican-drawn congressional map widely viewed as among the nation’s most gerrymandered. The Democratic-majority state Supreme Court voted 4-3...HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The map of congressional districts imposed by Pennsylvania’s high court for the state’s 2018 elections will set off a new legal battle, reconfigure perhaps dozens of campaigns and give Democrats a boost in their mission to wrest control of the U.S. House. The map of Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional districts is to be in effect for the May 15 primary and substantially overhauls a Republican-drawn congressional map widely viewed as among the nation’s most gerrymandered. The Democratic-majority state Supreme Court voted 4-3 on Monday to impose the new map it drew. New boundaries will usher in changes to Pennsylvania’s predominantly Republican delegation already facing big changes in a year with six open seats, the most in decades. Republicans vowed to immediately challenge it in federal court. Meanwhile, candidates finding themselves in a new political landscape are rethinking campaigns a week before they can start circulating petitions to run. Most significantly, the new map gives Democrats a better shot at winning a couple more seats, particularly in Philadelphia’s heavily populated and moderate suburbs. There, Republicans have held seats in bizarrely contorted districts, including one labeled “Goofy Kicking Donald Duck.” Republican Rep. Ryan Costello, whose suburban Philadelphia district was narrowly won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, is in even more dire straits now that his district adds the heavily Democratic city of Reading. The map also removes the heart of one district from Philadelphia, where a crowd of candidates had assembled to replace the retiring Democratic Rep. Bob Brady, and moves it to suburban Montgomery County. The new map does not apply to the March 13 special congressional election in southwestern Pennsylvania’s 18th District to fill the remaining 10 months in the term of former Republican Rep. Tim Murphy, who resigned amid a scandal. But it renders the special election virtually meaningless: the court’s map puts each candidate’s homes in a district with a Pittsburgh-area incumbent. The court ruled last month that Republicans who redrew district boundaries in 2011 unconstitutionally put partisan intere[...]



Nevada's Heller Warming to Trump Before Primary

2018-02-20T00:00:00Z

LAS VEGAS (AP) — When Ivanka Trump assembled a group of Republican senators at her tony Washington home last fall, the guest list included one particularly notable name. Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada had been publicly chided by President Donald Trump months earlier and had, at times, kept the president at arm’s length. But within weeks of dining with the president’s daughter and adviser, Heller, who is up for re-election this year, was working closely with the White House, writing part of the Republican tax bill. The tax collaboration was part of steady...LAS VEGAS (AP) — When Ivanka Trump assembled a group of Republican senators at her tony Washington home last fall, the guest list included one particularly notable name. Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada had been publicly chided by President Donald Trump months earlier and had, at times, kept the president at arm’s length. But within weeks of dining with the president’s daughter and adviser, Heller, who is up for re-election this year, was working closely with the White House, writing part of the Republican tax bill. The tax collaboration was part of steady rapprochement between the swing-state senator and loyalty-loving president. Through a series of White House meetings and phone calls, a round trip on Air Force One, and work on multiple issues with Ivanka Trump, Heller has quietly mended an awkward relationship with the president. The slow, careful warming is driven in part by political pragmatism. Heller is facing a primary challenger who has been quick to criticize the senator as insufficiently supportive of the president. An angry and meddling Trump could throw up additional hurdles. But should he emerge from that fight, Heller — the only Republican senator seeking re-election in a state Democrat Hillary Clinton carried in the 2016 presidential election — must then face an electorate far less friendly toward the president. The senator has not recanted his once sharp criticism of the 2016 Republican presidential nominee, but has found another way into the president’s good graces. Deliberately and behind the scenes, he’s shepherded a body of policy legislation to Trump’s desk, and in doing so, made himself a Senate ally the president has promised to defend. “His actions speak louder than words — on what he’s accomplished with his agenda and the president’s,” said Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald, a Heller friend whom Trump regularly consults. “It’s a relationship between two men that has grown.” There was plenty of room to grow. In late July, Trump publicly ribbed Heller at a White House meeting of GOP senators. With Heller to his immediate right, Trump motioned to the senator, who had re[...]



Trump Backs Effort to Improve Gun Background Checks

2018-02-20T00:00:00Z

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — From the confines of his golf club, President Donald Trump offered support for a limited strengthening of federal background checks on gun purchases Monday while staying largely mum in the last few days about the victims of the Florida school massacre and the escalating debate about controls on weapons. One side of that debate was represented outside the White House as dozens of teens spread their bodies across the pavement to symbolize the dead and call for stronger gun controls, a precursor to a march in Washington planned next month by survivors of...WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — From the confines of his golf club, President Donald Trump offered support for a limited strengthening of federal background checks on gun purchases Monday while staying largely mum in the last few days about the victims of the Florida school massacre and the escalating debate about controls on weapons. One side of that debate was represented outside the White House as dozens of teens spread their bodies across the pavement to symbolize the dead and call for stronger gun controls, a precursor to a march in Washington planned next month by survivors of the Parkland school shooting and supporters of their cause. At his Florida club just 40 miles from a community ravaged by the shooting that left 17 dead last week, Trump gave a nod toward a specific policy action, with the White House saying he had spoken Friday to Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, about a bipartisan bill designed to strengthen the FBI database of prohibited gun buyers. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders qualified the support, stressing that talks continue and “revisions are being considered,” but said “the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system.” The main action Trump has taken on guns in office has been to sign a resolution blocking an Obama-era rule designed to keep guns out of the hands of certain mentally disabled people. The president has voiced strong support for gun rights and the National Rifle Association. The bipartisan background check legislation would be aimed at ensuring that federal agencies and states accurately report relevant criminal information to the FBI. It was introduced after the Air Force failed to report the criminal history of the gunman who slaughtered more than two dozen people at a Texas church. The White House statement comes as shooting survivors and other young people press for more gun control in a rising chorus of grief and activism. Their “March for Our Lives” is planned March 24 in Washington. Ella Fesler, 16-year-old high school student in Alexandria, Virginia, was among the students at the “lie-in” in front of the White H[...]



Is That Russia Troll Farm an Act of War?

2018-02-20T00:00:00Z

According to the indictment by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Russian trolls, operating out of St. Petersburg, took American identities on social media and became players in our 2016 election. On divisive racial and religious issues, the trolls took both sides. In the presidential election, the trolls favored Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein and Donald Trump, and almost never Hillary Clinton. One imaginative Russian troll urged Trumpsters to dress up a female volunteer in an orange prison jump suit, put her in a cage on a flatbed truck, then append the slogan, "Lock Her Up!" How grave a...According to the indictment by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Russian trolls, operating out of St. Petersburg, took American identities on social media and became players in our 2016 election. On divisive racial and religious issues, the trolls took both sides. In the presidential election, the trolls favored Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein and Donald Trump, and almost never Hillary Clinton. One imaginative Russian troll urged Trumpsters to dress up a female volunteer in an orange prison jump suit, put her in a cage on a flatbed truck, then append the slogan, "Lock Her Up!" How grave a matter is this? This Russian troll farm is "the equivalent (of) Pearl Harbor," says Cong. Jerrold Nadler, who would head up the House Judiciary Committee, handling any impeachment, if Democrats retake the House. When MSNBC's Chris Hayes pressed, Nadler doubled down: The Russians "are destroying our democratic process." While the Russian trolling may not equal Pearl Harbor in its violence, said Nadler, in its "seriousness, it is very much on a par" with Japan's surprise attack. Trump's reaction to the hysteria that broke out after the Russian indictments: "They are laughing their (expletives) off in Moscow." According to Sunday's Washington Post, the troll story is old news in Russia, where reporters uncovered it last year and it was no big deal. While Mueller's indictments confirm that Russians meddled in the U.S. election, what explains the shock and the fear for "our democracy"? Is the Great Republic about to fall because a bunch of trolls tweeted in our election? Is this generation ignorant of its own history? Before and after World War II, we had Stalinists and Soviet spies at the highest levels of American culture and government. The Hollywood Ten, who went to prison for contempt of Congress, were secret members of a Communist Party that, directed from Moscow, controlled the Progressive Party in Philadelphia in 1948 that nominated former Vice President Henry Wallace to run against Harry Truman. Soviet spies infiltrated the U.S. atom bomb project and shortened the time Stalin needed to explode a Soviet bomb in 1949. As for Russian trolling in our[...]