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Heaven Help Us! Nancy Pelosi To Judge on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’

NewsBusters - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 21:40
<p>Democrats in the legislative branch of the government have decided to broaden their horizons.</p> <p>A lot.</p> <p> </p>

CNN's Acosta: It Will Take ‘Dead Journalists on the Highway’ To Shake Off Trump 'Spell'

NewsBusters - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 21:23
<p>As if their biased outbursts on CNN weren’t enough, chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta and political analyst April Ryan got the chance to unleash more of their rage at President Trump, in a friendly event hosted by the Newseum in Washington D.C., January 17, called “Journalism in the Trump Era.”</p> <div> </div>

Pope Weds Couple Mid-Flight Aboard Papal Plane

The Stream - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 21:12

Pope Francis married a couple thousands of feet above the earth aboard the papal plane Thursday while traveling from Santiago to Iquique, Chile.

The couple, flight attendants Paula Podesta and Carlos Ciuffardi, has been together for 10 years and was civilly married in 2010, but just before they were to have a church wedding, an 8.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Chile and destroyed their church, according to Crux Now. Francis, upon hearing that an earthquake prevented their wedding, offered to officially marry them himself in the first marriage that a Pope has ever conducted aboard an airplane.

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"It was historic," Francis told the couple, according to Crux. "Never has a pope married a couple on a plane."

Podesta and Ciuffardi were shocked at Francis' offer and asked him whether he was sure, but to the couple's delight, Francis proceeded with the ceremony. Francis asked for witnesses to the sacrament, and the couple chose the CEO of LATAM airlines, Enrique Cueto Plaza, to vouch for the validity of the union. Francis then asked the present Cardinals to draft a marriage license, which they hand wrote.

Marriage licence of the first ever marriage a pope has celebrated on board a plane! Pic via @oss_romano

— Ines San Martin (@inesanma) January 18, 2018

Ciuffardi told Crux that Francis held their hands and blessed the rings they had worn for more than seven years "in the name of God."

"What he said to us is very important: 'This is the sacrament the world needs, the sacrament of marriage. Hopefully, this will motivate couples around the world to get married,’" Ciuffardi said.


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Ohio Could Require Aborted Babies be Buried or Cremated

The Stream - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 21:11

The Ohio Senate passed a bill Wednesday requiring the remains of aborted babies to either be buried or cremated rather than be thrown in landfills or sold like is sometimes done at abortion clinics.

If the bill -- Senate Bill 28 -- becomes law, the state will mandate women getting abortions to fill out a form indicating whether they prefer burial or cremation for the aborted remains. If a woman makes no selection, the health providers at the clinic will choose a method for her. The bill passed the Ohio Senate in a 24-9 vote, according to

Republican state senator Joe Eucker proposed the bill after Ohio's Attorney General, Mike DeWine, a Republican, charged Planned Parenthood with throwing remaining baby parts into a Kentucky landfill. "It seeks to promote and honor the dignity of the unborn," Uecker said regarding the measure.

Planned Parenthood denied all allegations.

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Abortion advocates aren't happy about the bill's possible ascension into law, however. "The anti-abortion politicians behind this bill want to force a woman who has had an abortion to have to consider and decide upon burial or cremation services - it's inappropriate and demeaning," NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said.

For his part, Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis said, "Victims of abortion deserve compassionate and humane treatment," according to

Under the bill, clinics that dispose of fetal remains using any method other than burial or cremation will face a first degree misdemeanor, but women who aborted at those clinics would not face punishment.


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No, Senator Graham, America is not an idea - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 20:37

President Donald Trump had just made his infamous, if contested, remarks about not desiring immigrants from certain countries when Senator Lindsey Graham expressed disagreement.

“America is an idea, not a race,” the South Carolina Republican said, adding that diversity is a strength and not a weakness. The senator reiterated these sentiments in a statement released as the controversy over the president’s words grew. “I’ve always believed that America is an idea, not defined by its people but by its ideals.”

Graham deserves credit for rebuking the president, however mildly, given that Trump is the head of Graham’s party and extremely popular among South Carolina Republicans. Trump’s remark was obnoxious, especially given his history on race. But while most of our attention was rightly focused on Trump’s part of this exchange, it is worth mentioning that Graham wasn’t quite right.

America isn’t a race. But it’s not an idea either. It is, rather, a nation. It is a nation whose identity is more bound up with political ideals than most nations: ideals such as equality before the law, self-government and freedom of religion. But those ideals are part of a national culture that is not reducible to them.

The ideological conception of American nationhood runs into several problems. First, many people who are not Americans can and do believe in American ideals. Second, many Americans historically have rejected some of those ideals, while others have not lived up to them. Even today, our occasional fellow citizen explicitly repudiates American ideals. We treat these people, be they Marxists or monarchists, as misguided eccentrics rather than traitors.

Third, disagreement about the application of those ideals persists. To define Americanness purely by those ideals is to make routine political disagreement a threat to the integrity of the nation. Political disagreement is hard enough for a society to handle without that. Fourth, if these ideals form the country’s very identity, it becomes difficult to resist a missionary foreign policy that requires us to export them, by force of arms if necessary.

It is no coincidence that Graham made his comments about the meaning of America during a discussion of immigration policy. Different conceptions of nationhood have different implications for immigration. If the American experience is reducible to American political ideals, then the only assimilation that should concern us is to those ideals: As long as new immigrants are no threat to freedom of speech and the rest, all is well.

If a common culture is important too, though, we will want immigrants to assimilate to it, even as they also change it. We will want natives and newcomers alike to see themselves as belonging, together, to it. And we might decide that we want a smaller influx of immigrants in order to encourage that kind of assimilation.

Graham is wrong, as well, to treat America’s ideals as superior to its people. What makes the ideals valuable, after all, is that they are conducive to the flourishing of those people. American nationalism, as Yuval Levin has written, is simultaneously abstract and concrete: “It is a devotion to a people devoted to a set of ideas.”

This sense of what holds America together does not currently have a political champion. President Trump is often described as a nationalist, but he is a deficient one, less inclined than most of his predecessors either to celebrate American ideals or to make it clear that his vision of the country includes all Americans.

Here is what Graham should have said to him: “Mr. President, people from all over the world, whatever their race or religion, have come here and joined our neighborhoods, our churches, our armed forces, and even our families. We can argue about how to change immigration policy so it better serves our country. But it shouldn’t matter where you came from as long as you’re willing to become an American.”

Al Capone Lives!

NewsBusters - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 19:58
<p>“You can get a lot farther with a smile and a gun than you can with just a smile.” This quote has often been attributed to the late Chicago mobster Al Capone, who with his fellow organized crime buddies used extortion as one of their tactics to get what they wanted. Today's modern congressional Democrats have clearly benefited from Capone's example.</p>

Good News Vs. Private Conversations

NewsBusters - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 19:55
<p>WASHINGTON — Last week the headlines should have abounded with the year's good news. It was the economy: gross domestic product was up some 3 percent and, for the last quarter, nearly 4 percent; unemployment was down to a 17-year low, with black unemployment at the lowest level since such statistics were compiled. The stock market was soaring, up some 40 percent since Donald Trump was elected, and inflation was low. </p>

Ryan Murphy Calls His New Show ‘A Bracing Cold Slap’ Against Trump

NewsBusters - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 19:55
<p>Apparently a miniseries based on true crime can be a political statement of the resistance.<br /> Ryan Murphy believes his <em>American Crime Story</em> second season is something that will be relevant, thanks to none other than President Trump. According to <em>Entertainment Weekly</em>, the installment, titled <em>The Assassination of Gianni Versace</em>, is “a chance to discuss sexuality and homophobia in the 1990s.” Murphy told EW: “This is a bracing cold slap against the policies that the current government has.” </p> <p> </p>

Scarborough: Trump Doctor Is ‘Shameful’ ‘Sycophant’, ‘Political Hack’

NewsBusters - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 19:36
<p>On Thursday’s <em>Morning Joe</em>, co-host Joe Scarborough doubled down on his promotion of the “girther” conspiracy theory by repeatedly attacking the character and integrity of Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, the official Physician to the President. Drawing his points in large part from a <em>Washington Post</em> column written by Dana Milbank, Scarborough unleashed his contempt at Jackson for giving Trump a clean bill of health. Joe labeled the doctor a “shameful” man who “sounded like a sycophant” and used “the words of a political hack.” While this was happening, co-host Mika Brzezinski chimed in occasionally to wonder about whether or not Jackson was lying about his medical report, at one point stating: “It doesn’t sound like he wrote it.”</p>

Oh, Please! Joy Reid Embarrasses Herself with Fact-Free, Nasty Attack on NRO’s David French

NewsBusters - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 19:27
<p>On Wednesday, MSNBC’s AM Joy host and far-left charlatan Joy Reid found herself in hot water for claiming (thanks to the liberal site that <em>National Review</em>’s David French should be ashamed of himself for penning a story excusing the prospect of nuclear war because “it will only kill Democrats and minorities.” Reid eventually offered a response that can best be referred to as milk toast, appearing to pin the blame on</p>

From the archives: When prophecy becomes reality - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 18:34

In recent weeks, The American Enterprise Institute, Freedom House, and the Center for American Progress joined together to mark the publication of Freedom House’s country-by-country survey of political rights and civil liberties: “Freedom in the World Report 2018.” The report concludes that 2017 was the 12th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.

In a thoughtful keynote address at the event on democracy’s prospects, Senator Ben Sasse recalled the wisdom of the late Michael Novak, a long-time scholar at AEI. Sasse quoted from Novak’s address on receiving the Templeton Prize, a prize honoring “entrepreneurs of the spirit,” of whom Novak was certainly one. Sasse described Novak’s 1994 words in his Templeton address as prophetic. Here is the excerpt referenced by Sen. Sasse:

During the past hundred years, the question for those who loved liberty was whether, relying on the virtues of our peoples, we could survive powerful assaults from without (as, in the Battle of Britain, this city nobly did). During the next hundred years, the question for those who love liberty is whether we can survive the most insidious and duplicitous attacks from within, from those who undermine the virtues of our people, doing in advance the work of the Father of Lies. “There is no such thing as truth,” they teach even the little ones. “Truth is bondage. Believe what seems right to you. There are as many truths as there are individuals. Follow your feelings. Do as you please. Get in touch with yourself. Do what feels comfortable.” Those who speak in this way prepare the jails of the twenty-first century. They do the work of tyrants.

Senator Sasse’s attention to the work of the late Michael Novak brings to mind another great thinker who recently spoke at an AEI event. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who received AEI’s highest honor last year, joined Novak as a winner of the Templeton Prize in 2016. In his Irving Kristol Award speech, Rabbi Sacks also highlighted intellectual and moral blight, saying:

We have seen public discourse polluted by fake news and the manipulation of social media. Not by accident did the Oxford English Dictionary chooses its word that we would remember from 2016 as “post-truth.” . . . Instead of a culture of freedom and responsibility, we have a culture of grievances that are always someone else’s responsibility. Because we no longer share a moral code that allows us, in Isaiah’s words, to reason together, in its place has come something called emotivism, which says, I know I’m right because I feel it. And as for those who disagree, we will shout down or ban all those dissenting voices because we each have a right not to feel we’re wrong.

The very intellectual infection Novak warned about while accepting his Templeton Prize 24 years ago has become a reality. Luckily, society has intellectual leaders like Senator Sasse and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks to recognize the affliction and present a remedy.

Incidentally, Jonathan Sacks gave the 1998 Institute of Economic Affairs Hayek Memorial Lecture on markets and morals which was later turned into a publication by AEI featuring commentary from leading economists and intellectuals. Michael Novak penned a commentary on Rabbi Sacks’ lecture in 1999. It can be read here.

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No Anthem Kneelers Are on Remaining NFL Playoff Teams; NBC Hardest Hit?

NewsBusters - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 18:00
<p>On Monday, Valerie Richardson at the <em>Washington Times</em> noted that no teams with players who continued to kneel during the National Anthem before National Football League games until the end of the regular season qualified for the playoffs. A sports psychologist sees a potentially important lesson in this result, while NBC, which has promised to showcase kneeling players during the Anthem before the beginning of this year's Super Bowl, may be destined for disappointment.</p>

NBC Mourns Deportation of Drug-Trafficking Illegal Immigrant

NewsBusters - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 17:54
<p>In a story for Thursday’s NBC <em>Today</em> designed to put pressure on Republicans to reach a DACA immigration deal with Democrats, correspondent Jacob Soboroff lamented that the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants sometimes follow their deported parents back to Mexico. Buried within the three-minute report was the fact that the father of one such child was sent back after being convicted and imprisoned in the U.S. for drug trafficking.</p>

CNN Knows Better Than the President’s Doctor? Network Claims Trump DOES Have Heart Disease

NewsBusters - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 17:51
<p>Never let reality get in the way, CNN. After the White House released the largely positive data from Donald Trump’s physical, CNN Doctor Sanjay Gupta refused to accept the findings and overruled the doctor who actually examined the President. Asked on Tuesday if Trump had heart disease, Dr. Ronny Jackson responded, “No, not at all… I think he had great findings across the board, but the one that stands out more than anything to me is his cardiac health. His cardiac health is excellent.”</p>

HHS Announces Formation of ‘Conscience and Religious Freedom Division’

The Stream - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 17:42

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will extend new rights to health care workers. The protections come via the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR). HHS announced the new division this morning.

Conscience and Religious Freedom Division

The division allows officials to enforce protecting rights of conscience and religious freedom. As The Stream reported, health care workers won’t have to take part in procedures against their moral or religious beliefs. For instance, abortions or sex change procedures. The division will also protect the security and privacy of people’s health information.

The OCR can now protect workers and punish employers that “don't allow them to express their religious and moral objections.” This is a big change from the OCR’s former policy. It only enforced federal civil rights and health care privacy laws.

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OCR Director Roger Severino said if laws protecting conscience rights are not enforced, they’re just words on paper. “No one should be forced to choose between helping sick people and living by one's deepest moral or religious convictions,” he said.

He added that “for too long, governments big and small have treated conscience claims with hostility instead of protection.”

President Trump previously promised to “uphold the rights of conscience and religious freedom.”

“That promise is being kept today,” said acting HHS Secretary Hargan. “The Founding Fathers knew that a nation that respects conscience rights is more diverse and more free.”

“OCR’s new division will help make that vision a reality,” he added.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) on democracy in crisis - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 17:14

On this AEI Events Podcast, Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) delivers a keynote address at a conference on discussing democracy in crisis. The event, co-hosted by AEI, Freedom House, and the Center for American Progress, marked the release of Freedom House’s report “Freedom in the World 2018.”

In his keynote, Sen. Sasse emphasized that while freedom is not unique the United States, it is uniquely America’s advantage.

Democracy is in retreat globally and, some say, in the United States. Exacerbating the democratic backslide are authoritarian regimes such as Russia and China, which have increased both repression at home and efforts to export instability abroad. On the home front, indifference toward democratic principles is escalating, as America retreats from a historic commitment to democracy promotion.

This event took place on January 16, 2018.

To watch the video of the full event, click here.

Subscribe to the AEI Events Podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Episode 18: Respect the haruspex - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 17:07


In the latest Remnant, Jonah surveys the public opinion landscape with pollster extraordinaire Kristen Soltis Anderson. They talk fecal craters and 2018 midterms, with a bonus aside about the #MeToo movement. Meanwhile, Jonah may have found his signoff phrase.

 You can subscribe to The Remnant with Jonah Goldberg on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, and TuneIn.  You can also download this episode here. This podcast was originally published by National Review.

NBC Nightly News Silent on Dow 26K Record, Covers Dieting Trend Instead

NewsBusters - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 16:59
<p>The Dow Jones Industrial closed above 26,000 for the first time in history Jan. 17, but NBC <em>Nightly News with Lester Holt </em>didn’t say anything about the latest record. Instead, it spent nearly two minutes on dieting.</p> <p>The only acknowledgement from Nightly News that Dow crossed that milestone was the on screen graphic which listed the Dow, NASDAQ and S&P closing numbers without commentary. The graphic didn’t even note that the Dow’s close at 26,115.65 was a new record high.</p>

A note on ‘Limited, Energetic Government’ - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 16:57

My colleague Mike Strain recently has argued forcefully in favor of a “limited, energetic government,” that is, a reorientation of the conservative policy agenda toward a set of policies challenging both the expansive government and confiscatory taxes favored by the Bernie Sanders left, and the fiscal myopia, protectionism, and other such manifestations of big-government “conservatism” favored by the Donald Trump right. Instead, a “limited, energetic government” would adopt a set of policies that strengthen the ability of individuals and families to improve their economic conditions — to facilitate economic flourishing by strengthening self-reliance — without the massive policy distortions of resource allocation and the other familiar perversities of traditional Beltway initiatives.

A limited, energetic government in principle would counter both the progressivism favored by most Democrats and the big government “conservatism” of the Trump-led GOP. But in practice, achieving this limited and energetic government will be difficult. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

So far so good. Mike truly is a solid economist, and because he is the General Secretary of the AEI economics group, I would say that even if I disbelieved it. But I genuinely do believe it; and so it is curious that nowhere in his interesting and carefully-written musings on this topic does he address the incentives inherent in the institutions of majoritarian democracy. Is a “limited, energetic government” reasonable not in principle but instead as a predicted outcome of political competition?

Read Michael Strain's full essay:

The beginning of wisdom on this issue is the recognition that the population groups intended as the beneficiaries of the economic flourishing engendered by “limited, energetic government” are very unlikely to be the median voters, that is, the marginal members of the majority, whether in Congress or in a hypothetical town-hall style popular vote. Accordingly, efforts to promote their wellbeing — their independence —  through policy have many of the characteristics of a classic collective good. In particular, the policies must yield benefits for many voters not affected directly, presumably through a “social insurance” impact (“there but for the grace of God go I”) or perhaps through a mutual “caring” effect in which the wellbeing of many is affected positively by the improved wellbeing of others.

Whatever the mechanism through which the collective nature of the “limited, energetic government” policies emerge, that collectiveness is likely to make the pursuit of those policies self-defeating. Consider a community (“polity”) in which the government produces one collective good — the aforementioned policies as a group — and a pure “private” good (say, transfer payments) that can benefit only the recipients.

The allocation of the budget is determined by a simple majority vote, which means that the median voter (along the spectrum of possible budget choices) determines the outcome.

See also:

In a large polity, the majority is 50% of the voters plus one. (The objective of the majority is to transfer as much wealth as possible from the minority, and then to divide the spoils among as few as possible. I shunt aside here the problem of side payments and the conditions under which an equilibrium political outcome is possible.)

If we define units of the two goods in terms of dollars, and if we assume that there is a socially-optimal budget mix of the two goods, then — in econ jargon — the social tradeoff (“marginal rate of substitution”) between the two goods is 1:1.

But the median voter knows that by cutting spending on the collective good by $1 per voter, transfers to the majority can be increased by $2 per member of the majority. The actual budget outcome will be one in which policies to encourage self-reliance are cut and transfers to the majority coalition are increased.

In other words, I believe that Mike is arguing for a smart policy shift that flies in the face of the central political incentives shaping democratic outcomes. That the bargaining takes place in Congress rather than a popular vote, perhaps surprisingly, does not change the central dynamic. Just as in the standard textbook analysis the private sector is predicted to underprovide collective goods because of a free-rider incentive, it turns out that government too has incentives to underprovide collective goods. (However, see this recent paper by Cotton M. Lindsay and William R. Dougan on the private production of collective goods.)

And so the question raised by Mike’s thoughtful essay is fascinating: How can the goals of a “limited, energetic government” be realized under the institutions of representative democracy? My sense is that the answer lies in both old-fashioned tough-love charity and the institutions of federalism. But I have not done that analysis, which I believe will prove crucial as part of AEI’s goal of advancing human flourishing.

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Banter #299: Mike McShane on education reform in the Bush and Obama years - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 16:55

This week on Banter we’re joined by Mike McShane for a discussion on education reform in the Bush and Obama administrations. Dr. McShane is the director of national research at EdChoice and a former research fellow in education policy studies at AEI. He cohosted a public event on the history of education reform in the Bush and Obama years, which featured a keynote address from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. You can watch the full event video at the link below.

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Bush-Obama school reform: Lessons learned (AEI Event Page) 

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