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The status of US Navy readiness: too small, too old, and too tired - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 22:52

Seventeen sailors have been killed this year in accidents involving two destroyers, the USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzgerald. The McCain incident spurred Admiral John Richardson to order a one-day, fleet-wide “operational pause” to search for the root causes of the collisions, but the Chief of Naval Operations did not need to look outside Washington for answers: the nation’s demands on his service have not diminished since the end of the Cold War, but the nation’s investments—in ships, aircraft, equipment maintenance, and sailors and their training—have sunk to unfathomed depths.

While admitting that he sounded like a “broken record” in testimony to Congress, the Navy’s number two leader succinctly explained the service’s dilemma: “Our Navy faces increased demand without the size and resources required to properly maintain and train for our future.” The Navy’s “battle fleet” is currently a bit more than half the size it was a generation ago. At the same time, America’s maritime commitments have grown, particularly in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and the Persian Gulf. Moreover, the reductions in forward-stationed land-based ground and air forces—and the reluctance to commit them to long-term irregular warfare campaigns in the Middle East—has exacerbated the pressure upon the Navy to project power ashore. For example, from their first use in the 1991 Gulf War through the Trump Administration’s strikes on Syria in April, the Navy has shot more than 2,100 Tomahawk missiles, while Navy carrier-based aircraft have flown hundreds of thousands of sorties in support of operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. That is a historically unprecedented capability, but a very expensive way to provide fire support to an isolated combat outpost or to kill a terrorist leader.

Recently, we at the American Enterprise Institute convened a group of retired flag officers to conduct a series of “force-generation” exercises to quantify the Navy’s capacity to respond to deployment demands ranging from steady-state presence missions to simultaneous—but small-scale—crises. The consensus conclusion, also ratified by the many civilian role-players in the game, was that the combination of constant commitments and diminishing resources of the past two decades had “broken the camel’s back,” leaving the Navy too small, too old, and too tired yet operating frenetically to fulfill an expanding number of missions.

This article was originally published by Strategika. 

But He’s Crazy! Liberal Media Embarrass Themselves, Demand Doctor Insist Trump’s Mentally Ill

NewsBusters - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 22:33
<p>For almost an hour on Tuesday, the White House press corps stooped to a new low of clownishly liberal behavior, lobbing over a dozen questions at Navy Real Admiral and Dr. Ronny Jackson to insinuate that President Trump must be mentally ill to the point of Alzheimer’s Disease. This was all despite Jackson’s insistence that he’s in great health. No matter the outlet, the long knives were out as the liberal media engaged in their own Pickett’s Charge to save their narrative that Trump’s mentally ill and thus must be removed via Congress or the 25th Amendment</p>

ESPNW: Cavaliers' LeBron James Labels Trump a Stupid Racist

NewsBusters - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 22:13
<p>Defending NBA champion Golden State whipped LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers yet again on Monday, leading to reports that the losing team's clubhouse is in disarray. The day was far from a total loss though because, prior to the game, James returned to his political forum to slam dunk President Trump, much to the joy of his adoring media.</p>

Maryland’s all-payer health reform — a promising work in progress - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 22:00

In January 2014, the State of Maryland and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) came to terms on an ambitious approach to improve care for Marylanders and to slow the growth of health care costs. The state shifted from its historic approach of limiting price growth by setting hospital rates for all payers to limiting overall hospital expenditures by establishing global hospital budgets.1 A second phase that broadens the policy scope to the total cost of care, including hospital and nonhospital spending, is expected to begin in 2019.

‘Viewpoint’: Chris Arnade on America’s forgotten communities - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 21:44

On this episode of Viewpoint, AEI’s Katharine Stevens sits down with photographer Chris Arnade. Arnade has a PhD in physics and was a Wall Street trader. After a crisis of conscience following the 2008 financial crash [3:02], Chris abandoned his banking job to travel the country and chronicle the lives of America’s forgotten masses. But more compelling than the photos were the real conversations that Chris had with real people across the United States [5:23]. He discusses analyzing the “front row and back row” of educational classes [13:56].

This interview originally was published on AEI’s YouTube channel.

Subscribe to the AEI Podcast Channel on Apple Podcasts for more Viewpoint.

Seriously? Joe & Mika Getting Award for ‘Responsible Journalism’

NewsBusters - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 21:34
<p>Two of most wildly irresponsible members of liberal media, MSNBC anchors Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, are going to receive an award for being part of “a distinguished group of journalists and First Amendment leaders that exemplify responsible journalism and who practice their constitutionally guaranteed duty to seek and report the truth.”</p>

Joe Scarborough Implores Democrats to Shut Down Government: ‘No DACA–No Deal’

NewsBusters - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 21:25
<p>On Tuesday’s <em>Morning Joe</em>, co-host Joe Scarborough made three separate impassioned pleas to Democrats to use Trump’s “shithole countries” comments as a pretext to seize the moral and political high ground and demand passage of a clean DACA bill. In demanding amnesty for Obama’s “dreamers,” Scarborough called on Democrats to vote for shutting down the government instead of giving any concessions to conservative Republicans regarding immigration reform or a border wall.</p>

NAACP Image Award Host Longs for Obama’s Third Term, Smears Omarosa as Trump Sellout

NewsBusters - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 20:59
<p>The NAACP Image Awards on Monday were less an awards show and more an attempt to push liberal talking points. Host Anthony Anderson longed for a third Obama term and bashed an African American former Trump aide as a sellout. Others on the show lobbied for Democratic wins in the 2018 midterms. </p>

Loony Feminist Actress: #MeToo Movement is ‘Ushering in Sacred Matriarchy’

NewsBusters - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 20:59
<p><em>Divergent </em>actress Shailene Woodley, in a gushy paragraph written on her Instagram account, about what the Golden Globes and the Time’s Up movement meant to her. Among other things, she wrote that “it meant that we are slowly learning to remove labels and stand united no matter what cloak we wear. It meant that we are slowly but surely ushering in sacred matriarchy.”</p> <p> </p>

Prodigies and Parenting - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 20:44

In a recent conversation with an administrator who spent years at one of Manhattan’s most prestigious prep schools, I brought up the subject of gifted education. “I don’t know what you mean,” she responded without a trace of irony. “Every child is gifted in his or her own way.” In a culture where every parent thinks he is raising a genius, teachers and principals (particularly those whose salaries depend on tuition dollars) have been taught never to say otherwise.

But for parents who really are raising geniuses, there seems to be little in the way of support or guidance. In their 2012 book on gifted education Chester Finn and Jessica Hockett argue that we have spent so much energy trying to get lower-performing students to catch up that we have neglected those in the upper tiers. Fortunately, for kids at the very top, like those profiled in Ann Hulbert’s new book, Off the Charts, schooling may be largely irrelevant.

The children Hulbert describes—from the famous ones like Shirley Temple and Bobby Fischer to the lesser known Billy Sidis and Norbert Wiener—demonstrated extraordinary talents at young ages and it was their parents, not their schools, that were tasked with determining how best to let these capacities flourish. Hulbert approaches her subject historically, beginning with “the wonder boys of Harvard,” Wiener and Sidis. As she writes,

The milestones began with mastery of the alphabet before two and full literacy by three or four. . . . Avid reading ensued, mostly of nonfiction. The boys then speedily amassed languages (Latin, Greek, German, French, and Russian for both, and some Hebrew, Turkish, and Armenian for Billy). Their intense scientific interests (anatomy and astronomy for Billy, chemistry and naturalist zeal for Norbert) inspired unusual strides before school age as well.

Their parents, though, took distinctly different approaches to the boys. Norbert went to high school at 9 and then college three years later. But rather than send him to Harvard right away, which was the obvious choice, his parents moved to be near Tufts and sent him there to keep him out of the spotlight for a bit longer. Billy, by contrast, “was on his own as he entered adolescence, and more of an outsider than ever on campus. Under suspicion . . . of being mentally unbalanced, he was prey to continued press hounding.”

And rather than protect him from such exposure, his relationship with his parents only made things worse. As a cousin observed, Billy’s parents were “not cruel” but they “had no truly paternal or maternal feeling: they could educate a child but not rear him, which is a different thing.”

This distinction between education and rearing is useful for all parents, not just those of prodigies. But for children who are particularly high achievers, it seems easy for parents to forget that their charges are still children and that their psychological development cannot be ignored in favor of the development of their talents. So many of the men and women profiled by Hulbert entered a period of major crisis in adolescence, and a surprising number seemed never to find their way out.

Billy Sidis became an eccentric, his life story shrouded in mysteries and lies. Norbert Wiener became a mathematician at MIT and the founder of the briefly influential field of cybernetics.

Henry Cowell’s parents seemed somewhat more attuned to the question of their son’s overall development and actually apologized for his early reading: “Both his father and I disapprove of beginning formal education when a child is very young, but when a baby points to a letter or word and fairly demands to be told the name of it, what’s to be done?”

For the most part, Henry, who was born in 1897 to parents of very modest means in Menlo Park, California, was given free range to pursue the subjects that he enjoyed. As his mother, who kept detailed notes on her son’s development—particularly his musical talents—wrote, “The child must be delighted with his work. . . . He must study the thing he wants while he wants to know it. . . . It is not the way of wisdom to hold Geometry before the face of a dreamer while he is at his dreams. First let him wake to the presence, if not the beauty, of angles in the world.”

Cowell, who went on to become a prominent modernist composer, was discovered at the age of 12 or so by Lewis Terman, a psychologist interested in the study of prodigies. He included Cowell in his Genetic Studies of Genius, a major longitudinal study that Hulbert dubs “the first youthful-talent search.”

With an IQ of 131, Cowell was not on the highest end of Terman’s group. But as Hulbert notes, “precocity, especially as measured on a scale like Terman’s, doesn’t turn out to be a very reliable precursor of outstanding mature performance . . . particularly of a mold-breaking variety.” Throughout Off the Charts Hulbert returns to the difficult transition from childhood prodigy to adult genius. Cowell’s life was hardly simple or neat, but Hulbert argues that, because of his upbringing, he was one of the few who made it.

Hulbert summarizes in her own words some of the findings from the Terman study’s 25-year follow-up: Within the study’s sample, “extra [IQ] points did not account for more accomplishment. What made the clearest difference [among the study’s subjects] was, not surprisingly, family background.” Cowell’s mother had helped him develop the kind of calm and self-assurance that served him well as he grew older. Cowell described how a theme might present “itself to me in a flash. . . . But it must be given in material form, and I may work long hours to get the scheme down in a form which adequately represents it.”

Indeed it is these long hours of work that seem to make difference between the child prodigy and the adult genius. As Hulbert notes, “Parents and mentors presumed that momentum would propel a young marvel onward through adolescence. They tended to gloss over the fact that immature absorption in a pursuit has to give way to newly committed, self-aware exploration.”

And this is one of the parts of Hulbert’s work that seems very much applicable to parents of average children, not just prodigies. Finding a way to move them from something with which they are briefly obsessed to having them push through some difficulties to achieve something larger is a deep challenge of modern parenting. How do you get a child who likes playing the piano when it’s easy to play to working through difficult passages for long periods of time? Whether it’s reading or math or constructing complex Lego structures, it is tempting to let children slide when things become difficult. (This is a challenge Amy Chua famously addresses in Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.) As Hulbert summarizes the tenets: “Start the talent-building process very early; assume the child is sturdy and full of energy; expect feats of mastery; value family loyalty above youthful autonomy or popularity with peers.”

In a world filled with parents who hover over their children and protect them from any bad grade, poor performance, or other disappointment, there is no doubt that a dose of grit will probably help strengthen young people for their journeys to adulthood. But there is a difference between providing them with regular challenges and treating them as shorter versions of adults. As Hulbert concludes: “The last thing prodigies, or any other children, need is to feel that the clock is ticking on their talents.”

Naomi Schaefer Riley, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of Be the Parent, Please: Stop Banning Seesaws and Start Banning Snapchat.

US Meets Korean War Allies, Wants More Pressure on N. Korea

The Stream - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 20:39

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Tuesday for nations to step up the U.S.-led “maximum pressure” campaign against North Korea by thwarting sanctions evasion and interdicting ships conducting illicit trade with the pariah nation.

The uncompromising message delivered to a gathering of 20 nations that were on America’s side during the Korean War came despite the recent diplomatic opening between the rival Koreas after a year of escalating tension.

“We must increase the costs of the regime’s behavior to the point that North Korea must come to the table for credible negotiations,” Tillerson said in his opening remarks at the meeting on Canada’s western coast. The meeting convened days after a mistaken missile alert caused panic on Hawaii, a stark reminder of the fears of conflict with the North.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said its talks with North Korea, leading to its participation in next month’s Olympics being hosted by the South, are a “significant first step toward restoring inter-Korean relations.”

But she conceded that despite the overtures, North Korea has yet to show any intention to fulfill its obligations on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono was blunter. He said the North “wants to buy some time to continue their nuclear and missile programs.”

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told reporters that in spite of the inter-Korean talks, “the North Korean regime is still going down the path of the acquisition of an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) tipped with a nuclear device that could have incalculable geostrategic consequences.”

The meeting is being attended by foreign ministers and senior diplomats of nations that sent troops or humanitarian aid to the U.N. Command that supported South Korea in the fight against the communist North and its allies during the 1950-53 Korean War. It’s a diverse gathering of mostly European and Asian nations, as well as Australia, New Zealand and Columbia.

Officials are discussing sanctions, preventing the spread of weapons by North Korea, and diplomacy.

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The gathering, co-hosted by Canada and the U.S., is strongly opposed by China and Russia, which fought on the communist side in the war. It appears primarily symbolic and unlikely to break much new ground.

Although Tillerson said the meeting sends North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a unified message that a nuclear-armed North is unacceptable, it risks alienating Beijing and Moscow. They are Pyongyang’s main trading and diplomatic partners, but have nevertheless supported U.N. Security Council resolutions to restrict revenue for North Korean nuclear and missile development.

Tillerson called for China and Russia to fully implement the sanctions. He reiterated U.S. opposition to their idea of a “freeze-for-freeze,” whereby the U.S.-South Korea military exercises would halt in exchange for suspension of the North’s nuclear programs.

According to the news agency Tass, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday called the Vancouver meeting “unacceptable” and “destructive.” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters a meeting that “doesn’t include important parties to the Korean peninsula nuclear issue” cannot help resolve it.

Tillerson said all nations must work together to improve maritime interdiction operations and stop illicit ship-to-ship transfers that violate U.N. sanctions. The U.S. has previously highlighted efforts by North Korea to circumvent restrictions on supplies of oil and petroleum products, most of which are supplied by China.

The latest U.N. Security Council resolution, adopted in December in response to an intercontinental ballistic missile test, calls on member states to impound vessels in their ports if there are reasonable grounds to suspect illicit trade with North Korea. It authorizes interdictions in a member state’s territorial waters.

Tillerson also highlighted how North Korean missile tests pose a threat to civilian air traffic in the busy skies above East Asia.

“North Korea’s willingness to launch missiles at any time presents a threat to people of all nationalities in the region’s airspace each day,” he said.

Despite Washington’s tough stance and determination to keep up the pressure on North Korea, President Donald Trump has signaled openness to talks with North under the right circumstances. After months of insults and blood-curdling threats he’s traded with Kim, Trump suggested in an interview last week that the two leaders could have a positive relationship.

The White House said Trump spoke Monday with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and they were hopeful that the inter-Korean talks “might prompt a change in North Korea’s destructive behavior.”

But Kim, widely viewed as seeking to drive a wedge between the U.S. and South Korea, shows no sign of making concessions toward Washington as his totalitarian government comes close to perfecting a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike the United States.

 

Copyright 2018 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Yuck: Amanpour, Flake Bat Around Trump-Stalin Comparison, Defend Liberal Media

NewsBusters - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 20:35
<p>Continuing to bask in the liberal media accolades ahead of Wednesday’s anti-Trump speech, Republican Senator Jeff Flake (Ariz.) appeared on the CNN International and PBS show <em>Amanpour</em>, making nice with host Christiane Amanpour to defend liberal journalists and compare President Trump to murderous Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.</p>

NYT's Krugman: Conservatives Complaining About Liberal Bias ‘Embrace Ignorance’ ‘Bigotry’

NewsBusters - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 20:30
<p>Leftists in the media don’t like to be called out for their liberal bias. When that happens, their knee-jerk response is to lash out with petty ad hominem attacks. A perfect example of this reaction came in <em>The New York Times</em>’ Paul Krugman’s January 15 column, “Know-Nothings for the 21st Century.”</p>

Trump Proclaims Religious Freedom Day

The Stream - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 20:21

President Donald Trump proclaimed Jan. 16, 2018, as Religious Freedom Day in the U.S., The White House announced Tuesday morning.

Every year the president will declare Jan. 16 as Religious Freedom Day, which celebrates the anniversary of the passage of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom in 1786, written by former President Thomas Jefferson. Tuesday makes 232 years since the Virginia General Assembly passed the statue.

In Trump's proclamation, he encouraged Americans to celebrate the many faiths throughout the U.S., and explained in detail why he believes faith and religious freedom are important.

"Faith is embedded in the history, spirit, and soul of our Nation. On Religious Freedom Day, we celebrate the many faiths that make up our country," Trump said. "Our Constitution and laws guarantee Americans the right not just to believe as they see fit, but to freely exercise their religion."

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Trump made it clear in his proclamation that no American should be forced to choose between faith and law.

"No American -- whether a nun, nurse, baker, or business owner -- should be forced to choose between the tenants of faith or adherence to the law," Trump said. "The free exercise of religion is a source of personal and national stability, and its preservation is essential to protecting human dignity. Religious diversity strengthens our communities and promotes tolerance, respect, understanding, and equality. Faith breathes life and hope into our world. We must diligently guard, preserve, and cherish this unalienable right."

The president also mentioned that he signed an executive order in May that set back restrictions placed on churches to keep them from being politically active in order to remain exempt from taxes.

 

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Copyright 2018 The Daily Caller News Foundation

Finding the right balance on college regulation - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 19:57

Republicans in Congress have no shortage of criticisms for the web of regulations that ostensibly hold the nation’s colleges and universities to account. Now, with full GOP control of the federal government, many lawmakers want to act. A higher-education reform bill, the PROSPER Act, passed by Republicans on the House Education and Workforce Committee last month, would end several major regulations and modify others. While there’s a case to be made for slimming down some of these rules (multiple regulations are meant to enforce the same thing) the PROSPER Act does not propose an adequate replacement.

Conservatives rightly see flaws in existing accountability regulations for colleges and universities that receive federal subsidies. But they also struggle to strike the right balance with these policies. Some want strict, central-planning-like regulations. Others want none, seeing them as intrusive federal overreach. The right balance would establish a floor to guard against fraud and waste.

The ideal accountability system should not, however, attempt to establish ratings for colleges as the Obama administration once proposed. Nor should it aim to make fine-grained judgements about value. No supporter of free markets should want a system under which lawmakers and bureaucrats use government money and standards to pick winners and losers in higher education. That critique also applies to the temptation to exempt broad swaths of institutions or carve out set-asides for a favored school or profession.

This article first appeared in U.S. News & World Report on January 16, 2018. Read the full article here.

Here’s How America’s States Rank on Their Protections of Life

The Stream - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 19:57

Americans United for Life (AUL) released its 2018 Life List Tuesday, ranking states based on their legal protections for human life from conception to natural death.

"We are excited to announce that Arizona has gained our highly coveted number one ranking this year ... sadly, for the ninth year in a row, Washington remained the state where women and their children have the fewest legal protections," AUL president Catherine Glenn Foster wrote in a press release provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Arizona ranks first, followed closely by Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Kansas. Washington remained at the bottom of the list, followed by California, Vermont, New Jersey and Oregon.

Alabama and Texas each moved up in the rankings by five places from 2017's rankings. Illinois fell seven spots from the previous year, following the passage of pro-abortion laws in its 2017 legislative session.

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Legislators across the country are fighting back against "an increasingly business-driven abortion industry that is determined to put its profit margins before the health and safety of women and children," said AUL's Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel, Steven H. Aden, according to AUL's report.

Roughly 19 states adopted pro-life measures in 2017, marking the most pro-life movement that states have seen since 2013, AUL reports. These measures included late-term abortion limitations, prohibitions on abortions based on sex and genetic abnormalities, ultrasound requirements and more.

"We will continue to accumulate victories, build momentum, and advance a culture of life in America in 2018," Foster wrote in a statement.

The pro-life movement also saw wins after Planned Parenthood closed 32 clinics closed in 2017. The abortion giant now operates less than 600 facilities in the country compared to the 700 facilities it operated in 1973, according to LifeNews.

 

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Copyright 2018 The Daily Caller News Foundation

Don’t Rage Against or With a Machine

The Stream - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 19:42

By the time you read this column, there will no doubt be some new President Donald Trump tweet or utterance -- on record or leaked -- that will have the media and country aghast at the demons exposed by it. People not typically defending Trump may find themselves doing so simply because they don’t think the latest is definitive proof that he’s Hitler. I’m far from the first to observe that elements of our country appear to be watching a reality TV show with rapt attention. Time and emotions are invested in it. But what gets overlooked in the meantime?

With everyone talking about the latest expletive the president reportedly used in a closed-door meeting with lawmakers, I couldn’t help but think about Haiti, one of the countries on his leaked list of undesirables. There’s a beautiful nurse I know who has gone there in the years since the big earthquake to help in a hospital for some of the poorest and otherwise most forgotten. Sometime in the last few years of doing this, she broke her leg. She’s giving time and resources -- even risking her safety -- to people she wouldn’t be thinking about if she were simply cursing the darkness or thinking “poor dears” in the wake of earthquakes and other disasters.

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I thought, too, of the Knights of Columbus, who I am endlessly grateful for. Many may have such feelings for the fraternal social fellowship network, but we should remember that the Knights rush to the scene of disasters and provide quiet support -- from ultrasounds and coats to infrastructure and schools and hospitals -- in communities around the country and world.

As social media and news networks seemed to revel in the ability to use an expletive with abandon, I kept thinking of a story about Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. He, too, went down to Haiti after the earthquake in 2010. And he asked: “Is there anything I can do for you?” Foremost in some minds was Mass. The Haitians had lost priests and bishops, the next day was Sunday and they wanted Mass. They wanted God. Which means they had hope. Hope in the midst of devastation. Hope in the midst of death and debris.

The same day that America was abuzz with reports of the president’s profane remarks, a report was released that found that life expectancy in the United States had dropped for the second year in a row. Addiction and suicide are some significant factors. Right here at home, people are living in what seems to them an impenetrable darkness. There is a world of people in pain -- some of them right next door to us, right across the way. When we plug ourselves into the unending reality TV show, we miss them. We close ourselves off to the possibility of hearing their cries. We also deprive ourselves of the opportunity of encountering hope.

Next time you find yourself outraged, don’t sit there, don’t stew or get into online arguments about it. Instead, do something good in the world.

More often than not, when we think we’re reaching out to help someone, they wind up ministering to us. I often think of Christians in Iraq and Syria, who overflow with gratitude simply for being alive with their families, in whatever makeshift home they’ve found. Their close encounter with genocide has been an opportunity for them to prioritize their faith -- or so they so often tell the story. Death is a certainty, and hope is the only thing that gives us an understanding of what this is all for.

The morning after the President’s remark, Pope Francis tweeted: “The encounter with God and our brothers and sisters cannot wait just because we are slow or lazy. We are called to that encounter today!” Whatever the pope makes headlines for, he’s always nudging us to the best part of ourselves. If you find yourself outraged by Trump -- or Hollywood, or politicians, or whatever else the anger machine of social media generates -- don’t sit there, don’t stew or get into online arguments about it. Instead, do something good in the world. The world could use it. And you might even encounter some hope along the way.

 

Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review Online and founding director of Catholic Voices USA. She can be contacted at klopez@nationalreview.com.

COPYRIGHT 2018 United Feature Syndicate

GQ Raves Over ‘Sensible and Decent’ Jimmy Kimmel, Ignores ‘Whore’ Comment

NewsBusters - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 19:34
<p>Jimmy Kimmel is “sensible and decent.” That’s the conclusion Michael Paterniti of <em>GQ</em> had in an article following Kimmel as he made the decision to use his infant son as a political weapon on his show. Paterniti raved, “In doing so, he’s emerged as something like the most sane and rational voice in an increasingly insane and irrational America.”</p> <p> </p>

Suppose you live in America’s most liberal state. Now suppose you live in the state known as “poverty capital of America.” But I repeat myself. - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 19:22

The table above shows US states ranked for two different measures of poverty: a) the official measure of poverty and b) the Census Bureau’s recently introduced (2011) Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which accounts for each state’s cost-of-living, housing costs, utilities, medical costs and taxes. It also considers non-cash government assistance as a form of income and is therefore considered a more accurate measure of poverty than the official rate. For the country as a whole, the percent of Americans in poverty using the SPM of 14.7% for the years 2014-2016 (averaged) is one percentage point higher than the percent of Americans in poverty (13.7%) using the official poverty measure.

On an individual state basis, the biggest changes in a state’s poverty rate between the two measures in each direction are: a) California’s official poverty rate of 14.5% ranked it No. 16 but the state moved up to No. 1 at 20.4% (highest state poverty rate in the US) using the SPM ( a difference of +5.9%) and b) Mississippi’s poverty rate ranked it No. 1 at 20.8% using the official measure but No. 5 at 16.9% using the SPM (a difference of -3.9%). Overall, 18 states, including California showed a greater percentage of people in poverty using the SPM, 30 states, including Mississippi, showed a lower percentage of people in poverty and two states showed no change (North Dakota and Utah).

Obviously, the reason for the increase in California’s (and 17 other states) poverty rate using the SPM is because of the state’s high cost-of-living including sky-high housing costs (median home price of $519,100) and because of high taxes and energy costs. And the decrease in Mississippi’s SPM poverty rate (and 29 other states) is because of that state’s low cost-of-living, including low housing costs (median home price of $114,400).

A recent LA Times op-ed by Kerry Jackson, Pacific Research Institute fellow in California studies, uses the SPM measure of poverty to answer the question “Why is liberal California the poverty capital of America?” Here’s an excerpt:

Guess which state has the highest poverty rate in the country? Not Mississippi, New Mexico, or West Virginia, but California, where nearly one out of five residents is poor. That’s according to the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, which factors in the cost of housing, food, utilities and clothing, and which includes non-cash government assistance as a form of income. Given robust job growth and the prosperity generated by several industries, it’s worth asking why California has fallen behind, especially when the state’s per-capita GDP increased approximately twice as much as the U.S. average over the five years ending in 2016 (12.5%, compared with 6.27%).

It’s not as though California policymakers have neglected to wage war on poverty. Sacramento and local governments have spent massive amounts in the cause. Several state and municipal benefit programs overlap with one another; in some cases, individuals with incomes 200% above the poverty line receive benefits. California state and local governments spent nearly $958 billion from 1992 through 2015 on public welfare programs, including cash-assistance payments, vendor payments and “other public welfare,” according to the Census Bureau. California, with 12% of the American population, is home today to about one in three of the nation’s welfare recipients.

Kerry Jackson identifies several specific factors that collectively contribute to making California the “poverty capital of America.”

1. Welfare State Bureaucracy and Lack of Pro-Work Welfare Reform. The state and local bureaucracies that implement California’s antipoverty programs have resisted pro-work reforms. In fact, California recipients of state aid receive a disproportionately large share of it in no-strings-attached cash disbursements. It’s as though welfare reform passed California by, leaving a dependency trap in place. Immigrants are falling into it: 55% of immigrant families in the state get some kind of means-tested benefits, compared with just 30% of natives.

Self-interest in the social-services community may be at fault. To keep growing its budget, and hence its power, a welfare bureaucracy has an incentive to expand its “customer” base. With 883,000 full-time-equivalent state and local employees in 2014, California has an enormous bureaucracy. Many work in social services, and many would lose their jobs if the typical welfare client were to move off the welfare rolls.

2. High Housing Costs. Further contributing to the poverty problem is California’s housing crisis. More than four in 10 households spent more than 30% of their income on housing in 2015. A shortage of available units has driven prices ever higher, far above income increases. And that shortage is a direct outgrowth of misguided policies …. including restrictive land-use regulations that drive up the price of land and dwellings.

3. High Energy Costs. Extensive state environmental regulations aimed at reducing CO2 emissions make energy more expensive, also hurting the poor. By some estimates, California energy costs are as much as 50% higher than the national average. According to a 2015 Manhattan Institute study nearly 1 million California households face energy expenditures exceeding 10% of household income. In certain California counties, the rate of energy poverty was as high as 15% of all households.

4. $15 an Hour Minimum Wage. Looking to help poor and low-income residents, California lawmakers recently passed a measure raising the minimum wage from $10 an hour to $15 an hour by 2022 — but a higher minimum wage will do nothing for the 60% of Californians who live in poverty and don’t have jobs. And research indicates that it could cause many who do have jobs to lose them. “Estimates suggest that a one-dollar increase in the minimum wage leads to a 14% increase in the likelihood of exit for a 3.5-star restaurant (which is the median rating),” according to a Harvard University study. These restaurants are a significant source of employment for low-skilled and entry-level workers.

And here is the pessimistic conclusion of Jackson’s op-ed:

With a permanent majority in the state Senate and the Assembly, a prolonged dominance in the executive branch and a weak opposition, California Democrats have long been free to indulge blue-state ideology while paying little or no political price. The state’s poverty problem is unlikely to improve while policymakers remain unwilling to unleash the engines of economic prosperity that drove California to its golden years.

Related: As I reported several weeks ago on CD, California ranked last year as America’s No. 4 Outbound State based on household moves (60% outbound vs. 40% inbound) according to North American Van Lines’ 2017 US Migration Report. It was also noteworthy that 2017 was the first year that California ever ranked in the Top Five outbound US states and that out-migration might be partly explained by the Golden State’s new status as the “poverty capital of America.”

President Trump: Please Stop Turkey’s Islamist Dictator from Killing Peaceful Christians and Yazidis in Syria

The Stream - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 19:21

Last time I visited Syria I had the honor to meet a very brave mother. Let's call her "Marte." Two of her sons are soldiers in the Syrian Democratic Forces. The SDF is the U.S. ally that liberated Raqqa from ISIS. The homeland the SDF defends is the democratic, religiously free Federation of Northern Syria. There Kurds and Arabs, Muslims and Christians, men and women, enjoy the rights that most Americans take for granted.

A New, Growing Church in Danger

I met Marte in the Church of Kobane. Its congregation is special: Kurds who converted to Christianity. That's something which earns a death sentence in much of the Middle East. But Christians here are free. One of Marte's sons is not just a soldier. He's also the pastor of a new Christian congregation, in the region of Afrin.

But now Afrin is under attack, by NATO member Turkey. As you read this, the Turkish army shells towns in Afrin, killing civilians with howitzers and other artillery. Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan has threatened a land invasion. Because the oppressed Kurds of Turkey still resist him, Erdogan thinks he has the right to attack all Kurds anywhere. That includes those in the peaceful Federation of Northern Syria.

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Erdogan is willing to kill or subjugate Kurds, Syriac Christians and all those allied with them in the struggle for freedom in Syria. If his forces march in, they could strangle the growing Church in Syria, whose expansion could transform the Middle East. Also threatened: the hunted Yazidi community, only recently butchered and sex-trafficked by ISIS. Yazidi leaders have begged me to ask America to protect their safety and freedom. They fear yet another genocide at the hands of Turkey, which gave crucial support to ISIS for years.

McMaster: Turkey Sponsors Extremists

The prospect of freedom just next door must unsettle Erdogan. Though he was elected, Erdogan has become a vicious dictator. He's hell-bent on steamrolling every obstacle to his Islamist agenda. Don't trust me on this. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, General H.R. McMaster said so. On December 13, McMaster told Voice of America that Turkey now rivaled Qatar as one of the main sources that fund radical Islam in the area. He said: “We’re seeing great involvement by Turkey from everywhere from western Africa to Southeast Asia. We didn’t pay enough attention to how extremist ideologies were being advanced through madrassas and mosques, and so-called charities more broadly.”

Erdogan is willing to kill or subjugate Kurds, Syriac Christians and all those allied with them in the struggle for freedom in Syria. If his forces march in, they could strangle the growing Church in Syria.

Researchers at the Clarion Project confirm this. Turkey is supporting the most extreme forms of extremist Islam in large parts of the world. It even cooperated with ISIS. Now Turkey threatens the very group, the U.S. allied SDF, that finally stopped ISIS. And Turkey threatens freedom and equality in Syria. It threatens the Church.

An Island of Peace, Menaced by Islamists

Afrin is an exposed outpost, almost impossible for Westerners to enter. On the north and the west it faces Turkey, and the south and east by Al Qaida and other Turkish-backed jihadis. Till now Afrin has been an island of peace and stability.  Aside from one single battle, Afrin was not involved in the civil war. Its leaders managed to create a safe haven for refugees from all over Syria. This despite scant resources and little aid from outside. As part of the Federation of Northern it implemented legal and religious freedoms, and equality of men and women. The Church (in the wider sense of the word) is growing in Afrin.    

President Trump and his staff know what is going on. They know the stakes, and the difficulties. I can't say it would be easy for the US to intervene. Afrin is outside the U.S. airzone in Syria as agreed with Russia. There are no American forces in Afrin. Obviously Turkey will not allow Americans to enter Afrin through Turkey. There is however still a lot the U.S. can do. It can for example send a token force to Afrin from the east. This would stop the killing of innocents immediately. The last time the U.S. confronted Erdogan, he stopped shelling Syrian Christians. He would again.

What I wonder is whether Marte or her son will be alive the next time I visit Syria. Will his church full of converts be standing, or will it lie a smoking ruin? Will the fresh new chance for freedom and religious pluralism in Syria be strangled by Islamists like Erdogan? The answer lies with America. Will Christians in the U.S. stand up for Marte and her fellow endangered Christians? Your elected leaders need to hear from you.  

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