Huckabee Sanders Defends Ripping Children From Parents, Because It’s “Very Biblical to Enforce the Law”

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Asked to comment on remarks made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier in the day about how the Trump administration’s policy of ripping children out of the arms of their immigrant parents is somehow justified by the Christian Bible, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday afternoon said she could not respond specifically to the AG’s claims but said “it is very biblical to enforce the law.”

“That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible,” Huckabee Sanders said in response to the question by CNN’s Jim Acosta as she appeared to glance at notes on her podium.

More from Common Dreams

Posted by Libergirl

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Justices side with Colorado baker on same-sex wedding cake

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The Supreme Court ruled Monday for a Colorado baker who wouldn’t make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in a limited decision that leaves for another day the larger issue of whether a business can invoke religious objections to refuse service to gay and lesbian people.

The justices’ decision turned on what the court described as anti-religious bias on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when it ruled against baker Jack Phillips. The justices voted 7-2 that the commission violated Phillips’ rights under the First Amendment.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion that the larger issue “must await further elaboration” in the courts. Appeals in similar cases are pending, including one at the Supreme Court from a florist who didn’t want to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.

More from WRAL.com

Posted by Libergirl

NFL’s National Anthem Policy Exposes Free Speech Hypocrisy of Right, Left, and Trump “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem,” Trump says, “or you shouldn’t be playing.”

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Donald Trump, who won the presidency in part by promising voters he would stand against the oppression of political correctness, is now taking a victory lap after successfully pressuring the National Football League to protect the delicate feelings of its snowflake audience.

The NFL announced yesterday that all players on the field during the singing of the national anthem would be forbidden to kneel, sit, or show any disrespect whatsoever. Teams that allow players to publicly protest racism and police brutality will be subject to fines. Players will be expected to confine their dissent to the locker room, concealing it from easily offended consumers of sports entertainment. GOP spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany summarized the new policy thusly during an appearance on Kennedy last night:

Players will respect our military, they will respect what our flag stands for and the unity of what our national anthem stands for, and if they don’t want to respect it, they can take a hike and go to the locker room. Now everyone has to respect our military, including multimillion-dollar football players.

The new policy is undoubtedly crafted to appease not just some viewers but Trump, who has repeatedly attacked the NFL for failing to punish the defiant players. “I don’t think people should be staying in locker rooms, but still, I think it’s good,” Trump said on Fox and Friends this morning. “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there, maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.” Vice President Mike Pence tweeted the news, adding a single remark: “#WINNING.”

Sadly, the NFL’s bowing to Trump’s whims may indeed be a win of sorts for this administration. It will please the many conservatives who routinely complain that the campus left is hypersensitive but embrace the victim role when the shoe is on the other foot. Just take a look at the Twitter feed of Turning Points USA Director Charlie Kirk, a well-known critic of political correctness on campus.

Kirk’s pinned tweet is video footage of him discussing campus culture with Sean Hannity, Eric Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. “College campuses have become a place where the administrators and the elites want everybody to look different but think the same,” Kirk explains. “And it’s all about conformity. If you have any point of dissension from the status quo of liberal orthodoxy, you will be punished.” Just under the pinned tweet is Kirk’s most recent tweet: “Stand for the national anthem!” Talk about conformity.

The NFL is of course a private entity, and requiring players to stand for the anthem isn’t a First Amendment violation. But as National Review‘s David French points out in a terrific New York Times op-ed piece, Google, Mozilla, and Yale are all private too. Yet conservatives see nothing wrong with bemoaning these entities’ internal crackdowns on speech. Indeed, concern that social media giants like Facebook and Twitter are censoring conservatives is now a major concern for the right. There was even a panel discussion about it at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference.

Middlebury College shouldn’t sit idly by while students literally attack Charles Murray, and Twitter shouldn’t scrub all non-leftist views from its platform. They shouldn’t do those things because they have made commitments to the spirit of the First Amendment. They say free speech matters to them, and it is perfectly fair for conservatives to hold their feet to the fire when they fall short of those commitments.

But conservatives are being brazenly hypocritical when they celebrate the NFL’s decision to muzzle its players. The NFL might not have made any commitment to free expression, but its players were engaged in one of the most civil and least disruptive forms of protest imaginable. Saying that simply kneeling for the national anthem is so offensive that it must be confined to the locker room or banned outright reflects the same hypersensitivity that plagues the social justice left.

Ironically, the best defense of the NFL’s new protest ban is an argument most often put forward by leftists who defend disinvitations and shut-downs of offensive speakers on campus. I have frequently seen the following XKCD cartoon posted in response to such incidents:

PoliMath @politicalmath

Guys. The NFL ban on kneeling is absolutely awful and I hate it. It is anti free speech.
It is also 100% in line with the “showing you the door” attitude on free speech you’ve been pushing the last several years.
Please think hard about that.

The government was partly involved in the NFL case, since Trump’s displeasure was a motivating factor. But there’s little doubt the league was also trying to appease some viewers who were uncomfortable with the players’ protests. This is what comes from defending a safe-space mentality: more safe spaces, and not just on the campus quad but in football stadiums as well.

By Robby Soave/Reason

Posted by The NON-Conformist

African-Americans Feel Left Out of the Gun Debate

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As the Parkland kids enjoy an outpouring of support, many who have been fighting for gun reform for years are wondering why no one is listening to them.

Weeks after the Parkland shooting, Johnetta Elzie, a civil rights activist who rose to prominence during the 2014 Ferguson protests, scrolled through her Twitter feed like most Americans, observing how the media treated the Parkland students fighting for gun reform—and she was perplexed.

These students’ ideas and voices were welcomed, she observed, while her voice and others like hers had been shunned and even ignored just four years earlier after the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. Even though, to her, they were all speaking out against the same thing: gun violence in America.

 The difference was that Elzie had been protesting police violence, specifically, which she believes is a major part of the broader gun violence debate. While the Parkland kids were lauded, she was labeled a “threat actor.” FBI agents attempted to contact her about her plans to protest at the 2016 Republican National Convention, a tactic she insists was meant to intimidate her and her family. Similar complaints and calls to action by advocacy groups like the Black Youth Project 100, Black Lives Matter, NAACP chapters and the American Civil Liberties Union were criticized and classified as attacks on American law enforcement heroes.

More at Politico.com

Posted by Libergirl

Judge blocks Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks

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A law in Mississippi that bans women from receiving abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy was temporarily blocked Tuesday by a federal judge.

The Associated Press reported that U.S District Judge Carlton Reeves granted a temporary restraining order on Tuesday. It was sought by the state’s only clinic that offers abortions.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signed the bill — the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban — into law earlier this week.

The law bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, down from a 20-week restriction already on Mississippi’s books.

 

More from The Hill

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The War on the Post Office

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U.S. Postal Service truck. (Alexander Marks / Wikimedia)

The U.S. banking establishment has been at war with the post office since at least 1910, when the Postal Savings Bank Act established a public savings alternative to a private banking system that had crashed the economy in the Bank Panic of 1907. The American Bankers Association was quick to respond, forming a Special Committee on Postal Savings Legislation to block any extension of the new service. According to a September 2017 article in The Journal of Social History titled “ ‘Banks of the People’: The Life and Death of the U.S. Postal Savings System,” the banking fraternity would maintain its enmity toward the government savings bank for the next 50 years.

As far back as the late 19th century, support for postal savings had united a nationwide coalition of workers and farmers who believed that government policy should prioritize their welfare over private business interests. Advocates noted that most of the civilized nations of the world maintained postal savings banks, providing depositors with a safe haven against repeated financial panics and bank failures. Today, postal banks that are wholly or majority owned by government are still run successfully, not just in developing countries, but in France, Switzerland, Israel, Korea, India, New Zealand, Japan, China and other industrialized nations.

The U.S. Postal Savings System came into its own during the banking crisis of the early 1930s, when it became the national alternative to a private banking system that people could not trust. Demands increased to expand its services to include affordable loans. Alarmed bankers called it the “Postal Savings Menace” and warned that it could result in the destruction of the entire private banking system.

Rather than expanding the Postal Savings System, the response of President Franklin Roosevelt was to buttress the private banking system with public guarantees, including FDIC deposit insurance. That put private banks in the enviable position of being able to keep their profits while their losses were covered by the government. Deposit insurance, along with a statutory cap on the interest paid on postal savings, caused postal banking to lose its edge. In 1957, under President Eisenhower, the head of the government bureau responsible for the Postal Savings System called for its abolition, arguing that “it is desirable that the government withdraw from competitive private business at every point.” Legislation to liquidate the Postal Savings System was passed in 1966. One influential right-wing commentator, celebrating an ideological victory, said: “It is even conceivable that we might transfer post offices to private hands altogether.”

Targeted for Takedown

The push for privatization of the U.S. Postal Service has continued to the present. The USPS is the nation’s second-largest civilian employer after Walmart and has been successfully self-funded without taxpayer support throughout its long history, but it is currently struggling to stay afloat. This is not, as sometimes asserted, because it has been made obsolete by the internet. In fact, the post office has gotten more business from internet orders than it has lost to electronic email.

What has pushed the USPS into insolvency is an oppressive congressional mandate that was included almost as a footnote in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA), which requires the USPS to prefund health care for its workers 75 years into the future. No other entity, public or private, has the burden of funding multiple generations of employees yet unborn. The prefunding mandate is so blatantly unreasonable as to raise suspicions that the nation’s largest publicly owned industry has been intentionally targeted for takedown.

What has saved the post office for the time being is the large increase in its package deliveries for Amazon and other internet sellers. But as The Nation notes in a February 2018 article by Jake Bittle titled “Postal-Service Workers Are Shouldering the Burden for Amazon,” this onslaught of new business is a mixed blessing. Postal workers welcome the work, but packages are much

harder to deliver than letters, and management has not stepped up its hiring to relieve the increased stress on carriers or upgraded their antiquated trucks. The USPS simply does not have the funds.

Bittle observes that for decades, Republicans have painted the USPS as a prime example of government inefficiency. But there is no reason for it to be struggling since it has successfully sustained itself with postal revenue for two centuries. What has fueled conservative arguments that it should be privatized is the manufactured crisis created by the PAEA. Unless that regulation can be repealed, the USPS may not survive without another source of funding, since Amazon is now expanding its own delivery service rather than continuing to rely on the post office. Postal banking could fill the gap, but the USPS has been hamstrung by the PAEA, which allows it to perform only postal services such as delivery of letters and packages and “other functions ancillary thereto,” including money orders, international transfers and gift cards.

Renewing the Postal Banking Push

Meanwhile, the need for postal banking is present and growing. According to the Campaign for Postal Banking, nearly 28 percent of U.S. households are underserved by traditional banks. Over 4 million workers without a bank account receive pay on a payroll card and spend $40-$50 per month on ATM fees just to access their pay. The average underserved household spends $2,412 annually—nearly 10 percent of gross income—in fees and interest for non-bank financial services. More than 30,000 post offices peppered across the country could service these needs.

The push to revive postal banking picked up after January 2014, when the USPS inspector general released a white paper making the case for postal banks and arguing that many financial services could be introduced without new congressional action. The cause was also taken up by Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and polling showed that it had popular support.

In a January 2018 article in Slate, “Bank of America Just Reminded Us of Why We Need Postal Banking,” Jordan Weissman observes that Bank of America has now ended the free checking service on which lower-income depositors have long relied. He cites a Change.org petition protesting the move, which notes that Bank of America was one of the sole remaining brick-and-mortar banks offering free checking accounts to its customers. “Bank of America was known to care for both their high income and low-income customers,” said the petition. “That is what made Bank of America different.” But Weissman is more skeptical, writing:

What this news mostly shows is that we shouldn’t rely on for-profit financial institutions to provide basic, essential services to the needy. We should rely on the post office.

In spite of what some of its customers may have thought, Bank of America never cared very much about its poorer depositors. That’s because banks don’t care about people. They care about profits. And lower-middle class households who have trouble maintaining a minimum balance in a checking account are, by and large, not very profitable customers, unless they’re paying out the nose in overdraft fees.

Those modest accounts won’t be hugely profitable for the Postal Service either, but postal banking can be profitable through economies of scale and the elimination of profit-taking middlemen, as postal banks globally have demonstrated. The USPS could also act immediately to expand and enhance certain banking products and services within its existing mandate, without additional legislation. According to the Campaign for Postal Banking, these services include international and domestic money transfers, bill pay, general-purpose reloadable postal cards, check-cashing, ATMs, savings services and partnerships with government agencies to provide payments of government benefits and other services.

A more lucrative source of postal revenue was also suggested by the inspector general: The USPS could expand into retail lending for underserved sectors of the economy, replacing the usurious payday loans that can wipe out the paychecks of the underbanked. To critics who say that government cannot be trusted to run a lending business efficiently, advocates need only point to China. According to Peter Pham in a March 2018 article for Forbes titled “Who’s Winning the War for China’s Banking Sector?”:

One of the largest retail banks is the Postal Savings Bank of China. In 2016 retail banking accounted for 70 percent of this bank’s service package. Counting about 40,000 branches and servicing more than 500 million separate clients, the Postal Savings Bank’s asset quality is among the best. Moreover, it has significantly more growth potential than other Chinese retail banks.

Neither foreign banks nor private domestic retail banks can compete with this very successful Chinese banking giant, which is majority owned by the government. And that may be the real reason for the suppression of postal banking in the United States. Bankers continue to fear that postal banks could replace them with a public option—one that is safer, more efficient, more stable and more trusted than the private financial institutions that have repeatedly triggered panics and bank failures, with more predicted on the horizon.

By Ellen Brown/truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Robert Mueller Is Not a Superhero

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Robert Mueller, testifying before Congress in 2013. Credit Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call, via Getty Images

For many people, it’s up to Robert Mueller, the special counsel, to settle the question of “collusion” in the 2016 election. A clean, clear, nonpartisan legal finding would be the most acceptable possible outcome. If he uncovers a crime by the president, Congress would be justified in pursuing an impeachment inquiry.

So it should not matter that the House Intelligence Committee has abruptly ended its “investigation,” declining to compel testimony from key uncooperative witnesses or subpoena relevant records. In the words of one commentator, we need only “wait for Mueller.”

But this view is wrong, a confusion of constitutional roles and responsibilities. Mr. Mueller has one job, and Congress has another. The potential offense that each is investigating might go by the same shorthand — “collusion” — but it is not the same.

What counts as evidence, and how it is weighed and debated, is by necessity different in the two proceedings. Confusion over this point has major practical consequences for how long the nation must await a full and clear resolution of the question of Russian interference in the election, and any role Mr. Trump and his campaign played in it.

The problem seems to start with anxiety about impeachment as too “political” a process — especially in a hyperpartisan environment. That it is political in character is undeniable, but the founders thought of the politics of impeachment as being of the highest order, concerned with the protection of the constitutional system from serious executive misconduct. As James Madison told the Congress, a powerful presidency carried with it a high danger of abuse of office, and the remedy of impeachment was available “at all times.”

Legal and constitutional concerns require clarity about the nature and relevant evidence of misconduct. On the legal side, Mr. Mueller may be headed toward a theory of collusion, potentially implicating the president and others, in the form of a “conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
There are particular requirements for making such a case, as well as predictable defenses. Lawyers will disagree, for example, over the legal import of what the president, as candidate or president, has publicly said about Russia — his open appeal to the Russian government to locate and publish the emails of Hillary Clinton or his repeated references to the fact of Russian electoral intervention as a “hoax.”
Do these actions constitute affirmative acts in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy, subjecting Mr. Trump to “accomplice liability”? The courts would decide.

But these actions are undoubtedly relevant to any potential impeachment inquiry. What the president publicly stated and tweeted takes on greater significance in light of the revelation that his campaign representatives — as we learned in the memo from Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee — were told that Russians could disseminate emails stolen from Mrs. Clinton. In addressing collusion with Russia, Congress must decide whether this president should retain office if the facts establish that he entered into some form of political alliance with Russia and then came to office in debt to a foreign power while determined to obstruct a public accounting. Congress has the obligation to make this determination regardless of whether Mr. Trump may be guilty of aiding and abetting a criminal conspiracy.

That requires a constitutional judgment. Answering strictly legal questions in a potential trial does not resolve the issue of the president’s accountability under the Constitution. Congress’s inquiry can and should be informed by an unfettered special counsel investigation, but it cannot depend on it.

Furthermore, narrowing impeachable offenses to include only violations of law may lead to a constitutional dead end. In opinions issued in 1973 and 2000, the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel has taken the position that a sitting president cannot be indicted while in office. If Mr. Mueller concludes that the president engaged in criminal conduct but follows O.L.C. opinions in declining to indict him, the president’s legal responsibility will not be adjudicated as long as he occupies the White House. On what basis would Congress then proceed to oust him from office under the legalistic conception of the impeachment power?

Many people assume that the special counsel will report to Congress on the evidence against the president. But the special counsel regulations, unlike the now defunct independent counsel statute, do not clearly mandate or authorize any such report from either the counsel or the deputy attorney general. Congress may be more likely to learn about Mr. Mueller’s work from publicly filed indictments and plea agreements.

And Congress cannot rely on the Mueller record alone. Even if Congress made impeachment a legal rather than political process, a president will be quick to argue that he is entitled to a fair adjudication of any criminal charge.

Moreover, the timetables for the two processes are not the same. Congress cannot responsibly defer its task for as long as it may take for lawyers to clash and courts to rule.

A Congress that was serious about meeting its responsibility would neither shirk nor rush a judgment about a president’s impeachable offenses. The House would structure an investigative and deliberative process that it would explain in clear terms to the public. As in 1974 in the Nixon impeachment process, the House Judiciary Committee would review and publish the best constitutional learning on what presidential misconduct rises to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” It would proceed in the same spirit as its predecessor did when the 1974 committee said that “what is said here does not reflect any prejudgment” of the allegations but is “intended to be a review of the precedents and available interpretive materials, seeking general principles to guide the committee.” The Committee would then move to the investigative phase.

As in the Watergate case, the congressional inquiry would run parallel to the legal process, each benefiting from the other even as Congress took steps as necessary to avoid compromising the criminal investigation. It’s not difficult to imagine a new Mueller indictment spurring the Congress to action. While the special counsel may conclude that he cannot indict the president, the nature of charges against close aides and relatives could support the initiation of an impeachment inquiry. Even in this case, Congress’s task is to carry on its own investigation and to arrive at an independent judgment about whether the president should remain in officeIn the end, some may hope that delegating Congress’s responsibility to the legal process will unite the public around the outcome. They will be disappointed. The independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation of Bill Clinton rallied Democrats against impeachment as much as any other aspect of his defense. Mr. Mueller has already had strong tastes of these attacks.

When the Trump-Russia matters comes to a conclusion, we will learn how well “the system” addressed an extraordinary challenge. A crucial measure of its success or failure will be its adherence to constitutional process on a correct understanding of institutional responsibility. It is up to Congress — evidently not this one, maybe the next — to show that it can rise to the occasion.

By Bob Bauer/NYTimes

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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