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'They Have Made the White House Unsafe for Women': S.E. Cupp Slams Sarah Sanders for Her Hypocrisy

May 21, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The press secretary made a bizarre claim about a “war against women in the Trump administration.”


HLN's S.E. Cupp made it clear Monday that she's had enough of White House press secretary Sarah Sanders' claims to be a defender of women.

Early in the day, Sanders cheered the swearing in of Gina Haspel as CIA director. The press secretary took the opportunity to go after Democrats, tweeting, “Historic day for our country: swearing-in ceremony for Gina Haspel, the first woman ever to serve as CIA director. Democrats are losing their war against women in the Trump administration.”

Most Democrats in the Senate voted against Haspel's nomination, largely because of her involvement in a Bush-era torture program. But as Cupp pointed out, there was nothing hypocritical or sexist about this, and Sanders' own attacks were hypocritical. 

“First things first: There is no Democratic war on Trump women,” Cupp said. “Every Democrat I've talked to feels sorry for women in the Trump White House. And that's in part because women like Sarah Sanders are failing to protect Trump women. That's in part because women, like Sarah Sanders, are failing to protect women in Trump's White House. In defending men like Rob Porter, they have made the White House unsafe for women.”

As a conservative herself, Cupp argued that “identity politics” is bad, and Sanders does herself no favors by engaging in it. And while there are good reasons to reject Cupp's negative characterization of identity politics, her argument that conservatives like Sanders, who have made a political movement out of rejecting the idea only make themselves look ridiculous and hypocritical by using this kind of rhetoric, is hard to dispute.

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Trump Allies 'Lie Through Their Teeth': Democratic Lawmaker Slams House GOP for 'Premature' End of Russia Probe

May 21, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“If this is true, then [Erik Prince] had lied to Congress,” Rep. Eric Swalwell said.


Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) on Monday criticized his Republican colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee, calling their decision to close down the investigation into President Donald Trump campaign's ties to Russian espionage “premature” and “irresponsible.”

He argued in particular that there was no reason to believe that many of the president's allies who testified before the committee, but the Republicans on the committee, who hold a commanding share of the body's seats, refused to probe their credibility. Recent reports have suggested that Erik Prince, a Trump donor and the founder of the military contracting firm Blackwater, misled Congress about his involvement with the Trump campaign — an action that is potentially a crime.

“If this is true, then he had lied to Congress, and we showed no willingness to follow up on these individuals,” Swalwell said to Katy Tur on MSNBC's “Meet the Press.” “Most of these people, from the Trump family to the Trump businesses, were not worthy of being taken at their word, and our investigation — we took them at their word, and that's not how you conduct yourselves when people are so willing to lie through their teeth.”

Tur noted that more reports have emerged in recent days of additional governments offering the Trump campaign help to win the 2016 election, despite the fact that none of the president's staffers have mentioned these suspicious efforts.

Asked if this kind of behavior is common in campaigns, Swalwell was clear: “No!”

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Source: ALTERNET

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Militarizing Schools Could Actually Be Dangerous — Here's How to Make Them Safer

May 21, 2018 in Blogs

By The Conversation

School climate is an undervalued but essential part of violence prevention.


School shootings like the one that took place in Santa Fe, Texas, on May 18 are often followed by calls for enhanced security measures.

But Santa Fe High School already had many of these security measures in place.

For instance, the high school had a school resource officer who responded to the attack. The school also had security cameras in place and had recently conducted active shooting training and drills.

As the nation searches for ways to prevent school violence, the focus must be as much on school climate and culture as it is on school security. I make this argument as an educational researcher who studies school safety.

Calls for beefed up security

Many of the security measures in place at Santa Fe High School were called for in the wake of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. For instance, several states have passed legislation to increase law enforcement presence at schools. The federal government expanded funding to support the use of security measures such as metal detectors as well as training for threat identification and emergency response.

Beyond the school walls, there have been broader calls for gun control. It is notable that the weapons used in the attack are reported to have been owned legally by the father of the shooter and were not the type targeted by most gun control proposals.

One area that often gets overlooked in the aftermath of these tragedies is school culture. News reports indicate the shooter was reportedly bullied by other students and coaching staff. School officials, however, dispute this account.

An examination of the school culture at Santa Fe High School could prove as important as a review of the school security measures that were in place and the extent to which they were followed.

Why school climate matters

Research has consistently shown that positive school climate is a strong predictor of school safety. When students have healthy peer relationships, teachers they trust, and school policies that …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'Way Beyond Normal': Trump Ally Blasts the President's Attacks on FBI to MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace

May 21, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Over the weekend, the president took a massive step toward politicizing the FBI.


President Donald Trump went on a full-throated attack against the FBI investigation into his campaign over the weekend, demanding that the bureau launch a probe into whether its efforts to scrutinize several of his staffers were the result of a political agenda. On Monday, MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace said that even one of the president's closest allies said that these attacks were a major deviation from typical presidential behavior.

“One tweet veered way beyond normal presidential conduct, and even beyond normal Trump conduct, one of the president's closest allies acknowledged to me today,” she said on her show “Deadline: White House.” She did not say who this “ally” was.

This is the tweet in question:

Many observers warned that such a request, based on no evidence, likely constitutes an abuse of power and could trigger a constitutional crisis.

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Source: ALTERNET

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Democratic Operatives Are Working to Elect More Black Candidates in Congressional and Governor Races

May 21, 2018 in Blogs

By Kelly Macias, Daily Kos

The party has long struggled to racially diversify its elected officials.


Though the Democratic Party is considerably more inclusive and diverse than other political parties in the country, it has not traditionally done well in recruiting black candidates for elected office or putting significant amounts of money behind them. With midterms approaching and the potential for big Democratic wins, the party has been grappling with the tension between going after white working-class voters and mobilizing its faithful black base. Clearly, this isn’t an either/or proposition. But some see it as such. This has meant that local and national Democratic groups have questioned the viability of black candidates and have not invested money into races that could be historic—and increase black voter turnout in November.

As a result, Politico reports, some Democratic donors and operatives are putting their effort and cash into electing black candidates for Congress and governor’s races across the country.

They see the 2018 elections as a crucial opportunity to elect a wave of black candidates, especially to governorships, where only two African-Americans have been elected in U.S. history but a half-dozen prominent hopefuls are running this year. Many organizers also see running strong black candidates as a key way to inspire higher African-American voter turnout that will boost the whole Democratic Party in November.

Black candidates don’t necessarily equate to higher black turnout, especially in midterms where voter turnout is consistently lower than general elections. However, nothing about this year is ordinary. The person who made it to the White House immediately after our first black president is a racist and xenophobe who has called white supremacists “very fine people.” He is the same man who has done almost nothing while in office except attempt to harm the most vulnerable in America and undo the work of his predecessor. Black voters are well aware of this and are more motivated than ever.

A recent poll by BlackPAC shows that black voters know this era is no longer one of politics as usual. This presents tremendous opportunity to capitalize on the wave of resistance that is underway. To that end, it is the right time to not only concentrate on turning out black votes, but also to get behind black …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Forget Price Controls, Treat Health Care Like Any Other Product

May 21, 2018 in Economics

By Charles Silver, David A. Hyman

Charles Silver and David A. Hyman

To address the high price of health care, California is
considering price controls. Assembly Bill 3087 would create a
nine-member board to “set prices for everything from a physical
exam to an allergy test to heart bypass surgery.” The proposal
enjoys the support of labor unions, but many health care providers
are dead set against it. Unfortunately, this proposal mistakes the
symptom — high prices — for the disease. Health care is
not inherently expensive. It costs too much because we pay for it
in the wrong way.

Instead of using market-based arrangements that pressure
providers to deliver more while charging less, our
insurance-dominated, politically controlled payment system does the
exact opposite: it rewards providers for delivering less while
charging more. A thicket of government regulations then makes
things even worse, stifling competition from new entrants that
might seek to attract customers by offering better terms.

Price controls may seem like an appealing solution but the
history of price controls, dating back more than 4,000 years,
provides abundant evidence that they do not work — and often
make things worse. As the economist Thomas J. DiLorenzo writes,
price controls cause “shortages, sometimes of catastrophic
consequence; deterioration of product quality; the proliferation of
black markets on which prices are actually higher and bribery is
rampant … and a dangerous concentration of political power in
the hands of the price controllers.” Do Californians really want to
try and approach that has failed every time it has been tried?

Price controls may seem
like an appealing solution but the history of price controls,
dating back more than 4,000 years, provides abundant evidence that
they do not work — and often make things worse.

A better solution is to use competition to incentivize providers
to reduce their prices and improve quality of care. California
should give consumers control over their health care dollars and
let them buy medical treatments directly — the same way they
purchase almost everything else.

Skeptics will argue that “health care is different,” but there
is already a sizeable retail health care market in which everything
is reasonably priced. Californians who spend their own dollars can
get Groupon deals on many medical treatments. Cash-paying customers
can purchase in vitro fertilization services for $7,000 at
Fertility Partnership in St. Louis. They can have their knees and
hips replaced inexpensively at the Surgery Center of Oklahoma,
where transparent, all-inclusive cash prices are readily available
on-line. They can obtain high-quality LASIK surgery from reputable
eye doctors at bargain prices — as low as $220 per eye for
people with mildly impaired vision at the LASIK Vision Institute.
At CVS’s Minute …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Congress' Dodd-Frank Fix Is No Fix at All

May 21, 2018 in Economics

By Diego Zuluaga

Diego Zuluaga

Congress is looking to make changes to the post-financial crisis
regulatory system, but it’s not going to “roll
back” Dodd-Frank. Don’t take it from me, but from one
of the former congressmen after whom the Obama-era financial
regulation is named. Barney Frank has expressed opposition to S.
2155, the
banking reform bill
slated to be passed this week with
Republican and minority Democratic support. But
he doesn’t believe
the bill will “make a serious
dent” in post-crisis financial rulemaking.

Frank may view this as a good thing, but the bill’s
timidity is precisely its chief weakness. Many of the measures it
contains are certainly welcome. It will lower regulatory
requirements on less risky mortgage contracts for which banks are
willing to bear part of the risk. It eases supervision, which had
led to
ballooning compliance costs
after 2008, on all but the largest
banks.

The bill also exempts small banks, whose trading operations are
generally marginal and do not pose a threat to the stability of the
financial system, from having to prove continuously that the
trading they do conduct is not for their own account.

The bill that Congress
will vote on constitutes only a modest effort to redress the recent
increase in regulatory burden

In all of these ways, S. 2155 will help to reduce the regulatory
burden on financial institutions that didn’t cause the previous
crash and are unlikely to cause the next one, as and when it
occurs.

Yet for a financial system that had seen
steady growth in regulation
before 2008 and has had
27,000 additional rules
imposed since then, this bill will
provide only small relief. Banks today face a regulatory mire that
is impossible for any single individual to navigate. This
complicates effective evaluation of the costs and benefits of new
rules. It also makes it harder to hold lawmakers and regulators
accountable.

Most people view banks primarily as credit providers, enabling
people to earn a return on their savings, make payments, borrow for
auto, home and other purchases, and store emergency funds.

That is indeed banks’ main profit-making activity. But they have
also increasingly been forced to take on myriad other functions
mandated by politicians. The typical bank today is responsible for
ensuring that
you are who you say you are
; that your money was legitimately
acquired and will be used for lawful purposes; that you are under
all foreseeable circumstances
able to repay
your loans; and that the bank’s
suppliers and contractors
are liquid and solvent. These
obligations, of course, come …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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A Proposal to Fix Welfare and Fight Intergenerational Unfairness

May 21, 2018 in Economics

By Diego Zuluaga

Diego Zuluaga

The Resolution Foundation recently proposed to introduce a
“citizen’s inheritance” of £10,000 in order
to offset the growing wealth gap between generations.

Free-market advocates did not welcome the report with open arms, and for good reason:
its authors seem to want to address what is at root a problem of
constrained housing supply and low productivity growth with redistribution.
Transfers may improve well-being among those made better off by the
grant, but it will not meaningfully lower house prices nor increase
the economy’s long-run growth potential.

Yet the authors are on to something with a proposal that
approaches a direct cash transfer early on in life. Perhaps
unwittingly, they have pointed to a more honest and rational way to
structure the welfare state.

At present, governments in rich countries provide tax-funded
benefits in complex and inefficient ways. Universities are
state-owned or heavily subsidised. Pensions nominally operate under
the contributory principle, even though pension payments are funded
by current expenditure, not the pensioners’ earlier
contributions.

Here’s a way to make the
welfare state freer, fairer and more transparent.

On their own, these programmes cause many distortions. The true
scale of the pensions commitment to future generations is hidden
from public sight by questionable accounting that wouldn’t
pass muster among regulators if attempted by a private firm.
More transparent analyses have estimated that
the UK would need to set aside 12 per cent of all future GDP in
order to meet its pension and other welfare commitments. For the
United States, the figure is 9 per cent.

Meanwhile, state-sponsored education lures many people into
spending time and money, often borrowed, pursuing degrees that do
little to boost their future earning potential. Student loan
liabilities in the US just passed $1.5 trillion. In Britain, they are
£100 billion and increasing rapidly.
Those who argue that higher education is a signal of ability rather
than a way to gain valuable skills even view public funding as a
net waste of resources, since easier access to
university only serves to blunt that signal without any real
productivity impact.

Some might say that the flaws of existing programmes provide
reason enough to abolish them altogether. But consider, as an
intermediate measure, taking the funds presently spent on old-age
pensions and giving them to people as they enter their adult lives.
It could be stipulated that the money may only be spent on
education, job training (such as internships, whether paid or
unpaid), retirement saving or, more questionably, a home purchase.
Alternatively, people could be left free to decide how to use …read more

Source: OP-EDS