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Eric Braverman, Missing Former Clinton Foundation CEO, Sighted — Kind Of

The Silicon Valley Business Journal reported today that former Clinton Foundation CEO Eric Braverman will be joining the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Group, a left-wing philanthropic organization. As I covered previously, no one has been able to get in touch with Braverman since October, when an email released from Wikileaks revealed that John Podesta had named him as a mole within the foundation.

Eric and Wendy Schmidt provided a statement to the paper, which said in part, “As we look to increase our impact, Eric Braverman’s insight into growing solutions that work and his experience with leaders in government, philanthropy, and business will be central to our efforts.” Wendy also tweeted a welcome to Braverman announcing the hire.

Braverman did not respond to her over Twitter. He still has not tweeted since October.

Eric Schmidt is a former CEO of Google, where he came under fire for illegally conspiring with Apple, Intel, and Adobe to refuse to hire each others’ tech engineers in order to avert a salary war. Employees filed a class-action lawsuit and were awarded $415 million, to be paid by the four companies. Last year, Schmidt invested in Groundwork, an organization that worked on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, spending $500,000 as of May 2016. Schmidt is considered the 100th wealthiest person in the world, and through his organization contributes millions of dollars to environmental causes.

If He’s Not Missing, Where Is He?

Based on this announcement, it appears likely that Braverman is not missing or in hiding. But based on the fact that he has yet to respond publicly, speculation continues that he’s been told by someone — like the FBI — not to make any public statements or speak to anyone in the press or on social media.

One possible reason is that he might be a witness in any charges brought against the Clintons, their foundation, or its employees. This would be true especially if he was the source of the Wikileaked documents that so embarrassed the Clintons, as Wikileaks’ Julian Assange has hinted.

There’s another possible explanation for his long silence: is he staying silent to embarrass conservatives investigating his disappearance? Some of the sites covering his absence have made sloppy claims that discredited them, such as claiming he’d never shown up for his teaching position at Yale when he’s been teaching there for a couple years.

The class Braverman teaches at Yale resumes on January 27. If he shows up. (For more from the author of “Eric Braverman, Missing Former Clinton Foundation CEO, Sighted — Kind Of” please click HERE)

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The $20 Trillion Question Republicans MUST Answer

Obama’s parting gift to this country is a transformed society with $20 trillion in debt. The big question is what will Republicans do differently to curb the growth of the debt?

Given recent news about GOP plans on health care and infrastructure, there are no signs things will improve. Meanwhile, the Government Accountability Office has released a new “fiscal health” study, which portends disturbing trends for our fiscal stability.

The gross federal debt now stands at $19.94 trillion — roughly $9.3 trillion more than it was when Obama took office. It took from our nation’s founding until 2008 (including most of the profligate Bush presidency) to accrue the first $9.3 trillion in debt. The public’s share of the debt is now $14.4 trillion, an $8.1 trillion increase since 2009.

Yes, Obama more than doubled the public share of the debt during his presidency!

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The gross federal debt, which includes intra-governmental debt comprised primarily of obligations for Social Security, federal pensions, and military pensions, is now 107 percent of the size of our economy and will forever grow larger than our GDP. When Obama was inaugurated, the gross debt was just 74 percent of GDP. If we look at just the public share of the debt, the numbers are even starker. In January 2009, the public share of the debt was just 44 percent of GDP; now it stands at 77.4 percent.

To make matters worse, the GAO published a report amplifying what we all already know: The current fiscal crisis will place “the federal government on an unsustainable long-term fiscal path.” Here are some other key takeaways from the report:

The federal government made $144 billion in improper payments during 2016. Errors in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Earned Income Tax Credit collectively accounted for 78 percent of the overpayments.

If health care spending is not reined in, the public share of the debt (now at 77 percent) will reach 106 percent in 15 years and surpass the all-time high during the peak of WWII.

One of the reasons the debt has not already engulfed this country in a fiscal calamity is because of the artificially low interest rates servicing increased debt on the cheap. But a return to historically average interest rates, in conjunction with the growing size of the debt itself, will self-perpetuate interest on the debt as the fastest growing expenditure. It will more than quadruple from just 1.4 percent of the economy today to 6.2 percent in 30 years. The longer we wait, therefore, to address the debt crisis, the steeper the punishment will be when the tab comes due. At present, we pay $273 billion in interest payments. That number will rise to $1.4 trillion in 2045 (adjusted for inflation).

Spending on federal health care programs will double from roughly $1 trillion to $2 trillion (adjusted for inflation) by 2045.

These are not merely abstract numbers on a balance sheet that only affect the budget of the federal government. Aside from the fact that taxpayers will ultimately bear the cost of this debt, the crushing debt and misallocation of resources is already hurting the family budget. As the report observes, “high levels of national debt may contribute to higher interest rates leading to lower investment and a smaller capital stock to assist economic growth.”

As we head into an era of GOP dominance, we must pose the $20 trillion question: Where is the party of fiscal conservatism?

Rather than discussing ways to make existing health care entitlements more free market-oriented to lower costs, Republicans are concocting a new massive health care entitlement built on top of crushing regulations that will force taxpayers to subsidize health care at the highest price possible.

This GAO report demonstrates the additional folly of pursuing Obamacare 2.0 instead of the free market. The gross cost of Medicare already outpaces military spending, and the combined federal and state price tag for Medicaid will soon overtake the defense budget. According to the CMS Actuary, in just six years, annual Medicaid expenditures will total $835 billion compared with the $687 billion projected cost of base military spending in 2023. The simple reality is that there is no way to forestall the financial collapse without dealing with health care spending.

Why can’t Republicans just speak the truth of how socialist health care is bankrupting the private and public sectors and pin the blame where it rightfully belongs? Why are they being defensive about the need to legitimize Obamacare with a commensurate “replacement?”

While the media focus on the inaugural attire of the Trump family this weekend, conservatives should begin demanding answers from Trump and Republicans to the $20 trillion question. (For more from the author of “The $20 Trillion Question Republicans MUST Answer” please click HERE)

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Obama’s Decision to Commute Manning Proves Liberals Will Always Choose Political Gain over Justice

In light of President Obama’s commutation of national traitor Chelsea Manning Tuesday, the looming question of whether Manning’s status as a transgender “woman” had anything to do with the decision remains. Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld speculated Wednesday about whether a non-trans individual in Manning’s situation would have enjoyed such a generous (and completely asinine) pardon:

If this were just an average guy that had leaked this stuff and just went to jail as an average guy and didn’t go and have a sex change and become a sympathetic character, would that person be treated differently? I think that person would be treated differently from Chelsea Manning.

There is reason to believe that Manning’s status as a “sympathetic character” played a role in his commutation, given Obama’s never-ending effort to appeal to the far Left. And if courting the favor of anti-establishment liberals was the goal, Obama succeeded.

The disgraced former U.S. Army soldier received support from Hollywood figures and prominent SJWs, who touted him as a “hero” of the LGBT community. WikiLeaks touted the commutation as a “victory”:

Tuesday’s decision is just the latest debacle in Obama’s long history of administrative missteps (i.e. befriending enemies of liberty). Take the recent death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro: Obama sent one of his closest aides to attend Castro’s funeral, and the White House formulated a sentimental tribute to the murderous tyrant.

The outgoing president’s commutation announcement Tuesday was met with harsh backlash from conservatives who noted the blatant hypocrisy of Obama pardoning Manning while his party continues to condemn Russia and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for allegedly tampering with the presidential election.

Others cited Manning’s commutation as further evidence of the Obama administration’s complete disregard for law and order:

In an interview with “CBS This Morning” Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest offered what is quite possibly the lamest response to this episode:

The thing that I think is outrageous is for Republicans to say is that somehow Chelsea Manning deserves a more serious punishment because of her collusion with Wikileaks and its damage to the country when they endorsed a man for president of the United States who praised Wikileaks, who encouraged people to go and check out Wikileaks and who encouraged Wikileaks to collude with the Russians to hack his opponent. It is outrageous for them to suggest that right now what Chelsea Manning did is worse than what the man who they endorsed for president did.

Even if it were true that the majority of Republicans approve of hacker Julian Assange, his anti-American activities, and his interference with the U.S. election (they don’t), since when did, “Republicans excuse traitors, too” become a viable defense for absolving a man who aided terrorists and put countless American lives at risk?

This was never about “justice.” The real reason for Obama’s preferential treatment of Chelsea Manning is that the LGBT and sexual identity issues have become the issue for the Left, presenting Obama another easy opportunity to play the social justice hero and deity — without any of the cost or fallout. His disgraceful decision shows an utter indifference toward justice and a disregard for the safety of American citizens. (For more from the author of “Obama’s Decision to Commute Manning Proves Liberals Will Always Choose Political Gain over Justice” please click HERE)

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Rand Paul’s Smack down of Bernie Sanders’ Anti-American Rhetoric Is Frickin’ Fantastic

In his questioning of Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga. (D, 62%) Wednesday at the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee confirmation hearing, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. (F, 17%) asked the HHS nominee if he thought health care is a “right of all Americans whether they’re rich or they’re poor?”

“We’re a compassionate society,” Price began his reply before Sanders cut him off, stating, “No, we’re not a compassionate society in terms of our relationship to poor and working people. Our record is worse than virtually any other country on earth. We have the highest rate of childhood poverty than any other major country on earth and half of our senior, older workers have nothing set aside for retirement. So I don’t think compared to other countries we are particularly compassionate.”

When it was Sen. Rand Paul’s, R-Ky. (A, 92%) turn to question Rep. Price, a former practicing physician, he centered his comments on rebutting Sen. Sanders:

“It’s also been insinuated that America is this horrible, rotten place, and that we don’t have compassion. And by extension, the physicians don’t. As you worked as an emergency room physician or as you worked, did you always agree that as part of your engagement with a hospital to treat all, regardless of whether they had the ability to pay?” questioned Sen. Paul, a trained ophthalmologist who has completed medical missions since taking office.

Price answered that, “It’s one of the things we pride ourselves on, and that is anybody that showed up in need of care was provided that care. And that was true not only in our residency but in our private orthopedic practice as well.”

Paul continued: “It’s interesting that those who say we have no compassion, you know, extol the virtues of socialism. And you look at a country like Venezuela, with great resources and an utter disaster where people can’t eat, devolving into violence. I think it’s important that we do have a debate ultimately in our country between socialism and communism and America and capitalism.

“One of things that’s extraordinary about our country is that just two years ago, in 2014, we gave away $400 billion privately. Not the government — individually, through churches and charities. We’re an incredibly compassionate society and I think often this was misplaced in sort of the wonky numbers … within healthcare. How much we do help each other — not only do we help each other in our country, I bet you half of the physicians in my community in Bowling Green have gone on international trips and done international charity work.

“And all that is lost in saying that we’re this heartless, terrible country. I would just argue the opposite. I think the greatness of our country and the greatness of the compassion of our country, we give away most of the gross domestic product of most of these socialized countries around the world.”

Sen. Rand Paul’s smackdown of Sanders’ empty, predictable rhetoric on capitalism and America was an immediate hit on social media.

No word yet on how Bernie Sanders is nursing his wounds. (For more from the author of “Rand Paul’s Smack down of Bernie Sanders’ Anti-American Rhetoric Is Frickin’ Fantastic” please click HERE)

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The Story Media Bubble-Dwellers Won’t Tell You about Our ‘Divided’ Country

The narrative following the last election is that America is a deeply divided country. Split right down the middle on both values and vision.

But what if that isn’t exactly what’s happening here?

Clearly a deep divide exists within the country. However, what isn’t known is how much of the country this divide exists within.

Is it possible that since the parts of the country most estranged from and hostile to the ideals of American Exceptionalism also happens to be where the most of the media lives and works, as well where most of pop culture is produced, the conventional wisdom on how divided we are could be overblown?

The data suggests that could be case.

Democrats are at their lowest level of national representation in American politics since before the Great Depression. Hillary Clinton won fewer than 15% of the nation’s counties, despite winning the overall national popular vote by more than 2 million votes. A margin, by the way, which came entirely from one state. Minus the leftist home world known as the People’s Republic of California, Donald Trump actually won the popular vote by well over a million votes everywhere else.

Trump also won Pennsylvania, which a Republican hasn’t won since 1988. He won Wisconsin, which a Republican hasn’t won since 1984. He won Iowa, which Republicans have only won once since 1988. He won Michigan, which a Republican hasn’t won since 1988. And he broke those decades-long trends by doing pretty much everything GOP consultants — who demand bland — have been advising the party’s standard-bearers not to do all this time.

Not to mention Trump’s own considerable personal baggage, including a frustrating tendency to seemingly find the most boorish way possible to communicate — even when it clearly isn’t necessary.

If you look at the below map of this election you actually see a lot of agreement on which direction to take the country, alongside concentrated pockets of resistance.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not having conservative delusions of grandeur, just because it appears rumors of America’s alleged leftist takeover have been greatly exaggerated. Given what I do for a living I fight on the frontlines for conservatism every day, so I’m well aware of the fact what I’m fighting for isn’t the majority view in the country, either. After all, we just went through an election when GOP primary voters rejected any semblance of conservatism in nominating Trump, as well as a general election that was almost completely devoid of conservative themes and ideas.

But what we conservatives are fighting for is a return to the ideals that founded the country, rather than the radical departure away from them progressives seek. So even if America isn’t quite ready yet for limited government (and it’s clearly not), where the country stands politically at the moment proves most Americans have rejected the existential upheaval the Left is after.

For example, reasonable people can disagree on what restrictions regarding gun ownership are prudent in light of the Second Amendment. But the Left wants to debate whether private citizens should own guns at all.

Reasonable people can disagree on whether those of the same gender should be permitted lawfully to have relationships with one another, provided they’re not imposing on anybody else’s freedom in the process. But the Left wants to force those who morally disagree with homosexuality to be compelled by government to violate their own conscience in order to function as a full-fledged member of society.

Reasonable people can disagree whether schools should teach our children abstinence, offer birth control, or remain silent on the matter altogether. But the Left wants the killing of children not only protected by law but supported by tax dollars.

And it doesn’t stop there. Heck, the Left seeks the complete dismantling of gender altogether. One of the most fundamental recognitions required of any civilized, enlightened society.

See, it appears what our friends on the Left call division is really discernment. The rest of America has simply chosen not to bankrupt themselves fiscally and morally as our friends on the Left have. It’s not that the rest of America isn’t smart enough to ingest progressive magical thinking, it’s that they’re smart enough not to. (For more from the author of “The Story Media Bubble-Dwellers Won’t Tell You about Our ‘Divided’ Country” please click HERE)

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These New Yorkers Prefer Martial Law to Trump

In case you missed it, last week TV comedienne Rosie O’ Donnell called for President Obama to impose martial law and stop the inauguration of Donald Trump:


— ROSIE (@Rosie) January 12, 2017

There are no charges pending against the President-Elect, so it is unclear what Ms. O’Donnell means. Perhaps she is referring to the unproven assertions that Russia was involved in leaking authentic, damaging emails from inside the Hillary Clinton campaign. In any case, the impact of those emails on the election themselves is unclear, and there is no Constitutional provision for preventing the inauguration of a president because of alleged foreign influence on public opinion — influence of the kind which the Obama administration apparently tried to exert in Israeli and Ukrainian elections. Meanwhile, Politico has reported that the government of Ukraine leaked documents damaging to the Trump campaign, in an attempt to aid the Clinton campaign.

On Fox News Jeanine Pirro responded to O’Donnell in stinging terms:

How many anti-Trump voters would rather see soldiers patrolling our streets to prevent the peaceful transfer of power, than allow Trump to take power on Friday?

New Yorkers Who Want a Military Coup

Anti-Sharia group the American Freedom Defense Initiative decided to find out. It sent a camera crew on to the streets of New York City, which went heavily for Hillary Clinton, to see what New Yorkers thought of O’Donnell’s proposal.

Let’s tally up the left’s post-election hissy fit:

Anti-democratic calls like O’Donnell’s for a military coup,

frenzied attempts by media elites to delegitimize our country’s political process with baseless reports that Russia “hacked the election,”

browbeating and threats aimed at getting entertainers to boycott the inauguration, including a death threat aimed at blind opera singer (and Trump family friend) Andrea Bocelli,

plans for an acid attack on the inauguration itself.

This was not an election the left was prepared to lose. After eight years of Obama’s executive arrogance, liberals have begun to take power for granted, to treat the presidency as a perk that naturally comes to those with “correct” opinions. The frenzied response of elites to their rejection by the voters vindicates all the more those of us who warned before the election how critical its outcome would be. It points up how foolish were those conservatives who preferred a Hillary victory.

Survey the crassness and recklessness that the left is displaying in defeat. Now imagine how haughty and aggressive it would have proven had it triumphed. (For more from the author of “These New Yorkers Prefer Martial Law to Trump” please click HERE)

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Pro-Life Student Group at Colorado State University Denied Grant for Event, Sues

A pro-life student group at Colorado State University is suing the school after it allegedly denied funds for an event simply because of the slated speaker’s pro-life views.

Students for Life at CSU is being represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a non-profit law firm based in Arizona. The lawsuit was filed with a U.S. District Court Tuesday.

“A university is supposed to promote free speech,” Emily Faulkner, president of Students for Life at CSU, told CBS Denver Wednesday. She said she was “shocked” and “angered” upon receiving an email from the administration denying the Diversity Grant she requested.

According to CSU’s website, the Diversity Grant provides funding to official student organizations to help “establish a multicultural environment,” “celebrate diversity” and “raise awareness of differing perspectives.”

But when Faulkner requested a $600 grant last September to host pro-life speaker Josh Brahm of the Equal Rights Institute, she was denied.

The university explained in an email to Faulkner that Brahm did not “appear entirely unbiased” and that “folks from varying sides of the issue won’t necessarily feel affirmed in attending the event,” according to CBS Denver’s report and an ADF news release.

Students for Life at CSU raised the money on their own and held the event anyway, but Faulkner enlisted the help of ADF to sue the university.

In the lawsuit, Students for Life at CSU are asking the court to declare that CSU violated their constitutional rights, and that CSU pay the full $600 they were denied, as well as reimburse the mandatory fees they paid to join the organization. Those fees, paid by every official student organization, go toward funding the Diversity Grant program.

The lawsuit claims it is wrong for pro-life students in the group to be forced to help fund events they may disagree with, while being denied funding for events that express their own views.

“Universities should encourage all students to participate in the free exchange of ideas, not play favorites with some while shutting out others,” ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer said in a news release.

Other events listed on CSU’s calendar would seem to indicate some diversity, with a lecture on the intersection of Christian faith and science scheduled for January, and community drag show scheduled for April. According to the calendar, both events will be held in the Lory Center, the campus building where most Diversity Grant events take place.

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, believes that “CSU played favorites while stifling free speech, a typical response of abortion advocates who prefer to silence opposition rather than have a free exchange of ideas.”

CSU’s grant denial is the latest among recent examples from around the world of pro-life censorship. In December, The Stream reported that a university in Scotland banned pro-life groups like from becoming official clubs.

Additionally in December, The Stream reported that the lower house of the French parliament passed a bill criminalizing French websites that “deliberately mislead, intimidate and/or exert psychological or moral pressure to discourage recourse to abortion.”

Most recently, the Women’s March on Washington, scheduled to take place this weekend, removed a pro-life feminist organization from its official list of partners, despite the march’s espoused celebration of “intersecting identities.” The Women’s March revoked the pro-life group’s partnership status just two days after granting it, responding to women who tweeted outrage at the idea of pro-life feminism. (For more from the author of “Pro-Life Student Group at Colorado State University Denied Grant for Event, Sues” please click HERE)

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Why CNN Contributor Marc Lamont Hill Was Wrong to Call Trump’s Diversity Council ‘Mediocre Negroes’

What do NFL stars Jim Brown and Ray Lewis, Family Feud host Steve Harvey, rap great Kanye West, megachurch pastor Darrell Scott, Dr. Ben Carson, and Martin Luther King, III, have in common? They are all black. They have all met with (or worked with) President-elect Trump and spoken of their interaction positively. And they are apparently guilty of being “mediocre Negroes” in the eyes of CNN-contributor and Morehouse College professor Marc Lamont Hill.

Speaking about Trump’s new “diversity coalition,” Hill described them as “a bunch of mediocre Negroes being dragged in front of TV as a photo-op for Donald Trump’s exploitative campaign against black people.”

And speaking of Steve Harvey, who recently met with Trump and said he would be working with Dr. Carson to help the HUD, Hill opined, “My disagreement is the way in which [Steve Harvey is] being used by folk like Donald Trump. Again, his intention is just to have a seat at the table. But when you’re at the table, you should have experts at the table. You should have people who can challenge the president at the table.”

When Hill was castigated for this comment, he quickly claimed he wasn’t talking about Jim Brown, the NFL legend who stood side by side with Muhammad Ali for years, or of Steve Harvey, or even of Ben Caron, whom he described as a “mediocre choice for HUD” but an “extraordinary human.” Instead, he stated that he “referred to the Trump Diversity Council,” of which neither Brown nor Harvey were a part.

I will take Hill at his word, but it’s quite odd, to say the least, to mention Harvey in the very same interview in which he speaks of these “mediocre Negroes,” also stating that “because they keep bringing up comedians and actors and athletes to represent black interests [it’s] demeaning, it’s disrespectful, and it’s condescending. Bring some people up there with some expertise, Donald Trump, don’t just bring up people to entertain.”

So, these “comedians and actors and athletes” — which would certainly include Brown, Lewis, Harvey, and probably West — are not “mediocre Negroes,” simply because they didn’t appear in the photo-op for the president’s diversity council? Really? And he can use the same word, “mediocre,” when speaking of Carson as the presumptive head of HUD but he didn’t mean to say that Carson was a “mediocre Negro.” Seriously?

It’s Ugly & Racist

Either way, whomever he was speaking about, how is it not ugly and racist to call a fellow black person a Negro, let alone a mediocre Negro?

Can you imagine if a conservative white broadcaster like Sean Hannity — or even a conservative black commentator like Larry Elder — said something like that on Fox News? The moral indignation and the calls for that person’s head would be both non-stop and over the top. (Just think of what happened to sports commentator and baseball great Curt Schilling, himself a conservative, fired from ESPN after what was deemed an offensive Facebook meme about bathroom access for transgenders.)

But a black commentator on liberal CNN can use the derogatory term “Negro,” surely pointing back to an earlier period in our history when blacks quietly suffered indignation and segregation, and to date, to my knowledge the network has neither rebuked him nor distanced itself from his comment.

More insultingly, some of those who have been part of Trump’s National Diversity Coalition include Bruce Levell, a prominent Georgia Republican, Alveda King, Dr. King’s niece, Lynne Patton, vice president of the Eric Trump Foundation, Brunell Donald-Kyei, an attorney and former Democratic Lt. Gov. candidate for the state of Illinois, and Dr. N. Denise Mitchem, VP of Corporate Relations and Government Affairs, UST Global — all of them black. Are they part of Hill’s group of “mediocre Negroes”?

As for Hill’s accusation that all these people are being used as tools “for Donald Trump’s exploitative campaign against black people,” does that “exploitative campaign” include things like improving the quality of life in the inner-cities, providing more job opportunities for black Americans, undoing the destructive policies of the left, and appointing people like Carson to head up HUD?

“Blackness” Measured by Ideology

What I find most galling, though, is that, for quite a few years now, “blackness” is measured by one’s ideology rather than by the color of one’s skin (or even by a person’s life experience). Consequently, black friends of mine who are conservative are commonly told by their fellow-blacks that they are “not black enough” or “not black anymore,” as if they have not had the same life experiences or are not subject to the same racial profiling.

Black is now an ideology more than a skin color. (Similarly, “gay” not only describes a sexual orientation but an ideology, and conservative gays are seen as betraying their real identity.)

Not surprisingly, on his Prager U video “The Top 5 Issues Facing Black Americans,” Taleeb Starkes, himself black, listed as problem number 4 “Lack of Diversity,” decrying the virtual absence of “honest dialogue between blacks and blacks.”

Dare to differ with the party line, and you’re a traitor to the cause and a traitor to your people. You’re hardly even black anymore. You’re just a “mediocre Negro.”

In my book, it’s not much better for a black man to refer to a fellow black person as a “mediocre Negro” because of a difference in ideology than for a white man to refer to a black person as a n***** because he hates the color of his skin.

Are they not both blatant examples of racism? And are not Hill’s comments the latest example of divisive and destructive identity politics? If you read this, Mr. Hill, surely you can do better. Surely you can step higher, unless your agenda is to divide and destroy.

Is it? (For more from the author of “Why CNN Contributor Marc Lamont Hill Was Wrong to Call Trump’s Diversity Council ‘Mediocre Negroes'” please click HERE)

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Trump’s Choice for EPA Chief Wants to Partner with, Not Punish, States

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to run the Environmental Protection Agency explained how he would make cooperating with the states a priority of the department during a Wednesday hearing on Capitol Hill.

Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, stressed “cooperative federalism” would be his guiding philosophy in running the EPA, meaning he wants the often controversial agency to work with states.

“Cooperative federalism is at the heart of many of the environmental statutes that have been passed by this body,” Pruitt told the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. “The reason for that is that it’s the states, many times, that have the resources, the expertise, and understanding what the unique challenges are for the environment in improving our water and our air.”

As his state’s attorney general, Pruitt led more than a dozen lawsuits against the EPA—which he defended as not being opposed to environmental regulations, but opposing legal overreach by the agency.

“We need a partnership, a true partnership, between the EPA performing its role, along with the states in performing theirs,” Pruitt said. “If we had that partnership as opposed to punishment, as opposed to uncertainty and duress that we currently see in the marketplace, I think we’ll have better air, better water quality as a result.”

Democrats on the Senate committee criticized Pruitt for suing to block certain EPA regulations, such as the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States rule.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said his state has “bad air days” when people are informed to stay inside because of out-of-state smokestacks that pollute the air.

“Because those smokestacks are out of state we need EPA to protect us and I see nothing in your record that would give a mom taking her child to the hospital for an asthma attack any comfort that you would take the slightest interest in her,” Whitehouse said. “Your passion for devolving power down to states doesn’t help us because our state regulators can’t do anything about any of those problems. They all come from out-of-state sources.”

Pruitt said he wanted the EPA to adhere to its statutory authority from Congress.

I believe there are air quality issues and water quality issues that cross state lines that the jurisdiction of the EPA, its involvement in protecting our air quality and improving our nation’s waters is extremely important. The EPA has served a very valuable role historically. After all, it was Republicans who created the EPA under an executive order in the 1970s and this body has passed many pieces of legislation since the 1970s to focus on improving our air and improving our water quality.

In response to a question from Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., Pruitt asserted, “I do not believe that climate change is a hoax.”

Pruitt, in his opening remarks, said the debate about the degree of human impact on climate change is open for dialogue.

“We should encourage open and civil discourse. One such issue where discourse is absent involves climate change,” Pruitt said.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., accused Pruitt of only being worried about financial costs of regulations.

“I need you to care about human health and really believe that the cost when people are dying is far higher than it is to the cost of that polluter to clean up the air,” Gillibrand said.

However, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, talked about what a threat the EPA can be to American citizens.

“What I hear without fail at these town halls is that folks are frustrated with the EPA and the gotcha mentality that is stemmed from the agency,” Ernst said. “My constituents tell me that the EPA is out to get them rather than work with them. There is a huge lack of trust between my constituents and the EPA.”

Pruitt responded it does not have to be this way.

“This paradigm that we live within today that if you’re pro-energy, you’re anti-environment or if you’re pro-environment, you’re anti-energy is a false narrative,” Pruitt said. “We can do better than that. In fact, this country has shown for decades that we can grow our economy and be a good steward of our air, land, and water.” (For more from the author of “Trump’s Choice for EPA Chief Wants to Partner with, Not Punish, States” please click HERE)

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Amid Republican Criticism, Obama Defends Chelsea Manning Commutation

President Barack Obama used his final press conference to defend his decision to commute the sentence of former Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning.

“Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence, so the notion that the average person who was thinking about disclosing vital classified information would think that it goes unpunished—I don’t think [that person] would get that impression from the sentence that Chelsea Manning has served,” Obama said.

In 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking over 700,000 confidential military documents to WikiLeaks.

Republicans in Congress, however, are raising an outcry.

House Speaker Paul Ryan called the decision “outrageous” and said that Obama’s decision could set a pattern for future decisions.

“Chelsea Manning’s treachery put American lives at risk and exposed some of our nation’s most sensitive secrets,” Ryan said. “President Obama now leaves in place a dangerous precedent that those who compromise our national security won’t be held accountable for their crimes.”

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said in a statement Wednesday that Obama’s action of shortening Manning’s sentence is an “act of disrespect” to the military.

“Manning is a traitor who handed military and state secrets to WikiLeaks, putting our troops in danger,” Tillis said. “President Obama’s commutation of Manning’s sentence is the ultimate act of disrespect to our troops, our intelligence community, and our allies.”

Obama argued that Manning’s sentence was “very disproportional.”

“It has been my view that given she went to trial; that due process was carried out; that she took responsibility for her crime; that the sentence that she received was very disproportional—disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received; and that she had served a significant amount of time, that it made sense to commute and not pardon her sentence,” Obama said.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said that he is not surprised by Obama’s action on Manning.

“It is a sad, yet perhaps fitting commentary on President Obama’s failed national security policies that he would commute the sentence of an individual that endangered the lives of American troops, diplomats, and intelligence sources by leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive government documents to WikiLeaks, a virulently anti-American organization that was a tool of Russia’s recent interference in our elections,” the Arizona Republican said in a statement Tuesday.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also had harsh words for Obama’s decision.

“It is shameful that President Obama is siding with lawbreakers and the ACLU against the men and women who work every day to defend our nation and safeguard U.S. government secrets,” Rubio said. (For more from the author of “Amid Republican Criticism, Obama Defends Chelsea Manning Commutation” please click HERE)

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