ESPN Columnist: Cops Singing National Anthem is ‘Staged Patriotism’ and ‘Authoritarian’

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Represents a false “hero narrative.”

Black columnist for ESPN Magazine Howard Bryant is calling police officers and soldiers singing the National Anthem at sporting events “staged patriotism” that silences the voices of black athletes.

According to The Washington Times, Bryant’s column will appear in the upcoming June issue, where he states that the 9/11 attacks created a false “hero narrative” which makes policing look “clean, heroic, uncomplicated.”

When ballparks host “Law Enforcement Appreciation Nights,” Bryant says that sends a “clear message: The sentiments of the poor in Ferguson and Cleveland do not matter.”

Bryant himself has faced arrest before. Once in 2011, when he was charged with spousal abuse, battery on an officer and resisting arrest. He never lost his job at ESPN, which gave him the opportunity to complain in a 2013 column about the military presence at games. He explained his disgust at the “decidedly, often uncomfortably, nationalistic” tone set by flyovers and soldiers singing the anthem. Or in his 2015 column in which he chided the Chicago Blackhawks for daring to wear camouflaged uniforms for Veterans Day because that clearly represented the “systematic removal of native tribes at the hands of the U.S. Army.”

Here is a preview of what Bryant has to say in his upcoming column:

Following the marketing strategy of the military, police advocacy organizations have partnered with teams from all four major leagues to host ‘Law Enforcement Appreciation’ nights, or similar events.

Nobody seems to care much about this authoritarian shift at the ballpark, yet the media and the public are quick to demand accountability from players they consider insufficiently activist. They blame these black players for not speaking up on behalf of their communities, ignoring the smothering effect that staged patriotism and cops singing the national anthem in a time of Ferguson have on player expression.

Since 9/11, America has conflated the armed forces with first responders, creating a mishmash of anthem-singing cops and surprise homecomings in a time of Ferguson and militarized police.

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Prominent Black Lives Matter activist arrested for pimping underage girl

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The story is noteworthy for its apparent lack of newsworthiness: Again, if this had been a prominent Tea Party activist, you’d be hearing a ton more about it.

But then, that’s not a surprise. When Time magazine named the Tea Party a “Person of the Year” runner-up in 2010, it noted that critics see “some measure of residual racism” in the movement. No real evidence is given.

Yet, the magazine papered over Black Lives Matter’s outrageous and sometimes violent bent. In naming the organization a “Person of the Year” runner-up in 2015, Time ignored the group’s infamous anti-police chant “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon.” (A Black Lives Matter spokesman later said on MSNBC that the chant was “more playful than anything.” Right.)

The Time article on BLM used words such as “blossomed” and “clout” and “courage.” As for the devastating criticism of the group, Time took note of it, but couched the very disturbing actions of the group as “a new set of challenges and charges.”

In contrast, the magazine’s supposedly laudatory article on the Tea Party used phrases such as “weepy master of ceremonies” and “Such spectacles were mostly foam, frothing on the surface.”

Bias can be very subtle. This one isn’t.

The article also slyly impugned the motives of the Tea Party — explaining about Tea Party activists that “you can be certain that some folks will conclude that somewhere in that vast daisy chain of (federal) debt, somebody is going to have to pay — and get angry when they realize that somebody is likely to be them.”

That betrays a fathomless ignorance of the Tea Party movement. Folks are worried to death about the debt we’re leaving to our children and grandchildren. And, oh by the way, they’re angry at the immorality of doing it.

Social media site Facebook recently has been dealing with a scandal in which it is alleged to have suppressed news from conservative outlets and on conservative topics.

But as blatant as that bias is, the more dangerous and endemic is the kind showed — almost across the board — in how liberals and conservatives are reported on and written about.

All conservatives want is perspective, proportionality and basic fairness.

Will they ever get it?

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House passes resurrected LGBT measure

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House Democrats on Wednesday resurrected a measure ensuring equal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people after their last attempt erupted in chaos last week.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) reprised his amendment to enforce an executive order President Obama issued in 2014 to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The House approved his amendment to an Energy Department spending bill in a 223-195 vote late Wednesday night, in contrast to a similar vote a week ago when the measure failed by a single vote. Forty-three Republicans joined with all Democrats to support the amendment.

Cheers broke out on the House floor after the amendment passed.

Maloney’s proposal originally had enough votes to pass last Thursday on another appropriations bill for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). But House GOP leaders held the vote open for seven minutes as they frantically lobbied Republicans to change their votes so that it would fail.

GOP leaders warned that adoption of Maloney’s amendment would have jeopardized passage of the underlying VA spending bill. The night before, the House had passed the annual defense authorization with a provision that effectively exempts religious organizations from complying with Obama’s executive order.

While unveiling his reprised amendment, Maloney, who is openly gay, angrily recalled the events of last week as the votes in favor of his measure gradually switched against it.

“With all time expired, it was clear as could be that equality had won the vote. But when the world watched, something else happened. Something shameful happened,” Maloney said. “Something about treating LGBT people fairly just wouldn’t do. ”

Republicans were more prepared this time for Maloney’s amendment, because it was clear ahead of time that it would come up for a vote. Last week’s vote came with little warning, which resulted in GOP leaders partaking in the last-minute arm-twisting.

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) offered a counter-amendment so that Maloney’s proposal would be modified by stating that no funds could be used in contravention of the LGBT executive order except as “required by the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and Article I of the Constitution.”

“Does anyone in this chamber seriously oppose Article I of the constitution, the First Amendment, or the 14th Amendment?” Pitts asked.

Maloney allowed Pitts’s amendment to pass by voice vote, saying that he had no objection to simply stating adherence to the Constitution.

“What do you say we abide by the whole Constitution? The part that tries to make it more progressive, more inclusive of people like me, of people of color, of women, of people who were shut out when it was written. How about we include the whole Constitution? Can we do that?” Maloney said.

Ahead of the vote, influential conservative group Heritage Action urged Republicans to oppose Maloney’s amendment and said that it would be including it on its legislative scorecard.

“Make no mistake: A vote for the Maloney amendment is a vote for President Obama’s radical transgender bathroom agenda,” the notice reads.

Heritage Action further dismissed the change made by Pitts’s counter-amendment, saying it had “absolutely no substantive effect.”

“Simply adding a reference to the Constitution at the end of the amendment will in no way mitigate the amendment’s damage to religious liberty,” it added.

Earlier Wednesday night, the House adopted, 227-192, an amendment from Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.) prohibiting the Obama administration from revoking funds previously appropriated to North Carolina in retaliation for the state’s controversial transgender bathroom law.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit earlier this month against North Carolina for its law, which requires people to use the bathroom corresponding with their birth gender instead of their gender identity.

“We believe this is an egregious abuse of executive power and that the State of North Carolina should not be required to comply to the president’s wishes. The president is not a monarch, he is not a dictator, he does not issue fiats, we are a constitutional divided government,” Pittenger said.

Pittenger’s office said he plans to offer similar amendments to upcoming appropriations bills.

The House also passed, 233-186, an amendment offered by Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) to prohibit the use of funds in contravention of religious freedom.

All seven of the Republicans accused by Democrats of switching their votes last week — Reps. Jeff Denham (Calif.), David Valadao (Calif.), David Young (Iowa), Bruce Poliquin (Maine), Mimi Walters (Calif.), Greg Walden (Ore.) and Darrell Issa (Calif.) — voted for Maloney’s amendment on Wednesday.

Young, who’s one of the most vulnerable House Republicans up for reelection this cycle, said in a statement that the tweaked version of the Maloney amendment was a “commonsense solution which furthers policies that adhere to our nation’s principles and religious beliefs.”

Issa maintained to The Hill earlier this week that he had changed his vote before House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) approached him on the floor and that he intended to oppose the amendment.

“People hit the wrong button regularly,” Issa insisted.

Maloney had the ability to force another vote on his proposal on Wednesday because the Energy Department spending bill was considered under a process that allows members of either party to offer unlimited amendments.

However, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) laid out plans this week to require lawmakers to submit their amendments in advance for upcoming spending bills to avoid more political curveballs from Democrats like last week’s chaotic vote.

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Hey, Bernie Sanders Supporters — All Roads Lead to Venezuela

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When socialist Hugo Chavez became president of Venezuela after the 1998 election, he promised a path he described as “revolutionary,” the same word Bernie Sanders uses for his “movement” to fight “income inequality.”

Useful American idiots like actors Sean Penn and Danny Glover, who got rich making movies for capitalist Hollywood, sang Chavez’s praises. Penn described him as “one of the most important forces we have had on this planet.”

Glover praised Chavez as “a social champion of democracy, material development, and spiritual well-being.” Chavez promised to help finance films for Glover. The Venezuelan National Assembly even reportedly gave Glover $18 million to make a film about Toussaint L’Ouverture, the Haitian slave who led a revolt against the French.

Former congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II participated in a Chavez influence-buying scheme to “sell” Venezuelan oil at below fair market prices to provide low-income families in America — families richer than most Venezuelans — with cheaper heating oil. Beginning in 2005, Chavez, through the state-owned petroleum company he controlled, Citgo, gave about 40 million gallons of crude per year — for free — to an affiliate of Kennedy’s nonprofit Citizens Energy. The crude was sold and the profits used to fund free and steeply discounted deliveries of heating oil to low-income households in 23 states. Kennedy spent $16 million of that profit in two years on advertising for Citizens Energy, including TV ads that credited Kennedy with delivering heating oil to needy Americans at a 40 percent discount, thanks to “our friends in Venezuela and Citgo.”

Pre-Chavez, Venezuela was certainly no economic paradise. In 1998, the unemployment rate was 11.8 percent. Inflation, which had topped 100 percent in 1996, was at 35.8 percent in 1998. Its gross domestic product per capita was $3,221. By contrast, other countries in Latin America were not faring any better. As Justin Fox wrote in Bloomberg nine months ago: “When Hugo Chavez first took office as Venezuela’s president in 1999, the country wasn’t exactly anybody’s economic model. Great oil riches had been squandered, repeatedly. Inflation was a recurrent problem. … The economy wasn’t growing much. Almost half the population was below the country’s poverty line. … Still, Venezuela was Latin America’s most affluent country, thanks to all that oil. Its government finances were in tolerably good shape, also thanks to oil.”

Today, three years after Chavez died from cancer, and with the country run by his handpicked successor, unemployment for 2015 is officially at 6.8 percent, the inflation rate is running at 181 percent (officially, although unofficial estimates place it much higher) and GDP per capita in 2014 was $6,057.

“Now, of course, Venezuela’s economy is a disaster,” wrote Fox in Bloomberg. “The latest estimate from the Troubled Currencies Project run by Steve H. Hanke of the Cato Institute and Johns Hopkins, meanwhile, is that inflation is really 808 percent. Food shortages have become a problem, a debt default seems almost certain, and a complete economic collapse isn’t out of the question. By 2014 Venezuela had, by the World Bank’s PPP-adjusted accounting, slid to fifth place in per-capita GDP in Latin America, behind Chile, Cuba (!), Uruguay and Panama. Mexico and Brazil may pass it this year, despite their own economic troubles. Even next-door neighbor Colombia is getting within striking distance.”

What “revolutionary” measures did Chavez undertake in his 14 years in charge? He nationalized much of his county’s commerce, particularly “strategic sectors” such as energy, telecommunications and oil-rich Venezuela’s vital petroleum industry. Portraying himself a champion of the poor, Chavez demonized the country’s middle and upper classes as “Los Escualidos” — “the squalid ones.” To redistribute wealth, he seized more than 1,000 businesses, farms and urban properties, insisting that the government takeovers were justified because the owners were corrupt, or that the seizures would improve the lots of the poor. The previous private owners were usually uncompensated when their assets and properties were appropriated.

With then-historically high oil revenues and income streams from the other nationalized industries — combined with a massive increase in national external debt — Chavez poured government spending into subsidized food, housing, health, education and other welfare programs. His government spending spree fueled rampant inflation, which averaged an annual 22 percent under his 14-year reign. Instead of creating a paradise, his policies reduced private sector investment and productivity, and price caps and other interventionist policies have caused shortages of food and basic necessities. Venezuelans suffer through electricity brownouts and blackouts. Crime has skyrocketed.

The late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said: “Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money.” True, unless, as was the case with Chavez, the socialist has the good fortune to die first. The worst thing that could happen to Bernie Sanders supporters is not for their man to lose. The worst thing that could happen is for their man to win. Viva la revolution!

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Disney SLAMS Sanders With A Simple Question: “How Many Jobs Have You Created?”

Z1gPZqhIt looks like the Magic Kingdom will take no belittling from other rulers, as Disney is once again on the offensive against big government types who seek to use it as an example.

To recap:

First the Secretary of the VA lied about Disney’s concern for wait times in order to excuse the VA for the horrendous length our veterans have to wait for care.

Disney responded by correcting the VA Secretary, describing just how important it is that its guests don’t wait long, and have an excellent time while they’re doing it.

Then Bernie Sanders lied about Disney’s pay in regards to its employees, and left out important information concerning Disney’s actions regarding hiring immigrants.

And Mickey isn’t taking that lying down.

Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, wrote in a private Facebook post:

“To Bernie Sanders: We created 11,000 new jobs at Disneyland in the past decade, and our company has created 18,000 in the U.S. in the last five years. How many jobs have you created? What have you contributed to the U.S. economy?”

Iger is right to ask, and I’ll give him the answer.

In Sanders’ state of Vermont, private sector jobs shrank 1.2% from 2000 – 2011. To be fair, government jobs skyrocketed by 7.5%. But it will likely not see an increase in the private sector, because Vermont’s high taxes keep businesses from wanting to settle there. So if you want to work at the DMV, you’re good to go, but if you want to climb the corporate ladder, you might want to just go away. And according to Vermontians, that’s exactly what people do. Once you graduate high school, you leave the state.

Maybe to Disney California for a job.

It might be my anti-big government bias, but watching Disney slap around officials that couldn’t run a lemonade stand has been a welcome break from all the slapping around big government has done to us over the years.

Well done, Disney. As usual.

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VA Admits to Wrongly Declaring Over 4,000 Veterans Dead

Robert McDonald
Thousands of living veterans saw their benefits cut off between 2011 and 2015

The Department of Veterans Affairs admitted it wrongly declared more than 4,000 veterans dead over the past five years, cutting off benefits for them and their dependents.

The agency disclosed that it wrongly terminated benefits for 4,201 veterans between 2011 and 2015 in a letter to Rep. David Jolly (R., Fla.) this month. The admission came more than six months after Jolly initially requested information on veterans whose VA benefits had been erroneously cut off following a series of mistaken death cases by the VA in the Tampa Bay area.

More than 1,000 veterans had their benefits disrupted in 2015 alone when the VA erroneously declared them deceased.

“During calendar years 2011 through 2015, VA terminated 2,057,790 awards due to the death of the beneficiary. During the same period, VA resumed awards for 4,201 of these beneficiaries after receiving information indicating the beneficiary was not deceased,” Danny Pummill, the VA undersecretary for benefits, wrote in the May 6 letter.

Pummill wrote that the agency could not explain why the veterans were declared dead because its computer systems could not pinpoint the errors.

“Although we are able to identify cases where benefits were terminated based on an erroneous notice of a beneficiary’s death and subsequently reinstated, our computer systems do not collect information on the cause of the errors (e.g., VA employee error, erroneous information received through a data-matching program, incorrect identifying data provided by a third party, etc.),” Pummill wrote.

The number of veterans wrongly declared deceased by the VA represents just over 0.2 percent of the total count of VA beneficiaries who had their benefits terminated over the past five years.

“These numbers confirm our suspicion, that mistaken deaths by the VA have been a widespread problem impacting thousands of veterans across the country,” Jolly said in a statement Wednesday. “It’s a problem that should have been addressed years ago, as it has caused needless hardships for thousands of people who had their benefits terminated and their world turned upside down.”

Jolly initially sent a letter to the VA on Nov. 4, 2015 after veterans in Florida reported having their benefits abruptly cut off by the VA when the agency determined they had died. Jolly asked the agency to report the number of instances where VA beneficiaries had their benefits wrongly terminated over the past five years.

Under pressure, the VA said in December that it would first contact veterans or their families when records showed they had died instead of automatically terminating benefits. The agency would then wait 30 days before cutting off benefits.

But Jolly expressed doubt Wednesday that the new policy would be a sufficient remedy to a widespread problem. The lawmaker said he will push the VA to provide data on veterans wrongly declared dead at the end of the current year in order to assess whether the new policy is actually working.

“I’ll be asking the VA for a new report at the end of this year so we can see the numbers from 2016. If the VA’s new policy is indeed working, this problem should be eliminated. If the problem persists, then Congress will demand further action,” Jolly stated.

“We simply cannot have men and women who have sacrificed for this country see their rightful benefits wrongfully terminated because the VA mistakenly declares them dead,” Jolly said. “This creates tremendous financial hardships and undue personal turmoil for veterans, many who are seniors relying primarily if not solely on their VA benefits.”

The VA has been under scrutiny for more than two years after veterans were found to have died waiting for care because hospital employees kept secret wait lists to conceal long wait times for appointments. A slew of reports has found persistent issues at the VA’s network of hospital systems. The agency’s benefits administration has also been criticized for not punishing employees for misconduct and failing to eliminate its backlog of claims.

The latest revelation about veterans wrongly declared deceased comes as the agency weathers increased criticism after VA Secretary Robert McDonald likened the waits that veterans face for care to lines at Disney theme parks.

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Report: Hillary Clinton Met Terry McAuliffe’s Mysterious Chinese Donor At Her New York Home

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Hillary Clinton met Chinese billionaire Wang Wenliang, whose involvement with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is at the center of an FBI investigation, during a Sept. 30, 2013 fundraiser at her Chappaqua, N.Y. home, according to an explosive new report from Time.

Less than a month after that fundraiser, in which Clinton and Wang reportedly shook hands, the businessman made a $500,000 donation to the Clinton Foundation. He would end up giving a total of $2 million to the Clinton charity, which is a major source of controversy for the Democratic presidential front-runner.

McAuliffe, who served as a director on the Clinton Global Initiative, was running for office when he invited Wenliang to the Chappaqua fundraiser. Attended by about 100 people, the event was held three weeks after one of Wang’s companies, West Legend Corp., gave a $60,000 contribution to McAuliffe’s successful campaign. A total of $120,000 in contributions would flow from the company to McAuliffe’s campaign coffers.

Longtime Clinton consultants James Carville and Paul Begala attended the event. John Podesta, Clinton’s current campaign chairman, was also present.

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