Based On ‘Discrimination’ Law, Iowa Jury Awards Trans Woman $120,000, Access To Male Prison Facilities

A jury in Iowa has concluded that the state discriminated against a former Iowa Department of Corrections nurse because the employer wouldn’t let her use the bathrooms with male employees. The jury also said the Iowa Department of Corrections denied Jesse Vreogh health care coverage for “medically necessary surgery”—i.e. a double mastectomy to look more like a man.

The jury awarded Vreogh $120,000 for the “emotional distress” of both instances based on Iowa’s sexual orientation and gender identity law, which was introduced in 2007 and signed by Democrat Gov. Chet Culver. Lawmakers of both major parties vote for such bills in statehouses and cities around the country. Indiana’s Republican governor, for example, is pushing anti-speech legislation on related topics and grounds.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa said Wednesday that the ruling is a “historic win for transgender rights in Iowa.”

Here’s What Happened

In 2009, Vreogh started working at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville as a nurse. In 2014, Vreogh informed her boss she was going to start presenting as a man. As part of that process, she later asked for permission to use male locker rooms and bathrooms at the workplace. The warden instead designated two gender-neutral restrooms for Vreogh’s use.

Given how long Vreogh had been employed at the facility, it’s hardly honest to claim discrimination. Court documents say Vreogh has “presented as a male” in the way she dresses since 2000. Vreogh started working there in 2009 yet it wasn’t until 2014 and 2015 that Vreogh she suddenly demanded opposite-sex facility access, then claimed discrimination.

If Vreogh has been transgender since 2000, why did she remain at the job for more than a decade when she was supposedly discriminated against by that employer?

She also complained that the Iowa Department of Corrections denied health insurance coverage for a “medically necessary” transgender surgery. Vreogh’s doctors recommended she have her breasts cut off to treat gender dysphoria. State employees’ insurer, Wellmark, said its plan did not cover any gender reassignment surgery, although it later began paying for transgender medical services to state employees beginning in 2017.

Gender reassignment surgery is not a medical necessity. In fact, many professionals believe it does more harm than good. This National Center for Biotechnology Information study said “Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population. Our findings suggest that sex reassignment, although alleviating gender dysphoria, may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism, and should inspire improved psychiatric and somatic care after sex reassignment for this.”

Insurance companies should reserve the right to not cover cosmetic surgeries such as gender change treatments, which are not proven fixes for an actual physical ailment like heart surgery for artery blockage or hip surgery for a bad hip. We’re talking cutting off and reshaping healthy body parts for no benefit to the person’s physical well-being.

That the insurance company was sued for discrimination successfully on these grounds is simply unbelievable in its exaggerated definition of medical necessity. Can I now file a lawsuit against my insurance company if they don’t give me breasts like Kate Upton, a smile like Chrissy Teigen’s, and a button nose like Amy Adams because I claim without them, I’m not a fully feminine woman?

The state of Iowa will likely appeal the verdict. USA Today reports, “The Iowa Department of Corrections is ‘working with the Office of the Attorney General to review the decision and evaluate our options,’ according to spokesman Cord Overton.” It’s possible the Iowa Department of Corrections will be forced to conform to transgender policies during the appeal process. Who knows where this could end up. Will male prisoners now claim access to female prisons? What about male guards demanding access to female prisoner facilities?

‘Discrimination’ Laws Are Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

According to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, in 2007, the Iowa Civil Rights Act “was expanded to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes” and from then on it was deemed illegal in Iowa “to discriminate against a person because of his/her sexual orientation or gender identity.” The jury decided in favor of Vreogh’s complaints because of this statute.

What was the discrimination exactly? According to court documents, it included that the prison system “had taken no steps to develop policies for transgender employees for equal access to single-sex spaces, such as restrooms and locker rooms, consistent with their gender identities.”

All that happened was Vreogh was asked to use a separate bathroom, set aside just for that use, rather than interfere with the privacy rights of male employees. This isn’t discrimination but accommodation.

It’s somewhat like a law firm that allows nursing mothers to pump breast milk in the privacy of their office or another room. It’s not discriminatory, it’s an accommodation–the best a firm can do for something that is important but only applies to a small percentage of employees. Would any pumping mother sit in her private space and assume she’s being discriminated against? No. Nor should she. It’s the height of self-absorption and power-mongering to take an accommodation given in generosity as an insult.

Now that gender identity is considered the same as race according to the Iowa statute, the Iowa jury that decided this implied that Vreogh’s use of a private bathroom a handful of times a day at work is somehow comparable to discrimination faced by African-Americans. Remember, African-American children were forced to go to different (and far worse-quality) schools, use different water fountains, and go to different establishments than white people in the 1960s, among many other indignities. This comparison is not only preposterous but offensively so.

This kind of logic not only leaves workplaces open to a myriad of lawsuits based on flimsy discrimination claims, but employers are now stuck between a rock and a hard place. Imagine if the employer had honored Vreogh’s request and she began to use the same restroom and locker room as the male employees. Suppose they felt discriminated against because they were now sharing a private room with a woman, so they banded together and filed their own discrimination lawsuit? If you think they would have won on the same claim, then either the jury made the wrong ruling or the Iowa Civil Rights Act needs to reconsider whether gender identity really is the same as sex, religion, and race.

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Author: Nicole Russell

Mass Shooting In Aurora Shows Why Gun Control Doesn’t Work

Last week, when an Illinois man killed five of his co-workers and injured several police officers, he did so with an illegal firearm. The shooter purchased the gun after lying on his background check about a past felony for aggravated assault. Like many other mass shootings, the criminal was able to carry out an act of violence not because of a lack of gun laws, but because of a bureaucratic failure to enforce the existing ones.

The Aurora shooter answered “No” to the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” He was then approved for his Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID), which is required before purchasing a firearm or ammunition in Illinois. He then passed another background check before purchasing the .40-caliber Smith & Wesson he used on his killing rampage last week in Aurora. Both background checks failed to flag his felony conviction and prison sentence from the mid-1990s in Mississippi. Police reports say he hit a former girlfriend with a baseball bat and stabbed her with a knife.

It wasn’t until Gary Martin later applied for a concealed carry permit that his felony was flagged and his FOID card revoked. He was sent a letter with orders to surrender his firearm but never did so, and it’s unclear if any police agency ever followed up. The Illinois State Police has yet to explain how their database missed his past convictions, or whether any measures were taken to seize his firearm after his FOID card was revoked. The Chicago Tribune reports there is no record of law enforcement asking the court for permission to search for Martin’s gun.

In a statement on Monday, Aurora police Chief Kristen Ziman said a criminal background check would not necessarily detect a 20-year-old conviction. But The Chicago Tribune and news outlets were easily able to find Martin’s aggravated assault in public records.

All licensed gun retailers are required to run a background check through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) any time they sell a firearm to an individual. But a background check system is only as effective as its database. The federal government cannot force states to submit prohibited information, like criminal and mental health records, to NICS. Unfortunately, far too many states fail to participate, and Illinois ranks 34th of states submitting records to NICS.

In 2011, an audit of Illinois’ FOID card program found “significant deficiencies in the reporting of individuals with potentially disqualifying mental health conditions” to state police. At the time of the audit, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart asked, “How are people going to explain away the fact that a horrific event occurred, and it turns out this person had diagnosed mental health issues and their card was not (taken away or) the information was never forwarded to the state police, so they never had the ability to take the card away?” Nine years later, this exact scenario has played out too many times.

Since the 2011 audit, Illinois has received millions of dollars in grants specifically for fixing problems with their database and automating the process of submitting disqualifying records to the NICS database. In 2018, Congress passed the Fix NICS Act, which required all federal agencies to submit any of their prohibitory records, and provided funding and resources for states to do the same (although the federal government still cannot compel states to do this).

This leaves many unanswered questions as to why states like Illinois continue to allow criminals to skirt gun laws already on the books. Is their failure to run background checks, or to submit records to the NICS, because of a lack of funding? A lack of technology? Are they continually updating their submitted records, or are they submitted in a one-time dump to the federal government? In the case of the Aurora shooting, was it Mississippi’s failure to submit the information of the shooter’s felony, or was it Illinois’ failure to find it?

The Charleston church shooting, the Sutherland Springs church shooting, and now the Aurora shooting are just three of the many recent mass shootings that could have been prevented had the background check system been properly enforced. In each of these tragedies, the shooters obtained firearms illegally. They were criminals before they even claimed a victim. These criminals are evidence that gun control measures do nothing to address the reality that criminals will never obey the law, but expose bureaucratic failures to enforce it.

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Author: Madeline Osburn

Hate Hoaxes Are What Happen When Your Religion Is Identity Politics

When Christianity was still a baby religion, it dealt with its first case of hypocrisy. The Bible records the story in Acts 5: Ananias and Sapphira, a married couple in the church at Jerusalem, sold a piece of property. They made it known that they were donating all their proceeds to the poor, but they lied about the price, secretly keeping a portion for themselves.

For this self-exalting falsehood, the Holy Spirit struck them dead. “Then great fear came on the whole church,” the author of Acts concludes. I guess so.

Times change, and religious affiliations fluctuate, but human nature remains the same. People will always be tempted toward self-exalting lies, seeking to be applauded as virtuous without putting in the effort to actually be virtuous.

It’s through this lens that we should view the curious case of Jussie Smollett, who now appears to have faked a hate crime against himself, blaming it on faceless Trump supporters. We could also mention other recent viral “hate hoaxes”––the Covington Catholic debacle, the homophobic Whole Foods cake, and the too-readily-believed “racist restaurant patron” tales that plague the internet. These stories bear too many similarities to be seen simply as isolated attention-seeking.

Instead, this phenomenon has everything to do with a philosophy that has taken hold in the modern mind. Like Ananias and Sapphira before them, we should see these particular liars as early hypocrites in a new religion: the church of modern progressivism.

Progressivism As A Religion

I grew up in the 1980s, when American culture was quickly becoming post-Christian but hadn’t quite gotten there yet. Hedonism reined; Michael Jackson’s “Bad” was the gleeful anthem of a rebellious generation. Later, in the ’90s and early aughts, moral relativism became the new governing philosophy. Do right and wrong even exist? It depends on what the meaning of “is” is.

Today, things are different. Virtue is very much back in vogue. When I look at this generation, I see young people fiercely, desperately trying to be good. A righteous fervor is sweeping America, shaming and punishing all who do evil. Yet the standards for “good” and “evil” seem unfamiliar and arbitrary. This is a strong indicator that the post-Christian agnosticism is over, and a new religion—one I’ll call progressivism—is rising from the ashes.

Philosophers and theologians have long posited that humans seek three fundamental virtues: goodness, truth, and beauty. The answer to the question “What is good, true, and beautiful?” is at the core of many religious traditions. Christianity finds the answer to all three questions in God himself. Without God, the Christian has no framework for right and wrong, for ultimate truth, or for the transcendent meaning that renders life beautiful.

Progressivism attempts to fill this God-shaped void with its own modern deities. To know what is beautiful, progressives look to the Self—self-realization and self-expression. To determine truth, progressives largely look to Science (although the worship of Science is slipping, as it is increasingly conflicts with the god of Self). Finally, to know what is morally right, progressives turn to something they call History. Now, by “History,” please understand that I do not mean the study and understanding of actual events in the past. I mean the moral force people invoke when they talk about being “on the right side of history.”

Without God’s goodness as a plumb line for right and wrong, moderns have no framework with which to judge the clear evils that exist in human behavior. So they’ve settled on a simplistic moral standard that boils all sin down to a single category: oppression. Having learned about a few undeniable evils that existed in the recent past—slavery, Nazi concentration camps, Jim Crow—they’ve seized on the notion of “History” as a moral force that trends in one direction, the direction of progress.

History has a right side and a wrong side, and that line—however vague and changeable it might appear—is what separates good from evil. What’s more, we can look at our sample of known historical events and determine who the good and evil actors are. The oppressors are wicked, and the oppressed are righteous.

This moral framework leads to an inescapable conclusion: victimhood is the highest virtue. Victims and members of oppressed identity groups are elevated to a kind of sainthood in the progressive religion. Those who are more oppressed have more moral authority and are thus more worthy to speak, set policy, and make demands. This is in fact exactly what intersectionality teaches, complete with a hierarchy of victimhood for comparing everyone’s relative righteousness.

Is it any wonder, then, so many Americans are desperately trying to portray themselves as victims? Should we be surprised that while early Christians were tempted to inflate their giving to the poor, early progressives are tempted to fabricate hate crimes against themselves?

How Progressive Morality Fails

When we compare these two stories of hypocritical “hoaxes,” however, the superiority of the Christian moral framework versus the progressive one becomes clear. Both Smollett and the biblical Ananias and Sapphira told lies to inflate their virtue. But we must ask a crucial question: what if both lies had been true?

In the first case, we would have had an act of radical charity: selling a piece of property and donating the entire value to feed and clothe the poor. On one side of this human exchange would have been a giver, and on the other side a recipient (or many recipients). All participants would have ended up better off—ennobled, enriched, and blessed.

In the second case, we would have had an incident of violence and hate, with a perpetrator on one end and a victim on the other. Both sides would have been worse off for the exchange: one participant brutalized, the other a brute. If the societal value of religion is found in the inculcation of virtue, which of these two “virtuous acts” should we be seeking to perpetuate throughout American culture? Which type of morality will lead to more peace, justice, and unity?

While adherents of progressivism may sincerely believe they’re working to end oppression, the fact is that their model of morality requires oppression in order to exist. It requires that someone always be cast in the role of oppressor, whether he or she deserves to be or not. Any final end to oppression and evil—any real peace, unity, or brotherhood—is impossible.

Progressives decry the “privilege” and “power” of some identity groups over others, but the reality is that they don’t seek to abolish class struggle, but rather to wield it. Progressivism keeps us locked in an endless conflict, fighting to kill or be killed.

This is why progressives are so eager to make their fellow Americans into racists and bigots. Virtue is a zero-sum game; you can only gain yours if someone else loses his. If there isn’t anyone willing to oblige you by donning a MAGA hat and putting a rope around your neck, you’ll have to find other ways of getting on the right side of History. Demonizing people on social media tends to be one of the easier routes.

What’s more, progressivism’s moral code ultimately works against progress. Oppressed identity groups can never really rise up and overcome their victimhood, unless they also wish to lose their moral authority. Indeed, some identity groups once seen as largely oppressed, such as white women and gay men, are discovering that as they’ve gained influence in mainstream society, they’ve lost capital in the world of social justice.

One would think empowerment of historically marginalized groups is a good thing. But progressivism, particularly the doctrine of intersectionality, penalizes it.

What We Need Is Real Religion Again

At some point, Americans’ patience with this punishing moral fervor will run out. When we finally grow weary of the endless offense-taking, shaming, bullying, language-policing, and pitting of one American against another, maybe it will be time to acknowledge that progressivism is a toxic belief system, incompatible with freedom, peace, and unity. Maybe it will be time to remember that we’ve survived nearly two and a half centuries as a largely tolerant, diverse, and free nation because we were founded on very different principles.

Maybe it will be time to remember that America started out with the idea, revolutionary in its time and inspired by Christianity, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” However imperfectly we have lived out this ideal over the years—and we have violated it in some dreadful ways—the principle itself was sound. It still is.

“But oppression and violence happen in Christian-dominated societies too,” some will say. It’s a fair point. Hypocrites have been in the church from the start, and hatred and tribalism are a part of our inborn sin nature. But unlike progressivism, Christian morality offers a way out. It shows us a different way of living, beyond our base human natures and endless power struggles.

It teaches us to struggle not against our fellow man, but against the evil in our own hearts. It teaches that all people are sinners alike, but that all can be redeemed. For this reason, taken as a whole, the Christian moral framework has created more peace, justice, freedom, reform, and progress in this broken world than any other.

We don’t have to look too far back in history for an example. Fifty-five years ago, a Christian pastor stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered an iconic speech with the cadence of a sermon and a text soaked in Scripture. He called on America to keep its promise of freedom for all citizens, regardless of color or creed. He spoke of freedom for the oppressed, and of repentance and redemption for the oppressor. He spoke of unity among “all God’s children: black men and white men, Jew and Gentile, Protestant and Catholic.” Rather than envisioning a never-ending, zero sum struggle, he proclaimed a dream of brotherhood.

Dr. Martin Luther King had experienced far more racism, violence, injustice, and hatred than Smollett is likely to see in a lifetime. Nonetheless, he remains a model of virtue for us not because he was a victim, but because he drew on the teaching of his faith to overcome hatred with love. Brotherhood that transcends identity is a Christian idea. It is an American idea. We must reclaim it, or perish.

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Author: Jayme Metzgar

John McAfee Has A Plan To Run For President

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John McAfee is a businessman, cybersecurity innovator, exile, and potentially the Libertarian Party nominee for 2020. McAfee joins the Federalist Radio Hour from Central American to discuss cybersecurity, big government, socialism, and his conflict with the authorities in Belize.

“News people want to be a part of the story, always,” McAfee said. “They want power because power for news people might be a following, recognition… a good reporter digs into the story. Not with his own preconceptions but with an open mind.”

Matt Welch, editor at large at Reason, also joins the show to share his thoughts on McAfee and the direction of the Libertarian Party.

LISTEN HERE:

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Author: The Federalist Staff

Left To State Supreme Court Candidate: You Can’t Be A Good Judge Because You’re A Christian

With six weeks left until election day in Wisconsin’s Supreme Court race, several far-left organizations are using media outlets to amplify a smear campaign against a judge based on his Christianity. Brian Hagedorn, a current Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge and former Scott Walker legal counsel, is being publicly trashed for being on the board of a small Christian school, and for blog posts when he was in law school discussing court cases about abortion and gay sex.

In considering a run for the state Supreme Court, the father of five children says, “I expected to be attacked here because that’s what’s happening all across the country–you know, ‘Are you now or have you ever been associated with the Knights of Columbus?’” he said, chuckling. “Interrogating people [nominated for office] if they went to a Bible study or the Knights of Columbus, that’s where we are as a country.”

The media characterization of his writing is often misleading. For example, a ThinkProgress hit piece claims that, in a blog post paraphrasing former Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent on a case about Texas sodomy laws, Hagedorn “compared homosexuality to bestiality.” In fact, his post simply notes the U.S. Constitution has nothing to say about any supposed rights to sex with anyone or anything, then essentially paraphrases Scalia’s dissent, which two other justices joined.

That dissent said striking a law against sodomy on the grounds that states are constitutionally forbidden from banning any sexual activity citizens consider “immoral and unacceptable” also eliminates the legal basis for “criminal laws against fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality, and obscenity.” Scalia instead invited LGBT activists to persuade their fellow citizens that sodomy bans were wrong and change the laws, rather than using courts to eliminate the legal basis on which states criminalize socially disapproved sexual behaviors.

While a law student in 2005, Hagedorn simply wrote he agreed with this legal analysis. It doesn’t compare bestiality and homosexuality in anything except the basis for former laws against them. That both were illegal on this basis until relatively recently is simply a fact. Yet like ThinkProgress, several Wisconsin outlets quoted context-free snippets of Hagedorn’s post in a rush to paint him as a bigot.

“The news reports have been entirely misleading on that,” Hagedorn said in a phone interview. “They often can’t track the legal arguments… The argument I was making was nothing other than what three Supreme Court justices made in that very case. The Lawrence v. Texas decision’s logic was not strong. I am not myself interested in relitigating all those issues today, but that argument that was made was just tracking that Supreme Court case.”

The attacks on Hagedorn also target a small Christian school that he and his wife helped found. Associated Press, Wisconsin State Journal, and Wisconsin Public Radio headlines falsely said the school “bans LGBT teachers, students,” “bar[s] gays” and “bans homosexuals.” No, the school’s conduct code forbids “students, parents and teachers from ‘participating in immoral sexual activity (defined as any form of touching or nudity for the purpose of evoking sexual arousal apart from the context of marriage between one man and one woman).’”

That’s only a gay ban if you offensively assume gay people can’t resist having sex. Remember, students are minors whom many think shouldn’t engage in sex at all regardless of what kind. Under this policy gay students could be welcomed. Therefore, it’s not a “gay ban.”

Further, if it is a gay ban then it’s also a cohabiting and makeout ban, but people who cohabit and make out aren’t (yet) identity groups that can be weaponized to amass political power, so no news story makes that connection. So do Christians also hate cohabitors and people who hook up and make out and twerk, or does Christianity hold extremely high standards for sexual behavior that are not at all limited to homosexuality? We can’t consider the latter, apparently, because that contradicts the politically useful narrative that people of faith bear some particular ill will towards homosexuals.

In a press release and to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, however, the activist group One Wisconsin Now pushed that divisive and religiously bigoted narrative, calling the 40-student school “an organization that actively discriminates against the LGBTQ community” because its conduct codes say Christians must reserve sex for natural marriage. This is a core Christian teaching and has been for 2,000 years. If any organization that holds this view “actively discriminates against the LGBTQ community,” then all orthodox Christian, Islamic, and Jewish organizations, as well as many Bhuddist and Hindu organizations, are centers of bigotry. Good luck convincing the majority of the world’s cultures and religions that they are evil bigots for upholding thousands of years of cross-cultural and cross-religious teachings.

The argument against Hagedorn seems to be that no faithful religious believer can also be a good public official, in line with a crop of similar attacks on federal nominees at the federal level from prominent Democrats including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Mazie Hirono, and Sen. Bernie Sanders. How convenient for the minority of secularists to define their tribe as the only one eligible for rule. And whatever happened to tolerance and pluralism, and not discriminating against people based on their identity?

“My job as a judge is to say what the law is and not what it should be,” Hagedorn said. “This is an effort to attack me for my faith and take this [campaign] in directions that are irrelevant to the job that I’m doing of applying the law faithfully.”

Not only are these kinds of attacks against people of faith the real bigotry at play, they are massively ignorant, in bad faith, and unconstitutional: “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States,” says the U.S. Constitution’s article six.

Hagedorn says his conservative judicial philosophy restrains him from doing anything other than applying the laws equally and impartially, regardless of his personal religious or political beliefs. In fact, he said, “Any judge who does not regularly issue a decision he does not agree with is not a good judge. My job is not to decide whether I like the law or policy or not. We need to stop politicizing our courts and stop incorporating one’s own views into judicial decisionmaking.”

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel even contacted the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to ask about the school, and raised the prospect of “lawsuits alleging discrimination against the school’s officials or Hagedorn.” Nice little school you made for your kids there. Be a shame if the federal government investigated it or somebody filed a discrimination lawsuit. Thankfully, Hagedorn says, private religious schools have the well-established legal right to hire and fire based on their religious beliefs.

“All I can do is treat people with dignity and respect and gentleness,” Hagedorn said, when asked how these attacks are affecting him personally. “I’ve always tried to do that. I think there’s likely to be people who do continue to be excluded for some period of time [for their religion]. If I’m one of them, so be it. But I’m going to try to be faithful to the calling I have… Maybe I can be one small stone in the river that says this is not okay. I am going to be a judge who applies the law fairly to everybody regardless of my Christian faith. We need to move past this as a culture and a country.”

These smears against Hagedorn and others like him nominated or running for public office hang a “No Christians need apply” sign on not only public offices but entire professions, such as law, health, and education. In all of these domains, and more, Christians are increasingly told to check their convictions at the door.

This kind of political pressure also implies that, in an America rapidly embedding LGBT legal and cultural preferences, religious integrity is increasingly at odds with the political regime. Christians — and Jews and Buddhists and other faithful believers — have lived in those kinds of hostile societies before.

“The great thing about being a Christian is that my hope is not in this life,” Hagedorn said. “All I can do is be faithful to what I’ve been called to and let the chips fall where they may.”

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Author: Joy Pullmann

How ‘Kimmy Schmidt’ Did Trump-Era Politics Right

For “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” the least funny moment of a very funny final season came during a weird bit about Donald Trump dying on an airplane. But it was an aberration. Over the course of its four-season run, “Kimmy Schmidt” deftly applied a key ingredient of “30 Rock’s” success. Tina Fey, who created both shows, enjoys mining partisan politics for laughs, and she’s capable of doing it without using comedy as a thin pretense for DNC propaganda. Hers is a rare approach. 

Like “30 Rock,” “Kimmy Schmidt” obviously slanted leftward, but most always exhibited a similar eagerness to skewer politics more generally than just the GOP. The latter is an ascendant but lazy style that fails to acknowledge our distinctly bipartisan state of absurdity and gives comedy an unappealing air of sanctimony. Consequently, the show’s probes into controversies like Me Too were actually creative and interesting. 

“Kimmy Schmidt” was much more political than you would expect from a half-hour comedy charting a kidnapping victim’s acclimation back to normal life. While I maintain Kimmy herself was grating (not unlike the female lead of “Great News,” another Fey-Netflix venture, and even Liz Lemon at times), episodes often felt like 30-minute tornadoes across the cultural landscape, brash and energetic but sprinkled with whimsical bouts of surrealism.

The show probably didn’t get enough credit for effectively skewering the inanity of contemporary political correctness campaigns. Season Three, for instance, featured two storylines: one firmly anti-Redskins (the football team) and another that thoroughly mocked the decadent progressivism and sensitivity on college campuses. That combination is probably reasonable to a lot of viewers, though it would be unacceptably incongruent to many progressives in the industry. This show was different. 

A scene from the penultimate episode epitomized “Kimmy Schmidt’s” smarter, funnier politics. When Kimmy walks into a men’s rights protest at a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt, one man shouts, “Eleanor Roosevelt gave us unrealistic expectations of cousins!” Another adds, “She should have been in the wheelchair.” One protest sign reads, “Bros-evelt before Hos-evelt.” When Kimmy decries the event’s “sexist dudes,” one protester at the edge of the demonstration turns around and exclaims, “What? We’re lesbians!”

“We want this statue to come down because Eleanor never came out!” she explains, rallying her separate crowd of anti-Eleanor activists.

After Fran, a former leader of the men’s rights group, attempts to quell the crowd’s anger, both the men and the lesbians just end up shouting him down with chants of “Fran is a girls name!” Each with very separate intentions, of course.

It would have been easy for the writers to stop at mocking men’s rights activists, but there’s something much more interesting—and much more funny—about mocking their parallels on the hard left, which exposes their obvious similarities and acknowledges a much more honest reality. Fey’s projects tend to understand the value in that. 

Even as a quirky comedy, “Kimmy Schmidt” really existed at the intersection of culture and politics. The first season dropped just three months before Trump descended the golden escalator. By the time Netflix uploaded its final stretch of episodes this year, the show had chased all the fraught cultural controversies of the era eagerly— and to good effect, forging what almost felt like a sense of unity with its bright colors and smart jabs at the absurdities on either side.

“Kimmy Schmidt” had its lulls, and sometimes dipped into bits that felt irritatingly cringey and insular. It wasn’t as sharp as “30 Rock.” But it was provocative and fun, and despite a clear leftward tilt, not bogged down by the tedious pressures of serving a partisan cause, or passing the impossible wokeness test. Netflix would be wise to lean on its example. (As would “Saturday Night Live.”)

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Author: Emily Jashinsky

Podcast: Mercenaries, Military Strategy, And The Future Of War

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Sean McFate is an 82nd Airborne veteran, former private military contractor, and professor of war studies at the National Defense University. McFate joins Ben Domenech on the Federalist Radio Hour to give a real world perspective on how corporations, mercenaries, and rogue states often have more power than “nation states.” His new book, “The New Rules of War: Victory in the Age of Durable Disorder,” explores the future of military engagement and what we must know if we want to win.

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Author: The Federalist Staff

7 Big Takeaways From Andrew McCabe’s Planned Coup

If Washington, D.C. were a better place, former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe would be swiftly run out of town. He was fired last year for lying to the FBI’s inspector general at least four times regarding serious questions about multiple abuses that occurred while McCabe sat in a powerful and unelected office.

These abuses included working with former FBI director James Comey to set up former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus for obstruction charges, slow-walking and sabotaging the investigation of yet unseen Hillary Clinton emails found on Anthony Weiner’s computer just before the 2016 election, and failing to report a clear conflict of interest where his wife received a political donation from a close Hillary Clinton ally while he was tasked with investigating Hillary Clinton.

Among other things, McCabe also took part in spying on the Trump campaign through a secret warrant granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court. This spying allowed obedient anti-Trump media figures to report, right before the 2016 election, that the FBI was investigating President Trump—which legitimized the Hillary Clinton campaign’s talking points about Trump and Russia.

Thankfully, although the establishment media cheers McCabe, he may yet face legal trouble as a result of his actions. So to save his skin, and sell his new book to help pay the lawyers—titled “The Threat: How the F.B.I. Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump”—McCabe is on the media circuit.

As such, McCabe sat down for an interview with “60 Minutes,” set to air this Sunday, and the reporting on that interview has provided (for real this time) an absolute bombshell. According to The New York Times, the former deputy FBI director said he was “so alarmed” by Trump’s firing of Comey in May 2017, that he and his fellow FBI officials immediately “discussed whether to recruit cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office.”

What’s more, McCabe’s “dire concerns” about Trump also prompted him to order the FBI to investigate Trump for obstruction of justice over the firing of Comey. And McCabe had the FBI officially begin to directly investigate whether Trump had been working with Russia “against American interests.” Then, McCabe—allegedly being so sure that Trump was a Russia colluder after Comey’s firing—worked to make sure the investigation of Trump would last even if McCabe was also forced out.

McCabe isn’t just spilling the beans about himself. In a separate revelation on a CBS morning show, Scott Pelley, who interviewed McCabe for “60 Minutes,” said McCabe confirmed in his interview that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—at the Department of Justice (DOJ) which often works with the FBI—had suggested wearing a wire in meetings with Trump in order to entrap the president. McCabe also said that Rosenstein and other DOJ officials had participated in discussions about recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment.

The story about Rosenstein proposing to wear a wire was reported by The New York Times in September of last year, although Rosenstein issued a non-descript (and not entirely convincing) denial. Here’s Pelley:

There were meetings at the Justice Department in which it was discussed whether the vice president and a majority of the cabinet could be brought together to remove the president of the United States under the 25th Amendment. These were the eight days from Comey’s firing to the point that Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel. And the highest levels of American law enforcement were trying to figure out what to do with the president.

And:

They were counting noses. They were not asking cabinet members whether they would vote for or against removing the president, but they were speculating, ‘This person would be with us, this person would not be,’ and they were counting noses in that effort. This was not perceived to be a joke.

According to anonymous FBI officials talking to The Times, McCabe and his associates even kept “contemporaneous memos” on their actions and meetings with Trump—again another effort to find the president guilty of some crime. According to one of these memos, Rosenstein and McCabe determined they needed to peel off eight of the 15 cabinet officials. And Rosenstein suggested that he might have supporters “in the attorney general and the secretary of homeland security.”

Yikes. Here we have a formerly powerful and unelected government official, for all the world to see, admitting that the FBI tried to launch a coup against the constitutionally elected president of the United States, in only the first few months of his tenure. But there’s more going on than that. Here are seven quick takeaways on McCabe’s revelation of his planned coup.

1. McCabe Proves Trump Firing Comey Was Justified

McCabe is trying to construct a defense for his absolutely improper and likely illegal actions by front-running the story. He hopes that political sympathy will taint any legal case against him.

His big excuse is that all this—launching an investigation of the president, trying to entrap him, and trying to boot him out of office—is justified because of the firing of Comey. But Trump’s firing of Comey was justified by Trump’s constitutional powers. Period. Trump was elected, Comey was not.

Comey’s firing was also justified by a laundry list of things he did both before and after the 2016 election. For one, the former FBI director told the president that he wasn’t being investigated, but hinted to Congress that the president was indeed being investigated. That’s one of the more innocent things Comey did.

Even more problematic, Comey seemed to threaten Trump with the most salacious details of an unverified and still-disproven “dossier.” Then Comey used a meeting about the dossier with Trump, which Comey had requested, as the means to allow the media to report on that dossier. Next, there’s Comey and McCabe seeming to set up Priebus, and Comey’s behavior during the Clinton email investigation and just before the 2016 election (which was an effort to cover up for himself, not harm Hillary Clinton’s chances).

In other words, McCabe not only fails to justify his actions, he just shot himself in the foot. Before Comey’s firing, McCabe and Comey had already behaved badly. After Comey’s firing, McCabe was still surrounded by bad actors. All are now in serious trouble. This includes Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and FBI lawyer James Baker. These advisors to McCabe have either been fired for cause, demoted, pushed out, or are under investigation. McCabe’s interview only further proves that the upper echelon in both the FBI and DOJ were incredibly partisan, were plotting against Trump before he even took office, and needed to go.

2. McCabe and His Co-conspirators Only Ever Had The Dossier to Go On

McCabe’s interview confirms that he started a Russia-related obstruction investigation after Comey was fired. But what was the investigation of Trump-Russia collusion based on?

Long after the events of early 2017, once it was crystal clear that former Trump campaign official Carter Page was innocent, former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos was named by McCabe and company, through leaks to the Times, as the pretext that launched the “Russia investigation.” But that never passed the smell test.

For just one example, the FBI got a warrant to spy on Page, not Papadopoulos. And in early 2017, when McCabe admits he started officially investigating Trump, the FBI was still spying on Page and largely ignoring Papadopoulos. Much later, Special Counsel Robert Mueller would go after Papadopoulos, who was sentenced for a thin charge of lying to investigators, and absolutely no collusion was found. But Papadopoulos was barely on the radar in early 2017.

Of course, the FBI was already unofficially investigating Trump and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. That’s why they were spying on Carter Page, which likely allowed them to spy on the entire Trump campaign. During this time, they had already checked Papadopoulos out, possibly using a Maltese professor with ties to western intelligence agencies. But this was meant to use Papadopoulos to legitimize their investigation. The suspicion of Trump-Russia collusion, and the investigation into the Trump campaign, already existed.

That’s because the so-called Steele dossier was always the impetus for the Russia investigation. But calling this a “dossier” is too generous. This is a Word document that was funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, written using paid, shady, and unknown Russians. This Word document was used to spy on the opposing party’s presidential campaign, despite the fact that nothing in the document that wasn’t public information checked out. McCabe and company wanted to believe the dossier. But that’s all they ever had.

3. Much Of This Seems Like A Cover-up

The fact that a shoddy, misspelled, Russian-sourced document paid for by Hillary Clinton tricked America’s “top intelligence officials” is embarrassing. It shows the utter stupidity of many of our so-called elites. But it also opens up the FBI and DOJ to serious reforms, or even opens up these top FBI and DOJ officials, who signed off on spying on the Trump campaign, to potential criminal prosecution. Even McCabe’s action of ensuring the investigation would go on if he was fired should be seen in this light.

That explains much of what has gone on since November 2016. Since the election, these partisans have implemented a sophisticated media leak campaign to generate hysteria, and now that seems to be collapsing. Doesn’t the media always remind us that the cover-up is usually what gets you, not the original crime? As a side note, what happens to the left-of-center media’s ratings and subscriptions if (or when) all this Russia stuff goes away?

4. The Conspirators Might Be Turning On Each Other

It is probably safe to say that Rosenstein is not a big fan of McCabe right now. McCabe’s motivation is simple, aside from trying to juice the sales of his book. He’s in serious legal trouble. He was fired for lying, he has big legal bills, and he may face prison time for his coup attempt. Essentially McCabe is saying, “If I take the fall, I’m going to take everyone else down with me.”

So we might be seeing a bit of a dustup between the FBI and the DOJ, going after each other in the press. Generally, the FBI leaks to The New York Times, and the DOJ leaks to The Washington Post. Don’t be surprised if the DOJ, or Rosenstein in particular, hits back soon in the Post.

5. McCabe Might Be Telling The Truth About Rosenstein

After McCabe again alleged Rosenstein had also plotted against the president, Rosenstein issued another one of his non-denial denials. When the story about Rosenstein suggesting he wear a wire to trap Trump first broke months ago, in an anonymous leak to the Times, many thought Rosenstein was telling the truth when he said his comments were “sarcastic.”

But with the on-the-record claim, and Rosenstein’s refusal to testify in Congress about it, people should become more open to the idea that Rosenstein seriously proposed a wire and the 25th Amendment—as insane as that actually is.

There’s more to this than McCabe going on the record. It wasn’t a good look when Rosenstein refused to testify under oath to House Republicans, when they controlled that chamber, as to whether or not he really did seek to record Trump and invoke the 25th Amendment. House Republicans have also, for a long time, had questions about Rosenstein’s role in signing off on a fourth and final warrant to spy on Page, where the FISA warrant contained serious omissions and misstatements.

Saying he was too busy to testify, Rosenstein ran out the clock on Republicans, who lost the House after the midterm elections. In the next few months, Rosenstein plans on resigning once William Barr is confirmed as the new attorney general. But in his last days at DOJ, he has had plenty of time to secretly meet with reporters and provide his anonymous narrative.

6. The Whole Russia Probe Is Tainted And Corrupt

If there wasn’t enough evidence already, McCabe’s interview provides even more evidence that the Russia probe was tainted from the get-go. Rosenstein signed off on firing Comey. He signed the last secret warrant to spy on a former member of the Trump campaign, Page, who has yet to be charged with doing literally anything wrong.  And Rosenstein launched the Russia probe and appointed and oversaw special counsel Mueller after former attorney general Jeff Sessions recused himself.

More fundamentally, for the longest time, top FBI and DOJ officials have been able to hide behind the veneer of objectivity. They claimed to not be investigating Trump, but to only be focusing on Russian interference, wherever that may lead.

Yet the entire fiasco, the entirety of the time, has always been about Trump. There is no real effort to check out the Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers likely hacked by Russia (or somebody). There is no objective effort to make sure Russia doesn’t weaken Americans’ confidence in our elections in the future. Instead, everything—even in the first few months of Trump’s presidency—has been done through the lens of trying to boot Trump out of office.

For McCabe and company, getting rid of Trump would surely eliminate someone they detest, and whose policies are not popular in the Beltway. But it would also justify their lunatic and improper actions during the 2016 election.

7. Comey, McCabe, Clapper, And Brennan Are Unpatriotic Dopes

It used to be that intelligence leaders left their jobs quietly and lived quiet lives. There was an occasional op-ed here and there, and some board service. That changed with the people Barack Obama put in place. The new model employed by Comey, McCabe, former director of national intelligence Jim Clapper, and former CIA director John Brennan swims in cable news gigs, book tours, and hysterical tweets.

Again, this completely undermines their claims that while they were in charge of the all-powerful U.S. intelligence community, they acted as non-partisan straight shooters. They were lightyears away from being straight shooters. And their opposition to Trump was beyond ideological. It was emotional, mostly driven by rage.

None of these men have been elected, and it is doubtful that any of them could ever be elected. Yet through a corrupt media, they have been thrust to the center stage of American discourse. These aren’t public servants, they are incompetent attention-seekers. They are selfish, and unpatriotic, concerned with protecting themselves from their own misdeeds instead of the good of the country.

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Author: Willis L. Krumholz

Trump’s Trade Policy Revives Interest In The Non-Delegation Doctrine

In the 1962 Trade Expansion Act, Congress delegated the authority to set tariffs to the president. Now, 57 years later, federal judges are contemplating whether Congress gave away too much of its legislative power.

In response to President Trump’s trade policies, American steel companies are challenging the constitutionality of Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act in the Court of International Trade. The American Institute for International Steel (AIIS), one of the groups filing the lawsuit, is arguing this small piece of legislation violates the Constitution’s doctrine on separation of powers, and the non-delegation doctrine.

“Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, violates the constitutional prohibition against Congress delegating its legislative powers to the President because it lacks any ‘intelligible principle’ to limit the discretion of the President,” AIIS said in a statement. This lawsuit directly challenges the foundation of President Trump’s trade policies. If overturned, the president could lose his power to restrict imports on the basis of national security concerns.

This is far from the first time concerns about the executive power have been mulled over in court. This week’s online course from Hillsdale College on Congress and how it works, dives into the meaning of the doctrine of non-delegation and times throughout history our political systems have hashed out this power struggle. Non-delegation was the Founders’ way of establishing that Congress cannot transfer its legislative authority to the president (or anyone else).

The blurry line between the executive and the legislative branches was present from the very beginning of our government. It is not a new problem that has only evolved in our modern society. In 1791, Congress was debating a bill over the establishment of post offices. Article I, Section 8 clearly states the Congress has the power to establish post offices and post roads. Legislators argued over whether Congress could delegate this authority to the president to establish these post offices, a decision that would not risk infringing on any citizen’s rights, or must Congress designate all post roads themselves through legislation.

This was just the beginning of delegation doctrine debates. The Supreme Court has ruled on many cases, not just regarding legislative power in general, but many specifically addressing the same debate we are witnessing today over presidential power to set trade and tariff policy.  Some rulings have included: the president’s ability to place shipping embargoes, to determine a tariff is “unreasonable,” and to set tariffs on various goods “insofar as he finds it practical.”

In the 1922 case J.W. Hampton Jr. & Company v. United States, the court decided that Congress had not delegated its powers because they provided the president with clear instructions on when and how to adjust the tariff rates. Chief Justice William Howard Taft wrote that so long as Congress lays down an “intelligible principle” to guide executive or agency action, then the act does not constitute an unconstitutional delegation. In other words, if Congress makes its goals clear, it’s perfectly fine for the president or another bureaucratic agency to establish regulations they see fit. It was in this case that the progressive model of administration, where legislative power was divided between lawmakers and bureaucratic agencies, began to creep its way into the U.S. political system. Taft’s “intelligible principle” justified Congress in transferring it’s legislative power to non-legislative hands of government.

Consequently, the Supreme Court has used this “intelligible principle” standard to uphold many cases involving federal agencies and their rule-making authority. And now, depending on the outcome of the International Trade Court, the question of President Trump’s authority to set tariffs on steel, metals, and other imports could make it’s way to SCOTUS. Tara Hogan, a lawyer for the Justice Department, told the trade court that the 1976 Supreme Court case, upholding presidential actions under Section 232, “has not been overturned, and this court is bound to follow it.”

It seems the odds are in the president’s favor, assuming the Court looks to precedents set by modern history and just how much power Congress has relinquished to every agency in Washington, D.C. Nevertheless, it is a good thing for society to question why and to what extent our political system has strayed from its original design.

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Author: Madeline Osburn

Andrew Cuomo’s Approval Rating Sinks To All-Time Low

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s approval rating just plummeted to an all-time low. The sharp decline comes after the Democrat governor shepherded through legislation on several progressive priorities, including a radical late-term abortion bill. 

A Siena College survey conducted from Feb. 4-7 found half of respondents had an unfavorable opinion of Cuomo, an increase of seven percentage points over one month alone. His approval rating fell eight points in the same time period, from 51 to 43 percent. According to The New York Times, that constitutes an eight-year low for the governor, who was inaugurated to his first term in 2011.

Only 35 percent of voters said Cuomo was doing an “excellent” or “good” job, with 64 percent rating his performance as “fair” or “poor.” The poll’s margin of error was 4.3 percentage points.

Speaking on behalf of Siena, Steve Greenberg noted the ratings drop was “across the board,” revealing Cuomo “fell with Democrats, Republicans, and independents.”

“Geographically, his drop was much bigger downstate — New York City and the suburbs — than Upstate, where his ratings were significantly lower previously,” Greenberg added.

Overall, voters largely expressed approval for recently passed items in Cuomo’s legislative agenda, including on gun control (55 to 30 percent) and gender identity discrimination (61 to 24 percent), as well as the so-called “Reproductive Health Act” (47 to 32 percent). As Liz Wolfe explains, that particular bill “effectively [makes] it easier for state residents to obtain post-viability, third-trimester abortions.”

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Author: Emily Jashinsky