Of Morality And Marshmallows

The Atlantic reports on a new study suggesting that the famous “marshmallow test” is unreliable as a predictor of future economic instability. Excerpt:

In the case of this new study, specifically, the failure to confirm old assumptions pointed to an important truth: that circumstances matter more in shaping children’s lives than Mischel and his colleagues seemed to appreciate.

This new paper found that among kids whose mothers had a college degree, those who waited for a second marshmallow did no better in the long run—in terms of standardized test scores and mothers’ reports of their children’s behavior—than those who dug right in. Similarly, among kids whose mothers did not have college degrees, those who waited did no better than those who gave in to temptation, once other factors like household income and the child’s home environment at age 3 (evaluated according to a standard research measure that notes, for instance, the number of books that researchers observed in the home and how responsive mothers were to their children in the researchers’ presence) were taken into account. For those kids, self-control alone couldn’t overcome economic and social disadvantages.

The failed replication of the marshmallow test does more than just debunk the earlier notion; it suggests other possible explanations for why poorer kids would be less motivated to wait for that second marshmallow. For them, daily life holds fewer guarantees: There might be food in the pantry today, but there might not be tomorrow, so there is a risk that comes with waiting. And even if their parents promise to buy more of a certain food, sometimes that promise gets broken out of financial necessity.

Maybe so. But might it also be the case that children raised in more affluent homes will have been taught the value of resisting their impulses? I say this because one of my own children has had a very demanding sweet tooth from earliest childhood. He is also impulsive by nature. It has taken years of effort on the part of his mother and me to train him to say no to his impulses — not only for sugar, but, as he has gotten older and started earning spending money, his enthusiasms for buying things that strike his fancy. Many times I have pondered the difficulty he is going to have managing his money if he doesn’t get this impulsiveness under control. He’s a very good kid, highly moral and responsible, but impulsiveness is his Achilles’ heel.

He’s not being raised in poverty. We are middle class people, but culturally I guess that puts us with more in common with the affluent than not. Our impulsive child has been raised in a stable household — materially and emotionally — so there are no environmental factors that nurture his impulsiveness. From an Orthodox Christian point of view, this is simply one of his passions, something he has to struggle against. I have my own particular passions (anger and gluttony). Orthodoxy teaches that life itself is a struggle to crucify the passions and order ones desires towards the will of God. There is nothing wrong in principle with wanting to eat a marshmallow, but if your reason and your will are overcome by that desire to eat a marshmallow, you are weak, and can fall into sin. The regular fasting that Orthodox Christians do is designed to train the will to desire what God desires for us, not what we desire for ourselves.

Anyway, all of that is prelude to what I want to tell you. Last night, I was at a dinner party with some friends. One of them, N., told a long story about a local carpenter she and her husband had hired to do some renovations on their house. I won’t tell the story in depth, because the story is hers to tell, and she’s a writer. The gist of the story is that N. and her husband have been working with this guy for a long time — it’s a big project — and have gotten to know him well. He’s working class, and economically quite precarious. N. said the man has become a friend, and that she and her husband have been working hard to help him stabilize his life.

N. said — again, I’m summing up, but the details are sort of breathtaking — that the carpenter’s personal life is a study in chaos. He cannot grasp that he has the power to determine future events by the choices he makes today. A sense of moral agency totally escapes him. He sees N.’s ordinary family — they have kids — and thinks that they are simply one of fate’s winners. N. talked about the extraordinary lengths she and her husband have gone to befriend and to help this man, but how ultimately it has been futile. No matter what they say to him, no matter what they do for him, he cannot get it together. And he is leaving all kinds of chaos in his wake (several wives, kids, etc.).

I told N. that my wife and I have been in the very same situation, trying to help someone just like that who had become a friend … and in the end, concluding that it was futile. I wrote about it in the past on this blog: how I had gone to my lawyer, offering to pay him to represent this impoverished friend in a particular case. Lawyer said he would take my money and meet with the friend, but that in his lengthy experience with these cases, he could tell me that I’d be wasting my money and his time, because my friend would not follow through. It’s in the nature of people who get themselves into these kinds of situations, he said, to keep doing what got them into that situation in the first place. I told him I would be willing to take that chance to help her.

Next time I saw this friend, I told her to make an appointment with Lawyer X., that he would be willing to advise her, and that I would pay the bill. She thanked me profusely, but said that wouldn’t be necessary that she had decided to … well, that she had decided to keep doing the same stupid thing that got her into this bind in the first place. The country lawyer’s practical experience in dealing with the poor was wiser than my heart-on-the-sleeve idealism. Not for the first time did I feel like a character in a Flannery O’Connor story. (My future epitaph: “Call me Azzberry”.)

At dinner last night, my friend and I dwelled on the intractability of human nature in cases like this. She said that she had to conclude that a stable family life in childhood provides psychological goods that cannot be given through any other way. There aren’t enough government programs, personal charitable efforts, or anything else to compensate adequately for a chaotic childhood. My friend was certainly not saying that we can wash our hands of the responsibility for our neighbor’s welfare, but she was concluding — accurately — that we have to recognize the limits of our ability to change the lives of others. She was also saying that her experience with the carpenter made her more fully aware of how important it is to do everything she can to give her own children a stable home life.

Notice that I’m not saying — nor did I hear her to say — “affluent” home life. My folks never had a lot of money. We were an ordinary working-class to lower-middle-class family. But the gift my mother and father gave me of an orderly, stable childhood was priceless, I now see. How did they do it? They were both imperfect people who endured their share of difficulties in marriage, caused by their own flaws, as well as a period of economic stress. My father is no longer with us to discuss the matter, but the truth is, neither one of them would have been given over to much self-reflection on the question. They were the kind of people who would have simply said, “We made a vow,” and left it at that. For them, that was reason enough to stay together — that, and they always made it clear that the needs of us kids came before their own. That was just how my folks went through life. Not to get too philosophical about it, but for them, that was the Tao.

That wouldn’t have guaranteed stability in my family’s or my late sister’s, but they gave us such a good model of how family was supposed to work. Again, I don’t want to hold my mom and dad out to have been perfect. I don’t think there are any perfect families, and certainly mine had its particular flaws, some of which had unfortunate long-term consequences. That said, I am so very grateful to my parents for holding things together, and showing my sister and me that it is possible to build that kind of life, even when you don’t have much money.

My father was the chief breadwinner in our household, and, because they were a traditional 1950s-era couple, he was the one who dictated how our financial resources would be handled. I find this interesting with relation to the Atlantic article because having grown up very poor in the Great Depression, he ought to have been shaped by the experience of inconstancy in a particular way. Remember, the Atlantic writer said:

There might be food in the pantry today, but there might not be tomorrow, so there is a risk that comes with waiting. And even if their parents promise to buy more of a certain food, sometimes that promise gets broken out of financial necessity.

That’s how my father grew up, but that same experience made him far more likely to do what he could to hedge against chaos. He talked to Ruthie and me a lot about these things, relating him to his childhood. His own father was away from home for most of my dad’s early childhood, entirely because he had to work and send money back to support his wife, children, and elderly mother, who lived in the household. That sense of vulnerability made a profound impression on my dad, who was determined that his children would not feel it, if he could help it.

Daddy wasn’t unique in that. What I can’t quite understand today is why his response to childhood poverty and insecurity was so very different from what is normal today. That is, Daddy’s response was to live as an adult in such a way that he was less vulnerable to that chaos, and in which his own children were made less vulnerable to the chaos that would have come had outside pressures broken the family apart. I’ve written many times in this space about how he had deep compassion for people who were poor and suffering victims of circumstance, but also something bordering on contempt for people who were poor and suffering, but who always blamed others, or fate, for their suffering. He would say, “You can’t do nothin’ for people like that.” This was the opinion of a man who had once been poor, and who had lived his entire life in the same community as poor people, and working with them. Kind of like that country lawyer I mentioned above.

It seems to me that aside from his personal qualities, my father was the beneficiary of a local culture that, for better or for worse, had a strong bias against people living morally disordered lives. I should add that my dad had much more hostility towards middle class and wealthy people who lived that way. “They know better,” he would say. “They don’t have an excuse.” In his case, it wasn’t so much a matter of religion — my dad wasn’t particularly observant — as it was a matter of shame and honor. The culture that shaped my father’s code said it was dishonorable for men and women to live in ways that violated its core moral code. I heard my dad say on a number of occasions, “There’s no shame in being poor,” but he also spoke with stern judgment against men who abandoned their families, people who wouldn’t work, and so forth.

That code could be harsh, but it was more realistic about life than a lot of what passes for wisdom today. I think that has a lot to do with why Jordan Peterson is so popular. He gives to young men a sense of moral agency. Peterson is not Moses coming down from the summit of Sinai, but he talks common sense to a culture that has forgotten it. There has never been a society, and never will be a society, in which somebody can live like a fool and not pay the consequences — and for that matter, inflict consequences on others. You can’t not show up for work and expect to keep your job forever. You can’t ignore your kids and expect that they will grow up to be responsible people. You can’t get loaded every weekend and wonder why your roof is falling in, and won’t fix itself. You can’t allow television and social media to raise your children, and expect that they will be good.  And so forth.

“The world doesn’t owe you a living,” my father would lecture me, usually when I hadn’t done my homework, or failed to do something I was supposed to have done. I suppose this attitude is what made my dad a natural conservative. He couldn’t stand people who were ungrateful and lazy. His basic attitude towards us kids was: I bust my ass to provide for y’all, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you waste the opportunities you’ve been given. There was a time in my life when I thought he was so square, but the older I get, the more I see that there really isn’t any other way to live. My dad was keen to help people who were down on their luck, and I see now that he allowed himself to be taken advantage of by some folks with hard-luck stories. Mostly, though, what he was eager to do was to teach people how to help themselves, and to encourage them to do so. For him, this was a matter of natural justice. A society in which people were rewarded even though they did the wrong thing, or failed to do the right thing, was not a just or good society. And doing the right thing always meant subjugating your own desires to the greater good, especially the greater good of your family.

Here’s a funny thing: a few years back, when I was working with the African-American actor Wendell Pierce on his memoir of growing up in south Louisiana, I spent some time speaking with his Uncle L.C. Edwards, the last surviving member of Wendell’s parents’ generation. Uncle L.C. was the same age as my father, and like him, had grown up in rural poverty. I loved the stories of L.C.’s parents (that is, Wendell’s grandparents): poor black farmers who weren’t educated, but who had a very strong religious ethic, and who placed enormous value on education and self-discipline as the only reliable means of self-advancement. Poverty was the enemy of both L.C. and my father, but Lloyd and his siblings also had to deal with Jim Crow. If memory serves, every one of the children of Wendell’s grandparents got educated, and escaped poverty. I’m telling you, the chapter on Papo and Mamo (the grandchildren’s name for L.C.’s parents) is worth the price of the book. Here’s a characteristic excerpt:

One Christmas evening after supper, the Edwardses went to call on their College Point neighbors, to wish them a happy holiday. The kids were startled to go into one house and to see that all that family had eaten for their Christmas meal was potatoes and grits. When they returned home, Papo told the children, “This is what I mean when I tell you it’s important to save for a rainy day. If you put your money aside now, you will have enough to eat well on Christmas.”

Given the man Papo was, if the Edwardses had any food left, he probably took it to that poor family and didn’t tell his own children for the sake of preserving their neighbors’ dignity.

His children remembered Papo as a slow talker but a deep thinker. He never made a quick decision, but acted only after prayer, deliberation, and sleeping on it. Whatever the answer was, he arrived at it through careful reason, not passion. Acting on impulse was the sure way to lose your money, in Papo’s view.

Papo worked for a time in a sugar factory and received his weekly wages in a brown packet. He had a firm rule with himself: Wait twenty-four hours before spending a penny of it. Uncle L.C. said that as a young working man, he thought his father’s rule was silly. You have the money, he figured, so why not enjoy it?

But when he got married and started a family of his own, he understood Papo’s good sense and followed the rule himself. Uncle L.C., who worked at the DuPont chemical plant, has done well through saving and investing over the years. To this day, he credits Papo for teaching him by word and example the importance of being careful with your money and not letting your passions guide your decisions.

Talking with L.C. was like speaking with a black version of my own father. Though he had long been in retirement when I met him, L.C. was always thinking of ways he could make a little money. He told me about how he would take fatherless black boys from a nearby trailer park, and try to teach them something about working to make money and to plan for the future. He told me how sorry he felt for those young men, who had no father in the home to offer them direction, or a sense of responsible manhood.

But his pity had strict limits. Like my own father, L.C. was death on those who wouldn’t work or practice self-discipline. He told me about how his own wife, a retired public schoolteacher, quit her job the very day the last of their adult children no longer needed their help paying for college. She was of a generation for whom education was the most precious thing, their ticket out of poverty and oppression. Today, though, she was worn down by students who wouldn’t work, wouldn’t behave themselves, and parents who blamed the schools and the teachers for their kids’ failures.

American culture is far less friendly to the worldview of those Depression babies like L.C. and my father. Politics and economics are complicated things. You can’t simply apply a moral code to every situation, and expect it to solve the problem. But let’s recognize this: very few Americans in 2018 are as materially poor as my dad and L.C. Edwards were when they came into this world in the 1930s. Is there anybody in America today who is poorer than a black child born to uneducated farmers living in the Deep South under American apartheid? And yet, look what they did with what they had been given! There never will be a society in which family won’t matter, and in which moral self-discipline won’t matter. 

The wealthy, and those with social connections, can absorb a lot more disorder than the less well off can, but money won’t last forever.

The world we have today is wealthier, and in some ways is better able to defray the cost of that disorder. We have more of a social safety net today than we did back then. But this world is much poorer in social capital, which is not something you can raise from Chinese bankers.

There’s a lot of brokenness in this country, and no clear way to fix it. The people my dinner companion and I were talking about last night are white. They live in Charles Murray’s fictional Fishtown. They diverge greatly from the core values and practices of stable middle-class and well-off Americans, in ways that were not true a couple of generations ago. Society has grown far more individualistic and tolerant of non-conformity. This is not entirely a bad thing! But the cost to people who don’t have a lot of social and material capital to begin with has been immense. People love to imagine that if only we brought good jobs back to America, or voted in this or that political party, then these problems would solve themselves. I don’t believe that’s true. That’s no reason not to try to improve opportunities for people, but there are no government programs or private charitable initiatives that can meaningfully compensate for the loss of a sense of moral order and purpose.

Finally, I phrase occurred to me while writing this post, a fragment from something I’d read ages ago. I googled it, and the source turned up here. Here is the excerpt I was thinking about. The writer is talking about the 1950s:

It was a more human world in that it was a sexier world, because sex was still a story. Each high school senior class had exactly one girl who got pregnant and one guy who was the father, and it was the town’s annual scandal. Either she went somewhere and had the baby and put it up for adoption, or she brought it home as a new baby sister, or the couple got married and the town topic changed. It was a stricter, tougher society, but its bruising sanctions came from ancient wisdom.

We have all had a moment when all of a sudden we looked around and thought: The world is changing, I am seeing it change. This is for me the moment when the new America began: I was at a graduation ceremony at a public high school in New Jersey. It was 1971 or 1972. One by one a stream of black-robed students walked across the stage and received their diplomas. And a pretty young girl with red hair, big under her graduation gown, walked up to receive hers. The auditorium stood up and applauded. I looked at my sister: “She’s going to have a baby.”

The girl was eight months pregnant and had had the courage to go through with her pregnancy and take her finals and finish school despite society’s disapproval.

But: Society wasn’t disapproving. It was applauding. Applause is a right and generous response for a young girl with grit and heart. And yet, in the sound of that applause I heard a wall falling, a thousand-year wall, a wall of sanctions that said: We as a society do not approve of teenaged unwed motherhood because it is not good for the child, not good for the mother and not good for us.

The old America had a delicate sense of the difference between the general (“We disapprove”) and the particular (Let’s go help her”). We had the moral self-confidence to sustain the paradox, to sustain the distance between “official” disapproval and “unofficial” succor. The old America would not have applauded the girl in the big graduation gown, but some of its individuals would have helped her not only materially but with some measure of emotional support. We don’t so much anymore. For all our tolerance and talk we don’t show much love to what used to be called girls in trouble. As we’ve gotten more open-minded we’ve gotten more closed-hearted.

Message to society: What you applaud, you encourage. And: Watch out what you celebrate.

The author of those words is Peggy Noonan. She published them in, get this, 1992. Some things have gotten better over the last 26 years. For example, when she published this, David Dinkins was mayor of her town, New York City, and the city would record just over 2,000 homicides. Know how many the city recorded last year, 25 years after the column was published? Only 290.  Progress is real!

On the other hand, I can’t get out of my head the words spoken to me by a professor at an Evangelical Christian college. Speaking about the student body, which is predominantly white, he told me that he didn’t think most of them would ever be able to form stable families. I was shocked by this.These were not kids from the blighted projects or wretched rural trailer parks. Why not? I asked.

He said, “Because they have never seen it done.”

We live in a society in which the moral code that we applaud and the people we celebrate all say: Take the marshmallow now, and don’t worry about the future. This is going to cost us.

Read more from The American Conservative…

Unconventional Silicon Valley Baptist minister explains radical faith that inspired explicit, anti-elitist tweets

Gregory Stevens isn’t your run-of-the-mill Baptist minister. “A quick note,” he said in a recent email to Baptist News Global. “I prefer to use ‘Gxd’ or ‘Gxddess’ when writing God to represent trans, feminist, queer, and gender-bending struggles.” He also…

The post Unconventional Silicon Valley Baptist minister explains radical faith that inspired explicit, anti-elitist tweets appeared first on Baptist News Global.

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Detroit Firearm Instructors Train 700 Women How To Safely Operate 9mm Firearms

700 Women Get Gun locks free donated the National Shooting Sports Foundation
700 Women Get Gun locks free donated by the National Shooting Sports Foundation

Detroit, MI –-(Ammoland.com)- Legally Armed In Detroit, a gun rights advocacy group, announces that it gave a free-range safety briefing and a complimentary shooting lesson at a southeast Michigan target range to a record class of 700 women.

Seven hundred (700) women who expressed an interest in learning about fundamental firearm safety and target shooting were recently given a free range safety briefing and a complimentary shooting lesson in metro-Detroit. The annual event – now in its seventh year – safely introduced all of the women participants to firearms on Sunday, May 20th at the Top Gun Shooting Range in Taylor, Michigan.

This annual event seeks to introduce women to firearms in a safe and supportive environment. The women were scheduled to participate in one of several range safety briefings in which basic firearm safety rules were taught along with training on shooting stances and elements of marksmanship.

After every group briefing, each woman was paired up with one vetted firearm instructor for a shooting session. The session consisted of loading a 9mm semi-automatic pistol with 20 rounds of ammunition which were then shot into a hanging paper target. Feedback and support were then given to every participant by her individual instructor.

Rick Ector talking with Local Media
Event Organizer Rick Ector talking with Local Media

This program was conceived by Rick Ector – a Detroit area gun rights advocate – seven years ago. One night while viewing the local news telecast for that evening, he saw a story about a woman who was murdered; her body was dumped in a vacant lot. The story haunted Ector as he pondered what could be done to help women better protect themselves. He came up with the idea of offering a free shooting lesson for women.

That first year only 50 women signed up and attended the program. Ector along with five fellow firearm instructors conducted the training. The next year 100 women signed up, and the program continued to grow by leaps and bounds. Last year, 600 women were trained by the program which needed roughly 40 firearm instructors to help oversee the activity. This year’s program needed 50 firearm trainers to safely train a record 700 women participants.

Legally Armed In Detroit Women Training Day Volunteers 2018
Legally Armed In Detroit Women Training Day Volunteers 2018

The firearm instructors who helped run this year’s program are a diverse group. They are too numerous to list individually by name but the organization they represent are listed as the following: the National Rifle Association (NRA), the United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA), Michigan Gun Owners (MGO), Michigan Open Carry (MOC), National African American Gun Association (NAAGA), and Legally Armed in Detroit (LAID). Many ancillary members also performed useful tasks to keep the event orderly and safe.

Aguila Ammunition provided Ammo for the Women's Training Day Event
Aguila Ammunition provided Ammo for the Women’s Training Day Event

Sponsors also had a huge role in this massive training event. First, the Top Gun Range of Taylor graciously donated their facility for the day. Aguila Ammunition donated 16,000 rounds of 9mm ammunition, Doug Holloway of ATEi donated the use of his firearms, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) donated gun locks, and NRA-ILA donated canvass tote bags.

Legally Armed in Detroit
Legally Armed in Detroit

In all, this year’s firearm training event was a huge success by any measure. Of course, the most important metric was zero injuries, as safety is the most important component of an organized activity this large and complex. In the coming weeks, we will assess how well everything went and set program goals for next year! We may “shoot” for 1,000 women to be trained next year.

For more info about this annual program that trains Detroit-area women how to safely operate 9mm handguns, please contact:

Rick Ector

Web: Legally Armed In Detroit.
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 313.733.7404

The post Detroit Firearm Instructors Train 700 Women How To Safely Operate 9mm Firearms appeared first on AmmoLand.com.

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How tax reform affected these hidden subsidies for higher education – AEI – American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

Most discussions of federal subsidies for higher education focus on student aid programs such as Pell Grants and student loans. Another category of subsidies costs the federal government over $40 billion per year, but receives much less attention. The federal tax code is riddled with many credits, deductions, and exclusions that benefit the education industry. However, these tax expenditures generally aren’t counted as normal government spending.

However, since carveouts in the tax code represent foregone revenue for the federal government, they have the same effect on the deficit as a traditional spending program of the same size. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget notes that if tax expenditures were counted as normal spending, they would consume 28% of the federal budget.

New estimates from the Joint Committee on Taxation show that tax expenditures for education cost a combined $47 billion in 2017. The estimates also reveal how last year’s Republican-backed tax reform bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, influenced these indirect subsidies for education. Most education-related tax expenditures were relatively unaffected by the law, though there are notable exceptions.

Source: Joint Committee on Taxation.

Tuition tax credits represent the largest single tax break for education. These reimburse households for college tuition costs of up to $2,500 per year. The federal government spent $19 billion on these credits in 2017, accounting for 45% of all education-related tax expenditures. For comparison, the federal government spends $27 billion annually on Pell Grants, the main student aid grant program.

The deduction for charitable contributions to educational institutions amounts to the second-largest tax expenditure for education. The “charitable deduction” was also the largest education-related expenditure affected by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. While the deduction itself remained mostly untouched after tax reform, other statutory changes will cause the cost of this tax break for schools and colleges to drop from $10.5 billion in 2027 to $8.7 billion in 2021.

Specifically, Congress cut marginal tax rates, which reduces the value of itemized deductions. Additionally, the tax law nearly doubled the standard deduction, to $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for joint filers. This was a major tax cut for low- and middle-income households, as claiming the standard deduction is more common among these groups.

However, in order to claim the break for charitable contributions, tax filers must forego the standard deduction and instead itemize their deductions. With a larger, more enticing standard deduction, fewer taxpayers will opt to itemize, and so fewer will claim the charitable deduction. Many of these people will still donate to their favorite colleges and universities; they’ll simply no longer get to claim a tax break for it.

Early drafts of the tax law proposed stripping away specialized tax expenditures and using the money to lower tax rates for everyone. Proponents of reform argued that a tax code with lower marginal rates and fewer carveouts would spur faster economic growth than a code with higher rates but more carveouts. Lower marginal rates drive individuals and businesses to invest in projects with high economic dividends, but tax expenditures divert resources to politically popular arenas that may deliver less of a boost to growth.

Under those guiding principles, the tax bill’s authors originally proposed eliminating many education-related tax breaks. These included one of the tuition tax credits, the student loan interest deduction, and tax-exempt bonds for private educational institutions. Yielding to political expediency, however, the final draft of the bill retained most of those tax expenditures while also lowering marginal rates. As a result, under tax reform these carveouts will stay roughly as expensive as they were beforehand. (Meanwhile, the federal budget deficit approaches $1 trillion.)

Two other major tax expenditures—the exclusion of scholarships and fellowships from taxable income and tax preferences for 529 college savings plans—will become more expensive over the next several years. However, the costs of these provisions were already slated to rise before Congress passed tax reform.

Most tax breaks for higher education made it through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act unscathed. But as Congress grapples with higher deficits over the next several years, it will become more difficult to ignore $40 billion in hidden subsidies for the education industry. Politicians who are serious about reining in government spending should keep tax expenditures on the table.

Read more from American Enterprise Institute…

From Rockville to Russia: Rodney Wallace will represent Costa Rica at World Cup

Rodney Wallace is a son of Montgomery County. Schools: Luxmanor Elementary, Tilden and Julius West Middle, then Bullis. Sports: Potomac Soccer Association and a fan of D.C. pro and college teams. Socializing: Westfield Montgomery shopping mall and …

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Accused Texas shooter’s father blames bullying for son’s rampage

The father of the 17-year-old charged with killing 10 people at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, said Monday that his son was a “good boy” and had been “mistreated at school.” Antonios Pagourtzis said in a brief phone interview with The Wall Street Journal that his son Dimitrios was bullied and “I believe that’s what was behind” the shooting. Dimitrios Pagourtzis is being held without bond at the Galveston County Jail after he allegedly burst into an art classroom Friday morning at Santa Fe High School armed with a shotgun and pistol and opened fire, before surrendering to police. In a probable cause statement, authorities said he admitted to the shooting. The Santa Fe Independent School District didn’t respond to requests for comment on whether Dimitrios Pagourtzis was bullied. On Saturday, it denied reports that he was bullied by high-school coaches in this small rural Texas town southeast of Houston. Nicholas Poehl, a lawyer hired by the Pagourtzis family to represent their son, said Monday that the teen had been bullied but declined to go into specifics. He said he was still trying to ascertain details, including how school officials responded. The elder Mr. Pagourtzis, who owns a shipping repair company based in Houston, said his family was distraught over the mass shooting.

Read more from Signs of the Times…

FBI agents ready to blow whistle, stick it to bosses; ‘sickened’ by Comey, McCabe, Holder, Lynch …

Joe DiGenova, the former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, said this week there are many agents in the FBI waiting on Congress to subpoena them so they tell them what they know about the actions of former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

In an interview with the Daily Caller, DeGenova said the agents are “sickened” by all the charges of corruption being leveled against the FBI.

 

“There are agents all over this country who love the bureau and are sickened by Comey’s behavior, and McCabe, and [Eric] Holder and [Loretta] Lynch and the thugs like [John] Brennan – who despise the fact that the bureau was used as a tool of political intelligence by the Obama administration thugs,” DiGenova said.

“They are just waiting for a chance to come forward and testify,” he added.

The DC cited an anonymous counter-intelligence consultant who interviewed an active special agent of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and the agent confirmed what Digenova said.

“Every special agent I have spoken to in the Washington Field Office wants to see McCabe prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” the agent said, according to the transcripts of the interview. “They feel the same way about Comey.”

The source said agents can only safely blow the whistle on their former bosses if they are subpoenaed.

“All Congress needs to do is subpoena involved personnel and they will tell you what they know. These are honest people,” the agent said. “Leadership cannot stop anyone from responding to a subpoena. Those subpoenaed also get legal counsel provided by the government to represent them.”

The agent expressed concerns about harsh retributions and the consultant noted that “on their own as whistleblowers, they get no legal protection and there will be organizational retaliation against them.”

“The administrations are so politicized that any time a special agent comes forward as a whistleblower,” the agent explained, “they can expect to be thrown under the bus by leadership. Go against the Muslim Brotherhood, you’re crushed. Go against the Clintons, you’re crushed. The FBI has long been politicized to the detriment of national security and law enforcement.”

DiGenova, who said last week that former CIA director John Brennan needs to “get himself a good lawyer,” told DC he doesn’t blame them for being concerned.

“I don’t blame the agents one bit. I think that the FBI is in a freefall,” he said. “James Comey has destroyed the institution he claims to love. And it is beyond a doubt that it is going to take a decade to restore public confidence because of Comey and Clapper and Brennan and Obama and Lynch.”

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Weiner Rises Again

As Huma makes the rounds at frou-frou social gatherings, her estranged, jailed husband Anthony Weiner is back in the news.

Michael Horowitz, the Inspector General of the Department of Justice has spent months looking into misconduct by the CIA and FBI. His report on their participation in the election was supposed to be out now, but he wrote to Congress to let them know that he has a draft but not the final copy. It is believed that the major hold-up on its release is due to findings in the chain of events that led Anthony Weiner’s sexting laptop to end up playing an integral role in the destruction of Hillary Clinton by harboring missing emails that were accidentally downloaded by Huma Abedin during the campaign.

Anthony Weiner is currently in the pound paying dues to society for being a gross, gross man.

Carlos Danger

The troubles started for Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner in 2011. With an online alias of Carlos Danger, Weiner took to sending sexualized material to women who were not his wife, Huma Abedin… and to women who were not yet women.

In May of this year, he pleaded guilty to sending obscene material to an underaged girl, who was 15 years old at the time of the transmission. Weiner claimed to have a “sickness, but not an excuse” for the material.

“The disgraced ex-congressman was sentenced to 21 months in prison Monday for convincing a high school student to undress and touch herself via Skype in 2016.”

In court, Weiner said that he suffered from a sick obsession for sexting strangers, not from a sick obsession with underaged girls. The government asked for two years.

His conviction was over a single count of transferring obscene material to a minor.

Meanwhile, Huma Abedin is hopping around to galas held by New York social society including the Met Gala and a party hosted by Vogue bosslady Anna Wintour.

The Laptop

And here we get to the amazing stroke of good luck.

During the course of investigating Weiner, his laptop was confiscated. The same laptop had also been casually used by Huma Abedin, and the same laptop — in the hands of the authorities — was found to be containing the 33,000 “missing emails” claimed to be forever lost by Hillary Clinton.

Hillary, of course, had “bleached” her hard drive clean of the emails, which were kept on an illegal private server while she was Secretary of State.

Even the fact that she had bleached, or wiped clean her server was through a genius bit of stupidity on her IT guy’s part. Her tech expert, responsible for maintaining and then wiping the servers, asked the enormously popular website Reddit for helping removing a “very VIP” email address from a “bunch of archived emails” then we wouldn’t have found what had really happened.

It turned out that Hillary’s IT guy, Paul Combetta, posted the question using his favorite online handle Stonetear. By looking through the nickname’s online history, internet sleuths pinned Paul Combetta down as the one asking for help in bleaching a server.

So while Stonetear made 33,000 emails disappear, they had all been downloaded to Weiner’s sticky laptop, which was then picked up by authorities investigating the icky Anthony Weiner.

If Hillary has anyone to blame — and she’s blamed a lot of people for her loss — then she may as well finger Weiner as the most prominent reason she isn’t Madam President, and the most likely reason she’ll end up in Cell Block C.

At the time, the FBI was held up by Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who took a solid month before obtaining a warrant to get their own copy of the contents of the laptop from the Weiner case agents.

FBI and the Emails

The Inspector General Michael Horowitz is working on a wide-ranging report that is due out any time now.

Horowitz also believes that McCabe was making the DOJ’s job difficult but not being upfront with his participation in the media interviews and with the Clintons.

The DOJ investigation led by Horowitz had previously found information on Peter Strzok, leading to his demotion

In March, FBI agents said that James Comey had ‘stood in the way’ of investigating the lost Clinton emails during the time that he and McCabe were in charge.

And reportedly it’s the Human emails on Weiner’s laptop that represent the current snag that’s holding back the report.

Horowitz announced to Congress last week that he has a draft report finished, but has not provided any further update on when it will be released for review.

Source: Fox News

The post Weiner Rises Again appeared first on Joe For America.

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Iraqi Lawmaker-Elect Vows to Push for Assyrian Province

( Edwin Mora/Breitbart News)The future of Christianity in its cradle of Iraq is contingent upon the establishment of a separate province for the persecuted minority, an Iraqi member of parliament recently elected to represent Assyrian Christians argued in an interview with Breitbart News.

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