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Shannon column: Conservatives still waiting for anchor babies aweigh!

Three years into the Trump administration seemed like a good time to evaluate progress on the number one issue for Trump voters: illegal immigration. Unfortunately, progress is nil.

There is no wall, and no one is paying for it.

There is no “deportation force,” and Trump hasn’t even made a dent in the 22 million illegals already in the U.S.

DACA isn’t ended.

Sanctuary cities, counties and states are going strong and suffering no penalty for entering into a conspiracy to obstruct justice and undermine the rule of law.

There is no tax on remittances sent by illegals here to their relatives in their home countries.

There is no nationwide requirement for the use of E-Verify in hiring.

There were even 300,000 anchor babies born to foreigners either just stopping in for a visit or hiding in the shadows.

In case you’re not up to speed on immigration loopholes that always work to benefit outsiders and never citizens, anchor babies are the GPS theory of national allegiance.

Let’s say your pregnant wife was sitting in the stands at Lambeau Field and she got so excited she gave birth. The resulting baby would not be entitled to Packers season tickets for the rest of his life. But if your wife was an illegal immigrant named Consuela, who gave birth in a Green Bay maternity ward, your new child would be a Yankee Doodle Dandy.

An instant U.S. citizen with all the welfare rights that come with the birth certificate.

That last on the list of Trump immigration failures is the most curious of all, since Trump promised us in November 2018 that he was going to end “birthright citizenship” (the correct name for anchor babies) with a stroke of his pen.

Fifteen months later, either Trump’s pen ran out of ink or the executive order is interred somewhere in Anonymous’ inbox.

That’s a real shame because Trump could have fulfilled this promise on his own. After the predictable lawsuit failed in court, one immigration scam would have been over.

The left and their stenographers in the Opposition Media who claim ending birthright citizenship is unconstitutional are simply lying, as usual.

Talk show host Mark Levin said, “Not until the 1960s [was] the Constitution …interpreted to convey birthright citizenship on the children of illegal aliens. And not due to any congressional statute or court ruling, but decisions by various departments and agencies of the federal bureaucracy.”

Decisions that can be countermanded by the president. The federal bureaucracy is at least intermittently controlled by Trump, so he can tell the executive branch to close the border in the maternity ward.

The question is, why hasn’t he?

Now that Trump has gotten rid of the hand-wringing Kirstjen Nielsen as secretary of Homeland Security and shown the door to the obstructionist who replaced her, he may be returning to immigration just in time for re-election.

Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been appointed acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, and Trump is eyeing him as the next DHS secretary. And for a change, Cuccinelli appears to support Trump’s immigration policy.

(I remain amazed that out of the 63 million Americans who voted for Trump he couldn’t find a thousand or so to hire for his administration. What a difference he could have made if he hadn’t opted for cocktail conservative retreads.)

Cuccinelli made news when he issued a new rule that would exclude people on welfare from getting a green card. A law passed during the immigration crackdown inferno known as the Clinton administration already made it illegal to collect welfare and a green card, but squishes in the bureaucracy ignored this so they could feel noble spending your money.

Cuccinelli just made policy conform to the law. Currently being law-abiding is blocked by angry Obama judges, but they will lose in the end.

What’s appalling about Cuccinelli’s tenure so far surfaced in an interview he gave during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast. Naturally the question was framed by the OpMedia operative built around a lie.

Cuccinelli was asked what was he going to do “on changing birthright citizenship, or automatic citizenship for almost anyone born in the U.S., as enshrined in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.”

He rejected the amendment lie and then depressed Trump supporters around the nation when he said changing anchor baby policy “hasn’t come up much in his work at USCIS.”

Changing that flawed, unjustifiable policy is one of the easiest immigration reforms on the table for the Trump administration. It would send a message around the world that the USA is finally taking control of its border and will implement immigration policies that benefit citizens first.

And so far, doing it is 15 months and a broken promise late.

Copyright 2020 Michael Shannon, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Michael Shannon is a commentator and public relations consultant, and is the author of “A Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times.” He can be reached at mandate.mmpr@gmail.com.

Cepeda column: Immigrants have stronger faith in America’s justice system than those who dehumanize them

CHICAGO — For many years, well before Donald Trump was elected, immigration hawks complained about the practice of so-called “catch and release.”

These observers just couldn’t understand how migrants who were caught living illegally in the country, or attempting to enter, weren’t just bounced back to their country of origin right away instead of being given an opportunity to “disappear into the shadows.”

But that’s not how it works.

Research has long shown that the vast majority of migrants who have been released into the U.S. show up for their court cases in front of immigration judges.

In fiscal year 2019, immigration judges decided a record 67,406 asylum cases, more than twice as many as in 2014. Even though 69% of those cases actually resulted in asylum, 99% of migrants appeared for the opportunity to plead their case, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, a nonpartisan research project that tracks staffing, spending and enforcement activities of the federal government.

And the time between arriving in the country and actually getting a determination had little to do with how faithful the immigrants were. Asylum applicants waited on average 1,030 days, or nearly three years, for their cases to be decided. A quarter of them even waited 1,421 days, or nearly four years, for their asylum decision.

Just imagine nervously waiting for the final decision on your immigration status and hearing news of people being deported after reporting for their regular check-in meetings. Add to that the headlines about the Trump administration trying to prevent others from even attempting to seek asylum. It must be terrifying.

It has to be, but the alternative — being held in immigration custody for any amount of time — is even worse.

A 40-year-old native of Angola and citizen of France died in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody days before the new year. He had been in custody since early November and was taken on Dec. 12 to the Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque for “evaluation of emaciation, altered mental status and possible sepsis,” according to an ICE news release. The man died of a bowel obstruction.

He was the fourth person to die in U.S. custody since October, according to BuzzFeed, and just the latest grim reminder of how migrant men, women and children fare while in the care of the U.S. government.

An earlier BuzzFeed investigation detailed a Department of Homeland Security memo that cited detainees receiving the wrong medicine, getting treatments only after long delays and suffering from what was described by a source as “grossly negligent” care.

Some detainees grew urgently sicker, while others were so distraught that they seriously lacerated themselves or committed suicide. An 8-year-old boy was misdiagnosed with swimmer’s ear when he was actually suffering from an infection inside the skull — the misdiagnosis cost the child part of the skull bone behind his forehead.

In the 2019 fiscal year, eight people died while in custody. Thousands more reportedly grew sicker than when they arrived or suffered other abuses such as lack of fresh water or food, lack of sanitary products like toilet paper or facilities in which to shower. Plus, they allegedly endured routine intimidation, use of physical force and sexual assault.

Why in the world would people who are awaiting an immigration court date show up for routine check-ins and for actual court dates when they could legitimately feel they are at risk for being immediately deported or put into the hellscape that is federal immigration custody, according to countless media investigations?

Why not just slip away and start fresh somewhere under a fake Social Security number, in an attempt to simply dodge or circumvent the system altogether?

Faith.

People who come to the U.S. fleeing the violence, repression or poverty of their home country believe in the American legal system, which promises justice for all — especially the tired, the poor and those yearning to breathe free.

They believe in the promise of an America that will give them their day in court and, perhaps, the opportunity to eventually make a life here.

When you think about it, these seekers may have even stronger and deeper faith in the ideal of American justice than those who dehumanize them by wanting to eradicate, cage or “catch and release” them like animals.

Esther Cepeda’s email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com or follow her on Twitter @estherjcepeda. (c) 2020, Washington Post Writers Group

Guzzardi column: Elitist Ivanka Trump wants more skilled immigration

Ivanka Trump wasn’t in the Golden Globes audience when master of ceremonies Ricky Gervais delivered his scathing indictment of celebrities and Hollywood elite. Trump would have been well advised to heed Gervais’ message. Gervais urged the assembled actors to, if called on to accept an award, shut up, refrain from making political speeches that no one wants to hear, and stop the hypocritical pretense of concern about average Americans, about whom they know nothing.

Trump is quite possibly the nation’s most privileged individual. A bride who pays an estimated $50,000 for a Vera Wang wedding dress that required the skills of 28 seamstresses, weighed 50 pounds and was accessorized with $265,000 of diamonds isn’t the average woman. Nor does such a woman hang out with entry-level H-1–types.

Even though Trump has only, at best, a superficial understanding of the technology industry and federal immigration policy as it affects the H-1–employment visa, she was nevertheless the Consumer Electronics Show’s keynote speaker. Speaking in her capacity as her father’s advisor and as the co-chair of the globalist American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, Trump made some condescending, throwaway comments about retraining existing American workers so that they would be prepared for “jobs of the future.”

But Trump’s sub-rosa message came through clearly – immigration laws should be revised to allow what she referred to as highly educated foreign nationals to live and work in the United States. Then Trump added that the president “thinks it’s absolutely insane that we educate immigrants from around the world and just when they’re about to start companies, we throw them out of the country. We need to reach over the sidelines, draw them into our workforce.” Trump’s reference was to students with F-1 visas, mostly Indian, enrolled in U.S. universities.

For immigration advocates like Trump and her like-minded husband Jared Kushner (who live in $5.5 million, 7,000 square foot homes) pontificating about what 50-year-old displaced U.S. tech workers should do with the remainder of their professional lives is easy. Trump/Kushner will never have to worry about making next month’s mortgage payment, putting food on the table, getting health care coverage or paying for their children’s college education. The H-1–visa means that corporations displace older workers with younger, foreign nationals, mostly age 34 or younger. A Bloomberg story described the plight of U.S. tech workers: “It’s Tough Being Over 40 in Silicon Valley.”

But the truth is that, as President Trump knows all too well, many students remain unlawfully after their visas expire, and few are “thrown out.” Many F-1 visa holders have been able to enroll in the Optional Practical Training program, which the Bush administration expanded and which continues unabated today, even though it never received congressional approval. Foreign nationals on OPT can work for 29 months; science, technology engineering and math (STEM) students may work for three years which helps employers circumvent the 85,000 H-1–cap. In terms of participants, OPT now exceeds the H-1–program. Department of Homeland Security data shows that universities provided 215,000 OPT work permits in 2018. The left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, among other think tanks, has concluded that OPT harms U.S. workers. Overall, an estimated 46 percent of all 10 million-plus visa holders remain in the U.S. after their departure date has expired. Many are illegally employed.

In the co-authored Atlantic Council report titled “Reforming US’ High-Skilled Guest Worker Program,” Ron Hira, a Howard University professor, and Bharath Gopalaswamy, director of the Council’s South Asia Center,, spelled out just how devastating the decades-long inflow of cheaper, younger overseas labor is. Virtually every American-held white-collar job is at risk. A significant percentage of H-1–visas is not issued to tech workers, but instead to teachers, accountants and sales representatives. The authors also concluded that, by every objective measure, most H-1–workers have ordinary abilities, skills that are readily available in the domestic labor market.

The H-1–and its bastard offspring, OPT, and H-4 for spouses, a job displacement visa that also began without congressional approval in 2015, continue relentlessly because financial powerhouses like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have convinced Capitol Hill leaders and media potentates that the U.S. desperately needs foreign labor. They’ve also duped Ivanka Trump and her father who once promised to reform but has since abandoned his pledge to rein in the H-1–visa that’s been a consistent American job killer since its creation in 1990.

Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org.

Funt column: Debate fatigue

Tuesday’s event was supposed to be the big one, the final showdown before actual voting begins. If, like me, you’ve watched every minute of every Democratic debate so far – and here’s wishing we’d all get a life – you know the unfortunate truths:

– The candidates are what they have become. There’s not a scintilla of insight regarding the front-runners that wasn’t clear after the first debate last June.

The Democrats’ debate performance looks increasingly like a traveling road show – meant to be sampled by curious crowds at each stop, but not by the same TV audience over and over. The actors know their lines. They’ve polished and trimmed. A few players have left the cast and one new billionaire recently stepped in, but for the most part it’s a pat performance.

– The basic format is fine for one or two debates, but it doesn’t deliver month after month. The Democratic National Committee has fixated on the rules for qualifying but ignored the need for alternative formats.

A single-topic debate was considered but rejected by the DNC. Other changes have been floated – including a few by me in this space – but party leaders won’t budge. That’s unfortunate because voters would benefit by seeing if these candidates can go off-script, if they can sing as well as dance.

– Aggression pleases commentators but not voters. After earlier debates there was a lot of pundit-speak about who delivered meaningful blows and who was able “to take a punch.” It’s an ugly way of describing Democratic politics, plus it doesn’t work. The hardest hitter, California Sen. Kamala Harris, has quit the race. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was another early aggressor, as was former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. He’s out and she’s fading away.

The four front-runners wisely mind their manners. Former Vice President Joe Biden saves his aggression for the end of each debate when he bellows at the audience, “This is America!” (Sounds like Eddie Murphy, “I’m Gumby, damn it!) Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren lets facts, figures and a plethora of plans do her talking. Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is an articulate choir boy. Only Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is a bit gruff – but he’s not nasty. He’s more like a lovable uncle.

– Defeating Trump is important, dwelling on how is not. The most overworked and bankrupt line of questioning in each debate is some variation of “Why are you the best candidate to beat Trump?” The answer, to the extent there is one, will be found in the sum of everything said in all debates, on the campaign trail and, ultimately, at the polls. But there is no way whatsoever to meaningfully address the question in a single debate-stage statement.

Yet, the question keeps getting asked. It forces Buttigieg to remind us he’s a Midwesterner who served in Afghanistan; Biden to note that he’s experienced and sat at Obama’s side; Warren to point out that she and Klobuchar have won every election they’ve been in; Sanders to restate the need for sweeping social and political change. Truth is, they can each beat Trump but only one will get to show us how it’s done.

– Rooting for gaffes isn’t fun, or particularly useful. At one point on the stage in Des Moines, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar couldn’t quite recall the name of Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly. After the debate, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren appeared to rebuff Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ offer to shake hands. So what?

The night’s Big Deal was supposed to be whether Sanders did or did not once tell Warren that a woman couldn’t be elected president. If ever there was an inconsequential he said/she said issue, this is it. Suffice it to say, Sanders and Warren are friends and, yes, a woman can and will be elected president – in 2020 or soon thereafter.

– Moderators keep messing up. Right near the top, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Sanders about “attacking” Biden over his voting record on Iraq. Moments later Blitzer asked Klobuchar about why she has “publicly questioned Mayor Buttigieg’s experience.” These are not appropriate debate questions, they are transparent attempts to bait the candidates. Moderators have persisted in this for seven straight debates.

One bright spot this time was the valiant effort by Abby Phillip of CNN and Brianne Pfannenstiel of the Des Moines Register to control the clock. Since June the candidates have deliberately stretched their answers and squeezed more time, despite the presence of warning lights on stage and gentle pleas from moderators. Klobuchar is one of the biggest abusers; Biden is the most respectful of the rules limiting time. The interruptions by Phillip and Pfannenstiel might have annoyed some viewers, but they had no choice. These Demo-cats have proved hard to herd.

The best that can be said for the seven debates is that the whole might prove to be greater than the sum of its parts. Perhaps the grind – as redundant as it’s been in some ways, yet incomplete in others – is necessary to confirm who is best able to go all the way to November. Maybe the best we could have expected from the debates so far was that a huge field, that reached 25 at one point, would be cut to a more manageable roster of four or five for the next rounds.

But after seven debates Democrats have pretty much given us a Peggy Lee: “Is that all there is?”

Hillman column: MLK’s words illustrate his faith, patriotism and desire for unity

Because he was taken from us just before my first birthday, what I know about Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. comes from his speeches and writing. His words provide a stark contrast to so many activists and politicians in today’s polarized political climate.

Despite his attempts to speak from a love of God, love of country, and love for mankind, he was not a unifying figure because Americans in the 1960s were sharply at odds over the Vietnam War and racial strife.

King spoke in terms that were dear to most every American and which necessarily made many uncomfortable. He pointed out the obvious mistreatment of blacks in an America that perceived this injustice but too often preferred to do little to correct it.

He spoke a language that forced Americans to wrestle with the inconsistency between what they knew to be right and the wrongs that persisted. While King’s words didn’t immediately persuade, they were a constant irritation, like a pebble in a shoe, that would eventually demand action.

King was different from many of today’s social justice activists in three very conspicuous ways: He was a minster of the Gospel who loved God and preached Jesus Christ as his Savior. He loved America and the ideals upon which it was founded. He showed love toward his adversaries rather than bitterness and hatred.

“I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate (someone) myself,” he said in his American Dream sermon in August 1965. “Hate does something to the soul … The man who hates can’t think straight. . . .

“I know that Jesus is right, that love is the way. And this is why John said, “God is love,” so that he who hates does not know God, but he who loves at that moment has the key that opens the door.”

He was wary of forces “of bitterness and hatred” that “come perilously close to advocating violence,” naming specifically the emerging Nation of Islam.

“It is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incurable devil,” he wrote. “There is a more excellent way, of love and nonviolent protest. I’m grateful to God that through the Negro church, the dimension of nonviolence entered our struggle.”

King embraced America’s heritage and our founding fathers.

“When the architects of our Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir,” he said in his “I Have A Dream” speech on July 4, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial.

He understood that “America has given the Negro people a bad check,” but “we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.” Rather than repudiate the founders for their imperfection, he exalted them for their vision and challenged his fellow Americans to fulfill it.

The Declaration of Independence, he said, expressed “a great dream” because “it doesn’t say ‘some men’ (are created equal), it says ‘all men.’”

“That dream goes on to say another thing that ultimately distinguishes our nation and our form of government from any totalitarian system in the world. It says that each of us has certain basic rights that are neither derived from or conferred by the state. … They are God-given, gifts from His hands.

“Never before in the history of the world has a sociopolitical document expressed in such profound, eloquent, and unequivocal language the dignity and the worth of human personality.”

King wanted to end Jim Crow segregation, but not so racial groups could re-segregate themselves as some want today.

“One day, here in America,” he said, “I hope that we will become one big family of Americans. Not white Americans, not black Americans, not Jewish or Gentile Americans, not Irish or Italian Americans, not Mexican Americans, not Puerto Rican Americans, but just Americans.

“One big family of Americans.”

That’s a dream America needs today, as much as it did fifty years ago.

Mark Hillman served as Senate Majority Leader and State Treasurer. To read more or comment, go to www.MarkHillman.com.

Micek column: Talking to my daughter about war and fires

We were on the way to ballet rehearsal. It’s my favorite 30 minutes of the day. It’s a chance to break away from work, and to touch base with my only child. She’s 14 now. And it won’t be long before she’s driving herself. I treasure these moments.

“So,” I asked her. “How was school today?”

“We were arguing about whether we’re more likely to die from World War III or climate change,” she said.

Her response stopped me cold, but I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

With the dogs of war straining at the leash, the missiles flying in Iran, and our bellicose and unstable commander-in-chief lurching from one scarcely believable justification to the next, the prospect of another American forever war on the other side of the globe didn’t seem all that far-fetched.

First up, I disabused her of the notion that any of her classmates might be drafted, reassuring her that there was no such movement afoot on Capitol Hill. Nor would there likely ever be one. The American military remains an all-volunteer force comprised not of the nation’s elite, but of the sons and daughters of Main Street America. Trump’s voters. Some of my daughter’s classmates — if they ever heed the call to serve — may well be among them.

She seemed relieved at that news. Talking to her about the threat of climate change was another matter entirely.

It seemed to me there were decades remaining before the Earth might ever be rendered uninhabitable because of climate change, I offered. Which didn’t mean that we shouldn’t do all we can right now, I added.

“But Australia is burning,” she countered, her brown eyes wide with alarm, anger creeping into the edges of her voice.

She had me there. I’d seen the photos of scorched koalas and dead kangaroos. The endless walls of flame. It’s difficult to find the words to describe the scale, and the scope, of the ecological and human catastrophe that’s unfolding on the other side of the world.

As of this writing, NPR was reporting that a hellish “megafire” comprising an unfathomable 1.5 million acres, an area three times larger than any known brush fire in California, had taken shape in New South Wales and Victoria, the country’s most populous states.

That’s on top of the 135 bushfires in southeastern Australia that have left at least 26 people dead, killed more than 1 billion animals and damaged or destroyed nearly 3,000 homes.

Writing in the New York Times, columnist Paul Krugman observed that, in a more rational time, the fires, which have been partially a result of climate change, “would have represented a turning point.”

“After all, it’s exactly the kind of catastrophe climate scientists long warned us to expect if we didn’t take action to limit greenhouse gas emissions,” he wrote. “In fact, a 2008 report commissioned by the Australian government predicted that global warming would cause the nation’s fire seasons to begin earlier, end later, and be more intense — starting around 2020.”

And all this got me to thinking about the world that we’re bequeathing to my daughter and her classmates.

While much is better about the planet, there’s still much to be concerned about. And the threat of an uninhabitable globe should lead us to a united search for solutions, not juvenile taunts hurled at a teenager by one of the most powerful people on Earth. Even one dead child in an elementary school classroom should motivate us to find ways to reduce violence, not watch hopelessly as more bodies pile up.

I’m still firm in my belief that it’s not too late for us to shrug off all that divides us, and to work together to fight these existential threats.

But that means having a nation that engages with the global community not denigrates it; one that rejects the false choice that less gun violence somehow means fewer rights; and one that doesn’t stare each over the trenches, each irrevocably convinced that its way is the only way.

My daughter — and all our children — deserve far better answers than the ones we’ve been giving them.

Email John L. Micek at jmicek@penncapital-star.com and follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek.

Finally some justice for maligned Covington Catholic student

Less than two weeks from now, thousands of pro-life teenagers will converge on the nation’s capital to rally in support of the unborn at the 47th annual March for Life.

Unfortunately, many people are uncomfortable with the idea that millennials would raise their voices to oppose abortion. The image of young kids standing together with signs that read “Choose Life” and “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart” can be disconcerting when you are used to hearing it’s only old white men who want to strip women of the “right to choose.”

That’s the only explanation I have for what some people did to a young Catholic student from Kentucky last year, when he and his classmates from Covington Catholic High attended the March for Life. As a bunch of them waited for their bus to pick them up, a Native American activist named Nathan Phillips approached banging his drum. Some of the boys reacted chanting their school song while one of them, Nicholas Sandmann, stood face to face with Phillips. The boy was smiling, although many characterized his expression as a “smirk.” The screen shot of that encounter went viral, and was used to attack Sandmann as a bigoted, privileged white boy who was mocking both ethnic minorities and a woman’s “right to choose.”

Now Sandmann has finally gotten some vindication via a settlement announced this week with CNN, whom Sandmann sued for defamation – and was just one of many outlets and public figures who took shots at the teen.

One of the most offensive comments was from Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who incorrectly tweeted “The boys were protesting a woman’s right to choose & yelled ‘it’s not rape if you enjoy it.’ ” She later deleted the tweet.

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times observed that “there are dozens of students laughing and egging on the behavior. Will be interesting to see if anyone is actually expelled, as officials suggest is possible,” creating the false impression that the Catholic high school students were the aggressors.

HBO host Bill Maher called Sandmann a word normally used to describe a man’s sexual organ.

The Washington Post came out with an initial story that falsely claimed the Covington Catholic students, some of whom wore MAGA hats, chanted “build that wall” without any audio or video corroboration.

Some of the worst offenders were affiliated with CNN. Bakari Sellers, a regular contributor tweeted, “[Sandmann] is a deplorable. Some ppl can also be punched in the face.” Reza Aslan, another personality who also appeared on CNN, picked up the assault theme by tweeting “Honest question. Have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid’s?” (He reportedly only deleted that tweet this past week.) Conservative commentator S.E. Cupp, who hosts a CNN show called “Unfiltered,” tweeted “Teens in MAGA gear mock a Native American Vietnam vet.” She later walked that back and apologized, but the damage was done.

Because of the overwrought, under-researched comments from many in the public eye, Sandmann and his family were subjected to months of harassment. His family had to leave their house for a time, they received death threats, and he was told not to come back to school in the days immediately after the incident. Even a Kentucky Catholic diocese initially condemned Sandmann.

In response, his family filed a defamation lawsuit against numerous media outlets including CNN and the Washington Post. CNN settled for an undisclosed amount, and the Post case is ongoing.

As an attorney, I know settlements are not a legal admission of guilt. But as a human being who understands it is natural to defend yourself when you think you are right, I’m convinced CNN believed it would lose where it counts the most: the court of public opinion.

Journalists can be heard wailing these days about assaults on the press. I think it is important, though, to examine those cases where they themselves are the assailants. This is one.

Based on incomplete facts and in a desire to get the story out as quickly as possible, some very powerful media outlets defamed a young boy, and created an environment where he was threatened. I am convinced this was, in large part, because he was a young white man with pro-life beliefs.

Sandmann: 1, CNN: (lots of) 0s.

Copyright 2020 Christine Flowers. Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and can be reached at cflowers1961@gmail.com.

Chacos column: Anyone can cross-country ski!

When you’re a kid, trying a new sport or hobby is what you’re expected to do. Parents layer you with all the right gear and say all the right things with such forceful enthusiasm that you may have once joined the chess club, tried your skill at figure skating, played soccer, volleyball, or even spent time in a dojo.

Fear and hesitation accompany all new endeavors, especially one as cruel as being led into ballet class as a pudgy preschooler. But a child is easily manipulated. Parents use their confidence and determination to wield their child into new experiences and then act as if this is the natural order of things.

Therefore, I channeled all the cheers my parents blindly heaped on me when I was a child clarinetist playing in the back row of the band and decided to try a new sport.

At 46 years old, I’m neither light on my feet nor especially agile anymore. But I am athletic, with thick thighs and a competitive spirit. No problem.

I borrowed some cross-country ski gear from a co-worker, even though I wanted to buy new, top-of-the-line stuff instead. I hoped that looking the part would put me in the right mindset, or simply make me look like a great skier. My husband was the voice of reason reminding me of my fairly new ice hockey gear still sitting in the garage, resting next to my featherweight mountain bike. Point taken.

One afternoon, I threw the borrowed gear into my car and headed off toward the nearest track. Since it was mid-week, I was confident no one would be out there with me, except a few retirees with bad vision. Staying fairly incognito would serve me well for the time being.

My warm-up was 20 minutes of twists, bends and four-letter words trying to put the boots into the skis. Eventually, a passerby noted that the skis and boots I had on were not compatible with one another. As I trudged back to the car to swap boots, I decided that whoever coined the term “ignorance is bliss” never had cold, sticky snow jammed in his boots.

Teetering on quitting before even starting, I finally clipped in with boots too large, pants too tight and mismatched gloves. Wiping beads of sweat from my brow, I looked up toward the sun, took a deep breath, and finally set out on my mission to try a sport I never considered before my aging knees told me I should.

What happened next was breathtaking. I listened to the silence in the snow. I saw deer grazing in the distance. I even told myself I was making those graceful sliding movements, like the kind you see from a biathlete on television. I was in the zone, as they say, when all is right in the workout-world.

Then reality slapped me in the face, or maybe it was a twig, I can’t be sure. In a moment of asphyxiated horror, an apparition of skill, sinew and perfectly braided hair came out of nowhere leaving me in the dust. I was the T-Rex trying hard to make my way up a small hill and she was the Mini-Cooper who quickly sped by on my left. I was upstaged within milliseconds and then thankfully she was gone.

I was winded when I finally approached the crest of the hill. To my dismay, a steep descent was waiting for me. With no way of stopping, I continued to pick up speed and braced myself for the inevitable. For a brief moment before I fell, I thought I was invincible.

I held on to that delusion for the five minutes it took me to get back up from the ground while wiping off my bruised ego and retrieving the sunglasses that flew a few feet from my heap of exhaustion. Then I slowly skied the last mile back to my car, peeled off my gear, and smiled.

I’m a beginner, and that’s hard for me to admit. I don’t dress the part or have much confidence in my ability. And at a time when I’m retiring from the sports I grew up doing well, trying something new requires embracing humility and the discomfort of living in a valley of uber-athletes.

I’ll try not to be smug as I’m being lapped by the same individual over and over again, but please don’t hate me for it. I’m just trying to stay vertical.

Andrea Chacos lives in Carbondale, balancing work and happily raising three children with her husband. She strives to dodge curveballs life likes to throw with a bit of passion, humor and some flair.

Colorado River District column: Colorado River District working to keep West Slope water on the Western Slope

At the Colorado River District, we are working to ensure that whatever the future holds, there’s water on the West Slope to support our way of life. Whether you grow food, rely on clean water from your kitchen tap, or recreate on our rivers, the River District is working to develop every tool possible to ensure that West Slope water users are represented and protected.

In fact, the district recently received a $315,000 “WaterSMART” grant, which we will use to analyze many of the risks that we face on the West Slope in an uncertain water future.

Despite the optimism from recent snowfall, Colorado is still amid a prolonged decline of flows in the Colorado River — and facing more variable weather conditions and snowpack with each passing year. When you combine that with growing population in the Colorado River basin, both in Colorado and downstream, we’re looking at an uncertain water supply.

Under the Colorado River Compact, Colorado and other states in the Upper Colorado River Basin are required to keep a certain amount of water flowing to states in the Lower Basin. But declining flows have signaled a risk to that obligation. And continued drought could mean water users in the Centennial State might have to reduce water use in the future without compensation in order to meet this compact commitment.

As part of a multi-state plan to avoid that, Colorado is exploring the feasibility of a program called demand management, which would pay farmers, industry and cities to voluntarily and temporarily reduce water use in order to bank it in reservoirs for use in preventing an uncompensated call. At the Colorado River District, we have concerns about if such a program is advisable or necessary, but even as we seek answers to those concerns, others are looking at how such a program will be structured.

Right now, there are a lot of questions. As Colorado decides if and how demand management would be implemented, we want to advocate for rules that are the best possible for West Slope water users. We are studying the hypotheticals and talking to a broad set of water users to understand what might work in Western Colorado.

The Colorado River District received a $315,000 WaterSMART grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as part of a federal water planning program. We will be working with the Southwestern Water Conservation District, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, The Nature Conservancy, Basin Roundtables, the state of Colorado and others to study risks to our water supply. Leveraging these federal funds and partnerships allows us to do more to protect West Slope water users.

Agricultural producers play a critical role in our local economies, whether its equipment repairs at a local mechanic or a ranch hand buying a burger at the local diner. Our main street businesses could see changes if farmers, even temporarily, aren’t farming.

To understand how our local economies might be affected by demand management, the River District is sponsoring a study of the potential secondary economic impacts that such a program could have on the businesses and communities that West Slope agriculture supports.

The grant will also fund the next phase of a multi-year study to understand the risk to Colorado’s water users if a call under the Colorado River Compact requires that we use less water. This study is designed to give us all an idea of what water rights might be curtailed by a compact call, giving water users across the West Slope a better idea of what could happen to their water.

Finally, the WaterSMART grant will help us bring West Slope water users together to understand how to create a program that makes sense for them. While we can’t get the thousands of water users in the Colorado River District in a room to decide what demand management should look like, we’ll be working with a broad cross-section of water users from different industries and communities in the district to do just that. We want to be sure that if demand management is implemented, it works for ranchers, towns, and rivers in Western Colorado.

All these studies and conversations will give West Slope water users the information and tools they need to decide if they should take part in demand management. They will also better allow the Colorado River District to advocate for those users and protect water on the West Slope in an uncertain future.

Andy Mueller is general manager of the Colorado River District.

Shannon column: Virginia a preview of what gun-grabbers would do nationally

A surprising development is occurring among staunch members of the left at the Washington Post and elsewhere. These woke scolds have come out strongly against sanctuary cities and counties. Before it was either silence or tacit approval for government sheltering a population that was “in the shadows,” which makes sense when you remember they’re running from the law.

Sanctuary jurisdictions serve to protect a criminal class estimated to be 22 million strong at the expense of law-abiding citizens.

And what an expense it is.

These serial law breakers are responsible for the deaths of approximately 3,000 American citizens every year, according to columnist Ann Coulter. Over the course of an average lifetime, the total cost to taxpayers for supporting people who have no right to be in our country is estimated by Center for Immigration Studies to be $746.3 billion.

And even those figures don’t include the cost to individual citizens of identity theft, property crime, lowered property values, assault, gang activity, crowded schools, packed emergency rooms and ‘Press One for English.’

The WoePost referred to sanctuary movement as “disturbing,” “reactionary,” “ugly,” and “dangerous.” Sanctuaries were even compared to “slavery” which makes perfect sense when you recall the idea behind sanctuaries is to protect cheap, controllable labor for unscrupulous employers.

WoePost columnist Petula Dvorak wrote “sanctuary cities” are populated by “extremists.” Virginia Delegate David Toscano compared sanctuaries to the Massive Resistance backlash that opposed public school integration.

Only I need to clarify. The WoePost wasn’t condemning sanctuaries that protect illegal aliens from richly deserved punishment. It was condemning the new 2nd Amendment sanctuaries protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens from undeserved collective punishment.

That’s because the extra-legal selective law enforcement the left uses to protect people who have no right to be here is out of bounds for citizens to use to protect rights granted them at the founding of the nation.

And that’s not the only contrast. Illegal alien sanctuaries are imposed on an electorate from the top down to protect a pool of future leftist voters. The 2nd Amendment sanctuary movement is a grassroots effort that petitioned elected officials to protect constitutional rights and the officials responded.

Even the WoePost admits the “movement has driven throngs of people to show up at boards of supervisor’s meetings. Their numbers are remarkable – 400, 800, even 2,000 in attendance.” As this is written over 110 Virginia counties, cities and towns have passed some form of 2nd Amendment sanctuary resolution that says that jurisdiction will not enforce or impose unconstitutional gun ownership restrictions on its residents.

Gun Owners of America Senior Vice President Erich Pratt has one of the best explanations of the 2nd Amendment sanctuary movement, “Sanctuary resolutions are important because they provide the best way for local officials to inform the newly elected General Assembly and the governor that if they rush forward to create new felony crimes to jail law-abiding Virginians – just for exercising their most fundamental and natural right of self-defense – then they cannot expect localities to enforce such unjust laws.”

Gun owners are right to be concerned. This isn’t the anodyne “common sense gun regulation” that is so innocent during the campaign. It’s always different after they win.

Richmond is now controlled by the angry left. Gov. Ralph ‘Coonman’ Northam has discussed requiring all owners of so-called ‘assault rifles’ to register their weapons with the state. And he requested an increase in the prison budget to cover the “increase in the operating cost of adult correctional facilities resulting from the enactment” of gun grabbing laws.

When gun confiscation speculation was running rampant in Richmond, U.S. Rep. Don McEachin suggested the governor call out the National Guard to confiscate weapons.

Del. Dan Helmer introduced a bill that would ban indoor shooting ranges in buildings with more than 50 employees. Ranges that survived would be required to keep an Orwellian log of each shooter’s name, address and phone number.

Presumably so the state police could call ahead and have the owner pack his weapons for faster confiscation.

Del. Mark Levine’s bill would confiscate any magazine that held more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Those who didn’t turn their property over would be felons.

And that’s just the beginning.

There’s nothing “common sense” about these precursors to confiscation, which is the end game for the left. These despicable people subvert the law to protect their protected class of illegal aliens and future Democrats while using the law as a club to punish gun owners who vote Republican.

David French hit the nail on the head when he described the left’s gun fixation, “All too often gun-control proposals operate as a form of collective punishment on the law-abiding while serving as barely a speed bump in the path of the criminal.”

Michael Shannon is a commentator and public relations consultant, and is the author of “A Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times.” He can be reached at mandate.mmpr@gmail.com.