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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Top Fake News Stories of 2018

The Top Fake News Stories of 2018: Dan Bongino - Making the world a better place by debunking one liberal myth at a time. Former Secret Service Agent, Contributing Editor at Conservative Review and Host of The Top Ranked Conservative Podcast: The Dan Bongino Show.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

GUEST COLUMN: America Must be Tough on Crime & Smart on Justice

By Jane Leader Janeczek and Charles Mitchell

Commentators are calling it a “Christmas miracle.” Senate Republicans and Democrats have just cooperated to advance the FIRST STEP Act,America’s most significant federal sentencing and prison reform in three decades.
Thousands of incarcerated Americans are grateful for this bipartisan bill, which outlines fairer sentencing and smarter prison spending. As advocates for Pennsylvania’s landmark criminal justice reform in 2012, we can attest the benefits of humane reforms and commend Congress and the president for balancing public safety, fiscal prudence, and compassion.
FIRST STEP, which overwhelmingly passed the House in May, makes America’s federal laws smarter and our communities safer. The National Fraternal Order of Police, whose priority is crime prevention, endorses the bill for this reason, and for its provision to protect prison guards by allowing them to carry firearms in more circumstances.
Key to the reform are “time credits” non-violent offenders can earn for participation in recidivism reduction programs — trimming pointlessly long, expensive prison sentences. Recent amendments include additional measures to ensure violent criminals won’t qualify.

Smarter Sentences, Lower Costs, Better Results

Research shows a shorter prison stay can lower the recidivism rate of offenders deemed low-risk. Likewise, more prison time means a higher recidivism rate for less serious offenses. Given the prison atmosphere breeds crime and a criminal mentality, American justice too often works against itself by defaulting to long sentences.
That’s why FIRST STEP requires the Bureau of Prisons to transfer certain low-risk, low-need inmates from prison to home confinement. Besides reducing our enormous room, board, health, and guard costs, this reform places small-time offenders in a community setting instead of the crime training facility that federal prison too often becomes.
The fact is, most people who commit crimes will be back on the streets someday. The goal of our criminal justice system should be to reduce the likelihood of a repeat offense. Right now, the system we have makes recidivism more likely. It isn’t just expensive; it’s making us less safe. FIRST STEP takes us the right direction—and it’s about time.
While these reforms alone make serious progress, the bill also includes several proportionate sentencing reforms, such as reducing the three-strike drug penalty from life in prison to 25 years. That’s truer justice: sentences should not stop punishing people who commit crimes, but the punishment must fit the crime.

Pennsylvania Leads the Way

The FIRST STEP Act is an exciting new development for federal prison reform, but Pennsylvania is already a great example of the long-term impact smart reforms can have.
In 2012, we helped lead a bipartisan coalition supporting the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which passed unanimously and was signed by then-Governor Tom Corbett, a Republican. Those reforms have helped reduce Pennsylvania’s prison population for four consecutive years — more than double the cumulative population reductions since 1970—without compromising public safety. And as the number of people incarcerated has declined, so have Pennsylvania’s violent and property crime rates.
Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, praised the 2012 initiative and recently signed additional legislation to help former prisoners find work. As advocates for fairness and opportunity for all Pennsylvanians, we strongly endorsed the “clean slate” bill, which seals some criminal records. A second bill ended driver’s license suspension for non-violent, non-driving offenses.
Cooperation across gubernatorial administrations and in the U.S. Senate — both Sen. Bob Casey (D) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R) voted for FIRST STEP — proves that criminal justice reform can bridge the partisan divide.
We hope lawmakers see the bipartisan momentum behind the FIRST STEP Act as an opportunity to advance additional reforms at the state level where most prisoners reside. In Pennsylvania, the second Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI2), which contains multiple bills that expand parole for non-violent offenders and improve sentencing, is a great place to start. If JRI2 bills pass, the overall restructuring will further reduce our prison population and save approximately $48 million over five years.
Seeing Congress and President Trump work together to enact humane criminal justice reforms, while protecting our neighborhoods, gives us hope. America is long overdue for these commonsense corrections reforms, and Pennsylvania has the chance to do even more to improve the lives of its citizens. Let’s not let the opportunity go to waste.
# # #
Jane Leader Janeczek is a business executive and the daughter of former Pennsylvania Governor George Leader. Charles Mitchell is president and CEO for the Commonwealth Foundation, Pennsylvania’s free-market think tank.

Elvis Presley - If I Get Home On Christmas Day

'What Would Santa Do' by The Monkees

Into the Spider-Verse is Shockingly Spectacular

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Guest Column: Red Wave

By Lowman S. Henry
 
There was much talk this past year about a "blue wave," but what really occurred was a "red wave."  This "red wave" has little to do with electoral politics, but rather accurately describes both the federal and state budgets which for the current fiscal year are awash in red ink.
 
Within days of the November General Election the Independent Fiscal Office revealed the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania faces at least a $1.7 billion deficit as Governor Tom Wolf and lawmakers get set to begin the 2019-2020 state budget process. 
 
That pales in comparison with the federal government which for the current fiscal year is expected to come perilously close to running a trillion dollar deficit.  That is trillion with a "T" as current estimates forecast a $985 billion deficit which, if history is a guide, will end up being substantially higher. 
 
The fiscal year 2019 federal budget deficit is 18% greater than the deficit rung up in 2018 largely due to a massive omnibus spending bill passed by congress last December that ended spending restraints Republicans put into place during the Obama Administration. That set the stage for a spending binge. 
 
Rather than plunge the nation into a government shut-down President Donald Trump signed that spending bill, but pledged to never do so again. That promise will be tested next week as congress faces a December 7th deadline for passing another continuing resolution to keep the government running.
 
In this midst of this spending orgy some conservative Republicans are offering plans to begin getting the budget under control.  One particularly promising idea has been put forth by Senator Rand Paul and has been aptly titled the "Penny Plan."
 
Realizing that most peoples' eyes glaze over when talking about billions and trillions, Senator Paul has simplified the discussion by proposing that for every on-budget dollar the federal government spent in fiscal year 2018 it spends one penny less for each of the next five years. That one penny per dollar reduction would reduce spending by $13.35 trillion over the next ten years.
 
Keeping in mind that much federal spending is "off budget," that means total spending will still increase by 14.6% during those ten years.  Thus those who howl at the prospect of reducing on-budget spending by one percent per year for five years will still see an overall increase in federal spending.
 
It is important to note the one penny per dollar cut does not apply to Social Security and other safety net programs.  It also makes no specific policy assumptions, allowing congress and the deep state bureaucracy to determine how to achieve one percent annual reductions by increasing efficiency, consolidating services or other means.
 
In introducing the Penny Plan Senator Paul called upon conservatives to "govern like conservatives," something they failed to do during the two years Republicans held complete control of congress.  Paul added it is time to "prove to the American people that it (congress) is serious about getting our fiscal house in order."
 
Meanwhile, back in Penn's Woods, the likelihood of an extend budget battle in 2019 has grown dramatically with the Independent Fiscal Office's report.  Like their colleagues in Washington, D.C., many legislators in Harrisburg have been addicted to higher and higher spending.  They have utilized a series of budget gimmicks and one-time revenue sources in an effort to avoid making hard decisions.
 
Their profligate spending has now caught up with them.  You can bet the mortgage that Governor Tom Wolf will propose even more spending, especially to pour down the public education rat hole.  He will also propose what will likely be a menu of tax hike options with a so-called "severance tax" on natural gas as the main course.
 
Southeastern Pennsylvania RINOs are virtually extinct after this year's elections, so fiscal conservatives will find their voices amplified in the coming legislative session.  The Achilles heel, however, remains weak-kneed Senate Republican "leadership," which tends to cater to spending interests.  As a result, strategies for reducing spending to match projected revenue will be driven by the House of Representatives where leadership is much more taxpayer friendly.
 
With divided government at both the federal and state levels getting spending under control, which is difficult under the best of circumstances, will be even more so this coming year.  Bipartisan unity only seems to exist when both sides are feasting at the taxpayers' table.  It remains to be seen whether the "red wave" begins to subside, or whether it turns into a tidal wave of red ink.
 
(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address islhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

The Ronettes - Sleigh Ride (Audio)

The Monkees - "Riu Chiu" HD (Official Music Video)

Monday, December 17, 2018

That time Tony Phyrillas was mentioned in a book ...

By Tony Phyrillas

Have you ever Googled yourself? Come on, admit it. Who hasn’t? My name pops up in a lot of places on the Internet because I work for a newspaper and have been known to write a story or two. Or 5,000 or 6,000 … but who’s counting? I’ve also posted hundreds of my columns online.

Once in a while my name pops up in the strangest places. Until recently, I had no idea that I was mentioned in a book.

It wasn’t exactly a best seller, but there I am on page 456 of  “Actors of the Spaghetti Westerns” by James Prickette. I gotta hand it to Mr. Prickette for doing his research on the actors who appeared in these classic 1960s movies directed by the legendary Sergio Leone.

So how do I fit in with Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and Sergio Leone? This is where I applaud Mr. Prickette for doing his research.

I wrote an article in 1989 about actor Lee Van Cleef, who died of a heart attack that December at age 64. While his name may not have been a household word, everyone who’s ever watched Westerns will instantly recognize Van Cleef. It’s a face you don’t soon forget.

He’s best known for the “Spaghetti Westerns” that were all the rage in the mid-1960s and made a superstar out of a little-known TV actor named Clint Eastwood. Van Cleef played Eastwood’s arch-rival in two of the films, “For A Few Dollars More” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”

In the latter film, Van Cleef played “the Bad” of the title trio, with Eastwood and Eli Wallach handling the other two leads.

I wasn’t working for The Hollywood Reporter at the time of Van Cleef’s death. Turns out the actor was a native of Somerville, N.J., and I was an editor at the Somerset Messenger Gazette, a weekly community newspaper in Somerville.

I was also the biggest Clint Eastwood fan around and everyone at the newspaper knew it. So while I normally assigned stories to reporters, I decided to write about Van Cleef myself. It was the first – and so far only opportunity – to mention my favorite actor – Clint Eastwood – in a news story.

The article I wrote was titled, “Somerville remembers the good side of a ‘bad guy’” and I was able to find a few local residents who grew up with Van Cleef and remembered him before he went off to Hollywood to make a name for himself in the movies.

Back to James Prickette and his book. The author billed the book as “A unique reference book, jammed full of informational tidbits about some of our favorite actors of the genre…”

And he certainly did his homework, referencing the article I wrote in which I recounted that a young Van Cleef wrote a column for The Messenger Gazette about his experiences in Hollywood. The newspaper featured many articles about Van Cleef as his career blossomed.

Not every small town can boast a well-known actor. Van Cleef would often write letters of thanks to The Gazette, expressing his gratitude for the publicity about his acting career.

Prickette used that anecdote and a few others from my article in his book.

So there you have it. A nearly 30-year-old article about Lee Van Cleef found its way into a book and immortality … as long as Google is around.



'The Christmas Song' The Monkees featuring Michael Nesmith

Friday, December 14, 2018

Is Google Manipulating User Opinions And Behavior?

Is Google Manipulating User Opinions And Behavior?: Research suggests that Google is using search engine suggestions to sway user opinions, Dr. Robert Epstein explains on the Federalist Radio Hour.

As American Religion Declines, Identity Politics And Tribalism Rises

As American Religion Declines, Identity Politics And Tribalism Rises: Jon Ward is a Senior Political Correspondent at Yahoo News and host of the podcast, “The Long Game.” Ward recently interviewed Andrew Sullivan on his ideas Read More

How Ballot-Harvesting Became The New Way To Steal An Election

How Ballot-Harvesting Became The New Way To Steal An Election: With ballot-harvesting, paper votes are collected by intermediaries, presumably increasing voter turnout but also creating opportunities for mischief.

Joy Behar and the World of Liberal Privilege

Joy Behar and the World of Liberal Privilege

No Jingle Bells for You! Trump Cancels White House Christmas Party for Press

No Jingle Bells for You! Trump Cancels White House Christmas Party for Press

Saturday, December 08, 2018