NEWSSTAND

First Lady Melania Trump to Roll Out Policy Priorities

Melania Trump is set to unveil her policy priorities as First Lady this week. They’ll focus on children.

It is part of the tradition for the First Lady to have a specific set of policy initiatives. Nancy Reagan, for instance, focused on drug abuse with her “Just Say No” campaign. Both Barbara and Laura Bush worked on childhood literacy, encouraging parents to read to their children.

Not all First Lady policy priorities have been accepted with public approval, however. Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s pushback against childhood obesity was widely criticized. Obama’s school lunch policies became a national laughingstock, with ridicule of the entire plan blasted regularly on Facebook and Twitter.

Melania Won’t Back Down from Doing What is Right

Melania has seen a bit of ridicule herself. Bullying against children is expected to be part of her campaign. Some see this as an ironic choice, who believes her husband, President Donald Trump, engages in bullying himself. The First Lady, however, says that won’t stop her from “doing what is right.”

Melania’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, told NPR that the First Lady’s priorities include issues affecting children, such as bullying, poverty, and addiction. Recently she traveled to West Virginia to visit a treatment center for infants born addicted to opioids. This trip is what inspired part of her policy initiative.

The issue of cyberbullying is also very near and dear to the First Lady. In a campaign speech days before the election in 2016, she stated that “our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially to children and teenagers.” Social media will be a large part of her anti-bullying efforts.

Myra Gutin, a First Lady historian, says that Melania is “at her best” when she is around children. The First Lady is poised to make a huge difference in the lives of American children, and she will love doing it.

Backlash Continues in White House Correspondents’ Dinner Fiasco

Pundits from both sides of the aisle condemned comedienne Michelle Wolf’s remarks during her monologue at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last weekend. Even the host association for the dinner admitted Wolf’s comments were “not in the spirit of the mission.”

Wolf’s speech included insults directed at a wide variety of people. She took potshots at the president but saved her most pointed barbs for White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“I think she’s very resourceful like she burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smokey eye,” Wolf cackled to a largely silent and somewhat shocked audience. “Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies.”

Even some at CNN were uncomfortable. Chris Cillizza, who is no fan of President Trump’s, called the speech bullying. Cillizza was “stunned” that Sanders, who sat very close to Wolf, did not react to the verbal insults.

“Being funny is one thing,” wrote Cillizza. “Bullying people because you can is another. And Wolf’s treatment of Sanders was bullying.”

President Trump Fights Back

Trump, however, wasn’t nearly as quiet as Sanders. In a tweet on Sunday night, the president lashed out, calling the dinner “an embarrassment to everyone associated with it.” He also referred to Wolf as “the filthy ‘comedian’” who “totally bombed.”

This is the second year in a row that Trump refused to attend the dinner; instead, the president spoke to a crowd of supporters in Michigan at a campaign-style rally, where he slammed the media and called the dinner “phony.”

“These people, they hate your guts,” Trump said of the media. “And you know, you got to smile. And if you don’t smile, they say, ‘He was terrible. He couldn’t take it.’ And if you do smile, they’ll say, ‘What was he smiling about?’ You know, there’s no win.”

Attendees for the Michigan event stood in line for hours to make sure they got a seat to hear the President speak.

Behind the Scenes of State Dinners

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Image Credit: Getty Images

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Queen Elizabeth and Ronald Reagan

At a 1983 state dinner hosted by Ronald Reagan, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II joked about the weather. Her quip drew raucous laughter from the crowd and the president. Unlike most state dinners, this event was held in San Francisco to accommodate the Queen’s tour of the West Coast.

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Laura Ingraham vs. David Hogg: No One Wins

Conservative pundit Laura Ingraham apologized to Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg this week on Twitter. She came under fire recently for ridiculing his rejection from multiple colleges. While Hogg refused to accept her apology, the entire brouhaha is indicative of a bigger issue.

Hogg’s public appearances are growing ever more profane and factually bereft. Last month he delivered an obscenity-laced rant during a YouTube interview. He referenced “old-a** parent[s]” who “don’t know how to use a f*****g democracy so we have to do it.”

A lose-lose situation

Missing from Hogg’s rant was the basic understanding that the United States is not a democracy at all. It’s a constitutional republic.

Meanwhile, Fox News host Laura Ingraham wasted no time firing back at Hogg when he complained about being rejected from a number of colleges in an interview with CNN. The teen’s insinuation was that they were wrong for rejecting him, and that it was due to his anti-gun activism. CNN host Alisyn Camerota backed him up on this ridiculous claim.

Ingraham, however, pointed out that the rejection at UCLA was “totally predictable given acceptance rates.”

Hogg responded by calling Ingraham a bully and demanding an advertiser boycott.

He got just that. Wayfair, Nestle, TripAdvisor, Hulu, Office Depot, Jenny Craig, Expedia and Johnson & Johnson led the pack of advertisers jumping ship from sponsoring Ingraham’s show. It appears more are going to follow.

How frail is American discourse, that a 17-year-old leads the charge to get advertisers to abandon someone simply because of a difference of opinion? Hogg is a teenager, and is acting like one; the bigger issue here is that advertisers are turning to him as an example of how American discourse should be framed.

Nobody wins this battle.

Democratic Senator Chides Hillary On How She Addresses Trump Voters

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), chosen as one of the “11 Democratic Women Who Could Run for President in 2020,” told MSNBC in a Sunday interview that failed candidate Hillary Clinton should “be more careful and show respect” to Trump voters.

Breaking from Clinton, who she once supported, the Missouri senator told MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt that Clinton’s recent remarks about Trump voters were “kind of fighting words.”

Frustration with the Status Quo…

Clinton, still sore about her 2016 presidential loss, made a speech in India earlier this month, in which she denigrated the region of America known as the Heartland. The former First Lady called the urban centers and coastal cities—the only regions she solidly won—“the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward.”

She went on to say that people who voted for Trump “didn’t like black people getting rights…don’t like women, you know, getting jobs.” Clinton also told her Indian audience that Trump voters “didn’t want…to see that Indian-American succeeding more” than they were.

Those remarks, directed at “all that red in the middle where Trump won,” lands directly in places like Missouri, where Sen. McCaskill says all voters deserve respect.

“I think [Trump voters] were expressing their frustration with the status quo. I may not have agreed with their choice, but I certainly respect them. And I don’t think that’s the way you should talk about any voter, especially ones in my state.”

McCaskill isn’t standing against Clinton on principle, however. Her GOP challenger used Clinton’s words in a recent ad, tying the two women together.

“In Claire McCaskill’s America,” intones the ad, “Hillary is the president. Sen. McCaskill led the Hillary coalition. And what does Hillary Clinton think about us?” The ad then showed Clinton’s remarks.

McCaskill’s only option was to come out against Clinton’s remarks—or face her own state thinking she agrees, and that won’t play out well this November.

Oscars See All-Time Lowest Ratings as America Says, “No Thanks”

The 90th Annual Academy Awards experienced their lowest ratings ever Sunday night. The nation largely ignored the biggest film awards ceremony of the year.

The broadcast, which sported yet another ill-advised appearance of Jimmy Kimmel as host, got only an 18.9 rating from Nielsen for its timeslot of 8-11pm EST. That’s down a full 15.6% from last year’s show. Less than a fifth of the country bothered to tune in.

Self-Congratulating Themselves…

This year, there weren’t any standout movies nominated for Best Picture. The Shape of Water won for Best Picture, but the nomination field was largely filled with movies that made many Americans ask “huh?”

As Breitbart reports, seven of the nine nominees averaged only $47 million at the box office. Only about 5 million Americans saw them. This is more proof that the Oscars is only an internal award meant for Hollywood to congratulate itself, not reward the ‘best’ or most popular films.

As expected, the show was a constant refrain of anti-gun rhetoric, pushed by a demographic that literally had hundreds of armed police to ‘protect’ them at the show and on the red carpet. The ultra-rich celebrities also congratulated themselves on their own bravery in the #MeToo movement. They were completely oblivious to the fact that many of them were perpetrators or enablers of the very conduct they were condemning.

Host Jimmy Kimmel made several cracks at President Trump and set the ultra-left tone of the show.

Kimmel started jabs at the President right away, opening with,

“The stunning Lupita Nyong’o, she was born in Mexico and raised in Kenya. Let the tweetstorm from the president’s toilet begin!”

The late-night host also made sly references to the left’s belief that Russia rigged the election for Trump.

All in all, the show did nothing to dispel America’s belief that it would be a self-congratulatory fest for celebrities. Maybe that’s why no one watched it.

Senate Leaders Announce Bipartisan Budget Deal

Leaders in the Senate have announced a vast bipartisan budget deal to avoid another government shutdown.

A much smaller proposal had already advanced through the House of Representatives that funds the government through March 23. It’s likely the Senate’s bill will be sent back to the House for a vote.

President Trump tweeted:

The Budget Agreement today is so important for our great Military. It ends the dangerous sequester and gives Secretary Mattis what he needs to keep America Great. Republicans and Democrats must support our troops and support this Bill!

Two-Year Budget Details

The long-term budget agreement increases military and domestic spending levels for two years. Some of the bill’s highlights include:

• Nearly $300 billion in additional funding for defense and nondefense over the next two years
• $165 billion in defense spending, with $80 billion in fiscal 2018 and $85 billion in fiscal 2019
• $131 billion in nondefense spending, with $63 billion in fiscal 2018 and $65 billion in fiscal 2019
• A debt-ceiling deadline extension of one year, moving it past the midterm elections
• $6 billion to combat the opioid crisis
• An additional four years of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program for a total of 10 years (The previous funding deal extended the program by six years.)
• An extension of funding for community health centers and a variety of other Medicare programs
• An additional $80 billion to $90 billion in funding for areas affected by natural disasters in 2017.

The bill isn’t expected to be voted on before Thursday’s funding deadline. Because of this, lawmakers will need to pass another short-term spending bill to keep the government open.

State of the Union: Most Powerful Moments

President Trump delivered his State of the Union address which charts the course forward for the next year of his administration. He told the stories of heroic Americans and laid out his next policy plans. What were your favorite parts of the speech? Here are our top lines, in no particular order:

On The Role of Government

“In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of the American life. Our motto is “in God we trust.”

“All Americans deserve accountability and respect — and that is what we are giving them. So tonight, I call on the Congress to empower every Cabinet Secretary with the authority to reward good workers — and to remove Federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”

On American Patriots

“Young patriots like Preston teach all of us about our civic duty as Americans. Preston’s reverence for those who have served our Nation reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the national anthem.” (This referenced a young boy who started an initiative to place flags and wreaths on the graves of fallen members of the military.)

“And we are serving our brave veterans, including giving our veterans choice in their healthcare decisions. Last year, the Congress passed, and I signed, the landmark VA Accountability Act. Since its passage, my Administration has already removed more than 1,500 VA employees who failed to give our veterans the care they deserve — and we are hiring talented people who love our vets as much as we do.”

“Army Staff Sergeant Justin Peck is here tonight. Near Raqqa last November, Justin and his comrade, Chief Petty Officer Kenton Stacy, were on a mission to clear buildings that ISIS had rigged with explosives so that civilians…Kenton Stacy was severely wounded by an explosion. Immediately, Justin bounded into the booby-trapped building and found Kenton in bad shape. He applied pressure to the wound and inserted a tube to reopen an airway. He then performed CPR for 20 straight minutes during the ground transport and maintained artificial respiration through 2 hours of emergency surgery. Kenton Stacy would have died if not for Justin’s selfless love for a fellow warrior. Tonight, Kenton is recovering in Texas. Raqqa is liberated. And Justin is wearing his new Bronze Star, with a “V” for “Valor.” Staff Sergeant Peck: All of America salutes you.”

On Foreign Policy

“I just signed an order directing Secretary Mattis to reexamine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay. I am also asking the Congress to ensure that, in the fight against ISIS and al-Qa’ida, we continue to have all necessary power to detain terrorists — wherever we chase them down.”

“Otto Warmbier was a hardworking student at the University of Virginia. On his way to study abroad in Asia, Otto joined a tour to North Korea. At its conclusion, this wonderful young man was arrested and charged with crimes against the state. After a shameful trial, the dictatorship sentenced Otto to 15 years of hard labor, before returning him to America last June — horribly injured and on the verge of death. He passed away just days after his return. Otto’s Parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, are with us tonight — along with Otto’s brother and sister, Austin and Greta. You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all. Tonight, we pledge to honor Otto’s memory with American resolve.”

“Terrorists who do things like place bombs in civilian hospitals are evil. When possible, we annihilate them. When necessary, we must be able to detain & question them. But we must be clear: Terrorists are not merely criminals. They are unlawful enemy combatants.”

On Reforms

“Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need. Every Federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with State and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment — to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit. Any bill must also streamline the permitting and approval process — getting it down to no more than two years, and perhaps even one.”

“As tax cuts create new jobs, let us invest in workforce development and job training. Let us open great vocational schools so our future workers can learn a craft and realize their full potential. And let us support working families by supporting paid family leave.”

On Optimism

“We want every American to know the dignity of a hard day’s work. We want every child to be safe in their home at night. And we want every citizen to be proud of this land that we love. We can lift our citizens from welfare to work, from dependence to independence, and from poverty to prosperity.”

“This is our new American moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American Dream.”

Nancy Pelosi Calls Tax Bill Benefits “Crumbs,” Forsakes Middle Class

House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called President Donald Trump’s tax cuts a “crumb,” denigrating the wage hikes and bonuses Americans are getting in the wake of the tax reform bill.

Pelosi and former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz spoke at Florida Atlantic University this week, where their comments were filmed by the conservative group America Rising Squared.

“Crumbs” for the Middle Class

The prominent Democrats dismissed that Americans are benefiting from the tax cuts, claiming that after taxes the cuts don’t amount to much of anything.

According to Pelosi and Wasserman-Schultz, the “fat cats” will get much more.

Wasserman-Schultz then explained why they believe Americans are not benefiting:

Frankly, if you look at the bonuses, which I haven’t heard of a corporate bonus more than $1,000 so far. Which by the way is taxed, so it’s not $1,000. And then you spread $1,000 over the course of the year – to think of about how much that is – of course, they get it all at once. But I’m not sure that $1,000 (which is taxed, taxable) goes very far for almost anyone.

Later, Pelosi told attendees that and tax bonuses were a piece of cheese that a mouse is about to take off of a trap.

“And around it are fat cats,” Pelosi finished. “And that’s the thing… You get the crumb, we get the banquet.”

Nancy Pelosi’s net worth is $120 million. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s net worth is a whopping $1.04 million in debt.

Steve Bannon Subpoenaed in Mueller Investigation

Former Chief Strategist for the Trump campaign Steve Bannon was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury last week in the ongoing investigation into collusion between the President’s campaign and Russian officials.

Bannon is the first member of Trump’s advisors to be forced to testify by grand jury subpoena. It’s unclear why Mueller used a subpoena with Bannon when so many others did not receive one.

Closed Session Testimony

Tuesday morning, Bannon testified before a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee. It’s rumored he was asked about quotes in the new anti-Trump book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. Bannon allegedly said Donald Trump Jr. engaged in “treasonous” activity and the investigation would “crack Don Jr. like an egg on national TV.”

Bannon later said he was referring to Paul Manafort, not the President’s son. Manafort, as the President’s former campaign manager, is a “seasoned campaign professional with experience and knowledge of how the Russians operate.” According to Bannon, Manafort should have known better.

Several quotes attributed to Bannon came to light that is critical of the President, his family, and associates. One such statement is a characterization of Ivanka Trump as being “dumb as a brick.”

President Trump took to Twitter to bash Bannon in return, even threatening to sue him for defamation. Conincidentally, Bannon’s long-time position as Executive Director of the extremely pro-Trump Breitbart News suddenly vaporized.

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