Trump urges ouster of senator he blames for derailing VA nod
By CATHERINE LUCEY and DARLENE SUPERVILLE
Friday, July 6
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — In a campaign stop that was both political and personal, President Donald Trump targeted Democrat Jon Tester on Thursday in a bid to get more Republicans elected to the Senate but also to punish the lawmaker he blames for derailing his nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Trump unleashed a vigorous campaign-season attack on some of his most strident Democratic critics and leaned heavily into the roiling immigration debate by claiming the opposition wants to abolish the federal agency that enforces immigration laws, though no top Democrats in the House or Senate have called for such a move.
Appearing in a state he dominated in 2016, Trump sought to cast Tester as a “liberal Democrat,” railing against his voting record on issues like abortion, immigration and taxes. While Tester opposed Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, and the Republican tax bill, he has also taken flak from the left for a bill easing the rules on banks.
Tester took out full-page ads in more than a dozen newspapers across the state Thursday to thank Trump for signing 16 bills the Democrat sponsored or co-sponsored.
The president has made the Montana race a priority as he hopes to help Republicans tighten the party’s hold on the Senate. He welcomed Tester’s Republican opponent, state Auditor Matt Rosendale, to the stage Thursday, calling him a “very special person.”
“You deserve a senator who doesn’t just talk like he’s from Montana. You deserve a senator who actually votes like he’s from Montana,” Trump said.
In the crowded arena, Trump made clear the campaign stop was personal as he lamented the failed nomination of White House physician Ronny Jackson to lead the VA. Trump blamed Tester for “shameful, dishonest attacks on a great man, a friend of mine.”
Trump singled out Tester in April, saying the farmer “will have a big price to pay” for releasing allegations against Jackson that included on-the-job drunkenness, overprescribing medication and fostering a hostile work environment. Jackson, a Navy rear admiral, denied the claims but withdrew his nomination. The Pentagon is investigating.
“Tester said things about him that were horrible and they weren’t true,” Trump said. “And that’s probably why I’m here. Because I won Montana by so many points, I don’t have to come here.”
He repeated slams on key Democrats, ridiculing claims by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a possible 2020 presidential challenger, of Native American heritage and referring to her again as “Pocahontas.” Trump said he would give Warren a DNA test kit in the middle of a debate and offer $1 million for her favorite charity, “paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian.”
“We will take that little kit, but we have to do it gently because we’re in the #MeToo generation, so we have to be very gentle, and we will very gently take that kit and we will slowly toss it,” he said.
Warren responded on Twitter, advising Trump: “While you obsess over my genes, your Admin is conducting DNA tests on little kids because you ripped them from their mamas & you are too incompetent to reunite them in time to meet a court order. Maybe you should focus on fixing the lives you’re destroying.”
Warren was referring to the Health and Human Services Department’s announcement that it will use DNA to confirm parent-child links as it tries to reunite families separated at the U.S.-Mexico borde.
Trump described Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who has been calling for his impeachment, as a “low IQ individual” and pegged her level of intellect as “somewhere in the mid-60s,” which is considered the range for a mental disability.
Trump also returned to themes of his presidency, stressing his hard-line immigration policies and support for law enforcement.
“If you want to protect your families and your community, then you have no choice,” Trump said. “You have to vote for Republicans.”
He tweeted about immigration after the rally as he flew to New Jersey, claiming that “a vote for Democrats in November is a vote to let MS-13 run wild in our communities, to let drugs pour into our cities, and to take jobs and benefits away from hardworking Americans.”
Trump also talked tough about upcoming meetings in Europe with members of the NATO military alliance and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He went after Germany for not spending more of its budget on defense and claimed to have delivered an ultimatum to Chancellor Angela Merkel. “And I said, ‘You know, Angela, I can’t guarantee it, but we’re protecting you and it means a lot more to you than protecting us ‘cause I don’t know how much protection we get by protecting you.”
Trump also scoffed at journalists for questioning his readiness to meet with Putin, a former spy, in Finland on July 16.
“Will I be prepared? Totally prepared,” the president said. “I’ve been preparing for this stuff my whole life.”
U.S. intelligence agencies say Putin meddled in the 2016 election to benefit Trump. Putin denies interfering, and Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the intelligence assessment.
Hundreds of people began lining up outside the arena a full eight hours before Trump was scheduled to speak, and the number swelled to thousands by midday. Mechanic Shane Hegle said he drove 120 miles (195 kilometers) from his Cut Bank home to be among the first in line.
Hegle said he voted for Tester in past elections but was undecided now. Trump’s message would influence his decision, he said.
“I’ll see what Trump has to say and how he delivers his magic words,” Hegle said.
Montana is the latest stop on Trump’s midterm campaign tour, designed to boost Republicans and advocate for his first 18 months in office. He is expected to travel throughout the summer.
Superville reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Matt Volz in Great Falls contributed to this report.
Guest opinion: Where have all the bankers gone?
By Brian Depew, firstname.lastname@example.org, Center for Rural Affairs
The Center for Rural Affairs first examined consolidation in the banking industry in “Where Have All the Bankers Gone?”, a 1978 report. We have long understood the critical link between credit, who has access, who doesn’t, and how it shapes communities.
That’s why a recent report in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye. It detailed how banking in rural communities has fared in the years since the financial crisis. Small business lending in rural areas has dropped by half since 2004, accounting for less than 10 percent of total small business lending.
This challenge is compounded by the closure of many rural banks. Larger banks often buy smaller banks, then close branches in more rural markets. There are now 625 rural counties in the country without a community bank. There are 37 counties without a single bank, and 115 counties served by just one bank.
The report told the story of one small business owner who now drives 19 miles each afternoon to make deposits and get cash.
When we lose access to credit, we risk losing control of our future.
Access to credit is fundamental for the whole community. Few among us have started a business or bought a house without a loan. Schools, child care centers, and community infrastructure all rely on credit.
In response to this challenge, individual communities are setting up revolving loan funds to invest in local businesses, housing, and new value-added agricultural enterprises.
A network of community banks, credit unions, and nonprofit lenders can knit a new fabric of local banking. Doing so will take our active involvement.
What credit gaps exist in your community? What local response might be possible?
Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.
Ohio unsure of status of 2,300 students from closed e-school
By KANTELE FRANKO
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Many of the students enrolled in Ohio’s largest online charter school when it closed in January have transferred to other schools, but state officials don’t know what happened with about 2,300 students.
Nearly 11,400 students were listed as enrolled at the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow when it shut down mid-school-year amid a dispute with the state over public funding and how student participation was tallied, and about 20 percent are not re-enrolled or accounted for, according to Ohio Department of Education data obtained by The Associated Press.
About 1,300 in that group are students were younger than 18. About 1,000 are 18 or older, meaning they wouldn’t be required to attend school under state law.
That’s not to say those students stopped being educated. But ODE can’t determine how many students dropped out, because some students might have moved out of Ohio, entered homeschooling or a program to prepare for a high-school equivalency test such as a GED test, or started attending private schools in a way that doesn’t have to be reported to the state, department spokeswoman Brittany Halpin said.
She said confirming their status is a tricky task complicated further because the department doesn’t get personal information about students, such as names and how to contact them.
The department is still working with school districts, which keep that information, to determine the status of all ECOT students “not only because many of these students are of compulsory school age, but because we want all Ohio students to receive a high quality education and graduate,” Halpin said.
Republican state Sen. Peggy Lehner, the chair of the Senate Education Committee, said the difficulty in tracking the redistribution of ECOT students bothers her but doesn’t surprise her, considering that the state concluded ECOT was getting funding for far more students than its participation data justified.
“I think this just illustrates the whole problem that we’ve had with ECOT,” she said. “You not only can’t tell how long the students signed on, you can’t even tell for sure if they even exist, so I am not surprised that there are students that they can’t track.”
It shows why the state needs to take steps to be more diligent with the e-school sector, she said.
“If we’re paying to educate kids, then we should both know where they are and if they’re getting educated, and if they aren’t then there’s a real problem,” she said.
Democrats have made similar arguments in criticizing Republicans who control the Legislature and state government for accepting campaign funding from donors connected to ECOT and not intervening sooner.
The school shut down after state officials concluded ECOT should repay nearly $80 million in unjustified public funding. ECOT has challenged how Ohio tallied student participation to determine that, and it awaits a state Supreme Court ruling in that case.
Halpin said ODE has worked with students’ families, schools districts, community schools and ECOT’s sponsor to answer questions and ensure that students are re-enrolling at other schools and that student records are transferred as needed. More than one-third of ECOT’s students — about 4,200 — enrolled in what is now Ohio’s largest e-school, the Ohio Virtual Academy.
Former state lawmaker Stephen Dyer, a fellow with the liberal think tank Innovation Ohio and sharp ECOT critic, said he thinks ODE has done what it could within its authority to respond to the ECOT situation.
He questions whether the unaccounted-for students were really ever attending ECOT.
“They could be real kids, but we already know they have a history of billing the state for kids they don’t have,” Dyer said.
Follow Franko on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/kantele10 and her work at http://bit.ly/2qEaebN .
Point: #MeToo Isn’t the Right Answer to Sexual Misconduct
December 17, 2017 by Hadley Heath Manning
This fall the #MeToo movement sought to highlight the ubiquity of sexual mistreatment by encouraging victims, mostly women, to speak up. Some women shared harrowing accounts of violent assault. Others recounted workplace harassment or unfairness. Still others, perhaps unready to share details of their experiences, simply posted the hashtag “MeToo” on social media.
No victim of sexual assault or harassment should suffer in silence. Violations of this kind should never be tolerated, and we can celebrate that the proverbial opening of the floodgates might help victims find solidarity and cope with their experiences, and ultimately, increased attention to this issue could spark needed change.
However, the #MeToo movement comes with real risks, and women and men alike should take them seriously. Rather than a movement that paints these terrible interactions as commonplace, we need a different focus that fosters positive relationships between the sexes and condemns bad individual actions rather than society as a whole.
The hashtag-ization of sexual misconduct may support unfair narratives that depict all men as potential predators, or all women as potential accusers. This threatens to drive a wedge between men and women, both inside and outside of the workplace.
As Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a lengthy Facebook post, men may be inclined to respond to #MeToo by playing it overly safe: They may not want to offer mentorships to junior women staffers, for fear that an awkward interaction could lead to accusations of harassment. This could potentially have serious effects, given how in many traditionally male-dominated industries, entry-level women have few options for same-sex mentors.
It is often “soft” networking interactions, like lunch, coffee or happy hour, where co-workers develop social capital. Will #MeToo cause a de facto sexual segregation to the detriment of women? This has implications not just for the workplace, but for the romantic realm as well.
Another shortcoming of #MeToo: Lumping together all varying degrees of bad interactions — from violent assault to off-putting jokes — risks watering down the most heinous of crimes. When sexual misconduct is everywhere, it’s nowhere. We do not want anyone to shrug off sexual misconduct or see it as an unfixable problem.
Misrepresenting the prevalence or nature of inappropriate behavior can harm victims both past and future, as our current conversations shape cultural expectations for men. We should be clear that the expectations for men in our culture are high, not low: Virtue is expected. Misdeeds will be shamed.
The pendulum of social justice can swing too far. If we’ve failed to believe victims in the past, we could overcorrect and fail to honor due process for the accused in the future. Accusations of sexual assault or harassment should be taken seriously — seriously enough to be investigated and litigated.
Many accusations are true, but sadly, we’ve seen high-profile stories of assault turn out to be false (for example, the Duke lacrosse case in 2006 and the Rolling Stone “Jackie” article about University of Virginia Phi Kappa Psi fraternity in 2015). False accusations not only unfairly defame the accused but also cast a shadow of doubt on all victims. This is terribly wrong, but it is a reminder to soberly assess the facts in each case.
The #MeToo campaign carries yet one more risk, a political one: It could become co-opted by a left-leaning agenda that seeks to paint all women as victims in society. The goal of this political strategy is to confound the real abuse of individual women victims with other phenomena, from “rape culture” even to issues like the gender wage gap or a lack of government-mandated maternity leave. Those who are truly interested in combatting sexual mistreatment should guard against the politicization of their movement and the blurring of these lines.
Margaret Thatcher said, “There is no such thing as society. There are men and women, and there are families.” The focus on so-called rape culture risks moving responsibility away from individuals onto a faceless “society.” We should resist this, instead taking and placing specific individual responsibility for words and actions. In other words, it is not rape culture that is to blame, but the rapist.
As we give victims of sexual mistreatment the respect and platform they deserve, we should keep in mind the needed balance that also honors the rights of the accused. We should invite all — men, women, liberals and conservatives — to work toward a healthier future, without painting an overly dark picture of the present.
About the Author
Hadley Heath Manning is director of health policy at the Independent Women’s Forum (www.iwf.org).
Counterpoint: From ‘Me Too’ to ‘Not One More’
December 17, 2017 by Domenica Ghanem
From Congress to Hollywood, 42 and counting men in power have been brought down by sexual assault allegations since October — most recently a failed Republican Senate candidate in deep-red Alabama.
Naturally, this has people asking: Is this a watershed moment?
Sexual assault is dominating headlines because a campaign called the #MeToo movement has been dominating social media for more than two months (a century in internet years). The issue has been so pervasive that every woman I know, myself included, has been saying “finally” — even when it brings up traumatic memories they’d rather not recall.
But this movement is much older than hashtags.
The Me Too campaign was started by Tarana Burke a decade ago. Many years before her came Rosa Parks — who was a sexual assault investigator before she rode that famous bus. And before Parks came generations of black women who resisted the commodification of their bodies under slavery.
That’s more than 200 years of campaigning against sexual violence in the making.
And yet just over a year ago, a man accused of sexual assault by 19 women was elected president and still sits in the Oval Office. This spring, reports of sexual assault in the U.S. military reached record highs. And this month, hundreds of thousands of Alabamians cast their votes for a Senate candidate accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls.
Given that history — and these headlines — why has it taken so long for the public to get on board with the fact that sexual assault happens all the time, in every industry?
Anita Hill, famous for her sexual harassment case against a still-serving Supreme Court justice, spelled it out for the New Yorker recently: In order for a woman to be believed in these cases, she said, “they have to fit a narrative that the public will buy.”
Often it takes someone conventionally beautiful. Someone powerful. And even better, someone famous, to have a good shot at being believed. Someone like Angelina Jolie or Gwyneth Paltrow, who helped bury a disgraced film producer in the early days of the latest groundswell.
All the same, what’s special about this moment is that some very powerful people are starting to be held accountable. A resignation here and a canceled TV show there is truly something to write home about.
I don’t know if this is a watershed moment, or how long the momentum from the #MeToo campaign will last. But I do know that recounting your story can be traumatizing — and that many survivors will become burnt out.
And what to do about women who don’t have the advantages Anita Hill laid out? Or whose assailants aren’t well known public figures?
Maybe there’s another way.
Imagine if the burden to combat sexual assault didn’t have to fall on any of these brave women — from celebrities to interns — pleading with the public to listen to stories they never wanted to have to recall.
Imagine instead a system where institutions do the heavy lifting to prevent sexual assault from occurring in the first place.
I’m talking about high schools and colleges prioritizing sexual violence prevention programs in their curriculum, rather than cutting funding for those programs. I’m talking about protections for low-wage, domestic and tipped workers who experience sexual harassment at nearly double the rate of other women.
I’m talking about industries setting standards like a clearly outlined reporting process that doesn’t put an undue burden on the reporter, establishing zero-tolerance policies for retaliation, and creating leadership structures that set cultural norms against harassment and assault.
And putting more women in positions of power wouldn’t hurt either.
In the meantime, we owe a great deal of gratitude to survivors like Tarana Burke. But my hope is that one day we won’t need a #MeToo campaign — the message instead will be Not One More.
About the Author
Domenica Ghanem is the communications coordinator of the Institute for Policy Studies.