Trump administration defends its case against CNN’s Acosta
By ASHRAF KHALIL
Thursday, November 15
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s administration is trying to fend off a legal challenge from CNN and other outlets over the revocation of journalist Jim Acosta’s White House press credentials.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly heard arguments Wednesday afternoon from lawyers representing CNN and the Justice Department. The news network is seeking an immediate restraining order that would force the White House to return Acosta’s credentials — which grant reporters as-needed access to the 18-acre complex.
Kelly was expected to announce his decision Thursday afternoon.
Acosta has repeatedly clashed with Trump and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in briefings over the last two years. But the dynamic devolved into a near-shouting match during a combative press conference last week following midterm elections in which Republicans lost control of the House.
Acosta refused to give up a microphone when the president said he didn’t want to hear anything more from him. Trump called Acosta a “rude, terrible person.”
The White House quickly announced that Acosta’s White House access would be revoked.
The CNN lawsuit calls the revocation “an unabashed attempt to censor the press and exclude reporters from the White House who challenge and dispute the President’s point of view.”
The Associated Press joined with a group of 12 other news organizations, including Fox News, in filing an amicus brief Wednesday in support of CNN.
“Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized,” said a statement by Fox News President Jay Wallace. “While we don’t condone the growing antagonistic tone by both the President and the press at recent media avails, we do support a free press, access and open exchanges for the American people.”
On Wednesday, Justice Department lawyer James Burnham argued that Acosta was guilty of “inappropriate grandstanding” and deserved to lose his access over “his refusal to comply with the general standards of a press conference.”
Burnham also pointed out that CNN has dozens of other staffers with White House credentials, so excluding Acosta would not harm the network’s coverage.
The network’s lawyer, Theodore Boutrous, contended that Acosta was being singled out for his coverage of the White House, not his alleged rudeness during a press conference.
“The White House has made very clear that they don’t like the content of the reporting by CNN and Jim Acosta,” Boutrous said. “Rudeness really is a code word for ‘I don’t like you being an aggressive reporter.’”
Prior to Wednesday’s hearing, the White House had maintained that it has “broad discretion” to regulate press access to the White House.
A pre-hearing legal filing argued, “The President and his designees in the White House Press Office have exercised their discretion not to engage with him and, by extension, to no longer grant him on-demand access to the White House complex so that he can attempt to interact with the President or White House officials.”
Trump himself, in an interview published Wednesday, was uncertain how the court fight would end, saying: “We’ll see how the court rules. Is it freedom of the press when somebody comes in and starts screaming questions and won’t sit down?”
Trump told The Daily Caller that “guys like Acosta” were “bad for the country. … He’s just an average guy who’s a grandstander who’s got the guts to stand up and shout.”
The White House’s explanations for why it seized Acosta’s credentials have shifted over the last week. Sanders initially explained the decision by accusing Acosta of making improper physical contact with the intern seeking to grab the microphone. But that rationale disappeared after witnesses backed Acosta’s account that he was just trying to keep the mic, and Sanders distributed a doctored video that made it appear Acosta was more aggressive than he actually was.
On Tuesday, Sanders accused Acosta of being unprofessional by trying to dominate the questioning at the news conference.
Both Sanders and Trump are named as defendants in the CNN suit, along with Chief of Staff John Kelly and Randolph Alles, director of the Secret Service.
Follow Khalil on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/Ashrafkhalil
Opinion: Jeff Sessions and Marijuana
By Eric Peters
Red and blue both claimed victory last week, but the clear winner was green.
In almost every state where it was up for a vote, medical (and recreational) marijuana initiatives were heartily approved.
These included Michigan and Missouri. Even Utah — a very conservative state — said yes to medical marijuana, by a healthy 53 percent in favor.
Arguably, it was a vote in keeping with the conservative principles that decisions about such things ought to be made by the people most directly affected by them rather than by distant bureaucrats who are — at best — remotely accountable to them. And not infrequently at odds with them.
It is the principle of federalism.
This principle is enshrined in the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which leaves to the states — and the people in those states — the authority to decide on matters not specifically under the purview of the federal government.
It reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
The irascible attorney general of the United States apparently disagreed with this principle — at least when it came to the marijuana issue. He has been at very public loggerheads with President Trump over marijuana policy since his first day in office — even to the extent of threatening to send Shock Troops to enforce federal marijuana prohibition as a counter to state-level legalization, using the 1970 Controlled Substances Act as his cudgel.
The president, in contrast, has repeatedly expressed zero interest in Sessions’ jihad. He has publicly stated that marijuana legalization is properly the states’ business — not Washington’s.
Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci told Charles Peralo of Succeed.com that “I think (the president) is going to legalize marijuana after the midterms.”
Which may well be why Sessions suddenly finds himself the former attorney general. The president fired Sessions almost immediately after the polls closed last Tuesday evening.
A good businessman — which Trump certainly is — knows when something’s not selling. And Sessions’ tilting at marijuana windmills had become nationally unpopular.
An October 8 poll by the Pew Research Center found that 62 percent of all Americans now favor marijuana legalization. The fact that even Utah voted yes may have been enough to persuade the president to say no to Sessions.
Voters in Texas also said no to Sessions — a different one (longtime Republican Rep. Pete Sessions) but one who advocated the same Washington-knows-best policies as the other Sessions.
The Texas Sessions lost his re-election bid to Democratic newcomer Colin Allred, a retired NFL star who openly supported medical marijuana. During the campaign, he Tweeted: “It is unfortunate that Pete Sessions refuses to acknowledge that medical marijuana can help our veterans who are coming back from war who are struggling with PTSD and chronic pain.”
Sessions’ “reefer madness” helped cost him his seat. The president is smart enough to not to let it cost him his.
Though conservatives lost a seat to “reefer madness,” the upside is that soon-to-be-ex Rep. Sessions will no longer head the House Rules Committee and be in a position to block Congress from voting to pass medical marijuana reform — something he consistently did during the 20 years he held the seat that he just lost.
This means there is a very good chance the STATES Act might get traction when the new Congress goes into session next year. It would amend the federal Controlled Substances Act — the cudgel wielded by the now-ex-attorney general — to immunize individuals involved in “the manufacture, production, dispensation, administration, or delivery” of marijuana from persecution by federal Shock Troops.
The act also specifically addresses the current problem of most financial institutions — which are subject to federal banking regulations — being unwilling to do business with legal medical/recreational businesses in their states out of fear of federal prosecution.
This has been one of the backhanded means by which the Two Sessionses — and other Washington Swamp Things — have stymied marijuana reform even in states where reform has already been passed.
It is difficult to run a legitimate business when you can’t open a bank account — or process credit/debit card transactions. The STATES Act would fix that problem.
The legislation is supported by conservatives such as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky (where Republican state Rep. Jason Nemes has sponsored a medical marijuana bill he expects will pass “within a year”) and Corey Gardner of Colorado (which has already legalized both medical and recreational marijuana) as well as lawmakers on the opposite side of the aisle such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who is the main sponsor of the STATES act.
Sometimes, good ideas transcend red and blue.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Eric Peters is the author of “Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs.” He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
3 ways the women’s movement in US politics is misunderstood
November 15, 2018
Professor of Sociology, Florida State University
Deana Rohlinger does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Florida State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
A record number of women are headed to statehouses and Capitol Hill in 2019. One hundred women were elected to the U.S. House, which means that at least 121 women will serve in the 116th Congress – up from the current 107.
Twelve women were elected to the U.S. Senate. This new record shatters the 1992 “year of the woman” in which five women were elected to serve in the Senate.
Media outlets have been quick to attribute women’s candidacies and successes to the Democratic “blue wave.” This generalization ignores places like Alabama, where voters elected a Republican as its first female governor and passed a measure that recognizes and supports “the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children” and another measure that allows the display of the Ten Commandments on public property and in schools.
In South Dakota, voters also elected a Republican female governor and rejected progressive-backed measures that would have revised campaign finance and lobbying laws as well as increased taxes on tobacco products.
As a scholar of politics and social movements, I’m often asked to explain these contradictory outcomes.
Here are three things to keep in mind about women and politics as a new Congress prepares to take office.
1. Women vote more than men, and not all are Democrats
How women vote is often not well explained in news coverage. Journalists emphasize that women vote more than men and that more women tend to identify as Democrats.
This is true. If you look at gender alone, 54 percent of women identify as Democrats or lean Democrat, and only 38 percent of women identify as Republican or lean Republican.
The problem is that these numbers miss key demographic differences that divide women’s votes. A lot of white, married women vote Republican. According to the Pew Research Center, 47 percent of white women identified as Republican or Republican-leaning and 46 percent of white women identified as Democrat or Democrat-leaning in 2016.
This thin margin among white women was clear in the 2016 presidential election: 45 percent of white women voted for Hillary Clinton and 47 percent voted for Donald Trump. Compare this to women of color: 98 percent of black women and 67 percent of Hispanic women voted for Clinton in the 2016 election.
2. Conservative feminism
Experts have found that conservative women and conservative women’s groups consider themselves part of the “women’s movement” even as they reject the traditional goals of that movement: equal rights legislation, legal abortion, some forms of birth control and the ability of women to serve in combat. While these conservative feminists advocate for women’s advancement in culture and politics, they celebrate and defend many aspects of traditional femininity including women’s roles as family caregivers.
Take the group Concerned Women for America, which I’ve studied extensively. It was created in 1979 in response to the political successes of the liberal feminist National Organization for Women, which some believed did not represent the political views of all American women.
Concerned Women for America founder Beverly LaHaye, whose late husband was a politically prominent evangelical minister and conservative activist, saw her organization as a way to represent more traditional and religious values in the women’s movement. The organization pushed back against legal abortion, the Equal Rights Amendment and infringements on religious expression such as restrictions on school prayer.
Today, Concerned Women of America is a political powerhouse that mobilizes its half-million members to elect Republican candidates. Virtually every Republican running for the presidency since 1980 has stopped in at the organization’s annual convention in an effort to gain the group’s favor and conservative women’s votes.
Concerned Women for America also has a strong presence in conservative states such as Alabama. The efforts of powerful conservative women’s groups including Concerned Women for America help explain why voters in Alabama elected its first female governor, Kay Ivey, with 60 percent of the vote and passed socially conservative measures.
Ivey is a Republican whose top two issues, according to her website, were her belief in God and her value of the lives of the unborn. It’s a safe bet to say that the women – and men – who voted for Ivey, also voted for the conservative ballot measures.
3. Women’s power at the state level
How politically powerful women are varies across the U.S. and, to some extent, reflects ideas about how women and men should act. Historians find, for example, that voters in Southern states tend to reinforce traditional gender norms and frown on women holding political office.
For example, Nevada and South Carolina are politically mixed states but vary dramatically in their ranking on women’s equality and political empowerment. According to WalletHub, a personal finance website, Nevada is the fourth best state when it comes to equality between men and women on 16 key indicators, including workplace environment, education, health and political empowerment. South Carolina ranks 45th.
The election outcomes were also very different.
In each state, seven women ran for office in the midterm elections. In Nevada, five women (Democrats and Republicans) won their races outright and another race is too close to call. Only two of the seven female candidates (both Republicans) won in South Carolina. There is a clear difference between the two states in women’s degree of political power.
Nevada also has a much better track record of women running and winning. This is not true of South Carolina, where it was seen as an achievement in 2016 when just four women were elected to the state Senate, which has 46 seats.
Women made history in 2018, but there is more to the story than the Democratic “blue wave.” The diversity of women and the different contexts in which they operate have implications for politics and policy for decades to come.
How anti-black bias in white men hurts black men’s health
November 15, 2018
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Public Health, University of Michigan
Shervin Assari is affiliated with UCLA Psychology.
University of Michigan provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
Researchers have documented “large, pervasive and persistent” racial inequalities in the U.S. Inter-group relations are among the factors that contribute to such disparities, many of which manifest themselves in gaps in health care.
As an assistant professor of psychiatry at University of Michigan and a visiting faculty member at UCLA, I have conducted a number of studies on how the intersection of race and gender influences health. Although racism and discrimination affect both genders and all ethnic minority groups, my studies suggest that black males’ health takes the largest hit from racism.
And, my recent study suggests that white men have more negative attitudes against blacks than do white women. This is very troubling as white men hold the highest level of social power in the U.S. This is also one reason black men experience more discrimination and are more vulnerable to discrimination than black women.
Studying implicit bias
One way to study racial bias between groups is to study hidden stereotypes (generalizations about the characteristics of a group) that people hold toward certain racial groups which operate in an unconscious manner. This is called implicit bias.
The benefit of studying implicit bias is that people can not lie about it. If you ask individuals if they prefer a particular race, many deny it. Instead of asking people and giving them a chance to lie, researchers use something called the Implicit Association Test (IAT), which measures racism by calculating how our brain struggles to match black faces with good terms.
My recent study that used IAT of 444,422 individuals shows that white men have higher implicit bias against blacks than white women do.
This finding makes sense evolutionarily. All social animals including humans needed to make a distinction between their in-group members (those individuals who are like them) and the out-group (rivals). So, to increase our survival chance, we have historically favored our in-groups to out-groups. This is particularly true for the in-group males who are very aggressive toward out-group males, due to the mating and sexual selection. As the out-group males are perceived by in-group males as a major threat, they are treated very poorly.
This is also supported by the out-group male target theory which suggests that men of color receive more discrimination compared to women of color, across racial and ethnic groups. Based on this theory, it is not race but the intersection of race and gender that determines who gets most hit by racism and discrimination.
The same theory helps us understand why black men experience more discrimination than black women. This is mainly because they generate considerable sense of threat among white men.
The real-life situation
Unfair treatment of black males has been consistently documented by all sources of power, from police, judges, teachers, and employers.
Studies have shown that black men are disproportionately shot and killed by the police, stopped, arrested, incarcerated and jailed. Black men are also over-represented in U.S. prisons. While there are two times more black women than white women in prison, black men are six times more likely than white men to spend some time in prison. Thus, the problem of mass incarceration is not an issue of race but an issue of race and gender.
These encounters marginalize black men in the U.S. society, and harm their health. Only a small proportion of them successfully climb the social ladder. And when they do, society discriminates against them more, which puts them at high risk of depression and depressive symptoms.
This is in line with the recent research findings by a team from Harvard University showing that although all blacks have a low probability of upward social mobility, this chance is considerably lower for black males compared to black females.
While racism and discrimination impact education outcomes of both genders, black boys are more commonly discriminated and more strongly affected by it at schools, than black girls. As a result, black boys are most likely to drop out of school. Given that school drop out reduces future health and well-being of people, black men are at a relative disadvantage compared to other race by gender groups.
A look at the consequences
Across most races by gender groups, black men’s health statistics are worst. For example, black men die six years earlier, on average, than black women.
While blacks in general gain less life expectancy from employment, this gain is considerably smaller for black men than black women. Education attainment also has a weaker protective effect on psychological distress and depressive symptoms for black men than black women.
Black males are also more sensitive than black females to the undesired effects of unsafe neighborhood, a finding which holds for youth and adults. Black men are also more affected by discrimination in the health care system.
As a result, black men are most marginalized, both in the health care system as well as society. They have the highest HIV rate, highest homicide rate, highest rate of heart disease and stroke. On top of all these, they have extremely low access to and trust toward the health care system.
Although black men and black women are both affected by racism and bias, discrimination is more consequential for black men. And this is partially because anti-black bias is higher in the most socially powerful and privileged group in the U.S., the white men.