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President Donald Trump is downplaying the chances of reaching a bipartisan two-year agreement to escape billions of dollars in spending reductions.

The president tweeted Thursday evening: “House Democrats want to negotiate a $2 TRILLION spending increase but can’t even pass their own plan. We can’t afford it anyway, and it’s not happening!”

Politico noted House Democrats failed this week to gain support to pass a bill that would ward off $126 billion in spending cuts in the fiscal that starts on October 1 and cuts for the following fiscal year.

The Trump administration maintains it would lead to nearly $2 trillion in spending increases over 10 years, according to Politico.

Meanwhile, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow warned that Trump might initiate a budget sequester and allow about $125 billion in cuts for both defense and non-defense spending if Congress does not agree to his 2020 budget.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Considering her qualified apologies following repeated statements in evidence of such a viewpoint, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., is likely anti-Semitic.

But I do not believe she is being judged fairly for her recent remarks on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. As the video below shows, Omar told a gathering of the Council on American-Islamic Relations that CAIR was founded after the terrorist attacks “because [CAIR] recognized some people did something and all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

Many observers are now criticizing Omar. They say her words diminish the 2,977 victims who died on 9/11, and the significance of that day in American history. But I suspect Omar’s intent was not malicious or derisory. Rather, I believe Omar was attempting to draw divergence between her Islamic faith and the al Qaeda fanatics who carried out the 9/11 attacks. When she says that “some people” did it, she meant “some people who are not us” or “not like us,” referring to herself and peaceful, mainstream adherents of Islam in the U.S.

Yes, Omar’s words were poorly chosen. And as my colleague Tiana Lowe aptly observes, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is utterly wrong to support Omar by challenging the patriotism of Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas. Crenshaw is a combat veteran of the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq. He has done a lot more to serve this nation than AOC, Omar, and just about every other member of Congress for that matter.

But I do not believe Omar’s words were designed to deride our fallen fellow citizens. The freshman congresswoman was drawing a positive application of “otherness” with regards to the ideological separation between American Muslims and al Qaeda. While it is true that al Qaeda are Islamic fanatics, it is also understandable why Omar would be frustrated at the damage that the 9/11 attacks did to American perceptions of her faith.

Many Muslims also died on 9/11, and that the vast majority of American Muslims are decent patriots. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think that was her key point: al Qaeda are not us, and their evil should not be used to collectively punish Muslims. You don’t have to approve of CAIR or Omar to appreciate the legitimacy of this idea.

[Related: New York Post cover hits back at Ilhan Omar for 9/11 remarks: ‘Here’s your something’]

Google came under fire Thursday after a journalist noted that it had classified the pro-life film, “Unplanned” as “drama/propaganda.”

“Who knew that ‘propaganda’ was a movie genre?” The Daily Signal’s Kelsey Bolar noted in a tweet Thursday, posted with a screen capture of Google’s showtimes. Fox News reported it verified the Google classification, but by Friday morning, Google rated the film as being simply a “drama.”

The movie is about former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson, who becomes an anti-abortion activist after witnessing an abortion.

One Twitter user compared the search results with those for some of Michael Moore’s documentaries and the Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” noting that none of them had been considered propaganda, reports Fox News.

However, Fox News also researched results for conservative movies, such as documentaries by filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, but none were labeled as propaganda.

A Google spokesperson told Fox News that after analyzing web content about “Unplanned,” there was a large volume that called the movie propaganda. But after being made aware of facts that have been disputed through the company’s “Knowledge Graph,” the company works to fix issues, the spokesperson said.

After the controversy was sparked, Google has updated its search results, removing the propaganda tag.

The movie’s supporters have accused Twitter of treating the movie unfairly after it blocked the film’s account. The social media platform has since reversed the ban.

Source: NewsMax America

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is declining to say whether he thinks his chamber would confirm Herman Cain to join the Federal Reserve board, casting doubt on the former Republican presidential candidate’s prospects should President Donald Trump advance him for the post.

Asked Thursday if a Cain nomination would face problems , McConnell, R-Ky., noted that successful nominees must pass background checks and have a likelihood of confirmation.

“And, as you know, some of my members have expressed concern about that nomination,” McConnell told reporters. “But as far as I know, it hasn’t been made yet.”

Trump’s interest in potentially nominating Cain along with another political ally, conservative commentator Stephen Moore , has sparked questions among lawmakers from both parties in Congress about the president’s influence on the central bank.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated the importance of the Fed’s independence during a talk Thursday evening with House Democrats meeting in Virginia for their annual issues retreat, according to a source in the room unauthorized to discuss the private session.

Powell told lawmakers that he saw his role as totally apolitical. He also said the Fed does not consider political pressure in its decision making, the source said. Another source in the room confirmed the remarks.

The chairman fielded questions from lawmakers during a question-and-answer session in Lansdowne, but declined to comment on the president’s potential picks.

Powell was Trump’s choice to lead the Fed, but the president has been critical of him for raising interest rates.

Earlier Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said elevating Cain and Moore to the Fed would risk politicizing the nation’s central bank and endangering the economy.

“These two appointments to the Fed are the worst, ill-suited appointment that the president could come up with,” she told reporters.

Three GOP senators — Utah’s Mitt Romney, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer — told The Associated Press they’d likely vote against Cain. With Republicans controlling the Senate 53-47, it would take opposition from just four GOP senators to sink the nomination, assuming all Democrats are also “no” votes.

As he did earlier this week, McConnell also sidestepped a question about whether he would back Cain or Moore, a Fed critic and former Trump campaign aide, for the board. Trump has said he will nominate both men.

“We’ll see who’s actually nominated,” said McConnell.

Cain has run into concerns by lawmakers from both parties that, as a Trump loyalist and deeply conservative political figure, he would threaten the Fed’s traditional political independence. Trump himself has taken a nontraditional approach to the Fed, repeatedly accusing it of mismanaging the economy by not pushing hard enough for low interest rates.

The White House offered no fresh comment Thursday about Trump’s intentions, referring reporters to his earlier comments about Cain.

Trump initially called Cain “a very terrific man” who would “do very well there.” But he said earlier this week that he didn’t know how Cain was faring in the vetting process and that Cain “will make that determination” whether to continue.

Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, ran for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. He dropped out of the race after allegations of sexual harassment and infidelity, which he denied. Last year, in September, he helped found a pro-Trump super political action committee, America Fighting Back PAC, whose website says, “We must protect Donald Trump and his agenda from impeachment.”

Cain formerly served on the board of the Fed’s Kansas City regional bank. He has also called for a return to the gold standard to control inflation, which most economists consider unworkable.

Moore is a conservative commentator and another Trump political ally.

Source: NewsMax Politics

President Trump on Thursday claimed ignorance about the criminal case against Julian Assange, but that case is a major political hazard for Trump, who is newly vulnerable to disclosures and innuendo in the inevitable campaign to halt the Wilikleaks founder’s prosecution.

Trump once celebrated Assange’s handiwork against Hillary Clinton but now risks a similarly brutal assault that could call into question special counsel Robert Mueller’s recent report exonerating Trump of colluding with Russia in 2016.

Assange, a central figure of intrigue in Mueller’s just-closed investigation, was dragged from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London urging resistance to the Trump administration as he fights a single criminal charge dating to Chelsea Manning’s 2010 leaks. He now faces extradition proceedings in Britain – a close American ally that clearly wants rid of Assange and rarely refuses to extradite to the U.S.

National security defense attorney Mark Zaid said he expects Assange to “graymail” the U.S. government, meaning threatening to deploy secrets as a criminal defense, in an effort to avoid charges. Graymail can be done through legal filings or out in the open.

“I would expect, from a legal strategy standpoint, that Assange will do anything he can to persuade the U.S. government to drop these charges,” Zaid said. “That would be to pursue a line of information that would actually link the president to WikiLeaks.”

Zaid said “it doesn’t have to be true” and that Assange could essentially bluff as he faces what’s likely to be a protracted extradition fight.

“It could be completely true that Assange had nothing to do with Russia and the 2016 election but he pursues a legal strategy along the lines that he did, for the purposes of trying to graymail the government into dropping the charges,” Zaid said.

“It would not only not surprise me, I would expect it,” he said.

A 1980 law allows a judge to review efforts by defense attorneys to access restricted records for criminal defense efforts. Zaid said that Assange could seek information from Mueller’s investigation, arguing that he’s actually being targeted because of his starring role in the 2016 election, rather than for a near-decade-old leak of military and diplomatic secrets.

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen told Congress in February that Trump “knew” that Roger Stone “was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails.” Cohen said that Stone told Trump over speaker phone in July 2016 that “he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange” and that Assange told him that “within a couple days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”

Trump allegedly responded to Cohen, “wouldn’t that be great.”

Assange’s possible contact with author Jerome Corsi also was probed by Mueller after Corsi said he “predicted” in July 2016 that WikiLeaks had Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails and would release them in October, something Mueller’s team found implausible.

Stone is fighting charges that he lied about his pursuit of hacked emails and about witness tampering. Corsi, who had been in contact with Stone, was not charged after he flouted a plea deal from Mueller for allegedly lying about wanting to contact Assange.

Corsi, who is best known for questioning President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, said he doesn’t believe Assange will threaten to harm Trump.

Instead, Corsi said he expects Attorney General William Barr to offer Assange immunity in exchange for proving Russia did not hack the emails, a deal that former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher tried and failed to broker in 2016 after meeting with Assange. Rohrabacher’s attempts to meet with Trump were blocked by then-White House chief of staff John Kelly.

“My read on Assange, and I’ve studied him for the past 12 years now, is Assange tells the truth, just like I would. He won’t lie to save himself,” Corsi said. “I’ve been pretty accurate predicting Assange so far.”

Though “graymail” is possible, whistleblower defense attorney Jesselyn Radack, whose clients include NSA whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Thomas Drake, said she’s unconvinced Assange holds damaging information specifically about Trump.

“I have to imagine that WikiLeaks has some sort of dead man’s switch in place for a circumstance like this,” Radack said. “But if they have kompromat on Trump, I think it would have already come out.”

While so-called “Medicare for all” is grabbing the most headlines, a House Ways and Means subcommittee has held four separate hearings on the looming insolvency of another big entitlement program: Social Security. Subcommittee Chairman John Larson, D-Conn., recently released a bill to shore up Social Security’s funding through myriad new tax increases and 200 of his Democratic colleagues have signed on as co-sponsors.

I testified on Wednesday at a hearing where this bill, the Social Security 2100 Act, was the focus. I was invited to offer some remarks on a group that does not get much attention in the conversation regarding Social Security: young people. My comments focused mostly on millennials, because that is the group for which we have data on their working lives, but the broader consequences to the future of the workforce should be explored before plans to hike taxes on workers and employees is viewed as the silver bullet for the program’s sustainability.

The bill would hike the payroll tax 2.4 percentage points, to 14.8%. While almost half of workers do not pay income tax, the payroll tax is the largest tax most workers pay. Increasing it confiscates wealth for workers that could otherwise be used to save and build equity.

This strikes workers at the beginning of their career particularly hard, not just because it deprives them of a longer window for savings, but also because millennial workers are different from other generations in significant ways. For one, they are more likely to start their own business. Over a third of millennials operate a “side hustle” in addition to their full-time job. This means many young people in the workforce today are not only employees, but potential employers as well. But as a sole proprietor, they would be responsible for both the employer and employee sides of the payroll tax hike in these plans, potentially increasing their payroll taxes by thousands of dollars.

The consequences to economic mobility should be obvious: A payroll tax hike makes each hire for an employer more expensive, and data shows that employers will respond by cutting wages. This will diminish income mobility for workers, particularly those at the beginning of their careers. It will put wage increases further out of reach for workers. What’s more, the income exemptions in this bill are not indexed to inflation, meaning they eat up a larger share of employee income over time. This will further erode young people’s earnings opportunities as they move up the income ladder.

Millennials already lag other generations in terms of wealth accumulation. Workers at the beginning of their careers see a higher share of their income go to payroll taxes, and fixed costs of living take up a higher share of their take-home pay. Increasing the payroll tax further diminishes the amount of money they have available to save and create wealth over time, and exacerbates this disparity between what is now the largest living generation in the country and other generations that have come before it. What’s more, data indicates that lower-income households make up for the loss of income by shouldering more debt, undermining opportunity for young workers to amass their own wealth.

The workforce today looks different than the workforce of different generations — this is a feature, not a flaw, of the American system. As our economy evolves, however, so too must our public policy. For many millennials who entered the workforce during the recession, the recent economic expansion has been their first opportunity to grow in their careers and build wealth. Proposals that would force this cohort to shoulder new tax burdens threaten to undermine this progress. While Congress has enhanced private savings opportunities to the widespread benefit of workers, it has yet to tackle the looming fiscal insecurity of government spending. Congress should consider bipartisan methods of meeting this challenge without simply redistributing the burden to future generations.

Mattie Duppler (@MDuppler) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. She is the senior fellow for fiscal policy at the National Taxpayers Union. She’s also president of Forward Strategies, a strategic consulting firm.

The Trump administration is making a push to combat shareholder climate change advocacy as part of an effort to break barriers to fossil fuel use and development.

President Trump issued an executive order Wednesday primarily designed to curb states’ power to block pipelines and other energy infrastructure projects.

But it also contained a short provision requiring the Labor Department to study pension funds’ energy sector investments and to investigate whether the growing and successful shareholder campaign for pension managers to consider companies’ exposure to climate change risks is harming the economic performance of the funds.

Trump also wants the Labor Department to explore whether activist investors’ so-called “environmental, social and governance efforts” emphasizing climate change risks is discouraging financing of energy projects in capital markets.

“The ‘keep it in the ground’ movement has two tools,” said Kevin Book, a managing director of the ClearView energy research group who studies oil and gas. “It’s not just cutting off pipelines. The second part is cutting off capital, either making it so capital is more expensive or discouraging capital market investments in energy producing companies. Trump’s executive order pushes back on both things.”

Trump critics say his administration’s targeting of shareholder climate change advocacy is irresponsible.

“The Trump administration’s attempt to intimidate pension funds that have decided not to invest their members’ savings in the very companies whose activities put the global economy at risk is a new low,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., told the Washington Examiner.

Trump’s order focuses specifically on employer-sponsored retirement funds, such as 401(k) accounts and pensions, which the Labor Department is empowered to regulate under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

In recent years, activist shareholders have pushed for resolutions calling on major oil and companies to disclose the risk posed to their business by climate change. These shareholders argue the stocks of fossil fuel-dependent energy companies are overvalued because of climate change risk, and fossil fuel debt is risky considering the future effects of global warming and the potential of government regulation over carbon emissions.

The pressure has resulted in many companies publishing, or committing to release, reports on climate risk, and promising actions to reduce that risk.

For example, Shell recently announced it is leaving a major industry lobbying group, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, because of the trade association’s inaction on climate policy.

Shell acted after it reached an agreement last year with activist shareholder groups to set short-term carbon emissions reduction targets.

“There is a growing number of shareholder groups asking for proxy votes where shareholders require oil-producing or coal-producing hydrocarbon-intensive companies to make decisions constraining their activities, lowering their carbon footprint, or disclosing what their climate risks are,” Book said.

Book said Trump wants the Labor Department to investigate the financial effects of pension managers, driven by shareholder pressure, prioritizing climate change concerns over profitability in making investments.

Supporters of Trump’s effort say the push to prioritize climate risk efforts runs counter to pension managers’ fiduciary obligations to employees.

“What they are doing is responding to what they and others on the center-right believe is a corporate governance shareholder process that has been hijacked to push a social and political agenda that wasn’t able to get through the halls of Congress and now is not able to come through the administrative state with Trump in charge,” said Tim Doyle, vice president of policy and general counsel at the American Council for Capital Formation. “They are putting people on notice.”

The shareholder climate disclosure effort recently suffered a setback when the Securities and Exchange Commission granted ExxonMobil’s request to dismiss an investor resolution that would have pushed the company to disclose greenhouse gas emission reduction targets aligned with the goals of the Paris climate change agreement.

The SEC agreed with Exxon’s position that the resolution would unfairly “micromanage” the oil and gas company’s affairs.

Book said that SEC decision, and Trump’s move to review shareholder climate change advocacy, could slow such efforts but “may not put the genie back in the bottle now that large energy producers have started to report climate risk.”

The last time a Democrat won an open Senate seat in Arizona, he was helped along by a GOP candidate who never recovered from a campaign misstep in which he “shot a burro in the ass,” as the winning candidate’s campaign manager memorably put it recently. That candidate, Dennis DeConcini, was last elected in 1988. He retired after that term.

So how will liberal activists reward Kyrsten Sinema for becoming the first Democratic senator from Arizona since DeConcini? If Fight for the Future, a net neutrality pressure group, has its way, thanks will come in the form of a giant billboard “at one of the busiest intersections in Phoenix” calling Sinema “corrupt” and in the pocket of “corporate donors.” Her infraction is to be the only Democrat not to sign on to a net neutrality bill and instead to work with Republicans to craft a bipartisan bill that stands a chance of passing.

In this political climate, bipartisan cooperation is an unforgivable sin, and Sinema is repeatedly guilty of it.

Arizona has a new maverick.

Sinema, 42, has a compelling personal story that’s unique in one way: It informs her centrism, rather than serving as a platform for radicalism. By the time Sinema was 5, her middle-class Tuscon family was fracturing, her father mired in debt. He and her mother divorced, and Sinema was put into poverty. For a time, her Florida home was an old, remodeled gas station. “She’s a survivor,” former Democratic caucus Vice Chairman Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., said in 2015. “I think she’s smart about how she does it. I think a lot of people underestimate her.” The comment rings prophetic; in 2018, Crowley lost his own reelection bid against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the phenom freshman. In the same year, Sinema turned one of Arizona’s Senate seats blue for the first time in three decades.

[ Related: Arizona Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally have one thing they agree on: They hate each other]

During that winning campaign, she emphasized her credibility as a independent Democrat rather than a party hack. Asked by an Arizona radio station if she considered herself a “proud Democrat,” she responded: “Gosh, it’s hard to say proud. I don’t know that — I’m not sure that people are even proud of parties anymore, because I feel like the parties are not doing a good job. So I would say that I’m a proud Arizonan. That’s something I’m very proud of. And I’m proud of the work that I have done in Washington, D.C., and the work I’ve done in the state Senate and the statehouse before going to Congress. But I’m not particularly proud of the parties.”

Sinema was, according to the Arizona Republic, one of two members of the state’s Democratic House delegation who “sided with President Donald Trump’s agenda more in the past three months than most Republicans in the state’s House delegation.” But those three months weren’t much of an outlier for Sinema. In 2015, she opposed President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. She didn’t buy into the aggressive selling point that the only alternative to it was war. “I think it’s hyperbole and I think it’s not necessarily true,” Sinema told the Huffington Post. “It’s possible that if the deal didn’t go through, war could be one option and it could become more likely. But it doesn’t mean we don’t have options in front of us. I’m frustrated by these false dichotomies.”

Sinema also is a dissenter from left-wing orthodoxy on big banks. When, as senator-elect, she was given a spot on the Senate Banking Committee, the Washington Examiner wrote, “Sinema was long a friend of big banks in the House, and the committee appointment represents the return on a well-made investment. … During her Senate race against Republican Rep. Martha McSally, Sinema was in the top 20 of recipients of campaign contributions from both the banking and the finance sectors.Washington Examiner Commentary Editor Timothy P. Carney explained: “Sinema fought for the realtors and against Arizona’s taxpayers (disdain for whom she has repeatedly shown). Those efforts may explain why the realtors have spent $34,000 on ads supporting her Senate bid — the most they’ve spent on any Senate race this fall. In the House, one of Sinema’s core crusades was saving and expanding the Export-Import Bank. … Ex-Im is a corporate welfare agency that extends taxpayer-backed financing to foreign buyers of U.S. goods.”

[ Also read: Sinema forging paid leave plan deal with GOP]

And then there’s the issue that’s always a touchstone for Arizonans, immigration. In the House, Sinema had voted for legislation that would impose stiffer penalties on undocumented immigrants who reenter after being deported, as well as forcing immigrants who seek a healthcare tax credit to verify their status with the government first. Sinema took a harder line on asylum-seekers and, in October, backed Trump’s call to station more military personnel on the border with Mexico.

One advantage, according to Democratic campaign strategist Brad Todd, is that “she has been everything from a socialist anti-war protester to a vote against Nancy Pelosi, depending on what advanced her most in the moment.” Todd told the Washington Examiner that this worked especially well in 2018 because “Arizona’s Democratic talent bench was short and its base desperate for victory.”

Her Senate victory over McSally, who was later appointed to fill the seat of the original “maverick,” the late Republican Sen. John McCain, seemed only to reinforce her independent streak. In addition to her net neutrality sacrilege, Sinema is joining Republican colleagues to address paid family leave. According to Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., who is leading the effort, Sinema was the first to cross the aisle on it, making it “the first bill that is bipartisan” on the issue. The plan, Cassidy told the Washington Examiner in early April, is likely to involve Social Security, perhaps allowing people to take benefits earlier to pay for family leave in return for delaying retirement.

Sinema signed on to an effort led by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., to get the Commerce Department to release a classified report on auto tariffs and national security. She took heat from pro-abortion groups for supporting one of Trump’s judges, Arizona District Court nominee Michael Liburdi, in February. She was also one of only three Democrats to back the confirmation of Attorney General William Barr. She defended her vote in a statement: “As Arizona’s senior Senator, I will evaluate every presidential nominee based on whether he or she is professionally qualified, believes in the mission of his or her agency, and can be trusted to faithfully execute and uphold the law as it exists. After meeting with Mr. Barr and thoughtfully considering his nomination, I believe Mr. Barr meets this criteria.”

Perhaps most significant, however, was Sinema’s reaction to the controversy over Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. Omar is one of the members of the “Squad,” most notably the freshman trio of Omar, Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ocasio-Cortez, who has turned her social media fame and grassroots devotion into an ability to set congressional Democrats’ priorities. An example is her climate boondoggle, the Green New Deal. It’s opposed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., but that didn’t stop Democratic presidential hopefuls from signing on to it. This tension really came to a head over Israel, however.

Omar has repeatedly accused American Jews of dual loyalty. On one occasion, she claimed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, was paying off politicians to put Israel’s welfare before America’s. Tlaib had made similar dual-loyalty insinuations. Ocasio-Cortez stood by her colleagues, and when Pelosi tried to pass a resolution criticizing Omar’s anti-Semitism, Ocasio-Cortez and the grassroots led a revolt and won. The resolution was broadened far beyond anti-Semitism, and the final version was aimed at white nationalists more than anyone else. In March, the pro-Israel lobbying group held its annual conference, and Omar pushed Democrats to avoid it.

What was Sinema’s reaction to all this? The day of Omar’s tweet about the group, Sinema was at its regional dinner. The next morning, she tweeted: “Our support for a secure Israel as a beacon of democracy must remain unwavering. Proud to speak at @AIPAC‘s Phoenix dinner last night about strengthening and deepening this alliance.” She also spoke at the group’s national conference on March 25.

With Democrats increasingly souring on the alliance with Israel, Sinema is determined to stand athwart history shouting “Stop.”

Is her maverick status sustainable, or will pressure to conform amid increasing polarization be too strong? “My guess is if she’s going to have a primary challenge,” Brad Bannon, president of the D.C.-based Bannon Communications Research, told the Washington Examiner, “it’ll be more likely she gets a primary challenge from a Latino, because of the demography of the state, more than an ideological challenge.” Bannon says, “Politics is very much a function of the state you represent.” And Sinema “represents a state that is about as closely divided, in partisan terms, as you can get.”

Perhaps being a maverick in the McCain mold is the way to survive in Arizona statewide politics. For Sinema, that required transcending her reputation for radical anti-war politicking in the early 2000s. She was up to the task. “Few blue state politicians have the range to pull off that transformation, or the electoral room to pull it off,” says Todd. More Democrats, Todd told the Washington Examiner, should be taking notes: “I have been surprised [Alabama Sen.] Doug Jones has not tried it. Or that [former Missouri Sen.] Claire McCaskill didn’t try it.”

Despite the heat Sinema is taking from her left flank, Bannon thinks Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and other party floor leaders will happily shrug off left-wing complaints: “My guess is Chuck Schumer doesn’t care. He’s trying to assemble a Democratic Senate majority, and in order to do that, he’s going to accommodate Kyrsten Sinema and other Democrats like her who may be running for either open seats or GOP seats in 2020.” Party leaders understand reality, Bannon told the Washington Examiner, and “the reality is, you can have a caucus that is monolithically liberal or monolithically conservative, but you can’t have a monolithic caucus if you’re in the majority.”

For that reason, Bannon says, “they’re willing to accommodate mavericks like Kyrsten Sinema.”

Seth Mandel is executive editor of the Washington Examiner magazine.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, a multimedia artist whose work now spans the second floor of the Hirshhorn Museum in D.C., wants to resist nationalism.

He says that’s the purpose of his three-part, interactive installation, “Pulse.” The exhibit replicates the participant’s heart rate in different ways, converting it to waves in a shallow pool and flickering lights, among other things. Lozano-Hemmer says it’s not just about hearing many hearts beat as one. It’s about repurposing technology, fingerprinting, for instance, for purposes of connection rather than control.

“At a time when we are seeing ethnic nationalisms on the rise, dividing people along simplistic categorizations, it is critical to misuse these mechanisms of control to create connective, anonymous landscapes of belonging,” he says.

The message of “Pulse” is powerful, even if its connection to nationalism is more an intention than a result. On the other hand, “Pulse” is overwhelmingly pro-life.

The exhibition is the Hirshhorn’s largest interactive technology display ever, and it wows its audience in three parts. In “Pulse Index,” participants put their fingers on a screen, which snaps a photo and projects the fingerprint onto the wall.

Each panel has more fingerprints than the last, and 10,000 of them stretch before you. A father puts his finger in the slot while his young son holds the rest of his hand, presumably imagining that his own finger is projected onto the screen.

In “Pulse Tank,” your fingerprint causes a device to hit a small pool of water at your heart rate. As the waves reverberate throughout the pool, a spotlight reflects the patterns on the ceiling. As more viewers participate, more of their heartbeats intersect.

In “Pulse Room,” more than 200 light bulbs flicker on the ceiling. You enter to the sound of a low boom. Hundreds of heartbeats are resonating together. A crowd forms, and at the end of a long line a girl holds a pair of metal rods, waiting for them to pick up her heartbeat.

It’s been several seconds, and she seems ready to leave. But the woman behind her, perhaps her mother, encourages her to stay on. “She’s human, I promise,” she quips to the people waiting in line. Moments later, hundreds of light bulbs flicker with the girl’s pulse.

On Lozano-Hemmer’s description at the face of the exhibit, he says the poetry of the heartbeat begins in the womb.

“During my wife’s first pregnancy in 2003, I learned that we could listen to the pulse of the fetus,” he says. “That the heartbeat is widely used as a poetic representation of life and love is due in part to this facility for translation and the universal recognition of the rhythmic sound we first hear in the womb, our mother’s heart, which is then accompanied and superseded by our own.”

Three years later, his wife was pregnant again, this time with twins. With two ultrasound machines, the expectant parents listened to the boy and girl’s heartbeats simultaneously. The cadence reminded Lozano-Hemmer of the work of modern composers. That same year, he created “Pulse Room.”

Lozano-Hemmer may have had another intention for the exhibit, and he may not even be pro-life. But art speaks for itself. As hundreds of fingerprints flash on a wall behind you, and hundreds of heartbeats rumble in the room before you, it’s hard not to remember that we’re all connected by a beating heart, and in the same moment, to remember when that heartbeat begins.

On Monday, Facebook announced new features to deal with a growing demographic on the platform: the dead.

The company had already introduced options for users to memorialize profiles and had enabled trusted family and friends to go in and curate those pages.

But Facebook also had plenty of problems in dealing with profiles of the deceased. Some of those permanently inactive users kept showing up in disturbing ways: reminders about birthdays, suggestions for invitations, and videos that autoplayed memories even as families grieved.

Now the company has said it will use artificial intelligence to prevent the internet equivalent of ghost-sightings. Facebook will invest more in tracking down users who won’t be logging on again.

But even with those changes, the internet makes the dead remain more visible than in ages past. An obituary that would have run once in the local paper is now permanently available. Pictures that might have ended up in a dusty shoe box can be pulled up within seconds. Notes from friends, videos, and other lively remnants of life live on in digital form. Even profiles, clearly marked as memorials, seem to invite us to interact with them in the same ways we would if that person were still reading our messages and responding to comments.

Yet for all the permanence of the internet, wandering among memorialized profiles feels less intimate than visiting a grave or sharing memories among family members. Even in death, the internet remains a shadow of real life — a slim, digital profile that remains wholly inadequate to capture a person’s life.


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