It’s time to celebrate dear old dad again. Another Father’s Day is here, as the recent deluge of power tool and men’s tie advertisements reminded us.

This year, I’m reminded of the two dads who led the two sides in the Civil War. Much has been written about how the lives of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis began with a lot in common. Both were born in Kentucky just eight months and 125 miles apart. Then the Lincolns moved north, the Davises moved south and the rest, as they say, is history.

But the pair also shared a little-known paternal bond, one no father should ever experience. This is their story.

William Wallace Lincoln was an interesting blue-eyed little boy. The third son of Abraham and Mary Lincoln, he and younger brother Tad were described as “notorious hellions,” chiefly because their father kept a loose hold on the discipline reins.

But Willie, as he was known, was also charming and intelligent. He and his father were especially close. There was a sensitive, tender side to the child, too. One of my favorite tales about him happened during Lincoln’s first months in the White House. The family was having breakfast and Tad was upset about something. Willie grew lost in deep thought. Then his face brightened. Lincoln looked at his son and said, “You’ve got it, haven’t you? You’ve figured out how to make Tad happy.” Willie nodded. Lincoln turned to Mary and beamed with pride as he said something along the lines of, “I can tell you every step he went through to reach his decision because our minds work so much alike.”

But Willie Lincoln didn’t live in the White House for long. He and Tad became seriously ill in early 1862. Modern research suggests typhoid fever caused by tainted Potomac River water was likely the culprit. While Tad’s case wasn’t severe, Willie went from improving one day to worsening the next. Lincoln fretted over his son’s condition while serving as commander in chief of a nation at war with itself. It was sheer agony trying to spend as much time as possible with Willie while also supervising military movements.

The end came at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20. Willie Lincoln was 11 years old. His devastated father sobbed at the bedside, “It is hard, hard to have him die!”

Just before the funeral, a raging thunderstorm howled through Washington. Mary was too distraught to attend the service. Willie was buried in Georgetown’s Oak Hill Cemetery. When this father was assassinated three years later, a funeral train carried two caskets back home to Illinois.

One hundred miles away in Richmond, Va., Jefferson Davis was also the father of four young children, with a fifth on the way. They included Margaret, Jefferson Jr., William, and Joe.

Joseph Evans Davis was called exceptionally bright and said to be the best behaved of all the Davis offspring. He seemed to have been the kind of little boy everyone loved.

He turned five years old on April 18, 1864. Tragedy struck twelve days later. April 30 was a warm Saturday. Windows in the Confederate White House were open that afternoon. Joe went exploring the way little boys in every era do. He fell over a porch railing onto pavement 15 feet below. Jefferson Jr. screamed for help. Everyone within earshot came running. Joe was carried inside and died of massive internal injuries about an hour later. His parents had been away at the time of the accident; they returned home just as their son was dying.

Jefferson Davis was inconsolable. He was heard pacing the floor in his study all night. Although daughter Winnie was born two months later, some people claimed Davis was never the same after that. Joe was buried in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery. His father’s remains were later reinterred there alongside his little son.

Losing a child is one of life’s most traumatic experiences. No exception is made for parents in time of war, even for those in charge of the fighting. And so the two dads who led different sides in the bloody conflict that cost so many fathers their sons shared their grief by losing sons of their own.

J. Mark Powell (@JMarkPowell) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is a former broadcast journalist and government communicator. His weekly offbeat look at our forgotten past, “Holy Cow! History,” can be read at

Senator Duckworth speaks with an aide before the announcement of the formation of the Senate Democrats' Special Committee on Climate Change in Washington
U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) speaks with an aide before the announcement of the formation of the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on Climate Change on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

June 14, 2019

(Reuters) – Two Midwest senators said on Friday they have introduced a bill to reform the Environmental Protection Agency’s opaque biofuel waiver program, which the corn industry says helps oil companies at the expense of farmers by threatening ethanol demand.

The bill, introduced by Republican Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Democrat Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, would impose a June 1, deadline, for refineries to apply for the waivers that exempt them from blending ethanol into gasoline. That would allow time for the EPA to calculate the volumes waived and apply them to the next year’s blending mandates, the senators said in a statement.

The measure would require the agency to report to lawmakers on the methodology used to decide whether a waiver is granted, and would make other elements of the largely confidential waiver process more transparent.

The bill’s introduction comes after reports that the Trump administration’s EPA had given waivers to facilities run by majors like Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp. The EPA has said it considers only the economics of the refinery requesting a waiver, and not the well being of its owner.

“Farmers across Illinois and throughout the Midwest are hurting and ethanol plants are idling while this administration is abusing the small refinery exemption program to undermine the bipartisan Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Duckworth. 

Fischer said the current system effectively reduces the overall volumes of biofuels that the EPA requires refiners to blend in a given year, without providing a mechanism for the refining industry to make up those volumes elsewhere.

“That’s unfair and it hurts our farmers and ethanol producers. This bill would shine a light on what’s been an obscure exemption process and help promote economic growth in rural America,” said Fischer.

Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), refiners are required to blend increasing volumes of biofuels into their fuel each year or buy credits from those who do, creating a 15-billion-gallon annual market for ethanol.

But small facilities can apply for an exemption if they prove that compliance with the RFS would be a financial hardship, and the EPA can grant them secretly in a process they say protects confidential business information.

Since U.S. President Donald Trump took office, the administration has vastly expanded its use of the waivers, citing court rulings in 2017 that concluded Obama’s EPA had been too stingy with them, saving oil companies hundreds of millions of dollars.

Waivers save refiners money because they do not need to blend biofuels or buy credits. The biofuel industry meanwhile says they threaten ethanol demand, even though federal data shows blending rates have been relatively stable.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw in Philadelphia; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Source: OANN

After some delay caused by congressional gridlock, President Trump signed a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill intended to provide assistance to communities grappling with recovery from wildfires, flooding, and hurricanes.

The Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, signed into law on June 6, allocates funds to assist with recovery and prevention in places affected by natural disasters in the past three years.

The bipartisan bill had previously been tied up over the administration’s request that it include billions in aid for the southern border.

The legislation includes $1.6 billion for repairing damaged highways and $120 million for the National Park Service to help restore damaged public lands.

Last year, California suffered its costliest and most deadly wildfire season on record. More than 1 million acres were burned, and dozens of people died as a result of the infernos. The act provides $720 million to the U.S. Forest Service for fire suppression activities.

States such as Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota have faced massive flood damage this year, leaving farms across the states devastated. The bill provides $4.5 billion to the Department of Agriculture, which will be used for emergency timber restoration, watershed recovery work, road repair, and farmland restoration. The legislation also allows the department to pay compensation for the loss of stored grain due to the flooding.

Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., the ranking member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said in a statement the legislation will help rural farming communities in his state that have been devastated by the recent floods.

“This year’s flooding has affected just about everyone in north Missouri,” Graves said. “We’ve all felt the pain as floodwaters have overtopped or punched through levees, inundating homes, businesses, and farms.”

“Today, many folks across north Missouri are still fighting hard to hold back the floodwaters. I’m glad we passed this final disaster relief bill so folks can get the assistance they need to rebuild and recover,” he added.

In addition, the legislation provides $600 million for nutrition assistance in Puerto Rico, where residents are still reeling from Hurricane Maria. The 2017 hurricane knocked out much of the infrastructure in the island territory and killed hundreds of people. In addition, the act provides $304 million in Community Development Block Grant funding for Puerto Rico.

Joseph Kane of the Brookings Institution told the Washington Examiner the bill is a big deal to the myriad communities affected by recent disasters.

“Despite repeated delays, the disaster aid bill provides needed relief to all types of communities across the country that are still dealing with impacts from floods, wildfires, and other extreme events,” Kane said. “With each passing month, the country is facing increased unpredictability and higher costs, which this bill helps address through billions of dollars across more than a dozen agencies.”

Despite the passage, Kane said more needs to be done to mitigate and manage future disasters so the U.S. doesn’t keep “limping from aid bill to aid bill.”

“Nineteen billion only scratches the surface of the looming costs that we will all face in years to come,” he said. “Additional investment in mitigation strategies, new types of forecasting, and a variety of infrastructure improvements are a welcome part of this bill, but much more action is needed nationally and locally to better manage risk in the future.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that the president was working to help improve the areas affected by recent disasters and help prevent losses from future disasters.

“President Trump is committed to securing funding for and improving the implementation of policies that mitigate the risk natural disasters pose to communities and make the nation’s recovery from disasters vastly more effective,” Sanders said.

PHILADELPHIA — Some of the nation’s largest electric utilities are calling on Congress to provide uniform rules for clean energy to help them meet self-established goals for reducing carbon emissions.

Utilities convening in Philadelphia this week for the industry’s annual convention hosted by the Edison Electric Institute asked the federal government to pass either a carbon tax or a clean electricity mandate to provide certainty to electricity providers seeking to satisfy public demand for cleaner energy.

“The most efficient thing long-term is for this country at the federal level to come to grips with the situation and allow for markets to be designed that will advance what our customers want,” Chris Crane, the CEO of Exelon, a Chicago-based utility, told the Washington Examiner in an interview.

Crane and other utility leaders have welcomed state initiatives to increase the use of renewables and other zero-carbon sources, such as nuclear power, but they warn that a patchwork of differing policies would complicate utilities’ clean energy plans.

More than half of U.S. states have adopted clean electricity standards or more restrictive renewable portfolio standards, requiring utilities to obtain an increasing amount of electricity from wind and solar and other zero-carbon energy sources.

“We support the state requirements,” Crane said. “But it would be cleaner, easier, and more economical if we were able to have a federal standard.”

Exelon would benefit from a carbon price or mandate, given it operates no coal and generates the vast majority of its electricity from nuclear power, followed by natural gas. It has lobbied for state policies in states such as Illinois, New York, and New Jersey that have acted to compensate nuclear plants.

Exelon, along with Virginia-based utility Dominion Energy, recently joined the CEO Climate Dialogue, a new coalition of businesses and environmental groups formed to asked Congress for legislation that would put a price on carbon across the U.S. economy to achieve at least an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050. Exelon also belongs to the Climate Leadership Council, a GOP-led group promoting a carbon tax that would return the revenue to customers, while Dominion has set a goal of reducing carbon emissions from its electricity 60% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

“Our preference is for a straightforward policy coming from Congress that will be long-lasting that we can react to, plan for, deal with, and educate our customers on,” Dominion CEO Thomas Farrell told the Washington Examiner.

In recent months, the progressive Green New Deal has inspired a host of presidential candidates to propose climate change policies with the goal of reaching 100% clean energy and net-zero emissions by 2050.

But Crane and Farrell say such goals are unachievable given today’s technology.

“It would be easy for me sitting in 2019 to say we are going to be 100% by 2050,” Farrell said. “But we don’t do things that way at our company. I don’t see a path with today’s technologies to 100%.”

The utility leaders said advancements are needed in technologies such as long-duration energy storage — which would enable greater use of wind and solar — carbon capture for coal and gas plants, and advanced nuclear reactors to reach 100% clean energy.

Supporters of carbon pricing and electricity standards, however, say a federal policy would nudge companies towards clean energy technologies more quickly.

Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on climate change, pushed at the utility conference for an “economy-wide carbon price,” but he acknowledged it would take “a while to develop” given Republican opposition.

“They have made great progress in that they have reduced a lot of the carbon footprint, but we have to work together on a federal policy to ensure additional progress is achieved,” Tonko told the Washington Examiner, referring to the utility industry. “What we don’t need is this roller coaster ride. Companies are going to make investments, but not foolishly.”

Federal energy regulators and grid operators are also backing a federal carbon reduction policy.

Asim Haque, executive director of strategic policy and external affairs for PJM, the nation’s largest grid operator, noted during a panel event at the utility conference that various states covered in his power market have different clean energy mandates.

“I would love if there was uniformity and consensus with true clarity to say, here is where policymakers want us to be,” Haque said. “From a purely market perspective, you want to have some direction or uniformity.”

The problem with having multiple state climate policies is it risks the potential of so-called “carbon leakage,” when there is an increase in emissions in one state as a result of emissions reductions by a second neighboring state with a strict climate policy.

This makes it challenging for FERC to fulfill its mandate to ensure “just and reasonable rates” for electricity consumers, the commission’s chairman Neil Chatterjee said in testimony before Congress Wednesday.

Dominion has used this concern to justify the company’s reservations about Virginia’s proposal to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade program covering the power sector in nine East Coast states.

“Our studies show that carbon emissions [regionally] under this proposal would rise because electricity could be cheaper to buy off system [from countries outside RGGI] with fossil fuel-based carbon,” Farrell said.

Environmental groups, however, cite current RGGI states that have cut emissions without raising power prices. Critics also charge that Dominion isn’t sufficiently committed to zero-carbon energy, given it recently added large natural gas plants to its fleet, and is a co-owner of the Atlantic Coast pipeline being developed to transport gas along the Northeast.

“We are going to have natural gas used to produce electricity for years and years to come,” Farrell acknowledged. “A huge amount of renewables will have to be built. So, you have to have something that will produce electricity when renewables aren’t working.”

Tonko, the Democratic congressman, said utilities need to do more to lobby for federal policy, especially given the industry’s role in helping electrify other sectors outside power like transportation and manufacturing.

“The aggressiveness of the lobbying needs to accompany the enormity of the crisis,” Tonko said.

FILE PHOTO: Walmart's logo is seen outside one of the stores in Chicago
FILE PHOTO: Walmart’s logo is seen outside one of the stores in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

June 12, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Walmart Inc on Wednesday announced a sweeping overhaul at, an e-commerce retailer it acquired in 2016 for $3.3 billion, and said it no longer needs a dedicated leader to run the online business.

Walmart said it will integrate’s retail, technology, marketing, analytics and product teams with its own e-commerce business and current President of Jet, Simon Belsham, will oversee the transition through early August.

Going forward, Kieran Shanahan, who oversees Walmart’s food, consumables, health and wellness categories, will be responsible for’s strategy and management, in addition to his current role.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law on Wednesday that provides for broad access to abortion and gets rid of restrictions on the procedure in the third trimester, the Washington Examiner reported on Wednesday.

The law declares every person in Illinois has a “fundamental right” to abortion, pregnancy care, or sterilization, and that “a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of this state.”

Pritzker said at a bill signing event  that “Today we proudly proclaim that in this state, we trust women,” CNN reported. “And in Illinois we guarantee as a fundamental right a woman’s right to choose.”

The new law comes as several other Democratic states are codifying abortion protections in response to Republican states that are pushing forward bills restricting abortion access.

The GOP state legislatures are enacting such restrictions in an attempt to force a potential legal challenge of the landmark Supreme Court Roe V. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.

Anti-abortion groups have called the Illinois law the “most extreme” in the U.S., according to the Examiner.

Susan B. Anthony List National Campaign chairwoman Jill Stanek said that  “Americans of every political persuasion are appalled by these attempts to expand abortion on demand through the moment of birth and even infanticide, and that in turn is driving pro-life momentum around the country. There is no pride or glory in being the most extreme pro-abortion state in the nation.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis holds his weekly general audience at the Vatican
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis leaves the weekly general audience at the Vatican, June 12, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo

June 12, 2019

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Wednesday put Father Augustine Tolton, the first African-American Catholic priest who started life as a slave in the 19th century U.S. South, on the path to sainthood.

The Vatican said Francis approved a decree recognizing Tolton’s “heroic virtues,” an early step in the sainthood process, after a five-year investigation in Chicago.

Tolton was born in Bush Creek, Missouri on April 1, 1854 into a family of slaves owned by a white Roman Catholic family.

His father escaped bondage by serving in the Union army during the American Civil War and the rest of the family gained freedom in 1862 by crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois, a free state.

Although tutored by Catholics who recognized his intellectual prowess, he had to study for the priesthood at a papal university in Rome because no seminary in the United States would take him.

He was ordained in 1886, becoming the first African-American Catholic priest, and returned to Illinois to serve in black parishes in that state until his death in 1897.

Following investigations by Church historical and theological commissions, the pope on Wednesday granted Tolton the title “Venerable,” meaning that Catholics can pray to him for intercession with God.

One miracle would have to be attributed to Tolton for him to be beatified, the next step in the process, and a second miracle after beatification would be needed in order for him to be declared a saint.

The Church teaches that only God performs miracles but that saints who are believed to be with God in heaven intercede on behalf of people who pray to them. A miracle is usually the medically inexplicable healing of a person.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Source: OANN

Congress gave the Trump administration more than $400 million in February to address humanitarian concerns at the border and more will likely be approved, but it is “not acceptable” for migrants to be treated the way they are, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin said Wednesday.

“I’ve been there since in the last five or six weeks, you know, in El Paso, and the situation down there is gruesome and inhumane,” the Illinois lawmaker told CNN’s “New Day.” “It is not acceptable in the United States for people to be treated this way. I think the Department of Homeland Security knows that.”

The DHS has asked for more money, and Durbin said he can comment “without fear of contradiction” that the money will be provided, as Democrats feel the migrants should be treated humanely while going through the legal process.

“In addition, we need more immigration court judges,” Durbin said. “The president’s longest shutdown of our government in history shut down the immigration courts at exactly the wrong moment. In addition to that, we’ve got to come down hard on the smugglers and transporters who are exploiting these people.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is expected to propose $4.5 billion in funding for different immigration-related actions, CNN noted, and Durbin said Democrats will likely support the measures, even if there are differences in policy.

“When it comes down to it we demand the humane treatment of children,” said Durbin. “We had too many children die at our border who shouldn’t have died.”

Durbin added that there will be a rider on the money specifying that it will be used for what it’s appropriated for, as President Donald Trump is “raiding funds right and left to build his almighty wall.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

Yesterday, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signed H. 57, which is among the most radical abortion bills in the nation. Though other states such as Illinois and New York have passed similar legislation, Scott is the first Republican governor to sign such a bill this year.

According to Vermont Right to Life, Gov. Scott used to support some restrictions on abortion. However, after signing H. 57 yesterday, the governor has clearly changed his mind and fallen to the far Left on this issue.

“While Scott has always called himself pro-choice, throughout the years he has expressed support for parental involvement legislation for minor daughters considering an abortion, concern for abortions occurring in the later in months of pregnancy, and shielding taxpayers from funding them,” Vermont Right to Life stated. “With his signature, Gov. Scott has rejected any regulation of abortion, abortionists, and abortion clinics, including measures to protect the health and safety of girls and women. Scott has embraced without reservation the agenda of the powerful pro-abortion lobby.”

Phil Scott
Republican Vermont Gov. Phil Scott smiles after voting in Berlin, Vt., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.

Vermont Right to Life also says the bill uniquely “grants abortion providers and clinics the right to sue the State if they are not allowed to establish a new abortion practice in Vermont. Unlike providers of any other medical procedure, H. 57 grants abortion providers this private right of action against the State.”

The bill sailed through both chambers of the state legislature passing 24 to 6 in the Senate and 106 to 37 in the House. The Democratic Party has strong supermajorities in both chambers, and several seats are also held by the Vermont Progressive Party.

Pro-lifers, and all conservatives, should take this bill as a wake-up call and realize that voting Republican in the general elections is not in itself a guarantee of anything.

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On June 5, Oregon’s legislators voted to join 15 other states and signed on to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The NPVIC is an agreement between states to give their electoral college votes to the winner of the national popular vote. All but seven states have introduced a bill to adopt the legislation.

The Oregon state Senate voted 17-12 to pass legislation (SB 870) to join the National Popular Vote (NPV) compact. The state House of Representatives also voted 37-22 in favor of the legislation. Katherine Brow, Oregon’s Democrat governor has indicated that she will sign the new legislation into law.

The Governor’s deputy press secretary said:

“The Governor has always believed that every vote matters and supported National Popular Vote since 2009 as Secretary of State.”

With the win in Oregon, the compact now has 196 electoral votes behind it. It needs a total of 270 electoral votes to take effect, guaranteeing the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote would also earn the most electoral college votes.

The NPV website proclaims that agreement is:

“a constitutionally conservative, state-based approach that preserves the Electoral College, state control of elections, and the power of the states to control how the President is elected.”

But at least one state governor doesn’t agree and has has called their bluff. Democrat Steve Sisolak, Governor of Nevada, has vetoed legislation in his state, dealing a significant blow to the national initiative.

Sisilak explained:

“Over the past several weeks, my office has heard from thousands of Nevadans across the state urging me to weigh the state’s role in our national elections. After thoughtful deliberation, I have decided to veto Assembly Bill 186. Once effective, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact could diminish the role of smaller states like Nevada in national electoral contests and force Nevada’s electors to side with whoever wins the nationwide popular vote, rather than the candidate Nevadans choose.”

In addition to violating the intent of the Constitution, it appears that the NPVIC is also in violation of Article I, Section 10, which very clearly stipulates:

“No state shall, without the consent of Congress … enter into any agreement or compact with another state.”

Congress has not granted states consent for NPVIC, nor is consent likely to be granted, since it violates the trust that less populace states placed in the more populated states when the Constitution was first adopted.

In an article written for The New American, Steve Byas sums it up nicely:

In addition to diminishing the clout of the smaller population states, NPV would shift political power more toward the nation’s population centers, even in those larger states.

The Electoral College system reduces the significance of vote fraud, as no matter how many votes would be added illegally in, say, Chicago, the state of Illinois only gets a set number of electoral votes. But if the Electoral College were abolished, the incentive to stuff the ballot box in the large population centers like Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and New York City would be greatly increased.

The NPV is even worse than abolishing the Electoral College by constitutional amendment, because it would create a national popular vote election, without any governing electoral system over vote counting and recounts. It is unlikely that any close presidential election could be settled peacefully, in our present highly-partisan environment.

Source: The Washington Pundit

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