Three Things You Need to Know - October 12, 2017

Think before you tweet.

That should be our new national slogan.

In less than 140 characters, the President told us what he thought of the First Amendment yesterday.

In response to an NBC news report that he suggested increasing the nation’s nuclear arms stockpile during a meeting with top Cabinet officials, Trump tweeted, "With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!"

Ok, let me break this down.

What is bad for the country is our President advocating for obstructing the free press.

What is bad for the country is violating the Constitution.

What is bad for the country is not understanding the First Amendment at the most basic level. That goes for every American citizen and every elected official serving those citizens.

Look, I get it. NBC can be absolutely shameful. Believe me, I’m not a fan. But that doesn’t mean the President can just shut them down because they say things he doesn’t like.

And even if Trump wanted to challenge their license, he couldn’t. NBC doesn’t have a broadcast license. NBC’s local affiliates do, not the national network. And it would be highly unusual for the FCC to revoke a local license based on a broadcaster’s content. It just doesn’t work that way.

Here’s some free advice for Trump.

One. You need to do some homework. Learn about how the Federal Communications Commission works and re-read our country’s Constitution.

Two. Stop caring about what NBC says about you. They will never be fair to you. I’ve been there. They are not going to like you. Get over it. Try to focus on the things that actually matter like North Korea, Puerto Rico, California, for example.

And three. Always think before you tweet.

Hell has come to California.

22 wildfires have sprung up all over the state of California, scorching everything in their path. As of this morning, 23 people have been killed and almost 300 are missing.

Despite the numerous earthquakes this state has seen, this could be the worst natural disaster in California history. 170,000 acres of land and over 3,500 buildings have been destroyed. 20,000 people have been evacuated, and thousands are without power.

Napa Valley has taken the worst of it. The images are straight apocalyptic. Rivers of wine boil as they leak out of scorched vineyards. Entire communities have been wiped off the map. Neighborhoods near Santa Rosa look like WWII pictures of Stalingrad or Hiroshima.

Many residents in the worst-hit areas never even knew the fires were sweeping down on them until the last minute. All was quiet until the shouts of frantic neighbors jarred people from their homes. As they walked out into their front yards, the sound of smoke detectors could be heard from nearby neighborhoods. Car horns added to the chaos as families sped down the roads in desperation.

Where was the warning? The truth is many people didn’t get any. Cell towers were being wiped out by the fires and landlines were destroyed. The area has access to the federal Wireless Emergency Alert system, but it’s unclear if authorities even used it, and if so, why so many people received nothing.

San Jose has had this problem before. Just a few months ago, the city got nailed for not warning the public of destructive floodwaters. A report found that “there was a general lack of institutional knowledge” on how to use the Wireless Emergency Alert system. I’m sorry but this is just ridiculous. Lives are at stake, and those in charge don’t know what to do. How is this even possible in this area! This is Silicon Valley! The tech community needs to come together and ensure this doesn’t happen again because the local government isn’t getting it done.

A cold front is blowing in this morning creating winds that will keep these fires moving fast. The carnage is expected to last, at least until Saturday. The American spirit has been tested a lot this year. From multiple catastrophic hurricanes to massive floodwaters, and now this. Help your fellow man --- and if you can’t help --- send your prayers toward California today.

U.S. soldiers have been killed in Niger.

It was just supposed to be a “routine reconnaissance mission.” But four American soldiers were killed. It happened last week, in Niger.

Did you even know about it? Did you know that the U.S. has soldiers operating in Niger?

We’re suffering from content inflation --- a fire hydrant of so much useless information and juvenile bickering that we miss stories that are actually important.

The U.S. has 800 troops stationed in Niger to help train Niger’s military and help gather intelligence in the fight against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in the region.

A dozen Green Berets and 20 Niger soldiers were on a reconnaissance mission when they were ambushed by terrorists driving pickup trucks with mounted machine guns. The fire-fight lasted 30 minutes. When it was over, four Green Berets lay dead and two others wounded. Four Niger soldiers were also killed.

The Pentagon is now investigating the incident, but officials believe Al Qaeda was responsible for the attack. The terrorist group operates along the border between Niger and Mali, near where the U.S. and Niger soldiers were.

The U.S. Defense Department attempts to follow what is known as the “golden-hour standard,” in which the military tries to rescue wounded soldiers within one hour of being wounded. One U.S. general said it’s not possible to have the golden hour standard in Africa because of the extremely remote locations in which some U.S. soldiers operate. Niger is a land-locked, mostly desert nation in northwest Africa, about twice the size of Texas. These remote operations leave U.S. soldiers particularly vulnerable to ambushes.

American helicopters did not arrive to rescue the wounded troops in Niger. French helicopters finally arrived from 275 miles away in Burkina Faso. Some soldiers say the standard rescue wait time in Africa is closer to ten hours.

These are the first American troops to die in the counterterrorism effort in Niger, where the U.S. has been since 2015.

Why hasn’t this story been more prominent in the news? America’s been too busy talking about kneeling during the national anthem. Oppressive statues. Melania’s footwear. Empathy tents. There are bigger issues at stake --- and we’re either ignoring them, or missing them altogether.

MORE 3 THINGS

The themes of healing and redemption appear throughout the Bible.

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. — 1 Corinthians 15:43
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. — Mark 2:17.

So, for many Christians, it's no surprise to hear that people of faith live longer lives.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. — Jeremiah 17:14.

But it is certainly lovely to hear, and a recent study by a doctoral student at Ohio State University is just one more example of empirical evidence confirming the healing benefits of faith and religious belief.

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Moreover, the study finds that religious belief can lengthen a person's life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. — Proverbs 17:22
Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! — Isaiah 38:16

The study analyzed over 1,000 obituaries nationwide and found that people of faith lived longer than people who were not religious. Laura Wallace, lead author of the study, noted that "religious affiliation had nearly as strong an effect on longevity as gender does, which is a matter of years of life."

The study notes that, "people whose obits mentioned a religious affiliation lived an average of 5.64 years longer than those whose obits did not, which shrunk to 3.82 years after gender and marital status were considered."

And He called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. — Matthew 10:1

"The researchers found that part of the reason for the boost in longevity came from the fact that many religiously affiliated people also volunteered and belonged to social organizations, which previous research has linked to living longer. The study provides persuasive evidence that there is a relationship between religious participation and how long a person lives," said Baldwin Way, co-author of the study and associate professor of psychology at Ohio State.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

In addition, the study showed how the effects of religion on longevity might depend in part on the personality and average religiosity of the cities where people live, Way said.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. — Luke 5:17
Heal the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you. — Luke 10:9.

In early June, the Social Security and Medicare trustees released their annual report on the fiscal health of these programs, and the situation looks dire. Medicare is scheduled to run out of money in 2026 (three years sooner than anticipated), while Social Security is expected to run out in 2034. The rising national debt is only one of the well-known financial struggles the millennial generation faces. The burdens of student loan debt, high housing prices (thanks to zoning restrictions), stagnant wage growth, the rising cost of healthcare and lingering aftershocks of the Great Recession are among the biggest sources of economic anxiety millennials feel.

Progressive politicians have been very successful at courting the youth vote, partly because they actually promote policy ideas that address many of these concerns. As unrealistic or counterproductive as Senator Bernie Sanders' proposals for single-payer health care or a $15 an hour minimum wage might be, they feel in theory like they would provide the economic stability and prosperity millennials want.

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Republicans, on the other hand, have struggled to craft a message to address these concerns. Fiscal conservatives recognize, correctly, that the burden of the $20 trillion national debt and over $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities will fall on millennials. Some conservatives have even written books about that fact. But the need to reform entitlements hasn't exactly caught millennials' attention. Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, in her book The Selfie Vote, notes that millennials generally view protecting the safety net as more important than reducing the deficit.

Clearly, Republicans have a problem. They need to craft solutions that address the millennial generation's struggles, but they can't seem to sell entitlement reform, their biggest policy preference that addresses those problems. The Republican approach to wooing millennials on policy is failing because talking about stopping the debt from reaching an unsustainable level is long-term and abstract, and offers few immediate tangible benefits. A new approach to both pave the way for entitlement reform and give millennials an immediate financial boost is to first reform not entitlement spending, but the payroll tax: specifically, by partially (or wholly) replacing it with a value-added tax.

Under the current Social Security model, workers pay for the benefits of current retirees through the payroll tax. This system creates the illusion of a pension program, in which what you put in is what you get out, but in reality Social Security is a universal safety net program for the elderly paid for by taxes. The payroll tax falls on workers and is a tax on labor, while the value-added tax (VAT) is a tax on consumption imposed at every part of the production process. Assuming that this policy change is revenue-neutral, switching to a VAT will shift the responsibility for funding Social Security and Medicare away from workers, disproportionately poorer and younger, and onto everyone participating in the economy as a whole. Furthermore, uncoupling Social Security funding from payroll taxes would pave the way for fiscal reforms to transform the program from a universal benefit program to one geared specifically to eliminating old-age poverty, such as means-testing benefits for high-income beneficiaries, indexing benefits to prices rather than wages or changing the retirement age.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences. As the Tax Policy Center notes, the change would actually make the tax system more progressive. The current payroll tax is regressive, meaning that people with lower incomes tend to pay a higher effective tax rate than people with higher incomes. On the other hand, the value-added tax is much closer to proportional than the payroll tax, meaning that each income group pays closer to the same effective tax rate.

For Republicans, such a change would fit conservative economic ideas about the long-run causes of economic growth. A value-added tax has a much broader base than the payroll tax, and therefore would allow for much lower marginal tax rates, and lower marginal tax rates mean smaller disincentives to economic activity. According to the Tax Foundation's analysis of a value-added tax, the VAT would be a more economically efficient revenue source than most other taxes currently in the tax code.

Not only would replacing part or all of the payroll tax provide an immediate benefit to millennial taxpayers, it would also open the door for the much-needed entitlement reforms that have been so politically elusive. Furthermore, it would make the tax code both more pro-growth and less regressive. In order to even begin to address the entitlement crisis, win millennial support and stimulate the economy in a fiscally responsible manner, Republicans must propose moving from the payroll tax to the VAT.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate. His writing has appeared in Townhall and The Federalist. He is a federal policy intern at the Tax Foundation. Opinions expressed here are his only and not the views of the Tax Foundation. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Glenn was joined by Alanna Sarabia from "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios on Thursday for an exclusive look at Mercury Museum's new "Rights & Responsibilities" exhibit. Open through Father's Day, the temporary museum features artifacts from pop culture, America's founding, World Ward II and more, focusing on the rights and responsibilities America's citizens.

Get tickets and more information here.

Watch as Glenn gives a sneak peek at some of the unique artifacts on display below.

History at the Mercury Museum

Alanna Sarabia interviews Glenn Beck for "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios.

Several months ago, at the Miss Universe competition, two women took a selfie, then posted it on Instagram. The caption read, "Peace and love." As a result of that selfie, both women faced death threats, and one of the women, along with her entire family, had to flee her home country. The occasion was the 2017 Miss Universe competition, and the women were Miss Iraq and Miss Israel. Miss Iraq is no longer welcome in her own country. The government threatened to strip her of her crown. Of course, she was also badgered for wearing a bikini during the competition.

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In an interview, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, said:

When I posted the picture I didn't think for a second there would be blowback. I woke up to calls from my family and the Miss Iraq Organization going insane. The death threats I got online were so scary. The director of the Miss Iraq Organization called me and said they're getting heat from the ministry. He said I have to take the picture down or they will strip me of my title.

Yesterday, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, posted another selfie with Miss Israel, during a visit to Jerusalem.

In an interview, she said that:

I don't think Iraq and Israel are enemies; I think maybe the governments are enemies with each other. There's a lot of Iraqi people that don't have a problem with Israelis.

This is, of course, quite an understatement: Iraq, home to roughly 15,000 Palestinians, refuses to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate country, as it is technically at war with Israel. The adages says that a picture is worth a thousand words. What are we to do when many of those words are hateful or deadly? And how can we find the goodness in such bad situations?