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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Public discourse on illegal immigration has become irrational

It is often said that the United States is “a country of immigrants,” meaning that it was immigration of good people from other countries that built America and made it the great nation that it became.

Centuries ago, people crossed the oceans to come to North America. The British colonies formed, and after some time dissatisfaction with the British Crown’s treatment led to the Revolutionary War and independence, and the United States of America was born.

People from many nations came here seeking a better life, and helped strengthen the new nation in many ways. That was a long time ago, and for several generations since that time the large majority of Americans are people who were born here, not who immigrated here. However, some still regard America as a nation of immigrants. 

Today, America is a nation of natural born citizens that accepts some immigrants.

America still values those good people who come here for a better life and to become loyal and productive Americans. And long ago a process was established whereby they may do so. 

Over recent decades, however, that process has developed weaknesses and has atrophied, creating the problems we face today from millions of people who have come here illegally. They have overwhelmed our system, and pose many problems and, yes, many dangers to the country and its citizens.

A boisterous faction of Americans believes that having a sensible and orderly process for vetting and admitting immigrants is cruel, even racist. In their eagerness to promote having no immigration process or rules, severe madness seems to have taken control of them.

Here are a few examples.

1. The “citizenship question” question: Two hundred years ago the U.S. began asking those filling out census forms if they were citizens. It is not unusual for census forms to have had that question included. 

President Donald Trump wants to put the question back on the census form for 2020. Oddly, there was strong opposition to that very sensible and long-standing idea. In fact, Trump’s enemies called him a dictator for wanting to ask that question.

2. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., responded to Trump’s order to deport certain illegals. There are approximately one million illegal aliens whose claim of asylum was denied, and who were ordered to leave the country, but haven’t. Pelosi said, "A violation of status is not a reason for deportation."

These illegals were contacted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about scheduling an orderly removal, and have ignored all those efforts.

"When I saw that the president was going to have these raids — I mean it was so appalling; it's outside the circle of civilized human behavior to just be kicking down doors, splitting up families, and the rest of that, in addition to the injustices that are happening at the border," she said, later adding, “what's the point?" 

Unless those who have been ordered deported resist their legal removal, the removal process will not fit the wild description Pelosi’s over-active imagination dreamed up. Further, she has publicly urged illegal aliens to resist deportation. 

“This brutal action will terrorize children and tear families apart,” Pelosi said, completely ignoring that none of these people are supposed to be here in the first place, and refused to obey orders to leave the country.

Trump’s response: “If people who ignore court orders & stay in the U.S. illegally are not deported, we do not have rule of law … Democrats have become the party that puts illegal immigrants first!”

3. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., said in a press conference regarding illegals being detained, "It's hard to be up here to tell this story as a mother and as an American." She said that these people were not in U.S. "custody" but in "our care." 

“First, no one is illegal,” Tlaib declared. “That term is derogatory now because it dehumanizes people,” she said, in a House Oversight committee hearing. “You can say any other forms of maybe ‘coming in without any regulations’ or so forth …” 

"We don't need new laws; we need morality. We need an administration that understands there are human rights violations happening.” She added, “And you know, this is a choice by the current administration, they are choosing to not allow asylum seekers to go through the legal process.” Oooops!

4. The notorious Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., recklessly compared holding facilities for detainees – which are compelled by the number of illegals in the country to contain thousands more detainees than they were designed to house – to the “concentration camps” of the Holocaust where millions of innocent Jews were tortured and murdered. 

Illegals being in the country doesn’t bother these and other Democrats; they really aren’t inconvenienced by this situation. They champion allowing millions of illegals to enter the country, and be well cared for. But they would never allow illegals to move into their neighborhoods or homes. 

Illegals definitely do cause problems for citizens, and the nation. Illegal immigration costs millions of tax dollars, for which we get minimal, if any, return, and some commit vicious crimes.

We must get illegal immigration under control.

Friday, July 12, 2019

The national debt is one big problem nobody’s doing anything about



The national debt currently is more than $22,000,000,000,000 – that’s 22 trillion dollars – and growing by the minute. No one in Washington seems very concerned about it. What’s worse is that this situation has existed for decades.

Data from the Office of Management and Budget shows that of the ten presidents who were in office when the debt grew the most, all but two were 1970 and after. In case you can’t call them to mind, they are, in order: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.

The four who ran the highest deficits, as reported by Kimberly Amadeo, writing in The Balance, are, from worst to least bad:
* Barack Obama, leading the pack with $6.785 trillion. 
* President George W. Bush is next, racking up $3.293 trillion.
* President Ronald Reagan added $1.412 trillion.
* President George H.W. Bush created a $1.03 trillion deficit in one term. 

However, Amedeo explains, blaming the president is too easy because other factors play a role. She listed the following:
1. The president has no control over the mandatory budget or its deficit. That includes Social Security and Medicare benefits. These are the two biggest expenses any president has. 
2. The Constitution gave Congress, not the president, the power to control spending. The president’s budget is just a starting point. Each house of Congress prepares a discretionary spending budget. They combine them into the final budget that the president reviews and signs. 
3. Each president inherits many of his predecessors' policies. For example, every president suffered from lower revenue.
4. Some presidents have to deal with catastrophic events. President Obama responded to the worst recession since the Great Depression. President Bush reacted to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina. Their required responses came with economic price tags.

The point here is that every year since Nixon was elected president, except for four, there has been a budget deficit, and that is a serious problem that is not being addressed. The national debt is more than six times the annual federal revenues of recent years.

Justin Bogie, Senior Policy Analyst in Fiscal Affairs at The Heritage Foundation, addressed this problem in an article last month. “Despite the strong economy, the nation remains in a precarious and unsustainable budget position, just as it was last year,” he wrote. “Debt held by the public is set to rise to nearly one and a half times the size of the economy in the coming decades.”

Some want to blame the Trump tax cuts for causing the problem, or if not causing it, making it worse. Actually, despite the tax cuts, or as a result of the tax cuts, federal revenues have risen since 2017. 

The Congressional Budget Office shows that for 2017, before the tax cuts took effect, federal revenue totaled $3.316 trillion. After the tax cuts took effect revenue rose by $14 billion to $3.330 trillion in 2018, and the CBO projects revenue of nearly $200 billion more than 2017 at $3.511 trillion for 2019.

Federal tax collections were the highest in history in 2018 and 2019. So, the problem is not a revenue problem, because with sensible policies revenue can increase even beyond 2018 and 2019 levels. 

What we have is a problem of spending, further complicated by some slight of hand by Congress.

“Congress utilizes a wide variety of gimmicks and accounting tricks to hide the true costs of legislation,” Bogie writes in another Heritage article. “This allows Congress to spend more and more — evading fiscal discipline and adding billions of additional dollars to the federal debt each year.”

Such tricks include: Timing Shifts - shifting in what year revenues or expenses may be reported; using Disaster and Emergency Spending to circumvent budget caps; double counting Federal Trust Fund savings; not accounting for interest costs in Legislative Cost Estimates, and other such deceptions.

Obviously, closing these loopholes should be a first step in restoring fiscal sanity to the budget process. But closing and/or consolidating government agencies to remove duplication of services; eliminating wasteful policies and programs, as well as ending overreaching and underperforming government programs; and general belt-tightening, not unlike businesses utilize, to stay in business can make a substantial difference.

These are common sense steps. But they go by the wayside in our gargantuan government that is infected by self-interest and political motivations, things elected officials and bureaucrats often put ahead of what’s best for the country and the citizens whose taxes pay their salaries, and fund this malfeasance.

The Government Accountability Office’s “Annual Report” lists steps to reduce costs, reduce fragmentation, overlap, and duplication within federal agencies and programs. When followed, they produced positive change in the past.

And, The Heritage Foundation has produced a report titled “Blueprint for Balance,” that “presents a holistic vision for how to rein in out-of-control government spending, create a more accountable and effective budget process, and balance the budget in 10 years.”

The Heritage blueprint outlines how government can cut $10.8 trillion over 10 years, extend the tax cuts, and eliminate deficits by 2029. 

It’s time to focus on this problem.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

To Democrat candidates, America really is the land of the free!




Most Americans understand that America’s reputation for freedom comes from its providing opportunities for all to do mostly as they please, with certain sensible restrictions, to pursue happiness and success at their own pace.

That philosophy worked well for more than 200 years, but lately has come under attack by the left as being inadequate to provide a free and easy life to people, including those among us who are not citizens, and even if they are here illegally.

Today, to the left, “the land of the free” means “the land of the free stuff.”

And, yes, there is evidence for that statement: The public statements made at the first two Democrat debates between hopefuls for the party’s nomination for president.

Human Events reports the following list of the free stuff the Democrat candidates have offered: Free College; Free Healthcare; Cancellation of Student Loan Debt; Reparations for African-Americans; Reparations for Same-Sex Couples; Free Childcare; Free Housing; Free Income; and Free Healthcare for Illegal Immigrants.

It would be a challenge to compile a list of things that are more contradictory to the American ideals of individual freedom and individual responsibility than this list.

Among other problems, such as the enormous cost of these gifts, this list produces government control of nearly every aspect of life, something liberals, socialists and communists all love with a passion.

After being driven to a war for their independence, and winning it, the colonies formed a government set forth in the U.S. Constitution that was unique and has proven itself very successful. It offered a huge degree of individual freedom, guaranteed many specific rights, and promised to all the ability to determine their own future and to work to succeed at it.

And today’s Democrats want to undo all or much of that good work, and become like so much of the rest of the world, turning over our individual sovereignty to the government in return for free stuff, and “one-size-fits-all” programs that never work the way they are advertised, if they work at all.

Let’s look at free healthcare, “Medicare for All,” as it is called.

The FY2020 federal budget calls for $3.65 trillion in revenue, but $4.75 trillion in spending, producing a deficit of $1.1 trillion. The projected cost of free healthcare is $32.6 trillion over 10 years, or $3.26 trillion a year. That takes nearly all of the revenue projected for FY2020.

And since “free stuff” isn’t free, that money must come from somewhere. Taxes will go up to pay for these vote-buying efforts. A lot. On everybody, not just the hated rich, the 1 percent. And restrictions on healthcare services and providers will inevitably follow, limiting freedom.

Other promises also require the government to take your money to fund them. “Education should be a right, not a privilege,” so said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. “We need a revolution in the way that the United States funds higher education.”

In his argument for free college, Sanders makes a somewhat valid point, saying that people need education beyond what the K-12 public schools provide. He notes that many years ago a high school education was enough to prepare people for many entry-level jobs. But that has changed. 

Automation has replaced many of those jobs, and feel-good – but foolish – objectives like a mandated $15/hour minimum wage, will hasten those jobs being replaced by machines that cost less, don’t take vacations, and don’t often get sick.

Sanders’ idea of an expensive college education for everyone is silly. Many good paying jobs go unfilled because potential workers are often in college getting a degree that won’t help them get a job, instead of in training programs that will prepare them to work. Making college free for all is not just unnecessary, but just plain dumb. It will benefit colleges far more than students. And will cost billions.

The target audience for these wild, socialistic ideas have given little if any thought to their likely repercussions. And it’s not easy to tell whether those promoting the free stuff are merely trying to attract voter support, or working toward eventual government control over every aspect of our lives, or both. 

Democrats/liberals want to offer freedom: freedom from personal responsibility; freedom from having to work to achieve your goals and support yourself; freedom to allow the government to tell you what you can and cannot do with your life, etc.

These promises will turn what is still largely a nation of self-sufficient people into a nation of people that are dependent upon government. That is not what America is all about.

It is better for each of us, and it is better for America, when people have to show that they have what it takes to make something of themselves and take care of themselves and their family. This system has worked extremely well since the nation’s founding nearly two and one-half centuries ago. 

It is an critical omen that so many actually like these ideas, which indicates that they don’t know or understand the wisdom of the country’s sensible traditions.

Those who champion these foolish ideas must never be elected president, or to any other national office. 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Oh how do I hate thee, Donald Trump? Let me count the ways



Donald Trump is a different thing to different people. And exactly what he is depends entirely upon one’s general liking or disliking of him.

Since he had the gall to win the nomination over several mainstream Republican candidates, and then dared to defeat “she who must be elected” – it was her turn, you know – he has been persona non grata to everyone on the left, many in the center, and more than a few on the right.

He believes in saying what he thinks, and those comments usually aren’t polite. Of course, saying inflammatory things is a Trump trademark, and anyone who criticizes him must be prepared for a counter-attack, which is inevitably harsher than the original barb. Even a mild criticism brings a strong retort.

This penchant for strong responses contributed to the high level of dislike that even some of those who share political and ideological positions with him felt, and still feel.

Of the several things about him that people dislike, his caustic manner may top the list. As a result of this trait, much of the negative reactions are of a personal nature, rather than a substantive nature. Like-minded Republicans also dislike Trump for his manner.

They agree with him, for example, on lowering taxes so that Americans keep more of their earnings; doing away with economy-slowing regulations to promote job creation; wanting stronger border security to lessen the many negatives that accompany the way-too-high number of illegal aliens in the country; expecting our allies to assume more of the cost of their own national security, and other very sensible things. But they still don’t like him.

All of these individual dislikes add up to one major issue: Donald Trump is cut from a different mold; he is not like those of the Washington establishment. He doesn’t think like they do, talk like they do, or behave like they do. And that, it turns out, is his greatest sin: “He’s not one of us.”

When someone does things differently, others object. They don’t want to have to adapt to something different. That’s hard work. They like things as they are.

Imagine baseball as a game that consists, at all levels, only of right-handed players. Then along comes a left-handed pitcher. All the hitters have to adapt, and even the guy’s own catcher has to adapt. The motion on the mound is different. Curve balls curve a different way.

Chaos! Who wants to have to adapt to that? 

Outside observers say, “So what’s the big deal?” But to the insiders, the establishment, it doesn’t matter how good the guy is; how many strikeouts he collects; how few runs the opponents score. The players are focused only on the fact that he doesn’t fit into their way of doing things. 

Trump is that southpaw. He an outsider, an invader, and he has caused chaos. Therefore, he must be opposed. He cannot be allowed to succeed. Even the good that he does must be opposed, lest there be others like him that will follow him and destroy their happy home.

And the establishment of elected and hired hands – the swamp – has decided that he must be impeached, or otherwise removed from the office to which the American people elected him. “Nothing will stand in our way. Trump must be removed, at all costs!” is the new dictum.

The swamp, the “Get Trump” faction, includes elements of the American news media, including beat reporters, editors, news directors, producers, publishers and owners. 

Stories he just doesn’t like, or which actually fail the accuracy test, as many do, are labeled “fake news.” News outlets indulging in the aforementioned are criticized, such as “the failing New York Times.” He also refers to some outlets and personnel as “the enemy of the people.”

His frequent criticisms produced reactions from the media, such as that he is challenging the freedom of the press. That, of course, is a fundamental element of our nation guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. And the charge is often accepted as truth without question, or even fact checking.

Media personalities are quick to raise this as an important and dangerous act previously unheard of in all of our history. They have, however, so far neglected much actual history that runs contrary to their narrative. This may be because they, themselves, do not know the truth of that allegation, or it may be because it is an inconvenient truth.

But best selling author Mark Levin, in chapter four of his fantastic new book “Unfreedom of the Press,” details actions by five former presidents that actually did attack press freedoms.

These attacks started way back with John Adams, and include presidents Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and, yes, Barack Obama.

There is not room here to detail those activities, but Levin shows quite clearly that nothing Trump has done even approaches the attacks on press freedom imposed by those five. In fact, Trump’s criticisms are child’s play in comparison. 

The information is there for all to see, if any are interested in the truth. But many, perhaps most, won’t go to the trouble.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Vote buying is alive and well in Democrat campaign positions

If a campaign worker slips you a ten or a fifty as you head into a polling place, or promises you a week at the beach, that is a crime; election fraud.

Another way, a legal way, of encouraging folks to vote the right way is through campaign promises to deliver free stuff to people through government programs, if that candidate wins the election.

As it turns out, such techniques fit neatly into the goals of far-left Democrats who openly advocate socialist ideals. 

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to cancel the student debt of most of those who still owe money. She proposes cancelling up to $50,000 each for some 42 million former students. And then, make two- and four-year college tuition free.

Along with a cadre of other Democrat hopefuls, Warren supports Medicare for All. This would cancel out private health insurance and provide free healthcare to all U.S. residents, courtesy of the federal government, which would control prices, and everything else related to healthcare.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont wants to provide a living wage to everyone, regardless of whether they have any skills, or whether they have ever had a paying job before, by mandating that employers must pay all workers $15 an hour, or $31,200 in gross pay for a year of 40-hour workweeks. 

Free health care for all is, he believes, necessary, as is a tuition-free college education. And for those who have student debt, ol’ Bernie would cut their debt in half and slash interest rates on refinanced loans on what’s left to pay.

Other candidates – Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York – have co-sponsored the Debt-Free College Act. 

And Harris has an even better idea:just give away cash. She proposes that families making less than $100,000 a year receive up to $6,000 a year ($500 a month), or individuals making less than $50,000 a year could get up to $3,000 a year ($250 a month).

Warren also wants to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves. Slavery has not existed in the U.S. since 1865, roughly five generations ago.

With a bevy of candidates who want to give out lots of free stuff, even cash, some also want to give away things to immigrants, legal and illegal alike, all paid for by higher taxes.

 

Democrats are notorious for their dangerous degree of compassion for immigrants in general. And the more free stuff we offer, the more appealing is the idea of coming to America, legally or not.

While the actual number of illegals in the country is debated, a conservative estimate is between 10 and 12 million, and by far the largest group comes from Mexico, about 55 percent of the illegal population.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) estimated the cost of illegal immigration on the country in 2017 was $116 billion. That figure is likely higher this year than in 2017.

FAIR estimates that $59.8 billion goes to educate children of illegal immigrants, the vast majority of which is paid for from property taxes at the local and state level.

Another $18.5 billion goes to healthcare, according to Chris Conover of the American Enterprise Institute. It includes: “about $4.6 billion in health services paid for by federal taxes, $2.8 billion in health services financed by state and local taxpayers, and another $3 billion bankrolled through ‘cost-shifting,’ i.e. higher payments by insured patients to cover hospital uncompensated care losses, and roughly $1.5 billion in physician charity care.”

Some cities and states even allow illegals to vote in elections, which devalues the franchise and diminishes the voting power of United States citizens. So far, illegals are forbidden from voting in federal elections.

Under the best of circumstances, which is that these candidates actually believe these ideas will work as advertised, history and present-day reality show us that socialism and socialist ideas like these most often fail miserably. And the evidence is there for all who care to see it.

The increasingly socialistic left points with pride to various countries that have instituted government control over systems that are privately controlled in the U.S. The healthcare system in countries like Canada, Great Britain and the Scandinavian countries is often held up as an example.

These are not true socialist countries, of course. They just dabble in select aspects of socialism and charge the necessary sky-high taxes to fund them. For all the supposed wonders of government healthcare, however, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, three of the most frequently cited countries, are moving toward private health insurance. 

America was designed to allow great freedom for its citizens with a small and restricted government that would guarantee individual freedom, not interfere with it. After all, the truth is that the bigger the government, the smaller the citizen. 

Our federal government has grown to dangerous proportions, and the idea of imposing socialist methods on the people will further destroy what was and is the most unique and successful government system ever conceived.

We should not forget Margaret Thatcher’s brilliant point: “The great problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Stacking the Court and term limits for Congress?



Columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr. brought forth a truly important topic recently. “Permit me a question to every truly fair-minded person in our country,” the piece began. “Imagine that one party packs the Supreme Court with ideologues and the other party does absolutely nothing in response. Isn't this abject surrender to an unscrupulous power grab?”

He’s absolutely right: how can they, and we, just sit by and watch as this terribly un-American process goes forward? How can we allow justices to take the bench and act to impose their own political will on the country?

“This inquiry can no longer be ducked. Even those in the deepest denial can no longer ignore Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's nakedly political aim of cramming the Supreme Court with justices who will undo more than seven decades of precedent,” Dionne continued.

When interpretations of constitutional principles and laws become fluid, we find our national stability afloat in a sea of the unknown. What may be a popular view today may become the opposite in ten or so years. Constitutional interpretations that change with the tides of society are not a reliable foundation. The nation requires stability to endure.

And then Dionne wrote this: “They'll do the bidding of corporate interests, undercut voting rights and empower billionaires to buy elections.”

What he is suggesting is that Republicans want to pack the Court with conservative justices who will do Republicans’ bidding.

However, when applied to judicial matters and judges, the term “conservative” does not carry a political context. It refers to the inclination of judicial conservatives to interpret Constitutional and legal language as it was understood when created. On the other hand, “liberal,” when applied to Constitutional and judicial matters, means that judges’ interpretations of such issues matches the political left’s current preferences, rather than original intent.

Dionne accuses Republicans of doing what Democrats do: trying to stack the Court with ideologues. But the ideology of conservative judges is to stay true to original principles, not to interpret them colored by the changing standards of the times. Stacking the Court with people who hew to the original principles the Founders deemed critical to a successful nation is something to be supported, not criticized.

If the Constitution or laws really need to be changed, there is a process for that, and that process is not stacking the court with justices whose legal judgment will flap in the wind.

To improvement the method of selecting Supreme Court Justices, Dionne endorses the idea advanced by Democrat presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, and supported by other Democrat candidates.

“It would involve enlarging the court to 15 members, with five justices chosen by each party and the last five picked unanimously by those 10 from the lower courts.”

So, improve a system into which politics sometimes creeps with a system that is largely based on politics that would increase the size of the Court by 67 percent?

* * *

Criticism of Congressional “lifers” is nothing new. Even though their voters select members of the Senate and House of Representatives, the Founders did not envision those positions as life-long careers. Their idea was to seek election to the House, or – before the 17th Amendment to the Constitution was approved in 1913 – be selected by a state legislature for the Senate, spend a few years there and return to your previous vocation.

From 1789 to the mid-1870s the average length of service of members of the House was 2 to 3 years, and for the Senate it was a bit more than 4 years. Then things changed.

When “careerism” peaked in 2007, House members averaged 10 years and Senate members averaged 13 years. While the average in both houses has fallen to seven and 10 years, respectively, there are still many members of Congress who have made it a career.

Data from rollcall.com for 2015 listed 79 members of Congress who had been there for at least 20 years and 16 who had been there for at least 30 years.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Cal., has been there since 1987, while House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Cal., has been there since 2007.

On the Senate side, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. was first elected in 1984, and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., first elected to Congress in 1981.

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Republican Rep. Francis Rooney have proposed an amendment that would impose term limits on members of Congress, as reported by the Independent Journal Review.

“For too long, members of Congress have abused their power and ignored the will of the American people,” Cruz said. “Term limits on members of Congress offer a solution to the brokenness we see in Washington, D.C. It is long past time for Congress to hold itself accountable. I urge my colleagues to submit this constitutional amendment to the states for speedy ratification.”

The amendment would put a limit of two six-year terms on senators and three two-year terms on representatives. In order for the amendment to take affect it must pass both houses of Congress by a two-thirds vote, and then be ratified by 38 states.

Will our elected representatives vote to limit their terms?

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

At long last, this investigative exercise is over. Or is it?


Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has concluded his investigation, submitted his report to Attorney General William Barr, and has spoken publicly about the report, that more-than two-year, $35 million investigation is over and done.

Personally, upon Mueller’s appointment as Special Counsel, my reaction was decidedly negative. Not because of Mueller himself, who was widely praised, but of the position of special counsel, itself. The record of special counsels, or independent counsels, or special prosecutors, etc., is spotty, at best, and has at times been a significant blot on the concept of justice for all and the rule of law.

Someone who takes on this challenge is taking a chance, and will be judged on his or her results. They cannot afford to fail. If there aren’t ten, twenty or a hundred relevant indictments or pleas, the individual’s reputation will take a big hit. This potential result must have a significant influence on how the ensuing investigation transpires.

History has shown that special counsel investigations are often a license for misfeasance, mischief, and less-than-honorable conduct of the special counsel’s staff.

On that score, my negative response was the correct one.

A special counsel is supposed to be assigned to investigate a known crime when the independence of the people who usually investigate these crimes in the Department of Justice may be in question.

But there was no known crime for Mueller to investigate; his job was to investigate to see if he could find a crime, which was generally imagined to be collusion between Donald Trump and members of his campaign and the Russian effort to affect the outcome of the 2016 election, which Trump won in the traditional manner that American elections are decided.

There was criticism of the investigative team Mueller assembled. The UK Daily Mail reported: “The 16 lawyers known to be operating the Russia probe have previously been found to have made $62,000 in contributions to Democrats but just $2,750 to Republicans, based on Federal Election Records.” The team’s objectivity was suspect.

The special counsel investigation did result in some indictments and guilty pleas. Those indicted in the Russian affair were Russian nationals who will never be put on trial. Most other indictments and pleas were for process crimes or wrongs committed years ago that were unrelated to the campaign and the election, therefore irrelevant to the matter at hand.

Now that the search for a crime is over, Attorney General Barr stands accused of behaving like “the president’s lawyer.” Consider, however, that the attorney general heads the Department of Justice, an Administrative department. As such, the attorney general works for and reports to the President of the United States, Donald Trump.

According to the Department of Justice Website, “The Attorney General represents the United States in legal matters generally and gives advice and opinions to the President and to the heads of the executive departments of the Government when so requested.”

Mueller has filed his final report with Attorney General Barr, as he was supposed to do, has closed his office, and held a news conference to comment on the completion of his work.

After all the hoopla of the investigation, Trump supporters hold the same opinion of the investigation as they did at the beginning, and Trump foes hold the same opinion of the Trump as they did before it. No Trump crimes were charged and little of relevance was accomplished.

Alan Dershowitz is Professor Emeritus at the Harvard Law School, self-identifies as a Democrat who voted for Hillary Clinton, but is one of those who can step beyond political affiliation and look objectively at legal situations. 

In a May 29 op-ed for The Hill, Dershowitz cited former FBI Director James Comey’s improper comments about Hillary Clinton and her team’s mishandling of classified information.

“Mueller, however, did even more,” he wrote. “He went beyond the conclusion of his report and gave a political gift to Democrats in Congress who are seeking to institute impeachment proceedings against President Trump. By implying that President Trump might have committed obstruction of justice, Mueller effectively invited Democrats to institute impeachment proceedings. Obstruction of justice is a ‘high crime and misdemeanor’ which, under the Constitution, authorizes impeachment and removal of the president.”

Dershowitz continued: “Until today, I have defended Mueller against the accusations that he is a partisan. I did not believe that he personally favored either the Democrats or the Republicans, or had a point of view on whether President Trump should be impeached. But I have now changed my mind. By putting his thumb, indeed his elbow, on the scale of justice in favor of impeachment based on obstruction of justice, Mueller has revealed his partisan bias. He also has distorted the critical role of a prosecutor in our justice system.”

Perhaps this will at last bring about the end of special counsels. Lives are ruined and crimes created in the special counsel’s efforts to avoid failure. As Dershowitz said, witnesses are bullied to “sing or compose” when under oath, creating process crimes that cost thousands to defend against, and ruin the lives of persons involved.

This lies well beneath the ideal of American justice.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Colleges are taking it on the chin lately


The bad news for higher education keeps piling up. Recent scandals involving parents bribing people to help get their otherwise-unqualified kids into elite schools and the new story of sexual impropriety at Ohio State University add to the list.  

Such things as challenges to free speech on campus and the imposition of politically correct mandates that run contrary to common sense have dramatically changed things for higher education.

The traditional role of colleges to help students mature into rational and knowledgeable adults that are prepared to deal with the stresses of life is no longer a given.

Once a place for young people to prepare for a career in an idea-rich forum that challenges them to consider new and different perspectives, many campuses have developed “safe spaces” where students can seek refuge from reality, sometimes when instructors provide them with “trigger warnings” in advance of possible “troubling” topics in the classroom.

The complete shutting out of certain unpopular ways of thinking about things often occurs when the dominant left-liberal philosophy of many campuses is threatened by the presence of a conservative or religious speaker. These existential threats turn otherwise normal calm, rational people in their late teens and 20s into mobs protesting these speakers, sometimes violently, even if they are not required to go and hear what they have to say.

These highly negative attributes are not present in all institutions of higher learning, of course, and perhaps one or more of your former schools has avoided this plague. But the trend is extensive, and is growing, and threatens to debase the once-proud custom of a college education.

More and different criticisms of higher education appear in Dr. Walter Williams’ column from last week referencing a new book titled “Restoring the Promise” by Richard Vedder, Ohio University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics.

Williams, himself a professor of economics, in fact the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University, cites Vedder’s view that our universities "are vastly too expensive, often costing twice as much per student compared with institutions in other industrialized democracies," and that while exceptions exist, students "on average are learning relatively little, spend little time in academic preparation and in some disciplines are indoctrinated by highly subjective ideology."

The latter point supports the idea that too often college students are taught not “how” to think, but “what” to think.

Other points Williams makes from Vedder and other sources include:
** There is a mismatch between student occupational expectations after graduation, and labor market realities. College graduates often find themselves employed as baristas, retail clerks and taxi drivers.
** Data from the New York Federal Reserve Banks and the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that each dollar of federal aid increases tuition by 60 cents.
** Very little improvement in critical reasoning skills occurs in college, and college graduates are less literate than they once were. Areas of exception to this trend are engineering, nursing, architecture and accounting.
** Vedder says that student ineptitude is not surprising since they spend little time in classrooms and studying, and cites weak preparation in high school as another reason. In 2010 and 2013 NAEP test scores, 37 percent of 12th-graders were proficient in reading, 25 percent in math, 12 percent in history, 20 percent in geography and 24 percent in civics.

It seems that the “every child should go to college” craze is blessedly over and the college bubble I have quietly predicted for a few years appears to be upon us. 

After high school, kids must focus on how they are going to make a living for themselves, and perhaps a family. The basic K-12 educational curriculum ought to provide them a good background to do that.

Many good paying jobs may require post-secondary training, but not a 4-year college degree, or more, therefore many, perhaps most, high school graduates should not seek a college degree.

Williams concludes his column with this: “Vedder ends ‘Restoring the Promise’ with a number of proposals with which I agree:"
“--College administrative staff often exceeds the teaching staff. Vedder says, ‘I doubt there is a major campus in America where you couldn't eliminate very conservatively 10 percent of the administrative payroll (in dollar terms) without materially impacting academic performance.’"

“--Reevaluate academic tenure. Tenure is an employment benefit that has costs, and faculty members should be forced to make tradeoffs between it and other forms of university compensation."
“--Colleges of education, with their overall poor academic quality, are an embarrassment on most campuses and should be eliminated."
“--End speech codes on college campuses by using the University of Chicago Principles on free speech."
“--Require a core curriculum that incorporates civic and cultural literacy."
“--The most important measure of academic reforms is to make university governing boards independent and meaningful. In my opinion, most academic governing boards are little more than yes men for the president and provost.”

At this point it is difficult to tell if this will get straightened out, and what higher education will look like if it does. Certainly, it will be a difficult period for colleges.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A Constitutional crisis? Another Democrat talking point gets life


So, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Chair of the House Judiciary Committee thinks we have entered into a Constitutional crisis because Attorney General William Barr has refused to turn over a completely un-redacted copy of Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s report.

Barr has, however, provided a copy for key members of Congress that is almost un-redacted. Out of the well-over 400 pages in the report only two entire lines of text are redacted, and seven lines are partially redacted. This version of the report is far better than the heavily redacted version previously made available, but only three members of Congress have chosen to review it, and – surprise, surprise, surprise – none of the three is a Democrat.

And, the redactions that remain are still in place because of a federal circuit court ruling to the effect that grand jury materials cannot be made public. The reason is that making public grand jury testimony about people who were investigated but not indicted would potentially unfairly harm those whose names appeared, even though they were not indicted for any criminal wrongdoing.

But that’s not a good enough reason for Nadler and his Democrat comrades.

It appears, therefore, that if there is unconstitutional behavior, it is the behavior of Nadler himself, who is attempting to punish the AG for refusing to break the law just to help Nadler and the Democrats create another smoke screen. He led the Judiciary Committee in holding Barr in contempt of Congress, although the entire body of the House has not yet voted to do so.

The following explanation appeared in National Review last month. “At issue was this question: Does a federal court have the authority to order disclosure of grand-jury materials if the judge decides that the interests of justice warrant doing so; or is the judge limited to the exceptions to grand-jury secrecy that are spelled out in Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure? The D.C. Circuit’s McKeever ruling holds that the text of Rule 6(e) controls. Consequently, judges have no authority to authorize disclosure outside the rule.” And if a judge may not do so, obviously the AG may not.

Surely Nadler, who is rumored to be a lawyer and is chair of the Judiciary Committee, knows that Barr cannot release a clean report. And wouldn’t he, and several more of his Democrat fellow travelers, benefit from the lightly redacted version that Barr provided. One would certainly think so.

All of these shenanigans are a strong indication that this entire episode is just more political swampiness by a desperate Democrat faction in Congress.

After all, Barr said in testimony before the Committee that he intends to look into several of the irregularities by the FBI and DOJ, and if Nadler himself is not at risk, quite a few public servants who share the anti-Trump obsession surely are.

Law professor Jonathan Turley, described by Townhall.com as “left-leaning,” has a reputation for ignoring political considerations when addressing constitutional issues.

About the topic of Barr’s refusal to respond to the subpoena, Turley said, “The problem is that the contempt action against Barr is long on action and short on contempt. Indeed, with a superficial charge, the House could seriously undermine its credibility in the ongoing conflicts with the White House.”

He went on to say, “As someone who has represented the House of Representatives, my concern is that this one violates a legal version of the Hippocratic oath to ‘first do no harm.’ This could do great harm, not to Barr, but to the House. It is the weakest possible case to bring against the administration, and likely to be an example of a bad case making bad law for the House ... Barr promised to release as much of the report as possible, and he has delivered.”

Nadler and his fellow OCD-plagued anti-Trumpers are uninterested in what destruction they may impose on the country in their frenzied efforts to harm Donald Trump.

“The end justifies the means” is the current ruling motto of Democrats, and some misguided Republicans. “Trump must be defeated, removed from office, even prosecuted” seems to be the operative theme. It doesn’t matter whose life is unfairly ruined, or how many people they trash in the process.

Being morally upstanding and behaving with integrity are lost virtues among Congressional Democrats, as they climb lower and lower in their efforts to remove Trump from office.

While the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was going on in strict secrecy, at the end of the proceedings a Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, "Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" Franklin responded immediately, "A republic, if you can keep it."

We must give Congressional Democrats their due for being transparent: They are clearly showing, for all to see, that they care little for the law or for honorable behavior. Nothing is as important than doing in Donald Trump, and it seems nothing will be allowed to stand in their way. And the republic that Franklin celebrated and warned about is under attack from within.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Activities in “The Swamp” reach disgusting and treasonous levels



“The Swamp.” That is how Donald Trump identifies the Washington bureaucratic morass. The Swamp, or however one identifies it, is the stuff of legend.

It has a life and a mind of its own, with bureaucrats who have made a career of federal employment sometimes indulging in activities other than serving the needs of the citizenry, which is their duty.

Sometimes that extraneous work involves merely not doing what should be done, and sometimes it involves doing what should not be done. Not every federal employee has the integrity, honesty and the devotion to duty that is expected of those serving the American people.

The misbehavior may be merely shirking one’s duty, such as sloppy work habits, or doing things other than what the job entails. Or it may be using the powers of the IRS improperly against certain types of organizations, as we saw with Lois Learner at the helm of the department responsible for granting non-profit status that purposefully denied approval or delayed action on legitimate applications of conservative organizations.

Or it may be a coordinated effort to affect the outcome of a presidential election, and following that failure, trying to sabotage that darned business guy outsider who beat the odds and won despite The Swamp’s substantial meddling.

That is what was long suspected, but was well covered up by Swamp-creatures, and ignored by the liberal media, but is now emerging for all to see. In contrast to the left’s preferred narrative, Donald Trump’s allegations of “spying” and “wire-tapping” have been proven correct, with the evidence of our government listening in on the calls of a Trump associate who lived in Trump Tower in 2016, and other things of a similar nature.

Let’s shift our attention to London, weeks before the election, when Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos sat with a comely young lady going by the name of Azra Turk in a bar. Using her womanly wiles to best advantage for a while, she then asked Papadopoulos if the campaign was working with Russia.

The New York Times, no supporter of Donald Trump, reported last week, “The woman had set up the meeting to discuss foreign policy issues. But she was actually a government investigator posing as a research assistant, according to people familiar with the operation. The F.B.I. sent her to London as part of the counterintelligence inquiry opened that summer to better understand the Trump campaign’s links to Russia.”

“The decision to use Ms. Turk in the operation aimed at a presidential campaign official shows the level of alarm inside the F.B.I.,” The Times story continued, “during a frantic period when the bureau was trying to determine the scope of Russia’s attempts to disrupt the 2016 election, but could also give ammunition to Mr. Trump and his allies for their spying claims.”

The question that jumps immediately out is, was the “level of alarm inside the F.B.I.” a legitimate criminal or counterintelligence concern, or was it just politics? Where was the concern about Russian involvement in Hillary Clinton’s campaign?

We know the Russians meddled in the election, but years and millions of dollars of investigations produced no evidence of Trump/Russian campaign involvement. Russian meddling appears to have been a convenient excuse for FBI and Department of Justice meddling in the Trump campaign.

Further evidence of government malfeasance involves the email correspondence by high officials at the FBI clearly leading to the belief that political considerations were, indeed, the motivation.

FBI Agent Peter Strozk and his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, exchanged a series of emails that had nothing to do with legitimate agency business, but were focused on their dislike for Donald Trump, and efforts to stop him from winning the election. Then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and then-FBI Director James Comey are other names associated with the monkeyshines of the FBI.

The questionable Carter Steele dossier, financed indirectly by the Clinton campaign, and used to trick the FISA Court into issuing warrants to spy on various elements and persons associated with the Trump campaign, is a major element in this sordid story.

The FBI agents, who signed off on and presented the dossier to the FISA Court as a legitimate document supporting the permissions they were seeking, knew the dossier was, at best, questionable, and at worst, fraudulent. Nevertheless, it successfully won warrants that were used against American citizens.

The United States is often referred to as “a nation of laws,” and for the most part that is true. But there is another comment that is not so positive, that also applies: laws are not applied evenly; we have a two-tiered system, where people in positions of power often escape accountability that the rest of us are held to.

Donald Trump did not benefit from that second tier, but so far Hillary Clinton has.

While Congressional Democrats are busy cooking up new investigations of Trump, members of his family and his administration, looking for “anything,” Congressional Republicans are preparing to investigate the investigators.

They will work to get to the bottom of the now well-known malfeasance that took place in the upper echelons of the FBI, DOJ and in FISA Court proceedings.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Biden is correct: We are in a battle for the soul of America

Former Vice President Joe Biden, in his video declaring his candidacy for the Democrat nomination for president, actually identified a very real problem. In his breathy, half-whispering plea for support, he noted that the soul of America is up for grabs.

Uncle Joe has had a few memorable lines over the years, but none so profound and important as that concerning America’s soul. 

However, he did recently say this in answer to a reporter’s question. “America’s coming back like it used to be.” Sounds a lot like “Make America Great Again,” doesn’t it?

For us seasoned citizens who know and love America’s foundational principles, the crazy, un-American things that have become major talking points of the left has transformed the DNC into the gift that keeps on giving. 

The Democrat’s wild ideas comprise the best collection of crazy ideas yet developed by American politicos, and it is a work in progress.

*** Bernie Sanders thinks that people in prison for felonies – including murder, rape, terrorism, etc. – should not only get their rights back that they forfeited when they committed the crime, but should retain those rights, including the right to vote, even as they are still paying their voluminous debt to society in prison.

*** U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA) has proposed a student loan forgiveness plan that could benefit tens of millions of Americans, and also to provide “free college” for all. She must be unaware of what the growth of student financial aid has done to help increase the cost of a college education. 

According to collegeboard.org, the price of private non-profit colleges and public two-year schools has doubled, and the cost of public four-year institutions has tripled over the last few decades. Universal “free college” would cost the nation $1.25 trillion over just the next decade.

*** Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (CA) thinks the voting age, now 18 years-old, needs to be lowered to 16 “to capture kids when they’re in high school.” What would prompt her to want to give people, who are still in school, just old enough to drive, but not to buy alcohol or serve in their country’s military, the right to vote? Perhaps it’s because about half of the current crop of adolescents — those no-longer children but not-quite adults — say they would prefer living in a socialist country, according to a Harris Poll.

And why do they believe this? They have not learned American History or Civics while in school. But they should vote?

*** Did you know that in February all six of the then-declared candidates for the Democrat nomination for president voted against the Born Alive Protection Act that would protect the life of newborns? From National Review: “All six of the Democratic senators currently running for the 2020 presidential nomination voted against the bill: Cory Booker (N.J.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kamala Harris (CA), Amy Klobuchar (MN), and Elizabeth Warren (MA), along with Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont.”

*** Robert Francis O’Rourke (Texas), who answers to the name of “Beto,” claimed that if the American people are not able to view the Mueller report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, it could mean the end of the country.

“This is an unprecedented attack on this country and on our democracy, and we are owed the facts. And if we do not receive them, 243 years in, there’s nothing that guarantees us a 244th.”

“For this democracy to succeed, people must put our country before their party, the next election, the approval of the president. What matters now is the future of the United States,” he said. Well, he got one thing right.

*** Illinois Rep. Dianne Pappas, a Democrat from Itasca, believes castrating men would help the problem of abortion. She made the suggestion not once, but twice, in recent meetings. If men were unable to “cause” pregnancy, there would be fewer abortions. Really?

*** Other similarly crazy ideas include, but are not limited to: a “living wage” government job for everyone; trashing the protections for small states from the tyranny of a big-state majority by eliminating the Electoral College; doing away with coal, oil and natural gas use within 10 years; open borders, sanctuary jurisdictions and federal aid for illegals.

We all know that America is not perfect, and the perpetually disaffected among us constantly remind us of what they think is wrong with it. But America has a long world-leading list of accomplishments, including being the most-free nation on Earth. Ever.

What made America great the first time largely consisted of not doing crazy things like the current bevy of Democrat “progressives” want to do.

The American Family Association recently sent out a mailing that included its president’s “6 reasons why America is worth saving.” Among Tim Wildman’s 6 reasons are that “The U.S. is the most generous and merciful nation ever;” “Peaceful change is always possible because it is build into our system;” and that “Americans are free to pursue their economic dreams.”

America’s soul is not at risk, so long as we stick to the things that made it great, and reject these crazy so-called “progressive” ideas.