Elizabeth Warren Urges Democrats to Champion Gun Control, Shut Down Debate

Just as many in the Democratic Party are seeking to moderate their message in order to once again compete as a national political party, some high-profile Democrats are urging the party to lurch further left with an even firmer embrace of gun control.

On June 13, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) addressed those gathered at the “progressive” Netroots Nation conference in Atlanta, Ga. In her usual frenzied style, Warren used the forum to attack those Democrats who would moderate the party’s message, including those who would temper the party’s stance on guns.

Going further than most anti-gun activists and politicians, her command for Democrats to champion gun control included a call to shut down discussion on the topic. In doing so, Warren seemed to liken the issue of gun control to that of global warming, which many activists have long-attempted to put beyond the scope of legitimate debate.

During her wide-ranging diatribe, Warren stated,

It’s time for us to say: Democrats are on the side of science.

We’re done arguing about whether climate change is real – and we’re going to fight it with everything we have.

We’re done arguing about whether trickle-down economics works – and we’re going to fight to build this economy so it works for working families.

We’re done arguing about gun safety – and we’re going to fight for the common-sense reforms the overwhelming majority of Americans want.

First, there is nothing remotely close to a scientific consensus on the efficacy of gun control advocates’ most favored proposals. A 2013 memo from the Department of Justice’s National Institute for Justice surveyed the research on several gun control measures. In relation to a restriction on the private transfer of firearms, the NIJ determined that such a measure would be ineffective unless coupled with an onerous registration regime. Addressing restrictions on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms, NIJ determined, “Since assault weapons are not a major contributor to US gun homicide and the existing stock of guns is large, an assault weapon ban is unlikely to have an impact on gun violence.” So-called “smart guns” were found “Unlikely to affect gun crime.”

Moreover, earlier reviews of gun research and controls by the National Academies have made clear that the senator’s absolutist statement is unwarranted.

Second, while gun control proponents are quick to point to polls showing public support for restrictions on the private transfer of firearms as a justification for trampling gun rights, actual experience paints a different picture. In 2016, anti-gun activists’ most-touted gun control measure was on the ballot in two very different “blue” states, Maine and Nevada. When given the opportunity to vote on this legislation, Mainers rejected further gun control, while Nevadans narrowly passed a misleading and unenforceable background check initiative by less than a 1 percent margin. Not exactly evidence of an “overwhelming majority.”

If there is any positive aspect to Warren’s recent anti-gun statement, it is that the senator was so forthright in her attack on our Second Amendment rights. For many years, gun control advocates and anti-gun politicians have implored lawmakers and the nation to have a much-needed “conversation” on gun control. Of course, the country has been embroiled in a nearly ceaseless national debate on the topic since the 1960s.

This tactic is always an anti-gun ruse. Rather than an earnest debate on the merits of a given proposal, those using this language are exclusively concerned with achieving their preferred policy outcomes. While Warren is incorrect that the argument over gun control has been decisively determined in her favor, at least she has dropped the ridiculous pretext of wanting a serious debate.

Warren’s hardline anti-gun position might play well in Massachusetts, a state where the fanatical attorney general has been permitted to willfully misinterpret state law to attack law-abiding gun owners and local law enforcement have discretion over who may possess even a single-shot shotgun. Given Hillary Clinton’s fervent support for the most radical gun control measures and her subsequent ascent to the Democratic presidential nomination, it’s obvious that militant anti-gun messaging is also attractive to some of the more statist elements of the Democratic Party. However, there is strong evidence that if the Democrats are interested in competing nationally, a more moderate stance on Second Amendment rights is the way forward.

Democratic Party leaders, and Democratic candidates running in competitive elections, will have to decide whether to follow the lead of someone likely bolstering her left-wing credentials to run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, or look to history and recognize the wisdom in former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Rahm Emanuel’s determination that Democratic candidates should “reflect” their constituents.

Justice Department Terminates and Repudiates Operation Chokepoint

This week the Department of Justice made clear that the Obama Administration’s underhanded attack on the gun industry using the banking system – better known as Operation Chokepoint – is over. In a strongly-worded letter to U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) dated August 16, Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd assured the chairman that the operation has been terminated and that “it will not be undertaken again.”

Initiated in 2013 and involving the Justice Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Operation Chokepoint sought to deter banks from conducting business with companies that engaged in commerce that the Obama administration viewed as undesirable. To do this, the Obama administration categorized certain types of businesses as being “associated with high-risk activity” in a banking guidance document used by the FDIC. Some of the types of businesses targeted by the operation were engaged in illegal or fraudulent activity, like “On-line Gambling” or “Ponzi Schemes.” However, also targeted in this operation were legal businesses that engaged in lawful commerce such as “Tobacco Sales,” “Coin Dealers,” “Ammunition Sales,” and “Firearms Sales.”

Current Justice Department leadership and Boyd should be commended for their forceful statement on this matter. This unequivocal repudiation of Operation Chokepoint should make a return to such political persecution unpalatable for all but the most debased public official.

This targeting of lawful businesses produced a strong response from some in Congress. In 2014, the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform investigated the operation and issued a 
scathing report
. In 2016, the U.S. House passed H.R. 766, the ‘‘Financial Institution Customer Protection Act of 2015,” which sought to eliminate Operation Chokepoint. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced companion legislation in the Senate, declaring Operation Chokepoint an attack on Second Amendment rights.

In a decision worthy of praise, Boyd did not mince words when describing the Obama-era policy. The letter described Operation Chokepoint as a “misguided initiative conducted during the last administration.” Making clear that the new administration intends to reestablish the integrity of the Justice Department, Boyd wrote, “The Department is committed to bringing enforcement actions only where warranted by the facts and the applicable law without regard to political preferences.” Leaving no doubt about the current Justice Department’s position, Boyd concluded, “We reiterate that the Department will not discourage the provision of financial services to lawful industries, including businesses engaged in … firearms-related activities.”

Current Justice Department leadership and Boyd should be commended for their forceful statement on this matter. This unequivocal repudiation of Operation Chokepoint should make a return to such political persecution unpalatable for all but the most debased public official.

The NRA thanks President Trump for finally putting an end to Operation Chokepoint and thanks Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others in the Justice Department for seeing through the termination of this misguided program.

Government, Not Automation, Destroys Jobs by Jairaj Devadiga

A few weeks ago, road and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said that driverless cars would be banned in India in order to “protect jobs.” This kind of fallacious argument is nothing new. For the past year or so, newspapers have frequently published articles arguing that automation is to blame for job losses. Even seemingly intelligent people like Bill Gates have made outlandish suggestions, such as taxing robots, to compensate workers who might lose their jobs as a result.

Bad government policies are the root cause for unemployment.

By doing a superficial analysis, one may indeed say that automation causes job losses. But by digging a bit deeper, one sees that bad government policies are the root cause for unemployment.

Circumventing Regulation

Take the case of driverless cars. Driving is not a job that requires specialized skills. Low skilled workers are abundant and also inexpensive to hire. Why, then, is Uber so interested in developing driverless cars? It is because governments around the world have imposed costly regulations, or outright banned Uber to protect the taxi cartels.

Never mind that this creates an immediate job loss for Uber drivers, it also gives Uber an incentive to invest billions in developing driverless cars to circumvent the burdensome regulations. This will ensure that all drivers will lose their jobs in the long run, including the taxi cartels governments are trying to protect.

Lant Pritchett, at the Centre for Global Development, wrote last month of a similar problem in the US. Workers from Central and Latin America could easily work low-wage jobs in the US.But minimum wage laws and immigration restrictions make labor artificially expensive.

Technological progress is distorted when government tries to protect certain industries.

That is precisely why Amazon is pouring billions into drones. In the absence of government intervention, it would be far cheaper to hire low skilled immigrants for delivering parcels. But since government won’t allow that, it is cheaper to use drones. Most delivery jobs in the US will be eliminated in the near future as a result of bad immigration policies. Policies which were, ironically, crafted to save those jobs.

Note the tremendous inefficiency this creates. The world’s scarcest resources, entrepreneurs and scientists, are working to economize the most abundant resources, namely low skilled labor. All of that entrepreneurial and scientific talent is being wasted due to bad government policies. Pritchett rightly laments that this makes it harder for poor people to escape poverty.

Pritchett’s observation is nothing new. In January, I wrote that even Karl Marx understood how technological progress is distorted when government tries to protect certain industries or occupations. A case in point is Indian manufacturing, which the government tried to protect from foreign competition.

Ill-conceived government policies are why low skilled jobs are dying an untimely death.

Countries at a similar level of development have labor intensive manufacturing which makes use of cheap labor. In India, the opposite has happened. Whatever little manufacturing takes place in the country is extremely capital intensive. Why did this happen?

Laws Are Expensive

Before 1991, government imposed extremely high tariffs on imports to encourage domestic manufacturing. Manufacturing grew, but it became more capital intensive over the years, even though cheap labor was abundantly available. The explanation for this lies in India’s complex labor laws.

India has nearly 250 labor laws between the centre and the states. The cost of complying with these labor laws is so high that companies found (and still find) it cheaper to use machines than to hire people, creating the phenomenon of jobless growth.

All of this evidence points to just one culprit, when it comes to unemployment. It is not greedy corporations and it is not automation. Ridiculously ill-conceived government policies are the sole reason that low skilled jobs are dying an untimely death.

Jairaj Devadiga

Jairaj Devadiga

Jairaj Devadiga is an economist who illustrates the importance of property rights and freedom through some interesting real-world cases. When he is not doing research, he enjoys reading about medicine, astronomy, computers, and law among other things. Readers may email him at jairajdevadiga@gmail.com with questions, suggestions, feedback etc.

President Trumps Next Move MUST Count

President Donald Trump is one of Americas most intelligent and successful business moguls and he has no doubt survived many assaults on his family and businesses in the highly competitive and sometimes cut-throat world of business. But the kind of evil he entered upon accepting the Oval Office in his effort to “Make America Great Again” was beyond his imagination… It makes mob business battles look like child’s play.

From the moment Trump announced his bid for the White House, he, his family and his friends have all been under constant attack by the global power structure erected long ago in America. The Soros network of bought and paid for politicians and his more than 200 anti-American NGOs have been busy around the clock undermining Trump and they won’t stop until someone stops them…

The Triangulation of Trump

Trump survived the GOP primaries, then the general election and even his inauguration. But what happened next, only those who have been tracking the global elite for years could predict. Trump was admittedly blindsided by the depth and breadth of the “swamp.” He has been scrambling to stop the leaks from within his own staff and defend against an onslaught of assaults 24/7 since the day he was sworn in… and at present, he is losing the battle.

The “never-Trump” op is not only alive and well, it has Trump in a box. Beyond his Executive Orders, his agenda is dead in the water in the other two branches of the Federal Government and even 44 states are fighting his effort to drain the voter rolls of dead and illegal voters. Leftist sanctuary cities and states are openly subverting national sovereignty and security by thwarting Federal Immigration and Naturalization laws with total impunity. The “fake” Russian narrative continues despite a total lack of evidence, while the real political criminals in this country roam scot-free.

Meanwhile, Trumps champion of truth and justice AG Jeff Sessions, remains impotent by his own ill-advised recusal, with a gun to his head forcing him to sit on the sidelines as his boss is publicly annihilated by their common enemies.

Trump is triangulated and his next move MUST count, or he can’t survive…

Key Targets

Most of the key targets were identified in a Senate Judiciary Committee November 2, 2016 letter to DOJ Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz. On January 12, 2017 – Horowitz agreed to investigate, but then named himself the lead investigator, after which, no such investigation has advanced.

With Sessions in the recusal box, the DOJ is being run by long-time cohorts IG Horowitz, Deputy AG Rob Rosenstein and former FBI Director Robert Mueller, all of whom also have long-term active relationships with the Bush family, Bill and Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Obama, Loretta Lynch and numerous other “never-Trumpers.”

To escape his triangulated position, Trump must make the right moves swiftly and decisively or the swamp will continue to eat him alive.

Trumps Next Move

On the very real basis of obvious conflicts of interests and the reality that DOJ IG Horowitz has been running cover for the prior democrat administrations for years and now allows “fake” investigations on Trump-Russia to continue under the leadership of close comrades Mueller and Rosenstein – while deep sixing all investigations into Clinton-Obama crimes, Trump must fire both Horowitz and Rosenstein immediately, freeing AG Sessions to keep his oath of office.

Next, the Mueller (Clinton) lynch mob running the “never-Trump” investigations must also be fired immediately, as they were established by Rosenstein and Horowitz for the sole purpose of destroying Trump by any means. The entire Mueller lynch mob was created based on a “fake” illegal memo leaked to Columbia University friend Daniel Richmond, as former FBI Director James Comey testified to before Congress, made public by the Washington Post which has been ground zero for “fake” anti-Trump headlines for months now.

Another critical player in this evil “never-Trump” web is acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who also has long-time affiliations with this group of actors, his wife having received a reported $700,000 in funding from the Clinton Campaign so that McCabe would help steer the “never-Trump” op after the Comey firing.

To Escape Triangulation

Trump must take the following steps immediately… firing all the following as his starting point for “draining the swamp” that is currently eating him alive.

Due to the never-ending security breaches that become lead stories in the Washington Post and New York Times daily, Trump must also immediately revoke Obama Executive Order 13526 which allows former administration staffers to retain unfettered security clearance and access, which they are currently using to undermine Trump and “leak” info out through the Washington Post and New York Times.

Trump is fighting both parties in Congress, the leftist courts, leftist mayors and governors across the country and this web of “never-Trumpers” running the Department of Justice.

No matter how smart or tough Trump may be, he will fall prey to this operation soon if he does not remove his enemies from these posts before Congress returns from recess. If he doesn’t pull the trigger on this, he will very likely face indictments (on fake evidence) from the Mueller mob very soon, backed by Rosenstein and Horowitz.

Senator Chuck Grassley and House Rep. King are trying to force a real investigation forward. These efforts are being blocked by Horowitz, Rosenstein, McCabe and Mueller. Trump has the power to single-handedly change it all. He MUST do it now!

RELATED ARTICLE: Delighted with Trump

The Medical Cartel is Keeping Health Care Costs High by Travis Klavohn & Laura Williams

In 2010, the small town of Collegedale, Tennessee had the dubious distinction of having the highest prevalence of Type II Diabetes in the world. Without a single endocrinologist in the small town, those suffering from this preventable and treatable form of the disease were unable to gain access to the treatment they needed.

Dealing with this issue firsthand, a local employer who operates a donut manufacturing plant decided to dedicate a portion of his warehouse to be used as a health clinic. By hiring an endocrinologist from Chattanooga to travel to his warehouse a few days a week, his employees were finally able to receive the help they so desperately needed.

The employer reasoned that the prices associated with the hiring of an endocrinologist were actually less costly for the company than the insurance expenses related to the disease.

The donut maker’s free market solution solved the problem of constrained supply of medical professionals for his employees. But this disconnect between supply and demand exists far beyond Collegedale. In fact, the country is experiencing a shortage of doctors in virtually all specialties and every state, which begs the question, where are all the doctors?

A Choreographed Shortage of Care

Though few Americans realize it, health care is a monopoly. In the early 20th century, the American Medical Association (AMA) lobbied the Federal government to close all schools not approved by its own Council on Medical Education. They unfortunately succeeded and 30 percent of medical schools were closed within 30 years. The number of doctors has been artificially capped ever since.

The AMA also controls state boards of licensing, limiting the number of physicians in each state and preventing competitors from treating patients. The United States has 50 percent fewer practicing physicians per capita than Sweden or Germany. Unsurprisingly, US doctors also work fewer hours while earning much higher salaries.

Even as the US population and its demand for medical services continue to expand dramatically, the number of new doctors educated by “approved” schools and licensed by state boards hasn’t improved. In fact, two-thirds of highly qualified medical school applicants are turned away each year.

Licensing quotas and arbitrary caps set by state boards literally make it illegal to train a single additional candidate in the medical field. Inevitably, where there is a shortage, prices rise for everyone. This results in smaller and poorer markets being shut out altogether. Even if the additional physicians were “B list” doctors from sub par medical schools, smaller towns like Collegedale would still be better off with a “B-” doctor than no doctor at all.

Cartels Protecting Doctors 

Both directly or indirectly, the AMA also controls the prices paid to physicians, the licensing of physicians, the accreditation of medical schools, admittance into medical schools, and the payment policies of insurance companies. The AMA runs on membership fees, and its mission is protecting the interests of current doctors, not the American public.

Fewer doctors mean higher salaries, less competition, and more negotiating power for physicians. This is allowed to happen because physicians, like any other group of citizens, are free to associate and express their interests through donations.

What should outrage all US patients is the collusion of our government under the guise of protecting the public interest by requiring licenses and letting a cartel of campaign donors say who can have one.

Not only can the cartel set prices but the taxpayer is also forced to fund the muscle to shut down and jail those caught trying to circumvent the government-protected monopoly.

Similar federal regulatory monopolies prevent generic drugs from competing with big brands, block the building of new health care facilities, and limit health insurers to two or three per state. Our health care options shrink as special interests’ regulatory control grows resulting in fewer drugs, fewer doctors, fewer plans, and fewer choices.

Less Government, More Choices

Like US consumers in all markets, the residents of Collegedale need the freedom to access more health care choices. Allowing lobbyists to block out competition limits everyone’s choices and forces them to pay higher prices for less access to care.

If Americans want real choice, they need to demand that Congress end the AMA’s control of medical school enrollments and licensing. If more Americans could become doctors without first asking the government’s permission, more Americans could receive medical care without the state’s help.

Travis Klavohn

Travis Klavohn

Travis Klavohn is a management consultant, political activist for limited government, and a resident of Georgia’s 13th Congressional District. Follow his politics blog at www.travisklavohn.com.

Laura Williams

Laura Williams

Dr. Laura Williams teaches communication strategy to undergraduates and executives. She is a passionate advocate for critical thinking, individual liberties, and the Oxford Comma.

Texas Professor Trades Geography for Drama to Protest Campus Carry in the Lone Star State

According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, more than 1 in 3 Americans believe that colleges and universities exert a negative effect on the country. When respondents are grouped by political party, that response is as high as 58%.  While the poll doesn’t explain the basis for these feelings, we suspect that many view academia as the haven of ideologically-driven zealots, rather than sober-minded professionals. Take, for example, Professor Charles K. Smith from San Antonio College, who recently managed to get his name in the newspapers for teaching his geography class in protective combat gear to protest the lawful carrying of concealed handguns by students.

An article on mySanAntonio.com indicates that Smith was hoping to make a point about Texas’s 2015 campus carry law. The law took effect on community colleges, including the institution where Smith teaches, on Aug. 1. “I was just saying I don’t feel safe,” Smith told a reporter. He continued, “My assumption is that you will have more people carrying guns, that well [sic] lead to problems. It always has.”

One would hope that a man of letters like Prof. Smith would base his views on the evidence, rather than on irrational fears or personal prejudices. Yet Texas data consistently show that concealed carry licensees are far more law-abiding than the general population.

Meanwhile, four-year institutions in Texas were a year ahead of community colleges in implementing the 2015 law and did so without the parade of horribles Smith and likeminded academics feared. The Texas Tribune noted that “administrators overwhelmingly say the change to the campus climate has been minimal,” with exactly zero reported incidents of academic debate or disappointment over grades escalating into armed conflict. Academic officials interviewed by the Tribune said the law’s rollout was handled “very smoothly and without incident,” had “[v]irtually no impact at all,” and was “[a]mazingly quiet.”

Meanwhile, the Dallas News reported that the actual cost to public colleges and universities of implementing the law was more than 15 times less than estimates these institutions had provided to the state legislature.

Economist John Lott also makes the point that with well over one million concealed carry licensees throughout Texas, it’s highly probable that the professors who are so resistant to allowing concealed handguns on campus are already unwittingly encountering them in a host of other places.

Yet these facts, if even known to Prof. Smith, apparently haven’t influenced his thinking. Rather, his statements to mySanAntonio.com seem to indicate a belief that students have been gunning for him his entire career but simply have never had the tools at hand to carry out their lethal desires. “Used to, when they got mad at me, they had to go home to get the gun and had time to cool off,” he stated, “now they will have it with them.”

For what it’s worth, publicly available reviews of Prof. Smith by his students don’t indicate any murderous impulses, rather a consistent view of his classes as “boring” but “easy.” One student’s assessment was particularly pointed:

He makes mildly boring subject matter into a painful classroom experience. His sleep inducing political rants and disagreeable classroom demeanor and behavior make his lectures unbearable. He should make some effort and inject some enthusiasm into teaching geography rather than wasting students’ time with political commentary about current events.

Another faulted him for excessive talks “about his vacations,” while still another noted that Smith “inputted his very Liberal political views into just about every lecture.”

Smith did tell the reporter that he warned police and administrators about the plan for his stunt, which after all could have reasonably caused concern among students and bystanders about his intentions or plans. “Some of them were okay and some of them weren’t, but it’s freedom of speech,” Smith insisted.

That may be, but the message Smith actually conveyed may have simply raised questions about his own ability to interact respectfully with people whose opinions and ideology diverge from his own. Whether or not Prof. Smith succeeded in making himself bulletproof, it’s pretty clear that no facts or contrary opinions can penetrate his ironclad anti-gun ideology.

Repudiated at the Polls, National Democrats Continue to Push Gun Control

Recent weeks have seen a heated debate involving national Democratic Party figures over how to approach the issue of abortion in a manner that would allow the party to be more competitive in portions of the country dominated by Donald Trump and the Republicans in the 2016 election. Such soul-searching is to be expected for a party that does not hold either chamber of Congress or the presidency. However, one issue that appears to be off the table in any Democratic recalibration is the national party’s zealous support for further gun restrictions.

This intransigence was highlighted by two recent pieces of radical gun control legislation.

First, on July 27, Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.), along with 12 cosponsors, introduced H.R.3458. The text of the legislation has yet to be made available to Government Publishing Office, but is described as a bill:

To require certain semiautomatic pistols manufactured, imported, or sold by Federal firearms licensees to be capable of microstamping ammunition, and the prohibit [sic] the removal, obliteration, or alteration of the microstamped code or microstamping capability of a firearm.

An accompanying press release noted that “The bill prohibits federal firearms licensees from manufacturing, selling, or transferring semiautomatic handguns, unless those handguns are capable of microstamping ammunition or face gradual fines.” An earlier version of the bill introduced in the 110th Congress made clear that this restriction would apply to all semiautomatic handguns manufactured or imported after the effective date of the legislation.

Microstamping is a flawed and expensive method in which certain firearms components, typically the firing pin, are etched with a serial number that is transferred to an ammunition cartridge when the gun is fired. NRA and others have identified numerous problems with this technology, including the fact that it is easily defeated with common hand tools or repeated use of the firearm, and would require an onerous system of registering firearm components. Further, the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute has estimated the cost of implementing this technology at $200 per firearm.

Not to be outdone, on July 28, Rep. Donald M. Payne (D-N.J.), along with 16 cosponsors, introduced H.R.3613, “To authorize the Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance to make grants to States, units of local government, and gun dealers to conduct gun buyback programs, and for other purposes” to the tune of $360 million.

To support squandering federal taxpayer dollars on gun buyback (more appropriately termed turn-in) programs in 2017 reveals a fanatical hostility towards guns and a profound disregard for sound public policy.

Since 1998, the U.S. Department of Justice has understood that gun turn-ins are ineffective. A National Institute of Justice document from that year titled, “Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn’t, What’s Promising” put gun turn-ins at the top of its list of “What Doesn’t Work.” The NIJ reiterated this point in a 2013 memo that concluded, “Gun buybacks are ineffective as generally implemented.” Further, some of the most radical anti-gun researchers, including Jon Vernick from the Michael Bloomberg-bankrolled Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, have admitted that turn-ins do not diminish violent crime.

Perhaps inspired by her Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives, on August 10, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) took to Twitter to call for a renewal of the federal “assault weapons” ban.  The entire “assault weapon” concept is a creation of anti-gun activists who used the term to create confusion after their attempts to ban handguns had failed.  Charles Krauthammer, a proponent of gun confiscation, wrote “the only real justification [for the assault weapon ban] is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation.”  As Krauthammer predicted, the ban on so-called “assault weapons” had little effect on crime, but that has not stopped gun-control proponents like Senator Harris from calling for its renewal.

After Al Gore’s defeat in the 2000 presidential election, the national Democratic Party made a concerted effort to soften their position on gun control in order to be more competitive in parts of the country where voters put significant value on their Second Amendment rights. In his book, “My Life,” Bill Clinton pointed to NRA and gun control as a factor in Gore’s defeat.

Democrats began to tolerate candidates that deviated from left-wing anti-gun orthodoxy. In a 2005 Boston Globe article titled “Democrats Recast Gun Control Image,” then Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Rahm Emanuel was quoted as saying that their candidates “[have] got to reflect their districts.” In the three presidential election cycles following Gore’s defeat, the Democrats recognized Americans’ Second Amendment rights in their platform. President Barack Obama conspicuously avoided the issue until he had secured a second term in office, leading the Brady Campaign to issue him an “F” rating in 2010.

Despite Bill Clinton’s repeated warnings, the national Democratic Party in 2016 flouted gun owners at every turn. Hillary Clinton endorsed Australia-style gun confiscationrepeatedly denounced the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, and when pressed, refused to acknowledge that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz railed against guns to Democratic delegates. In the midst of the presidential election campaign, Democrat representatives threw a gun control-inspired tantrum on the floor of the U.S. House. The national Democratic Party left no doubt that the Second Amendment was on the ballot in 2016.

And once again, the Democrats suffered a devastating defeat. In the immediate aftermath, NBC’s Chuck Todd credited NRA for giving Trump “a big assist” in his victory. Months later, political commentator Fred Barnes would write, “There are many claimants to the honor of having nudged Donald Trump over the top in the presidential election. But the folks with the best case are the National Rifle Association and the consultants who made their TV ads.”

NRA is happy to take credit for helping to defeat Hillary Clinton and for the election of pro-gun lawmakers across the country, but our efforts would not have been so salient had our opposition not so fully embraced the anti-gun agenda.

NRA is a nonpartisan organization and we continue to endorse members of any party who work to defend American gun owners. As the current marginalized national Democratic Party grapples with its agenda moving forward, it would do well to learn from its past and curtail their attacks on the Second Amendment. Wise Democratic leaders will recognize that they have been here before and that abandoning their anti-gun ambitions is an important component of their path back to power. However, with Democratic House members still offering microstamping and gun turn-in bills, there is little evidence of such wisdom.

Supreme Court asked to Overturn State Agreements Adopting Common Core

ANN ARBOR, MI – Continuing its legal battle to stop the federal government from taking control over our nation’s elementary and secondary public schools, the Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, last week, filed a petition in the U.S. Supreme Court asking the Court to review a South Dakota Supreme Court decision which upheld South Dakota’s participation in a consortium of states that advance the Common Core curriculum.

The petition for review involves a lawsuit by 2 South Dakota mothers, Shelli Grinager and Amber Mauricio, who filed the lawsuit in state court challenging the constitutionality of their state’s implementation of Common Core through its participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.  TMLC and local counsel, Robert J. Rohl, filed the lawsuit on their behalf on November 10, 2015, alleging a violation of the Compact Clause of the United States Constitution art. I, § 3, which provides that, “No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, . . . enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State . . .”

Kate Oliveri, the TMLC staff attorney who argued the case before the South Dakota Supreme Court and the principle author of the Petition, commented, “This case could have a significant impact in curtailing our behemoth executive branch and diverting the power back where it belongs—to the States and to the people. South Dakota has lost control over the education of its children. We want to give that control back.”

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were developed under the supervision of the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to ensure that education and educational outcomes were consistent across the United States. The CCSS provides a set of standards they claim are “essential, rigorous, clear and specific, coherent, and internationally benchmarked.”

Most state governments, enticed by millions of dollars in federal grants, voluntarily acquiesced to federal control of their public schools, imposing untested educational standards and the curriculum designed to meet those standards on children and their parents.  However, the CCSS have been under heavy fire since the beginning for a variety of grievances including: incomprehensible, political and inappropriate assignments; costly ties to big corporations; in-test advertising; the elimination of locally tailored and appropriate standards; and the emphasis placed on standardized testing.

TMLC’s Petition makes the argument that Common Core undermines the sovereignty of member states and nonmember states, and undermines the authority of Congress.

For a good understanding of TMLC’s positon, you can read the 23-page Petition here.

Richard Thompson, TMLC’s President and Chief Counsel: “The Federal government employs an insidious bureaucratic system, through which it directs what and how American students learn, and effectively eliminates the fundamental rights of parents to control the education of their children.”

Religious and private school educators have also criticized Common Core. In a statement, the Cardinal Newman Society, an organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of faithful Catholic education, said, “This school reform effort is nothing short of a revolution in how education is provided, relying on a technocratic, top-down approach to setting national standards that, despite claims to the contrary, will drive curricula, teaching texts, and the content of standardized tests.  At its heart, the Common Core is a woefully inadequate set of standards in that it limits the understanding of education to a utilitarian ‘readiness for work’ mentality.”

Political Commentators Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin repeatedly reported on the dangers of Common Core, with Malkin saying, “It’s about control, control and more control.”

Moreover, with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, whose educational value has not been demonstrated, also comes an alarming explosion of data mining within the classroom.  Student data are stored in databases designed to follow students from their entry into schools in pre-Kindergarten up through their entry into the workforce. These databases, through a complicated network of contracts and agreements, can then be shared with the federal government, contractors, researchers and other outside agencies. Testing corporations can analyze the test data, produce recommendations for how to “remediate” student weaknesses, and then sell that information back to states and school districts.

Flamingly Bad Big Government Drives Low Wages

During the past seven years, we’ve endured the worst U.S. economic recovery in the known history of recoveries. This is a plain and indisputable fact by the measurements of all economic recoveries. The worst ever.

Did this have something to do with President Barack Obama’s policies? Of course it did. It was no coincidence that the wild expansion of government in both spending and regulation put a damper on business growth and therefore economic growth. That’s a direct causal effect.

This spending and regulatory binge also played a role in income stagnation and, yes, in one of today’s favorite bogeymen: income inequality. The case for this is fairly straightforward to show, but you will be hard-pressed to find it in the mainstream media.

First, let’s be crystal clear that the American economy really has been sick since 2009. From 2010-2016 we had the objectively worst economic expansion in history, which is strange because typically, a deep recession such as the one we had starting in 2008 is followed by an equally powerful expansion. There’s a strong relationship between depth of decline and height of recovery.

Until this time.

President Obama was the first president without a single year of 3 percent real GDP growth while in office. Ever. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is the only real measurement of the overall growth of the economy. But wait, there’s more. Annual economic growth during 2010-2016 was a full point less than overall growth from 1965-2010. So even including all of the recessions in those decades — including Jimmy Carter’s malaise, the dotcom bust and all the rest — that 45-year period still beat the Obama recovery years. By a long shot.

During the same 2010-2016 period, growth in real personal income and wages also dragged well below the historic average. Income inequality increased during this time. But both of these have been a long-term trend that just ratcheted up during the Obama years.

Weak economies overall drive income inequality because it’s people at the lower ends that are hurt the most. But there are multiple other reasons.

Why was the recovery so bad?

Let’s step back for a second.

There are three factors driving an economy: labor force growth, capital growth and productivity. All three happen during a strong economy. The labor market expanded rapidly during this crummy recovery, so that was not a problem factor. But capital formation — money to invest in startups, expansions, machinery, innovation — grew at half the historical rate and productivity grew at only about one-third of the normal rate.

Capital. Without access to money for investment, there was less innovation, less growth and expansion and fewer new businesses. So existing businesses were somewhat stagnant, and they faced less competition that would have bred innovation to compete. Without that, new markets and industries were not explored and the economy hobbled through a recovery that barely stayed out of recession at several points.

Capital was dramatically restricted through aggressive government laws designed to avoid the kind of subprime real estate bubble and bust in 2007 that led to a near-financial collapse and the recession. The primary law was Dodd-Frank, which mandated higher capital levels for all banks — including community banks, which were not a driver of the subprime crisis.

Further, the law added so many layers of regulations to an already heavily-regulated industry that compliance costs for banks have doubled since Dodd-Frank went into effect. Compliance costs alone are now figured at $70 billion annually — or nearly one-quarter of a bank’s total expenses — according to Federal Financial Analytics.

Banks need a level of regulation. But too much regulation stifles their ability to lend.

And without going into too much detail, the Federal Reserve Board’s money supply policies included loaning money to banks at such a low rate (essentially, 0 percent interest) that banks could invest in guaranteed financial instruments, such as U.S. Treasuries, and make guaranteed money with zero risk. Profits at zero risk are hard to pass up and that policy by the Fed kept billions of dollars out of the hands of business.

The truth is that businesses being able to access money from banks and investors is critical to a strong economy.

Productivity. Productivity can be measured a few different ways. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, puts it as:

“Productivity is measured by comparing the amount of goods and services produced with the inputs which were used in production. Labor productivity is the ratio of the output of goods and services to the labor hours devoted to the production of that output.”

During strong economic growth, productivity increases. However, with fewer businesses and the associated lack of innovation and expansion, there were fewer options to be promoted, all of which kept productivity lower. More people wanted jobs, but the jobs they were getting were the same type and level as before, which meant their productivity was about the same.

This, of course, also leads to income stagnation specifically for the lower and working middle class.

More economy-wrecking government

Dodd-Frank deeply restricted businesses’ ability to get investment capital. But it was not alone in throwing anchors around the neck of economic growth.

A second major anchor was the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, which turned out to be neither affordable nor about care. Obamacare added an enormous mandate on businesses to provide an increasingly expensive benefit, and it did so with mountains of paperwork detailing what all must be provided. Even small businesses with 50 employees frequently had to add a full-time position just to understand and comply with this law.

Obamacare’s onerous costs came at precisely the same time that Dodd-Frank and the Fed were making businesses’ access to capital almost impossible — a conflagration of government intrusions.

As the government adds more requirements on employers to offer benefits and comply with regulations, employers have less money left for actual wages. Obamacare was a double-whammy in that it required the extra costs but then also screwed up an already malfunctioning marketplace and prices soared even faster.

And of course the Obama administration was renowned for adding an enormous number of executive branch regulations through the EPA and other administrations. With this understanding, it’s a tribute to the capitalistic drive of Americans that the nation could mount any sort of economic growth at all.

Illegal immigration is a real growth roadblock

This is not hard to understand, just hard for multiculturalists to understand.

Millions of uneducated, unskilled people from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, etc. who do not speak English not only take low-end jobs from Americans, but they also depress the wages at the bottom because ridiculously low hourly rates by American standards are still better than anything they can make in their dysfunctional third-world home countries. Obviously, that’s why they came here.

In the past 30 years, the United States has absorbed 40 million foreign-born adults and another 20 million adult children of immigrants — legal and illegal — giving the U.S. an endless stream of low-wage labor. With that massive pool at the bottom, there will be no increase of wages for the foreseeable future. Economics.

Professor George J. Borjas, a highly respected economist at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and maybe the world’s foremost expert on the economics of immigration, has found that: “If immigration increases the size of a group by 10 percent, the earnings of native workers in that group fall by 3-4 percent.”

Interestingly, this conceptually works at the top just as it does at the bottom.

So consider this and laugh bitterly if you like: if you really want to close income inequality gap, our immigration policy should be the precise opposite of what it is. We should greatly increase the legal immigration of doctors, lawyers, engineers, MBAs, mathematicians and all but stop immigration at the bottom end. That would drive up incomes at the lower levels for lack of competition — including for newly arrived workers — but it would create wage stagnation at the top end by bringing in competition, and the income gap would close.

Of course, it will never happen. Consider who makes up Congress. Mostly lawyers and some doctors and MBAs who all have children pursuing similar high-end careers. And we have those vested in large-scale immigration in many industries and the Democratic Party. Not going to change.

Minimum wage laws just make it all worse

The solution to the problems offered by big-government progressives is — more government intervention.

The problem is they do not honestly assess the underlying foundational problems, but just see a symptom they perceive as a problem and go after that symptom in a vacuum. The causes listed above are the drivers of low-end wage stagnation. But rather than ratchet back those drivers, they pile another government solution on top of the government-caused problems — one that is already proven to make the problem yet worse.

It’s almost like there is a formula at work.

Nonetheless, the solution now being promulgated is to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. #Fightfor15 is the hashtag and rallying cry festooning the protest signs by people wholly unaware that the market might get the wages there if the immigration policy flipped and less money was required on failing benefits programs.

The obvious results of setting the minimum wage where central planners think it ought to be, and not where the market says it is, is that businesses will find ways around it. Legal ways. They will be forced to.

The first option: Automation. Where robotics and self-serve kiosks were too expensive at $8 per hour per worker, they no longer are at $15 per hour. They have now become less expensive than many workers. So companies invest in those, which results in minimum wage workers, and even those above that, being out of work completely. Workers lose jobs. $0 per hour.

The second option: Move. Companies pick up and move operations to a jurisdiction that does not have artificially high wages so they can compete effectively. Workers lose jobs. $0 per hour.

The third option: Downsize.  Companies either retrench at a smaller size or go out of business. Workers lose jobs. $0 per hour.

And guess what? This is exactly what has been happening in the uber-progressive city of Seattle, which has adopted the $15-per-hour minimum wage.

The city commissioned a study by economists at the University of Washington and published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Those study results stunned progressives, but really just found basic economics and common sense at work: Low-wage workers’ incomes actually dropped, substantially, falling an average of $125 per month.

And this was only at a $13 hourly minimum wage, as the Seattle law ramped it up to $15 over a few years. If they allow it to continue, which the marching placard people want, it will continue to worsen the situation for the lowest end workers in Seattle through automation, movement and downsizing.

And the other component that will get worse is the income inequality bogeyman. Anyone want to guess how big government progressives will want to fix that?

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The Revolutionary Act.

5-Year-Old Fined $200 for Selling Lemonade by Jon Miltimore

On summer evenings when I drive home from work, I often see small children selling lemonade in my neighborhood. Most of the time I honk my horn and wave, but occasionally I’ll pull up and purchase a cup, usually for 25 cents.

I happen to like lemonade, but that’s usually not my primary motivation for stopping to purchase a glass. Rather, it’s to offer a bit of encouragement to the budding entrepreneurs who’ve put in the work and taken the time to set up shop in the hopes of making a small profit for themselves (and to just have some fun).

Industry, free exchange, and entrepreneurship seem like virtues an aspiring society would wish to foster in their young. Alas, this is often not the case.

Shaking Down a 5-Year-Old

In a Thursday article for The Telegraph, a man named Andre Spicer wrote about the experience of his five-year-old daughter who tried to open a small lemonade stand in the family’s East London neighborhood.

After about 30 minutes, four local council enforcement officers stormed up to her little table,” he wrote. “‘Excuse me,’ one officer said as he switched on a portable camera attached to his vest. He then read a lengthy legal statement – the gist of which was that because my daughter didn’t have a trading permit, she would be fined [$195]. ‘But don’t worry, it is only [$117] if it’s paid quickly,’ the officer added.”

Spicer later wrote: “My daughter burst into tears, repeating again and again ‘have I done a bad thing’?”

I can’t imagine a worse introduction to entrepreneurship than that experienced by Andre Spicer’s little girl, in which four uniformed men arrive, shut you down, and fine you an amount of money larger than you can comprehend.

Before one becomes tempted to think such things only happen in Europe, I’ll point out that this sort of thing also happens routinely in the U.S.

Mowing the lawn for a neighbor, watching a friend’s pet, helping a deaf person communicate, and many other simple tasks can result in sharp fines in many states if one accepts monetary compensation without the appropriate permit (which is often quite expensive).

Who Are These Laws For?

These consumer protection laws usually help special interest groups and governments much more than consumers. As Adam Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations,

The interest of the dealers, however, in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers.”

Worse yet, such regulations impede entrepreneurship and teach the wrong lessons to people seeking to make their way in life.

Ronald Reagan once observed that, “Entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States.”

Considering that the U.S. economy has not eclipsed 3 percent annual growth since 2005, might it be time to consider creating a climate that fosters entrepreneurship and free exchange instead of stifling it?

Reprinted from Intellectual Takeout.

Tax Withholding Is Miracle-Grow for Government by Daniel J. Mitchell

The internal revenue code is a reprehensible mess that torments taxpayers and undermines American competitiveness.

The good news is that Americans don’t like the tax system.

The bad news is that they don’t dislike it nearly as much as they should. At least in my humble opinion.

There are two reasons for the inadequate level of disdain.

  • First, nearly half of all households are no longer are subject to the income tax. Indeed, the system is actually a revenue generator for some households since the EITC wage subsidy is a redistribution program laundered through the tax code.
  • Second, many people get a warm and fuzzy feeling when they file their taxes because of the expectation that they will get a sizable refund, even though that payment from the IRS is simply a reflection of having paid too much tax during the prior year.

For those of us who want to scrap the tax system, this is a challenge.

And I’m not shy about admitting the problem.

About three-quarters typically get money back, with refunds so far this year averaging almost $3,000. For many, it will be the single biggest payment they receive all year. …the fact that so many people are getting paid by the IRS, and not the other way around, takes some of the edge off a day when they’re trying to stoke public anger at the tax system. “The fact that people are looking forward to tax time rubs me the wrong way,” said Dan Mitchell, a tax expert at the libertarian Cato Institute. “I would like them to be upset.”

I also have a good idea of why the problem exists.

It’s withholding. And it started back during World War II. Here’s some background.

During the war, tax rates went up, and a broader number of people were expected to pay them. Professor Anuj Desai from the University of Wisconsin Law School said there was a saying that income tax went from “a class tax to a mass tax.” …“The thought was that if we withhold a little bit every bit every paycheck, people won’t have to worry about the problem of coming up with a huge chunk of money,” Desai said. But withholding is also a remarkably efficient way for the government to raise money, and policymakers knew that. …“You could never have the taxes that were levied during World War II without withholding. It was absolutely essential for that purpose,” economist Milton Friedman said in an interview… Friedman worked with the Treasury Department at the time withholding was introduced. Withholding stuck around after the war, much to Friedman’s chagrin. “Unfortunately, once you got it installed, it’s almost impossible to get rid of it,” Friedman said. “It’s too useful to the people in power.”

Jeffrey Tucker of the Foundation for Economic Education elaborates.

The problem is…the withholding tax. Instead of being collected directly from the payer, the government collects them “at the source,” which is to say that they are collected from the institution that pays wages and salaries — on behalf of the taxpayer. …one of the most amazingly brilliant innovations of the modern state. This tinkering with the system — the creation of the institution called withholding — has created an illusion that paying taxes is really about getting free money! When the check arrives from the government a month or so later, the taxpayer is actually tempted to think: wow, this is really great! A pillaging has been spun to look like a gift. …Withholding dramatically changed the psychology of paying taxes. It almost feels like you aren’t paying any at all. The worker gets used to how much after-tax income she makes and adapts to it quickly. Then when tax time arrives, there is no more to pay. Instead you file and find yourself on the receiving end of what seems like an unexpected gift of a check from government. Yet in reality your refund is nothing more than the belated return of a zero-interest loan you were forced to provide the government.

Exactly.

Every time I talk to somehow who is happy about a refund, I ask them whether they will give me an interest-free loan instead. After all, I’d be happy to collect money from them all year long and then return it the following April.

But I’m digressing.

Jeffrey points out how the political dynamics of tax day would change in the absence of withholding.

If we really wanted to make a wonderful change in favor of transparency and decency, one that would mark a shift in people’s perceptions of the costs of government, the withholding tax could just be repealed completely. …every taxpayer would pay the full amount owed to the government every April 15 and otherwise receive full compensation the rest of the year. Such a seemingly small change would have a dramatic effect on public perceptions of taxation and government. Even from the age of 16, every citizen would have a more pungent reminder of the costs of government. We would no longer live the illusion that we can all get something for nothing and that government isn’t really expensive after all.

Ben Domenech of the Federalist agrees.

The overwhelming majority of Americans pay their taxes by having them extracted from their paychecks before they ever see the money. Operating under the fiction that the government is giving you money as opposed to returning what it has already taken is damaging to the psyche of the nation’s taxpayers. …Withholding was originally mandated as a wartime step, but its continuation since then disguises the property rights involved, essentially offers the government an interest free loan, and shields taxpayers from the ramifications of federal spending. The country would be better off if everyone experienced what entrepreneurs and business owners do: writing the most sizable checks every year to the government, and watching that hard-earned money walk out the door.

By the way, this isn’t merely impractical libertarian fantasy.

There’s a real-world example of a tax system where people actually write checks to the government and are much more aware of the cost of the public sector. It’s called Hong Kong, which is – not coincidentally – an economic success story in large part because of a good fiscal system.

And I would argue that good fiscal system exists because taxpayers are directly sensitive to the cost of government (it also helps that there’s a spending cap in Hong Kong).

Let’s close with some government propaganda. This Disney cartoon was produced before withholding. As you can see the government basically had to make the case that people should set aside money out of their paychecks so they would have enough money to make periodic tax payments.

This was a plausible case when seeking to finance a war against National Socialism and Japanese imperialism. It wouldn’t be nearly as persuasive today when the government seems to specialize in financing wastefraud, and abuse.

P.S. At the bottom of this column, you can watch a much better cartoon from the 1940s.

Reprinted from International Liberty.

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review.

UPDATE: Lynch-Clinton Tarmac Meeting, Abedin Emails and California’s Dirty Voting Rolls

Justice Department Blacks Out Talking Points on Lynch-Clinton Tarmac Meeting

We have begun to see how the Trump administration responds over time to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) queries, especially our requests regarding shady dealings in the Obama administration.  We aren’t encouraged.  One must wonder if Obama holdovers at the Department of Justice (DOJ) are still calling the shots, or whether President Trump’s appointees simply don’t care about battling government corruption and enforcing the rule law.

Here are the particulars.

The DOJ has refused to disclose the talking points developed by the Obama Justice Department to respond to press inquiries about the controversial June 27, 2016, tarmac meeting between Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

The DOJ heavily redacted the documents under FOIA Exemption b (5), which allows agencies to withhold draft or deliberative process material. The blacked-out material centers on talking points drafted and used by Justice. The agency produced 417 pages of documents in response to our FOIA lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-00421) for:

  • All records and/or transcripts of a meeting held between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton in June 2016.
  • All records of communication sent to or from officials in the Office of the Attorney General regarding the meeting held between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton in June 2016.
  • All records of communication sent to or from officials in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General regarding the meeting held between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton in June 2016.
  • All references to the meeting held between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton contained in day planners, calendars and schedules in the Office of the Attorney General.

One email exchange shows that Former Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik was brought in to assist with public relations issues on June 28, 2016, the day after the tarmac meeting. (Kadzik is a longtime friend of John Podesta and a Hillary Clinton donor, who was criticized as being conflicted when he was assigned as the Justice Department attorney to oversee the probe of Hillary Clinton’s and her aide Huma Abedin’s emails found on Anthony Wiener’s computer.)

Melanie Newman, director of the Justice Department Public Affairs Office, sent an email to Richard P. Quinn, former national security assistant special agent, and Michael P. Kortan, who is currently the assistant director for Public Affairs for the FBI, advising them she wanted to “flag a story” about “a casual, unscheduled meeting between former President Bill Clinton and the AG.” And she provides the AG’s talking points.

Lynch met privately with former President Bill Clinton on board a parked plane in Phoenix. The meeting occurred during the then-ongoing investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s email server, and only a few days before she was interviewed by the FBI. Lynch later admitted that the meeting with Bill Clinton “cast a cloud” over the Justice Department/FBI investigation.

A week after the tarmac meeting, FBI Director James Comey called Hillary Clinton’s actions “extremely careless” but did not recommend charges, and Attorney General Lynch ended the criminal investigation.

It is jaw-dropping that the Trump administration is blacking out key information about how the Obama Justice Department tried to spin Loretta Lynch’s scandalous meeting with Bill Clinton. President Trump should order the full and immediate release of these materials.  In the meantime, our lawyers will work overtime to consider the option of persuading the courts to order the release of the information about this scandal.

Abedin Emails Contained Classified Information and Reveal Pay-to-Play

Can you think of a secretary of state of either party who flagrantly sold influence in the manner of Hillary Clinton?

When will those we rely upon in Washington to enforce the rule of law hold her to account?

In the meantime, thanks to your Judicial Watch, the evidence steadily accumulates and has long reached a critical mass requiring law enforcement action.

In fact, we just released 1,606 pages of documents from the U.S. Department of State revealing repeated use of unsecured communications for classified information and numerous examples of Clinton Foundation donors receiving special favors from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s staff.

The documents, containing emails from the unsecure, non-government account of Huma Abedin, Clinton’s then-deputy chief of staff, also show Clinton or her staff expressing interest in visiting Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and North Korean dictator Kim Jung II.

The documents included 91 Clinton email exchanges not previously turned over to the State Department, bringing the known total to date to at least 530 emails that were not part of the 55,000 pages of emails that Clinton turned over to the State Department, and further contradicting a statement by Clinton that, “as far as she knew,” all of her government emails had been turned over to the State Department.

The documents were obtained in response to a court order from our May 5, 2015, lawsuit against the State Department (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:15-cv-00684)) after it failed to respond to our March 18, 2015, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for: “All emails of official State Department business received or sent by former Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin from January 1, 2009 through February 1, 2013 using a non-‘state.gov’ email address.”

Several emails contain classified information:

  • On March 12, 2009, Sid Blumenthal, former aide to Bill Clinton and confidant of Hillary Clinton, sent Mrs. Clinton a memo about Northern Ireland that is classified CONFIDENTIAL, and the details were withheld from release under FOIA Exemption 4 (D) (dealing with foreign relations or foreign activities).
  • On February 27, 2009, Ambassador Melanne Verveer sent Clinton a briefing memo/email on discussions she held with Congolese officials, which was classified as CONFIDENTIAL and withheld under FOIA exemption B1.4(D).
  • On January 22, 2010, Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan sent an email about a call to Chinese Foreign Minister Yang to several State Department officials. It contained information classified as CONFIDENTIAL by State and exempted under FOIA Exemption B1.4(D). It was forwarded to Abedin’s unsecure email account. The email had an attached memorandum of the Clinton-Yang call. State Department official Courtney Beale subsequently tells Assistant Secretary Todd Stern that she had sent that memo previously to him on the “high side” [i.e., via secure email channels].
  • On August 20, 2010, State Department official Laura Lucas sent to Abedin’s unclassified email account a call sheet for Clinton with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos, which contained classified CONFIDENTIAL information that was withheld based on B1.4(D).

A number of emails show the free flow of information and requests for favors between Clinton’s State Department and the Clinton Foundation and major Clinton donors:

  • For example, Howard Buffett, Jr., grandson of Warren Buffet, sought a meeting for his father, Howard Sr., with Hillary Clinton to discuss “food security.” The Buffett family, including Warren, his son Peter, and his late wife, Susan, through the Susan Buffett Foundation, all donated heavily to the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation. On behalf of Howard Buffett Jr., Bill Clinton aide Ben Schwerin asked Abedin to get Howard Buffett Sr. a meeting with Clinton. He says, “Any chance of a brief meeting?” Abedin replies, “we will take care of this.”
  • In another example, on April 12, 2009, Miguel Lausell, a Puerto Rican telecom executive who reportedly donated $1 million to the Clinton Presidential Library and was a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, made a request of Abedin through Clinton Foundation executive Doug Band to push for the appointment of someone to become US ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Lausell concludes: “I will be in DC from the 7th to the 9th and would like if possible to say hello to hillary Please let me know.It would be just a short visit and not to ask anything from her.Just hello.” [Errors in original]
The next day, April 13, Clinton aide Nora Toiv passed Lausell’s message to Clinton special assistant Lauren Jiloty and Rob [last name unknown] to “make sure there is a response.”
  • On April 3, 2009, Kelly Craighead, who at the time was Managing Director of Democracy Alliance, a controversial left-wing fundraising organization, emailed Abedin and Capricia Marshall, former Executive Director of HillPAC and Friends of Hillary, asking them to “reach out” to someone who was an “extremely loyal supporter” and was waiting to hear about a senior position at the State Department. Marshall responds to Craighead, saying the person was “on everyone’s list/grid” and directed her aides to follow up.

A year later, in April 2010, Craighead contacted Abedin again, asking for assistance in landing a job for someone at State: “It would mean a lot to me if you could help or advise on a personnel situation for a dear friend.” Abedin replies, “We love [Redacted]. Looking into this asap.”   The Washington Free Beacon described Craighead’s Democracy Alliance as “a clearinghouse that connects liberal billionaires to a select group of endorsed organizations, such as the Center for American Progress and the pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA, without threat of disclosure.” The Beacon also noted Craighead was implicated in a federal investigation of Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign fundraising scandal.

  • On March 15, 2010, event planner Bryan Rafanelli, who was a 2016 Hillblazerand, according to Politico, had a company that was paying $1,200 a month rent for unused office space to Hillary Clinton’s defunct presidential campaign in 2010, got a private White House tour for friends arranged by Abedin.

Other emails show a lax attitude toward the security of communications:

  • At least one senior State Department official refused to send a classified documentto Abedin’s account. Joseph E. MacManus, then-executive assistant to the secretary, told Abedin that a draft outline paper of Richard Holbrooke’s goals for a Pakistan trip “is classified so it cannot go by blackberry email.” As a result, MacManus sent the document through classified channels.
  • Clinton signed the document and gave it to her communications people to transmit. But the communications team, wanting to send it by secure channels, waited till the following day to send it. That delay caused Cheryl Mills to inquire about the delay, which produced an abject apology by State Department official Daniel Smith to Mills: “I’m very sorry about what happened and that we all let the Secretary down.”
  • On April 16, 2009, Clinton aide Lona Valmoro asked Abedin if Clinton wanted to skip a meeting on “cyber security” in favor of a meeting on “Global Philanthropy.” Valmoro adds: “Jen said that Rice [presumably Condoleezza] rarely went to these, FYI.”
  • On April 23, 2010, Abedin tried to set up a secure call for Clinton with Dennis [last name unknown], but it didn’t connect, and Clinton said, “We’ve now tried twice to go secure and lost both calls.” After Abedin tells her she had tested the secure line, Clinton says “We finally gave up and talked in code nonsecure.”
  • Billionaire J.B. Pritzker emailed Band on March 21, 2009, asking him to forward the email to Clinton “via a non-govt email account.” The email, addressed to Abedin, references President Obama’s treatment of Netanyahu and Clinton’s speech the next day at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference and warns that there is “lots of deep concern at Obama (even all the Dems here) … I know it seems obvious, but during the presentationtomorrow I suggest focusing on Iran, Iran, and Iran.” Pritzker attaches an article by Lloyd Grove entitled “Jewish Anger: Will There Be Historic Break from the Dems?” Band forwards the email to Abedin without comment.

The same night Abedin emailed Clinton, saying, “pir [Philippe Reines] mentioned that if you plan to call potus tonite or tomorrow, he wants to leak it.”

  • On February 12, 2010, Abedin emailed Cooper, who helped administer Clinton’s non-government email server, about a fax she sent for Clinton with information about upcoming foreign dignitary calls. Cooper replies, “ I can just print it.” Abedin responds, “Cool. Thank you.” Cooper then says, “Still waitin on secure.” Further on in the exchange, Abedin says, “Sending now.” It appears that Cooper, who was not a State Department employee and did not possess a security clearance, according to the Washington Examiner, was helping troubleshoot a secure fax machine used to transmit government documents to the Secretary of State.

In a follow up email, Abedin tells Cooper “I HATE SECURE FAXES.” Cooper responds, “Its coming in. I cld redesign system in 5 min prob.” Abedin replies, “Uh yeah. You have no idea.”

  • On April 16, 2009, State Department staffer Jennifer Davis sent a documentprepared for Clinton by National Security Advisor Tom Donilon to Clinton’s and Abedin’s BlackBerries.

Abedin was unable to read the PDF file on her BlackBerry due to the fine print so diplomat Lewis Lukens asked Davis to send the document to two other State Department officials, Paul and Courtney. Davis replies, “Already sent to Paul (on low-side) [unsecure] … Will send to plane now (on highside) for Paul and Courtney.”

  • In a March 20, 2009, advisory email to Clinton, retired General Jack Keane advised her that to conquer the Afghan insurgency, the then-commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, was “not the leader to get us there.” He concluded his message with “Please keep these scribblings for your eyes only.”

On a number of occasions Hillary Clinton’s daily schedule was shared with the Clinton Foundation:

  • On February 9, 2010, Valmoro forwarded Clinton’s sensitive daily schedulefor February 10, 2010, to Clinton Foundation officials. On Feb. 22, 2010, Valmoro forwarded Hillary Clinton’s daily schedule for February 23, 2010, to foundation officials, including Band, Cooper, and Terry Krinvic. On April 4, 2010, Valmoro forwarded the daily schedule for April 5 to foundation officials. And on May 18, 2010, Valmoro again forwarded the schedule for May 19, 2010, to foundation employees.

Two emails show Secretary Clinton or her staff expressing an interest in visiting two brutal dictators.

  • On April 18, 2009, Abedin told Senior Advisor Philippe Reines that Clinton had “an encounter” with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, who “complimented wjc [Bill Clinton], said he hoped she would come to venezuela, she said she hoped so too.” Reines expressed concern, saying “Was the encounter on camera or widely seen?” Abedin responds: “Seen by a dozen people. A photog came in and took a photo at the end.” Reines replies, “Who went up to whom?”
  • Veteran diplomat Wendy Sherman sent a message to State officials on February 6, 2009, advising them to send a message to North Korean dictator Kim Jung Il that Hillary Clinton “looks forward to the day when enough progress is made that she can come to NKas well.”

The emails reveal more instances of Tony Rodham seeking to leverage his influence as Clinton’s brother:

  • On January 29, 2010, Confidential Assistant Monica Hanley forwarded to Abedin a request from Tony Rodham, on three issues. One involved help on a “green card renewal.” Another involved a visit by someone of which Abedin said they “wanted to regret.” A third involved a job for someone whose CV Rodham forwarded to State. It appears that Tony Rodham was seeking to help someone caught up in a criminal case involving Micheil Saakashvili, the then president of the Republic of Georgia. The Rodham friend was having difficulty getting a green card due to his arrest, which he said was political retribution by Saakashvili. Abedin told Hanley to tell him the request “has been passed to DHS.”
  • On March 18, 2010, Rodham sent Hanley the resume of someone looking for a job. Monica passed to Abedin, asking: “Do you want me to call [Redacted] or pass along to WHL [White House Liaison]?” Abedin replies: “Call and find out interests.”

Other emails detail the inner workings of Clinton’s State Department:

  • On Apr. 17, 2009, Abedin tells colleagues Valmoro, Andrew Shapiro, Philippe Reines, Mills and Jake Sullivan in an email with the subject line “Aipac” that, “Calls from our friends in the jewish community are now getting ugly. I don’t understand who’s taking charge here.” The reference is likely to a book that had just been released called The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earththat disclosed that the NSA had intercepted former Rep. Jane Harman on the phone about her efforts to intervene with the Bush Administration on behalf of two AIPAC officials being investigated for espionage.
  • On September 11, 2010, Blumenthal forwarded an article/audio clip from Think Progress about a Republican congressman arguing that they should force a government shutdown if necessary to cut the “gangrene” out of government. Blumenthal advised Clinton that the White House “should use this on all the Sunday shows” and “Name Boehner. Force Boehner out.”
  • On February 26, 2010, noting the absence of Mills and Bill Burns, Clinton tells Abedin that “the whole point” of a photo shoot that day “is to show a team that is diverse in every way. That won’t happen and I am worried about that.”
  • On November 14, 2011, Abedin tells Clinton she’s going to have to stay at a “horrible Sheraton,” where President Obama would be staying, and asks if she’s open to another hotel. Clinton responds that “it would be hard not to be in same hotel as POTUS so try to get best option there.”
  • On November 30, 2011, Abedin tells Clinton she’ll have to stay at a “second tier hotel” in Burma because “the nice hotel owner was problematic.” The “second tier hotel” room is a suite with “a room nearby large enough to accommodate more people.”

This may seem like a lot of material but the State Department is far from finished producing emails, so there will be more to come.

But there’s plenty already for prosecutors.

Pay-to-play, classified information mishandling, influence peddling, cover ups – these new emails show why the criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s conduct must be resumed. The Trump Justice Department and FBI need to reassure the American people they have finally stopped providing political protection to Hillary Clinton.

Judicial Watch Warns California on Dirty Voting Rolls

We’ve uncovered an election integrity crisis in California.

Judicial Watch lays it all out in a notice-of-violation letter to the state and 11 of its counties threatening to sue in federal court if they do not clean voter registration lists as mandated by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).  Both the NVRA and the federal Help America Vote Act require states to take reasonable steps to maintain accurate voting rolls. Our August 1 letter was sent on behalf of several JW California supporters and the Election Integrity Project California Inc.

In the letter, we noted that public records obtained on the Election Assistance Commission’s 2016 Election Administration Voting Survey and through verbal accounts from various county agencies show that 11 California counties have more registered voters than voting-age citizens: Imperial (102%), Lassen (102%), Los Angeles (112%), Monterey (104%), San Diego (138%), San Francisco (114%), San Mateo (111%), Santa Cruz (109%), Solano (111%), Stanislaus (102%), and Yolo (110%).

We also note that Los Angeles County officials “informed us that the total number of registered voters now stands at a number that is a whopping 144% of the total number of resident citizens of voting age.”

Federal law is clear.  Under Section 8 of the NVRA, states are required to make a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters from official lists due to “the death of the registrant” or “a change in the residence of the registrant,” and requires states to ensure noncitizens are not registered to vote.

In what perhaps is an understatement, our warning letter suggests there is “strong circumstantial evidence that California municipalities are not conducting reasonable voter registration list maintenance as mandated under the NVRA.”

We referred California officials to a settlement agreement we reached with the State of Ohio in which Ohio agreed to update and maintain its voter registration lists and to keep a current voter registration list online and available for public access.

California’s voting rolls are an absolute mess that undermines the very idea of clean elections. It is urgent that California take reasonable steps to clean up its rolls. We will sue if state officials fail to act.

California is hardly unique. In April we sent notice-of-violation letters threatening to sue 11 states having counties in which the number of registered voters exceeds the number of voting-age citizens.  The states are: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Tennessee.

On July 18 we filed a lawsuit against Montgomery County and the Maryland State Boards of Elections under the NVRA. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division (Judicial Watch vs. Linda H. Lamone, et al. (No. 1:17-cv-02006)).

Election Integrity Project California Inc. is a registered nonprofit corporation that seeks to preserve a government of, by, and for the people. To that end, Election Integrity Project California empowers citizen volunteers through education and training to protect the integrity of the electoral process in California.

The director of Judicial Watch’s own Election Integrity Project is senior attorney Robert Popper, who was formerly deputy chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.

We will be sure to keep you updated on our efforts to promote clean and secure elections.

The High-Level Hypocrisy of Mayors for Gun Control

Leona Helmsley, the “Queen of Mean” convicted of income tax evasion and other crimes, is famously said to have said “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.”

The same sense of entitled grandeur – that rules apply to lesser beings – pervades the thinking of many high-profile gun-control notables. For example, ex-New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is protected by guns carried by his armed security detail, while he spends his billions to undermine the Second Amendment rights of average Americans.  

In 2006, as part of his anti-gun agenda, Bloomberg founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), a coalition of current and former mayors advocating for regulating all guns, not simply “illegal guns,” and calling for “assault weapon” and magazine bans, expanded background checks, and other restrictions on law-abiding gun owners. 

By 2013, roiled by constant reports of criminal behavior by members, MAIG was subsumed into Bloomberg’s new gun control entity, Everytown for Gun Safety. Nonetheless, arrests and convictions of MAIG members (including for gun-related crimes) continue to feature regularly in the news, so much so that it’s become something of a running joke (here and here). It’s likely no coincidence that MAIG’s website chooses not to name the elected officials that make up its membership; instead, it lists the municipalities these members represent.

The roster of the recently disgraced include the ex-mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner, who resigned from office in 2013 after multiple women made allegations of sexual harassment, and who subsequently plead guilty to charges of false imprisonment and battery. Another public official who had been associated with MAIG is Gordon Jenkins, formerly the mayor of Monticello, New York, who was removed from office by a state court in 2015 after it found he engaged in “‘unscrupulous conduct or gross dereliction of duty or conduct that connotes a pattern of misconduct and abuse of authority.’” The misconduct referred to by the court included threats to withhold funding from his local police department in an effort to influence the disposition of criminal charges against him, and attempts to use his position to intimidate and coerce police officers into giving him special treatment after he was arrested for a DUI. Following his removal from office, Mr. Jenkins plead guilty to lesser criminal offenses after being charged with bribery-related felony crime. 

Rounding out the MAIG dis-honor roll for 2017 (so far) are former Stockton, California mayor Anthony Silva; Allentown, Pennsylvania Mayor Edwin Pawlowski; and Vaughn Spencer, former mayor of Reading, Pennsylvania, all currently facing criminal charges. Of course, these individuals, like all persons simply accused of criminal offenses, are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

In March, ex-mayor Silva was arrested on felony charges of money laundering, embezzlement, and grand theft, arising out of alleged personal misuse of grants and other funds of the Stockton Kids Club, formerly the Boys & Girls Club of Stockton. (“Sour grapes,” claims his defense counsel, although Silva has figured in other controversies.) As an elected official and part of a MAIG coalition of California mayors, Mr. Silva supported legislation creating so-called “Gun Violence Restraining Orders” that would require persons to surrender their firearms to police based solely on allegations by law enforcement or family members. 

Allentown, Pennsylvania Mayor Edwin Pawlowski was indicted in July, accused of violating federal public corruption laws arising out of a misuse of public office (over 50 counts, including bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, honest services mail and wire fraud, travel act bribery, making material false statements, and conspiracy). Prior to that, Mayor Pawlowski appeared in a “public service” ad released by MAIG “demanding action” on gun control measures, and supported Bloomberg in calling for “tougher gun laws” and restrictions on gun shows and private firearm sales. 

Vaughn Spencer, the former mayor of Reading, Pennsylvania, was also charged in July and accused of violating federal public corruption laws (bribery, wire fraud, and conspiracy). Like Mayor Pawlowski, Spencer signed on to a MAIG letter to President Obama in 2012, calling for bans on “military style” weapons and “high capacity” magazines, expanded background check laws, repealing the Tiahrt Amendments, and more.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) press releases regarding these two Pennsylvania officials note that the allegations concern the “mayors manipulating the levers of power for their own ways and means. As charged, Edwin Pawlowski and Vaughn Spencer brazenly and repeatedly sold off city contracts to bankroll their political futures.” The DOJ adds that in “an astounding act of irony,” former Mayor Spencer allegedly “bribed the President of City Council to introduce legislation repealing a Reading anti-corruption statute.” 

These are serious offenses – the charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, honest services mail fraud, and honest services wire fraud have an individual maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; the remaining federal charges have maximum sentences of five or ten years and similarly onerous fines. 

As part of furthering his notions of good governance, ex-Mayor Bloomberg has made a $32 million gift to Harvard University, funding a program to teach serving mayors how to be effective leaders, with the inaugural class of 40 elected officials beginning their studies this July. A cynic might suggest that the curriculum include, besides the usual Bloomberg hobbyhorses of sugary drinks and gun control, the fundamental concept that the rule of law applies to the high as well as the low. After all, when law-abiding Americans seek to protect themselves from criminals, it’s not usually the gun-grabbing crooks at city hall that come to mind.

VIDEO: President Donald J. Trump’s remarks at the MAGA Rally in West Virginia

President Trump once again left the echo chamber of Washington, D.C. to meet with and speak to real Americans.

James Conley Justice Jr., an American coal mining and agriculture businessman and politician who is the 36th and current Governor of West Virginia was introduced by President Trump. Governor Justice said he could not longer serve West Virginia as a Democrat. Governor Justice said that the Democrats had let him down. He called President Trump ” a good man.” Governor Justice then said he is switching party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.

To cheers of USA, USA, USA, President Trump used this occasion to remind the people of West Virginia and all Americans that he was elected to represent the people, not the special interests.

President Trump said Washington “is full of people only looking out for themselves.” The President said about all Democrats, “The only reason they are talking about the made up Russia story is that they have no message, no agenda and no vision.” The President then asked the crowd, “Are there any Russians here tonight?”

Watch President Trump’s full remarks, courtesy of NBC News:

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of President Trump speaking at a West Virginia Make America Great Again rally on August 3, 2017.

Trump’s Immigration Reform Fights for American Workers

Is it outlandish to say that the welfare of Americans should come before the welfare of potential immigrants in the actions of the American government?

No. Of course not.

It is reasonable, rational and what almost every other country does without all the name-calling we get from the progressive left in this country. Some European countries recently tried magnanimity over the protection and welfare of their citizens and their citizens have paid a steep and deadly price. Wrong choice.

America has been increasingly throwing the door open to wrong legal immigration in the front door, while leaving the back door unlocked for massive illegal immigration. The result has been a predictable stew: of the diminishment of American culture that was, and amazingly still is, the envy of the world; of overburdened public facilities (including hospitals and schools); of stagnant incomes; and of a growing entitlement mentality for many of those sneaking in the back door.

While the ruling amalgam of coastal elites, big businesses and Washington smarmies have enjoyed this arrangement for various reasons, most Americans have witnessed the damage in real life. This was the first and biggest issue that President Trump tapped into and that propelled his election.

He has slowly started delivering on locking the back door: Building the wall to stop the endless flow of illegal immigrants.

On Wednesday, Trump unveiled his immigration reform for the front door with U.S. Senators Tom Cotton and Dave Perdue, entitled the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act.

The devil is always in the details of this sort of legislation, but it is promising on the surface and it keeps another Trump promise. For all of his personal peccadilloes, the man does seem to be keeping his promises, and that’s good for the American people.

Of course the problem will be the faux Republicans in the Senate and getting past a Democratic filibuster. That will require 60 votes, but if they do, they should have to do it the old-fashioned Mr-Smith-Goes-To-Washington way — stand there and keep talking constantly.

Rightly done immigration is necessary

Immigration is a powerful engine for economic growth, but wrong immigration has been a recipe for low wages at the bottom and middle parts of the income scale, high governmental costs and faster growing wages at the top end of the scale.

And there is wrong immigration. We’ve been practicing it for decades and are reaping the results.

The unofficial, bipartisan policy of the Washington smarties the past 30 years or so has been a de facto open border with Mexico that allows somewhere between 11 million and 20 million illegal immigrants to sneak in here and work, live and enjoy the benefits of this country without assimilation or legal contribution. Talk about cultural appropriation!

However, they are allowed to keep sneaking in with a wink and a nod because politicians have opposed enforcing U.S. immigration laws — largely for their own personal, political futures. Sure, we have some fencing and a Border Patrol and we do stop some and send them back — about 250,000 annually. But even those come right back again and eventually get through. President Obama made it much easier by enacting “catch and release,” meaning we did not send them back at all, but released them into America with a promise to show up at a court date in the future. Needless to say, they didn’t, and no one expected them to anyway. It was more flouting of American law.

In the rest of the picture, we have legal immigration that takes many years and is an arduous and expensive journey. But because we are controlling it, we are getting immigrants that as a batch are more capable of not only improving their own lives, but those of other Americans.

In 2014, 29 percent of the 36.7 million immigrants ages 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 30 percent of native-born adults. While that lines up nicely with the existing American population, the bottom end still does not: 30 percent of immigrants lacked a high school diploma or GED certificate compared to 10 percent of native-born Americans.

What this overall picture shows is that we allow — legally and illegally — millions of low-end workers into the country, and that has enormous consequences for low- and middle-income Americans and eventually for economic growth. That is what is being fixed in this reform.

The “compassion” deceit

The conceit of quasi open borders is that we are a “compassionate” nation. Well yes, that is indisputable by nearly every definition of charity — at home and around the world. Of course in this case, compassion emanates from people who will never be negatively impacted by wrong immigration but will most often gain from it personally. So it’s a bit lame.

In the meantime, while letting millions of poor, unskilled, illiterate immigrants into our country may play as showing compassion toward them, it is demonstrably not showing compassion toward tens of millions of poor Americans.

Consider: Millions of uneducated, unskilled and illiterate immigrants from south of the border come to America seeking a better life — or for many, just income to send money back “home.” The economics is undeniable: Their very presence not only blocks many Americans trying to get a foothold in the workforce, but also depresses the low end of wages for those jobs.

The canard of jobs “Americans won’t do” are actually only jobs Americans won’t do at the prevailing wagesset by wrong and illegal immigration. Without all those immigrants — legal or illegal, but most are illegal — low end wages would inevitably rise to meet demand. Perhaps a lot. And that would push up middle incomes as well.

Professor George Borjas, at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, writes: “Wage trends over the past half-century suggest that a 10 percent increase in the number of workers with a particular set of skills probably lowers the wage of that group by at least 3 percent.”

That is invaluable information and explains part of wage stagnation while also explaining the big social bogeyman in American politics: income inequality. And it is due to both illegal immigration and wrong legal immigration.

The RAISE Act reforms some errors

Americans have long admired and desired merit-based systems. They understand that too often that is not the case — in unionized schools, certainly in Congress, in the welfare system.

But the remnants of rugged American individualism know that is still the right path forward. And Trump and the Senators’ plan does just that by creating a more merit-based legal immigration system.

The RAISE Act would dramatically reduce low-skilled immigration (which we already have far too much of) while overhauling the system for skilled immigration and cutting low-skilled immigration by more than 40 percent immediately. That may be more than is necessary, but those are quibbles in the big picture.

It ends the absurd “diversity” lottery to get more immigrants from countries that do not send as many — mostly from Africa. And crucially important, it eliminates most of the abused system of preferences for family members — aside from spouses, minor children and elderly parents who need care. So no more brothers, sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, the butcher, baker and candlestick maker being allowed to come in because of one person here — legally or illegally.

The RAISE Act creates a system for those seeking green cards to be awarded on the basis of employment via a new point system similar to those used in other Western countries, such as Canada and Australia. Points are earned by level of education, English fluency (yes!), their age, the salary they’ve been offered, and, if an applicant wants to bring a spouse, the spouse’s education, age, and language skills also. Further, immigrants allowed entry through the point system would not be eligible for welfare benefits for five years.

This system is obviously better for the United States and for all Americans — except maybe the wealthy and powerful who have benefited most from the current system. Whether that gives it any chance in Congress is doubtful.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Revolutionary Act.