6 Reasons Trump was Right on the Paris Climate Accords

The dystopian world-is-ending crowd had a heyday when President Trump kept his campaign promise to pull out of the accords and protect the American people. They really should have stayed on their meds.

Before we go through the very sound reasons for Trump pulling the U.S. out, it’s worth getting a sampling of just how fevered the reaction has been. Here are a few of the Chicken Little tweets following Trump’s announcement:

  • “Trump just declared war on the very idea of life on earth.” Trita Parsi, Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order Recipient. (TRA translation: You must now stop even thinking about earth or be attacked!)
  • “If Trump pulls the US out of the Paris Agreement he will be committing a traitorous act of war against the American people.” Billionaire and supposed environmentalist Tom Steyer. (TRA translation: Trump is a traitor. Impeach him!)
  • “Pulling out of the Paris Agreement would be a massive step back for racial justice, and an assault on communities of color across the U.S.” ACLU National tweet. (TRA translation: It’s racist.)
  • “If Trump is pulling out of Paris, he is turning his back on the public in every single US state.” Sierra Club. (TRA translation: Trump hates Americans.)
  • “As a species we flunked the collective action problem that is carbon emissions. It’s now adapt or die.” Christopher Mims, Wall Street Journal. (TRA translation: People be stupid.)
  • “Serious question-Can millions of people launch a class action suit if the US pulls out of Paris accord for negligence?” Actress Patricia Arquette. (TRA: Serious answer: Yes. In November 2020. Read your Constitution.)
  • And finally (and enough for now) the Huffington Post’s top headline on the decision: “TRUMP TO PLANET: DROP DEAD” (TRA translation: Trump’s mean. And dumb. And mean.)

Why this is just so much silliness

For all of the hyperbolic screechings of the climate change brood, there were several very sound reasons for the U.S. pulling out.

And what’s important to remember is that every one of these points holds true even if you accept the most dire warnings of the global warming alarmists. But if it is true that the global temperatures are rising quickly as a direct and primary result of human use of fossil fuels, all of these points remain legitimate to the specifics of the Paris Accords.

  • Virtually nothing would be gained on global warming. According to a Heritage Foundation study: “…using the Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Induced Climate Change developed by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, even if all carbon dioxide emissions in the United States were effectively eliminated, there would be less than two-tenths of a degree Celsius reduction in global temperatures” by 2100. And the accords were only looking at a few percentage point reduction. So, negligible at best. MIT came to the same conclusion. The agreement actually would have almost no impact on global temperatures. So explain the above tweets again?

  • Dramatic U.S. economic damage. The Heritage Foundation study found an overall average loss of nearly 400,000 jobs; an average manufacturing shortfall of more than 200,000 jobs; a total income loss of more than $20,000 for a family of four; an aggregate gross domestic product (GDP) loss of over $2.5 trillion; and an increases in household electricity expenditures between 13 percent and 20 percent.

  • The risk-reward ratio for the U.S. was awful. So combine our facts. The economic impact from the accords would be nearly catastrophic to the U.S. Guaranteed. But the benefits would be minimal at best, and the models constructing those benefits are hard to trust as they have been wrong for nearly two decades. It was a reckless set of accords — except for the people safely ensconced in those negotiating rooms in swank hotels around the world, flying in on private jets fueled by fossil fuels.

  • The accords were voluntary and unenforceable. And some of the biggest contributors would never abide by them. China, for instance, signed the accords, but stipulated they would not begin implementing any emission goals until 2030 — not coincidentally the year that the agreement runs out. But they get credit for signing it. In fact, all of the nations that signed on and are the fastest climbing carbon emitters would do nothing to curb their use. But they would gain economic advantage.

  • Risk losing national sovereignty. This agreement — negotiated remember by President Obama with no Senate approval — set the U.S. on the path to allowing a global organization, maybe headquartered in Europe, to control domestic policy. That, of course, spells ultimately the end of the Great American Experiment, and that is not hyperbole. We have no effective Constitution if other countries can set our policies. In his announcement, Trump said: “…our withdrawal from the agreement represents a reassertion of America’s sovereignty. Our constitution is unique among all nations of the world. And it is my highest obligation and greatest honor to protect it…” Absolutely correct.

  • The media coverage is wholly untrustworthy. A whole lot of people are being led to a conclusion, not provided impartial data. Never ever forget the “journalists” who were covering the Paris Accords who spontaneously responded with clapping and dancing and hugging like they were Greenpeace activists. You really have to watch the 13-second clip. So, like many of the climate change scientists, it is impossible for any average or above-average American to trust the climate change journalism gang.

For some great historical context on the untrustworthy combination of science and journalism on this topic, the 1990 Today Show program reported “facing a sea-level rise not of one to three feet in a century, but of 10 or 20 feet in a much shorter time. The Supreme Court would be flooded. You could tie your boat to the Washington Monument.” Again, worth watching the short clip.

There is a rational case for convening an impartial  panel — meaning a panel of scientists and others who think the warming is man-made and those who do not and those who think it is overstated — to truly study and verify the data without a one-sided agenda. This panel could include investigating the data we know was corrupted to make it look like there is more warming than there is. And then posting as directly to the web and people as possible to bypass the untrustworthy climate change media.

Without that, too many people are suspicious. And the worthlessness of these accords on global warming only furthers that suspicion.

A no-brainer to pull out

And finally, pulling out of the Paris Accords was a Trump campaign promise. He made promises, was duly elected and has been keeping them. This was one of those. It’s unusual in Washington, but a good thing.

This agreement was all risk for the United States and very little reward for the climate, even accepting the global warming assumptions.

The well-being of the American people was put in grave harm’s way. Any good President should stand against such an agreement. Obama made the agreement, knowing that it harmed the country. Trump removed us, knowing that doing so was good for the country. And there is virtually no harm by the climate models by doing so.

That is such a kicker. Unfortunately, millions persuaded of the horribleness of this deed may never really know that because they are trusting the climate change journalists for information.

Looking at this accord in its entirety suggests there were a lot of countries that were using it as a tool to gain an economic advantage on the United States. It had nothing to do with climate change for them.

Trump was absolutely right to keep his promise and protect the American people by pulling out of it.

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

Government Does Not Belong in Our Showers by Daniel J. Mitchell

When I write about regulation, I usually focus on big-picture issues involving economic costs, living standards, and competitiveness.

Those are very important concerns, but the average person in American probably gets more irked by rules that impact the quality of life.

That’s a grim list, but it’s time to augment it.

Showering with Disapproval

Jeffrey Tucker of the Foundation for Economic Education explains that the government also has made showering a less pleasant experience. He starts by expressing envy about Brazilian showers.

…was shocked with delight at the shower in Brazil. …step into the shower and you have a glorious capitalist experience. Hot water, really hot, pours down on you like a mighty and unending waterfall… At least the socialists in Brazil knew better than to destroy such an essential of civilized life.

I know what he’s talking about.

I’m in a hotel (not in Brazil), and my shower this morning was a tedious experience because the water flow was so anemic.

Why would a hotel not want customers to have an enjoyable and quick shower?

The answer is government.

…here we’ve forgotten. We have long lived with regulated showers, plugged up with a stopper imposed by government controls imposed in 1992. There was no public announcement. It just happened gradually. After a few years, you couldn’t buy a decent shower head. They called it a flow restrictor and said it would increase efficiency. By efficiency, the government means “doesn’t work as well as it used to.” …You can see the evidence of the bureaucrat in your shower if you pull off the showerhead and look inside. It has all this complicated stuff inside, whereas it should just be an open hole, you know, so the water could get through. The flow stopper is mandated by the federal government.

The problem isn’t just the water coming out of the showerhead. It’s the water coming into your home.

It’s not just about the showerhead. The water pressure in our homes and apartments has been gradually getting worse for two decades, thanks to EPA mandates on state and local governments. This has meant that even with a good showerhead, the shower is not as good as it might be. It also means that less water is running through our pipes, causing lines to clog and homes to stink just slightly like the sewer. This problem is much more difficult to fix, especially because plumbers are forbidden by law from hacking your water pressure.

Bureaucratic Design

So why are politicians and bureaucrats imposing these rules?

Ostensibly for purposes of conservation.

…what about the need to conserve water? Well, the Department of the Interior says that domestic water use, which includes even the water you use on your lawn and flower beds, constitutes a mere 2% of the total, so this unrelenting misery spread by government regulations makes hardly a dent in the whole. In any case, what is the point of some vague sense of “conserving” when the whole purpose of modern appliances and indoor plumbing is to improve our lives and sanitation? (Free societies have a method for knowing how much of something to use or not use; it is called the signaling system of prices.)

Jeffrey is right. If there really is a water shortage (as there sometimes is in parts of the country and world), then prices are the best way of encouraging conservation.

Now let’s dig in the archives of the Wall Street Journal for a 2010 column on the showerhead issue.

Apparently bureaucrats are irked that builders and consumers used multiple showerheads to boost the quality of their daily showers.

Regulators are going after some of the luxury shower fixtures that took off in the housing boom. Many have multiple nozzles, cost thousands of dollars and emit as many as 12 gallons of water a minute. In May, the DOE stunned the plumbing-products industry when it said it would adopt a strict definition of the term “showerhead”…

A 1992 federal law says a showerhead can deliver no more than 2.5 gallons per minute at a flowing water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch. For years, the term “showerhead” in federal regulations was understood by many manufacturers to mean a device that directs water onto a bather. Each nozzle in a shower was considered separate and in compliance if it delivered no more than the 2.5-gallon maximum.

But in May, the DOE said a “showerhead” may incorporate “one or more sprays, nozzles or openings.” Under the new interpretation, all nozzles would count as a single showerhead and be deemed noncompliant if, taken together, they exceed the 2.5 gallons-a-minute maximum.

You’ve Got to Be Kidding

And here’s something that’s both amusing and depressing.

The regulations are so crazy that an entrepreneur didn’t think they were real.

Altmans Products, a U.S. unit of Grupo Helvex of Mexico City, says it got a letter from the DOE in January and has stopped selling several popular models, including the Shower Rose, which delivers 12 gallons of water a minute. Pedro Mier, the firm’s vice president, says his customers “just like to feel they’re getting a lot of water.” Until getting the DOE letter, his firm didn’t know U.S. law limited showerhead water usage, Mr. Mier says. “At first, I thought it was a scam.”

Unsurprisingly, California is “leading” the way. Here are some passages from an article in the L.A. Times from almost two years ago.

The flow of water from showerheads and bathroom faucets in California will be sharply reduced under strict new limits approved Wednesday by the state Energy Commission. Current rules, established in 1994 at the federal level, allow a maximum flow of 2.5 gallons per minute from a shower head. Effective next July, the limit will fall to 2.0 gallons per minute and will be reduced again in July 2018, to 1.8 gallons, giving California the toughest standard of any U.S. state.

Though “toughest standard” is the wrong way to describe what’s happening. It’s actually the “worst shower” of any state.

P.S. I forget the quality of shower I experienced in South Korea, but I was very impressed (see postscript) by the toilet.

Reprinted from International Liberty.

Steadfast Czechs Fight on Against EU Gun Control

The European Union’s new restrictions on firearms ownership were finalized on May 24, when the misguided changes to the European Firearms Directive were published in the political bloc’s Official Journal. Despite this setback, the Czech Republic has made clear that the country will continue its fight for European firearms freedom.

To quickly recap, following the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, the EU expedited plans to curtail gun ownership across the political union. Of most concern to European gun owners was a new restriction on the ownership of certain types of semi-automatic firearms. However, the legislation also included more stringent requirements for member state-issued firearms licenses, and measures that implicated gun owner privacy. After significant negotiations between the European Parliament and European Council to reform the European Commission’s flawed draft, the final contours of the legislation were agreed to last December. Since the announcement of the European Commission’s draft proposal, the Czech Republic has been among the harshest critics of the gun control legislation. 

On June 14, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka announced the country’s intention to challenge the new restrictions in the European Court of Justice. Reporting on the development, Agence France-Presse quoted Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, who stated, “We cannot allow the EU to interfere in the position of member states and their citizens under the guise of fighting terrorism” adding, “I’m not happy about the complaint but we have no other option.”

The move came after deliberation by the Czech government, during which some Czech politicians were reluctant to challenge the new controls. However, throughout the process, Chovanec was adamant about the need to confront the new restrictions. On June 8, the Czech News Agency reported that the Interior Minister viewed the EU’s arguments about thwarting terrorism a “mere pretext” to impose the new controls. Expressing his severe disdain for the EU’s gun controls, Chovanec noted “In my opinion, the directive should not be implemented even if it meant that Europe will sanction the country.”

The Czech Republic has a strong tradition of civilian gun ownership and firearms manufacturing, and in recent years has made significant efforts to protect their proud heritage. In addition to confronting the changes to the European Firearms Directive directly, some Czech politicians have supported a change to the Czech constitution that would guarantee the right to keep and bear arms. Further, in July 2016, Czech President Milos Zeman expressed his support for an armed citizenry to confront terrorist threats.

The Czechs have until August 17 to file their formal complaint against the new European Firearms Directive with the European Court of Justice. NRA-ILA will continue to follow the Czechs in their crucial struggle for freedom and apprise U.S. gun owners of any new developments.

Fake Security is More Dangerous than No Security

How the “Improved Visa Waiver Program” creates the perilous illusion of security.

Once again terrorists have attacked and wounded and killed innocent civilians in London, England.

On June 3rd a terrorist attack at London Bridge and Borough Market was carried out by three apparent Jihadists who used a rented van to mow down pedestrians, whereupon the three emerged from that van and attacked still more victims with their knives.

The terrorists have applied to their attacks the principle behind Occam’s razor, that postulates that in attempting to understand how something is accomplished, the simplest solution is most likely the correct solution.

In the case of terrorists, using a simple strategy and crude weapons such as motor vehicles and knives that are readily available, decreases the likelihood that such plots can be discovered and prevented before they are carried out.

While the TSA, was created in the wake of the terror attacks of 9/11 and its FY 2017 Budget of $7.6 billion and more than 42,000 employees exist to safeguard transportation, with particular emphasis on airliners, most terror attacks do not involve airliners.

Continuing with the concept of Occam’s razor, the United States needs to do whatever is possible and reasonable to prevent international terrorists from entering the United States in the first place.

All vulnerabilities must, therefore be effectively addressed.

If an ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure, preventing the entry of such terrorists represents a ton of cure.

As I have noted in a recent article, Border Security Is National Security.

There is no shortage of ways for terrorists to enter the United States.  Recently attention has turned to the way that aliens who enter the United States through the legal inspections process at ports of entry are able to easily disappear within the United States and embed themselves in the towns and cities where they live and quietly go about their deadly preparations.

That issue and others were raised in the report issued on May 23, 2017 by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Visa Overstays: A Gap in the Nation’s Border.  That report served as the predication for my recent article.

Indeed, the 9/11 Commission noted that most terrorists enter the United States through international airports.

Given these facts it is becoming clear that President Trump’s goal of subjecting aliens seeking entry into the United States to “extreme vetting” is a matter of national security.

In fact, the 9/11 Commission found flaws in the way that visas were issued and noted that the visa adjudications process needed to be tightened up.

The Visa Waiver Program runs contrary to that important mission yet, the number of the countries whose citizens may enter the United States without first applying for visas and receiving visas continues to increase under pressure from such special interest/lobbying groups as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in spite of the fact that the nexus between visa overstays and terrorism has been well known for many years.  In fact, on May 11, 2006 I testified before a hearing conducted by the House Committee on International Relations, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on the topic, Visa Overstays: Can We Bar The Terrorist Door?

Shortly after the attacks of 9/11 the virtual mantra of our leaders was, “To be successful, the terrorists need only get it ‘right’ while our security depends on our government getting it ‘right’ 100% of the time.”

As concerns about terrorists who are citizens of countries who participate in the Visa Waiver Program increased as more terror attacks were carried out in Europe and elsewhere, the Obama administration and the Congress cooperated to modify the Visa Waiver Program through the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015.

The “improvements” to the Visa Waiver Program are illusory and designed to quell the fears and concerns of Americans while making certain that this dangerous program continues to satisfy the demands of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other such lobbying organizations who, as I have previously noted, are far more concerned with head counts on airliners than body counts in the morgue.

By creating this dangerous illusion, the stage has been set for what may be further attempts to expand this wrong-headed program rather than do what is necessary and terminate it altogether.

Here is how the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) has been modified, as noted in the official CBP website:

Under the Act, travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the VWP:

•  Nationals of VWP countries who have been present in Iraq, Syria, or countries listed under specified designation lists (currently including Iran and Sudan) at any time on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited government/military exceptions).

•  Nationals of VWP countries who have been present in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, at any time on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited government/military exceptions).

These restrictions do not apply to VWP travelers whose presence in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen was to perform military service in the armed forces of a program country, or in order to carry out official duties as a full-time employee of the government of a program country. We recommend those who have traveled to the seven countries listed above for military/official purposes bring with them appropriate documentation when traveling through a U.S. port of entry.

The vast majority of VWP-eligible travelers will not be affected by the new Act. New countries may be added to this list at the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security.

On the face of it, rendering citizens of VWP countries ineligible to enter the United States, if they had recently traveled to countries affiliated with terrorism, is a prudent measure.

However, what is the likelihood that our consular officials or our CBP inspectors at ports of entry will know if such aliens had traveled to Syria, Iraq or other such countries?

Is there truly an expectation that such aliens will show up at U.S. embassies and consulates seeking visas after freely admitting that they have made such trips to those countries?

Are we to expect, perhaps, that such individuals might show up with their transcripts in hand, attesting to their acquired prowess in the construction bombs when they attended terror training camps in the Middle East?

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its corporate friends in the hotel, travel, hospitality and manufacturing industries formed an unholy alliance, the Discover America Partnership that, nevertheless, continues to lobby for an expansion of the dangerous Visa Waiver Program, ignoring that ISIS, al-Qaeda and transnational criminals have already “discovered” America.

That partnership opposes any efforts to more effectively scrutinize foreign visitors, pushing for the admission of ever more foreign tourists, foreign students and, of course, huge increases in exploitable foreign workers to displace Americans.

My article, “Visa Waiver Program Endangers Our Safety And Security” included a list of six ways an effectively administered visa program helps combat terrorism and protect America and Americans and even enhances airliner safety.

All of those important benefits are utterly lost when aliens enter the U.S. under Visa Waiver Program.  Under this program aliens do not apply for or receive visas.

To cite a few examples as to how the visa requirement enhance national security and public safety:

Visa applications contain information and biometrics that can be essential to conducting investigations into terrorists and criminals.  Aliens who commit fraud in completing that application face up to 25 years in prison, if the purpose for applying for the visa was to further a terror goal.

Aliens who are required to have visas before traveling to the United States are not permitted to board airliners if they have no visas.  Aliens who are denied visas are subsequently barred from boarding airliners.  Richard Reid, the infamous “Shoe Bomber” was, as a British citizen, able to board the airliner destined to the United States without first receiving a visa.

Yet the Visa Waiver program persists as do the risks that this program creates for national security and public safety.

The final blow to our safety and security is provided by Lethal Sanctuary Cities that are eager to harbor and shield illegal aliens, no matter how they entered the United States, from detection by immigration law enforcement officers.

Simply stated, Sanctuary Cities Endanger – National Security and Public Safety.

National security and public safety must be the absolute priority for our government.  Illusions of security are less then worthless- they are dangerous.

The Visa Waiver Program and Sanctuary Cities must, for once and for all, be terminated.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in FrontPage Magazine.

Study: 5.7 million noncitizens may have cast illegal votes

Rowan Scarborough from The Washington Times reports:

A research group in New Jersey has taken a fresh look at postelection polling data and concluded that the number of noncitizens voting illegally in U.S. elections is likely far greater than previous estimates.

As many as 5.7 million noncitizens may have voted in the 2008 election, which put Barack Obama in the White House.

The research organization Just Facts, a widely cited, independent think tank led by self-described conservatives and libertarians, revealed its number-crunching in a report on national immigration.

Just Facts President James D. Agresti and his team looked at data from an extensive Harvard/YouGov study that every two years questions a sample size of tens of thousands of voters. Some acknowledge they are noncitizens and are thus ineligible to vote.

Read more.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in November 2016 stated, “[N]oncitizens and illegal aliens are counted when apportioning congressional districts and when allocating state electors under the Electoral College. This means noncitizens play a role in determining how many congressional representatives a state has and exert an indirect influence on presidential elections.”

FAIR reports:

Mass immigration has had a significant effect on American electoral politics. Despite the fact that it is a crime for aliens to vote in federal elections, noncitizens and illegal aliens are counted when apportioning congressional districts. This means that areas with large numbers of illegal alien residents gain additional representatives in Congress.

In addition, there is evidence that both foreign nationals who are lawfully present in the United States and illegal aliens have voted in recent elections. During this election cycle, noncitizens have been discovered on voter registration rolls in both Virginia and Pennsylvania. And the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York recently announced that it charged a Canadian woman with making a false claim to citizenship after she registered and voted in more than 20 elections.

Several past elections – for the presidency and other offices – have been extremely close. Accordingly, ballots cast by noncitizen voters have the potential to improperly alter the outcome of elections. Consider how close the 2000 presidential election was. Could the outcome have been affected by noncitizen voting? The answer is yes.

Download the PDF of this Backgrounder.

President Trump signed an executive order setting up a Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to try to find on-the-ground truth in illegal voting. The Advisory Commission is headed by Vice President Mike Pence.  The Commission’s mission:

The Commission shall, consistent with applicable law, study the registration and voting processes used in Federal elections.  The Commission shall be solely advisory and shall submit a report to the President that identifies the following:

(a)  those laws, rules, policies, activities, strategies, and practices that enhance the American people’s confidence in the integrity of the voting processes used in Federal elections;

(b)  those laws, rules, policies, activities, strategies, and practices that undermine the American people’s confidence in the integrity of the voting processes used in Federal elections; and

(c)  those vulnerabilities in voting systems and practices used for Federal elections that could lead to improper voter registrations and improper voting, including fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting.

It would seem that Democrats and Republicans alike can rally around this effort.

RELATED ARTICLES:

1.4 million illegals working under stolen Social Security numbers

Study supports Trump: 5.7 million noncitizens may have cast illegal votes

Think tank backs Trump, says large number of non-citizens vote illegally

Did Votes By Noncitizens Cost Trump The 2016 Popular Vote? Sure Looks That Way

The Loophole in Background Check Thinking: Criminals Obey the Law

Gun control groups expend an awful lot of ink, time and money advocating for “common-sense public safety laws” like “universal” background checks because such restrictions, they claim, will keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous people.

It’s peculiar, then, that many of these entities don’t do a better job of background-checking their own adherents and associates. Not too long ago, then-California state senator Leland Yee (D), whose staunch support of gun control measures earned him a spot on the Brady Campaign’s “Gun Violence Prevention Honor Roll,” was accused of committing various felonies, including illegal firearms trafficking and money laundering offenses. Following a plea agreement in which he acknowledged his participation in a firearms trafficking conspiracy, among other offenses, Yee was sentenced to five years in jail.

Members of the Michael Bloomberg-founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), now reconfigured as Everytown for Gun Safety, popped up in the news with such embarrassing regularity due to arrests and convictions for crimes, including gun crimes, that the New York Post ran an editorial in 2013 titled “Illegal mayors against guns.”

And last month, a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Illinois alleges that a certain Francisco Sanchez violated a federal gun law that prohibits possession of a firearm by a felon. The snag is that at the time, Mr. Sanchez (a.k.a. “Smokey”) was apparently working as a supervisor at CeaseFire Illinois, as highlighted in a February feature by the Everytown-funded website, The Trace.   

The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint states that Mr. Sanchez was convicted of murder and aggravated battery in 1986, and adds the more disturbing allegation that he is the “national leader of the Gangster Two-Six Nation,” a street gang “prevalent throughout Chicago” and in other states. Mr. Sanchez’s arrest occurred as part of a larger federal investigation of gang-related gun and drug trafficking in which other suspected gang members or associates were apprehended and over 100 firearms were seized.

Of course, the complaint contains only allegations, not evidence, and Mr. Sanchez and his fellow defendants remain innocent until proven guilty. However, the arrests – which took place shortly before the Memorial Day weekend – coincided with a drop in gun homicides as compared to last year’s holiday weekend.

We’ve written before about how criminals get guns, including this study at Chicago’s Cook County Jail that concluded criminals bypass legal sources in favor of guns obtained from “family, gang members, or other social connections.”

Expanded background check laws won’t stop criminals because criminals ignore the law. Nonetheless, Everytown and others of its ilk will continue to call for ever-increasing restrictions and laws affecting law-abiding gun owners in the name of prohibiting felons, violent criminals, and gang members from obtaining guns. Honest gun owners will continue to do what they’ve always done: obey the law.

NJ Court: State Can’t Criminalize Possession of ‘Pencils’ and Other Lawful Objects for Home Self-defense

It is refreshing to finally see some common sense coming out of a court in NJ, as the state is notoriously known for its illogical and Draconian gun laws that do little more than make felons out of law-abiding gun owners.

Last week, the Supreme Court of New Jersey upheld the right to lawfully possess and hold a weapon for self-defense in the home, rejecting arguments advanced by the State that would treat a citizen like a criminal for simply answering an angry knock at his own door while holding an object that was legal to possess.

The case, Montalvo v. State, arose out of a commonplace neighborhood dispute. Daleckis, downstairs of Montalvo, banged on the ceiling to let Montalvo know he was upset about the noise from upstairs. Montalvo then knocked on the Daleckis front door, and, getting no response, threw a table off their shared porch, which he acknowledged was a “stupid” thing to do. Shortly after, Daleckis went to the Montalvo apartment to confront him over the broken table. Montalvo and his wife claimed Daleckis was not just knocking but angrily kicking and slamming on their door. Uncertain of what to expect, Montalvo took the precaution of picking up a machete – used in his work as a roofer and kept with other tools – before opening the door. In the exchange that followed, Daleckis said Montalvo pointed the machete at him, while Montalvo testified he held the machete down the entire time. Both agreed, though, that Montalvo never stepped outside of his own apartment.

By the time the police arrived, the quarrel had fizzled out (Daleckis ultimately refused to provide a statement to police). Montalvo was arrested on charges that included two weapon possession offenses. The first count, possession with a purpose to use the weapon unlawfully, requires an intent to use the weapon against another’s person or property. The second was a violation of N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-5(d) (knowingly possessing the machete “under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as it may have”), which prohibits possession of a weapon other than a firearm where the defendant has not yet formed an intent to use the object as a weapon, but possesses it under circumstances in which it is likely to be so used. This second count became the focus of the litigation.

Because New Jersey law defines a “weapon” as “anything readily capable of lethal use or inflicting serious bodily injury,” Section 2C:39-5(d) criminalizes possession of ordinarily lawful objects (scissors, razors, kitchen knives) in circumstances where the possession is not “manifestly appropriate” for lawful use, regardless of the actual intent of the possessor. This offense is a fourth degree crime, punishable by between three and five years’ incarceration on conviction.

At Montalvo’s trial, the model instructions to the jury directed that only three elements were necessary for a Section 2C:39-5(d) conviction: a weapon, possessed “knowingly,” in circumstances where a reasonable person would agree the object was likely to be used as a weapon. In response to the jury’s questions about self-defense, the judge advised that self-defense could not justify possession unless the defendant had armed himself as a “spontaneous” response to repel an immediate and compelling danger – anticipatory self-defense did not qualify. So instructed, the jury found Montalvo guilty of the Section 2C:39-5(d) offense but acquitted him on the first charge, and he was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

In his appeal, Montalvo argued the jury had been misdirected on self-defense, and that his conviction criminalized the possession of an otherwise legal weapon in his home in violation of the Second Amendment. After an appellate court affirmed his conviction and sentence, Montalvo launched a further appeal to the state’s highest court, the Supreme Court of New Jersey. 

The Attorney General of New Jersey took the unusual step of filing a “friend of the court” brief in the appeal, arguing that, while citizens are entitled to possess lawful weapons in the home for self-defense, the State is concurrently authorized to regulate the manner in which these weapons are possessed. “Everyday objects, which are entirely lawful to possess in their own right, even a pencil, can be used as weapons. The Legislature did not issue a wholesale prohibition on such lawful objects, but rather sought to regulate only the circumstances under which such objects may be possessed.” (Emphasis added.) This brief, consistent with the submissions by the prosecution, claimed the Second Amendment could not apply because Montalvo’s “disproportionate” response, arming himself where there was no “actual threat,” exceeded the boundaries of the right of self-defense in the home. In furtherance of this extremely narrow interpretation, the Attorney General’s brief asked that the court modify the model jury instructions for use in future cases to clarify that weapons for active self-defense in the home could be used only if the person armed himself spontaneously to repel an immediate danger.

A unanimous Supreme Court of New Jersey rejected this outlandish approach as both unworkable and unsupported by U.S. Supreme Court decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago (extending to “all instruments that constitute bearable arms”).

Justice Fernandez-Vina, writing for the court, noted at the onset that the case did not demand “an extensive Second Amendment analysis. We need only observe that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to possess weapons, including machetes, in the home for self-defense purposes.” Montalvo’s possession of the machete was lawful and it made no difference “whether his possession was for roofing or for self-defense because either would qualify as a lawful purpose.”

The interpretation of the law promoted by the State and the Attorney General was inconsistent with the very core of this fundamental right. The right to possess a weapon in the home for self-defense would be almost useless “if one were required to keep the weapon out-of-hand, picking it up only ‘spontaneously’” when and if the circumstances made clear an immediate danger existed. Calibrating the right so exactly to the presence of an immediate danger made it impossible to hold a weapon in anticipation of such potential, but not yet imminent, threats. This did not mean Montalvo could threaten the use of a machete merely for the purpose of inciting fear in another, but it did mean he could answer his door simply holding a weapon.

The court reversed the judgment below confirming the conviction and remanded the case; at the same time, the court directed a review and revision of the jury charge for Section 2C:39-5(d) offenses. The revision language, as suggested by the court, would clarify that possession of a lawful weapon in one’s home could not form the basis of a conviction under Section 2C:39-5(d); that a person may possess, in the home, objects that serve multiple lawful purposes, including the purpose of anticipatory self-defense; and that a person who responds to the door of his home with a concealed weapon that threatens no one acts within the bounds of the law.

Although we welcome this common sense ruling by the Supreme Court of New Jersey, this case affords yet another illustration of the importance of the courts and how dependent, in practice, the exercise of Second Amendment rights is on what any particular court considers to be the boundaries of the law. Since the Supreme Court’s rulings in Heller and McDonald, there have been all too many judges that have concluded the right to keep and bear arms is some kind of second-class constitutional right.

Florida’s Medical Use of Marijuana Law

SB 8-A — Medical Use of Marijuana implements the provisions of Art. X, s. 29, of the State Constitution. The bill builds on the existing compassionate use of low-THC and medical cannabis program with additional provisions to implement the Constitutional Amendment passed by Florida voters in the 2016 General Election.

Provisions in the bill relating to patients:

  • Exempt marijuana and marijuana delivery devices from sales and use tax that would otherwise be imposed under ch. 212, F.S.
  • Establish procedures for physicians to issue physician certifications to patients who have qualifying medical conditions. The bill includes all debilitating medical conditions listed in the State Constitution as a qualifying medical condition: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating medical condition of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated. The bill also includes as a qualifying medical condition:
    • Chronic nonmalignant pain, which is defined as pain that is caused by or that originates from a qualifying medical condition and persists beyond the usual course of the qualifying medical condition.
    • A terminal condition.
  • Eliminate the 90-day waiting period before the qualified physician may register a patient as qualified to receive low-THC cannabis or medical marijuana.
  • Ensure that qualified patients can receive low-THC cannabis as well as full-THC marijuana.
  • Allow marijuana edibles and vaping, but prohibit the smoking of marijuana.
  • Establish residency requirements for patients to be issued a Medical Marijuana Use Registry Identification Card (ID card). The bill specifies documentation that must be provided to document residency, including documentation required for a seasonal resident.
  • Grandfather in existing patients from the low-THC and “right to try” programs registered in the compassionate use registry so that they may continue receiving their medication ordered through those programs.

Provisions in the bill relating to caregivers:

  • Establish qualifications to become a caregiver, which include:
    • Being at least 21 years of age and a resident of this state.
    • Agreeing in writing to assist the qualified patient and serve as the patient’s caregiver.
    • Passing a 2-hour caregiver course that is administered by the Department of Health (DOH).
    • Passing a background screening unless the patient is a close relative of the caregiver.
  • Limit the number of caregivers each patient may have and the number of patients each caregiver may assist.
  • Require a caregiver to be registered on the medical marijuana use registry and possess a caregiver identification card. The caregiver must be in immediate possession of his or her medical marijuana use registry ID card when in possession of marijuana or a marijuana delivery device and present the ID card upon the request of a law enforcement officer.
  • Require a caregiver to purchase or administer marijuana for medical use by a qualified patient who is younger than 18 years of age.
  • Prohibit a caregiver from receiving compensation, other than the actual expenses incurred, for any services provided to the qualified patient.

Provisions in the bill relating to qualified physicians and physician certifications:

  • Require a physician to complete a 2-hour course and examination relating to the requirements of this law for approval as a qualified physician. A qualified physician must also comply with a 2-hour continuing education requirement for licensure renewal.
  • Prohibit a qualified physician from being employed by, or having a direct or indirect economic interest in, a medical marijuana treatment center or marijuana testing laboratory.
  • Establish standards for a qualified physician to issue a physician certification to include:
    • Conducting a physical examination while physically present in the same room as the patient and a full assessment of the patient’s medical history.
    • Diagnosing the patient with at least one qualifying medical condition.
    • Determining, and documenting in the patient’s medical record, that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for the patient. If a patient is younger than 18, a second physician must concur with this determination and this determination must be documented in the patient’s medical record.
    • Determining, and documenting in the patient’s medical record, whether the patient is pregnant. A physician may issue a physician certification for low-THC cannabis only, to a patient who is pregnant.
    • Reviewing the patient’s controlled drug prescription history in the prescription drug monitoring program database.
    • Reviewing the medical marijuana use registry to confirm that the patient does not have an active physician certification from another qualified physician.
    • Registering as the issuer of the physician certification for the named qualified patient on the medical marijuana use registry.
    • Updating the registry with specified relevant information concerning the physician’s certification for the patient’s medical use of marijuana.
  • Limit certifications to no more than three 70-day supply limits of marijuana.
  • Require a qualified physician to evaluate an existing qualified patient at least once every 30 weeks before issuing a new physician certification for that patient.

Provisions in the bill relating to Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs):

  • Require the DOH to license the seven existing dispensing organizations as MMTCs. These MMTCs may begin dispensing marijuana pursuant to this law on July 3, 2017.
  • Require the DOH to license as MMTCs 10 applicants by October 3, 2017.
    • The first group of licensees, which are to be licensed as MMTCs by August 1, 2017, include applicants that submitted an application under the compassionate use law in 2014, which was reviewed, evaluated, and scored by the DOH; which had an administrative or judicial challenge pending as of January 1, 2017, or had a final ranking within one point of the highest final ranking in its region; which meets the requirements of this law; and can document that it has the ability to begin cultivating marijuana within 30 days after registration as an MMTC.
    • The next group of licenses must be licensed by October 3, 2017. These applicants must submit an application to be reviewed, evaluated, and scored for selection to be licensed as an MMTC. Within this group, one license must be awarded to an applicant that is a recognized class member of specified litigation and a member of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association-Florida Chapter. All applicants must meet the requirements of this law. In the scoring of applications, the DOH is directed to give preference for up to two of these new licenses to applicants that demonstrate in their applications that they own and will use or convert a facility or facilities that are, or were, used for the processing of citrus fruit or citrus molasses for the processing of marijuana.
  • Require the DOH to license four additional MMTCs within 6 months after the medical marijuana use registry contains 100,000 active qualified patients, and upon each additional 100,000 active qualified patient registrations.
  • Limit MMTCs to 25 dispensing facilities statewide until the medical marijuana use registry contains 100,000 active qualified patients. When that occurs, an additional five dispensing facilities are authorized for each licensed MMTC.
    • Upon each additional 100,000 active qualified patient registrations, an additional five dispensing facilities are authorized for each licensed MMTC.
    • The bill also requires each MMTC to locate its authorized dispensing facilities within five regions statewide according to county population estimates for the counties within each region.
    • An MMTC that chooses not to establish a dispensing facility within a region as authorized, may sell that regional slot to another MMTC.
    • These limitations on dispensing facilities expire on April 1, 2020.
  • Detail requirements for MMTC applicants and standards that each MMTC must meet to obtain and maintain licensure; including a diversity plan that promotes and ensures the involvement of minority persons, minority business enterprises, or veteran business enterprises.
  • Authorize alternate forms of assets to satisfy the performance bond requirements.
  • Require an MMTC to perform all functions of cultivating, processing, transporting, and dispensing marijuana for medical use; including ensuring that low-THC is available for the medical use of qualified patients.
  • Require MMTC processing facilities to pass a Food Safety Good Manufacturing Practices inspection by a nationally recognized certifying body.
  • Require laboratory testing of MMTC products and create a certification program for medical marijuana testing laboratories.
  • Establish standards for advertising and requirements for a professional appearance and operation of dispensing facilities.
  • Require background screening of MMTC owners, officers, board members, managers, and employees, and of medical marijuana testing laboratory owners and managers.
  • Authorize a change of ownership for an MMTC under specified parameters and prohibit ownership in multiple MMTCs or certain profit-sharing arrangements.
  • Preempt the regulation of cultivation and processing of marijuana to the state.
  • Authorize local governments to ban MMTC dispensing facilities within their borders. However, if a local government does not ban dispensing facilities, it may not place any restrictions on the number of dispensing facilities allowed within its jurisdiction. Also, it may not adopt any regulations or fees for dispensing facilities that are more restrictive than its ordinances regulating pharmacies.

Additional provisions in the bill:

  • Establish administrative, disciplinary, or criminal penalties for prohibited acts by physicians, patients, caregivers, MMTCs, medical marijuana testing laboratories, and other persons. These prohibited acts include, but are not limited to:
    • A qualified patient or caregiver cultivating marijuana or acquiring marijuana from anyone other than an MMTC.
    • A qualified patient or caregiver in possession of marijuana or a marijuana delivery device who fails or refuses to present his or her marijuana use registry identification card upon the request of a law enforcement officer. However the bill includes certain mitigating actions that may enable a patient or caregiver to avoid prosecution.
    • An MMTC providing kickbacks to a qualified physician.
    • Unlicensed activity.
    • Counterfeiting marijuana or a marijuana delivery device purporting it to be from a licensed MMTC.
    • Possessing or making a counterfeit or otherwise unlawfully issued medical marijuana use registry identification card.
  • Authorize the DOH to pursue certain enforcement action for violations of this law.
  • Specify that this act does not limit an employer’s ability regarding a drug-free workplace program or policy, does not require an employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in the workplace or an employee working while under the influence of marijuana, does not create a cause of action against an employer for wrongful discharge or discrimination, and that marijuana is not reimbursable under ch. 440, F.S., relating to workers’ compensation.
  • Require the DOH and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to establish public educational campaigns related to the medical use of marijuana.
  • Require the Department of Law Enforcement to develop initial training and continuing education for law enforcement agencies relating to activities governed by this law and criminal laws governing marijuana.
  • Create the Coalition for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Education (Coalition) to conduct rigorous scientific research, provide education, disseminate research, and to guide policy development for the adoption of a statewide policy on ordering and dosing practices for the medicinal use of cannabis.
  • Include rulemaking and other provisions to aid the DOH in adopting rules and implementing the provisions of Amendment 2 within the time frame specified in the amendment.
  • Require each district school board to adopt a policy and procedure for allowing a student who is a qualified patient to use marijuana obtained pursuant to this law.
  • Rename the Office of Compassionate Use in the DOH, the Office of Medical Marijuana Use.
  • Rename the compassionate use registry, the medical marijuana use registry.
  • Provide a severability clause so that if any provision of the act or its application is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications which can still be given effect.
  • Include appropriations for the state 2017-2018 fiscal year for the DOH, the education programs, and the Coalition.

Amid Efforts to Impeach, Trump is Winning for America

Vice President Mike Pence said nothing touches and encourages himself and president Trump more than hearing Americans say they are praying for them. Folks, given president Trump’s superhuman focus on winning for America while enduring unprecedented vitriolic attacks from all sides, I’d say our prayers are working.

After months on the road working to elect conservatives in special elections, I’m back home. I ran into my favorite bank teller, a middle-aged Hispanic woman. “Oh Mr Marcus, it is so good to see you.” Folks, I was taken aback as she began expressing her extremely heartfelt thanks for my working to elect Trump and the work I do around the country. Frankly, I was stunned by how much Trump winning meant to her. Fake news media will never understand the phenomenal connection Trump has with a majority of the American people. They (We the People) get it. They know Obama was destroying our country. They know Trump is committed to bringing us back from the edge of destruction and they are extremely excited and grateful. None of fake news media’s 24/7 attempts to politically assassinate Trump is working — quite the opposite.

Who could have imagined that Trump’s Washington DC inexperience would be one of his greatest strengths. Trump governs free of pro-politician political correctness. A gifted businessman, Trump is instinctively using his talent; making deals good for America while getting us out of deals bad for America. Case in point, Trump pulled us out of the disastrous Paris climate deal. 

Meanwhile, Washington DC establishment elites are outraged, “That’s not how we do things in this town. Trump can’t say that! Trump can’t do that! How dare Trump speak directly to the American people via tweets!”

I’ve heard talking heads supposedly on our side say they wish Trump would conform more to traditional presidential behavior. I say Trump is doing just fine being 100% Trump. He has made remarkable positive changes in 100 days that would have taken other Republicans 10 years. Whenever Republicans win elections they are advised to move slowly and be careful not to anger Leftists too much to avoid fake news media backlash.

America’s number one radio personality, Rush Limbaugh said, “If what you do relies on talent, you will never be your best doing it someone else’s way.” Based on his proven talent, I trust Trump to govern his way as long as he functions according to our Constitution. I could not care less that Washington insiders view him as a bull in their Washington DC china store. Break more stuff Mr President. Please break more stuff.

Leftists worldwide are so obsessed with removing Trump from office and blocking his agenda, they appear to have suspended interest in all else.

The Left was brutally tough on Sarah Palin; everything out of her mouth was spun to brand her an idiot. Compared to how the Left is relentlessly going after Trump, Palin was treated with kid gloves.

Though under reported we are winning in unprecedented ways under president Trump.

Trump appointing Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education was huge for America, a serious blow to Leftists’ government indoctrination of our kids. Though high-tech bludgeoned by Leftists, DeVos strongly advocates restoring parent’s rights. 

Along with the confirmation of conservative Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, Trump just nominated 11 new conservative federal judges. These are awesome selections with long term positive effects.

Trump has rolled back a ton of Obama’s overreaching stupid job-killing and economy-dragging regulations.

Keeping his campaign promises and rolling back Obama’s mess, Trump has signed a remarkable list of executive orders.

During his Infrastructure speech at the Department of Transportation, Trump expressed his desire to cut absurd regulations. Trump said,

“It is time at last to put America first. No longer can we allow these rules and regulations to tie down our economy, chain up our prosperity and sap our great American spirit.”

Wow, now that’s what I am talkin’ about folks — ignore fake news media’s lies. We are winning under Trump. We are winning.

Displaying arrogant wickedness, Democrats are boldly lying to the American people, falsely accusing Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors. They have taken their first legislative steps to remove Trump from office by drafting articles of impeachment. 

Leftist law professor Marjorie Cohn absurdly said Trump pulling us out of the Paris climate deal is an impeachable offense. These people on the left are deranged. Still, they must be taken seriously and blocked. If allowed, Democrats and fake news media will impeach our president based totally on lies. 

I am confident we who love America will remain firmly entrenched in our support for our president.

Thanks to God and Trump’s talent, we are winning.

The Politically Hopeless, Completely Incoherent, and Totally Lame Economic Agenda of the Democratic Party by John Tamny

n a column from December of 2015, the Wall Street Journal’s Mary O’Grady unveiled an inconvenient fact that poverty warriors on the American left and right would perhaps prefer remain hidden: from 1980 to 2000, when the U.S. economy boomed, the number of Mexican arrivals into the U.S. grew from 2.2 million in 1980 to 9.4 million in 2000. The previous number is a clear market signal that the U.S. is where poverty has always been cured, as opposed to a condition that requires specific U.S. policy fixes.

O’Grady’s statistics came to mind while reading a recent New York Times column by Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He writes that a “highly progressive agenda [from Democratic scholars and politicians] has been coming together in recent months, one with the potential to unite both the Hillary and Bernie wings of the party, to go beyond both Clintonomics and Obamanomics.”The problem is that the agenda that’s got Bernstein so giddy has nothing to do with the very economic growth that is always the source of rising economic opportunity for the poor, middle and rich.

More Welfare

Up front, Bernstein expresses excitement about a $190 billion (annually) program that he describes as a “universal child allowance.” The allowance would amount to annual federal checks sent to low-income families of $3,000/child. It all sounds so compassionate on its face to those who think it kind for Congress to spend the money of others, but given a second look even the mildly sentient will understand that economic opportunity never springs from a forcible shift of money from one pocket to another. If it were, theft would be both legal and encouraged.

The very economic growth in the U.S. that has long proven a magnet for the world’s poorest springs not from wealth redistribution, but instead from precious capital being matched with entrepreneurs eager to transform ideas into reality. Just as the U.S. economy wouldn’t advance if Americans with odd-numbered addresses stealthily ‘lifted’ $3,000 each from those with even-numbered addresses, neither will it grow if the federal government is the one taking from some, only to give to others.

Economic progress always and everywhere springs from investment, yet Bernstein is arguing with a straight face that the U.S.’s poorest will be better off if the feds extract $190 billion of precious capital from the investment pool. As readers can probably imagine, he doesn’t stop there.

Government Jobs

Interesting is that Bernstein’s next naïve suggestion involves “direct job creation policies, meaning either jobs created by the government or publicly subsidized private employment.” Ok, but all jobs are a function of private wealth creation as Bernstein unwittingly acknowledges given his call for resource extraction from the private sector in order to create them.

This begs the obvious question why economic opportunity would be enhanced if the entrepreneurial and business sectors had less in the way of funds to innovate with. But that’s exactly what Bernstein is seeking through his $190 billion “universal child allowance,” not to mention his call for more “jobs created by the government.”Stating what’s obvious even to Bernstein, government can’t create any work absent private sector wealth, so why not leave precious resources in the hands of the true wealth creators? Precisely because they’re wealth focused, funds kept in their control will be invested in ways that foster much greater opportunity than can politicians consuming wealth created by others.

Contradictions Abound

Still, Bernstein plainly can’t see just how contradictory his proposals are; proposals that explicitly acknowledge where all opportunity emerges from. Instead, he calls for more government programs. Specifically, he’s proposing a $1 trillion expansion of the “earned-income tax credit” meant to pay Americans to go to work.

As he suggests, the $1 trillion of funds extracted from the productive parts of the economy would lead to family of four tax credits of $6,000 in place of the “current benefit of about $2,000.” Ok, but what goes unexplained here is why we need to pay those residing in the U.S. to work in the first place.

What gives life to the above question is the previously mentioned influx of Mexican strivers into the U.S. during the U.S. boom of the 80s and 90s. What the latter indicated clearly is that economic growth itself is the greatest enemy poverty has ever known. It also indicated that work is available to those who seek it, and even better, the work available is quite a bit more remunerative than one could find anywhere else in the world.

Rest assured that the U.S. hasn’t historically experienced beautiful floods of immigration because opportunity stateside was limited. People come here because the U.S. is once again the country in which the impoverished can gradually erase their poverty thanks to abundant work opportunities. If Mexicans who frequently don’t speak English can improve their economic situations in the U.S., why on earth would the political class pay natives who do speak the language to pursue the very work that is the envy of much of the rest of the world?Put rather simply, those who require payment above and beyond their wage to get up and go in the morning have problems that have nothing to do with a lack of work, and everything to do with a lack of initiative. Importantly, handouts from Washington logically won’t fix what is a problem of limp ambition. At best, they’ll exacerbate what Bernstein claims to want to fix.

Inequality Hurts No One

Most comical is Bernstein’s assertion that the tax credits will allegedly mitigate “the damage done to low- and moderate-wage earners by the forces of inequality that have steered growth away from them” in modern times. What could he possibly mean? The U.S. has long been very unequal economically, yet the world’s poorest have consistently risked their lives to get here precisely because wealth gaps most correlate with opportunity.

Translated, investment abundantly flows to societies where individuals are free to pursue what most elevates their talents (yes, pursuit of what makes them unequal), and with investment comes work options for everyone. Doubters need only travel to Seattle and Silicon Valley, where the world’s five most valuable companies are headquartered, to see up close why the latter is true.

Similarly glossed over by this confused economist is that rising inequality is the surest sign of a shrinking lifestyle inequality between the rich and poor. We work in order to get, and thanks to rich entrepreneurs more and more Americans have instant access at incessantly falling prices to the computers, mobile phones, televisions, clothing and food that were once solely the preserve of the rich.Just once it would be nice if Bernstein and the other class warriors he runs with would explain how individual achievement that leads to wealth harms those who aren’t rich. What he would find were he to replace emotion with rationality is that in capitalist societies, people generally get rich by virtue of producing abundance for everyone. In short, we need more inequality, not less, if the goal is to improve the living standards of those who presently earn less.

Remarkably, Bernstein describes the ideas presented as “bold” and “progressive,” but in truth, they’re the same lame-brained policies of redistribution that the left have been promoting for decades. And as they’re anti-capital formation by Bernstein’s very own admission, they’re also inimical to the very prosperity that has long made the U.S. the country where poverty is cured. To be clear, if this is the best the Democrats have, they’ll long remain in the minority.

John Tamny

John Tamny

John Tamny is a Forbes contributor, editor of RealClearMarkets, a senior fellow in economics at Reason, and a senior economic adviser to Toreador Research & Trading. He’s the author of the 2016 book Who Needs the Fed? (Encounter), along with Popular Economics (Regnery Publishing, 2015).

My Visit to Cuba — An American in Havana

Billboard at the José Martí International Airport

I had the opportunity to visit Cuba. I flew via Southwest Airlines from Tampa International Airport to the José Martí International Airport in Havana, Cuba on June 4th and returned on June 9th, 2017.

After my short visit to Cuba I now fully understand why I spent my entire 23 years in the U.S. Army fighting against Communism.

Cuba is the poster child for Communism (i.e. socialism). It is a country with full control of its people by their government. Arriving was like an episode of the Twilight Zone where I was transported back to the 1950s. The 26th of July Movement began in July 1953 and ended when rebels finally ousted Cuban President Fulgencio Batista on 1 January 1959. Not much has improved for the Cuban people since then.

The graffiti, in the featured image above, reads, “Cuba, socialism or death!” I saw this graffiti along with pictures of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara throughout the country. On highway billboards, on the walls of buildings, in government museums and in the public square. It is a constant reminder to the Cuban people of where their loyalty lies – to defend Communism at all cost, and the cost is high, very high.

The greatest threat to the survival of the Cuban people is “socialismo.”

ITS THE ECONOMY STUPID!

As former Bill Clinton said, “It’s the economy stupid!” For the Cuban people it truly is the economy, stupid.

Perhaps a few of my first hand experiences in Cuba will help those who favor big government understand where “socialismo” leads.

One of the things some people, many of whom have never visited Cuba, tout is their “excellent” healthcare system. Let me explain about the Cuban single payer government healthcare system. First, every visitor to Cuba must purchase health insurance from the Cuban government. For example, the cost of my health insurance was automatically included in the price of my plane ticket. So how much does the Cuban government pay its doctors to provide universal healthcare? The salary of a doctor is $30 a month.

In 2013 Brazil hired 4,000 doctors from Cuba to “work in areas where medical services and physicians are scarce.” These Cuban doctors were to be paid approximately $30,000 a year to provide medical services to remote areas of Brazil. According to U.S. News & World Report, “Analysts say the export of medical services adds about $6 billion a year to Cuba’s economy.”

How does this work? Brazil paid the Cuban government the $30,000 annual salaries of the Cuban doctors and the Cuban government then paid the doctors $30 a month or $360 a year. This equates to an 83% profit for the Cuban government. Not surprisingly many of these Cuban doctors sought asylum in Brazil to be paid what they actually earned, $30,000.

In socialist governments the “minimum wage” inextricably becomes the prevailing wage.

It’s the economy stupid.

WORKING IN THE CUBAN TOURISM INDUSTRY

In 1991, after the fall of the former Soviet Union, the Cuban economy collapsed because economic aid provided by the Russians ended. More recently Cuba’s main international commercial partners—Venezuela, Brazil, China—have lost their appetites for subsidizing the anemic Cuban economy, lending a new urgency to grow perennially lethargic exports, and forcing the Cuban authorities to look for new sources of foreign exchange – tourism.

As U.S. News & World Report noted, “[T]ourism, the official No. 1 source of incoming cash, brought in $2.5 billion in 2011, according to the most recent statistics available.”

With the opening of tourism to U.S. citizens this incoming cash has increased. According to the Brookings Institute, “In the wake of the December 2014 rapprochement, the United States significantly relaxed restrictions on U.S. travel to the island, and prospective tourists in other nations saw Cuba in a new light. As a result, tourist arrivals jumped by over 16 percent in 2015 to 3.5 million. U.S. travelers, including those from the Cuban diaspora, now amount to roughly 14 percent of new arrivals, and are expected to nearly double in 2016.”

Our party was nine individuals, all U.S. citizens. We stayed in a large villa, owned by a Spanish citizen, located near embassy row in Havana. The villa could accommodate up to 14 people and came with a staff of five. The cost, including breakfast, for the villa was $10,000. We also hired two drivers with vans to take our party to various sites within Cuba. The cost to hire the two drivers amounted to an additional $2,000.

The manager of the villa was paid $15 a month, with individual staff members paid less. The manager went to Havana University and became a statistician. The manager for a number of years was a professor but decided to work in the tourism industry because the pay was better.

During our stay I went on a one-hour carriage ride through the heart of Havana. I paid the driver of the carriage $30 for two people to ride in his horse drawn carriage. The driver made $30 in one hour. This one carriage driver made as much in one hour as does a doctor working in a Havana hospital who earns $30 a month.

Given the price our party paid to rent the villa and the clear disparity between the wages of those in the tourism industry and the prevailing wage, in Communist Cuba it truly is the economy, stupid.

WORKING IN THE FARMING INDUSTRY

Tobacco rancho in the Vinales valley. Note the picture of Che Guevara on the water tank.

To meet the Cuban people we decided to travel outside of Havana. Our group visited a tobacco rancho (farm) about 200 kilometers west of Havana located in the Vinales Valley, the heart of tobacco growing in Cuba. It is in Vinales Valley that Cuban farmers grow what is considered the finest cigar tobacco in the world.

The farm we visited has been owned by a Cuban family for generations. We went into a tobacco curing barn and we received a talk about how the tobacco seeds were planted, how the plants were cultivated and how the tobacco was grown, harvested and then cured for a full year or more. We then went to another gazebo type structure to see how cigars are rolled.

The tobacco farmer told us that every year he must send 90% of his tobacco crop to the government where it is processed and made into Cuban cigars for sale and export.

So how does the farmer survive with just 10% of his crop as his reward for all of his and his families hard work?

He produces his own cigars and sells them to tourists. This is a limited form of capitalism in a repressive socialist society. The farmer partnered with a local tour guide to bring foreign visitors to his farm to see his work, try and buy his cigars. His cigars do not have a label like the government brand Cohiba. The government forbids him from branding his cigars and putting them into boxes. This farmer sells his cigars in packets made from palm leaves holding 14 or 20 cigars.

A Cohiba cigar sold in Cuban government stores costs from $20 to $30 per cigar. This farmer sells his cigars for $3 each. His cigars are no different than those made in government factories, except his are better. His cigars are cured longer, he removes the stem of the tobacco leaf, which contains all of the nicotine, and wraps them in paper for five days to further age them.

This one farmer selling one pack of 20 cigars makes $60 or twice the monthly salary of a doctor. While there our party alone bought 6 packs of 20 cigars or $360 worth of cigars. There were a dozen other tourists at the farm when we arrived. Many of them also bought his cigars. Capitalism works, even in a socialist society.

It’s the economy stupid.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Cuban people I spoke with were friendly toward us Americans. Those who provided us with personal services whether in local restaurants, while on tours, our drivers and those who took care of us where we stayed were professional, hard working and kind.

But Cuba’s desire to be a tourist attraction is waning. MarketWatch’s Kari Paul reports:

A flash of excitement about travel to Cuba after the country opened its borders to the U.S. in 2016 for the first time in decades may have lost some of its shine.

Americans are less interested in travel to Cuba this year than they were in 2016, a survey from insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance found. Some 76% of the 1,514 respondents said they were not likely to plan a trip to Cuba in 2017 compared to 70% in 2016. Only 2% of those surveyed planned to visit Cuba in the next six months or by the end of 2017, the same as 2016 despite a projected increase in travelers from the country’s ministry of tourism. It also found that 60% of Americans said “would not like to travel to Cuba” compared to just 58% in 2016.

[ … ]

Indeed, the initial excitement about the formerly closed off country gave way to moral dilemmas over food shortages and other problems caused by tourism, as well as disappointment over limited working internet, lower hotel standards, and lack of running water there. The Allianz study found lack of travel infrastructure was a major cause of anxiety about traveling to Cuba for 13% of Americans.

The slide in demand has led a number of airlines to reduce or completely eliminate flights to the country, including Silver Airways, a Florida-headquartered domestic airline that dropped all nine of its planned routes to Cuba. Frontier is dropping its Miami-Havana route by June 4, after costs in Havana “significantly exceeded our initial assumptions,” a spokesman told MarketWatch. Spirit Airlines will drop its last flight to Cuba by June 1: “The costs of serving Havana continue to outweigh the demand for service,” Spirit Airlines  president and chief executive officer of Bob Fornaro said in April.

Sumers suggested confusion over the approved reasons to go to Cuba is keeping the average American visitor away still. As of May 2017, visitors to the country have to select one of 12 categories for their visit, which include religious activities, humanitarian projects, “support for the Cuban people,” and journalistic activities. “You can’t go to Cuba to sit on the beach and have fun and that’s what Americans like to do on vacation,” he said. “Cuba is a bit of an outlier still — it is not easy to visit and for a lot of people it’s still a pain. You have to really want to go there.”

What I observed is that the Cuban people have great potential if they are unleashed and allowed to earn what they are truly worth. Socialismo is slowly but surely killing their lives and doing them great harm. I noticed on the ride West of Havana through the rural areas of Cuba hundreds of people waiting along the road trying to get a ride. Some were nurses in their white uniforms thumbing rides to the hospital where they are needed. I saw horse drawn carriages along the major highway carrying people because the public transportation system cannot keep up with the demand. The horses and cattle we saw were emaciated. The roads were in poor shape including the national highway system.

As one Cuban man put it, “the people have no love for their work.” They have no love for their work because Cuba needs a change in direction. Raul Castro has announced that he will step down as President of Cuba in February 2018. This is a chance for Cuba to change direction. To move to a capitalistic society where the individual benefits from what he or she produces, not the government. However, the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research reports:

The Cuban media has been emphasizing that Raul Castro is leaving power. He announced in 2016 that he would be stepping down as President in 2018. Yet, he was reelected for five years as Secretary General of Cuba’s Communist Party and will remain as head of Cuba’s Armed Forces. The position of President, which will become mostly ceremonial, will be held by Miguel Diaz Canel, a low-level Communist Party bureaucrat with little military or public support.

In Cuba, power resides in the military and the Politburo of the Communist Party, both of which will continue to be controlled by Raul and his military comrades.

We shall see what happens in February 2018. The great fear among those to whom I spoke with is the new leadership will keep the ways of the old regime.

Socialismo o Muerte (socialism or death) must be replaced with Liberar al pueblo cubano (free the Cuban people).

RELATED ARTICLES:

Report: Trump Poised to Reverse Obama’s Cuba Policies – Townhall

Myths About Cuba

This is why American tourists don’t want to travel to Cuba

F Stands for Fail: Washington Post Flip-Flops on Suppressors

The Washington Post — in one of its rare reversions to journalism – recently issued a fact check that handed Americans for Responsible Solutions and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) three Pinocchios for overstating the noise-canceling properties of firearm suppressors. “There is little that’s quiet about a firearm with a silencer, unless one also thinks a jackhammer is quiet,” the report concluded. 

The context was the debate over the Hearing Protection Act (HPA). This bill would treat suppressors as if they were ordinary firearms for federal regulatory purposes, rather than the current practice of treating their sales as if they were machine guns, which are subject to much more cumbersome rules designed to discourage ownership. 

Suppressors’ popularity has increased exponentially in recent years, as firearm owners have embraced the health-promoting and experience-enhancing benefits of their use.

And while they do decrease the report of firearms, they do not, as the Post fact check accurately reported, render them anywhere near “silent.”

Who could possibly argue with technology that can reduce hearing loss associated with firearm use? Certainly not the Washington Post, which in its March 20 fact check stated, “We obviously take no position on whether this proposed law would be good or bad …. “

Obviously. 

Only that wasn’t so obvious to Washington Post’s editorial board (which at least formally is still separate from the paper’s reporting bureaus, although practically speaking editorializing and reporting have become nearly one in the same at the paper). 

Nine days after the fact check was published – shooting down, as it were, the main argument against the HPA (that gunshots would become undetectable) – the Washington Post did a 180 degree turn and editorialized against the bill. The HPA, it claimed, would repeal “one of the oldest and most effective firearms controls on the books.”

Effective how, exactly? Well, according to the Post, “Silencers are almost never used in murders and other crimes under the current restrictive law, but certainly they would be used in more crimes if there were more of them in circulation.” 

But in fact suppressor use in crime hasn’t perceptibly increased at all, even as the number of suppressors legally owned in America has nearly doubled in the last three years (the Post itself put the current number at “about 900,000,” while CNN reported it was 571,750 in March 2014). Figure in the mountain of unprocessed applications, as ATF struggles with a months-long backlog, and the actual number legally in circulation would already be considerably higher. 

And if the HPA were to become law, retail sales of suppressors would still have to be processed by federally licensed dealers, with the buyer undergoing a background check and filling out the associated paperwork that would allow for tracing of the device if it were recovered at the scene of a crime.

The Post insists that “Congress should tell the NRA to go away and not come back unless and until it has waged a serious campaign to get recreational shooters to take precautions ….” 

Really, Washington Post? We invited you, along with other news outlets, to come out to our headquarters – maybe a 30 minute drive from your own – to see exactly how suppressors work and exactly what sort of safety precautions we teach people who use firearms. 

You can find these safety precautions posted to our website. They include the admonition:

Wear eye and ear protection as appropriate.
Guns are loud and the noise can cause hearing damage.

Rules like this have been part of NRA training programs for over a 100 years.

And if you need hearing protection, you can easily buy it at the NRA Store. We’ll even throw in additional foam ear plugs at the range for free, if you want them, as we do for all of our visitors. 

But you didn’t know that, because you refused our invitation (unlike your peers), and you didn’t conduct the minimal research a competent third grade teacher would demand of any student before writing your silly, hypocritical, flip-flopping editorial. 

In this case you were right before you were wrong. But while half-credit may be good enough for your brand of journalism, it still earns an F from us. And that stands for FAIL. 

8 Big-Government Policies that Hurt the Poor by Patrick Tyrrell

It’s clear that many big government policies are creating winners and losers in America.

The story has been the same for decades. Government makes friends with a company or an industry, blocks out the competition with regulation, and in some cases gives the company subsidies.

Such cronyism is bad for innovators and for consumers. But fewer people realize that it’s also bad for the poor. A recent report from The Heritage Foundation detailed 23 of these big government policies that hurt the poor, and provided concrete ways to address them.

Winners and losers from big government policies are not always clear. And yet for some crony policies, the winners and losers are very clear. The winners are a small group of identifiable government cronies, while the losers include people of little or no influence with the government.

Here is a look at eight big government policies from the report that benefit government cronies at the expense of other groups of people, including the poor.

1. Renewable Fuel Standard

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandated that renewable fuels be mixed into America’s gasoline supply, primarily by using corn-based ethanol. Then, the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Acts significantly increased the amount that must be mixed in.

This mandate is known as the Renewable Fuel Standard. It forces the use of higher levels of biofuels than the market would otherwise bear. The result has been higher food and fuel prices.

Who Wins: Corn farmers, soybean farmers, and biofuel companies.

Who Loses: Consumers of gasoline, consumers of food, and farmers that rely on feedstock and restaurants.

2. Federal Sugar Program

The federal government tries to limit the supply of sugar that is sold in the United States.

This federal sugar program uses a combination of price supports, marketing allotments that limit how much sugar processors can sell each year, and import restrictions that reduce the amount of imports.

As a result, the price of American sugar is consistently higher than world prices.

Who WinsSugar growers and sugar harvesters.

Who Loses: Workers in sugar-using industries, and consumers of food (including bread) that contains sugar.

3. Catfish Inspection Program

As a result of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s catfish inspection program, the USDA inspects catfish while the Food and Drug Administration inspects all other seafood.

This creates duplication because seafood processing facilities that produce both catfish and any other seafood will have to deal with two different types of seafood regulatory schemes instead of just one.

This program also creates a non-tariff trade barrier that will make it extremely difficult for foreign catfish exporters to export to the U.S., likely reducing competition for the domestic catfish industry.

Who WinsDomestic catfish producers.

Who Loses: Domestic catfish consumers.

4. The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (the Jones Act)

The Merchant Marine Act – nicknamed after Sen. Wesley Jones, R-Wash. – requires the use of domestically built ships when transporting goods between U.S. ports. The ships must also be U.S.-owned, and mostly U.S.-crewed.

Who WinsThe U.S. domestic shipping industry.

Who Loses: The U.S. military, automobile drivers, users of propane and heating oil, and anyone benefitting from the trade and transportation of goods between U.S. ports.

5. Occupational Licensure

Licensure laws create government requirements for being allowed to practice a profession. These requirements exist even though the market would produce certification options if consumers desired such information.

Who WinsWorkers who have already obtained licenses.

Who Loses: People wanting to work who can’t because they don’t have a license, and consumers who have to pay higher prices for services.

6. Economic Development Takings

On June 23, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Kelo v. City of New London that the government can seize private property and transfer it to another private party for economic development.

This type of taking was deemed to be for “public use” and ruled a proper use of the government’s eminent domain power under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Who Wins: People who successfully lobby the government to seize other people’s property for financial gain.

Who LosesProperty owners who have their property seized.

7. Home-Sharing Regulations

Local governments sometimes ban or excessively regulate home-sharing – that is, renting out one’s home to accommodate travelers, such as through Airbnb.

When this happens, consumers have less choices of where to stay when traveling, hotels can charge higher prices, and homeowners and renters can’t make full use of their legally possessed homes to earn income for themselves.

Who WinsHotel employee union lobbies, and the hotel industry.

Who Loses: Homeowners and renters.

8. Ride-Sharing Regulations

In some state and local jurisdictions (such as outside Portland, Oregon; Alaska; and Austin, Texas), the government bans or heavily regulates ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft.

These companies are popping up all over because they meet consumers’ needs, but they are being held down in certain cities where the government backs the establishment industry.

Who WinsTraditional taxicab companies.

Who Loses: Uber, Lyft, and drivers looking for low barriers to entry; taxicab customers; customers who want to go in or out of certain neighborhoods that traditional taxi drivers avoid; and users of public transportation seeking to complete the “last mile” of their trips.

When industries or groups win special favors from politicians at the expense of ordinary Americans and the poor, it is an affront to freedom – especially to the economic freedom of the poor.

Policies that drive up prices – especially of commodities – are harder to absorb if you are poor.

The policies listed above can block off the only escape route that poor people have from poverty, preventing them from doing what they are good at for a living, for example, or from renting out their home or other property.

All Americans should have the same opportunities open to them. But when government cronyism rears its ugly head, they don’t.

Those who fall on the losing side of cronyism are more likely to agree with President Ronald Reagan when he said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

Reprinted from Daily Signal.

Patrick Tyrrell

Patrick Tyrrell is a research coordinator in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis.

EDITORS NOTE: Get trained for success by leading entrepreneurs.  Learn more at FEEcon.org

Church and State

The true relationship between church and state might surprise a few people.

RELATED ARTICLES: 

Gay Effort to Reintroduce Slavery in the South Fails

CBS: 800 Churches Nationwide Harbor Illegal Immigrants

President Trump Does a 180 on Obama’s Offshore Energy Policy

Here’s what a real “All-of-the-above” energy strategy looks like, and all it took was a stroke of a pen.

Unlike his predecessor, President Donald Trump is embracing American energy abundance. His latest action is an executive order reviewing President Barack Obama’s lock-down on offshore energy:

“Today we’re unleashing American energy and clearing the way for thousands and thousands of high paying American energy jobs,” said Trump, flanked by Republican lawmakers from energy-producing states during a White House signing ceremony.

“Our country is blessed with incredible natural resources including abundant offshore oil and natural gas resources, but the federal government has kept 94% of these offshore areas closed for exploration and production,” he said. “This deprives our country of potentially thousands and thousands of jobs and billions in wealth.”

The directive, known as the America First Offshore Energy Strategy, directs Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review the current five-year development plan on the Outer Continental Shelf for offshore oil and gas exploration as well as review the regulations and permitting process for development and seismic research.

The E.O. reviews every offshore area and could lead to future opportunities in the Mid-Atlantic, the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and off Alaska’s coast. In other words, there will be a comprehensive, strategic look at how we can safely develop all our offshore energy resources–oil, natural, gas, and wind.

Map of U.S. offshore oil and natural gas resources

Source: American Petroleum Institute.

Specifically about the Arctic, the E.O. reverses President Obama’s attempt to permanently block future energy development in the Arctic Ocean. This could open the door to accessing the 34 billion barrels of oil and the 60 billion barrels (equivalent) of natural gas below the Arctic coast of the U.S.

National Petroleum Council chart on Arctic energy resources.

Source: National Petroleum Council.

What’s more, not only does the E.O. re-evaluate what areas would be open to offshore energy development, but it also reviews nearly a dozen Interior Department rules issued by the Obama administration.

All in all it’s a benefit for energy security. “President Trump has made it clear that developing and producing more American energy is a win for the economy and for American families,” said Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. “We whole heartedly agree.”

MORE ARTICLES ON:ENERGY

RELATED ARTICLES: 

California again leads list with 6 of the top 10 most polluted U.S. cities

The State of American Energy is Strong

This Experiment Could Mean Big Things for Oil in Alaska