Homeland Security Uncovers Massive Immigration Failures

The devastating consequences for national security.

President Trump has been rightfully demanding that aliens who are citizens of countries that have an involvement with terrorism must undergo “extreme vetting.”

This is certainly an important and commonsense requirement. However, the computer systems used by both Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) inside the United States are unable to provide CBP inspectors at ports of entry the data they need to prevent transnational criminals and international terrorists from entering the country. Nor can these systems provide the vital information and records to USCIS adjudications officers that would allow them to prevent aliens present in the United States from improperly acquiring immigration benefits such as political asylum, lawful immigrant status and even United States citizenship.

Simply stated, today — more than 16 years after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 — the effective vetting of any alien seeking entry into the United States or for any alien seeking immigration benefits has been elusive goals.

The September 28, 2017 Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General’s (DHS OIG) report, “CBP’s IT Systems and Infrastructure Did Not Fully Support Border Security Operations,” noted:

CBP’s IT systems and infrastructure did not fully support its border security objective of preventing the entry of inadmissible aliens to the country. The slow performance of a critical pre-screening system greatly reduced Office of Field Operations officers’ ability to identify any passengers who may represent concerns, including national security threats. Further, incoming passenger screening at U.S. international airports was hampered by frequent system outages that created passenger delays and public safety risks. The outages required that CBP officers rely on backup systems that weakened the screening process, leading to officers potentially being unable to identify travelers that may be attempting to enter the United States with harmful intent.

On September 25, 2017, a report was published by DHS OIG on the distressing issue of individuals with multiple identities in US fingerprint enrollment records receiving immigration benefits. This disastrous situation has profound national security and public safety implications. Yet the report stated in part:

As of April 24, 2017, 9,389 aliens USCIS identified as having multiple identities had received an immigration benefit. When taking into account the most current immigration benefit these aliens received, we determined that naturalization, permanent residence, work authorization, and temporary protected status represent the greatest number of benefits, accounting for 8,447 or 90 percent of the 9,389 cases. Benefits approved by USCIS for the other 10 percent of cases, but not discussed in this report, include applications for asylum and travel documents. According to USCIS, receiving a deportation order or having used another identity does not necessarily render an individual ineligible for immigration benefits.

That last sentence should give us all serious cause for pause.

Apparently the “get to yes” philosophy of the Obama administration still permeates management at USCIS where adjudications officers were ordered to do whatever they had to do in order to approve virtually all applications for various immigration benefits.

We will, a bit later on, take a look back at how the Obama administration dismantled a program that sought to uncover immigration fraud and imbue the immigration benefits program with integrity.

But let’s first consider some additional facts.

The official report 9/11 and  Terrorist Travel was issued well over a decade ago and focused specifically on the ability of the terrorists to travel around the world, enter the United States and ultimately embed themselves in the U.S. as they went about their deadly preparations to carry out an attack.

The report noted:

Once terrorists had entered the United States, their next challenge was to find a way to remain here. Their primary method was immigration fraud. For example, Yousef and Ajaj concocted bogus political asylum stories when they arrived in the United States. Mahmoud Abouhalima, involved in both the World Trade Center and landmarks plots, received temporary residence under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers (SAW) program, after falsely claiming that he picked beans in Florida.” Mohammed Salameh, who rented the truck used in the bombing, overstayed his tourist visa. He then applied for permanent residency under the agricultural workers program, but was rejected. Eyad Mahmoud Ismail, who drove the van containing the bomb, took English-language classes at Wichita State University in Kansas on a student visa; after he dropped out, he remained in the United States out of status.

Under the title “Immigration Benefits” the following paragraph on page 98 of the same report states that

[t]errorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack.

These multiple serious failures of the immigration system today are hardly new.

Roughly one year ago a disturbing DHS/OIG Report prompted me to write an article about Weaponized Immigration. I focused on the fact that 858 aliens who had been ordered deported were improperly granted United States citizenship through the process of naturalization due to the fact hat their fingerprints were not on file because they were not properly uploaded when INS, the predecessor agency to DHS, digitized these fingerprints.

As bad as that was, that report went on to state:

Later, ICE identified missing fingerprint records for about 315,000 aliens who had final deportation orders or who were criminals or fugitives, but it has not yet reviewed about 148,000 aliens’ files to try to retrieve and digitize the old fingerprint cards.

The report noted that in 2010 a program known as “Operation Janus” was created to identify aliens who may have committed immigration fraud, yet the report documented that in the final months of the Obama administration, inexplicably, the Operation Janus working group was disbanded, stymieing efforts to identify aliens who had committed naturalization fraud and thereby seriously undermining national security.

While it was in operation, the working group of Operation Janus identified wrongly naturalized aliens who had been able to parlay their U.S. citizenship into sensitive jobs at airports and seaports and at least one of these individuals became a law enforcement officer.  Consequently, appropriate actions were taken to denaturalize some of these individuals and seek criminal prosecutions, although only a small percentage of these aliens were dealt with effectively.

What was even more disconcerting was that some of these aliens were citizens of “Special Interest Countries,” that is to say, countries that are associated with possible terrorist links.

Nevertheless, consider how many politicians from both political parties are determined to provide lawful status to unknown tens of millions of illegal aliens whose true identities are unknown and unknowable. These politicians all know that the immigration bureaucracy is unable to effectively deal with its current workload. Any massive legalization program would cause this already failing system to implode.

We must also consider how many cities and states have declared themselves to be “sanctuaries” for illegal aliens who entered the United States surreptitiously or who may have lost their lawful status because of the serious crimes that they committed.  These jurisdictions have become magnets for foreign criminals and terrorists and undermine national security and public safety.

The immigration system lacks meaningful integrity while the Damoclean Sword of terrorism hangs above our heads each and every day.  Every year thousands of innocent victims lose their lives to criminal aliens, yet the immigration anarchists and their allies in the media castigate anyone who would dare suggest that the United States must act to secure its borders and enforce its immigration laws, branding them xenophobes, racists and haters.

Suicide is not an act of compassion.  All of the failing and dysfunctional elements of the immigration system must be repaired as swiftly as possible — not as a prerequisite for any additional action, but simply as ends unto themselves.  The potential for massive losses of life should provide the clear imperative for getting the job done- for once and for all.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on FrontPage Magazine.

The Humanitarian Hoax of Gun Control: Killing America With Kindness

The Humanitarian Hoax is a deliberate and deceitful tactic of presenting a destructive policy as altruistic. The humanitarian huckster presents himself as a compassionate advocate when in fact he is the disguised enemy.

Those who support gun control and those who oppose gun control are speaking two different languages.

The Second Amendment guaranteeing the people the right to bear arms was passed by Congress September 25, 1789 and ratified December 15, 1791. The American Revolution freed the colonists from British oppression and our Founding Fathers were determined to prevent future tyranny by their newly formed federal government. The federal government would be armed but so would the citizenry – it was a balance of power arrangement.

One hundred fifty years later Mao Tse-Tung speaking in front of the Central Committee of the Communist Party famously declared:

“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Mao is telling the Communist Party leaders that armed struggle is necessary to acquire political power. “Whoever wants to seize and retain state power must have a strong army. Yes, we are advocates of the omnipotence of revolutionary war; that is good, not bad, it is Marxist. The guns of the Russian Communist Party created socialism. We shall create a democratic republic. Experience in the class struggle in the era of imperialism teaches us that it is only by the power of the gun that the working class and the labouring masses can defeat the armed bourgeoisie and landlords; in this sense we may say that only with guns can the whole world be transformed. We are advocates of the abolition of war, we do not want war; but war can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun.”

Mao Tse-Tung was a communist revolutionary seeking to overthrow the established rule of the nationalist Republic of China. He advocated arming his supporters (proletariat) against the opposition (the bourgeoisie). Mao was successful and the communist People’s Republic of China took power in 1949.

So, guns have been used to both take power from those who have power (Mao) and also to balance the power of the federal government (Second Amendment). These are the two languages of gun control.

The left-wing radical humanitarian hucksters of gun control also know that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. They are disingenuously selling gun control as the altruistic answer to gun violence but in reality they seek to eliminate the Second Amendment and disarm its supporters. Why?

The Second Amendment right to bear arms gives citizens the right to defend and protect themselves against the tyranny of the armed federal government. The Founding Fathers envisioned an independent America with a strong federal government restrained by a three-part checks and balances structure and insured by the Second Amendment. Leftists today envision a Maoist public completely dependent (Marxism/Socialism/Communism) upon the federal government and completely controlled by the federal government. The Leftist dream requires dissolution of the Second Amendment.

Gun control is being disingenuously marketed as the solution to gun violence. The fiction of the gun control narrative is that gun control will keep Americans safe from the gun violence that has terrorized the country. Here is the problem. Chicago, with its strict gun control laws is a record-setter in homicides. Almost everyone killed in Chicago was shot to death. So how did gun control stop the gun violence in Chicago? It didn’t. Criminals find access to guns.

The horrifying and increasingly suspicious October 2nd massacre of innocent concertgoers in Las Vegas immediately and predictably triggered emotional calls from the Left for gun control. Gun control enthusiasts focus on terrorism, mass shootings, and police related shootings. A recent study examining the 33,000 annual fatal shootings in America today shows that a very small percentage involve mass murder attacks. Almost 2/3 of the deaths are suicides, another 1/3 are homicides, and the rest are considered accidents.

A person committing suicide could take pills or jump of a building. A person committing homicide could use a knife or a hammer. A person committing mass murder could use poison. How would gun control affect the outcome of death in America? It wouldn’t. So, why does the Left consistently focus on gun control? Because gun control is the argument that seeks to disarm the American public and dissolve the Second Amendment.

The left-wing liberal Democrat Party is speaking Mao’s Marxist/Communist/Socialist language. “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

The Humanitarian Hoax of gun control presents restricting/eliminating the Second Amendment as the altruistic solution to gun violence but is really a sinister attempt to disarm the American public. Disarming America awards total control of the people to the federal government which is specifically why our Founding Fathers ratified the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment is the fulcrum of American freedom and those who defend it are speaking the language of American independence.

If the Left succeeds then 241 years of American freedom will be lost because a willfully blind American public was seduced by the Humanitarian Hoax of gun control advanced by leftist humanitarian hucksters promising safety to a public too frightened to live in reality. The Humanitarian Hoax of gun control will have succeeded in killing America with “kindness.”

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on Goudsmit Pundicity.

Progressive Policies Are Great If You Don’t Care About the Future

Private-property protections promote in property holders a long-run perspective.

Donald J. Boudreaux

by  Donald J. Boudreaux

Suppose that every human being was today to learn, and to accept this knowledge beyond any doubt, that the world will end in one year, on October 5th, 2018. What would ‘ideal’ government policy look like in such a doomed world? I’m not sure just what the details of this policy would be. I’m quite confident, however, that particular outcomes would become much more relevant as guides to ‘ideal’ policy while rules and processes would become much less relevant.

With the world ending in one year, government-orchestrated forced wealth redistribution would become more attractive even to many who today oppose such redistribution. If humanity is not long for this world, the costs of forcibly transferring resources from “the rich” to “the poor” would be much lower because we’d no longer have to deal with most of the bad economic incentives unleashed by such redistribution.

Sure, such redistribution dampens incentives to invest, work, and take risks. But in a doomed world, it’s understandable to rhetorically ask: “So what? Who cares if fewer, or even no, long-run investments take place?”

Also in a doomed world, state-enforced protection of existing particular businesses and jobs makes more sense than it does in our real world. Because changes in the pattern of consumer expenditures might well cause the short-run rate of unemployment to rise, tariffs and other government restrictions on changes in the pattern of consumer expenditures might be justified in a world nearing its end. Such restrictions, in our real world, are unjustified in part because, by cementing in place the status quo, these restrictions prevent economic growth over time – economic growth that is impossible without the creative destruction of the status quo and whose full value isn’t reaped until well into the future.

Even price controls on certain goods and services might be economically justified in a doomed world. For example, in industries in which the elasticity of demand for labor is very low in the short-run, minimum wages in those industries might be justified. That is, in industries that take more than a year to fully adjust their operations to higher labor costs, an imposed minimum wage might make more economic sense in a doomed world than in the real world.

Furthermore, in such a doomed world the harm unleashed by government violations of constitutional rules would be much less. In our real world, much (most?) of the benefit of holding government bound to obey constitutional rules is that this adherence to constitutionalism not only makes government policy more predictable over time (and, thus, encourages individuals to make longer-run plans), it also reinforces the importance of the rule of law. But in a doomed world, long-run plans have no value to anyone and much of the value of the rule of law perishes.

Many of the most valuable institutions of any thriving society are those that encourage individuals in that society to act as if they care about the future. Private-property protections promote in property holders a long-run perspective. The rule of law is valued not just for the protections it offers today, but for the protections it offers over time and for the predictably that it offers about the future behavior of government officials. Entrepreneur-driven economic change is valued not only, or even mainly, for the improvements that it makes to our standard of living today, but for the stream of improvements that such change offers over time.

In short, if we all came to believe that our world would end in one year’s time, many of the government policies preferred by “Progressives” and other interventionists would suddenly become more economically, and perhaps even more ethically, acceptable, for the downsides of these policies would never materialize (the future being no longer relevant).

Put differently: trade restrictions, income or wealth ‘redistribution,’ and many other policies that are today endorsed by “Progressives” and other interventionists are policies that treat today, the immediate present, as the only relevant time period.

Reprinted from Cafe Hayek.

Donald J. Boudreaux

Donald J. Boudreaux

Donald Boudreaux is a senior fellow with the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a Mercatus Center Board Member, a professor of economics and former economics-department chair at George Mason University, and a former FEE president.

How Gun-Free Campuses Victimize Women

Firearms are an excellent force multiplier that allow for weaker would-be victims to stave off stronger attackers.

Savannah Lindquist

by  Savannah Lindquist

My college experience didn’t go as planned: I was the victim of rape. It was something I thought could never happen to me. This was something that only happened to other people, something you see on “Law & Order: SVU.” Instead of Detectives Benson and Stabler swooping in to save the day, I was left completely broken – replaying the events of that day over and over again in my mind wondering where I could have gone wrong.

I was raised around guns and was taught about responsible gun ownership at a very young age. When I turned 21 years old and was legally able to carry a gun, I immediately felt safer. Nothing could harm me because my firearm was the great equalizer.

There was one minor issue: my Second Amendment rights didn’t exist on my college campus.

My right to self-defense should not be up for debate.

I was naïve and believed what they told me during orientation: that there was no need to worry because campus police are only a phone call away. All was well until that fateful evening when I became another statistic.The details of that horrific event don’t matter. What does matter is this: Research has shown that women aged 18-24 are three-to-four times more likely to be victims of sexual violence compared to women in general. Given my background, I would be lying if I said my sexual assault turned me from a gun-grabber to a Second Amendment advocate, but I did have one big realization.

My rape made something very clear: My right to self-defense should not be up for debate.

It does not matter if you are a bleeding-heart feminist who actively tries to fight against rape culture. It does not matter if you believe rape culture doesn’t exist. It really doesn’t even matter if you don’t even believe my own account that I’m disclosing to you now.

What does matter is that women deserve the right to choose how to defend themselves.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 11.5 million females this fall on colleges and university campuses across the United States, compared to 8.9 million males. Women are clearly the majority of our college campuses, and yet we are not doing everything we can to empower them to defend themselves against possible harm. We must empower women and give them a choice: the choice to take their security into their own hands by legally carrying a concealed firearm on their public university campuses.

I am a law-abiding citizen and have jumped through all the hoops required by the government to get my concealed carry permit. I have proven that I am competent with firearms and have taken the necessary safety class. I allowed for the government to run the mandatory background check on me. I even paid the $50 Virginia application fee. I’m allowed to protect myself in movie theaters, malls, and most other public places, but my right to self-defense is suddenly negated on most public university campuses. Why?

I can’t even begin to tell you how much safer I would feel if I knew I had a reliable method of self-defense available to me.

After my rape, I took time off of school to emotionally recover, and after much consideration, I decided the best thing for my mental health would be to withdraw from my previous university and move back home. I currently attend a university in my hometown and am set to graduate in May. While I’ve picked up my life and actively work towards healing myself, the issue remains.In order to graduate in a timely manner, I have to take night classes. Four nights a week, I leave campus after dark. I can’t even begin to tell you how much safer I would feel if I knew I had a reliable method of self-defense available to me — but on my public university campus, I don’t.

I’m left defenseless.

I still carry with me the emotional scars from my rape, but I have chosen to speak out. I refuse to ever be victimized again, and all I am asking for is to be able to utilize the rights guaranteed to me by the Second Amendment of the Constitution to ensure that I will never again be a victim.

Reprinted from The Washington Examiner

Savannah Lindquist

Savannah Lindquist

Savannah Lindquist is the North American communications chair with Students For Liberty and a FEE Campus Ambassador. She is a student at Old Dominion University.

RELATED ARTICLE: Steve Scalise: Being a Victim of a Shooting Fortified My Support For The Second Amendment

Catalonia Shows the Danger of Disarming Civilians

October 1 showed the US why we need civilian guns.

Laura Williams

by  Laura Williams

Since the tragic murder of 59 peaceful concertgoers in Las Vegas Sunday, I’ve heard well-intentioned Americans from all political corners echoing heartbroken and tempting refrains:

Can’t we just ban guns?

Surely we can all get together on the rocket launchers.

Things like this would happen less often.

We have enough military.

While victims were still in surgery, some took to television and social media to criticize the “outdated” and “dangerous” Second Amendment to the Constitution. They have lived so long in a safe, stable society that they falsely believe armed citizens are a threat to life and liberty for everyone.

Those who claim to see no necessity or benefits of individual gun ownership need only look to the rolling hills of Catalonia, where a live social experiment is currently unfolding.

Unarmed Patriots

Just hours before an alleged lone gunman opened fire from the Mandalay Bay casino, the citizens of a small region surrounding Barcelona, Spain, cast a vote for their regional independence. Catalonia’s citizens have a unique language, culture, and history, and consider Spain a neighboring power, not their rightful rulers. So as America’s Continental Congress heroically did (and as Texans and Californians occasionally threaten to do) Catalonia wished to declare independence and secede.

Spain has enacted, it would seem, the kind of “common sense restrictions” American gun-control advocates crave.

Polling stations in Catalonia were attacked by heavily armed agents of the state with riot gear and pointed rifles. Spanish National Police fired rubber bullets and unleashed tear gas canisters on voters, broke down polling center doors, disrupted the vote, and destroyed enough ballots to throw results into serious doubt.Exceedingly few of those would-be patriots were armed.

In Spain, firearm ownership is not a protected individual right. Civilian firearms licenses are restricted to “cases of extreme necessity” if the government finds “genuine reason.” Background checks, medical exams, and license restrictions further restrict access. Licenses are granted individually by caliber and model, with automatic weapons strictly forbidden to civilians. Police can demand a citizen produce a firearm at any time for inspection or confiscation. Spain has enacted, it would seem, the kind of “common sense restrictions” American gun-control advocates crave.

But of course, that doesn’t mean that Spanish citizens don’t buy guns. In fact, Spanish taxpayers maintain an enormous arsenal of weapons, which are all in the hands [of] “professional armed police forces within the administration of the state, who are the persons in charge of providing security to the population.”

Those agents of the state weren’t “providing security to the population” of Catalonia on Sunday — they were pointing guns at would-be founding patriots who had challenged the rule of their oppressors.

“If somebody tries to declare the independence of part of the territory — something that cannot be done — we will have to do everything possible to apply the law,” Spain’s justice minister said in a public address.  While many polling places were closed or barricaded, 2.3 million voters (90% in favor of independence) were permitted to vote, he claimed, “because the security forces decided that it wasn’t worth using force because of the consequences that it could have.”

The consequences of a government using force to control those it is sworn to protect must be high. When citizens are armed, the consequences for tyranny rise and its likelihood falls.

Armed Tyrants

Americans have grown too trustful of the State, too ready to assume bureaucrats have only our best interests at heart. Even with a maniacal man-child in the Oval Office, many are seemingly eager to turn over individual liberty to those who promise to manage our lives for us. The United States was designed to be the smallest government in the history of the world, with no standing army, and little right to intrude in the private activities of its citizens. Instead, we have the most powerful and intrusive government in human history, with 800 permanent military bases in 70 countries, unfathomable firepower, and staggering surveillance capabilities. Unchecked abuses of power are routine and tolerated.

67 federal agencies, including the IRS and the FDA, have military weapons, according to the OpenTheBooks Oversight Report The Militarization of America. Among the most intrusive programs, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Authority, do not disclose their weaponry budget.

Don’t say “Americans shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns” when what you mean is “citizens should only be allowed to buy guns for their rulers.”

The number of armed government officials with arrest and firearm authority has doubled since 1996. The US now has more armed “civilian” federal officers (200,000+) than US Marines (182,000). The IRS spends millions of taxpayer dollars annually on pump-action shotguns, AR-15 rifles, riot gear, and Special Forces contractors to train thousands of “special agents” in targeting American citizens. Local police, sheriffs, and state troopers have also been armed to wage war against American citizens. Battlefield weapons are being given to state and local police, allegedly to combat drug trafficking and fight terrorist threats at local pumpkin festivals. Military SWAT-style raids are used to serve search warrants for low-level drug possession, not hostage situations. Relatives and neighbors of alleged criminals have had government guns held to their children’s heads. Violations of civil rights, including illegal searches and the seizure of money and property without evidence of any crime, are commonplace.

Law enforcement requests military equipment directly from the Pentagon’s war-fighting machine: tanks, machine guns, rocket launchers, tear gas, camouflage, shields, and gas masks.  Military equipment is often purchased with civil asset forfeiture slush funds to bypass legislative appropriations challenges.

The high percentage of civilian law enforcement who are military veterans (one in five, by some estimates) compounds the cultural risks of treating average Americans like enemy combatants.

Showdowns between civilians and heavily armed agents of the state in FergusonBaltimore, the Oregon Wildlife Refuge, and at various other political protests across the country should remind us that gun control advocates won’t be reducing the number of guns so much as shifting them all into either federal or criminal hands.

The senseless murder in Las Vegas is a frighteningly familiar tragedy. But don’t say “Americans shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns” when what you mean is “citizens should only be allowed to buy guns for their rulers.”

Laura Williams

Laura Williams

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

RELATED ARTICLE: Steve Scalise: Being a Victim of a Shooting Fortified My Support For The Second Amendment

The Australia Model for Gun Control Is Useless

The case of gun control advocates for the US to move to the Australia model for gun ownership is faulty at best.

by  Corey Iacono

In the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, which left dozens dead and hundreds wounded, a great number of people have laid the blame on America’s relatively lax gun laws and alleged unwillingness to adopt “common sense” gun control.

In particular, gun control advocates tell us America could eliminate mass shootings if only we followed Australia’s lead.

The Australia Model

In Australia, after a horrific mass shooting in 1996, the national government introduced a mandatory buyback program which forced gun owners to sell certain firearms (mainly semi-automatic rifles and pump action shotguns) to the state, who promptly destroyed them.

This program, which resulted in the stock of civilian firearms in the country being reduced by approximately twenty percent, was effectively large-scale gun confiscation, as gun owners would have become criminals were they to withhold their firearms from the state.

Since the introduction of these measures, Australia’s firearm homicide rates have fallen and it has yet to witness a mass shooting. Because of these “results,” Australia has been constantly cited as a successful example of gun control in action.But the reality is much less simplistic than the narrative being promoted by gun control advocates.

Sure, there have been no mass shootings in Australia since it enacted gun control, but that hardly proves anything by itself. A 2011 study published in Justice Policy Journal compared the trends in mass shootings before and after 1996, when gun control was enacted, in Australia and New Zealand.

New Zealand is Australia’s neighbor and is very similar to it socioeconomically, but unlike Australia, it retained the legal availability of guns that were banned and confiscated in Australia in 1996. It thus served as a useful control group to observe whatever effects gun control had on mass shootings.

The authors of the study found that, after taking into account difference in population size, Australia and New Zealand did not have statistically different trends in mass shootings before or after 1996. Indeed, New Zealand has not had a mass shooting since 1997, “despite the availability in that country of firearms banned in Australia.”

Well, what about firearm homicides in general? Or firearm suicides?

These questions were answered by a 2016 American Medical Association (AMA) study, which examined trends in firearm homicides and suicides before and after the adoption of gun control in Australia in 1996. The authors found no evidence of a statically significant effect of gun control on the pre-existing downward trend of the firearm homicide rate.

This is in accordance with past research. For example, the authors of a paper published in the International Journal of Criminal Justice report that, “Although the total number of published peer-reviewed studies based on time series data remains relatively small (fewer than 15 studies, at the time of writing), none of these studies has found a significant impact of the Australian legislative changes on the pre-existing downward trend in firearm homicide.”

The authors of the AMA study did find that the decline in firearm suicide rates accelerated in the wake of gun control, but concluded that “it is not possible to determine whether the change in firearm deaths can be attributed to the gun law reforms” because the “decline in total non-firearm suicide and homicide deaths were of greater magnitude.”In other words, since non-firearm suicide rates were reduced to an even greater extent than firearm suicide rates in the wake of gun control, one cannot firmly conclude that gun control is the reason firearm suicide rates fell.

Basically, gun control advocates have built their entire case about Australian gun control on lazy data analysis, or perhaps no data analysis at all. If anything, Australia proves the complete opposite of what advocates of gun control want.

A national gun confiscation scheme which reduced the civilian firearm stock by an astounding twenty percent and nobody can seem to find any clear evidence it caused a meaningful effect on the firearm murder rate? That’s not only embarrassing, it goes against everything they believe about the nature of the relationship between guns and murder rates.

Corey Iacono

Corey Iacono is a student at the University of Rhode Island majoring in pharmaceutical science and minoring in economics. He is a FEE 2016 Thorpe Fellow.

VIDEO: Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin on Gun Control and the Las Vegas Massacre

The Daily Signal posted the below video on its YouTube channel:

President Trump in his statement immediately after the Las Vegas massacre said:

Our unity cannot be shattered by evil. Our bonds cannot be broken by violence. And though we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today — and always will, forever.

In times such as these, I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness. The answers do not come easy. But we can take solace knowing that even the darkest space can be brightened by a single light, and even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope.

It seems that some people focus on the weapons of choice rather than the person committing the act of violence. Evil exists in this toxic environment where individuals and groups call for the killing of those who do not agree with them. Some Muslims have called for a holy war (jihad) against President Trump and his supporters.

Focus on the good. Reject evil. As President Trump said, “Scripture teaches us, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” We seek comfort in those words, for we know that God lives in the hearts of those who grieve. To the wounded who are now recovering in hospitals, we are praying for your full and speedy recovery, and pledge to you our support from this day forward.”

Embrace the light, reject the darkness.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Ann Coulter: Media Find Las Vegas Shooter’s Motive: He’s White!

FBI Warns Of More Violence From ‘Black Identity Extremist’ Groups

VIDEO: Here’s What a Gun Fired With a ‘Silencer’ Really Sounds Like

Eight hours after the mass shooting in Las Vegas began, which left nearly 60 dead and more than 500 wounded, Hillary Clinton turned the conversation political, tweeting about gun silencers. She said:

But would gun silencers make any difference in mass shootings? Last February, The Daily Signal traveled to the National Rifle Association to learn about gun silencers, also known as suppressors. Watch the video to hear the same firearms being fired both with and without silencers, and decide the sound effects for yourself.

Portrait of Kelsey HarknessKelsey Harkness

Kelsey Harkness is a senior news producer at The Daily Signal. Send an email to Kelsey. Twitter: @kelseyjharkness

RELATED ARTICLE: I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise. – The Washington Post

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

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Here’s the Truth About Gun Control and Crime

Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took to Twitter to call for gun control shortly after a mass shooting took place in Las Vegas.

“The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get,” Hillary Clinton tweeted.

“Our grief isn’t enough. We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again,” she added.

The horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas began around 10 p.m. local time, or 1 a.m. EST. Eight hours later, Clinton dropped her tweets.

And she wasn’t the only one to quickly promote gun control in light of the terrible news about the shooting, which has left at least 58 dead and another 500 wounded.

While the facts are still entirely unsettled as of this writing, that didn’t stop gun control activists from immediately jumping to conclusions or answers on how to fix everything.

And while too little is known about the Las Vegas shooting to make judgments about what could or could not have prevented it, the reality is that gun ownership does not lead to more crime in the United States.

Yet, in the chaotic wake of the horrific mass shooting that took the lives of at least 50 in Las Vegas, proponents of gun control quickly turned the event to fit their agenda.

For instance, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., accused those who didn’t act on shootings of “cowardice.”

And there were numerous other hot takes from nonelected politicos and celebrities that veered into various levels of blaming gun rights supporters for allowing events like Las Vegas to happen.

And all of this before even the most basic facts have been ascertained. The Associated Press reported that ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting, but the FBI says there is no connection. The details of the case are simply a confusing mess and it is difficult to ascertain the shooter’s motives, how he acquired the firearm(s), or even what firearm(s) he used to conduct the attack.

While it is unwise to draw too many conclusions about what happened in Las Vegas, in the face of the relentless assault on gun rights and misinformation it is important to note some false narratives that have been spread in the last 24 hours.

Take Clinton’s claim about silencers. She was immediately denounced for this statement as being “ignorant” of how suppressors work. Even a Washington Post reporter wrote that the debate over silencers “isn’t really relevant” to what happened in Las Vegas.

And both The Washington Post’s fact-checker Glenn Kessler and conservative pundit Dana Loesch pushed back on Clinton’s claim:

study released earlier this year by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives found that while there were 1.3 million registered suppressors in the country last year, there were only 44 suppressor-related crimes recommended for prosecution.

The details about the weapons the shooter used are still not clear, but some have called for a ban on automatic weapons—basically machine guns—on top of other gun control measures.

However, federal laws dating back to the 1930s already on the books strictly regulate the sale and purchase of these kinds of firearms.

Sean Davis at The Federalist did an excellent job of explaining how tightly controlled automatic weapon sales are in the United States:

Only licensed entities are permitted to manufacture, sell, or own [fully automatic weapons]. Private civilian ownership of machine guns is illegal unless the individual has been explicitly permitted by the federal ATF to own them. All fully automatic weapons must be registered with the federal government in a central registry with no exceptions.

There is also a tax on these items—and they’re not cheap since only weapons produced before 1986 are allowed to be sold.

Of course, with the right tools and skills, it is still possible to create a fully automatic weapon, which some experts say may have been what the Las Vegas shooter did to carry out his murders.

Nevertheless, these weapons are incredibly difficult to obtain.

The events that took place in Las Vegas on Sunday night were an atrocity. But it must be noted that wicked individuals have found ways to conduct mass murder and terrorism through a variety of means both legal and illegal: guns, knivesacid, planes, and trucks.

The list goes on and on.

As numerous studies have shown, gun ownership is not necessarily connected to crime rates, and in fact may make crime go down. A 2016 report from the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action noted that:

As gun ownership has risen to an all-time high, the nation’s total violent crime rate has fallen to a 44-year low and the murder rate has fallen to an all-time low. Since 1991, when violent crime hit an all-time high, the nation’s violent crime rate and its murder rate have decreased by more than half, as Americans have acquired over 170 million new guns, roughly doubling the number of privately owned guns in the United States.

Furthermore, concealed carry permit holders are among the most law-abiding of any demographic group in America.

For these reasons and many others, gun control has fizzled as an issue even as its proponents continue to push the narrative.

The fact is, a majority of Americans just don’t see gun control as the answer to crime, violence, and terrorism.

As Gov. Matt Bevin, R-Ky., put it on Twitter, we live in a fallen world and ultimately can’t regulate evil.

Sometimes, in the face of horror, there are no policies or prescriptions that apply besides the courage and sacrifice of those who are good.

COMMENTARY BY

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is by Dominic Chan/Sipa USA/Newscom.

GOP Reform Stops Voters in Their Tax

If you’re looking for some light reading, skip the federal tax code. Clocking in at 74,608 pages, it’s one of the most complicated and cumbersome documents Washington has ever produced. House Republicans are pledging to change that, unveiling a simple nine-page framework for rewriting the guiding document for the most loathed agencies in D.C.: the IRS. At a mini-retreat yesterday, the GOP tried to regroup on its next big project now that the health care repeal is stuck in Senate limbo until the next fiscal year. One way Republicans are hoping to woo back angry voters is by slashing their sky-high taxes and letting families keep more of their hard-earned money. For House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), Budget Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), this has been a longtime goal — one that President Trump is determined to make a reality.

At a speech in Indiana yesterday, the president called it a “once-in-a-generation opportunity.” The billionaire businessman was quick to remind people that they have a Tax-Expert-in-Chief. “I guess it’s probably something I could say that I’m very good at. We’re going to cut taxes for the middle class, make the tax code simpler and fairer for everyday Americans. And we are going to bring back the jobs and wealth that have left our country and most people thought left our country for good.”

Together with House Republicans, he wants to reduce the personal income tax brackets from seven to three (12 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent), double the standard deduction for married and single filers, cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, and kill the death tax, among other things. Since proposing the very first child tax credit, FRC has fought to make the family — the engine of the economy — the center of tax reform. But instead of rewarding families for their role, the government punishes them – not realizing that what Washington does to family budgets has long-term effects on the country as a whole.

The GOP blueprint makes the tax code fairer, simpler, and more efficient. Conservatives should cheer the increase of the child tax credit, end of the estate tax, and the inclusion of a care credit, which lets families better provide for their loved ones. Unlike the Obama administration, which threatened to turn philanthropy upside-down, the Republican plan keeps the tax incentives for charitable contributions.

If all goes according to plan (a big “if” in this Congress!), the House hopes to have the bill to the Senate by the end of October and to Trump’s desk by year-end. If they can manage it, Americans would have a lot more jingle in their pockets this Christmas!


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


Also in the September 28 Washington Update:

The Plane Truth about HHS’s Private Jets

Steve Scalise’s Miraculous Return to Congress

RELATED ARTICLES:

GOP’s Top Tax Writer Promises More Jobs, Bigger Paychecks With Reform

Tax Reform Just Got Real. Why the GOP Tax Plan Is Great News for America.

What’s in the GOP’s Plan for Tax Reform

Any tax reforms passed by Congress should give relief to middle-class families and small businesses, bring jobs and capital back to the United States, and make the tax code more fair by ending loopholes and breaks for special interests, congressional Republicans said Wednesday in what they call a framework for debate.

The framework from House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and other GOP leaders calls for creating a larger zero-tax bracket (an individual’s first $12,000 of income would become tax free, and the first $24,000 for married couples), roughly doubling taxpayers’ standard deduction, and condensing the current seven tax brackets to three.

“This is a historic day,” Ryan said at an afternoon press conference. “This is a day that is a long time in coming. In fact, it was on this day, under this dome, in 1986 that Congress took the final vote on the last overhaul of our tax code. That long. After that vote, President Reagan said Americans would ‘finally have a tax code that they can be proud of.’

“It was true then, but things look very very different today, don’t they?” Ryan added. “Instead of a source of pride, our tax code has become a constant source of frustration. It is too big. It is too complicated, it’s too expensive. Today, we are taking the next step to liberate Americans from our broken tax code.”

“Tax reform that follows the outline we heard today will deliver significant benefits for all Americans,” Adam Michel, a tax policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, said in an email to The Daily Signal, adding:

The outlined tax reform will raise wages, increase job creation, and create untold additional opportunities. The plan goes a long way toward fixing our business tax system that makes it hard for businesses to invest in America.

Depending on their income, individual taxpayers currently may be taxed at one of these percentages: 10, 15, 25, 28, 33, 35, or 39.6.

The three brackets in Republicans’ proposed tax framework are 12 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent.

The framework would end personal exemptions for dependents and increase the child tax credit.

President Donald Trump has made overhauling the tax code a major agenda item during his first year in office, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has promised to deliver it by the end of 2017, now three months away.

Republican lawmakers’ plan would repeal the alternative minimum tax, created in 1969 to ensure that more affluent taxpayers could lower their tax bill only via deductions a certain amount. Many lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, previously have called for an end to the alternative minimum tax.

The framework for tax reform would eliminate most itemized deductions, taken from a taxable adjusted gross income and “made up of deductions for money spent on certain goods and services throughout the year,” as Investopedia explains it.

The plan also calls for repeal of the estate tax—which opponents call the death tax—and the generation-skipping transfer tax, what the Tax Policy Center calls an “additional tax on a transfer of property.”

The plan includes tax benefits to incentivize work, higher education, and retirement security and promises to repeal many provisions “to make the system simpler and fairer for all families and individuals, and allow for lower tax rates.”

The framework also would:

  • Limit the minimum tax rate for small businesses and sole proprietorships to 25 percent.
  • Lower the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, “below the 22.5 percent average of the industrialized world.”
  • Allow expensing of “new investments in depreciable assets other than structures made after Sept. 27, 2017, for at least five years.”
  • Lower rates for domestic manufacturers and update rules for various industries and sectors “to ensure that the tax code better reflects economic reality and that such rules provide little opportunity for tax avoidance.”

The Republican plan also seeks to keep companies from moving overseas by taxing both businesses and foreign profits of U.S. corporations at a reduced rate.

Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the largest GOP caucus in the House, praised the newly released details.

“At first glance, the policies released today are good news to the American people,” Walker said in a formal statement. “I am proud to see that a large part of the Republican Study Committee’s submission to the tax reform task force was incorporated into today’s framework. We need to begin acting on this framework legislatively as soon as possible.”

Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., chairwoman of the House Budget Committee, said the goals would put America at an advantage:

By simplifying the system and getting the government out of the way of our free-market economy, America is made more competitive on an international scale and the potential for unprecedented job creation is unleashed. We believe this will be a catalyst for more jobs, bigger paychecks and fairer taxes—this framework is pro-America. Plain and simple.

Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO of the Job Creators Network, said the plan shows promise.

“I’m encouraged to see that the administration is moving forward with tax cuts for small business,” Ortiz said in a statement provided to The Daily Signal, adding:

While many details still need to be filled in, this is a crucial and positive step in the right direction. Make no mistake: the recent progress in the campaign for tax relief should bring optimism to the 29 million small business owners and the roughly 56 million people that depend on them for their livelihoods.

In a statement provided to The Daily Signal, David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth, said the plan will foster economic development.

“Club for Growth is very encouraged and pleased with the long-awaited tax reform outline that the Big Six released today,” McIntosh said. “Fundamental tax reform comes around only once in a generation, and this is our chance. The outline is both aggressive and very pro-growth with its rate reductions.”

Mike Needham, chief executive officer of Heritage Action for America, the lobbying affiliate of The Heritage Foundation, said the plan is a call to action.

“While today’s announcement marks an important and encouraging first step, it is imperative the administration and congressional leaders work hand-in-hand with conservatives to push back against the radical left and the special interests that will pull out every stop to preserve the status quo,” Needham said.

This report was updated to include Ryan’s afternoon remarks.

Rachel del Guidice

Rachel del Guidice is a reporter for The Daily Signal. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Forge Leadership Network, and The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program. Send an email to Rachel. Twitter: @LRacheldG.

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

SUPPORT THE DAILY SIGNAL

VIDEO: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL-1) Tells NFL Tax Breaks to Take a Knee

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL-1) became the lead sponsor of H.R. 296, the Pro Sports Act, a bill that ends the tax-exempt status of professional sports leagues.

The NFL League Office has received a special tax carveout since 1966, when the tax code first listed “professional football leagues” as trade organizations. Though individual teams are not tax-exempt, the NFL League Office is. They are responsible for the construction and development of new stadiums, paid for with over 6.5 billion taxpayer dollars. Tax-exempt revenues for professional sports leagues are higher than $2 billion. According to the Internal Revenue Service, businesses that conduct operations for profit on a “cooperative basis” should not qualify for tax-exempt treatment, yet a special exemption is made for professional football leagues.

“Like many Americans, I was dismayed and disgusted to see multimillionaire athletes sitting or kneeling during the national anthem. Standing for the national anthem shows respect for our nation, and for the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms,” Rep. Gaetz said. “Those hard-fought freedoms include freedom of speech, and free speech does include protest. But nowhere in the Constitution does it say that Americans are required to subsidize disrespect for America, or to have their tax dollars wasted on corporate welfare to sports teams. Tax reform is currently the top priority of Congress. We must close this loophole in the tax code, and end taxpayer subsidies for professional athletics. If players want to protest, they have that right — but they should do it on their own time, and on their own dime.”

In 2016, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that this bill would bring in approximately 150 million dollars in new revenue over ten years.

The Pro Sports Act was previously led by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who has subsequently retired from Congress.

Hundreds of Illegal Voters Revealed in Philadelphia

According to a Philadelphia elections official, hundreds of individuals who are not U.S. citizens have registered to vote in Philadelphia and nearly half of them voted in past elections. Since 2006, 317 registered voters have contacted the City Commissioners, which oversees Philadelphia elections, asking that their registrations be canceled because they are not citizens.

Philly.com reported that many of them registered while either applying for or renewing their driver’s licenses. All applicants were offered the option to register to vote even after providing documentation to DMV officials that although they were in the country legally, they were not citizens.

Al Schmidt, the lone Republican on the Philadelphia election commission, said that all 317 registrations have been canceled and he has been speaking with the Pennsylvania Department of State about the problem.

“For the majority of these people, it’s completely plausible to believe they thought they were eligible to vote,” Schmidt claimed, despite the fact that voter registration applications require an applicant to answer a citizenship question and to swear under oath that he is a U.S. citizen.

“All voter fraud is an irregularity; not all voter irregularities are fraud,” Schmidt said, adding that it is still illegal. “Regardless of the intent, the damage is still the same.”

A year before Schmidt stoked these recent concerns about Philadelphia election integrity, he was fighting a federal lawsuit after failing to disclose the same information about noncitizens and his failure to remove felons from the voter roll.

Public Interest Legal Foundation later published a report detailing 86 cases of noncitizens whose voter registrations were quietly revoked between 2013 and 2015. Almost half of them had voted at least once.

When the commissioner is not busy claiming to find alien voters who actually outed themselves, he still defends the city’s policy of keeping felons registered. Unlike most states, Pennsylvania does not require that someone in prison have his or her record removed or otherwise marked to prevent ineligible voting—a violation of the National Voter Registration Act, an American Civil Rights Union suit argues.

A major component of Philadelphia registering noncitizens involves the National Voter Registration Act, or “motor voter,” which was passed in 1993. It requires state governments to offer voter registration to any eligible person who is applying for or renewing their driver’s license or registration.

This requirement has been misinterpreted by state officials as supposedly prohibiting them from failing to offer everyone who applies for a driver’s license the opportunity to register. This includes cases where the DMV official knows the individual is not a U.S. citizen.

Schmidt’s office has obtained data on 220 of the 317 registrations. Of these 220, 44 voted in one election while 46 voted in multiple elections. It is unclear how many more noncitizens are registered and voting since Philadelphia election officials take absolutely no steps whatsoever to verify the citizenship status of individuals who register to vote. They only found out about the 317 because these registered noncitizens asked to be removed from the rolls.

The Pennsylvania Department of State has a review underway; but has already reported that, since 1972, 1,160 voters statewide have requested their registrations be canceled because they were not citizens. There can be little doubt this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Separately, in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, there have been 98 noncitizens who have canceled their voter registration since 2006. Elections Director Mark Wolosik stated that the aliens became aware of the problem when they were asked about their voter registration by the Department of Homeland Security when they applied for citizenship.

Two other cases of noncitizen registration and voting show that this is not solely a Pennsylvania problem. Earlier this month, Public Interest Legal Foundation published a report after a six-month review of New Jersey voter registrations. It found that 616 noncitizens registered to vote, 76 percent of whom admitted their noncitizenship status at the outset. Yet they were registered by election officials anyway. Some noncitizens were even asked if they wanted to register to vote after presenting a “Green Card” to get their driver’s license.

Added to the Pennsylvania and New Jersey cases, Virginia has also faced a multitude of noncitizens registering to vote. This May, Public Interest Legal Foundation published a report showing that between 2011 and May 2017, Virginia removed 5,556 noncitizens from its voter rolls. Those noncitizens cast 7,474 votes in multiple elections. And in the last 12 years in Virginia, there have been two statewide attorney general races that have been decided by fewer than a thousand votes.

Just more evidence of the kind of problems that exist in our voter registration and election process.

COMMENTARY BY

Meagan Devlin is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.

Portrait of Hans von Spakovsky

Hans von Spakovsky is an authority on a wide range of issues—including civil rights, civil justice, the First Amendment, immigration, the rule of law and government reform—as a senior legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and manager of the think tank’s Election Law Reform Initiative. Read his research. Twitter: 

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

SUPPORT THE DAILY SIGNAL

EDITORS NOTE: Since 2006, 317 registered voters have contacted the City Commissioners, which oversees Philadelphia elections, asking that their registrations be canceled because they are not citizens. (Photo: Caro / Sorge/Newscom) Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. But this can’t be done alone. Find out more >>

VIDEO: Obama’s ‘Julia’ Will Have Better Life Because of Tax Reform

Julia and her husband, James, are worried about their future.

James lost his job and can’t find work. Julia has not received a raise in many years and is unhappy at her job.

They are struggling just to make ends meet and provide for their children. Every year, the government takes more of their hard-earned money. Money that they would like to use for things like a vacation ends up going to Uncle Sam.

But things could change for Julia and James.

Congress is talking about updating the tax code.

Recent analysis shows the economy could grow significantly larger because of tax reform. In time, the average American family’s wages could rise by more than 7.5 percent. That would be almost $4,000 extra in the pockets of families earning $50,000 per year.

Under an updated tax code, businesses could add 1.7 million new full-time jobs. That means that James could find a job to help support his family. Julia could get a raise and a promotion at work.

Not only can they start saving for a vacation … But they can save for their kids’ college fund as well.

James and Julie would be able to do things like renovate their home or buy a new car.

Imagine this: Julia could turn her hobby into a small business. She could even quit her boring desk job and become happily self-employed.

Tax reform means greater financial independence and opportunity for Americans at all income levels.

Just think how it could help you.

COMMENTARY BY

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

SUPPORT THE DAILY SIGNAL

EDITORS NOTE: Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. But this can’t be done alone. Find out more >>

Decorated Combat Commander’s Career destroyed due to ‘political correctness’, case goes to Supreme Court

ANN ARBOR, MI—On Monday, September 11, 2017, the Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari asking the United States Supreme Court to correct the injustice done to Lieutenant Colonel (“LTC”) Christopher Downey after the United States Army violated its own regulations, effectively ending his stellar career.

In a footnote, the U. S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that the Army applied the incorrect burden of proof to LTC Downey’s case, contrary to its own regulations.  However, it shrugged off this fundamental error. LTC Downey’s petition to the Supreme Court points out that the error was so manifest and so serious that nearly every other appellate court in the land would have required the Army’s final review board to rehear his case.

TMLC attorney, Jay Combs, the principle author of the Petition to the Supreme Court, commented: “The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals threw away the exceptional career of Lieutenant Colonel Downey in a footnote.  The issue that the Fourth Circuit so cavalierly disposed of in a footnote was so serious that nearly every other circuit in the United States, on this issue alone, would have reversed the entire Army Board process without the need to even address any of the other issues in the case.  Most circuits recognize that the rule of law is dealt a crippling blow if an agency does not have to follow its own regulations.”

Combs was assisted by attorney Erin Kuenzig, who had handled the District Court and Fourth Circuit arguments.

LTC Downey’s troubles began in 2012 when he made the “politically incorrect” effort to prevent two lesbian female officers under his command from violating Army regulations regarding public displays of affection. The two officers, a Captain and a Lieutenant, were in uniform at a formal military ball and were on the dance floor engaged in prolonged French kissing, publicly taking off each other’s uniform jackets, and other intimate and salacious conduct.  Once he became aware of the situation, LTC Downey took immediate action to stop the inappropriate behavior.  He also attempted to prevent other soldiers from photographing and videotaping the officers’ inappropriate conduct, which he believed would embarrass the unit as well as the offending officers. In the process of lowering the camera of an enlisted soldier, the camera accidentally made contact with the soldier’s nose. As a result, despite the recommendations of LTC Downey’s immediate superior, General Mark Milley ordered an investigation and a subsequent Article 15 hearing where he acted as the presiding officer on charges of assault consummated by battery and violation of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

The Article 15 proceeding, which lasted approximately 5 hours, was more concerned about offending homosexual advocacy groups than the guilt or innocence of LTC Downey. General Milley found LTC Downey guilty of the charge of assault consummated by battery. LTC Downey was issued reprimands for both violations, relieved of command, issued a negative Officer Evaluation Report, and removed from the attendance list of the National War College.

A formal board hearing was convened to review the same matters to decide whether LTC Downey should be retained in the Army. The formal board, unlike General Milley in the Article 15 proceedings, conducted an exhaustive adversarial hearing in which the Army was represented by an attorney and LTC Downey was also represented by counsel.  The hearing board listened to the testimony of multiple witnesses, reviewed evidence, and listened to the arguments of government and defense attorneys. Afterwards, the formal board unanimously determined the allegations against LTC Downey were not supported by even a preponderance of the evidence.

Despite the unanimous decision of the formal board of officers, the prior contrary findings of the Article 15 hearing remained a part of LTC Downey’s official record, destroying the further progression of his stellar career and tarnishing his good name.

Downey was well on his way to becoming a high-ranking officer in the Army, as evidenced by the glowing remarks from his commanding officers. In early April of 2012, Downey received a prestigious award recognizing him and the unit that he commanded as the best aviation battalion in the United States Army. He has been awarded 3 Bronze Stars and 7 Air Medals, one with a “V” device for valor in combat. The Air Medal with “V” device was awarded for valor he displayed on May 25, 2011, in “complete disregard for his own safety while initiating multiple engagements against an enemy with superior fields of fire over friendly forces.  His actions were decisive in saving the lives of soldiers on the ground.”

His performance reviews uniformly painted a picture of one of the Army’s most skilled and accomplished combat aviators.

Former Secretary of the Army, Louis Caldera, wrote of Downey:

“As former SecArmy I had the honor of working with strong officers daily, Chris Downey stands out among them. A clearly superior performance by a leader with phenomenal potential.”

White House Military Office Operations Director, Marcy Steinke-Fike:

“He is clearly in the top 1% of the handpicked officers of the White House Military Office Operations Directorate and in all of the Lieutenant Colonel’s I have known in my 20 years of military service. Chris planned the most sensitive and complex missions in support of the President, Vice President, First Lady and other White House delegations. Absolutely unlimited potential – a future General Officer!”

Commanding General John F. Campbell:

“Lieutenant Colonel Chris Downey’s performance in combat has been spectacular, he is my best aviation task force commander among the top three out of 70+ commanders that I senior rate. Strong General Officer potential.”  

The Administrative Board Applied the Wrong Burden Of Proof

In order to remedy the injustice caused by the erroneous Article 15, LTC Downey appealed to the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records (“ABCMR”). Unfortunately for LTC Downey, the ABCMR applied the wrong burden of proof to his case. The Board is governed by 32 C.F.R. § 581.3(e)(2) which provides: “Burden of proof. The ABCMR begins its consideration of each case with the presumption of administrative regularity. The applicant has the burden of proving an error or injustice by a preponderance of the evidence.” (emphasis added). Rather than holding LTC Downey to the correct burden of proof, the Board held him to the much more difficult burden of proving an error or injustice by clear and convincing evidence.  Finding that LTC Downey had not met this illegitimately high standard, the Board denied him relief.

Richard Thompson, President and chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center commenting on what happened to LTC Downey, stated: “There is no question in my mind that Lieutenant Colonel Downey was a victim of the military’s efforts to appease homosexual advocacy groups. As a result of political correctness gone amuck, America lost an outstanding combat commander who had given his country over 24 years of loyal service.”

Click here to read the Petition