Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House — The Sequel [Worse than the Original]

In the movies sequels are usually worse than the original. Since Washington has often been referred to as “Hollywood for ugly people,” it is perhaps appropriate to consider another sequel in the making, not in film but in politics. Nancy Pelosi, the former Speaker of the House and soon-to-be Speaker of the House of Representatives, once again was the subject of a video posted on December 7, 2018 by Fox News, in which she rejected the notion of constructing a wall along the highly porous U.S./Mexican border to prevent the entry of illegal aliens, narcotics and other contraband.

Her outrageous statements and positions on immigration law enforcement and border security seemed to strike a new low during her first stint as Speaker. She has yet to resume that position and is already providing a disturbing peek into what America and Americans are in for with her in the position that provides her with a “leadership” role in the Congress and puts her in the chain of succession to the U.S. Presidency.

As my dad used to say, “Nothing is so good it could not be better or be so bad it could not get worse.” As hard as it might be to imagine, bad as Pelosi was the last time she held the position of Speaker, she may actually prove my dad was right.

This is the Fox News video:

It is unfathomable how Pelosi could declare that protecting the United States from threats posed by international terrorists, transnational gangs and the flow of narcotics into the United States is “immoral.”

It is similarly impossible to understand how Pelosi could determine that it is immoral to prevent the illegal entry of foreign workers who all too frequently displace American and lawful immigrant workers and drive down wages and working conditions of American and lawful immigrant workers who are similarly employed.

A wall would not prevent the lawful entry of a single person into the United States. The wall would not block America’s ports of entry but would funnel all traffic destined to the United States through ports of entry where they are subject to inspection by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Inspectors and where a record of their entry into the United States is created. These issues have significant national security implications.

This is comparable to the way that guests who visit us are expected to knock on our front doors to ask permission to enter our homes. It would certainly be unacceptable for a stranger to enter our homes by climbing through a back window. Similarly an effective border wall would prevent aliens entering the United States surreptitiously.

In a very real sense, entering without inspection is, at a minimum, comparable to trespassing and, as I noted in my recent article, “Democrats Stand With Foreign Rioters,” Chuck Schumer’s hypocritical and contradictory position on trespassing on critical infrastructure and national landmarks versus aliens who trespass on America is astonishing.

Here is the relevant excerpt from my commentary:

Aliens who evade the vital inspections process conducted at ports of entry are, at a minimum, trespassing on the United States.  This is a violation of law and poses a threat to national security and public safety.

On October 13, 2014 Schumer posted a press release on his official website which announced that because of dangers created by trespassers, particularly in this era of terrorism, that he had proposed legislation that would make trespassing on critical infrastructure and/or landmarks a federal crime with a maximum prison sentence of five years.

However, Schumer, who actually cited the antics of a 16-year-old boy in his press release, had declared that anyone who trespasses, including “adrenaline junkies,” should face a five-year prison sentence.

However, when aliens trespass on the United States, even where violence is concerned, Schumer and his Democratic colleagues are determined to provide those illegal aliens with U.S. citizenship!

The open-borders immigration anarchists refer to aliens who run our borders as being “undocumented immigrants.” In point of fact, aliens who evade the inspections process conducted at ports of enter the United States without inspection.

Such an entry is in violation of U.S. Code § 1325, a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Some “journalists” have actually seized upon this linguistic sleight of tongue and have come to refer to illegal aliens as “immigrants who lack documents,” conjuring up the image of a student who went to the bathroom without taking the hall pass. The issue is not a lack of paperwork but legal authorization to enter the United States and remain here. Some of these aliens have no shortage of documents. In my 30-year career I encountered quite a few aliens who had been deported numerous times, some having been arrested and convicted of so many crimes during each of their illegal forays into the United States that their arrest record or “rap sheet” and their immigration files could have provided wallpaper to decorate a moderately-sized house, if you like hanging garbage on walls!

Aliens who seek to evade the inspections process do so because they know that they belong to one or more categories of aliens who are legally ineligible to enter the United States. Race, religion and/or ethnicity do not have any bearing whatsoever on the admissibility of aliens who seek to enter the United States.

In fact, 8 U.S. Code § 1182 enumerates the categories of aliens who are to be excluded from the United States. It is clear that the purpose for this section of law is protect national security, public safety and public health and protect the jobs and wages of American workers.

Among these classes of aliens who are to be prevented from entering the United States are aliens who had been previously deported from the United States, aliens who suffer from dangerous communicable diseases or extreme mental illness, are convicted felons, human rights violators, war criminals, terrorists and spies are to be excluded as well as aliens who would seek unlawful employment, thus displacing American workers or driving down the wages of American workers who are similarly employed and aliens who would likely become public charges, thereby burdening the economies of the towns and cities where they would live.

Pelosi claims that the wall would be “ineffective.” In fact, had a wall been erected the “Caravan of Migrants” (aspiring illegal aliens) would likely have been deterred from streaming to the U.S./Mexican border.

However, more must be done to address the immigration crisis than simply constructing a wall along the southern border. As I have frequently noted, a wall along the border is comparable to a wing on an airplane. Without a wing the airplane will not fly, but a wing by itself goes nowhere. A border wall must be erected and additional enhancements must also be made to the enforcement program of the Department of Homeland Security. Currently ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has about 6,000 agents for the entire United States and they do not only enforce immigration laws but customs laws and other laws that have nothing to do with immigration. (The “C” in ICE is, after all, Customs.) ICE is more focused on those who produce counterfeit Gucci loafers than counterfeit passports. To put things in perspective, the NYPD has about 38,000 police officers, the Border Patrol has about 20,000 agents, and our armed forces have more than one million enlisted men and women.

Obviously many more ICE agents, immigration judges and support staff should be hired, not to deport all of the illegal aliens who are present in the United States (likely more than 30,000), but to imbue the immigration system with meaningful integrity and convince aspiring illegal aliens around the world that the United States takes its laws and its borders seriously.

Finally, as to the issue of the cost of constructing the wall, the wall would pay for itself just as the cost of insulating a house is payed back to the homeowner many times over through savings in the costs of heating and cooling the house. I drew upon that analogy in my article “America Needs A Border Wall Like Houses Need Insulation,” in which I noted that each year tens of billions of ill-gotten dollars flow out of the United States in the form of remittances and other means of moving the money out of the U.S. that is earned by illegal aliens and as the result of the drug trade. Finally securing that border would help to stanch the flow of money and save many, many lives as an added bonus.

Of course, as I have noted in my article “Sanctuary Country – Immigration failures by design,” the multiple failures of the immigration system are not the result of inability to enforce our laws but an abject lack of desire by political leaders of both parties to enforce the immigration laws.

To put it bluntly, while our borders and our immigration laws are America’s first and last lines of defense against transnational criminals and fugitives and international terrorists, to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a laundry list of other organizations and special interest groups including immigration lawyers, they are viewed as an impediment to their wealth.

While Nancy is a highly-visible proponent for open borders, there are precious few members of Congress in either party who actually disagree with her.

That is the real horror show!

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images originally appeared in FrontPage Magazine. It is republished with permission. Photo by DonkeyHotey

Our Politics Are About To Get Much, Much Worse

Last week, prosecutors for the Southern District of New York and Special Counsel Robert Mueller delivered their sentencing recommendations regarding former counsel for President Donald Trump, Michael Cohen. As previously reported by The Federalist Pages, their memos provided no significant evidence against the President.

Specifically, and to the most direct point, the sentencing recommendations did not add any information regarding claims of Russian collusion on the part of President Trump, which is the original directive to the Mueller investigation, nor do they suggest that there was any sign of obstruction of justice on the part of the President. But they abound in politics.

What the memo did mention for the first time is an allegation of possible campaign finance violations on the part of then-candidate Trump. This focus represents a whole new direction for investigators, one that was not previously contemplated. The charge of campaign financing violations, based on money paid to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, is based on the claim that Cohen was directed to make the payments that would eventually reach the two women by the President himself.

This renewed investigative direction has sent the pundits of politics ablaze regarding potential prosecutorial scenarios for President Trump. Never mind that the bar for successful prosecution is very high, or that the allegation is presently only based on statements made by Cohen (amongst the most discredited and conflicted witnesses imaginable), or even that then-candidate Trump likely had a legally defensible position for having engaged in the agreements with Daniels and McDougal during his campaign without a requirement that the money be channeled through his campaign accounts.

Those issues are immaterial because what is truly at stake is the opportunity to take down a sitting president hated and feared by Democrats, the press and the establishment.

The Democrats, who are on the eve of taking control of the House of Representatives, have made it their goal to make Trump their greatest nemesis. Like the relentless quest for the Holy Grail, Democrats would take no greater joy during the next two years than to 1) stop every one of Trump’s agenda items; and 2) get him out of power. If they can exploit any opportunity to embarrass the President and demonize him, they will. It’s all pure politics.

As evidence for this point, we have Congressman Adam Schiff, the likely incoming House Intelligence Chairman, who almost giddily said on Face The Nation, there’s a real possibility that “on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him.”

This is more than a mere concern on Schiff’s part; it is an agenda item.

In the face of these developments and associated chants, the road before the nation becomes distinctly clear. First, the Democrats in the House of Representatives will do everything in their power to obstruct anything of importance that President Trump wishes to accomplish. For them, Trump is an illegitimate President, one that had no right to defeat Hillary Clinton in the first place.

Second, to this day, they cannot come to grips with the harsh reality that President Trump won not because of Russian collusion, but rather because he ran a great campaign concentrating on seeking electoral college votes and because Hillary Clinton was the worst candidate the Democrats could have proffered.

Third, and even more demoralizing to Democrats, is that President Trump has accomplished more in two years than Obama accomplish in two terms. From his conservative appointments to the courts, to the scaling down of taxes, to the overt demonstration of the futility and oppressiveness of the Paris Climate Accord, to the takedown of ISIS and the jump start of the economy, Democrats have been unable to deal with Trump’s effectiveness and the furtherance of the national stability his agenda has provided.

These realities coupled with the virtual dissolution of the Russian collusion allegations have left the Democrats desperate for a talking point and no greater talking point exists than the involvement of the President in an extra-marital, immoral sex scandal with legal overtones — whether they are real or not. That’s good politics for Democrats.

All this leaves us with a recipe for a totally fruitless and unproductive two-year cycle save for the promotion of greater discord among Americans and the continuance and amplification of fractioning among countrymen.

And that is going to make for a very long and painful haul to the 2020 elections for everyone.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Revolutionary Act. The featured photo is by Brian Wertheim on Unsplash.

Obama and the Perpetual Presidency

Former President Barack Obama recently continued his series of public broadsides against his successor, President Donald Trump.

Obama’s charges are paradoxical.

On one hand, Obama seems to believe that he, rather than Trump, should be credited with the current economic boom and the emergence of the United States as the world’s largest energy producer. But Obama also has charged that Trump’s policies are pernicious and failing.

Apparently, Obama believes that all of Trump’s successes are due to Obama, and all of Trump’s setbacks are his own.

Obama certainly forgets the old rule: Presidents, fairly or not, get both credit and blame for everything that happens on their watch, from Day One to the last hour of their tenures—even when wars abroad, technological breakthroughs, natural disasters, and market collapses have nothing to do with their governance.

Trump ran on the promise of a “Make America Great Again” economic renaissance. He pledged massive deregulation, fair rather than free trade, and tax reform and reduction.

Trump jawboned against outsourcing and offshoring, and praised rather than lectured private enterprise. He sought to reindustrialize the Midwest and promised to open new federal land to fossil fuel production, complete proposed pipelines, and lift burdensome restrictions on fracking and horizontal drilling.

In contrast, Obama had argued that the U.S. could never drill itself out of oil shortages. He advocated making the use of coal so expensive that it would disappear as an American energy resource. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar were Obama’s vision of an America energy future.

As late as last year, Larry Summers, director of the National Economic Council for two years during the Obama administration, ridiculed Trump’s boasts that he could achieve annualized gross domestic product growth of 3 percent as the stuff of “tooth fairies and ludicrous supply-side economics.”

Summers had also predicted that the U.S. economy would be in recession by now. Instead, it is likely to match or exceed Trump’s promise of 3 percent growth over a 12-month period.

After Trump’s victory, economist and Obama supporter Paul Krugman predicted that the stock market would crash and might “never” recover. “We are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight,” Krugman wrote in November 2016.

In fact, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed about 7,000 points since Trump was elected. Unemployment has hit near-record lows, wage gains are up, and the economy is growing.

Still, after 22 months, no one knows what the final verdict will be on the Trump administration. So it seems wise to wait until Trump’s four-year term is over before weighing in on his legacy, or lack of one.

By the same token, the frenetic Obama should take a deep breath, stop arguing the past, and allow history to adjudicate his own eight-year economic and foreign policy record.

Given that Obama was a strong progressive while Trump surprisingly has proven to be a hard-right conservative, their presidencies offer a sort of laboratory of contrasting worldviews.

History will decide whether a more managed or more deregulated economy works best. We will learn whether a focus on traditional energy sources is preferable to an emphasis on subsidized green energy.

In recent times, Republican ex-presidents—Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush—left the limelight upon the end of their tenures. They kept silent about their successors, and they allowed history to be the judge of their relative successes or failures. Reagan and the younger Bush often were ensconced on their ranches in out-of-the-way places.

Obama would do well to buy a ranch, too.

In contrast, progressive ex-presidents such as Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Obama saw the presidency as a sort of never-ending story. Politics were a 24/7, 360-degree, all-encompassing experience. All envisioned their retirements as opportunities to re-litigate their administrations and to politick the present in hopes that future kindred presidencies would be progressive and would continue their own agendas.

Carter frequently warned that the Reagan defense buildup and tough stance toward the Soviet Union were dangerous and would lead to an existential confrontation.

Clinton became a fierce critic of the Iraq War as his wife Hillary prepared to enter the 2008 presidential race as an anti-Bush candidate.

Obama still seeks to convince the country that Trump is “unfit” to be president.

After the recent passing of George H.W. Bush, there are now four living ex-presidents: Carter, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama. There are five living former vice presidents: Walter Mondale, Dan Quayle, Al Gore, Dick Cheney, and Joe Biden.

If all ex-presidents and ex-vice presidents were to weigh in nonstop on the current president and present-day politics, the result would be as chaotic as it would be boring.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and author of the book “The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.” You can reach him by e-mailing authorvdh@gmail.com. Twitter: .


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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission. Photo: Paul E Boucher/ZUMA Press/Newscom.

One Indisputable Takeaway From Comey Performance: Thank God Trump Won

Insidious: Working or spreading harmfully in a subtle or stealthy manner.

Mr. Gowdy. Why is the appearance of bias as insidious as actual bias?

Mr. Comey. The appearance of bias is as important. I don’t know exactly what the word “insidious” means, so I’m not saying that one.

On Friday, Former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation James Comey met in a closed meeting with members of Congress to discuss Hillary Clinton’s email investigation and Comey’s handling thereof.

Comey’s initial response to being interviewed was to avoid a closed hearing, apparently preferring an open setting. After realizing that he was not in a legal position to demand conditions upon the conduct of the hearing, he negotiated a deal whereby he would appear for the closed-door hearing provided that a full transcript of the hearing was released to the public.

That may have been a mistake on Comey’s part.

It is apparent that Comey’s plan regarding this meeting, a link to whose transcript may be found at The Federalist Page’s Library, was to be as evasive as possible, a plan that was supported by the assigned counsel from the Department of Justice.

It seems the key tactic of Comey’s approach was to feign ignorance at the questions he was asked. As a result, he claimed he did not have knowledge or awareness of some of the most elemental aspects of the Clinton email investigation and of his duties and responsibilities as FBI Director.

For example, when Comey was asked whether FBI investigator, Peter Strzok, expressed his bias against then Candidate Donald Trump, Comey said he was not aware of any such bias. As a matter of fact, after much interrogatory wrangling with Congressman Trey Gowdy, Comey finally admitted that he likely would not have allowed Strzok to continue on the case if he had known of the investigator’s intense bias.

When asked whether a text by Strzok claiming that Hillary Clinton was going to win the presidency 100 million to zero was demonstrative of bias, Comey said he could not answer that question because he did not know what Strzok’s intent was when he delivered that text. Additionally, he maintained that he did not know whether he would have fired Strzok over his actions during the Clinton email investigation and his overt display of bias.

After continuing to be fended off by Comey’s feigned ignorance, Gowdy finally asked, “Why is the appearance of bias as insidious as actual bias?  Comey responded, “I don’t know exactly what the word ‘insidious’ means, so I’m not saying that one.”

Claiming ignorance can, under certain circumstances, be a very effective legal defense strategy. But if one is going to claim a lack of knowledge, particularly a lawyer, he best be honest about his ignorance because he is bound to be candid with the tribunal, particular (if such a higher requirement is even possible) if the attorney is under oath.

James Comey is an attorney. So, let’s take him at his word. If he truly did not know that Strzok had this intense, ingrained  bias in favor of Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump, and if he still does not know how he would have acted in the face of such overt bias, then he is a gross incompetent who should have never held any position of responsibility within the FBI.

And if James Comey actually does not know the meaning of the word “insidious” as a lawyer, an author, and as the former Director of the FBI, then he is also just plain stupid.

In light of this continued display of stupidity, evasiveness, and corruption, the American people are left with only one conclusion.

Thank God President Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Revolutionary Act. It is republished with permission.

PODCAST: The New Conservative Media Empire

Jon Miller, the White House correspondent for the new Blaze Media, joins us to discuss the new venture’s reach and goals, as well as what it’s like covering the Trump White House as a conservative reporter. Plus: Daily Signal and Heritage producer Thaleigha Rampersad joins us to explain why she doesn’t think “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a good Christmas movie.

We also cover these stories:

  • Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California who is expected to be the next chair of the House Intelligence Committee, says he could see “jail time” in President Donald Trump’s future.
  • Trump is brushing off claims that an alleged hush money payment made by his lawyer violated campaign finance laws.
  • The Trump administration is taking action to promote scientific research that doesn’t come at the expense of unborn babies lives.

The Daily Signal podcast is available on Ricochet, iTunesSoundCloudGoogle Play, or Stitcher. All of our podcasts can be found at DailySignal.com/podcasts. If you like what you hear, please leave a review. You can also leave us a message at 202-608-6205 or write us at letters@dailysignal.com. Enjoy the show!

PODCAST BY

Portrait of Katrina Trinko

Katrina Trinko

Katrina Trinko is managing editor of The Daily Signal and co-host of The Daily Signal podcast. She is also a member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors. Send an email to Katrina. Twitter: @KatrinaTrinko.

Portrait of Daniel Davis

Daniel Davis

Daniel Davis is the commentary editor of The Daily Signal and co-host of The Daily Signal podcastSend an email to Daniel. Twitter: @JDaniel_Davis.


The Daily Signal depends on the support of readers like you. Donate now


EDITORS NOTE: This podcast with images is republished with permission. Photo: World History Archive/Newscom.

VIDEO: Who Are the Most Powerful People in America?

The genius of America is that it was set up as a representative government, but increasingly, Americans are ruled over by leaders who are unelected, and very powerful. Columbia Law Professor Philip Hamburger unmasks the people who are really ruling our lives.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with video is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Alex Iby on Unsplash.

GQ’s Luke Darby reveals Left’s totalitarian agenda, calls for ‘taking megaphones’ from dissenters of Leftist line

This lengthy article is mostly just one long victory dance over the apparent fact that Milo Yiannopoulos is deeply in debt. But along the way, Luke Darby of GQ (which is supposed to be a fashion magazine, as far as I know, but today the Leftist agitprop is everywhere, with no letup) makes some revealing statements about the Left’s mindset and agenda.

“He also owes money to a rogue’s gallery of other right-wingers, including the anti-Muslim zealot Pamela Geller.”

Why is Pamela Geller an “anti-Muslim zealot”? Because she opposes jihad mass murder and Sharia oppression of women, gays, and others. Luke Darby, if pressed, which he never will be, would probably admit that he also opposes jihad mass murder and Sharia oppression of women, gays, and others, but he would claim that Pamela Geller “hates” Muslims and he doesn’t, or tars “all Muslims” as jihad terrorists and/or Sharia supremacists, and he doesn’t. She doesn’t do those things, however, and it is reflexive now among Leftist “journalists” to smear as “anti-Muslim” any and all opposition to jihad and Sharia, and to try to discredit and marginalize it as “racism,” “bigotry,” and “Islamophobia.” If the jihadists and the influence of Sharia continue to advance in the West, Darby may someday regret that he jumped on this particular bandwagon without a moment’s thought, but by then it will be far too late.

“Liberals who buy into Yiannopoulos’s bad-faith arguments for free speech, that the only way to defeat his punchy bigotry is to validate it with debate, should take note: When Yiannopoulos made his pedophilia-friendly comments, his conservative patrons and audiences didn’t invite him to a public forum to weigh the pros and cons of what he said.”

It is Darby who is in bad faith here. There was nothing for Milo’s “conservative patrons and audiences” to debate, because Milo immediately apologized and backtracked. It wasn’t as if he was out there calling for debate on the pros and cons of pedophilia.

Note also Darby’s phrase, “Yiannopoulos’s bad faith arguments for free speech.” Darby is referring to Milo’s calls to Leftists to debate him, not about pedophilia, but about political issues. Darby, however, simply labels Milo’s views “punchy bigotry” and wants him silenced. This is increasingly how the Left deals with dissent. Leftists, like Muslim spokesmen, appear to know that they can’t win debates, so they simply want those whom they hate to be shut down. Darby doesn’t contemplate the possibility that once he and his allies have opened this door, their own views could be shut down if they fall out of favor with the elites; apparently he doesn’t think that could ever happen.

“Media personalities like Jones and Yiannopoulos don’t just rely on attention to ideologically thrive. They also need it just to financially survive. Taking their megaphones remains the best way to mitigate the damage they’ve already done.”

Darby here openly endorses the deplatforming and silencing of those whom he hates. He appears to have full trust in the social media giants that they will wield this power in a way of which he will approve. Once again, it doesn’t seem to occur to him that if Milo and Alex Jones can be deplatformed, so can Luke Darby. He is a totalitarian, and totalitarians don’t contemplate being out of power, for power is their god, and they will do anything to attain it and keep it.

“Milo Yiannopoulos Is Millions of Dollars in Debt,” by Luke Darby, GQ, December 3, 2018 (thanks to Vikram):

…Now Yiannopoulos is reportedly $2 million in debt….He also owes money to a rogue’s gallery of other right-wingers, including the anti-Muslim zealot Pamela Geller….

Liberals who buy into Yiannopoulos’s bad-faith arguments for free speech, that the only way to defeat his punchy bigotry is to validate it with debate, should take note: When Yiannopoulos made his pedophilia-friendly comments, his conservative patrons and audiences didn’t invite him to a public forum to weigh the pros and cons of what he said. They dropped him without hesitation. With no platform, he was no longer a provocative, popular figure with even a slight bit of influence. It’s the same hole that Alex Jones is falling into now that Infowars is off of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. All that Jones can do to get attention these days is literally yell at Marco Rubio in public.

Media personalities like Jones and Yiannopoulos don’t just rely on attention to ideologically thrive. They also need it just to financially survive. Taking their megaphones remains the best way to mitigate the damage they’ve already done.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on Jihad Watch. The featured photo is by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash.

Mueller No Closer At Making A Case Against Trump Than He Was A Year Ago.

On Friday afternoon, the Mueller team and the Special Prosecutors Office for the Southern District of New York submitted a series of memos dealing with their investigation on Russian collusion, obstruction, and campaign illegalities.  In response, the left wing media went abuzz citing the damning implications of the release. One article by Erica Orden and Marshall Cohen of CNN claimed that “Federal prosecutors said for the first time Friday that Michael Cohen acted at the direction of Donald Trump when the former fixer committed two election-related crimes. . . ” It also claimed that the memos “exposed deeper entanglements than previously known between Trump, his campaign apparatus and the Russian government, . . .” including a claim of “‘political synergy'” between Moscow and Cohen.  Meanwhile, The New York Times headlined a prosecutorial charge that “Trump Directed Illegal Payments During Campaign.”

In fact, the memos contained little by way of new material, and some of the cited comments were actually mere corollary references to the President with little indication of illegality on his part.

The memos, available at The Federalist Pages Library, are part of the ongoing prosecutorial wrangling against Trump allies Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen.  In Cohen’s case, the two memos represent sentencing recommendations by the prosecutors from the Southern District of New York and Robert Mueller.  The federal prosecutors recommended “a substantial term of imprisonment” for Cohen while Mueller was much more cryptic stating only that the sentence should “reflect the fact that lying to federal investigators has real consequences, especially where the defendant lied to investigators about critical facts, in an investigation of national importance.”

But of more interest to the media were the comments implicating Cohen in Russian collusion or campaign finance violations on behalf of, or in coordination with, the President of the United States.  And although the press is doing its best to spin the published comments, in point of fact, no such allegations were made.

First, any objective analysis of these memos must acknowledge that neither refers to the actions of President Trump.  They specifically discuss and detail the actions of Michael Cohen.  In those instances where Trump is mentioned, the references are made solely with regard to the Cohen’s actions.  The prosecutor’s memo spends some time discussing potential campaign financing violations by Candidate Trump from the standpoint of Michael Cohen.  The allegations made regarding the President, if any, are actually those made by Cohen. In other words, there is no independent evidence presented that President Trump actually did anything wrong. There are contemporaneous comments made by Cohen where he claimed he was acting on behalf of candidate Trump and that he was facilitating Trump’s campaign, but these are hearsay comments made by a discredited party sounding like nothing more than boastful and hollow fluffery.

The references to potential Cohen participation in illegal campaign activity present no new insights or information regarding any potential violations on the part of Candidate Trump.  The memos spend a considerable time detailing the previously disclosed events surrounding alleged payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.  But the narrative provides no new details on the events nor does it provide any information regarding any orders from Candidate Trump.  More importantly, the memo does nothing to address the issue of intent on the part of Candidate Trump, a necessary element in any case regarding campaign-finance violations.  Specifically, the memo does nothing to clarify whether Candidate Trump desired to silence the women to keep him from falling into a negative light with his wife and in his business dealings, or whether this was primarily a campaign concern as would be required in a successful prosecution of Trump.

The second issue discussed in the Mueller memo is Cohen’s involvement in Trump’s dealings with the Russians and the possibility of cooperation between the two in influencing the outcome of the presidential election.  Here, the memos offered no evidence that such activities took place.  As a matter of fact, they dealt only with Trump’s legal real estate dealings with Russian nationals.

The Manafort memorandum is even less helpful to a potential case against President Trump because it is so heavily redacted. Just as in the Cohen memos, it deals not provide allegations against Trump.  Specifically, the memo makes the case that Manafort engaged in numerous lies after his plea agreement in 2018.

Despite the paucity of information regarding the President and any wrongdoing on his part, the media are doing everything in their power to divine implications that simply do not exist.  CNN’s and The New York Times’ comments regarding the President having directed Cohen to commit election related crimes is simply not true.  The claim comes from a sentence in the prosecutors’ memo detailing an admission by Cohen.  Specifically, the memo says, “In Particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination and at the direction of Individual 1.”  (Individual 1 in the memo is Candidate Trump.)  As is clearly evident, this sentence provides no independent evidence that President Trump actually directed the payments in question.  Rather, it is merely a recitation of the claim made by the already discredited Michael Cohen.  And even if Candidate Trump did direct the payments in question, one cannot conclude based on the information gathered, that the payments were illegal as CNN prematurely asserts.

The comment of “political synergy” alluded to by CNN is even more deceitful.  This one comes from the Mueller memo describing a Russian national repeatedly offering Cohen the opportunity to arrange for “‘political synergy’ and ‘synergy on a government level,'” an invitation that Mueller specifies Cohen “never follow[ed] up on.”

In the end, the media’s enthusiasm over the contents of these memos is overplayed, once again demonstrating their zeal to go after the President no matter how fictitious an allegation may be.  Although Friday’s claim by the President that he had been completely vindicated by the contents of the memos is overly enthusiastic, to say the least, the media’s claim that these memos contained anything threatening against the President is downright unfounded.

Once again, we will have to wait for the production of further documents on the part of federal prosecutors before a definitive conclusion can be made.  But this much can be gleaned.  With the information available, Mueller is no closer to establishing a case against Trump today, than he was one year ago.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Federalist Pages. The featured photo is by Joel & Jasmin Førestbird on Unsplash.

Cohen, Manafort Developments Don’t Reveal Any Illegal Conduct or Collusion by Trump, His Campaign

Amid the media hysteria over Michael Cohen’s guilty plea and discussions between the lawyers representing Paul Manafort and President Donald Trump, it’s important to understand from a legal standpoint what this means—and what it does not.

We don’t know what other evidence special counsel Robert Mueller may have that hasn’t yet been disclosed. But the evidence disclosed to date—including in Cohen’s plea deal—still doesn’t reveal any illegal conduct by Trump or his campaign or any collusion with the Russian government to change the outcome of the 2016 election. There is nothing illegal or unethical about discussions and sharing of information between lawyers representing individuals who may be the focus of the same prosecutor.

Cohen pleaded guilty to one count of lying to Congress. What was he lying about? For the past 30 years, the Trump real estate organization has been trying to negotiate a deal to build a marquee property in Moscow. There is certainly nothing unusual or untoward about that.

The criminal information filed by the special counsel describes the false statements that Cohen now admits he made. Cohen originally told Congress that the negotiations he was involved in over that deal ended in January 2016 and that they did not involve Trump himself. He now admits that the negotiations didn’t end until June 2016 (the deal was never consummated), and that he did brief individuals within the Trump Organization, including Trump, about the negotiations.

Cohen also stated that he never planned to travel to Russia for the hotel deal, nor did he ask Trump to travel there. He also swore to Congress that he had reached out to the press secretary for the Russian president, but that he did “not recall” whether he received a response. These statements were also false, thus constituting a federal crime of lying to Congress.

No one should minimize the seriousness of lying under oath to Congress. During the guilty plea before the district court judge, Cohen said, “I made these statements to be consistent with Individual-1’s political messaging and to be loyal to Individual 1.”

So Cohen lied to be loyal to Trump (Individual 1 presumably). But it’s important to understand that the underlying conduct that Cohen was lying about—negotiating a real estate deal—is not illegal or unlawful in and of itself, whether you’re working to get something built in New York City or Moscow.

Furthermore, there is no federal law that tells individuals who own a business and run for federal office, whether it is the presidency or Congress, that they have to stop running their business, negotiating deals, or taking part in the other myriad details involved in being a business owner the moment they decide to run for office.

Yes, they have to avoid conflicts of interest, and cannot enrich themselves unlawfully once in office. But those laws kick in after someone is elected.

All of Cohen’s entreaties to get the real estate deal appear to have been perfectly legal, at least so far as we know.

If we assume that Cohen pleaded guilty this time because he really did lie to Congress, then the underlying conduct—talking to Russian officials about a possible real estate deal in Moscow and briefing individuals within the Trump Organization—is all lawful conduct. Does Cohen secretly have some other testimony that shows illegal activity? We don’t know, and there is nothing in the plea agreement that indicates one way or another.

We also don’t know what Cohen told Mueller during his seven proffer sessions that took place between August 2018 and Nov. 20, 2018, as noted in the plea agreement. We do know that Trump submitted his written responses to Mueller on Nov. 20, and the Cohen guilty plea took place after that, leading one to conclude that Mueller was waiting for the president’s written answers before unveiling Cohen’s latest guilty plea. Where this leads is difficult to tell.

By the way, it should be noted that Cohen faced a maximum of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000; the plea agreement with Mueller says that the special prosecutor is recommending no more than six months in prison and a maximum fine of only $9,500.

The media has also been full of stories claiming the special counsel is upset that the lawyers representing Manafort have apparently been briefing the lawyers representing Trump about their discussions with Mueller and implying that there is something nefarious in such sharing of information. There is nothing illegal or unethical about lawyers with different clients sharing such information.

The extensive, 17-page plea agreement that Manafort entered into with Mueller on Sept. 14 has no provision of any kind barring Manafort or his lawyers from briefing the president’s lawyers on their discussions with Mueller. There is an entire page and a half detailing the cooperation that Manafort has to provide to the special counsel, but nowhere does it say that Manafort is prohibited from sharing information about that cooperation.

In fact, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, says he has joint defense agreements with 32 potential witnesses in the special counsel’s investigation, including Manafort. Some legal experts say that agreement should have ended when Manafort pleaded guilty, but as long as Manafort’s lawyer is simply providing information to Giuliani and there is no effort to tamper with a witness or obstruct justice, there is no unlawful behavior in such sharing of information (although it is unusual).

Of course, Manafort, who was convicted for criminal violations of the law related to his consulting business that had nothing to do with his brief participation in the Trump campaign, has more serious problems.

On Nov. 26, Mueller filed a pleading with the federal court in the District of Columbia claiming that Manafort has breached his plea deal by “lying” to the FBI and the special counsel “on a variety of subject matters.” Those “subject matters” are not detailed in the filing; instead, the special counsel says he will outline what those “lies” are when he files a “detailed sentencing” report to the court.

So far, after a year and a half of the special counsel investigation, we’ve had multiple indictments of Russians for trying—with no coordination with any Americans—to use social media and the internet to encourage social unrest in America in 2016. We had various indictments for criminal activity unrelated to the Trump campaign and for lying to Congress and federal investigators over conduct that was itself lawful.

But we still have had no indictments that have revealed any evidence about the issue the special counsel was supposed to investigate—whether there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. The latest developments with Cohen and Manafort add very little to answering that ultimate question. We’re still waiting.

Originally published by Fox News

COMMENTARY BY

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: .


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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission. Photo: Go Nakamura/ZUMA Press/Newscom.

VIDEO: In Nevada, 2019 Will Be the Year of the Gun Grabber

Gun control is new Nevada Governor Sisolak’s top priority. Nevada Firearms Coalition President Don Turner joins Dana Loesch to weigh in.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with video and images is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Josh Rocklage on Unsplash.

The Paris Riots Are Really About Macrón’s Globalism

Yesterday, I watched an incredibly insightful interview by Christianne Amanpour with the Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, a link to which I have posted in our new and growing Library.  Szijjarto demonstrated incredible composure as he warded off repeated assaults from Amanpour on Hungarian nationalism and the country’s immigration policies.  And I also noticed one other thing; no one is rioting in Budapest.

As previously reported in “The Federalist Pages,” the Paris, gilet jaunes riots, so called because of the yellow vests worn by demonstrators, are a direct result of President Emmanuel Macrón’s decision to raise fuel taxes by the equivalent of 0.25¢ per gallon on gasoline that already costs the equivalent of $6.00 per gallon. Macrón’s decision is openly based on his perceived need to cut down on gas consumption in order to fight off global warming.  The reality is that France accounts for about 2% of the world’s oil consumption, and it is already second only to the United States in nuclear power production.  So, to say that Macrón’s fuel tax is going to make any difference in the world’s carbon footprint defies reality.

There must be another reason that drives Macrón to raising fuel taxes.

Macrón is a globalist.  More importantly, Macrón is strongly pro-European Union.  It is very possible that his policy positions on global warming and carbon footprints are overtures designed to appease the interests of the members of the European Union in an effort to strengthen his position there in anticipation of a post-presidential position.

But Macrón has been too eager to abandon the interests of his own constituency.  Macrón is viewed as the president of the rich, and his green tax incentives are not seen by the French as altruistic efforts for the betterment of the world order, but rather as a self-indulgent effort by the President of the rich.  French citizens appropriately view his fuel taxes as disproportionately impacting the poor and middle classes, a perception confirmed by the New York Times in its recent report on the French’s reaction to the fuel tax.  In fact in a poll conducted on Saturday, after the initiation of the French riots, gilet jaunes carried a 72% approval rating among the French.  Scenes of the French police and firemen removing their covers in solidarity with the demonstrators that have been flowing through social media validate that impression.

It is interesting that these events should come in the heels of Macrón’s harsh criticisms of President Trump and his strongly “nationalistic” views.  In his zeal to criticize the American President, Macrón has actually revealed a much more threatening truth about his priorities to the French people, Macrón does not value the importance of representing the interests of France in the world stage.  In fact, he would rather have France suffer through painful measures such as exorbitant green taxes to appease the needs of others over the needs of the French.

Indeed, in making his case, Macrón openly conflated the context in which President Trump uses the word “nationalism.” President Trump’s “nationalism” is philosophy upholding the societal benefits of the nation-state in international and domestic policies.  Macrón’s contention that that the term “nationalism” even as used by Trump, denoted the arrogant, ethnocentric view of believing in the superiority one’s race even if it means the eradication of all others.

It is clear, that Trump’s call for a healthy sense of nationalism and patriotism is inconsistent with the false charge made by President Macrón at the 100 years anniversary of the Armistice ending World War I.

After having failed to make the case against President Trump, the implication of Macrón’s globalist philosophies and the lack of regional representation they beget played themselves out in a hostile and painful manner in the City of Lights, which has lately become the City of Bonfires.

Yes, the gilet jaunesriots are about abusive tax policies.  They are also about ramming a green agenda down the throats of the people when they can ill afford to comply despite the futility of the actions they are being asked to undertake.  But they are also an anti-antinationalist movement that recognizes the precarious position in which a population is placed when its leader does not uphold his or her nation’s priorities.

It is evident that Hungary recognizes this truth, much to Christiane Amanpour’s chagrin.  And France has not, much to the chagrin of its own citizenry.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Federalist Pages. The featured photo is by Dorian Hurst on Unsplash.

The Left’s Election Day Analysis: If We Lost, They Must’ve Cheated

A disturbing trend is emerging from the political left: When their candidates lose elections, rather than accept lawful defeat, they denounce the election itself.

In 2016, they explained away President Donald Trump’s victory as the product of Russian meddling. Now, they are blaming election losses in Florida and Georgia on “voter suppression” and other sinister acts.

In Florida, Democrat gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum walked back his election night concession, claiming “tens of thousands of votes have yet to be counted,” and told supporters that a “vote denied is justice denied.”

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, described the Georgia gubernatorial race as biased against Democrat Stacey Abrams, claiming that if Abrams “had a fair election, she already would have won.” Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, announced that Abrams’ apparent defeat was a sure sign that Republicans “stole” her election.

Sure enough, when the final tally gave the victory to Republican Brian Kemp, Abrams refused to concede, because “concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper.” Instead, Abrams blamed her defeat on Kemp’s supposed “suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote.”

Such pronouncements are creating a dangerous perception within liberal ranks that electoral defeat automatically equals electoral theft. For years, the left has denounced election integrity measures as tantamount to disenfranchisement. Now they are saying the same thing about electoral defeats.

This sort of rhetoric can have profound—and dangerous—consequences. Democracy works only when the people have confidence that the electoral process is free and fair, and the outcome is valid.

Sometimes, to be sure, this is not the case.

The Heritage Foundation election fraud database presently has 1,147 proven instances of fraud. Several of these cases involve elections that were overturned because enough fraudulent ballots had been cast to alter the outcome.

But there is a key distinction between those cases and liberals’ new accusations: proof.

Winning a court case to invalidate an election on the basis of fraud requires gathering significant evidence, and demonstrating, for example, that ballots were tampered with, that voters were bribed or coerced, or that elections officials rigged the results. Convicting someone on criminal election fraud charges requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

It’s a high bar to meet, leagues beyond the reckless and unsubstantiated allegations erupting after the Florida and Georgia elections.

Consider the facts.

After a machine recount, in the Florida gubernatorial race, Ron DeSantis’ 33,683 vote lead over Gillum had hardly moved at all.

And in Georgia, the left’s claims that Kemp was overseeing insidious vote suppression efforts seem nonsensical, given that voter turnout actually skyrocketed.

According to FiveThirtyEight.com, 55 percent of all eligible Georgia voters cast a ballot: “21 points higher than the state’s 1982-2014 average. That was the biggest change from the average of any state.” Exit polls indicate that minority turnout in the state may also have set records.

Still, Abrams declared to supporters that “democracy failed Georgia.”

Not quite. A more apt summation of the election would be that “liberals are failing democracy.”

Telling voters that elections are only fair when their party wins sets up every election to be discounted by one side or the other. It foments distrust and dissension, and it feeds the vitriol that already pervades so many aspects of modern politics.

Some political strategists might hope that de-legitimizing the electoral process will frighten and enrage the liberal base, increase turnout, and pay dividends in 2020. If true, then the left’s cynical gamble on “voter suppression” rhetoric would be a great irony.

But for all the temptations of that approach, we can and should hope that the rhetoric of the last few weeks—overheated, baseless, and reckless as it has been—will fall by the wayside.

Even today, in an age of division and zero-sum politics, there remains something more important than winning elections: keeping our democracy.

Originally published in The Washington Times

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Jason Snead

Jason Snead is a senior policy analyst in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. Read his research. Twitter: .

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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission. Photo: Al Diaz/TNS/Newscom.

A Marriage Message Made in Taiwan

Taiwan was supposed to be the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. Then, they asked voters. And like countries the world over, the island’s leaders got the same answer: No.

Of the 10 questions on the Taiwanese ballot, none got more attention than the five dealing with LGBT “rights.” “Do you agree that marriage defined in The Civil Code should be restricted to the union between one man and one woman?” voters were asked. An overwhelming portion of the country — 70.1 percent — said yes. Of course, you’ll have a hard time finding the actual number in American newspapers, since our media is doing its best to ignore the landslide. But the message from the country off the east coast of China could not be clearer: there is no significant international movement toward same-sex marriage.

Some people might see the results and think the island has a massive Christian population. They’d be wrong. Less than five percent of the country are Protestants or Catholics. And although they were vocal about their opinion on the issue, the fact of the matter is, most of the world’s population knows how unnatural the idea is. Until 2015, when the Supreme Court forced same-sex on America, LGBT activists here at home insisted the U.S. was outside the mainstream. But the irony is, we’re only outside of the mainstream now that it’s legal! There are 195 countries on this planet, and only 27 of them allow same-sex marriage. That’s 13 percent — hardly the stuff of global consensus.

Besides, not even global consensus is a substitute for truth. And as the Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan of Taipei told his church’s leaders, no law can change God’s design for marriage. While the Church does not condone discrimination, he said, “We cannot support same-sex ‘marriage’ and same-sex unions,” he insisted. “The legalization is… not in line with our teachings.”

Seven thousand miles away in America, the vote is having an interesting effect on our own debate. In a country where natural marriage is still the popular view, it’s become difficult — if not impossible — to voice those views without backlash. Scott Chen, who was educated in Taiwan, found that out when he posted a message about the vote in Chinese. “Some people think that marriage is a holy union between a man and a woman, I think so too, but that’s your own business.” You can imagine how well that would be taken by the LGBT movement if Chen were an average businessman. They’d demand his resignation. The problem is, Chen isn’t just an average businessman. Three months ago, he was named president of an app facilitating same-sex dating. For how much longer, after this backlash, no one knows.

Chen tried to defend himself. “I said marriage is a holy matrimony between a man and a woman is based on my own personal experience,” he said. “I am a straight man married to a woman I love and I have two beautiful daughters I love from the marriage. This is how I feel about my marriage. Different people have their different feelings about their marriages. You can’t deny my feelings about my marriage.”

Now, we expect that kind of backtracking from a lot of people in corporate America. The problem for believers, however, is that some Christians are doing the same thing. They become so intimidated by the cultural bullies that they put the fear of man above the fear of God. They shrink back and go silent on truth that is found not only in the Bible, but history and science as well. If Christians, who know the truth and are called to speak the truth ignore the truth, then what hope do we have? As a church in this country, we need a clarion call for courage. In a culture where 62 percent of student conservatives are too afraid to share their ideas in class, America is in a crisis situation.

Fortunately, this country has a president who, when it comes to doing and saying the tough things, refuses to be intimidated. That kind of courage breeds courage. It only takes one person — an Isabella Chow — doing something radically brave, to help others find their voice. And before you know it, people like Isabella won’t be standing alone, because tens of thousands of people will be standing with them and behind them, inspired by their bravery. We need more Isabellas in this country — and if we’re going to change anything, we need them now.


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


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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission.

The Incoming Congress May Look Diverse, but Diversity of Thought Is Dwindling

The headlines about the incoming 116th Congress scream that our representation has never been so “young,” so “blue,” so “diverse.”

If diversity is about how people look, this Congress is very diverse. It’s a fact that there has never been so great a number of representatives who are women and people of color. There are 124 women, 55 blacks, 43 Latinos, and 15 Asians.

But if diversity means diversity of thought, it’s practically nonexistent.

Of the 124 women, 105 are Democrats. Of the 55 blacks, all are Democrats. Of the 43 Latinos, 34 are Democrats. Of the 15 Asians, 14 are Democrats.

The celebration about alleged diversity is really a celebration of one, uniform voice on the left, dressed in different colors, calling in unison for moving America further toward socialism and secular humanism.

All the politics of today’s Democratic Party, which is as far left as it has ever been, is about how people look and where they come from. Once we called this prejudice or stereotyping. Now we call it progressivism.

This is anything but Martin Luther King’s famous dream that his children would one day be judged by “the content of their character and not the color of their skin.”

It takes a certain blindness to miss the irony in these politicians of the left, who call for honoring and empowering individuals, and choose to do this by making them less free.

They claim to enhance individual dignity by expanding government to dictate our health care, how we save and retire, our relationship with our employer, how and what we can say to others and what they can say to us, and just about every detail of our private lives and decisions.

How has it become so lost in our country that the way we dignify individuals is by believing in them, by granting them freedom to take responsibility for their own life?

In this election, Republicans won a national majority only from white voters. Hispanics voted 69 percent for Democrats; blacks, 90 percent; and Asians, 77 percent.

Minority Americans have bought the lie that personal freedom is not in their interest—that government should run their lives. This is meaningful to us all because they represent the growth demographics of the nation.

According to recent analysis from the Brookings Institution, white America will be in the minority by 2045. However, by 2027, just eight years from now, the majority of Americans 29 and under will be non-white.

The socialists, the secular humanists, know time is on their side. It’s a waiting game for them.

The new Democrat House has only one thing in mind—biding its time to inflict maximum damage on President Donald Trump in order to lay the groundwork for whomever it nominates for president in 2020. So expect a very noisy two years.

What can Republicans do? Get far more aggressive in reaching into these minority communities about what losing or gaining freedom will mean to them. Republicans have a very important story to tell that is not reaching these communities.

Countries that are not free don’t grow, because all the activity is about transferring wealth—not creating it.

The progressive politics of blame, dependence, and envy make the well-connected rich and keep impoverished people poor. It’s why over the last 50 years, many black politicians have gotten wealthy while the gap in average household income between whites and blacks is 50 percent greater today than it was in 1970.

Republicans and all Americans who care about bequeathing a free nation to their children and grandchildren need to think long and hard about how to communicate the importance of freedom to Americans of color.

It’s our only hope of not losing our country to the left forever.

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Star Parker

Star Parker is a columnist for The Daily Signal and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education. Twitter: .

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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters/Newscom.

France’s Tax Revolt: What Separates the Yellow Vests from America’s Tea Party

At first glance, the French yellow vests and American Tea Party seem quite similar, but once you look closely, the resemblance disappears.


France is seeing large-scale protests against massive hikes in petrol prices, sparked by tax increases. Is the anti-tax uprising sustainable or bound to disappear?

In an effort to make its case on climate change, the government under French president Emmanuel Macron has significantly increased the TICPE, an acronym which stands for “interior tax on the consumption of energy products.” An increase of up to 12 percent is supposed to curb CO2 emissions and get the country on target to fulfill its objectives, set out in the Paris Climate Accord (which the United States has pulled out of under President Trump).

Petrol prices in the République, which were already much higher than in its neighboring countries, skyrocketed despite the current level of cheap oil. On a website set up by the French government in an effort to help consumers compare prices, this becomes very visible: in the Paris region, a liter of petrol can cost up to €1.90 ($2.15). For my American friends who may be less familiar with the metric system, that’s $8.13 per gallon.

As a result, the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) arose out of civil society. They aren’t associated with any political party, but they are surely angry, contesting sky-high taxation in France, and the political class is unwilling to listen to them. Protest marches often occur on motorways, where the yellow vests block the streets to get attention for their cause. The high-visibility security vests they wear are symbolic for a cry for help and a desperate attempt to gain attention. However, unannounced protests on motorways also had their price: one woman was killed, and hundreds injured in protests that were held on motorways not closed down by police.

Some protests have turned violent in city centers, where particularly large crowds are clashing with police forces.

“We shouldn’t underestimate the impact of these images of the Champs-Élysées […] with battle scenes that were broadcast by the media in France and abroad,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told a news briefing. “Behind this anger there is obviously something deeper and which we must answer, because this anger, these anxieties have existed for a long time.”

President Macron reacted to the protest by calling for the rule of law to be protected. His government had already introduced a special energy subsidy for those in need, in order to cope with the tax. However, this hasn’t managed to stop the anger of the yellow vests, who are bound to continue their protests.

Uncoordinated and Unpolitical

The yellow vests aren’t a political movement, even though their requests are political. However, they risk being politicized by letting themselves be integrated into France’s party political movements. This isn’t new: political parties are mastering the art of undermining legitimate movements and claiming them for themselves. Both France’s far-left and far-right believe that the yellow vests could be an essential electoral boost to them before the impending European elections in this coming May.

But even if we assume that this movement manages to resist the attempts of being swallowed by either political side, what future can it have in such a tax-friendly country? The yellow vests are no Tea Party: they lack the structure and ideological backing that fueled the Tea Party.

The yellow vests are certainly fed up, but one thing would likely differentiate them from American conservatives: the Tea Party understood that in order to cut taxes, you need to cut spending. In France however, expectations to win just as many people over on the promise of cutting spending are grim.

When president Macron talked about “slackers,” “people who are nothing,” and an “unreformable country,” Politico called it an “arrogance problem.” Surely, passing an elite school and doing banking for Rothschild bears that risk. Be that as it may, the essential question is how reformable France really is. People arguing to cut taxes is a wonderful thing, but it also needs to be offset with the belief that the government isn’t here to solve all of your problems. We’re not hearing that from the yellow vests.

France’s far-right under Marine Le Pen also argues for considerable cuts in income taxes and other taxes, which has given some on the American right reason to believe Le Pen would qualify as a US conservative. There again, cutting taxes without cutting spending is just going to shift the problem to debt and inflationary policies.

If the yellow vests want to become a movement that has an actual voice in the process of reforming France, then it needs to be ideologically sound.

France should either cheer on the Paris Climate Accord for its great virtue or burn tires over sky-high petrol taxes introduced to curb carbon emissions. You can’t really have both.

COLUMN BY

Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is a Young Voices Advocate. His work has been featured in several outlets, including Newsweek, Rare, RealClear, CityAM, Le Monde and Le Figaro. He also works as a Policy Analyst for the Consumer Choice Center.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission. The featured image is taken from the YouTube video posted by Huffington Post France.