Polls: No Lasting Support for Gun Control One Year After Parkland

Thursday marked the one year anniversary of the terrible crimes at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.

It was a somber occasion, but some media outlets couldn’t contain their glee this week that last year’s horror might finally advance the anti-gun agenda. A CNN headlined heralded “A new era on guns.” “After Parkland, everything is different,” Salon gushed.

But a new nationwide poll by NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist tells a different story. The News Hour headline summarized the essential point, “A year after Parkland, support sinks for stricter laws on gun sales … .”

Specifically, the percentage of adults favoring stricter laws covering the sale of guns has dropped 20 points since the immediate aftermath of the Parkland killings, to 51%. In contrast, 46% of those surveyed believe such laws should be less strict or kept as they are. The difference between these responses is essentially a statistical tie, given the poll’s margin of error.

As the Washington Post noted with reference to Gallup and Civiq’s dalily tracking polls, “public support for stricter gun laws has returned to pre-Parkland levels.”

The Marist poll also found only 42% of respondents believed stricter gun legislation should be an “immediate priority for the current congress,” versus 56% who opined that it was not an immediate priority or not a priority at all.

Nevertheless, on Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee advanced two major gun control bills along strict party lines. H.R. 8 would ban most firearm loans and transfers between two private parties. H.R. 1112 would eliminate the current three day safety valve for uncompleted NICS checks. It would instead institute a new procedure where the transferring FFL would have wait 10 business days after initiating the open NICS check.  The prospective purchaser would then have to petition the FBI for an answer to the query, then wait an additional 10 business days before the transfer can proceed.  

Contrary to these surveys, the bills were portrayed by their proponents as reflecting a resurgent demand for gun control following the events of Feb. 14, 2018.

Yet even those proponents could not claim that either bill would have prevented the incident at Parkland.

Nor are they likely to stop other firearm-related crimes. Archly anti-gun media outlet Vox.com recently admitted as much. “[A] growing body of research suggests that comprehensive background checks alone won’t do much, if anything, to combat gun violence in America,” it conceded, even as it argued for far stricter gun control measures.

Democrats likely have the votes to pass both H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112 in the House. Their prospects in the Senate, however, appear far less favorable.

Whatever might have changed after Parkland, it hasn’t altered the basic realities that Americans support the Second Amendment and that gun control advocates continue to push measures that would unfairly penalize law-abiding gun owners, without actually reducing violent crime.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, bedrock American values prove stubbornly resistant to gun control opportunism. Media firestorms always burn out eventually, but the flame of liberty endures.

Your NRA has been a keeper of that flame since 1871.

And unlike the media-fueled emotionalism of gun control supporters, we’re not going anywhere.


H.R. 8 Markup: Liberal Democrats Markup Gun Control Legislation

Turning a Right into a Privilege: HR 1112 Gives Feds Unfettered Power to Block Gun Sales

Another Study Blames Guns, Excludes Reality

EDITORS NOTE: This NRA-ILA column with images is republished with permission.

Los Angeles City Council Blacklists NRA Members

“The city council voted 14-0 to pass an ordinance that now requires any company that has a contract with the city to disclose any and all ties they have to the NRA. Let’s be clear about what this is. This is an attempt at public shaming for anyone in the city who supports the NRA. This is a direct attempt to go at someone’s wallet just for having ties with the NRA and believing in the Second Amendment.” —Grant Stinchfield


Small, Rural Districts Are Taking the Lead in Era of Post-Parkland Safety

Magazine Bans Are the First Step Toward Total Disarmament

Kerry Picket: What Meaningful Action Has Been Taken Since Parkland?

EDITORS NOTE: This NRA-ILA column with video and images is republished with permission.

Wife of Former Democratic Senator Bill Nelson: Genocide Coming to America?

I had a conversation this morning with Dr. Ron Kelley, Minister of the Community Church of Sun-N-Fun. Dr. Kelly attended the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. as a member of the Florida delegation.

Bill and Grace Calvert Nelson. Photo: Facebook.

Dr. Kelley told me about a conversation he had with Grace Calvert Nelson, wife of former Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), during a meeting of the Florida delegation.

Grace Calvert Nelson was speaking about the genocide that had taken place in Rwanda killing an estimated 1 million people. She was told, by the President of Rwanda, that there were three fundamental reasons why this horrible loss of life occurred:

  1. “Each person [in Rwanda] came to view themselves as [part of] this or that tribe.”
  2. “Their approach to governing was to divide the country and conquer the other side.”
  3. “They tolerated hate, which inflames the worst of passions. It leads to hypocrisy.”

Mrs. Nelson appeared to be concerned that this was happening in America. She asked, “Are we [in the U.S.] perpetuating our own genocide?”

President Trump said during the State of the Union address to Congress,

But we must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution, and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good. 

Together, we can break decades of political stalemate.  We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future.  The decision is ours to make.

We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction.

Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness. 

It appears that Mrs. Nelson wanted to warn those with her about the politics of division, tribalism (intersectionality) and hate that leads to evil. Does Mrs. Nelson agree with President Trump? Can Republicans and Democrats alike “reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution, and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good?”

Dr. Kelley was inspired by Mrs. Nelson. Upon returning he gave a sermon that emphasized three key ideas,

  1. Coming together is a beginning.
  2. Keeping together is progress.
  3. Working together is success.

I hope all reading this will contemplate and reflect on greatness and reject pettiness.

It is time to come together, keep together and work together for the greatness of our families, communities and nation.

Democrats Are Spinning A Real National Emergency

Is it unlawful? Is it unprecedented? No, and No.

Caravan of illegal aliens.

Because the Congress will not fund the southern wall, President Trump has no alternative but to declare a national emergency to obtain funding and continue construction efforts. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) claims such action is unprecedented. Senate Minority Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tweeted it would be “a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency.” Both are wrong.

First of all, the “National Emergencies Act” (94-412) is legitimate legislation passed in 1976 and empowers the President to activate special powers during a crisis.

The first President to issue an emergency proclamation was Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, back in 1917, to improve maritime tonnage to move resources around the United States and the world. This is back when the world was embroiled in the first World War and our allies required supplies.

In recent times, National Emergencies have been called by the president numerous times. To date, 58 emergencies have been declared, and 31 are still in effect. Here is how many recent presidents have issued:

03-President Trump
11-President Obama
13-President Bush
09-President Clinton

Many of these are concerned with blocking the property of people who violate American policy, but it has also been used for imposing sanctions and other situations. Speaker Pelosi made a veiled threat when she said, “A Democratic president can declare emergencies, as well.” The reality is, Democrats have already declared emergencies, as former President Barack Obama bragged, “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.”

In Speaker Pelosi’s view, she foresees future presidents declaring emergencies over such things as gun rights. This would inevitably trigger a Constitutional crisis as it would be violating the Second Amendment. This is not the same as in President Trump’s case where he wishes to secure our border. Nonetheless, his emergency will be challenged in court, but he will likely win as he has precedence on his side.

So why all of the fuss? The Democrats are trying to convince the public the declaration of emergency by President Trump is unlawful and unprecedented in order to build public opinion against the president. The fact is, nothing could be further from the truth. It is simply not so.

In order to invoke the emergency, President Trump will have to demonstrate a crisis truly exists. The Democrats claim the problem is being “manufactured” by the president, but there is plenty of data to show a bona fide problem exists. Both parties are cognizant of this, so why are the Democrats adamantly opposed to it? Simple: control. There are now over 22 million illegal immigrants in the United States with more trying to come in every day, some are honest and hard working, others are criminals. Either way, the Democrats are endeavoring to grant citizenship to these people thereby turning them into voters who would presumably support their party, thereby turning the Congress and White House to liberal rule.

Let’s be clear, the Republicans and the president have no problem with legal migration, as we all should be, but there are other forces at play here trying to undermine our country.

Do we have a National Emergency? Yes, I believe we do, both at the border and in the halls of Congress.

Keep the Faith!


If Trump declares a national emergency over the border, he’ll be on solid legal ground

Trump Frees Up $8 Billion To Build The Wall

House Passes Border Security Bill With Most Democrats Voting In Favor And Most Republicans Against It

EDITORS NOTE: This Bryce Is Right column with images is republished with permission. All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

State of the Union Destroys Narrative That President Trump is Racist

Watching this portion of president Trump’s State of the Union speech, I thought, “This destroys Democrats’, Hollywood and fake news media’s lie that says Trump is racist.” And yet, I knew these leftists would continue their evil divisive Trump-is-racist deception.

With the TV cameras on Alice Johnson, a tearful black woman, Trump said he was deeply moved by her story. In 1997, Alice was sentenced to life in prison as a first time nonviolent drug offender. Over the next 22 years, Alice became a prison minister. She greatly impacted many lives in prison and beyond; inspiring others to make better choices.

Trump said

“Alice’s story underscores the disparity and unfairness that can exist in criminal sentencing and the need to remedy this total injustice.” “In June, I commuted Alice’s sentence. When I saw Alice’s beautiful family greet her at the prison gate hugging and kissing, crying and laughing, I knew I did something right.” 

Then, Trump announced that he signed the First Step Act into law. This new law gives nonviolent offenders the chance to reenter society as productive law abiding citizens. Trump introduced Matthew Charles. In 1996, 30 year old Matthew was sentenced to 35 years in prison for drug related offenses. Over 20 years, Matthew completed 30 Bible studies, became a law clerk and mentored many of his fellow inmates. Matthew Charles, a black man, is the first person released under Trump’s First Step Act. https://bit.ly/2Gdw1lG

Folks, how in the world can leftists continue to effectively falsely brand Trump a racist?

Trump’s strong commitment to the pro-life movement is more glaring proof that he is not racist. In his speech to March for Life 2019, president Trump said, “Together we will work to save the lives of unborn children so that they have a chance to live and to love.” “Every child is a sacred gift from God.”

Trump signed a letter to congress that if they send any legislation to his desk which weakens the protection of human life, he will veto it

Talk about pot calling the kettle black, Democrats, Hollywood and fake news media who worship Planned Parenthood are the true racists; the real Nemesis of black Americans.

Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger was a hard-core racist who believed blacks were inferior weeds whose breeding needed to be controlled. This is why 79% of Planned Parenthood chop-shops are in black neighborhoods. Given that blacks are only 12% of the population, our abortions are disproportionately higher than whites. As a black American, I am sad to say we are engaged in self genocide via abortion

Democrats, Hollywood and fake news media are well aware of Sanger’s hatred for blacks. These leftists believe child-birth destroys the planet. Therefore, leftists believe the more black babies murdered in the womb, the better. Meanwhile, they have the gall to brand Trump a racist. If Trump were racist, wouldn’t he join Democrats in pushing to legalize killing black babies on their birth date and even after they are born?

Here’s another example of Democrats not really giving a rat’s derriere about blacks while continuously playing the racist card against Trump. This was the second State of the Union in which Trump announced record low unemployment for blacks. While everyone else in the chamber responded with enthusiastic applause, Democrats sat on their hands stoned faced. Wait a minute, aren’t you Democrats supposed to be champions of blacks? Shouldn’t you be excited about economic good news for blacks? The dirty despicable secret is Democrats only care about keeping blacks barefoot, stupid, feeling victimized and voting for Democrats. This demonic political party’s cruelty sickens me.

Not only are Democrats, Hollywood and fake news media relentless in deceiving blacks into believing Trump is racist, they are purposely creating racial division and hate by claiming Trump voters are also racists. This is pure evil.

For 8 years Obama intentionally dragged down America. He apologized around the world for our prosperity, furthering leftists’ lie that the world has too little because America consumes too much

When Trump hit the campaign trail with his patriotic slogan, “Make America Great Again”, it was the battle-cry most Americans had been longing for. Instinctively, we believed this regular guy businessman would work to restore America to her rightful place as the world’s moral and economic leader; the Shining City on a hill.

Democrats, Hollywood and fake news media played their old evil trick on blacks. They said MAGA was code for Trump’s racist desire to return America back to the days of black suppression. Consequently, Americans who courageously wear “MAGA” caps are regularly physically assaulted.

Democrats and their media operatives have played their everything-out-of-a-Republican’s-mouth-is code-for-racism trick on blacks for decades.

As a young black man, I sang at a President Reagan Inauguration event. A white reporter appeared stunned when I said Reagan’s speeches always inspired me to be all I could be and proud to be an American. I later learned that leftists claimed everything out of Reagan’s mouth was code for racism.

Democrats and their fellow leftists will never back away from their America-is-a-racist-hellhole-for-blacks deception. For crying out load, white voters gave Obama, the worst president in American history, two terms. And yet, black Democrats are still sadly singing,”We Shall Over Come Someday.” Nothing America does for blacks will cause Democrats to give up exploiting blacks to win black voters. Democrats seek to keep blacks feeling victimized, addicted to big government and voting for Democrats to keep evil white America at bay. Totally disgusting.

Here’s another under-reported truth. Blacks moved backwards under Obama. 

Blacks are thriving under Trump.

President Trump is not a racist. Democrats, Hollywood and fake news media are racists; disgusting distributors of racial division and hate. Our country deserves better.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is by Pixabay.

Muslim U.S. Air Force Intelligence Specialist tried to pass classified American information to Iran

But if anyone had questioned her loyalty, he or she would have been denounced as a racist, bigoted “Islamophobe.”

Monica Elfriede Witt (a.k.a.
Fatemah Zahra)

“Iran Conducted Cyber Hacks on U.S., Recruited U.S. Air Force Officer to Steal Classified Info,” by Adam Kredo, Washington Free Beacon, February 13, 2019:

WARSAW, Poland—The Trump administration announced a new package of sanctions on Iranian entities tied to the cyber backing of U.S. individuals, a move that comes on the heels of American authorities indicting a U.S. Air Force officer who allegedly tried to pass classified information to Tehran after defecting to the country.

The Department of Justice announced early Wednesday that it had indicted Monica Elfriede Witt, also known as Fatemah Zahra, a former active duty U.S. Air Force Intelligence Specialist and Special Agent, for attempting to pass classified American information to Iran.

Witt had access to secret and top-secret information, according to the indictment, unsealed early Wednesday.

Witt was deployed to several overseas location to conduct “classified missions collecting signals intelligence,” including those of adversaries.

Witt had access to “classified information, including details of ongoing counterintelligence operations, true names of sources, and the identities of U.S. agents involved in the recruitment of those sources,” according to the indictment.

“In or around January 2012 to in or around May 2015, in Iran, and elsewhere outside the jurisdiction of any particular State or district, defendant [Witt] did knowingly and unlawfully combine, confederate, and agree with other persons, both known and unknown to the grand jury, including officers of the IRGC, to knowingly and unlawfully communicate, deliver, and transmit to a foreign government, specifically Iran, and to that foreign government’s representatives, officers, and agents, directly and indirectly, documents and information relating to the national defense of the United States, with the intent and reason to believe that the same would be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of Iran, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 794(a),” the indictment alleges.

The disclosure of this information leak was timed to coincide with an announcement by the Treasury Department that it is sanctioning a handful of Iranian entities for their role in cyber hacks on Americans.

The sanctions hit an Iranian-based entity tied to the country’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, or IRGC. This includes “efforts to recruit and collect intelligence from foreign attendees [of various conferences], including U.S. persons, and four associated individuals,” according to the Treasury Department.

Sanctions also were leveled on “a separate Iran-based entity and six associated individuals involved in the targeting of current and former U.S. government and military personnel as part of a malicious cyber campaign to gain access to and implant malware on their computer systems.”…

RELATED ARTICLE: Health and Human Service’s Fugitives from Justice: all New Americans?

EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column with images is republished with permission. The featured image is by Pixabay.

Don’t Believe the Fake News. Tax Cuts for Everyday Americans Are Real.

The left-leaning media would have you believe that the 2017 tax cuts were nothing of the sort. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., recently tweeted that average refunds are down, calling the president’s tax cut a “middle-class tax hike.”

This is simply the latest episode in a long-running campaign to demagogue tax cuts that let the vast majority of Americans keep more of their hard-earned money.

Some of the biggest cuts are actually being enjoyed by the lowest-income Americans. A typical family of four got a $2,917 tax cut this year.

So what’s the complaint about?

In an early sample of tax returns, the IRS has reported that average refunds are down $170 from last year and that they hadn’t changed much from 2017, the year before.

But this is not relevant, for two reasons.

First, the sample of tax returns cited by the IRS is very small, and some analysts expect refunds will actually go up this year.

But second, and more importantly, tax refunds have nothing to do with the size of anyone’s tax cut. A refund is what you get back if you’ve paid too much in taxes throughout the year. Your tax cut is the drop in total taxes you owed to Uncle Sam last year. The two are not connected.

Employers across the country already gave us our tax cuts by withholding less money from our paychecks every pay period. Americans saw a bump to their paychecks in February 2018.

Of course, withholding is never perfectly accurate, so your refund or tax payment at the end of the year is simply a last-minute adjustment. But that refund does not cancel out the overall bump in take-home pay due to the tax cut.

Do you remember when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the tax cuts “monumental, brazen theft,” or when former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers predicted the tax cuts would kill 10,000 people every year? This most recent round of hysteria is just more of the same.

Last year, The Heritage Foundation calculated what Americans across the country can expect from the tax cuts. The average household can expect about $26,000 more in take-home pay over the next 10 years thanks to the tax reform.

Americans benefit twice from the tax cuts—first, by paying less in taxes, and a second time from higher wages generated by a faster-growing economy.

At the end of 2018, workers saw some of the largest wage gains in over 10 years, and unemployment rates remain historically low. Over the next 10 years, because of a larger economy, the typical American will benefit from over $26,000 more in take-home pay, or $44,697 for a family of four.

The average American household can expect to pay about $1,400 less in taxes in 2018. But depending on where you live and how many kids you have, the numbers can look different.

In communities that had high tax bills last year, such as Palo Alto, California’s district (CA-18) represented in the House by Anna Eshoo, or one of New York City’s Manhattan districts (NY-12) represented by Carolyn Maloney, the average tax cut could be as much as $3,000.

Lower-income communities, such as areas near Phoenix, Arizona (AZ-7), represented in the House by Ruben Gallego, as well as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (PA-2), will see much larger cuts in their tax bills. In these communities, tax reform brought an average income tax cut of 18 percent or more.

And the tax cuts are especially good news for parents. A married couple filing jointly with two children will see their tax bills fall by $2,917.

In the coming years, the tax cuts will continue to raise wages, increase investment, and expand economic opportunities. They will also continue through 2025. 

Don’t let the misinformation about refunds throw you off. Middle-class and lower-income Americans are the biggest beneficiaries from the tax cuts.


Portrait of Adam Michel

Adam Michel

Adam Michel focuses on tax policy and the federal budget as a policy analyst in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: @adamnmichel.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column with images is republished with permission. The featured image is by Pixabay.

Breakdown: The World Is Measurably Better Since January 2017

The largely unreported and to some ironic reality of the past two years is that the world overall is a better, safer, more prosperous place since the swearing in of Donald Trump as President of the United States in 2016. Better than it was under Barack Obama and better than it was under George W. Bush.

Despite the nonstop onslaught of negative reporting on Trump — 90 percent according to the Media Research Center (there’s been 10 percent positive?) — and the breathless reporting on the government shutdown, the latest Robert Mueller leak or arrest, the Kavanaugh hearing fiasco, fake news such as BuzzFeed’s flat wrong non-story on Trump telling Michael Cohen to lie, the disgusting anti-Christian bigotry associated with the MAG-hat Covington Catholic High School students and so on ad infinitum — Trump’s approval ratings remain right in the range they were when he took office, and ticking upward.

That suggests that the relentlessly anti-Trump, Democratic partisan media is washed out by what his actual policies have so clearly accomplished.

But it also suggests that a lot of Americans — probably more than are reflected in polls, and at least some who support Trump — simply do not feel safe saying to anyone that they realize how much better off the country and the world are. It wasn’t supposed to happen. But the media not reporting something does not mean it didn’t happen.

So here are some of the major areas where the world is demonstrably better off since January 2016:

→ First, the economy, duh! 304,000 jobs in January, blowing out all of the predictions. Manufacturing has burst back in the U.S. when President Obama said those jobs would never return. (Man, that guy was wrong a lot.) GDP growth 50 percent higher than it had been under Obama, even though the recovery is now long in the tooth. This has led to a growing consensus among non-political economists that what has driven the economic renaissance has been tax cuts, massive deregulation, stronger trade policy, tax breaks to lure back offshore capital, and a dramatic rise in oil and natural gas production.

→ The entire federal court system will be far more conservative and constitutional for a generation as Trump’s judicial nominees have been uniformly originalists and conservative…and young. This means that there should be fewer overtly political rulings in which the law and constitution are bent to judges’ political views like a reed in the wind, and more solid rules for governing and living.

→ The dishonest and duplicitous media has been unmasked for the partisans they are. This was unintended, of course, but Americans are better off knowing this (something I have known for many, many years as a former member of the mainstream media.) The media’s vicious partisanship has been widely self-exposed for Americans to see, although many members of the media themselves seem to remain in denial. The vast majority of Americans do not.

→ China’s systemic cheating on trade agreements and thieving of intellectual properties has been called out and responded to forcefully. Since Trump’s inauguration, an accepted consensus has emerged that China’s actions pose a commercial threat to world trade, to its geographic neighbors and to the security of the United States. Ultimately, we will end up with better, more fair trade that will absolutely benefit American companies and workers, but also will benefit most of the rest of the world, which will be more empowered to demand better, more fair agreements for their companies and workers.

→ Pulling out of the terrorist-enabling Iran nuclear agreement did not result in the end of the world, In fact, the world basically yawned past the regular hyperbolic media coverage. Further, most of the sanctions have been reinstated, including by our European friends, when the media Democrats assured us they could not be. Iran is feeling the pinch. Leashing up the murderous Mullah’s financially makes the world that much safer.

→Similarly, when the U.S. walked away from the essentially worthless, symbolic Paris Climate Accords, the world did not warm and seas did not rise. Actually, the U.S. continues to be a leader in reduction of carbon emissions, largely through the voluntary, innovative private sector.

→ The U.S. showed its promise-keeping resolve for the first time when Trump directed the U.S. embassy in Israel to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — just like Obama, Bush and Bill Clinton had promised to do before him, but never did. The hyperventilating over lighting the Middle East tinderbox never materialized. The normal amount of Muslim terrorism and Israeli military response ensued afterwards as before.

→ Black Americans are enjoying an employment resurgence like that not seen since before the disastrous implementing of the Great Society. While overall U.S. unemployment hit a 50-year low in Trump’s second year, joblessness among black Americans has set a modern record as well. Black employment has risen about 1.3 million under Trump to hit a record 19.3 million in October. Now this clearly started before Trump, but that it accelerated this long into a recovery is fairly remarkable.

→ Russian aggression against Ukraine and other small neighbors has been held in check as the U.S. has sent arms and supplies to the Ukraine and stiffened the response to Russian belligerence. The tough talk had already been backed by missile attacks against Russian mercenaries in Syria and Russian-backed Syrian allies. Using the big stick once or twice means carrying it around becomes a deterrent — not a joke as with the previous president. The crossing of any red line is obviously not going to be acceptable and Russia knows that.

→ Trump’s forceful efforts to denuclearize North Korea resulted in a one-one-one summit with President Kim, and second one coming up. It started with tough talk, followed by the movement of U.S. naval and air power off the coast. It’s ended so far with the self-destruction of some of North Korea’s nuclear facilities and no more of the missile tests that had become common under Obama.

→ Most of our European allies in NATO have been weak and sometimes duplicitous on defense, refusing to live up to their promise on minimal military expenditures to help defend themselves from Russia. Trump again talked tough. Considering he had pulled out of the Paris climate accords and the Iran agreement, European leaders worry he could follow through on NATO threats. They have accordingly increased their defense spending by a combined $100 billion now so far — strengthening free countries against tyranny.

→ ISIS decapitated.

There are plenty more. But this hits the highlights. By all the evidence, it is unarguable, even by the Orange Man Bad crowd, that the world is better off now than two years ago.

EDITORS NOTE: This The Revolutionary Act column is republished with permission. The featured image is by Pixabay.

Hawaii’s Attempt to Raise Tobacco Age to 100 Reveals the Soft Tyranny of Neo-Moralists

No matter how noble a cause, efforts to legislate morality have a rather dubious track record.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And on that road, there is, perhaps, nothing more dangerous than legislators committed to making sure those intentions come to pass. However, no matter how noble a cause, efforts to legislate morality have a rather dubious track record.

Yet, no matter how true this may be, governments are always trying to regulate morality by banning behavior they deem wrong. From the prohibition of alcohol to the drug war to anti-dancing campaigns, we have seen this happen throughout US history. And the latest example comes from Hawaii, where buying cigarettes may become an illegal act for roughly 99 percent of the population.

Legislative season is upon us, and if one lawmaker from Hawaii gets his way, the state may become the first to effectively outlaw cigarettes. Though to be clear, the text of the proposed bill does not actually ban smoking—it just prohibits the sale of cigarettes to anyone under the age of 100.

Already, Hawaii is one of six states that has raised the legal smoking age to 21. The other states include California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Maine. The proposed law takes this concept even further, incrementally raising the legal smoking age to 100. The legal age would rise to 30 in 2020, 40 in 2021, and 50 in 2022, finally reaching 100 in 2024. Vape devices and cigars would be exempt from the ban.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Richard Creagan, who is also a doctor, said, “We, as legislators, have a duty to do things to save people’s lives. If we don’t ban cigarettes, we are killing people.” As a doctor, Creagan is absolutely correct: It is his job to save lives, and he has sworn an oath to do so. As a legislator, however, he does not have the moral authority to tell his constituents which peaceful behaviors they can and cannot engage in, no matter how well-intentioned his motives may be.

Creagan commented:

We essentially have a group who are heavily addicted—in my view, enslaved by a ridiculously bad industry—which has enslaved them by designing a cigarette that is highly addictive, knowing that it [is] highly lethal…And, it is.

While he is clearly passionate about the topic, that does not make his attempts to outlaw smoking any less of an affront to individual liberty. To be sure, smoking is an unhealthy habit. And while I recommend avoiding it at all costs, that is a decision for the individual to make, not their state representative.

Supporters of the proposed legislation argue that the timing of the bill is right since the rise of tobaccoless vape products has resulted in a decrease in cigarette sales. Michael Siegel, a professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health said:

Because smoking rates are getting so low, we can actually start thinking about what I call end-game strategy, meaning we’re at the point where we can feasibly just make smoking history…We couldn’t even talk about it when there was a large percentage of people smoking because there were too many people affected.

It is important to reiterate that there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting people to quit smoking and live healthier lives. There is, however, something very wrong with prohibiting buyers and sellers of cigarettes from engaging in a peaceful transaction under the threat of force, which is what laws of this nature effectively do.

Already, innovative market alternatives to traditional tobacco products, like vape pens, are directing tobacco users away from cigarettes and towards safer products. This shows that the market is working without the need for regulation. It would be silly, then, for the local government to get involved when things are already getting better on their own. If anything, it shows that government bans are not needed.

Adding to the hysteria, Creagan said:

We don’t allow people free access to opioids, for instance, or any prescription drugs…This is more lethal, more dangerous than any prescription drug, and it is more addicting. In my view, you are taking people who are enslaved from a horrific addiction, and freeing people from horrific enslavement.

You cannot force someone out of their own captivity; each individual is responsible for that. And as well-intentioned as Creagan is, he would be wise to heed the wisdom of Lysander Spooner (1808-1887), who reminded us that vices are not crimes.

In 1875, Lysander Spooner—an abolitionist and founder of America’s only private postal service—wrote an essay called “Vices Are Not Crimes,” in which he famously denounced the government’s proclivity for passing laws that attempt to regulate “unsavory” individual behavior. 

While Spooner does not praise “bad” behavior, he does assert that individuals, and to some extent their communities, are responsible for correcting their own actions. And by punishing and outlawing vices, like alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes, no real personal transformation or change can occur. By relying on the state to determine what is right or wrong, individuals completely relinquish personal responsibility.

Spooner argues that it is for this reason that vices, which he describes as “those acts by which a man harms himself or his property,” should not be outlawed by governments. Instead, individuals should be free to learn through trial and error, so long as they are not harming others.

“And, unless he can be permitted to try these experiments to his own satisfaction,” Spooner writes, “he is restrained from the acquisition of knowledge, and, consequently, from pursuing the great purpose and duty of his life.”

In fact, Spooner viewed the freedom to experiment with potential vices with such importance, he believed it was the foundation of individual freedom. He wrote that “unless this clear distinction between vices and crimes be made and recognized by the laws, there can be on earth no such thing as individual right, liberty, or property.” One can only imagine how he would view Hawaii’s new proposal.

In juxtaposition to his definition of “vices,” Spooner defined “crimes” as “those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another.” And unfortunately for Hawaii lawmakers, smoking cigarettes does not fit that definition. So long as smoking is done on private property where no one else’s liberties are being violated, there is no victim and thus, no crime.

He continues:

No one of us, therefore, can learn this indispensable lesson of happiness and unhappiness, of virtue and vice, for another. Each must learn it for himself. To learn it, he must be at liberty to try all experiments that commend themselves to his judgment.

Author C.S. Lewis also echoed this sentiment in his book God in the Dock: Essays on Theology when he wrote:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.

Rep. Creagan most certainly cares about his constituents, but that does not justify his proposed legislation. Local governments can absolutely encourage individuals to be healthy. But they should not, under any circumstances, ban products or activities it finds undesirable. In order for individual liberty to flourish, people must be free to make their own choices, even if we think they have made the wrong choices.


Brittany Hunter

Brittany Hunter

Brittany is a senior writer for the Foundation for Economic Education. Additionally, she is a co-host of Beltway Banthas, a podcast that combines Star Wars and politics. Brittany believes that the most effective way to promote individual liberty and free-market economics is by telling timely stories that highlight timeless principles.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column with images is republished with permission. Image credit: Pixabay.

VIDEO: Parkland Dad Reflects on Feelings of Loss, Motivation to Make Change

“February 14th—we live it every day. I don’t need February 14th to remind me that my daughter was murdered on that day… But we’ve been [working] non-stop in Broward since this murder.” —Andrew Pollack

RELATED ARTICLE: A Year Since Parkland Shooting, Gun Control Activists Still Misdiagnose the Problem

EDITORS NOTE: This NRA-ILA column with video and images is republished with permission.

The 2019 Intelligence Assessment: The policy implications for Gaza

It would seem futile to conduct yet another indecisive round of fighting, only to return to yet another tense and sporadically violent interbellum for several years—until the next major flare-up of fighting…

Military assessment warns of high risk of war with GazaThe Times of Israel, Feb. 13. 2019.
Israeli military report predicts high probability of clashes in Gaza… in 2019i24News, Feb. 13, 2019.
Chief of Staff: Prepare for Gaza conflictIsrael National News, Feb. 13, 2019.
Intelligence assessment for 2019: IDF prepares for confrontation with Gaza – Channel 20News, Feb. 13, 2019.

This Wednesday (Feb. 13, 2019) the annual Intelligence Assessment was presented to the IDF General Staff, less than a month after Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi assumed his position as Chief-of-Staff. From it, the Israeli public learned that a quarter-century after allowing Yasser Arafat back into Gaza (1994); almost a decade-and-a-half after Israel evacuated the entire Gaza Strip (2005), leaving it to the exclusive control of the Palestinian-Arabs; and after three major military campaigns over the last decade, Israel is once again on the cusp of another violent conflagration with the terrorist-controlled enclave. Thus, according to the depressing IDF assessment: “Gaza…is the most volatile region, and there is a risk of terror groups initiating action [against Israel].” 

Undrinkable water, raw sewage flows, perennial power outages

Last December, I was excoriated by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, for reaching what I consider to be an inescapable, fact-based conclusion that, “Eventually, there will either be Arabs in Gaza or Jews in the Negev. In the long run, there will not be both!”

Accordingly—since there appears little chance of the Palestinian-Arabs in general, and the Gazans in particular, morphing into something they have not been for over hundred years—for anyone who favors the option of Jews remaining in the Negev, there is little option but to reconcile oneself to the lamentable fact that “The solution to the problem of Gaza is its deconstruction—not its reconstruction.”

Indeed, I would be intrigued to hear what my detractors have in mind for Gaza and how they envisage the fate of the hapless enclave in, say, ten to fifteen years from today. For already, its unfortunate inhabitants are in dire straits, with most of their natural water sources polluted, with raw sewage flowing into the streets, and with electrical power available for only a several hours a day.

Significantly, this grave situation has been precipitated despite the fact that Gaza has received one of the world’s highest levels of international aid and massive flows of humanitarian merchandise from Israel, which have, almost invariably, been promptly expropriated by Hamas. Ominously for the people of Gaza, this aid appears to be diminishing, making the future seem even bleaker than the present.

The onset of “donor fatigue”?

Indeed, in light of overwhelming evidence of the lack of good governance in the Palestinian-administered territories, in general and in Gaza in particular, there are increasing signs of “donor fatigue”. Of course, the most significant manifestation of this is the massive curtailment of aid by the current US administration, both to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its related institutions, as well as to UN institutions rendering services to the Palestinian population—chiefly to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). However, other donor countries have raised concerns that the aid they provide may be misused. Thus, Australia, for example, has decided to divert the aid it gives via UN—rather than directly to the PA.

In a recent study (December 2018), Natan Brown, professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, diagnosed one of the major reasons for growing donor disillusionment: “For Palestinians, the problem is deeply rooted in more than just the policy inclinations of their leaders.”

He warns: “That leadership itself has decayed and lost much of its ability to shape Palestinian political horizons and strategic thinking. Palestinian leaders and institutions … pursue no coherent ideology, express no compelling moral vision, are subject to no oversight, and inspire no collective enthusiasm. The problem goes beyond the corruption that has been an issue in the past to a pattern of disengagement from any practical state-building efforts.

Gathering gloom over Gaza

Brown sets out the gathering gloom that ongoing trends auger for Gaza: “The recent history of Gaza offers a grim warning of the severe consequences that can follow when international assistance declines…. When Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, the PA split between Hamas-controlled Gaza and the Fatah-controlled West Bank. As two-state diplomacy began to lose traction, international actors simply postponed efforts to address this problem.”

Although, as he noted, “Some international assistance continued to flow to Gaza, but it was seen as humanitarian support. Most donors avoided supporting official institutions and politics more broadly. Attention, diplomatic energy, and funds shifted elsewhere (primarily to the West Bank and the PA there).”

He describes the results of these developments: “After more than a decade, the results are clear: disastrous humanitarian conditions, radicalization, and periodic bouts of violence. Rather than an actual peace process, the negotiations that take place between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza alternate between containing violence and threatening it.”

Brown then issues a sober warning as to the likely consequences: “…if international donors tacitly abandon not merely Gaza but the entire Palestinian people based on a combination of conscious U.S. policy and declining European interest—then future generations of Israelis and Palestinians are likely to pay a high price. The conflict would probably metastasize and no longer be amenable to diplomacy of any sort.”

Two flimsy excuses

In the public discourse, two flimsy excuses are commonly bandied about in the mainstream media for the ongoing fate of the general population in Gaza.

Both portray the inhabitants of Gaza as victims – either (a) as victims of their leadership and/or (b) as victims of Israel’s repressive blockade of the hapless enclave.

With regard to the former, the Gazans are not the blameless victims of their leadership.

Quite the opposite!

They are the very crucible in which that leadership was formed, and from which it emerged.

To underscore this, over the last five years, public expression of collective Palestinian preferences have consistently shown “overwhelming” support for lethal attacks against Israelis (including civilians inside the pre-1967 lines), and for the “pay-to-slay” payments made to “security prisoners” (read, “jailed terrorists”), who have murdered countless Israelis in cold blood—often in the most brutal manner.

Indeed, a poll conducted  just over a year and a half ago by a leading Palestinian survey institute, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, found that 85% of Gazans supported maintaining payments to said “security prisoners”, while recently thousands of Gazans rallied demanding release of convicted perpetrators of terror-related offenses.

Moreover, a December 2018 poll, conducted by the same Palestinian institute, showed that the Gazans display little remorse for their election of Hamas. Thus, according to its findings, in a future presidential election, Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh would trounce incumbent Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah by almost two-to-one!

Consequence not cause

As for the later excuse, it is demonstrably and indisputably clear that the imposition of the quarantine on Gaza is the consequence—not the cause—of the Gazans enmity towards Israel.

Indeed, to attribute the hostility toward Israel to the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza plays directly into the hands of Israel’s detractors. Worse, it is in effect, to be complicit with the enemy—endorsing its mendacious and malevolent narrative.

After all, it necessarily implies that if only Israel would somehow initiate/facilitate an improvement in Gaza’s living conditions, the violence would subside. This not only reinforces the false claims that Palestinian terrorism is driven by Israeli-induced economic privation, but also that Israel bears the responsibility for such terror, which is, therefore, no more than an understandable reaction to hardship and despair, externally imposed by an alien power.

But this is a transparent inversion of causality.

For, the penury in Gaza is not the cause of enmity towards the Jewish state. Quite the opposite! It is enmity towards the Jewish state that is the cause of penury in Gaza.

The current conditions in Gaza are not the result of a lack of international humanitarian aid, or of Israeli largesse. Gaza has enjoyed an abundance of both, only to squander them on efforts to harm Israel—by diverting massive resources to the construction of a vast military infrastructure with which to assault the Jewish state.

Gaza: “Cutting its nose to spite its face”

Indeed, anyone with even a smidgeon of familiarity with Israeli society and its basic impulses, must know that, had there been any genuine desire for peaceful coexistence with its Jewish neighbors, Gaza would have flourished. Israeli enterprise and expertise, which transformed Israel from a struggling agricultural-based country to a super-charged post-industrial powerhouse in a few decades, would have flooded into the enclave, providing opportunity and employment for its impoverished residents.

So, in effect, the only thing that the Gazans need to do to extricate themselves from their current predicament is…nothing! All they need to do is stop what they are doing now—attacking Israel. Indeed, the only thing that needs to happen for Gaza to thrive is for them to convincingly foreswear hostility and embrace peaceful coexistence with Israel.

But of course, that will not happen! For that is not in the nature of the Gazan populace, hopelessly immersed in quagmire of their own making of Judeophobic hatred and Judeocidal desire that is strangling any prospect of extricating themselves from the web of destitution and despair into which they have inextricably bound themselves.

2019 Intelligence Assessment: The point of yet another round?

So back to the 2019 Intelligence Assessment…

According to its appraisal, there is a good chance of the radical Islamic elements in Gaza initiating a provocation that would compel the IDF to engage (once again) in large-scale military action—either to punish or prevent attacks on Israel’s civilian population. But what would be the long term—indeed, even the intermediate term—point of such action?

After all, it has been tried time and again in the past ten years—in Operation Cast Lead (2008-9), Operation Pillar of Defense (2012) and Operation Protective Edge (2014) –to little or no avail. Despite inflicting heavy damage on its adversaries, the IDF is now confronted with foes, whose martial capabilities are far beyond anything once even remotely imagined.

Accordingly, it would seem futile to conduct yet another indecisive round of fighting, only to return to yet another tense and sporadically violent interbellum for several years, until the next major flare-up of fighting—which would once again end with a tense sporadically violent interbellum, until the regime in Gaza felt strong enough to engage again. Or too weak not to.

2019 Intelligence Assessment & Albert Einstein

It was Albert Einstein who famously said that one could not solve a problem with the level of thinking that created it.  Clearly, the problem of Gaza was created by the belief that land could be transferred to the Palestinian-Arabs to provide them a viable opportunity for self-governance.

Equally clearly, then, the problem of Gaza cannot be solved by persisting with ideas that created it – i.e.by persisting with a plan for Israel to provide the Palestinian-Arabs with land for self-governance.

The problem can only be solved by entirely abandoning the concept that Gaza should be governed by Palestinian-Arabs. Any effective solution must follow this new line of reasoning.

Any other outcome will merely prolong the problem. If Hamas comes out stronger from the next round of fighting, it will be only a matter of time before the next, probably more deadly, round breaks out.

If Hamas comes out weaker from this round of fighting, it is only a matter of time before it will be replaced by an even more violent extremist-successor – and thus, once more, only a matter of time until the next, probably more deadly, round breaks out.

The only durable solution requires the IDF to take over the Gaza Strip, to dismantle the ruling regime there, and to extend Israeli sovereignty over the entire Strip– and then initiate a large scale enterprise for the humanitarian relocation of the non-belligerent Arab population.

2019 Intelligence Assessment & Herbert Hoover

 This is the only approach that can solve the problem of Gaza.

This is the only approach that will eliminate the threat to Israel continually emanating from it.

It was former US President Herbert Hoover, dubbed the “Great Humanitarian” for his efforts to relieve famine in Europe after WWI, who wrote : “Consideration should be given even to the heroic remedy of transfer of populations…the hardship of moving is great, but it is [still] less than the constant suffering of minorities and the constant recurrence of war.”

How could anyone, with any degree of compassion and humanity, disagree? 

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is by Pixabay.

What’s Good, Bad, and OK in the Omnibus Bill

Congress is back at it with a last-minute, massive spending bill that no one will have time to read.

Late Wednesday night, House and Senate negotiators released text of a nearly 1,200-page omnibus spending bill that does nothing to reduce wasteful spending and is a letdown for America’s taxpayers.

Lawmakers are expected to vote on the bill by Thursday evening, less than 24 hours after its release, leaving no time for a thorough debate and amendment process.

In total, the compromise agreement provides $333 billion to fund the nine remaining Cabinet agencies and related programs through Sept. 30.

As is the case with most compromises, the bill is far from perfect. It makes no effort to rein in wasteful spending and would limit funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to provide detention beds.

However, the agreement could have been even worse. Unlike past omnibus bills, this legislation does not include a laundry list of add-ons and does provide additional resources for border security.

Here’s the good, the bad, and the OK of the fiscal year 2019 omnibus bill.

The Good

Disaster Funding and Other Add-Ons Not Included

It was assumed that any compromise agreement would include billions of dollars in uncapped disaster spending. In the past month, the House and Senate both pursued disaster packages of $14.2 billion and $12.7 billion respectively.

While supplemental disaster funding is sometimes warranted, neither proposal directed any funding toward Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund, the federal government’s primary lead in disaster response efforts. Instead, much of the money would have continued to abuse the disaster spending designation by sending funding to ineffective grant programs and subsidies that have no direct role in disaster response. 

Just because the omnibus didn’t include disaster funding doesn’t mean that Congress won’t pursue a package later. But the fact that Congress is separating disaster spending from a “must-pass” spending bill is a step in the right direction. It allows for a more thorough debate and alleviates the pressure for lawmakers to vote for something they may not agree with just because it is tied to a broader funding bill. 

The omnibus also didn’t attach reauthorization language for programs such as the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and Violence Against Women Act programs. In the past, government shutdown threats have been exploited as an opportunity to stuff legislation full of unrelated provisions. Not doing so will allow these programs and other federal expenditures to be more fully and openly debated outside the context of a massive spending bill.

The Bad

Adheres to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 Spending Levels

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 increased the Budget Control Act of 2011 discretionary spending caps by $296 for fiscal year 2018-19. This omnibus adheres to the higher spending levels.

Instead of using this bill as an opportunity to exhibit fiscal restraint and roll back some of the $68 billion in fiscal year 2019 domestic spending increases, Congress has instead chosen the status quo.

With the national debt now over $22 trillion, that’s doesn’t cut it. Lawmakers must get serious about making spending reforms and putting the budget back on a path to balance. This bill should have been the time to start taking small steps toward that goal.

Uses Gimmicks to Increase Spending

Changes in Mandatory Programs are one of the most commonly used gimmicks in the appropriations process. On paper, mandatory spending is delayed, creating new savings that can be put toward unrelated discretionary spending.

In reality, the vast majority of the delayed funding would never have been spent in the first place and generated no real savings. Each year, billions of dollars in new spending is enabled through Changes in Mandatory Programs.

The largest change each year is delayed spending from the Department of Justice’s Crime Victims Fund. The bill would cap spending from the Crime Victims Fund at $3.35 billion dollars in fiscal year 2019. However, the fund would consistently carry a balance of around $13 billion, meaning that any unobligated balance above $3.35 billion can now be captured as savings and used to circumvent the Budget Control Act caps.

And the Crime Victims Fund is not the only Change in Mandatory Programs. In fiscal year 2018, changes with no real savings increased spending by nearly $18 billion.

This gimmick undermines fiscal accountability and transparency and wastes taxpayers’ money. Congress must take steps to end this practice once and for all.

$3.3 Billion Federal Pay Raise Ignores Performance While Increasing Pay Inequity

The omnibus includes a 1.9 percent pay raise for federal employees, costing roughly $3.3 billion in 2019, and more than $40 billion over the next 10 years.

This would overturn a December 2018 executive order from President Donald Trump freezing federal pay. And, for more than half of federal workers, it will serve as their second pay raise in 2019 because federal workers receive both cost-of-living increases as well as step increases based on tenure.

On average, federal employees receive $121,000 in total compensation, compared to average private-sector total compensation of $69,000. Part of this differential stems from the fact that federal workers have more education and experience, on average, but studies consistently find that federal employees receive a significant compensation premium.

While a freeze in federal pay is not the most efficient way to address this gap (primarily because the government’s highest-level employees are actually undercompensated), it is one way of chipping away at the growing inequity.

Until Congress enacts comprehensive federal compensation reforms, lawmakers should not increase the compensation gap through automatic pay raises that ignore performance. A better solution would have been to provide funding for the president’s proposed $1 billion workforce fund to attract, retain, and reward the government’s highest performers.

Limits Funding For Immigrant Detention Beds and Fails to Close Loopholes

The area of the bill with the most potential for harm is in the critical areas of immigration enforcement, particularly detention beds.

As the number of caravans, children, families, and asylum seekers has drastically risen, the administration has been handcuffed by loopholes and prevented from quickly removing many illegal immigrants. The result is that many illegal border crossers or asylum seekers are “caught and released,” and many will disappear into the public and never be seen again.

The Trump administration has attempted to limit catch and release, both at the border but also in the interior, by expanding the number of detention beds.

In this bill, Democratic efforts to set a hard cap on immigration detention were stopped, but the bill does try to push the administration to reduce the number of detention beds by limiting funding. That said, administration is allowed to transfer or reprogram funds to expand detention, but does so at the expense of other homeland security programs.

In essence, the bill forces the Department of Homeland Security to steal from other important security and preparedness missions in order to fulfill the immigration enforcement mission.

Critically, the bill fails to address the key loopholes in U.S. immigration law that have encouraged the drastic increases in asylum claims and families and children coming to the border. Without fixes to these loopholes and other immigration enforcement tools, border security is only a superficial fix and detention beds will always be too few.

Overall, the bill may take some steps forward on immigration, but it falls short of providing the fixes we desperately need.

Continues Congress’ Dysfunctional Budget Process

Text of the 1,169-page compromise bill was released just before midnight on Wednesday. Within 24 hours, Congress will likely have voted on it and by Friday morning, the omnibus could already be law.

Once again, Congress is ignoring its own budget rules. The House requires that text of legislation be available for at least 72 hours before a vote is held.

This is not the way the process is supposed to work. It leaves no time for lawmakers to even read the bill, let alone have a chance to debate and offer amendments to improve the legislation.

That’s just a symptom of the larger problem. The fiscal year is already more than four months old and Congress still hasn’t finalized funding. If lawmakers were doing their job and passing budget and appropriations bills on time, continuing resolutions, omnibus bills, and government shutdowns could become obsolete, or at least the exception rather than the rule.

Congress should strengthen the budget process that it has in place and provide incentives to make the process function more smoothly.

One potential option would be a “no budget, no pay” provision, in which lawmakers’ salaries are withheld when budget deadlines are missed. This could motivate them to abide by budget deadlines. Sen. Mike Braun, R-Imd., recently introduced a bill that would implement this enforcement mechanism.

The OK

Provides New Border Wall and Technology Funding

The most controversial elements of the bill are the immigration provisions.

The bill includes $1.375 billion for new border wall funding—short of what the president has requested, but which will still be put to good use in high-traffic areas in the Rio Grande Valley Sector.

It also included much-needed technology and tools that can support physical infrastructure and also support inspection of vehicles at ports of entry. Given that most dangerous drugs like Fentanyl and other opioids enter the U.S. through U.S. ports of entry, such tools are important additions.

These provisions strike a good balance between cost-effective border barriers, border security technology, and valuable infrastructure and tools at our ports of entry—yet they are unlikely to be enough to secure the border.

The bill also worryingly adds some limits on where border barriers can be placed, such as in various natural parks and some cities.

Taxpayers Deserve a Responsible and Transparent Spending Process

While the omnibus bill is not exactly what conservatives would have wanted, it could have been worse—for instance, spending even more money on wasteful programs and less money on border security.

But the process that led to this bill was a complete failure. Lawmakers must get serious about following the budget process that is already in place and stop this dysfunction. Taxpayers cannot afford year after year of bloated spending bills and budget uncertainty.


Portrait of Justin Bogie

Justin Bogie

Justin Bogie is a senior policy analyst in fiscal affairs at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: @JustinBogie

Portrait of David Inserra

David Inserra

David Inserra specializes in cyber and homeland security policy, including protection of critical infrastructure, as policy analyst in The Heritage Foundation’s Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies. Read his research. Twitter: @dr_inserra

Portrait of Rachel Greszler

Rachel Greszler

Rachel Greszler is research fellow in economics, budget, and entitlements in the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, of the Institute for Economic Freedom, at The Heritage Foundation. Read her research.


Podcast: What You Need to Know About Spending Bill

Read Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James’ statement on border security funding.

This Bill Would Make Private Individuals, Businesses Pay the Price of Government Shutdowns

Trump Demands California Pay Back Federal Government for Canceled Bullet Train Project

Senate Panel May Probe Alleged Plot to Oust Trump

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column with images is republished with permission. The featured image is by Pixabay.

Book Review: Freedom Fighter

Joanna Palani. Photo: Instagram.

As I write this book review, the United States sponsored International Conference on Peace in the Middle East has opened in Warsaw, Poland. This is fortuitous because America has been militarily involved in the Middle East, especially since 9/11/2001.

I have read many books about the Middle East but none have been as profound as that written by a 26-year old Kurdish woman named Joanna Palani titled “Freedom Fighter. My War Against ISIS on the Frontlines of Syria.” Joanna Palani’s perspective on peace in the Middle East is unique and based upon her personal experiences as a child, as a young girl and as a woman.

We must listen to what she has to say.

A Woman At War With Everyone

Joanna was (and in her heart still is) a soldier who served with the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) in Iraq and Syria fighting against Daesh (ISIS). Joanna writes, “We [the YPJ] believe that women and men are equal, so we fight together for the freedom of the Kurdish people and the destruction of ISIS.”

Joanna was born in 1993 in a UN refugee camp outside of Ramadi, Iraq. At the age of 3-years old she and her Sunni Muslim family were relocated to Denmark. Joanna writes, “In Kurdish culture we celebrate the group – the family, the community, and the clan – instead of the individual, and the rules of the clan are the rules by which we live.” From 1996 to 2010 Joanna was raised and schooled in Denmark. It was in Denmark that she began her quest to become the equal of men.

Losing One’s Virginity

Joanna, as a Sunni Muslim girl, was raised to believe that the most important thing was her virginity. During her powerful story we learn how she lost her virginity in countless ways.

She lost her virginity because she rebelled against the strict Sunni Muslim beliefs of her father and her family. For this she was verbally abused, beaten, starved and eventually left her family to escape the oppressive culture in her home. Joanna writes, “Everything we do right, our father takes credit for. Everything we do wrong, our mother takes the blame.”

Joanna lost her virginity as a girl when she became a fighter (Peshmerga) in 2011. At the age of 18 Joanna went to Syria to join the Kurdish battalions that supported the Free Syrian Army volunteers fighting the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Joanna writes, “In the Middle East, most people consider a girl able to have sex as an adult after her first period. A ‘woman’ is normally a married person who has had sex, whereas a ‘girl’ has not had sex.” Joanna lost her virginity to become a woman when she had an out-of-wedlock relationship with one of her commanders referred to as “R” in her book. “R” later abused her. She left “R.” For this she was later called a whore, prostitute and even shunned by some of the women in the YPJ. Women, and men, whom she had fought shoulder-to-shoulder with to free Syria from Daesh either rejected her or took sexual advantage of her.

Joanna lost her virginity when she was betrayed by her clan, friends, lawyer, the Danish police and Danish secret service (PET), and by thousands on her social media sites.

Finally, Joanna lost her virginity to Denmark, her beloved adopted country, which took her passport, tried her, found her guilty and put her in prison twice for going to Syria to fight for women’s rights and freedom. Something she knew was right to do but the current Danish laws find to be illegal.

Joanna’s Conclusion

When I finished reading Freedom Fighter. My War Against ISIS on the Frontlines of Syria the below quote came to mind:

Fate whispered to the warrior, “You cannot withstand the coming storm.” And the warrior whispered back, “I am the storm.”

Joanna ends her book with this:

I do think women should be armed, as part of a wider democratic and equality movement. I do believe women are entitled to defend and protect themselves with weapons from ideologies that seek their absolute destruction, because what other choice do we have?

It was not death that haunted me on the battlefield, it was my life. I don’t regret anything I’ve done: there is no longer an Islamic State, and there is no longer a caliphate, so we achieved our aims – we won. My prize is to be alive still: to see what age I will actually make it to, and to find out how else I can spend my life.

I strongly recommend reading “Freedom Fighter. My War Against ISIS on the Frontlines of Syria.”

As American Revolutionary Army General John Stark said, “Live Free or Die. Death is not the worst of evils.” Live free Joanna, live free! We need you to tell your story far and wide!

Another Illegal Alien Arrested in Gruesome Murder

You have probably seen this news about another illegal alien killer, however I’m mentioning it because the sensational aspects of the case have made it news around the world.

The victim was beautiful and her body was stuffed in a suitcase and dumped in the woods making the news apparently more interesting to the mainstream media than the Reno, Nevada case I reported recently where four older Americans were killed in their homes by another illegal alien creep—a story that didn’t get nearly the coverage this one is getting.

The man alleged to have murdered the young and beautiful Valerie Reyes is in the country illegally as a visa overstay.

From the Washington Times,

Suspect in suitcase death in U.S. illegally, authorities say

A man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend and dumping her body in a suitcase in Connecticut is a citizen of Portugal who has been in the U.S. illegally for more than a year, federal authorities said Wednesday as the victim’s loved ones gathered for her funeral.

Javier Da Silva Rojas, who had been living in New York City, was taken into custody Monday and charged with kidnapping resulting in death in the killing of 24-year-old Valerie Reyes, of New Rochelle, New York. The charge carries the possibility of the death penalty.

Da Silva, also 24, entered the U.S. on May 8, 2017, through the Visa Waiver Program and was required to leave by Aug. 5, 2017, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement.

If you are interested in reading more about the alleged killer, simply search his name and you will see stories about the murder everywhere.

We spend a lot of time talking about “the Wall,” but the feds need to do more to round-up visa overstays and get them the heck out of the country!  Why not let the President know how you feel about the need for greater enforcement!

RELATED ARTICLE: Former U.S. Counterintelligence Agent Charged With Espionage on Behalf of Iran

EDITORS NOTE: This Frauds, Crooks and Criminals column with images is republished with permission. The featured image is by Pixabay.

Democrats Are Experts At Fear & Loathing

I am on the We Train Democrats email list. The National Democratic Training Committee is training their members to loath. They loath Republicans in general and President Donald J. Trump in particular.

Fear & Loathing

How do I know this? Because they are using loathing to fundraise.

National Democratic Training Committee

On Valentine’s Day 2019 I received the following from We Train Democrats in an email titled “💔 I hope you have a TERRIBLE day, from: Me.”

Folks, Valentine’s Day is supposed to be filled with love and affection. It’s a time when we tell those we care about how much they mean to us.

But we are so disgusted by Donald Trump that we decided to send him an Anti-Valentine’s Day card. So we can let him know JUST how much we loathe him.


Here’s the card:

Mr. President, I wanted you to know that while I spend my Valentine's Day thinking of my loved ones, that America LOATHES you. You are the worst President we have ever had and you have broken the heart of our Nation.  So I'm donating $3 today to send you this ANTI-VALENTINE'S DAY CARD, so you know exactly how real Americans feel about you.

Loathing leads to fear. Loathing is visceral. Loathing leads to hate. Hate can lead to violence. Violence can lead to tyranny. Tyranny can lead to oppression.

The opposite of peace is not war. Rather the opposite of peace is fear.

One cannot be at peace if one is fearful of a person, policy or political party. One cannot be at peace if one fears losing their job, their healthcare, their benefits, their livelihood, their home, car, friends or family. Fear is a powerful force to bring out the best or worst in people. Fear can be good in that one learns to not walk down a dark alley at night for fear of being attacked. One learns fear in not sticking your hand in the jaws of an alligator.

The National Democratic Training Committee is focused on teaching their members to fear President Donald J. Trump. Why? because President Trump does not think like them. It’s not America that loathes the President, it’s the members of the NDTC. The NDTC is teaching fear and loathing.

The National Democratic Training Committee understands this all to well. They consistently use fear and loathing to raise money.

John 14:27 [KJV]

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Happy Valentines Day!

RELATED ARTICLE: HATING VALENTINE’S. Why Islamists and the radical Left loathe the Day of Love.

EDITORS NOTE: The images in this column are courtesy of the NDTC. The featured image is by Pixabay.