Category: Debunk This

Sorry Liberals, Cohen’s Charges Prove There Was ZERO Collusion With Russia

All of those indicted thus far by Robert Mueller’s special counsel have one thing in common – that they’re facing charges which have nothing to do with the counsel’s initial scope, uncovering and punishing alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. When Rod Rosenstein authorized Mueller’s special counsel after the firing of James Comey, it authorized Mueller to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).”

Not a single person has been charged within those guidelines, including Michael Cohen, the latest to be in the spotlight following the announcement of his three-year-sentence. Cohen’s charges included campaign finance violations, tax evasion, and lying to Congress. The “lying to Congress” charge stems from statements Cohen made regarding the Trump Organization’s failed efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

If you listen to the media, you’d get the impression that Cohen’s charges are the “smoking gun” the collusion conspiracists have been looking for the past eighteen months:

  • The soon-to-be-defunct Weekly Standard claimed that “The documents are, even for those skeptical of the left’s ‘collusion‘ narrative, deeply incriminating.”
  • The Washington Post’s not-at-all-conservative columnist Jen Rubin argued that the mention of the single word “synergy” in Mueller’s description of Cohen’s relationship with Russia proves collusion.
  • The Chicago Sun Times reported that “Collusion with Russia fans is possible, Trump fans. Deal with it.”
  • CNN headlined an op-ed assuming guilt, “Sorry, President Trump, collusion IS a crime.”

But as already mentioned, Cohen’s charges had absolutely nothing to do with collusion. And as a fantastic analysis from Real Clear Investigation’s Paul Sperry documents, the charges against Cohen explicitly disprove the collusion narrative.

Charges Fail to Substantiate Collusion Narrative

The charges stemming from Cohen’s false statements about a Russian Trump Tower project prove that the Trump campaign had no connection to the Russian government. As Sperry notes:

On page 7 of the statement of criminal information filed against Cohen, Mueller mentions that Cohen tried to email Russian President Vladimir Putin’s office on Jan. 14, 2016, and again on Jan. 16, 2016. But Mueller, who personally signed the document, omitted the fact that Cohen did not have any direct points of contact at the Kremlin, and had resorted to sending the emails to a general press mailbox. Sources who have seen these additional emails point out that this omitted information undercuts the idea of a “back channel” and thus the special counsel’s collusion case.

The second page of the same document reportedly quotes an August 2017 letter from Cohen to the Senate Intelligence Committee where he writes Trump “was never in contact with anyone about this [Moscow Project] proposal other than me.” This is of note because Mueller does not dispute this statement as false (while other statements in the same letter are disputed as false by Mueller). Mueller also doesn’t dispute Cohen’s statement about how they “ultimately determined that the [Trump Tower] proposal was not feasible and never agreed to make a trip to Russia.”

Another Cohen Connection Proves (a Lack of) Collusion

Cohen’s connection to New York real estate developer Felix Sater, who promised he could fast-track real estate projects in Russia, proves that the Trump campaign had no special access to Russia.

Cohen’s emails and text messages indicate he failed to establish communications with the Russian leader’s spokesman.

In the end, neither Putin nor any Kremlin official was directly involved in the scuttled Moscow project, sources say. Moreover, neither Cohen nor Trump traveled to Moscow in support of the deal, as Sater had urged. No meetings with Russian government officials took place.

Cohen’s only Russian “connection” ended up occurring when he sent an email to a desk secretary in the spokesman’s office. There’s no indication he received a response.

And About That Dossier…

Adding another nail to the coffin of Christopher Steele’s credibility, the story from his dossier involving a Cohen trip to Prague still has yet to be proven.

Notably absent from the criminal-information document is any corroboration of the highly inflammatory, though oft-cited allegation made in the so-called Steele dossier, funded by the Clinton campaign, that Cohen visited Prague to clandestinely meet with Kremlin officials in August 2016 to arrange “deniable cash payments to hackers who had worked in Europe under Kremlin direction against the Clinton campaign.”

Given many of Cohen’s recent negative statements about the President, Trump may want to reconsider his comments that he hires only “the best people,” but that’s irrelevant to the point here; that despite all of Cohen’s wrongdoing, none of it has anything to do with Russian collusion.

The Framing of Michael Flynn

Author’s Note: This essay is largely based off of our new book “Spygate: The Attempted Sabotage of Donald Trump.”

On December 29th, 2016, Michael Flynn received a phone call while on vacation in the Dominican Republic from Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that would change his life forever.

Earlier in the day, in retaliation for Russian interference in the election (not collusion), then-President Barack Obama forced the closure of Russian-owned compounds in New York and Maryland, and slapped new sanctions against Russia. Is there any doubt that such a move would prompt Ambassador Kislyak to call Flynn, Trump’s National Security Adviser at the time, to discuss what had just happened?

In taking Kislyak’s call, Flynn must’ve been aware that the call would be intercepted and monitored, given that he was speaking on an unsecured line in the Dominican Republic. Had Flynn been on U.S. soil he would’ve been able to prevent such surveillance, but due to the timing of Obama’s firings and Flynn’s location in the Dominican Republic, his conversation with Kislyak was intercepted and recorded.

The two discussed the sanctions against Russia Obama had just passed, and Kislyak promised that Russia would not react with sanctions of their own.

Since the call was recorded, the FBI had an entire transcript of the conversation. If there were any wrongdoing, it would be evident in the transcript. Clearly, it was not, as at the direction of Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, Flynn was questioned about the contents of his conversation with Kislyak on January 24th, 2017 by special agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka in a meeting set up by then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Rather than try to pry information from Flynn about the call, Flynn was merely quizzed about the contents of his own conversation, with Strzok and Pientka presumably looking for any deviation from the script to claim Flynn was technically “lying to the FBI,” even if unintentionally.

Sally Yates immediate concern from the Kislyak phone call was that Flynn violated the “Logan Act,” a rarely enforced law from 1799 that prevents Americans from corresponding with foreign governments (which is ridiculous, given’s Flynn’s political position). If the Logan Act actually were enforced, it would’ve been used to prevent Dennis Rodman from visiting North Korea, or Jimmy Carter’s various peace efforts. If Flynn had truly done something wrong, why would Yates be so desperately grasping at straws in citing the Logan Act?

Setting the Trap: Flynn Advised Against Legal Counsel

In a stunning new development, we’ve learned from a 302 report that proper protocol wasn’t followed to protect Flynn against entrapment. A 302 report contains accounts from the agents of what they said and did while interviewing Flynn, and the FBI waited over half a year to detail the Flynn interview. According to Fox News:

The August date on the FBI 302 cited by the Flynn team is nearly seven months after the Flynn interview took place, and about a week after reports surfaced that Strzok had been summarily removed from Mueller’s Russia probe because his persistent anti-Trump communications had surfaced.

Flynn “clearly saw the FBI agents as allies,” according to the 302 prepared by Strzok and another agent.

Flynn’s attorneys alleged that Andrew McCabe pushed Flynn not to have an attorney present during the questioning that ultimately led to his guilty plea on a single charge of lying to federal authorities. According to Flynn’s legal team [and the 302 itself], FBI agents in his case deliberately did not instruct Flynn that any false statements he made could constitute a crime, and decided not to “confront” him directly about anything he said that contradicted their knowledge of his wiretapped communications with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Bear in mind, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign was a secret at the time. Flynn had no reason to have his guard up.

Comey and McCabe’s Defense Seems Unbelievable

Even stranger, despite the charges Flynn now faces following the Kafkaesque line of questioning, when James Comey briefed a number of Capitol Hill lawmakers about the Bureau’s counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign, two sources familiar with the meetings said Comey told lawmakers the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn didn’t believe he lied or intentionally provided any misleading answers. The report also said FBI Director McCabe testified that the FBI agents didn’t suspect wrongdoing either. Yet McCabe also pushed Flynn to speak without a lawyer. For those reasons, and the role that Peter Strzok played in trying to thwart a Trump presidency, I find these claims doubtworthy.

It also doesn’t help the FBI’s credibility when two of those involved in Flynn’s entrapment (Strzok and McCabe) have since been fired for misconduct. Clearly, their claims that they “actually thought Flynn was innocent” cannot possibly be true, as if they were, Flynn wouldn’t have had to plead guilty to manufactured charges to avoid a personal bankruptcy. And let’s suppose for a second that they are true – that McCabe, Strzok, and Pientka all thought Flynn did nothing wrong. Then who was pulling the strings to decide otherwise?

What do you think is more likely? That Michael Flynn couldn’t perfectly recall the contents of a phone call made while on vacation, or that Flynn decided that he’d lie to the FBI’s face without any legal counsel over the contents of a phone call where nothing illegal is discussed? To ask such a question is to answer it, so it’s no wonder that entrapment was the goal all along.

Washington Post Blasts “Foxification” of White House – Forgets Obama Hired 3x More Journalists

According to the Washington Post, the “Trump White House” is now the “Fox News White House.” As former Fox News anchor Heather Nauert was selected by President Donald Trump to replace Nikki Haley as U.N. ambassador, Post columnist Philip Bump decried the “Foxification” of the White House. And Trump has indeed hired plenty of Fox News talent.

Among those former Fox News employees that work (or worked) for the Trump Administration include National Security Adviser John Bolton, Trump legal team member Joseph E. diGenova,  Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp, former Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs for the Treasury Tony Sayegh, Communications Advisor Bill Shine, and now Heather Nauert. The only other network Trump has hired a journalist from was CNBC’s Larry Kudlow. 

Without any context for those seven FNC hires, the Washington Post’s criticism is meaningless. After all, how many journalists did Barack Obama hire? The answer is nearly three times as many, and ironically, it was another writer at the Washington Post, Paul Farhi, who called foul on Obama’s massive hiring of left-wing journalists back in 2013 following the hiring of TIME’s Richard Stengel.  While Farhi noted that it’s common for presidents to hire members of the press, he expressed concern at the time, because “Obama may be different in terms of the sheer number of ink-stained wretches and other news-media denizens that he has attracted.” More specifically: “The pattern of Obama hires has periodically aroused suspicions about the media’s allegedly cozy relationship with the president.”

Obama hired at least 23 journalists, and hilariously, hired nearly as many solely from the Washington Post as Trump has hired exclusively from Fox. The list includes:

  • U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power (U.S. News, the Boston Globe, the New Republic).
  • Speechwriter Desson Thomson (Washington Post movie critic and Clinton speechwriter).
  • John Kerry staffer Glen Johnson (Boston Globe editor).
  • Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Douglas Frantz (Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and the Washington Post).
  • Press Secretary Jay Carney (TIME Magazine).
  • State Department Undersecretary Richard Stengal (TIME Magazine managing editor).
  • Senior Managing Director of the Office of Public Affairs Stephen Barr (Washington Post).
  • VP Joe Biden’s Communications Director Shailagh Murray (Washington Post).
  • Counselor Rosa Brooks (Los Angeles Times).
  • Senior Communications Adviser for the HHS Roberta Baskin (Center for Public Inquiry).
  • Department of Education Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communication David Hoff (Education Week).
  • Department of Transportation spokeswoman Sasha Johnson (CNN).
  • Department of Transportation communications director Jill Zuckman (MSNBC).
  • Senior Policy Strategy for Science and Technology Rick Weiss (Washington Post, Center for American Progress).
  • Communications Director for the Office of Health Reform Linda Douglass (CBS, ABC).
  • The Treasury Department’s Eric Dash (New York Times)
  • The Treasury Department’s Anthony Reyes (MSNBC)
  • Obama speechwriter Aneesh Raman (CNN).
  • Chief of Staff to the U.S. China ambassador Jim Sciutto (CNN).
  • The EPA’s Kelly Zito (San Francisco Chronicle).
  • Susan Rice speechwriter Warren Bass (Washington Post).
  • The Justice Department’s Beverly Lumpkin (Project on Government Oversight).
  • The Defense Department’s Geoff Morell (ABC). This one deserves a disclaimer, as Morell was hired by George W. Bush and retained his employment under Obama.

One of those on the list, ABC’s Geoff Morell, began working for the Defense Department in 2007, and continued working in the Obama administration, so perhaps it would be appropriate to factor him out.

Regardless, there’s still at least 22 journalists who went to work for Obama, while Trump is under fire for hiring seven from Fox (or eight if you include Kudlow). Either way, Obama has hired roughly three times as many journalists are Trump has, and of course, they were all journalists who previously cozied up to the administration in their work.

The only attempt I’ve seen for a rebuttal to this fact came from The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple, who argued that Obama’s hiring was different because they weren’t all from one network (Fox). But as is obvious to anyone’s that’s channel surfed before, that’s because there aren’t any other mainstream right-wing networks to choose journalists from. Given that Wemple is employed in a field (journalism) where only 7% of people are Republicans, he should know this. 

 

FAIL: Media Horribly Misrepresents New “Wage Gap” Study

We’ve all heard the long-discredited statistic that “for every dollar a man earns, a woman earns only 77 cents,” but have you learned that it’s actually even worse than that? That’s what a new study is claiming. Forget 77 cents, the true figure is closer to 49 cents says the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR).

It’s a shocking conclusion, and like clockwork, the mainstream media has had no problem uncritically adopting and reporting on the study’s findings.

Vox writer Anna North summarizes the IWPR study titled “Still a Man’s Labor Market” as follows:

  • Measures of the pay gap typically compare the wages of men and women working full time in a given year. However, women are more likely to drop out of full-time work to take care of children or other family members. To account for this, the report’s authors looked at women’s earnings across three 15-year periods, and compared those with men’s.
  • The study found that 77 percent of men worked every year in the last time period sampled (2001-2015), compared to only 57 percent of women.
  • For women, a year-gap in employment reduced earnings by $15,200. For men, the figure was $22,300. Vox mistakingly claims that women suffered a greater income penalty for taking off work, which is only true in other periods the study sampled (1968-1982 and 1983-1997).
  • In conclusion, the study found a pay gap nearly twice as big as what’s traditionally reported: averaged out over 15 years, women made just 49 cents for every dollar men made.

So in other words, the study is deliberately not comparing apples and apples. For decades now conservatives have been pointing out that the infamous “77 cents” statistic is only comparing male and female full-time workers, with no adjustments made for the type of jobs worked, or even that “full-time” men still work almost four hours more per week than “full-time” women (as “full-time” is defined as 30 hours or more per week by IRS guidelines). Like every other wage gap study out there with liberal conclusions, the IWPR study doesn’t compare the earnings of men and women in similar jobs, doesn’t adjust for differences in hours worked, and doesn’t even compare the earnings of men and women of similar ages (and thus at similar stages of their careers).

So this latest study suffers from all the usual problems – and then some more, as male workers (mostly working full time) are being compared to female workers who will have years they earn “$0” due to time spent away from the labor force, and suffer skill atrophy away from the workforce. Needless to say, regardless of one’s annual earnings, a single year earning “$0” will significantly drag down the average. 

The only new “revelation” from this study is that we see a larger wage gap when we compare male full-time workers to women who take time out of the labor force instead of comparing full-time male workers against full-time female workers. Let he who is completely unsurprised cast the first stone.

Reason Magazine’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown noticed that the IWPR study (and the media reporting on it) buried the lede, as the study hardly emphasizes that it found the earnings of men to be stagnating for over five decades, while women’s wages have soared. For women as a whole, wages rose nearly 100% from the first period studied (beginning in 1968) to the last period studied (ending in 2015). Men’s remained “almost flat.” None of the liberal publications quoting the “49 cents” statistic from the study took note of this, nor should we expect any explanation of how the supposed “patriarchy” allowed this to happen.

So what did the IWPR actually prove? That women who work less than men will earn less? No shocker there. Nor should it be, given that earlier in the year Vox’ Sarah Kliff published a great piece explaining that childbirth explains away nearly the entirety (80%) of the wage gap. I suppose there isn’t much intellectual consistency to be found over at Vox, is there?

To borrow a phrase from Al Gore’s playbook; on the issue of the wage gap, the science is settled.

Obama Takes Credit for Surging Oil Production – Here’s Why He Can’t

It’s ironic that after spending the entirety of his presidency blaming the state of the economy on George W. Bush, Barack Obama is finally taking credit for our economic boom once he’s left. In light of oil prices recently tanking from $80 a barrel to around $50 (after rising earlier in the year), Obama tooted his own horn once again. Speaking at the Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston, Texas, Obama said:

I was extraordinarily proud of the Paris Accords because, look I know we’re in oil country and we need American energy. And by the way, American energy production, you wouldn’t always know it, but it went up every year I was president. And you know that whole suddenly America’s like the biggest oil producer … that was me, people.

But was it really? As President, Obama could directly control the levels of oil production on federal land, but could only influence private oil production through regulation (or failing to approve projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline). As is always the case in politics, Obama’s claim is one that’s “technically true” (that oil production rose under his presidency), but extremely misleading (because it had nothing to do with him).

Oil Production on Federal Land Tanked

As Obama exited office, domestic crude oil production had seen the largest nominal increase under any presidency, but where the growth in production occurred dispells any claims Obama can take credit for it.

The figures through 2016 from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) tell a story of rising oil production on private land and bottlenecked production on federal land. According to an analysis of the numbers from the Western Energy Alliance, major indicators of federal onshore and natural gas operations declined, including the number of leases, acres leased, permits approved and wells being drilled.

As a result, while private oil production increased 108% from 2009-2017, it increased less than 20% on federal lands. And while Obama was speaking about oil instead of natural gas, that energy source suffered a massive decline in production on federal land.

Alternatively, below is the crude oil production chart quoted in million barrels per day increased of percent increase/decrease.

Oil and gas production on federal land is still far below their historical averages. Due to regulations passed under the Obama administration, the amount of time it takes the BLM to process a permit increased nearly 20% under Obama from 205 days to 242 days.

The Energy Information Administration Credits Technology, Not Obama for the Oil Boom

As FactCheck.org noted, Obama’s own EIA credited technological improvements in drilling for oil, not Obama, for the increase in production. “U.S. crude oil production has increased significantly over the past 10 years, driven mainly by production from tight rock formations using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing,” the EIA said in April 2018.

Obama released regulations in 2015 to reduce fracking on federal land, which Trump later shredded.

What About When Oil Prices Tanked Under Obama in 2015?

Oil prices suffered a rout in 2015 after beginning to teeter in late 2014, but that was a result of OPEC (primarily Saudi Arabia) starting a price war with the U.S. Two years into the price war, the Saudis had increased daily production from 9.75 million barrels per day to 10.5 million, bringing the price of oil below $50 and costing the Saudi’s themselves $525 million daily in lost revenue.

It was a costly strategy attempting to crush America’s shale industry but ended up only increasing the Saudi’s oil market share by 1% after two years.

The main point here is that the only significant decline in oil prices under Obama was due to Saudi Arabia, not Obama.

Unlike Obama, Trump is Behind The Recent Price Drop

The recent oil price drop from $80 to $50 also can be attributed to the Saudis – but Trump can actually take credit for it.

According to CNBC, oil analysts are in agreement that Trump “hoodwinked” Saudi Arabia into pushing the global oil market into oversupply. “They got sort of tricked here,” said John Kilduff, the manager of a hedge fund that specializes in energy-related investments. “The Russians and the Saudis in particular ramped up production, ramped up exports ahead of what was supposed to be severe sanctions on Iran, and when the administration gave the eight waivers to Iran’s largest buyers, it undercut that whole equation” he continued.

“So now we’ve tripped into an oversupply situation almost overnight because of the severe reaction by Russia and the Saudis to cover for Iran losses, which never materialized.”

The Saudi’s will eventually wise up and adjust output, but it’s undeniable how clever Trump’s move was.

Illegal Aliens Cost Taxpayers $100+ Billion Annually

How often have you heard the argument that “illegal immigrants pay taxes too”?

It certainly is a true (and extremely misleading) statement – illegal immigrants paid approximately $12 billion in taxes last year. While the average person may hear “$12 billion” and think “that’s a lot!,” its pennies in the context of a federal government that will spend over $12 billion per day this year.

In fact, if all Americans paid taxes at the same rate illegal aliens did, the budget deficit would be at least quadruple what it is now. According to prior estimates of mine based off the size of the 2017 labor force,  if we were to replace the entire labor force with illegal immigrants and have them pay all their taxes (including state and local) to the feds, the federal government would’ve collected approximately $240 billion in tax revenue in 2017, as opposed to the $3.3 trillion that the Federal government actually collected.

And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that the jobs illegals take would otherwise be filled by taxpaying Americans, 100% of which would be paying taxes, and likely at higher wages. One recent study found illegals impose a $30 billion annual cost in lost tax revenue, three times what they pay. In other words, illegals create a net $18 billion hole in paying their $10 billion in taxes.

Clearly, illegals are hardly paying their “fair share” (to borrow a liberal term). And that’s just one half of the equation – what illegals are paying into the pot.

Earlier in the week, a reader requested a cost analysis on how much illegal aliens cost taxpayers directly through social services – and it truly is a staggering figure.

Birthright Citizenship is the Biggest Cost of Illegal Immigration

The great libertarian economist Milton Friedman famously argued decades ago that illegal immigration was preferable to low-skilled legal immigration because illegals at least can’t apply for welfare benefits. It’s basically true in that illegals cannot apply for federal assistance (though Friedman overlooked the existence of welfare fraud), but the real major cost of illegal immigration is indirect; through their American-born, and thus legal-citizen children.

Education is the biggest cost. According to the Pew Research Center, from 1995 to 2012, the percentage of K-12 students with at least one undocumented immigrant parent rose from 3.2 to 6.9%.  And according to a handful of studies, the cost to taxpayers to educate the children of illegals comes out to:

Both estimates were calculated by simply multiplying the number of students with illegal immigrant parents by the average cost of educating a child K-12. Clearly, the cost trend is rising.

Just as these legal children of illegal immigrants are entitled to a taxpayer-funded education, they’re also entitled to a whole host of welfare benefits, given that illegal immigrant families tend to earn incomes low enough to qualify for federal aid. While they don’t qualify for the aid themselves – their legal children do.

Unfortunately, the last time the Government Accountability Office (GAO) studied the cost of benefits to the children of illegals was in 1997, and only provided estimates for food stamps, so it’s hardly comprehensive. Since a lack of comparable unbiased literature exists, it is worth noting however that they found the cost of food stamps to illegal children at $1.75 billion (in 2018 inflation adjusted dollars) per year, and obviously that’s an understatement as illegal immigration has increased since ’97.

There was not enough data for the GAO to provide total cost estimates for housing assistance, but estimated an illegal household with a child would be eligible for $612 a month in benefits, compared to an average $112 food stamp benefit per child (both figures adjusted for 2018 dollars). In other words, the dollar figure for the cost of housing assistance likely significantly eclipses that of food stamps.

The solution here is simple: end birthright citizenship. Anyone telling you it’s justified by the Fourteenth Amendment simply doesn’t understand the history of the Amendment.

Another Overlooked Cost – Healthcare

The emergency room loophole guarantees that illegal immigrants will benefit from free healthcare at the taxpayer’s time. Despite federal regulations preventing taxpayer funding of Medicaid to illegals, Forbes healthcare analyst Chris Conover estimates that roughly 3.9 million illegal (uninsured) immigrants receive healthcare each year, costing the following in uncompensated care:

  • $4.6 billion in health services paid for by federal tax dollars.
  • $2.8 billion in health services paid for by state and local tax dollars.
  • $3 billion in cost-shifting (charging legal citizens more to compensate for illegals).
  • $1.5 billion in pro-bono care from physicians.

Adding in the implicit federal subsidies that nonprofit hospitals receive, among other indirect costs, that brings us to a total cost of $18.5 billion a year to taxpayers. None of this includes the cost of the legal children of illegals, who likely qualify for Medicaid.

In just this article alone I’ve identified at least $100 billion in direct or indirect costs resulting from illegal immigration, and there are costs I’m overlooking (such as the cost of law enforcement and imprisonment resulting from illegal immigrant criminals) since I’m only examining the costs of illegals immigration from the angle of benefits to illegals.

What could be funded by the massive cost of illegal immigration? At least one big beautiful border wall…. four to five times over.

The High Cost of “Free” College

In the age of endlessly rising college costs and mounting student debt, it’s no wonder that the concept of so-called “free college” has been embraced by so many. Bernie Sanders champions the cause of making all public schools tuition-free and cites other countries that have already done the same, including Germany and the Scandinavian nations (Sweden, Denmark, and Norway).

I’ll always be using “free” synonymously with “taxpayer-funded” throughout this essay – and there’s plenty of taxpayer funding in the Scandinavian nations in particular where levels of taxation exceed every dollar of income earned. And for all those taxpayer dollars spent, there isn’t much return on investment for those who attend free college in Scandinavia.

While the average American college graduate earns 65% more than the average high school graduate, that figure is a mere 2% in Norway. Note on the chart below that all numbers are relative (whereas high school earnings = 100). Additionally, a “post-secondary education” means educational attainment up to the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree, while tertiary includes education up to the doctoral level (and trade school). 

I’m choosing to focus solely on Scandinavia because public universities have only been free in Germany since relatively recently, 2014.

In addition to the reduced return on investment, free college hasn’t resulted in a more educated populace than the United States. A larger share of 25-64 year olds have completed a tertiary education in the U.S. than in Scandinavia. 

Even excluding tertiary education and only looking at completion of post-secondary education, the figures differ slightly, but still show the U.S. as more educated.  

Poor Danish high school students are no more likely to attend college than poor American students, which creates a problem in it of itself. If the poor aren’t taking advantage of “free” college, that means they’re the ones paying taxes into a system for a program they’re not even using. Given the highly regressive tax systems of Scandinavia, it’s the poor subsidizing the middle and upper class in this case.

The Bizarre Case of Free College and Crippling Student Debt

According to Sen. Sanders, “It is insane and counter-productive to the best interests of our country and our future, that hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college, and that millions of others leave school with a mountain of debt that burdens them for decades. That shortsighted path to the future must end.”

So Sanders would probably be just as shocked as I was to learn that there is student debt in Scandinavia despite their lack of university tuition, and a lot of it. While tuition is free, room and board are not. Paradoxically, offering free tuition seems to have incentivized students to be more likely to rack up debt by moving out early. While it’s becoming more common for American students to save money by living at home and attending a two-year community college, there’s less incentive to do so with “free” tuition. 

  • In 2015 Swedes who borrowed to attend college had an average $17,266 in debt.
  • In Norway, the average student graduated with 280,000 NOK in debt in 2016. That amounts to roughly $32,000.
  • For contrast, the average student debt for someone graduating in America’s class of 2015 was approximately $30,100.

Student debt levels in Norway are on par with America (despite the almost non-existent ROI on a Norwegian college education), and Swedes have roughly half as much debt, but only in nominal terms. Interestingly, while having less debt per-student that takes out debt, a larger percentage of Swedish students have debt than Americans. 

In 2004, 85% of Swedish students graduated with debt, compared to 50% of U.S. students. While Swedes have less debt per-capita, the reduced ROI on a Scandinavian college education relative to an American one means that American students graduate with average debt-to-income ratios of 57%, compared to 79% in Sweden

In other words, relative to income, American students do indeed have less debt than Swedes and Norwegians. 

 

No, The Trump Tax Cuts Did Not All Go To “The Rich”

It’s inevitable in any debate over tax cuts that you’ll run into the cliche that they’re only “for the rich,” and that’s certainly been the case when it comes to Donald Trump’s recent tax reform package. 

Such an argument can be made against any across-the-board tax cut, even when lower income brackets are cut more than top income tax brackets. After all, a 1% tax cut is going to save a millionaire more money than a 50% tax cut is going to save for a poor person, even if the poor person benefits more relative to their current wealth.

The Trump tax cuts composed of both corporate tax reform (cutting the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%), and across the board cuts to individual income tax brackets. Below is the percentage point decline for each bracket. Also note that $5,650 increase in the standard deduction. 

Claims that the Trump tax cuts go mostly to the “top 1%” are commonplace. Democratic Policy and Communications Committee co-chair David Cicilline claims that “80%” of the Trump tax cuts go to “corporations and the top 1%.” Nancy Pelosi has claimed that 83% of the Trump tax cuts went to the top 1%.

A more useful way to analyze the Trump tax cuts is so look at how they benefit each income quintile relative to how much of the tax burden they shouldered before the cuts. Before the Trump tax cuts, the bottom 80% of income earners paid roughly 33% of all federal income taxes, but received 35% of the benefits from the Trump tax cuts. The top 1% paid 27% of all federal taxes, and received only 21% of the tax cut, according to the center-left Tax Policy Center.  

The Tax Policy Center found that more than 80 percent of taxpayers recieved a tax cut, with less than five percent receiving a tax increase. The five percent who saw increases were mostly wealthy people in coastal States who had their write-offs for mortgage interest and for state and local taxes capped. The average cut in taxes was $1,600. An analysis by the center-right Tax Policy Center in 2018 yielded almost identical results when it came to the share paid by earners; that the top 1 percent of income earners would glean 20.5% of the tax cut benefits.

So, the top 1% are not receiving 80% or 83% of the benefits, they’re receiving roughly 21%. However, there actually is some slight truth to Cicilline and Pelosi’s claims, but only in one scenario, and they’re to blame for it.  What Cicilline and Pelosi didn’t mention is that they’re specifically speaking about the year 2027, when the individual income tax cuts expire, and thus the majority of the benefits shift to corporations (whose reduced tax rates remain unchanged). 

No shortage of Democrats have criticized the Trump tax cuts for keeping the corporate tax cuts in effect after 10 years while having the individual tax cuts be temporary.

But there’s a simple fix, isn’t there? Simply pass legislation to make the individual cuts permanent. 

Ted Cruz got the memo, and introduced legislation in January to make the individual cuts permanent, but to little surprise, he didn’t find any Democrat takers.

As recently as late September, the House passed a bill to make the Trump tax cuts for individuals permanent. Again, Democrats were hardly enthused by the bill. It seems like they’d rather create a scenario where 80% of the Trump tax cuts go to the top 1%, just so they can use that as an excuse to justify raising taxes on everyone.

Georgia’s Election Was Not “Rigged” – Here’s the Proof

The same liberals who mock Republican concerns over voter fraud were quick to peddle conspiracies of their own regarding Georgia’s governor’s race, in which Democrat candidate Stacey Abrams refused to concede her loss for over a week.

She called the race “rigged,” and the Democratic establishment catered to those delusions. Senator Sherrod Brown said of the race that it goes to prove “[Republicans] can’t win elections because there is way more of us than there are of them. They can’t win elections fairly. They win elections by redistricting and reapportionment and voter suppression and all the ways they try to scare people, particularly people of color.”

The claims were echoed by sore-loser-in-chief Hillary Clinton, who said: “If she [Abrams] had a fair election, she would have already won.”

What Are the Claims of Rigging Based On?

The claims of “rigging” weren’t created out of thin air, but instead, are based on a misunderstanding of two events in Georgia:

  • The fact that 53,000 voter registrations have been deemed “pending” by Georgia, and most (70%) are for African-American and other minority voters.
  • Georgia purging 107,000 inactive voters from their voter rolls in July 2017 (and most inactive voters were minorities), though it’s also charged that 700,000 voters were purged over a two year period. 

Since it was minority groups (who vote Democrat, on average) disproportionately affected in both cases, these two events naturally led to accusations of Republican disenfranchisement. But here’s the thing – nothing prevented those allegedly-disenfranchised groups from voting in Georgia’s elections.

A “pending” registration in Georgia doesn’t mean one is unable to vote. To give some background information, Georgia requires prospective voters to submit either a driver’s license or Social Security number in order to register to vote. Sometimes there are discrepancies when information from a driver’s license or SSN is cross-checked against the relevant database (such as my driver’s license listing my name as “Matt” and the government database its cross-referenced against listing my name as “Matthew”).

These are minor discrepancies that are inevitable, hence why voters with “pending” registrations have an entire 26 months to fix the errors – and can still vote as long as they present a driver’s license or valid photo ID at the polls. In other words, if they could register to vote (without an SSN), they can vote. 

What of those inactive voters purged? In Georgia, people who don’t vote for a period of three years are marked “inactive,” but are immediately notified that they’ve been designated as such. All those purged from the registrations were notified via a prepaid return postcard telling them that they were inactive, and can become active again by returning that very postcard with the appropriate information. It’s hard to allege disenfranchisement when those supposedly behind it are also making it possible for one to re-register to vote for free in a process that shouldn’t take more than five minutes. What’s the liberal counter-argument, that people can’t afford pens to fill out their postcards?

And did I mention that Georgia’s “use it or lose it” policy towards voting stems from legislation in the 1990s that was passed by Georgia Democrats?

Regardless, let’s remember that those purged hadn’t voted in the past three years. What evidence does Abrams have that even a single one of them was going to suddenly get up and vote for her?  Every “inactive” voter who wanted to vote was able to resolve that issue the day they learned they were inactive.

Instead of claim Republicans were “rigging” Georgia’s elections, why wasn’t there instead a concerted effort from Democrats to educate Georgia voters that they’re still able to vote even if their registration is “pending,” or to remind them to re-register? I guess they’d rather push the narrative of “Republican rigging” than actually win an election. And I can’t complain about that – but the record does need to be corrected.

No, Trump Didn’t Spark a “Hate Crime Surge”

The FBI’s latest report on hate crime statistics is out – and they’re already being twisted to push a narrative that hate crimes are spiking due to Donald Trump’s presidency. Below is just a sampling of how the statistics, which are as-of year-end 2017, are being twisted by the media.

And the data does show what they claim, a 17% rise in hate crimes, but there’s more you aren’t being told.

More Agencies Reported Hate Crimes in 2017

While law enforcement did report 7,175 hate crimes in 2017, up from 6,121 in 2016, there were over 1,000 additional agencies contributing information to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

That’s a roughly 6% increase in the number of agencies reporting statistics. While it’s not proportionate to the 17% rise in hate crimes, each new agency would only need to report one hate crime to explain the entire rise.

The FBI’s own press release on the matter noted that “some data in this publication may not be comparable to those in prior editions of Hate Crime Statistics because of differing levels of participation from year to year,” but journalists seem to have missed that. When the data is normalized (adjusting for the number of agencies participating), the 2017 figure amounts to 0.44 hate crimes per jurisdiction, which is similar to the past decades worth of data.

The Hate Crime “Surge” Began in 2014

Remember – I’m not disputing that there was a rise in hate crimes in 2017 from the year prior, but I am disputing that Donald Trump is somehow responsible. So on that note, it’s hard to imagine that President Trump is driving a trend that began a year before he even declared his candidacy for president, though that’s just what the chart below from the far-left Mother Jones shows:

While the upward trend begins in 2014-2015, strangely, the way Mother Jones reported on this fact was to report that “hate crimes are up 31% since Donald Trump announced his presidential run.” Do they think our eyes are broken?

The Initial Hate Crime “Surge” Was Due to a Spike in Anti-White Hate Crimes

Regardless of how Mother Jones wants to twist their timeline, the demographic that saw the largest immediate increase in hate crimes from 2015-2016 isn’t Muslims, Jews, African-Americans, or Hispanics…. It’s white people. If we’re to believe that white supremacists were emboldened by Trump’s candidacy, they certainly did a horrible job at picking their targets.

Furthermore, from 20162017, the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes actually decreased from 307 incidents to 273. The number of gender-identity-related hate crimes was cut by a third, and hate crimes against men tripled. Of course, hate crimes are extremely rare, so this only reflects six fewer anti-gender identity-related crimes, and 15 anti-male crimes. Still, the point here is that hate crimes didn’t increase among the groups supposedly “targeted” by the Trump administration’s rhetoric. 

While the increase in hate crimes from 2016-17 was mostly proportional across the board (as we’d expect if this rise was mostly due to increased reporting), about half of the increase in total hate crimes the result of 254 additional hate crimes being committed against Jews, and 274 against African-Americans. Is Trump responsible for those? The burden of proof is on the journalist blaming Trump to prove that the specific hate crime(s) were caused by him.

What has Trump said that would incite anti-Jewish hate crimes? The man behind the worst anti-semitic massacre in American history certainly was no fan of the President. And what has Trump said that would incite anti-black hate crimes? If there were evidence that these hate crimes were committed in the name of Trump, we’d already have heard of it (and CNN would’ve milked each individual story for a week). 

Until then, we merely have a correlation with no evidence of causation. 

The High Cost of Scandinavian “Socialism”

A lifelong socialist, Bernie Sanders decided to do some rebranding during his 2016 presidential campaign. No longer was he a socialist, he’s now a “democratic-socialist” (which I suppose sounds better).  “When I talk about democratic socialism, I’m not looking at Venezuela. I’m not looking at Cuba. I’m looking at countries like Denmark and Sweden.” Bernie declared during the presidential primaries.

I’ll ignore the fact that Bernie has consistently praised Cuba in the past, and in 2011 wrote that “These days, the American dream is more apt to be realized in South America, in places such as Ecuador, Venezuela and Argentina,” and turn my attention towards his new model for socialism: Scandinavia.

Scandinavian “Socialism”: The Offerings

It must first be clarified that Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Denmark, and Norway) are not socialist. They are capitalist countries that impose excessive levels of taxation on their citizens to fund a wide array of social programs. Those programs include:

  • “Free” government funded healthcare through single-payer healthcare systems
  • Generous government funded maternal and paternal leave
  • Heavily subsidized higher education, free of tuition to all students (and in Norway, to international students as well)
  • Generous paid sick leave

And all these programs are extremely popular when you poll American voters on them – but that’s meaningless. Anything that appears “free” polls extremely well – until the public realizes that they have to pony up for “free.”

Scandinavian “Socialism”: The Cost

The large welfare states of Scandinavia are not without their cost.  In 2017, all three countries had levels of taxation exceeding half of every dollar earned. Taxes as a percent of GDP are:

  • 50.7%  in Sweden
  • 53.5%  in Denmark
  • 54.7% in Norway

For reference, in the U.S. taxes at all levels of government averaged 26% of GDP in 2016 (and have since been cut).  

Listen to Bernie’s rhetoric and you’d get the impression that it’s “millionaires and billionaires” ponying up most of those funds – but they aren’t in Scandinavia. While the Tax Foundation found that in 2017 the top 10% of American households paid 70.6% of the taxes, there is no Robin Hood in Scandinavia.

In America, an earner isn’t subject to the top tax bracket of 37% until they earn over $500,000. While an American would need to earn eight times the average income to be subject to our top tax bracket, the figures are only 1.5 times average income in Sweden, 1.6 in Norway, and 1.3 in Denmark (source: pages 30-31).

So, how would America’s tax system look if it were more like Scandinavia’s?

  • If the U.S. tax code was as flat as Denmark’s, someone earning roughly $70,000 would face a top marginal tax rate of 46.3% (source: page 30). That’s simply the first layer of taxation, as all Scandinavian countries have a 25% value-added tax on purchases (the equivalent of a sales tax).
  • Even after accounting for the dollar value of transfer payments and other government benefits, a single-income couple earning the average wage with two children will pay an average personal income tax rate of 22% in the Nordic countries (counting government transfers as a negative tax), as compared to a rate of 14.2% in the United States. Across all family types, the average American family earning the average wage would pay $2,000-$5,000 more in taxes each year (net of the value of any transfer payments) than a Nordic family. Note that this comparison is of Nordic countries (Scandinavia plus Finland and Iceland). (Source: page 31).

And despite all the “freebies” in Scandinavia, Americans consume much more. According to an analysis of OECD consumption data by the White House (source: page 36), average consumption per person is:

  • 31% lower in Denmark than in the United States
  • 32% lower in Sweden than in the United States
  • 18% lower in Norway than in the United States

And on that note, it should come to little surprise that….

Scandinavians Perform Better in America Than in Scandinavia

The success of Scandinavian economies is despite their generous tax-and-spend policies, not because of them. You can thank the Scandinavian work ethic for their success – not the laws of economics being suspended.

There are over 10 million Americans with Scandinavian ancestry (most of which are the descendants of immigrants), and they far economically outperform their counterparts across the Atlantic.

There is, unfortunately, a lack of global household income data, and thus, the most recent information available is from a 2013 Gallup study of global household incomes. They found the median household incomes, purchasing power adjusted to be the following in 2012:

  • Norway: $51,489
  • Sweden: $50,514
  • Denmark: $44,360

The figures are the following median incomes for households of Americans with Scandinavian ancestry in 2012 are as follows:

  • Norwegian American $62,155 (21% higher)
  • Swedish American $62,295 (23% higher)
  • Danish American $63,630 (43% higher)

Additionally, the Census listed a group identifying themselves as “Scandinavian Americans,” who earned a median household income of $67,421 in 2012. The median household income of all Americans in 2012 was $51,371.

And the real kicker? These figures are not adjusted for differences in taxation. Not only do Scandinavian Americans far outperform Scandinavians economically, but they also get to keep a larger chunk of a larger pie.

 

Here’s the Proof: Obama Treated Journalists WAY Worse than Trump

Jim Acosta’s hard pass has been suspended by the White House, and the charges that President Donald Trump is at war with the media have again become common. Those in the media may wan to remind themselves who exactly started that war.

In an earlier article comparing and contrasting Trump and Barack Obama’s treatment of Russia, I argued that while Trump has been kind in terms of rhetoric, he’s been far tougher on Russia than Obama. Trump approved the sale of weapons to Ukraine to protect against Russia (which Obama refused to do), condemned Russia’s annexation of Crimea (which Obama didn’t do), imposed sanctions on Russia, and many other actions unfavorably towards the Hermit Kingdom. The case of Trump and the media is almost the exact opposite. While Trump’s rhetoric towards the media has been almost exclusively hostile, Trump hasn’t interfered with journalists work one iota in comparison to Obama.

The month before Trump took office, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James Risen wrote in the New York Times that “If Donald J. Trump decides as president to throw a whistle-blower in jail for trying to talk to a reporter, or gets the F.B.I. to spy on a journalist, he will have one man to thank for bequeathing him such expansive power: Barack Obama.”

Risen would know – as he fought efforts from the Department of Justice under both Obama and George W. Bush to compel him to identify sources from a 2006 book of his.

“The Most Transparent Administration in History”

The self-described “most transparent” administration in history was objectively the least transparent.

According to a report published during Obama’s last year in office, the administration set a record for rejections of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The Obama administration either censored materials or rejected requests outright for access in a record 596,095 cases (77% of the time). In just his last year in office alone, the Obama administration spent $36.2 million in legal fees fighting FOIA related lawsuits.

I’ve seen attempts to argue that the “77% rejection” figure is inaccurate, but only if you count censored documents as having been fulfilled FOIA requests. Perhaps under Common Core math that makes sense.

Prosecuting Journalists

Obama prosecuted more journalists under the Espionage Act than all other Presidents combined. While many certainly deserved it (such as Chelsea Manning), are we to believe there were more acts of espionage from 2009-2016 than the rest of American history?

In total, 13 people have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act for sharing classified information with journalists since 1945. Of those 13, eight were arrested while Obama was president. Only one person has been prosecuted under the Espionage Act under Trump’s presidency (a woman bizarrely named “Reality Winner’), which is entirely justified for the same reasons that Manning’s charges were justified.

As one writer put it, “Trump rages about leakers. Obama quietly prosecuted them.”

Obama Would’ve Expelled Fox News if He Could’ve

Trump wants a single person from CNN gone – Jim Acosta. Obama wanted all of Fox News gone. Just months ago in September he said with a straight face that “It shouldn’t be Democratic or Republican to say that we don’t threaten the freedom of the press because they say things or publish stories we don’t like. I complained plenty about Fox News, but you never heard me threaten to shut them down or call them enemies of the people.”

Obama may have not branded Fox News “enemies of the people,” but he certainly treated them as if they were.

In 2009 Obama’s White House intentionally excluded Chris Wallace from a round of interviews related to Obama’s push for healthcare reform.

Later in the year the administration attempted to block Fox reporters from interviewing “pay czar” Kenneth Feinberg, and then lied about it. An internal White House email dated October 22nd 2009 proves that the White House director of broadcast media told Treasury officials “We’d prefer if you skip Fox please.”

Obama’s communications director Anita Dunn publicly echoed the same sentiments at the time. “We’re going to treat them [Fox News] the way we would treat an opponent. As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”

In 2012 Fox was excluded from a White House conference call related to the then-recent attacks in Benghazi, killing four Americans. Fox was also excluded from the CIA’s briefing about the attack.

And to again reference the Espionage Act, in 2012 Fox News’ James Rosen was labeled a “criminal co-conspirator” under the Espionage Act because he used a State Department contractor as a source for a story. At least five of Rosen’s phone lines were seized, and the FBI obtained a warrant to search his emails. The phone records of Rosen’s parents were also seized.

What’s the Trumpian comparison? Calling people he doesn’t like “fake news” and hurting Jim Acosta’s feelings?

The Truth About Australian Gun Control

Following the recent mass shooting at Thousand Creeks that killed twelve people, Australia has been cited as a model for gun control once again by the media as a way to end mass public shootings. After a mass public shooting in Australia known as the “Port Arthur Massacre,” their government introduced a mandatory buyback program which forced gun owners to sell certain firearms (mainly semi-automatic rifles and pump action shotguns) to the state, who promptly destroyed them. This program, the National Firearms Agreement (NFA), resulted in the stock of civilian firearms in the country being reduced by approximately 15-20% (though many pundits give the impression that all guns in Australia were banned). There are actually more guns total in Australia today than before the gun buyback scheme, albeit fewer on a per capita basis.

Right off the bat, it must be pointed out that nothing implemented by Australia’s ambitious gun control measures could’ve prevented the Thousand Creeks shooting, as it was carried out with a handgun (which are not banned in Australia).

In fact, in America, 60% of mass public shootings are carried out solely with handguns (while only 10% are committed solely with rifles). Contrary to what some in the media seem to imply, mass public shootings don’t exist only because of the existence of “assault rifles.”

That said, it’s worth addressing two main claims; that Australia effectively got rid of mass shootings thanks to their buyback scheme, and that gun violence decreased greatly.

The Truth About Australian Mass Shootings

The case for Australian gun control is simple; In the 18 years prior to the NFA (1979-1996), there were 13 fatal mass shootings in Australia.  And in the 18 years after? Zero.

As you can see in the chart below however, the cluster of mass shootings in 1979-1996 was something of a rarity. In fact, until 1979, the country essentially went the entire 20th century without a single mass shooting before any significant change to their gun control laws were made.

The smoking gun (pun always intended) proving that Australia’s disappearance in mass shooting isn’t due to gun control is that most of Australia’s mass public shootings were committed with guns not banned by the NFA and are still legal. A study by criminologist Gary Kleck (source: page 18) found that just two of Australia’s mass shootings in the eighteen years preceding the NFA were committed by firearms banned by the NFA. So in other words, there are no laws in effect that could possibly have prevented all but two of Australia’s mass shooting from happening again.

Non-Gun Mass Killings Increased

According to the aforementioned Gary Kleck study, mass murder by other means (knives, fire, car attack, etc) where five or more were killed increased from 0 incidents in the 18 years before the NFA to six in the years following until 2017 (source: page 25).

***The 2018 mass killing in the chart is a mass shooting, but it was a familicide, not a mass public shooting.

Indeed, there’s been no significant change in both the frequency of mass murders and deaths from mass murders in Australia since the NFA.

Did Gun Violence Decline in Australia?

Gun violence fell like a rock in Australia following gun control (by roughly half in the two decades following it) – and it also happened to fall like a rock in America too. Everything is relative, and Australia’s gun violence decline post-gun control occurred at a time when crime was declining globally.

A 2016 American Medical Association study examined trends in firearm homicides and suicides before and after the adoption of gun control in Australia from the 1996 NFA, and found no evidence of a statistically significant effect of gun control on the pre-existing downward trend of the firearm homicide rate.

Over a similar time period, (1993-2014), gun homicides in America were cut by more than half. Keep in mind that guns per capita increased by about 50% in America over this period. The overall homicide rate actually fell faster in America than in Australia.

Australia’s Ambassador: “Australian Gun Laws Cannot Save America”

Australian ambassador to the U.S., Joe Hockey helped craft the NFA while he served in parliament, but doesn’t believe similar legislation would be a remedy for the U.S.. In his words:

Australia and the United States are completely different situations, and it goes back to each of our foundings. America was born from a culture of self-defense. Australia was born from a culture of ‘the government will protect me.’ Australia wasn’t born as a result of a brutal war. We weren’t invaded. We weren’t attacked. We weren’t occupied. That makes an incredible difference, even today.

Hockey believes in Australian gun control (and extolls its mythical virtues), but doesn’t believe it would be culturally possible to implement in America.

Not only would it be culturally impossible to implement – it wouldn’t even work either.

Is the Senate Rigged Towards Republicans?

Following the recent midterms that positioned Republicans to control the Senate until at least 2022 (due to the size of the Republican majority relative to the number of flippable seats in 2020), some liberal pundits are now claiming that the Senate is a threat to our “democracy.”

Perhaps the funniest argument spawned against the Senate is this new concept of a the “Senate popular vote” (yes, really). “Republicans lost the popular vote in Senate races by over 15 percentage points, but still gained two seats” wrote Salon writer Amanda Marcotte following the midterms. “Our country is not a democracy,” she continued, which is actually a true statement, just not for the reasons she believes. Another activist wrote “For everyone depressed about ‘Democratic’ performance in the Senate yesterday, remember that the Senate is not a ‘democratic’ institution. Popular vote: Republicans: 31,490,026 (43.0%) Democrats: 40,558,262 (55.4%) Republicans picked up 3 seats. They should have lost 4.”

I’m at something of a loss as to what they actually believe this all means. Do they think that votes for Democrat Senators in California should somehow impact Montana’s Senate races? In the case of California specifically, Diane Feinstein’s greatest challenger (who received 805,446 votes) was also a Democrat. That’s 805k votes added to the Democrats lead in this so-called “Senate popular vote,” but only one Democrat could win that race. Blue States tend to have larger populations, so it’s not at all surprising that more votes can be cast for Democrats overall, while more Republican candidates still defeat Democrat candidates individually.

If they think States with larger populations need more representation, perhaps they should be reminded what the House of Representatives does?

That aside…

The Senate Has Historically Been Dominated by Democrats

Anyone arguing that the Senate is rigged to favor Republicans has to ask themselves why then it’s Democrats that have historically dominated it.

Over the past 100 years, from 1919-2018, Democrats have controlled the Senate for 62 years, and Republicans for 38 years. While the 107th Senate began split 50/50, Republican Jim Jeffords became an Independent just months in and began caucusing with Democrats, so I’m including the 2 years of the 107th Senate as “Democrat rule.”

It’s also notable that even when the Republican party is the controlling party in that they have more seats than Democrats, it’s more often the case that they still don’t have a majority vote guaranteed. For example, in the 66th Congress Republicans controlled the Senate 48-47 (as there were 96 Senators at the time), but there was one Independent. A similar scenario was present in the 70th and 72nd Congress, where Republicans held a one-seat majority, but an Independent that could threaten that majority. In the 83rd Congress, the GOP held a two seat majority with two independent Senators in office. There were only two cases, the 82nd and 84th Congresses, where a Democrat majority was threatened by Independents if they were to side with Republicans.

Where were the op-eds on the “undemocratic Senate” biased towards “rural Republicans” when Democrats were running the show? The “fairness” of each State having two Senators aside, it hasn’t seemed to matter much for Democrats historically.

Conclusion

The narrative that the Senate is rigged towards Republicans has only sprung up because Republicans are controlling it, and it’s depressing to see so many uncritically accepting the narrative. Claims that the Senate is rigged towards Republicans due to population differences between States are no more credible than when The View’s Joy Behar blamed the recent Republican Senate victories on gerrymandering (who knew Senators had districts to win?).

 

The Trump Effect – Why These Midterms Were Different

Republicans may have lost control of the House last night, but the forecasted “Blue Wave” turned out to be little more than a “Blue Splash.” Indeed, while Republicans further solidified control of the Senate, which insulates them from losing that majority even though the 2020 midterms, Democrats barely made a dent in the House relative to prior midterms.

LISTEN: The good, the bad, and the ugly takeaways from midterm Election results

While many pundits expected last night to be a repudiation of Trump, even in some Republican losses it’s evident that the opposite was the case.

Anti-Trump Republicans Get Smoked

Some Republicans got smoked – and many of them were anti-Trump. The first casualty of the night was Virginia’s Barbara Comstock, who called on Trump to drop out of the presidential race in October 2016. Among the other anti-Trumpers (including both incumbents and challengers) who lost last night included Mia Love, Carlos Curbelo, Bob Hugin, John Faso, Peter Roskam, and Mike Coffman.

As CNN’s Jake Tapper noted, you can expect the next Congress to be more pro-Trump as a result, despite fewer Republicans in office.

And Trump reacted to that news in pure Trumpian fashion during his press conference today.

The Kavanaugh Vote Mattered

Democrat Joe Manchin kept his Senate seat, but it’s likely he would’ve lost it had he voted against the confirmation of SCOTUS Justice Brett Kavanaugh, as evidenced by the fact that every single red state Democrat who voted against Kavanaugh lost. Those Democrats included Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota), Claire McCaskill (Missouri), and Joe Donnelly (Indiana).

Hilariously, the New Yorker’s Jane Meyer prematurely tweeted out early results from Donnelly’s race as “proof” that the Kavanaugh vote didn’t matter.

Nailed it.

House Losses Were Far Less Than Historical Averages

On average, the party opposing the President will pick up seats during midterm elections, while the party supporting the President loses seats. This was on full display on the midterm elections under Barack Obama, but hardly as noticeable last night. Since 1902, the president’s party has lost an average of 424 seats in the midterms. Trump lost 330 (25% fewer than average). Note that those are national figures, meaning that in addition to Congress they’re also including State legislatures.

When it comes to federal Congress specifically, the President loses 37 seats on average during the first midterm election of their presidencies. Trump lost only 26 (30% fewer than average), while Bill Clinton lost 53 (despite a roaring economy – and no Lewinsky scandal yet), while Obama lost a historic 63.

Trump also performed extremely well relative to his approval rating. A Gallup analysis found that when a President has an approval rating below 50% (as Trump does), they have lost an average of 37 House seats, while Trump only lost 30.

Senate Solidified Until 2020 – or 2022

As of writing, there is one undecided Senate race with the Republican candidate ahead, Martha McSally in Arizona. Florida’s Rick Scott is having his win contested. If both win as expected, the GOP will hold 53 Senate seats, creating a margin of safety unless something catastrophic happens before the next midterms. In the 2020 midterms there will only be three Senate seats that Democrats can reasonably try to flip – while Republicans would still maintain a technical majority – 50 seats plus the Vice President.

In other words, if everything goes perfectly for Democrats in 2020, they can hope for a tie.

And Liberals Aren’t Happy

Liberal pundits certainly aren’t treating last night as a victory. CNN’s Van Jones called the results “heartbreaking,” and that he expects Democrats to have a feeling of hopelessness today. “This is heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking. The hope has been that the antibodies would kick in — that this sort of infestation of hatred and division would draw a response from the American people, really in both parties, to say ‘no’ and ‘no more,'” he said. “That does not seem to be happening tonight. It’s not a blue wave, it’s still a blue war,” he added.

CNN’s Jake Tapper echoed much of the same elsewhere. “When you look at what’s going on here tonight, this is not a blue wave,” he said on air. “This is not a wave that is knocking out all sorts of Republican incumbents.”

I guess the tide was low.

Debunking Myths About Trump’s Obamacare “Repeal”

In passing his historic tax overhaul at the end of 2017, President Donald Trump included rules that ripped the heart out of Obamacare by repealing the individual mandate, which fined individuals who didn’t purchase health insurance. “We have essentially repealed Obamacare” Trump said after the tax bill passed.

Healthcare is the number one issue that Democrats are campaigning on as the midterms approach, so it’s worth clarifying some myths about Trump and Obamacare. Despite fear-mongering from liberals, and Trump’s claim that he “essentially repealed” Obamacare, Trump only repealed a single (albeit major) component of Obamacare (the individual mandate). That was the least popular aspect of the law, and more popular components such as the Medicare expansion and the provision allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s insurance until age 26 are still in effect.

That being said, the alleged benefits of Obamacare have all been oversold.

Obamacare Didn’t Reduce Healthcare Costs

The debate over the effects of repealing Obamacare (in part or full) overlooks the fact that Obamacare failed to live up to its promise of reducing healthcare costs. “”I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year” Obama said out on the campaign trail in 2007.

Clearly that did not happen. The average family coverage plan cost $16,351 in 2014 (the year Obamacare fully took effect), and rose to $18,764 by 2017 (a year which the law was still in full effect despite Trump’s presidency).

Private Obamacare Insurance is Glorified Catastrophic Insurance

Those who receive insurance through ObamaCare exchanges are essentially covered with the equivalent of a catastrophic healthcare plan, as the deductibles render the insurance “insurance in name only” for most. The average “silver plan” has a $3,937 deductible, and “bronze plans” $5,873. Overall, the average deductible is roughly $4,000. Most purchase silver plans, which cover 70% of health expenses.

Most Were Insured Through Medicaid

Has Obamacare succeeded in reducing the number of uninsured? To give some context on the pre-Obamacare statistics, at the beginning of 2008, a Gallup poll found that 14.6% of Americans did not have health insurance coverage. The uninsured rate rose to an all-time high of 18% in 2013 after Obamacare was passed but before people were required to have insurance. That rate declined to 8.8% by 2017 (with 28.5 million uninsured), which was virtually unchanged from 2016.

It must be noted that all statistics are inflated, as illegal aliens are counted in population statistics (and thus drive up the uninsured rates). A Center for Immigration Studies study found that illegals accounted for roughly 1 in 7 people without insurance in 2006. If that figure holds, the adjusted uninsured rates would be 12.5% in 2008, 15.4% in 2013, and 7.5% in 2017.

Obamacare did indeed reduce the percentage of people uninsured, though nearly all of the newly insured were insured by parts of the law that Trump did not touch.

The Department of Health and Human Services released a report at the end of 2016 claiming that 20 million were newly insured as a result of Obamacare (leading to the inevitable untrue headlines that 20 million would lose insurance without Obamacare). Of that 20 million. 5.8 million are insured through the subsidized individual market (through Obamacare exchanges), 2.3 million from the provision allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s health plans until 26, and the remaining 11.9 million were insured through the Medicaid expansion.

Still, the “20 million” figure is an overstatement. Nearly five million of those now insured through Medicaid were already eligible for it before Obamacare, and some percentage of the 2.3 million who remained on their parent’s plans would’ve otherwise purchased their own private plans.

If Trump were to take action to shut down the Obamacare exchanges, that would simply be speeding up the inevitable, as nearly all exchanges have already failed. Only four Obamacare exchanges remain in 2018, after 19 have failed.

Surprisingly, insuring people through Medicare is cheaper than through Obama’s faux-private insurance. Figures from the Congressional Budget Office show they plan to spend an average of $6,300 on each individual who purchases subsidized health insurance through Obamacare’s exchanges in 2018. However, they’re set to spend “only” roughly $4,900 for each Medicaid recipient who enrolled. In other words, it would’ve been simpler and more cost-effective for Obama to have simply expanded an existing public healthcare program than implement Obamacare.

Trump’s Actions Can’t “Take Away” Anyone’s Healthcare

Despite any hysterical rhetoric you’ve seen, there is no grand scheme to “take away” anyone’s healthcare, and nothing Trump has done has come close to doing so.

You can only lose insurance through Trump’s individual mandate repeal voluntarily if you stop purchasing insurance in absence of the penalty. Interestingly enough there seems to be an ideological divide evident in those voluntarily ceasing to purchase insurance. Over the past two years the uninsured rate among Republicans rose from 7.9% to 13.9%, while it remained flat among Democrats at 9.1%.

 

The Papadopoulos Interview – Explosive Revelations You Need to Know

Dan just held a historic interview with George Papadopoulos, the man initially believed to be the spark that ignited the FBI’s secretive counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign, to give his side of the story. We already detailed all the suspicious actors that Papadopoulos encountered in our book “Spygate,” and Papadopoulos revealed that the web is even more tangled than we believed.

A Common Theme – Papadopoulos Was Being Recorded

Throughout all of the key meetings Papadopoulos discussed during the interview, they all shared a common thread in that he was being recorded. At the beginning of various meetings, the person he was meeting with would take out their cell phone and place it on the table, leading him to believe he was being recorded. That’s what happened within minutes of Papadopoulos meeting with Sergei Millian and Stefan Halper. Alexander Downer was a bit more explicit, pulling out his phone and holding it up as if he was video-recording Papadopoulos. He then presumably kept audio-recording as their conversation progressed.

The fact that these meetings (which Papadopoulos believed to be innocuous before they occurred) were recorded is itself noteworthy. What possible reason could they have to record him? We can only speculate – and none of that speculation is positive.

Joseph Mifsud

The tale of Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud is a bizarre one. Avinder Sambei (the FBI’s counsel in London) and Nagi Idris (who works at the London Centre of International Law) recommended that Papadopoulos meet Mifsud, which he did on March 14th 2016 in Rome at their request. He initially met Mifsud at a university called Lake Campus, which is a training ground for Western intelligence operatives in Rome.

While Mifsud tried to portray himself as a “man of the world,” Papadopoulos recalled being immediately skeptical of how he represented himself. Mifsud promised that he can put Papadopoulos in connection with members of the Russian government, and that he possesses Hillary’s hacked emails (which was then a topical news story). Mifsud also says he can put Papadopoulos in touch with a woman he claims is Vladimir Putin’s niece.

A second meeting occurs on March 24th in London, this time with Mifsud accompanied by Olga Vinogradova, whom he claims is Putin’s niece (but is not). Papadapoulos says Olga was mostly silent during the meeting, as she (reportedly) barely spoke English, but that he later emailed her and she “magically” became fluent during their correspondence. In those emails, Olga claimed she could help connect him with government officials in Russia. When he texted Olga to confirm that she was the woman emailing him, she never replied. It’s entirely possible that Mifsud brought along someone who didn’t (or at least pretended to not) speak English with the hopes that Papadapoulos would offer up more revealing information. If she indeed didn’t speak English, it was likely Mifsud (or someone else) impersonating her to Papadapoulos, attempting to pry information from him.

According to Papadopoulos, Mifsud’s lawyer said a couple of weeks ago that he was working with both Russia and western intelligence sources. His lawyer said that he’s not a Russian asset and was working for western intelligence.

That certainly would explain an oddly worded question to Papadopoulos on his charging documents. Papadopoulos was asked if he was ever in contact with someone who had a “Russian accent” but not if he was in contact with a “Russian.” A reference to Olga, certainly.

Alexander Downer

The official narrative as outlined in a New York Times article published in December 2017 was that Papadopoulos drunkenly told Australian diplomat Alexander Downer that he possessed Hillary’s hacked emails (a repeat of Mifsud’s claim), which Downer then reported to the FBI. We were also supposed to believe that the meeting was basically a chance encounter.

Papadopoulos says otherwise – that neither of them was drunk, and this was no random encounter, but one organized through numerous intermediaries. Among those intermediaries were Israeli diplomat Christian Cantor (who expressed disdain of Trump to Papadopoulos), and Erica Thompson (Cantor’s girlfriend, who told Papadopoulos she believes Trump is a pariah). Arrangements weren’t made for a meeting until after Papadopoulos interviewed with the Times of London on May 7th 2016, which centered around negative comments then-Prime Minister David Cameron made about Donald Trump. Papadopoulos called for more constructive dialogue – to much criticism.

The day after that interview, two Americans from the US embassy reach out to Papadopoulos, who he believes was working with the Defense Intelligence Agency, Gregory Baker and Terrance Dudley. They wine and dine Papadopoulos and ask him about Trump and Russia (pretending to be pro-Russian themselves, presumably hoping Papadopoulos would admit to non-existent collusion). The next day, Erica Thompson messages him that Downer wants to meet with him. The Downer meeting occurs on May 10th.

Downer never spoke about the US-Australian relationship during their talk, but instead, Downer wanted to pass a message along to Trump that he needed to oppose BERXIT. He too called Trump a pariah.

But most interesting of all, Papadopoulos says they never discussed Hillary’s emails.

And as Papadopoulos noted, Downer has contradicted himself at least three times over what was said at the meeting.

There are recordings of the meeting, so why can’t Downer release them to prove Papadopoulos discussed Hillary’s emails? Because Papadopoulos never discussed them. And with that, we move on to a man that attempted to create the same bogus narrative about Papadopoulos having Hillary’s emails: Stefan Halper.

Stefan Halper

Stefan Halper was the FBI’s spy in the Trump campaign.

He had an assistant named Azra Turk, whom Papadopoulos says tried to seduce him in London and goad him into saying untrue things about the Trump campaigns non-existant collusion with Russia. The day after that encounter Papadopoulos met a belligerent Halper, who expressed disdain for Papadopoulos’ views, and Trump. The purpose of the meeting it seemed, was for Halper to belittle Trump and hear more about Russia.

Halper essentially began interrogating Papadopoulos, saying that it’s “obviously in your interest to be working with the Russians” and to “hack emails.” “You’re complicit with Russia in this, isn’t that right George” Halper told him. Halper also inquired about Hillary’s hacked emails, insinuating that Papadopoulos possessed them. Papadopoulos denied knowing anything about this and asked to be left alone.

It seems that Halper was trying to pry information out of Papadopoulos that he already allegedly gave Alexander Downer (if the NYT is to be believed). But if Papadopoulos and Downer indeed never discussed Hillary’s emails, then that attempt at entrapment didn’t go according to plan. Instead, Papadopoulos believes that Halper’s role was to actually bait him into claiming he had Hillary’s emails, so that Halper could be the man cited as turning Papadalpous over to the FBI, sparking the Russia probe – not Downer. Both men failed, but their bogus narrative emerged unscathed.

Sergei Millian

Sergei Millian is believed to be “Source D” in Christopher Steele’s dossier, who is the source of the infamous “golden showers” claim.

It’s no surprise then that he was one of the suspect characters to approach Papadopoulos, presenting himself as a former Trump associate.. They met once in NY, but the key meeting came months later when Millian contacted Papadopoulos out of the blue in late September/early October 2016. They met in Chicago to discuss work that Millian wanted him to do in Manhattan. Millian offered 30k per month for the job (which would’ve been PR related), with one bizarre condition: that Papadopoulos only could take the job if he did so while simultaneously working in the Trump administration. And even more bizarre? Papadopoulos couldn’t tell anyone.

If that wasn’t suspect enough, Papadapoulos also describes Millian as nervous and sweating as he detailed the desired arrangement. Papadopoulos rejects the offer, and Millian drops off his radar.

The timing is also interesting. Papadopoulos had just met with Halper on September 2nd, and by the end of the month he’s invited to an even more suspect meeting.

And the kicker: at the inauguration, an associate of Millian tells him that Millian was working for the FBI.

Charles Tawil

Another one of Papadopoulos’ meetings was with Charles Tawil, who requested a photograph with Papadopoulos after they initially met. That’s noteworthy, as all of the intelligence figures that presented themselves to Papadopoulos requested photos of the two together afterward (as proof of the meeting, perhaps).

Tawil later reaches out saying that he wants to “talk business” with Papadopoulos. He meets up with Tawil in Greece in July 2017, where he believes he’s being watched. Tawil then invites him to Israel, and the two meet in a Tel Aviv hotel room. Papadopoulos says he believes he was under threat, so when Tawil offers him $10,000 in cash, he took it. Papadopoulos then flew back to Greece and called Tawil to offer him the money back – which Tawil rejected. It’s unclear what work the money was supposed to be for, but Tawil didn’t seem concerned about having any services delivered for that sum.

Papadopoulos handed the money over to his lawyer in Greece before flying home.

And Then He’s Arrested…

And then when Papadopoulos landed back in America, he was arrested at Dulles International Airport on July 27th. Strangely, he wasn’t shown the warrant for his arrest when arrested, and didn’t know the reason why until the next day. The $10,000 that Tawil paid Papadopoulos in cash is interesting in this context, as it would be the exact amount of money one would be required to declare at customs. Papadopoulos didn’t recall if he was arrested before or after he filled out a customs slip (but didn’t have the money on him).

The $10,000 was likely an attempted form of entrapment (can you imagine the headlines if Papadopoulos was caught passing security with a suspect amount of cash after already having been questioned by the FBI?), but things didn’t pan out as expected for Tawil.

More Spies in the Trump Campaign?

Papadopoulos said he could confirm that there was at least one more spy infiltrating the Trump campaign in addition to Halper but wouldn’t name them for legal reasons. He only revealed that it was a relatively low-level player that most people have never heard of.

More FISA Surveillance?

Like Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, Papadopoulos says he was surveilled. “It was all about my energy business due to my contacts in Israel and others in the Middle East. I brokered a Trump meeting with Egypt. When the FBI came to my house in January 2016, they first asked about my energy business and contacts.” He also said “In April 2017 before I was arrested, two reps from the NYT and CNN (implied not stated) interviewed me to ask about a FISA warrant on me. Since I had no Russian contacts, I was bewildered about that.”

Give it a listen for yourself:

Does the 14th Amendment Protect Birthright Citizenship?

President Donald Trump’s promise to end birthright citizenship through executive order has sparked immense criticism from both ends of the political spectrum. The criticism always centers over the constitutionality of birthright citizenship, as the 14th Amendment is used to justify it. The Amendment reads (in part) “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the States wherein they reside.” In full the amendment is the longest in the Constitution, with 425 words and four sections, though its the first anyone ever focusses on.

LISTEN: Dan debunks the broken liberal talking points on immigration and birthright citizenship

As refreshing as it is to see liberals at least pretending to care about the constitution, their concerns, and those of my fellow conservatives, are unfounded.

Is Birthright Citizenship a Misinterpretation of the 14th?

The historical context of the 14th Amendment wasn’t to give illegals the luxury of having their offspring be American citizens if they happened to give birth on American soil (after all, what would be the point of that?), it was to ensure the citizenship of the children of freed slaves. There was no illegal immigration epidemic in 1866 (or much of a concept of “illegal immigration), the time the Amendment was ratified. The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments are known as the “reconstruction amendments,” as they were passed immediately following the civil war to “reconstruct” a nation previously divided by slavery.

That’s the historical context in which the 14th needs to be interpreted

The 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause was authored by Michigan Senator Jacob Howard, who clarified its meeting on the floor of the Senate in 1866:

This [Amendment] will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.

It must be noted however that critics charge that Howard’s comment is still open to interpretation. Is he speaking of three distinct groups (foreigners, aliens, and the children of ambassadors/foreign minorities) or one group (the foreign/alien children of ambassadors/foreign ministers)? Unfortunately, this isn’t the sort of thing that can be resolved by a debate over 19th-century grammar. Still, it does seem redundant that Howard would even mention “foreigners” and “aliens” in the first half of his sentence if he was simply speaking of the children of foreigners.

Owing credibility to the argument that the Amendment was more to help freed blacks, Howard said before the Senate that “This amendment which I have offered is simply declaratory of what I regard as the law of the land already.” Howard was referencing the 1866 Civil Rights Act, passed fewer than two months earlier. Regarding citizenship, the Civil Rights Act declared that “all persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States.”

19th Century Legal Interpretations of the 14th Amendment

The legal scholars of the 19th century have a radically different interpretation of the 14th Amendment than the Washington Post bloggers of the 21st.

Just five years after the Amendment was ratified, the  U.S. Attorney General George Williams explained in a legal case that the term “jurisdiction”  in the 14th meant “absolute and complete jurisdiction” excluding aliens, even those born on American soil. The clause also excluded Native Americans. He said, in full, that:

The word “jurisdiction” must be understood to mean absolute and complete jurisdiction, such as the United States had over its citizens before the adoption of this amendment. Aliens, among whom are persons born here and naturalized abroad, dwelling or being in this country, are subject to the jurisdiction of the United States only to a limited extent. Political and military rights and duties do not pertain to them.

And as my friend Will Ricciardella noted, the late scholar Judge Thomas Cooley wrote in his 1880 treatise The General Principles of Constitutional Law in America: “[A] citizen by birth must not only be born within the United States, but he must also be subject to the jurisdiction thereof; and by this is meant that full and complete jurisdiction to which citizens generally are subject, and not any qualified and partial jurisdiction, such as may consist with allegiance to some other government.”

Ricciardella further notes that:

It wasn’t until 1898 in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, that the “separate but equal” court, held that any child born in the U.S. of legal immigrant parents with “permanent” residence in the United States are guaranteed citizenship under the 14th Amendment. A narrow exception would be for children of diplomats.

There is zero precedent for allowing citizenship to children born to illegal alien parents. Article 1, section 8, clause 4 gives plenary power to Congress over naturalization and Section 5 of the 14th Amendment over jurisdiction, which Congress altered to allow Indians born in the United States to become citizens in 1924.

The history is clear – the 14th Amendment does not support birthright citizenship. Much like Peter Gibbons, liberals appear to have not gotten the memo.

 

No, Right-Wing Terrorism is NOT More Common Than Islamic Extremism

What’s more common, right-wing terrorism, or Islamic terrorism? Given the recent pipe bomb scares, you’re bound to run into some liberal twisting the statistics to (mis)inform you that ” well actually, right-wing extremism is a greater problem than Islamic extremism in America.”

Oh really now?

Back in January, Cory Booker told CNN that “In American history since 9/11, we’ve had 85 major attacks in our country, 73 percent of them have been by white nationalist hate groups.” Convenient of him to begin his timeline after the worst Islamic terrorist attack in U.S. history, ain’t it? Unsurprisingly, the factless fact-checkers over at Politifact rated the claim “half-true.” Their “half-true” rating was based on Booker claiming 73 “white nationalist” attacks, while the study Booker was relying on was documenting “far right wing violent extremist groups.” So Politifact’s problem with Booker’s statement was largely semantics – but the real problems with his statement deserve a “pants on fire” rating.

The source in question is a 2017 Government Accountability Office (GAO) study titled “Countering Violent Extremism.” While Booker’s assessment is technically correct that 73 percent of terrorist attacks are from far-right groups (which I assume is what he meant to say regardless), the GAO study is extremely flimsy on what constitutes a right-wing terrorist attack. For example, turn to page 29 of the study, and one of the right-wing terrorist attacks is described as “White Supremacist member of Aryan Brotherhood killed a man.” That’s it. No detail as to the motive, the race of the victim, or anything else. Since when does a murder become a terrorist incident just because the murderer also happens to be a bigot? A hate crime perhaps, but not a terror attack. That same white supremacist killed someone else in later weeks, and is counted as a separate “terrorist attack” in the study.

On page 31, “Far rightist murdered a homeless man” is counted as a right-wing terror attack, and if these examples thus far weren’t crazy enough, page 32 describes a “White supremacist [who] shot and killed 9 at his community college.” That shooting was the 2015 Umpqua Community College shooting, carried out by a self-described “mixed race” individual who singled out Christians for his attack. Does that sound like a right-wing terrorist attack to you? How about on page 30, when the study documents the “right-wing terrorist attack” involving “Six white supremacist inmates beat[ing] another prisoner to death.”? Do you walk the streets in fear that prison inmates will somehow assault you?

Clearly, the GAO is grasping at straws when it comes to defining terrorism or “major attacks.” Indeed, nearly every single right-wing terrorist attack on the list are individual murders that at best would accurately be described as hate crimes. Those murders should not be counted as instances of “terrorism,” but suppose for a second that we’re to grant the GAO’s methodology. Even so, this highlights another problem in the study: that they’re counting attacks based on their frequency, not death toll.

While there were 62 instances of right-wing terror int he GAO study, they resulted in “only” 106 deaths. That’s a death toll racked up in mere seconds on September 11th. When one Islamic terror attack can result in over 30x the deaths of an inflated estimate of right-wing terror deaths, who in their right mind would think the right-wing is more dangerous?

Meanwhile, the GAO’s documented cases of Islamic extremism has only 23 incidents, but a comparably higher 119 deaths. As already mentioned, they’re conveniently beginning their timeline post-9/11. So I suppose by their logic Islamic terrorism isn’t such a threat if you just happen to ignore the worst Islamic terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

In total, I could only find seven incidents (carried out by five perpetrators) that could accurately be described as right-wing terror incidents, resulting in 22 victims dead (excluding perpetrators). They are:

  • Anti-government violent extremist flew a small plane into an Austin, TX office building with an IRS office in it to protest the IRS and the government. One dead – only the perpetrator.
  • Neo-Nazi killed six at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, 8/5/2012, Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Six dead.
  • Anti-government extremist kills Transportation Security Administration officer at Los Angeles International Airport, 11/1/2013, Los Angeles, California. One dead.
  • White supremacist shot and killed 2 at a Jewish Community Center, 4/13/2014, Overland Park, Kansas. Two dead.
  • Same perpetrator as the previous attack in Overland Park; perpetrator murdered another person at a Jewish retirement center later the same day, 4/13/2014, Leawood, Kansas. One dead.
  • White supremacist Dylann Roof shot and killed 9 African Americans in a shooting at an African American church, 6/17/2015, Charleston, South Carolina. Nine dead.
  • Anti-government survivalist extremist killed 3 at Planned Parenthood clinic including a responding police officer, 11/27/2015, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Three dead.

If we’re to apply these revised figures, that would mean seven right-ring terror incidents compared to 23 Islamic terror incidents. Not only is the former much rarer, when such terror attacks do occur, the death toll is far less. Even a single Islamic terror incident such as the 2009 Fort Hoot shooting or 2015 San Bernardino massacre racked up death tolls of more than half of all right-wing terror incidents combined. Most importantly, however, it proves that 3/4th of terror attacks are Islamic, not the reverse, as Booker claimed.

And don’t forget, this is just domestic terrorism. Even as they were seeing massive territorial losses last year, ISIS still carried out attacks killing at least 6,500 innocent people, and their African affiliate Boko Haram killed an additional 900. It goes without saying that there are no equivalent “right-wing” terrorist outlets.

P.S. For anyone curious, you can view the list for yourself below.

Liberals Say Federal Workers “Underpaid” – The Salaries Say Otherwise

Back in August, President Donald Trump said he’d cancel the 2.1% raises that would’ve taken effect for federal employees in 2019, stating “we must maintain efforts to put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases.” This immediately led to a number of Congressional Democrats and pundits claiming the move was “cruel,” “anti-worker,” and of course, “racist” (why not?).

If the removal of a planned 2.1% raise is enough to trigger such hysterical reasons, certainly these people must believe that federal workers are underpaid. And if that’s the case, it’s hard to tell if that belief is borne out of insanity or naivety.

Public Sector vs. Private Sector Pay

There was a time in American history where workers taking a federal job knew they were accepting a tradeoff – poor pay relative to a private sector job, but rock-solid job security. The job security remains – but the tradeoff does not.

As reported by Just Facts, in 2017 the Congressional Budget Office released a study that compared the compensation of full-time year-round private sector workers to federal workers from 2011 to 2015 (excluding Post Office employees). It adjusted for education, occupation, work experience, geographic location, the size of their employer, and various demographic characteristics. With those factors accounted for, the study found that federal workers received an average of 17% more total compensation than comparable private sector workers.

Those with only a high school diploma or less fare best in federal work, earning 53% more than their private sector counterparts. Only those with professional degrees or doctorates earn less in the public sector, and there are relatively few public sector jobs that require such degrees.

That study was looking at full-time, year-round workers, but it’s likely the case that full-time private sector workers spend considerably more hours on the job each year than their public sector counterparts. A 2010 study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that full-time private sector employees work 12% more hours than full-time state and local government employees. Thus, while federal workers may earn 17% more than private sector employees, their hourly pay is significantly greater than 17% higher if the same trend holds true in federal work.

Other studies give even more liberal estimates of federal compensation relative to private employees.  The conservative Heritage Foundation in 2010 found an advantage for federal workers of 22 percent, while data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis in 2014 showed that:

Federal civilian workers had an average wage of $84,153 in 2014, compared to an average in the private sector of $56,350. The federal advantage in overall compensation (wages plus benefits) is even greater. Federal compensation averaged $119,934 in 2014, which was 78 percent higher than the private-sector average of $67,246.

The only government studies that say otherwise come from the Federal Salary Council, which employs an extremely poor methodology. A 2015 study of theirs claimed that federal workers are underpaid by 35%, their 2016 study found them underpaid by 34%, and their most recent found them underpaid by 32%.

Those figures are shocking in light of every other study of the matter, but exactly what we’d expect from a Council that composes of six representatives from government employee labor unions, and three “outside experts” on labor relations that Barack Obama appointed. The most glaring error in their studies is that they only examine wages, not fringe benefits (such as health insurance and retirement benefits). That’s significant given that federal employees have benefits on average 47% higher than their private sector employees. In fact, the majority of the gap in private and public sector compensation is from benefits, not wages. The 17% difference in compensation found by the CBO was attributed to federal employees having benefits 47% higher, but wages only 3% higher than in the private sector. The study also had poor controls to account for different skill levels needed for comparable federal and private sector jobs.

A 2012 Government Accountability Office review of federal pay studies, including the Federal Salary Council’s, failed to find evidence to support a 35% pay penalty for federal employees. The only study that concurred was one by the President’s Pay Agent, which is the body in charge of approving pay increases recommended by the Federal Salary Council.

And that’s not all.

Hotel California Economics

As the Foundation for Economic Education puts it, in the public sector, “nobody quits, and you can’t get fired.” Indeed, if federal workers were underpaid, you’d expect them to have high turnover rates as they seek better employment elsewhere. The opposite is the case, with the rate of quitting in the public sector 70% lower than in the private sector.

And the discrepancy isn’t much different for firings. Federal workers are fired or laid off at rates 71% lower than in the private sector, with the only exception being when state budgets faced severe pressure in the summer of 2010.

And About That Federal Pay Freeze…..

In the end, the hysterics over the proposed pay freeze proved pointless, as Congressional Republicans caved and ended up agreeing to a 1.9% pay increase for federal workers earlier this month.

Aren’t they supposed to be the ones for cutting spending?