So, Jussie Smollett was lying.
The “Empire” actor claimed that when he was walking home at 2 a.m. in Chicago, in the midst of the polar vortex, he was accosted by two assailants, both of whom shouted anti-gay and anti-black slurs at him.
They then attempted to throw a noose around his neck and pour what he thought was bleach on him while shouting, “This is MAGA country!” he says.
None of this is true. Police now think that Smollett paid two of his friends to stage the entire attack.
Why, exactly, would Smollett do it? He is a successful actor on a hit television show. He’s been continuously working in Hollywood for years, with roles in the 2017 films “Marshall” and “Alien: Covenant.”
He’s not exactly a textbook victim.
The answer to this question makes for some uncomfortable lessons.
First, alleged victims sometimes have an incentive to lie. For several years, each time an alleged victim tells an unverified and unverifiable story, we are told that we must believe that victim’s story. Why? Because, why would the victim lie? But this is often untrue.
Smollett had an incentive to lie: unending media attention, fawning sycophancy from politicians, and the potential for even greater Hollywood stardom.
If Smollett had gotten away with his hoax, he’d be the face of gay, black suffering in the United States.
Few had heard of Smollett before this story. Suddenly, he found himself on “Good Morning America,” telling the world about his own bravery. That’s a lucrative career path.
Second, hoaxers can read the tea leaves. There’s a reason that the most prominent racial and sexual hoaxes have generally flattered the political sensibilities of the political left. Right-wing hoaxes might catch the attention of right-wing sources, but left-wing sources are far more powerful and plentiful.
Imagine if a MAGA-hatted young Republican had accused two young black men of assaulting him while shouting, “F— Trump!” That story might get play on talk radio and Fox News, but it wouldn’t earn one iota of attention from celebrity culture or the mainstream media.
Third, social media make hoaxes infinitely easier. There are large-scale incentives for jumping on every story before the facts are clear, which is why Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., both running for president, tweeted their support for Smollett … and then had to backtrack radically, suggesting as the hoax emerged that they had to wait for more facts.
Being the first to rip America bears political fruit; waiting for the whole story often earns public castigation for insufficient sensitivity.
All of this means that the hoaxes won’t stop anytime soon. The incentives simply aren’t aligned for hoaxes to end. Media members are too eager to buy into stories that support their preferred narratives; social media are too eager to engage in pile-ons of epic proportions; hoaxers are obviously eager to make a buck or win some fame.
That means that we should all wait next time we hear a story too good to be true.
But we won’t. Nobody knows who the next Jussie Smollett will be. But within a few weeks, we’ll surely know.
Copyright 2019 Creators.com
Sixteen states have announced they’re filing a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration. The Heritage Foundation’s John Malcolm, an expert in legal affairs, joins us to discuss what will likely happen as the case winds through the courts. Plus: A CBS reporter says the media is biased.
We also cover these stories:
- The Trump administration is reportedly launching a global effort to legalize homosexual conduct in countries where it’s criminalized.
- Justice Clarence Thomas suggested Tuesday that a pivotal media case, The New York Times vs. Sullivan, might need to be revisited.
- Martina Navratilova, a lesbian tennis star, is speaking out against allowing transgender athletes to compete in sports.
The Daily Signal podcast is available on Ricochet, iTunes, SoundCloud, Google Play, or Stitcher. All of our podcasts can be found at DailySignal.com/podcasts. If you like what you hear, please leave a review. You can also leave us a message at 202-608-6205 or write us at email@example.com. Enjoy the show!
The post Podcast: Trump’s National Emergency Faces Legal Challenges appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., warned President Donald Trump that if he declared an “emergency” to build a wall, “think what a president with different values can present. … Why don’t you declare [the epidemic of gun violence in America] an emergency, Mr. President? I wish you would. … A Democratic president can declare emergencies as well.”
Her fellow Democrats, Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., quickly agreed. Warren tweeted: “Gun violence is an emergency. Climate change is an emergency.”
Not every problem in America should be declared an emergency—or used by a president to justify acting without Congress.
But why are guns on the Democrats’ “emergency” list anyway?
One reason is sloppy reporting by lazy media.
Last year, they claimed that there were school shootings at “hundreds of schools.” It was “an almost daily occurrence” in the U.S., some said.
This was nonsense. NPR reporters looked into the 235 shootings reported by the U.S. Department of Education and were only able to confirm 11 of them.
It turned out that schools were added to the list merely because someone at a school heard there may have been a shooting. Good for NPR for checking out the Education Department’s claims.
Economist John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center (and the father of one of my producers), spends much of his time researching gun use and correcting shoddy studies.
A few years ago, much of the media claimed that the U.S. has “the most mass shootings of any country in the world.” Then-President Barack Obama added it’s “a pattern now … that has no parallel anywhere else … .”
CNN and the Los Angeles Times wrote about “Why the U.S. Has the Most Mass Shootings.” (“The United States has more guns.”)
But the U.S. doesn’t have the most mass shootings, says Lott. It’s a myth created by University of Alabama associate professor Adam Lankford, a myth repeated by anti-gun media in hundreds of news stories.
“Lankford claimed that since 1966, there were 90 mass public shooters in the United States, more than any other country,” says Lott. “Lankford claimed ‘complete data’ were available from 171 countries.”
But how could that be? Many governments don’t collect such data, and even fewer have information from before the days of the internet.
A shooting in say, India, would likely be reported only in local newspapers, in a local dialect. How would Lankford ever find out about it? How did he collect his information? What languages did he search in?
He won’t say.
“That’s academic malpractice,” says Lott in my video about the controversy.
I’m not surprised that Lankford didn’t reply to Lott’s emails. Lott is known as pro-gun. (He wrote the book “More Guns, Less Crime.”) But Lankford also won’t explain his data to me, The Washington Post, or even his fellow gun control advocates.
When Lott’s research center checked the data, using Lankford’s own definition of a mass shooting—“four or more people killed”—the center found 3,000 shootings around the world. Lankford claimed there were only 202.
Lankford said he excludes “sponsored terrorism,” but does not define what he means by that. To be safe, Lott removed terrorism cases from his data. He still found 709 shootings—more than triple the number Lankford reported.
It turns out that not only did the U.S. not have the most frequent mass shootings, it was No. 62 on the list, lower than places like Norway, Finland, and Switzerland.
There was also no relationship between the rate of gun ownership in different countries and the rate of mass shootings.
If journalists had just demanded Lankford explain his study methods before touting his results, his “more mass shootings” myth would never have spread.
So if Pelosi, Harris, and Warren ever follow through on their threat to declare gun violence a “national emergency,” be sure to check their math. Or just remember the wisdom of the Second Amendment.
Government’s desire to control us—and to lie to make its case—is the real emergency.
Copyright 2019 by JFS Productions Inc. Distributed by Creators.com.
The post The US ‘Has the Most Mass Shootings’—and Other Bogus Gun Research appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Frederic Bastiat, a French economist and member of the French National Assembly, lived from 1801 to 1850. He had great admiration for our country, except for our two faults—slavery and tariffs.
He said: “Look at the United States. There is no country in the world where the law is kept more within its proper domain: the protection of every person’s liberty and property.”
If Bastiat were alive today, he would not have that same level of admiration. The U.S. has become what he fought against for most of his short life.
Bastiat observed that “when plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
You might ask, “What did Bastiat mean by ‘plunder’?”
Plunder is when someone forcibly takes the property of another. That’s private plunder. What he truly railed against was legalized plunder, and he told us how to identify it.
He said: “See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.”
That could describe today’s American laws. We enthusiastically demand that the Congress forcibly use one American to serve the purposes of another American.
You say: “Williams, that’s insulting. It’s no less than saying that we Americans support a form of slavery!”
What then should we call it when two-thirds to three-quarters of a $4 trillion-plus federal budget can be described as Congress taking the property of one American and giving it to another to whom it does not belong?
Where do you think Congress gets the billions upon billions of dollars for business and farmer handouts?
What about the billions handed out for Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, housing allowances, and thousands of other handouts?
There’s no Santa Claus or tooth fairy giving Congress the money, and members of Congress are not spending their own money. The only way Congress can give one American $1 is to first take it from another American.
What if I privately took the property of one American to give to another American to help him out? I’m guessing and hoping you’d call it theft and seek to jail me. When Congress does the same thing, it’s still theft. The only difference is that it’s legalized theft.
However, legality alone does not establish morality. Slavery was legal; was it moral? Nazi, Stalinist, and Maoist purges were legal, but were they moral?
Some argue that Congress gets its authority to bypass its enumerated powers from the general welfare clause. There are a host of proofs that the Framers had no such intention.
James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” wrote, “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one.”
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Our tenet ever was … that Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated.”
Rep. William Drayton of South Carolina asked in 1828, “If Congress can determine what constitutes the general welfare and can appropriate money for its advancement, where is the limitation to carrying into execution whatever can be effected by money?”
What about our nation’s future?
Alexis de Tocqueville is said to have predicted, “The American republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
We long ago began ignoring Bastiat’s warning when the federal government was just a tiny fraction of gross domestic product—3 percent, as opposed to today’s 20 percent: “If you don’t take care, what begins by being an exception tends to become general, to multiply itself, and to develop into a veritable system.”
Moral Americans are increasingly confronted with Bastiat’s dilemma: “When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.”
COPYRIGHT 2019 CREATORS.COM
Although I write regularly about politics and public policy, my “day job,” so to speak, is to give money away. It’s not as easy as you might think.
Or, to be more precise, it may be easy to give money away — but it’s exceedingly difficult to give money away wisely. If donors are too prescriptive and heavy-handed with the recipients of their gifts, they may destroy what makes those recipients special and effectual.
On the other hand, simply giving money away year after year to the same individuals or organizations based on stated good intentions or friendly relations, without regard to the long-term consequences, can be not just wasteful but counterproductive. It can foster dependency, encourage indolence, and stifle innovation.
At the John William Pope Foundation, the grantmaker where I serve as president, we believe that thoughtful philanthropy plays an indispensable role in human progress. It ought to alleviate immediate needs and address immediate crises, to be sure. But philanthropy should also promote the virtues and practices that help human beings flourish, both individually and as part of communities.
The term “role” is an apt one. “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” Shakespeare’s character Jaques famously proclaims in As You Like it. “They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.” While this speech has a sardonic edge, the idea that societies are like dramas full of individuals portraying distinct characters long predates the Bard, and need not be such a downer.
In free societies, a core operating assumption is that different social institutions, organized in very different ways, can and should coexist. Governments differ from businesses, which differ in turn from charities, churches, clubs, and families. As individuals, we interact with various institutions over the course of time. As we do so, our roles change — alternating back and forth from worker to shopper to voter to volunteer to parent. Our tasks change. Our responsibilities change. Even our goals change, to some degree.
Civilization advances as we get better at playing our social roles. We practice. We write better scripts for ourselves. We get better direction. And, sometimes, we realize we’ve been miscast and seek out new roles better suited to our strengths. The process is messy. It’s challenging. It’s imperfect. And it’s essential.
One role that strategic philanthropy can play, in my view, is essentially to create new stages for our collective plot to unfold — new settings for seemingly disparate characters to meet, to innovate, and to work together to advance the common good. Theatrical analogies aside, this is the clear purpose of our foundation’s Joy W. Pope Memorial Grant program. Each year, we award two $100,000 grants, one in the arts and one in human services, to local projects that address community needs creatively and cooperatively.
Our arts grant this year is, quite literally, for a new stage. We are helping the University of Mount Olive redevelop a former drug store into a “black box” theatre and cultural center in downtown Mount Olive, North Carolina. It will house performances, concerts, classes, and other community events when it opens later this year.
Our human-services grant is also about learning and performing roles, but of a very different kind. Based in Forsyth County, ABC of North Carolina provides diagnostic, therapeutic, and educational services to people on the autism spectrum. Its new Joy W. Pope Life Skills Center will offer its patients the opportunity to visit branded “stores” — such as a grocery, a hair salon, a food stand, and a hotel room — so they can become acclimated to changing surroundings, practice social skills, and even gain experience for potential job opportunities.
“Self-reliance, self-confidence, and integrity are the keys to success,” John Pope once remarked. His insight applies to all of us, no matter what circumstances we inherit, what capabilities we exhibit, and what roles we inhabit. To flourish, we need the social equivalent of rehearsal space. Philanthropy can supply it.
Politicians on the left are pushing a radical “Green New Deal,” which they say is necessary to save the environment. It wouldn’t save the environment—though it would do serious damage to our economy.
The surprising truth is that saving the environment and improving the economy are not at odds. In fact, new research from The Heritage Foundation using data from the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy show that economic freedom and environmental protection tend to go hand in hand.
In countries where people are economically freer, the environment is generally cleaner, as seen in the chart below.
This flies in the face of the Green New Deal, which aims to “mobilize every aspect of American society on a scale not seen since World War II”—translating into less economic freedom and more government control.
Even more striking, however, is the strong correlation that exists between private property rights protection and environmental protection. Countries that protect private property rights are highly likely to have cleaner environments as well, as the chart below illustrates.
Furthermore, three of the top 15 leaders in property rights in the 2019 Index of Economic Freedom—Switzerland, Sweden, and Ireland—also lead in the Environmental Performance Index, and all three have greater resource preservation, better air quality, greater bio diversity, and more pristine natural habitats.
This data may come as a surprise to some. What explains this high correlation between property rights and environmental stewardship?
First, a legal system that protects private property offers greater incentives for people to maintain or convert their personal property into its highest valued use—not just in the present, but into the future as well. Put simply, a profitable enterprise must be a sustainable enterprise.
And second, a system that protects private property rights naturally holds people accountable for the way they use their resources and manage their assets. Property owners have a personal stake in keeping up the quality of their environmental property, since their own wealth is tied to it. That is not the case with public lands, where no one has a unique stake in the upkeep of the land.
Forests are a prime example. When property rights are weak or non-existent, companies won’t be able to bank on having legal ownership of land years down the line, so they may opt for short-term profit and clear-cut the land—thereby ruining the environment. But with strong property rights protections, property owners are less likely to deforest the land because they have to consider their long-term means of profit, not just the short term. In opting for the long term, they will protect the land for future generations to enjoy.
Many politicians wish to save the environment, and many are well-meaning. But the most up-to-date research shows that the key to environmental stewardship is not in more government control, but in greater economic freedom and protection of property rights.
It turns out that greater freedom and liberty isn’t just good for human flourishing, but for the environment as well.
The post New Data Bucks Conventional Wisdom on Free Markets and the Environment appeared first on The Daily Signal.
China is a mass of contradictions. Intellectual property thief. America’s largest trading partner. Home to 476 billionaires. Choked with air and water pollution. A rapidly aging population. And leadership eager to project its national will.
I believe China is potentially the greatest national security threat facing the United States.
But while China’s brilliant engineers-turned-politicians orchestrate a coherent long-term plan involving economics, diplomacy, and the military, our government, business, and interest groups are barely on the same page from day to day.
That’s a big problem. We discuss how to solve it on “The Bill Walton Show.”
Truth is not a left-wing value.
I first discovered this as a graduate student studying the Soviet Union and left-wing ideologies at the Russian Institute of Columbia University School of International Affairs. Everything I have learned since has confirmed this view.
Individuals on both the left and right lie. Individuals on both the left and right tell the truth. And liberalism, unlike leftism, does value truth. But the further left one goes, the more one enters the world of the lie.
Why does the left lie?
There are two main reasons.
One is that leftists deem their goals more important than telling the truth. For example, every honest economist knows women do not earn 20 percent less money than men for the same work done for the same amount of hours under the same conditions. Yet leftists repeat the lie that women earn 78 cents for every dollar men earn.
Why any employers would hire men when they could hire women and get the same amount of work done at the same level of excellence for the same number of hours while saving 20 cents on the dollar is a question only God or the sphinx could answer.
So, when New York Times columnists write this nonsense, do they believe it? The answer is they don’t ask themselves, “Is it true?” They ask themselves, “Does the claim help promote the left-wing doctrine that women are oppressed?”
Whatever serves that end is morally justified.
The second reason is leftism is rooted in feelings, not reason or truth. From Karl Marx to Bernie Sanders, left-wing preference for socialism over capitalism is entirely rooted in emotion. Only capitalism creates wealth. Socialism merely spends what capitalism creates.
Do leftists not know this? Even if they know it, the emotional pull of socialism prevails.
Do leftists believe there are more than two sexes? Of course not. That’s why they renamed “sex” “gender”–and then redefined “gender” to mean whatever one wants it to mean.
So then, on the left, truth is subservient to two higher values: doctrine and emotion.
This leads to the question of this column: Do those on the left believe their lies?
Do leftists believe global warming will destroy the world as we know it in 12 years, as recently suggested by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.? I don’t know. They seem to talk themselves into believing their hysterias. But they don’t act on them.
Here’s a simple proof that the left is lying about the imminent threat of global warming to civilization: Leftists don’t support nuclear power. It is simply not possible to believe fossil fuel emissions will destroy the world and, at the same time, oppose nuclear power. Nuclear power is clean and safe. Sweden, a model country for leftists, meets 40 percent of its energy needs with nuclear power.
If you were certain you were terminally ill yet decline a medicine that is guaranteed to cure you, the rest of us would have every reason to assume you didn’t really believe you were terminally ill.
Here’s more evidence the left doesn’t believe its global warming hysteria: How many leftists with beachfront property anywhere in the world have sold it? If leftists really believe global warming will cause the oceans to rise and soon inundate the world’s coastal areas, why would any leftist not sell his beachfront home while he could not only make all his money back but make a profit as well?
Another example of left-wing rhetoric leftists don’t act on: The left tells us that colleges are permeated by a “rape culture,” yet virtually all left-wing parents send their daughters to college. If you were to believe any place has a culture of rape, where one in four or five women is raped or otherwise sexually assaulted, would you send your 18-year-old daughter there? Of course not.
So how do any left-wing mothers or fathers send their daughters to college? The answer would seem to be they know it’s a lie–but that doesn’t matter, since the left views telling the truth as incomparably less significant than combating sexism, sexual assault, misogyny, toxic masculinity, and patriarchy.
One more example: “Walls don’t work.”
It is inconceivable that people who say this–especially those with walls around their home–believe it. Yet leftists say it with the same degree of ease Stalin labeled Trotsky a fascist, even though Trotsky and Lenin were the fathers of the Bolshevik Revolution.
The question is not whether truth is a left-wing value. The only question is whether leftists believe their lies. And, believe it or not, I still don’t know.
So, conduct the following tests and decide for yourself:
Ask anyone you know who says global warming will destroy most life on Earth in 12 years why they don’t advocate nuclear power. If they tell you it’s too dangerous, you know they are hysterics, not followers of science.
Ask anyone you know who believes the global warming threat is an existential one and owns beachfront property why they aren’t selling their beachfront property.
Ask anyone who believes colleges have rape culture why they sent (or are sending) their daughter to college.
It is possible to love truth and be liberal, conservative, libertarian, an atheist, a believer, a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, or a Hindu. But you cannot be a leftist.
COPYRIGHT 2019 CREATORS.COM
The post Liberals See Truth as Subservient to Doctrine, Feelings appeared first on The Daily Signal.
The push for a border barrier marks President Donald Trump’s fourth declaration of a national emergency–about a third as many as his three immediate predecessors in their two terms.
The number of declared emergencies puts Trump on a par with Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
President Gerald Ford, who signed the 1976 National Emergencies Act, did not declare an emergency under it. His successor, Jimmy Carter, made two such declarations during his single term–one of which is still in effect.
The overwhelming majority of national emergencies involved either blocking access to U.S.-held assets for bad actors on the world stage or preventing financial transactions with those countries or with international entities and individuals.
Trump’s three immediate predecessors–Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton–each served two four-year terms.
Obama declared a national emergency 13 times and nine of those emergencies are still in effect, according to the Congressional Research Service.
The younger Bush declared a national emergency a 14 times, and 10 are still in effect. Clinton made 14 declarations, six of which remain in effect.
Reagan, during two terms, and the elder Bush, during his single term, each declared four national emergencies. None is still in effect.
Although declaring a national emergency is nothing new, Trump’s action faces litigation in part because, unusually, it comes after Congress didn’t provide the amount of border wall funding he requested.
The president said Tuesday in the Oval Office that he isn’t too concerned. He noted that he rightly predicted that a lawsuit would be filed in a district court under the jurisdiction of the liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“I have the absolute right to call a national emergency,” Trump said, adding: “I actually think we’ll do very well in the 9th Circuit … because it is an open-and-closed case.”
Previous national emergencies dealt primarily with economic sanctions on other countries.
Another report by the Congressional Research Service, from 2007, lays out the vast statutory powers a president has in a national emergency:
Under the powers delegated by such statutes, the President may seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial law, seize and control all transportation and communication, regulate the operation of private enterprise, restrict travel, and, in a variety of ways, control the lives of United States citizens. Furthermore, Congress may modify, rescind, or render dormant such delegated emergency authority.
None of the presidents who declared an emergency under the 1976 law took such extreme measures as declaring martial law or controlling the means of production.
Other Trump Emergencies
In December 2017, his 12th month in office, Trump blocked “property of persons involved in serious human rights abuse or corruption.”
Last September, the president declared an emergency “imposing certain sanctions in the event of foreign interference in a United States election.” This came after he alleged that China was trying to interfere with the 2018 midterm elections.
In November, Trump declared an emergency “blocking property of certain persons contributing to the situation in Nicaragua.” The move followed abuses by Daniel Ortega’s regime, according to the State Department, and targeted Ortega’s vice president and other close associates.
Obama’s 13 Emergencies
Most of the national emergencies declared by Obama are still in effect.
In 2010, Obama blocked transactions that would contribute to the conflict in Somalia. The next year, ahead of U.S. military intervention in Libya’s civil war, he blocked Libyan assets in the United States and prohibited certain transactions.
In 2011, Obama blocked access to assets by those threatening peace and stability in Yemen.
During his second term, in 2014, after Russia’s annexation of Crimea through military action, Obama blocked assets of “certain persons contributing to the situation in Ukraine.”
Later that year, he took similar actions by declaring separate emergencies regarding U.S.-held assets of persons contributing to conflicts in South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
In 2015, Obama declared emergencies to block assets of persons engaged in cyber crimes, and of those contributing to the conflict in Burundi.
No longer in effect is Obama’s emergency declaration from 2009 regarding the H1N1 virus and the swine flu, which he opted not to renew in 2010.
Obama also declared a national emergency to block access to enriched uranium for Russia, which his administration later dropped.
Bush’s 14 Emergencies
With five months in office, the younger Bush declared a national emergency on June 26, 2001, blocking access to assets for anyone threatening stabilization efforts in the Western Balkans.
Three days after 9/11, which saw the worst terrorist attacks in American history, Bush declared a national emergency “by reason of certain terrorist attacks.”
Just more than a week later, Bush declared another emergency to
block the assets of those who commit and threaten to commit or support terrorism.
In March 2003, Bush declared an emergency blocking property from anyone who would undermine democratic institutions in Zimbabwe.
By May, after the U.S.-led toppling of the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, Bush declared an emergency protecting a development fund for Iraq and its anticipated new government.
The following year, Bush declared an emergency to prohibit the export of certain goods to Syria.
In 2006, Bush declared two separate emergencies to block assets of anyone who would undermine democracy in Belarus and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The next year, he did the same regarding democratic institutions in Lebanon.
During his final year in office, Bush declared an emergency to continue existing restrictions on assets of North Korea’s communist government.
All of those emergencies remain in effect.
Among those actions revoked are prohibiting imports from Liberia and blocking property of of those contributing to the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire.
Clinton’s 14 Emergencies
In his first term, Clinton declared emergencies regarding proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, blocking transactions with terrorist entities that disrupt the Middle East peace process, blocking the assets of narcotics traffickers, and regarding movement of vessels in Anchorage, Alaska. All these remain in place.
During his second term, Clinton blocked Sudanese government assets in the United States, an action that also remains in place.
Among the Clinton emergencies no longer in effect are prohibiting access to enriched uranium for Russia, forbidding investment in Burma, blocking the assets of Yugoslavia, and prohibiting transactions with the Taliban.
H.W. Bush’s 4 Emergencies
On Aug. 2, 1990, the elder Bush blocked Iraqi government assets in the United States from being accessed under dictator Saddam Hussein and prohibited any related financial transactions.
The action came months before Operation Desert Storm, in which the U.S. liberated Kuwait from an Iraqi invasion. The order was revoked in July 2004, after the second Iraq war and the toppling of Saddam.
Bush signed another order in November 1990 to block chemical and biological weapons proliferation, which was revoked in 1994. In 1991, he blocked financial transactions with Haiti, which was revoked in 1994.
In 1992, the elder Bush declared an emergency to block access to property in the U.S. owned by the governments of Yugoslavia, Serbia, and Montenegro.
Reagan’s 4 Emergencies
Reagan saved the move for his second term, when he declared national emergencies to prohibit trade and other financial transactions with certain countries who were bad actors.
In 1985, Reagan declared emergencies to block trade with Nicaragua and South Africa, both revoked in the early 1990s under his successor, the elder Bush.
In 1986, Reagan blocked trade with Libya, an action reversed in 2004 under the younger Bush. In 1988, Reagan issued an order regarding Panama that was revoked in 1990 under the elder Bush.
Carter’s 2 Emergencies
Carter declared a national emergency on Nov. 14, 1979, to block the Iranian government from accessing its property inside the United States while government-backed radicals held U.S. Embassy personnel in Tehran as hostages.
Although the Obama administration dropped some of these sanctions were dropped under its 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, this national emergency remains in place. Carter’s executive order has been continued annually, most recently by Trump in November.
On April 17, 1980, Carter issued another executive order declaring a national emergency with more prohibitions on transactions with Iran. The Reagan administration overturned the order in 1981, after release of the hostages following Reagan’s inauguration.
The post How Many Times Trump’s Predecessors Declared a National Emergency appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Can a nation survive ignorant of its past? We are testing that very question right now.
According to a recent survey by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, most Americans would fail a basic citizenship test.
Axios published a roundup of how participants performed. The results weren’t good.
People did relatively well on the most basic questions. Seven out of 10 knew that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and that Franklin Roosevelt was president during World War II.
But only 43 percent knew that Woodrow Wilson was president during World War I (nearly one out of four thought it was Roosevelt), and only 56 percent knew which countries the U.S. fought in World War II.
Fewer than a third could correctly name three of the original 13 states.
More than six out of 10 incorrectly thought the Constitution was written in 1776. (It wasn’t written until 1787.)
Nearly four out of 10 thought Benjamin Franklin invented the light bulb.
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., had the right response.
this is a big deal https://t.co/xFwcE7oMef— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) February 19, 2019
For sure, immigrants have some advantages in taking this test over native-born Americans. After all, they are likely studying to pass it as their citizenship depends on it.
There are, of course, plenty of other important aspects of citizenship besides knowing history. Even more important are the very ethos and ideas that ground our founding documents: the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
It’s probably more consequential for our country, for instance, that the average citizen believes these documents to be fundamentally good, even if they don’t know what year they were written.
But the bottom line is this: Being ignorant of the past has real-world effects. It is inexcusable for Americans as a whole to be unaware of our past and the basic principles of our system of government.
It’s all the more concerning given that our celebration of “democracy.” Some, like former President Barack Obama, have even proposed mandating that all Americans vote.
Is it not concerning that as knowledge of our system, more Americans are being called upon to partake in that system by voting? Does that not flatly contradict the idea that democracy is the highest good?
That’s certainly the idea being pushed by those who want to abolish the Electoral College.
Given the decline of America’s historic and civic knowledge, perhaps we should consider how we ended up here.
Last October I covered the results of an equally depressing survey, and my conclusion was the same then as it is now:
As citizens, knowledge of the past and of civics is crucial. Lacking such knowledge is unhealthy for a free country, and even dangerous, given how bad political life can become.
One of our biggest problems today is that we often focus on tearing down our history rather than learning from it. That needs to change.
If these sobering test results tell us anything, it’s that we need to consider a fundamental change in how we approach education in the United States. And despite what some voices say, education funding is not the problem.
The U.S. ranks, globally, near the top in spending on elementary and secondary education, yet we don’t appear to be getting much bang for the buck. Perhaps it’s time we take a harder look at the public school monopoly that’s failing students and leaving generations of Americans without a basic understanding of our past.
More generally, we’ve failed to uphold Ronald Reagan’s call for an informed patriotism and more civic ritual—necessary qualities for the maintenance of a free country—in favor of negative and ideologically narrow accounts of America’s past now en vogue in our schools.
This is a recipe for a dark future and needs to change.
We need to fix this, for the sake of our republic.
The post Most Americans Can’t Pass a Basic Citizenship Test. Here’s Why We Should Be Worried. appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Liberal actor Jussie Smollett is accused of staging a racist and anti-gay attack on himself, which Smollett blamed on supporters of President Donald Trump.
The Daily Caller News Foundation compiled below some of the most outrageous fake hate crimes since Trump was elected, in rough chronological order:
1. Anti-Muslim hate crime in Michigan turns out to be a hoax (November 2016)
A Muslim woman at the University of Michigan received national attention from national outlets like The Washington Post in November 2016 after she claimed a drunk 20-something man threatened to light her on fire if she didn’t remove her hijab. The university condemned the “hateful attack,” which turned out to be a hoax.
2. Bisexual student fakes Trump-inspired hate crime (November 2016)
Taylor Volk, an openly bisexual senior at North Park University, claimed to be the target of hateful notes and emails following Trump’s election in November 2016. Volk told NBC News that “I just want them to stop.” But the “them” referenced by Volk turned out to be herself, as the whole thing was fabricated.
3. Gas station racism goes viral—then police debunk it (November 2016)
Philadelphia woman Ashley Boyer claimed in November 2016 that she was harassed at a gas station by white, Trump-supporting males, one of whom pulled a weapon on her. Boyer claimed that the men “proceeded to talk about the election and how they’re glad they won’t have to deal with n—–s much longer.” Boyer deleted her post after it went viral and claimed the men had been caught and were facing criminal charges. Local police debunked her account.
4. White men rob Muslim woman of her hijab and wallet–except it never happened (November 2016)
An 18-year-old Muslim woman in Louisiana claimed in November 2016 that two white men, one of whom was wearing a Trump hat, attacked and robbed her, taking her wallet and hijab while yelling racial slurs. She later admitted to the Lafayette Police Department that she made the whole thing up.
5. Church organist vandalizes own church (November 2016)
A church organist was arrested in May 2017 after he was found responsible for spray-painting a swastika, an anti-gay slur, and the words “Heil Trump” on his own church in November 2016. When the story first broke, media outlets tied the hoax to Trump’s election. “The offensive graffiti at St. David’s is among numerous incidents that have occurred in the wake of Trump’s Election Day win,” The Washington Post reported at the time.
6. “Drunk white men” attack Muslim woman in story that also never happened (December 2016)
Another 18-year-old Muslim woman, this time in New York, was the subject of breathless headlines in December 2016 after she claimed to have been attacked by a group of Trump supporters on a New York subway while onlookers did nothing. The woman, Yasmin Seweid, would go on to confess that she made the whole thing up.
7. White guy sets his own car on fire, paints racial slur on his own garage (December 2016)
Denton, Texas, resident David Williams set his own car on fire and painted “n—— lovers” on his home’s garage, in an apparent attempt to stage a hate crime. Local police investigated the arson as a hate crime. Williams and his wife, Jenny, collected more than $5,000 from Good Samaritans via a GoFundMe page before the hoax was exposed.
8. Prankster tricks liberal journalist into spreading anti-Trump hoax (December 2016)
As tales of Trump-inspired “hate crimes” were spread far and wide by liberal journalists after Trump’s election, one online prankster decided to test just easy it was to fool journalists. The prankster sent Mic.com writer Sarah Harvard a fictitious story in which a Native American claimed to have been harassed by an alleged Trump supporter who thought she was Mexican. Despite no evidence backing up the claim, Harvard spread the fake story, emails the prankster shared with The Daily Caller showed.
9. Student writes anti-Muslim graffiti on his own door (February 2017)
A Muslim student at Beloit College wrote anti-Muslim graffiti on his own dorm room door. The student was reportedly motivated by a desire to seek attention after a Jewish student was targeted with an anti-Semitic note.
10. Israeli man behind anti-Semitic bomb threats in the U.S. (April 2017)
Media outlets didn’t wait to find out who was behind a string of bomb threats targeting synagogues and Jewish schools before linking the threats to Trump. A U.S.-Israeli man was charged in April 2017 and indicted in February 2018 for the threats. A former reporter for The Intercept was also charged in March 2017 with making several copycat threats.
11. Hoax at St. Olaf College (May 2017)
Students at St. Olaf College in Minnesota staged protests and boycotted classes in May 2017 after racist notes targeting black students were found around campus, earning coverage in national media outlets like The Washington Post. It later came out that a black student was responsible for the racist notes. The student carried out the hoax in order to “draw attention to concerns about the campus climate,” the university announced.
12. Fake hate at Air Force Academy goes viral (September 2017)
The Air Force Academy was thrown into turmoil in September 2017 when horrific racist notes were found at the academy’s preparatory school. “Go home n—er,” read one of the notes. The superintendent, Lt. Gen. Jay B. Silveria, went viral with an impassioned speech addressing the racist notes.September 28, 2017
Two months later, authorities determined that one of the students targeted by the notes was also the person responsible for writing them.
13. Kansas State fake hate crime (November 2017)
A student at Kansas State University filed a police report in November 2017 over racist graffiti left on his car. “Go Home N—— Boy” and “Whites Only,” read the racist graffiti, which the the student later admitted to writing himself.
14. Racist graffiti carried out by nonwhite student (November 2017)
Another instance of racist graffiti that same month also turned out to be a hoax. A Missouri high school investigated after racial slurs were left on a bathroom mirror in November 2017, only to find that the student responsible was “nonwhite.”
15. Waiter fakes note calling himself a terrorist (July 2018)
Texas waiter Khalil Cavil went viral after posting a Facebook picture of a racist note that he claimed a customer had left on the receipt, in lieu of a tip. The note described Cavil as a “terrorist.” Saltgrass Steak House, where Cavil worked, initially banned the customers for life, before their investigation revealed that the waiter had faked the racist note. “I did write it,” Cavil later admitted. “I don’t have an explanation. I made a mistake. There is no excuse for what I did.”
16. Waitress fakes racist note, blames law enforcement (July 2018)
A Texas waitress apologized in July 2018 after blaming local law enforcement for an offensive note targeting Mexicans. She later admitted to writing the note herself.
17. New York woman’s hate crime that wasn’t (September 2018)
A New York woman was charged in September 2018 after police determined she fabricated a story about white teens yelling racial slurs at her and leaving a racist note on her car.
18. Student faked racist notes (December 2018)
Several racist notes at Drake University were actually the work of one of the students who had been targeted by them. “The fact that the actions of the student who has admitted guilt were propelled by motives other than hate does not minimize the worry and emotional harm they caused, but should temper fears,” Drake University President Marty Martin said afterward.
19. The Covington catastrophe (January 2019)
National media outlets pounced on a selectively edited video from the March for Life that showed Native American activist Nathan Phillips beating a drum in front of a boisterous group of boys from Covington Catholic High School.
Phillips originally told The Washington Post the students swarmed him while he was preparing to leave the Indigenous People’s March scheduled for the same day. Phillips originally said one student, who later identified himself as high school junior Nick Sandmann, blocked his path from leaving as he tried to do so.
The extended video shows that wasn’t the case: Phillips approached the high school boys during their cheers, not the other way around. Some of the people with Phillips were directing racially charged language at the students, not the other way around.
Phillips told a second variation of his story to the Detroit Free Press. Phillips claimed he was playing the role of peacemaker by getting between the students and four “old black individuals,” whom he claimed the students were attacking.
“They were in the process of attacking these four black individuals,” Phillips told the Michigan paper. “I was there and I was witnessing all of this … As this kept on going on and escalating, it just got to a point where you do something or you walk away, you know? You see something that is wrong and you’re faced with that choice of right or wrong.”
“These young men were beastly and these old black individuals was their prey, and I stood in between them and so they needed their pounds of flesh and they were looking at me for that,” he added.
Extended video shows that account also isn’t accurate. The four individuals Phillips referenced were members of the Black Hebrew Israelites and they launched racist and anti-gay slurs at the high school students, not the other way around.
Bonus: Anti-Semitic vandal exposed as Democratic activist (November 2018)
Anti-Semitic vandalism in New York City turned out to be the work of a Democratic activist, according to police. It wasn’t a hoax—the anti-Semitic vandalism was real—but the suspect wasn’t the right-winger some had assumed him to be. The man police arrested, based on surveillance footage, was 26-year-old James Polite, who had actually interned for City Hall on anti-hate issues.
Bonus II: Trump-inspired racist blaze at black church was carried out by black churchgoer (November 2016)
This hoax occurred one week before Trump was elected, but The Daily Caller News Foundation is including it as a bonus because it was so egregious. Leftist media outlets ran headlines like “A Black Church Burned in the Name of Trump” after a black church in Greenville, Mississippi, was set on fire and spray painted with the words “Vote Trump.”
The Washington Post’s original coverage of the incident read in part, “Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons called the fire a ‘hateful and cowardly act,’ sparked by the incendiary rhetoric of GOP nominee Donald Trump during his presidential campaign.” But the church was set on fire by one of the church’s own congregants, who is black.
Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of this original content, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The post 19 ‘Hate Crimes’ in Trump Era That Were Hoaxes or Different Than Media Suggested appeared first on The Daily Signal.
The movement for freedom in Venezuela reveals that the “twilight hour of socialism has arrived in our hemisphere,” President Donald Trump said Monday night in a speech in Miami.
“The Venezuelan people have spoken, and the world has heard their beautiful voice,” Trump said in his remarks at Florida Atlantic University to an audience that included Venezuelan-Americans.
“They are turning the page on socialism, turning the page on dictatorship, and there will be no going back,” the president said.
Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro clings to the title of president even as about 50 nations recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s interim president.
“All the nations in our hemisphere have the shared interest in preventing the spread of socialist tyranny,” Trump said, adding:
Socialism, by its very nature, does not respect borders. It does not respect boundaries or the sovereign rights of its citizens or its neighbors. It’s always seeking to expand, to encroach, and to subjugate others to its will.
Maduro began his second term in January after a disputed election fraught with allegations of fraud. The Venezuelan National Assembly invoked Article 233 of the country’s constitution to declare Maduro illegitimate. Guaido, as head of the elected assembly, filled the void.
Almost 90 percent of Venezuelan citizens live in poverty today, Trump said.
“Not long ago, Venezuela was the wealthiest nation, by far, in South America, but years of socialist rule have brought this once-thriving nation to the brink of ruin,” Trump said:
The tyrannical socialist government nationalized private industries and took over private businesses. They engaged in massive wealth confiscation, shut down free markets, suppressed free speech, and set up a relentless propaganda machine, rigged elections, used the government to persecute their political opponents, and destroyed the impartial rule of law.
In other words, the socialists have done in Venezuela all of the same things that socialists, communists, totalitarians have done everywhere that they’ve had a chance to rule. The results have been catastrophic.
During the speech, the crowd broke out into chants of “USA, USA” several times.
The president also talked about the coming decline of the Venezuela-Cuba axis.
“For decades, the socialist dictatorships of Cuba and Venezuela have propped each other up in a very corrupt bargain. Venezuela gave Cuba oil,” Trump said. “In return, Cuba gave Venezuela a police state run directly from Havana. … The ugly alliance between the two dictatorships is coming to a rapid end. A new future is beginning.”
Trump asserted that the United States must stand up for democracy. He alluded to the recent resurgence of socialist ideas from the American left, including Democrats in Congress who have embraced universal health care and what they call the Green New Deal.
“Socialism is a sad and discredited ideology rooted in the total ignorance of history and human nature, which is why socialism, eventually, must always give rise to tyranny, which it does,” Trump said. “Socialists profess a love of diversity, but they always insist on absolute conformity.”
The post Trump Says Venezuela Crisis Marks ‘Twilight Hour of Socialism’ appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., unveiled Tuesday a proposal to subsidize universal early education and child care through federal subsidies.
According to the Huffington Post, “no family would have to spend more than 7 percent of its household income on child care, no matter the number of kids.” Providers would have to meet safety and curriculum standards, and the proposal would be financed through a “tax on wealth.”
But the fact is that a new large-scale federal subsidy day care is unlikely to improve educational outcomes for children. It will cost billions – according to one estimate $700 billion over ten years for the Warren plan – and furthermore, it may not reflect the preferences of families when it comes to their children’s care in their formative years.
Although the Warren plan talks about day care subsidies rather than “preschool” subsidies, the reference to “curriculum standards” suggests the effort will be about more than child care for parents.
Warren’s plan reportedly calls for “requiring child care providers that receive federal funds [to] meet standards similar to those that now apply to Head Start.”
Well, Head Start is far from a success story when it comes to participant outcomes.
The Department of Health and Human Services released the scientifically rigorous Head Start Impact Study in 2012, which tracked 5,000 three- and four-year-old children through the end of third grade. The results? Head Start had little to no impact on the parenting practices or the cognitive, social-emotional, and health outcomes of participants. Notably, on a few measures, access to Head Start had harmful effects on participating children.
Taxpayers have spent nearly $200 billion on Head Start since its inception in 1965. Yet, as the federal evaluation found, by the time the children finished third grade, there was no difference between those who attended Head Start and the control group of their peers who did not.
At the state level, proponents of government funded early education and care programs have long held up Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K program as a model state-based preschool program. They note the fact that the child-adult ratio is limited to 10:1, teachers must be licensed, and a structured “age-appropriate” curriculum must be used in classrooms.
But a randomized control trial evaluation conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University reported no significant differences between the control group and the preschool group on any achievement measures by the end of kindergarten.
Government-funded preschool advocates also tend to draw on one of two studies that found benefits of preschool attendance. One is the Perry Preschool Project (conducted in 1962) and the other is the Abecedarian Preschool Study (conducted in 1972).
But there are significant issues with these two examples.
First, no study has replicated the findings of these two.
Second, these programs had small sample sizes (just 58 children were in the experiment group in Perry project), and the programs were comprehensive, boutique programs that included social and nutritional programs and parent counseling. These two half-century old programs look quite different from current programs and proposals. Russ Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution sums up looking to the Perry Preschool Project as instructive today this way, noting that the findings:
demonstrate the likely return on investment of widely deployed state pre-K programs for four-year-olds in the 21st century to about the same degree that the svelte TV spokesperson providing a testimonial for Weight Watchers demonstrates the expected impact of joining a diet plan.
In addition to the lack of educational impacts and the cost to taxpayers, it’s also unclear whether parents want this federal “solution”.
For instance, a 2012 Pew Research Center study found that two-thirds of moms want to work part-time or stay at home, not work full-time. Among moms who currently work full-time, over half would rather work part-time or not at all.
Already, low-income families have access to the federal Head Start program for childcare – a program which should be reformed, at the very least, to allow participants to attend a private provider of choice.
Creating another benefit for universal child care merely establishes a new federal subsidy for middle-class and upper-income families
At the same time, an expansion of federal early education and care is more likely to create new problems of its own, rather than address these deeper social issues, such as the crisis of unwed parenting.
Finally, as my former Heritage Foundation colleague Salim Furth and I explained in a 2016 paper, additional federal subsidies for early childhood education introduce a large distortion into the market and must be funded by higher tax rates.
Ultimately, a universal early education and care program is unlikely to boost educational outcomes, may not reflect the preferences of families, and will cost taxpayers billions over time. This is the wrong way to help America’s kids.
The post Federal Early Childhood Education, Care Doesn’t Benefit Kids. Here Are the Facts. appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Here is the problem for Trump critics. They began with the wrong premise. They believed that Hillary Clinton should have won the 2016 presidential election. Then they deluded themselves by embracing the notion that Donald Trump was illegitimate, unstable, stupid, and an offense to everything they consider normal.
This led the Obama holdovers in the Justice Department and the major media to construct a Russian collusion scenario, based on evidence they had to know is false.
These included Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI, who was fired for lying to government investigators. In his new book and in a recent “60 Minutes” interview, McCabe admits he was part of a coup attempt to remove Trump from office, using the 25th Amendment as the means.
McCabe said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was not joking, as Rosenstein claims he was, about wearing a wire, hoping the president would say outrageous things Rosenstein could take to the vice president and the Cabinet to convince them that Trump was unfit to hold public office.
There’s your real collusion and also a conspiracy to oust a duly elected president.
On his radio program last Thursday, Rush Limbaugh said he thinks the entire Russian collusion investigation is a waste of taxpayer money and has come to nothing. About McCabe, he said: “He is bragging about his efforts to undermine and overthrow Trump. He’s admitting, essentially, that he and his buddies put in motion a silent coup to get rid of Donald Trump. He admits that the talk of wiring Rosenstein to entrap Trump in an Oval Office conversation was real.”
At the same time, various leaks and reports, even from NBC News, which has been among the numerous media outlets promoting collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, are beginning to back off.
On the NBC News website there is this headline: “You may be disappointed by the Mueller Report.” That seems to suggest the special counsel has found nothing to prove collusion and the “disappointed” will be those who believed he would.
The anti-Trumpers need not worry, though. Having failed to prove collusion, the Democrat majority in the House of Representatives and attorneys in the Southern District of New York will keep investigating the Trump organization in an attempt to find anything that might sour his re-election prospects, or lead to his impeachment, as unlikely as that seems.
What is needed is a special counsel to investigate numerous allegations of wrongdoing not only by McCabe, but the rest of the cast of characters from Clinton and her “missing” emails and foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation, to those Obama holdovers who conspired to overturn election results.
The next step for Trump haters will be an effort to thwart his national emergency declaration in order to finish building his promised border wall.
“According to the Federal Register, 58 national emergencies have been declared since the National Emergency Act of 1976 was signed into law by President Gerald Ford,” writes ABC News, though many of those froze funds rather than appropriated new ones. Thirty-one are still in effect.
President Barack Obama declared 10 national emergencies, including actions blocking property of certain persons contributing to the conflict in Somalia, in respect to threats posed by Somali pirates; blocking property of certain persons contributing to the situation in Burundi after a failed coup; and blocking property and suspending entry of certain persons contributing to the situation in Venezuela in response to human rights violations.
Axios, a conservative news and information website, quotes an outline it received from the White House that says the president plans to “ … unlock access to up to $8.08 billion dollars for physical barriers, including the funding dedicated in the [Department of Homeland Security] appropriations bill.”
The funding will “ … come from Treasury Forfeiture Funds” and other sources, which might include billions seized from drug cartel leader “El Chapo” and the Defense Department’s military construction projects.
It’s an interesting premise. The courts will likely decide whether it is constitutional.
(c) 2019 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
The post As Investigations Find No Collusion, Trump Haters Learn Nothing appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Rosie the Riveter. Liberty Bonds. Scrap drives.
In World War II, it was practically impossible to live a day in the United States without being directly affected by the war overseas.
Anyone who was not actively serving on the front lines was involved somehow in the war effort on the home front. Public involvement was not only evident, it was impossible to miss.
But today, the character of our wars has changed, and so has how we finance them.
According to Sarah Kreps, a professor of government at Cornell University, the connection between war efforts and our tax burden has largely been lost.
Kreps outlined this situation and its implications in her new book “Taxing Wars: The American Way of War Finance and the Decline of Democracy,”which she spoke about at The Heritage Foundation in late January.
Kreps described how the U.S. changed how it finances wars, from initial spikes in taxes and international borrowing in the early days of the republic, to war bonds during the world wars, to the current system’s overreliance on deficit spending.
Without cutting any government spending in the books, there are three main ways for the government to have more money at its disposal: taxation, printing currency, or borrowing. The preference should always be to live within the means of your budget, but that is typically far from the case.
The U.S. government has increasingly relied on borrowing, not just to conduct wars, but also to fund regular activities. The federal government is fast approaching trillion dollar annual deficits, which broadly means that out of every dollar of service delivered by the government, the taxpayer only pays 75 cents.
The impulse to borrow is closely linked to what Kreps called the “ceiling effect.”
Kreps describes the ceiling effect as the point in which the public thinks that the taxes paid are enough to pay for both guns and butter, thus rejecting further taxation. This response makes politicians unwilling to ask for tax increases to fund wars.
It is in this context that Kreps’ idea of the “impossible trinity” enters the picture. She points out that politicians are operating under three separate vectors when they see the need to increase defense spending in times of war.
The first one is the need for extra defense resources. The second is the ceiling effect that removes tax increases from the equation. The third is the public’s desire to maintain the current welfare benefits.
Combined, these elements lead politicians to view borrowing as the path of least resistance.
This is how we as a country got into more than $21 trillion dollars in debt and how we keep adding to it every day, according to Kreps, who criticized the lack of public accountability and the dangers of rising debt in conducting wars.
However, beyond financing wars, this mushrooming debt problem affects every government activity.
Kreps’ work highlights how government borrowing distorts the perception that citizens have on any government activity, not just war.
This discussion highlights how escalating debt is a challenge that needs to be addressed through serious reforms to how the government spends taxpayers’ dollars–not only looking at just dollars dedicated to overseas engagements, but also the welfare state.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg took the bench at the Supreme Court Tuesday, the first time she has heard arguments since her treatment for lung cancer in December 2018.
The justice’s presence at Tuesday’s arguments was expected—the high court’s public information office announced Friday that Ginsburg would participate in a private conference among the justices to discuss pending petitions.
At 85, Ginsburg sometimes appears frail, moving at a slow shuffle with her head slumped at the shoulders. But her entrance in the courtroom Tuesday was unusually vigorous. She darted quickly to her seat beside Chief Justice John Roberts with her head aloft, cheeks locked in a broad smile.
As is often the case, Ginsburg asked the first question at Tuesday’s argument, pressing attorneys just moments after the proceedings began. Though she is usually a subdued presence—and sometimes almost inaudible—Ginsburg advanced her question Tuesday with strength and clarity.
All told, Ginsburg’s demeanor strongly suggested that she is aware of untoward speculation as to her health in recent weeks, which she sought to immediately dismiss as unfounded. The Daily Caller reported in January that “gingerly preparations” for another Supreme Court vacancy were underway at the White House and among conservative legal groups, in view of Ginsburg’s continued health struggles.
The justice has been seen twice publicly since the December procedure, called a pulmonary lobectomy, at the Sloan Kettering Memorial Cancer Center in New York. TMZ spotted Ginsburg Monday at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Virginia, where she told reporters that she is doing “just fine.”
Ginsburg also attended an event honoring her life and professional accomplishments at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington on Feb. 4.
Though Ginsburg was not present for the court’s January sitting, she continued to participate in cases by reading argument transcripts and legal briefs from the parties. She cast votes on matters relating to a Louisiana abortion law and the 2020 census, among other topics.
As compared to relatively recent crises of disability on the high court, Ginsburg’s absence was fairly mild. Former Chief Justice William Rehnquist missed over 40 cases between 2004 and 2005 after a thyroid cancer diagnosis. In recent decades, other justices have resigned for psychiatric reasons or continued to hear cases despite growing evidence of cognitive decline.
Her return is also timely given the slow pace at which the court is currently moving. The justices will hear just seven arguments in the February sitting.
Ginsburg’s doctors have indicated there is no evidence of remaining disease following the surgery.
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The post Justice Ginsburg Is Back at the Supreme Court, and She’s Sending a Message appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Democrats are calling President Donald Trump every name in the book and threatening multiple lawsuits to overturn his Friday declaration of a national emergency on our southern border.
The president is using the declaration to enable him to shift funds already in the federal budget to border security. The shifting of money from one set of priorities to the more urgent priority of border security will allow the president to spend over $8.1 billion to build barriers along part of our border with Mexico and fund other border security measures.
But listen to the angry denunciations of the president by outraged Democrats. You’d think he’s throwing out the Constitution, banishing every member of Congress to the wilderness, and proclaiming himself an all-powerful dictator for life—an American version of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
It should go without saying that Trump is doing no such thing. In truth, the president is using his constitutional authority in the same way other presidents have, in order to find money to deal with an emergency.
And make no mistake, the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border is a real emergency—not a figment of Trump’s imagination.
Think of what the president is doing in terms of your family budget. You have money set aside to buy a new car. Then a member of your family gets seriously ill and requires emergency medical treatment that costs you several thousand dollars not covered by your health insurance. What do you do? You postpone buying the new car and use the money for emergency medical care.
It’s a shame that it has come to this.
The legislation to fund government operations—averting another partial government shutdown—was passed by Congress and signed into law by the president Friday.
But congressional Democrats—who voted in the past to spend billions of dollars on border fencing—dug in their heels and decided they could no longer support the same sort of border barriers they once approved.
This forced the president to reluctantly declare a national emergency to go around the Democratic obstructionists. This is a lousy way to resolve a genuine national crisis, but it was born of congressional apathy, negligence, and incompetence.
There is no doubt that whoever is president of the United States has the constitutional authority to declare a national emergency. Trump’s proclamation declaring an emergency meets every requirement of the National Emergencies Act of 1976.
You’d have to be detached from reality to deny that we now face a crisis at the border. Among the tens of thousands of people entering our country illegally are dangerous criminals, drug smugglers, sex traffickers, and human smugglers.
In the last fiscal year alone, fentanyl smuggling has increased 73 percent. The drug is now the leading cause of overdose deaths in the U.S.
The Department of Homeland Security estimates that criminal organizations make $2.5 billion annually from human smuggling. In the 2018 fiscal year, the Border Patrol stopped 17,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records and apprehended 6,000 members of MS-13 and other violent gangs.
As the president mentioned in his State of the Union address, DHS has arrested more than a quarter-million illegal immigrants in the last two years. They were accused or convicted of over 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 murders.
The president has correctly pointed out that migrant caravans—something not seen before—are overwhelming our border security system. Last year, 60,000 unaccompanied children and 161,000 families arrived at the border.
Trump’s emergency proclamation sums up the situation this way: The southern border has become the site of “large-scale unlawful migration” and is “a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics.”
That’s not a political statement. It’s a statement of fact.
The president asked Congress for $5.7 billion for a border wall. Democrats refused. The government funding bill he signed into law Friday provides almost $1.4 billion for 55 miles of border barriers in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.
It’s obvious that 55 miles of additional fencing/barriers/walls (whatever you want to call it) is nowhere near enough to patch the huge holes that exist all along the southern border. So following the requirements of the National Emergencies Act, the president has issued a declaration of a national emergency.
Trump has identified more than $8.1 billion in funds already appropriated that he can use to supplement the amount of border security funding that Congress just agreed to. This is on top of the nearly $1.4 billion approved by Congress.
As required in the National Emergencies Act, the president has cited the federal law under which he proposes to act: 10 U.S.C. § 2808. That statute authorizes the president to redirect Defense Department construction funds in emergencies that require “the use of the armed forces” and are necessary to “support such use of the armed forces.”
The money the president is shifting to border security includes $3.6 billion already appropriated for military construction projects.
The president will also use the Treasury Department’s Forfeiture Fund, which contains $601 million. Additionally, he will transfer $2.5 billion from the Defense Department to the “Support for Counterdrug Activities,” as authorized by 10 U.S.C. § 284.
Given the flurry of lawsuits filed over almost everything Trump has done over the last two years, it’s a certainty that many lawsuits will be filed to block his national emergency declaration.
In fact, just hours after the president declared a national emergency, the group Public Citizen—representing an environmental group and Texas landowners—filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington that seeks to block the emergency declaration. And California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced California will file its own lawsuit.
But if and when the challenge to Trump’s emergency declaration gets to the U.S. Supreme Court, the smart money says the president will win.
For one thing, the National Emergencies Act gives the president broad discretion to determine what constitutes a national emergency. So does his inherent constitutional authority as the chief executive and the commander in chief. I doubt the Supreme Court will want to substitute its judgment for that of the president on this question.
Moreover, if a lawsuit is filed by members of Congress, as some have threatened, the Supreme Court is apt to look upon it with disfavor. Why? Because lawmakers don’t need to go to court on the matter.
Congress wrote into the National Emergencies Act a specific procedure to remedy the situation. Section 202 of the law provides that lawmakers can terminate an emergency simply by passing a concurrent resolution.
The president’s action Friday is far from unprecedented. Presidents of both parties issued 58 national emergencies proclamations since the National Emergencies Act was passed and before the new Friday declaration. President Barack Obama declared almost a dozen national emergencies, and many of them are still in place.
As the White House points out, Obama and President George W. Bush used the military to assist the Border Patrol along the Mexican-U.S. border. Both of those presidents also used the same military construction appropriation and the same statute being cited by Trump—10 U.S.C. § 2808—on 18 different occasions to redirect funding for projects between 2001 and 2014.
Here’s the bottom line: Frustrated with Congress’ continuing failure to perform its sacred duty to protect the American people, Trump felt he had no choice but to take action Friday.
But that action, while strictly constitutional, is nothing to celebrate. It carries a significant downside since it exposes the critical need for border security to the whims of activist federal judges.
Congress needs to get its act together. This is no way to secure the border, much less run a country.
The post Congressional Incompetence Forced Trump’s Hand on National Emergency Declaration appeared first on The Daily Signal.
The Supreme Court is back in session after a month-long break. All eyes likely will be on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who returns to the bench after missing the January sitting for oral arguments.
Ginsburg reportedly joined her fellow justices for one of their closed-door meetings last Friday, but this will be her first major appearance in 2019. The justices will hear a number of important cases, including a major First Amendment establishment clause challenge and a case that could have implications for social media giants, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Here’s a look at a couple of cases you won’t want to miss.
Does a World War I Memorial Violate the Establishment Clause?
In the American Legion v. American Humanist Association, the Supreme Court will weigh in on whether a state’s maintenance of a 93-year-old World War I memorial that includes a 40-foot cross is an “establishment of religion” in violation of the First Amendment.
While the Constitution’s command that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” is straightforward, the Supreme Court’s establishment clause jurisprudence is anything but clear.
To determine whether a government action runs afoul of the First Amendment, the Supreme Court has developed a number of tests, looking for “excessive entanglement” of government with religion, an endorsement or disparagement of a particular faith tradition, or government coercion, while also weighing the history and context of the challenged religious practice or display.
The Supreme Court has applied these tests inconsistently, giving the lower courts little guidance about how and when to apply the various tests. All this leads to unpredictable results.
In a dissent from the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear Rowan County v. Lund last term, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote: “[t]his court’s establishment clause jurisprudence is in disarray.”
The fact that the Supreme Court took up the American Legion case might be a signal that a majority of the justices agree with Thomas.
In the case at hand, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit held that the war memorial, the Peace Cross in Bladensburg, Maryland, violates the establishment clause, concluding that the size and prominence of the cross convey government endorsement of Christianity and that the state’s maintenance of the cross is an excessive entanglement with religion.
One of the judges went so far as to suggest a way to “fix” the establishment clause problem would be to cut off the arms of the cross. A dissenting judge wrote that displays on government property may incorporate religious elements if they serve a legitimate secular purpose, such as honoring local soldiers who fought and died in World War I.
The American Legion puts the issue in perspective, offering: “If a century-old war memorial that is only in government hands because of traffic safety considerations arising forty years after it was built is unconstitutional, it is difficult to conceive of any cross-shaped monument that will survive.”
At the Supreme Court, the American Legion argues that it’s a stretch to claim the state’s minimal expenditure of funds for upkeep and maintenance (roughly $117,000 since the state acquired the memorial in 1961) is an excessive entanglement with religion.
The veterans group contends that the Supreme Court should clarify what the appropriate test is for judging establishment clause claims, urging the justices to adopt the coercion test (asking whether the government used its power to force particular religious beliefs or practices on its citizens, or to require financial support for a particular religion) and to jettison the others.
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, the state agency charged with the memorial’s upkeep, also points to the long tradition of using crosses to memorialize troops who have died defending our nation.
The commission argues that this memorial is constitutional under any of the tests previously employed by the Supreme Court.
Will the Supreme Court seize the opportunity to clarify its establishment clause jurisprudence, or will it take a narrower path to resolving the challenge over this particular war memorial?
We’ll get a preview of what the justices are thinking at the oral arguments on Feb. 27.
Does the Free Speech Clause Apply to Private Companies?
In Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, the Supreme Court will consider whether public-access television channels are state actors for purposes of the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause.
The First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech,” and the Supreme Court extended that prohibition to the states through the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.
By its text, the First Amendment restricts governmental power, not the rights of private companies. Yet the Supreme Court could subject a private company to the commands of the First Amendment if it is a “state actor”—meaning, it stands in the shoes of the government.
In this case, the Supreme Court will consider whether a New York public-access cable-TV channel functioned like a state actor when it banned a video containing threatening language.
The Manhattan Community Access Corp., a nonprofit company, operates four public-access channels independently from the local government, making all decisions about what programming to run.
It suspended media gadfly Deedee Halleck and East Harlem poet Jesus Papoleto Melendez from airing programs on one of the company’s public-access cable channels after the pair produced a video that contained threatening language that violated the corporation’s regulations.
Halleck and Melendez went to court, claiming that the corporation is a state actor and had violated the First Amendment by censoring their content.
The district court ruled that the corporation is not a state actor, but on appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit disagreed, finding that a “public access channel is the electronic version of the public square,” and is therefore a state actor.
Now before the Supreme Court, the corporation argues that the appeals court failed to analyze whether it’s a state actor, focusing instead on the fact that it operates a forum for public speech open to the general public.
As the Chamber of Commerce points out in its amicus brief supporting the corporation, “Businesses routinely open up their private property for speech by members of the public … and the First Amendment has ‘no part to play’” unless that business meets the test for state action.
Lurking in the background of this case is the fact that a ruling that public-access channels must comply with the First Amendment could have implications for Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter, and other modern equivalents of the “public square.”
With the revelation that many of these companies target and censor conservatives on their platforms, there have been some calls for First Amendment constraints on these social media giants.
This case could shed light on how much control private companies have over content on platforms they own and operate.
The court will hear oral arguments on Feb. 25.
These are just two of the important cases coming up at the Supreme Court. This spring, the justices also will hear cases involving partisan gerrymandering, deference to administrative agencies’ interpretation of their own regulations, and a challenge to the Trump administration’s inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 census form.
The post What’s at Stake for the First Amendment in These 2 Cases appeared first on The Daily Signal.
The top page-one headline trumpeted the news: “Report: Armed police officer needed at every N.C. school.”
And the Raleigh News & Observer wasn’t alone. “School safety panel calls for resource officers in every NC school,” according to WRAL.com.
But what struck two of the state capital’s leading mainstream media outlets as especially newsworthy ended up conspicuously absent from another source. The official Feb. 7 news release about final recommendations from Gov. Roy Cooper’s school safety committee said nothing about adding resource officers to every N.C. public school.
Not once in the 800-word release did Cooper’s press office mention the recommendation that “North Carolina needs to be proactive and provide money to have an armed police officer at every school in the state,” as the N&O reported in its opening paragraph.
“All the schools should have a police officer in them to protect the kids from harm,” Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger told the newspaper. Cloninger co-chaired Cooper’s committee.
The governor’s release did not convey the sheriff’s sentiment. Nor did Cooper’s press operation mention that “among the recommendations was funding for school resource officers at every school statewide — or at least at every middle school and high school, with three or four elementary schools sharing the services of one officer,” as WRAL reported.
Instead of highlighting that news, a bullet point on the second page of the governor’s release referenced without additional comment a recommendation of “More School Resource Officers (SROs) in schools.”
Why the disparity in emphasis between the news reports and the official account from the governor’s office? The N&O story offers a possible clue.
“The recommendation to increase the number of school resource officers could draw questions from groups who argue that there should be less police and not more in schools,” reporter Keung Hui suggests.
Among the groups actively protesting police in schools: left-of-center political activists who spend much of their time criticizing the Republican-led General Assembly. Hui quotes one of them. “‘Research has not shown that having a school resource officer in every school prevents shootings or makes schools safer,’ said Peggy Nicholson, director of the Youth Justice Project of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. ‘But research does show it sends more kids into the court system, especially black and brown children.’”
The N&O turns to Nicholson again after citing an October poll that found 84 percent of North Carolinians believe “hiring more school resource officers will be very effective or somewhat effective in stopping school shootings.”
Don’t count the social justice activist among the 84 percent. ““It’s critical that all children feel safe at school, but if you talk with parents and students there are some who don’t feel safe if there’s an officer in school every day,” Nicholson told the Raleigh paper.
While objecting to armed officers in every school, Nicholson mentioned support for the report’s recommendations dealing with officer training and increased funding for mental health services.
Her comments aligned more closely with the priorities emphasized in the opening line of the governor’s news release. “To strengthen school safety and help prevent school shootings, North Carolina schools needs to ramp up training for law enforcement and educators, improve physical security at schools, gather better information about potential threats, and invest in more mental health support for schools.”
It’s worth noting that Cooper’s press team was not alone in downplaying the resource officer recommendation. Carolina Journal’s reporting opened with a focus on mental health programs and “including students in conversations about school safety.”
CJ reported the “recommendation for full funding for an SRO to be assigned to every school in the state.” But that fact appeared in a bullet point more than halfway through the article.
Legislators would need to invest significant taxpayer money to meet the goal of a resource officer in every school. It would require roughly doubling the 1,200 officers patrolling school hallways today.
Some recent academic research questions the benefits. The Brookings Institution highlighted last fall a report that showed no relationship between increased funding for middle school resource officers and a decrease in reported school crimes.
Yet the research findings might be “irrelevant,” according to John Locke Foundation K-12 education expert Terry Stoops. “As long as parents believe that metal detectors, cameras, and school resource officers improve school safety, districts and states will pour money into them.”
Stoops highlights another key point. “As proponents of school resource officers point out, it is nearly impossible to know if the presence of resource officers discouraged or deterred potential acts of school crime and violence (because they are not reported).”
One can expect continuing debate over school safety in North Carolina. If lawmakers pay more attention to their news feeds than Cooper’s press releases, the future of school resource officers will play a leading role in that debate.
Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation.
On today’s podcast, we’re featuring an exclusive interview with North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. He recently visited The Heritage Foundation while in Washington and spoke to us about how tax reform has changed his state, as well as his thoughts on the national political scene, including the left’s push for government-run health care and the Green New Deal.
Also on today’s show:
- Your letters to the editor. Next week your letter could be featured on our show; write us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-608-6205.
- An uplifting story about the amazing rescue of a newborn baby in South Africa—and what it means for the sanctity of life.
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The post Podcast: Lt. Gov. Dan Forest Fights for Conservative Principles in North Carolina appeared first on The Daily Signal.