The acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said the government is “ready” to identify, detain, and deport the illegal immigrants who have ignored court orders to leave the country.
“They’re ready to just perform their mission, which is to go and find and detain and then deport the approximately one million people who have final removal orders,” Ken Cuccinelli said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Cuccinelli was referring to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency with the Department of Homeland Security that’s tasked with locating and deporting aliens living in the U.S. illegally.
“Who among those will be targeted for this particular effort, or not, is really just information kept within ICE at this point,” the acting citizenship and immigration services director explained.
Cuccinelli’s comments come after President Donald Trump announced—and then later scrapped—plans in June to conduct sweeping ICE raids across the country. The raids would’ve targeted major U.S. cities and roughly 2,000 undocumented immigrants who are disobeying deportation orders.
Trump, at the time, said the raids were postponed in order to work with Democrats on a solution to the immigration crisis, but other accusations make it unclear why exactly the raids were called off. The president now appears ready to move forward with the mass deportation plan.
“These are people where we have their papers, we’ve gone through the court system. They’ll be starting fairly soon, but I don’t call them raids. We’re removing people that have come—all of these people over the years—that have come in illegally. We are removing them and bringing them back into their country,” Trump said to reporters Friday.
When host Margaret Brennan asked if Cuccinelli’s statements mean ICE would be targeting a far larger number of illegal aliens than just a few thousand, the citizenship and immigration services chief hedged, pointing out that he was just referring to the pool of people given final removal orders.
Cuccinelli, who was tapped by Trump to lead the agency in June, pointed out the irony in how much controversy ICE has garnered over reports that it’s conducting one of its main duties.
“It’s important to note, here we are talking about ICE doing its job as if it’s special. And really this should be going on on a rolling basis for ICE. And they’ve been interfered with effectively and held up by the politics of Washington to a certain extent and they’re looking forward to just getting back to doing their job,” he said.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services chief called on Congress to change asylum and human trafficking laws, and to put a “fix” on the Flores settlement, to help stem the immigration crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border.
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The State Department is rolling out a new Commission on Unalienable Rights to focus on human rights worldwide from the perspective of the nation’s founding.
The commission’s focus on natural rights comes in response to what the State Department says are some of the world’s most repressive regimes hijacking the term “human rights” while infringing on individual freedom and discriminating against minority populations.
The commission is made up of rights experts, philosophers, and activists to provide advice on human rights, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a press conference Monday.
Politically, the panel comprises Republicans, Democrats, and independents.
“An American commitment to uphold human rights played a major role in transforming the moral landscape of the international relations after World War II, something all Americans can rightly be proud of,” Pompeo said. “Under the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt, the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights ended forever the notion that nations could abuse their citizens without attracting notice or repercussions.”
However, he said, often oppressive regimes and special interests have used the term “human rights” to promote agendas that have little to do with the traditional understanding of the term.
“It’s a sad commentary on our times that more than 70 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, gross violations continue throughout the world, sometimes even in the name of human rights,” Pompeo said, adding:
International institutions designed and built to protect human rights have drifted from their original mission.
As human rights claims have proliferated, some claims have come into tension with one another, provoking questions and clashes about which rights are entitled to gain respect.
Nation-states and international institutions remain confused about their respective responsibilities concerning human rights.
Pompeo named Harvard Law School professor Mary Ann Glendon as the chairwoman of the 15-member commission.
“I wanted to thank you especially for giving a priority to human rights at this moment when basic human rights are being misunderstood by many, manipulated by many, and ignored by the world’s worst human rights violators,” Glendon said at the press conference.
At the same time, I understand that the mission that you have set us is a challenging one.
You’ve asked us to work at the level of principle, not policy, and you’ve asked us to take our bearings from the distinctive rights tradition of the United States of America, a tradition that is grounded in the institutions without which rights would not be possible: constitutional government and the rule of law.
The commission should address confusion about human rights, said Emilie Kao, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Society at The Heritage Foundation.
“There is growing confusion about what constitutes an unalienable human right. Therefore, it is critical that U.S. human rights policy be based on the correct founding principles to provide leadership to the international community,” Kao told The Daily Signal, continuing:
There has been a proliferation and devaluation of human rights since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948. This has allowed the world’s worst human rights violators to deflect criticisms of their actions.
Restoring understanding of the founding principles is essential to protect the men, women, and children who suffer the worst violations of their unalienable human rights.
The commission’s goal is to ground human rights discussions relating to foreign policy in American founding principles, the State Department said. The panel is intent on steering away from discovering new principles.
“The Commission on Unalienable Rights will provide the secretary of state with advice on human rights grounded in our nation’s founding principles and the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” a State Department spokesman told The Daily Signal.
It will serve as an advisory commission, not a policymaking body.
The commission was established, the State Department says, because principles should drive policy, not the other way around, and because the government can’t make good foreign policy without understanding what it’s defending and why.
The State Department says the commission will examine basic questions:
- “What does it mean to say that something is an unalienable right?”
- “How do we know that claim is true?”
- “Should some rights be inextricably linked to others?”
- “What happens when rights claims conflict?”
Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., spoke last year at The Heritage Foundation about the dangers of using rights to promote certain policies or economic outcomes, trumping natural rights.
The founding rights belong to everyone, regardless of gender, religious beliefs, national origin, sexual orientation, and economic circumstance, the State Department contends.
But Joanne Lin, national director of advocacy and government affairs for the liberal group Amnesty International USA, contended that the new commission would undermine the rights of women and LGBT people.
“This administration has actively worked to deny and take away long-standing human rights protections since Trump’s inauguration,” Lin said in a statement. “If this administration truly wanted to support people’s rights, it would use the global framework that’s already in place. Instead, it wants to undermine rights for individuals, as well as the responsibilities of governments.”
The recognition of natural rights has been foundational to Western Civilization, and provides a common cause in addressing the world’s challenges, said James Carafano, vice president for foreign policy and national security at The Heritage Foundation.
“American policy is a mixture, protecting our interests and our values. As important it is to debate if combating Islamist terrorism is a good idea, it’s equally important to make sure we refresh a common understanding of the values we are defending that undergird our policies,” Carafano told The Daily Signal, adding:
This administration is far more committed to multilateral action and values-based foreign policies than their critics would ever acknowledge.
Just as the administration has actually made NATO stronger, in like manner by refreshing an understanding of the fundamental values that guide our foreign policy, we will have more focused, more sustainable initiatives for the future—better focused on protecting America’s interests and what America stands for.
Gross violations of human rights are occurring across the world, the State Department says, while at the same time, there’s a growing skepticism about the effectiveness of international institutions that are supposed to protect human rights.
Serving alongside Glendon on the commission will be Russell Berman, a Stanford University professor; Peter Berkowitz, of the Hoover Institute; Paolo Carozza, a Notre Dame law professor; Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Hanson, an American Islamic scholar; Jacqueline Rivers, a Harvard sociology professor; Kiron Skinner, a State Department official; Meir Soloveichik, an American rabbi; Katrina Lantos Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice; Christopher Tollefsen, a University of South Carolina professor; David Tse-Chien Pan, a professor at the University of California at Irvine; and F. Cartwright Weiland, an Austin lawyer.
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As much of Washington seems resigned to sit idly by and allow the federal government to gorge on trillion-dollar deficits and push the national debt to 78% of gross domestic product—the highest levels in the post-World War II era—it might seem like a fiscally prudent budget is the stuff of fantasy.
After all, the Congressional Budget Office’s 2019 Long-Term Budget Outlook shows that, if current government policies remain in place, the federal debt will rise to an unprecedented 144% of GDP, and annual federal deficits will increase by nearly 6% of GDP over the next 30 years.
If the long-term outlook becomes reality, the national debt may be beyond the point of no return.
But it isn’t too late to for lawmakers to reverse course.
In the face of the Congressional Budget Office’s bleak outlook, prudent Americans can retain hope, thanks to our sister republic, Switzerland.
Switzerland has long been known for its natural beauty, world-renowned watchmakers, and master chocolatiers, but one of Switzerland’s greatest features is far less visible; namely, its budget.
As Reuters reports, the Swiss budget for 2020 will have a $615 million surplus, even after 2019 tax and pension reforms lowered revenues and raised spending.
That’s right. Switzerland has a budget surplus.
Switzerland is a country two-thirds the size of West Virginia, with a population smaller than New Jersey’s and a GDP about 3.4% of that of the United States.
If the U.S. ran a surplus like Switzerland’s in 2018, our government would have a $117.5 billion bonus. That’s a lot of cheddar—or, should we say, a lot of Emmentaler.
The secret of Switzerland’s budgetary success is simple: The Swiss follow the rules.
As The Heritage Foundation’s Romina Boccia notes, the Swiss government is restrained by what is called a “debt brake”—a constitutional balanced-budget amendment that requires the government’s budget to balance over the course of a normal business cycle.
The Swiss rule has successfully cut debt-to-GDP from 49% to well below 30%. It enjoys wide support, thanks in large part to its transparent, simple, and limited design.
The spending limit is also flexible, allowing for deficits during economic downturns and requiring a small budget surplus during booms.
Compared to the debt brake, America’s fiscal rules are weak and opaque.
The Budget Control Act of 2011 placed caps on discretionary spending through 2021 and implemented automatic mandatory cuts that have since been extended through 2027.
The mandatory cuts have been effective at slowing spending growth, but the scope of the cuts was far too limited. The act exempts Social Security and Medicaid completely and limits Medicare cuts to just 2%. These programs, combined with interest on the debt, are driving 72% of spending growth over the next decade.
The Budget Control Act’s discretionary caps have been undermined by Congress, which has amended the law three times and increased spending by $440 billion, without accounting for the added interest costs and other long-term effects.
The Budget Control Act came about as a means to raise the statutory debt limit in return for spending cuts, a rational approach to budgeting.
The debt limit is supposed to serve as just that; namely, a limit on how much the federal government can borrow. However, since the passage of the Budget Control Act, the debt limit has disappeared. Congress has suspended the limit five times since 2013.
Rather than raising the limit to a specific value and demanding spending cuts in return, Congress has chosen to let it not exist and rack up as much new debt as lawmakers see fit.
The few other budget rules intended to slow spending are all but ignored by Congress.
The flexibility of Switzerland’s rule means that it does not need to be violated. Deficits in downturns are accounted for, and emergency spending is available with the costs spread out over future budgets.
The limited scope and lack of prioritization allowed by the Budget Control Act ensured that it would never have the success of the Swiss debt brake.
As America heads back to trillion-dollar deficits, it’s important to remember that Switzerland’s budget rule is fit for a republic like our own.
Switzerland’s federalist structure and republican foundations mirror those of the United States, much as our ballooning national debt mirrors their debt at the height of their 1990s crisis.
And like the Swiss, it’s not too late for America to change its irresponsible spending ways. We need only look to the model of Switzerland.
The post Switzerland Has a Budget Surplus. Here’s How, and What the US Could Learn. appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Vice President Mike Pence criticized Democratic lawmakers Monday for diminishing the atrocities of the Holocaust in order to promulgate their own political narrative.
“We can never allow the memory of those lost in the Holocaust to be forgotten by freedom-loving people around the world. We must teach our children and our children’s children the truth of what happened. We must preserve the memory of those lost for future generations,” Pence told the crowd while speaking at the Christians United For Israel Summit.
“In that same spirit, we must never allow the memory of those lost in the Holocaust to be cheapened as a cliché to advance some left-wing political narrative. But sadly, in recent weeks, that’s exactly what some Democrats have done in the national debate,” he continued. “Last month, a leading Democrat in Congress actually compared our U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facilities to concentration camps. And her allies in Congress, the left, and the media shamefully came to her defense.”
Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ignited a firestorm in June after she said during an Instagram livestream that the U.S. government is “running concentration camps on our southern border” to hold immigrants.
“That is exactly what [holding facilities] are. They are concentration camps,” Ocasio-Cortez said at the time. “I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that ‘Never Again’ means something. The fact that concentrations camps are now an institutionalized practice in the home of the free is extraordinarily disturbing and we need to do something about it.”
“Never Again” is the phrase Jews worldwide use to make sure that the extermination between 1939 and 1945 never happens again, and the phrase signaled she was referring specifically to Nazi concentration camps.
The comments received massive backlash over historical inaccuracy and insensitivity to the millions of Jews who were slaughtered in concentration camps during the Holocaust. Ocasio-Cortez doubled down on the claim and a host of liberals in the media and in Congress tried defending the freshman congresswoman.
“As recently as yesterday morning, one of [Ocasio-Cortez’s] allies in Congress was asked if they agree with comparing the noble and compassionate work done by U.S. Customs and Border personnel at detention facilities to the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, and she answered, ‘absolutely,’” Pence said, seemingly referring to Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who defended Ocasio-Cortez’s comments while appearing on ABC’s “This Week.”
“To compare the humane work of the dedicated men and women of Customs and Border Protection with the horrors of the Holocaust is an outrage. The Nazis took lives. American law enforcement saves lives every day,” the vice president continued. “This slander of law enforcement was an insult to the 6 million killed in the Holocaust and it should be condemned by every American of every political party everywhere.”
Pence reminded the crowd of his trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau in February, where he toured the memorial site and paid respects on behalf of the United States.
The tour included viewings of crematoriums and a freight train that was used to displace the majority of the 1.3 million Jews held in Auschwitz, as well as an exhibition displaying inmates’ suitcases, shoes, and locks of their hair.
“As we gazed down at the remains of those gas chambers, as we walked past the personal effects—the piles of little shoes that were gathered there,” Pence said, “it merely reinforced our resolve that our answer to that unspeakable tragedy for this and every generation must be: Never again. Never again. Never again.”
“I promise you,” he continued. “President Donald Trump and I will always honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, and we will always honor the service of the brave men and women of law enforcement.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s office did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
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A forthcoming book on Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court relays incendiary allegations about Christine Blasey Ford, excerpts obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation show.
In “Justice on Trial” authors Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino say unnamed peers accused Ford of drinking to excess and accosting boys with some regularity as a student at the Holton-Arms School, a contrast with press accounts that cast her as innocent and naive during that period.
Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her during a 1982 house party in suburban Maryland when they were high school students.
“Female classmates and friends at area schools recalled a heavy drinker who was much more aggressive with boys than they were,” Hemingway and Severino write of Ford. “‘If she only had one beer’ on the night of the alleged assault, a high school friend said, ‘then it must have been early in the evening.’ Her contemporaries all reported the same nickname for Ford, a riff on her maiden name and a sexual act.”
“They also debated whether her behavior in high school could be attributed to the trauma of a sexual assault,” the authors added. “If it could, one of them said, then the assault must have happened in seventh grade.”
The anonymous sources who shared those accounts were reluctant to come forward because “hostility to Kavanaugh made them fear for their livelihood if their names were attached to the stories,” the authors wrote.
Holton-Arms yearbooks the authors obtained provide a contemporaneous narrative about the school’s social scene. Like Kavanaugh’s own yearbooks from Georgetown Preparatory School, the Holton-Arms annual is replete with sexual innuendo and explicit references to underaged binge drinking, among other debauched themes.
“The pages that follow contain references to ‘Playboy Bunnies’ and things that are ‘X-rated’ as well as pictures of beer and rum,” Hemingway and Severino write of the 1982 yearbook. “The same volume boasts a cavalcade of off-color jokes about ‘furburgers vs. Cheeseballs,’ ‘6 Caucasian females, one Caucasian male,’ and ‘Halloween-whores,’ as well as a lewd riff on the ‘tube snake boogie.’”
“This depiction of Holton-Arms as Studio 54 on the Potomac may be nothing more than adolescent posturing, and only the alumnae can judge how accurately it reflects their social life in the early 1980s,” the authors write. “But it is clear that a lack of vigilance by the yearbook’s faculty adviser and bacchanalian extracurricular activities were by no means unique to Georgetown Prep.”
Kavanaugh’s Georgetown Prep yearbooks were subject to intense scrutiny in the press and before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Democratic Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy asked Kavanaugh to explain the “drinking and sexual exploits” described in his own yearbook entry during Kavanaugh’s second round of testimony.
Democratic Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse followed on with more probing questions, asking Kavanaugh to explain references to “boofing” and “the devil’s triangle.”
“One of the reasons, Mr. Kavanaugh, that we are looking at the yearbook is that it is relatively consistent in time with the events at issue here,” Whitehouse told Kavanaugh during the Sept. 27 hearing.
Kavanaugh countered that “boofing” was slang for flatulence, and “the devil’s triangle” was a drinking game involving three beers arranged in a pyramid formation. He denied they had any salacious connotations.
Lawyer Michael Avenatti, who represented another Kavanaugh accuser called Julie Swetnick, said the justice was alluding to depraved sex acts in his yearbook listing.
Swetnick alleged that Kavanaugh facilitated gang rapes at house parties during the early 1980s. She qualified those allegations in interviews with the press that followed her original charge.
Republican lawmakers asked the Department of Justice to investigate Avenatti and Swetnick for providing false statements to Congress in October 2018.
Hemingway and Severino interviewed more than 100 people for the book, including President Donald Trump, senior members of the administration, justices of the Supreme Court, and members of Congress. The book will appear before two others that are expected to be less flattering to the justice.
Hemingway is a Fox News commentator and senior editor of The Federalist, while Severino is chief counsel of the Judicial Crisis Network, an advocacy group that supported Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
The book “Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court” from Regnery Publishing is available Tuesday.
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Former first lady Michelle Obama spoke out about President Donald Trump’s inauguration, saying she was one of a “handful of people of color” in attendance.
The former first lady spoke to Gayle King of “CBS This Morning” about her feelings when Trump took office, making note of the lack of diversity in the crowd.
“That day was very emotional, and then to … sit at that inauguration, and to look around at a crowd that was not reflective of the country—it was just such the opposite—and during Barack’s inauguration, we made sure that the crowd looked like all of America, having the Tuskegee Airmen, having civil rights folks, having folks who had marched—you could look out at his crowd and you could see America. All of it,” Obama said.
“And I had to sit in that audience, one of a handful of people of color, and then listen to that speech, and all that I had … held on to for eight years, watching my husband get raked over the coals, feeling like we had to do everything perfectly—no scandal … It was a lot emotionally,” the former first lady continued.
Michelle Obama calls her husband “one of the most productive and profound presidents of our lifetime” pic.twitter.com/XHtWz3kaBx— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) July 8, 2019
“By the time I got on that plane, it was a release of eight years of having to try to show up, as we all know we have to do,” she added.
Obama also told King that “our upset wasn’t over our legacy.”
“We weren’t there to instill our legacy—we were there to do a job on behalf of the country,” she said.
“What saddens me is what it’s doing to the country as a whole,” Obama continued. “What we have to be really conscientious of is what kind of country we’re leaving for our children or grandchildren.”
The former first lady also told King that former President Barack Obama was “one of the most productive and profound presidents of our lifetime” and promised that she and her husband would vote for whichever candidate wins the Democratic primary, according to CNN.
The post Michelle Obama: Trump’s Inauguration Crowd ‘Not Reflective of the Country’ appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Enough is enough. The U.S. Justice Department needs to immediately open a criminal civil rights investigation of Antifa, an affiliation of radical activists and left-wing groups whose name, ironically enough, is short for “anti-fascists.”
Its attack on journalist Andy Ngo was beyond the pale. Federal law enforcement has an obligation to stop any extremist organization that is apparently organizing and precipitating violent attacks, especially if state and local authorities seem reluctant to take action against what has all the makings of a domestic terrorist organization.
We cannot have any confidence that the political leadership of the city of Portland will allow its local law enforcement to do anything about this, either.
The Portland Police Association released a statement after the attack criticizing the mayor for restricting the ability of the police to stop Antifa, saying, “Our hands are tied.”
The association also says it has no doubt that no such restrictions would not have been in place “if this violence had been directed at Antifa.”
Mayor Ted Wheeler claims that he had not “directed Police Chief Danielle Outlaw or other officials to change their approach to arrests,” in addition to “defend[ing] the city’s response, or lack thereof, to members of Antifa who [have] blocked traffic and harassed bystanders” in the past.
But even the U.S. ambassador to Germany criticized the city’s executive in a series of tweets, questioning what more needs to happen to Wheeler’s citizens before protective action will be taken. Wheeler’s inaction is even less defensible because the mayor of Portland is also its police commissioner.
Ngo was punched, pushed, robbed, and hit with tossed milkshakes purportedly mixed with quick-drying cement.
The well-known Quillette journalist wasn’t the only bystander attacked, as The Washington Times reports that “two [other] Oregon men—John Blum and Adam Kelly—were mobbed and pummeled by black-masked protesters in a horrific attack that left Mr. Blum bleeding profusely from wounds to his face and skull.”
Columnist Michelle Malkin noted that “both John & Adam were beaten by Antifa after trying to help a gay man in a sundress being chased down the street.” This all occurred in broad daylight, and was filmed by multiple bystanders while Portland police stood on the sidelines and did nothing to stop it.
The assault did not come out of nowhere. In fact, it seems to have been a targeted attack given that the protest planners specifically (and falsely) labeled Ngo as a “far-right Islamophobic journalist who … also targets the [Democratic Socialists of America] while dismissing as hoaxes a series of assaults against the Portland LGBTQ community” in advertising the event in the days leading up to the march.
Federal criminal law has a provision that applies directly to what Antifa is apparently doing: 18 U.S.C. §241 prohibits conspiracies to “injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person … in the exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States.”
Moreover, that same law prohibits individuals from going “in disguise on the highway or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured.”
Acting as a journalist, Ngo was obviously exercising his press freedom as secured by the First Amendment, and the Antifa thugs who attacked him violated Section 241, particularly since they were disguised.
Violating this statute is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison.
Further, as noted in a 1951 University of Pennsylvania Law Review article, “the ‘in disguise’ language [that] began the section … had its origin in ‘the doings of the Ku Klux [Klan].’” Antifa seems to have adopted the KKK’s tactics.
Ngo also may have a personal claim for damages under federal law against Antifa and its members.
Another federal statute, 42 U.S.C. §1985(3), says, “If two or more persons … conspire or go in disguise … for the purpose of depriving … any person … of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws … the party so injured [may recover] damages … against any one or more of the conspirators.”
As we now know, Wheeler failed to protect his citizens, as police were noticeably absent when Ngo was being attacked, despite Antifa’s long record of violence, attacks, and mob behavior.
As a result, Ngo may have a claim directly against Wheeler and other city officials under 42 U.S.C. §1986, which creates liability for anyone who “having knowledge that any of the wrongs conspired to be done” in violation of Section 1985 “are about to be committed, and having power to prevent or aid in preventing the commission” fails to do so.
As National Review’s Douglas Murray wrote in his article on the protest, the “real lesson of Saturday is that anybody interested in genuine anti-fascism should from now on aim themselves directly at Portland’s Antifa. These are the people of our day who behave most like fascists. It is high time that they were treated as such by officialdom and civil society alike.”
On It’s Going Down, a popular website for Antifa and its supporters, a 2016 blog post predicted the chaos that has now become commonplace in more “progressive” parts of the country.
When asked who on the left can respond to the inauguration of Donald Trump, the authors wrote:
The answer is clear as day, but it isn’t in the halls of power, in the politicians, the leaders of the unions, or in the big NGOs. Instead it’s in the rioters. The blockaders. The people in ski masks and in the streets. The ones on the front lines fighting with the cops.
It is shocking to assert that “rioters, blockaders, cop-fighters, and people in ski masks” are the enlightened nobility who can save our constitutional republic from internal ruin.
It is also plainly wrong. And it is time that federal law enforcement and Justice Department officials take notice of this potentially ominous threat to our civil society.
The post Antifa Is Dangerous and It’s Time for the Feds to Step In appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Virginia lawmakers will assemble Tuesday for the special session Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam called to debate a package of gun control measures.
“Virginians deserve votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers. I urge the members of the General Assembly to engage in a thorough, meaningful discussion about these proposed bills and to allow every member to cast their votes on the floor,” said Northam in a statement to announce the agenda.July 8, 2019
- Bans on “assault weapons,” “high-capacity” magazines, bump stocks, and silencers.
- One handgun purchase within 30-day period.
- Lost or stolen firearms must be reported to law enforcement within 24 hours.
- Extreme Risk Protective Orders, also known as “red flag laws” that allow law enforcement and the courts to temporarily confiscate weapons from people who exhibit “dangerous behavior that presents an immediate threat to self or others.”
- Prevent people named in restraining orders from obtaining firearms.
- Increase the punishment for allowing children access to loaded firearms to a Class 6 felony (currently Class 3 Misdemeanor).
- Allow local governments to enact stricter gun control laws than the state.
Republican lawmakers, who hold a majority by two seats in each house, have said Northam is exploiting the Virginia Beach tragedy for political gain, indicating the session beginning Tuesday will be contentious.
Many of the reforms proposed have been attempted previously by Democrats, as lawmakers proposed more than 70 gun control bills during the last session, only one of which was approved, according to WHSV.
The post Virginia’s Gun Control Debate Begins Tuesday. Here’s What Northam Wants. appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Our defeat was all but inevitable, yet the transgender activists still showed up in matching shirts and waved multi-colored flags. Their speakers outnumbered ours 4 to 1, but they still hissed and muttered ugly names at our side while we spoke.
We had gathered for the Arlington County School Board’s meeting on June 18. For four months, the Arlington Parent Coalition had worked tirelessly to get our liberal school board and administrators to reconsider or delay the ?implementation of policies that would expand accommodations for transgender-identified students.
Those policies were passed four years ago during the summer, when nobody was paying attention. Their timing was not unintentional.
The steady and focused efforts of transgender activists over the last 20-30 years are now bearing fruit. Some of the policy changes coming to Arlington County include biological boys and girls being allowed into each others’ bathrooms and locker rooms, girls having to compete against transgender boys in sports, and schools compelling speech in favor of transgender pronouns.
Parents are seen as a potential threat to transgender students, and any opposition to transgender accommodations is perceived as hateful bigotry.
Gary McCaleb, senior counsel for the Alliance for Defending Freedom, estimates that hundreds of school systems across the country are now fighting the roll-out of transgender ideology. Communities are woefully unprepared for the impact this will have on our children. There is no road map for grassroots groups to follow as they fight this radical agenda and cultural shift.
However, several lessons emerged from our efforts that might be helpful to other grassroots groups.
1. Courage is contagious.
While some hesitate to engage for fear of being called a “hater” or “bigot,” we must push back on those who want to reshape our children’s understanding of biology, personhood, privacy, and the primary role of parents.
Often, people have an intuitive discomfort with transgender ideology, but need direction on how to act. Give people specific ways they can take one small risk (e.g. write a letter, meet with officials, have a hard conversation), then nudge them to take another risk. Celebrate every act of engagement and resistance. It puts school officials on notice and slows down the rate at which the system accommodates the transgender agenda.
2. Put together a diverse coalition.
The transgender movement divides—the child against him or herself, children against parents, and neighbor against neighbor.
Use the power of common interest across the lines of faith, culture, and politics to create alliances. Christians and Muslims must coordinate. Immigrant parents need to be involved. Liberals and conservatives must find points on which they agree.
People must get out of their social and ideological comfort zones and present a united front on this issue affecting all children.
3. The gatekeepers have failed parents.
Despite significant internal disagreement, professional organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and the National School Board Association succumbed to pressure from the transgender advocates to endorse affirmation ideology.
Those entrusted with the job of vetting the research and best practices for treating kids with gender dysphoria have folded under financial or peer influence. Pressure needs to be brought on these professional groups to retract and/or modify their positions, as local educators and elected officials are deferring to these groups’ statements of support.
However, local doctors and mental-health professionals have a powerful voice when speaking about the dangers of affirming transgender children. Get them involved.
4. Spread the truth about gender-affirming therapy.
Educating people is essential, and information about the dangers of affirming gender dysphoria is being suppressed. For instance, a simple internet search on “transgender children” provides lists of references from transgender advocacy groups like the Human Rights Campaign. It’s much harder to find the alternative point of view.
Parents should prepare talking points and source citations to use with school administrators, their school board, and other parents. Much more research is needed, but ask school administrators if the scientific studies they use to justify new policies are peer reviewed, have a large sample size, and have tracked children for many years. In some cases, the studies themselves have been underwritten by gender clinics or transgender advocates.
5. There are no opt-outs for our kids.
Parents must understand that we now exist in a post-opt-out world. You are misled if you believe pulling your children out of certain course units will protect them.
Transgender ideology is coming from the “bottom up” through social media and massive cultural changes. Public school children are being indoctrinated in transgender ideology by posters on the wall, speakers in the library, books on the shelves, after-school clubs, school-wide celebrations, and politicized teachers. Vigilance and consistent engagement with principals and classroom teachers are critical.
Concerned parents are, to borrow from the musical “Hamilton?,” “out-gunned, out-manned, out-numbered, out-planned.” If you already are stretched in terms of time and attention, the situation can feel too big, too scary, and too inevitable.
At one point, I found myself looking for an exit from the fight when an activist from neighboring Fairfax County gave me a steely look and said, “It is far worse than you understand, and don’t you dare walk away.”
Only parents can demand accountability from school systems and set boundaries around their children. We can’t walk away.
The post We Fought the Transgender Activists, and Lost. Here Are 5 Lessons for Every Parent. appeared first on The Daily Signal.
In the 1970s, Americans were told we were in a global cooling crisis and if something wasn’t done, we’d enter a new ice age.
When that didn’t happen, a few decades later we were told that entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend was not reversed by the year 2000.
Despite the consistent failure of these apocalyptic warnings, that hasn’t stopped climate change alarmism.
We’re now being told we only have 12 years to combat climate change, and the solution is to fundamentally dismantle the system of free enterprise. That means Washington controls things like how we produce our energy, what food we eat, and what type of cars we drive.
The question is, even if we believed their alarmist, catastrophic predictions, would their proposals work?
Not according to the climate scientists’ own models. Based on those models, even if the United States cut its carbon dioxide emissions to zero, it would only avert global warming by a few tenths of a degree Celsius—in 80 years.
We would see no noticeable difference in the climate, yet it would come at an enormous cost to the American people.
Climate change is happening, and human activity undoubtedly plays a role, but big-government climate policies are all economic pain, no environmental gain.
After all, the purpose of climate change regulations is to drive energy prices higher so families and businesses use less energy.
Abundant energy sources such as coal, oil, and natural gas have allowed Americans to affordably drive to their jobs, light and heat their homes, and power their refrigerators, computers, and iPhones.
On the other hand, more heavy-handed climate regulations would drive up electricity bills and prices at the pump.
Families would be hurt multiple times over, paying not just more for energy but also more for food, clothing, and health care, as energy is critical for every stage of planting, harvesting, manufacturing, and transporting goods to consumers.
These rising costs would stifle economic growth, one of the most important factors for maintaining a cleaner environment.
As a country’s economy grows, the financial ability of its citizens to take care of the environment grows, too. So creating more economy-killing climate regulations and taxes would not only harm the livelihoods of the American people, it would also harm our ability to protect our environment.
Instead, government should focus on keeping the economy strong by reducing taxes and eliminating regulatory barriers to energy innovation.
For example, some states produce clean, cheap natural gas, but excessive regulations and litigation prevent the construction of pipelines to distribute natural gas to other parts of the country.
Furthermore, competitive electricity markets can give consumers the option to buy 100% renewable power if they like. And fixing a broken regulatory system will allow new, innovative commercial nuclear technologies to get off the ground.
This is how we can ensure affordable, reliable, and cleaner energy. It’s how we can keep our economy growing. And ultimately, it’s how we can ensure a cleaner environment for America.
The post Big Government Is Not the Answer to Climate Change appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Jennifer Zeng grew up admiring the Communist Party of China and adhering to its stringent rules. But her life changed forever when she embraced religion and was swept up in a government crackdown on Falun Gong. Arrested four times as a young adult and held in as a prisoner in a labor camp, she quickly woke up to the horrors of living in a socialist state. After being subject to brutal torture, Zeng managed to escape China and now tells about the evils of socialism and communism.
At a time when more Americans are embracing Karl Marx’s teachings, Chris Wright has helped Zeng share her story as part of a network called the Anticommunism Action Team. They recently spoke to The Daily Signal along with Darian Diachok, who escaped from Soviet-era Ukraine as an infant and has helped former Soviet satellite states democratize and overcome their failed communist systems.
The full audio is below, along with a lightly edited transcript. Some of the content is graphic and not suitable for small children.
Rob Bluey: We are joined by Chris Wright, Darian Diachok, and Jennifer Zeng. Darian and Jennifer both have experience with communism and have graciously agreed to share their stories. Chris Wright is doing phenomenal work in getting the message out about the horrors of communism through the Anticommunism Action Team. Welcome to all three of you, and thank you for being with us.
Chris Wright: Thanks for having us, Rob.
Bluey: Chris, I’d like to begin with you. Can you tell us about the Anticommunism Action Team and the work that you do?
Wright: In 2013, my Alexandria Tea Party had a big program and Dr. Lee Edwards from The Heritage Foundation was one of our speakers, and it was all about survivors of communism.
I went on to form a separate entity, the Anticommunism Action Team, in 2014 to formalize the activity. We added the speakers bureau in 2016. We have survivors of communism from Cuba, Bulgaria, Vietnam, China, Ukraine, as well as subject matter experts who now appear on the radio in several states.
We’ve been in front of classrooms and groups, and my speakers have a very powerful message. We’ve been down the socialist road, and we know what’s at the end of it, so Americans better wake up.
Bluey: Chris, we are living in a time when socialism is getting a lot of attention, or democratic socialism is, as some people prefer to call it. You have described to me Marxist theory and how socialism fits in the realm of that theory, and how it is the step before communism. Can you explain?
Wright: Marx saw stages of history, inevitable stages of history, feudalism, capitalism, socialism, and communism. Socialism is the stage before the final stage. Socialism is characterized by the common ownership of the means of production.
Communism is when the state withers away because there’s no more dominant class, no more private property. You don’t need a state because there’s no more economic exploitation, and so that’s a great fantasy, but it’s never happened anywhere.
One of our speakers from Ukraine has a joke about all this. He says, “What comes after socialism? Communism. What comes after communism? Alcoholism.”
Bluey: We have with us two people who have told incredibly personal stories. They are, in many cases, heart-wrenching and tragic. I really thank you both for being willing to share and talk about your experiences.
Jennifer, I’d like to begin with you. You’re somebody who was born in China. You were arrested four times. You were held as a prisoner in a labor camp. You were able to escape that camp and leave China.
Can you tell our listeners what it was like, that experience, how you ended up in that camp? Then we’ll get to your ability to escape and now share your story with millions of people across the world.
Jennifer Zeng: I was arrested, like you said, four times and sent to the Beijing Female Labor Camp for practicing a spiritual practice called Falun Gong. It is a spiritual practice based on truth, compassion, forbearance, and plus five sets of gentle exercises, including meditation.
Because it’s very obvious health benefit, within seven years, there were more Falun Gong practitioners in China than Communist Party members.
At that stage, in 1999, the party decided to crack down on it. So, I ended up in the Beijing Female Labor Camp.
The first day was feeling like going directly into the hell.
For the first moment, we were forced to squat under the baking sun for 15 hours, and whenever someone couldn’t endure it and fainted away, they were shocked by electric batons so that they could wake up.
Every day, in the camp, it was a battle between life and death.
On June 17, I was in London at the Independent China Tribunal. They handed out their final judgment about this organ harvest and transplant, and they gave the verdict that the Communist Party is guilty of anti-humanity crime.
I only realized that I had a very narrow escape from being a victim of this organ harvesting because I had Hepatitis C.
While I was in the camp, apart from torture every day, apart from hard, forced labor, we were also given repeated physical checkups so that if anyone need an organ we could be killed on demand if we were a match.
Fortunately, I told the doctor I had Hepatitis C before I practiced Falun Gong. I was able to be exempted from becoming a victim of organ harvesting.
Bluey: In the camp you experienced both brainwashing and mental torture and physical torture. Many of the people in the camp were sexually assaulted and raped. Can you share what some of those things that you observed and endured were like?
Zeng: Yes. Actually, on the second day of me in the camp, two police officers dragged me from the cell to the cold, threw me on the ground, and applied two electric batons all over my body until I lost consciousness.
The torture I experienced and I saw was beyond description.
I saw a female Falun Gong practitioner tied to a chair, and she was shocked by four or five male police guards on her head and on her private part until she lost control of her bowel movement. As a result, she couldn’t walk for several months.
They also would tie four toothbrushes together and with the sharp end outside and push this inside the vagina of female Falun Gong practitioners and twist it, twist it until they saw blood came out.
The police would also throw females into the male prisoners’ cells to have them repeatedly gang-raped. So, this kind of thing happened in the camp.
I think the worst part for me in the camp is the brainwashing part. Because the police made it very clear, the only purpose for you to be sent there is to get you reformed, which means to change our minds toward Falun Gong.
So, we were forced not only to give up our beliefs in truth, compassion, and tolerance, but also to help the police to torture our fellow Falun Gong practitioners in order to prove that we were transformed.
After I think I spent six months in the camp, I suddenly developed such a strong desire to write a book to expose this all because when I was there, I couldn’t believe this was happening in the 21st century.
I thought this could only happen in a Nazi concentration camp. This should have already become part of the history. It couldn’t be present, but it is still happening.
To write a book, I have to get released. But, if I don’t prove to the police I had been transformed, I couldn’t be released.
So, every day, the struggle was in my mind of whether to transform or not to transform nearly killed me for another 1,000 times.
Little by little, I was forced to do all these things the police asked me to do in order to prove that I have reformed.
Little by little, I feel like becoming empty in a human shell. Actually, it was my very essence of a human being being taken away like your thoughts, your soul, your free will, and your human dignity. I feel like a non-human being and doing whatever they force us to do.
That was a very, very disgraceful process. Worst deal, after I was released, they still expected me to go to the brainwashing centers to be used as example of reform and to continue to help them to do their reform job. So, I had to escape from my own family only five days after I was released.
Bluey: It’s just terrible. You were able to get asylum, though. How were you able to flee China and escape this terror?
Zeng: I think in this regard I was luckier than many of my fellow practitioners. I had a very good education. I graduated from Peking University with a master of science degree. I spoke good English.
I met an Australian couple who went to China to teach English. I told them how terrible my situation was and how terribly I needed to leave China. They were able to help me to get out of China, so I sought asylum in Australia and was granted refugee status.
Bluey: We are so blessed that you’re with us today. We’re going to get back to your book and the movie and the work that you’re doing.
I do want to ask Darian to share his story. Darian, you were able to escape from Ukraine as an infant. You’re somebody who’s also witnessed communist governments through your work with USAID. Tell us about your own experience and what it is that helped you to understand about communism.
Darian Diachok: Actually, I have two sources of experience with communism.
The first one was through my extended family. We escaped from the Red Army as the Red Army was closing in toward the end of World War II.
We were extremely lucky to have made it to the United States because I think the statistics are that only one out of about 12 people who were escaping from eastern Europe actually made it to the West. They were picked up everywhere.
The [People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs, abbreviated NKVD] had forward units waiting for people. Matter of fact, my parents ran into a forward NKVD unit but were able to give them the slip. So, we were extremely fortunate to have made it to the states.
Once we got here, people started telling stories, I guess, every Christmas, every Easter, escapees would get together and just talk to anyone about their experiences, how lucky they were, how something happened like they got on the last train or a pistol didn’t fire or something, how they were all able to escape.
My brother and I listened to these stories over the years, and my wife, who’s not Ukrainian, as I told her one of the stories, she said, “You should write a book about this.” So, I decided to do that.
Bluey: Your book is called “Escapes,” for those listeners who might be interested.
Diachok: Right, and the book is interesting in that my extended family … were represented pretty much in every aspect of World War II.
My father was a Polish officer fighting against the Germans. I had two uncles who were in the Red Army. I had another uncle who was picked up by the Reds and tortured and all of that. So, we have direct experiences with the communist takeover.
There was one particular day in which everybody was invited or actually ordered into the town square for a major announcement. No one knew what it was for. I hadn’t been born yet. My parents didn’t know what it was for.
They brought out all of the town leaders, the postmaster, the mayor, the vice mayor, everybody who was in the town council, and they shot them in front of everybody.
They announced the new era where all of your bourgeois tormentors have been taken care of, and now we will live in a new communist system. So, they had experienced things like that.
That’s one aspect. The other aspect is returning to the former Soviet Union later as part of the reform effort from USAID and other international agencies, and to discover what the devastation was and what the Soviet system left behind after it collapsed.
Not only in the infrastructure that didn’t work, not only in the environment that was ravaged, but also in people’s thinking, and also in the lack of institutions, the daily institutions, which we take for granted, all of which were broken and destroyed under communism, just the total human devastation in a way.
We saw the effects of what it was, of what the communist system actually did. We were faced with what do we do next, what do we do first.A statue of Lenin with a Ukrainian flag scarf in Slaviansk, Ukraine, on July 27, 2014. (Photo: Scott Peterson/Getty Images)
Bluey: The picture that sometimes we see on the outside that’s painted by the state-run media or that those communist countries like to project is quite different from what you have experienced up close and personal. Can you share with us an experience that may come to mind that would help us better understand why it’s not so rosy, the picture that sometimes is painted?
Diachok: At USAID, we had counterparts. We had local counterparts. I was in energy, so I had an energy counterpart.
One day, he was called off. He got a phone call that his daughter was bitten in school. … We were very concerned that she was hurt.
He left, and we later learned that he had to apologize and to pay a huge fine because obviously, in a communist society, dogs represent power. They represent the authority, and if the dog bit the girl, she must have been misbehaving.
That was such a shock. We couldn’t imagine this.
On a more professional level, what we were discovering was that there was an overall pervasive sense of corruption. It came from the system, which didn’t work, and so people had to be corrupt in order to satisfy their daily needs.
In a centrally planned economy, everybody’s needs are supposed to be taken care of, and the central authorities cannot make any mistakes. They are infallible. So, you have to make do with what they have planned for you.
The centrally planned economy always has difficulty in finding out exactly what people’s needs are, how many people need what, what people’s shoe sizes are, everything else. In a centrally planned economy, all those kinds of things simply cannot be done efficiently.
Consequently, people do not get what they need, and they have to learn to barter for things. They have to do things under the table.
You’re not allowed to barter for anything because that’s going against the state. If you barter for anything, that means that you are a private entrepreneur who is working against the state.
So you’re not allowed to barter, but you have to provide for your family. Your family needs milk. They need food, and it’s not available, so you have to wheel and deal.
The whole system became completely corrupt. People learned to be corrupt. That’s on a daily consumer level. People learn to be corrupt.
On a more professional or a more, let’s call it, a more industrial level … every company, every firm had quotas that they had to reach. If they didn’t reach those quotas, the consequences were horrendous. They could be sent to Siberia. They could be shot, so meeting your quotas was … life and death.
The central planning system never gave you exactly what you needed to make the quotas, for the same reasons I had discussed earlier.
The central planning system couldn’t foresee the needs of every single, let’s say, radio manufacturer. They didn’t get it right, but yet you had the quota.
So, people learned to wheel and deal, to barter under the table in order to make the quotas.
The whole system also became corrupt in the sense that they were working against the communist system to satisfy the communist system. It got to the point where people just found shortcuts in order to satisfy the system.
If you were supposed to produce things in tonnage, like you had to produce a certain number of tons of irons or radios or any kind of household equipment, they would add huge amounts of metal to it just simply to increase the weights so that they would meet the quotas.
Everybody knew that they were producing junk, but yet the quotes were made. No one really took their job that terribly seriously. The object was to make the quota and not to produce anything of value.
There were really weird examples, too, in the Soviet Union where people would have quotas to produce certain kinds of trucks, and the next factory over needed broken-up trucks, needed wrecks.
So, they would take these trucks straight off of the assembly line, drive them a mile, and then destroy them, and deliver them to the next factory, which needed junked trucks.
People did not question that. If you question that, you were questioning the wisdom of the party, and that was punishable by all sorts of things.
The whole system became crazy, and this is what people learned. This is the environment in which people learned to operate so that when we got there, the ex-Soviets that we were working with were very, very attuned to what the party wanted because missing that was life and death.
So when we were talking to them, they were very attuned to what they thought we wanted to hear. They pretended to be on board with us, but then, at the first opportunity, they would go around us and try to exploit the system for everything it was worth.
Bluey: Darian, thank you so much for sharing those real-life experiences. That is just incredible to hear, and it’s disheartening on some level that the generational effects are still there.
I want to ask both of you about the books that you’ve written. And, Jennifer, in your case, also the documentary. Can you tell us about those books, and not only what is contained in them, but how we can go about learning more about them?
Zeng: Yes. I finished writing my autobiography detailing what’s happening on a day-to-day basis in the labor camps. The book is called “Witnessing History: One Woman’s Fight for Freedom and Falun Gong.”
The U.S. version is available on Amazon, so people can search for that. I also have a Chinese version. … It’s also available on Amazon.
The Australian version is available on my publisher’s website, Allen & Unwin.
I think, up to now, my book is the only available one in English to detail what happened to Falun Gong practitioners inside the labor camp.
Actually, this year marked the 20th anniversary of what’s happening in China, and the scale of the persecution is so huge, 100 million Falun Gong practitioners, plus their families.
Now, we are hearing about millions of Uighurs also be detained in Xinjiang camps.
Because, I think, the world failed to stop the persecution of Falun Gong, now the party has the ability to expand that to other minority groups and to the entire nation. The entire nation is under very strict monitoring of the party.
I think my book has a very significant importance to be the firsthand account of what’s really happening inside the camp. It is current, and it is helping the world to know what’s really happened.
For example, several days ago, I saw a program by BBC. They and several other major media were allowed after many years of calling to go inside one of the reeducation camps in Xinjiang to film. They ended up making a film of about eight minutes.
After watching that movie, as someone who had been in one of very similar places, I knew how fake that program was and how you should look at them.
I did a YouTube program about myself to discuss three small stories, especially about how the police managed to fake everything inside the camp.
When I was there, no foreign reporters were allowed inside the camp, but they even deceive their fellow police officers from other camps.
So, if they are even deceiving their fellow police officers and their supervisors from the neighbor camp system, would you expect them to show you the real thing of the neighbor camp to a foreign journalist?
I think my book and my story is still very, very relevant because this is still happening on a very large scale in China.
I hope more people can learn my story, and understand how serious this situation they are. It’s really millions of people’s lives at stake. I hope the world can stop this.
Bluey: Thank you for having the courage to share it and to tell that story. It is incredibly powerful.
Darian, I want to ask about your book. It’s called “Escapes.” Tell us about why you chose to write it.
Diachok: Yes, thank you.
We were passing a building that reminded me very much of the train station from which my parents escaped, and I began reminiscing to my wife on the way to a New Year’s Eve party about how my parents had to stand four days and four nights [for] the last train that was available before the Red Army closed in, and how the train was attacked by a Red fighter.
Some of the wagons were actually caught on fire. I was telling her this story, and she said, “My goodness. Don’t let that go to waste. That has to be put down. That has to be recorded for history.” That’s how it started.
Bluey: Let me ask you, at a time when it seems that there is an increasing interest in socialism, particularly among young people here in the United States of America, what is your message to them based on your own experience?
And what would you like them to know and think about and reflect upon as you’ve experienced these horrors of communist governments that embrace the principles of socialism?
Diachok: My father once said that communism is like a bouquet of flowers with a hidden dagger.
Zeng: I think for me I really would like to recommend a series of articles, editorials from The Epoch Times, called “How the Specter of Communism Is Ruling Our World.”
I think it discussed many phenomena of how the specter of communism is using both violent ways and nonviolent ways to try to rule this world. In the West, they are trying to change their names into different names, but the essence is the same.
As someone who was a victim of the communism, I really want people to know if you really adopted communism what life could be. That is what I had experienced.
I think in the early days when the Communist Party was just founded in China, they also talked about freedom, talked about equality, talked about everybody living in heaven-like communities and society.
Many young people also got deceived. They went to … the sacred place of communism.
If you look at the history, many of them ended up being killed by the party, and all their families, all their children, they all suffered for generations, after generations they suffer.
Under the Communist Party in China, 80 million people died of unnatural death. That’s all the result of communism.
Like Chris said, socialism is only the primary stage of communism. Actually, officially, or theoretically, China now is not a communist country yet. It’s still socialism with Chinese characteristics. Officially, China is now a socialist society.
If you look at what the people have suffered there … This year is the 70th anniversary of the CCP came to power in China, so the 70 years were full of killing, full of tyranny.
If you want communism or socialism, I think you should read more about China. You should read my story first to know what the socialism really is.
I think many young people, they are very easy to be attracted by those rosy, empty words, or the rosy description of how beautiful those things are, but the reality is just the opposite.
If they know what those damage or how people have suffered, more than, I think, one-half of the population of Chinese people have suffered one kind of persecution or another, they would stop having those rosy dreams about communism or socialism.
I think it is exactly because what they already have in this society, actually ensured not by the socialism, but by the fundamental principles of a free society, they forgot how cherishable, how valuable this is, and they start dreaming of those very unfortunate, I think, elusive things.
I hope people can learn the reality of communism and socialism.Protesters gather outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on June 21, 2019. Hundreds poured into Hong Kong’s main government complex to stage a demonstration over the pro-Beijing leadership’s snub of demands by protesters. (Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images)
Bluey: In some respects, it seems like it’s on display in Hong Kong, that resistance to China’s aggression and what it is trying to do. What are your observations about what’s taking place there now?
Zeng: I think the West, I hope all the young people can choose to really pay more attention to what’s happening in Hong Kong.
The young people in Hong Kong, they really experienced what life was really about when the Communist Party tried to erode their own freedom.
Some of them got so desperate up to now in these several days that there were three suicide cases of young people jumping out of the building to protest against this so-called extradition bill, and, I think, essentially, against the Communist Party’s erosion of Hong Kong’s freedom. They knew what life was like.
So, the Hong Kong people are really waking up to the illusion of this so-called one country, two system society, and they knew how valuable their initial freedom and the rule of law was.
They are really fighting with their life against the Communist Party’s erosion of Hong Kong. I think they deserve more help from the West, especially from the United States and the United Kingdom. We owe them support.
Bluey: Chris, I want to finish this with a comment from you. There may be some who say, “Why are we having this conversation? Why is it relevant to all of the things that are going on today?” Can you share with us why it is important that we focus on these stories?
Wright: Why is communism still relevant today? It’s just all in the dustbin of history.
We’ve reached the end of history and communism lost, so why are we still talking about this? Well, there are still five captive nations in the world, starting with China, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, North Korea. That’s 1.5 billion people. It’s still relevant to them. That’s a lot of people.
Also, there’s an elected communist government in Nepal. Things are not going well there. The intelligence agencies are being weaponized. The press is being shot down. Communists are doing what they do everywhere. So, it’s relevant to the people in Nepal.
There have already been 300 people who have attempted to escape from Cuba on rafts so far this year. It’s relevant to them. It’s also relevant because, in the 2018 elections, there were 50 openly socialist candidates running for political office in the United States.
Also, there’s an openly declared socialist candidate running for president this year. The Denver City Council, there was just a woman elected there who promised that she would bring in common ownership. There it is, the quintessential definition of socialism, common ownership by any means necessary.
So, we’re entering into a period in the United States where socialism is on the rise again.
Bluey: Chris, how can our listeners find more about the work that the Anticommunism Action Team does? If a college student wants to bring some of these speakers to their campus, how do they get in touch with you?
We have a weekly roundup of anticommunism news that people can sign up for through the email address or through the website. Our Speakers Bureau speakers, wonderful speakers like Jennifer and Darian.
We have both subject matter experts and people who have survived communism who are available all over the country through video conferencing.
We’ve been on four college campuses so far this year, and we’re happy to do this anywhere in the country to a group that you think could benefit from this message.
Bluey: Chris, thank you for the work that you’re doing. Jennifer and Darian, we appreciate you sharing your stories with us.
The post She Survived China’s Forced Labor Camp. Now She’s Urging Americans to Reject Socialism. appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Thanks for joining us this Independence Day! We hope you’re enjoying the barbecue and fireworks. President Donald Trump has said the fireworks display in D.C. will be “the show of a lifetime,” but of course, it hasn’t come without controversy. Some have knocked the idea of a “military parade.” Today we’ll consider what kind of July Fourth celebration is most fitting with the American tradition. But first, we’ll play a historic Fourth of July speech from President Ronald Reagan.
We also cover these stories:
- Trump contradicts the Department of Commerce on the 2020 census, says he is “absolutely moving forward” with the citizenship question.
- Iran warns Europe it will increase uranium enrichment even further if a new deal isn’t reached.
- A judge blocks the Trump administration’s policy keeping asylum-seekers detained.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy the show!
On a special Independence Day edition of “Problematic Women,” we team up with Jarrett Stepman and Fred Lucas, co-hosts of The Daily Signal’s “Right Side of History” podcast, to discuss some of the most problematic women throughout American history.
We begin by honoring the legacy of Betsy Ross after Nike pulled its latest USA-themed sneaker from the shelves in light of the claim by Colin Kaepernick, former NFL player and liberal activist, that the Betsy Ross flag featured on the sneaker was offensive.
From there, we discuss other problematic women such as Abigail Adams, Ida B. Wells, Susan B. Anthony, and Phyllis Schlafly. Listen to the podcast below.
The world held its breath in anticipation as President Donald Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on June 28 on the sidelines of the Group of 20 leaders’ summit in Osaka, Japan.
The outcome of their meeting was mostly unsurprising, despite conferring for almost an hour.
By the end, the two agreed to resume negotiations toward ending the U.S.-China trade war.
Trump agreed to hold off on levying new tariffs on $300 billion worth of goods Americans buy from China. According to the president, they also discussed Chinese purchases of U.S. agricultural products and student exchanges.
Markets responded accordingly to the positive meeting.
However, Trump also made some vague comments regarding allowing U.S. companies to continue selling products to Huawei Technologies Co., a Chinese telecommunications giant and U.S. national security concern.
That has unsettled the national security community.
While we’re still missing a lot of details from what was actually agreed upon during the Trump-Xi meeting, the outcome was essentially what I predicted the same day as the meeting itself; namely, that they would agree to another trade war truce.
For now, it’s good to know there won’t be another tax increase on Americans who buy goods from China, but companies and consumers will still have to pay for the existing 25% tax on $250 billion worth of goods from China until a deal is done.
There’s still no indication when we can expect to see a deal. Given how close the two sides were to making a deal just recently, I think we could see a deal before the end of the year.
On Monday, Trump reiterated that he wants to make a deal with Xi, and that he thinks Xi wants a deal, too.
In Washington, we often hear questions about who wants the deal more, Trump or Xi.
At the end of the day, that kind of question is unproductive, since it’s mostly a political one, and the politics in Washington are different than the politics in Beijing. It’s like the proverbial comparing of apples and oranges.
For example, when it comes to U.S. politics, the White House continues to describe any deal with China as a trade deal. Trump doesn’t want to call it anything else, partly, no doubt, because he has campaigned as a deal-maker.
I briefly explain here why any deal with China is not a trade deal, in the traditional sense, but more an executive agreement over U.S. economic interests within China.
In China, Xi doesn’t need to worry about elections, only about keeping other members of the Communist Party happy.
To the extent the question of who wants a deal more is an economic question, it is in the interest of both countries to reach an agreement. The current impasse is doing no one any good.
So, what did the U.S. really gain from Trump attending the G-20 and meeting with Xi? My colleague, Jim Roberts, recently wrote about whether these G-20 summits are even really worth the effort at all.
But progress in U.S.-China trade talks is still progress. The sooner there’s a deal between the U.S. and China, the sooner Americans can expect to see tariffs lifted and another huge tax cut.
That’s because there are ways to deal with China other than increasing taxes on Americans. I’ve previously laid out a number of options the U.S. can take when dealing with China.
Because of U.S. tariffs, over the past year, Americans have paid roughly $5 billion a month in additional taxes.
And as Trump likes to say, that’s billion with a “b.”
The post What Did the US Gain From the Trump-Xi Meeting at the G-20 Summit? appeared first on The Daily Signal.
As acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli becomes a key player in the Trump administration’s enforcement of immigration laws.
On Tuesday, Cuccinelli attended a ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York as 52 persons from 28 countries became U.S. citizens.
“This is a vivid reminder of the resiliency of our nation and why so many people around the world make sacrifices each day in order to call the United States their new home,” Cuccinelli, 50, tweeted.
Today I had the privilege of welcoming 52 new U.S. citizens from 28 countries at the @Sept11Memorial. This is a vivid reminder of the resiliency of our nation and why so many people around the world make sacrifices each day in order to call the United States their new home. ?? pic.twitter.com/Ka4rbq2CsJ— USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli (@USCISCuccinelli) July 2, 2019
In another tweet Wednesday, Cuccinelli called on Congress to step up and address the country’s immigration crisis.
While the @realDonaldTrump admin is working to solve the crisis at the southern border, members of the House are preparing for their August vacation. We need Congress to step up now and help us secure the system and prevent the further loss of lives.— USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli (@USCISCuccinelli) July 3, 2019
The left and the media recently accused Cuccinelli of placing “blame” on the Salvadoran father who died with his 23-month-old daughter while they tried to illegally cross the Rio Grande River from Mexico into the United States.
A photo of the entwined bodies of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter Valeria was on the front page of The New York Times, among prominent play in other media outlets.
Asked in a CNN interview if the deaths were the fault of Trump administration policies, Cuccinelli said: “No, in fact, just the opposite.”
“The reason we have tragedies like that on the border is because those folks–that father didn’t want to wait to go through the asylum process in the legal fashion, so [he] decided to cross the river and not only died but his daughter died tragically as well,” he said.
“Until we fix the attractions in our asylum system, people like that father and that child are going to continue to come through a dangerous trip,” added Cuccinelli, former president of the Senate Conservative Fund, a political action committee, as well as Virginia’s attorney general from 2010 to 2014.
Citizenship and Immigration Services is the agency within the Department of Homeland Security that oversees the nation’s naturalization process and system of legal immigration.
With 19,000 employees and contractors, USCIS in fiscal year 2018 adjudicated more than 8.7 million lawful immigration matters, including citizenship, green cards, and other matters.
“Ken Cuccinelli was a great pick by the president for USCIS,” Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal. “He was an outstanding attorney general in Virginia and is exactly what the president needs: a by-the-book, rule-of-law lawyer who understands enforcing the law.”
It’s a special day in NYC for 52 new U.S. citizens. Today’s ceremony marks the final milestone in the journey toward citizenship. Our ceremony @Sept11Memorial remembered those who lost their lives and honored the strength and resilience of our nation. ?? pic.twitter.com/XnFCMH2Flk— USCIS (@USCIS) July 2, 2019
Upon creation of the Department of Homeland Services after the 9/11 terror attacks, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service was split into three agencies: Citizenship and Immigration Services; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and Customs and Border Protection.
Here are four things to know about the acting head of USCIS, who took the position June 10.
1. Virginia Attorney General
A graduate of what is now Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, Cuccinelli practiced law for about 25 years.
He served in the Virginia state Senate from 2002 to 2010. A conservative Republican, he represented the Fairfax area–part of the liberal Northern Virginia region of the state.
In 2009, Cuccinelli was the Republican nominee for attorney general of Virginia. In a GOP sweep that included the offices of governor and lieutenant governor, Cuccinelli defeated Democratic nominee Stephen C. Shannon with 58% of the vote.
Among his top priorities was fighting human trafficking. According to USCIS, Virginia had been one of the worst states in combating the practice, but by the time he left office in 2014, it was one of the best in the country.
Cuccinelli also focused his office’s efforts on fighting criminal gangs and prosecuting health care fraudsters and child predators.
During his first year in office, he waded into illegal immigration when he issued a legal opinion regarding a Prince William County law requiring police to check the immigration status of those they arrested. The county law was similar to a controversial law passed in Arizona.
On Aug. 2, 2010, Cuccinelli wrote that “law enforcement officers, including conservation officers may, like Arizona police officers, inquire into the immigration status of persons stopped or arrested.”
This came after Cuccinelli, in July, joined eight other Republican state attorneys general in an amicus brief defending Arizona’s law against a Justice Department lawsuit during the Obama administration.
2. Taking on Obamacare
Cuccinelli gained national political stardom when he became the first state attorney general who sued to stop Obamacare, the 2010 health care law that required Americans to purchase government-approved insurance plans.
Cuccinelli’s suit was separate from the 26 attorneys general who sued to abolish Obamacare by challenging the “individual mandate” for Americans to buy health insurance. The Virginia lawsuit specifically defended a bill passed by the Virginia General Assembly that opposed any federal mandate requiring Virginia residents to buy insurance plans.
Cuccinelli won at the district court level when a federal judge found Obamacare unconstitutional. However, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, and determined that Virginia lacked standing to sue.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote in 2012, held Obamacare constitutional in the case brought by the 26 attorneys general.
3. Virginia Governor’s Race
Cuccinelli ran unopposed for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2013 after then-Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling opted not to run when the party decided to hold a state convention instead of a primary.
Terry McAuliffe, former Democratic National Committee chairman, also ran unopposed for his party’s nomination for governor after losing a primary four years earlier.
McAuliffe was a heavy favorite to win, with a commanding lead in polls. The ally of Bill and Hillary Clinton also raised $8.1 million, compared to Cuccinelli’s $2.1 million.
Moreover, right-leaning Libertarian Party nominee Robert Sarvis was pulling 3 percent of the vote, most of which likely would have gone to a Republican nominee.
Nevertheless, on Election Day, the count was surprisingly close as McAuliffe won with 2.6% of the vote.
Cuccinelli said at the time that “this race came down to the wire because of Obamacare.”
4. Championing Criminal Justice Reform
After his tenure as attorney general, Cuccinelli joined the “Right on Crime” movement to advocate for criminal justice reform. The goal was to gear prison inmates toward integration back into society upon release, reduce recidivism, and cut sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.
Cuccinelli was a strong advocate for the First Step Act, the bipartisan prison reform bill that President Donald Trump signed into law in late 2018.
In a piece for The American Spectator, Cuccinelli wrote:
Criminal justice reform is engineered to incentivize participation in substance-abuse treatment and other recidivism-reduction programs, or otherwise to curb overly punitive sentences which may extract their pound of flesh but also rapidly lose their effectiveness as one moves down the offense severity ladder.
To summarize, weightier factors besides simply ‘locking up’ criminals must be at play to account for crime reduction. Ascribing that reduction solely to lengthy sentences is a theory that doesn’t play well with the data—especially given the fact that 30 states have recently experienced crime rate reductions while simultaneously reducing their prison populations.
The post 4 Things to Know About Ken Cuccinelli, Trump’s New Chief for Lawful Immigration appeared first on The Daily Signal.
From the presidential candidate debate stage to new think tanks, voices from both left and right are demanding an end to America’s endless wars. Only one problem: We’re not fighting any endless wars.
No matter. The endless-war warriors want us to do less on the world stage.
Even in this age of great power competition, these “new” isolationists would prefer America step off the playing field and wave from the sidelines. It’s a strategy that would work well for Beijing, Tehran, and Moscow—but not for the U.S.
No one is denying we’ve seen plenty of wars—and long ones at that. The U.S. has fought more than it ever wanted, including the global war on terrorism and related conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But America’s endless war days have ended—at least for now.
That’s not to say we don’t have troops in combat zones around the world. But, by any reasonable definition, America just isn’t at war.
We are, for sure, dealing with the aftermath of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But President Barack Obama’s withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq marked the end of that war, and he transitioned the effort in Afghanistan from all-out fighting to an advice-and-assist mission.
History supplies overwhelming evidence that weakness and indifference do not deter aggression and exploitation, they invite it.
Today, what America does around the world is pretty much what it has been doing since 1945—providing forward presence, deterrence, counterterrorism, training, assistance, and freedom of navigation. That’s important work and a heavy lift, but it ain’t war.
So what the carpers are really complaining about is not “endless wars” (an admittedly powerful albeit dishonest catch phrase), but U.S. foreign policy in general. So the question is: What foreign policy do they want instead?
The U.S. is a global power with global interests and responsibilities. That’s not a choice; it’s just who we are.
No one today is arguing that the U.S. can child-proof the world to make America safe. The overly ambitious efforts of the George W. Bush era clearly created as many problems as they solved.
But, walking away from problems doesn’t work well either—as the Obama team more than amply demonstrated.
They ended the war in Iraq. And, for that, we got a war with the caliphate. They ended the war in Afghanistan. For that, we got the resurgence of the Taliban.
The reset with Russia produced a war in Ukraine. Tried to buy Iran off, and that didn’t work. And they stood by as China moved to make the South China Sea its own and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un built out his nuclear arsenal.
President Donald Trump has tried to stake out a middle ground. He isn’t interested in being the world’s babysitter, but he is willing to stand up and demonstrate sufficient resolve to protect America’s interest. He has managed to do that—and finish off the caliphate—without starting any new wars.
So where are the endless wars? Or, more to the point, what’s so bad about this administration’s foreign policy?
Look around, and you’ll see Russia stonewalled in Crimea. Iran just failed to close the Straits of Hormuz. The DPRK is negotiating. The Stars and Stripes proudly sail the South China Seas, and there is nothing Beijing can do about.
Apparently, that’s not good enough for the end-the-endless-war warriors. They want us to do even less. But “do less” is a poor prescription for dealing with the world as it is.
History supplies overwhelming evidence that weakness and indifference do not deter aggression and exploitation, they invite it.
What America needs now are discussions about how to prudently exercise its power in a complex world: what’s the right balance of multilateral action, prodding allies, making compromises, and standing strong.
What we don’t need are politicians and pundits who suggest that, if America simply does nothing, our enemies and competitors will behave just as they should and everything will be just fine.
Trump’s foreign policy has been dramatically successful at rebalancing U.S. interests. It has not brought war, much less endless war.
To withdraw further from the world stage would only invite the world’s bad actors to take center stage once more.
Originally published by Fox News
The post What Those Decrying America’s ‘Endless Wars’ Are Really Talking About appeared first on The Daily Signal.
The citizens of Venezuela have gotten used to spending days parked in mile-long lines for state-owned gasoline as shortages worsened for the world’s largest oil producer.
In the capital of Caracas, hundreds of motorists waited in lines last month while carrying rocks and pipes to defend themselves as Venezuela’s socialist regime clung to power, The Wall Street Journal and others reported.
A teenage boy lost his eyesight Monday after a policeman fired pellets at him during a protest of fuel shortages in Tariba in northwest Venezuela, The Sun newspaper in the United Kingdom reported.
Why the fuel crisis?
Sanctions implemented in January by the U.S. banned the sale of diluting agents used for transporting and processing crude oil to Petróleos de Venezuela S.A., the country’s state-run oil and natural gas company.
Amid the sanctions, U.S. allies also were “prohibited from doing business” with the state-owned entity, according to a report by Ana Quintana, a senior policy analyst for Latin America and the Western Hemisphere in The Heritage Foundation’s Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy.
The lack of fuel prevented citizens from going to work and farmers from delivering produce to cities, and led to the hoarding of fuel in homes despite the danger, The Wall Street Journal reported.
In the face of already severe food and medicine shortages, the scarcity of fuel has perpetuated Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis. Some 90% of Venezuelans live in poverty, according to a report from the Council on Foreign Relations, which notes that 1 in 10 has deserted the country.
The goal of the sanctions, the Trump administration argues, is to force Venezuela’s illegitimate president and dictator, Nicolás Maduro, from power and pave the way for interim President Juan Guaidó.
Quintana writes that any future income from the state-owned company’s American subsidiary, GITGO, should be deposited in blocked accounts turned over to Maduro’s democratically elected successor.
Guaidó condemned the violence Monday that cost 16-year-old Rufo Valendria his sight, reported The Sun, which published a gruesome photo of the bleeding boy.
“We will not get used to it, we will not stop calling them murderers … nor will we get used to the sadistic act against the eyes of Rufo Chacón, who also did not get used to living without gas in a country that had plenty,” Guaidó said.
Opponents of the regime inside and outside Venezuela say the nation crumbled under “the government’s two decades of self-proclaimed ‘socialist revolution,’ which has been marred by corruption and mismanagement, first under the late Hugo Chavez and now under Maduro’s rule,” as the Associated Press put it.
Guaidó was elected and sworn into office in January by the National Assembly, the county’s single remaining democratically elected institution.
Smuggling gasoline has become a trend. Gasoline bought in Venezuela is taken, by foot, across the border into Colombia, where prices are much higher, Al Jazeera reported Wednesday.
The report describes a young man pointing to his clothing, filled with holes, and noting the price of bread and flour increases daily. “I am doing this for food, to be able to eat,” he told Al Jazeera.
Though Maduro cites sabotage as the reason for the recent shortages without showing evidence, declining investment and paltry oil production long have hurt Venezuela’s refineries.
The regime implemented rations for gasoline, allowing citizens eight gallons a week in select states. In some towns, officials control gasoline sales by allowing those with certain license plates to purchase fuel only on specific weekdays.
“We don’t even think about food,” one citizen told The Wall Street Journal. “What I want is gasoline because I can’t keep missing work.”
“The [Maduro] regime has bankrupted Venezuela and forced millions into poverty and exile,” Quintana writes, with Colombia bearing the brunt of hosting refugees.
In her report, Quintana outlines steps the U.S. should take to pressure Maduro to turn over power:
- Strengthen multilateral humanitarian assistance within Venezuela and in neighboring countries.
- Maintain and expand comprehensive sanctions against Maduro’s inner circle and urge other countries to reciprocate.
- Work with regional partners to seize the regime’s illicit assets and pressure it to leave office.
- Raise the cost on the Cuban government for its role in Venezuela’s crisis.
- Urge countries that recognize Guaidó as interim president to allow only his administration to have access to Venezuelan state assets within their jurisdictions.
This week, as Americans commemorate Independence Day and the creation of the most free, most prosperous nation on earth, we will inevitably hear from those who say there’s no reason to celebrate a country where not everyone gained their freedom or their equality in 1776.
They will say that a nation stained with the evil of slavery, a nation that once refused women and blacks the right to vote or hold property, isn’t a nation worth lauding.
As a woman and as a black person who lived through segregation, I have experienced both the inequality and the opportunity of this nation.
As a student of history and as someone who works with governments around the world, I know how women and minorities are treated in other societies compared to the United States.
Because of these experiences, I want to tell you exactly why America is worth celebrating.
Despite their flawed nature as human beings, our Founders laid out principles for forming a nation based on humanity’s highest ideals. Nowhere else on earth had that ever been done before.
Those founding principles have guided this nation and created a framework that allows society to recognize the error of its ways.
The fact is, we abolished slavery. We even fought a war over it. We ultimately recognized women’s and minorities’ right to vote, to own property, and to have the full and equal rights of any other citizen.
We have endeavored through our laws and our actions to eradicate the unequal treatment and marginalization of fellow Americans because of their ethnicity, religion, politics, or other characteristics.
July 4, 1776—and the principles that day epitomized—began the foundation for a nation that would right its own wrongs.
The unfortunate reality is that we had to grow into our principles. The Founders knew what we aspired to be, but the country wasn’t there yet and even today, we still have a ways to go.
In fact, every Founder admitted in his writings that slavery contradicted the equality principle of the Declaration of Independence.
They knew that it would be a journey for us to fully realize our ideals, but they set a course for achieving them, and every generation since has been working to advance them.
That’s what has made America the unique and wonderful nation that it is.
I love America not only because we’ve grown to rectify many of our wrongs, but also because we’ve been an incredibly positive force for good.
We’ve built a free and prosperous nation where anyone has the opportunity to thrive and live out their dreams. We’ve also shared that gift with the world, helping others to achieve the same.
Despite that success, we continue to hear from the “America is irreparably flawed” crowd that our freedom and free market system only bring opportunity to the wealthy and well connected. They claim that the system just makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.
The reality is exactly the opposite: Capitalism has done more to lift people out of poverty than any other economic system in history.
Plain and simple, over the last 25 years, it has been free markets that have cut the global poverty rate by two-thirds.
In the United States, every segment of the population—including women, minorities, and even the lowest income earners—have seen their incomes rise and their opportunities grow.
Realizing that people around the world deserve the same blessings of freedom and prosperity that we have, Americans work through our government, nonprofits, and private charities to spread these blessings to other countries.
We’ve even helped others fight for their very freedom—from both world wars to peacekeeping missions around the world.
Despite the leftists who call our nation imperialist, when we help other countries defeat tyrants or repel invaders, we don’t use the opportunity to conquer them and build an empire. Rather, we help them to rebuild and become self-sufficient.
These are all proofs of a nation reaching for its highest ideals.
While it took too long to correct many of America’s early injustices, and while we will always be a work in progress, our founding principles themselves created the framework that has allowed us to solve some of our biggest issues.
While not perfect, we are a great force for good that works to bring freedom, prosperity, and that problem-solving ability to our own land and to others that want to replicate them. This is all part of what we are celebrating on Independence Day.
Alexis de Tocqueville said admiringly of America, “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” His words still ring true almost 200 years later.
So, on this Independence Day, I encourage you to join me in watching fireworks, eating hot dogs and apple pie, proudly celebrating America, and continuing to work toward the vision of the nation our Founders thought we could be.
Happy Independence Day!
Originally published in The Washington Times.
With the upcoming White House-sponsored ceremony honoring the U.S. military on the National Mall, this Independence Day will look a little different in Washington, D.C.
A quick scan of headlines, opinion columns, and social media shows this is apparently quite upsetting to many in the political class. But to borrow the oft-used social media exclamation, “I’m sorry, I thought this was America.”
The reaction to the president’s Fourth of July plans has been a textbook case illustrating the disconnect between the “elites” and the majority of Americans.
In addition to the usual festivities on the National Mall, the White House is hosting “Salute to America,” an event specially focused on honoring the military, which will feature flyovers by the F-22 Raptor, the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, and the Navy’s Blue Angels; various armored vehicles stationed around the area for tourists to see up-close; and remarks from the president himself.
The political commentariat seems to think so. “The president is fulfilling, sort of scratching, a long-term itch to have a military parade on the taxpayer dime,” opined John Avlon on CNN Wednesday morning.
The Washington Post’s James Hohmann claims, “This is not the first federal holiday Trump has politicized,” while drawing a not-so-subtle comparison between the event and the antics of adversarial dictators:
Trump seems to sincerely believe that tanks, jets and brute force are what make a country great. … The hard truth is that even the most odious regimes in the world are perfectly capable of rolling tanks into their capitals.
The bad takes don’t stop there, however. Responding to a photo of several armored vehicles being trucked into D.C. for the event, former CIA analyst Nada Bakos tweeted late Wednesday, “In a democracy, a military show of force is an indicator things aren’t going well.”
Not to be outdone, Sarah McLaughlin of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education tweeted, “Nothing signifies celebration of a holiday about breaking free from an oppressive government better than ‘tanks in the streets.’”
These examples of partisan sniping raise the simple question: What exactly is wrong with such a celebration?
Tuesday’s USA Today headline sums it up perfectly: “Trump’s 4th of July military show has visitors pumped, but critics slam it as an ego trip.”
It might be easy for those in “the swamp” to take for granted what the military does every day, and how they do it. As a veteran, the same is sometimes true for me.
We make a grave mistake, however, when we assume that Americans as a whole—indeed, those who make up the “true” America outside the Beltway—aren’t interested. We are wrong to assume they don’t appreciate every chance to show their gratitude for what the military does on a daily basis.
Part of the rich American tradition is celebrating those who not only secured our freedom more than two centuries ago, but who have stood up every day and every night since to maintain it.
It is wholly appropriate to emphasize the military’s vital role in our ongoing independence, and to give Americans the opportunity to see for themselves what our service members are doing with their tax dollars.
Indeed, while Washington Post’s Hohmann is correct that military might alone does not a great nation make, a strong and vibrant military—under the leadership of a commander in chief elected by the people—is the first line of defense against all threats to our nation and our Constitution, and a deterrent to an array of evils abroad.
That’s why the meltdown over “Salute to America” is so dissonant. Not only has our nation’s capital hosted numerous such celebrations of our military before—as CBS’ Maj. Mike Lyons points out—but getting so stridently upset just because Trump is doing so lacks a certain sense of perspective:
If you are losing your mind and your 4th of July is ‘ruined’ because two tanks, a Bradley, a recovery vehicle and maybe a few HUMVEEs are going to be on the National Mall tomorrow, just stay in bed under the covers until it’s over.
If you are losing your mind and your 4th of July is "ruined" because two tanks, a Bradley, a recovery vehicle and maybe a few HUMVEEs are going to be on the National Mall tomorrow, just stay in bed under the covers until it's over.— Mike Lyons (@MAJMikeLyons) July 3, 2019
“But Trump is politicizing the military,” some argue.
This makes little sense. Is the president truly supposed to remain silent on the day most central to our national identity? Is it wrong for his administration to take the initiative in emphasizing the military’s importance to that identity?
If this was truly just a political stunt, one would expect a far more robust list of assets on display, or even a true military parade, like those in France every Bastille Day.
“Salute to America” is about one thing: reminding our nation of those who stand vigilant in defense of our liberty. It’s about honoring those who have given, and continue to give, so much for our nation. And it’s about remembering why we can celebrate this day year after year.
Instead of making it political, let’s focus on those things.
The post Debate Over July Fourth DC Festivities Shows How Out of Touch Elites Are appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Vincent Smith wasn’t in the office when a fellow Virginia Beach city employee opened fire there, ultimately killing 12 and wounding five in the carnage five weeks ago.
After getting notice of the shooting that afternoon in Building 2 of the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, Smith, 49, raced to the nearby emergency operations center, where he helped out until late in the night.
It was soon clear that although law enforcement arrived within two minutes of the report May 31 of an active shooter, the gunman had been able to move through offices and fire at fellow city employees without being confronted by another firearm.
Now, Smith, the city’s division manager for construction services, is taking action in hopes of preventing such a situation from occurring again.
“Their policy failed, and it failed their employees, and we’ve got to do something different,” Smith said of Virginia Beach officials in a phone interview Monday with The Daily Signal. “I’ll take it all the way to the Legislature if I have to.”
Bringing back a petition he started over three years ago to allow city employees to carry a concealed firearm at work, Smith so far has garnered support from almost 5,000 of Virginia Beach’s estimated 450,000 residents, many of them fellow city employees.
Among the petition’s original 260 signees was construction project manager Herbert Snelling, the only person to lose his life in the shooting who wasn’t a city worker. His family described Snelling, 57, as a gun rights activist and a man “who loved Jesus deeply.”
Smith’s petition seeks to overturn a policy that prevents the resort city’s 6,000 employees from carrying a concealed handgun in the workplace.
Virginia Beach construction manager Vincent Smith, left, with his son, Joshua, center, a manager at GEICO, and his father, David, a retired civilian engineer for the Army, Navy, and NASA. (Photo courtesy of Vincent Smith)
What Doesn’t Work
In his petition, Smith calls such gun-free zones “some of the most dangerous and vulnerable places in America.”
“There’s no law against ordinary citizens owning guns in the state of Virginia,” Smith told The Daily Signal. “But the city of Virginia Beach has an HR policy that prevents the city’s employees from having weapons at work.”
“I think the petition is going to have a voice, and bring enough attention to the issue to hopefully change that,” he said.
Smith, a father of two who has worked for the city for five years, said he was first taught to shoot in the hills of West Virginia when he was 9 years old.
“That’s over 40 years of safely handling firearms, and I’ve never had an accident,” Smith said in a follow-up interview Wednesday. “I have enough training to know that I am capable. And there are many people who work in Building 2 and are in the same position I am.”
In the earlier interview, Smith said Virginia Beach officials’ attempts to promote workplace safety by banning guns didn’t work.
“Their way of doing this, which we have done for years and years, unfortunately failed us.”
“Simply forbidding firearms does not work, it does not keep our people safe,” he said. “So I think it’s time to allow employees to protect themselves. People don’t typically walk up to a building where they know that 15% of the workforce has a firearm on them and try something like this.”
Smith, whose office was about a 70-foot walk from where some of the killings occurred, was estimating how many employees might take advantage of concealed carry.
Everyone Wants Safety
Of the 12 killed, Smith said he knew two well. Of the five wounded, including a police officer, Smith said three are good friends. He said he had passed most of the victims in the hallways at work at some point and said “Good morning” to them—as he had with engineer DeWayne Craddock, the shooter.
Craddock, 40, killed in a shootout with law enforcement, had resigned by email citing “personal reasons” earlier that day, giving two weeks’ notice.
Changing handgun-carrying rules for city employees requires action by city management, Mayor Bobby Dyer, and the Virginia Beach City Council.
Smith said he spoke about the issue at Gov. Ralph Northam’s roundtable event June 24, and will raise it again during the public comment segment of the Virginia General Assembly’s special session to consider new gun restrictions, which begins July 9.
Smith said he is working on a proposal with state Sen. Bill DeSteph, R-Virginia Beach, and Delegate Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach. He said he also plans to bring the issue before the City Council.
Most of the 400 city employees who worked in Building 2 have been relocated, Smith said.
“There are people [who worked] in the building who are on the other side of the argument, too, but in the end we all want the same thing, and that’s safety,” Smith said of his co-workers.
“Of the folks I’ve talked to that I know, there’s a wide range [of reaction]; some folks don’t feel safe at all, some do,” he said. “Some want employees to carry weapons, some don’t. Every reaction is valid.”
The Kansas Model
In 2016, Kansas passed legislation that made it illegal for a public employer in the state to forbid employees to carry a concealed handgun, unless the employer provides perimeter security and metal detectors at all points of entry.
Smith told The Daily Signal that he would be “more than happy” if Virginia followed the Kansas model.
“That would put the onus back on the state,” Smith said. “You either provide security and pay for it, or you let us provide our own security.”
Smith added that he is open to the idea of setting a slightly higher bar for employees who want to concealed-carry at work, such as requiring “proficiency training,” to make sure employees can use their weapons effectively and safely.
The state of Virginia already requires private citizens to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun.
“There are ways to figure it out, if the people who are in charge want to do this,” Smith said.
He noted that some people in Building 2 that Friday afternoon could have stopped the shooter if they had been allowed to be armed.
“You’re allowed to attend a public event and carry a weapon, so how come you’re not allowed to carry that weapon to work?” Smith asked.
Smith added that Independence Day is a good reminder of the importance of Americans’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
“We’re celebrating the holiday where we secured our right to own a firearm and protect our lives,” he said.
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