Resettling Refugees: Who’s Coming to America?

Summary: A vast network of foundations, non-profits, government entities and political organizations have a vested interest in the continued growth of the resettlement of refugees in America. Because they receive billions of dollars in federal grant money, publicly-financed, tax-exempt organizations have significant incentives to support political candidates and parties that will keep these programs alive. These organizations need to be thoroughly audited and the current network of public/private immigrant advocacy and resettlement organizations needs to be completely overhauled. Resettling refugees should be a voluntary, genuinely charitable activity, removing all the perverse incentives government funding creates.

Who is eligible for resettlement?

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), refugees are:

[P]eople who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

This mirrors the U.N. definition established at the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. It is important to note here, however, that under these definitions, “individuals who have crossed an international border fleeing generalized violence are not considered refugees.” This includes large numbers of people who are regularly resettled anyway, for example some of the Syrians fleeing that country’s conflict, and most—if not all Somalis.

Those who meet the definition include:

refugees (those seeking protection in the United States who are not already in the country),

asylum seekers or asylees (those who apply for asylum after coming to the U.S.),

Cuban/Haitian Entrants,

Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) and

trafficking Victims.

The Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program is also administered by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, although UACs do not meet the definition of “refugee.” Table I below provides up-to-date estimates for each category.

A few particulars are worth mentioning. First, refugee numbers have declined dramatically. In 2018, they reached the lowest numbers since the program began.

Asylum cases have, if anything, increased, and while Unaccompanied Alien Children numbers are down somewhat this year, they still remain historically high. Overall, the whole program is just now reaching pre-Obama levels.

The Cuban/Haitian Entrant program (CHEP), was created by the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 in response to the Mariel Boat Lift, when 125,000 Cubans and over 40,000 Haitians attempted to immigrate en masse by boat to the U.S. It is a form of humanitarian parole, which allows entry of otherwise inadmissible aliens for humanitarian reasons. CHEP offers benefits to Cubans and Haitians on par with other refugee groups. As part of this, the so-called “wet foot-dry foot” policy provided expedited permanent residence status to Cubans who successfully reached American shores (dry-foot). If intercepted by U.S. authorities at sea, (wet-foot), they would be returned to Cuba. CHEP is managed by Church World Service and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops with funding provided by the Office of Refugee Resettlement and USCIS.

Just a few days prior to leaving office in 2017, President Obama cancelled wet-foot-dry foot. This change was made as part of President Obama’s normalization of relations with Communist Cuba, and the numbers of people fleeing Cuba soared in 2015-2016 in anticipation. There are still Program-eligible Cubans and Haitians, but the numbers down substantially since the end of wet foot-dry foot. As there are no current published numbers for 2017-18, estimates provided are a rough guess. Ending this policy put Cuban and Haitian immigrants on a level playing field with all other refugee groups and ended the incentive for Cubans to risk their lives on a dangerous sea-crossing to America. With the exception of the Vietnamese Boat People (also fleeing a communist regime), few groups other than the Cubans have gone to such extraordinary lengths over so many years to escape an oppressive government.

Asylum is broken down into two categories: affirmative and defensive. Affirmative asylees are those who formally apply for asylum status at our nation’s borders. Defensive asylees are people in deportation proceedings who request asylum status to avoid deportation. Affirmative asylum cases are decided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; the U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review decides defensive asylum cases.

Asylum applications have exploded in recent years, as shown in the above chart of affirmative case backlogs. As of March 31, 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ affirmative asylum backlog was 318,624. The EOIR backlog, which includes defensive asylum and other types of deportation cases, was 732,730 as of June 30.

The Special Immigrant Visa program (SIV) awards refugee status to Iraqis and Afghanis who have helped the U.S. military as interpreters and translators during military operations in those countries. Many of these individuals legitimately face the threat of death if they remain in their own countries. In recent years, their numbers have also soared.

Voluntary Agencies

The Voluntary Agencies or VOLAGs are private, tax-exempt organizations that resettle refugees for the U.S. government. There are nine VOLAGs, six of which are nominally religious, and these organizations often promote their resettlement activity as a biblical mission. However, VOLAGs are strictly prohibited by regulation from any form of proselytization to refugees. In reality, they are simply government contractors paid handsomely for their services. The VOLAGs are:

Church World Service (CWS);

Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church (DFMS), also called Episcopal
Migration Ministries;

Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC);

HIAS, Inc, (formerly Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society);

International Rescue Committee (IRC);

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS);

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB);

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI);

World Relief Corporation of the National Association of Evangelicals (WRC).

VOLAGs utilize a network of about 300 subsidiaries called “affiliates” who perform most of the actual resettlement work. This includes providing the following services to refugees for the first 30-90 days of their resettlement in the U.S.:

Decent, safe, sanitary, affordable housing in good repair

Essential furnishings

Food, food allowance

Seasonal clothing

Pocket money

Assistance in applying for public benefits, social security cards, ESL, employment services, non-employment services, Medicaid, Selective Service

Assistance with health screenings and medical care

Assistance with registering children in school

Transportation to job interviews and job training

Home visits

The VOLAGs work the administrative end, distributing federal resettlement dollars and deciding where to relocate the refugees. It is also important to note that refugees get priority for housing. As a result, many Americans go homeless or are otherwise denied public housing for extended periods. In New Hampshire, for example, where refugee resettlement has stressed many communities to the breaking point, the wait time for public housing is eight years.

The two main UAC resettlement contractors are Baptist Child and Family Service (BCFS), and Southwest Key Programs (SW Key), but many others are involved in this lucrative business. More about that later.

VOLAG and UAC contractor leaders do very well by doing good. Table II lists the CEO compensation of the VOLAGS and main UAC contractors, as available. This information is provided on the IRS Form 990 non-profit annual tax return most of them must file. It is important to note that, while substantial, these salaries would not normally be out of line for a corporate CEO. But these are tax-exempt entities that merely administer federal grants. They are little more than glorified clerks. (This post originally appeared HERE)


Resettling Refugees: An International Agenda

Summary: A vast network of foundations, non-profits, government entities and political organizations have a vested interest in the continued growth of the resettlement of refugees in America. Because they receive billions of dollars in federal grant money, publicly-financed, tax-exempt organizations have significant incentives to support political candidates and parties that will keep these programs alive. These organizations need to be thoroughly audited and the current network of public/private immigrant advocacy and resettlement organizations needs to be completely overhauled. Resettling refugees should be a voluntary, genuinely charitable activity, removing all the perverse incentives government funding creates.

The refugee resettlement program is popular with many policymakers. It enjoys bipartisan support in Congress and state houses because it supplies low-wage, low skill labor that many big businesses crave, while enabling supporters to embrace “diversity” and thus avoid the Left’s favorite attacks and mischaracterizations: “bigot,” “racist,” “xenophobe,” “Islamophobe,” etc. This faux-moralizing on the Left stifles a necessary conversation our nation sorely needs. Meanwhile, the Left’s true motive is to import ever more people from third-world nations that are likely to become reliable Democrat voters once they achieve citizenship.

Under the Trump presidency, the United States’ refugee resettlement has been temporarily reduced, but by no means curtailed. A change in administration could resuscitate it overnight. There are many objectionable aspects of this program, not the least of which is finding resources to fund this enormous undertaking. The difficulty associated with assessing the true costs of the programs key to resettling refugees presents another obstacle to policymakers at every level of government.

Program History

The current domestic refugee resettlement program, formally called the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), was created with passage of now-deceased Senator Ted Kennedy’s Refugee Act of 1980.

The bill’s impetus was aided by the massive diaspora of the seagoing Vietnamese “Boat People” happening at the time, however, outlines of a global refugee resettlement agenda were initially framed at the 1976 U.N. Conference on Human Settlements held in Vancouver, Canada—and thus called the Vancouver Plan of Action. While refugee resettlement is perceived as a program to rescue people oppressed in one way or another by their governments (and the refugee definition expresses that sentiment), the U.N. had a larger agenda in mind.

Being entirely socialist in intention and design, the U.N. envisioned redistributing not only wealth, but also populations, across the globe. As stated in the document, “Human settlement policies can be powerful tools for the more equitable distribution of income and opportunities.”

The Plan of Action’s recommendations included:

A.1 National Settlement Policy:

All countries should establish as a matter of urgency a national policy on human settlements, embodying the distribution of population, and related economic and social activities, over the national territory.

A.2 Human Settlements and Development:

A national policy for human settlements and the environment should be an integral part of any national economic and social development policy.

A.4 More Equitable Distribution:

Human settlements policies should aim to improve the condition of human settlements particularly by promoting a more equitable distribution of the benefits of development among regions; and by making such benefits and public services equally accessible to all groups.

The settlement provisions paid lip service to the notion of national sovereignty and property rights, for example, saying in Settlement policies and Strategies Preamble point 3, “The ideologies of States are reflected in their human settlement policies. These being powerful instruments for change, they must not be used to dispossess people from their homes and their land, or to entrench privilege and exploitation.”

However, point 1 in the preamble to the land section makes clear the U.N. body’s utter contempt for property rights. Points 1 and 2 emphasize that land must be controlled by government, (emphases added):

1. Land, because of its unique nature and the crucial role it plays in human settlements, cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market. Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice; if unchecked, it may become a major obstacle in the planning and implementation of development schemes. Social justice, urban renewal and development, the provision of decent dwellings, and healthy conditions for the people can only be achieved if land is used in the interests of society as a whole.

2. Instead, the pattern of land use should be determined by the long-term interests of the community, especially since decisions on location of activities and therefore of specific land uses have a long-lasting effect on the pattern and structure of human settlements. Land is also a primary element of the natural and man-made environment and a crucial link in an often-delicate balance. Public control of land use is therefore indispensable to its protection as an asset and the achievement of the long-term objectives of human settlement policies and strategies.

The U.N. justified these measures based on expectations about population growth, various environmental policies, and of course, as stated in point 1 above, “social justice.” These three concerns later morphed into the three “pillars” of the U.N. Agenda 21’s Sustainability concept: environment, economy and social equity. It is merely socialism repackaged, but it explains why the U.N. has now invented yet another oppressed class in need of resettlement: climate refugees. Ironically, while population control remains at the forefront of U.N. policies, the U.N. simultaneously chastises the West for reducing population growth rates to near zero. Because our populations are aging and not being replaced with enough new births, the U.N. now advocates an increase in Western populations with what it calls “Replacement Migration.”

Senator Kennedy’s bill was almost certainly inspired at least in part by this agenda. A decade earlier Kennedy—also the architect of the 1965 Immigration and Nationalities Act, which was urged on Congress by leaders of the California Communist Party—echoed what would become the U.N.’s rationale, saying, “All nations are under obligation to eliminate ignorance, poverty, inequality and injustice.” The bill passed the U.S. Senate with a unanimous vote.

What is the Refugee Resettlement Program?

The refugee resettlement program is administered primarily by three agencies, although more government agencies are involved in supporting refugees once they arrive in the U.S.: the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The State Department’s Reception and Placement Program is managed by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), which oversees nine public and private Resettlement Support Centers (RSC) across the globe. These centers select refugees—usually from a list of those within refugee camps supplied by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). PRM then assigns selected refugees to nine other private contractors called Voluntary Agencies (VOLAGS), who meet weekly to decide where the refugees will be resettled in the United States. The International Office of Migration (IOM), a U.N. agency, coordinates with the RSCs and the VOLAGs to bring refugees to the U.S. VOLAGs are provided State Department seed grants of $2,125 per-head to resettle refugees. VOLAGs are allowed to pocket about 45 percent of this, and use the rest to pay initial resettlement costs.

Both the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) vet refugees. Under President Obama, the vetting process was excessively lax, despite the existential threat of terrorism. But under President Trump’s “extreme vetting,” the refugee flow has been reduced substantially, as more individuals are removed from the pool of possible immigrants.

The Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) provides most funding for state refugee resettlement programs over and above the seed money provided by the State Department’s bureau of Population, Migration, and Refugees. The Office of Refugee Resettlement also offers numerous grants for refugee social services, business startups, and other funding ostensibly to help qualified refugee populations get established in the U.S. (This post originally appeared HERE)


Resettling Refugees: Social and Economic Costs

Summary: A vast network of foundations, non-profits, government entities and political organizations have a vested interest in the continued growth of the resettlement of refugees in America. Because they receive billions of dollars in federal grant money, publicly-financed, tax-exempt organizations have significant incentives to support political candidates and parties that will keep these programs alive. These organizations need to be thoroughly audited and the current network of public/private immigrant advocacy and resettlement organizations needs to be completely overhauled. Resettling refugees should be a voluntary, genuinely charitable activity, removing all the perverse incentives government funding creates.

Federal Refugee Resettlement Grants

The nine VOLAGs, their many affiliates, and unaccompanied alien children contractors all receive funding from the federal government to resettle the various refugee categories. As mentioned earlier, unaccompanied alien children do not meet the definition of “refugee,” however their resettlement is managed through the Office of Refugee Resettlement and they are included when calculating the total cost of the overall program.

Most funding comes in the form of grants. Prime awards are grants directly from the federal government to the state or the contractor. Sub-awards are those given to contractors by other contractors or state governments that received the prime grant. They are left out to avoid double counting. Table III below enumerates prime grants to VOLAGs and unaccompanied alien children contractors for refugee resettlement and related programs. Some of the VOLAGs, for example the Ethiopian Community Development Council, focus almost entirely on refugee resettlement. Others, like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, International Rescue Committee, and World Relief Corporation of the National Association of Evangelicals, have a broader mission.

Of the latter, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is the largest. As Table III shows, in FY 2018 USCCB received $47.7 million for resettlement purposes. However, USCCB participates in other federal grant programs and that year received a total of $363.9 million from the federal government. And 2018 was a slow year. In FY 2017, USCCB received $531.5 million. It administers programs as diverse as Global AIDS, Food For Peace Development Assistance, USAID Foreign Assistance, and even the John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program, which provides volunteer technical assistance to farmers in developing countries.

While it has received $742.6 million since FY 2008 for refugee programs, USCCB received a total of $4.1 billion from the federal government for all the various programs it administered during this period.

The International Rescue Committee, which has received $846.6 million for refugee resettlement since 2008, received a total of $1.5 billion from the feds over the same period. World Relief Corporation of the National Association of Evangelicals received $215.3 million for refugee resettlement and $276.2 million for all purposes. For all VOLAGs and unaccompanied alien children (UAC) contractors, the federal government has awarded $8.5 billion in prime grants for the refugee/UAC programs since 2008.

Note that starting in 2014, UAC program grants exceeded those for refugee resettlement. This remains true to the present time. While the Trump administration has successfully reduced the flow of refugees, asylees, and other groups, UAC continue to flood the border. Border crossings did fall to historic lows for the first few months after president Trump took office. But, expectations that Congress would formally adopt the DREAM Act or some other amnesty policy, together with unconstitutional interference from federal courts, has prevented the administration from enforcing border laws. Illegal crossings quickly shot back up to near historic highs by the end of FY 2017 and remain high to the present time.

The funds received by the main UAC contractors dwarf the refugee resettlement income of any of the nine VOLAGs. Three of the VOLAGs, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, also resettle some UACs, but most UAC business is handled by Baptist Child and Family Service, Southwest Key, and those in the “other” column. This last column includes numerous organizations that receive anywhere from a few hundred thousand to millions of dollars per year in prime grants for UAC business.

Finally, note the rows at the bottom of Table III starting with “Gov Grants Latest.” The “% Govt. Funded” line shows each organization’s level of dependence on the government for its operation. It ranges from a low of 22 percent for DFMS to a high of 99 percent for Southwest Key, with an average of 71.4 percent. It must be said that DFMS is the corporate entity for the entire Episcopal Church in the U.S., whereas the other “religious” VOLAGs are organizations distinct and separate from their various churches, focusing wholly on government work, so the numbers aren’t strictly comparable.

All of these contractors are tax-exempt and classified as “nonprofits.” However, they are not unprofitable. The “Net Assets” and “% Annual Revenues” lines tell you how much they have accumulated over the years from their resettlement operations. On average, the organizations listed have accumulated net assets worth 45.1 percent of annual revenues.

DFMS has amassed $322 million in assets, which is over 355 percent of its annual revenues. Again, this is not strictly comparable to the others. If DFMS is removed from the equation, average net assets of the other contractors comprise 30.2 percent of annual revenues across the other VOLAGs. Excluding DFMS, HIAS (formerly Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) has the largest reserves, over 100 percent of annual revenues. Why does a “nonprofit” need to compile such huge assets? The Baptist Child and Family Service on the other hand, has 0.1 percent of its annual revenues saved as net assets.

A Billion-Dollar Taxpayer Funded Advocacy Industry

The Office of Refugee Resettlement offers a multitude of grants for refugees and Unaccompanied Alien Children to thousands of other NGOs in addition to the VOLAGs and their affiliates. It has created a billion-dollar taxpayer-funded advocacy industry that has experienced explosive growth. The chart below shows total ORR grants for refugees and UACs since 2008.

The thousands of organizations are almost all open-borders-oriented for conspicuously self-serving reasons. Naturally, they lean Left. In Massachusetts alone, which brags that one of every six residents and one in five workers is foreign born, there are 130 organizations that comprise the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA).[6] Other states have similar networks based on the size of their refugee/UAC programs and the level of non-profit engagement in the state. Measuring refugee-related expenditures of these various other NGOs is beyond the scope of this article, but Table IV (below) offers a small sample of the many organizations that have taken advantage of ORR grants.

Many organizations not normally associated with immigration issues have also jumped on board. Who could imagine, for example, that YMCA of Greater Houston could take in almost $30 million for refugee resettlement over the last two years? Dearborn, Michigan-based ACCESS (the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services) describes itself as “the largest Arab-American community nonprofit in the United States.” According to its latest tax-exempt IRS filing, ACCESS took in $26.7 million in Fiscal Year 2016, $15.2 million of which was from government grants. According to the chart, funding for refugee resettlement was only a small part of its government-funded activity.

Two refugee VOLAG affiliates, Lutheran Social Services (LSS) and Catholic Charities, receive millions in both prime and sub-grants for refugee resettlement. In many ways, they could be considered VOLAGs in their own right. They also act as prime contractors for the UAC program. UACs have added substantially to their bottom line, with UAC grants alone totaling $245.7 million for the two organizations since 2008.

Additionally, much like its senior partner, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the many Catholic Charities affiliates across the U.S. receive grants from many different federal programs, such as Head Start, Section 8 Housing, homeless veterans’ programs, and others, in addition to refugee and UAC resettlement. In FY 2018 alone, Catholic Charities programs in the U.S. collected a total of $118 million in prime grants and another $1.3 million in Veterans Administration contracts. And even that isn’t the end of it. There is Catholic Community Services, Catholic Social Services, Inc., the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, and others, all of which receive resettlement and/or UAC grants. The Catholic Church does big business with the federal government and throws its weight around to protect its refugee resettlement franchise.

The Immigration and Refugee Service of America (IRSA) has received refugee resettlement grants totaling $102.5 million since 2008, including $17.5 million in 2018. But IRSA is a ghost. IRSA is not listed among 501(c)(3) charitable organizations and does not publish an annual report. Two online reviews of IRSA found in a Google search provide a Washington, D.C., address and phone number, but repeated calls—at all hours—get a busy signal. Two separate IRSA websites are referenced in these reviews,, and Both are defunct placeholder blogs with no reference to IRSA and no current information of any sort. The State Department’s archives list IRSA as a VOLAG, ironically, as of April Fools Day, 2001. However, it is not one of the nine current VOLAGs.

Bloomberg’s review describes IRSA as “a charitable organization that focuses on defense of human rights, builds communities, fosters education, promotes self-sufficiency, and forges partnerships through an array of programs.” Another review was written in 2008 by Melanie Nezer, currently Senior Vice President for Public Affairs at HIAS. Nezer was paid $30,000 in 2013 for a 30-page HIAS pamphlet, the notorious Resettlement at Risk, which advocated partnering with media and the widely discredited Southern Poverty Law Center to investigate and vilify refugee resettlement opponents. Your tax dollars at work.

Nezer was apparently employed by IRSA in 2008 and described it as “the oldest and largest non-sectarian network of organizations serving immigrants, refugees, and other foreign-born people worldwide.” Nezer listed a network of IRSA partner affiliates, most of which still exist. Lavinia Limon, the former director of U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI, one of the nine VOLAGs), is listed by Bloomberg as IRSA’s current director, along with COO Eskinder Negash, who is now director of USCRI. All in the family.

Officer compensation is not listed, but having received over $100 million since 2008, IRSA is paying someone good money. For what? When she directed USCRI, Lavinia Limon collected a hefty six figure salary, $300,114, in 2016. There have been frequent requests to audit the refugee resettlement program, especially the contractors, something that has never been done. What is going on there? Is IRSA some kind of slush fund flying under the radar because no one pays attention to this politically coddled, convoluted, Byzantine network of programs?

Welcoming America, an organization created specifically to advance the “Welcoming” mantra for refugees and immigrants, has received $1.2 million from the federal government since 2012. “Welcoming” is not an innocuous message. It employs a propaganda tactic to shame people into supporting Welcoming America’s open borders agenda. As founder and CEO David Lubell says, the goal is to “…recognize the role everyone must play in furthering the integration of recent immigrants…” (Emphasis added). Many politicians support the refugee program specifically so they can be considered “welcoming,” because “unwelcoming” is code for “racist, bigot, xenophobe, etc.” As a result, politicians often jettison their responsibilities to their electorate to avoid negative publicity. Public officials have been lambasted as “bigots” simply for questioning the program’s cost. An effort to recall a city commissioner in Fargo, North Dakota, for merely posing this question, is just one example. The recall effort failed, but how do responsible government leaders function in such an environment?

The Trump administration zeroed out federal support for Welcoming America, leaving it to rely on its substantial support from private donations. Between 2011 and 2016, Welcoming America received almost $10 million from open borders foundations like Open Society ($450,000), Unbound Philanthropy ($984,450), Kellogg ($200,000), Kaplan, ($595,000), the Einhorn Family Trust ($1.5 million), Carnegie, ($325,000) and others. The Welcoming network includes over 90 cities and 114 organizations, including US Together, the Southern Poverty Law Center, numerous VOLAG affiliates, 10 YMCA branches and even some governmental entities, like the Atlanta Regional Commission and Redwood City 2020.[20]

Jannus, Opening Doors, Refugee Service of Texas (RST), and US Together are simply four more examples of small tax-exempt nonprofits that receive refugee program grants. US Together is an affiliate of HIAS. Opening Doors is a CWS affiliate. The Refugee Service of Texas works as an affiliate of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the Church World Service, and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Jannus works independently.

Together these nonprofits siphon millions of dollars from the federal government, spreading the gospel of immigration as they line their own pockets and perpetuate an agenda that advantages the Left as it dismisses justifiable concerns from communities strained by the needs of these newcomers. Look for more updates on this sprawling government program next month. (This post originally appeared HERE)

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How to Fundamentally Transform a Country

All things in life, even good things, have a limit to their utility and a point at which they become liabilities. Think of tasty spices in a dish or other ingredients in a melting pot. Quantities count, particularly over a specific period of time. Immigration is no different.

Recent Census data released from the 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) shows that immigration has grown to shocking, wholly unprecedented levels. Is it too much to ask that we engage in a mature policy discussion after five decades of record immigration with no end in sight?

The topline number from the survey shows that we have record 44.5 million immigrants in this country, composing 13.7 percent of the population – a greater share than at any time since 1910 and almost three times greater than the share of immigrants in 1970. 1910 was at the peak of the Great Wave, when we were a relatively young country, most of the immigration was from relatively similar backgrounds, there was no welfare state, there was a strong culture of assimilation, and most importantly, there was a subsequent shutoff.

Here are some other key nuggets from the survey:

Together with the 17.1 million U.S.-born minor children of immigrants, immigrant families make up 20 percent of the population.

A number of the countries with the sharpest increase in immigration since 2010 are Islamic countries and almost exclusively from the third world. Here is the breakdown from the Center for Immigration Studies: “Nepal (up 120%), Burma (up 95%), Venezuela (up 91%), Afghanistan (up 84%), Saudi Arabia (up 83%), Syria (up 75%), Bangladesh (up 62%), Nigeria (up 57%), Kenya (up 56%), India (up 47%), Iraq (up 45%), Ethiopia (up 44%), Egypt (up 34%), Brazil (up 33%), Dominican Republic and Ghana (up 32%), China (up 31%), Pakistan (up 31%), and Somalia (up 29%).”

The two states with the largest increase in immigration since 2010 are Florida and Texas. They topped even the blue states of California, New York, and New Jersey. If you want to paint the electoral map blue, this is the surest way to do it.

Why this wave of immigration dwarfs the Great Wave

Aside from percentages, raw numbers do matter in our ability to assimilate. Over the 29-year period from 1989 to 2017, the U.S. has admitted 29.7 million immigrants. During a comparable 29-year period at the height of the Great Wave, from 1896 to 1924, only 17.9 million green cards were issued.

Also, because of shorter life expectancy and other factors, the Great Wave of immigration didn’t result in nearly as many naturalizations and a new voting population like this one has. This chart from the DHS is worth 1,000 words:

From 1996 through 2017, 15,453,174 new immigrants became citizens. During the Great Wave, the number of naturalizations was very low because it took time for immigrants to go through the system and become citizens. But even if you take an equivalent 22-year period with the highest level of naturalizations, which was from 1924 to1945, just 4,334,798 immigrants were naturalized. In other words, while the immigration wave of the modern era was almost twice as large as the Great Wave, the “naturalization wave” was three and a half times greater.

Moreover, we have not even reached the full extent of the wave of immigration, which is still growing. That means the naturalization boon to the Democrat Party will only continue to grow as we finish the lag time for existing immigrants to become citizens.

Numerous factors distinguish the Great Wave favorably from this wave; they are the subject of chapter 7 in my book. But the most important of all is that there was a shutoff for several decades thereafter. This point was so obvious to anyone living at the time that when Congress decided to shut off immigration on February 22, 1921 (temporarily, until the long-term bill was developed in 1924), the bill passed the Senate 78-1 and passed the House without a recorded vote! Expressing the universal view at the time, the accompanying report from the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization stated, “There is a limit to our power of assimilation.”

It was obvious at the time that a cool-off was in order, and history, along with the success of assimilating the Great Wave immigrants, proved it right. And while people at the time expressed concerns about the lack of assimilation, nobody back then had reason to fear a lack of assimilation turning into the disaster it is in Europe today as a result of the large migration from the Middle East, a policy we have now mimicked.

Rather than a shutoff, we are accelerating mass migration with no questions asked

One could argue that by the early 1990s, we had already surpassed the size, scope, and cultural transformation of the equivalent period of the first Great Wave. At the time, even liberals like Harry Reid warned that we had never seen anything like this before and introduced a bill to “restore immigration to its traditional and more manageable level of about 300,000 annually.”

Fast-forward 25 years, and we’ve admitted roughly 25 million more legal immigrants – 9.5 million just in the past 8 years – admitted countless millions of illegal immigrants, and established a trajectory through chain migration that will bring in even more immigrants, dwarfing the current unprecedented wave. Under the current trajectory, by 2065, 88 percent of our population growth will be from immigrants.

During the Great Wave, although immigration spiked between 1880 and 1920, the shutoff

created a dynamic in which the foreign-born population in the country went down so that by 1970 — ninety years after the beginning of the Great Wave — the immigration population had only increased 44 percent in raw numbers. Over that same time period, the native-born population increased by 306 percent.

This is why the Great Wave worked. As noted immigration historian Maldwyn Allen Jones observed of the post-WWI shutoff, “With reinforcements no longer arriving from across the ocean, ties with Europe were gradually weakened and memories of the old life grew dimmer with each passing year.” This dynamic “accelerated the Americanization of those groups which had come earlier.”

Contrast this to the current wave of naturalization, which is already three times larger than the peak wave in the 1940s, and it is coinciding with an even larger wave of new immigrants coming to reinforce the new citizens, anchoring them back to their old culture and values. By 2060, ninety years after that benchmark in 1970, the immigrant population is projected to be 715 percent larger in raw numbers. Over the same period, the native-born population is projected to increase by just 77 percent.

Yet instead of unanimous resolve to immediately slow down immigration, those of us who even question increases in current immigration are called nativists. There are almost no elected Republicans who would vouch for the position of liberal Harry Reid from 1993, even though the rationale for his policy is even more compelling two decades later.

This is not what our Founders had in mind

With an ideal antithetical to the multiculturalism and balkanization of today’s progressive America, Washington laid out a vision of American citizenship and pride of patriotism as follows in his farewell address:

“Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the Independence and Liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts, of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.”

Immigration, especially at this time, when followed prudently and gradually, can enrich this culture of common cause in pursuit of liberty. But when immigration policy is pursued in such an impetuous, irresponsible, precipitous – and ultimately random – fashion that there is no longer a common cause, the America George Washington sought to establish will no longer exist. (For more from the author of “How to Fundamentally Transform a Country” please click HERE)

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Suspending the Constitution: In America Today, the Government Does Whatever It Wants

We can pretend that the Constitution, which was written to hold the government accountable, is still our governing document.

The reality we must come to terms with, however, is that in the America we live in today, the government does whatever it wants, freedom be damned.

“We the people” have been terrorized, traumatized, and tricked into a semi-permanent state of compliance by a government that cares nothing for our lives or our liberties.

The bogeyman’s names and faces may change over time (terrorism, the war on drugs, illegal immigration, etc.), but the end result remains the same: our unquestioning acquiescence to anything the government wants to do in exchange for the phantom promise of safety and security.

Thus, in the so-called named of national security, the Constitution has been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded to such an extent that what we are left with today is but a shadow of the robust document adopted more than two centuries ago.

Most of the damage, however, has been inflicted upon the Bill of Rights—the first ten amendments to the Constitution—which historically served as the bulwark from government abuse.

A recitation of the Bill of Rights—set against a backdrop of government surveillance, militarized police, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, eminent domain, overcriminalization, armed surveillance drones, whole body scanners, stop and frisk searches (all sanctioned by Congress, the White House, the courts and the like)—would understandably sound more like a eulogy to freedoms lost than an affirmation of rights we truly possess.

Here is what it means to live under the Constitution today.

The First Amendment is supposed to protect the freedom to speak your mind, assemble and protest nonviolently without being bridled by the government. It also protects the freedom of the media, as well as the right to worship and pray without interference. In other words, Americans should not be silenced by the government. To the founders, all of America was a free speech zone.

Despite the clear protections found in the First Amendment, the freedoms described therein are under constant assault. Increasingly, Americans are being arrested and charged with bogus “contempt of cop” charges such as “disrupting the peace” or “resisting arrest” for daring to film police officers engaged in harassment or abusive practices. Journalists are being prosecuted for reporting on whistleblowers. States are passing legislation to muzzle reporting on cruel and abusive corporate practices. Religious ministries are being fined for attempting to feed and house the homeless. Protesters are being tear-gassed, beaten, arrested and forced into “free speech zones.” And under the guise of “government speech,” the courts have reasoned that the government can discriminate freely against any First Amendment activity that takes place within a government forum.

The Second Amendment was intended to guarantee “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” Essentially, this amendment was intended to give the citizenry the means to resist tyrannical government. Yet while gun ownership has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as an individual citizen right, Americans remain powerless to defend themselves against SWAT team raids and government agents armed to the teeth with military weapons better suited for the battlefield. As such, this amendment has been rendered null and void.

The Third Amendment reinforces the principle that civilian-elected officials are superior to the military by prohibiting the military from entering any citizen’s home without “the consent of the owner.” With the police increasingly training like the military, acting like the military, and posing as military forces—complete with heavily armed SWAT teams, military weapons, assault vehicles, etc.—it is clear that we now have what the founders feared most—a standing army on American soil.

The Fourth Amendment prohibits government agents from conducting surveillance on you or touching you or invading you, unless they have some evidence that you’re up to something criminal. In other words, the Fourth Amendment ensures privacy and bodily integrity. Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment has suffered the greatest damage in recent years and has been all but eviscerated by an unwarranted expansion of police powers that include strip searches and even anal and vaginal searches of citizens, surveillance (corporate and otherwise) and intrusions justified in the name of fighting terrorism, as well as the outsourcing of otherwise illegal activities to private contractors.

The Fifth Amendment and the Sixth Amendment work in tandem. These amendments supposedly ensure that you are innocent until proven guilty, and government authorities cannot deprive you of your life, your liberty or your property without the right to an attorney and a fair trial before a civilian judge. However, in the new suspect society in which we live, where surveillance is the norm, these fundamental principles have been upended. Certainly, if the government can arbitrarily freeze, seize or lay claim to your property (money, land or possessions) under government asset forfeiture schemes, you have no true rights.

The Seventh Amendment guarantees citizens the right to a jury trial. Yet when the populace has no idea of what’s in the Constitution—civic education has virtually disappeared from most school curriculums—that inevitably translates to an ignorant jury incapable of distinguishing justice and the law from their own preconceived notions and fears. However, as a growing number of citizens are coming to realize, the power of the jury to nullify the government’s actions—and thereby help balance the scales of justice—is not to be underestimated. Jury nullification reminds the government that “we the people” retain the power to ultimately determine what laws are just.

The Eighth Amendment is similar to the Sixth in that it is supposed to protect the rights of the accused and forbid the use of cruel and unusual punishment. However, the Supreme Court’s determination that what constitutes “cruel and unusual” should be dependent on the “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” leaves us with little protection in the face of a society lacking in morals altogether.

The Ninth Amendment provides that other rights not enumerated in the Constitution are nonetheless retained by the people. Popular sovereignty—the belief that the power to govern flows upward from the people rather than downward from the rulers—is clearly evident in this amendment. However, it has since been turned on its head by a centralized federal government that sees itself as supreme and which continues to pass more and more laws that restrict our freedoms under the pretext that it has an “important government interest” in doing so.

As for the Tenth Amendment’s reminder that the people and the states retain every authority that is not otherwise mentioned in the Constitution, that assurance of a system of government in which power is divided among local, state and national entities has long since been rendered moot by the centralized Washington, DC, power elite—the president, Congress and the courts. Indeed, the federal governmental bureaucracy has grown so large that it has made local and state legislatures relatively irrelevant. Through its many agencies and regulations, the federal government has stripped states of the right to regulate countless issues that were originally governed at the local level.

If there is any sense to be made from this recitation of freedoms lost, it is simply this: our individual freedoms have been eviscerated so that the government’s powers could be expanded.

Yet those who gave us the Constitution and the Bill of Rights believed that the government exists at the behest of its citizens. It is there to protect, defend and even enhance our freedoms, not violate them.

It was no idle happenstance that the Constitution opens with these three powerful words: “We the people.” As the Preamble proclaims:

We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of America.

In other words, we have the power to make and break the government. We are the masters and they are the servants. We the American people—the citizenry—are the arbiters and ultimate guardians of America’s welfare, defense, liberty, laws and prosperity.

Still, it’s hard to be a good citizen if you don’t know anything about your rights or how the government is supposed to operate.

As the National Review rightly asks, “How can Americans possibly make intelligent and informed political choices if they don’t understand the fundamental structure of their government? American citizens have the right to self-government, but it seems that we increasingly lack the capacity for it.”

Americans are constitutionally illiterate.

Most citizens have little, if any, knowledge about their basic rights. And our educational system does a poor job of teaching the basic freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For instance, when Newsweek asked 1,000 adult U.S. citizens to take America’s official citizenship test, 44% were unable to define the Bill of Rights.

A survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that a little more than one-third of respondents (36 percent) could name all three branches of the U.S. government, while another one-third (35 percent) could not name a single one. Only a quarter of Americans (27 percent) know it takes a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to override a presidential veto. One in five Americans (21 percent) incorrectly thinks that a 5-4 Supreme Court decision is sent back to Congress for reconsideration. And more than half of Americans do not know which party controls the House and Senate.

A 2006 survey by the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum found that only one out of a thousand adults could identify the five rights protected by the First Amendment. On the other hand, more than half (52%) of the respondents could name at least two of the characters in the animated Simpsonstelevision family, and 20% could name all five. And although half could name none of the freedoms in the First Amendment, a majority (54%) could name at least one of the three judges on the TV program American Idol, 41% could name two and one-fourth could name all three.

It gets worse.

Many who responded to the survey had a strange conception of what was in the First Amendment. For example, 21% said the “right to own a pet” was listed someplace between “Congress shall make no law” and “redress of grievances.” Some 17% said that the First Amendment contained the “right to drive a car,” and 38% believed that “taking the Fifth” was part of the First Amendment.

Teachers and school administrators do not fare much better. A study conducted by the Center for Survey Research and Analysis found that one educator in five was unable to name any of the freedoms in the First Amendment.

In fact, while some educators want students to learn about freedom, they do not necessarily want them to exercise their freedoms in school. As the researchers conclude, “Most educators think that students already have enough freedom, and that restrictions on freedom in the school are necessary. Many support filtering the Internet, censoring T-shirts, disallowing student distribution of political or religious material, and conducting prior review of school newspapers.”

Government leaders and politicians are also ill-informed. Although they take an oath to uphold, support and defend the Constitution against “enemies foreign and domestic,” their lack of education about our fundamental rights often causes them to be enemies of the Bill of Rights.

So what’s the solution?

Thomas Jefferson recognized that a citizenry educated on “their rights, interests, and duties” is the only real assurance that freedom will survive.

As Jefferson wrote in 1820: “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of our society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

From the President on down, anyone taking public office should have a working knowledge of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and should be held accountable for upholding their precepts. One way to ensure this would be to require government leaders to take a course on the Constitution and pass a thorough examination thereof before being allowed to take office.

Some critics are advocating that students pass the United States citizenship exam in order to graduate from high school. Others recommend that it must be a prerequisite for attending college. I’d go so far as to argue that students should have to pass the citizenship exam before graduating from grade school.

Here’s an idea to get educated and take a stand for freedom: anyone who signs up to become a member of The Rutherford Institute gets a wallet-sized Bill of Rights card and a Know Your Rights card. Use this card to teach your children the freedoms found in the Bill of Rights.

If this constitutional illiteracy is not remedied and soon, freedom in America will be doomed.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we have managed to keep the wolf at bay so far. Barely.

Our national priorities need to be re-prioritized. For instance, some argue that we need to make America great again. I, for one, would prefer to make America free again.

As actor-turned-activist Richard Dreyfuss warned:

“Unless we teach the ideas that make America a miracle of government, it will go away in your kids’ lifetimes, and we will be a fable.You have to find the time and creativity to teach it in schools, and if you don’t, you will lose it. You will lose it to the darkness, and what this country represents is a tiny twinkle of light in a history of oppression and darkness and cruelty. If it lasts for more than our lifetime, for more than our kids’ lifetime, it is only because we put some effort into teaching what it is, the ideas of America: the idea of opportunity, mobility, freedom of thought, freedom of assembly.”

(This post originally appeared HERE)

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What I Don’t Like About Life in Post-9/11 America

Life in a post-9/11 America increasingly feels like an endless free fall down a rabbit hole into a terrifying, dystopian alternative reality in which the citizenry has no rights, the government is no friend to freedom, and everything we ever knew and loved about the values and principles that once made this country great has been turned on its head.

We’ve walked a strange and harrowing road since September 11, 2001, littered with the debris of our once-vaunted liberties.

We have gone from a nation that took great pride in being a model of a representative democracy to being a model of how to persuade the citizenry to march in lockstep with a police state.

Osama Bin Laden right warned that “freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life.”

These past 17 years have proven Bin Laden right in his prediction.

What began with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in October 2001 has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse.

The citizenry’s unquestioning acquiescence to anything the government wants to do in exchange for the phantom promise of safety and security has resulted in a society where the nation is being locked down into a militarized, mechanized, hypersensitive, legalistic, self-righteous, goose-stepping antithesis of every principle upon which this nation was founded.

This is not freedom.

This is a jail cell.

Set against a backdrop of government surveillance, militarized police, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, eminent domain, overcriminalization, armed surveillance drones, whole body scanners, stop and frisk searches, roving VIPR raids and the like—all of which have been sanctioned by Congress, the White House and the courts—our constitutional freedoms have been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded.

Our losses are mounting with every passing day.

Free speech, the right to protest, the right to challenge government wrongdoing, due process, a presumption of innocence, the right to self-defense, accountability and transparency in government, privacy, press, sovereignty, assembly, bodily integrity, representative government: all of these and more have become casualties in the government’s war on the American people, a war that has grown more pronounced since 9/11.

Since the towers fell on 9/11, the American people have been treated like enemy combatants, to be spied on, tracked, scanned, frisked, searched, subjected to all manner of intrusions, intimidated, invaded, raided, manhandled, censored, silenced, shot at, locked up, and denied due process.

In allowing ourselves to be distracted by terror drills, foreign wars, color-coded warnings, underwear bombers and other carefully constructed exercises in propaganda, sleight of hand, and obfuscation, we failed to recognize that the true enemy to freedom was lurking among us all the while.

The U.S. government now poses a greater threat to our freedoms than any terrorist, extremist or foreign entity ever could.

While nearly 3,000 people died in the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government and its agents have easily killed at least ten times that number of civilians in the U.S. and abroad since 9/11 through its police shootings, SWAT team raids, drone strikes and profit-driven efforts to police the globe, sell weapons to foreign nations, and foment civil unrest in order to keep the military industrial complex gainfully employed.

No, the U.S. government is not the citizenry’s friend, nor is it our protector, and life in the United States of America post-9/11 is no picnic.

In the interest of full disclosure, here are some of the things I don’t like about life in a post-9/11 America:

I don’t like being treated as if my only value to the government is as a source of labor and funds.

I don’t like being viewed as a consumer and bits of data.

I don’t like being spied on and treated as if I have no right to privacy, especially in my own home.

I don’t like government officials who lobby for my vote only to ignore me once elected. I don’t like having representatives incapable of andunwilling to represent me. I don’t like taxation without representation.

I don’t like being bullied by government bureaucrats, vigilantes masquerading as cops, or faceless technicians.

I don’t like being railroaded into financing government programs whose only purpose is to increase the power and wealth of the corporate elite.

I don’t like being forced to pay for wars abroad that serve no other purpose except to expand the reach of the military industrial complex.

I don’t like being subjected to scans, searches, pat downs and other indignities by the TSA.

I don’t like VIPR raids on so-called “soft” targets like shopping malls and bus depots by black-clad, Darth Vader look-alikes.

I don’t like fusion centers, which represent the combined surveillance efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement.

I don’t like being treated like an underling by government agents who are supposed to be working for me. I don’t like being threatened, intimidated, bribed, beaten and robbed by individuals entrusted with safeguarding my rights. I don’t like being silenced, censored and marginalized. I don’t like my movements being tracked, my conversations being recorded, and my transactions being catalogued.

I don’t like free speech zones, roving bubble zones and trespass laws that restrict Americans’ First Amendment rights.

I don’t like laws that criminalize Americans for otherwise lawful activities such as holding religious studies at home, growing vegetables in their yard, and collecting rainwater.

I don’t like the NDAA, which allows the president and the military to arrest and detain American citizens indefinitely.

I don’t like the Patriot Act, which opened the door to all manner of government abuses and intrusions on our privacy.

I don’t like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has become America’s standing army in direct opposition to the dire warnings of those who founded our country.

I don’t like military weapons such as armored vehicles, sound cannons and the like being used against the American citizens.

I don’t like government agencies such as the DHS, Post Office, Social Security Administration and Wildlife stocking up on hollow-point bullets. And I definitely don’t like the implications of detention centers being built that could house American citizens.

I don’t like the fact that police departments across the country “have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.”

I don’t like America’s infatuation with locking people up for life for non-violent crimes. There are thousands of people in America serving life sentences for non-violent crimes, including theft of a jacket, siphoning gasoline from a truck, stealing tools, and attempting to cash a stolen check.

I don’t like paying roughly $29,000 a year per inmate just to keep these nonviolent offenders in prison.

I don’t like having my hard-earned taxpayer dollars used against me.

I don’t like the partisan nature of politics today, which has so polarized Americans that they are incapable of standing in unity against the government’s abuses.

I don’t like the entertainment drivel that passes for news coverage today.

I don’t like the fact that those within a 25-mile range of the border are getting a front row seat to the American police state, as Border Patrol agents are now allowed to search people’s homes, intimately probe their bodies, and rifle through their belongings, all without a warrant.

I don’t like public schools that treat students as if they were prison inmates. I don’t like zero tolerance laws that criminalize childish behavior. I don’t like a public educational system that emphasizes rote memorization and test-taking over learning, synthesizing and critical thinking.

I don’t like police precincts whose primary purpose—whether through the use of asset forfeiture laws, speed traps, or red light cameras—is making a profit at the expense of those they have sworn to protect. I don’t like militarized police and their onerous SWAT team raids.

I don’t like Department of Defense and DHS programs that transfer surplus military hardware to local and state police. I don’t like local police dressing and acting as if they were the military while viewing me as an enemy combatant.

I don’t like government programs that reward cops for raiding homes and terrorizing homeowners.

I don’t like being treated as if I have no rights.

I don’t like cash-strapped states cutting deals with private corporations to run the prisons in exchange for maintaining 90% occupancy rates for at least 20 years. I don’t like the fact that American prisons have become the source of cheap labor for Corporate America.

I don’t like answering to an imperial president who operates above the law.

I don’t like the injustice that passes for justice in the courts.

I don’t like prosecutors so hell bent on winning that they allow innocent people to suffer for crimes they didn’t commit.

I don’t like the double standards that allow government officials to break laws with immunity, while average Americans get the book thrown at them.

I don’t like cops who shoot first and ask questions later.

I don’t like police dogs being treated with more respect and afforded more rights than American citizens.

I don’t like living in a suspect society.

I don’t like Americans being assumed guilty until they prove their innocence.

I don’t like technology being used as a double-edged sword against us.

Most of all, I don’t like feeling as if there’s no hope for turning things around.

Now there are those who would suggest that if I don’t like things about this country, I should leave and go elsewhere. Certainly, there are those among my fellow citizens who are leaving for friendlier shores.

However, I’m not giving up on this country without a fight.

I plan to keep fighting, writing, speaking up, speaking out, shouting if necessary, filing lawsuits, challenging the status quo, writing letters to the editor, holding my representatives accountable, thinking nationally but acting locally, and generally raising a ruckus anytime the government attempts to undermine the Constitution and ride roughshod over the rights of the citizenry.

Our country may be in deep trouble, but all is not yet lost.

The first step begins with you.

1. Get educated. Know your rights. Take time to read the Constitution. Study and understand history because the tales of those who seek power and those who resist them is an age-old one. The Declaration of Independence is a testament to this struggle and the revolutionary spirit that overcame tyranny. Understand the vital issues of the day so that you can be cognizant of the threats to freedom. Stay informed about current events and legislation.

2. Get involved. Become actively involved in local community affairs, politics and legal battles. As the adage goes, “Think nationally, act locally.” America was meant to be primarily a system of local governments, which is a far cry from the colossal federal bureaucracy we have today. Yet if our freedoms are to be restored, understanding what is transpiring practically in your own backyard—in one’s home, neighborhood, school district, town council—and taking action at that local level must be the starting point. Responding to unmet local needs and reacting to injustices is what grassroots activism is all about. Getting involved in local politics is one way to bring about change.

3. Get organized. Understand your strengths and weaknesses and tap into your resources. Play to your strengths and assets. Conduct strategy sessions to develop both the methods and ways to attack the problem. Prioritize your issues and battles. Don’t limit yourself to protests and paper petitions. Think outside the box. Time is short, and resources are limited, so use your resources in the way they count the most.

4. Be creative. Be bold and imaginative, for this is guerilla warfare—not to be fought with tanks and guns but through creative methods of dissent and resistance. Creatively responding to circumstances will often be one of your few resources if you are to be an effective agent of change. Every creative effort, no matter how small, is significant.

5. Use the media. Effective use of the media is essential. Attracting media coverage not only enhances and magnifies your efforts, it is also a valuable education tool. It publicizes your message to a much wider audience.

6. Start brushfires for freedom. Take heart that you are not alone. You come from a long, historic line of individuals who have put their beliefs and lives on the line to keep freedom alive. Engage those around you in discussions about issues of importance. Challenge them to be part of a national dialogue. As I have often said, one person at a city planning meeting with a protest sign is an irritant. Three individuals at the same meeting with the same sign are a movement. You will find that those in power fear and respect numbers. This is not to say that lone crusaders are not important. There are times when you will find yourself totally alone in the stand you take. However, there is power in numbers. Politicians understand this. So get out there and start drumming up support for your cause.

7. Take action. Be prepared to mobilize at a moment’s notice. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re located or what resources are at your disposal. What matters is that you recognize the problems and care enough to do something about them. Whether you’re 8, 28 or 88 years old, you have something unique to contribute. You don’t have to be a hero. You just have to show up and be ready to take action.

8. Be forward-looking. Beware of being so “in the moment” that you neglect to think of the bigger picture. Develop a vision for the future. Is what you’re hoping to achieve enduring? Have you developed a plan to continue to educate others about the problems you’re hoping to tackle and ensure that others will continue in your stead? Take the time to impart the value of freedom to younger generations, for they will be at the vanguard of these battles someday.

9. Develop fortitude. What is it that led to the successful protest movements of the past headed by people such as Martin Luther King Jr.? Resolve. King refused to be put off. And when the time came, he was willing to take to the streets for what he believed and even go to jail if necessary. King risked having an arrest record by committing acts of nonviolent civil disobedience. A caveat is appropriate here. Before resorting to nonviolent civil disobedience, all reasonable alternatives should be exhausted. If there is an opportunity to alter the course of events through normal channels (for example, negotiation, legal action or legislation), they should be attempted.

10. Be selfless and sacrificial. Freedom is not free—there is always a price to be paid and a sacrifice to be made. If any movement is to be truly successful, it must be manned by individuals who seek a greater good and do not waver from their purposes. It will take boldness, courage and great sacrifice. Rarely will fame, power and riches be found at the end of this particular road. Those who travel it inevitably find the way marked by hardship, persecution and strife. Yet there is no easy way.

11. Remain optimistic and keep hope alive. Although our rights are increasingly coming under attack, we still have certain freedoms. As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we can still fight back. We have the right to dissent, to protest and even to vigorously criticize or oppose the government and its laws. The Constitution guarantees us these rights. In a country such as the United States, a citizen armed with a knowledge of the Bill of Rights and the fortitude to stand and fight can still be a force to be reckoned with, but it will mean speaking out when others are silent.

Practice persistence, along with perseverance, and the possibilities are endless. You can be the voice of reason. Use your voice to encourage others. Much can be accomplished by merely speaking out. Oftentimes, all it takes is one lone voice to get things started. So if you really care and you’re serious and want to help change things for the better, dust off your First Amendment tools and take a stand—even if it means being ostracized by those who would otherwise support you.

It won’t be easy, but take heart. And don’t give up. (This post originally appeared HERE)

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Believe in Something, but Only If It’s True

I was startled to learn that Nike is making former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick the face of its next marketing campaign. Kaepernick, you may recall, was riding the San Francisco 49ers bench two years ago, not only during the national anthem but during the games, due to inferior play.

Nike and Kaepernick’s supporters are attempting to revise history at this point, claiming that he sacrificed his career on a matter of principle. “Believe in something,” the Nike Kaepernick ad urges, “even if it means sacrificing everything.”

But Kaepernick’s career as a starting quarterback was already over before he started disrespecting the flag and the national anthem. By the time he was benched, he was rated 28th out of 28 starting NFL quarterbacks. NFL defenses had cracked the code, and his brief honeymoon in the league came to a bone-jarring halt.

If I were looking for somebody to represent the Nike slogan to “believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything,” I’d probably lean toward Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington. Mrs. Stutzman, 73, has served and employed gay people all her life, but that wasn’t good enough for Washington state’s grandstanding attorney general, who joined with the American Civil Liberties Union to sue the Christian lady because she refused to design floral art for a longtime customer’s homosexual wedding.

Or Jack Phillips, co-owner (with his wife) of Masterpiece Cake Shop in Lakewood, Colorado. The state ordered him to design cakes celebrating homosexual marriage, or get out of the business. He took them to court instead. After several years, he won a 7-2 Supreme Court decision this summer. The state has already trumped up another case against him. Phillips says that when he gets vulgar, threatening phone calls from gay allies, he takes it as an opportunity to reach out, and to pray for them.

Or Kim Davis, county clerk at Rowan County, Kentucky, who went to jail rather than comply with a federal judge’s order that she issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

But Nike has a business to run, and their ads need to appeal to the demographic that is obsessed with shoe brands, in some extreme cases to the point of homicide. And so Colin Kaepernick it is – a narcissist who used to be known for kissing his tattoos after touchdowns. His photograph in the ad looks like a mug shot: cold, malignant eyes and a prim, disapproving mouth.

You can bet that Nike did its due diligence calculations before this decision. They knew some of us would vow never to buy from them again. But they also know who their future buyers are. They’re marketing to a demographic with an average IQ of 85 or less, and a chip on its collective shoulder. Criminal subculture “street cred” is golden marketing. Cop-killing is not a deal-killer in this market. Nike stock has spiked since the decision.

At first, Kaepernick just remained seated on the bench during the anthem. I thought maybe he just wanted to make sure he got a good spot, because he was going to spend the rest of the game there. But when a reporter questioned him about it, he mumbled something about police shootings of Black men.

Kaepernick has displayed socks depicting police as pigs, and has donated $25 thousand to a Chicago-based organization – Assata’s Daughters – that honored cop-killer Joanne Chesimard. Joanne took a revolutionary name, Assata Shakur. She was convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting death of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Forester, but later escaped from prison and is living in Cuba under the protection of Raoul Castro.

Kaepernick has worn Che Guevara shirts. It’s no hyperbole to say that he hates police, and he hates America. But former teammate Eric Reid was more publicity-savvy than the sullen, inarticulate Kaepernick. He convinced Kaepernick to join him in kneeling during the anthem instead of sitting on the bench. Reid said kneeling is the equivalent of flying the flag at half staff to acknowledge a tragedy.

And kneeling did catch the imagination of NFL players, mostly but not exclusively Black, and their media chroniclers. They wanted to have it both ways: they wanted to protest during the national anthem, but they insisted they were as patriotic as people who honor the flag and the anthem. It’s an absurd claim.

It’s certainly possible to protest and still be a patriot. In fact, love of country sometimes demands that you protest. And it’s an explicit Constitutional right. But when you protest during the national anthem, you’re showing contempt for what holds us together, what makes us care about people who are otherwise unconnected to us. It’s disrespectful, not persuasive, to make a spectacle of your complaints during the national anthem. We care less – not more – about your grievances if you think you owe our mutual national identity no loyalty.

Sherry Graham-Potter, the widow of an Arizona deputy sheriff killed in the line of duty, wrote an open letter to Nike after they announced their decision to line America’s highways with billboards of the cop-hating Kaepernick’s dead glare. She raised the objections that you would expect from a fallen police officer’s widow, but she also returned to a point that is rarely mentioned anymore: the cop-haters’ central accusation “has been proven false time and time again, in study after study.”

Does the truth matter to Kaepernick or Reid or Nike shareholders? It’s simply not true that unarmed Black men are disproportionately shot down by police.

Liberal college professors and the liberal Washington Post have dug into the data on this subject, and have admitted in the end that there is no statistical support for the claim that police shoot unarmed Black men more than they shoot unarmed white or Hispanic men. In one recent year, police officers were 18 times more likely to be killed by Black men than unarmed Black men were to be killed by police officers. It’s shameful to accuse somebody of homicidal racism if it’s not true. Just stop.

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Afghanistan Is Un-Winnable

Carl von Clausewitz, 19th century military theorist, stressed the importance of knowing your enemy: “The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish … the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature.”

For 17 years, we wrongly applied counterinsurgency doctrine to a proxy war waged by Pakistan against the United States and Afghanistan. That approach was never a winning strategy as long as Pakistan controlled the supply of our troops in landlocked Afghanistan and regulated the operational tempo through its proxy army, the Taliban, who has maintained an extensive recruiting, training and financial support infrastructure inside Pakistan and immune to attack.

An American withdrawal will only be a humiliating defeat if the United States is forced into strategic retreat from South Asia because we do not have a plan in place to address the changing regional conditions in a post-U.S. Afghanistan.

I have written and spoken extensively about China orchestrating a strategic shift in South Asia working closely with Pakistan, Russia and Iran.

That geopolitical plan cannot succeed without the removal of the U.S. forces and influence from Afghanistan. China’s plan is for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to become the dominant economic driver in South Asia through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The Shanghai Cooperation Organization will be the controlling regional alliance led by China.

Although not stated, Chinese militarization of the region will follow to ensure “security.” In many cases, expect that militarization to occur initially disguised as civilian construction projects.

Nowhere has Chinese ambitions been more clearly and publicly articulated than in a June 2018 China Daily article by former Pakistani diplomat, Zamir Ahmed Awan, who works for the Beijing-controlled Center for China and Globalization:

New [Chinese] initiatives for peace in Afghanistan are welcome, and may change the scenario in the whole region.

I believe American think tanks and leadership, especially military leadership, [have] already realized that this war cannot be won. The only option is withdrawal, the sooner the better.

Pakistan can play a vital role in a sustainable solution to the Afghan conflict [controlling Afghanistan as a client state]. Complete withdrawal and an Afghan-led [Taliban-led] solution is the only permanent way out. Pakistan can facilitate an honorable and safe passage for U.S. withdrawal.

Peace in Afghanistan will allow economic activity between Central Asia, Russia, China and the Arabian Sea…It can change the fate of the whole region. Chinese projects like the Belt and Road Initiative and the objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization [SCO] … At the recent SCO summit, the Afghanistan president was invited as a guest and observer. Hopefully, the country will soon join SCO. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor may also be extended to benefit Afghanistan in the near future if there is peace.

Since that article was published, China has offered to extend CPEC to Afghanistan; China will build a military facility in and deploy Chinese troops to Afghanistan; Afghan military personnel will be trained in China; and members of the Afghan Parliament have recommended that the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between the U.S. and Afghanistan be cancelled, presumably to be replaced by China.

The only bargaining chip the United States has in peace negotiations is simply our presence in Afghanistan. According to the Voice of America, talks with the Taliban are stuck over the issue of the maintenance of U.S. military bases in the country. The United States wants to preserve two military facilities, Bagram Air Base and the Shorabak base in Helmand province.

The “presence” argument is tenuous at best. The United States should be identifying new forms of leverage, in the short term, to bolster our negotiating position, and, in the long term, as a basis of a new South Asian strategy.

The recently-announced effort to strengthen military ties with India is a step in that direction. The U.S. should also include measures to thwart Chinese plans for regional hegemony through BRI and its evitable military component. CPEC is the flagship of BRI, Balochistan is CPEC’s center of gravity and ethnic separatism is Pakistan’s major pain point. Both the Baloch and Pashtun resistance to Pakistani government oppression offer the opportunity to create greater leverage through the use of our own proxies.

The foundations of a new U.S. strategy in South Asia should be burden shifting and, when necessary, strategic disruption of our adversaries.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel, an IT command and control subject matter expert, trained in Arabic and Kurdish, and a veteran of Afghanistan, northern Iraq and a humanitarian mission to West Africa. He receives email at [email protected]

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What Election? Republicans Have Already Handed Congress to the Democrats

We hear a lot of talk about Russians interfering with the 2016 election results, but really, Republicans did the job for them.

What if I had told you during the 2016 elections that Republicans would pass a short-term budget bill funding the government and all its vices in a way that is absolutely indistinguishable from a bill Democrats would pass, merge it with a long-term bill funding the worst aspects of immigration, abortion, everything we hate about the Department of Education and Obamacare, massively increase spending, and then pair it with a bill funding the troops? What if I had told you we were about to lose the next election as severely as the 1974 “Watergate” election because Republicans were busy accomplishing the other side’s goals?

It’s bad enough that the Senate passed a “minibus” funding the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and Education, attached to defense spending. It’s bad enough that Republicans planned on passing a stopgap continuing resolution (CR) locking in last year’s spending increase through December 7 without addressing the border crisis. Now they have introduced a final bill merging the two.

With every budget bill, Republicans find a way to up the ante on their perfidy and give Democrats more than they could get when they were in control. In 2015, when Republicans didn’t even control the veto pen, Chuck Schumer expressed shock that the GOP Senate gave away the farm. “If you would’ve told me this year that we’d be standing here celebrating the passage of an omnibus bill, with no poison pill riders, at higher [spending] levels above sequesters than even the president requested, I wouldn’t have believed it, but here we are,” said the Democrat senator in December 2015. “Almost anything the Republican leadership in the Senate achieved this year, they achieved on Democratic terms. … Democrats had an amazingly good year.”

And here we are today, with Republicans in control of the White House as well, and spending is several hundred billion dollars more.

A Republican Party that was committed to its platform would have passed a stand-alone defense and homeland security bill long ago with conservative priorities. Instead, Republicans sabotaged conservatives by holding defense spending hostage for a Democrat bill that fully funds the asylum invasion but not border security.

The HHS-Labor-Education component appropriates $178 billion for fiscal year 2019, $10.7 billion more than Trump requested. HHS would receive a 2.6 percent increase over the current record levels I decried in the March bill for fiscal year 2018. The bill also contains $286 million for Title X abortion funding, as well as $100 million for Obama’s “teen pregnancy prevention program.” They also removed a provision from the House version allowing adoption agencies the discretion not to place children in homes without a father and mother.

Rather than barring HHS from settling phony “unaccompanied” minors fueling the MS-13 and drug crisis, the bill requires HHS to “develop a strategy” for “reunifying” the invaders who self-separate from their kids to empower the drug cartels and endanger our country. We now have a Congress of, by, and for foreign invaders. It’s surreal. Out of 25 ideas that I proposed to protect Americans from the emergency of illegal immigration and all its cascading effects – from gangs and drugs to identity theft, crime, and the strain on schools – not a single conservative provision was put into the bill.

The increase in spending was totally gratuitous, because agencies were already scrambling to binge-spend an extra $140 billion they never anticipated at the start of the last fiscal year. Republicans agreed to massively increase spending halfway through the fiscal year in February and March after agencies already budgeted for much less.

With just 11 months of data from this fiscal year, we now know the deficit is $900 billion, already $233 billion more than the 12 months of fiscal year 2017. And remember, last year, which was the first year of full GOP control, already saw a $128 billion increase in spending over Obama’s final year. You will hear the media blame the tax cuts for most of the deficit, but the reality is that, for August, revenues were down $7 billion compared to August 2017, while outlays were up $100 billion! Interest on the debt is soaring. This is simply astounding given the condition of the economy.

Think about this for a moment. Could you imagine going back to 1996, when even moderate Republicans thought government was too big and our social values were decrepit? We would now give anything to go back to those levels of spending and policy values on health care and education. The Department of Education now costs $71 billion in discretionary spending alone, compared to $24 billion in 1996. HHS was $33 billion compared to $90.3 billion today, in discretionary spending alone. Back in 1996, the total cost of HHS, including the entitlement and welfare programs, was $333 billion. Now it’s well over $1.2 trillion.

That was when the entire federal budget was $1.5 trillion; now it’s $4.2 trillion. That was when we passed welfare reform. That was when we passed a massive immigration enforcement bill. And yes, that was without controlling the White House.

Now we have all three branches, and yet the Republicans are light-years to the left of Democrats of the ’90s.

At its core, this is the mentality that GOP voters despised when they voted for Trump, yet he has signed every budget betrayal and has declined to threaten a veto of this bill every day, even though he promised he’d never get owned in another budget bill and saw this coming a mile away.

At some point, phony conservative organizations and commentators need to step out of the soap opera and ask the question: All this for what? Perhaps a Watergate-style loss in November – all so we can die on left-wing policy hills – is what it will take for conservatives in this industry to finally wake up and reassert control over this party or start and new one. American citizens or legal immigrants who aren’t on the dole, don’t plan on getting a sex change operation or abortion, just want a fair chance in a free market, and want safety from external threats just don’t matter to either party. Faced with the current disquiet and a lack of alternatives, many voters will simply choose the party that is currently out of power to lodge their protest, even though Democrats are really in power in all but name only. (For more from the author of “What Election? Republicans Have Already Handed Congress to the Democrats” please click HERE)

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The Trump Presidency – When Excellence Is Punished

There was a girl in my high school who was excellence personified. She was tall, beautiful, modest, honest and a very nice person. She was a straight-A student and would help anyone in need. But she sat alone in the cafeteria, walked the halls alone, had no friends, was never invited to parties and never had a date.

When time came to vote for “Senior Queen,” a teacher who recognized the girl’s excellence nominated her as a candidate. She was everything a Senior Queen should be — but she only received five votes out of 900 students.

Her problem was she was too excellent, in every way, and the other girls hated her for it. She was better than any one of them in every way. This angered the other girls and they wanted to punish her for it. Not only did they shun her but warned every boy in the school that if any of them “cozied up” to her, they could forget about ever “getting lucky” with any girl in the school and it worked as intended.

President Donald Trump is very much like this girl. In a short period of time, he has shown the country he is better at getting things done and making the United States safer, more prosperous, more respected, happier, and more hopeful than it has been in a long time. He is much better at being president than any president in modern history, and maybe even before.

Trump is not afraid to undertake the difficult tasks that other presidents promised to do but never did. And he successfully solved them. He has succeeded in areas where other presidents failed. Most Americans love him, are happy for him, and pray for his continued success.

With all his accomplishments in making the United a far better place than he had found it, everyone should be happy. Why wouldn’t they be?

In what is clearly counterintuitive, almost half the country hates him.

If someone came to America right now, knowing nothing about it, he would look around and see that nearly everyone had a job, people are becoming more affluent, they feel safe from hostile foreign powers, they are proud of their country, and they are happy and hopeful.

If he were to ask, “Has it always been like this in America?” he would be told, “No, it has not always been this way.”

It would be explained to him that for quite a while things were actually very bad in the country.

People couldn’t find jobs or had to work several part-time jobs just to pay the bills. The country was viewed as weak in the world and other countries felt free to do as they pleased, regardless of the U.S. position. The past president would talk tough to other countries and warn them not to cross his line, then do nothing when they did. It had become embarrassing to be an American.

The stranger would likely respond that everyone must love the new president.

And the answer would be, “You would think so, but half the people — those known as “the left” — hate him.”

The stranger would be baffled and would likely say, “That makes no sense.”

And the people would simply shrug and shake their heads.

This stranger would eventually come to learn that the people who hate the current president have personally benefitted from his presidency in many ways, from increased 401Ks to better and cheaper health care.

Regardless, they still hate him because they were a member of the party that controlled the government before the new president. The new president took away their power and they hate him for it.

They want their party back in power — even if it meant all the good done for the country by the new president would vanish and the country would return to the terrible conditions of the previous presidency.

Just like, “all the other girls” in my high school, the left has warned other members of their party — that if they dare “cozy-up” to the new president, they will be made to regret it.

Just ask Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor who came to the new president’s defense when the left overreacted to Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, claiming he and the president both violated a minor and murky campaign election law.

The left claimed this was “high crimes and misdemeanors” and clearly an impeachable offense while Dershowitz called their reaction “nonsense.”

Dershowitz had always been one of the left’s darlings and during his traditional summers at Martha’s Vineyard, he would be greeted with open arms, welcomed in every left-wing home, invited to all the left’s parties, and asked to be an honored speaker at their academic seminars.

As punishment for “cozying up” to Trump, instead of treating him as one of their darlings, the left shunned Dershowitz and he quickly went from a darling to a pariah.

All the members of the left took notice of this public shunning and even more than before carefully minded their political “P’s and Q’s” to avoid this same terrible fate.

My grandmother would have described this strange and ironic behavior of the left this way: “They’re cutting off their nose to spite their face.”

But such is the depth of the American political divide. The left would rather starve than take food from the hand of Donald Trump. It is eerily similar to those who set themselves on fire to protest what they hate.

Thus, as a nation, we have arrived at a place where almost half the country feels presidential success and excellence is worthy of nothing but scorn and punishment.

Not only is this bizarre, it is also sad and disheartening. (For more from the author of “The Trump Presidency – When Excellence Is Punished” please click HERE)

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Our Founders Never Thought the Courts Had the Final Say — and Neither Should We

“Whenever a free people should give up in absolute submission to any department of government, retaining for themselves no appeal from it, their liberties were gone.” ~Abraham Lincoln, citing Thomas Jefferson

As a conservative who believes both in conservative policy outcomes and the authentic interpretation of the Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment, I wish we had nine Clarence Thomases on the Supreme Court and like-minded judges on the lower courts. I wish every policy emanating from Congress or state legislatures that I felt violated my interpretation of the Constitution would immediately be placed in front of this eminent tribunal with life tenure so that it could be vetoed. Yet I recognize that this is a system more tyrannical than the one we fought in 1776. However, it is indeed the system we now face, except that the overwhelming majority of judges – both Republican and Democrat – do not interpret the Constitution but make it up as they go.

A republic or a dictatorship of the robes?

It is clear that Democrats believe the courts are the final say on every constitutional question – no matter how absurd their ruling is. They further believe that once a court uses this phantom “veto” power a single time on the progressive side of the question, even when that ruling is overturning 200 years of laws, political practices, customs, and prior court precedent, it is unassailable, not just by the other branches of government but even by a subsequent court.

Republicans disagree with the latter point, as they feel another court can overturn a previous court, but they fundamentally accept the premise that a court opinion in an individual case can set broad precedent that is self-executing and universally binding as the law on everyone and out of reach of the other two branches. As both Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Judge Kavanaugh indicated during questioning last week, the only recourse for Congress is to attempt to pass a constitutional amendment.

This is simply not true and is a threat to the very foundation of our system of government. It is true that there is a concept of res judicata – finality in judgement – for individual plaintiffs in civil and criminal cases. But if the courts in that process are going to engage in review of legislation and broad political issues affecting the entire country in order to resolve a case or controversy, there was never any understanding that we’d apply res judicata to judicial review.

The truth is that court opinions are not self-executing and universally binding as broad legal and political precedent on the other two branches. There are numerous tools at the disposal of Congress to prospectively and retrospectively check the judiciary through legislation, not by constitutional amendment, and the federal courts only have the jurisdiction vested in them by Congress.

Ultimately, each branch of government has a responsibility to interpret the Constitution as it relates to its respective powers, and each has tools and avenues through which to assert itself. The judiciary has the fewest and weakest, and the legislature has the strongest and most numerous. Judges can merely issue judgment in a case that has legitimate standing before a court of law. If the constitutional rationale used in a case in order to reach an opinion portends a specific precedent on a constitutional matter affecting the rest of the country and the other branches, it’s the right and responsibility of everyone to push back against that when they believe it is wrong.

That is the system of government we adopted in 1789, yet now the courts have sustained, enduring, and exclusive or final power to veto legislation or policies and can often even dictate new policies.

The question of who decides the Constitution was obvious to our Founders

From the beginning years of our republic until the 20th century, the question of who is the final arbiter of the Constitution was not an important question to answer. The disagreements over policy rarely spilled into disagreements over the Constitution, and in the few instances they did, they weren’t over broad and consequential issues. It wasn’t like today, when you have one side that believes what is antithetical to an inalienable right is a right and what is a right is not a right; what is a federal power belongs to the states and what belongs to the state is actually federal. You didn’t have people who believed that redefining marriage, life, human sexuality, and national borders is in the Constitution.

As such, when in the course of a case or controversy the courts opined on a constitutional question (which actually happened in the 1790s before Marbury), the other branches would usually (but not always) defer to the judiciary. The issues weren’t overly consequential, the opinions were often persuasive, and overall Congress was so powerful that it never feared, with the power to legislate and the power of the purse, that the courts would one day rule the country. Additionally, Congress regularly anchored everything it did to constitutional moorings and never dared outsource that to the Supreme Court. As the Congressional Research Service explains, “the early history of the United States is replete with examples of all three branches of the federal government playing a role in constitutional interpretation.”

There were some, especially Thomas Jefferson and the anti-federalists, who feared that judicial review would grow into into judicial exclusivity, but nobody ever thought the courts would be the final say, especially if they concocted revolutionary adulterations of the Constitution and the contours of fundamental rights.

Judicial supremacists as heirs to the Dred Scott legacy

Because the proponents of slavery viewed human beings as property, slavery was not only a political dispute but a constitutional one, as slaveholders asserted that the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which barred slavery in most of the new territories, denied them their property rights. The Supreme Court in Dred Scott v. Sandford ruled that the Missouri Compromise indeed violated the constitutional property rights of Mr. Sandford. This was the first moment when it became relevant to ask who is the final arbiter of the Constitution, especially when the court was so wrong and with such devastating consequences. That was the critical point of debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in the 1858 Illinois Senate race. Lincoln was right, yet both parties of the political swamp, including most of the “conservative” legal profession today, have adopted the Douglas/Dred Scott view.

At the first debate in Ottawa, Illinois, Douglas accused Lincoln of waging “warfare” against the Supreme Court, “the highest judicial tribunal on earth” whose “decision becomes the law of the land, binding on you, on me, and on every other good citizen whether we like it or not.”

Lincoln showed Douglas’s hypocrisy: that he never propagated such a novel and tyrannical notion of governance until he needed it to promote slavery, and that his entire career stood against this proposition. He noted how the very same Douglas who felt the court’s opinion – that banning slavery was akin to banning property rights — was “the law of the land” claimed to support the individual territories themselves banning slavery if they so chose. But if the Supreme Court’s ruling that black slaves were property was a self-executing Constitutional proclamation binding on every branch of government and universally binding on non-parties, then how could Douglas’s popular sovereignty get off the ground? That was the trap Lincoln set for Douglas throughout the infamous debates.

According to Lincoln, where the high court fits into the structure of constitutional construction is very simple. The Constitution, not any one branch of government, is the law of the land. Thus, when a court renders an opinion, it is only binding on that party and only serves as precedent within the judicial branch of government.

Despite the Dred Scott decision, Lincoln as president signed laws prohibiting slavery in the territories, and, as head of the executive branch, he not only declined to treat black people as property, he treated them as citizens and issued them official government documents, such as passports. Those issues are within the province of the other branches of government, who must interpret the Constitution as they understand it.

Sadly, not only did Lincoln lose the 1858 Senate election to Douglas, he lost the fight over what would eventually become the most consequential political question of our time. Our current view of the judiciary is a legacy of the insidious plot to maintain slavery. (For more from the author of “Our Founders Never Thought the Courts Had the Final Say — and Neither Should We” please click HERE)

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Leftists Are Putting Us at Risk of Another 9/11

The 19 Islamic terrorist hijackers didn’t just attack our Pentagon building, bring down the Twin Towers, crash all four planes and kill nearly 3,000 people in the process — they also stole from every man, woman and child in America some of the everyday freedoms we once took for granted prior to Sept. 11, 2001.

Long gone are the days when we could lightheartedly arrive at an airport to excitedly embark upon a much-anticipated trip without running the risk of being subjected to a full body scan and/or a pat down that could easily be viewed as a sexual assault if it wasn’t coming from trained TSA agents who are merely doing their job in the manner they must in order to keep us all safe from harm.

We will never again enjoy the simple pleasures of writing a silly email or making a playfully intimate phone call without the accompanying awareness that our communications are being electronically monitored by governmental agencies who are being entrusted to detect potential terrorists in our midst.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Fort Hood shooter, the Boston Marathon bombers, the Pulse night club shooter in Orlando, the San Bernardino husband-and-wife attackers; the car, truck, knife, and acid attacks; as well as the far too common sexual assaults against women, children and men have been a steady reminder that America’s slight loss of freedom is absolutely necessary in order to maintain even a modicum of personal security against this ongoing threat.

Our lives will never be the same again and it’s not just because of the ever-increasing Islamic terrorism that is taking place both in America and throughout the globe. It’s also significantly due to our nation’s liberal politicians and leftist judges who continue to push indefensible open-borders immigration policies and who refuse to acknowledge the grave risk that travelers can pose to America when they are allowed to fly into the United States without being subjected to an extreme vetting process beforehand.

That said, we shouldn’t single out primarily Muslim countries for extreme vetting and potential future travel bans. That’s a simple-minded solution that would be both completely unwarranted and highly ineffectual because the problem has now spread and has gone far deeper.

First, let’s acknowledge that there truly are many wonderful, kind, caring and loving people of the Islamic faith who should be able to travel into our country without any close scrutiny whatsoever. Just like there are also many American citizens who should be able to write an email, make a phone call or fly on an airplane without any close scrutiny whatsoever — but that’s just not the world we are currently living in.

Is it fair? No.

Is it necessary? Yes.

The reason we shouldn’t single out mostly Muslim countries for extreme vetting has to do with the fact that potential terrorists can come from anywhere around the world and could possibly belong to any faith, race or political belief system.

Even if our leaders ever did wish to institute a future Muslim travel ban, we would then need to also closely scrutinize the people coming into America from other Western countries, such as our good neighbor Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, etc. Those countries’ questionably chosen immigration policies came with a wide variety of unintended consequences as they are now well aware — even if they do continue to publicly declare, “diversity is our strength.”

We need to positively know the identities of everyone seeking to enter our country along with their arrest records, potentially problematic affiliations and their actual likely purpose for desiring entry into the U.S.

Every single one of us needs to accept the fact we are going to be suffering these unfortunate indignities as long as there are potential terrorists and criminals from all faiths and countries who are plotting to travel or migrate into the United States to do us harm.

What we don’t need are liberal, bleeding-heart politicians and leftist, judicial-activist judges impeding our ability to keep us safe from those whom President George W. Bush once aptly described as “evil doers,” whose greatest desire is to destroy our country and to steal every last bit of freedom we are still able to enjoy.

Islamic terrorists succeeded in bringing down the Twin Towers, and in taking well over 3,000 lives in the United States since 9/11 — but the battle is ongoing and is far from over.

We must never forget Sept. 11, 2001, and the many people who died that day. We must also continue to give our thanks and material support to our U.S. military personnel and also to the many volunteers who have subsequently lost their lives as a result of their brave and selfless efforts in helping to save others and to clear out the rubble and the debris left from the Twin Towers collapse.

Americans are winners by our very nature. We weren’t just handed our American privilege — it continues to be earned by every American soldier and by the American citizens who wake up each day committed to do their very best to create and perpetuate the beauty and dignity we have uniquely created throughout this portion of the Western world.

Despite our loathsome enemies’ best efforts, the United States of America remains as President Ronald Reagan once described it, “a shining city on the hill.”

Some things will never change. (For more from the author of “Leftists Are Putting Us at Risk of Another 9/11” please click HERE)