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"Hey California, Stop Telling Us What to Say at Work!"

Cato Recent Op Eds - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 10:52

Ilya Shapiro

Based on opposition to “crisis pregnancy centers” — which provide pregnancy-related services with the goal of helping women make choices other than abortion — the California legislature passed a law that burdens the centers’ speech. Specifically, the new law requires licensed clinics “whose primary purpose is providing family planning or pregnancy-related services” to deliver to each of their clients the following message: “California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women.”

The law has an exception for clinics that actually enroll clients in these public programs, so it targets only businesses that decline to participate in what is supposed to be a voluntary state program.

Several crisis pregnancy centers sued to block the law, arguing that it violates their First Amendment rights by forcing them to express a message to which they are opposed. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rejected their challenge, holding that the statute regulates only “professional speech” and therefore should be reviewed under intermediate First Amendment scrutiny, a relatively deferential standard.

Fundamentally, California’s law burdens speakers’ consciences by forcing them to promote programs that they morally oppose.

That lower level of scrutiny may well have been outcome-determinative. The 9th Circuit didn’t reach the factual question of whether California could have distributed this message itself, but admitted that “even if it were true that the state could disseminate this information through other means, it need not prove that the Act is the least restrictive means possible” in order to satisfy intermediate scrutiny. Yet First Amendment restrictions are typically evaluated under the more rigorous “strict scrutiny” standard of review, with only certain narrow (and controversial) exceptions, such as for “commercial” speech.

Accordingly, in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, the Supreme Court will decide whether licensed professionals can have their speech “commandeered” to advertise services that the government wishes to promote. The definition of professional speech that the lower court applied so it wouldn’t have to hold California’s feet to the full constitutional fire is dangerously overbroad and requires the court’s correction.

No one disputes that the speech of licensed professionals can be legitimately regulated in some circumstances. As relevant here, regulation of patient-physician speech is justified by the notion that when doctors speak to their patients, they assume a special obligation to communicate their expertise fully and truthfully. These regulations protect patients, who can’t be expected to have the same specialized knowledge as their medical providers. Medical doctors can be liable for malpractice if they fail to convey a diagnosis to a patient, for example, or if they fail to obtain informed consent before performing surgery. But such regulations can’t be extended beyond that bright line of specialized knowledge: If a state can require its doctors to read a pre-written advertisement to their patients, it can force them to say anything the state wants.

Some courts and scholars have argued that speech regulations of this type deserve their own doctrinal category — applicable to professional speech — and that a lower level of scrutiny should be applied to such regulations. Others have argued that no new doctrinal tier is necessary, because the compelling need for malpractice enforcement and informed-consent laws means that laws regulating professional speech would pass strict scrutiny. Rodney A. Smolla, the former dean of the University of Richmond and Washington and Lee Law Schools, argued in the West Virginia Law Review last year that “properly applied First Amendment principles would sustain the power of regulators to regulate professional speech in these instances. These are the very regulations that would typically be upheld even under application of the ‘strict scrutiny’ test.”

I tend to agree with Smolla, but that doctrinal debate need not be resolved to decide this case. That’s because the quality of true professional speech that justifies those limited regulations — namely, an asymmetry of expert knowledge as to diagnosis, treatment and risks — is entirely absent here. For that reason, the compulsory speech that California has mandated neither qualifies for intermediate scrutiny nor overcomes strict scrutiny.

Translated from legalese to English: (1) There’s nothing particularly “professional,” in the sense of “special-knowledge-demanding,” about the “California offers family-planning programs that include abortion” message that justifies the government’s forcing people to communicate it, and (2) even if the message is really, really important, there are other ways of conveying it.

Moreover, the 9th Circuit’s test ignores the threat posed by compulsory transmission of government-selected facts. Under that test, a state can compel unwilling physicians to recite any fact that may be relevant to “the health of [the state’s] citizens,” a definition broad enough to encompass essentially any statement the government chooses. If left to stand, the decision below would allow states to force professionals of all kinds to promote products and services they morally oppose. And, of course, the list of “professionals” would expand over time so that eventually states could claim power to compel any employer (or employee) to say anything in their employment capacity.

Compelling people to speak the government’s message at work is dangerous for precisely the reasons that compelled speech is always dangerous. Most importantly, it allows the government to put its thumb on the scale in a social debate, by conscripting individuals to help spread a particular message. (Tellingly, California has no equivalent law forcing clinics to advertise adoption agencies or other options for pregnant women.)

Lower courts have struggled for guidance in formulating the boundaries and definitions of true professional speech. This is the Supreme Court’s opportunity to prevent those definitions from being dangerously expanded to the point at which doctors effectively lose their First Amendment rights the moment they walk into their clinics.

Fundamentally, California’s law burdens speakers’ consciences by forcing them to promote programs that they morally oppose. That’s precisely the invasion of “the sphere of intellect and spirit” that Justice Robert Jackson warned of nearly 75 years ago in the first Supreme Court case to strike down a compelled-speech law, West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette. The Supreme Court should reject the 9th Circuit’s dangerous professional speech doctrine and apply Barnette’s lesson to strike down this noxious law.

Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review. He filed an amicus brief supporting the cert petition in NIFLA v. Becerra, on which this essay is based, and will be doing so again at the merits stage.

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Smith named to fill Franken Senate seat

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 10:51
Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith was appointed Wednesday to temporarily fill the Senate seat of Democratic Sen. Al Franken, who resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct and pressure within his party to leave office.

Why I Secretly Wanted Moore To Lose: Brooks 2020!

TownHall Latest columns - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 10:35
Rep. Mo Brooks was the true Trumpian candidate in Alabama, which is why I endorsed him in the primary (here, here and here).

Roy Moore's sexual assault allegations cloud Alabama special Senate election

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 10:30
Before Roy Moore’s sexual assault allegations came to light, the Republican senate candidate was already a polarizing figure.

Alabama's Doug Jones facing early pressure to vote with GOP, after upset victory

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 10:21
Democrat Doug Jones’ victory in the Alabama Senate race dashed Republicans’ hard-fought efforts to keep the open seat and retain their narrow, two-seat majority. But GOP leaders already are angling to convince Jones to back their legislative agenda, hoping he'll be willing to buck his own party in order to retain support from the state's largely conservative voters.

A Progressive Push for More Gun Violence

Cato Recent Op Eds - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 10:07

Walter Olson

Who ever thought the progressive position on gun violence would be to encourage more of it?

Yet that’s the paradox in Philadelphia, where on Thursday the city council will consider a bill to force owners of hundreds of small corner stores to take down glass partitions that protect their managers and clerks from being robbed and assaulted.

It’s all being rationalized in the name of social justice. Watch for the idea to show up in New York, too.

Philadelphia has hundreds of convenience stores known as “stop and gos.” Some are licensed as restaurants, which lets them sell beer and shots for consumption on premises, but means they’re supposed to have 30 seats and serve food. Critics say many skirt those rules, making most of their money from beer, cigarettes and packaged snacks. They have drawn fire from neighborhood-improvement commissions as magnets for petty sidewalk offenses like loitering and the sale of “loosie” cigarettes.

Philadelphia is considering a bill to force owners of hundreds of small corner stores to take down glass partitions that protect their managers and clerks from being robbed and assaulted.

Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who’s sponsoring the measure, calls the establishments “quasi liquor stores” and says they can stay in business as delis if they stop “masquerading as restaurants” and operate under a different kind of license. Otherwise they’ll need to offer customer bathrooms accessible without walking through a food-preparation area and — the sticking point — remove physical barriers between food servers and customers.

Some insist enforcing existing state law would be enough to shutter or fine the pretend restaurants and nuisance operators. But on one point, Bass is implacable: “the plexiglass has to come down.”

Here it becomes clear that zoning and liquor control aren’t the only things on her mind.

“Have you ever been served food at a sit-down restaurant establishment through a solid barrier? That is not acceptable.” There’s an “indignity” to it, she adds, and it happens “only in certain neighborhoods.” Hence : “No more normalization of receiving food or drink through a prison-like solitary confinement window. What message does it send our children? What are we conditioning them for?”

Well, it sends several messages.

One is a moral that echoes down through the ages: Human beings threatened with violence have the right to protect themselves.

Another is that no matter how many of your neighbors may be personally liked and trusted, it takes only a few bad actors for you to live in a rough neighborhood. Acting as if it isn’t — or that police will always arrive in time to stop an assault — is playing pretend.

Predictably, some of the store managers say if their glass comes down they will start carrying guns to defend themselves.

At least 230 owners are Asian, including Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese immigrant families. More than 200 attended a Dec. 4 hearing to protest the bill.

Adam Xu, president of the Asian-American Licensed Beverage Association, said his group was willing to live with all the elements of the bill except the plexiglass ban. Rich Kim, whose family has owned a deli for 20 years, said the glass in his shop “went up after a shooting and claims it saved his mother-in-law from a knife attack,” according to one account.

If the bill passes, “there will be lots of dead bodies.”

Testifying on the other side was a figure well known to New Yorkers, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Tom Farley, who formerly held a similar post under New York’s Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Farley seemed to be straining in his public-health rationale, though: he said a barrier might cost precious seconds if a customer needed employee help after choking or an allergic reaction.

Farley is often quoted in the press demanding stronger government action to reduce gun violence. But that’s what the barriers deter. Philadelphia has a shooting every six hours, to say nothing of knifings and strong-arm robberies.

The barriers reduce theft, too.

Yet the bill won committee approval at the Dec. 4 hearing, though amended so as to phase in the ban over three years. The editors of the Philadelphia Inquirer can’t make it any plainer in their headline: “Philly’s proposed bulletproof glass ban could get someone shot.”

Even with a crime rate much lower than Philly’s, New York City still has plenty of stores with partitions. Want to bet this bad idea doesn’t show up here before long?

 

Walter Olson is senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

Omarosa resigns from Trump administration job

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 09:59
“Apprentice” star turned White House official Omarosa Manigault Newman will leave the Trump administration next month, according to the White House.

Fusion GPS admits DOJ official's wife Nellie Ohr hired to probe Trump

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 09:13
A co-founder of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS acknowledged in a new court document that his company hired the wife of a senior Justice Department official to help investigate then-candidate Donald Trump last year.

Exclude Puerto Rico from Tax Reform

Cato Recent Op Eds - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 09:06

Ike Brannon

The year 2017 has been a disastrous one for the residents of Puerto Rico. In the Summer, the island’s government effectively filed for bankruptcy, which effectively foreclosed its access to capital markets and set it down an uncertain path of recovery. A few months later, of course, the island was pummeled by two hurricanes in close succession, Irma and Maria, which left a trail of devastation in their wake. The latter was, in fact, described as “the worst hurricane in a century to strike the Caribbean island.

However, the damage to the Puerto Rican economy may not be over. The comprehensive tax reform legislation being negotiated by Congress includes a new tax on Controlled Foreign Corporations (CFCs) that, in its current iteration, may result in a hefty tax increase on the facilities of U.S. corporations operating on the island, which would likely result in fewer jobs and lower wages on the island. Exempting the island from this provision would be an inexpensive and economically sensible step for Congress that would be a great benefit for the residents of the island.

The comprehensive tax reform legislation being negotiated by Congress includes a new tax on Controlled Foreign Corporations (CFCs) that, in its current iteration, may result in a hefty tax increase on the facilities of U.S. corporations operating on the island, which would likely result in fewer jobs and lower wages.

The purpose of the new CFC tax is meant to save American jobs from cheaper labor in foreign countries: with the U.S. moving towards a territorial tax regime in the new tax code Congress wanted to put certain “guardrails” on foreign-sourced income to ensure that the code does not inadvertently create an incentive for U.S. corporations to locate more business activity in foreign countries that have sharply lower tax rates. While there is nothing wrong with that goal, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated US territory and its residents are US citizens, yet the current legislation would categorize it as “foreign” in the US Tax Code.

Applying the new CFC tax provision to the island could be disastrous for the island, threatening the jobs of over 235,000 Americans employed in manufacturing on the island and which account for nearly half of the island’s GDP.

A likely response to the higher tax regime on the island is that companies will consider abandoning their reconstruction efforts and simply close their operations in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico needs more than just hurricane aid - it is in need of long-term support to help it resume economic growth. The current unemployment rate on the island is over 10%, while average household income in Puerto Rico is less than half of that in the poorest US state. Over 65% of households in Puerto Rico saw a drop in income from 2012-2016, and over half the children on Puerto Rico born into poverty.

Given its current economic morass and substantial damage from the hurricane—a significant proportion of its residents still do not have power—it is no surprise that Puerto Rico also faces widespread outmigration. Its population has been steadily decreasing over the last decade. Between 2005 and 2015, almost half a million people migrated from Puerto Rico, and the hurricanes of 2017 caused another 200,000 to pack up and leave so far.

Americans would benefit from a simplified tax code that reduced pernicious economic incentives and encouraged businesses to invest and expand their businesses in the US, and the tax code will help to achieve that—for people who live in the 50 U.S. states, at least. However, as currently structured it will serve exacerbate Puerto Rico’s problems at a time when it simply cannot countenance another economic blow.

Puerto Rico is struggling to rebuild after the hurricanes and new taxes on U.S. business operating on its land will allow it to do none of those. While the intent of the members of Congress who helped draft the tax bill was to help keep American jobs out of foreign countries, but Puerto Rico is American territory with American citizens. It should not be unfairly targeted by this legislation.

Ike Brannon is a visiting fellow at the Cato Institute and president of Capital Policy Analytics, a consulting firm in Washington DC.

Congress's Lack of Fiscal Restraint Hurts Taxpayers

Cato Recent Op Eds - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 09:02

Michael D. Tanner

With the divisiveness of tax reform now hidden behind the closed doors of a conference committee, Congress has returned to the only thing that restores bipartisanship on Capitol Hill: spending money.

After pushing the deadline off for another two weeks, Congress must now act by December 23 in order to avoid the by-now-routine threat of a partial government shutdown. That means we should expect the usual threats and predictions of disaster, all just in time for the holidays. Current reporting suggests that Congress is likely to gather the courage to extend the deadline all the way to mid-January, just in time for us to go through it all a second time. The ongoing kabuki theater would have long since become a bore if it were not so likely that taxpayers are about to once again pay the price.

The political theater of tax reform and negotiations to avoid a government shutdown obscures a bipartisan failure to rein in spending.

Most of the public fighting will be over non-budgetary issues, including Democratic demands that some sort of protection for undocumented “DREAMers” be included in a continuing resolution. But behind the scenes, there is far more agreement. The big question will be how much to exceed the all-but-moribund sequester caps on domestic and defense spending. Republican are demanding an increase in military spending of roughly $54 billion above the sequester cap. Democrats appear more than willing to go along, if they receive a comparable increase in domestic spending. (Republicans have offered an increase in domestic spending of $37 billion above the cap.) The Democratic plans would increase spending by roughly $200 billion, while Republicans seek to hold that down to a mere $182 billion.

But even that may not be enough. The White House and some defense hawks are reportedly seeking an even bigger increase in defense spending, as much as $70 billion above the cap in 2018 and $80 billion in 2019. That would put total defense spending at more than $619 billion next year, the highest level since 2012.

Once Congress decides on how much to increase spending, it can finally get to work determining how to spend that money. None of the twelve annual appropriations bills have been passed yet, so we can expect January to bring another massive, pork-filled omnibus appropriation. Indeed, we may well see a repeat of the “cromnibus,” which combined both the CR and the omnibus spending bill. Is this any way to run a government?

The 2017 budget deficit is now expected to hit a devilish $666 billion. That’s up more than $80 billion from last year. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that we will return to the era of trillion-dollar deficits by 2022. The national debt is expected to rise from the current $20 trillion to more than $30 trillion by 2027.

And none of these projections account for the effects of the Republican tax plan. Even with a predicted increase in economic growth, the plan could push the deficit over $1 trillion as soon as next year, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

That tax cut, especially on the business side, is long overdue, and we should never fall into the trap of believing that our money somehow belongs to the government. Still, without commensurate reductions in spending, cutting taxes does nothing to shrink government or reduce its cost. It’s a recipe for long-term economic stagnation.

Regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum, one should expect two things from government: basic competence and a healthy respect for the taxpayers’ money. Sadly, Congress is failing once again in both regards.

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of Going for Broke: Deficits, Debt, and the Entitlement Crisis.

Tax Breaks for the Wealthy Make True Tax Reform More Difficult

Cato Recent Op Eds - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 08:53

Ike Brannon

A neighbor has parked his classic Jaguar in front of my apartment building for the last two months. Around it are a new BMW, a Mercedes, and two Audis.

The surfeit of pricey cars on my street is the product of our proximity to two swanky buildings and the fact that Washington D.C., where I live, charges just $25 a year for a resident to park a car in his neighborhood. Meanwhile, the going rate for a private parking space in my neck of the woods is $3,000 a year. In effect, the D.C. government provides a de facto subsidy worth millions of dollars to wealthy people who own nice cars.

A city councilperson recently broached a modest increase in the price of a residential parking permit but was quickly shouted down by constituents and her council colleagues, who insisted that $50 a year would be difficult for the poor people in our neighborhood.

Keeping deductions for local taxes really only helps rich people, and makes it harder to reduce rates.

I bring this up because the objections to our federal tax reform ending the deduction for state and local taxes—the current bete noire of tax reform’s opponents—are not dissimilar, and come from some of the same people. Several friends and neighbors have informed me of their outrage that they will no longer be allowed this tax break, and say that they cannot understand how the Republican party can countenance ending such a middle class benefit.

However, a tax break for state and local taxes is economically unproductive and does not affect the middle class at all. At present only 30 percent of all taxpayers itemize their taxes and avail themselves of the deduction. With a doubling of the standard deduction—a central tenet in the tax reform legislation—that number will fall to just the wealthiest 5 percent, economists estimate.

In the hinterlands of Red America, that number is even smaller. In my hometown of Peoria, Illinois, a family earning $150,000 a year and living in the best school district (with the highest property taxes) that gives $1,000 to their church will not be affected by ending the deduction for state and local taxes. There are very few households in the area above this threshold, and those that are will a) have a lower tax rate, b) be able to use the higher standard deduction to offset much of their lost deductions and c) are not in need of government largess.

The $600,000 lawyer in the high-tax confines of Washington, DC—to single out just one of my complainants—will most likely not see lower tax rates make up for his lost tax deductions, but this person is wealthy, whether he wants to believe it or not. Making such people whole again should not be a goal of our tax reform, and to insist that not doing so is a flaw of reform is disingenuous.

Tax breaks should primarily be for things the government wants to incentivize: We want people to give to charity and save for retirement, so we have tax breaks for both activities in the tax code that aren’t going away.

However, there is no fathomable benefit society gets from allowing taxpayers to deduct state and local taxes, so we ought not provide it a tax break. If we believe eliminating it creates some sort of inequity then we should deal with it by altering tax rates instead of perpetuating an economically dubious tax break.

Few poor people live in my neighborhood and those that do eschew a car—which is easy to do since we’re close to mass transit—so the beneficiaries of cheap parking permits are almost exclusively the wealthy.

Likewise, only a small proportion of (wealthy) households would be impacted by the doubling of the standard deduction/elimination of the deduction for state and local taxes. To maintain this tax break for reasons of equity would not only be absurd, but would also make it more difficult to reduce tax rates—which ought to be the ultimate goal of any real tax reform.

Ike Brannon is a visiting fellow at the Cato Institute.

Trump's Fondness for Rodrigo Duterte Damages American Foreign Policy

Cato Recent Op Eds - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 08:49

Ted Galen Carpenter

Worries proliferated during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign that the election of Donald Trump would signal drastic changes in Washington’s foreign policy. Based on candidate Trump’s comments, many of America’s allies in East Asia, Europe, and the Middle East were fearful that a major retrenchment of Washington’s commitment to their security would take place. Those fears proved mostly unfounded. Although the Trump administration has intensified long-standing U.S. demands for greater burden sharing, the principal features of America’s alliance relationships remain largely unchanged. Both the president and his key advisers have reemphasized Washington’s solidarity with its allies on several occasions.

However, Trump’s public affinity for several authoritarian regimes, regardless of their flagrant human rights abuses should concern all. During his state visit to Manila in mid-November, Trump stressed his “great relationship” with the Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte, and praised him for his leading role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Noticeably, Trump did not mention Duterte’s notorious war on drugs, which has led to the deaths of several thousand accused traffickers and users—nearly all without trials or any semblance of due process.

Trump’s blasé attitude toward Manila’s mounting authoritarianism is disturbing.

Duterte’s decision to unleash death squads in a fashion that has received condemnation from the leading members of the U.S. Congress, as well as numerous international human-rights activists, including Human Rights Watch. In addition, there is evidence that the Philippines president is using the war on drugs as a façade to harass and intimidate political opponents, most notably Senator Leila de Lima. Yet, Trump expressed not a single word of criticism. He exhibited the same passive acceptance about other manifestations of Duterte’s autocratic behavior. During their joint press conference, the Philippines leader ordered reporters expelled from the room. That move was emblematic of his contemptuous attitude toward the news media, but Trump seemed perfectly content with their expulsion. Indeed, he laughedwhen Duterte denounced them as “spies.”

Such a blasé attitude toward Manila’s mounting authoritarianism is disturbing. In addition to his other abuses, Duterte has threatened to impose martial law on the entire country. Indeed, he subsequently threatened to jail critics of his decision to implement martial law on the island of Mindanao, where an armed insurgency continues to simmer. That is extremely ominous behavior on the part of a supposedly democratic leader. The U.S.’ official indifference to such abusive conduct is reminiscent of the Nixon administration’s implicit endorsement of similar moves by a previous would-be dictator. At that time, Washington accepted, and even seemed enthusiastic about former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos’ imposition of martial law in 1972, a move that wrecked the country’s democratic system for the next 14 years until Corazon Aquino’s “people’s revolution” finally ousted him.

If President Trump’s fondness for Duterte were an aberration, it would be worrisome enough.But his behavior toward other “friendly tyrants” suggests that it reflects an overall policy preference. The new administration has worked assiduously to strengthen relations with Turkey, even as President Racep Tayyip Erdogan systematically dismantles that country’s democracy. Trump himself has lavished praise on Erdogan, calling him a personal “friend,” and giving his leadership “very high marks.” Yet the Turkish leader has jailed tens of thousands of critics, and has virtually destroyed Turkey’s free press. Indeed, his government is currently incarcerating more journalists than any other regime. A growing number of critics in the United States and Europe are calling for NATO to expel Turkey because of the growing human-rights abuses. Yet, once again, Trump appears to be quite content with Erdogan.

More evidence of Trump’s fondness for autocrats came during his May 2017 state visit to Saudi Arabia. His supplicant behavior, including accepting an ostentatious award from the Saudi government, was profoundly embarrassing. His attitude also had major undesirable policy implications. Trump intensified his support for Riyadh’s atrocity-ridden war in Yemen and backed the Saudis when they initiated a destabilizing feud with Qatar. Worse, the administration seems to be siding mindlessly with Saudi Arabia in its long-standing regional power struggle against Iran. Aside from the worrisome foreign policy implications, Saudi Arabia is a totalitarian theocracy with one of the worst human-rights records in the world. Witnessing an American president fawning over such a regime is an appalling sight.

With the end of the Cold War, Washington’s commitment to democracy and human rights has become more sincere and consistent. That change created problems of its own, especially the foolish humanitarian and regime-change wars in such places as the Balkans, Iraq, and Libya. But the policy has at least diminished the stain of hypocrisy. Unfortunately, Trump’s embrace of authoritarian regimes has reversed any of that progress, severely damaging the U.S.’ longstanding foreign policy approach, but more importantly, the lives of civilians in countries like the Philippines.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, is the author of 10 books, the contributing editor of 10 books, and the author of more than 650 articles on international affairs.

Texts show FBI agents fuming over Trump: 'Protect the country from that menace'

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 07:49
Hundreds of text messages released overnight between two FBI officials who worked on Robert Mueller’s Russia probe show the agents exchanging a steady stream of anti-Trump feelings – and even discussing how to “protect the country from that menace.”

Trump walks back support for Roy Moore, says he was 'right' that he wouldn't win

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 07:10
President Trump distanced himself from Alabama Republican Roy Moore early Wednesday after his loss, saying that he didn’t originally support him because knew the scandal-laden GOP candidate would “not be able to win the General Election.”

Still dawdling over deadly diversity visas

Michelle Malkin - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 06:21

Still dawdling over deadly diversity visas
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2017

Capitol Hill’s national security priorities are screwier than a Six Flags roller coaster.

Instead of immediately shutting down one of America’s stupidest visa programs, which helped bring us yet another murder-minded jihadist this week, bipartisan Beltway politicians are pushing to preserve and expand the illegal immigration pipeline. Republicans and Democrats in Congress want a “fix” for the Obama administration’s executive amnesty covering nearly 700,000 illegal immigrants — and they want it pronto.

Translation: Protecting border-hopping “DREAMers” is a more important priority in Washington than protecting Americans from infiltrators exploiting the diversity visa lottery.

You remember the hew and cry over the diversity visa lottery, right? It was just seven short weeks ago when America discovered that New York City truck jihadist Sayfullo Saipov, who ruthlessly mowed down eight people on a bike path, had entered our country from Uzbekistan in 2010 by pure, random luck through the DV lottery program. President Donald Trump called on Congress to end it.

Saipov followed in the footsteps of Hesham Hadayet, the Egyptian-born LAX jihadist who gunned down two people at Israel’s El Al airlines counter in 2002 and gained entry through his lottery-winning wife; Imran Mandhai, the Pakistan-born jihadist who plotted National Guard armory bombings in Florida and gained entry through his parents’ lottery luck; Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, another Uzbek jihadist and lottery winner convicted of supporting terrorism; Syed Ahmed, a Pakistan-born jihadist and DV recipient convicted of terrorism-related activities in the U.S. and abroad in 2009; and Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, a Hamas leader deported for terrorism activities in 1997 who had snagged a green card thanks to the DV lottery program’s original iteration.

Up to 55,000 lucky winners a year have secured permanent residency visas (green cards) through the diversity visa lottery since 1990, which put them on the path to American citizenship ahead of millions of other foreigners patiently waiting to come to this country. The green card lotto winners’ spouses and unmarried children under 21 all get lottery passes into the country, too, no matter where they were born. Chain migration extends the families’ winnings. And so on, and so on, and so on.

As I’ve reported tirelessly since 9/11, when counterterrorism experts and immigration watchdogs united against the fraud-riddled, ill-conceived DV lottery, applicants don’t even need a high school education. No outstanding abilities, training or job skills are necessary. Illegal aliens are eligible if a legal family member wins the jackpot. Tens of thousands are pouring in from terrorism breeding grounds through the lottery unvetted, unmonitored and unassimilated.

Justice Department investigators recently discovered one Somali woman who won the DV lottery and subsequently recruited an entire fake family, including a phony husband and two fictitious adult children, all of whom came to the United States and later gained U.S. citizenship based on their false claims.

A U.N. probe found human traffickers forcing dozens of diversity visa lottery winners into listing young female sex slaves as their “family members” to gain entry in the U.S.

And a State Department official testified in 2011 that in Bangladesh, “one agent is reported to have enrolled an entire phone book so that he could then either extort money from winning applicants who had never entered the program to begin with or sell their winning slots to others.”

As usual, however, Congress has done precisely nothing to stop the ruinous racket created by the late Teddy Kennedy and signed off by President George H.W. Bush as a social engineering experiment to admit more “underrepresented” immigrant minorities into the U.S. The latest bill containing an end to the DV lottery program, the “RAISE Act,” sponsored by Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue, is gathering dust. Sen. Chuck Grassley’s latest call to the State Department for a “full-scale” review has yielded no movement.

And now, here we are, with yet another DV lottery beneficiary in custody for yet another jihad attack. Bangladeshi Akayed Ullah arrived here with a golden ticket obtained through a relative who won the visa lottery. Before strapping on his failed suicide vest on Monday in an attempt to inflict “maximum destruction” on commuters at the New York Port Authority bus terminal, Ullah was the minor child of a sibling of the original ticket holder, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Seven weeks ago, Sen. Jeff Flake smugly tweeted to President Trump that the DV lottery program would have been killed if only the Gang of Eight illegal alien amnesty had been signed into law. In D.C., you see, stupid government programs will only die if hitched to even bigger, more reckless legislative abominations.

Washington priorities at work.

Trump called her 'real dummy,' but court tosses her $4M defamation case

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 06:15
A New York appeals court Tuesday tossed out a Republican consultant’s attempt to revive her $4 million defamation case against President Donald Trump, accusing him of hurting her career after he called her a “real dummy” on Twitter.

Franken's Senate replacement expected to be named Wednesday

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 03:45
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton was set to reveal his choice Wednesday to replace Al Franken in the U.S. Senate, with the top contender seen as his longtime adviser, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith.

Ex-Speaker Hastert barred from being left alone with minors

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 02:29
A federal judge in Chicago on Tuesday ordered that Dennis Hastert never be left alone with anyone under 18 unless another adult is present who is aware of the former U.S. House speaker’s conviction in a hush-money case that revealed he had sexually abused several high school students.

Sexual misconduct allegations weighed heavily on Moore candidacy, results suggest

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 01:58
If Democrat Doug Jones' victory in Tuesday's U.S. Senate election in Alabama stands, the litany of sexual misconduct allegations against Roy Moore will have proven to be too much for the Republican to overcome.

Who is San Francisco's new acting mayor - and for how long?

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 01:47
Following Tuesday's sudden death of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, the president of the city’s Board of Supervisors automatically became acting mayor.

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