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COOK COUNTY, A SODA TAX, AND THE DEATH OF AN ECONOMY

By John F. Di Leo – Laffer Curve

Contemplations on the new Cook County Soda Tax

Cook County, Illinois – the home of America’s fourth largest city – Chicago, is, like many metro areas, broke. So, as many jurisdictions do when broke, they imagine a need to raise tax rates.

The one they have chosen for July 1, 2017 is a soda tax, in addition to any applicable sales tax, which in Illinois can be as high as ten percent ad valorem already. This new “soda tax” is not just on soda, but on any beverage that is sweetened with either sugar or artificial sweetener (so it applies to both regular drinks and diet drinks), from soda pop to children’s juice boxes, from bottled iced teas to sports drinks. And the price will not be ad valorum (a percentage of the price) as we’re accustomed; it’s a penny per ounce.

So if you buy a package of 10 x 6.75oz juice boxes for your children’s lunches, there’s another 67.5 cents for the county on top of the $2.00 for the juice. If you buy a large Coke or Diet Coke for a dollar at McDonald’s or some other restaurant that 32oz drink alone will add another 32 cents to the bill. And if you buy a 24-can case of pop at the grocery store, which usually costs between six and nine dollars around here, that’s another $2.88 in taxes for that case.

If you’ve been doing the math in your head during these past few lines, you’ve begun to realize that this “soda tax” is typically anywhere from a 30% to 50% tax rate – the kind of crippling, confiscatory tax rate that protectionist governments propose as punitive tariffs against undesirable imports, when they want to destroy an import market.  But the Cook County Board has inflicted this tax on ourselves – on the very grocery stores, restaurants, convenience stores and fast food places where we all buy our drinks, either alone or with meals.

Why?  Because they claim to need revenue, and because they think that by attaching this modern example of highway robbery to a sweetened product of which some dietitians disapprove, they will be lauded for it.

They are mistaken.

History and Its Challenges

Both Chicago and Cook County grew a great deal, as one would expect, in their first hundred years, but something changed by the late 1950s.

As they grew, both Chicago and Cook County had to build government services – roads, police, fire stations, schools, parks, libraries – to accommodate this growth.  But the problem with such government projects is that, once you build to accommodate a population, you must draw it down when the population plummets, and that’s hard to do.

Illinois’ greatest politician, the late Ronald Reagan, once said that “the nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program.”   And sure enough, we’ve seen this problem dooming Illinois’ budgets for generations.

When Chicago reached its population peak of 3.5 million in the  early 1950s, it built up to deliver the public service needs of such a world-class city… but Chicago has bled a million people since then (literally as well as numerically), and is down to only 2.5 million today.

The city should require two-sevenths less in services, but it has only increased its services, as it can’t bear to close schools and police stations, can’t reduce its roads or its water and sewer delivery systems, can’t bring itself to fire its city bureaucrats. You can’t fire the alderman’s spouse or cousin without bringing the hellfire of the party on your head; you can’t fire the committeeman’s nephew or niece without losing your own job.

Since part of Chicago’s reduction fed the county, at first, the County’s numeric  peak occurred later, but today it’s in the same boat as Chicago.  Cook County was only at 4.5 million when Chicago was at 3.5 million in the early 1950s; Cook hit its peak 20 years later, reaching 5.5 million in 1970 when flight from Chicago to the near (Cook) suburbs was at its maximum.

But that flight continued over the years, and today, Cook is down just a bit, to 5.2 million or thereabouts.  So it’s been roughly stable in population for about 50 years, even though there’s been considerable movement within it borders in that time, as the city has emptied and the suburbs have grown.

The difference between their situations is stark though.  Cook doesn’t have the huge brick-and-mortar obligations of a city.  Cook County doesn’t have to worry about closing schools, fire stations and police stations.  It maintains a law enforcement force (the sheriff and his deputies), a number of roads, a court system and jail, the board of elections, and a huge string of public parks, but these shouldn’t have the skyrocketing costs that Chicago’s infrastructure requires.  What then is the challenge?

Cook County has chosen – it’s not mandated in any way, but it has chosen – to be a welfare state, in healthcare, for the poor of Cook County (and for the poor of any other place on earth who feel like moving here). Cook County operates a hospital system (why, when the private sector provides hospitals?); half its spending is on the Cook County Health and Hospitals System.

You can’t just privatize it in a day, but you could have never started it in the first place.  Cook County’s budget isn’t full of hundreds of ridiculous expenditures; if you study it, hoping to find idiotic expenses that can easily be slashed, you’ll come away with little low-hanging fruit.

The costs of Cook County, rather, are high because of what Cook County, the City of Chicago, and the State of Illinois have chosen to do for over half a century: to tolerate crime and to invite in illegal aliens who can’t support themselves, which has driven away the manufacturing and business opportunities whose jobs and tax revenues were needed to fund such generosity.

Every killer who doesn’t get the chair creates an expense for the city, county and state.  Every gang that scares away tourists, every mugger who ruins a neighborhood, every car thief who raises our auto insurance rates, every welfare program that encourages the importation of unemployable foreign refugees… all these have created the massive cost burden on local government that cause our annual budget shortfalls.

And on top of all that, the city, county and state have all made pension promises that they couldn’t keep, to all the employees they’ve hired over all these decades, dooming the state to a status of junk bonds and high taxes, driving people away at a record clip.

Some 95,000 people fled Illinois in 2016 alone, and the ones who fled weren’t the ones we need to leave!

The time has come to revoke our welfare state status, to stop paying the way for those who will not work, for those will not obey the law, for those who insist on making life worse for the rest of us.

The time has come to end our Sanctuary City status, and to start executing convicted killers, muggers, drug dealers and violent rapists.  We cannot hope to invite desirable new taxpayers in until we purge the city of the lawbreakers who have made it so inhospitable for half a century, landing us in the situation we’re in today.

The Effects of Confiscatory Taxation

Illinois is already among the highest-taxed states in America.  Such lists will always vary, as different taxes hit different groups in different ways, but in the end, Illinois jockeys for the title with such tax hells as New York, California, and New Jersey.  In Cook County, the combination of property taxes, sales taxes, and state income taxes, along with the various fees that needle the individual and cripple the small business, puts us smack on the top of the list.

In the 1970s, the groundbreaking economist Arthur Laffer had an idea while dining at a restaurant, and scribbled it on a napkin so he’d remember.  The Laffer Curve has since become the single most logical and best-remembered economic theory in the field; the simple idea that tax rates only raise revenue up to a certain point, beyond which the high tax rates become destructive, driving away business and causing an actual reduction in revenue rather than the desired increase.

When Dr. Laffer had the idea in the 1970s, it was used primarily in national economic debates, but it’s just as accurate at the state or local level.

We’ve witnessed example after example in recent decades of a luxury tax killing the boat industry, a city income tax causing wealthy New Yorkers to move away, a crippling entertainment tax killing convention business at once popular conference hubs.

We’ve even seen it here in Cook County before, as high cigarette taxes drove Illinois smokers across the border to Indiana to purchase their smokes.

But they don’t learn.  So they are implementing a simply outrageous tax, one that sounds minor – just a penny an ounce! – until you do the math.  And, like the national Democrats, they are counting on people never doing the math.

But they will.  People WILL do the math, and quickly.

  • How long will it take to realize that another $2.88 per 24-can case of pop makes it worthwhile to drive to the next county to buy your groceries?
  • How long will it take to realize that if a family of five dines at a restaurant on this side of the county line, the soda taxes alone will add several dollars to the bill?
  • How long will it take to realize that if your commute takes you through both Lake and Cook, or between Lake and DuPage, or between Lake and Will, then you should stop at the fast food place, or the grocery store, or the restaurant on the non-Cook half of your commute, not the Cook half?

The effect of this tax will be stark, and immediate, as business plummets in grocery stores, restaurants, fast food establishments, even 7-11s and gas stations.

Think about it – if you just want gas, go to the one with the cheapest gas.  But if you want to buy a slurpee or a 20oz bottle of pop when you fill up, you won’t even start checking the pump prices until you’re out of Cook County.

People choose between Mariano’s and Jewel, between Costco and Sam’s, between Burger King and Wendy’s, based on saving a couple of dollars on this or that item.  When a single 24-case of pop makes a difference of $2.88 alone, what do you think will happen to Cook County’s already-suffering environment?

Goodbye, cashier and bagger jobs.

Goodbye, stockboy jobs.

Goodbye, bartender and waitress jobs.

Goodbye, drive-through and fast food register jobs.

Just Goodbye, Cook County Retail and Hospitality businesses.  Goodbye.

Copyright 2017 John F. Di Leo

John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based writer, international trade lecturer, Customs broker and actor.  He lives in Cook and works in DuPage, and his family has already identified where they will be shopping for groceries and going out to dinner from July 1 onward.   It won’t be in Cook.

Permission is hereby granted to forward freely, provided it is uncut and the IR URL and byline are included.

Congress FINALLY GOES AFTER Corrupt Susan Rice!

The House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday issued seven new subpoenas in its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

From The Hill

Four of the subpoenas are related directly to Russian meddling, which is also also the subject of probes from the Senate Intelligence Committee and FBI.

The other three focus on allegations of improper “unmasking” of Trump campaign officials, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Those three subpoenas went to the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency and are related to questions — primarily from Republicans — about how the names of associates of President Trump were un-redacted and distributed in classified Obama administration reports during the transition period.

The committee said in a statement that it had issued subpoenas to former national security adviser Michael Flynn and one company associated with the former intelligence official, Flynn Intel Group LLC; and longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and his firm, Michael D. Cohen & Associates PC.

The statement did not address the three subpoenas related to unmasking, reportedly related to requests made by former national security adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan and former United Nations Ambassador Susan Power.

Power has not previously been reported as a potential witness in the probe.

Normally, when government officials receive intelligence reports, the names of American citizens are redacted to protect their privacy. But officials can request that names — listed as “U.S. Person 1,” for example — be unmasked internally in order to give context about the potential value of the intelligence.

But Republicans want to know if any of those requests were politically motivated.

They have signaled that they see unmasking as the key to investigating the source of media leaks damaging to the Trump administration — such as the exposure of Flynn, who was forced to resign in February after media reports based on surveillance leaks revealed that he misled Vice President Pence about the contents of his discussions with the Russian ambassador.

The GOP seized on a Bloomberg View report in April that Rice had requested that at least one Trump transition team member be “unmasked,” leading to claims that the Obama White House had intended to use that intelligence to damage Trump’s transition.

Rice has denied any political manipulation of intelligence by the Obama administration.

Earlier in the year, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) stepped back from the probe after making a clandestine trip to the White House to view documents he says revealed inappropriate unmasking of transition team officials.

The revelation quickly devolved into partisan infighting that threaten to derail the House panel’s investigation permanently. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) has taken over the probe in Nunes’s place, and the fracas has largely died down since.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is also investigating Russian interference in the election and has issued its own slate of subpoenas targeted at Flynn.

A Parallel Universe Without Progressives 

An astrophysicist, Ranga-Ram Chary at the European Space Agency’s Planck Space Telescope data center at CalTech says he may have found evidence of alternate or parallel universes by looking back in time to just after the Big Bang more than thirteen billion years ago.

Then there is always the possible parallel universe of dark matter. As researchers learn more about dark matter’s complexities, it seems possible that our galaxy lives on top of a shadow galaxy without us even knowing it.

I have often heard it said the universe is so large that anything we can imagine exists somewhere.  Taking that as a starting point for a flight of fancy, let’s imagine a parallel universe without Progressives.

We wouldn’t have had the 16th amendment.  Therefore we would still have a land without personal income tax and the Federal Government would have lived on fees and tariffs as it always did before the Progressives secured a source of money large enough to spend us into oblivion.

We wouldn’t have had the 17th amendment and the senators would still be selected by the State legislators.  This was one of the checks and balances the Founders embedded in the original Constitution to protect the federal nature of the Federal Government.  The House represents the people and the Senate was supposed to represent the States.

We wouldn’t have had The Creature from Jekyll Island, the Federal Reserve System, and America’s representative of the international banking cartel.  Without the Fed to mismanage the money supply there would never have been the banking crisis of the early 1930s.  This is crisis that set the stage for the re-boot of America’s free economy as a centrally-planned command and control machine used to transform every sector of American life.

We wouldn’t have had Woodrow Wilson to take us into the War to End all Wars that ended up building up the three largest empires in the world and setting the stage of WWII.

We wouldn’t have had FDR to impose fascist economic forms on America extending what would have been a recession into the Great Depression.

We wouldn’t have had JFK to lose his nerve in 1961.  Thus the Castro brothers and their murderous savagery would have fallen with the successful Bay of Pigs invasion.

We wouldn’t have had LBJ to build a Great Society safety net that has become a hammock entrapping uncounted millions and generations in the snare of dependency.

We wouldn’t have had BHO to fundamentally transform America into a falling empire and a soon to be third world backwater.

And we wouldn’t have HRC campaigning for president as Mrs. Santa Clause promising to give everyone who doesn’t work everything they want while she seeks to take the Second Amendment from the rest of us.

Think about this; look at how our government treats citizens now as taxing units or dependent voting units and we are armed to the teeth.  Imagine how they will treat us once we are disarmed.  Many believe the Second Amendment makes all the others possible.

Just imagine a parallel universe without Progressives.  It’s easy if you try.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2016 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

Warren Warpath

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Bart Simpson For President

That ultimate symbol of mischievous scamp Bart Simpson in Season One of the longest running show in TV history when caught red-handed offered up one of his signature phrases, “I didn’t do it, nobody saw me do it, there’s no way you can prove anything.”

This came to mind when I was thinking about Hillary “They’ll Never Indict Me” Clinton and her morally challenged obviously corrupt character.   Donald Trump has said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”  Hillary could say, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t get indicted.”

Everyone in the country knows that if any of us common people did one hundredth of what she has done in the email scandal alone we would have already been indicted along with the ten year Navy Vet indicted for taking a selfie on a submarine.  The Obama Justice Department is not going to indict Mrs. Clinton no matter what the FBI recommends.  She is above the law and she knows it or as she infamously said in the Benghazi hearing with regard to our four dead heroes, “What does it matter now?”

As a person who has been involved with and has closely followed the American political scene for more than fifty years this is the first time in my personal memory or Historical knowledge that a potential candidate for one party has promised to prosecute a potential candidate of the other party if elected.

As Secretary of State, Hillary’s accomplishments include the failed reset with Russia and of course her debacle in Libya.  As a United State Senator what did she accomplish?  In eight years she only sponsored three inconsequential laws:

S.3145, which designated a portion of U.S. Route 20A, located in Orchard Park, N.Y., as the “Timothy J. Russert Highway,” after the former “Meet the Press” host.

  1. 3613, which renamed the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 2951 New York Highway 43 in Averill Park, New York, as the “Major George Quamo Post Office Building.”
  2. 1241 which made the brick house of 19th century female union leader Kate Mullany a national historic site.

Her major accomplishment is that she married a man who became the most ethically challenged president in American History.  As the wife of Bill Clnton she was deeply involved in smothering the serial bimbo eruptions which grew out of his long history of having affairs, sexually harassing women who worked for him, and assaulting others.   This is the person who portrays herself as an advocate of women’s rights.

To highlight just one of her hypocritical faux stances for women’s rights look at her advocacy for equal pay.  The Clinton Foundation pays women executives 38% less than their male counterparts.  During her time in the Senate she paid women 72 cents for every dollar she paid men.  According to public records her current campaign pays women staffers less than she pays men. So much for putting your money where your mouth is!

Looking back once more to the email scandal that Hillary so nonchalantly dismisses if as she maintains she never received nor sent any classified material during her entire term as our Secretary of State my question is, what was she doing besides traveling the world at our expense?  Was she out of the loop and merely Secretary of State in name only?   It is inconceivable that anyone could be the Secretary of State and not send or receive any classified material.  That is beyond belief and a lie so transparent it shows total contempt for those it is meant to fool.

In the current election the Great Impresario likes to label people.  In many ways it is an effective form of political shorthand.  It sums up the thoughts, accusations, and beliefs about a person and brings them crashing in whenever they hear the catcall.  Lyin Ted and Little Marco have taken their toll picked up and repeated by the Corporations Once Known as the Mainstream Media and their pet FOX.  Now we have Crooked Hillary.  The others were just effective.  This one seems appropriate.

If Hillary wins the presidency it will be a watershed just as the election and then re-election of her husband was.  As his marked the end of public morality hers will mean the end of the rule of law.  It will become evident to anyone observant enough to note the sunrise that enforcement of the bewildering lattice of laws and regulations are only aimed at the common folk not at our masters.

If such a legally challenged individual can fool enough of the people all the time to sit in the oval office it reminds me of what Bart said to Homer after it was revealed he had cheated on an important test, “I cheated on the intelligence test. I’m sorry. But I just want to say that the past few weeks have been great. Me and you have done stuff together. You’ve helped me out with things and we’re closer than we’ve ever been. I love you, Dad. And I think if something can bring us that close it can’t possibly be bad.”

Doing bad things for good purposes is the operational rational of Progressive Liberalism.  The ends justify the means was the operational rational of all the megalomaniac dictators of world History.  Please explain the difference.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2016 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

 

The White House is Covering for Hillary Clinton and the FBI is “Super Pissed-Off”!

The FBI has been investigating the scandal surrounding Hillary Clinton’s lawless use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State. Sadly, much of their work has been roundly abused by the Obama administration and the Democrat Party. Unjustly so. The FBI is not at fault for pursuing an investigation into obviously criminal behavior, but if their investigation uncovers proof of Mrs. Clinton’s malfeasance, then the Democrat Party could lose many of the gains they’ve made during the Obama era. This is something that the President seems dead-set against allowing.

How sold-out is the Obama team to discrediting the investigation against Clinton? They are prepared to sacrifice the sanctity of our system of justice to defend the law-breaking Clinton.

When asked during a recent press conference whether or not Clinton would be indicted, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest had this to say, “That will be a decision made by the Department of Justice and prosecutors over there. What I know that some officials over there have said is that she is not a target of the investigation. So that does not seem to be the direction that it’s trending. But I’m certainly not going to weigh in on a decision or in that process in any way. That is a decision to be made solely by independent prosecutors but again, based on what we know from the Department of Justice, it does not seem to be headed in that direction.”

Anyone who understands the way the justice system in America works knows that this type of statement from the White House is completely out of place, as it undercuts the investigators and the way an investigation must be handled. Fox News’s Catherine Herridge explains. “That statement by Josh Earnest has got the back up of our contacts at the FBI and Justice Department for two reasons… They are SUPER PISSED OFF to use a technical term. Number one, Josh Earnest has absolutely no clearance or visibility in the FBI investigation. Number two, they say it really seems part of a troubling pattern from the White House because the president earlier said he did not see any national security implications to the Clinton emails and then we found out he had never been briefed.”

Make no mistake, fellow citizens. The media has already uncovered more than 1500 different occasions where classified material passed across Hillary Clinton’s private (and unsecure) servers. Based simply on this FACT, she is guilty and disqualified from serving in any elected position (especially President) ever again.

243 emails released Friday were classified at some level, bringing the overall number of classified Clinton emails to 1,583. The State Department also announced Friday that it is withholding in full and into perpetuity 22 emails that contain “Top Secret” information — the highest classification category.

However, none of these facts will deter President Obama or the Democrat Party for fighting tooth and nail to stop justice from taking its course. Why? Because the Democrat Party doesn’t care about justice. The Democrat Party doesn’t care about truth. No, the only thing the Democrat Party cares about, as evidenced by the life and career of Hillary Rodham Clinton, is POWER.

If McDonald’s Goes Under It Will Be Because They Followed Liberals to Disaster

Ronald
I saw a sad but not totally unexpected news item from John Hawkins this morning regarding one of America’s premiere dining outlets… McDonald’s. The House That Ronald Built has fallen on hard times, with some estimates indicating that a significant portion of the franchises are currently insolvent or seriously in the red. The dire warnings from franchise owners are including phrases such as, “these are the final days.” (Yahoo News)

McDonald’s franchisees believe the brand is in a “deep depression” and could be facing its “final days,” according to a new survey.

“We are in the throes of a deep depression, and nothing is changing,” one franchisee wrote in response to the survey by Nomura analyst Mark Kalinowski. “Probably 30% of operators are insolvent.”

Another wrote, “The CEO is sowing the seeds of our demise. We are a quick-serve fast-food restaurant, not a fast casual like Five Guys or Chipotle. The system may be facing its final days.”

More than a dozen franchisees expressed frustration with McDonald’s management, saying that CEO Steve Easterbrook’s turnaround plan — which includes initiatives like all-day breakfast and a shift to digital ordering kiosks — is a distraction from the core issues of McDonald’s, like food quality and customer service.
We’ve talked about this here before and it’s been a regular feature of financial news headlines. McDonalds has been losing money right and left and they’ve been dumping massive resources into a seemingly endless array of marketing gimmicks as they try to turn their fortunes around. None of it seems to be working, and the reason may be that they’re not addressing the core issue which some of the franchisees are bringing up: the chain strayed away from their original core mission and the strength of their brand in response to social pressures of the day.

Let’s face it… McDonald’s was never meant to be a fancy, high end eatery, nor were they a health food store. It was fast food that tasted good and people were willing to tolerate all the negatives that came with that deal if the price was right. It’s true that costs of beef and some of their toppings have been going up, leading to pressure on them to raise prices, but that’s hardly the only cause for their woes. Everyone in that market sector is dealing with the same problems. No… what really killed McDonald’s market position was selling out to liberal pressure groups.

I think the beginning of the end can be traced back to 2002 when they buckled to pressure from health nuts and changed the oil they used to make their french fries, cutting the dreaded trans-fats. They tinkered with the formula again in 2007 but it was never the same. Are any of you old enough to remember the original McDonald’s fries? Those things were like crack in a cardboard cup. I could eat two large orders by myself because They… Were… Awesome. Were they good for you? Obviously not. But that’s not why we bought them. It’s not Ronald McDonald’s responsibility to keep you healthy, it’s yours. When they changed the fries they were just awful and I didn’t order them nearly as often.

Later the restaurant felt even more pressure from the health obsessed wing on the left and began “diversifying” their menu to be less trashy. They were trying to sell apple wedges as an alternate for fries and the menu was stocked with salads. SALADS. At McDonald’s. The only lettuce we needed to see during a visit to the Golden Arches was shredded up on the Big Macs. More changes along those lines followed and their brand loyalty cratered.

The problem with adding lots of options is that more food goes to waste since they have to prepare some of it in advance. Sure, people will always say they love more options, but it’s not always economically viable. The Breakfast All Day idea sounded great to me, but if they’re losing money on it then it’s one option too many. So that was their other major issue… too many options. But to combat the problem, they decided to diversify the menu even further and start offering all manner of specialty sandwiches. Some were good and some… not so much. But yet again they were losing more money by having to stock up and prepare even more items which didn’t fly off the heating tables fast enough. And most of this was done in response to reading too many articles in the New York Times.

McDonald’s could still probably be saved, but I doubt they’re willing to risk the backlash from Michelle Obama’s army if they did it. The company could go back to their old school formula. Trim down the menu for starters. You need a hamburger, cheeseburger, the Quarter Pounder and the Big Mac. Toss in the fish fillet and maybe one chicken sandwich. Put the fatty, lard filled oil back in the fry machine. Keep those molten hot apple pies and maybe a few dessert options. Kick the rest except for some seasonal specialties like the McRib. I’m guessing people would come back and your waste costs would go down hugely. You may get nailed with a minimum wage increase, but all your competitors will face the same thing if you do.

It’s a shame to see McDonald’s floundering, but they really brought it on themselves.

To The Senators Who Voted Against Kate’s Law — Your Hands Are Dyed Red

by Bob Knowles

It’s easy for man to let others die if those who are dying are out of sight. That much we’ve learned from war. Setting aside the morality of particular wars, war is easy to support when you’re not the one fighting. This ethical defect we’ve developed as a species was on full display this week when the Senate voted down Kate’s Law.

Kate’s Law, otherwise known as the “Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act,” would have withheld federal grants from sanctuary cities (cities that refuse to obey federal immigration laws, thus protecting criminal illegal aliens), and mandated a minimum five-year prison sentence for any illegal caught re-entering the United States who had a prior aggregated felony conviction, or two prior illegal re-entry convictions.

This bill was colloquially known as Kate’s Law because San Fransisco resident Kate Steinle was shot and killed in July by Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an illegal alien and seven-time felon who had previously been deported five times.

The bill, which needed 60 votes to move forward, was blocked 54-45. 45 Senators voted against the bill, almost all of whom are Democrats (Lindsey Graham didn’t vote).

Prior to the vote, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said:

“The standard rhetorical device that so many Democratic Senators use is to say ‘Well, not all immigrants are criminals.’ Well of course they’re not…but this bill doesn’t deal with all immigrants, it deals with one specific subset of immigrants: Criminal illegal aliens. Those who come to this country illegally and also have additional criminal convictions, whether homicide, whether sexual assault, whether kidnapping, or battery, or drunk driving…For every Democratic senator, this vote today is a simple decision: With whom do you stand? Do you stand with the violent, criminal illegal aliens who are being released over and over again?”


It’s been argued–even by conservatives–that such mandatory sentences would burden our already overpopulated prisons, which would be fiscally imprudent. I understand that argument, however, the alternative to imprisonment is deportation. And as we’ve learned from the Kate Steinle killing, deportation doesn’t do very much when we have a porous border.

Democrats and Republicans love to brag about deporting criminal illegals while someone like Francisco Lopez-Sanchez entered into the United States illegally five times. Wow, we’re doing such a great job with those violent criminal illegals! Hey, is that Francisco creeping across the border AGAIN?! You little devil!

Also of note, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) reported that in 2013, ICE released 36,007 “convicted criminal aliens” into the wind. Of the 36,007 criminal aliens, 193 had been convicted of homicide, 426 of sexual assault, 303 of kidnapping, and 1,075 of aggravated assault. This is a severe problem.

The Kate Steinle killing wasn’t some freak thing. We basically don’t have borders, and apparently, we just release many of the criminal illegals we do manage to snag.

To the Democrats–and singular Republican Mark Kirk–who voted against Kate’s Law, I suppose you’ve revealed your priorities. You care more about your agenda, whatever the end goal may be–voters for Democrats, and cheap labor for Republicans–than you do about human life.

I say this because in addition to voting against this law, you continuously obstruct any and every attempt to secure the border unless it’s packaged with “comprehensive” immigration reform legislation (translation: amnesty).

If someone is rushed into the ER with multiple stab wounds, gushing blood, the doctor’s first priority is to stem the blood-flow, not give the exsanguinating patient antibiotics. Similarly, if we don’t first secure the border, dealing with illegals who are already here doesn’t really matter, because we still have a gaping wound.

Regardless of the law itself, and the arguments against it fiscally, or on other grounds, Cruz is correct. The 45 Senators who voted ‘No’ on Kate’s Law, and the Senators who block “border security first” bills again and again–all to advance an agenda–bear the full burden of Kate Steinle’s death, as well as any subsequent deaths at the hands of criminal illegal aliens.

But it’s just so easy to let people die when you aren’t watching them take their final breath, isn’t it?

Read more at http://lastresistance.com/14339/to-the-senators-who-voted-against-kates-law-your-hands-are-dyed-red/#c5dHmcD3wZ2o6myt.99

IRS Docs Show How the Renegade Tax Agency Used Donor Lists To Steer Audits

Greetings – the Meister is in Honningsvag, Norway – the Northernmost village in the world. Light rain and 52 degrees.

Judicial Watch has released more blockbuster documents from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that confirm that the IRS used donor lists of tax-exempt organizations to target those donors for audits. The documents also show that IRS officials specifically highlighted how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may come under “high scrutiny” from the IRS. We forced these records out through a Freedom of Information lawsuit seeking documents about the selection of individuals and organizations for audits, based application information and donor lists submitted by Tea Party and other 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations.

In a letter dated September 28, 2010, then-Democrat Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) informs then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman: “I request that you and your agency survey major 501(c)(4), (c)(5) and (c)(6) organizations …” In reply, in a letter dated February 17, 2011, Shulman writes: “In the work plan of the Exempt Organizations Division, we announced that beginning in FY2011, we are increasing our focus on section 501(c)(4), (5) and (6) organizations.”

Sure enough, in 2010, after receiving Baucus’ letter, the IRS considered the issue of auditing donors to 501(c)(4) organizations, alleging that a 35 percent gift tax would be due on donations in excess of $13,000. The documents show that the IRS wanted to cross-check donor lists from 501(c)(4) organizations against gift tax filings and commence audits against taxpayers based on this information.

A gift tax on contributions to 501(c)(4)s was considered by most to be a dead letter since the IRS had never enforced the rule after the Supreme Court ruled that such taxes violated the First Amendment. The documents show that the IRS had not enforced the gift tax since 1982.

But then, in February 2011, at least five donors of an unnamed organization were audited.

The documents show that Crossroads GPS, associated with Republican Karl Rove, was specifically referenced by IRS officials in the context of applying the gift tax. On April 20, IRS attorney Lorraine Gardner emails a 501(c)(4) donor list to former Branch Chief in the IRS’ Office of the Chief Counsel James Hogan. Later, this information is apparently shared with IRS Estate Gift and Policy Manager Lisa Piehl while Gardner seeks “information about any of the donors.”

One of the most disturbing bits of information pulled from the documents concerns the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which sometimes works to support the free-enterprise system in the face of heavy-handed regulatory policies.

Emails to and from Lorraine Gardner point to a bias against the Chamber. An IRS official (whose name is redacted) emails Gardner on May 13, 2011, a leftist blog post responding to the IRS targeting of political and other activities of 501(c)(4), (5) and (6) organizations: “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)(6) organization and may find itself under high scrutiny. One can only hope.”

The subject line of the email highlights this anti-Chamber of Commerce comment: “we are making headlines notice the end regarding 501(c)(6) applicability enjoy.” This critical comment is forwarded to other IRS officials and shows up attached to another Gardner IRS email chain with the subject line “re: 501(c)(4)” that discusses a pending decision about a tax-exempt entity.

In early May, once the media began reporting on the IRS audits of donors, IRS officials reacted quickly. One official acknowledges the issue “is a biggy” when a reporter from The New York Times contacts the IRS on May 9.

On May 13, 2011, former IRS Director of Legislative Affairs Floyd Williams discusses compliance with “interest” from Capitol Hill: “Not surprisingly, interest on the hill is picking up on this issue … with Majority Leader Reid’s office, has suggested the possibility of a briefing for the Senate Finance Committee staff on general issues related to section 501(c)(4) organizations. I think we should do it as interest is likely to grow as we get closer to elections.”

Later that day, then-Director of the Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner weighs in with an email that confirms that she supported the gift tax audits. Lerner acknowledges that “the courts have said specifically that contributions to 527 political organizations are not subject to the gift tax-nothing that I’m aware of that about contributions to organizations that are not political organizations.” Section 501(c)(4) organizations are not “political organizations.” [Emphasis in original]

Lerner’s involvement and support for the new gift tax contradicts the IRS statement to the media at the time that audits were not part of a “broader effort looking at donations 501(c)(4)’s.” In July 2011, the IRS retreated after a public uproar and soon-to-be Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller directed that “examination resources should not be expended on this issue” and that all audits of taxpayers “relating to the application of gift taxes” to 501(c)(4) organizations “should be closed.”

By the way, we had filed a separate lawsuit for records about targeting of individuals for audit in November 2013. In that litigation, the IRS had refused to search any email systems, including Lerner’s records. A federal court ruled the IRS’ search was sufficient and dismissed the lawsuit earlier this month. So it took another lawsuit to get this new info from the IRS!

These documents that we had to force out of the IRS prove that the agency used donor lists to audit supporters of organizations engaged in First Amendment-protected lawful political speech. And the snarky comments about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the obsession with Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS show that the IRS was targeting critics of the Obama administration.

President Obama continues to lie about his IRS scandal. He told a comedian the other day that “there was not some big conspiracy there.” Obama also said, “Congress had passed a crummy law that didn’t give people guidance in terms of what it was they were trying to do. They did it poorly and stupidly.”

How does he know all this? The Department of Justice and the FBI supposedly are still conducting a criminal investigation.

The Treasury for Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) report exposing the scandal made no mention of “crummy laws” passed by Congress. Its audit revealed the IRS had used “inappropriate criteria” to identify potential political cases. “Early in Calendar Year 2010,” TIGTA wrote, “the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status to (e.g., lists of past and future donors).” The illegal IRS reviews continued for more than 18 months and, TIGTA reported, “delayed processing of targeted groups’ applications preparing for the 2012 presidential election.”

And these documents tell the truth – his IRS hated conservatives and was willing to illegally tax and audit citizens to shut down opposition to Barack Obama’s policies and reelection.

Obama’s IRS falsehood the other day contained an admission that few picked up on. He said, “You don’t want all this money pouring through non-for-profits but you also want to make sure that everybody is getting treated fairly.” Who doesn’t “want all this money pouring through non-for-profits”? Barack Obama. There is no law prohibiting money “flowing through non-profits.” But he didn’t like the idea of this money being used against his reelection or his policies. So his IRS targeted these groups and their donors for lawless oppression.

This president and his administration are out of control.

That’s why your JW is working on several fronts where the growing scandal over IRS audits is concerned.

In September 2014, another Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit forced the release of documents detailing that the IRS sought, obtained and maintained the names of donors to Tea Party and other conservative groups. IRS officials acknowledged in these documents that “such information was not needed.” The documents also show that the donor names were being used for a “secret research project.”

Let’s review some of the facts Obama chose to ignore.

The House Ways and Means Committee announced at a May 7, 2014, hearing that, after scores of conservative groups provided donor information “to the IRS, nearly one in ten donors were subject to audit.” In 2011, as many as five donors to the conservative 501(c)(4) organization Freedom’s Watch were audited, according to the Wall Street Journal. Bradley Blakeman, Freedom’s Watch’s former president, also alleges he was “personally targeted” by the IRS.

There’s more.

In February 2014, then-Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp (R-MI) detailed improper IRS targeting of existing conservative groups:

Additionally, we now know that the IRS targeted not only right-leaning applicants, but also right-leaning groups that were already operating as 501(c)(4)s. At Washington, DC’s direction, dozens of groups operating as 501(c)(4)s were flagged for IRS surveillance, including monitoring of the groups’ activities, websites and any other publicly available information. Of these groups, 83 percent were right-leaning. And of the groups the IRS selected for audit, 100 percent were right-leaning.

Maybe President Obama can fool a comedian about the IRS scandal, but he isn’t fooling Judicial Watch as we battle his Justice Department and IRS lawyers successfully in court to hold him accountable for his worse-than-Nixon abuse of the IRS.

Federal Judge Says State Department Must “Answer For” Destruction of Clinton Emails

There is a legal reckoning coming for Hillary Clinton’s notorious email practices and policies. There is too much Judicial Watch legal pressure and too many federal court judges for the Obama administration and the Clinton gang forever to avoid the legal consequences of their email shenanigans. For instance, we are pleased to report that a federal judge has said that the State Department will “have to answer for” any destruction of Hillary Clinton’s email records.

U. S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras made the statement at a July 9, 2015, status conference concerning a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for records about the State Department’s vetting of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s potential conflicts of interest. The transcript of the July 9 court hearing is available here.

Recall that it was only four months ago, on March 2, 2015, that The New York Times reported then-Secretary Clinton used at least one non-“state.gov” email account to conduct official government business during her entire tenure as the secretary of state. It also was reported that Secretary Clinton stored these records on a non-U.S. government server at her home in Chappaqua, New York.

There are nearly 20 federal lawsuits that touch on Mrs. Clinton and her staff’s use of secret email accounts to conduct official government business. In our various FOIA lawsuits, our lawyers have informed attorneys for the Obama administration that Hillary Clinton’s account and any other secret accounts used by State employees should be secured, recovered and searched.

During this particular court hearing, Judicial Watch attorney Chris Fedeli raised the concerns JW had about the preservation of records, especially email records that were not part of the 55,000 records Clinton turned over to the State Department last year. Apparently, Fedeli struck the right note.

In response, Judge Contreras said he was also “concerned” about the preservation of these records:

If documents are destroyed between now and August 17, the government will have to answer for that, and, you know, if they don’t want to do anything out of the ordinary to preserve between now and then, they can make that choice. I will allow them to make that choice, but they will answer for it, if something happens.

After a Justice Department lawyer attempted to assure him that the administration was asking for government records from former State Department employees, Judge Contreras questioned the State Department’s position that it had no legal obligation to take additional steps to obtain other government records in the custody of Mrs. Clinton and other former officials who used her special email system:

[I]t is to state the obvious that this is not an ordinary case, and everyone should be working to make sure that whatever documents exist today remain in existence.

Judge Contreras also voiced concerns regarding the State Department’s refusal to provide any information about the Clinton email issue:

But I am a little bit mystified that the government is not more forthcoming in just answering questions that will help this case proceed on a systematic basis, and on a basis that will allow everyone to get the answers that will eventually help resolve these cases…

This one court hearing shows that Hillary Clinton and her co-conspirators in the State Department will have to account for each and every email on Hillary Clinton’s notorious email system. That’s encouraging. It’s become clear now to the public at large that Hillary Clinton has been telling fairy tales about the missing emails that are beginning to unravel. “Nothing Mrs. Clinton has said so far on the subject is correct,” The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel has charitably observed.

Again, the reckoning is coming.

The court also seemed to reject the Obama administration’s contention that responding to Judicial Watch’s lawsuit in a timely way would derail its compliance with Judge Contreras’ order in another lawsuit (Leopold v. U.S. Department of State, (15-00123)) requiring that the 55,000 pages of Clinton email records be searched and produced under FOIA by January 2016:

My order in Leopold was based on numbers and percentages. To the extent that documents from that universe are produced in this case, they qualify for the numbers in Leopold, don’t they? So that they’re not mutually exclusive from a resource standpoint, are they?

The judge then said his “inclination is to have a search done of the Clinton e-mail database that’s digitized and searchable for this relatively narrow, in my view, relatively narrow request.”

A separate and ongoing Judicial Watch lawsuit forced the disclosure last year of documents that provided a road map for over 200 conflict-of-interest rulings that led to $48 million for the Clinton Foundation and other Clinton-connected entities during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. Previously disclosed documents in this lawsuit, for example, raise questions about funds Clinton accepted from entities linked to Saudi Arabia, China and Iran, among others. Judicial Watch and The Washington Examiner partnered in the first story to break the Clinton conflicts scandal: “State Department approved 215 Bill Clinton speeches, controversial consulting deal, worth $48m; Hillary Clinton’s Chief of Staff copied on all decisions.”

You can see why the State Department and the Clinton operation have been trying to play a rope-a-dope obstruction game with Judicial Watch, courts and Congress for these emails. But it won’t work.

As I write this, news is breaking that Hillary Clinton is the subject of a criminal referral to the Justice Department by two separate inspectors general for an investigation into her potentially criminal mishandling of hundreds of pages of classified information on her email system. The New York Times broke the story (and may have edited it at the behest of the Clinton campaign), but there is no doubt that there is serious criminal liability for Hillary Clinton. If the Justice Department, the State Department, or the FBI were all above-board, there would have been law enforcement activity many months ago. Now we know that the State Department resisted cooperating with the IG investigations. And we can’t trust the Obama Justice Department. The New York Times tells us that it helping Hillary Clinton’s PR effort, too:

On Thursday night and again Friday morning, the Justice Department referred to the matter as a “criminal referral” but later on Friday dropped the word “criminal.”

At the Obama Justice Department, politics always comes first, so it is imperative that no less than a special counsel be appointed to investigate this matter. Under Justice Department regulations:

The Attorney General, or in cases in which the Attorney General is recused, the Acting Attorney General, will appoint a Special Counsel when he or she determines that criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted and-(a) That investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances; and (b) That under the circumstances, it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter.”

This will be a major ethical test for new Attorney General Loretta Lynch. In the meantime, we will continue our pursuit for information and accountability in the courts.

Judicial Watch Client McCann Testifies To Congress on Deadly Sanctuary Policies

If you’d like to see how irrelevant and out of touch the typical D.C. debate about “amnesty” for illegal aliens can be, I suggest you watch this video of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week. American citizens told of loved ones who were murdered by illegal aliens thanks to lawless state and national “sanctuary policies.” I attended that hearing in person, so I can tell you it that it will make you both upset and angry.

Judicial Watch was at the hearing because it included the testimony of our client Brian McCann, who did his part earlier to jolt the political class back to reality. McCann is a lifelong resident of Chicago. We are representing him in his lawsuit against Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart. The suit challenges the sheriff’s refusal to cooperate with federal immigration officials or honor immigration detainers issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for criminal aliens.

McCann’s written testimony, which is available in full here, brings home the enormous human tragedy attached to illegal immigration and the dangers of open, unsecured borders. Mr. McCann told the committee members about how his brother, William “Denny” McCann, was run over and killed in June 2011 by an unlawfully present criminal alien who had just completed a two-year term of probation for a 2009 DUI conviction. The alien, Saul Chavez, was charged with felony aggravated driving under the influence, but was released by Dart from a Cook County jail in November 2011 despite an ICE immigration detainer. At the time, ICE issued detainers when it learned that criminal aliens are being held by state or local law enforcement officials. The detainers required the criminal aliens be held for an additional 48 hours to enable ICE to take custody of them before they are released. At the time, Cook County jails had released as many as 1,000 criminal aliens sought by ICE in the previous 18 months. We continue this legal fight. Just last month we filed a petition for review with the Illinois Supreme Court.

Denny McCann’s killer is believed to have fled to Mexico. As Brian McCann recounted to the Senate committee:

Denny was crossing Kedzie Avenue on a marked crosswalk four years ago and was violently struck by a drunk driver who dragged Denny under his car for a block in an attempt to flee before Denny died. The family was notified by the Chicago Police and the killer was placed into custody and charged with aggravated DUI causing death. Two days later ICE issued a detainer because the young man was an illegal alien with a prior felony. The family was assured by the Cook County prosecutor that the defendant would not be allowed to post bail and be released. Three months later the Cook County Board passed the ordinance that effectively requires the sheriff to ignore detainers. During the intervening weeks after Denny’s violent death, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle and former mayoral candidate and Commissioner Jesus Garcia pushed for the ordinance and rammed it through on September 7, 2011. Two months later the killer made bail and absconded to Mexico.

As if Denny McCann’s death was not painful enough for the family, they also had to endure learning that if our government had simply enforced the law, the illegal alien who killed his brother would not be running loose. Here is how Mr. McCann tells it:

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this whole ordeal was that we also learned that this illegal alien was prosecuted for another felony two years earlier and ICE was never notified then. He was removed from probation February 2011 and four months later killed Denny. In short, Denny would be alive today and enjoying the birth of a new granddaughter born two weeks ago if the Cook County criminal justice system that included the county board did its job. I received confirmation that he is indeed in Mexico from the FBI and is currently driving a truck. I had to prevail on my congressman to get the FBI to cooperate with my request for information and action. I have not heard from the Bureau in over six months.

Of course, the Obama administration has run away from any serious enforcement of our immigration laws and no longer routinely issues detainers requiring that local police hold illegal alien criminals:

Because ICE no longer routinely issues detainers we are no longer challenging [Sherriff Thomas] Dart’s refusal to honor them. However, we continue to challenge the Sheriff’s policy of prohibiting and restricting communications and the exchanging of information with ICE officials about a person’s citizenship or immigration status. Now under PEP (Priority Enforcement Program) even if ICE requests that Cook County notify them of the impending release of a deportable criminal alien, Cook County would not comply. I find this unacceptable and will fight this policy in the courts until the end. I remain very concerned that the current immigration enforcement policies seem to encourage jurisdictions like Cook County and San Francisco to continue their noncooperation policies.

The other victims who testified that day also told harrowing stories and demanded action.

President Obama’s response was to threaten to veto any legislation that would withhold federal monies from states or localities that continued sanctuary policies that put the public safety at risk. And a report out of The New York Times confirmed what we’ve been highlight for years – that Obama has stopped deporting almost every illegal alien. The story confirms as many as 87 percent of illegals won’t be subject to deportation under Obama’s unlawful sanctuary/amnesty policies.

As are doing for fine Americans like Brian McCann, Judicial Watch will continue to investigate, litigate and educate. We promise to continue to expose this assault on the rule of law, the public safety, and our nation’s sovereignty.

Until next week…

AFTER ALL IT’S ALL IN THE FAMILY -HAVE YOU HEARD OF THIS GUY ??

EDX MEZVINSKY
He is Edward “Ed” Mezvinsky, born January 17, 1937.
Then you’ll probably say, “Who is Ed Mezvinsky?”
Well, he is a former Democrat congressman who represented
Iowa’s 1st congressional district in the United States House
of Representatives for two terms, from 1973 to 1977.
He sat on the House Judiciary Committee that decided the fate of Richard Nixon.
He was outspoken saying that Nixon was a crook and a disgrace to
politics and the nation and should be impeached.
He and the Clintons were friends and very politically intertwined for many years.
Ed Mezvinsky had an affair with NBC News reporter Marjorie Sue
Margolies and later married her after his wife divorced him.
In 1993, Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, then a freshman Democrat in
Congress, cast the deciding vote that got President Bill Clinton’s
controversial tax package through the House of Representatives.
In March 2001, Mezvinsky was indicted and later pleaded guilty
to 31 of 69 counts of bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud.
Ed Mezvinsky embezzled more than $10 million dollars from people
via both a Ponzi scheme and the notorious Nigerian e-mail scams.
He was found guilty and sentenced to 80 months in federal prison.
After serving less than five years in federal prison, he was released in April 2008 and remains on federal probation.
To this day, he still owes $9.4 million in restitution to his victims.
About now you are saying, “So what!”
Well, this is Marc and Chelsea Mezvinsky.
MARC AND CHELSEA
That’s right; Ed Mezvinsky is Chelsea Clinton’s father-in law.
Now Marc and Chelsea are in their early thirties and purchased
a 10.5 million dollar NYC apartment (after being married in George Soros’ mansion).
Has anyone heard mention of any of this in any of the media?
If this guy was Jenna or Barbara Bush’s, or better yet, Sarah Palin’s daughter’s father-in- law, the news would be an everyday headline and every detail would be reported over and over.
And yet liberals say there are no double standards in political reporting.
And people are already talking about Hillary as our next President!
And then there is possibly Chelsea for president in our future!
The cycle never ends!
Lying and corruption seem to make Democrat candidates more popular.
When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty. ~~ Thomas Jefferson
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
~ ~Abraham Lincoln

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