This week the GOP House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes wrote a letter to the country’s 17 intelligence directors asking them for a closed-door Congressional briefing to find out if Russia tampered with the presidential elections. They declined.
The California lawmaker expressed concern with conflicting media reports and wrote in his letter: “The Committee has an urgent need to accurately understand the current IC[Intelligence Community] assessment of alleged Russian cyber-activities relating to the election and any disagreements among IC components.”
However, Maryland Senator Ben Cardin disagreed and told CNN’s WBAL: “What has been publicly released by our Intelligence Community is that the United States was attacked by cyber and that Russia, at the highest levels, signed off on that type of attack and their purpose was to interfere with our free elections.”
So there you have it, another he said, she said inside the beltway. A more likely explanation lies within the story being politically based but not empirically supported.
Proof comes from average Americans. Only one-third of US voters say they believe Russia influenced the 2016 presidential election, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.
And when it comes to interfering with elections, it’s the Central Intelligence Agency who has plenty of experience. “The CIA got its start trying to influence the outcome of Italy’s elections in 1948, as author Tim Weiner documented in his book “Legacy of Ashes,” in an effort to keep Communists from taking power. Five years later, the CIA engineered a coup against Mohammad Mossadeq, Iran’s democratically elected leader, when the United States and Britain installed the Shah. The military coup that overthrew Mosaddeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of U.S. foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government, the agency concluded in one of its own reports, declassified around the 60th anniversary of those events, which were engineered in large part by Kermit Roosevelt Jr., a grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt.”
Nevertheless, the usual suspects in Washington DC continue to push the latest “conspiracy theory” in an effort to remain relevant and to reject reality as the new Trump administration blows into town next month.
Senators John McCain, Chuck Schumer and an unnamed group of bipartisan lawmakers will try to form a Senate select committee to explore the idea that Russia influenced the 2016 election cycle. However, GOP Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said he would employ existing committees to investigate what exactly Russia did or didn’t do.
President-elect Donald Trump continues to push back, via Twitter, that it was Russia who gave him the Oval Office, nor has he included the “hack” within his 100 days agenda.
Mr. Trump’s incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus, told Fox News Sunday that the president-elect “would accept the conclusion if these intelligence professionals would get together, put out a report, show the American people that they are actually on the same page.”
Conversely, on Sunday CNN’s State of the Union, McCain said Russia did interfere with the 2016 election. “We need to get to the bottom of this. The question is now, how much and what damage? And what should the United States of America do?”
On a rare occasion, President Obama agreed with McCain and has ordered a full study to be put on his desk before he leaves on January 20th.
Meanwhile, Obama acknowledged that he learned about the DNC cyber attacks “early last summer.”
That information came last Wednesday via The New York Times when they disclosed the “Democrat National Committee had virtually no protections for its electronic systems, and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta, had failed to sign up for the ‘two-factor authentication’ on his Gmail account. Doing so probably would have foiled what Mr. Obama called a fairly primitive attack.”
California Democrat Adam Schiff, a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee said, “The response should mix additional economic sanctions along with our allies, and clandestine means of exacting a cost on the Russians for their flagrant meddling in our election. I have little confidence that the incoming president will take the actions necessary to make the Russians pay any price for the most consequential ‘active measures’ campaign against us in history.”
Nonetheless, it was WikiLeaks that published 30,000 emails for the world to read and there is little doubt that the government investigation into the alleged hacking will decide if WikiLeaks is an arm of the Russian government or an honest broker for whistleblowers.
Perhaps, President-elect Trump can send a strong message in his bid to “drain the swamp” by pardoning NSA’s Edward Snowden, WikiLeak’s Julian Assange, as well as other whistleblowers currently serving prison terms for disclosing illegal or inappropriate conduct by the US government and its officials. Assange and Snowden are currently serving self-imposed prison terms without ever having been charged with a crime based solely on their publication of illegal or embarrassing US government activities.
By pardoning these whistleblowers, the President-elect will send a strong message to government officials that illegal and inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated in his administration and whistleblowers will be treated appropriately under US laws.
It’s also important to keep in mind the press serves, as an integral part of our Constitutional First Amendment “checks and balances.” The media should not operate under fear of arrest and incarceration for publishing alleged illegal and inappropriate activities. If Mr. Trump truly intends to “drain the swamp,” he needs an inquisitive press and conscience-based whistleblowers to step forward without fear of recrimination.
A Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) new report that used the employment data from the 2016 US government’s third quarter, highlights the movement within the labor market remains flat. While the unemployment rate dropped to new lows, the government fails to incorporate the real unemployment numbers that include those not participating in the labor force or have given up looking for a job altogether. Data reveals that the employment participation rate still hasn’t returned to pre-2009 recession levels. The news has been particularly bad for those without a college degree relying on manufacturing industry.
“The election of Donald Trump has surprised many, but his appeal to working-class voters is much easier to understand when your look at the persistently abysmal labor force participation rate of Americans without a college degree,” according to Steven Camarota, CIS Director of Research. “It is hard to argue that we should allow all illegal immigrants to stay in the country or continue to keep legal immigration at extremely high levels on the grounds that there are not enough less-educated workers.”
Below are some of the report’s statistics regarding Native-Born Americans:
- The overall unemployment rate for natives in the third quarter of 2016 was 5.1 percent (6.8 million), a dramatic improvement over the peak in the third quarter of 2010 at 9.5 percent. However, the rate is still above the 4 percent in the same quarter in 2000 (unemployment figures are for those 16 and older).
- There has been a long-term decline in the labor force participation rate of working-age (18 to 65) natives without a bachelor’s degree. Only 70.4 percent of natives in this group were in the labor force in the third quarter of this year; in 2007, before the recession, it was 74 percent, and in 2000 it was 75.9 percent.
- The decline in labor force participation among those without a bachelor’s degree is even more profound when it is measured relative to those who are more educated.
- In the third quarter of 2016, 70.4 percent of natives without a bachelor’s degree were in the labor force, compared to 84.7 percent with a bachelor’s degree – a 14.2 percentage-point difference. In the third quarter of 2007, the gap was 11.1 percentage points, and in the third quarter of 2000 the gap was 10.6 percentage points.
Statistics within the immigrant community:
- Working-age immigrants without a college education also have not fared well since the recession. Unlike natives, immigrants without a college education did improve their labor force participation between 2000 and 2007. But it has not returned to 2007 levels. Also like natives, there has been no meaningful progress in the last few years.
- In the third quarter of 2016, the labor force participation rate of immigrants (18 to 65) without a bachelor’s degree was 71.2 percent, somewhat better than that of natives, but still well below their rate of 75.1 percent in the third quarter of 2007.
Immigrants and Natives Not in the Labor Force:
- In the third quarter of 2016, there were a total of 50.5 million immigrants and natives ages 18 to 65 not in the labor force, up from 43.4 million in 2007 and 37.9 million in 2000.
- Of the 50.5 million currently not in the labor force, 40.1 million (79.5 percent) did not have a bachelor’s degree.
- The above figures do not include the unemployed, who are considered to be part of the labor force because, although they are not working, they are looking for work. There were almost eight million unemployed immigrants and natives in the third quarter of this year; almost three-quarters of the unemployed are adults who do not have a bachelor’s degree.
It’s been more than a month since the contentious presidential election cycle ended with a Donald Trump victory. But that hasn’t stopped navy-blue California state politicians from ramping up rhetoric telling any newscaster that will listen Trump will be met with condemnation in the Golden State.
“It is up to us to pass policies that would firewall Californians and what we believe from the cynical, short-sighted, and reactionary agenda that is rising in the wake of the election,” State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) bloviated. He continued to say, “unity must be separated from complicity…Californians do not need healing. We need to fight.”
The fiery talk isn’t new in California, Trump only received 31-percent of the vote in the limousine liberal state.
“We have all heard the insults, we have all heard the lies, and we have all heard the threats,” Rendon said. He spoke to his fellow assemblymen and told them California has the largest illegal immigration populations and “if you (Trump) want to get to them, you have to go through us.”
The sparring with President-elect Trump comes as the Democrats see every presidential appointment as deplorable on the proposed immigration policies that would prioritize the deportations through ICE. At the top of the list are 2-3 million criminal immigrants that Trump wants repatriated to their home nations.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, (D-LA), opened his morning speech by accepting the Trump’s election results. However he suggested the Republican House, Senate and Oval Office remember they will rebuff Trump every time he crosses their imaginary line. De León insisted the Trump administration better “treat immigrant families and children humanely, with a modicum of dignity and respect. They are hard working, upstanding members of our society who contribute billions of dollars to our economic activity and tax revenue to our state each year. No matter what else we accomplish together, “if we don’t comprehensively address the lack of investment in affordable housing and our crumbling roads, bridges, parks and water resources, it will continue to be a drag on the quality of life of our communities.”
Meanwhile, San Francisco officials claim they will continue to be a sanctuary city in spite of Trump.
More push-back comes from former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who now runs the California public university program.
“While we still do not know what policies and practices the incoming federal administration may adopt, given the many public pronouncements made during the presidential campaign and its aftermath, we felt it necessary to reaffirm that [University of California] will act upon its deeply held conviction that all members of our community have the right to work, study, and live safely and without fear at all UC locations,” Napolitano said in a written statement.
Current federal law states that law enforcement agencies, including campus police, are required to alert federal authorities “when they detain a suspected illegal immigrant. But dozens of cities across the country, as well as colleges and churches, have openly defied the law,” according to a Fox News report.
Another component in the Trump backlash is the University of California system process that allows illegal immigrants to apply to colleges using the same criteria as US citizens. Under Napolitano’s official new policy, campus police are not allowed to cooperate with local, state or federal law enforcement agencies to “investigate, detain, or arrest individuals for violation of federal immigration law.”
Currently under an Obama directive, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are told to steer clear of schools, universities and colleges – “sensitive locations,” where they will not act unless “exigent circumstances exist.
“The ICE and [Customs and Border Patrol] sensitive locations policies, which remain in effect, provide that enforcement actions at sensitive locations should generally be avoided, and require prior approval from an appropriate supervisory official, ” Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Gillian Christensen told FoxNews.com. “DHS is committed to ensuring that people seeking to participate in activities or utilize services provided at any sensitive location are free to do so without fear or hesitation.”
Back in 2008, the Pew Research Center estimated that 340,000 babies were born that year to illegal immigrant parents. The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) says that number has climbed to more than 400,000 annually. Trump contends anchor babies cost the US taxpayers billions of dollars.
In Trump’s 2011 book, “Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again” he outlines the anchor baby problem. “Some four million anchor babies are now officially U.S. citizens,” Trump said in his book. “This has to stop. The only other major country in the world that issues citizenship based on where one’s mother delivers her child is Canada. The rest of the world bases citizenship on who the kid’s parents are, which is, of course, the only sane standard.”
Using a Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) report, Trump claimed taxpayers spent in excess of $52 billion annually to educate illegal immigrants. “The root cause of all the welfare payments to illegal aliens is the so-called ‘anchor baby’ phenomenon,” he explains. Open borders? Another politician told the paper, “What do we do with the repatriated? As Mexicans, we are worried. They are Mexicans but they are also people – fathers and mothers and young people with jobs who won’t have work in Sonora (Mexico).”
Further documentation of Mexico’s leaders urging an open border came from former President Felipe Calderon. In an address before both houses of Congress, he lamented Arizona law. “I strongly disagree with the recently adopted law in Arizona. It’s a law that not only ignores reality but also introduces racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement.”
Calderon continued, “but what we need today is to fix a broken and inefficient system. We favor the establishment of laws that work and work well for all (Mexicans).”
Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) said he was “disappointed that President Calderon did not use this opportunity before us to talk about what more Mexico will do to discourage illegal immigration and improve conditions so that good, hardworking Mexican citizens will want to stay home instead of coming to America.
“Team Trump will have a laundry list of urgent immigration-related tasks at Foggy Bottom, including action on visas and passports, not to mention refugees,” Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies said. The biggest challenge for the incoming appointed leadership will be overcoming the senior career managers’ obliviousness to the impact of key policies on American communities (as opposed to the travel industry or the clients of immigration lawyers) and their clear preference for facilitating travel over preventing unqualified or dangerous foreigners from entering.”
It is true the US immigration system does not work effectively regarding the US border with Mexico. It’s been estimated that 500,000 immigrants cross the southern border; many argue the number does not include the “catch and release” tactic that burdens taxpayers with an annual tab of $120,000,000.
Border states, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, have sought varying degrees of federal enforcement of the border, but the tide of illegal immigrants has reached such epidemic proportions that California has “thrown in the towel” and now grants drivers licenses, in-state tuition, and even professional licenses (Law) to illegal immigrants in California.
Further compounding the problem are sanctuary cities. They bar local law enforcement from working with the federal government like ICE. The results have been deadly. Criminal illegal immigrants have been literally killing Americans while the government refuses to address the repeat offender problems. Many states seemingly condone illegal immigrants working in the sanctuary cities without work permits, social security numbers, or possible health issues (like Ebola, TB, Whooping Cough) and prior criminal status.
The fact is that the estimated 11-30 million illegal immigrants in the US today wield an incredible amount of political power. From flooding the halls of Congress demanding a path to citizenship, to demands from the President of Mexico that the US change its laws to accommodate them, such a disenfranchised group of immigrants has never held such political clout. Ironically, the illegal immigration epidemic seems unfair to those prospective legal immigrants that pay their fees, pay for medical tests, study US civics and language, and wait in line for years for legal admission.
Furthermore, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) claims, “Effective immigration enforcement will not collapse our economy. Opponents of immigration enforcement have resorted to doomsday economic scenarios under which all illegal aliens are removed or leave at once. Even the most ardent supporters of true immigration reform understand that 13 million illegal aliens did not all arrive yesterday and they are not all going home tomorrow no matter what policies are put in place. Since all rational immigration enforcement plans rely heavily on deterrence, the reversal of years of non-enforcement will happen gradually, over time. Just as the economy adjusted to the presence of millions of low-wage illegal workers, it will adjust to their absence. Moreover, the cumulative economic output of illegal alien workers will not be lost; it will be replaced. As illegal aliens leave, the jobs that need to be done in our economy will be filled by some of the 90 million working-age Americans who are now outside the traditional labor force – and likely taking those jobs at higher wages. Thus, the jobs will continue to be performed by workers who earn more and send less of their money abroad in the form of remittances, and who are more likely to be in the above-ground economy and paying taxes instead of consuming public benefits.”
So it is not surprising Americans of all political stripes are angry about the immigration and economic rhetoric of the “out-of-touch” the “Establishment” elites, which drove a non-politico, straight talker, like Trump to the top of the presidential polls.