Government’s Stupid Plan While Big Business Greases the Wheels

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

All too often there is a proposal for a government plan that just makes one stare in disbelief at the proposing legislator’s gross ignorance. When you then see that the business community is complicit with said ridiculously stupid plan, it becomes obvious why many people no longer trust big organizations. Following is such a situation.

We have a housing crisis in California. It is not unlike what is going on across America. It is estimated there is a shortage of approximately 1.5 million units. Development has slowed down since the housing crisis that occurred in 2007-08. In California, the housing crisis has driven up prices and caused an exodus of many businesses along with the middle class. The only reason the population has not gone into free fall is the growth of two groups – illegal immigrants and the homeless. The government is taking tax dollars and developing homeless units for $500,000 and up – per unit.

Instead of resolving the underlying problems costs burdened by the government and restricting the development of new units created by the government, as usual, there is a new proposal. It does not address those problems but manages to create a solution so amazingly brainless that you just must stand there with your mouth agape.

Senator Toni Atkins is a powerful member of the California State Legislature. She was formerly the Speaker of the Assembly and is now head of the Senate. People listen when she makes a proposal.

She now has a proposal for a 10-year, $10 billion revolving fund where an individual or family may receive a down payment to purchase a home. The program allocates state funds to provide first-time homebuyers with an interest-free loan of 17% of the purchase price. The money must be repaid when the home is refinanced or sold and only then. As always, it sounds nice on its face, but let us look at the facts.

I understand how difficult it is to gather the down payment for your first home. The Beautiful Wife and I experienced that ourselves in 1987 when acquiring our first home. It has become even more challenging as the price of housing in California has soared. Times have changed and this is where this plan becomes dangerous.

The further you get away from an event the more people forget the pain that was inflicted. We had a housing collapse in 2007-08 that nearly brought our economy to its knees. The government, as always, blamed businesses for bad policies, but concurrent with the events of the time I documented that the root cause was federal government housing and loan policies.

People were simply walking away from their homes or rental properties because they had put little or none of their own funds into the property, per the government’s policy. That caused the collapse. With the decline of housing values, they were “underwater” and just gave the property to the lender with its government-insured loan.

I wrote at the time that some in our federal government had wanted to further expand the acquisition of homes by people with no “skin in the game.” Maxine Waters, one of our most “esteemed” members of Congress is now chair of the House Financial Services Committee. Ms. Waters stated just prior to the collapse that “If you can afford rent, you can afford a mortgage,” a statement so amazingly ignorant it still fascinates and especially now since she is in such a prominent position regarding the nation’s financial affairs.

Ms. Atkins wants to further Congresswoman Waters’ dream of having people with no skin in the game acquire a home. It is not hard to see these same people walk away once things again go bad. They have invested nothing so why should they care? In a repeat housing collapse these loans would just exacerbate the collapse.

Ms. Atkins’ ignorance is understandable. She has zero experience in the real estate market. However, she does excel at taking our money and redirecting it somewhere whether it makes no economic sense.

The ignorance of real estate people is inexcusable. That did not stop the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) from endorsing this dangerous plan. Their board supports this plan. Otto Catrina, C.A.R.’s president, stated “Many Californians can afford a monthly payment but need assistance with the down payment and closing costs, we are pleased to support a plan that provides an opportunity for financial security and housing stability so all Californians can realize the economic and societal benefits homeownership provides.”

After being a licensed real estate broker for 35 years and having a CPA practice with a substantial focus on real estate, it is obvious why I have not joined this organization.

When I contacted the organization, I asked their spokesperson whether the board had forgotten about the last housing crisis. She refused to answer the question. I then asked the second reason that makes this plan so amazingly egregious. I stated I would expect Senator Atkins not to know that the problem with the housing market is an issue of supply; not demand. Did the board not know this when they endorsed the proposal?

Every home sale in California becomes an auction. There are multiple bidders on each home driving the price up as they try to be the winning bidder. There is a severe lack of supply with demand far exceeding the supply. Why anyone would create a program to further increase demand staggers the imagination. Why C.A.R. would not counsel Senator Atkins on this defines how big business goes along with government programs only to feather their own nests.

When I asked the spokesperson why the C.A.R. endorsed this plan in the face of the severe supply shortage, she asked “Don’t you support people owning their own homes, the American dream?” I answered I believe every American should be able to own a 4,000 sq. ft. home (true). She scoffed at that.

It is understandable why Senator Atkins would make this proposal. Her understanding of the housing market is a millimeter thick. It is the obligation of a big trade organization to educate the legislators on the facts. The history of no-money-down home acquisitions and the upside-down supply and demand issues in the market make this plan outrageously ill-advised, yet the C.A.R. has gone along with it.

It is no wonder Californians and people across America no longer trust the government and big business, and believe they are simply lining each other’s pockets.

*****

The article was published by Flash Report and is reproduced with the permission of the author.

Yuma, Dinesh D’Souza and Election Integrity in Arizona

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Editors’ Note. The following is a message to the supporters of AZ Representative Shawnna Bolick (LD 20) who is currently a Republican candidate for the Arizona Secretary of State. We share Ms. Bolick’s deep and ongoing concern about the integrity of Arizona elections, ballot harvesting, and fraudulent voting with the readers The Prickly Pear. Secure and fair elections are a primary role of the Arizona Secretary of State, Arizona’s Chief Election Office.

 

Yuma, Arizona has mass voting fraud caught on tape.

2000 Mules, a film by Dinesh D’Souza which debuted in early May, exposed the depth of the organized election fraud that occurred in the 2020 Presidential election and 2021 Georgia runoff election. Using the same cell phone proximity data that law enforcement uses to catch criminals, they found that “mules” were collecting ballots and stuffing ballot boxes in multiple key swing states, including Arizona. Up to 400,000 fraudulent votes, enough to flip many states, were involved in this criminal enterprise because these “mules” were being paid between $10 to $40 per ballot.

When I saw the movie and considered the evidence D’Souza showcased, I was disappointed, but not entirely shocked. When we passed a law prohibiting ballot harvesting, the DNC unsuccessfully sued Arizona to keep the practice alive. The practice is flourishing. Democratic Party-aligned non-profits have historically harvested ballots, but the scope of their fraud in 2020 was more extensive than we could ever imagine.

We will continue to have question marks about the 2020 election. It is clear to me that the ballot box stuffing was highly organized. Yuma’s law enforcement has raided these non-government organizations for false voter registrations, duplicate voting, fraudulent use of absentee ballots and impersonation fraud.

I’ve been rallying our efforts to secure elections in the legislature since I was elected, but I’m running into a lot of opposition. Before 2000 Mules released, we were offered an informational hearing in the House to hear the evidence they presented to the FBI and the AG’s office, but Speaker Bowers denied the hearing. I can be forward thinking and assist in passing laws to secure our future elections, but there are obstructionists preventing Arizona from truly improving the integrity of the process. That’s why I’m running for Arizona’s Chief Election Officer—the Secretary of State—to prevent 2020 from happening under my watch.

ICYMI [In Case You Missed It] a few weeks ago, my legislative office received six public records requests from left wing organizations, including one from The Washington Post. Afterall, it is an even year (aka an election year). We were asked to forward all communications my office had with Ginni Thomas. The Left went crazy over my response to an auto-generated form email sent. You can read it here for yourself.

I bet many other legislators across the US received similar emails from millions of frustrated voters after the November 2020 election. Why are the lazy lamestream reporters requesting such items now?

Hold firm, Justice Clarence Thomas!

*****

Learn more about Shawnna Bolick at www.bolickforarizona.com.

 

 

Price Controls on Fuel Would Be Disastrous for Americans

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

In classic Washington style, liberals in Congress are advancing a bill that most assuredly would make a bad situation much worse.

In response to soaring fuel prices, liberals seek to shift blame away from Bidenflation and onto producers through the so-called Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act.  A more appropriate title would be the “Driving Up Prices and Fuel Rationing Act,” because that is exactly what it would do. 

The bill would empower state and federal authorities to bring civil actions against fuel suppliers who engage in what the bill terms “unconscionable pricing.”

By using highly subjective and undefinable terms to trigger action against fuel suppliers (over unlimited timeframes), the bill would provide politicians and bureaucrats near limitless power to interfere with energy markets.

The result would be a federal price control system for consumer fuel. The United States attempted price controls at the pump during the 1970s, and it was an unmitigated disaster. Why would Congress want to take us back to the ’70s, with interminable gas lines and “sold out” signs at station after station?

Prices are important signals that convey information to the marketplace. High prices tell companies to produce more, and low prices tell them to produce less. By interfering with that natural market process, this proposal actually could make gasoline shortages worse, forcing companies to lose money or even risk prosecution for trying to expand production while covering their costs.

Congress needs to understand that unforeseen market shifts can happen, causing a misalignment between supply and demand. This affects prices, and those prices are how markets bring alignment between consumers and producers.

These price fluctuations aren’t the problem, they’re the solution. Stop prices from adjusting and the misalignment between supply and demand will continue or even worsen into shortage. And then, watch out!

When government policy, such as this legislation, prevents producers from offering products at market prices, producers may produce less of the product (or even stop producing it altogether) and limit capital investment to provide for future demand.

When prices don’t reflect corresponding supply reductions, consumer demand will fail to adjust, instead of chasing a dwindling supply. Fewer goods with high demand are a recipe for shortages.

The Federal Trade Commission knows this and has warned: “If natural price signals are distorted by price controls, consumers ultimately might be worse off, as gasoline shortages could result.”

The economic carnage of price controls is bad enough. But layering them over the Biden administration’s anti-energy agenda would make meeting the artificially high demand for gas even more difficult. 

Indeed, the bill is just an extension of the left’s war on energy. The chilling effect it would have on investment and innovation would not only impact fuel prices today but well into the future. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers reportedly called this price-gouging bill “dangerous nonsense.”

Ben Lieberman, a senior fellow for environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, makes the point about the nonsensical nature of the price-gouging argument in this way: “If major oil companies can simply manipulate gas prices upward, why would they have endured six years of considerably lower prices prior [to] 2021?”

It isn’t just nonsensical and flawed economics. The bill is also harmful because it diverts attention from the actual problems and the real solutions.

And many of the actual problems when it comes to gas prices aren’t hard to identify. The Biden administration and liberal legislators are pushing a war on conventional fuels that is driving up prices.

The Biden administration has been trying to blame the high gas prices on Russian President Vladimir Putin. But the public hasn’t been buying this misinformation campaign, properly recognizing that gas prices were soaring well before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Retail prices for regular gasoline already had risen by 48% from the week ending Jan. 25, 2021 (when President Joe Biden took office), to the week ending Feb. 21, 2022 (three days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine).

Currently, gas prices are over $4 per gallon, and in some areas of the country, they exceed $5 per gallon.

Liberals, though, act as if they have nothing to do with what’s happening. Blame is the name of the game, not responsibility. Now the left’s blame game is turning up the heat on the oil and gas industry.

But this is hardly new. Like clockwork, when there are higher than normal gas prices, liberal legislators and administrations (such as the Obama administration) will try to blame it on price gouging instead of their own failed inflationary policies.

The Federal Trade Commission, though, consistently has found that allegations and claims of gas price gouging and related anti-competitive concerns are unfounded.

Policymakers need to remove government intervention that is driving up prices, not try to pass a bill that would double down on heavy-handed government.

*****

This article was published by The Daily Signal and is reproduced with permission.

China Starting Next Global Crisis By Gobbling Up Sri Lanka

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
  • Sri Lanka is only the world’s opening act.
  • Events in Sri Lanka also highlight how China is going about dominating the world. Beijing is corrupting national leaders, drowning them in debt, and ultimately destabilizing their governments. Beijing, it appears, is particularly targeting democracies.
  • China is the world’s predatory lender, something evident from its CCP, , also known as BRI. Beijing’s grand infrastructure project specializes in roads, ports, and railroads that have, like the Sri Lankan projects, little or no commercial justification. So far, 146 countries have signed BRI memo agreements with Beijing.
  • The Chinese have established a pattern. “China extends debt on onerous terms, backs up authoritarian governments when there are financial collapses or civil disobedience, and then takes everything it can find,” Cleo Paskal of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told Gatestone.
  • In December 2017, Beijing took control of the Hambantota port…. Now there are concerns that Hambantota will eventually become a Chinese naval base. China’s admirals have long eyed Sri Lanka…
  • A base in Sri Lanka would allow Chinese aircraft and surface combatants as well as submarines to cut sea lanes in the Indian Ocean and force next-door India to divert military assets to a threatening presence.
  • Sri Lanka is now looking for a bailout from the International Monetary Fund, but that is not necessarily a good idea. The international community should not be helping a voracious China gobble up small, vulnerable societies.
  • If the IMF bails out Sri Lanka without ensuring that it is no longer aligned with Beijing, it will have subsidized Chinese investment and politically reinforced a country that becomes a Chinese proxy.” – Cleo Paskal, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, to Gatestone, May, 2022.

On May 12, India confirmed that it would provide a desperate Sri Lankan government 65,000 metric tons of urea, pursuant to an existing $1 billion credit line. The sale, which overrides New Delhi’s ban on the exports of the commodity, relieves severe pressure on the government of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Sri Lanka since the end of March has been wracked by violent protests.Shoot-on-sight” orders have for the most part restored order, but the unrest has led to the replacement of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, once the country’s dominate political figure. His brother, the president, is unlikely to survive the tumult. The ongoing economic and financial crisis is Sri Lanka’s worst since independence from Britain in 1948.

Sri Lanka is only the world’s opening act. Disturbances there constitute the first in a series of crises about to engulf vulnerable countries, perhaps even large ones. The war in Ukraine, aggravating underlying problems in Sri Lanka and elsewhere, is shaking just about every corner of the planet.

Events in Sri Lanka also highlight how China is going about dominating the world. Beijing is corrupting national leaders, drowning them in debt, and ultimately destabilizing their governments. Beijing, it appears, is particularly targeting democracies.

India’s urea, a fertilizer, will allow Sri Lankan farmers to plant in the May-August Yala cultivation season. It comes at a time of critical need. The country was spending about $400 million annually to import fertilizer but had not been able to make purchases recently due to the lack of foreign exchange. The government last year, to conserve currency reserves, banned chemical fertilizer.

The finance ministry reports that the country has only $25 million in usable foreign reserves on hand, hardly sufficient to service obligations. Sri Lanka is scheduled to repay $7 billion in debt this year, a part of the $26 billion due by 2026. The country’s total foreign debt is $51 billion.

The chemical fertilizer ban forced farmers to abandon paddies, and some joined the recent protests.

There is, as a result, hunger in the country, and soaring food prices have fueled protests. “I’ve been living in Colombo for 60 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Vadivu, a domestic worker, to AFP in March. “There’s nothing to eat, there’s nothing to drink.” This month, food prices there, Sri Lanka’s most-populous city, tripled in the space of a few days.

The new prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, said he would ensure that everyone had three meals a day. “There won’t be a hunger crisis, we will find food,” he told the BBC.

That is a promise Wickremesinghe may not be able to keep. Sri Lanka cannot solve its problems on its own. The COVID-19 pandemic ended tourism, a main source of revenue. Moreover, the Russian invasion of Ukraine—both countries are big sources of tourists for Sri Lanka—killed hopes for a recovery this year.

The issue, however, goes beyond tourist arrivals. The Ukraine war looks as if it is ending a decades-long period of globalization, and this transition is going to be difficult for countries that are especially dependent on others. The Sri Lankan crisis, therefore, is only the beginning. “Sri Lanka is the first country to buckle under the mounting economic pressures triggered by the war in Ukraine,” London’s Guardian stated. “It is unlikely to be the last.”

Sri Lanka also faces another difficulty: China. The dominant Rajapaksa clan, long thought to be in Beijing’s pocket, borrowed heavily from Chinese sources for misconceived ventures. Many of the “white-elephant projects” are in the Hambantota district, the home of the Rajapaksas.

The Hambantota port, losing $300 million in six years, was ill-conceived from the beginning. Port operators, therefore, were unable to service $1.4 billion in loans from China. Close to the port is a rarely used $15.5 million conference center. Thanks to a $200 million loan from China, Sri Lanka was able to build the nearby Rajapaksa Airport, which could not pay even its electricity bills.

In Colombo, there is Sri Lanka’s answer to Dubai: the Chinese-funded Port City, an island of 665 acres of landfill and a “hidden debt trap.” In that city is also the never-opened-to-the-public Lotus Tower, also funded by China. “What is the point of being proud of this tower if we are left begging for food?” asked Krishantha Kulatunga, the owner of a small stationery store near the landmark. “We are neck-deep in loans already.”

China extended around 17% of the country’s total debt. Very few know the full extent of the indebtedness to Chinese parties because there are hard-to-track loans to Sri Lanka’s state firms and to the country’s central bank.

Whatever their amount, Chinese loans have broken Sri Lanka. In April, it declared a suspension of repayment of foreign debt. The BBC reports that the suspension, the first default since independence, is “largely because it cannot service loans from China that paid for massive infrastructure projects.”

China is the world’s predatory lender, something evident from its Belt and Road Initiative, also known as BRI. Beijing’s grand infrastructure project specializes in roads, ports, and railroads that have, like the Sri Lankan projects, little or no commercial justification. So far, 146 countries have signed BRI memo agreements with Beijing. Some of them find themselves in hock to the Chinese.

The Chinese have established a pattern. “China extends debt on onerous terms, backs up authoritarian governments when there are financial collapses or civil disobedience, and then takes everything it can find,” Cleo Paskal of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told Gatestone.

This pattern is evident in Sri Lanka. In December 2017, Beijing took control of the Hambantota port, grabbing 70% of the equity and signing a 99-year lease, after that project could not repay high-interest loans extended by China. Now there are concerns that Hambantota will eventually become a Chinese naval base.

China’s admirals have long eyed Sri Lanka: In both September and October 2014 the Sri Lankan government allowed a Chinese submarine and its tender to dock at the Chinese-funded Colombo International Container Terminal.

A base in Sri Lanka would allow Chinese aircraft and surface combatants as well as submarines to cut sea lanes in the Indian Ocean and force next-door India to divert military assets to a threatening presence.

It is no coincidence that Djibouti, also heavily indebted to Chinese parties, is now the site of China’s first offshore military base.

“This pattern is deep, entrenched, and expanding, and so it’s like the dominoes have all been set up and Beijing is perfectly happy to have them fall down so that it can come to the rescue economically and politically and entrench itself even more,” Paskal noted.

Sri Lanka is now looking for a bailout from the International Monetary Fund, but that is not necessarily a good idea. The international community should not be helping a voracious China gobble up small, vulnerable societies.

“It’s not financial restructuring that you need, it’s political restructuring that you need before you should put in any more money,” Paskal said. “If the IMF bails out Sri Lanka without ensuring that it is no longer aligned with Beijing, it will have subsidized Chinese investment and politically reinforced a country that becomes a Chinese proxy.”

*****

This article was published by the Gatestone Institute and is reproduced with permission.

A Supermarket Checker on Prices, Life and Whole Foods

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

One of the many jobs that I held before and during my college years in order to pay my college bills was a supermarket checker. Maybe that’s why I like to strike up a conversation with checkers to see how they’re feeling about their job and issues of the day.

A recent visit to a local Tucson supermarket was no exception. During checkout, I asked the forty-something checker if customers were complaining about rising prices for groceries.

“Oh, yeah,” she replied, “but I can’t blame them, as I have the same complaint. If prices get any higher, I finally might be able to stick to a diet and lose weight.”

She added, “Even worse, although I live in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in the ghetto, my rent was just increased from $830 to $1,150 per month. A Florida company owns the apartment complex and must think that it’s beachfront property.”

Continuing, she said, “I haven’t been able to afford to fix the air-conditioner in my car for two years, so when I get off work this afternoon, the car will be hot enough to cook a roast, if I could afford a roast.”

Listening to her woes, I felt fortunate that groceries aren’t a financial burden to my wife and me, although we’re retired and spend about $800 a month on them.

The conversation with the checker occurred on the day of our weekly shopping at Basha’s supermarket, a local chain with prices comparable to Safeway or Fry’s (Kroger). The bill was $116.67. Produce accounted for $69.21 of that amount, and bread, yogurt, cheese, lemonade, half-and-half, spices, and three pork steaks accounted for most of the remainder of $47.46. At $2.90 a pound, the steaks were a bargain.

Every three weeks we drive 20 minutes to a Walmart to stock up on canned goods, crackers, snacks, dairy products with a long shelf life, paper products, cleaning supplies, health and beauty products, and maybe a bottle or two of wine. Most of these items cost 30% to 50% less than their cost at Basha’s. Our total Walmart bill is typically about $250, or, on a weekly basis, about $84.00.

This means that we’re spending a little over $200 per week on groceries and associated items ($116 or so at Basha’s and $84 or so at Walmart). On a monthly basis, that comes to about $800, not counting a restaurant meal or two a week.

No doubt, grocery bills are considerably higher for people who buy a lot of prepared foods, snacks, designer water, soda, sports drinks, and liquor. Of course, the bills are even higher for those with kids at home.

Costs must be out of sight for those who buy groceries, snacks, and booze at convenience stores, which, amazingly, account for something like 30% of all grocery spending in the US. Many of the patrons are working-class guys, who, one would think, can least afford the high-mark-ups in convenience stores. Some of them pull up to the gas pumps at convenience stores in a humongous pickup truck and fill the tank with $100 or so of gas.

My 11-year-old RAV-4 looks like a 90-pound weakling next to the behemoths, and I probably look like a dork. Or maybe I look like a 90-pound weakling and my car looks like a dork.

The prices at Whole Foods are even higher than the prices at convenience stores and are way over my level of frugality, for quality that isn’t noticeably better than the quality at Basha’s, or, for that matter, at Walmart. For the few times that I’ve gone into a Whole Foods, I’ve gotten lightheaded from hyperventilating at the prices and pretentiousness. Not only that, but my RAV-4 develops an inferiority complex when I park next to a Tesla, Land Rover, BMW, Mercedes, or other luxury brands that dominate the parking lot.

Judging by bumper stickers, many patrons of Whole Foods are progressives, which means that they see themselves as caring about the poor, social justice, and climate change.

I wonder how checkers see them.

 

Federal Judge Halts Biden Administration from Revoking Title 42 Immigration Enforcement

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

A federal judge in Louisiana on Friday stopped the Biden administration from revoking Title 42, a public health authority that allows illegal immigrants to be quickly deported during a health emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays in the Western District of Louisiana issued the order in a case filed by the attorneys general of Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri. The case later grew to 21 states. Texas also filed a separate lawsuit in a federal court in Texas. The attorney’s general argues ending Title 42 violates federal law and places an unfair financial burden on the states.

The administration announced it was ending Title 42 effective Monday, May 23, and estimated that roughly 18,000 people would enter the U.S. illegally a day once it was lifted.

In response to the judge’s ruling, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said, “I’m so proud of the lawyers from our office who just got our Temporary Restraining Order to keep Title 42 in place. We will continue to fight the Biden administration’s open border policies.

“Title 42 is one of the last tools we have left in our toolbox to stop an even greater flood of illegal immigration into our country,” he said. “While this is a good win, we gotta keep fighting. I’m going to do everything I can to stop the overreach of the Biden administration; and make sure that we enforce our immigration laws and … do everything we can to protect American taxpayers.”

The Biden administration later Friday said it disagreed with the ruling and would appeal it. “The authority to set public health policy nationally should rest with the Centers for Disease Control, not with a single district court,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. However, in compliance with the court’s injunction, the administration will enforce Title 42, she said. “This means that migrants who attempt to enter the United States unlawfully will be subject to expulsion under Title 42, as well as immigration consequences such as removal under Title 8.

“As the appeal proceeds, the Department of Homeland Security will continue planning for the eventual lifting of Title 42 in the light of CDC’s public health judgment, at which point anyone who attempts to enter the country unlawfully will be subject to Title 8 Expedited Removal proceedings if they do not have grounds to remain in the United States.”
The lawsuit that led to Friday’s ruling is one of many filed by Brnovich and other attorneys general in response to the Biden administration’s open border policies. Since Biden took office, an estimated 2.5 million people have entered the U.S. illegally even with Title 42 in place.

Due to widespread nonenforcement of immigration laws by the administration, the number of people entering illegally continues to break new records nearly every month.

Last month, more than 234,000 people were encountered entering the U.S. illegally, the greatest number in a single month in recorded U.S. history. That’s a 1,376% increase from the 17,106 encounters reported in April 2020 under the Trump administration.

These numbers exclude at least one million who’ve entered the U.S. illegally and evaded capture, known as “got aways,” according to estimates previously reported on by The Center Square. Last month, there were between 58,000 and 71,000 got aways recorded by Border Patrol, numbers that aren’t published publicly.

At a news conference in the Rio Grande Valley this week, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas maintained that ending Title 42 wouldn’t “mean the border is open on May 23,” KHOU 11 News Houston reported. “We continue to enforce the laws of this country,” he said. “We continue to remove individuals who do not qualify for relief under the laws of this country.”

Deportation was down last year by 70%, and at least 1.2 million people with deportation orders remain in the U.S. and haven’t been deported. Mayorkas has begun gutting Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation units across the country, according to recently retired ICE officials and law enforcement officers who’ve reached out to The Center Square. Last fall, Mayorkas also instituted widespread immigration policy changes, including declaring that being in the U.S. illegally isn’t a crime, even though federal law says it is.

Mayorkas has also radically altered the asylum process by granting administrative personnel judicial authority to adjudicate claims when Congress has only authorized judges to do so. Fourteen attorneys general, also led by Arizona, Louisiana, and Missouri, sued over this policy, hoping to halt it.

“Right now, immigration judges who are suffering a 1.6 or 1.7 million case workload, now they have exclusive jurisdiction,” Mayorkas said. “We are giving the asylum officers that jurisdiction. That is going to take what is now on average a six-to-eight-year-plus process between the time of encounter and the time of ultimate asylum adjudication to under a year.”

In the meantime, the attorney’s general said they will take the win handed to them on Friday.

“Once again, the courts rule against Joe Biden’s lawless agenda,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “Title 42 is one of the last remaining protections we have from a deluge of illegals coming across our border. I am glad for our state and our nation that It will remain in place.”

The administration will appeal the ruling, and the matter is likely to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

*****

This article was published by The Center Square and is reproduced with permission.

11 Examples of Defensive Gun Use Dispel NYC Mayor’s Concerns on Open Carry

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Any week now, the Supreme Court will render its decision in the pivotal Second Amendment caseNew York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, where a majority seems poised to strike down New York laws that effectively prohibit law-abiding citizens from carrying firearms in public for self-defense.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, recently lamented the likely outcome of the case, telling reporters that city residents should be “very concerned” and noting that his administration “did our job of getting the guns off the streets.”

Respectfully, Mr. Mayor, your city’s soaring violent crime rates prove that you haven’t succeeded in getting guns off the streets. In fact, New York’s entire legal framework succeeds only in rendering law-abiding New Yorkers defenseless in the face of criminals who continue to illegally carry firearms and use them to commit heinous acts.

This reality was made painfully obvious during recent mass public shootings in New York state, including one Saturday in Buffalo where the perpetrator’s manifesto explained in detail how New York’s strict gun laws “put him at ease” by ensuring that his victims, even if armed, would have a more limited capacity to fight back.

The right to keep and bear arms plays a pivotal role in protecting law-abiding Americans when the government cannot or will not be there at the moment those Americans are victimized.

Almost every major study on the issue has found that Americans use their firearms in self-defense between 500,000 and 3 million times annually, according to the most recent report on the subject by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For this reason, The Daily Signal each month publishes an article highlighting some of the previous month’s many news stories on defensive gun use that you may have missed—or that might not have made it to the national spotlight in the first place. (Read other accounts here from 2019, 2020, 2021, and so far in 2022.)

The examples below represent only a small portion of the news stories on defensive gun use that we found in April. You may explore more by using The Heritage Foundation’s interactive Defensive Gun Use Database. (The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.)

  1. April 1, St. Paul: A man fatally shot his daughter’s ex-boyfriend after he kicked in the family’s front door in the middle of the night and threatened her, police said. The former boyfriend had a long history of domestic violence, including three prior convictions for domestic assault dating to 2006. He was facing additional domestic violence charges—all related to alleged physical assaults against the man and his daughter—and had active warrants out for his arrest.
  2. April 5, Somerset, Kentucky: A man was assaulting his girlfriend inside their home when a juvenile came to the woman’s defense, retrieved a handgun, and fatally shot her assailant, local officials said.
  3. April 7, Brownsboro, Texas: A would-be burglar who broke into a house by smashing through glass in the front door found himself face-to-face with the homeowner, who—armed with an AR-15—held him at gunpoint until police arrived. The burglar was arrested, but police said they were unable to locate a second, female suspect believed to be his accomplice.
  4. April 8, Melbourne, Florida: A man sitting in his truck outside a friend’s house was confronted by an acquaintance who, angry about an earlier argument, opened fire on him, police said. The man grabbed his own handgun and shot back. When the handgun jammed, the man—still under fire—grabbed an AR-15 from his backseat. During the ensuing shootout, he got out of the truck to use it as cover. He eventually retrieved a second AR-15 from his trunk and maintained his defensive fire until his assailant ran away. Police were able to find, arrest, and charge the man with several felonies.  No one was injured during the shootout, police said.
  5. April 11, Las Vegas: A teenager was arguing with someone on a residential street when a neighbor, who was walking his dog, tried to intervene, police said. The teenager pointed a gun at the man and threatened him, but he was legally carrying his own gun and fatally shot the teen. Police said the man acted in lawful self-defense, wasn’t arrested, and won’t face charges.
  6. April 14, Charleston, South Carolina: A man called police to say that another driver had shot at him, but his story quickly fell apart when other witnesses reported that he was, in fact, the aggressor in a violent road rage incident. Officers arrested the man, who is accused of tailgating a female driver, throwing a soda can at her car, and then threatening her with a gun before firing several rounds at her. She grabbed her own gun from the glovebox and shot back in self-defense, police said.
  7. April 17, Philadelphia: Two armed men with fake badges impersonated police officers, forced their way inside a home, and attempted to zip-tie a resident’s hands, police said. The resident quickly realized that the men were not real cops, drew his own gun, and fatally shot one of them. The second intruder, who fled, was not immediately captured. The resident encouraged fellow Philadelphians who can legally own guns to buy one to protect themselves from violent crime.
  8. April 21, Brentwood, Tennessee: When a woman’s estranged husband violated a protection order and showed up at her apartment without permission, she called her father and brother for help, police said. When they arrived, the husband lunged at them, so the brother shot him three times, wounding him. Police said the husband would be charged with stalking and violating a protection order when he is released from a hospital.
  9. April 25, Cleveland: A man held a store employee at gunpoint and grabbed cash from an open register, police said. As he turned around to flee, another employee tried to follow him out, so he shot at her. This employee, however, was armed. She returned fire, striking the robber in the leg. Responding officers couldn’t find the injured robber, but recovered his abandoned backpack with the gun still inside.
  10. April 27, Princeton, West Virginia: A homeowner discovered a man breaking into his vehicle in the middle of the night, then held him at gunpoint until police arrived. Responding officers found several items in the man’s possession that had been stolen from area residents, including the backpack in which the man had placed the other items.
  11. April 29, Miami: An employee at a demolition and trash hauling company confronted a man who was trying to steal a catalytic converter from a car in the company lot, police said. Instead of fleeing, the would-be thief ran at the employee while wielding a saw, so the employee drew his firearm and shot him. The wounded thief dropped the catalytic converter and fled, but police later found him and his stolen getaway car.

It’s clear that, try as they might, law enforcement officers simply cannot be there to defend most citizens from violent crime at the moment they are victimized. The Second Amendment enables these innocent Americans to have more of a fighting chance against criminals who would harm them.

And what’s more, the data is clear that concealed carry permit holders are, as a class, one of the most law-abiding segments of the population.

Mr. Mayor, New York has nothing to fear from a future where its law-abiding citizens are allowed to defend themselves in public with firearms.

New York’s violent criminals, on the other hand? They should feel a little more afraid.

*****

This article was published by The Daily Signal and is reproduced with permission.

Lawmaker That Skipped Months of Session After Wife Had Baby Hit With Ethics Investigation

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Arizona State Sen. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, is requesting his chamber’s ethics officers hold one of his colleagues accountable for his poor attendance.

Shope filed an ethics inquiry into what should be deemed appropriate statute for when an office is declared vacant due to a politician’s absences.

Shope filed the letter because of the attendance record of Sen. Juan Mendez, D-Tempe, who has been absent from the legislature for more than two months so far this session.

“There is an expectation from voters within the state of Arizona that their lawmakers show up for work on a daily basis,” Shope said in a press release. “It is my belief that our current senator representing District 26, which covers north Tempe, northwest Mesa, the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community and parts of south Phoenix, is taking advantage of the system. Missing 63 days and counting from the legislature, while collecting a legislative salary of $24,000 on top of more than $4,000 so far in per diem payments, is completely unacceptable for the taxpayers who are footing the bill without any representation on matters important to them. I am asking our Senate Ethics Committee to consider recommendations on statutory and rule changes to hold our state lawmakers to a higher standard than the present.”

Shope hopes for an expedient process to figure out how the chamber will address what he called a “dangerous precedent.”

Mendes responded to the accusations Friday, calling Shope’s actions a move to deflect attention from Sen. Wendy Rogers. The Flagstaff Republican is facing an investigation over comments many took to infer that a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, was the work of federal agents.

“Setting aside how patently ridiculous it is to compare protecting my newborn from COVID-19 to employing the same type of rhetoric that incited the racist murder of 10 innocent people, Republicans are clearly trying to deflect from the fact that they are afraid to do their responsibility and remove Sen. Rogers from public office,” Mendez told The Center Square via a Senate spokesperson. “The reason why they are afraid is simple: they know that it’s Rogers who speaks for the modern Arizona Republican Party.

“Finally, I’m unaware of any efforts by Sen. Shope to allow for remote voting away from the Capitol in order to protect my baby from COVID. If he would like to join me in calling for remote voting, I’d be happy to commit to a perfect attendance record.”

Current state law says that an office is vacant if the legislator is not present for three consecutive months. Additionally, under the Rules of Procedure of the Senate Ethics Committee, this group of lawmakers within the committee can provide advisory opinions on rule changes regarding the ethics of its members.

Mendez is married to Rep. Athena Salman. Unlike her husband, the Tempe Democrat isn’t under the same scrutiny as Mendez.

Salman wrote House Speaker Rusty Bowers in January, requesting an extension of the Legislature’s COVID-19 rule change allowing lawmakers to vote remotely. The request was denied, though both Mendez and Salman were granted excused absences for their months away from their chambers.

In his letter, Shope said that he thinks three months is too long of a time; he requested that the committee shortens that span.

“While this law is the current controlling authority for deeming an office vacant, I believe three months is a far too lengthy period of time for any member of the legislature to be away from the Capitol and not voting on important legislation,” he wrote in the letter. “Therefore, I request that the Committee consider changes to statute that reflects a more appropriate timeframe for Senate members’ offices to be declared vacant when they refuse to be present at the Capitol.”

*****

This article was published by The Center Square and is reproduced with permission.

Banned on Twitter; Nothing Compared to Washington Post

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

I quit Twitter at the same time I abandoned Parler — right after Big Tech ganged up on that site to kill it off because it was presenting a different voice. I found Twitter to be an angry wasteland of malcontents. Then came the eruption with the acquisition of Twitter by the new Darth Vader (Elon Musk).

We don’t need to analyze that entire saga as the matter has been thrashed over ad nauseum. We do know that one of Twitter’s problems is angry, low-quality communication. The Twitter people determined anything you (conservatives) might say is “hateful” while allowing anyone to spew any ugly words formerly banned in public communications with impunity.

I subscribe to the Washington Post because I am into self-flagellation. I have always believed in reading people of varying viewpoints to understand what they are thinking and saying instead of going on others’ analyses. As you know, a remarkably successful entrepreneur owns WAPO. The paper does not seem to ever be questioned as to how it addresses issues. WAPO’s “quality” has reached the level Twitter’s nastiness.

Below, I have copied a recent week’s worth of WAPO’S various headlines and sub-headlines in editorials and opinion pieces. The items below include a wide array of their opinion writers and an editorial by the Editorial Board. We know that in a publication like this the headline for a column is not written by the columnist, but it does closely resemble the tone of the column. The sub-headlines do come from the columnist. Obviously, the editorial page editor and the Editor-in–Chief endorse this kind of writing.

The job Kevin McCarthy sold his soul for might elude him
When you’ve lost Tucker Carlson, you know you’ve probably lost the speakership.

By Jennifer Rubin

The Republican primaries have gone off the rail.
What happens when some of these clowns get elected?

By Paul Waldman

Michigan Republicans put truth vs. lies on this year’s ballot
Opinion ● Opinion by the Editorial Board

More Sean Hannity texts, more corruption
The bottomless trove of journalistic corruption that is Sean Hannity’s text history.

By Erik Wemple

McCarthy’s lying at the border cements him as the Great Prevaricator
It’s easy to tell when McCarthy is lying: His lips are moving.

By Dana Milbank

A Speaker Kevin McCarthy would mean only more debacles like this one
McCarthy is a dissembler who isn’t shrewd enough to cover his tracks.

By Karen Tumulty

The GOP war on democracy is working. Just look at Ohio
Republicans tell their state supreme court to stuff it, and Trump federal judges give them a thumbs-up.

By Paul Waldman

Amend the Constitution to bar senators from the presidency
The Senate has become a theater of performative behaviors by senators decreasingly interested in legislating and preoccupied with using social media for self-promotion.

By George F. Will

This used to be a serious newspaper. It seems like it has reoriented itself by needing to be in with the nasty Twitter crowd.

George Will’s column is included not because it is nasty, but because it is a stunning waste of print space. Really, why would he write something that is never going to happen?

The headlines are nasty enough, but the sub-headlines are something that should not ever be in a serious publication. Of course, one of the headlines wrote about the war on democracy. Other than that being tiresome, it likewise displays a childish attitude of small thinking. If you don’t support my ideas and my candidates you are destroying the fabric of the country. Instead of suggesting people like Speaker Pelosi stop with the disgusting language, they are echoing it. To get an interview with her?

That is the nicer writing of the headlines sampled above. Dana Milbank used to be a reasoned columnist but went over the edge when Trump was elected. He is calling the minority leader of the House of Representatives a liar, the same elected leader most analysts believe will be the new Speaker of the House come January 2023. Not only does he call him a liar but states in a callow comment that McCarthy lies anytime he speaks. This is sophisticated writing?

As bad as Milbank is he pales in comparison to the unctuous Karen Tumulty. She calls McCarthy a dissembler on which I had to refresh myself. A dissembler is a person who professes beliefs and opinions that he or she does not hold to conceal his or her real thoughts or motives. Otherwise, she is stating McCarthy purposely deceives us, and he is deceiving himself. Though she really has no knowledge of his thinking in this regard, she is just projecting.

By far the most egregious is loathsome Paul Waldman who uses his perch as a WAPO columnist to try and outdo the hatemongers on Twitter. He used this opportunity to call a broad group of Republican candidates clowns. He doesn’t just disagree with them or think their opponents more worthy – they are simply clowns. And his editors published that.

I have not even mentioned one columnist calling all Michigan Republicans liars who are intentionally misleading the residents of their state and the one who says Sean Hannity is corrupt or Minority Leader McCarthy is the newest version of Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, MO. If you read further into the columns, they are filled with hate. A different hate than the kind they characterize on Twitter, but it is hate as indicated by the headlines. Actual hate that radiates from the pages unlike the characterized hate that Twitter frames.

I consider there to be three nationally significant newspapers – the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and The Washington Post. I know the WSJ would never allow this kind of writing. I left out the various columns attacking Musk’s takeover of Twitter.

There is nothing that could be said on the new Twitter that is worse than is said on the Washington Post op-ed pages.

*****

This article was published in FlashReport and is reprinted with the permission of the author.

Yuma County Announces Voter Fraud Investigation

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

The following excerpt is from a press release from the Yuma County Sheriff:

“The Yuma County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO) and the Yuma County Recorder’s Office (YCRO) are working together to actively examine cases of voting fraud from the 2020 General Election and now a recent pattern of fraudulent voter registration forms leading up to the 2022 Primary Election.

As of March 2022, YCSO has 16 voting/registration open cases. All relevant evidence is being formally documented by the Yuma County Recorder’s Office and further investigated by the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office.

Some examples of voter fraud Yuma County is currently seeing are the following:

• Impersonation fraud: Voting in the name of other legitimate voters and voters who have died or moved away.

• False registrations: Falsifying voter registrations by either using a real or fake name, birth date, or address. This is being done by outreach groups who are paid for each registration form they submit, therefore, are out soliciting voters into unnecessarily re-registering or falsifying forms with Yuma County resident’s identities.

• Duplicate voting: Submitting multiple votes or registering in multiple locations and voting in the same election in more than one jurisdiction or state.

• Fraudulent use of absentee ballots: Requesting absentee ballots and voting without the knowledge of the actual voter; or obtaining the absentee ballot from a voter and either filling it indirectly and forging the voter’s signature or illegally telling the voter who to vote for.

If you suspect or witness individuals committing any of the mentioned voting frauds, share their name or any other identifying information to law enforcement immediately.

The majority of voter fraud cases in Yuma County are related to duplicate voting (typically charged as illegal voting and false voter registration). Under Arizona law, illegal voting is a class 5 or class 6 felony. A person found guilty faces up to 2 or 2.5 years in prison, fines, restitution, loss of voting rights, and/or probation.

YCSO and YCRO advise all Yuma County residents to go directly to the Yuma County Recorder’s Office or Arizona Secretary of State’s Office to register to vote, check their voter registration status and/or update their voter registration in advance of the voter registration deadline of Tuesday, July 5, 2022. You can also visit www.servicearizona.com to use the online registration system.

Do not fill out voter registration forms in the community unless it is a County employee as these are being processed.

If Yuma County voters find any incorrect information in their current voter registration record, please notify the County Recorder’s Office immediately at (928) 373-6034 or voterservices@yumacountyaz.gov.

Anyone with information regarding voter fraudulent schemes or believe they have been a victim of a fraudulent vote, please contact the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office at 928-783-4427 or 78-CRIME to remain anonymous. You can also visit our website at www.yumacountysheriff.org to submit an anonymous tip.

Information Released By: Tania Pavlak, Public Affairs Specialist.”

It is interesting that the action taken by Yuma County comes quickly on the heels of the release of the documentary film 2000 Mules.

The movie, which we have reviewed here, spends considerable time on the situation in Arizona, particularly in Yuma and Maricopa counties.  Whether this investigation is just a coincidence or is connected to the movie, is not the most relevant factor.  The most important factor will be whether substantial evidence of fraud is uncovered.

The movie 2000 Mules is now back in selected theatres or it can be streamed by clicking here.