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Sal from New Media Central recently tweeted about the Democrats’ hypocrisy on elections, noting their persistent attacks about Russian collusion in the 2016 election and their push to get non-citizens registered to vote in the US:

It makes no sense until we consider one thing.

Democrats need non-citizens’ votes.

This was an issue long before 2016. You can find out by doing an online search with these words: Democrat says we need non-citizens to vote.

Pennsylvania

GOPUSA, representing the Republican Party, posted an eye-opening article about Pennsylvania from the Washington Times, dated July 13, 2018 (emphases mine):

Abdel showed up at his local Pennsylvania motor vehicle office to take his driver’s license test — and walked out having registered to vote, even though he is not a citizen.

He said his command of English isn’t good and the computer system was unclear, but he somehow managed to sign up even though he knew he shouldn’t.

Then there was Angelo, who figured he could vote because he joined the U.S. military, even though he wasn’t a citizen. He, too, signed up at the Pennsylvania motor vehicle bureau and registered as a Democrat. He then voted nearly every year from 2001 through 2014.

He finally wrote to Allegheny County asking to be stricken from the rolls, saying he had been ineligible all along.

Angelo and Abdel are some of the more than 130 people the county has nixed from its voter lists in recent years after discovering they weren’t U.S. citizens and should never have been allowed to register, much less vote, according to a report being released Thursday from the Public Interest Legal Foundation.

Non-citizens applying for US citizenship often walk back their previous voter registration:

only when they did try to seek citizenship or some other immigration benefit — and learned that illegal registration or voting, both felonies, could be hurdles for their applications.

Voter registration at the motor vehicle office started at the federal level — i.e. across the US — in 1993, during Bill Clinton’s presidency:

Under the 1993 federal “motor voter” law, people who show up to renew licenses or transact other business at motor vehicle bureaus are supposed to be asked if they want to register to vote. The form relies on the honor system for people to swear they are citizens.

The goal of the law was to boost election participation — but it also muddied voting lists.

Indeed.

Texas

Not every state with illegal voters wants to strike them from the rolls.

On June 7, GOPUSA reported on Houston’s rolls. Houston is a Democrat city:

Ann Harris Bennett, registrar for Harris County in Texas, is battling to keep secret the names of non-citizens who signed up to vote and, in some cases, may have even cast ballots. In a federal court filing last week she said people can be removed for other reasons, but there is no requirement she erase names of people even after they tell her they aren’t citizens.

“Once a person is officially registered to vote, a state may only remove them from the voting list if: the person dies, changes residence, asks to be removed from the list, or becomes ineligible under state law because of criminal conviction or mental incapacity,” Ms. Bennett said in court papers. The National Voter Registration Act “does not create any obligation for a state to conduct a list maintenance program to remove the names of voters who may be ineligible due to lack of citizenship.”

Maryland

In 2013, Think Progress posted an article, ‘Why You Have Nothing to Fear From Non-Citizen Voting’, which concerned an election in Takoma Park, Maryland:

Non-citizens may soon be voting in our nation’s biggest city — at least in local elections — and that’s got voter suppression groups like the Election Law Center sounding the alarm. Don’t listen to them.

As New York City considers whether to expand the franchise to non-citizens, it’s instructive to look at the experience other municipalities, like Takoma Park, Maryland, have had with non-citizen voting.

ThinkProgress spoke with two experts on non-citizen voting: Montgomery County (MD) Council member George Leventhal and Maryland State Sen. Jamie Raskin (D). Both individuals helped initiate Takoma Park’s non-citizen voting policy in 1991.

The city-wide referendum was approved, putting the non-citizen voting policy into place in 1992. The referendum passed because of redistricting. Many non-citizens resided within the redrawn district boundaries.

Regardless, it isn’t right, even if it’s only in local elections and even if non-citizen voting numbers continue to be low.

California

The latest city to adopt non-citizen voting is San Francisco, after three goes at a referendum. Keep voting on the same thing and the Noes will turn into Yesses.

As in Takoma Park, Maryland, this measure is only for local elections — school board, in this instance — but how many ineligible voters are also voting nationally?

Conclusion

I don’t have a solution to illegal voting, other than Pennsylvania’s example of purging electoral rolls of ineligible voters.

Many Americans clamour for voter ID.

That won’t work, either. Who, in a corrupt district, is going to check voter ID? No one.

P.S. – population count and political influence

There is another dimension to the Democrats’ love of illegal aliens, which is to increase population not only for Congressional representation but also Electoral College votes:

This is what Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) said:

We’re probably in the neighborhood of about 15 million illegal aliens in America now. 15 million comes out to roughly 20 congressional seats and 20 electoral college votes. Each congressional seat has roughly 700,000 to 800,000 people in it. [Emphasis added]

So, if you count illegal aliens in the Census for the purposes of distributing political power, that’s the number of congressmen per state or … the number of electoral college votes per state, you’re talking about … 20 electoral college votes and congressmen that are taken from states that follow our laws, that help our border patrol agents, and help our ICE agents … shifting those 20 congressional seats and 20 electoral college seats to states like California that have large numbers of illegal aliens in them. [Emphasis added]

I personally believe that’s wrong, on a policy level, but I also believe it violates the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution because it dilutes the voting power of citizens who live in states that don’t harbor an enormous number of illegal aliens. [Emphasis added]

—————————————————————————————–

P.P.S. — On a lighter note, here’s another great tweet from Sal:

The video is excellent — please watch his float go by!

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The man who carried the ‘nuclear football’ for Bill Clinton calls for justice:

Hmm:

To which someone replied:

He already has (news to me), but how many have heard of Buzz Patterson?

He’s a Trump supporter:

He had this to say about the Clintons’ behaviour at Aretha Franklin’s funeral on Saturday, September 1, 2018:

Ugh.

This sounds interesting:

Why is Buzz Patterson so little known?

I hope he gets more publicity.

Obama told the anti-Trump truth in his eulogy of Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) at Washington DC’s National Cathedral on Saturday, September 1, 2018.

This is all the world needs to know about him, Bush II and Clinton:

“When all was said and done, we were on the same team.” Obama at McCain’s funeral.

Indeed it does.

Although President Trump has been roundly criticised for meeting with President Putin, this meeting is important for world peace.

Remember that those criticising it are afraid of the intel Putin told — and gave — to Trump.

The Gateway Pundit has more on outrage from frightened Democrats (emphasis in the original):

Mueller, Rosenstein, Obama, the Clintons and many more have questionable actions in the past related to Russia. These people do not want Trump to obtain evidence of their sordid actions with Russia. They are trying to prevent Trump from meeting Putin and finding out.

Uranium One is but one example:

No doubt Putin and Trump discussed the ‘Russian hack’ — more like an inside leak — of the Democratic National Committee’s emails. On that subject:

At least one anti-Trump Republican chimed in, too:

As did Bush II’s CIA director, Michael Hayden:

Putin has been observing all the reaction, as he explained in a talk about the summit on July 19. The following video is subtitled. ‘Going off script’, he says that the ‘forces’ are Americans with ‘political ambitions’. Enough said:

The meeting, as all between the US and Russia have been in the past, was one of global importance:

Before Helsinki 2018 on Monday, July 16:

Despite a small protest going on outside, inside Finland’s Presidential Palace, things went to plan, including Trump’s characteristic handshake:

It is bound to produce positive long-term results:

Affirmation for President Trump came from Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky):

And from best-selling author and film producer Larry Schweikart:

And from Dilbert’s Scott Adams:

And actor James Woods:

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tennessee) took exception to media reports of Trump’s ‘weakness’:

Trump also received support from the Australian prime minister:

Independent journalist Michael Tracey observed that diplomacy involves a certain amount of flattery. In 2009, it came from Obama, but no one objected:

And what about this from 2012, when Obama said he ‘would have more flexibility after the election’?

PJ Media’s Roger Simon contrasted Trump with Obama (emphases mine below):

The bad cop part is what Trump actually does concretely — and, as Putin certainly knows, this is far more important than photo ops and press conferences with all the attendant words.  Trump’s actions vis-a-vis Russia have been considerably more stringent than his predecessor’s — opening the energy spigots, increasing sanctions, arming the Ukrainians, ejecting 60 Russian agents, etc.  As Walter Russell Mead pointed out, if Trump is in Putin’s pocket, he’s doing a terrible job of it.

Barack Obama — although the New York Times would burn down its own building rather than admit it — did an abysmal job with Putin and was indeed the one who was truly “owned” by the Russian.  And it wasn’t just the silly reset button and the embarrassing video of Barack whispering into Medvedev’s ear to tell Vlad he — Barack — would be more flexible on missiles after the election.  (What a toady!)  Even worse, in his Chamberlainesque ardor to make a deal with Iran’s mullahs, Obama let Putin play him in Syria, agreeing not to honor his redline against Assad’s use of chemical weapons in order not to endanger the  deal.  Trump never did anything nearly that pathetic.  Actually, he stands up strong.

Furthermore, other previous presidents had a jolly time with Putin — and no one cared:

Check out Buzzfeed‘s The 25 Biggest Bromance Moments Between George W Bush and Vladimir Putin. Remember this one? Emphasis in the original:

12. When Bush invited Putin to his home in Maine for a ‘lobster summit.’

And Kennebunkport welcomed him with open arms.

In fact, until Trump, the only president in recent years to be criticised for meeting with a Russian leader was Ronald Reagan:

In closing:

Good things will come from this meeting — better than from any previous president.

On April 2, 2018, Q gave a rundown of what he/they expected to happen last month.

Let’s look back to see how many of the topics Q mentioned in message 988 of April 2 made the news cycle:

Q !xowAT4Z3VQ 875265

April [A].
IG report.
Sessions public attack.
RR problems.
Seals broken.
[A]rrests.
Why was Huber made public?
Why now?
Everything has meaning.
[A]wan.
Tarmac.
Iran.
NK.
U1.
FBI.
DOJ.
Mueller.
Election Integrity.
Immigration Bill.
Border.
Wall.
Military start.
BIG month.
Q

The IG — Inspector General’s — report was scheduled for April but is now thought to appear in a few weeks’ time. Whether that is actually in May or June is unknown.

Sessions public attack — meaning Attorney General Jeff Sessions — bubbled up in April and continued during the first week in May with calls for his resignation.

RR — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — definitely had problems in April, which I will cover in a separate post.

Seals broken — if that meant indictments, that did not happen.

Arrests — none of note.

Awan — the Awan brothers from Pakistan, led by Imran Awan, who were running the IT for Democrats in the House of Representatives, did make pro-Trump news sites, and Trump tweeted about ‘the Pakistani mystery man’. I will cover the Awan investigation in a separate post.

Tarmac — the infamous secret meeting between then Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton in July 2016 on Lynch’s plane. James Comey and Lynch disagree on their recollections of the Hillary Clinton ‘investigation’, or ‘matter’. Comey said one thing in his new book, A Higher Loyalty, and Lynch remembers differently. In early April (after Q’s post), NBC’s Lester Holt interviewed Lynch:

LESTER HOLT: But, so Comey says you want to call it, “The Clinton matter.” He wants to call it, “The Clinton investigation.” To the extent, though, that he noted it, that it bothered him did he go to you and question your credibility with regard to the Clinton case?

LORETTA LYNCH: Well, look I can tell you that, you know, it was a meeting like any other that we that we had had where we talked about the issues. And we had a full and open discussion about it.

LESTER HOLT: And he didn’t raise any concerns about?

LORETTA LYNCH: And concerns were not raised.

Trump tweeted:

Q corroborated the tweet (message 1161 of April 15), hinting that Lynch could have been offered Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court if Hillary had been elected. I have no interpretation of the mention of Rep Adam Schiff (D-California), the 187 (dead code) and John Brennan, former CIA director, other than it seems Q is saying Brennan is a black hat:

SC – Supreme Court.
RBG.
AS 187 / Clown Black (Brennan).
Q

Q’s next message, 1162, says:

We made sure a reporter was there to capture.
These people are stupid.
Q

The reporter’s name is Christopher Sign. He moved to Atlanta in 2017. His last day with KNXV Phoenix was September 29.

Iran — was a big news item. Critical Threats has a summary:

Key takeaway: Iranian officials may be preparing to retaliate against Israel after Israel launched its second airstrike against Iranian targets in Syria since April 8.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) targeted Iranian assets in western Syria on April 29 and reportedly killed 18 Iranian fighters. Iranian media denied the reports of Iranian deaths following the strike. The April 29 strike comes after Israel’s April 8 airstrike on the Pro-Syrian regime T-4 airbase in Homs, Homs Governorate in southern Syria. The April 8 strike killed seven IRGC fighters. Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani vowed to “punish” Israel for its “evil action” following the April 8 airstrikes. Defense Minister Artesh Brigadier General Amir Hatami warned Israel on May 1 to stop its “scheming and dangerous behaviors” and suggested that the Axis of Resistance and Iran would confront Israel with a “regrettable and blindsiding” response.

NK — North Korea — was April’s blockbuster news item, which will feature in a separate post.

U1 — Uranium One — made a brief blip in the news cycle and might relate to the Mueller investigation’s raid on the properties and hotel room of Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen on April 9:

FBI, DOJ and Mueller — much is happening there which will feature in a separate post, although some April news is in my post about Jeff Sessions’s recusals.

Election Integrity — a report about voting abuses and the actual number of votes from the 2016 election was due but has not yet materialised.

Immigration Bill — nothing has happened since the beginning of the year.

Border — two stories made the news: part of the human caravan reached the US border with Mexico and dozens of California communities voted against the state’s sanctuary city policy.

Wall — construction began on March 26.

Military start — the National Guard was sent to the border with Mexico, and there was another attack on Syria nearly a year to the day after 2017’s.

BIG month — yes, especially where North Korea is concerned.

Q’s daily posts discussed John McCain’s trip to Syria a few years ago, social media tracking, the raid on Michael Cohen, trade with China, the plane incidents (‘new booms’, message 1174), the change of government in Armenia (CIA — ‘clowns’ — losing control, message 1243), not to mention the Iran deal and Uranium One — asking about the possibility that Uranium One material ended up in Syria.

Q also reiterated that the administration has the information it needs and that it will soon be time to proceed to the next phase: justice (message 1296, April 29).

I hope so, because, right now, things look rather unsettled.

As always, Q advised everyone to stay united rather than divided.

Yesterday’s post was about Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to the White House.

This is the first state visit of the Trump presidency. The first state dinner, honouring Emmanuel Macron, took place on Tuesday, April 24.

Much was made of the fact that First Lady Melania Trump did not hire an event planner. Instead she worked with a closely-knit group of ten staff in the East Wing:

This was the menu. Note that President Trump agreed to have wine served. Every other event has been tee-total. I expect that an exception was made for the French, for whom wine with dinner is a must. The wine is not included on the press tweet below. The one served with the main course came from French vines planted in Oregon generations ago.

 

The day’s schedule was as follows:

History lover Macron understood the importance of everything happening that day:

Official welcome and meetings

The official arrival ceremony took place on the South Lawn (41-minute White House video here).

Hail to the Chief was played as the Trumps emerged from the White House to await the Macrons.

This is a great photo:

During the ceremony, both nations’ national anthems were played.

Both gave short speeches and spoke of the history between the two countries dating from the Revolutionary War. I am positive that the incomparable Stephen Miller had a hand in Trump’s:

Selected members of the public were invited, with local schoolchildren in attendance:

Once again, Macron sought out his father figure, who indulged him with a kiss this time:

Gateway Pundit‘s Jim Hoft enjoyed it:

Afterwards, the Trumps and the Macrons greeted members of the French delegation:

Then it was time for the restricted bilateral meeting, the topic of which was Iran. Trump rightly wants to re-negotiate the deal, Macron doesn’t.

Papa Trump led his young subject away after their public remarks:

The next meeting, the expanded bilateral one, was held in the Cabinet Room. Before it began, Trump and Macron discussed the restricted bilateral meeting. Excerpts follow:

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody. Please. We were going to have a short little meeting, and it turned out to be a long meeting, and it could have gone on for another two hours.

We discussed a lot of things, a lot of problems in the world, a lot of problems that we think can be solved. But we’ve come a long way, just the two of us, I think, as understanding. We talked about Iran; we talked about Syria. We talked about a lot of subjects that really are big, big, hard situations. And we think we have solutions to a number of them.

So we’re going to continue that now, and then Emmanuel and myself will meet again, I think, after this meeting. But we wanted to get the opinion of some of the experts in the room. We have great experts on both sides, so we wanted to get the opinion of some of the experts …

PRESIDENT MACRON: Thank you, Mr. President, for these words. We will have this large meeting with (inaudible) together again before the press conference, just to say we have had very good discussion, indeed, on Syria, on Iran, the overall region, and some other very important topics regarding our security.

And I think we have to work together because we’ve always worked together on these issues, and it’s very important to preserve the stability of this region. And I think what we want to do in the interest of our people is precisely to preserve stability of sovereign states, without any hegemon.

As for the trade issue, you presented your perception of the situation and you were fair to remind everybody that bilateral relationship is balanced between France and the U.S.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: It’s true.

PRESIDENT MACRON: And I think it’s very important to bear in mind that, between allies — I mean, regarding so important security issues, it’s impossible to make any trade war …

After the expanded bilateral meeting, the two presidents held a joint press conference (full White House video here), which began with this:

President Trump was thorough in his remarks, enumerating not only current international challenges but also France’s helpful contributions. Excerpts follow:

France and the United States also agree that Iran cannot be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon, and that regime must end its support for terrorism all over. No matter where you go in the Middle East, you see the fingerprints of Iran behind problems.

I also want to thank President Macron for France’s vital contribution to our very successful campaign against ISIS. As we drive these ISIS killers from Syria, it is essential that the responsible nations of the Middle East step up their own contributions to prevent Iran from profiting off the success of our anti-ISIS effort. Very rich countries are in the Middle East. They have to make major contributions. They have not been doing it as they should. A major topic that we discussed a little while ago: They have to step up tremendously — not a little bit, but tremendously — their financial effort …

Both the United States and France are dealing with a challenge that has gone on for a long, long time. It’s uncontrolled migration. In the United States, we are taking strong action to regain control over our borders and over our sovereignty. It’s gone on for too long. And we’ve slowed it down very substantially, but we’re going to stop illegal immigration. I know that you face similar challenges in France. And, Mr. President, I admire the leadership you have shown in addressing them in a very honest and direct fashion, and not always popular.

Macron began his remarks by discussing the Iran deal:

Mr. President, please allow me to go back to a number of issues, which are fundamental for not only our relationship, but beyond. The first topic is Iran. You said once again, in front of the press, what your position was during the campaign and as well as the President of the United States. It’s not a mystery we did not have the same starting positions or stances, and neither you nor I have a habit of changing our stances or going with the wind.

That being said, I can say that we’ve had very a frank discussion on that, just the two of us. You consider that the Iranian deal, the JCPOA — the one negotiated in 2015 with Iran — is a bad deal. For a number of months, I’ve been saying that this was not a sufficient deal, but that it enabled us, at least until 2025, to have some control over their nuclear activities.

We therefore wish, from now on, to work on a new deal with Iran. What we need — and I believe that on that, our discussions allowed us to shed light on our convergence of views — is that we need to cover four topics.

The first one is to block any nuclear activity of Iran until 2025. This was feasible thanks to the JCPOA. The second is to make sure that, in the long run, there is no nuclear Iranian activity. The third fundamental topic is to be able to put an end to the ballistic activities of Iran in the region. And the fourth one is to generate the conditions for a solution — a political solution to contain Iran in the region — in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq, and in Lebanon.

On these topics, I did not change. I constantly said that we needed to find the framework so that, together, and with the powers of the region, and with the Iranian leaders, manage to find a deal. I therefore would like us to commit to that effect in the weeks and months to come.

This is the only way to bring about stability. France is not naïve when it comes to Iran. We have also a lot of respect for the Iranian people, which, through their history — its history — has always shown its strength.

But we do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past. Each time we tried to unilaterally replace the sovereignty of the people, we brought about some more terror. But for our allies, we want sustainable stability …

After the press conference, the two gripped hands (Trump probably did not want another kiss):

Afterwards, President Trump went to a private lunch with the Secretary of Defense.

Lunch honouring Macron

Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan and Vice President Mike Pence hosted a lunch for President Macron at the Harry S Truman Building. Afterwards, Sullivan gave a short speech:

Then Pence spoke and offered a toast. Macron responded with a speech and a reciprocal toast. (Full transcript here.)

Presidents’ wives visit National Gallery of Art

The White House published a précis of what the presidents’ wives did during the day, excerpted below:

In tradition with State Visits, First Lady Melania Trump hosted Mrs. Macron for a spousal event, choosing to visit the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. this morning. Mrs. Trump and Mrs. Macron were met by Frank Kelly, Deputy Director of the museum. The tour of the National Gallery of Art was crafted to particularly note the incredible work of French artists to complement the long-standing friendship between the United States and France.

“Everyone understands the language of art,” said Mrs. Trump. “The historically famous and beautiful works that currently live in the National Gallery of Art are breathtaking.”

The Macrons at JFK’s grave

That afternoon, the Macrons paid a reverent visit to John F Kennedy’s grave:

The linked tweet has an excellent photo and the same text in French. The responses are very anti-Macron.

French Embassy presentation to American veterans

At the French Embassy that afternoon, Macron presented Legion of Honour medals to three American veterans of the Second World War.

The News Virginian has the story:

William Barr, who currently lives at The Legacy at North Augusta in Staunton, was honored Tuesday along with two other veterans at the French Embassy in Washington …

After personally awarding the medals to Barr and the other two men, Robert Ewald and Stanley Rzucidio, at Tuesday’s ceremony, President  Macron praised the three veterans and all of those who helped defeat tyranny during World War II.

“My generation has the opportunity to defend these values today because your generation, and especially people like you, decided to take all the risks to protect these values, to protect my country,” Macron said. “[I am] also paying tribute to the blood shed by all your comrades.”

Barr was a World War II Army Air Forces airplane mechanic who participated in the Battle of the Bulge and other key campaigns …

“Robert, Stanley, William, those are names of heroes. During World War II, your generation decided to take all the risks to protect France. You fought for freedom. Eternal gratitude from the French people,” Macron tweeted.

The article states that the Legion of Honour, which Napoleon established in 1802, is the highest French order of merit.

The State Dinner

The climax of the Macrons’ visit was the state dinner that evening, the Trumps’ first.

Laura Dowling, former chief floral designer at the Obama White House, wrote an excellent article for Fox News, describing the symbolism not only in floral decorations but also the particular symbolism that goes into a state dinner. A short video is also included, with amazing photos and statistics on this particular dinner (emphases mine):

I was honored to help design décor and flowers for two visits by heads of state from France: the private dinner that President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hosted for President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni, in 2010; and the state visit of President Francois Hollande in 2014.

For both events, the flowers were designed to carry out diplomatic, cultural and historical themes – with the goal of honoring France and the individual leaders, as well as to celebrate cherished American traditions and ideals …

Some of the most beautiful and historic pieces in the White House collection have a French provenance – the 18th century gilt mirrored Monroe Plateau, the early 19th century marble-topped table in the Red Room by a French-American cabinetmaker, and the French Blue Room furniture acquired by President Monroe are just a few examples …

In addition to highlighting the White House collection of French decorative arts, the first lady is paying tribute to former first ladies Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush by selecting their china for this inaugural state visit.

Additional décor includes the large urns of cherry blossoms lining the Great Hall. Cherry blossoms are not only the quintessential emblem of spring in Washington, but also in Paris, where they are currently in bloom in the Jardin de Tuilieries near the Elysses Palace, the home of the French first couple.

The Daily Mail has an article on the dinner with excellent photos.

This was the menu in full, with the wines from Oregon listed. The gold rimmed plate, an edge of which can be seen underneath is a Clinton plate:

There’s a story behind this china:

The Conservative Treehouse posted on this and included the above tweets as well as a link to the 2001 ABC story, excerpted below:

Former President Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, have sent $28,000 worth of household goods back to Washington after questions arose over whether the items were intended as personal gifts or donations to the White House.

“We have been informed that it is being shipped back, and the National Park Service is ready to receive it, take possession of it and take custody of it,” Jim McDaniel, the National Park Service’s liaison to the White House, said Wednesday.

“The property is being returned to government custody until such time that the issues can be resolved. It may well turn out that that property is rightly the personal property of the Clintons.”

After they were criticized for taking $190,000 worth of china, flatware, rugs, televisions, sofas and other gifts with them when they left, the Clintons announced last week that they would pay for $86,000 worth of gifts, or nearly half the amount.

Their latest decision to send back $28,000 in gifts brings to $114,000 the value of items the Clintons have either decided to pay for or return.

On that subject, one of the commenters at The_Donald had an anecdote about the Clintons:

I personally know one of the White House Interior Decorators that was at The White House when Clinton’s arrived. She said it was like The Beverly Hillbillies come to town. They ruined so much historical stuff, decorated things totally trashy and they did try to and did take tons of stuff out of there. They personally ruined things, broke things trashed things that had been around a long time that had history behind them. I didn’t hear much about Bill from my friend, but she said Hillary was a piece of work and nasty. This from someone that lived through it.

Back to the present now and America’s current first couple. For interested ladies — Mrs Trump wore Chanel:

A light rain fell as the Trumps greeted the Macrons.

This video shows you how grand it was, with the military escort. The first couples pose for a photo at the 1:15 mark:

As for the guests, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) was the first to arrive:

Here is the only Democrat invited — the governor of Louisiana:

The following links have photos of other notable guests: the Vice President and Mrs Pence, the Speaker of the House and Mrs Ryan, Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner, the Chief of Staff and Mrs Kelly, the Press Secretary and Mr Sanders, the Director of the CIA and Mrs Pompeo, the Surgeon General and Mrs Adams, the Secretary of the Treasury and Mrs Mnuchin, the Chief Justice and Mrs Roberts, Henry and Nancy Kissinger (must see) and Rupert and Jerry (Hall) Murdoch. More guests are listed here and here.

Toasts were made before dinner (full transcript here):

Then it was Macron’s turn:

Knowing how much hard work went into the event, President Trump tweeted his appreciation to his First Lady:

Wednesday, April 25

Early the next day, Trump tweeted:

The video of Macron’s speech is here. He laid out his international policies and perspectives, which are very different to Trump’s. He received a standing ovation from both houses of Congress.

Macron then went to speak at George Washington University on a variety of topics …

… including religion, which is a hot topic for him right now in France:

He also held a press conference there:

President and Mrs Macron left for Paris later that day.

The Revd Billy Graham departed this mortal coil on February 21, 2018, aged 99.

Only the good Lord knows how many people he converted or awakened to Christianity. If he spoke in person to 250 million people around the world during his ministry, imagine the hundreds of millions of people watching his televised Crusades and specials or listening to him on radio. What he accomplished over his 80 years as a preacher was so extraordinary that it might not be repeated for generations to come.

CBS News reported that Graham was (emphases mine):

the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history

Spokesman Mark DeMoss said Graham, who long suffered from cancer, pneumonia and other ailments, died at his home in North Carolina on Wednesday morning.

Tributes from American presidents

President Donald Trump tweeted and followed up with a formal statement later that day:

President Trump’s statement reads as follows:

Melania and I join millions of people around the world in mourning the passing of Billy Graham. Our prayers are with his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and all who worked closely with Reverend Graham in his lifelong ministry.

Billy’s acceptance of Jesus Christ around his seventeenth birthday not only changed his life—it changed our country and the world. He was one of the towering figures of the last 100 years—an American hero whose life and leadership truly earned him the title “God’s Ambassador.”

Billy’s unshakeable belief in the power of God’s word to transform hearts gave hope to all who listened to his simple message: “God loves you.” He carried this message around the world through his crusades, bringing entire generations to faith in Jesus Christ.

In the wake of the September 11th attacks in 2001, America turned to Billy Graham at the National Cathedral, who told us, “God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.”

Reverend Graham would be the first to say that he did not do it alone. Before her passing, his wife Ruth was by his side through it all—a true partner, a wonderful mother, and a fellow missionary soul. He also built an international team and institution that will continue to carry on Christ’s message.

Melania and I were privileged to get to know Reverend Graham and his extraordinary family over the last several years, and we are deeply grateful for their love and support.

Billy Graham was truly one of a kind. Christians and people of all faiths and backgrounds will miss him dearly. We are thinking of him today, finally at home in Heaven.

George H W Bush also issued a statement:

Billy Graham was America’s pastor. His faith in Christ and his totally honest evangelical spirit inspired people across the country and around the world,” Bush said. “I think Billy touched the hearts of not only Christians, but people of all faiths, because he was such a good man. I was privileged to have him as a personal friend. He would come to Maine to visit with Barbara and me, and he was a great sport. He loved going really fast in my boat. I guess you could say we had that in common. Then we would come home and talk about life. He was a mentor to several of my children, including the former president of the United States. We will miss our good friend forever.

It’s true. There was never a whiff of scandal around Billy Graham. God blessed him abundantly, and the Holy Spirit worked through him until the end.

CBS News discussed the long line of past presidents Graham met with:

from Harry Truman to Barack Obama, but always denied any role in setting policy saying, “I don’t advise them, I pray with them,” CBS News reported. Lyndon Johnson looked up to his close friend, the pastor. Richard Nixon asked for his counsel during Watergate. The elder Bush called Graham to the White House the night before he launched the first Gulf War. Younger President Bush has credited Graham with turning him away from drinking and towards embracing God.

These are the names of those 12 past presidents from at least the early 1950s through to the present day: Harry S Truman, Dwight D Eisenhower, John F Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Richard M Nixon, Gerald R Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H W Bush, William J Clinton, George W Bush, Barack Obama. That’s a mighty long list.

And he met with President Trump.

That’s 13 presidents in all.

Obama was the first sitting president to visit Graham at his home in North Carolina. That was in 2010, three years after Graham’s wife Ruth went to her heavenly rest.

CBS reported that Graham also became friends with Martin Luther King Jr about a decade before the civil rights movement took root:

In 1952 he stopped segregating his crusades and began a friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“All the problems of America tonight and of the world stem from the fact that we as the human race have sinned against Almighty God,” he said in May 1997.

Such was the impact of Billy Graham’s life that flags flew at half mast in Washington DC from February 21 to March 2, the day of his funeral and burial:

Tributes from clergy

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, remembered his family’s respect for Graham’s ministry:

As anyone growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s can tell you, it was hard not to notice and be impressed by the Reverend Billy Graham,” Dolan said in a statement. “There was no question that the Dolans were a Catholic family, firm in our faith, but in our household there was always respect and admiration for Billy Graham and the work he was doing to bring people to God. Whether it was one of his famous Crusades, radio programs, television specials, or meeting and counseling the presidents, Billy Graham seemed to be everywhere, always with the same message: Jesus is your Savior, and wants you to be happy with Him forever. As an historian, my admiration for him only grew as I studied our nation’s religious past, and came to appreciate even more the tremendous role he played in the American evangelical movement. May the Lord that Billy Graham loved so passionately now grant him eternal rest.

One of Graham’s grandsons, the Revd Tullian Tchividjian, noted his grandfather’s universal appeal:

My granddad wasn’t just Christian-famous, he was famous-famous, he was crossover famous.

Unfortunately, Tchividjian succumbed to temptation in his own ministry. He resigned his pastorate at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale after admitting to an extramarital affair. The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) deposed him from their South Florida Presbytery as being ‘unfit for Christian ministry‘. A subsequent pastorate and outreach ministry also failed because of more sexual impropriety. In 2015, Tchividjian divorced his first wife Kim after 21 years of marriage. He married his second wife Stacie the following year. Hmm. What a contrast to his grandfather.

Honour of lying in state in Capitol Rotunda

Billy Graham was honoured greatly prior to his funeral:

This is a good photo of the exterior of the Capitol Building from Billy’s son’s — Franklin Graham’s — Samaritan’s Purse ministry:

A memorial service took place. Pictured is one of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s daughters, Lynda Bird. I remember when she and her husband married in 1967:

President Trump spoke at the service:

What follows is the text of President Trump’s address. It’s very moving — probably written by the incomparable Stephen Miller — and really expresses not only who Billy Graham was but how much he appealed to his audiences. I remember watching his Crusades when I was a child. During the first one I watched at the age of seven, I approached the television set when he made his call for people to come forward!

11:21 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell. And, most importantly, thank you to the entire Graham family for honoring us with your presence here today. Thank you.

In the spring of 1934, Billy Graham’s father allowed a group of Charlotte businessmen to use a portion of the family’s dairy farm to gather for a day of prayer.

On that day, the men prayed for the city. They prayed that, “Out of Charlotte, the Lord would raise up someone to preach the Gospel to the ends of the Earth.”

We are here today, more than 80 years later, because that prayer was truly answered.

Billy Graham was 15 years old at the time. Just a few months later, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

That choice didn’t just change Billy’s life — it changed our lives. It changed our country, and it changed, in fact, the entire world.

The North Carolina farm boy walked out of those fields, into a great and beautiful history.

And I remember that, because my father said to me, “Come on, son” — and, by the way, he said, “Come on, mom. Let’s go see Billy Graham at Yankee Stadium.” And it was something very special.

But Americans came in droves to hear that great young preacher. Fred Trump was a big fan. Fred Trump was my father.

In London, Tokyo, Seoul, Bogota, Moscow, New Delhi, Saigon, Johannesburg, and scores of other places all over the world, Reverend Graham shared the power of God’s word with more than 200 million people, in person, and countless others through television and radio where people loved to watch and listen.

In 1978, with the support of the Catholic Bishop who would soon become Pope John Paul II, Reverend Graham went to Poland and spoke of the meaning of the cross to a people suffering under the soulless oppression of communism.

Billy Graham carried his message around the world, but his heart, as Franklin will tell you, was always in America.

He took his message to the poorest places, to the downtrodden and to the brokenhearted, to inmates in prison, and to the overlooked and the neglected. He felt a great passion for those that were neglected.

Everywhere he went, Reverend Graham delivered the same beautiful message: God loves you. That was his message. God loves you.

We can only imagine the number of lives touched by the preaching and the prayers of Billy Graham –- the hearts he changed, the sorrows he eased, and the joy he brought to so many. The testimony is endless.

Today, we give thanks for this extraordinary life. And it’s very fitting that we do so right here in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol, where the memory of the American people is enshrined.

Here in this room, we are reminded that America is a nation sustained by prayer. The painting to my left is of the pilgrims as they embarked for America, holding fast to the Bible and bowing their heads in prayer.

Along these walls, we see the faces of Americans who prayed as they stood on the Lexington Green, who prayed as they headed west, prayed as they headed into battle, and prayed as they marched for justice, and always marched for victory.

Around us stand the statues of heroes who led the nation in prayer during the great and difficult times, from Washington to Lincoln to Eisenhower to King.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America. Thank you very much.

END

11:28 A.M. EST

That evening, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump hosted a dinner for the Grahams. Franklin Graham is sitting to the left of Mrs Trump (her right):

The funeral

Billy Graham’s funeral took place in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday, March 2.

His grandson Roy provided the story behind the evangelist’s simple wooden casket. Recommended video:

This was the scene under a tent at the Billy Graham Library before the funeral:

The Trumps and the Pences walked together:

The Charlotte Observer reported:

His funeral service under a massive tent at the Billy Graham Library in his hometown of Charlotte drew more than 2,000 guests, including President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, governors, senators, religious leaders, celebrities and longtime Graham family friends. It was the kind of star-studded turnout that would have made Graham blush, suggested some of the speakers, who lauded this pastor to presidents and everyday people for always trying to steer the attention away from himself and toward Jesus Christ.

Family members escorted Graham’s plain wooden casket into the 28,000-square-foot tent, which was meant to harken back to Graham’s 1949 crusade in a “canvas cathedral” in downtown Los Angeles that shot him to national attention.

The service lasted the planned 90 minutes. Franklin Graham, who heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association — BGEA — as well as his own Samaritan’s Purse, gave the address:

My father’s greatest longing has been granted,” the younger Graham said. “He’s in the presence of God” …

Franklin Graham recalled his father’s love of his late wife, Ruth, his sense of humor and joy in his grandchildren. “The Billy Graham that the world saw on TV, and in the big stadiums, is the same Billy Graham we saw at home,” he said. “There weren’t two Billy Grahams.”

But Graham said the late evangelist also believed in heaven and hell, and in the Bible as the infallible word of God: “He didn’t understand it all, but he sure believed it all.”

In an era of political correctness, he added, some “want you to believe there are many roads to God. It’s just not true.

“Daddy, I won’t see you on this earth again,” he ended, gazing at the casket before him, “but I will see you again, and maybe soon.”

The article concludes by stating that the Graham family and the BGEA consider the funeral to be the Last Crusade. They hope it will stimulate new interest in the Gospel.

The videos of the funeral service follow:

More on Billy Graham to follow.

N.B.: Language alert and red pills below. Controversial. Not for the faint of heart.

On Wednesday, January 10, 2018, in discussing immigration, President Donald Trump allegedly made a remark about immigration from ‘sh*thole countries’, according to Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois).

The conversation, including several others, took place behind closed doors in the Oval Office.

Senator David Perdue (R-Georgia) attended the meeting and said that only Dick Durbin heard it. Perdue discussed the issue with ABC’s George Stephanopolous:

As usual, media and politicians have been harping on this ever since.

Never-Trumper Mia Love (R-Utah) issued a statement:

Allegedly, Trump asked why there couldn’t be more immigration to the United States from countries like Norway. Why did he mention that nation in particular? Because he had welcomed the Norwegian prime minister to the White House that day:

This is Trump’s explanation:

Media reports said that Haiti, in particular, was singled out:

Trump retweeted an important fact revealing Dick Durbin’s hypocrisy:

Durbin also made a false claim about a Republican during the Obama years:

On Friday, January 12, Trump honoured Martin Luther King Jr Day:

Housing and Urban Development secretary — the retired brain surgeon from the slums of Detroit — Dr Ben Carson is on the left and Isaac Newton Farris Jr, a nephew of Martin Luther King Jr, is on his right. Vice President Mike Pence is behind them. Several other people attended this event, during which:

President Donald J. Trump signed H.R. 267 into law on January 8. Named the “Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park Act,” the law redesignates a National Historic Site in Georgia—the state where King was born—as the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park.

This was Trump’s message to the nation on Monday, in which he reviewed Martin Luther King Jr’s beliefs and ideals and how important they were to the Civil Rights movement — and to Americans today:

On Saturday, Martin Luther King Jr’s niece, Alveda King, gave an interview to Fox & Friends, explaining what Trump meant by his remark just days before:

“Racism is just a word that is being bandied about and thrown… at the president unjustly,” she said. “President Trump is not a racist.”

King said that, in his reported remarks, Trump was not disparaging Africans or Haitians but instead calling attention to the fact many of their governments are inadequate and corrupt.

“Some of their own leaders have taken advantage of them,” she said.

She also criticized American Urban Radio Networks correspondent April Ryan, who repeatedly shouted “are you a racist” at the president during the King Birthplace park signing ceremony.

Years ago, minorities viewed Trump as their ally:

Here’s the irony about the mention of Haiti:

Donald Trump may or may not have called Haiti a “s***hole” – everyone freaks out. UN peacekeepers actively ran a child sex ring in Haiti – nobody bats an eye.

If we’re going to talk about Haiti, who exploited it more than Billary Clinton via their (in)famous foundation?

Yet, Hillary got pious when reacting to Trump …

… which elicited many critical reactions, including this one …

… and this one:

If we’re going to talk about other countries of this nature, look at what ended up in 2016’s Podesta WikiLeaks. This is from Gabe Podesta, John’s son:

The media went nuts and said ‘sh*thole’ more times than you can shake a stick. CNN even wrote the word on a whiteboard.

On a Trump-supporting news site, Gateway Pundit, lead writer Jim Hoft applauded (bold in the original):

That’s our president.

And THAT’S why we love him!

President Trump responded today to the “Gang of Six” immigration plan.
Could not have said it better myself.

Dilbert’s Scott Adams translated the words into normal American parlance:

Poor countries with bad schools that have favored immigration status.

Adams also posited that leakers of sh*thole comments are the real race baiters:

Although, not surprisingly, many Americans were shocked by this fake news, others started to point out the fallacy in Democrats’ — including media’s — thinking. One Twitter user calls it The Sh*thole Conundrum:

Those countries aren’t sh*tholes.

Illegal aliens can’t go home because their country is a sh*thole.

Regardless of language used, The_Donald‘s readers agreed with Trump, including this person:

people trying to act like this is offensive, but its honestly the truth and I don’t even like trump that much

That same thread had the following comment:

MASH : Make America a Sh*t Hole, the Dem 2018 campaign slogan. Not to be confused with get-out-the-vote arm, SHARD, Sh*t Holes Are Reliably Democrat.

It seems that person was not the only one thinking that, because the online world started filling up with examples of Democrat-run cities:

I was amazed to find the photo on the right shows Houston.

A US Navy veteran from St Louis, Missouri, rightly took issue with the state of Durbin’s nearby Illinois constituency, which he has been serving since 1983, first as congressman and now senator. Watch:

Here are four more incredible films about Dick Durbin’s East St Louis. For those unaware, the empty lots in the residential parts of town are where houses were razed. Watch:

Dick Durbin should be ashamed of himself. But, that’s impossible. He’s a Democrat.

On Monday, December 4, 2017, President Donald Trump travelled to Salt Lake City, Utah, to sign two proclamations restoring the use of federal land to Americans.

This was a controversial move, and lawsuits have already been filed.

However, while leftists believe Trump and his Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke are wrong, Trump campaigned on this issue in 2016. He wants greater co-ordination between the federal government and states on the use of government-owned land.

US Government still owns the land

First of all, the US government has not sold any land.

Although most of us think of the western United States as the wide open spaces where freedom reigns, in fact, the federal government owns most of the land in those states.

History

A commenter at The Conservative Treehouse points out that this started early in American history (emphases mine):

It has been long and beneficial arrangement for the American people and individual states which dates back to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. There is a misconception that land has been “taken” from states and aggregated to the Federal government. This is simply not true, as the vast majority of Federal lands have always been owned and administered by the federal government. Often, these lands included large areas of desert waste and wilderness that were not accessible or open to economic development in the 19th century, ie lands that the territories/states and their governments/populations had little use or administrative control over at the time. Indeed, most Federal lands are an artefact of the process of incorporating unsettled Western land into territories and then admitting those territories into the Union.

In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law, protecting national sites of natural interest for the nation. He had good intentions and increased the number of national parks.

The Conservative Treehouse commenter says that problems arose with federal ownership after the Second World War, possibly before, when the New Deal programmes of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (Teddy’s cousin) started:

There is a problem, however: post New Deal/World War II, and particularly since the Clinton Administration, and very particularly under the Obama Administration, the Federal Government has been increasingly prescriptive in regards to Federal land management. Traditional land right uses, which are critical to Western states’ economies and including activities such as mining, ranching, drilling, have been all but banished via the Antiquities Act of 1906 and through agency-driven regulation.

Left-wing politicians believe that Native Americans and ranchers should have less access to lands that they have been successfully managing:

People whose families have used lands for centuries have suddenly found themselves treated as trespassers and criminals due to this shift. States which have counted on the economic development and use of Federal lands have been crippled. Federal land agencies have been weaponized like so much of the Washington government, to the detriment of the people.

Perhaps the conditions surrounding federal landownership need a rethink:

the local conditions of the 19th century no longer apply. States now have the ability to administer and develop remote areas within their borders. It is therefore time to examine whether the 18th century arrangement between federal and state government in regards to land ownership is the most efficient in the 21st century.

Clinton administration expansion

The Education Forum has an article about a proclamation President Bill Clinton signed in 1996 — during his re-election campaign — appropriating 1.7 million acres of land in Utah to the federal government. He did this from Arizona.

While this looked like a good thing for the environment, Clinton’s actions hid a bigger goal — to prevent American coal being mined there as a political favour, increasing the nation’s dependency on foreign coal:

Why would he dedicate a Utah monument while standing in Arizona? Well, this federal land grab was done without any consultation with the governor of Utah or any member of the Utah congressional delegation or any elected official in the state. The unfriendly Utah natives might have spoiled his photo-op.

The state already had six national monuments, two national recreation areas and all or part of five national forests. Three-quarters of Utah already was in federal hands. Still, the land grab was sold as a move to protect the environment.

At the time, the Clintons were worried that Ralph Nader’s presence on the ballot in a few Western states would draw green votes from Clinton in a race that promised to be close after the GOP retook Congress two years earlier.

In fact, the declaration of 1.7 million Utah acres as a national monument, thereby depriving an energy-starved U.S. up to 62 billion tons of environmentally safe low-sulfur coal worth $1.2 trillion and minable with minimal surface impact, was a political payoff to the family of James Riady.

He’s the son of Lippo Group owner Mochtar Riady. James was found guilty of — and paid a multimillion dollar fine for — funneling more than $1 million in illegal political contributions through Lippo Bank into various American political campaigns, including Bill Clinton’s presidential run in 1992.

Clinton took off the world market the largest known deposit of clean-burning coal. And who owned and controlled the second-largest deposit in the world of this clean coal? The Indonesian Lippo Group of James Riady. It is found and strip-mined on the Indonesian island of Kalimantan.

The Utah reserve contains a kind of low-sulfur, low-ash and therefore low-polluting coal that can be found in only a couple of places in the world. It burns so cleanly that it meets the requirements of the Clean Air Act without additional technology.

“The mother of all land grabs,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said at the time. He has called what was designated as the Grande Staircase of the Escalante National Monument the “Saudi Arabia of coal.”

Obama expansion

Late in 2016, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation to create the Bears Ears monument in Utah, which had 1.35 million acres.

Extent of federal lands

Big Think has an excellent article, complete with eye-opening illustrations of the extent of federal land ownership out West.

Excerpts follow:

The rough beauty of the American West seems as far as you can get from the polished corridors of power in Washington DC. Until you look at the title to the land. The federal government owns large tracts of the western states: from a low of 29.9% in Montana, already more than the national average, up to a whopping 84.5% in Nevada

Few minds will stir when they learn that the US federal government owns a grand total of 640 million acres of land: that figure is so vast that it becomes meaningless [1]. The sum of all that acreage adds up to about 28% of the nation’s total surface, 2.27 billion acres. That sounds like a lot, but since it is an average, and because we have nothing to compare it to, that percentage is, to use one of my favorite quotes, “the kind of information they conceal in books” [2].

By contrast, the federal government owns significantly less of Midwestern land and practically nothing on the East coast.

The land is administered by different governmental bodies:

According to the Congressional Research Service [4], a total area of just under 610 million acres – more than twice the size of Namibia – is administered by no more than 4 federal government agencies:

* The United States Forest Service (USFS), which oversees timber harvesting, recreation, wildlife habitat protection and other sustainable uses on a total of 193 million acres – almost the size of Turkey – mainly designated as National Forests.

* The National Park Service (NPS) conserves lands and resources on 80 million acres – a Norway-sized area – in order to preserve them for the public. Any harvesting or resource removal is generally prohibited.

* the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), managing 248 million acres [5] – an area the size of Egypt – has a multiple-use, sustained-yield mandate, supporting energy development, recreation, grazing, conservation, and other uses.

* the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) manages 89 million acres – an area slightly bigger than Germany – to conserve and protect animal and plant species.

The first agency is part of the Department of Agriculture, the latter three of the Department of the Interior. The Department of Defense manages an additional 20 million acres – a bit larger than the Czech Republic – as military bases, testing and training grounds, etc.

That is a lot of feds of whom to fall afoul.

Citizens cross the federal government at their peril

Big Think reminds us of one well-known recent case of an ordinary American crossing the federal government on these lands which ended badly:

That conflict came to a head very publicly last year with the case of Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher whose conflict with the Bureau of Land Management over grazing rights led to the federal government impounding his cattle [6].

The case is still unresolved, as footnote 7 to the article explains:

[7] Mr. Bundy refused to pay $1.2 million in grazing fees to the BLM, arguing that the land his cattle uses belongs not to the federal, but the state government. In the spring of last year, BLM officials agreed to leave his property and release his cattle after hundreds of armed supporters showed up at the Bundy ranch. As the Washington Post recently reported, the conflict remains unresolved.

As for Big Think‘s article and graphics:

Ultimately, this map reverberates and keeps bouncing around the internet because it touches a divide in American politics and wider society that is about much more than land use. It pits libertarians versus federalists, with the gap between them increasing to such an extent that the former often seem to the latter to be no more than right-wing vigilantes, the latter to the former nothing less than world-government-promoting socialists. Until some middle ground emerges to bridge that divide, this map (and other incendiary devices) will continue to add fuel to the ideological fire.

Is extensive federal land ownership constitutional?

The Independence Institute has a good article on whether such extensive land holdings are constitutional.

This is a grey area as Rob Natelson, the author, explains. In part:

* Under the Property Clause (Art. IV, Sec. 3, Cl. 2), land titled to the federal government and held outside state boundaries is “Territory.” Federal land held within state boundaries is “other Property.”

* The Property Clause gives Congress unconditional power to dispose of property and authority to regulate what is already held. It does not mention a power to acquire.

* As for acreage (“other Property”) within state boundaries: Under the Necessary and Proper Clause, the federal government may acquire and retain land necessary for carrying out its enumerated powers. This includes parcels for military bases, post offices, buildings to house federal employees undertaking enumerated functions, and the like. It is not necessary to form federal enclaves for these purposes.

* But within state boundaries the Constitution grants no authority to retain acreage for unenumerated purposes, such as land for grazing, mineral development, agriculture, forests, or parks.

Looking at the issue historically, he concludes:

Most states were admitted to the union pursuant to treaties, agreements of cession, and/or laws passed by Congress. These are called organic laws. They include, but are not limited to, enabling acts and acts of admission. These laws cannot change the Constitution, but they have some interesting ramifications for federal land ownership. That is a topic for another posting.

My article has been cited widely. But  it will not surprise you to learn that many reject the conclusions. Liberals are unhappy, because they want to keep much of our territory socialized. Conservative land activists are disappointed because they want the federal government to convey land to the state governments, not dispose of it in other ways. It is significant, however, that no one has even tried to rebut my conclusions or the evidence for them.

Zinke visits Utah — May 2017

Ryan Zinke must be the most active Secretary of the Interior ever. He is always travelling around the United States.

In May, he visited Utah:

for a four-day listening tour. He met with community members, stakeholders, and representatives of federal, state, local and tribal governments, regarding an executive order to review some large national monuments designated under the Antiquities Act.

That description goes with this video. You can see him on horseback at the three-minute mark:

Zinke’s recommendation was to reduce the size — though not the ownership — of of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National monuments.

This is the background on Trump and Zinke visiting Salt Lake City on December 4.

Trump and Zinke visit Salt Lake City

The Salt Lake Tribune has a good report about Trump and Zinke’s visit, excerpted below:

To the cheers of Utah politicians and dismay of environmental and tribal groups, President Donald Trump swept into Utah on Monday and erased most of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National monuments — shaving 2 million acres from their boundaries and replacing them with five smaller monuments

At the invitation-only Capitol Rotunda ceremony, he signed a proclamation to shrink Bears Ears, created last year by President Barack Obama, from 1.35 million acres to 201,876. The remnants were placed into two new monuments: Shash Jaa (Navajo for Bears Ears) at 129,980 acres and Indian Creek at 71,896 acres.

He signed a second proclamation to reduce Grand Staircase-Escalante — created in 1996 by President Bill Clinton — from 1.9 million acres to 1 million. It was replaced by three monuments: Grand Staircase at 209,933 acres; Kaiparowits at 552,034; and Escalante Canyon at 242,836. The protected areas are still larger than Rhode Island.

“Past administrations have severely abused the purpose, spirit and intent of the century-old law known as the Antiquities Act,” Trump said, referring to the law used by Clinton and Obama to create the monuments.

He said presidents are supposed to set aside in monuments only the smallest area necessary to protect important resources.

The following video shows the beauty of the Grand Staircase-Escalante. The person who made this is upset, however, there will still be plenty that is preserved, even if coal mining begins. The coal mining will not be in the same area as the Grand Staircase:

National Geographic says that tourism is the mainstay of the Grand Staircase-Escalante, however, that is seasonal traffic. Those who live there are disappointed that the government bought out the leases for a proposed coal mine on the Kaiparowits Plateau in 1996. While there are service jobs aplenty, mining would give many of the residents a much better quality of life.

As for Bears Ears, National Geographic explains that, as visitor numbers increase, so does the damage to nature and Native American history:

tourists pocketing potsherds, campers using century-old Navajo hogans for firewood; graffiti on ancient rock panels; all-terrain vehicles blasting through ancestral burial grounds.

Some residents are suspicious of the federal government:

… many locals oppose relying on what they see as the heavy hand of the federal government to resolve it. The feds, says [San Juan County Commissioner Phil] Lyman, “have become very much the enemy,” and monument designation only strengthens the federal regulatory grip. “They need to leave San Juan County, not own San Juan County.” The cuts to the monument, however, are unlikely to send either the BLM or the visitors away.

It is a complicated situation. The governor of Utah, Gary Herbert, wrote an excellent Myth and Fact piece on Bears Ears for the Deseret News, which is well worth reading. Excerpts follow:

Myth: Without national monument status, the vast landscape of the Bears Ears region will be subjected to unchecked exploitation.

Fact: Before Obama’s monument declaration in December 2016, the Bears Ears region was mostly federal public land subject to a network of federal protections that conserve the area’s natural beauty and archeological treasures. Trump’s reconfiguration of the monument’s boundaries does not change the federal ownership of these lands and maintains the existing system of federal protections

Myth: Without national monument status, the Bears Ears region will be crisscrossed by coal mines, oil rigs and gas pipelines.

Fact: Mineral resources beneath Bears Ears are scarce. There is no developable oil and gas. The region’s nonrenewable resources, including uranium near the Daneros Mine, were actually outside the expansive monument boundaries declared by Obama. The integrity of the Bears Ears landscape, long kept intact before the creation of the monument, will almost certainly remain intact after Trump’s announcement. And to ensure this going forward, the state of Utah is asking for congressional legislation that will exclude the region from mineral extraction …

Utah reaction in the Capitol building

Inside Salt Lake City’s Capitol building, Ryan Zinke gave a brief speech before Trump’s arrival.

He then introduced a Navajo stakeholder who expressed her deep gratitude to everyone involved, including President Trump. She also complimented Zinke on his horseback riding:

Other state officials then spoke briefly. Finally, Trump arrived:

What follows is an excerpt from his speech:

Here, and in other affected states, we have seen harmful and unnecessary restrictions on hunting, ranching, and responsible economic development. We have seen grazing restrictions prevent ranching families from passing their businesses and beloved heritage on to the children — the children that they love.

We’ve seen many rural families stopped from enjoying their outdoor activities. And the fact they’ve done it all their lives made no difference to the bureaucrats in Washington.

We have seen needed improvements, like infrastructure upgrades and road maintenance, impeded and foreclosed. We have seen how this tragic federal overreach prevents many Native Americans from having their rightful voice over the sacred land where they practice their most important ancestral and religious traditions. (Applause.)

These abuses of the Antiquities Act have not just threatened your local economies; they’ve threatened your very way of life. They’ve threatened your hearts.

He then signed the proclamation:

This was the reaction:

Politically contentious

The Hill reported that Congress wants to take action on how the Antiquities Act is used in future.

As Trump wants to return use of federal lands to the American people where possible:

The House Natural Resources Committee approved a bill in October that would restrict the president’s ability to quickly and unilaterally declare large national monuments.

Republicans, including Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), consider the bill an important check on presidential power, and they are intent on moving the reform bill through Congress this session.

The next steps will be to move beyond symbolic gestures of protection and create substantive protections and enforcement and codify in law a meaningful management role for local governments, tribes and other stakeholders,” Bishop said in a Monday statement.

Democrats have vowed to resist any effort to diminish the presidential monument-making power, setting up potential fights if the bill moves to the House floor and the Senate.

Conclusion

This move is not nearly as calamitous and damaging as environmentalist activists say it is.

It helps the American people, especially those Native Americans, ranchers and other residents in these areas regain use of their resources.

Having seen the following two tweets about Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, I checked for an update on rebuilding the battered island.

The mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, made another video last week. Looking somewhat Castro-like in a military cap and with a new tee shirt, she again said that Puerto Ricans are starving and that the Trump administration is doing next to nothing to help her fellow citizens:

Bill Clinton visited her that same day. One wonders if Bubba brought the shirt with him, which is how she got her other ‘help us’ attire. I don’t see any starving people in the photos. Everyone seems to be having a jolly time:

However, not everyone agrees with Yulín’s blame of the Trump administration:

On November 3, Yulín told CNN — which clearly adores her — that the death toll from Maria could be 500, but she has nothing solid on which to base that claim. It’s just to make Trump and his administration appear incompetent and cruel.

CNN posted an article — also on November 20 — which brought up the 500 dead figure and states that many are dying in fires from lanterns because they have no electricity.

However, these deaths are occurring now, which begs the question: whose fault is that?

At the end of September, I wrote about how fragile Puerto Rico’s infrastructure was before the hurricane. Everyone on the island knows that.

On November 19, the Los Angeles Times wrote about the lack of electricity, which is driving Puerto Ricans to the mainland:

Prosper, 67, considers himself a creative type. He managed to wire the 12-volt lightbulbs in his home to a series of car batteries.

“Even if there is no electricity, there’s light here,” Prosper said, showing his living room.

Officials estimate several hundred people — mostly young adults — are leaving Puerto Rico each day for the mainland.

The exodus was taking place even before Maria, a Category 4 storm, hit the island on Sept. 20.

Then this follows with mention of the island’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló (emphases mine):

For years, the commonwealth has struggled with debt. In May, Rossello said the Puerto Rican government, embroiled in a more than $70-billion debt crisis, would go to federal court in hopes of receiving protection from creditors.

Tony Villamil, an economist based in Miami who has worked extensively in Puerto Rico, said Saturday it was “going to take a decade at minimum for the island to recover and regain some sense of normalcy.”

“The ports, the power grid, the highways all need to be rebuilt with significant improvements,” Villamil said. “There needs to be a strong public-private sector relationship that is developed to help in these efforts.”

To date Congress has approved $5 billion in aid for Puerto Rico since Maria made landfall. Even so, Rossello has called on the federal government to give Puerto Rico nearly $94 billion in recovery aid.

While in Washington, D.C., this month for meetings with members of Congress, Rossello outlined how the money would be spent: about $46 billion from the Community Development Block Grant program to restore housing; $30 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for infrastructure; and $17 billion in other grant programs for long-term recovery.

Still, as Rosello and other officials scramble to find money to rebuild the commonwealth and, in turn, stanch migration to the mainland, some have given up and are moving out.

Someone in Puerto Rico posted the following in response to the LA Times‘s tweet about the article (see here, here and here):

not Trump lets be honest puerto rico has a deep corruption problem! lots of money in help are now missing!

you don’t live in puerto rico! corruption is rampant! lots of the help money went to no bid contracts with phantom companies!

so much government corruption in puerto rico, contracts with phantom companies and partisan issues! everybody should demand transparency!

The tweet below shows the state of play last week. Note that the main problem is electricity, which was already a dangerously serious problem before Maria struck:

The latest controversy alleges that FEMA waited 40 days to start funding long term work on rebuilding the island. In fact, it was Governor Rosselló who waited for 30 days. Once he made his request, FEMA approved it within the customary 10 days, the same time it takes on the mainland. On November 21, Puerto Rico’s El Nuevo Día reported:

Although FEMA assured that the delay in the approval of C-G funds will not affect the island, the fact is that Puerto Rico waited for a month to begin the process of requesting funds for permanent projects.

In addition, although the Rosselló Nevares administration and FEMA spent the first weeks responding to the emergency, two months after the hurricane, most of the island continues without power and to date, the process of installing tarps to residences by the Corps of Engineers does not even reach a quarter of the universe of affected units.

On November 15, the paper reported the bemusement of American legislators on Rosselló’s — and the island’s power authority PREPA’s — slow response:

Washington.- Yesterday, Republicans and Democrats of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources showed themselves confused by the decision of the Government of Puerto Rico to ignore, for over a month during the emergency caused by Hurricane Maria, mutual aid agreements with American public energy corporations.

“One month in the recovery process was lost,” said the president of the committee, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), who, without the insistence heard from the House, asked the executive director of the Board, Natalie Jaresko, if it was necessary to appoint an “emergency manager” for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA).

There were problems with one of the initial contracts, with a company called Whitefish, with which Ryan Zinke, the US Secretary of the Interior (see tweet at the top of this post), has connections. That said, Puerto Rico cancelled the contract, which is also the subject of investigation requests by the FBI, Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the General Inspectors of the departments of Homeland Security and Energy.

Ricardo Ramos, PREPA’s executive director, said he had not received any request from the FBI.

Rosselló says that he was not involved with the contract and that, had he anticipated the slow pace of the recovery process, he would had acted differently.

The story continues.

Further reading:

Hurricane Maria: the Left — including media — are wrong about relief efforts (September 27)

Hurricane Maria: beware American media misinformation about Puerto Rico (September 28)

Hurricane Maria has worsened Puerto Rico’s weak infrastructure (September 28)

Hurricane Maria: fact and fallacy in Puerto Rico (September 28 – October 1)

Hurricane Maria: more news from Puerto Rico (September 25 – October 1)

Hurricane Maria: President Trump’s trip to Puerto Rico (October 3)

 

 

 

 

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