Day: November 4, 2017

Hillary Clinton Merits a Special Counsel


Rigging the Democrats’ nomination is just the icing on the cake when it comes to activity meriting a thorough investigation of criminal activity by the woman who, only a year ago, was presumed to become the 45th president.  Don’t forget Uranium One, Fusion GPS, keeping classified emails on an unsecured private server, deleting 33,000 emails under subpoena, and, well, you get the idea. Unfortunately, our AWOL AG Jeff Sessions, whose face was last seen on the side of a milk carton, does not. So, we are left with the absurdity of a special counsel looking into Trump-Russia collusion, where there is none, while overlooking the multiple Clinton elephants in the room.

The revelation that both the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign were funneling money through a law firm to Fusion GPS to produce a slimy and fake dossier on Trump culled from foreign sources was bad enough. Now we find, courtesy of the one truthful and remorseful Democrat on this planet, former DNC Chairperson Donna Brazile, that the DNC was bought and paid for by Hillary Clinton, who probably violated multiple FEC campaign laws in rigging the primaries against Bernie Sanders and shifted cash around in a manner that could only be called — what’s the word Robert Mueller would use? Ah, yes,  money-laundering:

In an excerpt from her upcoming book, Brazile says she discovered a document that explained why the Clinton campaign had such a stranglehold on the DNC. It was published in Politico Thursday.

“When I got back from a vacation in Martha’s Vineyard,” she wrote, “I at last found the document that described it all: the Joint Fund-Raising Agreement between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America.”


The agreement—signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias — specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.

Hillary Clinton staged a political coup worthy of a banana republic. Brazile has confirmed that Hillary Clinton was engaging in money-laundering to help her campaign.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, on Monday criticized a Hillary Clinton campaign fundraising scheme that state party leaders told Politico has been used as a self-serving “money-laundering” conduit.


Despite Clinton’s pledges to rebuild state parties, Politico found that less than 1 percent of the $61 million raised by the Victory Fund has stayed in the state parties’ coffers.


“Secretary Clinton is looting funds meant for the state parties to skirt fundraising limits on her presidential campaign,” Weaver said. “We think the Clinton campaign should let the state parties keep their fair share of the cash.”


Sanders’ and Clinton’s primary campaigns both raised about $26 million in April, but Politico documented how the Hillary Victory Fund, a supposedly joint fundraising committee, has been exploited to inflate her presidential primary campaign.


“Secretary Clinton has exploited the rules in ways that let her high-dollar donors like Alice Walton of Wal-Mart fame and the actor George Clooney and his super-rich Hollywood friends skirt legal limits on campaign ontributions,” Weaver added. “If Secretary Clinton can’t raise the funds needed to run in a competitive primary without resorting to laundering, how will she compete against Donald Trump in a general election?”

Turns out that even with money-laundering, Hillary couldn’t win. On a recent edition of Fox News Sunday. House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-SC, noted that in addition to laundering her campaign cash through her wholly-owned subsidiary, the DNC, Hillary Clinton used a law firm to funnel cash to Russia-linked Fusion GPS:

Gowdy said, “I’m not an election law expert, but the good news is you don’t have to be to understand the absurdity believing you can just launder all of your campaign money by just hiring a law firm. Imagine if you and I were running for Congress, and we just hired a law firm and said ‘Hey, you go to all the opposition, you go buy all the television, you go buy all the bumper stickers, you go hire all the experts, and we will launder all of this through a law firm. I can’t think of anything that defeats the purpose of transparency laws more than that.”


He continued, “I am interested in that, and I am also interested in sharing some memory tricks with folks at the DNC because no one can remember who paid 10 million dollars to a law firm to do oppo research. I find that stunning. $10 million and no one can remember who authorized it, who approved it. So you’ve got two issues, a memory issue and then the lack of transparency by laundering money through a law firm.”

And did we forget the Clinton Foundation? As Fox News legal analyst Greg Jarrett notes, it was used in an influence peddling scheme to enrich the Clintons and advance their political ambitions, colluding with the Russians to, among other things, sell 20 percent of our uranium supplies to interests and donors aligned with Moscow:

It is against the law for the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to funnel millions of dollars to a British spy and to Russian sources in order to obtain the infamous and discredited Trump “dossier.”  The Federal Election Campaign Act (52 USC 30101) prohibits foreign nationals and governments from giving or receiving money in U.S. campaigns.  It also prohibits the filing of false or misleading campaign reports to hide the true purpose of the money (52 USC 30121).  This is what Clinton and the DNC appear to have done.


Most often the penalty for violating this law is a fine, but in egregious cases, like this one, criminal prosecutions have been sought and convictions obtained.  In this sense, it could be said that Hillary Clinton is the one who was conspiring with the Russians by breaking campaign finance laws with impunity.


But that’s not all.  Damning new evidence appears to show that Clinton used her office as Secretary of State to confer benefits to Russia in exchange for millions of dollars in donations to her foundation and cash to her husband.  Secret recordings, intercepted emails, financial records, and eyewitness accounts allegedly show that Russian nuclear officials enriched the Clintons at the very time Hillary presided over a governing body which unanimously approved the sale of one-fifth of America’s uranium supply to Russia.   

Hillary Clinton was the godfather, or is it godmother, that ran multiple criminal enterprises. The existence of a special counsel investigating Trump-Russia collusion is based on a fake dossier she controlled the financing of. Paul Manafort and his co-defendants could make the “fruit of a poison tree” argument, that since the dossier that sparked the investigation into collusion and resulting indictments was politically motivated and financed, and its unverified contents may have been used by the FBI to obtain FISA warrants, anything that resulted from it should be summarily dismissed.

As for Marc Elias, the attorney for Perkins & Coie –t he DNC’s law firm — who carried out the hiring of Fusion GPS, his involvement in legally and ethically dubious activity on behalf of the

Thanks also for the pn=gs.

Thomas Democrats could lead to serious trouble. Remember he sat between former DNC Chair and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and John Podesta as they invoked the Sergeant Schultz (no relation) defense regarding Fusion GPS

Did DNC and Team Hillary attorney Marc Elias lead John Podesta and Debbie Wasserman Schultz into a perjury trap? According to CNN, the two testified to congressional investigators that they did not have any knowledge of the funding for the Fusion GPS dossier that prompted an FBI probe into Donald Trump campaign figures.


In recent closed-door interviews with the Senate intelligence committee, Podesta and Wasserman Schultz said they did not know who had funded Fusion GPS, the intelligence firm that hired British Intelligence Officer Christopher Steele to compile the dossier on Trump, the sources said.


Podesta was asked in his September interview whether the Clinton campaign had a contractual agreement with Fusion GPS, and he said he was not aware of one, according to one of the sources.


Sitting next to Podesta during the interview: his attorney Marc Elias, who worked for the law firm that hired Fusion GPS to continue research on Trump on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC, multiple sources said. Elias was only there in his capacity as Podesta’s attorney and not as a witness.


Whether or not this testimony was under oath, it is a crime to provide false testimony to Congress.

Indeed it is. Add it to the list of crimes that go uninvestigated and unprosecuted as AG Jeff Sessions contemplates his navel. A special counsel needs to be appointed and a grand jury empanelled to investigate this list of crimes that would make a mafia don proud. Justice should be blind and not brain-dead. If there is a double standard at play here, there is no equal justice under the law.

Daniel John Sobieski is a free lance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.

Rigging the Democrats’ nomination is just the icing on the cake when it comes to activity meriting a thorough investigation of criminal activity by the woman who, only a year ago, was presumed to become the 45th president.  Don’t forget Uranium One, Fusion GPS, keeping classified emails on an unsecured private server, deleting 33,000 emails under subpoena, and, well, you get the idea. Unfortunately, our AWOL AG Jeff Sessions, whose face was last seen on the side of a milk carton, does not. So, we are left with the absurdity of a special counsel looking into Trump-Russia collusion, where there is none, while overlooking the multiple Clinton elephants in the room.

The revelation that both the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign were funneling money through a law firm to Fusion GPS to produce a slimy and fake dossier on Trump culled from foreign sources was bad enough. Now we find, courtesy of the one truthful and remorseful Democrat on this planet, former DNC Chairperson Donna Brazile, that the DNC was bought and paid for by Hillary Clinton, who probably violated multiple FEC campaign laws in rigging the primaries against Bernie Sanders and shifted cash around in a manner that could only be called — what’s the word Robert Mueller would use? Ah, yes,  money-laundering:

In an excerpt from her upcoming book, Brazile says she discovered a document that explained why the Clinton campaign had such a stranglehold on the DNC. It was published in Politico Thursday.

“When I got back from a vacation in Martha’s Vineyard,” she wrote, “I at last found the document that described it all: the Joint Fund-Raising Agreement between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America.”


The agreement—signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias — specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.

Hillary Clinton staged a political coup worthy of a banana republic. Brazile has confirmed that Hillary Clinton was engaging in money-laundering to help her campaign.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, on Monday criticized a Hillary Clinton campaign fundraising scheme that state party leaders told Politico has been used as a self-serving “money-laundering” conduit.


Despite Clinton’s pledges to rebuild state parties, Politico found that less than 1 percent of the $61 million raised by the Victory Fund has stayed in the state parties’ coffers.


“Secretary Clinton is looting funds meant for the state parties to skirt fundraising limits on her presidential campaign,” Weaver said. “We think the Clinton campaign should let the state parties keep their fair share of the cash.”


Sanders’ and Clinton’s primary campaigns both raised about $26 million in April, but Politico documented how the Hillary Victory Fund, a supposedly joint fundraising committee, has been exploited to inflate her presidential primary campaign.


“Secretary Clinton has exploited the rules in ways that let her high-dollar donors like Alice Walton of Wal-Mart fame and the actor George Clooney and his super-rich Hollywood friends skirt legal limits on campaign ontributions,” Weaver added. “If Secretary Clinton can’t raise the funds needed to run in a competitive primary without resorting to laundering, how will she compete against Donald Trump in a general election?”

Turns out that even with money-laundering, Hillary couldn’t win. On a recent edition of Fox News Sunday. House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-SC, noted that in addition to laundering her campaign cash through her wholly-owned subsidiary, the DNC, Hillary Clinton used a law firm to funnel cash to Russia-linked Fusion GPS:

Gowdy said, “I’m not an election law expert, but the good news is you don’t have to be to understand the absurdity believing you can just launder all of your campaign money by just hiring a law firm. Imagine if you and I were running for Congress, and we just hired a law firm and said ‘Hey, you go to all the opposition, you go buy all the television, you go buy all the bumper stickers, you go hire all the experts, and we will launder all of this through a law firm. I can’t think of anything that defeats the purpose of transparency laws more than that.”


He continued, “I am interested in that, and I am also interested in sharing some memory tricks with folks at the DNC because no one can remember who paid 10 million dollars to a law firm to do oppo research. I find that stunning. $10 million and no one can remember who authorized it, who approved it. So you’ve got two issues, a memory issue and then the lack of transparency by laundering money through a law firm.”

And did we forget the Clinton Foundation? As Fox News legal analyst Greg Jarrett notes, it was used in an influence peddling scheme to enrich the Clintons and advance their political ambitions, colluding with the Russians to, among other things, sell 20 percent of our uranium supplies to interests and donors aligned with Moscow:

It is against the law for the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to funnel millions of dollars to a British spy and to Russian sources in order to obtain the infamous and discredited Trump “dossier.”  The Federal Election Campaign Act (52 USC 30101) prohibits foreign nationals and governments from giving or receiving money in U.S. campaigns.  It also prohibits the filing of false or misleading campaign reports to hide the true purpose of the money (52 USC 30121).  This is what Clinton and the DNC appear to have done.


Most often the penalty for violating this law is a fine, but in egregious cases, like this one, criminal prosecutions have been sought and convictions obtained.  In this sense, it could be said that Hillary Clinton is the one who was conspiring with the Russians by breaking campaign finance laws with impunity.


But that’s not all.  Damning new evidence appears to show that Clinton used her office as Secretary of State to confer benefits to Russia in exchange for millions of dollars in donations to her foundation and cash to her husband.  Secret recordings, intercepted emails, financial records, and eyewitness accounts allegedly show that Russian nuclear officials enriched the Clintons at the very time Hillary presided over a governing body which unanimously approved the sale of one-fifth of America’s uranium supply to Russia.   

Hillary Clinton was the godfather, or is it godmother, that ran multiple criminal enterprises. The existence of a special counsel investigating Trump-Russia collusion is based on a fake dossier she controlled the financing of. Paul Manafort and his co-defendants could make the “fruit of a poison tree” argument, that since the dossier that sparked the investigation into collusion and resulting indictments was politically motivated and financed, and its unverified contents may have been used by the FBI to obtain FISA warrants, anything that resulted from it should be summarily dismissed.

As for Marc Elias, the attorney for Perkins & Coie –t he DNC’s law firm — who carried out the hiring of Fusion GPS, his involvement in legally and ethically dubious activity on behalf of the

Thanks also for the pn=gs.

Thomas Democrats could lead to serious trouble. Remember he sat between former DNC Chair and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and John Podesta as they invoked the Sergeant Schultz (no relation) defense regarding Fusion GPS

Did DNC and Team Hillary attorney Marc Elias lead John Podesta and Debbie Wasserman Schultz into a perjury trap? According to CNN, the two testified to congressional investigators that they did not have any knowledge of the funding for the Fusion GPS dossier that prompted an FBI probe into Donald Trump campaign figures.


In recent closed-door interviews with the Senate intelligence committee, Podesta and Wasserman Schultz said they did not know who had funded Fusion GPS, the intelligence firm that hired British Intelligence Officer Christopher Steele to compile the dossier on Trump, the sources said.


Podesta was asked in his September interview whether the Clinton campaign had a contractual agreement with Fusion GPS, and he said he was not aware of one, according to one of the sources.


Sitting next to Podesta during the interview: his attorney Marc Elias, who worked for the law firm that hired Fusion GPS to continue research on Trump on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC, multiple sources said. Elias was only there in his capacity as Podesta’s attorney and not as a witness.


Whether or not this testimony was under oath, it is a crime to provide false testimony to Congress.

Indeed it is. Add it to the list of crimes that go uninvestigated and unprosecuted as AG Jeff Sessions contemplates his navel. A special counsel needs to be appointed and a grand jury empanelled to investigate this list of crimes that would make a mafia don proud. Justice should be blind and not brain-dead. If there is a double standard at play here, there is no equal justice under the law.

Daniel John Sobieski is a free lance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.



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Disillusioned and Disheartened


I am disillusioned and disheartened.  Disillusioned and disheartened by the damage done by absurd social policies.  By the damage done to our economy.  By the damage done to our military.  By successive Congresses and presidents.  The damage did not happen overnight.  It has been ongoing for decades.    

Specifically, it began on 22 November 1963, when Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president after the assassination of JFK.  The difference could not be starker.  The nation went from “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” to the “Great Society,” the alleged goal of which was the elimination of poverty and racial injustice.  Johnson’s war on poverty created the foundation for the excessive welfare state (and associated entitlement attitude and culture) permeating many communities today, concurrently draining our national treasure and removing the incentive to work.  Johnson and his White House staff also micromanaged the Vietnam war, a precedent for wholly inappropriate military oversight, such as undertaken by the Obama administration as described by former secretary of defense Robert Gates.  Beginning with Johnson, successive presidents and Congresses have increasingly abdicated their constitutional responsibilities in favor of perpetual re-election mania in pursuit of personal power and enrichment, damaging the democracy in which we live.

The beginnings can be traced back to 1963.

The time was the ’60s, a dark period with assassinations, political upheaval, protests (both peaceful and violent), Vietnam, and the rising counter-culture.  Many of those from the ’60s have been and continue to be the individuals directly responsible for the ills of the nation.  While many were serving in Vietnam, other teenagers and young adults of the ’60s were marching against them, with all too many seeking and receiving draft deferments (due to unequal management of the draft), ultimately becoming permanent activists, cleaving a sharp divide in the nation.  They graduated college and have since wrought havoc across the country, with far too many entering politics.  Others entered business and went on to infamy in organizations like Enron and Lehman Brothers.  Coming from the same liberal colleges and universities, which were rare at the time, the business and political forces eventually intertwined so that Wall Street pursuits and national-level politics are virtually indistinguishable.  Some of the less ambitious university activists from the ’60s, those not possessing a strong work ethic, never left academia, becoming perpetual students, obtaining advanced degrees, becoming instructors, gaining tenure, and going on to spew their views of the world to generation after generation of students.

Many of those from the ’60s entering politics infested local, state, and federal bodies with a cancer that may never be cured.  At the federal level, Congress created a new form of slavery, forcing entitlement after entitlement onto the nation, aiming at minorities (initially the black community, but now almost any minority community).  Successive Congresses conditioned citizens to believe they cannot succeed without government assistance, that they are incapable of making their own way in life.  Consequently, successive generations of voters have been conditioned not to work, but to be welfare queens and kings.  Multiple Congresses produced and perpetuated failed policies that fractured families, tearing apart the nuclear family structure essential for the raising of children.

So now we have the perfect storm, created by lackluster to criminally negligent Congresses passing laws to ingratiate voters and enslave them to government benefits.  Congresses and presidents enacted and changed laws to remove personal responsibility and accountability from daily lives and society.  All along, these liberals were facilitated by academia as well as state houses gerrymandering voting districts.  Not only has the “great society” failed the nation, but the military has suffered at the hands of the same individuals.

Congresses and presidents have wrongly sent our men and women off to war, contributing to a society unwilling to fully support the military.  Those who say many of the wars since 1950 have been illegal may have standing.  The misstated and misused Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) is not a substitute for a declaration of war, as a reading of the Constitution would have one believe is required for committing the nation to combat.  By pretense and obfuscation, employing our military in combat operations has been cloaked in soft-sounding verbiage, ignoring the harsh reality and costs of warfare.  Further, the reasons for the AUMF have been inexact and open to wildly different interpretations.

Contributing to the problem is the declining number of military veterans in Congress, removing the voices of those who have been willing to place their lives on the line.  Also influential was the elimination of the draft, imperfect as it was.  Subsequently, less than one half of one percent of the population even serves on active duty, meaning that fewer and fewer families are invested in protecting the nation.  This manifests in politicians willing to send the sons and daughters of others into harm’s way.  Congresses, academia, and social activists have also looked at the military as a social science laboratory, forcing onto the military countless programs having little to nothing to do with either combat readiness or combat effectiveness, ripping badly needed resources from operational readiness.  The money simply is not where it is needed in sufficient amounts, as the abysmal state of Marine Corps F/A-18s amply illustrates.  

Congresses now spend money we do not have – not on military readiness, but on the large welfare and other entitlement systems Johnson began.  With the primary incentive being to remain in office, the GOP goes along, even if making noises to the contrary from time to time.  The multiple successive terms in office corrupt the system and the individuals, so even when handed the White House, Senate, and House, the GOP is as ineffectual as can be.

At the federal level, polices and laws fragmented and weakened families and the military.  Funding for failed policies was spent, even when revenues did not meet expenditures.  Values once considered commonplace have been set aside.  Important institutions were infected by ’60s thinking.  Throughout, Congress after Congress failed in its constitutional responsibilities.  Members of Congress who have never been willing to put their lives on the line for anything have made disastrous decisions time after time, with an eye only to re-election, not truly serving the nation.  Military misadventures have become common as presidents and Congresses fail to act in accordance with constitutional mandates.  Social programs and entitlements expanded at exponential rates.  Instead of good decisions for education, the economy, health care, and national defense, policies and laws promoting entitlement took root, creating generations of welfare recipients rather than generations of wage- and salary-earners.

In sum, the beginnings of the damage can be traced back to November 22, 1963 – a monumental shift in thinking and acting, away from honor, hard work, family, patriotism, integrity, and sacrifice.  That shift instigated a tidal wave on college campuses, producing graduates who entered and damaged critical sectors of society.

And all of that is what leads to my being disillusioned and disheartened.

I am disillusioned and disheartened.  Disillusioned and disheartened by the damage done by absurd social policies.  By the damage done to our economy.  By the damage done to our military.  By successive Congresses and presidents.  The damage did not happen overnight.  It has been ongoing for decades.    

Specifically, it began on 22 November 1963, when Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president after the assassination of JFK.  The difference could not be starker.  The nation went from “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” to the “Great Society,” the alleged goal of which was the elimination of poverty and racial injustice.  Johnson’s war on poverty created the foundation for the excessive welfare state (and associated entitlement attitude and culture) permeating many communities today, concurrently draining our national treasure and removing the incentive to work.  Johnson and his White House staff also micromanaged the Vietnam war, a precedent for wholly inappropriate military oversight, such as undertaken by the Obama administration as described by former secretary of defense Robert Gates.  Beginning with Johnson, successive presidents and Congresses have increasingly abdicated their constitutional responsibilities in favor of perpetual re-election mania in pursuit of personal power and enrichment, damaging the democracy in which we live.

The beginnings can be traced back to 1963.

The time was the ’60s, a dark period with assassinations, political upheaval, protests (both peaceful and violent), Vietnam, and the rising counter-culture.  Many of those from the ’60s have been and continue to be the individuals directly responsible for the ills of the nation.  While many were serving in Vietnam, other teenagers and young adults of the ’60s were marching against them, with all too many seeking and receiving draft deferments (due to unequal management of the draft), ultimately becoming permanent activists, cleaving a sharp divide in the nation.  They graduated college and have since wrought havoc across the country, with far too many entering politics.  Others entered business and went on to infamy in organizations like Enron and Lehman Brothers.  Coming from the same liberal colleges and universities, which were rare at the time, the business and political forces eventually intertwined so that Wall Street pursuits and national-level politics are virtually indistinguishable.  Some of the less ambitious university activists from the ’60s, those not possessing a strong work ethic, never left academia, becoming perpetual students, obtaining advanced degrees, becoming instructors, gaining tenure, and going on to spew their views of the world to generation after generation of students.

Many of those from the ’60s entering politics infested local, state, and federal bodies with a cancer that may never be cured.  At the federal level, Congress created a new form of slavery, forcing entitlement after entitlement onto the nation, aiming at minorities (initially the black community, but now almost any minority community).  Successive Congresses conditioned citizens to believe they cannot succeed without government assistance, that they are incapable of making their own way in life.  Consequently, successive generations of voters have been conditioned not to work, but to be welfare queens and kings.  Multiple Congresses produced and perpetuated failed policies that fractured families, tearing apart the nuclear family structure essential for the raising of children.

So now we have the perfect storm, created by lackluster to criminally negligent Congresses passing laws to ingratiate voters and enslave them to government benefits.  Congresses and presidents enacted and changed laws to remove personal responsibility and accountability from daily lives and society.  All along, these liberals were facilitated by academia as well as state houses gerrymandering voting districts.  Not only has the “great society” failed the nation, but the military has suffered at the hands of the same individuals.

Congresses and presidents have wrongly sent our men and women off to war, contributing to a society unwilling to fully support the military.  Those who say many of the wars since 1950 have been illegal may have standing.  The misstated and misused Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) is not a substitute for a declaration of war, as a reading of the Constitution would have one believe is required for committing the nation to combat.  By pretense and obfuscation, employing our military in combat operations has been cloaked in soft-sounding verbiage, ignoring the harsh reality and costs of warfare.  Further, the reasons for the AUMF have been inexact and open to wildly different interpretations.

Contributing to the problem is the declining number of military veterans in Congress, removing the voices of those who have been willing to place their lives on the line.  Also influential was the elimination of the draft, imperfect as it was.  Subsequently, less than one half of one percent of the population even serves on active duty, meaning that fewer and fewer families are invested in protecting the nation.  This manifests in politicians willing to send the sons and daughters of others into harm’s way.  Congresses, academia, and social activists have also looked at the military as a social science laboratory, forcing onto the military countless programs having little to nothing to do with either combat readiness or combat effectiveness, ripping badly needed resources from operational readiness.  The money simply is not where it is needed in sufficient amounts, as the abysmal state of Marine Corps F/A-18s amply illustrates.  

Congresses now spend money we do not have – not on military readiness, but on the large welfare and other entitlement systems Johnson began.  With the primary incentive being to remain in office, the GOP goes along, even if making noises to the contrary from time to time.  The multiple successive terms in office corrupt the system and the individuals, so even when handed the White House, Senate, and House, the GOP is as ineffectual as can be.

At the federal level, polices and laws fragmented and weakened families and the military.  Funding for failed policies was spent, even when revenues did not meet expenditures.  Values once considered commonplace have been set aside.  Important institutions were infected by ’60s thinking.  Throughout, Congress after Congress failed in its constitutional responsibilities.  Members of Congress who have never been willing to put their lives on the line for anything have made disastrous decisions time after time, with an eye only to re-election, not truly serving the nation.  Military misadventures have become common as presidents and Congresses fail to act in accordance with constitutional mandates.  Social programs and entitlements expanded at exponential rates.  Instead of good decisions for education, the economy, health care, and national defense, policies and laws promoting entitlement took root, creating generations of welfare recipients rather than generations of wage- and salary-earners.

In sum, the beginnings of the damage can be traced back to November 22, 1963 – a monumental shift in thinking and acting, away from honor, hard work, family, patriotism, integrity, and sacrifice.  That shift instigated a tidal wave on college campuses, producing graduates who entered and damaged critical sectors of society.

And all of that is what leads to my being disillusioned and disheartened.



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Al-Qaeda Terrorism and Shakespeare


 

Cole Porter would have been perplexed by the petition in October 2017 to the English Department at Cambridge University to “decolonize the curriculum,” but he had the foresight to call on people to brush up on your Shakespeare, start quoting him now.  Evidently Osama bin Laden, the epitome of decolonization, who had no use for Broadway anyway, had no quarter for Porter.  The terrorist leader who founded al-Qaeda in 1988, not one of those attired in wonder that know not what to say, implicitly told the world this in his personal diary of 228 pages with his private reflections that have just been made public.

This information is important at a time when the United States and the Western world have been preoccupied with the activities of ISIS, both the caliphate and its adherents, with attacks in New York City and around the world that have overshadowed the once more well known terrorist group al-Qaeda and its leader Osama.

On November 1, 2017, Mike Pompeo, director of the CIA, ordered the release of 470,000 documents captured in the Navy SEALs’ raid on May 2, 2011 on the compound of Osama in Abbottabad, Pakistan, close to the Pakistan Military Academy.  President Barack Obama had held that no more data taken from the compound should be released to the public .

However, Pompeo believes that it is important for reasons of national security to make most of the unclassified documents public, except those that might harm national security or are pornographic or copyrighted.  This is made more important because the U.S. forces in the raid were not able to take everything in the compound, and no doubt Pakistani officials have useful information not available to the U.S.  It is certain that American analysts can gain important insights into the plans and workings of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations from the revealed material.

No doubt the documents will prove a treasure trove with their astonishing array of material.  Some of them, if tantalizing, have little to do with Islamic terrorism or with U.S. security, especially those that are probably for the amusement of younger and other members of the Osama family that contained several of his wives and 23 children and his grandchildren.  In this part of the treasure trove are animated films; episodes of Tom and Jerry; film classics; a video of “Charlie Bit my Finger”; commercials from an Oregon car dealer; home videos with a barn and animals; videos such as The Three Musketeers; National Geographic films on Peru, the Kremlin, and India; and material on conspiracy theories, the occult, the Illuminati, and even 9/11, for which adherents of al-Qaeda were responsible.

Among the 80,000 audio and image files and the 10,000 video files are statements by Osama, his 228-page personal journal, and jihadist propaganda.  Interestingly, Osama seemed to have liked watching three documentaries on himself and programs on how the West saw him.  One of them was an interview in 2005 of former CIA director James Woolsey of the Iraq war.  The collection includes videos of jihadist beheadings and a video of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Iraqi al-Qaeda leader, who was killed in a 2006 U.S. air strike.

 It has long been assumed that Osama was radicalized after he joined the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in 1979 fighting the forces of the Soviet Union.  But the personal diary reveals a different picture.  Osama tells of his visit to the U.K. for unstated “treatment” for ten weeks while he was in the 6th grade, aged 13.  He reports that he went every Sunday to visit Shakespeare’s 16th-century house in Stratford-upon-Avon.  He was not impressed, and he realized that British society was very different from his own and was a “morally loose society.”  It was at Stratford, not Afghanistan, that he first concluded that the West is “decadent.”  It is unlikely that he actually saw any one of Shakespeare’s plays, but even if not influenced by Hamlet, he acted as “if from this time forth, my thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth.”

Though his exact schedule is unknown, Osama experienced further decadence in Britain.  He had the misfortune to take an English language course at Oxford – at least it saved him from the “colonialism” at Cambridge – and is believed to have attended a soccer game at the home of Arsenal, the brutal Great Gunners, at Highbury in north London.

The materials reveal that American administration perceptions of Osama’s supposed unimportance in his last decade were inaccurate.  Osama and his network remained active and conspiratorial, and he was still the central factor in al-Qaeda, remaining in operations communication with his followers around the world.  His cohesive network included al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al Shabaab in Somalia, and even the Taliban.

Some of his revelations are relevant to current affairs and U.S. policy.  He discusses the differences between al-Qaeda and ISIS and the factions with strategic, doctrinal, and religious differences within al-Qaeda.  The documents include the videos of Hamza, Osama’s favorite son and potential successor, with footage of his wedding, which apparently took place in Iran.  This son is slated to be the head of al-Qaeda and is a bitter enemy of the U.S.  Indeed, early in 2017, Hamza in a message called on al-Qaeda to attack Jews, Americans, Westerners, and Russians, using whatever weapons they have.  The U.S. has now placed Hamza on its Global Terrorist List.

For U.S. policymakers, it is useful to examine Osama’s thoughts on a variety of issues: the use of Libya after the death of Moammar Gaddafi; the path then and still for jihadists to enter Europe; the turmoil in the Middle East; Yemen, where Osama was plotting to kill the ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh; Bahrain; the protest by schoolchildren in Syria in 2011; the exploitation of the Arab Spring and other uprisings; and what al-Qaeda should do to make use of chaos.

Particularly important is Osama’s account of relations between al-Qaeda and Iran.

They were and are complex, fluctuating relations and loose ties between Sunni Osama and Shiite Iran.  What brought them together was the common hostility to the U.S. and to Saudi Arabia.  Iran supported al-Qaeda’s war against those countries.  Iran offered al-Qaeda “everything they needed,” funds and arms, and the opportunity to train in Hezb’allah camps in Lebanon in exchange for striking U.S. interests.  Iran sheltered al-Qaeda people.  Al-Qaeda opposed Saudi Arabia because it was hosting U.S. troops during the Gulf war.  Osama sent a group, the al-Qaeda management committee, to Iran while Iran enabled al-Qaeda to move funds and fighters to south Asia and Syria.

Lastly, Osama’s relations with Pakistan.  It is now clear that Pakistani authorities helped to hide him from the CIA for almost a decade.  This is clear from the fact that Osama used cell phones and computer hard drives, among other implements.

There is obviously a great deal of detail to analyze in the 470,000 documents.  What is important in all this for the U.S. and the Western world and Russia is reaffirmation of the need for cooperation to overcome Islamic terrorism.

 

Cole Porter would have been perplexed by the petition in October 2017 to the English Department at Cambridge University to “decolonize the curriculum,” but he had the foresight to call on people to brush up on your Shakespeare, start quoting him now.  Evidently Osama bin Laden, the epitome of decolonization, who had no use for Broadway anyway, had no quarter for Porter.  The terrorist leader who founded al-Qaeda in 1988, not one of those attired in wonder that know not what to say, implicitly told the world this in his personal diary of 228 pages with his private reflections that have just been made public.

This information is important at a time when the United States and the Western world have been preoccupied with the activities of ISIS, both the caliphate and its adherents, with attacks in New York City and around the world that have overshadowed the once more well known terrorist group al-Qaeda and its leader Osama.

On November 1, 2017, Mike Pompeo, director of the CIA, ordered the release of 470,000 documents captured in the Navy SEALs’ raid on May 2, 2011 on the compound of Osama in Abbottabad, Pakistan, close to the Pakistan Military Academy.  President Barack Obama had held that no more data taken from the compound should be released to the public .

However, Pompeo believes that it is important for reasons of national security to make most of the unclassified documents public, except those that might harm national security or are pornographic or copyrighted.  This is made more important because the U.S. forces in the raid were not able to take everything in the compound, and no doubt Pakistani officials have useful information not available to the U.S.  It is certain that American analysts can gain important insights into the plans and workings of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations from the revealed material.

No doubt the documents will prove a treasure trove with their astonishing array of material.  Some of them, if tantalizing, have little to do with Islamic terrorism or with U.S. security, especially those that are probably for the amusement of younger and other members of the Osama family that contained several of his wives and 23 children and his grandchildren.  In this part of the treasure trove are animated films; episodes of Tom and Jerry; film classics; a video of “Charlie Bit my Finger”; commercials from an Oregon car dealer; home videos with a barn and animals; videos such as The Three Musketeers; National Geographic films on Peru, the Kremlin, and India; and material on conspiracy theories, the occult, the Illuminati, and even 9/11, for which adherents of al-Qaeda were responsible.

Among the 80,000 audio and image files and the 10,000 video files are statements by Osama, his 228-page personal journal, and jihadist propaganda.  Interestingly, Osama seemed to have liked watching three documentaries on himself and programs on how the West saw him.  One of them was an interview in 2005 of former CIA director James Woolsey of the Iraq war.  The collection includes videos of jihadist beheadings and a video of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Iraqi al-Qaeda leader, who was killed in a 2006 U.S. air strike.

 It has long been assumed that Osama was radicalized after he joined the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in 1979 fighting the forces of the Soviet Union.  But the personal diary reveals a different picture.  Osama tells of his visit to the U.K. for unstated “treatment” for ten weeks while he was in the 6th grade, aged 13.  He reports that he went every Sunday to visit Shakespeare’s 16th-century house in Stratford-upon-Avon.  He was not impressed, and he realized that British society was very different from his own and was a “morally loose society.”  It was at Stratford, not Afghanistan, that he first concluded that the West is “decadent.”  It is unlikely that he actually saw any one of Shakespeare’s plays, but even if not influenced by Hamlet, he acted as “if from this time forth, my thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth.”

Though his exact schedule is unknown, Osama experienced further decadence in Britain.  He had the misfortune to take an English language course at Oxford – at least it saved him from the “colonialism” at Cambridge – and is believed to have attended a soccer game at the home of Arsenal, the brutal Great Gunners, at Highbury in north London.

The materials reveal that American administration perceptions of Osama’s supposed unimportance in his last decade were inaccurate.  Osama and his network remained active and conspiratorial, and he was still the central factor in al-Qaeda, remaining in operations communication with his followers around the world.  His cohesive network included al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al Shabaab in Somalia, and even the Taliban.

Some of his revelations are relevant to current affairs and U.S. policy.  He discusses the differences between al-Qaeda and ISIS and the factions with strategic, doctrinal, and religious differences within al-Qaeda.  The documents include the videos of Hamza, Osama’s favorite son and potential successor, with footage of his wedding, which apparently took place in Iran.  This son is slated to be the head of al-Qaeda and is a bitter enemy of the U.S.  Indeed, early in 2017, Hamza in a message called on al-Qaeda to attack Jews, Americans, Westerners, and Russians, using whatever weapons they have.  The U.S. has now placed Hamza on its Global Terrorist List.

For U.S. policymakers, it is useful to examine Osama’s thoughts on a variety of issues: the use of Libya after the death of Moammar Gaddafi; the path then and still for jihadists to enter Europe; the turmoil in the Middle East; Yemen, where Osama was plotting to kill the ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh; Bahrain; the protest by schoolchildren in Syria in 2011; the exploitation of the Arab Spring and other uprisings; and what al-Qaeda should do to make use of chaos.

Particularly important is Osama’s account of relations between al-Qaeda and Iran.

They were and are complex, fluctuating relations and loose ties between Sunni Osama and Shiite Iran.  What brought them together was the common hostility to the U.S. and to Saudi Arabia.  Iran supported al-Qaeda’s war against those countries.  Iran offered al-Qaeda “everything they needed,” funds and arms, and the opportunity to train in Hezb’allah camps in Lebanon in exchange for striking U.S. interests.  Iran sheltered al-Qaeda people.  Al-Qaeda opposed Saudi Arabia because it was hosting U.S. troops during the Gulf war.  Osama sent a group, the al-Qaeda management committee, to Iran while Iran enabled al-Qaeda to move funds and fighters to south Asia and Syria.

Lastly, Osama’s relations with Pakistan.  It is now clear that Pakistani authorities helped to hide him from the CIA for almost a decade.  This is clear from the fact that Osama used cell phones and computer hard drives, among other implements.

There is obviously a great deal of detail to analyze in the 470,000 documents.  What is important in all this for the U.S. and the Western world and Russia is reaffirmation of the need for cooperation to overcome Islamic terrorism.



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Ralph Northam's Failure of Character


Democrat Ralph Northam has a new title: spineless hypocrite.

Last week, the Latino Victory Fund launched an ad depicting a white man barreling down Virginia streets in a truck bearing a confederate flag and an Ed Gillespie bumper sticker. In the ad, the driver of the truck sees a group of minority children and chases them through parks, streets, and eventually to a dead-end alley, where the terrified children huddle together in helplessness.

The ad ends with the same children jolting awake in their beds, the truck and its driver an apparent nightmare. Images of the torch-bearing white supremacists from August’s Charlottesville rally flash on screen as a narrator’s voice asks, “Is this what Donald Trump and Ed Gillespie mean by the ‘American Dream?’”

Ultimately, the ad was pulled, but only after a radical Islamic terrorist drove a truck into a crowd of people in New York City on October 31. Yet the disturbing depiction of innocent children running for their lives represented a sickening turn in a gubernatorial race that has sadly become the new archetype in American politics.

Say what you will about the ads Ed Gillespie has run against his opponent — Ralph Northam certainly has. Northam was all too happy to condemn Gillespie’s ads suggesting Northam’s platform was soft on crime, calling them “despicable” and “a bunch of baloney.” The Washington Post also piled on, saying Gillespie’s ads “use specious claims and appeals to race and ethnicity to scare and divide.” (While it is not clear how Gillespie’s ads are “specious” or exploitative of race and ethnicity; it is undisputed that MS-13 uses illegal channels of immigration from Central America to expand its ranks in Virginia.)

Turn the tables, however, and Northam seems content to embrace the benefits of left-wing extremists suggesting his opponent is complicit in murderous white supremacy. The most his campaign could muster — only after days of intense backlash, I hasten to add — was to dismiss the ad as one which he “would not have run.”

Northam’s cowardice is out of step with what Virginians want in a leader. Not only has the Libertarian candidate in the gubernatorial race called on his rivals to cease lobbing “wild-eyed accusations,” seasoned political operatives on both sides of the aisle have frowned upon the racial overtones of the race. Even the Washington Post’s editors, who previously endorsed Northam, have condemned the Latino Victory Fund’s ad as “vile.”

For Virginians deciding which lever to pull on November 7, Northam’s willingness to smear a good man just to boost his dwindling poll numbers is not just a sign of desperation — it is a glimpse into the Democratic candidate’s personal character.

Sure, Gillespie has run ads that attack his opponent’s softness toward illegal immigration, but let us not forget that encouraging a tougher stance on illegal immigration — specifically, enhancing border security, as Gillespie wants to do — was a Democratic talking point as recently as 2013. Indeed, it was President Clinton who oversaw passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996, and President Obama deported more immigrants than any other president in history, earning him the moniker “Deporter in Chief.” Moreover, Gillespie was one of the first Republicans to condemn the white supremacists who spewed their poison in Charlottesville.

On that point, the pro-Northam ad by the Latino Victory Fund was not just below the belt — it was plainly wrong. Still, Northam remained indifferent.

In sum, the ad was fearmongering at its worst. It reflects in the Latino Victory Fund a foaming-at-the-mouth obsession with painting conservative voters as bloodthirsty racists and minorities as helpless children. The perversity of scaring immigrants as a means to gain power is astonishing, yet it is a tactic Northam seemed content to tolerate. Virginia deserves better.

Thomas Wheatley is a writer living in Arlington, Virginia. A regular contributor to the Washington Post’s “All Opinions Are Local” blog, he holds a law degree from the Antonin Scalia Law School and was a 2016 Publius Fellow at the Claremont Institute. Email him at tnwheatley@gmail.comand follow him on Twitter @TNWheatley.

Democrat Ralph Northam has a new title: spineless hypocrite.

Last week, the Latino Victory Fund launched an ad depicting a white man barreling down Virginia streets in a truck bearing a confederate flag and an Ed Gillespie bumper sticker. In the ad, the driver of the truck sees a group of minority children and chases them through parks, streets, and eventually to a dead-end alley, where the terrified children huddle together in helplessness.

The ad ends with the same children jolting awake in their beds, the truck and its driver an apparent nightmare. Images of the torch-bearing white supremacists from August’s Charlottesville rally flash on screen as a narrator’s voice asks, “Is this what Donald Trump and Ed Gillespie mean by the ‘American Dream?’”

Ultimately, the ad was pulled, but only after a radical Islamic terrorist drove a truck into a crowd of people in New York City on October 31. Yet the disturbing depiction of innocent children running for their lives represented a sickening turn in a gubernatorial race that has sadly become the new archetype in American politics.

Say what you will about the ads Ed Gillespie has run against his opponent — Ralph Northam certainly has. Northam was all too happy to condemn Gillespie’s ads suggesting Northam’s platform was soft on crime, calling them “despicable” and “a bunch of baloney.” The Washington Post also piled on, saying Gillespie’s ads “use specious claims and appeals to race and ethnicity to scare and divide.” (While it is not clear how Gillespie’s ads are “specious” or exploitative of race and ethnicity; it is undisputed that MS-13 uses illegal channels of immigration from Central America to expand its ranks in Virginia.)

Turn the tables, however, and Northam seems content to embrace the benefits of left-wing extremists suggesting his opponent is complicit in murderous white supremacy. The most his campaign could muster — only after days of intense backlash, I hasten to add — was to dismiss the ad as one which he “would not have run.”

Northam’s cowardice is out of step with what Virginians want in a leader. Not only has the Libertarian candidate in the gubernatorial race called on his rivals to cease lobbing “wild-eyed accusations,” seasoned political operatives on both sides of the aisle have frowned upon the racial overtones of the race. Even the Washington Post’s editors, who previously endorsed Northam, have condemned the Latino Victory Fund’s ad as “vile.”

For Virginians deciding which lever to pull on November 7, Northam’s willingness to smear a good man just to boost his dwindling poll numbers is not just a sign of desperation — it is a glimpse into the Democratic candidate’s personal character.

Sure, Gillespie has run ads that attack his opponent’s softness toward illegal immigration, but let us not forget that encouraging a tougher stance on illegal immigration — specifically, enhancing border security, as Gillespie wants to do — was a Democratic talking point as recently as 2013. Indeed, it was President Clinton who oversaw passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996, and President Obama deported more immigrants than any other president in history, earning him the moniker “Deporter in Chief.” Moreover, Gillespie was one of the first Republicans to condemn the white supremacists who spewed their poison in Charlottesville.

On that point, the pro-Northam ad by the Latino Victory Fund was not just below the belt — it was plainly wrong. Still, Northam remained indifferent.

In sum, the ad was fearmongering at its worst. It reflects in the Latino Victory Fund a foaming-at-the-mouth obsession with painting conservative voters as bloodthirsty racists and minorities as helpless children. The perversity of scaring immigrants as a means to gain power is astonishing, yet it is a tactic Northam seemed content to tolerate. Virginia deserves better.

Thomas Wheatley is a writer living in Arlington, Virginia. A regular contributor to the Washington Post’s “All Opinions Are Local” blog, he holds a law degree from the Antonin Scalia Law School and was a 2016 Publius Fellow at the Claremont Institute. Email him at tnwheatley@gmail.comand follow him on Twitter @TNWheatley.



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How the GOP Tax Bill Would Close an Absurd Loophole


Since the Kennedy administration, a key reason why Americans acceded to free trade agreements is that playing on a level playing field appealed to our sense of fair play. Whoever can make the best product and service will prevail. Winners don’t win because they game the system — that’s not how the game is played here. That’s how the game is played in those sad, poor, third-world nations beset by corruption.

But there are cheaters in our reinsurance market due to an absurd loophole that foreign companies can use but that U.S.-based companies and U.S. individuals cannot. To dodge U.S. taxes, insurers effectively launder income generated in the United States to separate companies in their overseas tax havens. It’s a creative conspiracy which saves foreign owned insurance companies billions of dollars in taxes for sales they make in the United States, which has to be made up for by hardworking Americans. But it is all perfectly legal, and has been since tax reform in 1986. 

By dodging the taxes that U.S. companies have to pay, foreign insurers have a built-in competitive edge and huge leg up on raising capital. Tragically, this brazen favoritism creates an enormous incentive for foreign corporations to buy U.S. insurance companies. Since this loophole opened thirty years ago, the share of U.S.-based insurers in the U.S. insurance market has declined from 85 to 27 percent. Close to 75% of Fortune 500 companies have money in offshore tax havens according to a report by the US PIRG Education Fund and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Without a level playing field for all businesses in the U.S. reinsurance market, Americans are losing tax revenues, businesses, and jobs to other jurisdictions. 

Supporters of the status quo claim that closing the insurance tax haven loophole would be protectionist in general and might violate the General Agreement on Trade in Services specifically. Nonsense. If negotiators of trade deals intended for foreign corporations to legally launder money and dodge taxes at the expense of U.S. companies, the text of the trade deal surely would have said so. It does not. Closing this loophole isn’t protectionist, since it doesn’t favor U.S. companies over foreign ones, but merely restores similar treatment, consistent with the text and intent of U.S. tax treaties and trade obligations. 

Meanwhile, the loophole continues to incentivize an exodus of insurers to low or no-tax jurisdictions. Unlike in traditional reinsurance, there is little risk being shifted from domestic to foreign affiliates in these reinsurance transactions. In fact, every single acquisition of a U.S. insurer from 2014-2016 was by a foreign company, taking U.S. jobs along with them. Closing this loophole will take away an unjust incentive to relocate corporations outside the United States so we can start welcoming them back home.

Closing this tax loophole would level the playing field between U.S. and foreign-based insurers to the benefit of U.S. taxpayers and long-term job and wage growth in the United States. At a time when politicians are proposing raising the gas tax, reducing the amount of tax free savings, and removing other middle-class benefits, closing the loophole provides a more sensible way of restoring tax revenues to facilitate a compromise on Capitol Hill for comprehensive tax reform.  

Former treasury secretary Larry Summers once described corporate tax shelters may be “the most serious compliance issue threatening the American tax system.” It isn’t hard to see why Mr. Summers feels this way: 60% of the top 15 reinsurers by premium are foreign owned, compared to just 15% in 1989; 35% of top 25 insurers in the U.S. primary commercial market are controlled by foreign-owned firms, up from just 6% in 1990.

It seems that after decades of neglect, this issue is finally getting the attention it richly deserves. In the initial tax reform bill that Congressman Brady drafted, Section 4303, which would close the loophole, would generate an estimated $154.4 billion over 10 years.

The insurance tax haven loophole must be closed as an element of fundamental fairness. Insurers should not be allowed to cheat on their taxes just because they are foreign-based.

Michael James Barton is the founder of the consulting firm, Hyatt Solutions. He previously served on the staff of the Senate Banking Committee. 

Since the Kennedy administration, a key reason why Americans acceded to free trade agreements is that playing on a level playing field appealed to our sense of fair play. Whoever can make the best product and service will prevail. Winners don’t win because they game the system — that’s not how the game is played here. That’s how the game is played in those sad, poor, third-world nations beset by corruption.

But there are cheaters in our reinsurance market due to an absurd loophole that foreign companies can use but that U.S.-based companies and U.S. individuals cannot. To dodge U.S. taxes, insurers effectively launder income generated in the United States to separate companies in their overseas tax havens. It’s a creative conspiracy which saves foreign owned insurance companies billions of dollars in taxes for sales they make in the United States, which has to be made up for by hardworking Americans. But it is all perfectly legal, and has been since tax reform in 1986. 

By dodging the taxes that U.S. companies have to pay, foreign insurers have a built-in competitive edge and huge leg up on raising capital. Tragically, this brazen favoritism creates an enormous incentive for foreign corporations to buy U.S. insurance companies. Since this loophole opened thirty years ago, the share of U.S.-based insurers in the U.S. insurance market has declined from 85 to 27 percent. Close to 75% of Fortune 500 companies have money in offshore tax havens according to a report by the US PIRG Education Fund and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Without a level playing field for all businesses in the U.S. reinsurance market, Americans are losing tax revenues, businesses, and jobs to other jurisdictions. 

Supporters of the status quo claim that closing the insurance tax haven loophole would be protectionist in general and might violate the General Agreement on Trade in Services specifically. Nonsense. If negotiators of trade deals intended for foreign corporations to legally launder money and dodge taxes at the expense of U.S. companies, the text of the trade deal surely would have said so. It does not. Closing this loophole isn’t protectionist, since it doesn’t favor U.S. companies over foreign ones, but merely restores similar treatment, consistent with the text and intent of U.S. tax treaties and trade obligations. 

Meanwhile, the loophole continues to incentivize an exodus of insurers to low or no-tax jurisdictions. Unlike in traditional reinsurance, there is little risk being shifted from domestic to foreign affiliates in these reinsurance transactions. In fact, every single acquisition of a U.S. insurer from 2014-2016 was by a foreign company, taking U.S. jobs along with them. Closing this loophole will take away an unjust incentive to relocate corporations outside the United States so we can start welcoming them back home.

Closing this tax loophole would level the playing field between U.S. and foreign-based insurers to the benefit of U.S. taxpayers and long-term job and wage growth in the United States. At a time when politicians are proposing raising the gas tax, reducing the amount of tax free savings, and removing other middle-class benefits, closing the loophole provides a more sensible way of restoring tax revenues to facilitate a compromise on Capitol Hill for comprehensive tax reform.  

Former treasury secretary Larry Summers once described corporate tax shelters may be “the most serious compliance issue threatening the American tax system.” It isn’t hard to see why Mr. Summers feels this way: 60% of the top 15 reinsurers by premium are foreign owned, compared to just 15% in 1989; 35% of top 25 insurers in the U.S. primary commercial market are controlled by foreign-owned firms, up from just 6% in 1990.

It seems that after decades of neglect, this issue is finally getting the attention it richly deserves. In the initial tax reform bill that Congressman Brady drafted, Section 4303, which would close the loophole, would generate an estimated $154.4 billion over 10 years.

The insurance tax haven loophole must be closed as an element of fundamental fairness. Insurers should not be allowed to cheat on their taxes just because they are foreign-based.

Michael James Barton is the founder of the consulting firm, Hyatt Solutions. He previously served on the staff of the Senate Banking Committee. 



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