Tuesday, February 16, 2016

STEVE McCANN - The Impact of OBAMA-CLINTONOMICS and the Fall of America

There is an unquestioned disconnect between the vast majority of the American people and the so-called elites or ruling class.  Whenever I am in the company of those that are members of this exclusive fraternity, and when the conversation inevit...

So to my ruling class friends safely ensconced in Washington, New York and other enclaves among the like-minded and wealthy, this nation is at the point of no return to the country of freedom and opportunity that allowed you to be where you are.  The folks in fly-over country know it and so should you.

The United States at the Point of No Return

There is an unquestioned disconnect between the vast majority of the American people and the so-called elites or ruling class.  Whenever I am in the company of those that are members of this exclusive fraternity, and when the conversation inevitably turns to the subject of the irascible mood of the electorate, I offer what I consider to be a valid theory as to one of the primary reasons why.  That is: a plurality of the populace, myself included, firmly believe the United States is approaching the point of no return to its founding as a nation of individual freedom and opportunity, and that the 2016 election is the most significant in 150 years insofar as determining the long term fate of the country.

More often than not these acquaintances react as if Chicken Little had just escaped the asylum and was running amok claiming the sky is falling.   However, in an effort to be kind to the loon in their midst, I have been told, as a figurative pat on the head, because of my personal background as displaced war orphan from World War II that I am hypersensitive and what is going on in America really isn’t as bad as I claim.

Not as bad as I claim? 

Not since the presidential election of 1932 has the American electorate been so mired in discontent.  Despite the best efforts of the media to portray this discontentment as limited to the Republican base, a variety of polls have confirmed a vast majority of the populace shares this same sense of disgruntlement.  Innumerable polls taken over the past seven years are consistent in showing nearly 7 in 10 Americans believing the nation is headed in the wrong direction. 

Further, nearly 60% think that the next generation will be worse off than they are. And few have any faith that the economic outlook for the country will improve in the near or distant future.

Beginning in the late 1980’s, the cognoscenti declared that expansive government spending, globalization and free trade, combined with a comprehensive and overarching regulatory regime determined to root out so-called corruption and inequality as well as save the planet from the over blown evils of global warming, would be the course the nation should pursue.  The result of this foolhardy and myopic scheme:
  1. Another factor impacting on the economic health of the American people is immigration.  In 1988 there were 16 million immigrants (including less than a million illegal aliens) living in the United States.  Today that number has skyrocketed to 42.4 million (including an estimated 12 million illegal aliens).  This enormous increase (165%) in the immigrant population has not only put pressure on a stagnant job market but it has also been a major factor in the decline of median income in the country.
  2. The upshot of all the above is that since 1988 the income of the top 5% has risen 39.3% (adjusted for inflation) and the income of the bottom 50% has fallen by 1.9%.
  3. Since 2008 the Obama cabal has added over 18,000 pages to the Code of Federal Regulations. It is estimated that complying with federal regulations costs the economy nearly $2 Trillion per year and is, along with taxes and innumerable mandates, one of the principle reasons for the lack of new business start-ups and loss of jobs to other countries.
  4. In 1988 the national debt of the United States stood at $2.6 Trillion, today it is over $19.0 Trillion-- an increase of 635% (and projected to reach $29.0 Trillion by 2026).  On the other hand the debt of all the nations on earth has grown by
  5. Since November of 2008 the working age population has increased by over 18 million. However, the number of those employed has increased just 5.5 million.  Meanwhile those unemployed or no longer in the work force has ballooned by 12.4 million to a staggering total of 102 million or 40.4% of the working age population.
  6. only 135% since 1988.
One of the primary hallmarks of the United States had been that of a classless society wherein economic factors allowed the citizenry to take advantage of the marketplace in order to move up or down based on their efforts and willingness to work.  However, this scenario is disappearing as the opportunities for upward mobility cease to exist.  In its place a class driven society, similar to all other quasi-socialist nations past and present, is now becoming inevitable as even the Bureau of Labor Statistics admits that the level of Americans working and in the labor force will continue to decrease over the next 8 years.
Another of the primary factors in the decline of the United States is that the nation’s elites, rather than view education as the means for the people to attain success in a competitive world, have recast it into a vehicle for their pet theories and political views.  Whether it is the promulgation of faux self-esteem, the obsession with the so-called evils of capitalism and the nation’s past, and the theoretical joys of socialism among other inane curricula, the education establishment has assured that the American people are rapidly becoming among the least well-educated populations in the world.

In 2013 American 15 year olds ranked 32nd among industrialized countries in math, 20th in reading and 24th in science.  In 1988 this same age group ranked among the top 5-10 nations in the world in these same categories. Further, recent polls have indicated that as a byproduct of the radicalized education establishment, nearly 7 out of 10 between the ages of 18 and 29 would vote for an avowed socialist. Thus it is clear that the future of the country is on very shaky ground.

As for the issue of freedom: in a recent analysis it was determined that the United States now ranks 12th among the nations of the world in economic freedom (6th in 2008) but a dismal 31st in personal freedom (17th in 2008).  The authors of the study commented:

The decline reflects the long-term drop in every category of economic freedom and its rule of law indicators. The US performance is worrisome and shows that the US can no longer claim to be the leading bastion of liberty in the world.  In addition to the expansion of the regulatory state and drop in economic freedom, the war on terror, the war on drugs and the erosion of property rights due to a greater use of eminent domain all likely contributed to the US decline.
Using the cudgel of the mainstream media, the entertainment complex and the education establishment, the Left and its surrogate, the Democratic Party, have successfully inculcated into a plurality of the American people a belief that there are no moral absolutes and that the state can grant any rights that it so chooses to whomever it chooses.  Further, the nation’s founding documents are arcane, racially insensitive, and unsuitable for today.  Thus religious liberty, property rights and freedom of speech are under aggressive assault.  The Judiciary is now almost under the complete control of these same statists, and with the death of Justice Scalia the last line of defense, the Supreme Court, is in peril.

The vast majority of the American people sense that the future of the nation and that of their progeny is in serious jeopardy.  However, one of the most troubling aspects of the current unease and angst among the general public is what this portends: when anger and frustration evolve into deep seated passion, reason is too often a casualty.  As Thomas Sowell recently wrote:

Too many nations, in desperate times, especially after the authorities have discredited themselves and forfeited the trust of the people, have turned to some new and charismatic leader, who ended up turning a dire situation into an utter catastrophe,
This has been true throughout history whether in England in the 1650’s, France in the 1790’s, or Russia, Italy and Germany in the 20th century. 

In the current campaign for the next president, there are candidates attempting to tap into the ire of the citizenry by either promising that a purer form of socialism will magically solve the problems or by claiming that they, by sheer force of their will and personality, will part the seas and save the nation.  Unfortunately, due to the ill-education of the populace as well as their angst, far too many seeds of this demagoguery are falling on fertile ground.  The election of any of these candidates will only exacerbate and make permanent the nations woes.

So to my ruling class friends safely ensconced in Washington, New York and other enclaves among the like-minded and wealthy, this nation is at the point of no return to the country of freedom and opportunity that allowed you to be where you are.  The folks in fly-over country know it and so should you.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2016/02/the_united_states_at_the_point_of_no_return.html#ixzz40Mw7Fxf8
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An old joke I heard during my brief time in the opera business went something like this: There are four types of tenors: leggiero, lyric, spinto, and heldentenor. The leggiero tenor has no balls. The lyric tenor has one ball. The spinto tenor has two...

The main objective of “political animals” like Obama and the Clintons is to get elected; it’s not to fix a broken America, nor to protect her. There are people who govern and there are people who campaign; Obama and the Clintons are the latter. Just look at the huge Republican electoral gains under Obama and the Clintons. It’s amazing that Democrats who still care about their party still support the very people who have brought it down.

Inequality, class and life expectancy in America

Inequality, class and life expectancy in America

15 February 2016
A study by Brookings Institution economists released Friday documents a sharp increase in life span divergences between the rich and the poor in America. The report, based on an analysis of Census Bureau and Social Security Administration data, concludes that for men born in 1950, the gap in life expectancy between the top 10 percent of wage earners and the bottom 10 percent is more than double the gap for their counterparts born in 1920.

For those born in 1920, there was a six-year differential between rich and poor. For those born in 1950, that difference had reached 14 years. For women, the gap grew from 4.7 years to 13 years, almost tripling.

Overall, life expectancy for the bottom 10 percent improved by just 3 percent for men born in 1950 over those born in 1920. For the top 10 percent, it soared by about 28 percent.

Life expectancy for the bottom 10 percent of male wage earners born in 1950 rose by less than one year compared to that for male workers born 40 years earlier—to 73.6 from 72.9. But for the top 10 percent, life expectancy leapt to 87.2 from 79.1.

The United States ranks among the worst so-called rich countries when it comes to life expectancy. But its low ranking is entirely due to the poor health and high mortality of low-income Americans. According to the Social Security Administration, life expectancy for the wealthiest US men at age 60 was just below the rates for Iceland and Japan, two countries with the highest levels. Americans in the bottom quarter of the wage scale, on the other hand, ranked just above Poland and the Czech Republic.

Life-expectancy is the most basic indicator of social well-being. The minimal increase for low-income workers and the widening disparity between the poor and the rich is a stark commentary on the immense growth of social inequality and class polarization in the United States. It underscores the fact that socioeconomic class is the fundamental category of social life under capitalism—one that conditions every aspect of life, including its length.

The Brookings Institution findings shed further light on the catastrophic decline in the social position of the American working class. They follow recent reports showing a sharp rise in death rates for both young and middle-aged white workers, primarily due to drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide. Other recent reports have shown a dramatic decline in life expectancy for poorer middle-aged Americans and a reversal of decades of declining infant mortality.

It is no mystery what is behind this vast social retrogression. It is the product of the decay of American capitalism and a four-decade-long offensive by the ruling elite against the working class. From Reagan to the Obama administration, Democrats and Republicans alike have overseen a corporate-government assault on the jobs, wages, pensions and health benefits of working people.
The ruling elite has dismantled the bulk of the country’s industrial infrastructure, destroying decent-paying jobs by the millions, and turned to the most parasitic and criminal forms of financial speculation as the main source of its profit and private wealth. Untold trillions have been squandered to finance perpetual war and the maniacal self-enrichment of the top 1 percent and 0.1 percent.
The basic infrastructure of the country has been starved of funds and left to rot, to the point where uncounted millions of people are being poisoned with lead and other toxins from corroded water systems. Flint, Michigan is just the tip of the iceberg.

Under Obama, this social counterrevolution has been intensified. The financial meltdown of 2008 has been utilized by the same forces that precipitated the crash to carry through a reordering of social relations aimed at reversing every social gain won by the working class in the course of a century of struggle. A central target of the attack is health care for working people.

Obamacare is the spearhead of a worked-out strategy to reduce the quantity and quality of health care available to workers and reorganize the health care system directly on a class basis. Corporate and government costs are to be slashed by gutting employer-paid health care, forcing workers individually to buy expensive, bare-bones plans from the insurance monopolies, and rationing drugs, tests and medical procedures to make them inaccessible to workers.

The rise in mortality for workers and the widening of the life span gap between rich and poor are not simply the outcome of impersonal economic forces. In corporate boardrooms, think tanks and state agencies, the ruling class is working to lower working class life expectancy. In late 2013, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank with the closest ties to the Pentagon and the CIA, published two policy papers decrying the “waste” of money on health care for the elderly. The clear message was that ordinary people were living much too long and diverting resources needed by the military to wage war around the world.

The social and economic chasm in America finds a political expression in the vast disconnect between the entire political establishment and the masses of working people. Neither party nor any of their presidential candidates, the self-described “socialist” Bernie Sanders included, can seriously address the real state of social conditions or offer a serious program to address the crisis.

In his final State of the Union Address last month, Obama presented an absurd picture of a resurgent economy. “The United States of America, right now,” he declared, “has the strongest, most durable economy in the world… Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.”
In the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton and Sanders are seeking to outdo one another in seizing the mantle of the Obama administration and praising its supposed social and economic achievements.

They cannot address the real conditions facing the masses of working people because they defend the capitalist system, which is the source of the social disaster. The remedy must be based on an understanding of the disease. It is the building of an independent socialist and revolutionary movement uniting the entire working class, in the US and around the world.

Barry Grey

February 13, 2016

More 'legacy lies' from outgoing Obama on economy

Here is what President Obama said on the Ellen show on Abe Lincoln's birthday:
Since I came into office, we reduced the deficit by two-thirds, but if you ask the average person, they're sure that spending has shot up. And the reason is because there are a bunch of folks who say that we're wildly overspending, even though we aren't.
Here are some actual numbers: in FY 2007, the last year President Bush and Republicans had 100% control of Congress, federal spending including both wars was $2.7 trillion.  The budget President Obama just submitted is $4.1 trillion.  That is up over 50% despite record-low interest rates and his continually bragging that he has ended the wars.  Median family income around the country is actually down or flat, so I do not understand how the president could pretend that they aren't overspending and taxing.

The deficit was down to $161 billion in FY 2007, including the spending on the wars and because of President Bush's across-the-board tax cuts in the summer of 2003.  In FY 2003, federal income tax receipts had decreased to around $900 billion prior to the tax cuts, due to a recession and a collapsed stock market.  By FY 2007, due to the stimulus of the tax cuts, the economy rebounded, economic growth was substantial, unemployment was way down (not because of a lower labor participation rate), and income tax receipts had climbed to over $1.5 trillion.  The tax rate cuts did not cause receipts to go down, as Democrats and CBO had projected; they actually skyrocketed by over 60%.  The tax cuts obviously did not cause the deficit.

The projected deficit for FY 2016 is projected to be over $500 billion.  Think how high it would be if the Federal Reserve weren't keeping the interest rates artificially low.

Despite the record-low interest rates and massive increases in federal spending, economic growth has been some of the slowest on record after a recession.  Keynesian economics is obviously not that stimulating.

The president also continually says that his policies brought us out of the great recession.  The recession actually ended by June 2009, four months and ten days after he took office.  This is obviously before any of his policies could have had any effect.

On February 10, in Springfield, Illinois, he gave a speech where he said his opponents are not entitled to their own facts.  It would be nice if he paid attention to that lecture, and it would be great if the media would call him out on his many false statements.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2016/02/more_legacy_lies_from_outgoing_obama_on_economy.html#ixzz404dvRyAl
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The ‘Right Stuff’ for the Presidency

By Jon N. Hall 

An old joke I heard during my brief time in the opera business went something like this: There are four types of tenors: leggiero, lyric, spinto, and heldentenor. The leggiero tenor has no balls. The lyric tenor has one ball. The spinto tenor has two balls. And the heldentenor has two balls, and he’s standing on one of them.
The joke might be funny only to opera goers, especially those who attend the Bayreuth Festival. But allow me to add that the recently-departed Canadian heldentenor Jon Vickers had three or four balls and never needed to stand on any of them. (As you might guess, I’m a fan of that late, great singer.)

In any event, balls bring us to Margaret Thatcher, former prime minister of the U.K. Some might think it rude to say that the “Iron Lady” had more balls than the men of her day leading other European nations -- rude, that is, to Lady Thatcher, who was every inch a woman. However, it could be said that compared to some of her male counterparts, Mrs. Thatcher certainly had no fewer balls.

What is meant by “balls” is: guts, grit, courage, will, determination, and resolve. But those attributes can also work in the service of evil; Hitler certainly had “will,” didn’t he? So there must be other qualities that are needed in the leader of a nation besides balls. Just what are those other qualities that make a person fit to be the prime minister or the president of a great nation?

At a recent rally in New Hampshire, former president Clinton spoke of his wife Hillary: “I spent a lot of time thinking about this. I do not believe in my lifetime anybody has run for this job at a moment of great importance who was better qualified by knowledge, experience, and temperament to do what needs to be done now to restore prosperity, to deal with these human issues, to make us as safe as possible. Thank you very much [short video].”
Okay, but why believe him? After all, the former president has a record of lying, even under oath in a grand jury. Perhaps Bill’s just trying to get himself back in the White House. And I’d like to remind the former president that he was alive in 1946. So his “lifetime” includes the runs for president of Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, and Reagan. Hillary’s more qualified than those guys? C’mon, Bill.

Going the Distance,” a January 2014 article in The New Yorker, is often cited for Pres. Obama’s reference to ISIS as a junior varsity basketball team: “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” (And getting elected president doesn’t mean one is fit to be president, Mr. President.)

Another Obama quote from that same article is germane to our issue of what are the essentials, the “right stuff,” for being president: “I have strengths and I have weaknesses, like every president, like every person. I do think one of my strengths is temperament.”

Is that a fact? Does Obama have the correct temperament for the presidency? When Bill Clinton spoke in New Hampshire about his wife, he stressed the word “temperament.” So, what exactly is the ideal presidential temperament?

One important aspect of temperament is the ability and willingness to be collegial. “Collegiality” involves respecting one’s colleagues and listening to their ideas; it involves being open to others’ input. So many of the monumental achievements of the modern age, like going to the Moon, were massive collegial efforts, where folks pool their knowledge and expertise. Together, we’re smarter.

Barack Obama demonstrated a lack of collegiality at the Healthcare Summit in 2010. Senator McCain had just presented a very respectful call to revisit certain issues in the healthcare legislation that would become ObamaCare, and finished his comments saying, “I thank you, Mr. President.” Obama responded thus: “Let me just make this point, John, because we’re not campaigning anymore; the election’s over.” Some might have wished that McCain had responded in kind: Yes, Barry, I know, and I can’t explain the electorate’s bad judgment.

Fortunately, Sen. McCain was a gentleman and refrained from payback. Had he done so, it would have further poisoned the summit, (and he would have lowered himself to Obama’s level). There was nothing in Sen. McCain’s comments that was unreasonable, but the president couldn’t resist putting McCain in his place. What would possess someone to be so rude to a genuine American patriot? Was it that Sen. McCain wouldn’t let Obama cut him off: “Can I just finish, please?” Maybe that ticked off our little princeling. (You can watch McCain’s entire presentation by starting at the 2:21:10 mark of this C-SPAN video, or you can watch just the end, or this split-screen version positioned at Obama’s snark.)

Throughout his presidency, Obama has demonstrated a singular deficiency at collegiality. When Obama encounters questions he doesn’t like, he tries to shut down the questioner and end the discussion. When asked if the healthcare bill’s “individual mandate” were actually a tax, Obama would have none of it, and laughed at his questioner dismissively. Obama’s belief in his own pet ideas is so absolute that he is even comfortable overriding the best advice of his generals. Obama seems not to have an ability to work with others; it’s all “my way or the highway.” But there’s no need for collegiality if you already know everything. In “The Confident Ignorance of Barack Obama,” Thomas Sowell writes:
As Professor Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago Law School has pointed out, Obama made no effort to take part in the marketplace of ideas with other faculty members when he was teaching a law course there. What would be the point, if he already knew the truth and knew that they were wrong? [Italics added.]
The main objective of “political animals” like Obama and the Clintons is to get elected; it’s not to fix a broken America, nor to protect her. There are people who govern and there are people who campaign; Obama and the Clintons are the latter. Just look at the huge Republican electoral gains under Obama and the Clintons. It’s amazing that Democrats who still care about their party still support the very people who have brought it down.

America is so beaten up and broken right now that she needs a “savior,” like a Lincoln. If Obama doesn’t do the right thing and proceed with an indictment of Mrs. Clinton, then Republicans should “fight fire with oil” and nominate a woman. And they should also insist on a minority for running mate. Just to be sure, they probably ought to do those two things anyway. Carly Fiorina might just have the right temperament to be president, but there are other terrific conservative women that convention delegates could draft.
America needs a collegial president, not a “lyrical” one.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2016/01/the_right_stuff_for_the_presidency.html#ixzz3z2cbt8Me
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Another Surge of Illegal Immigrants Along the Southwest Border: Is this the Obama Administration’s New Normal?

House Committee on the Judiciary
9:00 a.m., Thursday, February 4, 2016
2141 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515



Brandon Judd, U.S. Border Patrol Agent and the President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) National Border Patrol Council

Steven McCraw, Director, Texas Department of Public Safety

Jessica Vaughan, Director of Policy Studies, Center for immigration Studies


Republican Debate Shows Where Comprehensive Immigration Is Headed: Nowhere

House Appropriations Boss Initiates Crackdown on Sanctuaries

By Jessica Vaughan, February 1, 2016
Today the chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee in charge of funding the Department of Justice, John Culberson (R-Texas), put the Obama administration on notice that it must take steps to rein in sanctuary jurisdictions or risk problems getting approval for its own budget requests. In addition, Culberson announced that he will begin requiring local jurisdictions to follow federal law and stop obstructing communication with immigration agencies as a condition for receiving certain federal law enforcement funding.


In a sternly worded letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Culberson said that he has a responsibility to ensure that state and local law enforcement agencies are following federal law before they can get federal grants. He said that sanctuary policies restricting communication between local and federal officials are a clear violation of Section 1373 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Among the jurisdictions that have imposed such policies are San Francisco, Cook County, Ill., and New York City. In addition to prohibiting local officers from communicating with immigration authorities, these jurisdictions bar federal officers from coming into jails to interview or arrest deportable criminals.

State and local sanctuary policies obstruct immigration enforcement and cause the release of criminal aliens back to the streets of American communities. According to ICE records that the Center obtained in a FOIA request, in 2014 more than 9,000 criminal aliens that ICE was seeking to deport were instead released. More than 2,300 of these criminal aliens went on to commit additional crimes within just a few months.

The three law enforcement funding programs that could become off-limits to sanctuaries currently dispense more than $1 billion a year to state and local agencies.
Mr. Culberson contacted the Center shortly after the publication of this information in July, saying that he had long sought concrete information on the extent of this problem and that he was determined to use his authority to address it. The Center has compiled a list of over 300 cities, counties, and states that have laws, ordinances, regulations, resolutions, policies, or other practices that protect criminal aliens from deportation — either by refusing to or prohibiting agencies from complying with ICE detainers, imposing unreasonable conditions on detainer acceptance, or otherwise impeding open communication and information exchanges between their employees or officers and federal immigration officers. These jurisdictions are noted on a map here.
Culberson's letter outlines several steps he expects the Justice Department to take:
  1. Beginning this year, amend the grant application forms for the Byrne/Justice Assistance Grants (JAG), Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants, and State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) reimbursement program to require agencies seeking these funds to swear that they do not have policies that violate Section 1373; and
  2. Work with sanctuary jurisdictions to change their policies, and if they do not, take legal action to compel their compliance with federal law;
  3. Deny funding to any non-compliant sanctuary jurisdictions.
In addition, he asks the attorney general to look at whether jurisdictions that release criminal aliens sought by ICE are in violation of 8 USC 1324, the federal felony statute that prohibits anyone from shielding illegal aliens from detection. After all, these jurisdictions have been notified in writing by the detainers (federal Form I-247) that the aliens' identities and status have been confirmed by biometric fingerprint matching, and that federal agents wish to take custody of the aliens, and/or to be notified of the date, time, and place of release — so the sanctuaries are knowingly releasing deportable aliens sought by ICE. He said that he will consider applying this section of the law next year to block funding to jurisdictions that release criminal aliens sought by ICE. This action could affect the hundreds of agencies that fail to comply with or accept ICE detainers, for example.

Culberson warned that if the administration stubbornly continues to tolerate sanctuaries, he will find it hard to look favorably on any spending requests from DOJ in the coming appropriations season: "I hope the attorney general will do the right thing here so that I am not compelled to object to relevant portions of the Department's spending plan and reprogramming requests. Any refusal by the Department to comply with these reasonable and timely requests will factor heavily in my consideration of their 2017 budget requests."

Even following public outcry over a series of cases of murders committed by criminal aliens after release by sanctuaries, including the killing of Kate Steinle in San Francisco, the Obama administration has resisted calls for action to discourage or punish the jurisdictions that obstruct immigration enforcement. Instead, it has pressed ahead in implementing the so-called Priority Enforcement Program, which explicitly allows sanctuary policies that violate federal law. It's clear that the administration is more interested in protecting criminal aliens than in protecting the public from their acts; now we'll see if the Department of Justice is willing to jeopardize its own funding to spare sanctuaries from being sanctioned, and if the sanctuaries are willing to sacrifice federal funding in order to protect criminal aliens.

Surge in Illegal Aliens, 500% Increase in Some U.S. Ports of Entry

Judicial Watch Corruption Chronicles, December 30, 2015

The agency’s own statistics certainly contradict that, showing that the southern border region is as porous and vulnerable as ever. Other entry ports that saw large hikes in Central American illegal immigrants during the first two months of this fiscal year include Del Rio, Texas (269%), El Centro, California (216%) and Rio Grande Valley, Texas (154%). The Border Patrol breaks the stats down by “family unit” and illegal immigrants under the age of 18, referred to as “Unaccompanied Alien Children” or UAC. The Rio Grande Valley port of entry topped the list in both categories with 8,537 family units and 6,465 UACs during the two-month period. In all, the nation’s nine southern border crossings saw an average of 173% increase in family units and a 106% increase in minors during the short period considered.

Some of the illegal immigrants are Mexican nationals, but the overwhelming majority comes from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The government records show that somehow 4,450 family units from El Salvador evaded our topnotch border security and entered the United States in a period of only two months. Guatemala and Honduras had 3,934 and 3,203 respectively. Mexico had 538 family units. Of interesting note is that, during this period, the Border Patrol reports 35,234 apprehensions in the region of foreigners labeled by the government as “Other Than Mexican” or OTM. This is a term used by federal authorities to refer to nationals of countries that represent a terrorist threat to the U.S.
. . .

Houston Slayings Fueled Border Security Debate

Dan Golvach, father of Spencer Golvach,  at his son's grave in Houston Tuesday, October 20, 2015.
Dan Golvach, father of Spencer Golvach, at his son's grave in Houston Tuesday, October 20, 2015.
Bordering on Insecurity LogoThe Texas Tribune is taking a yearlong look at the issues of border security and immigration, reporting on the reality and rhetoric around these topics. Sign up to get story alerts.
HOUSTON — Julie Golvach remembers that something felt “off” the night she lost her only child.
It was exactly one year ago today, a few minutes before 1 a.m. Standing in the driveway of her Houston home, waving goodbye to her sister under a clear winter sky, something didn't feel right. The stars didn’t look the same.
Golvach tossed and turned in bed for a while but was sound asleep when a knock on the door came at 6 a.m.
“I jumped up and I knew,” she said.
She stopped by her son’s boyhood bedroom, the one with the window looking out onto the driveway. He’d slept there a week earlier, the evening they went to see "American Sniper" together. She slipped past the picture of him and his best childhood friend on the wall, skirting the bed with the stuffed toy lamb — a baby shower relic — lying on top.
Out the window, Golvach saw three people — two uniformed police officers and a woman wearing a shirt that read “chaplain.” Her chest pounded as she made her way to the front door and opened it.
“Is it Spencer?” she asked.
The second those words tumbled out of her mouth, she knew the answer, just as she had known when she uttered that exact phrase the day he was born, before anyone told her if the baby was a boy or a girl. She just knew.
It was Spencer.
One night off
Spencer Golvach grew up in the sprawl of northwest Houston, surrounded by guitars and destined for a career in music, his father’s passion.
When he turned 16 in 2005 and got his driver’s license, the easygoing musician started working at a local guitar store in a strip mall not far from Jersey Village High School, where he excelled in shop class and anything he could do with his hands.
He had always fiddled with his dad’s guitars, and he developed a knack for fixing and rebuilding them at the store. A few years later, when the shop owner announced his retirement, Spencer decided to buy the Cy-Fair area business.
Spencer Golvach, at the age of three, pictured with a guitar. Authorities say Golvach was killed by Victor Reyes, an undocumented immigrant, during a random shooting spree in January 2015.
Spencer Golvach, at the age of three, pictured with a guitar. Authorities say Golvach was killed by Victor Reyes, an undocumented immigrant, during a random shooting spree in January 2015.
With nine employees and a soft economy, life as an entrepreneur proved tough sledding. He struggled to turn a profit, and he took a second full-time job as a receiving lead and forklift operator at a local warehouse.
Even that wasn’t enough to cover the bills. By early 2015, Spencer was preparing to move into a smaller — and cheaper — space in the same shopping mall. He could hardly wait for Saturday, Jan. 31 to arrive, the day the slimmed-down version of Spencer’s Guitar Shop was set to open. Between giving guitar lessons, working an 8-to-5 day job, building out the new store and playing bass in his band — The Dead Revolt — Spencer needed a break.
“The guy was burning the candle at both ends for a long time,” recalled Dan Golvach, his father. “He takes one night off, to go take his girlfriend out for her birthday. That was Jan. 30. And he drops her off ... and 15 minutes later he pulls up to that red light.”
Less than a mile from his apartment, Spencer steered into the left turn lane at 18th Street and Mangum Road and waited for the green light. The details of what happened next are captured in the records of two police agencies, more than a dozen news articles and the unceasing nightmares of Spencer’s parents and loved ones.
An undocumented Mexican national named Victor Reyes, a native of Reynosa along the Texas-Mexico border, pulled up next to Spencer's beloved white Toyota pickup. He pointed a pistol at Spencer’s head and pulled the trigger.
The bullet went through the passenger side window and into Spencer’s skull, at the top of his right ear.
“I choose to believe it killed him instantly,” his father said in an interview months later. “I think he was just there and then it’s like someone turned the lights off. I don’t think he suffered.”
But the Golvach family’s suffering — compounded by the feeling that Spencer’s death could have been prevented — was just beginning.
Houston police, their report indicates, found 25-year-old Spencer dead in his truck at 12:56 a.m. — right around the moment Julie Golvach, waving goodbye to her sister, couldn't shake the feeling that something was off.
A few hours later, she was phoning her ex-husband to break the news.
“I couldn’t make out what she was saying and I finally just said, ‘is my son dead?’”— Dan Golvach
“She was just inconsolable,” he recalled. “I couldn’t make out what she was saying and I finally just said, ‘is my son dead?’ She said, ‘yes.’ Then of course I started. I joined the chorus.”
More than a thousand people attended Spencer’s memorial service, a tribute to his fun-loving nature and penchant for making friends across generational, ethnic and gender lines.
Those who knew Spencer universally describe him as fun-loving and strikingly calm. After he died, a family friend ordered up a batch of commemorative rubber bracelets emblazoned with his laid-back motto: “Chill Don’t Freeze."

A bloody rampage
More than once since the funeral, Julie Golvach has found herself wishing that her son’s attacker had gotten to know Spencer. She’s convinced he never would have pulled the trigger. But the official evidence of the crime, while scant, suggests Spencer was chosen randomly. And he wasn’t the only victim.
Police say Reyes shot a man in the face, wounding him, in the suburban city of Jersey Village minutes before killing Spencer, and they connected him to at least two more random shootings shortly thereafter. All told, Reyes shot two dead and wounded three others before a Harris County Sheriff’s deputy took him down after a violent shootout, officials say.
John Weston, 67, says he’s lucky to be alive after encountering Reyes on the Hempstead Highway near Pinemont, about 10 minutes north of where Spencer had just been killed. He remembers seeing a big, dark truck driving aggressively behind him. When he got to the stoplight, it pulled up alongside him.
“All of a sudden I hear this ungodly noise,” Weston recalled. “I don’t know if you can imagine how fast your mind works, but I saw a shattered window and I saw a bullet hole in my window. My mind is thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, somebody’s shooting at me and this guy at this light.’”
He pressed his foot to the accelerator to get out of the line of fire, but not soon enough. He heard the second shot, and its impact felt like someone “hauled off and hit you upside the head,” he said.
Weston realized the truck's driver was the gunman. “I saw blood everywhere,” he said. His hands were covered in it, so he could only manage to re-dial on his cell phone. He finally reached his wife, who told him to go to the nearest toll booth. An ambulance was called. Doctors found that a bullet had entered his left cheek and stuck in the other side of his mouth.
A year later, after reconstructive surgery to replace a badly shattered jaw, his mouth remains completely numb below the tongue. With his health woes and lost time at work, he’s struggling to keep his printing business afloat.
“Everything I do now is a little more difficult, but considering I’m here talking, I’m blessed to be here,” Weston said. “It’s scarred me forever. I don’t break down and cry, but I think about it all the time.”
Had Reyes been a homegrown criminal, the story might have ended in the empty field where the deputy shot him — chalked up as another random act of violence in a city and nation all too used to them.
But as word spread about Reyes’ long criminal record and multiple deportations, the case was thrust into the volatile debate over illegal immigration and control of the southern border: first in local news stories, then at the Capitol in Austin and most recently on the presidential campaign trail on a stage in mid-November with GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump in Beaumont, where Dan Golvach spoke out and held up a poster of Spencer along with others killed by undocumented immigrants.
Gunman's long record
According to the Houston office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Reyes had been removed from the country four times between 2003 and 2010, but little is publicly known about what he was doing in Houston prior to terrorizing its northwest environs — or why he did it.
His criminal and illegal entry records stretch back at least to 2002 when, at age 18, he was convicted of burglarizing a building in Hidalgo County, across the border from Reynosa, which he told police was his place of birth. He spent a month and a half in jail before a state court sentenced him to three years' probation, ordered him to pay an $850 fine and mandated 120 hours of community service.

Victor Reyes, shown in 2001 jail mug shot from Hidalgo County. Authorities say Reyes, an undocumented immigrant, went on a January 2015 shooting spree in Harris County that killed two and wounded three.
Victor Reyes, shown in 2001 jail mug shot from Hidalgo County. Authorities say Reyes, an undocumented immigrant, went on a January 2015 shooting spree in Harris County that killed two and wounded three.
A year later, he was back in the Hidalgo County Jail for breaking a beer bottle over a man’s head at the Tejano Saloon in Pharr. He was sent back to Mexico after serving about a month in the local jail, but he came back. By then, his previous probation had been revoked, and he served several months in a state jail in Raymondville.
Deported again on Jan. 20, 2004, Reyes was caught trying to cross the border the next day, triggering a 90-day sentence in federal prison and yet another deportation — his third.
A few months later, on Aug. 10, he was caught again, in McAllen, and received a one-year federal prison sentence for his fourth known illegal re-entry. His crimes didn’t end there. A few weeks before his prison release date, Reyes beat up a fellow inmate — described by his lawyer as a rival gang member — cutting and fracturing his face, according to federal court records.
Two new assault charges made Reyes eligible for 20 years behind bars. Despite his history of violence, burglary and repeat illegal crossings, federal prosecutors offered Reyes a deal: In exchange for a guilty plea on one of the counts, and in recognition of his “truthful testimony” and “acceptance of responsibility,” they promised to give him a sentence “at the lowest end of the applicable guidelines” on a single charge, court papers show. Under the plea bargain, Reyes' sentence was 63 months, a quarter of the maximum he faced under the two counts.
That’s a few more spoonfuls of salt in the wound for Dan and Julie Golvach. Had Reyes been given even half of his possible sentence on the two assault counts, he would have been in prison instead of at that traffic light killing their son.
“The people who agreed to this deal need to be held accountable,” Julie Golvach said. “The result was the horrific murder of my son.”
The prosecutor who signed the plea agreement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Hammer, declined to talk about the case, referring questions to U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman Angela Dodge in Houston.
Dodge sent The Texas Tribune a boilerplate description of plea deals, saying they “ensure a resolution of the case and that someone is convicted of the crime(s) we believe they committed without going through the time and expense of a trial,” while providing “justice for all.” She declined to say whether prosecutors took Reyes' previous crimes into account, or if they frequently offer plea deals to convicted criminals who commit additional crimes behind bars.
It’s another official secret in a case with no shortage of them.
Family still seeking answers
The Houston Police Department, using its own discretion under the Public Information Act, blocked release of all but a few details on the Golvach and Weston shootings. The department cited a provision allowing it to withhold criminal records absent a final disposition, such as a conviction or deferred adjudication. Since Reyes is dead and the city’s case is otherwise closed, that means Houston police likely can withhold the information indefinitely.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office declined to release its investigative files, but for an entirely different reason: After every officer-involved shooting — in this case, a deputy ended Reyes’ deadly rampage — the Harris County district attorney’s office presents the case to a grand jury even if no one complains. That happened last week, just days before the one-year anniversary of the shooting spree.
The federal government holds onto its files with a tight grip, too, citing the 1974 U.S. Privacy Act. The act covers only U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement has decreed that its protections apply to federal immigration detention records, even those related to undocumented immigrants convicted of horrific crimes. The agency voluntarily released a narrative of its multiple encounters with Reyes, but the Tribune has not yet heard back from ICE or U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services on its written request for his entire immigration file. 

The secrecy across local and federal agencies that came into contact with Reyes confounded and frustrated the people touched by his violence. Weston said his wife became “very disillusioned” about their quest for even the simplest answers.
Dan Golvach, father of Spencer Golvach, in Houston Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at the intersection where his son was killed by an undocumented immigrant in January.
Dan Golvach, father of Spencer Golvach, in Houston Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at the intersection where his son was killed by an undocumented immigrant in January.
“I mean, we asked them, ‘Who was the guy?’” Weston said. “We had to fill out paperwork and all that kind of stuff, but we never got any satisfactory answer. It was almost like it was top secret information.”
Hoping to break through the bureaucratic walls and get some answers about who killed their son and why, the Golvaches eventually hired a former investigative reporter, ex-KTRK-TV newsman Wayne Dolcefino. In a letter last year to then-Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, Dolcefino said the sheriff’s office was “doing a disservice to this crime victim by not responding to this request in a proper manner.” The local investigative files remained sealed as of late last week, but the Harris County Sheriff's Office asked the Tribune to resubmit its request for the records and promised a quick turnaround.
Even with new information beginning to trickle out, the victims and their families still don't know where Reyes lived or if he had a job, who owned the truck he was driving that night or — least of all — the motive for his deadly rampage.
According to Harris County Assistant District Attorney Heyward Carter, some elements of the senseless crime may never be known.
Carter, who handled a single aspect of the case — the officer-involved shooting — was able to speak about the case for the first time last week. He revealed that Reyes was "extremely intoxicated" and had a "significant amount of cocaine" in his system. He also identified the weapon, a .380 caliber pistol, that he said was legally purchased at one point, but authorities haven't determined how a convicted felon and undocumented immigrant, barred from buying or possessing firearms, obtained it.
“We live in an age of mass shootings, and even though this one didn’t get a whole lot of publicity, that’s what this is."
— Heyward Carter, Harris County Assistant District Attorney
Carter also provided details about the actions of the Harris County deputy sheriff, Javier Rojas, who finally put an end to the deadly rampage. By chance, Rojas was patrolling the area and heard shots being fired. He saw the truck of Reyes' final victim, identified by police as Juan Garcia, in obvious distress, weaving randomly at an intersection. Garcia later died from his wounds, and a woman in the car with him was slightly injured from the broken glass.
Rojas chased after Reyes, who crashed his truck through a barrier at the end of a dead end street and went another 200 yards or so into an empty field. Rojas continued the pursuit on foot and found Reyes crouching behind the truck. He ordered the suspect to drop his weapon but Reyes stood and fired at the officer instead. Rojas returned fire and struck him in the chest. When authorities photographed the body his hand was still gripping the pistol "with his finger on the trigger," Carter said.
In terms of a motive, authorities can only speculate based on a conversation Reyes had with a supposed girlfriend about three hours before the shooting spree began. He wanted her to go out to a bar or nightclub with him, and she turned him down. Authorities speculate he may have been taking out his rage on couples: It's possible he saw Spencer Golvach dropping off his girlfriend shortly before shooting him at the red light and then targeted Garcia after seeing he had a woman in his vehicle.
But it's just a theory.
“We live in an age of mass shootings, and even though this one didn’t get a whole lot of publicity, that’s what this is," Carter said. "I don’t understand why he was doing it.”
Carter did confirm what the families had learned from detectives in the immediate aftermath of the shootings: Reyes still had plenty of ammunition left in his truck — suggesting that he was planning a more extensive shooting spree. There were at least 20 live rounds left in the vehicle, and he appeared to be reloading while driving near the scene of his final attack.
“Had this officer not been there just coincidentally ... there were plenty of roads for him to go down. He had plenty of ammo, and it didn't seem like he was stopping, that's for sure," Carter said. "As horrible as this situation was, it could have been way worse.”
After the facts were presented to grand jury last Wednesday, the panel decided not to proceed with any further action related to the incident. The Golvach family calls Rojas' response heroic.
"Why was he allowed to be here?"
Julie Golvach burst out into tears again last week after hearing for the first time some of the details of the crime that took her son's life. 
“I really feel I deserve to know what brought them together at that point in time, what caused him to shoot my son,” she said. “I think we deserve to know why he was even here — why he was allowed to be here.”
It’s a common refrain among those who have been victimized by people in the country illegally. They weren’t supposed to be here in the first place, and the government's inability to keep them from crossing the southern border after they’ve been deported — and prevent them from committing crimes — provokes a unique brand of helplessness and outrage.
Even Weston, a lifelong Democrat who attended both of Barack Obama’s inaugurations and favors allowing otherwise law-abiding immigrants into the United States to work and seek a better life, said he had to fight the urge to call Donald Trump and tell him he was “dead-on” with his focus on foreigners who commit crimes here.
“Somebody’s got to do something about it,” he said. In the same breath, Weston emphasized that he doesn’t support Trump for president and said keeping dangerous felons from crossing the border or entering the vast illegal workforce defied simplistic solutions.
“If there’s some way to filter out the ones that intend to harm people, I would be in support of that,” he said. “It may prevent something like this from happening to somebody else.”
Dan Golvach is more blunt and outspoken. A few weeks after his son’s murder, he was at the state Capitol testifying in favor of 2015 state legislation — ultimately doomed — that would have prohibited local law enforcement authorities in Texas from adopting “sanctuary” policies that keep police out of immigration matters.
Then late last year, he appeared with Trump at a campaign rally in Beaumont, saying his son died as “the result of politically correct politics” — namely, bipartisan policies that he believes go too easy on undocumented immigrants and the people who hire them.
“When you lose the thing you love the most, you’re not that worried about being PC,” Golvach said in an interview. “If you’re going to come here, you need to do it legally on our terms, not your terms.”
Golvach readily admits that anger over his son’s killing sometimes hits “toxic” levels. He says he’s still haunted by the image of Spencer in a hastily chosen coffin, still upset he was killed right next to the stadium where he used to watch baseball as a kid, still mad as hell that the government won’t cough up the records they have on his son’s killer.
It would be worse without all the good memories of his son, and without the certainty that if Spencer were alive today he would say to him: “chill don’t freeze.”
“He’d tell me, ‘Don’t have a heart attack. You know, clear your mind and keep it cool,'” he said. “He would tell me not to hate anybody.”

Concrete Evidence of the Continuing Plunge in Both Civil and Criminal Immigration Enforcement

By Dan Cadman

CIS Immigration Blog, January 23, 2016

Two recent reports from Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) reflect the continued erosion of immigration enforcement under the Obama administration.

On January 20, TRAC reported that criminal prosecution for immigration offenses fell 22.3 percent from November 2014 to November 2015, and more than 36 percent over the course of five years, excluding magistrate court (which deals exclusively with petty offenses).

The following day, TRAC announced that "ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] Detainer Use Stabilizes Under Priority Enforcement Program". The Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) is the replacement to the Secure Communities Program mandated by Homeland Security Security Jeh Johnson as a part of the president's "executive actions" on immigration. It significantly restricts the ability of immigration agents to file detainers against aliens arrested by police on criminal charges.

I have no idea what TRAC means by "stabilizes". A quick look at Figure 1a of their report shows a more accurate state of affairs, if one considers the number of detainers being filed over the course of five years, from a high in April 2011, when Secure Communities became fully effective nationwide and kicked into high gear, versus October 2015. I would use other phrases: "plummeted" or "Dropped like a stone". Or, as my colleague Jessica Vaughan has noted, particularly in relation to detainers filed at county jails, where the lion's share of criminals of any stripes are held after being booked for offenses small and large: "a stunning free fall".


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