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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru] - (Pub. Since July, 2006)
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hong Kong v China - Less Government Is So Obviously Better

Think Smaller…Government 
by Seton Motley, Contributing Author: Perhaps lost in the incessant, rolling bad news shuffle that is the Barack Obama Administration are the ongoing Hong Kong protests of rising Chinese domestic interference.

This is exactly the sort of thing we freedom lovers and free marketeers feared when in 1984 the British agreed to in 1997 hand over control of the island to the mainland Communists.

To alleviate the concern, the Chinese Communists pledged non-interventionism.(T)he Chinese government in Beijing promised to let Hong Kong keep its special rights and its autonomy — a deal known as "one country, two systems."But we knew the Chinese Communist Party couldn’t forever resist assaulting the golden goose.

(S)tudent groups led peaceful marches to protest China's new plan for Hong Kong's 2017 election, which looked like China reneging on its promise to grant the autonomous region full democracy….

Crackdown on Protests by Hong Kong Police Draws More to the Streets

Downtown Hong Kong turned into a battlefield of tear gas and seething crowds on Sunday after the police moved against a student democracy protest, inciting public fury that brought tens of thousands of people onto the streets of a city long known as a stable financial center.
Sound familiar?Chaos In Hong Kong Rivals Tiananmen Square Crackdown 25 Years AgoAnd there is no question Hong Kong is a golden goose. Left to its autonomous, less-government ways Hong Kong has become a free speech-free market Xanadu.As one of the world's leading international financial centers, Hong Kong's service-oriented economy is characterized by low taxation, near free port trade and well established international financial market….

According to Index of Economic Freedom since the inception of the index in 1995, Hong Kong has remained the world's freest economy.

The economy is governed under positive non-interventionism, and is highly dependent on international trade and finance….

Hong Kong's gross domestic product, between 1961 and 1997, has grown 180 times. Also, the GDP rose by 87 times per capita….

This policy has often been cited by economists such as Milton Friedman and the Cato Institute as an example of the benefits of laissez-faire capitalism.
Is the golden goose threatened? The entire flock is.Hong Kong Unrest May Shake World EconomyThe Chinese Communists should understand this. They have over the last couple of decades loosened ever so slightly their internal economic restrictions. Which has allowed for some selective, amazing growth - Alibaba, anyone? - of which those under the authoritarians could previously only dream.

So here we have perfect, evolutionary compares-and-contrasts.

Decades of on-all-fours, Huge Government China - resulting in horrendous human condition, tens of millions of deaths and abject destitution.

Slightly loosened Chinese government shackles - resulting in limited economic explosion.

And walking upright - sprinting forward, actually? Minimalist regulation Hong Kong - whose free markets and free trade have resulted in the freest and best economy on Earth.

Which would you choose?

We here have the opportunity to learn these lessons - and make the right choices. In sectors throughout our economy.

A horrendous example of de-evolutionary, destructive, China-esque domestic policy?

Over those seventy or so years, our anti-free-market farm policy warped the emerging global farm market. The world’s growers saw our bad moves – and matched them. Subsidy-for-subsidy, tax-for-tax, protectionism-for-protectionism.

Seven decades later, we have a worldwide Crony Socialist nightmare mess.

All of which can be simply fixed.

The world’s crop-producing nations need to sit down together, each with a copy of everyone else’s lists of protectionist policies. And start horse trading.

“Brazil – how about if you get rid of this subsidy, we’ll each get rid of one.”

“Mexico – if you get rid of this tariff, we’ll each get rid of one.”

Let the subsequent discussions ensue. Lather, rinse, repeat.

And then we do the same with iPhone parts. And cars. And tires. And….
China has slowly, selectively learned these lessons - and has begun crawling towards the triumphant Hong Kong free market model. Even as they now look to rein in the visual aide.

We have spent the last decades too often assuming the Chinese-model fetal positions.

There’s an old joke:

Patient: “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.”

Doctor: “Don’t do that.”
It hurts when China does it. It hurts when China does it to Hong Kong.

Why are we doing it to ourselves? And thus the rest of the world?
Seton Motley is the President of Less Government and he contributes to ARRA News Service. Article was also shared on PJ Media. Please feel free to follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Tags: Seton Motley, Less Government, Hong Kong, free market model, China, Think, smaller government  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Obama Misses 60% of Security Briefings... and Blames Intelligence Community?

by Dr. Bobby Eberle, The Loft, GOPUSA: After all these years, I'm still amazed at the things Barack Obama says. I know I should be numb to it by now. After all, he continues to blame former President Bush for the Obama economy. He blames police officers whenever it's convenient to stir racial unrest. But I think this one takes the cake. With all the threats of Islamic terrorism around the world, Obama is blaming his intelligence officers for dropping the ball... there's just one problem with that.

First, let's take a look at Obama's appearance this past Sunday on "60 Minutes." As David Limbaugh points out, Obama loves to take personal credit when things go well, but he is quick to blame others when things go poorly.News outlets are reporting that Obama acknowledged that his administration was surprised by the strength of the Islamic State, sort of. He lays the blame for any such underestimates at the feet of Jim Clapper, his director of intelligence. Isn't Clapper in the administration? It's as if Obama is every bit as mystified by Clapper's alleged oversight as the rest of us and as if he has no culpability for it whatsoever.

But it's even worse than that. For the truth is that this wasn't some kind of mistake in intelligence. Our intelligence services were fully aware of the strength and danger the Islamic State posed months and months ago and were aware of its aggressive pursuit of territorial expansion. It's not that we underestimated the Islamic State; it's that we overtly ignored it or that Obama was literally out to lunch -- or on the golf course.
The pushback from legislators, military officials, and intelligence sources has been swift. Here's one report from CBS News:
But here's the kicker. Not only was Obama warned about the growing threat of ISIS and ignored those threats, but he has shown complete recklessness in addressing the seriousness of Islamic terrorism or ANY threat. As reported by the Government Accountability Institute, Obama has skipped nearly 60% of his presidential security briefings in his second term in office!

As reported by Breitbart, "members of the Defense establishment were 'flabbergasted' by Obama's attempt to shift the blame.""Either the president doesn't read the intelligence he's getting or he's bull*****ing," a former senior Pentagon official "who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq" told the Daily Beast.

On Monday, others in the intelligence community similarly blasted Obama and said he's shown longstanding disinterest in receiving live, in-person PDBs that allow the Commander-in-Chief the chance for critical followup, feedback, questions, and the challenging of flawed intelligence assumptions.

Intel Sources: President Obama Was Warned Of Growing ISIS Threat
It's clear that Obama knew what was brewing with this growing Islamic terror threat. He knew... and ignored it. Perhaps that's why he skips most of his daily security briefings... perhaps he doesn't want to address this threat at all. He seems much more comfortable shifting blame so that others look bad. How about getting serious about radical Islamic terrorism once and for all?!?!?

Tags: President Obama, misses briefings, blames, Intelligence Community, Bobby Eberle, The Loft To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Leader Of The Free World Resides In Jerusalem, Not Washington, D.C.

by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: Briefings? What Briefings? - In yesterday's report, we commented on President Obama's passing the buck by appearing to blame the intelligence community for missing the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. As we noted, there really was no excuse for the president being so uninformed. Last year, Iraq's prime minister came to Washington pleading for help in fighting ISIS.

Even the liberal media are refusing to drink the Kool-Aid on this one. ABC's Jonathan Karl noted that top administration officials warned about ISIS on at least three occasions between November 2013 and February 2014.

NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent Richard Engel said, "It's surprising that the president said that U.S. intelligence missed this one… Everyone knew that Islamic extremists were on the rise in Syria and in Iraq; it was well documented. The extremists were publicizing their activities online -- they were bragging about it. Journalists, including us, were interviewing foreign fighters. This was no state secret."

A new report may shed some light on one possible reason for the president's ignorance. According to the Government Accountability Institute, Obama has skipped roughly 60% of his daily intelligence briefings.

During his first term, Obama attended 42% of his daily intelligence briefings. And halfway through his second term, he's made just 41% of his briefings.

Liberal apologists will no doubt argue that the president is so smart he doesn't need in-person briefings. He can just read the intelligence memos on his iPad over breakfast. Perhaps.

But what that means is that he is not asking questions. He is not engaging his top officials and experts. He's winging it, and the results speak for themselves.

The Leader Of The Free World Speaks - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the United Nations yesterday and delivered a speech rallying the free world against the forces of radical Islam. Netanyahu connected the dots so that free people could clearly comprehend the threat we are facing.

Meanwhile, our politically correct leaders are doing their best to blur the lines between acts of terrorism and terrorism's root cause.

They don't want you to connect the jihadist who cut off a woman's head at a food processing plant to the jihadist who walked onto Fort Hood and mowed down 14 people to the jihadists from Minnesota who went to fight for ISIS in Syria to the jihadists in Gaza digging tunnels into Israel. Obama and his allies do not want you to see the obvious connection to all these incidents: Radical Islamism.

Benjamin Netanyahu's speech was incredibly powerful. I encourage you to watch the whole thing. Here are some excerpts of his remarks yesterday:"Ladies and Gentlemen, the people of Israel pray for peace. But our hopes and the world's hope for peace are in danger. Because everywhere we look, militant Islam is on the march. . . .their ultimate goal is to dominate the world. . . .

"Some are radical Sunnis, some are radical Shi'ites. . . .But they all share a fanatic ideology. They all seek to create ever expanding enclaves of militant Islam where there is no freedom and no tolerance. Where women are treated as chattel, Christians are decimated, and minorities are subjugated, sometimes given the stark choice: convert or die. . . .

"Ladies and Gentlemen, militant Islam's ambition to dominate the world seems mad. But so too did the global ambitions of another fanatic ideology that swept to power eight decades ago. The Nazis believed in a master race. The militant Islamists believe in a master faith."  [Transcript of Speech]
Referring to Iran's nuclear ambitions, Prime Minister Netanyahu said:

"Imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic State, ISIS, would be if it possessed chemical weapons. Now imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic state of Iran would be if it possessed nuclear weapons. Would you let ISIS enrich uranium? Would you let ISIS build a heavy water reactor? Would you let ISIS develop intercontinental ballistic missiles? Of course you wouldn't. Then you mustn't let the Islamic State of Iran do those things either."Referring to Israel's fight against Hamas, Netanyahu said this:"ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree. ISIS and Hamas share a fanatical creed, which they both seek to impose well beyond the territory under their control. . . .As Hamas's charter makes clear, Hamas's immediate goal is to destroy Israel. But . . .Hamas shares the global ambitions of its fellow militant Islamists. That's why its supporters wildly cheered in the streets of Gaza as thousands of Americans were murdered on 9/11. And that's why its leaders condemned the United States for killing Osama Bin Laden, whom they praised as a holy warrior. . . .

"Ladies and Gentlemen, the fight against militant Islam is indivisible. When militant Islam succeeds anywhere, it's emboldened everywhere. When it suffers a blow in one place, it's set back in every place. That's why Israel's fight against Hamas is not just our fight. It's your fight. Israel is fighting a fanaticism today that your countries may be forced to fight tomorrow."
Who could disagree with that? Unbelievably, Obama's State Department -- YOUR State Department -- did disagree.

At a State Department briefing yesterday, Spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked about Netanyahu's connection of ISIS and Hamas as "branches of the same poisonous tree." Psaki replied that while both were terrorist organizations, ISIS "poses a different threat to Western interests and to the United States. And that's just a fact."

Really? Perhaps one might argue that ISIS poses a more immediate threat. But Hamas has killed Americans and has also threatened to attack the United States.

Psaki also rejected Netanyahu's statement that radical Shiite and Sunni groups were "are all part of the same kind of militant Islamic attempt to rule the world." Psaki said, "We would not agree with that characterization, no."

How is it possible that the United States and Israel could be so far apart when it comes to defining a common enemy that has killed Americans and Israelis and is threatening Judeo-Christian civilization? It is clear to me that Netanyahu takes his intelligence briefings seriously. It is also clear me to that the leader of the free world resides in Jerusalem, not Washington, D.C.
Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families

Tags: President Obama, skips, Intel briefings, ISIS, free world leaders, speaks, Israel, Prime Minister. Benjamin Netanyahu, Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Obamacare Trainwreck: People Having To Pay Back Subsidies | 23,000 In NM Losing Insurance. . .

. . . | Hospitals Charging Upfront People With Higher Deductible Plans

Another day finds ever more Americans being caught in the problems created by Obamacare.

According to The Wall Street Journal, “Hundreds of thousands of Americans face a Tuesday deadline to verify their income and are at risk of losing or having to pay back their federal health-insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. The need for people to pay back the government could become a headache during next year's tax season, when Americans are expected to pay back any subsidies they weren't eligible for.

“The Obama administration has told more than 300,000 individuals who obtained coverage through the federal site that they may lose some or all of the subsidies if they don't provide additional income information that jibes with Internal Revenue Service data. That information includes tax returns, wages and tax statements, pay stubs and letters from employers. Hundreds of thousands of people who obtained health coverage through state exchanges also have documentation issues and could potentially be getting subsidies they aren't eligible for. Enrollees whose income changed during the year but didn't update their information could also owe the government if they received larger tax credits than they were entitled to. The owed amounts could total thousands of dollars, health policy experts say.

“‘Most people don't know they even got advance tax credits,’ said Mark Ciaramitaro, vice president, health-care services at tax preparer H&R Block Inc. ‘They are going to be surprised and need to know what just happened, and a lot of people will be frustrated.’ . . .

“In addition to the roughly 300,000 people affected by the income verification, another 115,000 people may lose coverage on Tuesday because they didn't provide requested documents verifying their citizenship or immigration status by a Sept. 5 federal deadline. Collectively, more than 400,000 people who enrolled in health plans using have data-matching problems regarding their income or citizenship and immigration status.

“‘There are a lot of people counting on their refund to pay for Christmas charges, and instead they'll be paying back their tax credit,’ said Timothy Jost, a professor of health law at Washington and Lee University.”

Meanwhile, when patients go to get care, another change attributable to Obamacare is making hospitals ask for payments up front, CNNMoney writes today. “Get ready to whip out your credit card before you are wheeled into the operating room or undergo an MRI. Hospitals are increasingly asking patients to pay for procedures either upfront or before they are discharged. That's because Americans are shouldering a greater portion of their health care bills, and medical centers don't want to get stuck with patients that can't pay.

“Starting the cost conversation early is especially important now because patients are facing higher deductibles and larger payments for services. Some are surprised to find out that they have to fork over thousands of dollars before their insurance even kicks in, hospital administrators said. The policies available on the Obamacare exchanges are hastening this trend. Many enrollees are opting for the bronze and silver plans, which often carry deductibles upwards of $5,000 and $2,000, respectively.

“‘The bronze plans are scaring a lot of administrators because the patient liability is so large,’ said Debra Lowe, administrative director of revenue cycle at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center. ‘Patients are unaware they have this high deductible.’”

And of course, people across the country are still losing their health plans, despite the president’s repeated promises that if you like you plan, you can keep it. KOAT-TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico, reports, “Some people with Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico are losing their health insurance. The company mailed a letter this past week telling thousands of members their insurance plan would expire in November. Nearly 23,000 New Mexicans received the letter. The letter said that a person's plan does not meet certain requirements of the Affordable Care Act and will be discontinued. Those users will now have to pick another plan.”

In the face of all these negative consequences, it’s pretty jarring to hear the Obama administration and cheerleading Democrats insist that “the Affordable Care Act is working as intended.”

Tags: Obamacare Trainwreck, New Mexico citizens, losing insurance,  hospitals charging upfront To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Oklahoma Wins Victory Over IRS Obamacare Rule

by Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: Judge Ronald A. White, district judge in the Eastern District of Oklahoma, issued a sharp rebuke to the Obama administration today over the same regulation purporting to authorize federal subsidies through federal exchanges on which appeals court panels recently split in the DC and Fourth Circuits.

At issue was whether the words “established by the state” in the section of Obamacare that authorizes exchange subsidies means what it says, or whether the Federal Secretary of Health and Human Services can be a "state," as the IRS and the Obama administration have claimed, in order to allow subsidies to flow in states that chose not to cooperate.

The State of Okahoma, led by Attorney General Scott Pruitt, filed suit to protect the state’s statutory right to opt out of Obamacare subsidies and the employer taxes that come with them.

Judge White ruled:

The animating principles of this court’s decision have been articulated by the Tenth Circuit: “[C]ourts, out of respect for their limited role in tripartite government, should not try to rewrite legislative compromises to create a more coherent, more rational statute. A statute is not ‘absurd’ if it could reflect the sort of compromise that attends legislative endeavor.” Robbins v. Chronister, 435 F.3d 1238, 1243 (10th Cir.2006).24 “An agency’s rulemaking power is not ‘the power to make law,’ it is only the ‘power to adopt regulations to carry into effect the will of Congress as expressed by the statute.’” Sundance Associates, 139 F3d at 808 (citation omitted) “In reviewing statutes, courts do not assume the language is imprecise ... Rather, we assume that in drafting legislation, Congress says what it means.” Id at 809.

The court holds that the IRS Rule is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. §706(2)(A), in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or short of statutory right, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. §706(2)(C), or otherwise is an invalid implementation of the ACA, and is hereby vacated. The court’s order of vacatur is stayed, however, pending resolution of any appeal from this order.

In other words, he rejected the government’s argument that the federal Secretary of Health and Human Services can be a “state” when establishing an exchange.

This decision agrees with a recent panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in Halbig v. Burwell and disagrees with a conflicting opinion from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in King v. Burwell. The federal government will appeal today’s decision to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

There is a pending petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court in the King case. Today’s decision makes clear that this issue can only be resolved by that court.

For more on the issue, read our previous anlaysis here and here

Here is today's full decision from Judge White: Pruitt v. Burwell District Court Order
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment. He is on Twitter  and on Facebook and a a contributing author for the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Phil Kerpen, American Commitment, Oklahoma, wins victory, over IRS, IRS, Obamacare, Obamacare rule, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

U.S. is Becoming a Weaker Nation

by Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: The news that the U.S. Air Force, joined at long last by some of the Arab nations most threatened by the Islamic State (ISIS), began bombing their headquarters and military sites in Syria was long overdue, but welcome. It took time because Obama had originally dismissed ISIS as a threat.

It no doubt took time to get Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia to team with the U.S., but missing from the action is Turkey that borders Syria and Egypt. Turkey has become increasingly Islamist, but appears determined to stay out of the war with ISIS. By initially refusing to provide arms to Egypt, Obama drove it into the waiting arms of the Soviet Union, but has since reversed its policy and is seeking to woe Egypt back as an ally.

In a September 23rd column, Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal opined that “…every President gets things wrong. Mr. Obama is not exceptional in those respects. Where he stands apart is in his combination of ideological rigidity and fathomless ignorance. What does the President know? The simple answer, and maybe the truest, is: not a lot.”

Obama’s combination of ideology and ignorance is analyzed in an extraordinary book by Douglas E. Schoen and Melik Kaylan, “The Russia-China Axis: The New Cold War and America’s Crisis of Leadership.” It provides a fact-filled look at his failure to provide leadership to a nation that other nations have looked to for leadership and protection since the end of World War II.

Indeed, in addition to the ISIS videos of Americans and others being beheaded, it has taken the outspoken criticism of retired U.S. generals to mobilize public opinion to support a return to the battlefield. It is a battlefield that Obama has fled at every opportunity, pulling out all of our troops from Iraq and planning to do the same in Afghanistan.

In the September 14th issue of Defense News, General John Michael Loh, retired, a former Air Force vice chief of state and Air Combat Command commander, said, “ The right solution is neither exclusively boots on the ground airpower. The right solution is a one-two punch: a massive air campaign followed by a ground force offensive to defeat ISIS. If executed the way airmen and soldiers have worked together in the past, most notably in Desert Storm, the result is not just a decisive victory, quickly and with few casualties, but the basis for deterrence of any ISIS-like movement in the future.”

“The Russia-China Axis” delves deep into the failure of both the Presidency and Congress to address the threats to our nation around the world. “As China and Russia beef up”, the authors note regarding our military expenditure, “Congress is set to cut nearly $1 trillion from the defense budget over the next ten years” and while the full brunt of those cuts is a ways off, the military is already taking it on the chin thanks to the cuts negotiated during the sequestration of January 2013.”

Citing the warnings of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, “What he and others have found so far is alarming; impaired combat-troop readiness; inability to modernize equipment and weapons and technology systems; and the need, potentially, to slash as many as five of the Air Force’s tactical aircraft squadrons.”

“Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warns that the effects of sequestration alone will leave the United States with our smallest ground fighting force since 1940, the smallest naval fleet since 1915, and the ‘smallest tactical fighter force in the history of the Air Force.’”

While the headlines of the strikes against Syrian ISIS locations are exciting, in addition to our Defense Secretaries, we need to pay heed to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Martin Dempsey, who has said, “We would go from being unquestionably powerful everywhere to being less visible globally and presenting less of an overmatch to our adversaries. And that would translate into a different deterrent calculus and potentially, therefore, increase the likelihood of conflict.”

While the U.S. cuts its defense spending, Russia and China have been increasing theirs. Moreover, while nuclear weapons can be found in nations like North Korea, a self-declared enemy of the U.S. Iran is intent on creating its own nuclear capability, the U.S. has not only reduced its nuclear arsenal (Obama wants no arsenal) and has entered into negotiations that no observer believes will result in any cessation of Iran’s intentions.

The authors of “The Russia-China Axis” warn that “The U.S. retreat from the nuclear playing field is not just apparent in offensive capabilities; the American missile-defense shield that protects our homeland and our European allies is gravely deficient as well.”

The authors assess that “America, worn down by a decade-plus of wars, has become inner-directed, even isolationist.” This is a repeat of history prior to and following World War I. Following World War II, America was the only nation with the power to hold off and wear down the former Soviet Union’s ambitions to spread communism worldwide. Under Vladimir Putin, Russia is seeking to regain its influence in Eastern Europe and has, of course, invaded and annexed Ukraine’s Crimea.

This has all happened while Obama has been President. He has already announced that the U.S. will not put “boots on the ground” in Iraq and will leave Afghanistan next year. Telling the enemy what you intend to do militarily is a profoundly stupid thing to do. And this is a President who has resisted even his closest advisors regarding the need for action.

Plainly said, we need to survive the last two years of Obama’s second term in office. We can do so to some degree if the Republican Party can gain control of the U.S. Senate and expand it in the House. The November midterm elections have never been more critical.
Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, Warning Signs". He is a contributor to the ARRA News Service.

Tags: United States, U.S., America, becoming, weaker nation, Alan Caruba, warning signs To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Limits Of Air Power

. . . As identified by this cartoon and known by the military, bombing will not dig out the ISIS terrorists.  They will wait until the U.S. uses up its funds and resources and stops bombing.  Then ISIS will return to terrorize again. 

Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: Limits of Air Power, ISIS, editorial cartoon, AF Branco To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Time To Change Course & Stop Letting Police Seize Property From Innocent People

by Jason Snead & Andrew Kloster, Heritage Foundation | (@jasonwsnead) | (@ARKloster): “[Civil Asset Forfeiture] should be abolished.”

That’s the considered opinion of the two men — John Yoder and Brad Cates — who, in the 1980s, oversaw the development of federal civil asset forfeiture as a tool to combat organized crime and the drug trade.

At the time, forfeiture seemed eminently reasonable. Drug kingpins were making millions from criminal enterprises that banked on addiction and suffering. Whether because they lacked enough evidence to convict kingpins or for tactical reasons, law enforcement officers settled for hitting them in the wallet by seizing money and property traceable to illegal activity.

But three decades later, asset forfeiture’s biggest targets aren’t kingpins; it’s the cash found during routine traffic stops for small-time infractions. As Yoder and Cates point out, forfeiture does not apply to organized crime or drug crimes alone; some 200 other crimes now render individuals’ property subject to seizure.

And most troubling of all, in most states and under federal rules, a citizen’s cash, car and other property can be taken without law enforcement having to charge or convict the owner of a crime. In fact, to get property returned, owners usually have to prove their innocence.

That’s what happened to grocery store owner Terry Dehko when the IRS showed up at his store, accused him of the crime of “structuring” and seized his entire bank account. IRS agents were more willing to put Dehko into bankruptcy than to consider the possibility that his reason for making frequent sub-$10,000 cash deposits was perfectly innocent and reasonable: His insurance covered only up to $10,000 in cash losses from robbery.

And then there’s the Caswell family, who had owned Motel Caswell since 1955. Federal officials tried to seize the motel from the Caswells because some small percentage of occupants had, over the years, been arrested for criminal activity while staying there. A successful seizure would have represented a huge financial windfall for law enforcement. In May, Caswell sold the property for $2.1 million after beating the seizure, but if law enforcement officials had their way, that money would have gone to them rather than the Caswells’ retirement.

These stories are the tip of the iceberg, and both the Dehkos and the Caswells were fortunate to have pro bono legal representation from the Institute for Justice. Many others are not as fortunate and have to make do with cutting deals that allow police to keep part of what is seized, or lose it altogether, simply because getting a lawyer is often more costly than the value of what was taken.

Law enforcement agencies have become increasingly beholden to the financing civil forfeiture provides, allowing them to purchase equipment and finance special task forces outside the scope of the regular political process. One need not be an expert to see the perverse incentives built into a system that pins officers’ continued employment or advancement on their ability to seize cash and property.

Reform is clearly imperative. Sensible reform should preserve the ability of law enforcement to go after true criminal masterminds and drug kingpins but still protect innocent citizens from abusive practices. For example, breaking the profit motive by preventing law enforcement from keeping what it seizes would go a long way toward stopping the rampant use of civil forfeiture against ordinary citizens.

Another possible reform is to increase protection for property owners by raising the burden of proof and placing that burden solely on the government.

Congress also could require law enforcement to charge property owners with a crime — and convict them — before proceeding with a forfeiture action. If prosecutors fail to do so within a reasonable period of time, law enforcement should be required to return the seized property.

Finally, a practice known as “equitable sharing,” in which local and state law enforcement officers seize property and then refer forfeiture actions to federal authorities in return for a portion of the resulting proceeds, encourages state and local authorities to do an end-run around some state laws that limit the ability of local authorities to seek forfeiture and to keep the resulting proceeds. This practice should be severely curtailed or eliminated.

In recent weeks, both Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., have introduced legislation in Congress to reform federal forfeiture laws along the lines outlined above. In support of his bill, Walberg recently took to the floor to criticize the lack of due process protections in federal forfeiture laws. A number of states have recently taken up the mantle and passed reforms as well.

Just last week, Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., and Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif.,introduced H.R. 5502, the House version of Paul’s legislation. In other words, bipartisan reform looks like a real possibility in this Congress or the next.

But as lawmakers debate the “how” of civil forfeiture reform, one thing is absolutely clear: The path forward cannot be the status quo.

Tags: time to change, police seizing, private property, innocent people, Heritage Foundation To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tech Tycoon Jeff Bezos Owns the Washington Post - Why Is Their Tech Reporting So Terrible?

Here’s Hoping Bezos Applies Amazon
 Reality to the Washington Post
by Seton Motley, Contributing Author: Jeff Bezos is a transcendent Internet entrepreneur. He understands the way the Web works in a way few others do. He sees around the curve of the Earth just a little further than do most of us.

To wit: Bezos started in 1994 (T)he world's largest internet company, based on revenue and number of employees.

Bezos has done okay: Real Time Net Worth: $29.9 Billion.

In 2013, Bezos waded into the dying world of Dinosaur Journalism - purchasing the Washington Post for $250 million (ostensibly pulled out of his petty cash drawer).

Transitioning journalism forward needs to happen. If it can be done successfully, Bezos ain’t a bad guy to take the shot.

Unlike most of the uber-Leftist enclave that is the Media, Bezos is a libertarian - albeit one who doesn’t eschew supporting Democrats. And some of his front-of-the-house Post personnel moves seem to reflect this.Why the Washington Post Passed on Ezra Klein

The Volokh Conspiracy Joins the Washington Post
Which brings us to the Post’s uber-Leftist, woefully ill-informed Technology reporting team.

Perhaps Bezos hasn’t yet examined this part of his new staff. Or perhaps it’s the Post’s and Amazon’s big-time support of Network Neutrality - a major Tech issue, which will greatly benefit Amazon if the government illegally imposes it.

How so? Amazon uses a LOT of bandwidth. If the government via Net Neutrality mandates Amazon can’t be charged for it - that’s a huge win for Bezos. Of course We the Consumers pick up that exorbitant tab in the form of higher Internet charges - a huge loss for us, but of less concern to Bezos.

So from a personal business perspective Bezos may like his Post Tech coverage exactly the way it is. Because if his prism was purely journalistic - it would be difficult to see how he’d maintain the status quo.

Let us look at but one recent Washington Post flight of fancy.When the deadline hit last week on the official round of public feedback as the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) makes rules on so-called net neutrality, it triggered a tsunami of online responses. When all was said and done, 3.7 million comments had been recorded by the federal government, more than the FCC has gotten on any debate in its 80-year history….

But that flood of public interest revealed just how dated the FCC's online public engagement infrastructure has become….

The FCC online commenting system's sputtering was an embarrassment to an agency eager to prove it is competent enough to make rules around modern technology….
You think? The FCC - which wants to commandeer control of the Internet - can’t keep its own website up and running. It in fact during the process crashed twice. Under the strain of a mere 3.7 million comments - filed over the course of several months.

Bezos’ Amazon would be embarrassed.As the system strained under the attention, grass-roots activists and staffers inside the FCC worked together, hour-by-hour, to keep it up and running. At times they got on each others nerves; at others they pulled together.Get that? To prop up the website, the FCC locked arms with…pro-Net Neutrality activists. To take Comments which the FCC will ostensibly use to help make up its mind on…Net Neutrality.

How helpful to Leftists was the FCC? Behold FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s “Special Counsel for External Affairs.”

Did the Post find this wall-to-wall twenty-four-seven FCC Leftist assistance at all questionable? Of course not.

Did the FCC at any point reach out to pro-free market grass-roots activists for assistance? Of course not. Even when this was happening:808,363 Americans Tell the FCC: "Do Not Regulate the Internet"This titanic tally was collected by just one group - American Commitment. Many other groups - and individuals - filed similar sentiments. There were thus easily well more than one million Comments opposed to any new regulations.

Did the Post - in a 2,780-word piece - find room to mention this widespread opposition? Of course not.

The journalistic banality rambles on and on and…. But you by now get the idea.

Jeff Bezos made Amazon huge by giving customers what they want. To save the alleged news entity Washington Post - he should consider doing the same.
Seton Motley is the President of Less Government and he contributes to ARRA News Service. Article was also shared on MRC: News Busters. Please feel free to follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Tags: Seton Motley, Less Government, Net neutrality, Jeff Bezos, Washington Post, Amazon, Censorship, Congress, Economy, Regulation, Government Agencies, Government & Press To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Our Lyin’ Eyes?

. . . Who do we believe?  President Obama says ISIS is not Islamic.  NBC says Eric Holder is not political.   Our eyes tell us other wise.
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: our lyin' eyes, not political, Eric Holder, not Islamic, ISIS terrorist, editorial cartoon AF Branco To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Five Questions for Your Senate Candidates

Election Day is five weeks from tomorrow. We can expect the campaigns to focus on lots of things except perhaps the most important: the constitutional responsibilities of the contested offices. To try to inject a little depth into the debate, in our latest essay we've put together a five-question quiz for Senate candidates (based mostly on Federalist essays 62-66) that gets at the core responsibilities of the office. ~ Matt Parks

How well do they know the job?
Drs. David Corbin and Matthew Parks: With a little over a month until the 2014 general election, lists a mere dozen (of some 460) elections for national office as competitive (three in the US Senate; nine in the House of Representatives). Never before has Congress been more unpopular and the election of its members been more certain.

With the stakes so low and the approval of a steady forty percent of the American public filling his political sails, perhaps the President can afford to bypass Congress and instead speak directly to his fellow citizens of the world at the United Nations about things closer to his heart than the national interest: his desire to align the United States as a political instrument with the right side of History.

The President’s United Nations address, like so many similar political addresses before it, clearly displays a distorted view of a country so often on the wrong side of History, the stuff of now commonplace politically correct and historically incorrect Advanced Placement exams. The President apparently believes that his role is making history, not carrying out his constitutional tasks in a constitutional manner in an effort to secure the liberty of his fellow citizens.

Many members of Congress have bought into this false narrative, excusing themselves from carrying out their constitutional duties and thus weakening institutional supports so fundamental to our national prosperity—like the rule of law, federalism, and the separation of powers.

Two years into President Obama’s tenure, with this problem in mind, we suggested that every presidential candidate adopt the “Constitution” pledge, “promising to present a hand-written copy of the Constitution to the Chief Justice as he rises to take the oath of office.” Some of our readers suggested that all national officeholders produce their own hand-written copy of the Constitution–we heartily agree.

But given that time is short between now and the election, we’ll propose a second, less time-consuming challenge for candidates running for national office: a five-question multiple choice quiz. Since the Senate is where most of the (limited) action is this election season, we’ve provided, as a template, such a quiz for U.S. Senate candidates, drawn mostly from Federalist essays 62-66. If your state’s candidates won’t take it, take it yourself. Constitutional government, after all, begins with a constitutionally-literate citizenry–despite the IRS’s fears.

Don’t worry: you (probably) won’t have to report your score.

Question 1: Which phrase best describes the legitimate (legislative) powers of the federal government?

A. “expressly delegated”
B. “few and defined”
C. “numerous and indefinite”

Answer: B. This is the phrase James Madison uses in Federalist 45 to describe the sum total of federal power. Answer A is from the Articles of Confederation description of federal power, which proved to be dangerously unworkable in two ways: it required the Congress either (1) to forebear exercising powers needed to ensure the solvency and security of the United States or (2) to read those powers into the Articles, undermining the rule of law (see Federalist essays 41-44). The language of the 10th Amendment carefully avoids this error by dropping the term “expressly” (“All powers not delegated…”).

If you chose C, we understand. You probably assumed you could judge the legitimate powers of the government by the powers it is actually exercising. Unfortunately, in this world of $21 million dollar Homeland Security earmarks for the “National Exercise Program” and Supreme Court readings of the Commerce Clause wide enough to justify them, the is and the ought of federal government powers are miles apart.

Note to would-be Senators: if you win, you swear an oath to uphold the Constitution, not the baseline budget or the Court’s Wickard-line monstrosities.

Question 2: Why do we have a Senate in addition to the House? (choose all that apply)

A. to protect the privileges of the few at the expense of the many
B. to promote stability in the laws
C. to counter the tendency of a single legislative body to faction and passion

The correct answers are B & C, which are among several advantages of a bicameral legislature described by Madison in Federalist essays 62 and 63. Madison argues, in fact, that without a Senate, the law would change rapidly–“a state of things in which it may be said with some truth that laws are made for the few, not for the many.” Senators should be the guardians of the people against the machinations of the well-connected and the partisan, not the friends of rent-seekers.

If you chose A, you’re either reading too much Howard Zinn or taking the new AP U.S. History course (but we repeat ourselves).

Question 3: Why does the Senate have a role in foreign affairs? (choose all that apply)

A. Because its members are few enough and long-serving enough to have a concern for the nation’s character
B. Because its members are expected to have a due sense of national interest and the wisdom to identify the means to promote it
C. To serve as representatives of the views of the “international community”

If you chose A and C, you might be a starry-eyed Wilsonian, but you’re still partially correct. Madison cites A in Federalist 63 while John Jay argues for B in Federalist 64. Was Madison an early believer in President Obama’s imaginary friend, the “international community”? C’mon.

But read the opening sentence of the Declaration of Independence again: “ . . . a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they [a ‘people’ who wish to ‘dissolve the political bands which have connected them to another’] should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” Human beings are moral agents who have to give reasons for their actions.

Senators shouldn’t care whether the UN Commission on Minding Other People’s Business gives American foreign policy its stamp of approval, but they should care if we can’t articulate a reason for our actions that is consistent with the principles of our republic and defensible before the bar of justice. As we argued last week, Senators should be leading the country in deliberating carefully and conscientiously on important foreign policy decisions–not omnibusing their way out of a war vote and then skedaddling out of town.

Question 4: Why do Senators have a role in the appointment of executive branch officials and judges? (choose all that apply)

A. to discourage the appointment of unfit candidates
B. to promote home state candidates
C. to allow for interest group-friendly grandstanding during televised hearings

The answer is A. Alexander Hamilton argues in Federalist 76 that presidents will be discouraged from appointing “unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity” by having their choices vetted by the Senate–without allowing the Senate to dictate appointments, since it can only approve or reject the president’s nominee.

Answer B reflects current practice, not constitutional intent. The Senate, as Hamilton’s argument indicates, was meant to discourage presidential parochialism–and the president was given the initial nominating power to prevent legislative parochialism, as Hamilton shows elsewhere in Federalist 76.

Answer C is taken from the (post-Robert Bork) Senate Best Practices Manual (1st edition authored by the late Senator Ted Kennedy).

Question 5: Why was the Senate designated to try impeachment cases? (choose all that apply)

A. its expected impartiality between accusers (the House) and accused (an executive or judicial official)
B. its expected fortitude in rendering a just judgment in the face of political or popular pressures
C. to discourage the use of the impeachment power

A and B are both correct. In Federalist 65, Hamilton argues that Senators, as the representatives “of the nation,” should be “sufficiently dignified” and “sufficiently independent” to “preserve, unawed and uninfluenced, the necessary impartiality between an individual accused, and the representatives of the people, his accusers.” He argues later in the essay that the Supreme Court, the obvious alternative, would not “at all times be endowed with so eminent a portion of fortitude, as would be called for in the execution of so difficult a task.” The Senate, he concludes in Federalist 66, is the best repository for this important power.

Answer C, once again, describes current practice–the practical result of today’s hyper-partisanship. As Hamilton acknowledged at the beginning of Federalist 65, it is very difficult to try impeachment cases in a government “wholly elective,” where “there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.” The impeachment trial of President Clinton certainly demonstrated this point, rendering the power nugatory against officials high and low in the present Administration.

Of course, acing a quiz is only as good an indicator of one’s fitness for office as one’s character allows. Madison, Jay, and Hamilton maintained that Senators, like all national officeholders, were above all moral agents serving under the people’s Constitution. By performing “few and defined” tasks with the nation’s stability and interests in mind and acting as a check against men who did not possess the right character, the U.S. Senate as an institution would help advance the American experiment in self-government.

Bonus question: How’s that going?
Drs. David Corbin and Matthew Parks are Professors of Politics at The Kings College (NYC). They are contributors to the ARRA News Service. They edit and write for The Federalist and are on Facebook and Twitter.

Tags: 5 questions, quiz, U.S., Senate, candidates, Federalist, Federalist 62, Federalist essays 62-66, essays, David Corbin, Matthew Parks To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Odds Of Republicans Wnning the Senate Increase

by Chris Cillizza, The Fix: All three major election forecasting models saw an uptick in the likelihood of Republicans winning the six seats they need to retake the Senate majority over the past week, movement largely due to the party's strengthened chances in Alaska, Colorado and Iowa.

The most bullish model for Republicans is Washington Post's Election Lab, which, as of Monday morning, gives the GOP a 76 percent chance of winning the majority. Leo, the New York Times model, pegs it at 67 percent while FiveThirtyEight shows Republicans with a 60 percent probability. A week ago, Election Lab gave Republicans a 65 percent chance of winning the majority, Leo put it a 55 percent and FiveThirtyEight had it just under 55 percent.

All three models give Republicans very strong odds of winning the open seats in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia as well as beating Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.). That would net Republicans five seats, one short of the number they need for the majority.

Of the rest of the competitive seats, Alaska is the biggest mover in all three models from a week ago. At that time, the models disagreed -- Election Lab (81 percent chance) and Leo (62 percent) gave Democrats the edge while FiveThirtyEight had Republicans at a 56 percent probability of winning. Today all three models align; Leo gives former state attorney general Dan Sullivan (R) a 72 percent chance of winning while Election Lab puts it at 71 percent and FiveThirty Eight at 68 percent. A series of polls released over the last week have shown Sullivan moving ahead of Sen. Mark Begich (D).

The other big change in Republicans' favor is in Colorado. Seven days ago , FiveThirtyEight's model called the state a true 50-50 tossup while Leo gave Sen. Mark Udall (D) a 55 percent chance of winning and Election Lab was even more optimistic for Udall at 67 percent. All three models today agree that Rep. Cory Gardner (R) is a (slight) favorite; FiveThirtyEight says Gardner has a 56 percent probability of winning while Leo is at 61 percent and Election Lab 66 percent. Like Alaska, several new surveys have show movement in Gardner's direction.

The models are also now in agreement -- unlike last week -- that Iowa's open seat tilts in state Sen. Joni Ernst's (R) favor albeit narrowly. Election Lab shows Ernst with an 83 percent probability of winning but that looks like the outlier as Leo has it at 61 percent and FiveThirtyEight at 56 percent. (The Real Clear Politics poll of polls has Ernst up by two points over Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley.)

Of the 11 most competitive races, the three models all agree on 10 of them. The lone outlier is Kansas where Sen. Pat Roberts (R) is facing off against Greg Orman (I). Both FiveThirtyEight (58 percent chance) and Leo (55 percent) give Orman the advantage while Election Lab says Roberts has a 79 percent chance of victory.

Kansas is by far Democrats' best potential pickup opportunity -- although Orman refuses to say which party he would caucus with in Washington -- according to the models. No model gives Republican businessman David Perdue less than a 73 percent chance of winning the Georgia open seat and Mitch McConnell's (R) probability of winning a sixth term are between 85 percent (FiveThirtyEight) and greater than 99 percent (Election Lab).

Similarly, the models all agree that one-time Republican pickup opportunities in Michigan, New Hampshire and North Carolina are increasingly far-fetched -- though it is worth noting that recent poll data in the former two suggest tightening races.

The overall picture 36 days out from the midterms? Republicans are in an increasingly good place in their march to a six-seat pickup.
Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.

Tags: Chris Cillizza, The Fix, odds, Republicans, winning, U.S. Senate, Increase, Washington Post, Election Lab, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

The Syrian Rubics Cube

Bashar al-Assad of Syria
by Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: One has to have some sympathy for those in the CIA or the White House folks charged with telling the President what has been going on in Syria since 2011 when the opposition to Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship turned into a fighting war. It must have looked and felt like playing with a Rubics cube where the competing groups and militias kept changing all the time.

In his book, “Inside Syria”, Reese Erlich, a Peabody Award-winning journalist and author of four books on foreign policy, has a chapter devoted to the way the Syrian revolt took shape. “The antigovernment demonstrations began in the southern city of Daraa in March 2011.”

Erlich reports that they began after police arrested several pre-teen school children for writing anti-regime graffiti on the walls of a school. Being Syria, they were beaten and tortured. More than 600 protesters confronted the local governor demanding the injured children be let free. Security forces attacked the group and killed two of the protesters. This is in keeping with the Middle Eastern mentality and culture, something Americans, accustomed to having peaceful demonstrations, have difficulty comprehending.

“By mid-March demonstrations broke out in Damascus and other parts of the country” because the Arab Spring had let loose a vast feeling of discontent and opposition in a number of nations and the Assad regime was, to put it mildly, unpopular. It didn’t help that “Assad cracked down mercilessly on peaceful protesters” opening fire with live ammunition. Security forces arrested and tortured anyone suspected of participating in the protest.

It is necessary to understand that it is difficult to organize Syrians or other Middle Easterners under the best or worst of conditions and that explains why Americans following events can be forgiven for trying to figure out who was doing what. That includes our intelligence community.

“Local Coordinating Committees developed spontaneously in many cities as mostly young activists created grassroots groups unaffiliated with the traditional opposition. They were united on the need to overthrow Assad, hold free elections, and establish a parliamentary system with civil liberties.”

It only took from March 2011 to July for defectors from Assad’s army to announce formation of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), followed on both sides by targeted assassinations.

For many years the Muslim Brotherhood seemed to be the most influential opposition group, but it was led by an older generation that was surprised by the events led by young Syrians. “Brotherhood leaders had cultivated extensive ties internationally, particularly with the Islamist government of Turkey. Those leaders became major players in the formation of yet another group, the Syrian National Council, (SNC) based in Istanbul. Suffice to say that there are many secular, non-religious, Muslims in the Middle East and those in Syria were not inclined to believe anything the Brotherhood's SNC had to say.

The Obama administration had a problem figuring out who to support in the developing civil war. They opted for the Free Syrian Army, as did Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, but it was reluctant to provide arms with which to wage a war against Assad. By the spring of 2012, the FSA was asking for shoulder-fired missiles capable of bringing down aircraft and our CIA said no, fearing they would fall into the wrong hands which in Syria’s case could be virtually any other group.

Another group was Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam), “formed from the September 2013 merger of dozens of smaller militias, mostly in the Damascus area.” They were Islamists preferring Sharia law and they flew the black flag of jihad. By the end of 2013 they helped form the Islamic Front. To make things more confusing there was another group, Ahrar al-Sham, one of the largest militias in Syria and their aim was a Sunni Islamic state.

In November 2013, al-Sham joined with other conservative groups and they opposed the Syrian Free Army and the Syrian Military Council, along with the al Qaeda affiliated groups of al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. Confused? Who wouldn’t be?

Suffice to say al-Nusra was devoted to creating an Islamic state ruled by the Koran. In December 2012, the U.S. State Department put al-Nusra on its list of terrorist organizations because of its ties to al Qaeda, but it turned out that an even more extreme group existed, calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). It was this group that announced it would lead an Islamic State in the area seized from Syria and Iraq.

ISIS is so extreme that in February 2014 Ayman al-Zawahri, the al Qaeda successor to bin Laden, cut ties to ISIS.

The U.S. and a handful of coalition partners are currently bombing ISIS in Syria and Iraq. In time the U.S. will have to put ground troops into the area to root out and kill ISIS.

Barack Obama has become a war President thanks to the chaos he created by removing U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 and to the Arab Spring that swept over nations whose populations wanted to be rid of dictators like Bashar Assad.

This will not likely end soon.
Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, Warning Signs". He is a contributor to the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Bashar Assad, Syria, Syrain Rublics Cube, Free Syrian Army, Muslim Brotherhood, Jaysh al-Islam, Army of Islam, al-Nusra, al Qaeda, ISIS, Alan Caruba, warning signs To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Eric Holder’s 7 Worst Actions as Attorney General

by Hans von Spakovsky | (@HvonSpakovsky): Attorney General Eric Holder, the first attorney general in history to be held in contempt by the House of Representatives, surprised the political world today when he announced he would be resigning, effective on the confirmation of his successor.

Holder will leave a troubled legacy and many unanswered questions as John Fund and I discovered when we were researching our new book, “Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department.” The Justice Department veterans we talked to said that Holder has politicized the Department to an unprecedented degree, which should concern everyone who cares about the rule of law.

So what are the top seven worst actions by Eric Holder?

1. Operation Fast and Furious, probably the most reckless law enforcement operation ever carried out by the Justice Department. This gun-running scandal led directly to the death of an American border agent and many Mexican citizens. Holder was held in contempt because of his refusal to turn over information and documentation about this operation gone wrong that he basically claimed he knew nothing about.

2. Holder has waged a war on election integrity and “racialized and radicalized the [Civil Rights] Division to the point of corruption” according to one current Justice employee, embedding “politically leftist extremists in the career ranks who have an agenda that does not comport with equal protection or the rule of law; who believe that the ends justify the means; and who behave unprofessionally and unethically.”

3. Failure to conduct a real, criminal investigation of the IRS targeting of conservative organizations and to enforce the contempt citation issued by the House of Representative against Lois Lerner.

4. Reinstituting the Clinton-era model for handling terrorists that endangers the national security and safety of the American people and going after journalists in leak investigations while ignoring leaks coming out of the White House from high-level administration officials.

5. Failing to advise President Obama against taking actions that violate the Constitution and federal law, refusing to enforce or defend federal laws and trying to persuade state attorneys general to engage in the same type of behavior of refusing to defend laws passed by their state legislatures.

6. Engaging in collusive “sue and settle” lawsuits with advocacy organizations and political allies of the president in order to implement regulations and new requirements without public notice or participation in order to use taxpayer money to fund the budgets of liberal groups.

7. Treated Congress with contempt and did everything he could to evade its oversight responsibilities by misleading, misinforming and ignoring members of Congress and its committee.

There is no telling how long it will take to repair the damage that Holder has done to the Justice Department. History will not be kind to his legacy. As one former Justice Department employee told us, in his opinion, “Holder is the worst person to hold the position of attorney general since the disgraced John Mitchell, who went to jail as a result of the Watergate scandal.”
Hans von Spakovsky is an authority on a wide range of issues—including civil rights, civil justice, the First Amendment, immigration, the rule of law and government reform—as a senior legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and manager of the think tank’s Election Law.

Tags: Eric Holder, worst actions, Attorney General, Contempt, Congress, lawsuits, sue and settle, failure to advise, unconstitutional actions, Obama administration, failure to do, real investigations, Fast and Furious, gun running, war on election integrity, racialized, radicalized Civil Rights Division, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

LA Times: 'Obamacare Doctor Networks Stay Limited In 2015' | Obamacare Open Erollment Begins

Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco
ARRA News - Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times reported, “Finding a doctor who takes Obamacare coverage could be just as frustrating for Californians in 2015 as the health-law expansion enters its second year. The state's largest health insurers are sticking with their often-criticized narrow networks of doctors, and in some cases they are cutting the number of physicians even more, according to a Times analysis of company data. And the state's insurance exchange, Covered California, still has no comprehensive directory to help consumers match doctors with health plans. This comes as insurers prepare to enroll hundreds of thousands of new patients this fall and get 1.2 million Californians to renew their policies under the Affordable Care Act. Even as California's enrollment grows, many patients continue to complain about being offered fewer choices of doctors and having no easy way to find the ones that are available. Some consumers have been saddled with huge medical bills after insurers refused to pay for care deemed out of network.”

According to the Times, “Altogether, the 10 insurers in Covered California have contracted with an estimated 75% of California's licensed physicians, or nearly 90% of those considered active in the state. However, many of those doctors are available in just one or two health plans.”

Meanwhile, some insurance companies are dropping even more doctors and hospitals from their networks. “Health Net has proposed the most dramatic change for 2015, the data show. It's dumping [its PPO network] and switching to a plan with 54% fewer doctors and no out-of-network coverage, state data show. Yet premiums for that stripped-down policy are going up as much as 9% compared with pricing for the PPO. . . . Health Net said its cutbacks were necessary to avoid even steeper rate hikes and it's confident the smaller network will be sufficient. . . . The insurer is following the lead of its two rivals Anthem and Blue Shield, which opened last year with sharply limited networks. For 2015, Blue Shield has proposed two health plans with up to 4% fewer physicians in the areas where they're sold.”

As Republicans warned when Obamacare was passed, these outcomes were inevitable from the regulations that the unpopular law put in place.

The report notes that the California Obamacare exchange is actually pleased with this practice. “Covered California endorses the industry's narrow network strategy as a way to keep premiums affordable. The state has credited it for helping produce two straight years of lower-than-expected premiums for individual coverage. . . . In addition to shedding doctors, California's biggest insurers have promoted more restrictive policies known as EPO, or exclusive-provider organization, plans. Unlike a more generous PPO, an EPO typically does not provide any coverage for out-of-network providers. Consumers would be responsible for the full charges if they left their network. Many consumers say those differences in coverage weren't disclosed fully.”

Meanwhile, the LA Times points out that “[t]here's no timetable for a state provider directory after the exchange scrapped an initial version that was riddled with errors. Instead, Covered California refers people to insurance company websites that vary in usefulness.”

But, with the provider directory still nonexistent, The Wall Street Journal reports that Covered California is making sure it’s spending a large sum on advertising. “To get new enrollees, the California exchange, Covered California, in September launched ads featuring residents talking about how coverage under the health law has benefited them, part of a $46 million statewide advertising campaign.”

Narrow networks and endless bureaucratic snafus that frustrate and confuse consumers: just more of the predictable consequences of President Obama and Washington Democrats deciding to try to have government regulate 1/6th of the American economy.

Also. with Obamacare open enrollment set to begin this week, more horror stories about the president’s healthcare law continue to emerge. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report highlighting the administration’s spending to implement the online exchanges. The GAO found that, due to an outdated record-keeping system, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) was unable to track spending for the exchanges. In addition, Forbes contributor Chris Conover reported the average family of four will see an increase of $7,450 in health spending over the next decade. Read on for the top stories for the week:

$3.7 Billion Spent To Implement The Obamacare Exchanges In 2014. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report last week, noting the administration needs to improve the oversight of finances used in the implementation of Obamacare. According to the report, the “GAO was able to determine the reliability of CMS’s estimates for total obligations for fiscal year 2014, which was $3.7 billion.” In addition, the only other CSM information that could be verified was $79.8 million spent on staff salaries. GAO noted, “the number of staff as of September 30, 2013, which was 347; and total salary expenditures from March 2010 through fiscal year 2013, which were $79.8 million.”

Between 2014-2022, Obamacare Will Add $7,450 To The Average Amount Of Health Spending For A Family Of Four. As reported by Forbes contributor Chris Conover, “Between 2014 and 2022, the increase in national health spending (which the Medicare actuaries specifically attribute to the law) amounts to $7,450 per family of 4.” Jim Capretta at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) noted, “An important takeaway from these new projections is that the CMS Office of the Actuary finds no evidence to link the 2010 health care law to the recent slowdown in health care cost escalation.” More signs point to a historical trend in health spending than Obamacare.

Tags: Obamacare, doctor Networks, Obamacare, Open enrollment, rising costs, increased health spending, Obamacare exchanges, editorial cartoon, AF Branco,  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

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