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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru] - editor@arranewsservice.com (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)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cease and Desist

Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: cease, resist, Barack Obama, John Carry, Benjamin Netanyahu, 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!

Israel's "Disproportionate" Self-Defense

Target in Gaza is hit.
by Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: On Sunday, July 27, Eleanor Cliff, a member of The McLaughlin Group panel, referred to Israel’s “disproportionate” response to the thousands of rockets and missiles that Hamas has been firing at its citizens for months, if not years.

This is a common criticism of Israel, but it is far easier to make if you are living safely somewhere other than Israel and not being awakened by alarm sirens at 5 A.M. with just a little time to make it to a bomb shelter.

Ms. Cliff was hardly alone. In Great Britain, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, in contrast to Prime Minister David Cameron, also declared Israel’s response to Hamas as a “disproportionate form of collective punishment” on the citizens of Gaza.

On July 26, The Times of Israel reported that “Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters marched in London and Paris on Saturday, calling out against Israel’s military operation in the Hamas-controlled Palestinian enclave.

In London, the second Saturday in a row, the protest was estimated to have drawn more than 10,000 participants. “Demonstrators held placards reading ‘Stop Israeli State Terror’. ‘Freedom for Palestine’ and ‘Gaza—End the Siege.’ They also chanted ‘Shame on you David Cameron’ as they filed past the British prime minister’s Downing Street office.” By contrast, Paris cracked down on pro-Palestinian demonstrations and, along with Germany and Italy, denounced expressions of anti-Semitism.

No doubt the expressions of support were welcome in Israel, but when it strikes back against its enemies it tends to run out of friends rather swiftly. In Scandinavia, Denmark, Finland and Norway backed the Palestinians but the European Union did condemn the rocket attacks by Hamas, as well as its use of human shields.

Departing from President Obama’s pro-forma statement on Israel’s right to defend itself, South American nations condemned Israel in tune with their general acceptance of the view that Israel is an aggressor and occupier despite the fact that in relinquished control of Gaza to the Palestinians in 2005. Joining in the chorus of condemnations were Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

The hypocrisy of those who raise the issue of “proportionate response” is breathtaking.

Consider Israel’s history. In 1948 prior to and following its declaration of independence, Israel fought several Arab armies. In 1949 armistice agreements established lines between Israel and its neighbors. In the 1950s and 60s the Israelis had to respond to constant Fedayeen — Arab guerillas--incursions from Syria, Egypt, and Jordan. In June 1967 Israel fought the Six-Day War with Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, with troops contributed by Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Algeria. When it was over, Israel had increased its landmass and are now called “occupiers” for having defended itself and won!

From 1967 to 1970, Israel fought a war of attrition as the Egyptians, aided by Jordan, Syria, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, sought to recapture the Sinai. In October 1973, the Israelis fought the Yom Kippur War against Egypt and Syria. It began with a surprise attack on one of the holiest days of the Jewish calendar.

Are you getting tired of reading about the many wars waged against Israel?

Well, let’s just include the Palestinian insurgency in South Lebanon (1971-1982); the 1982 Lebanon War in 1982; the South Lebanon conflict (1982-2000); the first Intifada (1987-1993); the second Intifada (2000-2005); the 2006 Lebanon War; the Gaza War (December 2008 to January 2009); and Operation Pillar of Defense against the Gaza Strip in November 2012. Which brings us to Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

One might assume that after being continually defeated, the Arabs would conclude that peace is a good option, but that is not the mentality that Israelis have been dealing with for the past 66 years and earlier when the first Zionists moved there to escape the anti-Semitism they encountered in Europe.

One might also assume that, if Canada and Mexico had been making war and firing rockets and missiles into the U.S. for that amount of time, we might conclude that a “proportional” response did not work very well.

Israel’s leaders initially embraced a policy of strategic deterrence in which disproportionate force was utilized to reduce the potential for further attacks. This was the policy between 1948 and 1993. After it signed the Oslo Accords in 1993, its leaders shifted to a policy of restraint, but it didn’t work. In the Middle East restraint is interpreted as weakness. Between September 1993 and September 1998, terrorists based in the West Bank or Gaza struck Israel more than ninety times, killing 279 Israelis.

In 2005 then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon struck upon a bold plan to provide the Palestinians with territory of its own adjacent to Israel. He ordered some eight thousand or more Israelis out of the Gaza Strip and turned it over to the Palestinian Authority, Fatah.

Not long after, Hamas was elected the ruling party in Gaza and drove out Fatah. A proxy of Iran, Fatah began to receive missiles and build miles of tunnels on both its Israeli and Egyptian borders, the former to attack Israel and the latter to smuggle weapons and other items. Now both Israel and Egypt are destroying those tunnels.

Commentator Andrew McCarthy said it best: "Hamas did not suddenly become a terrorist organization after it was elected. Hamas was elected because it was a jihadist organization. It was elected because, by its own declaration, Hamas connects Palestinians to something they find attractive: the global Islamic-supremacist movement. Palestinians widely reject Israel’s right to exist.

They regard not just Gaza, Judea and Samaria but all of Israel as 'occupied Palestine.' Even those Palestinians who purport to accept the 'two-state solution' see it as a way-station on the march to a one-state solution in which the Jewish state eventually ceases to be. Palestinians chose Hamas precisely because Hamas was seen as more dedicated than Fatah to the achievement of that goal-not to mention, more brutally competent."

Those who talk of Israel’s “disproportionate” response to Hamas, in the context of its long history of having been under attack by neighboring nations and the so-called Palestinians, sound like the babbling idiots that they are.

The Israelis want peace. The only way they will obtain it is to make waging war against them too painful to sustain.
-----------------
Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, Warning Signs. He is a contribution author on the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Israel, Gaza, hamas, terrorists, 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!

Reid Obstinate & Perversely Insistent on Taxing The Internet

Bringing Harry Reid
to Bipartisanship
by Seton Motley, Contributing Author: As we asked last week - who says bipartisanship is dead?

The allegedly “do-nothing” Republican-led House of Representatives has actually done a lot of good stuff - a lot of it bipartisan in nature. "We've put together a helpful list of bipartisan bills (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) can start with that have passed the House with over 250 votes and are stuck sitting idly in the Senate. The do-nothing Senate really must do-better,” (Congressman Eric) Cantor spokeswoman Megan Whittemore said.Therein lies the problem. Senator Reid remains an obstinate obstruction to advancing good legislation. He only moves bills that lessen our freedom - and lighten our wallets.

On November 1 - and remember, Election Day is November 4 - a since-1998 federal moratorium on Internet-only taxes ends. Meaning you and I will pay the government even more coin to surf the World Wide Web.

When you next fume at your Internet or cell phone bill - check the litany of taxes tacked on. (And forget not the built-in government costs you pay but never see.) That way you’ll know at whom to actually be angry.

Governments already bite huge chunks out of our hide. But they view our money like Jello - there’s always room in their stomachs and wallets for more.

But the House just passed - by mega-bipartisan voice vote acclimation - the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA).(T)he law has attracted large bipartisan majorities every time it's been up for a vote in either house. That's because the law has allowed the Internet to grow into an engine of interstate and international commerce. Except Senator Reid won’t allow the bill up for a vote in his Senate. Unless he can tether it to a whole new Internet tax scheme - the woefully misnamed, incredibly destructive Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA).A new Senate bill may force lawmakers this week to make a tough choice on internet taxes: they must agree to expand the reach of sales taxes on out-of-state retailers, or else see the end of a law that forbids states and cities from imposing a tax on internet access.

…(T)he dilemma stems from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s handling of a bill called the Internet Tax Freedom Act. That bill, which passed the House by a large margin, would permanently entrench a temporary moratorium on ISP taxes. The measure is politically popular because it means consumers won’t see “service fees,” akin to those that appear on cell phone statements, on their broadband bills.

Instead of putting the same bill to the Senate, however, Reid has decided to attach it to a proposed law called the Marketplace Fairness Act. That bill, which first passed the Senate last year, would require online retailers to collect tax on sales they make to out-of-state consumers.
Get that? Under the MFA, uber-tax-happy states like California would no longer be confined to taxing into oblivion just Californians. They’d have access to the wallets of every business - every person - in all fifty states.

Turning Huge Government states into additional Huge Government federals. And tempting Less-Huge-Government states to grow - with the siren song of new coin taken from people in forty-nine states that can’t vote against them. That’ll help the economy and spur growth.

These people need to be told: Stop looking for new ways to take our money - instead, stop spending quite so much.

The underlying assumption when government looks for new money - is that every current penny is being spent wisely and well. And there’s your Joke of the Day.

Senator Reid is constantly decrying the lack of bipartisanship in Washington. He could get a whole lot more of it if he stopped serially, unilaterally blocking things that garner it - like PITFA.

Or tacking to it things like the MFA - which both sides oppose.

Hold on a sec. Senator Reid’s actually getting more of the bipartisanship he says he wants - against him and his Huge Tax, Huge Government policies.

That’s one mean to an end, I guess.
-------------
Seton Motley is the President of Less Government and he contributes to ARRA News Service. Please feel free to follow him on  Twitter / Facebook

Tags: Harry Reid, Obstinate, insistent, Taxing the Internet, Less Government, Seton Motley To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Deception Alert: Sorry, AP, 'Sluggish' Growth Doesn't Make Economy 'Sturdier'

Herman Cain & Dr. Bill Smith
(ARRA News Service file photo)
by Herman Cain: Nice try. AP! Economic news tends to be confusing no matter where you get it from, but you really want to avoid getting from the Associated Press – and all the more so from local and regional newspapers who pick up AP stories and then put their own spins on the headlines.

You end up, as we did in Atlanta this past week, with stories based on huge deceptions that try to use numbers within the stories to mean what they don’t really mean.

The AP ran a story this week headlined: “U.S. economy, though sluggish, may now be sturdier.” That sounds like a headline someone wrote after reading the story and having no idea what it was supposed to mean. It’s “sluggish” but also “sturdier”? What on earth does that mean?

I don’t know (and neither do they), but I’m sure it doesn’t mean what the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tried to make it mean when, in one edition, they picked up the story and applied this headline: “Slow growth brings strength.”

Say what? Because growth is slow, that means the economy is strong?

George Orwell would surely smirk knowingly at that one. War is peace, freedom is slavery, slow growth is strength. Except that slow growth would actually be an improvement over what we saw in the first quarter of this year, when GDP declined by 2.9 percent. We have some work to do to get the economy back to slow growth.

But even having said that, let’s look at the case the AP tries to make for the economy being “sturdier” even as it’s “sluggish.” It’s a pretty clear case of how an economics reporters can spin their way to any conclusion they want when they don’t really know what they’re talking about:

Unemployment aid applications dropped to 284,000 this past week. The three-week average was 302,000. That’s only good in a relative sense, because you have to remember that when more than 200,000 jobs are created in an entire month, they want to throw a party. Yet we’re still getting 284,000 new unemployment claims every week? We’ve got a long ways to go before the balance is tipped in the right direction.

Fewer people are piling up credit card debt or taking on risky mortgages. This is a pretty funny one coming from the same people who complain when people can’t get credit. They’re not buying houses and not charging purchases to their credit cards because they’re broke! And that leads us to the next reason we’re supposed to be feeling better about things . . .

Banks are more profitable and holding additional cash to guard against a repeat of the 2008 market meltdown. You want to know why banks are being stingy about lending? Because new federal regulations like Dodd-Frank, not to mention constant federal investigation threats, have them proceeding with extreme caution. So the same people who are always telling us the economy needs capital to be spread around so as to achieve “Keynesian multipliers” and so forth now argue it’s good news that the banks are hording cash? The truth is that the banks make the most money when they make good loans, and they know how to determine which loans are smart for them to make. The federal government is making it harder for them to do so.

More workers hold advanced degrees. This is good news in theory only. Sure, on paper, people make more money if they have advanced degrees. But in the Obama economy, we see a growing number of people amassing debt to get degrees, only to find they can’t earn anywhere near what they were expecting when they finish school. And when 50 percent of the college graduates can’t find a job, they keep going to school. So sure, they’ve got degrees. But that’s all they’ve got.

Inflation is under control. Really? Ask the person in your household who buys the groceries on a regular basis. I did. I asked my wife, who constantly tells me that every time she goes to the store, she pays more for the same shopping cart worth of groceries as the last time. Inflation is often measured more accurately by real people on the ground, not by statisticians following theoretical models. Inflation is not under control.

Millions who have reached retirement age are staying on the job. Wait. This is supposed to be good news? Why do you think they’re still working? They can’t afford to retire! If we’re getting millions in additional goods and services produced by people past retirement age, and we’re still seeing a 2.9 percent decline in GDP, friends, that ain’t good.

That’s why I call this a deception alert. Obama’s cheerleaders at the AP know that economic news can be confusing, and that presents an opportunity for them to take a report and deceive you by offering an analysis of it that is completely nonsense.

Sluggish doesn’t mean sturdy. Slow growth doesn’t bring strength. And you’d be wise not to seek your understanding of economic news from the mainstream media – especially the AP. They don’t understand it themselves.

Tags: Hermain Cain, deception alert, AP, economics To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Goldwater 2.0?

It has been 50 years since Barry Goldwater's presidential run, a short-term defeat, but in many ways a long-term victory--not the least of which in the way it catapulted Ronald Reagan onto the national stage and, ultimately, into the White House.   Can an updated Goldwater 2.0 bring about another wave of conservative victories? Perhaps, but, as we argue in our latest essay (inspired by Federalist 54), not if it compromises the core principles conservatives are to conserve, grounded in the God-given natural order of things. ~ Matt Parks

Photo Barry Goldwater greets an Indianapolis
 crowd during a campaign tour in Oct. 1964.
Why conservatism still needs a political conscience informed by nature.
Drs. David Corbin and Matthew Parks: The last Republican presidential candidate to win California was George H.W. Bush, back in 1988. Last week, George Will suggested that a new sort of “Goldwater 2.0” conservatism, represented by the state’s Republican gubernatorial nominee Neel Kashkari, might at least color the state purple and force Democrats to fight, once again, for its 55 electoral college votes.

What is Goldwater 2.0? A mixture of an immigrant upbringing, a job at Goldman Sachs, a first-hand view of bailing out banks ‘too big to fail’ while working under Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, a non-threatening pro-choice and pro-same sex marriage social libertarianism, and apparently, an orientation in Will’s words toward “discerning silver linings on black clouds.”

While Goldwater’s own brand of conservatism certainly evolved after the 1964 presidential race, Kashkari’s 21st century conservative operating system is plenty different from the one that prompted Goldwater to proclaim in his (in)famous 1964 Republican acceptance speech: “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice is not a virtue.”

Such bold words spoken today by a conservative candidate might provoke a MSM-led 21st century Salem Witch Trial with Senator Harry Reid playing the part of chief inquisitor. But that’s just the point, some on the right argue: even a less radical conservatism, at least taken out of context, is a political liability. And as there’s no preventing those covering politics from taking it out of context, better to blend in with the political culture of the day (a very un-Goldwater sentiment) with a more libertarian conservatism, marketable to 21st century Americans.

It is unlikely Friedrick Hayek, godfather of contemporary libertarianism, would have been impressed. Appended to the end of his 1960 treatise The Constitution of Liberty is an essay entitled “Why I am Not a Conservative,” distinguishing his (classically) liberal alternative to progressive ideologies from a simple resistance to change, the fundamental mark, in his view, of “any conservatism which deserve to be called such.”

The problem with conservatism, according to Hayek, is thatby its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving. It may succeed by its resistance to current tendencies in slowing down undesirable developments, but, since it does not indicate another direction, it cannot prevent their continuance. It has, for this reason, invariably been the fate of conservatism to be dragged along a path not of its own choosing. The tug of war between conservatives and progressives can only affect the speed, not the direction, of contemporary developments.By this description, the Establishment Republican is a model conservative, offering to run the welfare state for ninety-seven waste-cutting cents on the dollar, tempering hyper-regulation with responsible cost-benefit analysis, and posing as the clear-eyed adult in every political room.

But so, in its own way, is the Goldwater 2.0 conservative, following a pace and a half behind Progressive libertines on the one hand, while reconciling himself to the entrenched safety-first corporatism of the Wall Street-Washington ruling class, on the other.

Hayek notes that his analysis applies somewhat differently in describing the American political scene. Resistance to change in the United States can still mean resistance to departures from a liberal tradition–and, therefore, a defense (at least implicitly) of the principles Hayek himself advocates. He nevertheless concludes that thedifference between liberalism and conservatism must not be obscured by the fact that in the United States it is still possible to defend individual liberty by defending long-established institutions. To the liberal they are valuable not mainly because they are long established or because they are American but because they correspond to the ideals which he cherishes.Here Hayek demonstrates the limits to his own vision: the alternative to defending “long-established” institutions because they are old or because they are ours is defending them because they are mine–i.e. they correspond to the “ideals” I cherish–ironically substituting one form of subjectivism for another.

Is there no better alternative to Progressivism?

Richard Weaver, a contemporary of Hayek, noted the sort of conservatism Hayek found in the me-too politician. But he argued (in The Ethics of Rhetoric) that “the true conservative is one who sees the universe as a paradigm of essences, of which the phenomenology of the world is a sort of continuing approximation.” In other words, the conservative is committed first to truth, not tradition–to the ideal because it is the ideal, not because it is something he cherishes.

While the Progressive wishes to reconstitute nature, the Weaver’s conservative submits to it. His political program, depending upon circumstances and the dictates of prudence, may be more or less consonant with the status quo, but its ultimate aim is always a fuller expression of human self-government within the God-given order of things.

Such conservatives offer a true, root-and-branch alternative to Progressivism– and can also give a better defense of the American founding than either Hayek’s liberal or his conservative, in part because the leading American founders were, themselves, just such conservatives.

This is evident, ironically, in the most troubling task executed by Publius in The Federalist: a defense of the three-fifths clause, which assigned representatives in the House to the states based upon the sum of “the Whole number of Free Persons” and “three fifths of all other Persons [i.e. slaves].”

James Madison’s Federalist 54 case for the three-fifths clause is complicated by the fact that the defense is presented in the voice of a hypothetical southerner, rather than that of Publius. Of course, Madison in actual fact was a southerner, who had voted in favor of the three-fifths clause in the Convention (albeit as a compromise), not the common citizen of New York that Publius pretended to be.

What is most striking in the essay, however, is how Madison’s southerner demonstrates the unnaturalness of slavery even while defending the clause. He speaks of the “pretext” that “the laws have transformed” the slaves “into subjects of property” as the only grounds for excluding their full number from the population count. The slaves have been “debased by servitude” and the law “which regards” them as “divested” of two-fifths of their manhood by partially considering them “in the unnatural light of property.”

One cannot be “debased” by slavery or “divested” of part of one’s manhood unless, in the light of nature, one is rightfully free and as equally a man as any counted fully in the population computation. The rule of the founding, Madison suggests even here, is the natural one: freedom and equality; slavery is but the aberrant exception, though one the founders were prepared to tolerate for a time. That temporary compromise came with the danger that some might move further away rather than closer to the natural standard–as indeed happened in antebellum America.

Recognizing this, Abraham Lincoln fought to reestablish the original meaning and implications of the founders’ most famous claim: “all men are created equal.” When the majority of the Supreme Court said that these words could have only been intended to apply to whites, Lincoln argued that their reach was universal, despite the obvious inconsistency between the founders’ “proposition” and their practice:They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth, that all were then actually enjoying that equality, nor yet, that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. In fact they had no power to confer such a boon. They meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people of all colors everywhere.The conservative case for the principles of the American founding is neither that they are old, nor that they American, nor that they are congenial to our prejudices, but that they are right and, in their implications, good, a reliable rallying point for reformation toward a better common life, challenging our (and their) compromises with justice.

The corollary, however, is this: a conservatism that redefines fundamentals like marriage or the scope of the human family (to justify abortion)–is no conservatism at all. The great political danger is that “Goldwater 2.0” will lead quickly to a Goldwater 3.0, 4.0, etc., discovering new implications of social libertarianism in the next refinement of polite (progressive) opinion.

Goldwater, as Will notes, won a victory in defeat in 1964, reshaping his party and, in part, the politics of the nation for a generation to come. Following Goldwater 2.0 is much more likely to lead to a defeat in victory, saving perhaps the Republican Party, but doing little to revitalize the American republic.
----------------
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: Goldwater 2.0, Federalist 54, Barry Goldwater, Friedrick Hayek, George H.W. Bush, George Will, Goldman Sachs, Harry Reid, 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!

Bigger than President Obama

by Newt Gingrich: A Fox News poll this week reported that 58% of the American people felt the Obama Administration was incompetent. That sense of incompetence included 32% of Democrats, 67% of independents and 84% of Republicans.

As president, having your political opponents believe you are incompetent is not a shock. Having two out of three independents find you are incompetent is a shock. Having one out of three of your partisan supporters consider you incompetent may mean it is time for the Obama team to panic.

This survey on incompetence came just a few weeks after Gallup reported that 79% of the American people thought the federal government is corrupt. That is a 20% jump since 2006. More Americans thought their government was corrupt than the citizens of Brazil or Tajikistan. See my newsletter on the Gallup corruption data.

When four out of five citizens think their government is corrupt there is a big problem. When three out of five also think their government is incompetent the problem may be of historic proportions.

The very fabric of a free society begins to come apart when so many people deeply distrust their own government. This is the opposite of the "we the people" model the Founding Fathers fought for and established.

The first step toward a real solution is understanding that the problem is much bigger than President Obama and his administration.

The disastrous failures of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) were painfully visible during Katrina in the Bush Administration.

Jim Frogue's book, Stop Paying the Crooks, outlining well over $100 billion in theft from the federal bureaucracy annually, was published during the Bush Administration and remains true today.

The Veteran's Administration scandals were bad enough during the Bush years that candidate Obama campaigned on fixing them in 2008. They have since gotten much worse and the combination of corruption, dishonesty and incompetence is now at historic levels (see our VA map and our series of articles outlining the VA problem and systems solutions).

The State Department incompetence at delivering effective aid in Afghanistan was painfully visible by 2002.

Studies of Pentagon inefficiency go back several decades. I participated in a Military Reform Caucus starting in 1981 and problems we identified under President Reagan have simply gotten worse.

Restoring integrity, effectiveness and accountability to the federal government will be an historic undertaking far bigger and more profound than simply defeating President Obama.

If the current laws and regulations remain in effect, real change will be impossible.

If the 'gotcha' style investigations and hearings remain the norm, real change will be impossible.

THREE KEY STEPS BACK TOWARD COMPETENCE AND INTEGRITY

Congress and the President (if President Obama refuses, then the new president in 2017) have to make three big decisions.

1. The changes have to be systemic. For example, the problems at the VA are not isolated and based on individual failure. The VA is a system of incompetence with a culture of corruption. Spending billions more and hiring another 10,000 bureaucrats will simply create a bigger system of corrupt incompetence.

2. Technology has to play a major role in systemic reform. As we move from government out of the era of the manual typewriter to government in the era of the smartphone and iPad, we have to rethink capabilities and requirements. Carly Fiorina's description of the 21st century as digital, mobile, virtual and personal is a good framework for rethinking all government programs. Gavin Newsom's Citizenville is a good introduction to the potential for modern technology to empower citizens rather than bureaucrats. Steve Goldsmith's upcoming book The Responsive City has similar ideas and examples. My book, Breakout, outlines the scale of change a smartphone empowered 21st century will achieve.

3. Systems thinking and technological empowerment mean the end of the tenured, untouchable, unaccountable unionized civil service bureaucracy as we have known it. No modern corporation could survive under federal government work rules. The current resistance to change at the VA is a classic example. If the 800-plus page national union contract (on top of a number of additional local contracts) and the current inability to reward great performers while firing bad performers are not changed, nothing serious will get done in fixing the VA. It is that clear and that simple.

Ask your congressman and senators and every presidential candidate if they will work to implement these three steps. Just before an election is the time to get their attention.

We can restore competence and integrity to government but we the people have to fight for it and insist on it.
----------------
Newt Gingrich is a former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the U.S. House. He co-authored and was the chief architect of the "Contract with America" and a major leader in the Republican victory in the 1994 congressional elections. He is noted speaker and writer. The above commentary was shared via Gingrich Productions.

Tags: corruption scandals, Obama administration, Bigger than Obama, polls, recommended actions, Newt Gingrich, Gingrich Productions To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Who Would Have Guessed It? More Obamacare Problems! Where are the Jobs?

Today in Washington, D.C. - July 28, 2014
The House just reconvened at Noon and recessed until 2 PM. This week, the House of Representatives is considering taking action on the President's request for $3.7 billion to deal with the border crisis.  With only a week left before the scheduled recess, it is expected that several bills will be pushed through.
H.R. 4156 — "To amend title 49, United States Code, to allow advertisements and solicitations for passenger air transportation to state the base airfare of the transportation, and for other purposes."
S. 1799 — "To reauthorize subtitle A of the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990."
H.R. 1771 — "To improve the enforcement of sanctions against the Government of North Korea, and for other purposes."
H.R. 4490 — "To enhance the missions, objectives, and effectiveness of United States international communications, and for other purposes."
H.R. 3202 — "To require the Secretary of Homeland Security to prepare a comprehensive security assessment of the transportation security card program, and for other purposes."
H.R. 3846 — "To provide for the authorization of border, maritime, and transportation security responsibilities and functions in the Department of Homeland Security and the establishment of United States Customs and Border Protection, and for other purposes."
H.R. 3696 — "To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to make certain improvements regarding cybersecurity and critical infrastructure protection, and for other purposes."
H.R. 2952 — "To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to make certain improvements in the laws relating to the advancement of security technologies for critical infrastructure protection, and for other purposes."
H.R. 3107 — "To require the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish cybersecurity occupation classifications, assess the cybersecurity workforce, develop a strategy to address identified gaps in the cybersecurity workforce, and for other purposes."
H.R. 4250 — "To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to provide an alternative process for review of safety and effectiveness of nonprescription sunscreen active ingredients and for other purposes."
H.R. 594 — "To reauthorize and extend the Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research, and Education Amendments of 2008."
H.R. 3635 — "To ensure the functionality and security of new Federal websites that collect personally identifiable information, and for other purposes."
And some bills dealing with the anming of new government buildings.

Last week, David Primo of the Mercatus Center testified in front of the House Committee on the Judiciary about the need for a constitutional amendment to combat rising debt. According to Primo, “To get on a stable fiscal path and stay there, Congress needs to act quickly and credibly. The solutions, which must include some reform to entitlements, will not be easy to implement, as short-run pain for long-run gain is a difficult sell politically. What’s worse, the longer Congress waits to act, the more difficult reform will be. Financial advisors tell us that the earlier we start saving for important goals like retirement or our children’s education, the easier it will be to achieve those goals.”

The Senate will reconvene at 2 PM today and will resume consideration of the nomination of Pamela Harris to be United States Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit.

At 5:30, the Senate will vote on confirmation of the Harris nomination, three nominees to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and on a nominee to be Deputy Under Secretary of Defense.

Over the weekend, in a story titled, “Plan to simplify 2015 health renewals may backfire,” the AP reported, “If you have health insurance on your job, you probably don't give much thought to each year's renewal. But make the same assumption in one of the new health law plans, and it could lead to costly surprises. Insurance exchange customers who opt for convenience by automatically renewing their coverage for 2015 are likely to receive dated and inaccurate financial aid amounts from the government, say industry officials, advocates and other experts. If those amounts are too low, consumers could get sticker shock over their new premiums. Too high, and they'll owe the tax man later. Automatic renewal was supposed to make the next open-enrollment under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul smooth for consumers. But unless the administration changes its 2015 approach, ‘they're setting people up for large and avoidable premium increases, said researcher Caroline Pearson, who follows the health law for the market analysis firm Avalere Health.”

The story explained, “Here's the issue, in a nutshell: To streamline next year's open enrollment season, the Health and Human Services Department recently proposed offering automatic renewal to 8 million consumers who are already signed up. But the fine print of the HHS announcement said consumers who auto enroll will get the ‘the exact dollar amount’ of financial aid they are receiving this year. That's likely to be a problem for a couple of reasons, not to mention inflation. First, financial aid is partly based on premiums for a current benchmark plan in the community where the consumer lives. Because more plans are joining the market and insurers are submitting entirely new bids for 2015, the benchmark in many communities will be different. Second, financial aid is also based on household income. If your income goes down, you are entitled to a bigger health insurance tax credit. If it goes up, you get less. The 2014 amounts could well be out of date and incorrect for many people. Financial assistance is also affected by age, family size and where people live. And that doesn't get into another motivation for consumers to shop around: Premiums and choices for 2015 are changing, so your current plan may no longer be a good deal.”

The AP noted, “New Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell is hoping that auto renewal will simplify things, a welcome change from this year's website problems. But the subsidy scheme created by Congress to keep premiums affordable has so many moving parts that it's turning out to be difficult for the government to administer.”

Last week, Bankrupting America's  Top 5 Things To Know featured the split ruling between the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on the legality of Obamacare subsidies. If the court eventually rules the federal government cannot award subsidies to individuals who purchase health insurance on the federal exchanges, as many as five million individuals could be on the hook for higher premiums.

So once again, Obamacare is turning out to have too many moving parts that are not well-designed, with the result being chaos for Americans trying to get health insurance. As the AP pointed out, this problem could result in incorrect subsidy amounts, which would mean higher premiums if they’re too low and a big tax bill to repay them if they were too high.

While Obamacare continues in its inevitable trainwreck, the other major issue, is where are the jobs? The Hill, highlighted that in Last Weeks Republican address by  Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT), "Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) slammed President Obama for a "war on coal" in the Republican weekly address Saturday. The GOP weekly address zoned in on Obama's energy policies, primarily his signature climate regulation, days before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launches its public hearings across the U.S. Daines, who is challenging Sen. John Walsh (D-MT) for his Senate seat this year, called the administration's carbon pollution rules "job killing regulations on the industries that hold the most hope for our economic future. . . . President Obama is waging a war on the middle class, and Harry Reid’s Senate is fully complicit and eager to carry out the President’s job-killing agenda...."

Tags: Obamacare problems, where are the jobs, Obamacare, kills jobs, U.S. Senate, U.S House To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Rep. Steve Daines Delivers Weekly Republican Address: Energy Policies And Employment.

Rep. Steve Daines
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the Weekly Republican Address, Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) talked about the effect of energy policies on employment.

The Hill reported, "Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) slammed President Obama for a "war on coal" in the Republican weekly address Saturday. The GOP weekly address zoned in on Obama's energy policies, primarily his signature climate regulation, days before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launches its public hearings across the U.S. Daines, who is challenging Sen. John Walsh (D-MT) for his Senate seat this year, called the administration's carbon pollution rules "job killing regulations on the industries that hold the most hope for our economic future. . . . President Obama is waging a war on the middle class, and Harry Reid’s Senate is fully complicit and eager to carry out the President’s job-killing agenda...."

Tags: Montana, U.S. Representative, Steve Daines, Weekly Republican Address, energy policies, Obama's War on Coal, 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 Next Great War

Al Qaeda on the march
by Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: In the July 24 edition of The Wall Street Journal there was a commentary, “Wanted: Converts to Judaism” by the chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Arnold M. Eisen. I thought to myself that this was an extraordinary time to be suggesting conversion to a faith that is literally under attack in Israel and being attacked by the reemergence of anti-Semitism in Europe. Here in America we are witnessing the most pro-Islamic and anti-Semitic administration in the history of nation.

In the wake of the Holocaust following World War Two what anti-Semitism existed in the U.S. gave way to an era of good will toward Jews. In Europe open expressions of anti-Semitism were out of favor. Eisen’s concern is the extensive inter-marriage between Christians and Jews in which Judaism is often abandoned in our historically Christian society. The news about Jews in the post-war years was largely about the nation of Israel and the wars it fought to re-establish and maintain the Jewish state.

What those wars should have told us was that Islamic hatred of Judaism extends to Christianity as well.

For Americans that lesson was driven home on September 11, 2001, but even the memory of that event has begun to fade to such an extent that Americans have twice elected a President who has never hidden his admiration for Islam, whose father was a Muslim, and who spent part of his youth in the Islamic nation of Indonesia. In office, his antipathy to Israel has been in stark contrast to the decades of support for Israel that presidents since Harry Truman have demonstrated.

A curious trend has emerged in America that runs counter to its entire history. The celebratory elements of Christian holy days, particularly Christmas, came under attack with demands that holiday scenes of crèches and even crosses be removed from public areas. Being religious was not encouraged and the tradition of starting the school day with a prayer was banned.

It is not too far a reach to say that the West, America and Europe, has been abandoning the depth of faith that distinguished it as church attendance fell off and resistance to attacks on the practice of religion declined. Home to some of the most beautiful churches on Earth, those in Europe are too often virtually empty.

This has not been the case in the Middle East and parts of Africa where Islam has awakened from its passive existence due in part to the colonization that preceded and followed World War One. The riches that oil provided have played a role and today a nation like Qatar is funding the emergence of ISIS, the self-declared caliphate calling itself the Islamic State.

Other oil-rich Middle East nations have supported al Qaeda only to discover that they were among its targets. ISIS has turned on Muslims in the area between Syria and into northern Iraq whom they declare hypocrites and apostates. In Mosul, Christians have been told to convert, pay a tax, or die.

While the rockets that have rained down on Israel are dramatic, the attacks on Christians throughout the Middle East have received less attention, but Christian Arabs have been driven from their homelands in the same way the establishment of Israel saw Jews forced to abandon homes in which they had lived for generations.

While Americans, joined by European negotiators, attempt to get Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program, they remain blind to the role Iran has played for decades, using Hezbollah and Hamas, two Palestinian terrorist organizations, to wage war on Israel and, by extension, the U.S. Not a day goes by without the calls, “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” There is only one way to end Iran’s nuclear program and that is to destroy the facilities that enrich uranium and plutonium. At some point, it will come to that because it must.

Israel is making it clear to the world that there is only one way to rid itself of Hamas and that is a military operation. Its troops are finding an astounding matrix of tunnels whose only purpose is to attack it.

Utterly devoid of any moral standards, Hamas uses homes, schools and hospitals to hide its arsenal of rockets and Palestinian civilians are forced to act as human shields. The world’s media focuses on the deaths of their men, women, and children, but little notice of the rockets and missiles that continue to be fired at Israel. Meanwhile Hamas has been abandoned by Egypt and most other Middle Eastern nations other than Iran and Turkey.

The so-called Palestinians have been led by men like the late Yassir Arafat and currently by Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah. Abbas has recently moved his family to a home in Jordan in the face of criticism that he has been too “cooperative” with Israel. On Quds Day last week, an event organized throughout the Middle East by Iran, an estimated 10,000 protesters gathered in the West Bank to protest Israel’s control of Jerusalem, a holy city to Jews and Christians, claimed as well by Islam. It was founded by King David.

Even so, the European business sector was quick to engage with Iran following the news of the negotiations which have been extended and which have granted Iran billions in return for sitting at the table to discuss an end to the nuclear program that it will never abandon.

In 1913, no one in Europe or America would have ever predicted the beginning of World War One in 1914. It began on July 28, 1914. As the historian Charles Emmerson said of the unanticipated war, “Humanity looked into the abyss and peering into the depths, found its own dark, disfigured reflection staring back.”

In 2014, a century later, humanity needs to take a look at the fascistic, utterly immoral objectives and practices of Islam, and understand that it is at war with us, with moderate Muslims, and with all other faiths. It’s not “if” will shall have to deal with it militarily as Israel is doing, but “when.” That day is not far off.
-----------------
Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, Warning Signs. He is a contribution author on the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Al Qaeda, on the march, next great war, warning signs, Alan Caruba To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Gruber Tape Exposes Shameful Liberal Lie Propping up Obamacare

by Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: The language in the Obamacare statute has always been crystal clear. Eligibility for the “affordability tax credit,” or subsidy, under 36B specifically requires enrollment "through an Exchange established by the State under 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Identical language appears in the definition of a "coverage month" later in 36B, and every, single place subsidy eligibility is mentioned in the law.

States would, drafters of the law assumed, just have to go along and create state exchanges to get the money. It never occurred to liberals that some states would consider stopping the massive flow of taxpayer-funded subsidies (and the employer taxes, 30-hour workweek, and associated penalties that come with them) a good thing. No, every state would jump at the chance to get all that federal money.

Well, almost every state. Eleven Texas Democrats were pretty sure their state would turn down the cash and warned: “In Texas, we know from experience that the dangers to the uninsured from greater State authority...millions of people will be left no better off than before Congress acted.”

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) wrote in April 2010, right after the law passed, that subsidy eligibility required “residing in a state that established an exchange,” but simply assumed: “Under PPACA, state-established ‘American Health Benefit Exchanges’ will have to be established in every state by January 1, 2014.”

There was a perfunctory federal fallback exchange written into the law, but without subsidies it would find few customers. Moreover, Congress hadn’t appropriated a penny for the federal exchange because they assumed it would actually be created.

But something funny happened on the way to those 50 state exchanges.

The American people rose up against Obamacare in one of the biggest landslide elections in history – President Obama’s historic 2010 shellacking. They wanted the law repealed, of course, but obstinate Senate Democrats refused to consider even modest changes. Most states, however, were in no mood to cooperate. Indeed 36 of them ultimately refused to establish exchanges.

But rather than accept the verdict of the American people, the Obama administration turned to the IRS to come to Obamacare’s unlawful rescue. I say unlawful advisedly, because the CRS had issued a legal opinion on the matter: “An IRS interpretation that extended tax credits to those enrolled in federally facilitated exchanges would be contrary to clear congressional intent, receive no Chevron deference, and likely be deemed invalid.”

Yet the IRS, in a May 23, 2012 regulation, did extend subsidies and had the nerve to say: “The statutory language of section 36B and other provisions of the Affordable Care Act support the interpretation that credits are available to taxpayers who obtain coverage through a State Exchange, regional Exchange, subsidiary Exchange, and the Federally-facilitated Exchange.”

That was it. Unexplained. Ignore what the law says because we say so.

Some states still didn’t believe it. At least four – Oklahoma, Alabama, New Hampshire, and Indiana – cited the illegality of the IRS rule as a reason not to establish an exchange. They didn’t want the subsidies the law’s proponents thought all 50 states would be eager to have.

With lawsuits challenging the illegal rule moving through the courts, the Obamacare proponents who had broken their own law to override the lawful right of states to opt out had a problem. They were wrong on the facts and wrong on the law, so they pounded the table. Hard.

Foremost among them was Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist who was paid $400,000 of your tax money to write the Obamacare subsidy provisions and to promote the law – usually without disclosing his conflict of interest. “I know more about this law than any other economist,” Gruber told the New York Times.

He was relentless in attacking the personal integrity of the honest men and women who put together the legal challenges to the IRS rule. He told the ultraliberal Mother Jones magazinein January 2013 that limiting subsidies to state exchanges was a “screwy interpretation.” of the law. “It's nutty. It's stupid,” he said, pounding that table hard. “They're desperate.”

Well, somebody was.

Gruber filed an amicus brief arguing nobody could ever possibly have understood the law to mean what it says:“In Appellants’ conception, the ‘stick’ of having to ‘explain to their voters that they had deprived them of billions of dollars by failing to establish an Exchange’ would so frighten state officials that eventually, every state would create an Exchange and, consequently, uninsured Americans nationwide would become eligible for premium subsidies. That account – for which Appellants provide no evidentiary support – is implausible and indeed irreconcilable with the ACA’s structure and purpose.”And this week, when one court had the temerity to say the law actually is what it plainly says, Gruber was apoplectic. “Literally every single person involved in the crafting of this law has said that it`s a typo, that they had no intention of excluding the federal states,” he said on MSNBC.

And now we know it was all a lie. An elaborate ruse. Another fraud piled on top of all the other Obamacare lies and frauds. Gruber understood exactly what the law said and meant from the beginning. When he was writing it. And now there’s video proof.“What’s important to remember politically about this is if you're a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don't get their tax credits,” Gruber said in an accurate, straightforward explanation of what the law actually says. “I hope that that's a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges.” And then, perhaps hedging that politics might trump the law, he added: “But, you know, once again the politics can get ugly around this.”Shameful. Willful. Disgusting. And it’s likely that many of Gruber’s fellow travelers also knew they were lying when they launched hateful attacks on great Americans like Michael Cannon, Jonathan Adler, and Jacqueline Halbig who simply wanted the law – including the right of states to opt out of subsidies – upheld.

Of course, the lying Obamacare apologists of the left will keep lying, and somehow try to explain away Gruber’s pants-down tape. But no honest person should listen to them.
----------------------
Phil Kerpen American Commitment  and the author of Democracy Denied: How Obama is Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America – and How to Stop Him. Kerpen is also a contributing author for the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Phil Kerpen, American Commitment, Jonathan Gruber, Obamacare, liberal lie, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

AF Branco Sunday Political Cartoons: Leadership In Motion | Israeli Restraint

Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony Branco

Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony Branco

Tags: AF Branco, political cartoons, Sunday, Rick Perry, Borders, Leadership in Motion, Barack Obama, golf, Hamas, Rockets, World News, bias, Israel, restraint To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

To Protect and Create American Jobs, We Need Less Government

Why Isn’t the Economy Getting Back Up?
by Seton Motley, Contributing Author: Who says bipartisanship is dead?

We recently had 57 Senators and 152 House members - (obviously) culled from both Parties - sign letters to Barack Obama Administration Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. In which they expressed concern about inexpensive Korean steel being in mass quantities imported here.

Interestingly, they express this concern within the context of their appreciation of the greatness and import of…fracking. The oil and gas extraction method that is hurtling us towards energy independence - in spite of the Left’s vociferous, irrational opposition. Steel is, of course, a vital component of fracking. This same sentence appears in both letters:The discovery and production of shale gas in the United States is a strategic benefit for both America’s economic and energy security.See - bipartisanship. The environmentalist loons should take a flying leap.

Why is the bipartisan contingent concerned about the cheap Korean steel dumping? American job loss.U.S. steel producers employ 8,000 workers across the country making OCTG. Each of these jobs supports seven additional jobs in the supply chain and the steel produced for the U.S. energy market accounts for approximately ten percent of domestic production.They are diagnosing a real problem - foreign countries dump all kinds of oft-subsidized products here. But they are prescribing the wrong long term solution. To truly fix this - for the world and forever - we need less government. Both here and abroad.

In actual free markets - domestic and global - consumers benefit from the least expensive goods produced by the most efficient companies. But we have nothing remotely resembling free markets - either domestically or globally.

This steel situation is a fabulous example of the high cost of terrible domestic government policy. The damage being done by government to domestic manufacturing and production has been awful and increasing - for decades. As government piled on ever higher taxes and more and more laws and regulations, more and more domestic production became internationally-manufactured imports.

We have the industrialized world’s absolute highest corporate income tax rate. The cost of the regulations we dump on businesses is simply stunning - more than $1.8 trillion per year. And then we wonder why less and less people want to do business here.

If I invite you into my house, and then beat you about the head and shoulders with a bat - I should at least have the decency to not act surprised when you get up and leave.

Korea can make steel - and then ship it half way round the world - and still price it below our domestic production in part because they are abusing trade laws. But also because our domestic price of government is so incredibly huge.

Congress is responsible for the gi-normous tax and regulatory burdens on our businesses. They should get their own House (and Senate) in order.

Cut and reform dramatically the tax code, cut way back the regulatory uber-thicket - and rein in the unelected regulatory agencies that are each and every day piling more and more burdens on business.

Our government is smothering us. It needs to allow us up for air.
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Seton Motley is the President of Less Government and he contributes to ARRA News Service. Please feel free to follow him on  Twitter / Facebook

Tags: Protect Jobs, Create American Jobs, Less Government, Seton Motley To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Should the Government Tell You What to Eat?

Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: Given the successive scandals and monster laws like Obamacare that have been imposed on Americans, the federal government’s efforts to control and determine what you eat doesn't receive the attention that it should. The ultimate question is whether the government should tell you what to eat and then seek to enforce their views about it? The answer is no.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is one of those federal entities that should have no role in determining what is on your plate, but among its recommendations is the promotion of “a plant-based diet, reduced meat consumption, and only eating fish after reading up on which are good for you.” Meanwhile the food police have been warning against the natural element of mercury in fish even though it is so small as to constitute no health threat.

Hanns Kuttner, a senior research fellow at the Hudson Institute, a Washington, D.C. domestic and foreign policy think tank, says that the working premise of the committee is that a “good diet would increase consumer’s costs and imply the end of entire sectors of American agriculture—all in an effort to regulate behavior that has nothing to do with nutrition.” The committee, since 2010, “has not included a member who has any knowledge of food production and food regulation.”

The committee reflects the United Nations global campaign to encourage the consumption of insects. If you love dining on bugs, the UN wants this to be a part of everyone’s diet. According to Eva Muller, the director of Food and Agricultural Organizations Forest Economics, Policy and Products Division, bugs “are nutritious, they have a lot of protein and are considered a delicacy in many countries.”

It should come as no surprise that Michelle Obama is leading the food police at this point. A program of the U.S. Agriculture Department announced new rules in 2013 to remove high caloric food and drink items from cafeterias and campuses of schools around the country. As of this year, sodas, sports drinks, and candy bars are banned. Only diet drinks, granola bars, and fruit are acceptable.

This is Big Government at work, but no one expects that kids will go along, nor are shoppers likely to embrace a U.S. Department of Agriculture report that wants to steer them toward more fruits and vegetables and away from sugar and fat-laden items. The new guide was written for the 47 million Americans who participate in the food stamp program. Yes, 47 million!

Michelle Obama also favors costly--$30,000 each—grocery carts that are color-coded to “help” consumers selected approved food items. This kind of intrusiveness is obnoxious.

Victor Skinner of the Education Action Group noted in early July that “The federal government’s attempt to force public school students to eat ‘healthier’ lunches is falling apart at the seams.” The New York Times News Service reported that the School Nutrition Association (SNA) which initially welcomed the bans is now lobbying Congress to dial back on the “overly prescriptive” and expensive changes.

“Congress is listening,” reported the Times, “and is considering legislation to delay the nutrition regulations for a year, some of which have already gone into effect.” The SNA is pointing out that many students are throwing away the additional fruits and vegetables included in their lunches, amounting to $684 million in food waste every year—or roughly “enough to serve complete reimbursable school lunches to more than 228 million students.” Moreover, the “nutritious” federal lunch menu is also proving costly for many school districts that are now forced to purchase more expensive foods to comply with the regulations.

We have reached the point where some schools are banning birthday cakes or cupcakes in classrooms where such celebrations have gone on for decades. Meanwhile many parents have noticed that their children just skip lunch at school and wait to come home to eat instead.

For as long as I can remember Americans have been told that something they eat or drink is dangerous to their health, even though Americans now enjoy the highest life expectancy since such data has been studied. Almost everything we have been warned against has turned out to have some beneficial aspect to it.

In March, the journal, Annals of Internal Medicine published a study that concluded that “Saturated fat does not cause heart disease.” Nina Teicholz, writing in the Wall Street Journal in May noted that “One consequence is that in cutting back on fats, we are now eating a lot more carbohydrates—at least 25% more since the early 1970s…instead of meat, eggs and cheese, we’re eating more pasta, grains, fruit and starchy vegetables such as potatoes.”

“The problem is that carbohydrates break down into glucose, which causes the body to release insulin, a hormone that is fantastically efficient at storing fat…excessive carbohydrates lead not only to obesity, but also, over time, to Type 2 diabetes and, very likely, heart disease.” Thanks to Big Government dietary guidelines and regulations, “the U.S. population (is) growing sicker and fatter while adhering to official dietary guidelines has put nutrition authorities in an awkward position.”

The latest group to join the Food Police are those opposed to food grown with genetically modified organisms (GMO), calling for the labeling of them. This is intended to boost the sales of “organically” grown crops that allegedly do not use pesticides or herbicides. It is pure propaganda because, as Mishcha Popoff, a former organic farmer and USDA-contract organic inspector, and the author of “Is It Organic?” recently noted in a Daily Caller article that “A whopping 43% of all certified-organic food sold in America now test positive for prohibited pesticides.” And, of course, “organic” food items cost more.

Simply put, crops need to be protected against insects and weeds. Always have and always will. There is no evidence that the proper use of insecticides and herbicides pose a health hazard. As one farmer told me, “My family eats what I grow. Do you think I would do anything to harm them?” Popoff notes that “The GMO industry is now well-established, with 35 years of science and over 20 years of commercial success behind it.”

The government has no business telling Americans what they should eat. It too frequently offers bad science and almost always propaganda. In the home of the brave and land of the free this is yet another intrusion in the lives of Americans. What you eat and even how much is an individual freedom and choice.
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Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, Warning Signs. He is a contribution author on the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Government, new rules, what you can eat, Department of Agriculture, 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!

Property Rights at Stake in EPA’s Water Power Grab

The American Farm Bureau Federation launched a national
 campaign to inform people why the Clean Water Act should be
 ‘ditched.’ (Photo: American Farm Bureau Fed. Facebook)
by Daren Bakst, Heritage Foundation: Thanks to the federal government, it soon may become far more difficult to use and enjoy private property. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers want to make a water—and land—grab that should scare everyone.

Under the Clean Water Act, the federal government has jurisdiction over “navigable waters,” which the statute further defines as “the waters of the United States, including the territorial seas.” Property owners often need to get permits if waters covered under the law will be impacted. Therefore, a critical question is what types of “waters” are covered under the CWA. That’s what the EPA and Corps seek to address with a new proposed rule that would define “the waters of the United States.” As expected, the EPA and the Corps are seeking to expand their authority to cover waters never imagined when the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972.

For example, the new proposed rule would regulate all ditches, except in narrow circumstances. This even includes man-made ditches. The rule would apply to tributaries that have ephemeral flow. This would include depressions in land that are dry most of the year except when there’s heavy rain.

There’s widespread opposition to the proposed rule. Farmers and ranchers are concerned that the rule could affect normal agricultural practices. Homebuilders could face additional development costs that would likely be passed on to buyers. Counties are concerned because of costly new requirements that could impact municipal storm sewer systems, roadside ditches, among other things.

This broad overreach could have significant costs and delays for permit applicants. In Rapanos v. United States (2006), a major CWA case, Justice Antonin Scalia cited a study highlighting the following costs and delays for one of the major types of permits (Section 404 permits), “The average applicant for an individual permit spends 788 days and $271,596 in completing the process, and the average applicant for a nationwide permit spends 313 days and $28,915—not counting costs of mitigation or design changes.”

If the EPA and Corps expand their authority over more waters, property owners will have to secure additional permits. They will have to get permission from federal bureaucrats to enjoy and use their property because of waters that were never intended to be regulated under the CWA. If property owners don’t comply with the law, they could face civil penalties as high as $37,500 per day per violation, or even criminal penalties.

In their craving for more power, the EPA and Corps are ignoring a critical aspect of the CWA: cooperative federalism. Both the states and federal government are supposed to play a role in implementation of the law. Yet, this power grab is an attempt by the federal government to push out state and local governments.
Wisconsin farmers fight against the Environmental Protection Agency’s and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ ‘waters of the U.S.’ proposed rule. (Photo: Am. Farm Bureau Fed. via Facebook)
At the start of the CWA it states, “It is the policy of the Congress to recognize, preserve, and protect the primary responsibilities and rights of States to prevent, reduce, and eliminate pollution, to plan the development and use (including restoration, preservation, and enhancement) of land and water resources…” The EPA and Corps are pretending that this important policy doesn’t exist.

The EPA also had to ignore sound science and proper rulemaking to move forward with its power play. The agency developed a draft report entitled Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence. A Scientific Advisory Board was convened to peer review the study, which when finalized would provide the scientific foundation for implementation of the rule.

However, the EPA finalized the proposed rule before the Scientific Advisory Board even met. The EPA defends this action by claiming that the final study will still help inform the final rule. But this is putting the cart before the horse (or the rule before the science). The scientific foundation should inform the proposed rule so that the public can provide informed comments and have a meaningful voice in the process.

The public may be commenting on a proposed rule that seems to be a mere placeholder rather than a real policy proposal, or more likely, a proposal that already reflects the final conclusions of the EPA. The EPA has a strong incentive to avoid making major changes to the draft scientific report and, as a result, the final rule. If major changes are made, the EPA might be forced by law to restart the rulemaking process over.

Congress is taking notice. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed a bill (H.R. 5078) that would prohibit implementation of the proposed rule, and legislation (S. 2496) has been introduced in the Senate to prohibit implementation as well. In addition, the FY 2015 House Interior and Environment appropriations bill that passed out of the appropriations committee includes a provision that withholds funds for implementation of the rule.

Ultimately though, it is the responsibility of Congress to define the term “navigable waters” instead of deferring to the EPA and the Corps. History shows these agencies will continue to seek to expand their authority. As with other laws, Congress needs to reassert its authority and rein in agency overreach. Private property rights are at stake.
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Daren Bakst studies and writes about agriculture subsidies, property rights, environmental policy, food labeling and related issues as The Heritage Foundation’s research fellow in agricultural policy. He tweets at @darenbakst

Tags: property rights, at stake, EPE Water Grab, Ditch the Rule, Daren Bakst, 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!


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  • 4/20/14 - 4/27/14
  • 4/27/14 - 5/4/14
  • 5/4/14 - 5/11/14
  • 5/11/14 - 5/18/14
  • 5/18/14 - 5/25/14
  • 5/25/14 - 6/1/14
  • 6/1/14 - 6/8/14
  • 6/8/14 - 6/15/14
  • 6/15/14 - 6/22/14
  • 6/22/14 - 6/29/14
  • 6/29/14 - 7/6/14
  • 7/6/14 - 7/13/14
  • 7/13/14 - 7/20/14
  • 7/20/14 - 7/27/14
  • 7/27/14 - 8/3/14