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News for social, fiscal & national security conservatives who believe in God, family & the USA. Upholding the rights granted by God & guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, traditional family values, "republican" principles / ideals, transparent & limited government, free markets, liberty & individual freedom. All content approval rests with the ARRA News Service Editor. Opinions are those of the authors. While varied positions are reported, beliefs & principles remain fixed. No revenue is generated for this site - no paid ads accepted - no payments for articles. Fair Use doctrine is posted & used.
Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru] - editor@arranewsservice.com (Pub. Since July, 2006)
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Friday, July 24, 2009

Obama Poll Numbers Still Falling

According to the daily Rasmussen tracking poll, Barack Obama’s approval ratings are continuing to spiral downward. Thirty-eight percent of the American people strongly disapprove of the job President Obama is doing, while 30% strongly approve. This ties his previous low of -8 on the Rasmussen Presidential Approval Index (the difference between those who strongly approve and strongly disapprove of his job performance). What’s even more interesting about these results is Obama’s total approval rating. Now, just 49% somewhat approve of the president’s performance, while 51% disapprove. This is the first time his overall approval has dipped below 50%. These numbers are averaged based on three days of polling. Two of these days were done before Obama’s national press conference Wednesday night

In a hypothetical 2012 matchup, Barack Obama leads Alaska Governor Sarah Palin but only narrowly at 48%-to-42%. Meanwhile, the president is tied with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at 45% each.

Republicans Take Four-Point Lead on Generic Ballot: In Rasmussen’s weekly question on control of Congress for 2010, Republicans now lead Democrats by 42%-to-38% -- the highest level of support Rasmussen has measured for the GOP in more than two years.

Tags: Barack Obama, congress, Mitt Romney, polling, polls, Rasmussen Poll, Rasmussen Reports, Sarah Palin To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Back on Uncle Sam's Plantation

Bill Smith, ARRA Editor: Let me lead off by saying that I have admired Star Parker's writings for years and hopefully you have previously read her work. Five months ago, Parker wrote the following article which I thought might be too antagonistic to a new president. But everything that Parker said then is even more relevant today so it is time to dust off her article. Before someone posts a comment and alleges this article is inflammatory and racist, stop! Star Parker is a black American. In this article, Parker clearly shares part of her life story, which is one of the mantras of the democrats used in supporting Judge Sonia Sotomayor nomination for appointment to the Supreme Court. In fact, I would be pleased to see Star Parker with her conservative common sense on the Supreme Court. How about Star Parker for Congress?

by Star Parker: Six years ago I wrote a book called "Uncle Sam's Plantation." I wrote the book to tell my own story of what I saw living inside the welfare state and my own transformation out of it. I said in that book that indeed there are two Americas. A poor America on socialism and a wealthy America on capitalism.

I talked about government programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS), Emergency Assistance to Needy Families with Children (EANF), Section 8 Housing, and Food Stamps. A vast sea of perhaps well intentioned government programs, all initially set into motion in the 1960's, that were going to lift the nation's poor out of poverty.

A benevolent Uncle Sam welcomed mostly poor black Americans onto the government plantation. Those who accepted the invitation switched mindsets from "How do I take care of myself?" to "What do I have to do to stay on the plantation?" Instead of solving economic problems, government welfare socialism created monstrous moral and spiritual problems. The kind of problems that are inevitable when individuals turn responsibility for their lives over to others.

The legacy of American socialism is our blighted inner cities, dysfunctional inner city schools, and broken black families. Through God's grace, I found my way out. It was then that I understood what freedom meant and how great this country is.

I had the privilege of working on welfare reform in 1996, passed by a Republican congress and signed into law by a Democrat president. A few years after enactment, welfare roles were down fifty percent. I thought we were on the road to moving socialism out of our poor black communities and replacing it with wealth producing American capitalism. But, incredibly, we are going in the opposite direction.

Instead of poor America on socialism becoming more like rich American on capitalism, rich America on capitalism is becoming like poor America on socialism. Uncle Sam has welcomed our banks onto the plantation and they have said, "Thank you, Suh." Now, instead of thinking about what creative things need to be done to serve customers, they are thinking about what they have to tell Massah in order to get their cash.

There is some kind of irony that this is all happening under our first black president on the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. Worse, socialism seems to be the element of our new young president. And maybe even more troubling, our corporate executives seem happy to move onto the plantation.

In an op-ed on the opinion page of the Washington Post, Mr. Obama is clear that the goal of his trillion dollar spending plan is much more than short term economic stimulus. "This plan is more than a prescription for short-term spending-it's a strategy for America's long-term growth and opportunity in areas such as renewable energy, health care, and education."

Perhaps more incredibly, Obama seems to think that government taking over an economy is a new idea. Or that massive growth in government can take place "with unprecedented transparency and accountability." Yes, sir, we heard it from Jimmy Carter when he created the Department of Energy, the Synfuels Corporation, and the Department of Education.

Or how about the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 -- The War on Poverty -- which President Johnson said "...does not merely expand old programs or improve what is already being done. It charts a new course. It strikes at the causes, not just the consequences of poverty." Trillions of dollars later, black poverty is the same. But black families are not, with triple the incidence of single parent homes and out of wedlock births.

It's not complicated. Americans can accept Barack Obama's invitation to move onto the plantation. Or they can choose personal responsibility and freedom. Does anyone really need to think about what the choice should be?
Tags: government, plantation, plantation mentality, plantation politics, socialism, Star Parker, Townhall To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

America the Mean: President Obama's Science 'Czar'

by Tony Perkins, FRC Washington Update: By one recent count, President Obama has now appointed 34 "czars" to manage a host of projects. One of the most troubling of these is the new White House science czar, Dr. John Holdren. In 1977, Holdren teamed with the long-discredited "population bomb" scientist Paul Ehrlich to write a book titled, Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment. Here are some choice quotes from this landmark work:

"Compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society ... It would even be possible to require pregnant single women to marry or have abortions, perhaps as an alternative to placement for adoption, depending on the society ... Adding a sterilant (a drug that would produce infertility) to drinking water or staple foods is a suggestion that seems to horrify people more than most proposals for involuntary fertility control."

And in case anyone thinks Holdren now regrets these statements, consider his comment earlier this year in an exchange with U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) in public testimony: "Population growth brings some benefits and some liabilities; it's a tough question to determine which will prevail in a given time period." "Liabilities?" Of what kind, Dr. Holdren -- and would such liabilities ever justify the kinds of things (coerced abortions, sterilants in the water supply) you advocated in past years? Holdren has even called the United States "the meanest" of industrialized nations. Really? No people are more generous than the American people -- study after study demonstrates how ordinary citizens have sacrificially helped the impoverished and war-torn of other nations. Dr. Holdren is now working in the White House shaping national policy. Find out how you can express your concern to the Obama Administration over this radical appointment.
Tags: Czar, czars, FRC, John Holdren, population control, science, Tony Perkins, Washington Update To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Democrat's Obamacare Plan: Save Costs -- Euthanize the Elderly

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE - From Erick Erickson: A RedState source sat behind a top aide to Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and heard the aide admit that "the increase in Hospice care which will solve the prolonging of life issue." As you know, Democrats have been open about their desire to push seniors toward euthanasia as a cost savings option. In fact, the Democrats already have in the legislation a provision requiring senior citizens to receive instructions every five years on dying with dignity.

Full update on the latest revelations below:
It's always great to hear liberals speak when they think no one is listening.

Rep. Paul Tonko is a freshman Democrat from Albany, NY. He's a typical non-descript eastern machine politician who's a robot for Obama and Pelosi and doesn't have too many original thoughts. Earlier this week one of his top aides was flying to Washington from the district. She was accompanied by what appeared to be a special interest Washington DC lobbyist, who probably came to Albany to attend some type of big money golf, gambling, and cigars fundraiser for Tonko.

Anyway, unbeknownst to them, a hero of the conservative movement sat quietly behind them. It was impossible to avoid listening to their boisterous conversation, and Tonko's aide didn't disappoint. Naturally, most of the banter dealt with the health care bill, and here are a few of the gems:
The two were talking about whether Tonko would even be given time to read the bill. She told the lobbyist, "well he pays me to read it for him".

"[The] costliest part [of the Obama healthcare bill] will be the physician's rate cut," she said. Lots of political capital is going to be spent to get that through.

And, for the crowning glory, the aide feels that "probably the best part of the bill is the increase in Hospice care which will solve the prolonging of life issue."
This seems to prove the argument that the Obama bureaucrats will eventually decide who lives and who dies. Isn't "hope and change" wonderful?
by Erick Erickson: Let’s back up for a minute. I noted some time ago Jay Rockefeller went on record to say that at some point the government has to decide whether or not you are allowed to receive any more medical benefits if the cost outweighs the potential benefits.

As Mickey Kaus has noted, both Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias are on record agreeing. Kaus writes:
Democratic blogger Ezra Klein appears to be positioning Dem health care reforms as a way to cut costs, on the grounds that a reformed system will be able to make “hard choices” and “rational” coverage decisions, by which Klein seems to mean “not providing” treatments that are unproven or too expensive–when “a person’s life, or health, is not worth the price.” Matthew Yglesias’ recent post seems to be saying the same thing, though clarity isn’t its strong suit.
Weirdo cum intellectual Peter Singer, a man who favors post-birth abortions of disabled children, took to the New York Times to write
You have advanced kidney cancer. It will kill you, probably in the next year or two. A drug called Sutent slows the spread of the cancer and may give you an extra six months, but at a cost of $54,000. Is a few more months worth that much?

If you can afford it, you probably would pay that much, or more, to live longer, even if your quality of life wasn’t going to be good. But suppose it’s not you with the cancer but a stranger covered by your health-insurance fund. If the insurer provides this man - and everyone else like him - with Sutent, your premiums will increase. Do you still think the drug is a good value? Suppose the treatment cost a million dollars. Would it be worth it then? Ten million? Is there any limit to how much you would want your insurer to pay for a drug that adds six months to someone’s life? If there is any point at which you say, “No, an extra six months isn’t worth that much,” then you think that health care should be rationed.

In his article, he argues that, in effect, we should euthanize the elderly.

I think, given that the member of Congress who drafted H.R. 3200 read and take seriously people like Klien, Yglesias, and Singer, we should be very troubled by Section 1233 of H.R. 3200. The section, titled “Advanced Care Planning Consultation” requires senior citizens to meet at least every 5 years with a doctor or nurse practitioner to discuss dying with dignity.

The section requires that they talk to their doctor, not a lawyer, about living wills, durable healthcare powers of attorney, hospice, etc. Given the progressive intelligentsia already being on the record in favor of euthanizing the elderly, it is no small leap to see where the Democrats are headed with this.

Legally forcing senior citizens to have “death with dignity schedules every few years is just another way to say the government wants to make sure seniors know it is time to commit suicide to save the system money. And saving any medical system through encouraged deaths of the elderly or unborn is not a medical system worth having. The Hippocratic Oath requires doctors to “do no harm.” That’s meant toward the patient, not the costs to the government. Ref: H.R.America's Affordable Choices Act of 2009

Tags: Barack Obama, elderly, euthanasia, health care, Obamacare, RedState To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Today in Washington D. C. - July 24, 2009 - The Caboose is Pulling the Train

Last night, the Senate voted 87-7 to pass the fiscal 2010 Defense authorization bill, S. 1390. The bill would authorize $679.8 billion in military funding. The bill will now face a conference with the House bill (H.R. 2647) that is likely to center around the Senate’s controversial hate crimes amendment and the F-22 and F-35 programs. The House bill continues funds for the F-22 and an alternative engine for the F-35, while the Senate’s does not. Yesterday the Senate passed by unanimous consent a joint resolution to extend trade sanctions against Burma, H. J. Res. 56. The bill was sponsored by Sen, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

In his column today, Charles Krauthammer gets at the key issue facing President Obama and Democrats’ push for a massive government intervention in health care. Krauthammer writes, “What happened to Obamacare? Rhetoric met reality. As both candidate and president, the master rhetorician could conjure a world in which he bestows upon you health-care nirvana: more coverage, less cost. But you can't fake it in legislation. Once you commit your fantasies to words and numbers, the Congressional Budget Office comes along and declares that the emperor has no clothes.”

And it’s precisely the realities of health care legislation, especially the costs, that have Americans concerned and skeptical. The New York Times interviewed several people for their reactions to President Obama’s press conference and claims about health care this week and found broad skepticism. “An affluent small-business owner from near Chicago, a middle-class manager from Denver, and an uninsured worker from Cleveland each expressed skepticism that change would improve their lots.” It was the same with the main interviewee, a middle-class father of four from the Atlanta suburbs who immigrated to America some years ago. He told The Times, “I know the [health care] system is not perfect, but I’m not completely convinced it’s broken. . . . And even if it’s broken, I’m not sure the government is the solution.”

The NYT further reports, “Although she may well benefit from Mr. Obama’s plan to subsidize health insurance for the working poor, Rowena Ventura, the uninsured worker from Cleveland, wondered whether she could afford it. ‘I’m worried because they’re talking about forcing people to buy insurance,’ said Ms. Ventura, a registered Democrat and part-time health care worker. ‘You just can’t ask any more of me. You just can’t.’” And an Obama voter from Denver said, “My only concern is that this comes on the heels of the stimulus package. . . . Where is this money supposed to be coming from? I’m not sure if this is the best time to fix another enormous problem.” The NYT story continues, “‘I think the press conference was more convincing people of his motives than it was to actually explain the program . . . I expected it to be more.’”

Politico reports today that “Obama suggested the debate was discouraging to him. He took a shot at the media for ‘a lack of sustained focus on the facts,’ saying it ‘makes it very difficult.’” Yet it is precisely the facts, as Krauthammer says, that are making things so difficult in Congress: “These blindingly obvious contradictions are why the Democratic health plans are collapsing under their own weight -- at the hands of Democrats.” Indeed, Politico writes, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision Thursday not to seek a Senate vote on health reform before the recess means the House most likely won’t act either — putting the votes off until September.” The Politico story also notes that White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was unable to break an impasse between House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and seven blue Dog Democrats on his committee. In the Senate, Democrats on the Finance Committee took shots at chairman Max Baucus’ (D-MT) negotiations with Republicans. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said, “I’m not allowed into the meetings, the real meetings they have, what they call the coalition of the willing. It is a really, really bad way to try and develop support and ideas.”

As Washington closes in on Congress’ August recess, Politico notes, “Democrats will head home without a single plan to promote, complicating efforts to counter a suddenly more cohesive Republican opposition built around the plan’s trillion-dollar price tag.” Mark Merritt, president of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, summed up the challenge for Politico, saying, “The caboose is pulling the train. The message can’t pull the policy. It’s awfully hard to rally public support around policy that doesn’t exist yet. . . . What people have heard are the aspirations of health reform, and what they haven’t heard is what health reform is really going to look like and who’s going to pay for it.”

Tags: Charles Krauthammer, Defense appropriations, healthcare, US Congress, US House, US Senate, Washington D.C. To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Homegrown Jihadists in the United States

by Kerby Anderson, Point of View: We know that jihadists are grown and cultivated overseas, but do we have homegrown jihadists in America? The evidence is that we do.

A controversial film shows that not only do we have a problem with homegrown jihadists, but we also have a problem with U.S. training camps for jihadists. Earlier this year, the Christian Action Network premiered Homegrown Jihad: Terrorist Camps Around the U.S. in Washington, D.C. Recently I interviewed one of the researchers for the film and got a first hand account of the filming of these camps. The documentary shows clips from a secret “Soldiers of Allah” videotape. On the tape Sheikh Mubarak Gilani instructs followers on how to hijack cars, set off explosives, murder guards, and use various terrorism tactics. The documentary also travels around the country to some of the nearly three dozen Muslim compounds established under the name “Muslims of America.”

CBS News ran an article attacking the documentary even though they had only seen the trailer of the movie on YouTube. They labeled it sensationalistic and declared that the Muslims identified in the film were merely “wannabes and not terrorists.” Frank Gaffney (with the Center for Security Policy and frequent guest on my radio program) disagrees. He believes that the film “connects the dots” and shows how and where potential jihadists threats might come. He noted that Sheikh Gilani has been regarded for many years as an international terrorist. The training video he made for his followers is replete with instructions on how to kill using knives, handguns, sniper rifles, automatic weapons and explosives.

The Homegrown Jihad documentary closes with a list of crimes committed by the group featured in the film. These range from fraud to fire-bombing to murder to acts of deadly terrorism. This film is a reminder that while we fight a war on terrorism abroad, we also need to pay attention to what is happening at home. I’m Kerby Anderson, and that’s my point of view.
---------------
Trailer for the Movie:
"Homegrown Jihad: The Terrorist Camps
Around the U.S."


Interview on Hannity addressing
Homegrown Jihad: Terrorist Camps
Around The U.S.


Tags: homegrown jihadists, homegrown terrorists, Islamic terrorist, Jihadist, Kerby Anderson, Point of View, United States, video To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Beware of the Blue Dogs

By William Warren:

Let see: The Blue Dog / Lap Dog Coalition formerly controlled by Nancy Pelosi is being reigned in by none other than President Barack Hussein Obama. Below is a list of the alleged Blue Dogs:
Blue Dog Leadership Team
Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Administration {-- Admin Lost in Congress]
Rep. Baron Hill (IN-09), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Policy {-- Must we do as commanded to do?]
Rep. Charlie Melancon (LA-03), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications {-- Yes Sir - maybe right away]
Rep. Heath Shuler (NC-11), Blue Dog Whip {- - Funny, the "Whip" is really NP or BHO]

Blue Dog Members [Marked in blue are those who seem "at times" to be "True Blue" by exhibiting fiscal conservative or national defense values that represent their constituents verses the Democrat liberal/progressive/socialist leadership. If your Dog should be marked in blue, leave a comment "who & why." But then ask yourself, why do I have to settle for a "blue dog" to represent me?]
Altmire, Jason (PA-04)
Arcuri, Mike (NY-24)
Baca, Joe (CA-43)
Barrow, John (GA-12)
Berry, Marion (AR-01)
Bishop, Sanford (GA-02)
Boren, Dan (OK-02)
Boswell, Leonard (IA-03)
Boyd, Allen (FL-02)
Bright, Bobby (AL-02)
Cardoza, Dennis (CA-18)
Carney, Christopher (PA-10)
Chandler, Ben (KY-06)
Childers, Travis (MS-01)
Cooper, Jim (TN-05)
Costa, Jim (CA-20)
Cuellar, Henry (TX-28)

Dahlkemper, Kathy (PA-03)
Davis, Lincoln (TN-04)
Donnelly, Joe (IN-02)
Ellsworth, Brad (IN-08)
Giffords, Gabrielle (AZ-08)
Gordon, Bart (TN-06)
Griffith, Parker (AL-05)
Harman, Jane (CA-36)
Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie (SD)
Hill, Baron (IN-09)
Holden, Tim (PA-17)
Kratovil, Jr., Frank (MD-01)
McIntyre, Mike (NC-07)
Marshall, Jim (GA-03)
Matheson, Jim (UT-02)
Melancon, Charlie (LA-03)
Michaud, Mike (ME-02)
Minnick, Walt (ID-01)

Mitchell, Harry (AZ-05)
Moore, Dennis (KS-03)
Murphy, Patrick (PA-08)
Nye, Glenn (VA-02)
Peterson, Collin (MN-07)
Pomeroy, Earl (ND)
Ross, Mike (AR-04)
Salazar, John (CO-03)
Sanchez, Loretta (CA-47)
Schiff, Adam (CA-29)
Scott, David (GA-13)
Shuler, Heath (NC-11)
Space, Zack (OH-18)
Tanner, John (TN-08)
Taylor, Gene (MS-04)
Thompson, Mike (CA-01)
Wilson, Charles (OH-06)

Tags: Barack Obama, Barack Hussein Obama, Blue Dogs, Democrats, Lap Dogs, political cartoon, William Warren To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Arkansas GOP launches Health Care Action Center

by John Allison III: Finally! It looks like the Arkansas Republican Party has decided to use its new website for more than a fancy newsletter. Yesterday the state party announced its Health Care Action Center which places weapons in the hands of voters to war against Democratic attempts to impose a government run health care system on the American people.

You'll find phone numbers to every Congressmen's and both Senators' offices along with pdf files containing suggested scripts for phone calls. Another pdf file on that page lists "Health Care Talking Points" to combat the non-stop rhetoric spewed from the White House and their Democratic allies.

Another page linked to the Action Center is a file containing 5 sample letters to the editor. You can take one of these word for word, use it as a starting point to write your own, write some combination of the 5, or start from scratch, but please take the time to communicate your desire to stop the government takeover of our health care system to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in a letter to the editor today.

You can also find email links to every member of Arkansas' congressional delegation in the Action Center. We need to overload their email systems and make them understand we don't want a government run health care system. The party has included a link to suggested text to include in your emails, tailored to each Representative and Senator. (I just spoke with Congressman Ross' office in Pine Bluff and was told there is no truth to the internet rumors that Ross has sold out to the Obama administration.)

The President and his Socialist allies are pushing this power grab hard. Obama was rumored to have told one Democratic Senator who opposes Obamacare, "You're going to ruin my presidency." Look for full-scale Chicago style politics on Pennsylvania Avenue over the next few weeks. To combat the sure to come mob style strong arm tactics they'll employ, we need everyone to do their part. Make Arkansas Democrats afraid to sell out to Socialism by letting them know they'll be out of a job in 2010 if they do!

Tags: Arkansas, Arkansas Republican Party, Blanche Lincoln, health care, John Allison III, John Boozman, Marion Berry, Mark Pryor, Mike Ross, Obamacare, RPA, Vic Snyder To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

"Fast Track" Union Devil Child of "Card Check"

The union and the Obama administration has come up with a compromise to unionize America. A union can come into YOUR small business and force a vote within 5-10 days from getting a petition with only 30% of workers agreed and you cannot kick them out! Glenn Beck discusses Fast Track with Tim Phillips, President of Americans For Prosperity. Watch out for Fast Track. Politicians who are in bed with the Unions will try to push this through. Beware of "Fast Track!


Tags: Card Check, labor unions, small business, unions To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Today in Washington D. C. - July 23, 2009 - President Obama OverExposed!

The Senate resumed consideration and may vote on the final passage of the fiscal 2010 Defense authorization bill, S. 1390 to authorize $679.8 billion in military funding. First, the Senate will consider an amendment from Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) which would prohibit funds from being used on strategic nuclear arms reductions if those reductions are conditioned on missile defense limits. Democrat amendment on the same subject is expected. Also under consideration is an amendment from Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to eliminate funds for alternative F-35 engines and to add money for helicopters. Other amendments are expected to be considered throughout the day.

Yesterday, an amendment from Sen. John Thune (R-SD) on concealed carry reciprocity failed to move forward by a vote of 58-39. The amendment would have allowed individuals with concealed carry permits from their home state to carry a concealed firearm in other states that allow that. The Senate rejected an amendment from Sen. Sam Brownback to express the sense of the Senate that North Korea should be listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. Senators instead approved an amendment from Sen. John Kerry to require a report from the president on whether North Korea meets the criteria to be listed as a terror sponsor.

President Obama held yet another primetime press conference last night, focused mostly on his plans for health care reform, where he once again offered few specifics and made guarantees about coverage and costs that seemed to be based simply on his word. But what really stood out in this press conference was the need for multiple fact checks on Obama's claims about health care, the deficit, and Republicans.

In its fact-checking piece, the first statement from Obama that the AP flagged was his assertion that his health care reform "will keep government out of health care decisions, giving you the option to keep your insurance if you're happy with it." Yet, the AP writes, "In House legislation, a commission appointed by the government would determine what is and isn't covered by insurance plans offered in a new purchasing pool, including a plan sponsored by the government. The bill also holds out the possibility that, over time, those standards could be imposed on all private insurance plans, not just the ones in the pool." Obama's claims about allowing Americans to keep their private insurance under his plan have previously been debunked. Back in June, the AP pointed out that "no president could guarantee such a pledge" and independent studies conclude that millions would lose their private insurers if government-run insurance plan were implemented, often because employers would be encouraged to drop coverage.

The New York Times also apparently could not ignore the need to fact-check Obama's press conference. The Times notes, "Mr. Obama said doctors, nurses, hospitals, drug companies and AARP had supported efforts to overhaul health care." But, "While it is true the American Medical Association has endorsed a bill drafted by House Democratic leaders, half-dozen state medical societies have sharply criticized provisions that would establish a new government-run health insurance plan." Further, The Times reports, the American Hospital Association is urging executives to oppose the creation of an efficiency group to control prices.

Another assurance Obama made was that "health insurance reform will not add to our deficit over the next decade," but, according to the AP, "White House Budget Director Peter Orszag told reporters this week that the promise does not apply to proposed spending of about $245 billion over the next decade to increase fees for doctors serving Medicare patients." The AP piece goes on, "Beyond that, budget experts have warned about various accounting gimmicks that can mask true burdens on the deficit."

In addition to his claims about health reform and the deficit, Obama repeatedly insisted that he had inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit and said that because of his budget's changes, the deficit over the next decade will be "$2.2 trillion less than it would have been if we had the same policies in place when we came in." But The American Spectator's Philip Klein points out that, according to the CBO, "the deficit is actually $4.9 trillion more than it otherwise would have been" if previous law had been left in place. The New York Times also took issue with Obama's claims of budget savings, writing, "In fact, $1.5 trillion of those 'savings' are mainly based on an assumption that the United States would have had as many troops in Iraq in 10 years as it did when Mr. Obama took office. . . . So Mr. Obama is claiming credit for not spending money that, under the policy he inherited from Mr. Bush, would never have been spent in the first place."

Finally, President Obama made claims about Republicans' role in the health care debate that simply don't' stand up to scrutiny. Regarding the difficulties in Congress on his health care plans, Obama said, "You haven't seen me out there blaming the Republicans." But, "Obama did so in his opening statement," the AP points out. Not only that, The Hill ran an article yesterday entitled, "Obama blames GOP for stalled health bills." On another claim about Republicans, the NYT writes, "In seeking to portray health legislation as bipartisan, Mr. Obama said that 160 Republican amendments were adopted in a bill approved last week by the Senate health committee." But Philip Klein checked with Republicans on the committee, who told him that those were all amendments correcting technical errors in the bill. In fact, as Sen. Mike Enzi, ranking Republican on the HELP Committee, pointed out, only 2 of 45 substantive GOP amendments were accepted by the committee.

Roll Call reports some of the actions going on behind closed doors [excerpts from subscription]:
Senate Democrats are increasingly frustrated by the . . . Finance Chairman Max Baucus’ (D-MT) bipartisan talks on health care reform, with some saying it could undermine Democratic support for the bill. . . . "At some point, [Baucus is] going to have to worry about getting Democratic votes,” said one Democratic Senator, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “If they think that we’ll take whatever it is that comes out because we want to get something passed, they’re wrong."

. . . Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), who sits on Finance, similarly acknowledged that the briefings for committee members during the current health care talks have not been very detailed. However, she said she is not bothered by it, because she understands the need for some secrecy. “It’s tough to move the ball down the field in [Finance Democrat] meetings,” she said. Baucus “is trying the best way he can to move the ball down the field. . . . I’ve been weighing in on the things I’m most concerned about.”

. . . However, the level of consultation with Democrats stands in contrast with how Republican negotiators are briefing their Members. Senators said Enzi, who is the ranking member on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, briefs leaders every day on the talks. And all three of the GOP negotiators have agreed to brief the entire GOP Conference before they sign on to any deal with Baucus. But Democrats said Baucus is unlikely to run any deal by his caucus before he shakes hands on an agreement with Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) warned Baucus two weeks ago that he risked alienating Democrats . . . Reid told Baucus to . . . stop entertaining policy solutions — such as taxing health insurance benefits — that were opposed by a majority of the Democratic caucus. Reid also strongly urged Baucus to focus on creating a government-run, public health insurance plan, rather than the nonprofit health insurance cooperative . . ."
Mr. Obama, it is your own party members and the public that are waking-up from your empty promises. You may have lived on the Government dole for most of your life. We're not complaining about that. But, most Americans have paid - and paid - and paid and don't trust the government. And, now Mr. President, you speak for the Government -- you represent the bureaucracy that takes our money, limits our freedoms and choices, sends our children to Afghanistan, and interferes with our lives.

Mr. President, you might want to rethink some of your talking points on health care and get the facts straight given that the press is beginning to report the facts verses the "thrills running up their legs." Americans like their "rock stars, race car drivers, and athletes." But, we expect our Presidents to be common citizens who do not "gad fly" about the globe, apologize to everyone about America, and try to "hog center stage" at every opportunity. Fire your PR person -- you are overexposed -- or maybe you are now exposed!

Tags: Barack Obama, empty promises, exposed, health care, US Congress, US House, US Senate, Washington D.C. To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Americans Afraid of Government Run Health Care

Bill Smith, ARRA Editor: If the media was reporting the truth - it would have the following headline: "Americans Afraid of Government Health Care." With the rising outcry by the public, even Democrats are now concerned with the number of their constituents saying hold it -- we can't afford any more debt and why should we trust the government to interfere with and or run private health care. President Obama, Sen. Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi wished to push through national health care quickly. Now they are concerned the delay will allow the truth to be shared.

One major truth is that the majority of Americans fear the government running anything including their private health care. However, many individuals felt alone in their feeling that things were amiss -- after all President Obama continues to hold press conferences demanding that they cooperate and that health care must be changed right now! This same pattern has been previously used with respect to global warming (cap-in-trade), the failed stimulus, and bailing out the banks and auto industry. Everything had to be done quickly without even elected congressional representatives and Senators reading the bills. Unfortunately, Reid and Pelosi are denying almost 40% of the U.S. Senators and 41% of Representatives input to the legislative process other than voting.

However, with the delay in passage of health care, groups representing the viewpoints of the majority of Americans are getting the word out in spite of the delay in the truth by government influenced media. As an example, consider the CATO Institute which will be releasing an advertising campaign to highlight the under-reported poll data by the media which has really shown that majority of Americans are concerned that current health care reform plans will raise costs, limit choice and reduce the quality of their health care.

Health care reform is needed. However, reforms that increase the role of government and an already massive federal budget deficit – as many proposals would – are bad medicine. The Cato Institute is undertaking nationwide outreach on how free-market reforms, increased consumer choice, and energized competition – not more government control – improve health care's quality and affordability. This includes outreach through national newspapers and radio stations, and a new web site of key resources. Below is part of the proposed ad:
uncle samYour New Doctor?
What really matters is who decides. Under reform proposals before Congress, government would take over more and more of your health care decisions. Whatever it’s called—socialized medicine . . . government-run health care . . . "a public plan". . . individual & employer mandates — it's bad medicine.

In a recent national survey* 4 out of 5 Americans were concerned that government run health care would:
  • REDUCE HEALTH CARE QUALITY
  • INCREASE COSTS
  • LIMIT CHOICES OF DOCTORS
  • INCREASE THE FEDERAL DEFICIT
There is a better, uniquely American solution: freedom. Freedom to choose your doctor and health plan. Freedom to spend your health care dollars as you choose. Freedom to make your own medical decisions. Freedom to keep a health plan you are satisfied with. View Cato's full page health care reform ad

Tags: Cato Institute, health care, poll, Socialized medicine, ARRA, Bill Smith To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Today in Washington D. C. - July 22, 2009 - No End to the Greed

The Senate resumed consideration of the fiscal 2010 Defense authorization bill, S. 1390. The bill would authorize $679.8 billion in military funding. At noon, the Senate will vote on an amendment from Sen. John Thune (R-SD) that would allow individuals with concealed carry permits from their home state to carry a concealed firearm in other states that allow that. 60 votes in favor will be required for the amendment to pass. Yesterday, the Senate voted 58-40 to adopt an amendment from Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) to cut $1.75 billion for F-22 procurement. Also approved yesterday, by a vote of 93-1, was an amendment from Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to expand the active-duty Army by 30,000 soldiers.

At 2 PM, the Senate will conduct a live quorum call with respect to the impeachment of Judge Samuel B. Kent of Texas. Since Kent has resigned his post, the impeachment proceedings are expected to be dropped.

President Obama and other Democrats have spent a lot of time in recent days pointing fingers at Republicans for their concerns about Democrats’ proposals for a prohibitively expensive government-run health care plan. However, with 60 votes in the Senate and a 78 member margin in the House, it is other Democrats who are throwing wrenches in the gears of the president’s ambitious health reform plans.

The Hill wrote yesterday, “President Obama sharply criticized Republicans on Tuesday for following a ‘familiar script’ to ‘block health care reform.’ The president, seeking to prod the Democratic-controlled Congress to show significant progress on health care reform before the August recess, directed blame at the GOP for the stalled legislation.” Politico reported, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid followed President Barack Obama's lead today in blasting Republicans for opposing a plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system and create a government-subsidized insurance program.” And according to another Politico story, “Hoping to make the political stakes clear and define the health care fight on their own terms, each of the Democratic committees, along with Obama’s own political apparatus and MoveOn.org, issued statements or emails focused on a series of unvarnished political assessments offered by Republicans.”

Despite the attempts by Reid and the president to shift blame for problems with Democrats’ health care bills to Republicans, it is Democrats who are creating the major obstacles to enacting their own health reform proposals. In an article titled “Democrats divided on health care overhaul,” the AP noted yesterday, “With a self-imposed deadline for action in jeopardy, the Democratic [House] leadership juggled complaints from conservatives demanding additional cost savings, first-term lawmakers upset with proposed tax increases and objections from members of the rank-and-file opposed to allowing the government to sell insurance in competition with private industry.” In fact, Blue Dog Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, led by Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR), forced Democrat chairman Henry Waxman to delay a vote on the House health bill in his committee. And House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said, “I want to make it very clear that there's progressives, Blue Dogs and everybody in between who have expressed concerns, and we're working on that.”

In the Senate, a number of Democrats have said outright that they reject the idea of a government-run health care plan. Last week, Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus complained about President Obama not being helpful in creating a bipartisan health care bill: “Basically, the president is not helping us,” Baucus said. “That’s making it difficult.” It was Senate Budget Committee chair Kent Conrad (D-ND) who asked CBO director Douglas Elmendorf if the Democrats’ bills will contain health care costs. When Elmendorf said that in fact the Democrat plans would only add to health care costs, it “fuel[ed] an insurrection among fiscal conservatives in the House and push[ed] negotiators in the Senate to redouble efforts to draw up a new plan that more effectively restrains federal spending,” according to The Washington Post. And Politico reported Monday that several Democrat senators “issued a letter to the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate urging them to slow down” on health reform.

On top of congressional problems, Democrat governors spent the weekend expressing concerns over how much Democrat health reform plans could cost their states. All of this has led to Democrats in Congress walking back their pledges to have a health bill completed by the beginning of Congress’ August recess. McClatchy writes today, “House Democratic leaders were wary about the prospects for consensus before leaving July 31 for a lengthy summer recess.” And House Ways and Means Committee chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) said, “No one wants to tell the speaker that she's moving too fast, and they damn sure don't want to tell the president.”

Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) in her newsleter to constituents yesterday said "We cannot solve this problem overnight, but by looking for reasonable solutions to our nation’s health care crisis, we can help lower health care costs and provide access to stable, quality health care to all Arkansans." And according to Politico, “Reid would not commit to passing a health care bill by the August recess [yesterday].” President Obama, Harry Reid, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can attack Republicans all they want but it is not the republicans that control the votes needed to pass any bill they wish. it is the public that is speaking out and it is clear that Democrat concerns are the driving force in stalling the president’s health reform ambitions.

The majority of the American public does not want the government taking over control in anyway of their personal health care. In fact, as identified yesterday in a video, the figure identified for the number of uninsured is far overstated -- many people are uninsured because they wish to be left alone, are illegal (they don't belong here) or they can afford health care but opt to not buy insurance because they see themselves as invincible or too young to care. Americans are angry and want Congress to stop the abuse of power through rampant spending and expanding of government programs including the excessive political favors via the Obama Czars. Is there no end to the greed in Washington D.C.?

Tags: Blanche Lincoln, Harry Reid, health care, Impeach Nancy Pelosi, Obama Czar, US Congress, US House, US Senate, Washington D.C. To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pelosi & Obama Have Spotted You!

You have been spotted >> Run ! ! !
Pelosi: Hey, look a taxpayer.
Obama: Quick someone get their money.


Tags: Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, political humor, taxpayers To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Uninsured In America - The Hidden Truth Obama does not want you to know!

This video was made by filmmaker Stuart Browning and posted over two years ago. He shares the facts about the uninsured that our government keeps stumbling around. It is time that we all understand and share the truth. Stuart examines the conventional wisdom that 45 million Americans cannot get health insurance and consequently do not have access to health care. The end result is that this figure does not reveal the truth. In 9 minutes, the video shows just how short-sighted it is to provide health insurance to the uninsured. Share this video with others!


Tags: health care, insurance, Michael Moore, single-payer, Stuart Browning, uninsured, universal, videos To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Arkansas GOP Chair Weighs in on Nationalized Health Care

Today Republican Party of Arkansas Chair Doyle Webb announced he has sent letters to Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, and Representatives Marion Berry, John Boozman, Mike Ross, and Vic Snyder, asking them: Will you vote for health care legislation that raises taxes? Webb said, "I look forward to hearing from Arkansas' elected officials and sharing their responses. Arkansans want meaningful health care reform but a government takeover of one-sixth of the U.S. economy, employer/employee mandates, increased debt and more burdensome taxes is not what hurting families and struggling businesses had in mind."
TEXT OF LETTER:

American’s health care system is in need of reform. On that we can agree. However, President’s Obama’s prescription for health care will only make things worse. The last thing Arkansans need is a government takeover of our health care system which constitutes almost one-fifth of the United States’ GDP.

Last week, Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf concluded that the health care reform being considered by the Senate will not curb federal spending on health care. Further, Democrats ranging from President Barack Obama to House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel have discussed raising taxes to pay for some sort of health care legislation. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has also indicated that tax increases are on the table. For the sake of all Arkansans, please answer this question:

Will you vote for health care legislation that raises taxes?

I hope you will not. The federal government has shown itself to be a poor manager of taxpayers’ dollars and certainly should not be entrusted with more, especially during a recession when families and small businesses are hurting.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Doyle Webb, State Chairman

Tags: Blanche Lincoln, Doyle Webb, increased taxes, John Boozman, Marion Berry, Mark Pryor, Mike Ross, nationalized health care, RPA, Vic Snyder To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

EPA EPA Buried "secret" Study Showing Global Warming Not Critical

Fox News: Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) discusses the Cap-and-Trade legislation that passed in the U.S. House and the EPA's secret document on greenhouse gases which clearly makes the Presidents Cap-and-trade bill unnecessary. The document is an EPA Study On Climate Change authored by Alan Carlin. Carlin states: "My view is . . . there is not currently any reason to regulate carbon dioxide. Global temperatures are roughly where they were in the mid-20th Century. There not going up. If anything, they're going down."


Tags: cap-and-trade, carbon dioxide, EPA, Fox News, global cooling, global warming, global warming hoax, Jim Inhofe, study To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Today in Washington D. C. - July 22, 2009

The Senate resumed consideration of the fiscal 2010 Defense authorization bill, S. 1390. The bill would authorize $679.8 billion in military funding. The Senate vote (58-41) on an amendment from Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) to cut $1.75 billion for F-22 procurement. this action was supported by the Pentagon but certain members of congress like Jack Murtha wanted to continue the aircraft. Note, the F-22 has not been used in combat and the military favors the development of another fighter aircraft. Tomorrow, the House Appropriations Committee holds a vote on whether to follow the Senate's lead and cut the F-22.

Yesterday the Senate voted 92-0 to adopt an amendment from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to make it a federal crime to knowingly assault a member of the US armed forces because of his military member status.

The Obama administration is making interesting choices on which items to leave out of its agenda this week and which to leave in. Out apparently, are key progress reports on commitments the White House has made, since they will all almost certainly show that the reality does not live up to the administration’s rhetoric in these areas. However, President Obama has made sure to pencil in time for yet more rhetoric on health care.

The New York Times reports today, “An Obama administration panel will miss a Tuesday deadline to report on its efforts to meet President Obama’s directive to close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, by January, administration officials said on Monday.” Apparently the task force will need six more months to figure out what to do with the dangerous detainees housed at Guantanamo. The Washington Post points out, “Some of the Guantanamo Bay detainees may be deemed too dangerous to release but also too difficult to prosecute in federal court or before a military commission.” According to The Post, a White House official explained to reporters, “These are hard, complicated, consequential decisions.” Indeed they are, which one would have hoped President Obama would have spend more time considering before hastily announcing in January that the facility would be closed within a year. The Post goes on to note, “In separate interviews, some administration officials have said they fear the closing date could slide.” It sounds like a progress report on closing Guantanamo would not show much progress.

The Obama administration is missing another self-imposed deadline Monday, on cabinet members coming up with a very symbolic $100 million in savings. Though the announcement of this goal was made with much fanfare in April, CNN writes, “The deadline came -- and went -- without a report from the White House on whether or not that promise was fulfilled.” So has President Obama’s cabinet proven unable to come up with a relatively paltry $100 million in savings (out of a $3.9 trillion budget)? Or are they simply embarrassed about the amount, which, as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell noted at the time, is “about the average amount we'll spend every single day just covering the interest on the stimulus package that we passed earlier this year”?

The Washington Post reported yesterday, “The Obama administration is delaying release of a congressionally mandated report on the nation's economic conditions, spawning speculation that it is trying to tamp down bad economic news to avoid further complicating the already fraught legislative debate over health care reform. The report, which is normally published by late July, is being delayed by several weeks, the administration acknowledged on Monday.”

So what has the White House made sure to get done this week? Another primetime press conference, likely focused around the President Obama’s push for government-run health care. The administration is certainly fond of soaring rhetoric on health care reform, just like on closing Guantanamo and controlling spending, but reality appears to be intruding on Obama’s vision there, just as in other areas. Politico reports on a new poll today that finds, “Nearly half of respondents — 44% — believe government-managed coverage will increase the price of health care.” Politico also points out, “Asked what effect a government-managed health care coverage option would have on access to health services, 40% said it would make the situation worse, 38% said it would make it better and 22% said it would remain the same. Asked what its effect would be on the quality of health care, 42% said it would make health care worse, 33% said it would make it better and 25% said it would not have an effect.”

During the campaign, President Obama and Democrats sold themselves as stewards who would return good, smart government to America. However, it looks more like they’ve gotten caught up in selling their ideas than in seriously dealing with the realities they face in implementing them. They’d apparently prefer to delay or ignore progress reports that might reflect badly on their agenda, but there’s always time for another conspicuous press conference.

Tags: F-22, military, 2010, Defense authorization bill, US Congress, US House, US Senate, Washington D.C. To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Judge Sotomayor Does Not Meet the Test

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor Monday formally announcing his opposition to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor:
by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY): [Excerpts] . . . Article II, Section II of the Constitution says the President shall nominate — by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate — Judges of the Supreme Court. It’s an obligation that all of us in the Senate take very seriously, even though senators haven’t always agreed on the exact meaning of the phrase ‘advice and consent.’ In fact, it’s been the subject of significant disagreement and struggle over the years.

. . . Things changed for good during the last Administration. It was then that Democrats turned their backs on the old standard once and for all. Ideology as a test would no longer be the exception, but the rule. The new order was firmly established at a Democratic retreat in April 2001 in which a group of liberal law professors laid out the strategy for blocking any high-level conservative judicial nominee. The strategy was reinforced during a series of hearings in which Senator Schumer declared that ideology alone was sufficient reason to block judicial nominees. These events marked the beginning of a seismic procedural and substantive shift on judicial nominees, and the results were just as I had anticipated as a young staffer. Democrats would now block one highly-qualified nominee after another to the Appeals Court for no other reason than the fact that they were suspected of being too conservative for their tastes.

Miguel Estrada was one of the first victims of the new standard. Because he had been nominated by a Republican, Estrada got no points for his compelling personal story, despite the fact that he had come here as a child from Honduras, went to Harvard Law School, clerked on the U.S. Supreme Court, and served as a prosecutor in New York and at the Justice Department. He was blocked by seven leadership-led filibusters — an unprecedented action for an Appeals Court nominee. Opponents of the Estrada nomination were ruthless, and eventually succeeded in driving him to withdraw from consideration after more than two years of entrenched opposition. He wasn’t alone. Democrats employed the filibuster strategy against an entire block of Republican nominees on the insistence of special interest groups and in complete contravention of Senate tradition — often relying on the flimsiest of pretexts for doing so.

As a result, several widely-respected, highly qualified nominees saw what should have been a high honor transformed into a humiliating and painful experience for themselves and their families; the country was deprived of their service on the Circuit Court; and the standard that I had articulated and applied throughout my career became essentially irrelevant. Despite my efforts to preserve deference and keep ideology out of the process, the proponents of an ideological test had won the fight. They changed the rules. Filibustering nominees on the grounds of ideology alone was now acceptable. It was now Senate precedent.

Some may argue that Republicans were no better, since a few of them supported filibusters against two Clinton-era nominees, Richard Paez and Marsha Berzon. It’s a flawed comparison. First, neither filibuster attempt got very far. And in both cases, the Leadership of the Republican Party, including me, strongly opposed the effort. . . . The new standard devolved even further during the Roberts nomination. Judge Roberts was a spectacular nominee, a man whose background and legal abilities, even according to Democrats, made him one of the most qualified Supreme Court nominees in history. For him, Democrats came up with an even more disturbing test.

Ironically, no one senator articulated this new test more forcefully than Senator Obama. In a floor speech announcing his opposition to John Roberts, Senator Obama was perfectly straightforward. Roberts was completely qualified, he said. But he still wouldn’t get his vote. Here’s what Senator Obama said on the Senate floor: Quote, ‘There is absolutely no doubt in my mind Judge Roberts is qualified to sit on the highest court in the land. Moreover, he seems to have the comportment and the temperament that makes for a good judge. He is humble. He is personally decent.’

The reason Senator Obama would vote against Judge Roberts, he said, rested not on any traditional standard, but on a new one, a standard which amounted to a kind of alchemy based on what he described as, quote, ‘one’s deepest values, one’s core concerns, one’s broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one’s empathy’ — what’s come to be known as the ‘empathy standard.

So over the course of the Bush Administration the rules completely changed. Not only had it become common practice to block nominees on the grounds of ideology, but now it was acceptable to reject someone based solely on the expectation that their feelings wouldn’t lead them to rule in favor of certain groups. Suddenly, judges weren’t even expected to follow the fundamental principle of blind justice. Deference had eroded even more.

Now, as I’ve stated repeatedly throughout this debate, empathy is a very good quality in itself. . . . But when it comes to judging, empathy is only good if you’re lucky enough to be the person or the group that the judge in question has empathy for. In those cases, it’s the judge, not the law, that determines the outcome. And that’s a dangerous road to go down if you believe, as I do, in a nation not of men, but laws. . . . this empathy standard — forces us to reevaluate again the degree of deference a President should be granted. Isn’t it incumbent upon even those of us who have always believed in deference to be even more cautious about approving nominees in this new environment? I believe it is.

If empathy is the new standard, then the burden is on any nominee who is chosen on that basis to show a firm commitment to equal justice under the law. In the past, such a commitment would have been taken for granted. Americans have always had faith that our judges would apply the law fairly — or at least always knew that they should. Unfortunately, the new empathy standard requires a measure of reassurance about this. If nominees aren’t even expected to apply equal justice, we can’t be expected simply to defer to the President — especially if that nominee, as a sitting judge, no less, has repeatedly doubted the ability to adhere to this core principle.

This doesn’t mean that I would oppose a nominee just because he or she is nominated by a Democrat. It means that, at a minimum, nominees should be expected to uphold the judicial oath that judges in this country have taken since the earliest days of our nation; namely, that they will ‘administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich and … faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon [them] under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help [them] God.’

Looked at in this light, Judge Sotomayor’s record of written statements suggests an alarming lack of respect for the notion of equal justice, and therefore, in my view, an insufficient willingness to abide by the judicial oath. This is particularly important when considering someone for the Supreme Court since, if she were confirmed, there would be no higher court to deter or prevent her from injecting into the law the various disconcerting principles that recur throughout her public statements. And for that reason, I will oppose her nomination.

Judge Sotomayor has made clear over the years that she subscribes to a number of strongly-held and controversial beliefs that I think most Americans and certainly most Kentuckians would strongly disagree with. But that’s not why I oppose her nomination. Rather, it’s her views on the essential question of the duty of a judge — and the fact that there would be no check on those views were she to become a member of the Supreme Court.

In her writings and in her speeches, Judge Sotomayor has repeatedly stated that a judge’s personal experiences affect judicial outcomes. She has said her experiences will affect the facts she chooses to see as a judge. She has argued that in deciding cases judges should bring their sympathies and prejudices to bear. She has dismissed the ideal of judicial impartiality as an ‘aspiration’ that, in her view, cannot be met even in most cases. Taken together, these statements suggest not just a sense that impartiality is not possible — but that it’s not even worth the effort.

But there’s more. It appears these views have already found expression in Judge Sotomayor’s rulings from the bench. The clearest evidence of this is the judgment of the Supreme Court itself. The Supreme Court doesn’t take easy cases. It only takes cases where there is no easy precedent, where the law is not crystal clear — cases where someone’s policy preferences can more easily make their way into an opinion. In this vein, it’s worth noting that the Supreme Court has found that Judge Sotomayor misapplied the law in nine of the ten cases . . . . In this Term, in fact, she is 0 for 3.

Not only isn’t this a record to be proud of. Together with her statements about impartiality, it’s a record to be scared of if you happen to find yourself standing in front of a Justice Sotomayor. Her most recent reversal by the Court is a perfect illustration of how her personal views can affect an outcome. I’m referring to the Ricci case, in which a majority of the justices on the Supreme Court rejected Judge Sotomayor’s decision and all of them agreed that her reading of the law was flawed. Here was a case in which a group of firefighters who had studied hard and passed a written test for promotion were denied it because not enough minority firefighters had scored as well as they had.

In a one paragraph opinion that a number of judges on her own court criticized as insubstantial and less than adequate given the seriousness of the circumstances, Judge Sotomayor flatly rejected an appeal by the firefighters who had scored highly. Here was a case where Judge Sotomayor’s long history of advocacy for group preferences appeared to overtake an even-handed application of the law. Judge Sotomayor didn’t empathize with the firefighters who had earned a promotion. And they suffered as a result. This is the real-world effect of the empathy standard. If the judge has it for you, great. But if she has it for the other guy, not so good. That’s why you can call this new standard a lot of things, but you certainly can’t call it justice.

Judge Sotomayor’s record on the Second Circuit is troubling enough. But, as I’ve noted, at least on the Circuit Court, there’s a backstop. Her cases can be reviewed by the Supreme Court. This meant that in the Ricci case, for example, the firefighters whose promotions were unfairly denied could appeal the decision. Fortunately for them, the Supreme Court sided with them over Judge Sotomayor. If, however, Judge Sotomayor were to become a Supreme Court Justice, her rulings would be final. She’d be unencumbered by the obligation of lower court judges to follow precedent. She could act more freely on the kinds of views that animated her troubling and legally incorrect ruling in the Ricci case. That’s not a chance I’m willing to take.

From the beginning of this confirmation process, I’ve said that Americans expect one thing when they walk into a courtroom, whether it’s traffic court or the Supreme Court — and that’s equal treatment under the law. Over the years, Americans have accepted significant ideological differences in the kinds of men and women that various presidents have nominated to the Supreme Court. But one thing Americans will never tolerate in a nominee is a belief that some groups are more deserving of a fair shake than others. Nothing could be more offensive to the American sensibility than that.

Judge Sotomayor is a fine person with an impressive story and a distinguished background. But above all else, a judge must check his or her personal or political agenda at the courtroom door and do justice even-handedly, as the judicial oath requires. This is the most basic, and therefore the most fundamental standard of all upon which judges in our country must be judged. Judge Sotomayor does not meet the test. [Full Transcript]


Tags: empathy, justice, Kentucky, Mitch McConnell, Senator, SOTUS, Nominee, Sonia Sotomayor To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Arkansas Test Score Scam of 2009

Scores Improve on all Arkansas "Homegrown" Benchmark Tests; BUT on nationally Normed Test, Arkansas Scores as Low as 35 % -- 65% of Students Across The Nation Do Better Than Arkansas Third Graders in Language, etc.
by Debbie Pelley & Iris Stevens: Once more, as is done every year about this time, the Arkansas Department of Education and the media are touting the successful K-12 scores in Arkansas. As usual when the government control is involved, the truth is twisted into propaganda. It is true that students in Arkansas keep improving on one measure, the benchmark tests designed, controlled, and with scoring percentages set by the state. But on all other measures compared with students across the nation Arkansas fall far short. [See highlighted list below.]

Note that on these Arkansas math benchmark tests, students in 8th grade only have to get 28 points correct out of 80 points to be Proficient. (Proficient is equivalent to a B or in ADE terminology indicates students have met standards); Grade 7: 27 pts out of 80; Grade 6: 40 out of 80; Grade 5: 34 out of 80; Grade 4: 40 out of 80; Grade 3 - 35 out of 80. No wonder their scores are so high! The tests are graded on the curve; ADE sets the curve and changes it from year to year. (There are no scores for grades 1, 2 & 9 because there are no state designed benchmark tests for them. NCLB doesn't require it.) The categories are Below Basic, Basic, Proficient and Advanced. [Source]

In addition to such low scores required on the Arkansas Benchmark Tests, in many districts teachers' lesson plan books are monitored and their classes observed to make sure they are teaching every day the released items from former state annual tests. Teachers are now being instructed to teach nothing else but the test sample questions or the released test items. In other words, the Test Released Items Booklet becomes the entire curriculum. Then teachers are required to give several practice tests at regular intervals in preparation for the annual Benchmark Test. [Memos instructing teachers to teach only released test items & Download the "Released Items Booklets" for all grades]

Anyone who studies the facts and compares the Arkansas benchmark scores to any national measure can see that the so called educational improvement in Arkansas is just a scam. For example, the gap between Arkansas benchmark test scores and the nationally normed test scores (the test that compares our students to other students across the nation) is staggering. The scores in half the grades tested are more than 20% lower than
the percentage on the Arkansas benchmark tests. This is the second second year for this particular nationally normed test, and scores for last year were very similar and showed no significant improvement even though the Arkansas Benchmark test scores keep going up and up.

First note how low the language score is for the nationally normed test (SAT 10) comparing our students to the rest of the nation. How could anyone possibly think Arkansas has had any success when we have scores like the following in any area? For example,65% of the students tested across the nation scored better than 3rd graders in Arkansas; 66% scored better than 4th grade, etc. This is the 2nd year for this test. While the scores last year were almost the same. And these scores are the result of more than doubling educational spending in Arkansas from $1.4 billion in 1996 to $4 billion in 2004-05 (federal, state, and local spending) which equals at least a 3% sales tax increases in Arkansas.

2009 Scores on Nationally Normed Language Tests (SAT 10)
(comparing Arkansas students to other students across the nation - Source for these scores:)
3rd grade - 35%
It doesn't appear that all that money spent on pre-school has helped the scores.
4th grade - 34%
(In 1988 the language score for 4th grade on nationally normed test was 65%)
5th Grade - 43%; 6th Grade - 45%; 7th Grade - 48%
(In 1988 the language score for 7th grade on natioanlly normed test was 61%)
8th Grade - 43%; 9th Grade - 48%
* All the scores in 1988 were similarly higher than 2009, but these are the only two grades in elementary school where all students were required to take the test as they are now so these grades, are the only ones that can be compared that far back. [ADE document with the scores in red font above]
* Review this link to see how high our nationally standardized tests have been in the past in table form. This table includes all nationally normed test scores from 1988 to 1995 for the grades that Arkansas used for accountability, 4, 7, & 10. In the fourth grade in 1988 on the nationally normed test, every score was above 60 %, and dropped down to 50% in 1995 after the state took over education and started teaching to the tests.

Note: language and reading are incorporated into one score called the Literacy score on the Arkansas State Benchmark Test. If the Language scores above were averaged in with the Reading Score on the Stanford Achievement nationally normed test below, reading scores would be even lower and the gap wider between the nationally normed Stanford Achievement Test (SAT10) Reading scores and the Arkansas State Benchmark Test Literacy Scores.

Reading Scores
Year 2009Stanford Achievement Test (SAT10) Reading Scores (comparing students nationwide)Arkansas State Benchmark Test Literacy ScoresGap between scores - percent point lower on nationally normed test (SAT10) that compares students to rest of nation.
KindergartenNot given on ADE reportNot given in AR
Grade 141%Not given in AR
Grade 241%Not given in AR
Grade 343%66%23% pts lower on nationally normed test
Grade 461%70%9 pts lower on nationally normed
Grade 553%68%15 pts lower on nationally normed test
Grade 644%67%23% pts lower on nationally normed test
Grade 753%63%10% pts lower on nationally normed test
Grade 850%71%21% pts lower on nationally normed test.
Grade 953%Not given on ADE report

Note: The gap between the math test scores on nationally normed tests (the one that compares students nationally) is not as wide as on reading, but 3rd grade nationally normed score is still 23 percentage points lower than State Benchmark test score; 4th grade 10 percentage points lower, 5th grade 11 percentage points lower, 6th grade, 14 percentage points lower, 7th grade, 12 percentage points lower, Grade 8 had 5 points higher on state test.

The following facts were gathered in 2007 but facts are still the same except for a point or two here or there. Again these are the results of increased educational expenditures that would equal a 3% sales tax increase in Arkansas.
  • Only nine states scored lower than Arkansas on the ACT test in 2007. Arkansas dropped slightly in 2007, but the national average improved. (The ACT test is the culmination of K-12 instruction and is used by colleges all over the nation to award scholarships.)
  • The graduation rate dropped slightly more than 10% in one year according to the last educational report in Arkansas (2005-2006) the next report won't be available for a few more months.
  • College Remediation Rate is 51.6% (46.6% in 1995); National Average is 33%
  • Only Nine States Scored Lower Than Arkansas in 8th Grade Math on NAEP Test; only sixteen states scored lower than Arkansas on the 4th Grade Reading NAEP Test, etc. in 2005. Other scores were similar. In 2007 our scores were even lower. Arkansas Department of Education Director said, "We have slipped a bit in terms of state rankings in all areas save mathematics at the fourth grade.
  • Only 28% of AR students pass test on Advanced Placement (AP) courses, while 59.4% pass nationwide.
  • Test Scores on nationally normed tests are 11 Percentile Points lower in 2006 than in 1990 (a 22% decrease) (Later scores are not yet available).
  • In its latest State of State Standards in 2006, Fordham Foundation gave Arkansas an F on its Math Standards, F on U S. History Standards, an F on World History Standards, a D in Science and a C in English for an average of F.
  • The National Report Card on Higher Ed. gave Arkansas a D+ in High School Preparation for College in 06 in its latest report.
  • Educational Reforms Have Cost $1.4 BILLION since 2003, which equals about a 3% sales tax increase in Arkansas.
The Education Week’s Quality Counts 2008 report itself indicates that Arkansas earned a D in K-12 on student achievement. [Link for documentation on these statistics.]

The following paragraph about Kentucky sums up what is happening in Arkansas.
In 1993 US Education Secretary Richard Riley called Kentucky a lighthouse for the rest of the nation and said President Clinton's Goals 2000 would help states duplicate what Kentucky has done and is doing. [Herald Leader, 1993 by Lucy May.] Kentucky has shown great improvement on their state tests over the years. However, note that five testing experts from five universities said Kentucky had been "misinforming, misleading, exaggerating and overstating student achievement."

Also, in 1994, in Jefferson County, the largest school district in the state, parents demanded that their children be tested for national comparison. (For four years, the students had been tested only with the KIRIS test developed by Kentucky) The national tests revealed that Kentucky students' comparative scores, after four
years of Kentucky's state test, had declined from an average of 7% below the national average to an average of 27% below that standard in reading and math across all grade levels in which the tests were given – second, sixth and ninth grades. In no area had scores improved on the nationally normed test. ("Test-score drop was worse than reported" by Beverly Bartlett in the Courier-Journal, 1995 and "Tests: State, national levels are different" in the Herald Leader by Lucy May 4/28/95) [Link to Kentucky info.]
--------------------
Debbie Pelley, Retired Arkansas Teacher of 27 years, and Iris Stevens, Retired Arkansas Teacher of 31 years. [Article with additional information]

Tags: Arkansas, Arkansas Department of Education, benchmark tests, education, K-12, Kentucky, Scam, test scores, testing To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!


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