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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
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Are You Distracted Yet? | Remembering #SunshineWeek
Obamacare still lagging behind. In a play for Millennial sign-ups, President Obama appeared on Zach Galifianakis’ online series, “Between Two Ferns.” Unfortunately for the president, sentiment on social media indicates people weren’t buying it – figuratively and literally, according to the latest enrollment numbers.
Waste still slipping through the cracks. Just blocks from the White House sits a 132-year-old government-owned building that is currently boarded up and has been for almost 30 years. While the government is not paying employees to work there, taxpayers are still left footing the bill for maintenance such as lawn care, plumbing and security – to the tune of $1.67 billion!
When all else fails, drive them to distraction. Or at least that seems to be the idea behind the administration’s latest tactic. As young people continue to avoid Obamacare, the administration seems to have decided gifs are a great way to distract them from the problems with the law. We decided to put that theory to the test. Tags:Bankrupting America, Obamacare, government waste, Sunshine Week, government transparency, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:Jimmy Carter, Appreciates, Barack Obama, Record, Worst President EverTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
How Misleading Government Accounting Leaves Taxpayers on the Hook
by Katie Nielsen, Heritage Foundation: The federal government reports hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue from mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac off the federal budget. In what might be considered creative accounting, Washington subtracts this revenue from spending and subsequently undereports federal spending. Even worse, trillions in taxpayer liabilities are completely off the books.
“Profits paid to the Treasury in 2013 alone have resulted in federal spending and deficits being underreported by more than $100 billion,” Heritage Foundation expert Romina Boccia explains.
Since they were taken over by the federal government in 2008, Fannie and Freddie have paid more than $203 billion in profits to the U.S. Treasury — all of which is the Treasury is keeping off the federal budget.
The Treasury’s accounting methods distort Fannie and Freddie’s real costs. While these government-sponsored enterprises are sending cash to the Treasury, they’re also taking on huge liabilities that put future taxpayers at risk for a future bailout, as Boccia explains, "Failure to consider the GSEs’ mortgage guarantees in budget reporting puts taxpayers on the hook for a taxpayer bailout of mortgages in the future without accounting for those risks today. Taxpayers are ultimately responsible for the nearly $4 trillion in GSE guarantees."Heritage Video:
Do you think our government should get its accounts in order? Tags:Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, GSE, Federal budget, failing to consider GSE morgage guarantees, Romina Boccia, Heritage Foundation, Katie Nielsen.To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Ken Blackwell, Contributing Author: With Vladimir Putin’s seeming success in rolling over Crimea and pushing aside the Ukrainians, President Obama is talking tough. And, though Ukraine is not a member of NATO, Poland, the Baltic states, Hungary and the Czech Republic are. They need some shoring up. So Mr. Obama has sent Vice President Joe Biden to reassure the Poles.
This makes sense to President Obama because Joe Biden sat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for nearly forty years. Sending Joe Biden to Warsaw will impress the Russians, the president believes. Now, they will surely know that Obama means business. The president famously said of his veep: “nobody messes with Joe.”
Former Defense Secretary Bob Gates might not have suggested sending Biden to Poland. In his recently released memoir, Duty, the former Defense Sec. says “Joe Biden has been wrong on every foreign policy issue for thirty years.”
Joe Biden supported his chief’s decision early in this administration to cancel the missile defense agreement with Poland. The U.S. had promised to help Poland and the Czech Republic to defend themselves against Iran and, not incidentally, to enable these once captive nations to resist new pressures from Moscow. Now, Moscow is rising anew.
This is not the first time the Russians have had the chance to take Joe Biden’s measure. Biden is an experienced Russia hand. He and ranking Republican Dick Lugar went to Moscow as members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as long ago as 1979.
Author Claire Berlinski told us four years ago in City Journal what kind of impression Joe Biden and Dick Lugar made on the Soviets at that time.And what of [Vadim] Zagladin’s description of his dealings with our own current vice president in 1979?
Unofficially, [Senator Joseph] Biden and [Senator Richard] Lugar said that, in the end of the day, they were not so much concerned with having a problem of this or that citizen solved as with showing to the American public that they do care for “human rights.” . . .As a result of the impressions they gained from Joe Biden and Dick Lugar, the Soviets knew they could dismiss U.S. talk of human rights so long as they dangled the carrot of “arms control” before the eager foreign policy establishments in Washington and Western Europe.
Because of these impressions of Western “flexibility,” the Kremlin bosses knew they could toss thousands of dissidents into the GuLAG with impunity. And they also knew they could slow-walk arms control talks with the U.S., tossing out scraps here and there.
It would take another decade before a U.S. President could sign the largest arms reduction treaty in history. That’s because Ronald Reagan believed in “peace through strength.” Reagan’s INF agreement of 1987 came only after years of patient re-building of American military might and his determination to “trust, but verify.”
Vice President Biden benefits from a credulous media that isn’t terribly interested in the past. Especially, they give a pass to the past record of liberals. Sec. of State John Kerry, for example, has never been called to account for his dealings with North Vietnamese Communist officials in Paris in 1971. He went there as an anti-war leader.
What did young John Kerry tell the enemies of his country? What did they tell him? Did he keep any written records of this extraordinary and possibly illegal encounter? Depending on what he told the North Vietnamese, his meetings may have been illegal. That’s because the Logan Act of 1798 forbids U.S. private citizens from negotiating with foreign powers. Kerry was confirmed as Sec. of State by the Senate by a vote of 94-3, with not even the strongest conservatives demanding his contemporaneous notes from his Paris interlude.
Kerry, likewise, never had to account for his activities in the Nuclear Freeze movement. Documents from the Soviet archives show that the Freeze movement was funded in large part by the KGB. Did Kerry know this at the time? Did he later learn about this? Did he say anything about KGB penetration of the movement of which he was a leading member? How might all this affect his role as America’s top diplomat?
So it is Joe Biden and not John Kerry they send to Poland to show we are serious. And Claire Berlinski is right in saying that Biden’s record is surely known to the leaders in the Kremlin.In other words, [Biden and Lugar] directly admitted [to the Russians] that what is happening is a kind of a show, that they absolutely do not care for the fate of most so-called dissidents.
Remarkably, the world has shown little interest in the unread Soviet archives. That paragraph about Biden is a good example. Stroilov and Bukovsky coauthored a piece about it for the online magazine FrontPage on October 10, 2008; it passed without remark. Americans considered the episode so uninteresting that even Biden’s political opponents didn’t try to turn it into political capital. Imagine, if you can, what it must feel like to have spent the prime of your life in a Soviet psychiatric hospital, to know that Joe Biden is now vice president of the United States, and to know that no one gives a damn.When President Obama staged a White House signing ceremony for the massive health care act, Joe Biden chose that august occasion to tell his chief: “This is a big [bleep]ing deal.” Is that what he will say to reassure the Poles?
---------------------- Ken Blackwell is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council. He is a contributing author to the ARRA News Service. Tags: Ken Blackwell, Joe Biden, Poland, Richard Lugar, RussiaTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
To all conservatives in those states where there is a chance for a Republican candidate to defeat the incumbent Democrat Senator - you have to see this to get a good laugh - and to Defeat the Democrat! Tags:defeat a liberal, keep your doctor, change your senatorTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Newt Gingrich, Newt Productions: Senator Rand Paul spoke this week at a stronghold of the left-wing academy, the University of California, Berkeley, and he got a standing ovation. He did it by making an argument that any conservative can embrace and extend much further.
Senator Paul’s address critiqued the surveillance state and the substantial threat it might pose to Americans’ privacy. And certainly, the government’s intelligence capabilities are far greater than most Americans understood before a series of illegal disclosures in the last year.
Most people are probably comfortable, more or less, with our intelligence agencies having substantial capabilities for national security purposes. But when we learn that the CIA has hacked into the Senate Intelligence Committee’s staff computers--the committee charged with overseeing the CIA--it is no doubt time for a real conversation about the power of these agencies and checking their excesses.
The issues Senator Paul raised and to which Berkeley students responded so favorably, however, are just one example of a much greater challenge.
As Paul said in his speech, “I think I perceive fear of an intelligence community that’s drunk with power, unrepentant and uninclined to relinquish power....They’re only sorry they got caught.”
“Power must be restrained,” he continued, “because no one knows who will next hold that power.”
He makes the right point. But these words apply don’t apply just to the NSA and the CIA. They apply to the entire sprawling federal bureaucracy, which is out of control everywhere you look.
In fact, Senator Paul’s criticisms apply even more to the rest of the federal government. At least the NSA and CIA are giant bureaucracies predominantly occupied with keeping us safe. Most of the others are predominantly occupied with controlling us, in more and more aspects of our lives.
Every year, unelected bureaucrats write literally thousands of new rules. In 1949, the Code of Federal Regulations was 19,000 pages long. Today it is 170,000 pages. Between 1993 and 2012 alone, the government added 81,000 pages to the Federal Register. There is hardly a day that goes by when we do not violate several of these rules simply because it is impossible to know and to follow all of them.
Many of the rules are actual crimes, and these too are growing in number. Since the early 1980s the number of criminal offenses on the books has grown by nearly 50 percent, according to the Heritage Foundation.
As Harvey Silvergate describes in his book Three Felonies a Day, having so many rules to choose from gives the government (and federal bureaucracies in particular) endless opportunities for control and abuse.
And we know that they exercise that power routinely.
The IRS has been systematically blocking conservative groups from obtaining tax-exempt status. They’ve demanded lists of Tea Party donors in the middle of an election season. They’ve asked a pro-life group about “the content of the members’...prayers.” The Justice Department has been conducting criminal investigations of journalists who report classified information, trampling the first amendment (while the administration does nothing about serious national security leaks that support the President’s image). Even seemingly innocuous agencies like the Fish and Wildlife Service conduct heavily-armed raids on private companies over tiny matters, as Gibson Guitar experienced a few years ago.
Senator Paul is right about the power-hungry, out of control nature of federal bureaucracies. But the American people have far more to fear than just the loss of their privacy.
---------------- 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. Newt and his wife, Callista, host and produce historical and public policy documentaries. The above commentary was shared via his daily email via Gingrich Productions. Tags:Newt Gingrich, Gingrich Productions, Rand Paul, surveillance state, threat, Americans’ privacy, CIA, IRS, Big Government, power-hungry, out of control, federal bureaucraciesTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
The motion, presented Tuesday by Councilmen Paul Koretz and Mike Bonin and seconded by Councilman Bernard Parks, asks for city departments to team up with the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, the U.S. Geological Survey and the South Coast Air Quality Management District to report back on the likelihood that such activities contributed to the 4.4-magnitude quake.National Review Online talked to City Council Member Bernand Parks:Parks, who seconded the motion, tells National Review Online that while fracking is “reportedly” happening near the epicenter, those who signed the motion weren’t completely sure. However, he adds that “earthquakes are happening in areas that are not historically earthquake prone, but they are in places where fracking is going on.”No one should be surprised that the ground often rumbles in Los Angeles, a city lying on top of an area prone to earthquakes, but that doesn't mean city leaders can ignore geophysics.
A scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey stated nicely that Council Members’ theory that hydraulic fracturing caused Monday’s earthquake is hogwash:Seismologist Lucy Jones, a USGS science advisor for risk reduction, said she would need to know much more about nearby pumping in the area, such as whether someone was changing the water pressure deep in the ground, to say whether it could have been a factor in the Monday temblor.
However, "my first impression is that sounds implausible," Jones said, "just because the earthquake was so deep. Induced earthquakes are almost always shallower than this."According to seismographic data, the quake was six miles beneath the surface.
What’s more, Mark Zoback, professor of geophysics in the Stanford School of Earth Sciences, hydraulic fracturing expert, and a former advisor for the Obama administration’s Department of Energy has said that hydraulic fracturing doesn’t have the oomph to cause earthquakes and poses “no danger to the public”:The energy released by one of these tiny microseismic events is equivalent to the energy of a gallon of milk hitting the floor after falling off a kitchen counter.The Daily Caller’s Michael Bastasch reports on other research finding tenuous links between hydraulic fracturing and earthquakes:A peer-reviewed 2012 study on fracking in the Inglewood Oil Field in Los Angeles County found that “the high-volume hydraulic fracturing and high-rate gravel packs had no detectable effects on vibration, and did not induce seismicity (earthquakes).”
The National Research Council, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences, also found last year that fracking poses a low risk for “inducing felt seismic events.”
. . . “We also find that there is no evidence to suggest that hydraulic fracturing itself is the cause of the increased rate of earthquakes,” wrote David Hayes, deputy secretary of the Interior Department, in a 2012 report.This effort is the latest in the Los Angeles City Council’s anti-hydraulic fracturing crusade. In February, the Council agreed to draw up rules to prohibit hydraulic fracturing, and in March, it followed through by authorizing changes in land-use laws to ban the technology in the city.
It’s apparent that science won’t stop these politicians from exploiting a natural event in order to slam hydraulic fracturing, an extremely beneficial tool for creating jobs and improving America’s energy security.
------------ Sean Hackbarth is a policy advocate and blogger at U.S Chamber of Commerce. He is a contributing author at ARRA News Service. Tags:LA City Council, ignores science, hydraulic fracturing, earthquakes, Sean Hackbarth, U.S. Chamber of CommerceTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Today in Washington, D.C. - March 21, 2014
The Senate reconvened at 9 AM today for a pro forma session. The Senate will return for legislative business on Monday, March 24th, when it will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 2124, the bill concerning aid for Ukraine.
The House reconvened at 10 AM for a pro forma session. The House will return on Monday, March 24th.
The Hill writes today, “Opposition to President Obama's healthcare law is close to its all-time high as the reform reaches its fourth birthday. A new survey by the Pew Research Center found that 53 percent disapprove of ObamaCare, compared with 41 percent who approve. . . . [T]he consistency of public opposition to healthcare reform is creating challenges for the White House and Democrats as they seek to keep the Senate in November. The survey offers insight into the public's opinion of ObamaCare, just as Republicans are ramping up campaign attacks over the law.”
Increasingly, the flaws and failures of Obamacare are hitting close to home.BusinessWeek reports, “Ben Rosenthal was treated for prostate cancer four years ago and had gallbladder surgery the year before that. A former manager at a market-research firm in Los Angeles, Rosenthal, 57, paid for his own health insurance. Last fall, when his plan was discontinued because it didn’t meet standards set by the Affordable Care Act, Rosenthal bought the best insurance coverage he could find, a top-tier ‘platinum’ policy from Blue Shield of California that costs $792 a month. He figured it would provide access to top hospitals. Then in February he learned the plan wouldn’t cover the hospitals where he was used to being treated. Rosenthal is one of millions of Americans who have purchased insurance under the Affordable Care Act and are discovering that many of the new plans offer a narrow network of doctors and facilities. ‘If I had anything happen, I wouldn’t want to go to a hospital that I’m not familiar with and with doctors I don’t know,’ he says. . . . In addition to having fewer options, buyers are making decisions about which plans to buy based on incomplete or misleading information, says Karen Pollitz, senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy research group. ‘Consumers have a very limited ability to shop in advance and evaluate provider networks,’ she says. . . . People can have trouble determining if their doctors or hospitals will be covered. Plans on healthcare.gov and state marketplaces are required to include links to directories that show which providers accept the insurance. But the information is often missing, wrong, or difficult to navigate, says Oliver Kharraz, chief operating officer of ZocDoc, an online appointment booking company. ZocDoc tried to verify the accuracy of hundreds of directories by calling doctors listed as in-network providers. About half the listings were wrong, Kharraz says.”
Another way Americans are seeing Obamacare’s failures up close is the steady stream of screw-ups, problems, and outright collapses in the state-based exchanges, most of which were set up by enthusiastic Democrat governors and legislatures.
Perhaps nowhere has this been more apparent than what the AP dubbed the “fiasco” in Oregon.The AP writes, “An independent review of Oregon's troubled health insurance exchange has found that a breakdown of management, an overly ambitious scope, and low quality of work by technology contractor Oracle Corp. are some of the reasons for Cover Oregon's failed launch.” In a story examining the Oregon disaster today, The New York Times writes, “As the federal health care overhaul was rolled out over the last few years, Oregon was invariably the eager overachiever in the first row, waving a hand to volunteer. The governor, John Kitzhaber, a doctor who left the emergency room for politics, made health care his main issue. Fellow Democrats controlling the Legislature went along, embracing ambitious plans to extend insurance coverage and Medicaid to low-income residents. Yet for all that, by some measures Oregon has among the most dysfunctional online insurance exchanges in the nation. Only about 50,000 people in Oregon have signed up for a commercial insurance plan through the exchange, well below the state’s goal, according to federal estimates. And almost all of those people enrolled using paper applications or with help from an insurance professional because the website had been so unreliable. On Thursday, a grim-faced Mr. Kitzhaber released a new report, commissioned by the state with a private company, that underscored how systemic Oregon’s failure has been. The report found fault not only with the code-writers at Oracle, the software company contracted to build the site, but also with the state managers who overlooked or minimized repeated warnings that the system they had asked Oracle to build was too complex. . . . [Kitzhaber] also accepted the resignation of the acting executive director of Cover Oregon — two previous executives have left since December — and said that legal action was being considered to recover some of the tens of millions of dollars already paid to Oracle. . . . And there are potentially further blows still to come. The federal Government Accountability Office has said it plans an investigation of how federal money was spent in building the exchange in Oregon and other states.”
Down the Pacific coast, BusinessWeek notes “The California exchange, one of 15 state marketplaces that operate independently of healthcare.gov, created a central directory [of doctors and hospitals] on its website but took it down on Feb. 6 because of errors.” And the Los Angeles Times reports, “Nearly half of callers to California's health insurance exchange in February and March couldn't get through and abandoned their call, state figures show. Those service woes could worsen as more people try to beat the March 31 deadline to get Obamacare coverage under the Affordable Care Act. . . . Still, less than 5% of calls are answered within 30 seconds and about a third of callers get a busy signal, state data show. Overall, 40% of exchange customers surveyed said they found the enrollment process difficult.”
To the east, “Nevada's failed insurance exchange” has been forced to give people who attempted to sign up another 60 days to do so, according to the AP and KRNV in Reno. “Officials say up to 300,000 people may have tried over the past six months to choose a plan over Nevada Health Link but were thwarted by program errors in the system designed by Xerox.”
In New York, Gannett News in Albany reports, “Some applicants to the New York health insurance exchange saw their email addresses revealed this week in a message reminding them of a March 31 enrollment deadline. The automated email sent by the exchange on Monday went to New York residents who completed an online application process but hadn't yet enrolled in insurance coverage. The message didn't make use of the blind carbon copy feature, allowing recipients of the email to see the addresses of others who received it. It wasn't clear Wednesday how widespread the apparent privacy breach was. . . . 2 On Your Side contacted Richard Dvorak, a health care attorney with Kansas-based EMR Legal, Inc., a HIPAA compliance consulting firm. With extensive knowledge of the intricacies of HIPAA -- as well as experience consulting in the state of New York -- Dvorak said the email breach is ‘a potential problem.’”
Across Lake Champlain in Vermont, the Burlington Free Press writes, “Vermont Health Connect, the health insurance marketplace that the state set up in response to a mandate in the federal Affordable Care Act, has experienced chronic technical challenges since launching Oct. 1. The online insurance exchange never worked for small employers who were required by state law to buy insurance for their workers using the website.” The Free Press looks at the frustrations of Neil Jacobson from Sunderland, VT. “He went on Vermont Health Connect on Dec. 16 and selected insurance for himself, his wife and son and has since paid three premiums. Still, he has yet to receive an insurance card confirming his coverage. He has called the Vermont Health Connect call center and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, but he said he can’t find anyone who could move his paperwork from ‘pending’ status. He estimates he has spent 15 hours on the telephone. ‘It appears to me we will be completely uncovered as of April 1,’ Jacobson said Tuesday, adding, ‘I’m desperate.’ . . . When Jacobson failed to receive any policy from Blue Cross for the platinum insurance plan he purchased, he began calling. He noticed that his bill came without an account number. Blue Cross told him his coverage was pending so the insurer couldn’t process it. Vermont Health Connect officials said his paperwork contained an error. Later he received an email saying the problem was he had requested a change to the application. A letter even came addressed to his 10-year-old son informing him that the problem was a change request. ‘I requested no changes,’ Jacobson said. . . . He was on the phone again Tuesday trying to get the problem resolved . . . . ‘I’ve been such a good team player,’ Jacobson said. ‘I just feel like I have been lied to.’”
This law is a disaster. As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said of Democrats recently, “[D]espite the evidence, the policies never seem to change. More money just gets thrown at the same failed programs, year after year, with barely any thought as to whether or not they actually work. Obamacare is a case in point. Here’s a big-government bill that Washington Democrats thought they could just pass and – poof – health care would magically be made affordable for everybody. Yet for millions of Americans, just the opposite happened. Contrary to the assurances, Obamacare has upended lives and businesses across the country. It’s forced painful choices for people who could barely get by as it was. It’s a mess. So you’d assume Washington Democrats would step back and take a long hard look at the accumulating evidence and start thinking about ways to keep this thing from pummeling even more Americans. But you’d be wrong. They just keep doubling down.
When the web site crashed, they called it a glitch. When people started losing their doctors and their plans, they told them to live with it. When Americans started sharing their Obamacare horror stories, they basically called them all liars. And that should tell you everything you need to know how about how much Washington liberals care about middle-class Americans.” Tags:IObamacare, States, nightmareTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
When confronting aggression by a hostile power, one of the first principles of foreign policy is never to take options off the table. We hear it all the time whenever Iran's nuclear program is in the news: "All options are on the table."
Evidently Barack Obama was too busy filling out his NCAA bracket to consult his foreign policy training manual. During a series of local news interviews yesterday, Obama was asked what steps he might take next in the Crimean crisis. Incredibly, Obama showed Putin and every other tyrant his cards.
Obama said, "We are not going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine." In a separate interview, Obama said, "…we do not need to trigger an actual war with Russia. The Ukrainians don't want that. Nobody would want that."
Of course we do not want a war, but the decision might not be ours. (Ron and Rand Paul supporters: Please do not waste my time accusing me of supporting war in Ukraine -- I don't.)
The proper answer was, "I'm not going to discuss hypotheticals. The United States wants an end to aggression in Eastern Europe, and we are going to work with our allies to come up with ways to make sure it does end."
It has been humorous to watch our media establishment describing Russian President Vladimir Putin as crazy, unbalanced and unpredictable. What the left, from the president to his adoring media friends, sees as bizarre behavior is precisely how one might expect a former KGB officer to act. Especially one who called the collapse of the Soviet Union "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century."
Let me remind you of Obama's history in Ukraine. In 2005, Barack Obama made his first overseas trip as a United States senator to Ukraine in an effort to convince that country to destroy massive stockpiles of conventional weapons. "Vast stocks of conventional munitions and military supplies have accumulated in Ukraine," Obama said. "We need to eliminate these stockpiles for the safety of the Ukrainian people…"
The thrust of the argument Obama and that Senate delegation made to Ukraine was, "We've got your back." Well, not so much. To many Ukrainians, it must seem like Obama has turned his back on them. Crimea is under Russian control now. The rest of Ukraine is facing military intimidation and a possible invasion.
I mention the phrase "I've got your back," because it is one of the president's favorites. No doubt the White House polled it and found it scored well with the public. He has used it in appeals to various voting blocs and even with respect to Israel's existential threat from Iran's nuclear weapons program. During a 2012 speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Obama said, "I have Israel's back."
Remember, too, that the United States, Britain and Russia signed a treaty in 1994 guaranteeing Ukraine's sovereignty. Putin just shredded that treaty. How safe do you think Israelis feel today with Obama's claim that he has "Israel's back"?
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon fears Israel is on its own. Ya'alon is in hot water for daring to state the obvious -- that Obama is "broadcasting weakness" across the globe. Ya'alon added, "This is a war of civilizations. If you are perceived to be weak, that certainly does not pay in the world. I hope the U.S. will reassert itself."
------------- Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families Tags:President Obama, Ukraine, President Putin, Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working FamiliesTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Huh? Pelosi Claims Obamacare 'A Winner' While Over Half Disapprove
Top Democrat Claims Obamacare Is ‘A Winner’ Even As A New Survey Shows Over Half Disapprove Of The Controversial Law
Top Dem Claims ‘It’s A Winner’
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): ‘I believe that it's a winner’Q: “Let me just ask, in the current environment in a swing district, is Obamacare a winner or a loser politically?” REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): “Well, you have to ask the member. But I believe that it's a winner.” (Rep. Pelosi, Press Briefing, 3/20/14)
Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: In his state of the union speech in January President Obama claimed that the U.S. was closer to “energy independence” than ever. He was referring to solar energy while ignoring that his administration has been the most anti-fossil fuel energy than any previous one.
The U.S. has the greatest energy reserves, coal, oil and natural gas, of any nation in the world, but Obama has been waging a “war on coal”, delaying the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, and slow to issue permits to explore for new sources of energy reserves on federal lands. The impact on the economy is incalculable, but it is driving up the cost of energy for everyone and every industry.
Meanwhile, Obama keeps talking about “green jobs” and doubling the nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years.” This another fantasy to which he clings.
As Taylor Smith, a senior policy analyst for The Heartland Institute, points out “Despite years of favorable public policy, including renewable power mandates and billions in subsidies, solar power still produces only about 0.2 percent of the nation’s electricity. The National Conference of State Legislatures says power from most large, utility-scaled solar installations still costs about 35 percent more than electricity from natural gas plants; many other experts estimate the levelized cost is even higher.”
U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the United States is producing less electricity now than it did when Obama took office even with the inclusion of wind energy.
From 2008 to 2012, U.S. electricity production declined by 1.7 percent. That’s what happens when Environmental Protection Agency regulations force coal mines to close along with coal-fired plants that previously produced 50 percent of the nation’s electricity.
Suffice to say, Obama is the enemy of fossil fuel production and the energy it provides for electricity production and our transportation needs. That makes him the enemy of the American people.
In February, the National Review had an article, “Europe’s Green Collapse”, by Stephen Moore in which he noted that “Not long ago nearly all the nations of Europe bought into this same dream of a green energy free lunch as they legislated tens of billions of dollars in subsidies for solar and wind power while directly and indirectly taxing and capping carbon-based energy.”
That policy was set in motion by the United Nations Kyoto treaty in 1997. It was based on the global warming hoax that called for a reduction in so-called “greenhouse gas” emissions. The U.S. did not sign onto the treaty and Canada withdrew from it in 2012.
The Earth, however, has been in a natural cooling cycle for going on seventeen years, the result not of any manmade gases, but because of the Sun has been producing lower levels of solar radiation. The hoax is based largely on the utterly false claim that carbon dioxide warms the Earth when, in fact, it plays virtually no role whatever in the Earth’s climate. The Earth is likely to remain cooler for decades.
That fact has been brutally clear in Europe where the cold has been comparable to the temperatures the U.S. has been encountering. Moore reported that “In January Brussels announced with little media fanfare that the European Union is ditching their renewable-energy standards.” It is a matter of economic survival for Europe.
What is astonishing is the way both the U.S. and Europe adopted renewable energy production because it is unpredictable and mindlessly expensive. A major factor why the global warming hoax is collapsing, it has cost everyone here and in Europe billions in loans and subsidies. Both solar and wind require a backup from traditional power sources that utilize coal, oil and natural gas.
“Thanks to about $33 billion a year in government subsidies, Germany currently gets 25 percent of its electricity from wind and solar power, and that is scheduled to rise 40 to 45 percent by 2025.” Watch Germany abandon its plans. “The EU admits that the cost of electric power in member nations is often 50 to 100 percent higher than in the U.S,” noted Moore. “Manufacturers are starting to move plants out of the EU and even to, of all places, the U.S.”
“Here is a textbook case of how centralized industrial planning—or ‘government investment’ as we now say—usually leads to catastrophically wrong bets.” In the U.S. it began in the 1970s when President Carter spent billions on renewable energy and projects like the Synthetic Fuels Corporation, a predecessor of Solyndra and other companies that went bankrupt shortly after receiving loans during the Obama administration’s first term in office.
Under Obama’s “stimulus” program, 83 percent of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Acts Section 1705 loans went to solar energy projects with wind receiving 11 percent of the funds.
“What saved the U.S. economy from replicating the Euro-industrial malaise was the entirely spontaneous oil-and-gas boom driven by technology and billions in investment by wildcat entrepreneurs…” That’s called capitalism. The sooner we get the U.S. government out of “investing” in such nonsense, the better.
As with everything else Obama has to say, his advocacy of renewable energy, like Carter’s, has proven to be a massive, costly failure.
------------ Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, Warning Signs disseminated on many Internet news and opinion websites and blogs. He is a contributing author at ARRA News Service. Tags:Solar, Wind Power, losing Worldwide Support, Alan Caruba, warningsignsTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
61% Oppose U.S. Giving Up Control Over Internet - The U.S. government announced last Friday that it is giving up its last bit of control over the Internet and turning it over to an international organization.But most voters think that's a bad idea and expect countries like Russia and China to try to censor Internet content. ~ Rasmussen Reports
by Robert Romano: On March 14, the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) issued a press release stating its intent to "transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multistakeholder community" from its current contractor, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
On March 14, the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) issued a press release stating its intent to "transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multistakeholder community" from its current contractor, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
The plan is to "transition the current role played by NTIA in the coordination of the Internet's domain name system (DNS)" to "global stakeholders." We would add, without any vote in Congress. This is a big deal.
Administering the DNS is the key function that associates easy-to-remember domain names to numerical Internet Protocol (IP) addresses — the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) — an essential component to making the Internet work.
The Obama Administration cannot give away the IANA and control over DNS to anybody, it can only contract that service out, and then only under very limited circumstances per the U.S. code.
The Commerce Department still retains the right to terminate ICANN's contract, and to replace ICANN if necessary. When ICANN's contract with the federal government expires in 2015, as a government contractor, it will no longer possess the authority to administer DNS. That will remain with the federal government.
Otherwise, it takes a vote of Congress, which has plenary power over regulating interstate commerce, to authorize the transfer of control over DNS to any entity.
On March 14, Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens issued the following statement blasting the unilateral transfer, and urged Congress to take action: "Congress needs to prevent the Obama Administration from giving away U.S. control over the Internet to any international body."
Mehrens warned, "To allow the free speech rights of U.S. citizens to be threatened by international bodies that don't recognize these fundamental rights is dangerous and a threat to our national sovereignty. Perhaps this latest egregious action by the Obama Administration in their quest to deconstruct the United States will finally wake Congress up to their power of the purse responsibility as a co-equal partner in government."
In 1998, groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) criticized the transfer of DNS to a private foundation like ICANN. "Internet administration has always guaranteed free speech and due process, since it has been done by U.S. Government contractors who are required to follow the U.S. Constitution. If the New IANA moves Internet administration out from under the U.S. Government, as there is general agreement to do, the public will lose these guarantees," Shari Steele, Staff Counsel at EFF warned at the time.
Steele and EFF were right then on the overall point of who the First Amendment applies to, and it holds true today as the Department of Commerce seeks to transition IANA governance to some new, as of yet unnamed international body.
Once it's gone, we won't get it back, and the ability to protect any website's free speech rights under the First Amendment will be gone — forever. With global communications increasingly reliant on the Internet to function, this is a critical threat to the freedom of expression.
Let's keep fighting! By raising awareness, we can win on this issue.
---------------- Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government. also read his article Giving away the Internet surrenders the First Amendment. Tags:Internet administration, ICANN, Commerce Department, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, NTIA, global multistakeholder community, United Nations, Robert RomanoTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Will President Obama Continue To Stall The Keystone XL Pipeline Supported 2-1 by Americans?
Pew Research commented on a new poll it conducted yesterday. “As the Obama administration deliberates over whether to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to be built, the proposed pipeline continues to draw broad support from the public. Currently, 61% favor building the pipeline while 27% are opposed. These views have changed little over the past year. As previous surveys on the pipeline proposal have found, there is far more support for constructing the pipeline among Republicans (84% favor) and independents (61%) than among Democrats. About half of Democrats (49%) favor building the pipeline while 38% are opposed. . . . Opposition to building the pipeline is most widespread among highly educated Democrats, liberals and those with high family incomes. . . . As Pew Research polls last year found, moderate and conservative Democrats continue to be far more likely than liberals to favor building the pipeline (56% vs. 40%).”
So once again it’s clear that a large majority of Americans favors allowing the Keystone XL pipeline to be built, by a 2-1 margin. This is a project that will create jobs, help foster independence from Middle Eastern oil, and boost relations with our friends in Canada. Indeed, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has said repeatedly that a decision to approve the pipeline should be “a no brainer. An overwhelming majority of Americans support building the Keystone XL Pipeline in its entirety. The President should listen to them,” as he said back in 2012.
And yet, a decision on the pipeline still languishes as the Obama administration drags its collective feet.Bloomberg News noted, “TransCanada Corp. of Calgary applied more than five years ago for a permit to build the $5.4 billion pipeline through the U.S. heartland, connecting oil sands in Alberta with refineries along the coast of Texas and Louisiana. The 875-mile pipeline would run from the U.S.-Canada border to Steele City, Nebraska. From there it would connect to an existing pipeline network.” Bloomberg also points out, “The State Department’s environmental report released Jan. 31 found limited impact on climate-changing carbon emissions, saying the oil sands in Alberta will be developed anyway. Building the pipeline would directly and indirectly support about 42,100 jobs for a year or two. Afterward, about 35 permanent jobs would remain, the report said.” Are these not the “shovel-ready jobs” tied to infrastructure projects that the president and Democrats are always calling for?
But still, President Obama and the State Department continue to stall a decision on this pipeline. Why? Bloomberg News ventures, “President Barack Obama’s advisers are lining up against the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline. Top Democratic donors oppose the project. And Obama himself dismisses claims that it will create many jobs. . . . If Obama rejects the pipeline, it might sink Democratic candidates in states with big energy industries, such as Louisiana and Alaska. That could cost Democrats control of the Senate -- a risk that’s likely to weigh heavily on any decision the president makes, to approve the pipeline, reject it or wait until after November to announce a decision. ‘If Obama approves the pipeline, he alienates environmentalists and the left; if he rejects it, he really hurts a number of endangered Democratic senators,’ said Charlie Cook, publisher of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. ‘The path of least resistance would be to continue to punt the decision until after the midterm election.’ . . . A decision against the pipeline might mean defeat for Senate Democrats seeking re-election in Arkansas, Alaska, North Carolina and especially Louisiana, where Mary Landrieu, chairman of the energy committee, is fighting for political survival. ‘It would cement the image of this president having an anti-business agenda and hurt these senators with swing voters and rally business against them,’ said Cook. A Pew Research Center poll released yesterday shows Democrats nationwide are split, with 49 percent in support of building the pipeline and 38 percent against. State-by-state polling shows the risk to Democratic senators.”
With the turmoil in Eastern Europe, the Obama administration has an opportunity here to boost North American energy production, but will this decision continue to be put off for the political calculations that seem to dominate in the Obama White House?
As Leader McConnell said back in January when the State Department released its latest environmental study, “This report from the Obama administration once again confirms that there is no reason for the White House to continue stalling construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. So, Mr. President, no more stalling– no more excuses. Please pick up that pen you’ve been talking so much about and make this happen. Americans need these jobs. The Keystone XL Pipeline is the single largest shovel-ready project in America, ready to go, but for years President Obama and his hard-left allies have stalled these jobs in a maze of red tape. But if the President meant what he said this week about ‘a year of action,’ he’ll act now on this important project that won’t cost taxpayers a dime to build but will bring thousands of private sector jobs to Americans who desperately need them.” Tags:PResident Obama, Keystone Pipeline, Pew Research, poll, Americans favor, Keystone XL Pipeline, 2:1, jobs,To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, Op-Ed: The House Oversight Committee's investigation of the IRS is at an inflection point. The president's congressional supporters realize that the administration's version of the agency's targeting of conservative nonprofits seeking tax-exempt status—such as blaming local officials in the Cincinnati office or claiming that liberal groups were victimized along with conservative groups—is nonsense. Instead of debating the substance, they have resorted to procedural antics and misleading rhetoric.
I have spent a considerable amount of time and energy on the investigation—which included 38 daylong interviews of IRS and Treasury employees ranging from line employees in Cincinnati to the IRS commissioner to the chief of staff of the U.S. Treasury. The real news has been revealed at the Lois Lerner hearing on March 5 and in the report of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on March 11: "Lois Lerner's Involvement in the IRS Targeting of Tax-Exempt Organizations."
The evidence brought to light in that hearing and report completely discredited Ms. Lerner's claims about her involvement in what went on. It also eviscerated the notion that liberal and conservative groups were targeted.
When Ms. Lerner appeared before Congress in May 2013, she made this statement: "I have done nothing wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations." But Ms. Lerner, we discovered, forwarded confidential taxpayer information to her personal email account in early May 2013, which is a violation of IRS rules. About the infamous "Be on the Lookout" targeting list—a document used to identify conservative groups for additional scrutiny—she told Congress that the criteria for screening tax-exempt groups for extra scrutiny never changed. In fact, she personally ordered it changed in July 2011 according to documents and testimony received by the committee.
Ms. Lerner was most certainly driven by politics. One email of June 11, 2011, shows that she directed her subordinate to focus on the issues surrounding the application of Karl Rove's group, Crossroads GPS. In another email of Feb. 1, 2011, she frets about the Supreme Court "overturning the ban on corporate spending" as it applies to nonprofits. (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission also overturned the ban on union political spending, but she expressed no concern about that.)
Emails and testimony that we confronted Ms. Lerner with showed her saying that the tea party is "very dangerous," ordering a "multitiered review" (read: delay) of the cases, and managing the optics of her operation so it would not be revealed as a political project.
Last May, and again on March 5 of this year, Ms. Lerner refused to answer the committee's questions about the IRS treatment of tax-exempt groups, asserting her right under the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination. Yet we learned on March 6 in reporting by this newspaper that she had previously given an interview to the Justice Department and, according to her lawyer, spoke with no grant of immunity.
Ms. Lerner's lawyer claims she gave an interview to the Justice Department because she did not believe the Oversight Committee would treat her fairly. More likely, the reason is because Justice is friendly territory. The lead investigator is a substantial Obama campaign contributor, and Justice has already leaked that it doesn't expect to prosecute anyone. As to the claim that liberal groups were also victimized, our committee investigation has yet to hear from a single progressive group that received the systematic scrutiny and harassment faced by the tea party and other conservative groups.
Congress is charged with oversight of the executive branch. The House Oversight Committee will not stop until we have all the answers, although I fully expect continued obstruction from the Obama administration and its foot soldiers in the House.
When Congress is thwarted in our attempts to get answers—as is clearly the case given Ms. Lerner's willingness to speak with the Justice Department but not to the public's elected representatives—we have an obligation to hold accountable those hiding the facts. Contempt of Congress is a power the House of Representatives exercised toward only five individuals in the last 30 years. The relevant statute states that any person who "willfully makes default, or who, having appeared, refuses to answer any question pertinent to the question under inquiry" may be held in contempt. Ms. Lerner's actions easily rise to a level worthy of contempt and Congress's institutional integrity demands nothing less.
Additionally, it is necessary to appoint a special prosecutor. Mr. Holder called the IRS matter "outrageous and unacceptable" and ordered a Justice Department investigation to be conducted in coordination with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. No one can have confidence in this investigation, started by a politically appointed attorney general and led by a campaign contributor to his boss.
A special prosecutor, uncompromised by partisan political winds, provides hope of uncovering what happened at the IRS. As Elijah Cummings, my Democratic colleague on the Oversight Committee, said on May 22, 2013—the day of the committee's first IRS hearing—getting the truth and restoring trust must be paramount. "This is more important than one election," he explained. "The revelations that have come forward so far provides us with a moment pregnant for transformation; not transformation for a moment, but for generations to come and generations yet unborn."
I hope Mr. Cummings and fellow members of his party will join me in acknowledging the time has come for the appointment of an independent and unbiased special prosecutor.
---------------------- Rep. Jim Jordan R-OH) was the former chairman of the Conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC). He now serves on the House Committee on Oversight and Government and chairman of its subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs. He also shared this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Tags:Jim Jordan, Representative, Ohio, special prosecutor, IRSTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Federal Taxpayer Cost Per "Pre-Effectuated" and Paid Enrollee
by Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: We've seen a lot of news stories trumpeting "enrollment" numbers from HHS with very little context to understand how many people have actually paid their premiums and how many have simply "selected a plan" in a shopping cart, which HHS refers to as "pre-effectuated enrollment."
We've also seen very little analysis of how much federal taxpayers have been forced to pay to build and market the new Obamacare exchanges. Those costs have now totaled $6.9 billion ($4.9 billion in grants to states and $2 billion for the federal Healthcare.gov). And that's not including an additional $1.4 billion HHS anticipates spending on Healthcare.gov in fiscal 2014.
Some of the states are performing absolutely miserably on a cost basis, such as Hawaii, which has spent over $44,000 of federal taxpayer money per "person who selected a plan," the District of Columbia, which has spent over $27,000 of federal taxpayer money per paid enrollee. All of the state exchanges are more costly to taxpayers than the much-maligned federal healthcare.gov.
Obamacare Exchanges: Federal Grant Costs Per "Pre-Effectuated" and Paid Enrollee
Exchange grants from federal taxpayers
"Number of Individuals Who Have Selected a Marketplace Plan"
Exchange cost per "Individual Who Selected a Marketplace Plan"
Reported Paid Rate
Estimated Paid Enrollment
Estimated Exchange cost per Paid Enrollee
*Massachusetts only reports paid enrollment.
†Federal Exchange actual obligations for FY 2010, FY 2011, FY 2012, and FY 2013 (as of 12/31/2013)
The average of the nine states reporting payment information is 74 percent. The cumulative payment rate across those nine states is just under 80 percent, which is in-line with national estimates from insurance companies.
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