Friday, April 18, 2014
No Easter Without Good Friday
by Norm Beznoska Jr., Contributing Author: The road to Calvary and the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ spanned a period of less than 24 hours from the time of the Last Supper, the Jewish Passover meal on Thursday evening, to Friday afternoon at 3:00 PM when Jesus breathed his last. But, the story of His death and resurrection still echoes down the hill side of Jerusalem throughout history. His story is just ‘alive today’ as it was when it happened at the place of the skull, ‘Golgotha’ in Jerusalem, some 2000 years ago.
Preceding His crucifixion, Jesus suffered hours of unimaginable torture; facial beatings at the hands of Temple guards in the sham courtroom of Caiaphas; brutal scourging ordered by Pilate, by two Roman soldiers with flagrums of nine leather thongs fitted with lead balls and sharp pieces of bone, that caused over 240 deep lacerations from the back of His neck to the soles of His feet, leaving a mutilated mass of torn muscle and hanging flesh; and a tremendous loss of blood causing hypovolemic shock. To further mock and humiliate Him, Roman soldiers fastened a “Crown of Thorns” with branches (from a wild hawthorn bush with long, sharp, hard thorns) to cover His entire scalp. The thorns penetrated the skin, and were driven more and more deeply into his head when He was struck repeatedly. A comedy of mock adoration was played out as the Romans and crowd yelled, roaring with laughter: “Hail, King of the Jews!” Yet, Jesus uttered no rebuke and accepted their vile treatment without response.
Carrying the heavy wooden cross opened severe wounds on His shoulders and more bleeding; He fell three times, breaking His nose, so breathing became almost impossible. Reaching His destination with the help of Simon the Cyrenean, He fell atop His cross. His arms were literally pulled out of their sockets by Roman soldiers to match the holes 9-inch nails would be driven through His wrists and ankles to hold Him fast to the cross. His executioners and the Scribes and Pharisees expected Him to cry and scream from the excruciating pain. They were sure the same man who preached “love your enemies’, and “do good to those who hurt you” would forget His own words and curse them. What they got instead, was “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Forgive the very people who hate and are trying to kill you? Honestly, there’s no way I could.
Then, in that final, terrible moment when He was dying on the cross, taking on all the sins of the world, Jesus cried out like we do when we feel a sense of abandonment: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” Questions I have asked “If God is so loving, why is there so much evil? Why didn’t He answer my prayers? Why did God take my Mother after weeks of suffering before she could her me say “I love you” one last time? Why? Jesus stands at the door and knocks, but the latch is on the inside; only we can open it.
For the last three hours on that “Good Friday’, Jesus had been about His Father’s business. His passion and death avail us nothing unless we take up our cross and follow Him. Unless there is a ‘Crown of Thorns’, there will never be a glorified body; unless there is the thirst, there will never be the Heavenly refreshment. Jesus work is finished, but is ours? For unless there is a “Good Friday’ in our lives, there will never be an Easter Sunday.
Norm Beznoska Jr., aka Navyman Norm, is a Strongsville, OH resident . He contributes to the ARRA News Service via articles and Letters to the Editor.
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Obama Spikes The Football - No Mention Of The Millions Of Americans Who Were Deceived
Politico: “Obama spikes the football.” In a press conference yesterday, the president made a big deal again over Obamacare enrollment numbers, but even the mainstream media wasn’t convinced by the cherry picking of statistics.
Reuters recaps, “President Barack Obama mounted a vigorous effort on Thursday to show his signature healthcare law is working and dismissed Republican critics who are using flaws in Obamacare to campaign for ousting Democrats from the U.S. Congress in November. Appearing in the White House briefing room days before leaving the national stage for a week-long trip to Asia, Obama used a news conference to make the case that the Affordable Care Act had mended nicely from its disastrous October rollout. He announced that 8 million people had now signed up for health insurance and that 35 percent of enrollees through the federal marketplace are under the age of 35.” But, Reuters adds, “Obama's remarks reflected deep concerns at the White House that Republicans may be able to topple Democrats from control of the U.S. Senate in November elections and build on their majority in the House of Representatives. A Republican-run Congress would make legislative achievements in Obama's last two years in office difficult.”
Politico casts a critical eye on the Obama administrations statistics. “OK, Obama’s proud of the final enrollment number. We got it,” they write. However, “There are still key details that the White House hasn’t included in past enrollment announcements, and it didn’t this time either. The numbers still don’t say how many of the 8 million people have paid their premiums, because they’re not officially enrolled until they’ve paid. The best estimates from the insurance industry have suggested that anywhere from 15 percent to 20 percent haven’t paid yet, though at least some of those have been trying and some will likely settle their bills. And the numbers still don’t tell us how many of the new customers were uninsured before, and how many were just swapping out one health insurance plan for another. In fact, the Obama administration didn’t release a full enrollment report on Thursday, as was widely expected. Instead, it just circulated the topline figures in the White House fact sheet, which gave health care experts — and the critics — less information to go on. And when it did release the numbers, it played up the best ones. The number that leaked early in the day was the age mix: 35 percent of the people who signed up in the federal health insurance exchange were under age 35. But that figure includes children. The number that mattered more to most health care experts was the young adults age 18 to 34 — and 28 percent of the new customers were in that group. . . . But the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Larry Levitt said that number is ‘still short of the target population’ of young adults.”
And while the White House is waving its arms and shouting about enrollment numbers, the many failures of Obamacare continue to make themselves apparent, as the editors of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reminds us today, “For the Affordable Care Act, the other shoe has dropped so many times that the legislation now needs to grow feet at a prolific pace to keep up. And far from being over, there are many more shoes to drop in the coming months and years, with the latest being significant — and in some cases exorbitant — increases in monthly premiums. As reported by Scott Gottlieb for Forbes.com, health insurance premiums are showing historically sharp increases, based on a survey earlier this month of 148 brokers in the individual and small group markets. The survey, conducted by Morgan Stanley health care analysts, noted that rates in those two categories accelerated more in the past quarter than in any of the 12 prior quarterly periods in which the survey was conducted. The average increase exceeds 11 percent in the small group market (employers of 1-100 people) and 12 percent in the individual market, with analysts concluding to Mr. Gottlieb that the “increases are largely due to changes in the ACA.” Not surprisingly, of the four areas noted as primary causes of the increases, one is that Obamacare does not allow insurers to vary premiums between young and old beneficiaries based on the actual costs of providing the coverage. Eleven to 12 percent is a pretty significant uptick, especially since premiums have been on the rise over the past two years as more of Obamacare’s regulations have been implemented.”
They point out, “Like almost everything else with Obamacare, this is not what we were promised. . . . It can’t be said enough that, for all but a limited number of people, Obamacare is massively punitive and getting more so by the day, be it through increased premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, forcing people to lose their current doctors and plans, or the actual tax penalty for not holding an Obamacare-compliant policy. Repeal the law and start over, before it starts raining shoes.”
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday, “Noticeably absent from the President’s remarks today was any mention of the millions of Americans who were deceived about what Obamacare would mean for them and their families. Countless Americans have unexpectedly been forced out of the plans they had and liked, are now shouldering dramatically higher premiums, and can no longer use the doctors and hospitals they choose. It’s long past time for Washington Democrats to work with us to remedy the mess they created — and that means repealing this law and replacing it with real reforms that actually lower costs.”
Tags: President Obama, spiking the football, Obamacare, millions deceived To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Thursday, April 17, 2014
CBO: President's Budget To Nearly Quadruple Annual Interest Payments On The Debt
Today, the Congressional Budget Office released its estimation of the President’s FY15 budget plan. According to CBO’s estimate, the President’s plan will bring annual interest payments on the debt to $838 billion in one single year. That single year’s payment will be more than 82 times what we’ll spend on the FBI in that year and nearly 17 times what we’ll spend on the federal highway and road safety budget.
Tax-And Spend Plan Would Raise Nation’s Debt By $9.4 Trillion
The President’s budget would increase deficits by $117 billion over the first five years covered by the plan, and reduce deficits by just $261 billion over the full 11 years covered by the budget projections (after equalizing costs for overseas contingency operations). In fact, deficits will not be reduced below current policy projections until 2018—after President Obama leaves office. Fully 85 percent of the net reduction in deficits will occur in 2023 and 2024, the last two years of the budget window, making it less likely that those reductions in the deficit will come to pass.
Moreover, $158 billion of the net deficit reduction in the CBO’s analysis of the President’s budget comes from the assumption that Congress will enact an immigration bill similar to the legislation that passed the Senate last year, which the House of Representatives says it will not consider. Additionally, because that money results from pension payments, it should not be double-counted towards new spending—those who paid in will draw out that and more upon retirement. Removing that phantom deficit reduction from CBO’s figures reveals that the President’s taxing and spending policies reduce deficits by only $103 billion, with all of that amount coming from tax increases.
According to JCT and CBO, enacting the President’s revenue policies would increase net taxes by almost $1 trillion ($934 billion) over the budget window, while net expenditures would be increased by $831 billion. The President’s budget calls for a total 10-year spending increase of 67 percent from today’s levels (from an annual budget of $3.5 trillion today to $5.9 trillion in 2024).
Tax increases stem primarily from proposals to limit the tax benefits of itemized deductions and exclusions ($498 billion), increases in estate and gift taxes ($96 CBO Analysis: billion), and higher taxes on tobacco products ($78 billion). Mandatory spending increases are primarily for continuing and increasing temporary refundable tax credits (accounted for as spending, $193 billion), ending current law across-the-board savings in cCBO Analysis: ertain mandatory programs ($121 billion, largely Medicare), and increased funding for education and job training ($119 billion).
CBO’s report confirms that the President would increase FY 2015 discretionary (that is, annually appropriated) spending $56 billion above the Ryan-Murray spending caps, which he just signed into law in December. In addition, the budget would provide for higher spending above the caps of almost $2 billion through proposed cap adjustments for wildland fire management and IRS tax enforcement. The President proposes increasing base discretionary budget authority by $309 billion above the current-law caps over the next five years, and by $457 billion over the next 10 years.
The budget reduces net health care spending by $125 billion over the 10 years. Medicare is reduced by $373 billion, but $228 billion of the savings are restored ($124 billion for a permanent ‘doc fix’ plus $104 billion to turn off the Medicare sequester), for a net savings of $146 billion. That amount is further reduced by $21 billion in net mandatory spending increases proposed for Medicaid and other health programs.
Because the President’s policies do little to change the nation’s dangerous debt trajectory, interest costs climb and gross federal debt continues to soar. Interest costs exceed base defense spending in 2019, just five years from now. The annual carrying cost of the national debt reaches $838 billion in 2024, almost quadruple the $227 billion cost projected for this year in CBO’s baseline. Debt reaches $26.1 trillion by the end of 2024, up $9.4 trillion from where it stood at the beginning of this budget year—and fundamentally unchanged from the $26.4 trillion it would reach in the absence of the President’s budget.
Tags: CBO, CBO Analysis, FY15, White House, President Obama, budget, quadruples, annual interest payments, on debt To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Retailers Head to Energy Boom States
by Sean Hackbarth, Contributing Author: Here’s an example of how the benefits of the shale energy boom radiate beyond the oil and gas industry. The Wall Street Journal reports that Home Depot opened only one store [subscription required] this past fiscal year, and it was in Minot, North Dakota, near the Bakken shale formation.
Home Depot went there because energy production is driving economic growth:
He also posted a map showing that every county in the state saw at least 14% per-capital personal income growth from 2007-2012.
It’s no wonder Home Depot has expanded there.
Other major retailers see these trends as well:
The same was true of micropolitan statistical areas, those ranging in size from 10,000 to 50,000 people, near oil and gas development. Seven of the fastest growing micro-areas were located in or near the Great Plains, with Williston, ND, ranked first in growth, followed by Dickinson, ND, and Andrews, TX.
States that aren’t sitting on top of energy deposits also benefit from the shale energy boom, according to a 2012 report by IHS for the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. For example:
As seen by what’s happening in North Dakota, this growth will also ripple outward into the broader economy.
Tags: retailers, setting up shop, relocating, new stores, energy, boom states, North Dakota, Texas, Sean Hackbarth, Free Enterprise To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Christianity in Troubled Times
Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: The vast ignorance of American history by far too many Americans is perhaps demonstrated in the failure to understand that it was the free practice of their interpretation of Christianity by the pilgrims that led to the creation of America. Plymouth colony, established in 1620, put the Atlantic Ocean between them and hostilities they had encountered in England.
To understand the role of religion in America, the First Amendment begins with a prohibition that the states shall make no law “respecting an establishment of religion...” The Founders wanted to make sure that neither the federal, nor state governments designated a particular religion as the only one. We can thank James Madison for that and the other enumerated freedoms.
Religious tolerance, which took some time to become fully established in the colonies and the new nation, has been a significant part of life in America---a nation that has always been predominantly Christian. Easter should remind us of that.
As 2012 came to a close, the Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project offered the following numbers regarding the global population of Christians. They were determined to be approximately 2.2 billion worldwide. That’s about one-in-three (32%).
About half of all Christians are Catholic (50%) while an estimated 37% belong to the Protestant tradition. The Orthodox Communion, including the Greek and Russian Orthodox, make up 12% of Christians while those who belong to other branches such as Mormons, Christian Scientists, and Jehovah Witnesses, make up about 1% of the global population.
Though Christianity took root in the Middle East, less than 1% of Christians are found these days either there or in North Africa. The largest concentration is in Europe (26%), followed closely by Latin American and the Caribbean (24%), and sub-Saharan Africa (24%). Most Christians (87%) live in countries where Christians are in the majority. Of the 232 countries and territories in the Pew study, 157 had majorities, but most had relatively small populations.
What surely has to be a cause for concern in America are the results of a Harris poll released in December 2013. While a strong majority (74%) of U.S. adults said they believe in God, the figure was down from 82% in earlier years. Belief in miracles, heaven, and other religious teachings were all in decline.
For Christians, 68% expressed a belief that Jesus is God or the Son of God, down from 72%. Belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ (65%) was down from 72% ten years earlier.
Ranging across various faith groups and other demographics, absolute certainty that there is a God was expressed by 54%, a decline from 66%.
Only 19% described themselves as “very” religious, while 40% described themselves as “somewhat” religious, a decline from 49% in 2007. Nearly one-fourth of Americans (23%) said they were “not at all” religious, a figure that has nearly doubled since 2007 when it was only 12%.
A campaign against the free practice of religion and respect for individual religious values has been in place since the election of President Obama in 2008. It has been particularly evident in the U.S. military, affecting its chaplains and those to whom they minister. There are nearly a hundred cases in U.S. courts resisting the demands of Obamacare and other actions by the administration and those in various states and cities that affect religious beliefs and values.
The introduction and support of same-sex marriage in the United States is a direct attack on a tradition that pre-dates Christianity, Judaism and other faiths. It is fundamentally anti-religious.
Beyond our shores the slaughter of Christians by Muslims in Middle Eastern and nations like Nigeria continues to pose a threat to them and those of other faiths. Islam is the greatest threat to civilization that has existed since its rise began in 632 A.D.
All Americans owe a debt of gratitude to those early pilgrims and to the Founders who understood the value of religion and its free expression. Those who demand that crosses be removed from public lands or that Christmas carols not be sung in our schools do not understand what America is all about. Christians, in particular, must vocally resist such demands and should be joined by those of other faiths.
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: Christianity, troubled times, American, Alan Caruba, warning signs To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Cooking The Books
Via a new Fox News Poll:
Two big topics for Democrats is competency and credibility. And Obamacare, Cooking the Census data, IRS abuse of conservative groups and taxpayersm and the fictional “wars” on groups of Americans are just some of the examples.
Tags: Census Bureau, Obama White House, Obamacare data, cooking the books, polling, Barack Obama, lies, editorial cartoon, AF Branco To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Michael Bloomberg's Theology
Hat Tip The Patriot Post: Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is preparing to spend $50 million in a campaign against the NRA on gun control. “We've got to make them afraid of us,” he declared. We suppose it's too obvious to point out that the NRA has all the guns, so they're probably not afraid of a nanny stater like Bloomberg.
He also spoke about his policy preferences in relation to his mortality. At 72, perhaps he's thinking more of the end of his life now, but he's not worried because his work to take away gun rights, as well as to fight the menaces of sugar and smoking, is his ticket beyond the pearly gates. He says, “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I'm not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It's not even close.”
What unbelievable and utterly obnoxious arrogance. But then again we knew that about him. Only such incredible hubris can explain why he thinks he knows better than everyone else – including God – about so many things.
ARRA News Editor: In closing, Bloomberg's arrogance and pride deserve an appropriate response:
Proverbs 8:13 "To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech."
Proverbs 11:2 "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom."
Proverbs 13:10 "Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice."
Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."
Proverbs 29:23 "A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor."
Ecclesiastes 7:8 "The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride."
Isaiah 2:11 "The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day."
Obadiah 1:3 "The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, 'Who can bring me down to the ground?'"
Tags: Michael Bloomberg, theology, arrogance, pride 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. Gives Foreigners Taxpayer Money to Import Stuff from America. What?
Amy Payne, Heritage Foundation: Is there anything the U.S. government doesn’t take taxpayer dollars to do?
Here’s a lesser-known function of your hard-earned money: providing backing for people in other countries to buy things from America.
Come again? Yes, that’s right. Let’s say Air China wants to purchase some Boeing jets. To encourage that purchase, America’s Export-Import Bank could loan Air China the money. If Air China were to default on the loan, U.S. taxpayers would be left on the hook.
Put simply, taxpayers should not be financing this kind of “bank”—which is “little more than a fund for corporate welfare,” as candidate Barack Obama described it in 2008.
The Ex-Im Bank, as it is called, is scheduled to expire in September—giving Congress an opportunity to end this program and focus on issues that matter to Americans, like lowering taxes and reducing burdens on businesses here at home.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) recently wrote that the Ex-Im Bank primarily helps big businesses that have friends in Washington.
This kind of public policy privilege, best described as “crony capitalism,” is a threat to the free market and its moral underpinnings.
Ex-Im loans can subsidize purchases by foreign governments as well as businesses in their countries—and those businesses may be competing with U.S. firms. This doesn’t help the U.S. economy. Heritage expert Diane Katz explains:
Tags: corporate welfare, cronyism, Export-Import Bank, taxpayer dollars, taxpayers, Amy Payne, Heritage Foundation To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Study: Obamacare Hits Seniors With $1,500 Benefit Cut
New Study Shows ‘Obamacare's Medicare Advantage Cuts Will Lead To Benefit Reductions Of About $1,500 Per Beneficiary’
UT Seniors: “My husband and I have been personally affected by the recent healthcare reforms that resulted in $200 billion in funding losses to Medicare Advantage. Our medical providers informed us that they are no longer participating in our plan.” (Sen. Hatch, Constituent Mail, 1/27/14)
CT Senior: “Dorathy Senay's doctor had some bad news after her last checkup, but it wasn't about her serious blood disorder called amyloidosis. Her Medicare Advantage managed care plan ... is terminating the doctor's contract Feb. 1. She is also losing her oncologist at the prestigious Yale Medical Group — the entire 1,200 physician practice was axed.” (“UnitedHealthCare Medicare Advantage Cuts Doctors,” Kaiser Health News, 11/29/13)
NY Senior: ‘Obama had said I could keep my doctor. Now they’re doing away with my doctor. They kicked him out! After 20 years, that’s not right’ “ObamaCare is making seniors sick. Elderly New Yorkers are in a panic after getting notices that insurance companies are booting their doctors from the Medicare Advantage program as a result of the shifting medical landscape under ObamaCare… [Dr. Jonathan] Leibowitz’s patients are furious. Alfred Gargiulio, who has cerebral palsy with a seizure disorder, has been seeing Leibowitz since 1993. ‘Obama had said I could keep my doctor. Now they’re doing away with my doctor. They kicked him out! After 20 years, that’s not right. We love Dr. Leibowitz,’ said Gargiulio.” (“Elderly Patients Sick Over Losing Doctors Under Obamacare,” New York Post, 10/25/13)
FL Senior: “The AARP managed care network [George Smith] had relied on for years will drop all eight of his and his wife's doctors as of Jan. 1. ‘I couldn't believe it. I have my house and car and everything insured through AARP,’ said Smith, 73. ‘I thought, “They are not going to drop me. I've been a member for years.”’ … Patients have received letters telling them to seek new physicians if they want to stay on the plan. Doctors … have learned that AARP plans will stop paying for their services next year.” (“Patients Scramble After AARP Medicare Advantage Plans Drop Providers,” Tampa Bay Times, 10/21/13)
KY Seniors: It’s “tough for seniors to have to find new doctors, especially for those who live in a rural area. It means travelling greater distances and spending more on gas. It is a sad thing when good doctors leave a plan because of funding cuts.” (Sen. McConnell, Constituent Mail, 1/31/14)
NY Senior: ‘It hurts, it hurts inside and it’s a terrible feeling to think that you can’t get what you want’ “Doctors are getting bumped off plans and their patients are getting worried, Brennan reported. ‘I just can’t believe it because this is the man you rely on,’ heart patient Leonard Goldberg, 82, said. ‘It hurts, it hurts inside and it’s a terrible feeling to think that you can’t get what you want,’ Tony Molesphini, 83, said. ‘Nobody wants to die, me above all people,’ 79-year-old Jim Heffernan said. The three men with heart trouble say their biggest problem is losing the doctor they’ve had for decades, and they fear for their future. … They claim that they that this is a way of cutting costs which they have to do because they are getting a reduction in their reimbursement for the Medicare Advantage plans due to the Affordable Care Act,” [Dr. David Hess] told Brennan.” (“Doctors Dropped By Insurers As Affordable Care Act Rollout Continues,” CBS New York, 11/1/13)
FL Senior: “A Medicare Advantage plan that covers 35,000 beneficiaries in Southwest Florida is dropping at least 300 doctors and hard-to-find medical specialists from its Southwest Florida network… Cape Coral resident Joseph Ryan said his 92-year-old mother will lose access to her regular dermatologist, orthopedist and gastroenterologist, among others. He's heard similar stories involving scores of doctors from others. ‘That's an awful lot of doctors and an awful lot of people who are going to have to figure out what to do in January,’ Ryan said. ‘It's not just one or two doctors.’” (“United Healthcare Dumps Doctors,” The News-Press, 10/18/13)
Tags: Obamacare, hirsa seniors, $1500 benefit cut, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Gov. Mike Pence Calls For Peace Through Strength
Governor Pence insists he has not made any decisions about 2016, but I am glad to see him speaking out on critical issues confronting our country. Today he delivered a speech in Berlin, Germany, challenging President Obama to restore the missile defense shield to our European allies that he cancelled in 2009.
One might expect the governor of Indiana to highlight agricultural exports. And I am sure that was one of the focuses of his trip. But having served a decade on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Gov. Pence knows what he is talking about when it comes to foreign policy and national security. Here are some excerpts of his remarks today:
"And, with continued instability in the Middle East, Iran's ongoing effort to develop long-range missiles and nuclear technology, and Putin's annexation of Crimea and aggression in Ukraine, I believe we must take immediate steps to deploy a robust missile defense in Europe -- especially Poland and the Czech Republic -- to protect the interests of our NATO allies and the United States in the region.
Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families
Tags: Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families, Mike Pence, Governor, Indiana, Peace Through Strength, Berlin, Germany, Russian aggression To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Declaring War on Americans
Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: You have to be extremely stupid to send a couple of hundred armed government agents to confiscate some bullheaded rancher’s cattle without contemplating how the rest of the nation will interpret your actions.
What was obvious to voters who rejected Barack Obama’s run for the presidency the first and second time was the fact that he lacked any record of competency to be President. The rest voted for him because they wanted to say they helped elect the first black President of the United States and because they believed what this pathological liar said then and since.
The assertion that Obama’s and Eric Holder’s actions and policies are opposed because they are black is absurd. It is an insult to everyone who voted for Obama and to the rest of us.
I love the notion that Cliven Bundy lives in Bunkerville. It reminded me of Bunker Hill and you know how badly that eventually turned out for the British in 1775. What ensued was a guerrilla war led by George Washington that defeated the most powerful nation of its time. There is no way a militia with small arms can defeat the kind of arms the U.S. government can bring to bear on such a battle, but one has to admire the courage of those people who showed up to confront them. That’s quintessentially American!
Bundy should have paid his grazing rights fees. Other ranchers do. What he has done, however, is bring greater awareness the amount of land that the federal government owns in Nevada and elsewhere, particularly west of the Mississippi, and expose a regime that wants to intimidate Americans with force.
According to Wikipedia, “The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an agency within the United States Department of the Interior that administers America's public lands, totaling approximately 247.3 million acres, or one-eighth of the landmass of the country. The BLM also manages 700 million acres (2,800,000 km) of subsurface mineral estate underlying federal, state, and private lands. Most public lands are located in western states, especially Alaska. With approximately 10,000 permanent employees and close to 2,000 seasonal employees, this works out to over 21,000 acres (85 km) per employee. The agency's budget was $960,000,000 for 2010 ($3.79 per surface acre, $9.38 per hectare)”
I can understand the need for national forests and reserves, but I have concerns that those reserves are used as an excuse to deny access to massive energy sources that lie beneath their surface. If the U.S. didn’t own most of Nevada, Bundy would not need to pay grazing fees. Most certainly, his ancestors didn’t. The other excuse, that the government is trying to protect an endangered tortoise, is just part of the environmental movement’s efforts to keep energy sources from being available to all of us. Endangered species is pure fiction.
What worries me and many of my blogger colleagues is the prospect of a renewed effort by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regarding what is essentially a fairly minor dispute between it and Bundy. Showing some common sense, the BLM backed off its initial effort.
I don’t think the BLM response to Bundy was exclusive to the agency. That decision needed to be sent up the line as far as the White House. Indeed, it was likely initiated by the White House.
Even more scary is the fact that only Fox News channel had reporters on the scene. No other major television news outlet set journalists to record the event. How much in league with the White House does the media have to be to ignore two hundred armed government agents descending on a ranch in Nevada?
I suspect that a lot of Americans and most certainly those who live in the rural areas of the nation are going to remember the Bundy face-off with the BLM come the November midterm elections. While most voters are crowded into the cities on the East and West Coasts, there are a lot of others in “flyover country.’
When you add in all the folks who lost their healthcare insurance and others who have discovered they can’t even buy a policy until next January, that’s going to be a voting bloc that could decimate Democratic Party candidates.
All tyrannies over-reach at some point and we are seeing that occur in the White House. The nation is fortunate to have the House controlled by Republicans and now needs a Senate as well in order to dispense some much needed justice on behalf of Americans.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the White House responds to the May 16 “Operation American Spring” being organized to bring a million or more to Washington, D.C. to participate in an event that will demonstrate the breadth of the unhappiness that has spread since Obama’s first election and is gaining momentum since his second.
The White House response will tell us all a lot about its current state of mind. Whatever it has in mind is likely to leak. The best thing about Washington, D.C. is its inability to keep a secret. The worst thing is the Obama administration and the Democratic Party.
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: declaring war, on Americans, BLM, Nevada, rancher, tyrannies, Obama administration, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
2014 Tax Day Chart: Who Pays the Most?
Michael Sargent, Heritage Foundation: Which taxpayers experience the greatest tax burden—and who pays the most in taxes?
labyrinthine tax code ahead of tax day, many felt the sting of the President’s myriad tax increases.
Despite calls for more taxes on the rich, the Heritage chart shown above reveals that the recent tax increases disproportionately affect the working wealthy. The top 10 percent of all income earners paid 71 percent of federal income taxes in 2010, yet they earned 45 percent of all federal income. Compare that to the bottom 50 percent of earners, who earn 12 percent of income yet pay only 2 percent of federal income taxes.
So when Obama and advocates of higher federal taxes opine that the rich do not pay their “fair share,” they are correct—affluent income-earners pay a whole lot more than they would pay if we had a proportional tax code instead of the highly progressive one we have today.
While taxes have increased for most taxpayers, the wealthy are—relative to the rest of the population—increasingly shouldering the federal tax burden. The Wall Street Journal’s John McKinnon notes that this burden has shifted largely as a result of the tax changes passed at the start of 2013 during the fiscal cliff debates. These changes include a “bump in the top ordinary income rate to 39.6% from 35%, a limit on itemized deductions and an increase in the top rate on investment income.”
But the tax misery is not limited only to the well-to-do. All taxpayers faced an average tax increase of 1.8 percent in 2013. Indeed, Heritage tax expert Curtis Dubay uncovered no less than 13 tax increases that kicked in at the beginning of the year, six of which came on the coattails of Obamacare. Taxpayers also face state and local tax burdens that remain high in much of the country, as well as the prospect of rising payroll taxes in the future.
In addition to stifling economic growth, many of these new taxes—especially those on income—penalize success and discourage work. As Dubay has written, it is imperative to reform the tax code because families would be able to earn more, “but would not pay higher marginal tax rates on their higher earnings. The tax code would not punish families as it does today for being more successful and for earning higher compensation because they are more productive.”
Reform represents a pro-growth agenda that would encourage work and savings to a far greater extent than the current system, which rewards those who can best exploit the arbitrary breaks in the tax code. If President Obama and Congress were serious about creating a more just and efficient tax code—in which everyone paid his “fair share”—they would reform the tax code, rather than levying more taxes on Americans and further complicating the system with additional rules.
Tags: Economics, taxpayers, tax burden, Tax Day, chart, Michael Sargent, Heritage Foundation To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
IRS Sticker Shock
WaPo: "Conservatives Not Swayed By IRS Plan To Revise Proposed Nonprofit Rule"
The Washington Post reports today, “The head of the Internal Revenue Service this week signaled that his agency will re-write proposed new limits on the political activities of nonprofit advocacy groups . . . . Lawmakers and policy analysts on both sides of the political spectrum have voiced opposition to the draft guidelines, which would prohibit tax-exempt organizations from engaging in certain election-related activities including voter-registration and get-out-the-vote drives. Conservatives have argued that the proposals are part of an Obama administration plot to silence criticism from the right. Liberals have said the plans go too far and need reworking.”
The Post notes that the IRS Commissioner’s comments have “fail[ed] to win over conservatives.” “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), one of the staunchest opponents of the limits, responded with backhanded approval to the IRS walking back its initial proposals. He has said that the Obama administration should drop its plans for new regulations affecting nonprofit advocacy groups. ‘The commissioner has the ability to stop the IRS from stepping on the First Amendment altogether, and that’s exactly what he should do,’ McConnell said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Cleta Mitchell, a conservative election-law expert, said in an interview on Tuesday that the Obama administration has been working ‘behind closed doors’ and ‘in secret’ to develop new rules that would hinder nonprofit advocacy groups with right-leaning policy positions. ‘It doesn’t give me comfort that [Koskinen] says he’s re-writing the draft regulations,’ Mitchell said. ‘This is a flawed process that is going to continue to produce a flawed product.’”
Mitchell is quite right. The IRS needs to get out of the business of regulating political speech altogether.
Remember, this proposal was so poorly conceived that the ACLU warned it would “impermissibly chill political speech that should receive the highest level of protection under the First Amendment” and the NRA agreed that it “appears like a blatant abuse of the tax code designed to muzzle the American people's free speech rights.” The League of Women Voters called it “a terrible mistake, both for voters and for our democracy.” And an Americans for Prosperity spokesman said, “Because the proposed rules are so sweeping, categorical, and prohibitive, they will almost certainly affect organizations both large and small with equally draconian effects.”
As Leader McConnell said, the message from both liberals and conservatives to the IRS was, “Leave. The First Amendment. Alone. Get out of the censorship and harassment business. Stick to the job you’re actually supposed to be doing. . . . So Left, Right, or Center — folks understand what a threat this rule poses to our most cherished of civil liberties. . . . [W]hat unites us is our love of the liberties that have allowed Americans to disagree civilly for centuries. Commissioner Koskinen: Do the right thing. Stop this regulation.”
Tags: IRS Plan, revise nonprofit rule, limiting free speech To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Syvia Burwell Draws The Rath of Veterans - SOS Lunches Barricade Burwell From HHS Confirmation
"But with the help of thousands of you, active and retired men and women from all branches of the military, we tore down those insults to our sacrifice and service and left them on Obama's front doorstep. It seems he has a very short memory -- but no matter -- we're going to remind him what a group of pissed-off veterans sounds like.
"Join us in stopping Sylvia Burwell from receiving the Senate's confirmation on her appointment to Secretary of HHS. Demand the Senate stand up to Obama and his system of rewarding his yes-men for their blind obedience and betrayal of the American people. They walked us into this Obamacare-nightmare and now they owe it to the people they represent to stop the confirmation of Sylvia Burwell.
"Because who knows where her Barycades would end up next." SOS Petition
Tags: Syvia Burwell, President Obama, nomination, Secretary HHS, Burwell, locked down, WWII Memorial, Barricades, SOS, petition, Special Operations Speaks To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Ukraine Falling to Economic Warfare and Its Own Missteps
As violence overtakes Ukraine in the east and Russian soldiers amass on the borders, it might be time to take a serious look at what Moscow's stated grievances are and why Ukraine's new leaders need to look east for unity and how they missed the boat on energy. ~ James Stafford, Editor OilPrice.com
Pro-Russian militia groups have seized government buildings and police headquarters in Ukraine's eastern city of Donetsk and Slovyanks -- where the shoot-out took place--and despite a Monday morning ultimatum by the Ukrainian government, these groups have shown no sign of giving in.
There has been no movement by the Ukrainian military to make good on its ultimatum; indeed, the messages have been unclear and contradictory.
Acting president Oleksander Turchinov has dangled the idea of a referendum that would seek to address the demands of the region's Russian-speaking population for more autonomy. In the same breath, Turchinov on Sunday promised a "large-scale anti-terrorist operation" to prevent another incident such as Crimea, which was annexed by Russia last month.
On Sunday, Moscow requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), while NATO came out with estimations that Russia had amassed up to 40,000 troops in more than 100 locations along its border with Ukraine.
This is the atmosphere that leads us up to 25 May presidential elections in Ukraine, which will be shaped by metamorphosing relations with Russia-and by energy.
Over the past few years, Ukraine's relationship with Russia has become increasingly adversarial, in tandem with Russian President Vladimir Putin's desire to increase his status and dominion.
But it is through the spectrum of energy that we have seen the more poignant phases of this change. The current controversial gas supply agreement Ukraine has with Russia was put in place less because of Putin's negotiating skills and more because of a concerted effort by former prime minister and current presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko to destroy the Ukrainian gas lobby run by oligarch Dmitry Firtash.
While Ukraine has always struggled with gas supply issues, this really changed the dynamic. Yuri Boyko - former energy minister and another current presidential candidate--has gone from a close working relationship to a very strained one with Russia as he sought to both keep the population supplied with cheap gas and to increase the country's independent energy supply.
Boyko's plans to further diversify the industry were halted when he was promoted to the position of vice-prime minister and Eduard Stavitsky, a member of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych's inner circle, was given the energy portfolio. At that point, all efforts towards energy independence abruptly ceased.
What's going on now is geopolitical and geoeconomic battle for the region, driven by loss of Russian credibility and Moscow's control of the Ukrainian presidency when Yanukovych was ousted in February.
But it's important in all of this to pay close attention to what Russia is airing as its grievances, which included: an illegitimate Ukrainian government led by radicals; unprotected Russian speakers in the eastern regions; and $11 billion in unpaid Ukrainian gas debt.
What Moscow is saying, then, is that the current administration has zero representation from the eastern portion of the country. It is important to remember that over 40% of the Ukrainian population-all from the east-was against signing the economic cooperation agreement with the European Union, which was carried out immediately after the annexation of the Crimea in late March.
Russia can realistically argue that the Maidan protest movement drove the political section process, and that the current government is not representative of the country as a whole. The current administration was interested in placating the Maidan and moving towards Europe, not necessarily in united the country.
And what have they accomplished? Nothing. There are still people protesting in the Maidan; Crimea is gone; and eastern Ukraine is under threat of attack from Russia.
The current leadership should also take responsibility for its role in provoking the current situation. They refused to speak with Russia once they assumed leadership, stating they had support from Europe and the United States. At the same time, some politicians and ministers are busy conducting their own brand of justice, accusing anyone that is of the former government of crimes with little to no justification and trying to take advantage of their few remaining weeks in office to position themselves for future power.
What Russia wants is an integrated representative government. If this is realized, Moscow will no longer be able to play the legitimacy card. If Petro Poroshenko, who is leading in the polls right now, wins the , then Ukraine will need a prime minister that is accepted in the east in order to have an integrated government.
This new government will also need to find an effective way to pay the country's gas debt to Russia, because that will not disappear. The only way to do that is to start selling off energy assets and privatizing the energy infrastructure.
Russia has been able to manipulate Ukraine's energy dependency to the benefit and pursuit of its foreign policy goals. We're seeing this very clearly today as Putin has called for the payment of $38 billion from Ukraine, the result of unpaid gas sales and the removal of the discount for the Black Sea port in Crimea.
Ukraine's economic crisis had been transformed into geoeconomic warfare caused by Russia's control of supply to Europe and Ukraine's failure to develop its own internal energy resources. And it cannot be coincidental that Russian troops are building up close to Ukraine's gas pipelines.
Ukraine presents the most powerful example of Russia's use of the energy weapon as a means to influence the foreign policy orientation of a post-Soviet state, and as "testing ground" for Russia's possible use of energy as a foreign policy weapon elsewhere in the former USSR and beyond.
However, Ukraine's new leadership has to take responsibility here as well. The current situation is not as black and white as our Cold War mentalities tempt us to believe. The onus is now on Kiev, and there are diplomatic and economic ways to halt the violent progression and render Moscow's arguments moot.
© OilPrice.com - This article was contributed to the ARRA News Service by James Stafford, Editor, OilPrice.com, the leading online energy news site. Its news and analysis covers all energy sectors from crude oil and natural gas to solar energy and hydro.
Tags: Ukraine, fractions, divisions, Russia, energy assets, natural gas, pipeline, Ukraine's gas pipelines, OilPrice.com, Robert Bensh, editorial cartoon, AF Branco To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
America Loves Booze and Pot
Americans love booze and love pot. What the long term effects on our society will be are unknown, but there will be effects. ~ Alan Caruba
Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: In 1919 the eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution prohibited the manufacture, sale or transportation of “intoxicating liquors” in the United States and by 1933 the era of prohibition was over when the twenty-first Amendment rescinded it. Alcohol consumption was and is a social problem, but sometimes the government is not the right vehicle for dealing with them.
The United States is a huge market for what are deemed illegal drugs and, for many years, marijuana has been among them. That prohibition is now going the way of the earlier effort to make alcohol consumption illegal. Questions remain as to whether this is a good thing or not.
A study by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health whose results were released in February examined automobile deaths resulting from marijuana use while driving. The data was gathered from six states that perform toxicology tests on drivers involved in fatal accidents. It found that drugs played an increasing role in such accidents, accounting for more than 28% in 2010, 16% more than in 1999 and marijuana was the main drug involved in the increase, contributing to 12%, compared to only 4% in 1999.
“Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana,” said Dr. Guohua Le, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia. “If a driver is under the influence of alcohol, their risk of a fatal crash is 13 times higher than the risk of a driver who is not, but the driver under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana then increased to 24 times that of a sober person.”
Those numbers will rise in the years ahead because two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized recreational use of marijuana and twenty states allow medical use. Observers of the trend predict that a dozen more states are expected to legalize marijuana in some form over the next several years. One study has projected a $10 billion legal marijuana industry by 2018.
More than a dozen members of Congress have sponsored legislation aimed at reforming federal marijuana laws and the federal government allowed Colorado’s and Washington’s laws to take effect last year. Medical use has gained public acceptance and the Federal Drug Administration recently gave the green light to a clinical study in its efficacy in children with severe epilepsy. The Department of Health and Human Services has approved a study that will examine its effect on veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
President Obama recently signed a Farm Bill that legalized “industrialized hemp production” for research purposes in the twelve states that permit it after a decades-long war on cannabis that is clearly winding down.
The use of marijuana took off in a big way in the 1960s, a decade famed for many liberal causes and a generation of young people that rejected opposition to it. In many ways, legalizing marijuana has been a liberal cause.
In early April, the Washington Times reported that “Billionaire philanthropist George Soros hopes the U.S. is going to pot, and he is using his money to drive it there. With a cadre of like-minded, wealthy donors, Mr. Soros is dominating the pro-legalization side of the marijuana debate by funding grass-roots initiatives that begin in New York City and end up affecting local politics elsewhere. Through a network of nonprofit groups, Mr. Soros has spent at least $80 million on the legalization effort since 1994.” The American Civil Liberties Union has been a leading advocate of marijuana legalization efforts.
The legalization can be seen as a liberal versus conservative political issue, but I think it is more an issue of public opinion regarding the use of marijuana, particularly as regards the fines and jail terms that have been imposed. We do this for those who abuse alcohol and logic suggests such laws will be applied to pot users as well, reducing the more aggressive fines and jail terms.
A new Time magazine polls found that 75% of Americans believe that the sale of marijuana will eventually become legal across the nation whether they supported legalization or not. The Pew Research Center conducted the polls in mid-February among 1,821 adults, finding that the number of people in favor of legalizing pot continues to grow. Four years ago 52% percent said they thought marijuana use should not be legal, but now 54% are in favor of legalization.
Most believe that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. While 69% believe that alcohol was more harmful to society, a large majority, 76%, believe that people convicted of possession of small amounts of pot should not have to serve jail time. I concur with that. I also support its use for medical purposes.
For better or worse, all societies evolve and change. The Prohibition era gave rise to organized crime to provide the booze Americans wanted to drink and the efforts to decriminalize marijuana now reflect a growing acceptance of its use for either medical or recreational use.
More drivers will die as a result, either from its use or from being in fatal accidents with those who do. Its use in the work environment will cause accidents that range from minor to fatal. It is extraordinarily curious that, while Americans have been subjected to a huge campaign to restrict smoking, the restrictions on marijuana use are being eliminated. I am not sure I see any difference here.
Americans love booze and love pot. What the long term effects on our society will be are unknown, but there will be effects.
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: America, booze, pot, marijuana, society, op-ed, Alan Caruba, warning signs To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
You Just Paid Your Taxes - Here Is A Sampling Of What You Bought
By Andrew Collins and Dustin Hurst: Uncle Sam thanks you.
An $876,752 study on snail sex
Img via tumblr.com
A University of Iowa study is trying to figure out if it’s better for snails to reproduce sexually or asexually.
A $16 million tropical vacation
Img via chicka-chicka-gifs.tumblr.com
That was the final price tag on President Obama’s most recent holiday vacations to Hawaii and Africa.
A $750,000 study on how kid cartoons contribute to obesity
The National Science Foundation awarded two grants totaling $750,000 to find out if cartoon characters are making children overweight.
A $2.4 million program to develop “origami condoms”
Img via img3.wikia.nocookie.net
If you must know, it includes male and female versions, and the “first of its kind anal condom.”
A $30,410 “beauty salon” in a federal prison
aimg via strawberrylicorice.tumblr.com
At least it’s a women’s federal prison.
Millions in drugs for prisoners
Img via cheezburger.com
Medicare sent millions in improper payments to incarcerated persons.
A $98,670 outhouse
Img via media.giphy.comThe Federal Bureau of Land Management may have just built the most expensive outhouse ever at the Swede Park Trail Head in Alaska.
$700 million of Obamacare promotion
Img via anodtothegods.com
The big doozy. Despite President Obama’s claim that the government did not “make a hard sell” for Obamacare, his administration spent nearly $700 million to promote the law.
Tags: Your taxes, at work, sampling, of what you bought, snail sex, tropical vacation for POTUS, kids cartoon. obesity, origami condoms, federal prison beauty salon, drugs for prisoners, outhouse, Obamacare promotion, WatchDog.org, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
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