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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
Friday, September 26, 2014
Every American Should Be Interested in Modi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
by Newt Gingrich: When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in the United States next week, he will do so as the winner of the largest election in history and the leader of the world’s largest democracy. Modi carried his party to victory in the May elections, when it won the greatest gains (and the first outright majority) of any Indian party in a generation.
Now, as the popular leader of 1.2 billion people, Modi is poised to become one of the most consequential figures of the 21st century. In his former post as chief minister of the state of Gujarat, Modi was a reformer and a modernizer. He pursued pro-growth economic policies, courted foreign investment, and took a tough tack against corruption. That record helped him win the election in a country frustrated by years of slower growth.
The job now before Modi as prime minister is a big one. If he wants to extend Gujarat’s economic progress to the country as a whole, he must offer policies to support the tens of millions of Indians who aspire to lift themselves into the middle class. He must clean up the government bureaucracies, which are entrenched and often corrupt. And he must have the political skill to win the public’s approval for removing other barriers to growth.
Modi faces potentially enormous domestic opposition. Every obsolete regulation has a bureaucracy and an interest group profiting from it. Every act of corruption has someone keeping the money. Every introduction of new modern competition threatens an older, more inefficient producer. Modi will have an extraordinary balancing act leading fast enough to achieve progress while carefully enough not to tear the country apart.
If he can do all of that, Modi will be an historic leader who dramatically accelerated his country’s development and improved the lives of more than a billion people.
His reception at the White House will be a remarkable reversal from just last year, when the Obama administration said it would refuse to give Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat, a visa to visit the United States. Despite his status as a leading candidate to become prime minister, the State Department declined to reconsider its visa denial dating from 2005. Back then, the State Department had cited an obscure religious liberty provision of U.S. immigration law to turn away Modi based on deadly riots that took place in Gujarat in 2002 and left more than 1,000 people dead. Modi’s critics alleged that as head of the state government, he didn’t do enough to stop the attacks. Twelve years later, however, there is still no evidence linking Modi to the violence. The Indian Supreme Court cleared him of any blame after extensive investigation.
The administration's visa snub last year presumably makes for an awkward White House reception, but Americans should hope President Obama takes this opportunity to renew the friendship between the U.S. and India. Perhaps at no time in recent history have the interests of the two countries been so aligned, making this diplomatic visit an unusually important one.
India could well end up as a key strategic ally for the U.S., especially on two of the main challenges confronting this country (and in fact much of the world): the threat of radical Islamism and the rise of an internationally aggressive China.
India knows firsthand the dangers of radical Islamism, having been the victim of several major terrorist attacks itself. Its neighbor and rival, Pakistan, is on the verge of being a failed state and is controlled in part by an intelligence service which has been implicated in horrific terrorist attacks on India. More to the point, as the Obama administration rushes to shore up Afghanistan even while preparing to withdraw American troops, few other countries have as great a stake in the stability of both Afghanistan and Pakistan as India does.
Likewise, the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia” was intended to strengthen ties between the U.S. and the far East and to counter an increasingly confrontational China. There’s no bigger counterweight in the region than India, which shares a border with China hundreds of miles long--the precise location of which is the subject this week of a military standoff between the two countries. No other country is geographically as well situated to stand astride China's shipping to the Middle East and Europe as is India.
India is already a crucial trading partner with the United States, but these common threats could make it a key ally in international affairs, as well. If he can begin that closer relationship, Prime Minister Modi could make his visit to the U.S. next week an historic event.
---------------- Newt Gingrich is a former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the U.S. House. He co-authored and was the chief architect of the "Contract with America" and a major leader in the Republican victory in the 1994 congressional elections. He is noted speaker and writer. The above commentary was shared via Gingrich Productions. Tags:India, Indian, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, United States, China, radical Islamism, Pakistan, terrorists, Newt GingrichTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:Attorney General, Eric Holder, DOJ office, bad smell, contempt of Congress, Fast and Furious, Chicago Style Politics, political carton, AF BrancoTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Attorney General Eric Holder's Nine Most Notable Controversies
by Sharyl Attkisson, The Daily Signal: The unexpected resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder follows a series of court rulings against his Department of Justice over its failure to produce documents related to the government’s “Fast and Furious” firearms operation.
Holder also has come under increasing congressional criticism for a tepid investigation of evidence that IRS officials deliberately targeted tea party and other conservative groups for greater scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status.
Calling the government’s arguments for “even more time … unconvincing,” a federal judge this week refused to grant Holder’s Justice Department the additional time it requested to turn over a list of Operation Fast and Furious documents withheld under executive privilege exerted by President Obama.
The list is referred to as a “Vaughn index” and requires the Justice Department to justify document-by-document the reasons it hasn’t released the materials. This exercise alone often prompts the release of documents.
The Justice Department sought to delay the Vaughn index until one day before the Nov. 4 midterm elections. But the court ordered the index produced by Oct. 22 instead. The order comes in a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch.
“[S]eventy-five days—plus another twenty-one, based in part on Judiciary Watch’s consent—is enough time for the government to prepare the index that this court has ordered, given that this matter has been pending for over two years,” wrote U.S. District Court Judge John Bates. “The court will therefore extend the Department’s Vaughn index submission deadline to Oct. 22, 2014—and no further.”
‘I Hope I’ve Done a Good Job’
Holder declined my repeated interview requests over the years. In a recent interview with ABC News, Holder said, “It is the honor of my professional life to serve the American people as attorney general. I hope I’ve done a good job. I’ve certainly tried to do as good a job as I can.”
Holder has served a little more than five years and seven months in office as the nation’s first black attorney general. He is also the first attorney general to be held in criminal contempt of Congress.
As the country’s lead law enforcement official but also a political appointee with great latitude to steer policy, no attorneys general escape controversy. Holder’s activist stance often proved polarizing. From the start, he made clear that he intended for civil rights protection—specifically combating the unequal treatment of black Americans—to be a top priority during his tenure.
The shooting of an unarmed, 18-year-old black suspect by a white policeman in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 9 provided Holder a prime opportunity to make his mark. His intervention drew both praise and criticism.
Holder took the unusual step of taking over a police investigation before there was any evidence of that the local police had mishandled, or would mishandle it. It was a step that the Los Angeles Times called “unusually aggressive” writing, on Aug. 20, that “Holder appears locked in an odd and unsteady competition with Missouri officials over which of them, if either, will prosecute Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson first.”
Holder also launched a broad civil rights investigation into the Ferguson police department and other police agencies in the area. His officials have already held two meetings in Ferguson to hear the opinions of black community members when it comes to their treatment by police.
In resigning today, Holder leaves his Ferguson initiative midstream.
Operation Fast and Furious
Insiders said Holder considered resigning in 2012 amid the Fast and Furious fallout but was convinced to remain in office.
Fast and Furious proved a devastating black mark on Holder and his agency. As I first reported in February 2011, federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents under the Justice Department had allowed thousands of assault rifles and other weapons to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. The controversial, secret strategy was supposedly to see where the guns ended up and take down a drug kingpin. Instead, the weapons were used in violent attacks, including the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December of 2010.
The Justice Department denied it had ever allowed guns to “walk.” And when ATF Special Agent John Dodson blew the whistle in an interview with me in March 2011, the Justice Department continued its denials and allegedly targeted Dodson for retaliatory treatment.
In subsequent congressional hearings, Holder testified he hadn’t learned of Fast and Furious until a few weeks before. When documents surfaced showing that he had repeatedly been directly sent briefings on the case, a spokesman said that Holder had misunderstood the question.
Eventually, the Justice Department retracted the denials it had made to Congress. After documents and witnesses indicated that White House officials had discussed Fast and Furious, Congress issued subpoenas. Holder withheld them and, in a bipartisan vote, was held in contempt of Congress. On the eve of the vote, June 20, 2012, President Obama declared executive privilege to withhold key documents.
Judicial Watch sued the Justice Department in September 2012 for all of the documents that Obama ordered withheld. It was the first time, and is the only time, the president has exerted executive privilege.
Agent Terry’s family issued a statement today that reads in part, “Holder’s resignation is welcomed by the Terry family and should have occurred immediately after Brian Terry’s death and the revelation that the men that killed Brian were carrying weapons supplied to them by ATF.”
A Justice Department spokesman did not respond to a request for information and comment on Holder’s resignation and accomplishments. In an ABC News report today, a Justice Department official said that, under Holder’s leadership, the department saw “historic gains in the areas of criminal justice reform and civil rights enforcement, particularly on the issues of gay rights, sentencing reform and voting rights.”
Among other “key accomplishments,” according to the Justice Department official, are Holder’s declining to defend the Defense of Marriage Act signed by President Clinton and extending federal benefits to same-sex couples.
Responding to news of the resignation, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Darrell Issa, R-Calif., called Holder “the most divisive U.S. attorney general in modern history.”
“Time and again, Eric Holder administered justice as the political activist he describes himself as instead of an unbiased law enforcement official,” wrote Issa in a statement. “By needlessly injecting politics into law enforcement, Attorney General Holder’s legacy has eroded more confidence in our legal system than any attorney General before him.”
Often cited among Holder’s controversies are his targeting of journalists and federal whistleblowers. Last year, it was revealed that the Justice Department had labeled Fox News reporter James Rosen a “co-conspirator” in one leak investigation and had seized phone records of Associated Press reporters in another.
More than two dozen news organizations signed a letter of objection, prompting Holder to modify Justice Department policies. Additionally, Holder has refused to answer questions first posed by a U.S. senator in July 2013 regarding the unauthorized, remote intrusions of my computers.
Holder also leaves the Justice Department in the middle of its investigation into the IRS’ targeting of conservative and tea party groups. The Justice Department has faced conflict-of-interest allegations because at the same time it is supposed to be independently investigating the IRS, it is also defending the IRS in civil litigation. Holder has said that his agency is impartially investigating the IRS and that no politics are at play.
-------------- Sharyl Attkisson, an Emmy award-winning investigative journalist, is a senior independent contributor to The Daily Signal. She is the author of the book, "Stonewalled." Learn more at SharylAttkisson.com and follow her (@SharylAttkisson). Tags:Eric Holder, nine notable controversies, attorney General, Holder's legacy, operation fast and furious, Sharyl Attkisson, The Daily SignalTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Rick Manning: Political pollsters have a tough job. They have to create formulas to determine if the person who they are interviewing is likely or unlikely to vote, and it is within this calculation that their reputations are made.
Typically, those who are likely to vote in an off-year election are pretty set. They are the people who always vote in elections, and a few others who are motivated by specific issues. In a wave election, the numbers of those motivated by specific issues escalates changing the electoral landscape as the candidates who are beneficiaries of this increased participation sweep to victory.
The 2014 election is rapidly looking like something new and different. Democrats are reportedly demoralized by the failed Obama Administration and general fatigue. Republicans, on the other hand, in an orgy of expectation that the primary elections believed the key to taking the Senate was getting the “electable” candidates nominated.
And get them nominated they did.
The establishment got their candidates. Now, they are staring in the face of a potentially disastrous election where their chosen ones dramatically underperform all reasonable expectations, the result of their attacks on their own political party’s base to cement primary victories.
One state party chairman has privately bemoaned that social conservatives in his state openly question why they should bother voting at all. Given the national party’s desire to kick them out of the big tent to make room for a hoped for influx of pot smoking hipsters, who can blame them?
Across the nation, tea party conservatives question the wisdom of being tied to a Republican Party that wants them to just shut up and vote for whomever the establishment decides, and it is this indecision on whether to vote at all, that is at the heart of the GOP’s polling woes.
Conservative voters who have traditionally been amongst the most likely people to vote out of a sense of civic responsibility are disgusted. They are tired of being attacked by the so-called conservative party, and really tired of being treated like second class citizens by the donor and consultant class that controls the official party.
The good news for the establishment is that conservatives want to forgive them for their attacks. They desperately want to vote Harry Reid out of the Senate Majority Leader’s office. They still believe that voting Republican is their best chance to limit the size and scope of government, and to get the runaway federal branch under control. They want to rein in the lawless executive branch and restore constitutional government.
They want to believe that the Republican Party is still the conservative political party and is not just a different gang of thieves looking to plunder America’s pocket books.
Conservatives still believe that America is the greatest country in the world, and that our system of government along with the free enterprise system provides the pathway to future prosperity. Conservatives believe that freedom is worth fighting for, even though, they hate having to do it.Conservatives believe in the rule of law, and that those who come to our country illegally should not be rewarded for their crimes, being put ahead of those who are waiting in line and following the rules.
The Republican Party has the answer to turn these conservative voters who are currently wondering whether it is worth turning out to vote this election for candidates who have proven to despise them.
All they have to do is read and repeat to conservative voters their own political party platform, and pledge to govern by it. If the Republican establishment candidates actually ran as Republicans, the number of likely voters would swell, and the promise of a sweeping victory in November would be realized.
The next few weeks will tell the tale of whether the national Republican Party truly wants to win a transformative election that is impossible for the left to overturn in the vastly different political environment of 2016, or if they are content with at best a one or two seat majority in the Senate and a pick-up of six to ten seats in the House. A result that is highly likely to be erased in two years.
If Republicans run as Republicans in the final weeks of this election, they still can turn this into a rout. But then, they might have to govern as conservatives, and perhaps they fear that even more than being backbenchers.
by Daniel Halper, Weekly Standard: A new chart from the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee shows a startling fact: Almost 1 in 4 Americans between the ages of 25-54 (or prime working years) are not working.
Here's a chart showing those in that age group currently employed (95.6 million) and those who aren't (28.9 million):
"There are 124.5 million Americans in their prime working years (ages 25–54). Nearly one-quarter of this group—28.9 million people, or 23.2 percent of the total—is not currently employed. They either became so discouraged that they left the labor force entirely, or they are in the labor force but unemployed. This group of non-employed individuals is more than 3.5 million larger than before the recession began in 2007," writes the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee.
"Those attempting to minimize the startling figures about America’s vanishing workforce—workplace participation overall is near a four-decade low—will say an aging population is to blame. But in fact, while the workforce overall has shrunk nearly 10 million since 2009, the cohort of workers in the labor force ages 55 to 64 has actually increased over that same period, with many delaying retirement due to poor economic conditions.
"In fact, over two-thirds of all labor force dropouts since that time have been under the age of 55. These statistics illustrate that the problems in the American economy are deep, profound, and pervasive, afflicting the sector of the labor force that should be among the most productive." Tags:1 in 4, Americans, not working, unemployed,To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: In a nation where there is a scarcity of good news, hearing Eric Holder give a farewell speech upon his announcement that he will be leaving as the Attorney General was surely welcome in some circles. I was never a fan of his because he was in my opinion always more of a politician than someone with the responsibility to enforce the laws of the nation.
I first took notice of Holder when, in the pre-dawn hours of April 22, 2000, as the deputy attorney general serving under Janet Reno, he oversaw the seizure of Elian Gonzalez, a seven-year-old whose mother had died in an effort to escape Cuba and find sanctuary in the United States. Holder was doing what he had to do after a court ruled that Gonzalez be returned to his father in Cuba, but I thought then and still do that Gonzalez should have been allowed to remain with his U.S. relatives.
When Barack Obama became President, he selected Holder as his Attorney General. Both had made history being the first blacks to hold either job. Within three weeks or so, Holder was saying that Americans were “cowards” for not addressing issues of race in America. That told me all I needed to know about him. Whatever would follow would frequently be judged on the basis of race, not justice. I wouldn’t want a white attorney general to act in that fashion, but a black one nursing feelings of victimization despite his personal achievements did not bode well.
I have not been alone in my misgivings. On news of Holder’s announcement, The Heartland Institute, a free market think tank, called on some of its advisors for their opinions.
Ronald D. Rotunda, the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence at Chapman University, had his own memories of Holder:“Mr. Holder is leaving the office, but he cannot so easily leave the controversies that have surrounded his tenure, including: the scandal surrounding the IRS, the missing emails, and his role in investigating the scandal; the ‘Fast and Furious’ scandal, which made him the first cabinet member in U.S. history that Congress held in contempt; his decision to drop a prosecution against the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation, after the Department of Justice successfully secured an injunction; and the unprecedented decision, which Holder personally approved, to subpoena, monitor, and issue a search warrant involving James Rosen, a Fox News Reporter”“Holder will leave the office, but is unlikely to leave the national stage because these controversies remain,” said Prof. Rotunda.
Jane M. Orient, M.D., Executive Director of the Association of Physicians and Surgeons, said:“The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons first got to know Eric Holder when he represented the government in our lawsuit about the illegal operations of the Clinton Task Force on Health Care Reform. The pattern then was stonewalling and obfuscation. Even when task force members finally turned over some documents on court order, many of the floppy disks were blank. Holder declined to prosecute Ira Magaziner, head of the Task Force Working Group, for perjury.”
‘It seems,” said Dr. Orient, “that some government officials never learn that the cover-up can be worse than the underlying conduct.'’ Judge Lamberth added. ‘Most shocking to this court, and deeply disappointing, is that the Department of Justice would participate in such conduct... This type of conduct is reprehensible, and the government must be held accountable for it…The pattern has only worsened with Holder as the highest law enforcement officer in the land. Who will ever hold him and the White House accountable?”
Jesse Hathaway, Managing Editor of Heartland’s Budget & Tax News, said:“Eric Holder's resignation represents an opportunity for the President to appoint an Attorney General willing to end what some have seen as a witch-hunt against American banks. Under Holder, the Department of Justice shook down Bank of America for billions of dollars, as punishment the bank's alleged crime of complying with the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 and lending money to individuals unable to repay. The CRA mandated that banks must make bad loans, the banks complied with the bad policy, but the bank is not at fault for the results of that bad policy.”
“Hopefully, said Hathaway, “whomever replaces Holder as ‘top cop’ will understand how causality works, and end the practice of shaking down the finance industry as punishment for following Washington DC's orders.”
Holder’s instincts as Attorney General generated a huge public outcry when he decided to try the September 11 plotters in a New York courthouse within walking distance of the destroyed Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Lawmakers, New York City officials, and some of the victim’s families thought that was a very bad idea and Holder reversed the decision and sent the cases to military court. 9/11 was clearly an act of war, but neither the President, nor Holder saw it that way.
Holder made a bit of history when he refused to defend a law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. He made more history when, refusing to hand over documents regarding Fast and Furious, a scandal involving gun trafficking to Mexican drug cartels, Congress voted to hold him in contempt, the first time an attorney general had been censured in that way. Holder, however, held onto his job because the President had thrown a cloak of “executive privilege” over the scandal, stonewalling Congress.
To be fair, Holder has been lauded for policies that were applauded for reducing crime during his tenure in office and urging a revision to sentences that did not reflect the crimes, reducing the nation’s prison population in the process.
In the end, though, it seems like everything was about race for him and the President. Holder inserted himself into the Ferguson, Missouri, shooting of a black youth by a white police officer and, while the facts are still being investigated, the likelihood is that it was justifiable self-defense. And the President, speaking at the United Nations last week also mentioned Ferguson as an example of America’s racial bias. What happened in Ferguson was about law enforcement and justice, but neither saw it in that fashion.
What America needs now for the remainder of Obama’s term in office is a colorblind Attorney General.
----------------- Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, Warning Signs". He is a contributor to the ARRA News Service. Tags:Goodbye, Eric Holder, Alan Caruba, warning signsTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
AG Holder Leaving | ISIS Subway Plot | Attack On Christianity | Jeb Bush's Tin Ear | Immigration | Border Security
by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: Holder Hangs It Up - Attorney General Eric Holder submitted his letter of resignation to the White House today. While he made history by being the first black attorney general, he was also a lightening rod for controversy.
NPR reports that by stonewalling the investigation of Operation Fast and Furious, Holder became the first attorney general in history to be held in contempt of Congress. By the way, a judge ruled this week that Holder must disclose the information that House Republicans have been demanding.
Holder sued states for enacting popular voter ID laws, but dropped the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panthers.
He refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, and encouraged state attorneys general to ignore laws they didn't like.
He insulted Americans by saying we were a "nation of cowards" when it came to race.
He threatened the rights of reporters and even nuns, while turning a blind eye to abuses at the IRS.
Not surprisingly, a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that only 15% of Americans had a positive view of Eric Holder. America deserves betters.
ISIS Subway Plot Stopped? - Speaking to reporters at the United Nations this morning, Iraq's new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, announced that an ISIS cell plotting to bomb subway systems in America and Paris had been broken up. Here are his remarks:
"Today, while I'm here I'm receiving accurate reports from Baghdad that there were arrests of a few elements and there were networks from inside Iraq to have attacks -- on metros of Paris and [the] U.S. They are not Iraqis. Some of them are French, some of them are Americans. But they are in Iraq."This chilling news only underscores the reality we are facing: Jihadists, motivated by their faith, are plotting to bring more death and destruction to our shores.
The Left's Attack On Christianity Continues - Radical Islam isn't the only threat to Judeo-Christian civilization. Radical secularism is also at war with our cherished values. The latest example comes from a charter school system in Temecula, California.
According to the Pacific Justice Institute, a parent discovered that a public charter school library was "purging" books. One of those books was "The Hiding Place," Corrie ten Boom's autobiography.
Ten Boom was a Dutch Christian whose family hid many Jews from the Nazis. Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp. Betsie died there on December 16, 1944. Corrie was released days later.
Why would a book like that be banned from the school library? The parent was reportedly told by a library attendant that "the library has been instructed to remove all books with a Christian message, authored by Christians, or published by a Christian publishing company."
That would mean that classics such as C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia" and J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" would also be banned.
Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, fired off a cease-and-desist letter to the district's superintendent. The response was unbelievable.
"We do not purchase sectarian educational materials and do not allow sectarian materials on our state-authorized lending shelves," wrote Superintendent Kathleen Hermsmeyer.
"Are they going to ban the sermons or speeches of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? What about the Declaration of Independence that invokes the laws of nature and nature's God?" Dacus asked.
I'm willing to bet that this same school system has "Heather Has Two Mommies" and "King & King" on its shelves. But books about Christians protecting Jews are too controversial.
My friends, the culture war for the heart and soul of America is real. This is your country too. Fight for it!
Share this message with your pastor. Urge them to speak up. Make sure all your like-minded friends, family members and co-workers are registered to vote.
We are 40 days away from an election that could have tremendous consequences for our country and our values. Make your voice heard. Make your vote count!
Jeb's Tin Ear - Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush continues to send signals that he is likely to run for the White House in 2016. But my eyebrows were raised when I read this morning that he went to North Carolina to campaign for Thom Tillis, the state's GOP Senate candidate, who is having trouble breaking through.
No doubt the Tillis campaign was eagerly awaiting Bush's visit, hoping for a burst of momentum. And what does Jeb do? He brings up Common Core and comprehensive immigration reform -- two issues unpopular with the GOP base. As a result, Tillis was forced to distance himself from his guest.
The argument constantly made for Bush is "He can win." That's what they said about McCain and Romney, too. Could Bush attract more Hispanic votes? Maybe. Perhaps that could put a couple of states in play. But if he runs on a platform of some kind of a quasi-amnesty, he will demoralize the base and hand states to Hillary Clinton.
Instead of playing ethnic politics, the Republican Party should be doing a lot more to court a natural constituency -- working class, blue collar voters who don't buy the Democrats social radicalism and certainly do not want to compete with cheap immigrant labor.
Speaking Of Immigration -The Weekly Standard reports that the Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley Sector has put out a bid for 40,000 emergency Mylar blankets. Those are the shiny, tin-foil-looking blankets that are very good at trapping heat.
It seems the Border Patrol is in a bit of a hurry. The bid is only open for three days and the winner must produce the first 20,000 blankets in 30 days. What's the rush? More unaccompanied minors from Central America are headed for the border. Evidently, 40,000 of them.
Don't believe the White House spin that the crisis on the border is over because the flow of children is down. Obama isn't doing anything meaningful to secure the border. The drop in border crossings is temporary and it's largely due to the weather.
It is too risky to cross the desert in the hot summer months. As soon as the weather turns cooler, the rush is on. Border Patrol officials know this, and that is why the emergency request for blankets was issued.
But do not lose sight of the big picture -- and it's not about the kids. The real crisis is the fact that our border is so insecure that tens of thousands of people can cross it. We're lucky that the vast majority are just kids. But it is utterly foolish -- especially in this current global environment -- to trust our national security to mere luck!
Border security IS national security.
------------- Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families Tags:Eric Holder, Attorney General, Leaving, ISIS Subway Plot, Attack, Christianity, Jeb Bush, Tin Ear, Immigration, Border Security , 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!
Millennials to the FCC: 'Don't Break the Internet'
by Evan Feinberg: Bureaucrats in Washington are trying to use a law passed in 1934 to take over the Internet. The Federal Communications Commission wants to unlawfully use a provision known as “Title II” to regulate the Internet as a public utility.
What a disaster. And young people are pissed off.
Millions of us have commented through the FCC’s official bureaucratic channels. In addition to encouraging our activists to be part of the official process, we at Generation Opportunity took the fight to the FCC’s Facebook page in what we call a “Facebook bomb.” Thousands of young Americans posted, completely taking over the page.
Millennials who have witnessed the transformative power of a free Internet find it unfathomable that bureaucrats would consider breaking it. Internet freedom has driven progress in nearly every sector of our economy, immeasurably improving the lives of every American citizen.
Nevertheless, out-of-touch regulators are trying to use New Deal-era legislation to control the most innovative, exciting and ever-changing technology imaginable. We aren’t talking about water or power companies, which are notorious for their subpar customer service; there’s a pretty big difference between managing the water supply and the endless possibilities of the Internet.
The FCC’s proposed regulations show just how much power they want to exert:
“Whenever ... the Commission shall be of opinion that any charge, classification, regulation, or practice of any carrier or carriers is or will be in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, the Commission is authorized and empowered to determine and prescribe what will be the just and reasonable charge . . . what classification, regulation, or practice is or will be just, fair, and reasonable . . . .”
Translation: Unelected pencil pushers get to decide how much you’ll pay to use the Internet and whether or not they approve of how your Internet provider is doing business.
Enjoy streaming video content from websites like Netflix? Title II jeopardizes the cheap and reliable access you get. Pleased with the affordability of your iPhone’s data plan? Prepare to pay a lot more. For millennials, the magnitude of Title II is huge. We use the Internet more than any other generation and there are broader economic consequences as well. Investment in broadband and the Internet leads to billions of dollars in economic output and approximately 2.5 million jobs nationwide. Fifteen percent of young people are out of work, and the Internet remains one of the most exciting ways of overcoming this difficult economy.
The FCC seems hell-bent on regulating us back to the Stone Age. Computer manufacturers, software publishers, data processing and hosting services, broadcasting and telecommunications services, Internet publishing services, and search engine services will all be forced to comply with “new” regulations based on an 80-year-old law.
And with these regulations will come fewer choices. Public utilities inevitably lead to monopolies by discouraging newcomers from entering the marketplace. That’s bad for the economy, bad for poor communities who already struggle to afford broadband access, and bad for young entrepreneurs who could come up with better ways to bring the Internet to the average citizen.
Millennials have made our voices heard. Let’s hope the FCC will heed our calls and refrain from breaking the Internet.
--------------- Evan Feinberg is president of Generation Opportunity, a youth advocacy organization. The article was also run by RollCall. Tags:FCC, Internet, Control of Internet, Millennials, Generation Opportunity, Evan FeinbergTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:ISIS, War plans, president Obama, Latte, editorial cartoon, AF BrancoTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Sean hackbart, Contributing Author: EPA’s Gina McCarthy gave a speech to Resources for the Future defending EPA’s proposed carbon regulations on economic grounds. However, the crux of her argument is based on a logical fallacy that will be costly to jobs and the economy. Here are two passages from her speech: Climate action is not just a defensive play, it advances the ball. We can turn our challenge into an opportunity to modernize our power sector, and build a low-carbon economy that’ll fuel growth for decades to come.
… Not only is global climate action affordable, but it could actually speed up economic growth.In her mind, new mandates and regulations that end coal (and eventually natural gas) use in electricity generation will result in jobs and economic growth. McCarthy mentions that smart economists helped develop EPA’s carbon plan. However like her, they succumb to the “broken window” fallacy. This is the logical misconception that generating jobs and economic activity by breaking things is good for society.
In his essay, That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen, the French economist Frédéric Bastiat tells the parable of the broken window: Have you ever witnessed the anger of the good shopkeeper, James B., when his careless son happened to break a square of glass? If you have been present at such a scene, you will most assuredly bear witness to the fact, that every one of the spectators, were there even thirty of them, by common consent apparently, offered the unfortunate owner this invariable consolation - "It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. Everybody must live, and what would become of the glaziers if panes of glass were never broken?"
Now, this form of condolence contains an entire theory, which it will be well to show up in this simple case, seeing that it is precisely the same as that which, unhappily, regulates the greater part of our economical institutions.
Suppose it cost six francs to repair the damage, and you say that the accident brings six francs to the glazier's trade - that it encourages that trade to the amount of six francs - I grant it; I have not a word to say against it; you reason justly. The glazier comes, performs his task, receives his six francs, rubs his hands, and, in his heart, blesses the careless child. All this is that which is seen.
But if, on the other hand, you come to the conclusion, as is too often the case, that it is a good thing to break windows, that it causes money to circulate, and that the encouragement of industry in general will be the result of it, you will oblige me to call out, "Stop there! Your theory is confined to that which is seen; it takes no account of that which is not seen."One unseen cost of EPA’s attempt to restructure the power grid, will be the shutdown of reliable coal-fired power plants. For instance, Duane Highley, CEO of Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc., told Arkansas Business he “would prefer to invest in scrubbers” for the 1,480-megawatt plant near Redfield, “and let it run for another 20 or 30 years” rather than shut it down.
During a July 23 hearing of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) summed it up when she said that EPA’s regulations will force the premature retirement of efficient, low-cost coal-fueled generation; lead to the potential loss of billions of dollars in investments made over the last decade to make coal plants cleaner; require construction of higher-cost replacement generation; and increase natural gas prices.Let’s not forget some of the significant costs that we will see. EPA estimates that its regulations will mean electricity price increases of six to seven percent nationally in 2020, and as much as 12% in certain places. There are also the job losses. The United Mine Workers expects over 152,000 jobs lost in the coal sector by 2035.
(We could have a clearer understanding of the proposed carbon rule’s job effects but EPA has failed to do the analysis.)
All these seen and unseen costs, and for what? Minimal global impact, as the Institute for 21st Century Energy’s Matt Letourneau notes: The reduction in emissions from EPA’s rule would actually only decrease global emissions by 1.3%. Based on projections from the U.S. Department of Energy, the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that will be reduced from EPA’s power plant rule is equivalent to just 13.5 days of Chinese emissions in 2030!McCarthy can puff up the economic benefits of EPA’s carbon regulations all she wants. By using a little bit of logic and looking at the facts, we can see her agency’s plan will be a millstone on the economy. Just as a concerted effort to break windows doesn’t benefit the economy, forcing the restructuring of the power grid is not a path to sustained economic growth.
------------ Sean Hackbarth is a policy advocate and blogger at U.S Chamber of Commerce. He is a contributing author at the ARRA News Service. Tags:flawed economic logic, EPA, Carbon Repulation, 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!
by Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: By far the worst law passed by Congress in 2010 was the Affordable Care Act (ACA) otherwise known as Obamacare. It was passed without a single Republican vote and as more Americans experience the higher costs and other aspects of it realize how it has negatively affected their lives, it should eventually be dismembered and ended.
Obamacare is progressivism written large and is an example of earlier examples. Obamacare is a massive drain on government funding, particularly with regard to Medicaid. Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965 and after 47 years they are broke. Their unfunded liabilities are enormous.
Likewise, Social Security, established in 1935 is broke. Fannie Mae came into being in 1938 to encourage home ownership and contributed to the 2008 financial crash along with the banks that were pressured to make “sub-prime” loans to people who lacked the means to pay their mortgages. It had to be bailed out to the tune of millions. The same is true of Freddie Mac, established in 1970.
Time and time again, the programs established out of progressive ideals and purposes have proven to be failures, largely in terms of the unfunded liabilities, now in the trillions, that they have created.
Obamacare is famous for the lies that President Obama told. Thousands lost the medical insurance they had. Thousands lost access to their personal physicians. The Obama administration has continued to lie about it, inflating and including the numbers of “uninsured” it covers by including those who lost their insurance and had to sign up for it.
Stephen T. Parente, the associate dean of Carlson School of Management and director of the Medical Industry Leadership Institute at the University of Minnesota, in a June Wall Street opinion, warned that “Industry experts and consumers should once again brace for significantly higher premiums.”
“Since premium growth has averaged at least 5% over the past five years, it is unlikely the law’s federal subsidies will increase enough to make up the difference in out-of-pocket premium costs,” predicting that “lower-and-middle income consumers will be forced out of the private insurance market.” He noted that “the steepest increases will not occur until 2017” and, of course, by then Obama will be out of office.
The Detroit Press reported on Sept. 21 that “A significant benefit of the Affordable Care Act is the opportunity to receive money-saving tax credits up front to cut the overall cost of health insurance, but now hundreds of thousands of consumers could owe back some of that money next April.”
“The law’s ‘reinsurance’ program will also expire in 2017. Health insurers will no longer be able to bill the government for 80% of a patient’s healthcare costs when they make more than $45,000 in annual claims.”
The impact of Obamacare on the ability of people to have full-time jobs is already being felt as employers, especially small business operations, have been forced to either fire full-time employees to stay below the limit of fifty or reduce some to a part-time status. This is affecting the ability of smaller businesses to grow and expand. Those unable to afford Obamacare will be forced to sign up for Medicaid, already a financial burden on states. Others will stay uninsured and face a penalty.
Parente called Obamacare’s promise to deliver universal health care “a fatal conceit” that will die of unaffordability,
In September, Casey B. Mulligan, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, in a Wall Street Journal opinion wrote that “Although the ACA helps specific populations by giving them a bigger slice of the economic pie, the law diminishes the pie itself. It reduces the amount that Americans work and it makes their work less productive. This slows growth in both personal income and gross domestic product. In further expanding the frontiers of redistribution, the ACA reduces the benefits of employment for both employers and employees” as the “result of penalizing businesses for hiring and expanding” resulting in less hiring and expanding.”
That’s a formula for reducing the nation’s economic growth.
Holman W. Jenkins, in a September opinion, described Obamacare as “just another subsidy program, throwing money at health care. In economics, you can’t subsidize everybody but we’re trying: 50 million Americans get help from Medicare, 65 million from Medicaid, nine million from the Department of Veterans Affairs, seven million (and counting) from Obamacare, and a whopping 149 million from the giant tax handout for employer-provided health insurance.”
“Much of this money,” noted Jenkins, which will total about $1.3 trillion in 2014, is shoveled out regardless of need, driving up prices, and spurring production of services of dubious value.” Holman is a member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board.
Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to suffer economically as, due to high corporate taxes, more corporations take flight to other nations, establishing their headquarters outside of our nation.
In every respect, Obamacare has been a disaster since it was enacted. Its website turned out to be a multi-million dollar failure and this was the case of several state sites as well. In mid-September the government reported that tens of thousands of people are likely to lose their health insurance at the end of the month because they missed a deadline to confirm they are legally residing in the U.S.
Most dramatically, Obamacare has required the President to do what he is not empowered by the Constitution to do. Only Congress can change a law, but Obama has unilaterally made changes, mostly out of political considerations leading up to the November midterm elections.
The following Democrats are running for re-election in November. They are Mark Begich (AL), Dick Durbin (IL), Al Franken (MN), Kay Hagan, (NC), Mary Landriu (LA), Jeff Merkley (OR), Mark Pryor (AR), Jack Reed (RI), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Mark Udall (CO), Tom Udall (NM), and Mark Warner (VA). All voted for Obamacare. All should be defeated and replaced by Republicans.
I will leave whether Obamacare can be repealed to a future Congress, but the House, controlled by Republicans has repeatedly passed laws to do so.
Obamacare is the ultimate progressive legislation. One can only hope that it will convince Americans it is time to turn from its long history of passing such legislation and endorse steps to reduce the enormous unfunded debt they represent.
Instead of bleeding Americans of their earnings, Congress needs to empower them to retain what they have worked for and to make individual decisions about healthcare insurance purchased from a free and competitive market.
----------------- Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, Warning Signs". He is a contributor to the ARRA News Service. Tags:Obamacare, Obamacare disaster, Alan Caruba, warning signsTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:energy and the environment, green, environmentalism, UN Meeting , environment, editorial cartoon, William WarrenTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Melissa Quinn, The Daily Signal / (@MelissaQuinn97 ): As the United States confronts renewed terrorist threats in Iraq and Syria, a Heritage Foundation expert on America’s founding principles contends that “terrorism at home and war abroad” could curb the future of liberalism.
Speaking as part of a panel at the think tank discussing where liberalism is headed, David Azerrad also said that if Americans thought prosperity were at stake, they “would lose interest in large segments of the Left’s agenda.”
Azerrad was joined for the event by William Voegeli, senior editor at the Claremont Review of Books, Kevin Williamson, a correspondent for National Review, and–as moderator–Ben Domenech, publisher of The Federalist.
Azerrad and Williamson agreed modern-day Democrats have failed to develop and execute a robust foreign policy, but have thrived in deploying rhetorical strategy to capture the attention of Americans.
But Azerrad, director of Heritage’s Simon Center for Politics and Principles, argued that should the United States be faced with a growing threat of violence from terrorists or another source, tenets of the liberal agenda would be depressed. He said:
Modern liberalism, you see, is just not capable of dealing decisively with issues requiring violence, crime and terrorism at home, and war abroad.Should the world continue to become a more dangerous place, should the homeland be threatened, or should we witness a return to 1970s levels of violent crime, I think that would put a considerable damper on the prospects of liberalism.”
When questioned about whether the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks — followed by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — and then the 2008 economic collapse served as a catalyst for the political change he described, Azerrad noted how quickly Americans returned to the old normal.
“We haven’t had war at home. We had a visually spectacular attack on September 11, but things went back to normal very rapidly. And yes, 2008 was ugly, but look at the quality of life in this country. It’s still pretty extraordinary,” he said, adding:
My only point is that a lot of the Left’s agenda on some of these issues is rather frivolous from a serious political point of view. … If people really felt that [peace and prosperity] were threatened, I think they would lose interest in large segments of the Left’s agenda.Voegeli, addressing Azerrad’s point, looked to New York City’s leadership over the past 20 years as evidence of the effect of citizens “doubting basic liberal competence.”
“Once you had 20 years under [former Mayors Rudy] Giuliani and [Michael] Bloomberg where the garbage was picked up, where the bills were paid, where the streets were safe, New York felt safe to go back to somebody like [Mayor Bill] de Blasio,” Voegeli said.
Williamson said he agreed with Azerrad on the failure of Democrats’ foreign policy, but disagreed with the notion that a surge in violence and crime would damage the future of liberalism.
The National Review columnist argued that the “Left loves violence” and “wants to use violence to organize every aspect of life.” He cited the phenomenon of conversion therapy in California as an example.
Although Williamson noted that he doesn’t believe in such “pseudoscience,” he said it is against the law in the Golden State even if a person wants it. Gender reassignment surgery — physically changing one’s sex — remains legal, however.
Speaking of liberals, Williamson said:
The idea that they’re not good at violence is, I think, defective. What they’re not good at is foreign policy, because they don’t believe in the legitimacy of American institutions, starting with the military.Azerrad’s statements come on the heels of a liberal Democrat, President Obama, issuing orders for U.S. forces to bomb targets in Syria after authorizing more than 100 airstrikes in Iraq against ISIS, the brutal terrorist group also known as the Islamic State and ISIL.
Secretary of State John Kerry, a liberal Democrat and veteran senator from Massachusetts who was the party nominee for president in 2004, initially insisted that America was not at war with ISIS. Pentagon and White House spokesmen, however, quickly conceded that the nation is at war. Tags:IISIS, influence, future, liberalism, John Kerry, President Obama, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Obama Fails To Make America Accept Failed Obamacare System ~ Editorial Cartoon by AF Branco
by Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: “If you like your health plan, you can keep it” was last year’s Lie of the Year. When millions of cancellations stacked up, the game of make-believe was over. So the Democrats, hoping to survive another election cycle, shifted to a new mantra: they claim they want to fix the law. The facts show this is just another Obamacare lie.
The Democrat-controlled Senate has adjourned for the year without voting on any fixes.
The Senate only took up two Obamacare-related measures all year. One was a show-vote on the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. The other was a House-passed bill called the Hire More Heroes Act that removed employer mandate penalties on companies for hiring veterans on Tricare or VA health care. That bill passed the House 406 to 1 with only Jerry Nadler of New York opposed – but Senate Democrats decided to use it as a vehicle for an unrelated package of tax changes that they later pulled from the floor.
And that’s it.
No other Obamacare votes allowed in the Senate all year, because Harry Reid has the reliable support of every Senate Democrat to ruthlessly block all amendments on the Senate floor.
It’s true most Republicans want to repeal the law. Good. It’s a terrible law and we’d be better off if it were repealed. But House Republicans have also recognized the need to provide immediate relief to millions of people suffering lost plans, higher premiums, higher taxes, shorter hours, and lost jobs. They have acted responsibly in the House by passing more than a dozen bills that fix the worst aspects of Obamacare.
Just recently the House passed a bill authored by Rep. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana to allow people who work for small businesses to keep their health plans. Last year the House passed a similar bill for people who buy their own plans on the individual market by a robust 261-157 margin. Democrats like Mary Landrieu and Kay Hagan claim to support a version of this bill in almost every stump speech, but vote with Reid to guarantee it will never actually come to the Senate floor.
The House passed a bill restoring the 40-hour workweek, hardly a partisan issue considering Jimmy Hoffa, Jr. has said that Obamacare’s 30-hour workweek breaks the back of the middle class. It passed 248-179 in April, and again last week in the House jobs package. The Senate refuses to act.
The House also passed a bill in its jobs package that repeals the medical device tax, a terrible tax that undermines the medical innovation we all depend on for longer, healthier lives. The bill by Minnesota’s Rep. Erik Paulsen is particularly important to his state economically because of its robust medical tech sector. Yet his Democratic Senate colleague Al Franken only pays lip service to it while voting with Harry Reid to prevent it from even getting a vote in the Senate.
The House overwhelmingly passed the Simple Fairness Act in March on a 250-160 vote to delay the Obamacare penalty tax for all Americans, as President Obama has already unilaterally done for the biggest corporations. The Senate never considered it.
The House, over opposition from many of its own staff, even passed legislation reversing the special exemption President Obama granted Members of Congress and their staff. The Senate immediately, on a party-line motion, blocked it from being considered.
Senate Democrats have unanimously helped Reid lock down the Senate floor and block votes on all of these bills because if votes were allowed the charade that they want to fix Obamacare would collapse. They would be exposed as members of a tiny, radical fringe who believe Obamacare is great exactly as it is.
Even in committee, Democrats actually canceled consideration of the appropriations bill that funds the Department of Health and Human Services. Why? The AP reported it was because Democrats on the committee “including Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Begich of Alaska, are at risk of losing re-election.”
Reasonable Americans remain divided on whether Obamacare needs to be repealed or significantly changed.
But it should be clear by now that neither of those outcomes will be possible as long as Democrats control the Senate.
------------------ Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment and a contributing author for the ARRA News Service. He is on Twitter and on Facebook. Tags:Democrats, never fix, Obamacare, failed system, Senate. blocking House bills, Phil Kerpen, American CommitmentTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Update 5:00 pm - President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder formally announced Holder's intention to resign on Thursday afternoon in a joint and at times emotional appearance at the White House.
Sen. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell response: "I could not support the President’s nomination of Eric Holder in 2009 because of the many questionable decisions he’d made as Deputy Attorney General. Five years later, I’m confident in the wisdom of that decision. Holder has placed ideological commitments over a commitment to the rule of law. These are not the qualities the American people look for in the nation’s highest law-enforcement official. So I will be scrutinizing the President’s replacement nominee to ensure the Justice Department finally returns to prioritizing law enforcement over partisan concerns."
Breaking News: Eric Holder Stepping Down as Attorney General! His formal announcement to be made today.
Brietbart News: "Letter: Holder Aide Accidentally Calls Issa Staff For Help Spinning IRS Scandal"
Daily Caller: "Eric Holder Uses Government Jets For Personal Trips" - Sends Daughters and Boyfriends to NY of Belmont Stakes.
Obamacare Exchange Website News: With this year’s enrollment period approaching in less than two months, news reports show the federal Obamacare exchange website, Healthcare.gov, remains hobbled while costing taxpayers dearly.
Bloomberg Newsreports, “The federal government’s Obamacare enrollment system has cost about $2.1 billion so far, according to a Bloomberg Government analysis of contracts related to the project. Spending for healthcare.gov and related programs, including at the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies, exceeds cost estimates provided by the Obama administration, the analysis found. The government’s most recent estimate, limited to spending on computer systems by the agency that runs the site, through February, is $834 million. . . .
“‘The way in which Obamacare has been rolled out has been very messy,’ with spending scattered across dozens of contracts, many of them predating the law and amended afterward, said Peter Gosselin, a senior health-care analyst at BGov and lead author of study. ‘One of the reasons it has been implemented in the way it has been, financially, is precisely to deny opponents of the law a clear target.’”
Bloomberg notes, “The construction of healthcare.gov involved 60 companies, supervised by employees of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services instead of a lead contractor, according to the inspector general at the Health and Human Services Department. The project was marked by infighting among the contractors, CMS officials and top officials at HHS, the Cabinet-level department that oversees CMS, according to e-mails released Sept. 17 by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. . . .
“The BGov analysis is based on contract data compiled by the Washington-based organization . . . . BGov’s price tag includes several large costs left out of the Obama administration’s estimate: $387 million in spending for healthcare.gov by the IRS and other agencies outside the health department; a $300 million contract to process paper applications; and spending by CMS after Feb. 28.
“Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican who has scrutinized the Obama administration’s construction of healthcare.gov as the senior Republican on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said the cost of the site exceeded the combined value of his state’s three professional sports teams. Despite the spending, the site ‘still isn’t secure, doesn’t let people easily compare doctors and medications covered by each plan, and has not processed all of the applications from last year’s open enrollment,’ he said in an e-mail from a spokeswoman.”
And while this report is helpful, investigators within the government are finding it difficult to track how much taxpayers are being charged for the troubled federal website and exchange. As the Bloomberg report points out, “The Medicare agency and independent auditors have had trouble tracking the costs of Affordable Care Act programs.The Government Accountability Office, a congressional agency, said in a Sept. 22 report that it was ‘difficult and time consuming’ to obtain financial information for the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, the CMS office that manages many ACA programs, and that it ‘could not determine the reliability of most of the amounts’ CMS provided.”
Indeed, according to The New York Times, “The Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, raised questions on Monday about financial management of the federal insurance exchange and related activities. The auditors said in a report that they could not verify the amounts spent on staff salaries, advertising, travel, public relations, polling, focus groups and conferences.
“The new secretary of health and human services, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, a former White House budget director, has described improved management as one of her top priorities. But the department disagreed with recommendations from the G.A.O. about steps she should take to track spending and report more accurate data.
“The auditors tried to determine how many federal employees had been shifted from Medicare, Medicaid and other programs to work on the insurance exchanges. Information provided by the administration ‘was not complete and was based on personal recollection unsupported by documentary evidence,’ the report said.”
Despite all this spending, there are still no guarantees about security and reliability of the Obamacare site.Earlier this week, USA Today wrote, “The federal health insurance website is trying to resolve glitches and security questions raised by the Government Accountability Office, so people can safely and successfully sign up for insurance at open enrollment Nov. 15. . . . Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner told a House panel Thursday that there will be ‘visible improvement, but not perfection’ on HealthCare.gov.
“Companies and state officials, who will process millions of applications for insurance and Medicaid, hope the files that reach them are far more complete and accurate than they were during the last enrollment period. Missouri found it couldn't enroll up to 90% of about 80,000 Medicaid applications it received because of problems, says Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors. ‘The challenges we saw were legion and well-documented,’ Salo says. ‘It's not going to be that bad, (but) neither is it going to be smooth and seamless.’”
That’s a far cry from President Obama’s prediction last year at a rally for Obamacare that the site would be “real simple” and that it would allow Americans to use it the “same way you shop for a plane ticket on Kayak, same way you shop for a TV on Amazon.” Tags:Eric Holder, to resign, Obamacare website, glitches, security issuesTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
This piece takes a look at Kenya and developments taking place there that could soon see the country catapulted on the map of oil exporting countries. Kenya is the place to watch in Africa and the coming months will be critical to their future success. ~ James Stafford
by James Stafford: Not even the specter of a spillover of Islamic extremism from Somalia can dampen the atmosphere in Kenya, where commercial oil production is expected to begin in 2016 and discovery after discovery has made this the hottest and fastest-paced hydrocarbon scene on the continent.
When it comes to new oil and gas frontiers, today it’s all about Africa. And more specifically, it’s all about the eastern coast, with Kenya the clear darling--not just because it’s outpacing neighboring Uganda by leaps and bounds, but also because despite some political instability hiccups and the threat of militant al-Shabaab, it’s still one of the safest venues in the region.
Six of the last 10 biggest finds have been in Africa, where—all told--there are some 130 billion barrels of crude oil waiting to be tapped by more than 500 companies, according to a recent report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
Topping this list are Kenya’s Anza and South Lokichar basins where the discovery and development news has been fast-paced.
Earlier this year, in May, Tullow and partner Africa Oil Corporation left a hefty impression on the market with the announcement of the country’s first commercial oil discovery, worth $10 billion, in this basin.
And the next testing ground will be the neighboring Kerio Basin, which should get off the ground later this month, while there has been a flurry of attention lately surrounding the Ogaden basin>/b> where initial estimates are enough to send stocks soaring.
In the meantime, while bigger players such as Tullow and Africa Oil have benefited from the fame of their initial discoveries, they have also become burdened by the pressure of rising expectations for more discoveries. Not so the smaller players on this scene, who stand to benefit from the original discoveries and continued drilling—without the pressure. Investors will now be looking at who is poised to make the next discovery.
Africa Oil and Marathon are currently drilling an appraisal well on the Sala gas discovery in the Anza Graben Basin onshore Kenya, which will benefit other explorers with acreage just south of this, including UK-listed Afren Plc, UK-listed Tower Resources and Taipan Resources Inc (TPN-TSK), which has two onshore blocks in key basins. If these explorers come up with their own first find, it will be a superior risk-reward scenario.
In the Ogaden Basin, the market will certainly take notice of Afren’s new estimates late last month that a large under-explored sub-basin, El Wak, contains up to 6.65 billion barrels of oil. If this estimate is accurate—and it comes in well above partner Taipan Resources’ earlier estimates of about a quarter of that—they would be looking at the largest onshore target ever drilled anywhere in Africa. Later this year, Afren will be conducting seismic surveys to further define El Wak’s potential, and investors will be watching closely.
The bigger picture, though, is of an East African country that has the advantage over its neighbors due to a convergence of add-on factors, including infrastructure aims, relative stability and what appears to be a smarter use of natural resources to generate more investment and economic growth, according to Jennifer Cooke of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Among other planned infrastructure projects of a massive scale, discussions are under way for a pipeline from neighboring Uganda, which would pass through the South Lokichar basin and come close enough to some of the prime drilling areas that could be the site of Kenya’s next discoveries.
The World Bank’s approval in July of $50 million for the Kenyan government to boost its management and distribution of natural resource revenues, with an eye on long-term sustainable growth, has further boosted confidence in long-term sustainable growth.
In the meantime, political stability has also been given a slight reprieve with the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) indefinite adjournment of the trial against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta due to lack of evidence that he organized post-election ethnic violence in 2007.
But the security situation with the regrouping of the Somalia-based al-Shabaab militant group and an uptick of the group’s apparent attacks on Kenya continue to be problematic, even more so because no one seems to be sure whether the threat is emanating entirely from al-Shabaab
While this remains a clear threat, it has not affected exploration and development—and it certainly has done little to scare foreign investors from this hydrocarbon frenzy that is expected to continue over the next five years, further boosted by relatively cheap
In this race, Kenya is the top contender, moving forward at double the speed of neighboring Uganda which discovered oil in 2006, six years before Kenya, but will lag a year behind the newcomer in terms of commercial production.
------------------------ James Stafford is Editor, OilPrice.com contributed this article to the ARRA News Service. OilPrice.com, the leading online energy news site. Tags:James Stafford, OilPrice, Kenya, oil, 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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