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News for social, fiscal & national security conservatives who believe in God, family & the USA. Upholding the rights granted by God & guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, traditional family values, "republican" principles / ideals, transparent & limited "smaller" government, free markets, lower taxes, due process of law, liberty & individual freedom. All content approval rests with the ARRA News Service Editor. Opinions are those of the authors. While varied positions are reported, beliefs & principles remain fixed. No revenue is generated for or by this site - no paid ads accepted - no payments for articles. Fair Use doctrine is posted & used.
Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Dictatorial President Obama Versus The American People's Congress

We Seek No King; Thus We Have
 A Congress & Supreme Court.
by Newt Gingrich: One of the great ironies of this administration is that President Obama, who ran promising to end wars in the Middle East and to usher in unity domestically, is now preparing to start a political war in America.

In this month’s elections, Republicans, independents and a few Democrats united to defeat Democrats at every level from state legislatures to the U.S. Senate. Many Democrats indicated their disappointment with the Obama Administration by staying home and refusing to vote.

As I wrote earlier this week, however, President Obama is behaving as if his side won the elections and he has a resounding mandate to impose his policies on the country by presidential fiat.

It is important to understand that President Obama is not taking on "the Republicans" as he and his allies want to describe it. He is declaring war on the Congress, the elected representatives of the American people, as an institution.

Both the language of the Constitution and the explanations in the Federalist Papers make clear the Founding Fathers intended Congress, not the President, to have the primary role in making laws and setting public policy. The president is supposed to execute laws rather than make them.

Article I, Section I of the Constitution begins: "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress". The term "all legislative powers" is pretty definitive. Federalist 51 asserts that "legislative authority necessarily predominates." In Federalist 69, a series of distinctions are made between the absolute powers of the British King and the limited powers of the American president.

The Constitution gives the Congress a surprising range of tools to defend itself and to challenge a president who seeks to impose his will upon the country.

The ultimate power is impeachment, but as a political matter impeachment requires the American people to render absolute judgment against the president. It has been tried twice unsuccessfully (against Presidents Johnson and Clinton), although the threat of it drove President Nixon to resign. In this case it’s very clear that the country does not want an impeachment process against President Obama.

The second greatest power of Congress is the spending power, the power of the purse. Money can only be spent if the Congress permits it and either directly or indirectly appropriates it. Taxes, fees, etc. exist only at the sufferance of Congress and can be repealed or limited.

Some people are so furious at President Obama's various threats that they would like to attach a spending limitation provision to the continuing resolution necessary to keep the government open, thus forcing the President to shut the entire government to defend his right to take unilateral action.

There is no question that a spending limitation amendment is legitimate, Constitutional, and effective. It is the tool Speaker Tip O’Neill used to limit President Reagan on Nicaragua with the Boland Amendment in 1982.

The question is whether the first step in the effort to reassert Congress’s authority should provoke a full-on crisis.

I think it would be better to set up a series of limitations which cripple the President but don't hurt the American people.

The current “lame-duck” session should pass a relatively short-term Continuing Resolution which will preserve the new Congress’s ability to use spending provisions as a negotiating tool if the President does not change his behavior.

Then, Senator McConnell could announce that no presidential appointment will be considered by the new Senate until the President agrees to behave within the bounds of his Constitutional authority. Since this would include the new Attorney General and other important presidential appointments, the threat would be real and immediate.

Second, the Appropriations Committee should announce that it will block virtually all executive branch requests for reprogramming (the term for routine reshuffling and rejiggering of budget appropriations) except for on national security issues. The executive branch is constantly having to ask Congress for small adjustments to keep the bureaucracy functioning. Holding up these requests would rapidly increase the pain level to the executive branch.

Third, a spending limitation could be attached to every bill (with rare exceptions) that Congress sends the President. How many bills can he veto to defend his right to run over the vast majority of Americans and the Congress?

Fourth, once the Republicans are in control of the Senate, they can divide the next continuing resolution in two, fund everything the American people care about for the rest of the year in one resolution, and seperate the activities the President values most, attaching them to a spending limitation rider in a second, smaller resolution. Let the President veto spending for his pet programs over an argument he can’t win. Such a selective spending limitation would be very difficult to arouse the American people against but would strike at the heart of the President's ability to achieve his goals.

Finally, the Appropriations Committee should start targeting individual presidential perks and limit his ability to function by methodically cutting out staff, travel funding, etc.

The Founding Fathers were vividly aware of the dangers of tyranny. They had rebelled against a British King who they felt was tyrannical. They fought a desperate war for eight years against almost hopeless odds to win their independence. They thought freedom was worth the cost.

They designed the Constitution to enable the American people to maintain their freedom. They sought a balance of power between the legislative, executive and judicial branches (defined in that order with the legislature first). They would be appalled at the arrogance and hubris of a president who thought he could impose his will against the Congress.

They would also stand up to the presidential power-grab at all costs, considering it a profound threat to our system of government. The precedent of such unrestrained executive cannot be allowed to stand.

If President Obama wants to declare war on the American people's Congress, he will presently find himself as isolated and defeated as King George III. This is the dangerous path he is on.
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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: Dictatorial, President Obama, verses, American People, Congress, all legislative powers, Federalist Papers, Newt Gingrich, Gingrich Productions To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

The Gold Standard Did Not Cause The Great Depression, Part 2

by Ralph Benko, Contributing Author: As noted in my previous column, AEI’s James Pethokoukis and National Review‘s Ramesh Ponnuru — among many others — appear to have fallen victim to what I have called the “Eichengreen Fallacy.” This refers to the demonstrably incorrect proposition that the gold standard caused the Great Depression.

Pethokoukis proves exactly right in observing that “Benko is a gold-standard advocate and apparently doesn’t much like the words ‘Hitler’ or ‘Nazi’ to be in the same area code of any discussion of once again linking the dollar to the shiny yellow metal.” “Doesn’t much like” being falsely linked with Hitler? Perhaps an apology is more in order than an apologia.

My objecting to a demonstrably false implication of the (true) gold standard in the rise of Nazism does not constitute a display of ill will but rather righteous indignation. To give Pethokoukis due credit he thereupon generously devoted an AEIdea blog to reciting Peter Thiel’s praise for the gold standard, praise which triggered a hysterical reaction from the Washington Post‘s Matt O’Brien.

Pethokoukis’s earlier (and repeated) vilification of gold was followed by a column in the Washington Times by a director of the venerable Committee for Monetary Research and Education Daniel Oliver, Jr., Liberty and wealth require sound money. In it, Oliver states:

What if liberty and riches at times diverge, though? A shibboleth of mainstream economists, repeated recently in The National Review, of all places, is that countries recovered from the Great Depression in the order that they abandoned the gold standard. … No doubt, money printing — the modern equivalent of leaving the gold standard — can plug the holes in banks’ balance sheets when the demand deposits at the base of the credit structure are withdrawn. This is the policy recommended by National Review Senior Editor Ramesh Ponnuru and other “market monetarists” such as the American Enterprise Institute’s James Pethokoukis ….I am not in complete accord with all of Oliver’s propositions therein. Ponnuru is on solid ground in contradicting Oliver’s imputation of sentiments to him he does not hold and does not believe. Yet Ponnuru weakens his defense by citing, among other things, a recent summary of the history of gold standards in the United States that George Selgin wrote for the Cato Institute. It is a very gold-friendly account, but it ‘concludes that the conditions that led to the gold standard’s original establishment and its successful performance are unlikely to be replicated in the future.’“Unlikely to be replicated in the future?” Prof Selgin is a brilliant economist, especially in the elite field of monetary economics. Yet as Niels Bohr reportedly once said, "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future." This citation in no way advances Ponnuru’s self-defense.

Let it be noted that Cato Institute recently announced a stunning coup in recruiting Prof. Selgin to head its impressive new Center For Monetary and Financial Alternatives. As stated in its press release, “George Selgin, a Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Georgia and one of the foremost authorities on banking and monetary theory and history, gave up his academic tenure to join Cato as director of the new center.” Cato’s recruitment, from the Mercatus Institute, of a key former House subcommittee aide, the formidable Lydia Mashburn, to serve as the Center’s Manager also shows great sophistication and purpose.

Prof. Selgin hardly would give up a prestigious university post to engage in a quixotic enterprise. I, among many, expect Selgin rapidly to emerge as a potent thought leader in changing the calculus of what is, or can be made, policy-likely. Also notable are the Center’s sterling Council of Economic Advisors, including such luminaries as Charles Calomiris; its Executive Advisory Council; Senior Fellows; and Adjunct Scholars. It is, as Prof. Selgin noted in a comment to the previous column, “a rather … diverse bunch.”

The Center presents as an array of talent metaphorically reminiscent of the 1927 Yankees. These columns do not imply Cato to be a uniform phalanx of gold standard advocates but rather a sophisticated group of thought leaders committed to monetary and financial alternatives, of which the classical gold standard is one, respectable, offering. Prof. Selgin’s own position frankly acknowledging the past efficacy of the true gold standard represents argument from the highest degree of sophistication.

Ponnuru is on the weakest possible ground in citing the “commonplace observation that countries recovered from the Great Depression in the order they left gold.” This is as misleading as it is commonplace. Ponnuru, too, would do well to break free of the Eichengreen Fallacy and assimilate the crucial fact that a defective simulacrum, not the true gold standard, led to and prolonged the Great Depression.

The perverse effects of the interwar “gold” standard led to a significant rise in commodities prices … and the ensuing wreckage of a world monetary system by the, under the circumstances, atavistic definition of the dollar at $20.67/oz of gold. The breakdown of the system meticulously is documented in a narrative history by Liaquat Ahamed, Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke The World, which received the Pulitzer Prize in history. That road to Hell tidily was summed up in a recent piece in The Economist, Breaking the Rules: “The short-lived interwar gold standard … was a mess.” As EPPC’s John Mueller recently observed, in Forbes.com, “the official reserve currencies which Keynes advocated fed the 1920s boom and 1930s deflationary bust in the stock market and commodity prices.”

The predicament — caused by the gold-exchange standard adopted in Genoa in 1922 — required a revaluation of the dollar to $35/oz, duly if eccentrically performed by FDR under the direction of commodities price expert economist George Warren. That revaluation led to a dramatic and rapid lifting of the Great Depression. Thereafter, as Calomiris, et. al, observe in a publication by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the Treasury sterilized gold inflows. That sterilization, together with tax hikes, most likely played a major role in leading to the double dip back into Depression.

The classical gold standard — an early casualty of the First World War — was not, indeed could not have been, the culprit. There is a subtle yet crucial distinction between the gold-exchange standard, which indeed precipitated the Great Depression, and the classical gold standard, which played no role.There is much to be said for the classical gold standard as a policy conducive to equitable prosperity. It commands respect, even by good faith opponents.

For the discourse to proceed we first must lay to rest the Eichengreen Fallacy (and all that is attendant thereon). Once having dispelled that toxic fallacy let the games begin and let the best monetary policy prescription win.
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Part 1
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Ralph Benko is senior advisor, economics, to American Principles in Action’s Gold Standard 2012 Initiative, and a contributor to the ARRA News Service. His article first appeared in Forbes.

Tags: Gold Standard, Did Not Cause, The Great Depression, Ralph Benko, Part 2 To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Stupid Is as Stupid Votes?

Family Research Council: What's rarer than an honest politician? A lying one who admits it. That’s essentially what ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber did in a viral video about the President’s strategy for passing his signature policy. In it, he admits what shouldn't be news to anyone: that the legislation was built on a pack of lies and passed because too many Americans couldn't see through them.

"Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage," Gruber said at a University of Pennsylvania lecture last year. "And basically, call it the 'stupidity of the American voter' or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass" The bill, he explains, was intentionally written "in a tortured way" -- not just to confuse voters, but the government agencies pricing out the policy. Raising the hackles of voters everywhere, Gruber arrogantly praised the ploy, saying, "It's a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter."

Of course, the irony is that American voters must not be stupid -- else the President wouldn't have had to lie in the first place! Obviously, he was concerned that selling the system "as is" would have exposed it for the freedom-crushing, money-sucking, job-killing measure it was.

And despite the administration's snow job, plenty of Americans weren't deceived. Including FRC. We warned from Day 1 that the system was chocked-full of rationing, taxpayer-funded abortion, sky-high costs, and massive plan casualties. It's not that the American people are "stupid," it's that they have an expectation that they can trust their elected leaders -- or at a minimum, that their leaders won't willfully lie to them. "The strategy was to hide the truth from the American people," Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) told reporters. "I'm not into this post-modern world where you can say whatever you want to in order to achieve your agenda. That is a threat to the American republic... This is far deeper and more significant than the fact that he just spoke."

Meanwhile, if anything paints the picture of modern liberalism, it's this controversy. The message from liberal elites is that the government knows better than the average American what's good for our country. It’s the height of condescension and arrogance, and it just might be the undoing of the law Democrats worked so hard to hide. As insulting as Gruber’s comments were, they might have done the country a huge favor. Now that America's "stupid" voters have fired more ObamaCare supporters from office, this only fans the flames for phase two: full repeal!

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

Fowl Weather . . .

. . . Alternative Energy Cover-up. Harsh cold weather so early is putting a damper on alternative energy and the climate change hoaxers, but at least the dead birds are covered.
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: fowl weather, alternative energy, cover-up, 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!

House Approved Keystone XL Pipeline | Obamacare Architect Jonathan Gruber's Comments

Keystone Approved by The House - Bill Goes to Senate
Today in Washington, D.C. - Nov.14, 2014
The Senate is not in session today and will reconvene on Monday at 2 PM. On Monday, the Senate will vote on the motion to concur in the House amendment to S. 1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant reauthorization and on cloture on 3 Georgia district judge nominees.

On Tuesday, a vote is scheduled on S. 2280, a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Noted later: The House passed a bill today on this issue.

Yesterday, the Senate voted 54-45 to confirm of Randolph Moss to be District Judge for the District of Columbia and 99-0 to confirm Leigh Martin May to be District Judge for the Northern District of Georgia.

Senators then voted 96-1 to invoke cloture on the motion to concur in the House amendment to S. 1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant reauthorization.

The House convened at 9 AM today and at passed H.R. 5682 (252-161) — "To approve the Keystone XL Pipeline." Thirty-one Democrats Joined 221 Republicans in passing the bill. All the no votes were by Democrats who followed Pelosi's objective of opposing Republicans votes on approving the Keystone XL Pipeline. The bill moves to the Senate where numerous soon to be retired Democrat Senators will vote on the bill. The majority of the American people want jobs and have clearly evidenced that they want the Keystone XL Pipeline approved.

No additional bills are expected to be passed today and the House will adjourn in the mid-afternoon.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement praising House passage of H.R. 5682, legislation introduced by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) that would immediately approve the Keystone pipeline: "Thousands more Americans would be working today if President Obama had put their priorities ahead of his political interests and approved the Keystone pipeline. Instead, he continues to block the project, and the new jobs, lower costs, and increased energy security it would provide. The House has voted numerous times to end the Obama administration’s needless delays, only to see those bills blocked by the outgoing Democratic majority in the Senate. The president doesn’t have any more elections to win, and he has no other excuse for standing in the way. It’s time he start listening to the vast majority of Americans who support Keystone and help get more people back to work."

CBS Moneywatch reported earlier this week, “With the Affordable Care Act to start enrollment for its second year on Nov. 15, some unpleasant surprises may be in store for some. That's because a number of low-priced Obamacare plans will raise their rates in 2015, making those options less affordable. On top of that, penalties for failing to secure a health-insurance plan will rise steeply next year, which could take a big bite out of some families' pocketbooks.

“‘The penalty is meant to incentivize people to get coverage,’ said senior analyst Laura Adams of InsuranceQuotes.com. ‘This year, I think a lot of people are going to be in for a shock.’ . . . The financial penalty for skipping out on health coverage will more than triple to $325 per person in 2015, or 2 percent of income, depending on whichever is higher. Children will be fined at half the adult rate, or $162.50 for those under 18 years old.”

Beyond that, CBS notes, “It's not only the uninsured who will be facing higher costs. Many health-care plans are also charging more, with Investor's Business Daily finding that a 27-year-old earning 250 percent of the poverty rate will pay an average of 7 percent more for the lowest-cost bronze plan, based on an analysis of rates in the largest city in 34 states. The lowest-cost silver plan will rise an average of 9 percent, while the lowest-priced catastrophic policy will climb 18 percent, the analysis found.”

On top of the rate increases, the subsidies created by Obamacare could be decreasing for many, driving up costs due to the way those subsidies are calculated. According to The Wall Street Journal, “In a twist, an influx of lower-priced health plans on HealthCare.gov could lead many Americans to pay more for coverage next year thanks to smaller insurance tax credits. A handful of insurers in 14 states are offering aggressively low premiums on the federal insurance enrollment site, which reopens Saturday, in a bid to undercut big rivals who snapped up customers last year.

“The move is pulling down the value of federal tax credits that consumers get to offset the cost of their coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The credits are pegged to the price of the second-lowest-cost midrange plan in a given geographic area, as well as an enrollee’s income. . . . But many people who re-enroll in their 2014 plans face higher insurance costs even if their premium remains flat. To avoid paying more, they would have to switch plans, which many consumers don’t do . . . . An early look at 2015 rate proposals and final premiums posted this week on HealthCare.gov, which serves more than 30 states, showed that many large plans increased their premiums for next year.”

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported yesterday, “Small-business enrollment on new insurance marketplaces set up under the president’s health-care law has fallen well short of the administration’s expectations, according to government report released Thursday.> The Government Accountability Office examined enrollment totals for the online small-business exchanges, commonly called SHOP exchanges, in states that built their own health insurance portals. Most states defaulted to a federally operated small-business marketplace — a complementary site to the more widely known individual exchange. Both exchanges are slated to relaunch this weekend.

“During the first eight months, fewer than 12,000 small businesses signed up for plans through exchanges in the 18 states that built their own marketplaces, GAO found. Collectively, those companies enrolled about 78,000 workers. While the Obama administration did not set SHOP-specific goals, the federal watchdog said that number was ‘significantly lower than expected.’”

Asked about the series of videos of comments by Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber by reporters yesterday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “I think you have all heard the definition of a ‘Washington gaffe,’ when a politician mistakenly tells you what he really thinks. We were subjected during the Obamacare debate to a whole lot of stuff that we all knew was not true, not even close to true. And what this insider is saying confirms that they were spinning tales from beginning to end because they knew they couldn't tell the truth about Obamacare and have a chance of passing it, even with a Democratic Senate with 60 votes.”

This unpopular law continues to be a bureaucratic nightmare, is still raising costs, and is still causing all sorts of problems for Americans’ health care all over the country. As Leader McConnell reiterated at a press conference yesterday, “Virtually all of us would like to see [Obamacare] pulled out root and branch. We understand that the president obviously is not sympathetic with that point of view. But we'll be voting on these issues, both the overall Obamacare issue and the various pieces of it, like the individual mandate, the medical device tax, and trying to restore the 40-hour work week.”

Tags: IU.S. House, Keystone XL Pipeline, approved, Sen.  Mitch McConnell, addresses, Obamacare, Jonathan Gruber,  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, November 13, 2014

Foreign Policy Failures | Misplaced Priorities

by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: Barack Obama is still president for the next 26 months. Starting in January, he'll have to contend with a Republican House and Senate on matters of domestic policy and spending. But when it comes to foreign policy, the Constitution grants the president tremendous authority.

Expect America's standing in the world to continue to decline as our enemies exploit Obama's remaining time in office. It is already happening.
  • While the media were ballyhooing Obama's "three meetings with Putin" in China, Putin was sending tanks into Ukraine and positioning long-range bombers in the Gulf of Mexico. (By the way, those "meetings" were just brief conversations in between summit sessions totaling about 20 minutes.)
  • Last week, the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, answering critics of Israel's actions in Gaza, said, "I actually do think that Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties." The general noted that the U.S. even sent a delegation to Israel three months ago to learn about limiting civilian casualties from the IDF.

    Dempsey was slapped down immediately when a reporter pressed State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki about the Obama Administration's previous condemnations of Israeli military conduct. Psaki retorted, "It remains the broad view of the entire Administration that [Israel] could have done more and they should have taken more -- all feasible precautions to prevent civilian casualties."
  • Three U.S. sailors were assaulted by radical Islamists in Istanbul, Turkey -- a supposed NATO ally. The attack was videotaped for propaganda purposes, and CBS accommodated the jihadists by playing it. That video is a disturbing example of what has happened to America's prestige and standing in the world under Barack Obama.
Obama's Misplaced Priorities
It was announced to much fanfare that President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping have reached an agreement to dramatically reduce carbon emissions. Really? Carbon emissions?

That speaks volumes about Obama's misplaced priorities. By the way, while Obama's worried about global warming, another polar vortex is hitting the country, bringing record cold temperatures and snow to several states.

The president goes to China at a time when the Chinese are waging a massive cyber-warfare campaign against us and our leading companies. We learned just this week that the Post Office was hacked and Chinese state agencies top the list of suspects.

It was only a year ago that China's communist media outlets were >bragging about plans for a nuclear strike that could kill 12 million Americans. Moreover, China's military leadership has concluded that it is capable of "bloodlessly deterring U.S. intervention" should it move against Taiwan.

To prove the point, the Chinese unveiled a new stealth fighter this week, which they built by stealing our technology. The test flight -- with America's president in the country -- was a clear example of China flexing its military muscles.

Yet in the midst of all these national security threats, Obama elevates carbon emissions and climate change to the top of his list.
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Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families

Tags: Obama Administration, Foreign Policies, Failures, misplaced priorities, Russia, China, Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Early Signs Of A Pullback In Drilling Activity

by Nick Cunningham: With oil prices low and showing no sign of an immediate rebound, the industry is beginning to pull back on spending.

Oil prices have dropped around 30 percent since summer highs, raising fears among producers across the globe. Yet, many oil majors are relatively diversified, with large holdings downstream. For example, ExxonMobil and Chevron have been insulated in the third quarter because of their large holdings in refining. Steep declines in oil prices may hurt their production sectors, but with lower priced oil as an input, big oil's refining assets become more profitable.

For the third quarter, ExxonMobil reported a 3 percent rise in earnings compared to quarter three in 2013. That was largely driven by the Texas-based oil giant's refining assets, which saw its profits rise by more than 70 percent from $592 million to $1.02 billion. Chevron's refining program succeeded in quadrupling its profits in the third quarter, more than offsetting the hit the company has taken from the slide in oil prices.

Other companies that are not as large or integrated across various subsectors of the oil industry are not as shielded from the current soft price environment. And there are signs that a slowdown is beginning to take shape.

Oil services firm Baker Hughes reported another drop in the active rig count in early November, with oil rigs declining by 14. With 1,568 rigs in operation, the oil rig count is now at its lowest level since August, and down 49 rigs since a peak in October. Rigs could decline to 1,325 in 2015, according to some projections.

While some companies appear undaunted, vowing to maintain or even increase production, others are beginning to pare back spending plans. Continental Resources, a major oil producer in North Dakota's Bakken play, has stated that it won't deploy more drilling rigs next year. Pioneer Natural Resources, with large holdings in the Eagle Ford and Permian basin, has hinted at more modest plans for 2015 due to lower oil prices.

The companies that service the oil producers are also on the frontlines, often feeling the brunt of a pullback in drilling activity quickly. Transocean, a major offshore oil drilling contractor, reported a nearly $2.8 billion impairment charge during the third quarter, which was "due primarily to the decline in the market valuation of the company's contract drilling services business." In other words, lower oil prices hurt demand for Transocean's drilling rigs.

Transocean's 29 ultra-deepwater drilling rigs had accumulated 296 combined days of being out of service in the third quarter. That was an enormous increase over the previous two quarters – 110 days of out-of-service days in quarter two, and just 98 days in the first quarter. Even worse, the company expects the rigs to be inactive for a total of 435 days in the fourth quarter.

Short sellers are even stepping up their positions against oil field service companies as they sense an opportunity. Reuters reported on several European firms that are starting to come under fire from short sellers.

Nevertheless, the selloff in oil prices could be overdone. OPEC's Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri tried to ease concerns, speaking at a conference in Abu Dhabi on November 10. "Please do not panic, things will fix itself," he said. On its face, that response would seem to suggest that OPEC thinks prices have bottomed out. On the other hand, Kuwait's Oil Minister suggested that OPEC will not cut its production target, and echoing al-Badri's comments, he said that "prices will settle down once surplus oil is absorbed.

No decision has been made yet, and OPEC will meet at the end of November in Vienna to decide its next move. But merely allowing the market to sort itself out while maintaining current production levels will almost certainly spark a negative reaction in the oil markets.

That would put greater pressure on oil producers and oil service companies around the world, potentially forcing further cutbacks in production plans with the weakest players and the highest cost regions feeling the worst of it.
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James Stafford is Editor of OilPrice.com contributes articles to the ARRA News Service. Nick Cunningham is a Washington DC-based writer on energy and environmental issues. You can follow him on twitter at @nickcunningham1

Tags: oil prices, oil rigs, production, oil prices hurting Shale Operations, shale operations, Nick Cunningham, OilPrice.com To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Newly Elected Republicans – Vote Like You Remember Conservatives Elected You

by Jim Mullen, Contributing Author: America beat back the Marxist wolves from the door in stunning fashion in the mid-term elections. Republicans took the Senate, increased their lead in the House, and won statewide and local races throughout the land.

Will Republicans use their new found power or weaken and get warm and fuzzy with left wing, Obama Democrats, and squander their riches? Alternatively, will they delineate their differences from Democrats and use their mandate to do what Red-State Americans hired them to do; wrest the country from the crushing jaws of Obama Marxism and his New Democrat Party? Being Republican is not enough, conservatives will be reelected; liberals will not!

If history tells us anything, it's that Republicans have displayed little stomach to fight as tenaciously as Democrats. The American people did not reject Democrats because they love Republicans. Americans rejected Democrats because they moved so far to the left, they became indistinguishable from arrogant despots when they joined the most radical movement in our history; Barack Obama's promise of fundamentally changing America.

Indeed, Obama with the full blessing of his New Democratic Party ripped America from her moorings. America lost her identity, her pride, her culture, her values, and her guiding constitutional principles. Not surprisingly, she weakened and lost world respect when her word and promises grew hollow and meaningless.

This new leadership must "fight to win," and not "go along to get along” thinking only of the next election. It requires boldness not defensive posturing and maneuvering. Ignore the voices of mainstream media, liberal pundits, and talking heads. Follow the words of our Founding Fathers. Listen to their warnings about all-powerful centralized government, and then drive this evil from its entrenchment in our government, its institutions, and academia.

Vow to precede every vote with this most pertinent question, "What would our Founders do?"

Barack Obama is unconvinced of American exceptionalism. His beliefs of redistributing income, wealth, and property, are ideas straight from the malevolent ideals of Karl Marx - ideas proven repeatedly to reduce everyone but the elite to the lowest common denominator, to share equally in government-led misery.

Under the siege of Obama and his comrades, many middle-class Americans joined the ranks of the dependent class. Business creates good jobs; big government historically creates ignorance, poverty, and dependency. Small government allows industry and private enterprise to breathe, grow, and provide for expansion of the nation’s workforce.

It is not too late to re-establish liberty and wrest America from the scorching tyranny of Barack Obama.

The following are priorities this writer puts forth to the new Congress, if Republicans want to keep their jobs and save the country:
  • Don’t try to out Democrat the Democrats. They've had sixty years of practice at placing people on welfare, destroying families, and enslaving millions of people to government.
  • Public relations are an integral part of keeping your message clear, unambiguous, delivered with force, and repeated often. Remember, liberals are experts at controlling the media. Appoint a committee (and/or hire) public relations’ experts to promote your conservatism and immediately control false information disseminated by liberals or MS media.
  • Ignore all forces of division from the hate-filled left. It’s time for sagacious leadership and fighting with determined resolve on the federal, state and local fronts. When attacked by the left, or Main Stream Media, immediately have a posse of Representatives, or Senators, step to the microphone for a press conference and issue a press release stating the facts. Your response must be immediate, forceful, truthful, and convincing. Repeat your case until the next issue arises. Convince the voters the value of your plan and the barking dogs will head for the porch, tails between their legs.
  • Remember why voters rejected Democrats. Don’t do that!
  • You were not elected to work with Democrats. It is up to Democrats to work with you. Democrats’ idea of cooperation is doing it their way. Negotiate only from strength.
  • Keep in mind; we have the Democrat’s playbook. Don’t let their race hustling, war on women, war on gays, etc., etc., rhetoric or any other group on group war they conjure up, keep you from your service to your constituents and your country.
  • Thank Harry Reid for the new Senate rules; keep them and follow them.
  • Slash regulations to release the Bull of industry.
  • Get feds out of education. Education is not a constitutional responsibility of the federal government. It is, in fact, an illegal intrusion on states’ rights. The more the federal government spends on education, the lower the test scores. Education began crashing when Congress blessed us with the Department of Education. Teacher unions and public unions are too powerful and helped create the crises in education and other bureaucracies.
  • Use appropriations to curtail the power of the congressional manufactured bureaucracies.
  • Use the power of the purse to pull the teeth of the EPA and dozens of other federal bureaucracies. Pass new legislation redefining the intent and the responsibilities of these runaway thugs. Our country can never be free with bureaucrats making their own laws.
  • Forget ALL special-interest groups and do the job for which fed-up voters hired you.
  • Reinstate the work requirement in the welfare reform laws passed during Clinton Administration that Obama repealed using unlawful executive orders. Get people off welfare and back to work. Dependency is the number-one cause of culture decay, ignorance, and lack of personal and national pride.
  • Don’t even think about citizenship for illegal aliens. Shut our borders tight and put a temporary moratorium on all immigration. Pass an immigration bill only afterwards.
  • Make passing an energy bill one of the top priorities. Begin with the Keystone Pipeline, and then move to open public land for drilling, including ANWR. Nuclear must rank high as a major part of this plan, our future depends upon nuclear, and researching other forms of energy. Do this with tax incentives, not by throwing $billions away on proven failed liberal schemes.
  • Reducing tax rates for corporations, private entrepreneurs, and personal income, should hold a position of prominence.
  • Dodd-Frank must go! It’s just another anchor around the necks of business. Regulations and taxes kill jobs!
  • Health care laws must be prominent, and Obamacare repealed by any means necessary.
  • Don’t make deals that allow Obama to appoint left wing judges, and department heads.
  • Rebuild our military. We are in a perilous position of weakness. Obama set fires around the world and slashed our military to dangerous levels. A strong nation militarily and fiscally, is a safe nation.
  • Get us back to responsible spending, reduce the deficit, and work on reducing the debt.

  • Work within the framework the Founders gave this great land: The Constitution! Do these things and we shall return to strength in the world, independence in our nation, and once again stand tall and proud. America is in decline because we are less free!
If local and state leaders take these same ideals, ideas, and policies of freedom, they will long serve their constituents, and rescue the nation, their state, and local communities from the ravages of past political incompetence. Show the voters what this new group of leaders can accomplish. If you do not learn from the Democrats, and do not accept what our Founders knew, then you are doomed to repeat the very sad history of the past several decades.
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Jim Mullen is a Republican conservative activist, editor of  Freedom For Us Now, and contributing author for the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Newly elected Republicans , Republicans, conservatives elect you, vote, priorities, vote like you remember, Jim Mullen To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

2015 Republican Leadership Positions Elected | Will Obama Veto Keystone XL?

Today in Washington, D.C. - Nov. 13, 2014
This morning, Senate Republicans elected their leadership team for the 114th Congress, which begins in January.

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was elected Majority Leader by acclamation. He was nominated by Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and the nomination was seconded by Sen.-elect Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas was elected Majority Whip, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota was elected Senate Republican Conference Chairman, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming was elected Senate Republican Policy Chairman, Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri was elected Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairman, and Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi was elected as National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman.

The Senate will reconvene at 2:15 PM today. At 2:30, the Senate will vote on confirmation of the nominations of Randolph Moss to be District Judge for the District of Columbia and Leigh Martin May to be District Judge for the Northern District of Georgia.

Following those votes, the Senate will vote on cloture on the motion to concur in the House amendment to S. 1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant reauthorization. Yesterday, the Senate voted 53-45 to invoke cloture on the Moss nomination and 67-30 to invoke cloture on the May nomination.

This morning, House Republicans, including newly elected and returning lawmakers, elected their leadership team for the 114th Congress. They elected the following members of their leadership team for the 114th Congress:
Speaker of the House: Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) | @SpeakerBoehner
Majority Leader: Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) | @GOPLeader
Majority Whip: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) | @SteveScalise
Conference Chair: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) | @cathymcmorris
NRCC Chairman: Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) | @repgregwalden
Policy Committee Chairman: Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) | @RepLukeMesser
Conference Vice-Chair: Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) | @RepLynnJenkins
Conference Secretary: Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) | @virginiafoxx
Sophomore Representative: Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO)| @RepAnnWagner
Freshman Representative: Rep.-elect Mimi Walters (R-CA)
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement:“Americans have entrusted Republicans with the responsibility of leading both the House and Senate. We are humbled by this opportunity and take it seriously. Together, our focus will continue to be listening to the people and making their priorities our priorities. We have an opportunity to do some important things in the months ahead. We have made clear that we’ll start with the jobs bills the outgoing Senate majority ignored for too long. We’ve decided not to wait on one of them: the Keystone pipeline. The House will vote tomorrow to build the Keystone pipeline, and we’re hopeful the Senate will approve it as well. This is a vote to lower energy costs for families and create more American jobs. Finding common ground won’t always be easy, but for the sake of America’s workers, we hope the president will sign this bipartisan bill without any further delay.”
The House reconvened at 10 AM today. In addition to administrative and land transfer issues, the House is expected to take up H. Res. 748 — "Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 5682) to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline." Yesterday, issues were administrative except for accepting two modifications by the Senate to previously passed House bills.

Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens today issued the following statement urging passage of H.R. 5682 offered by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) that would permit "TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. [to] construct, connect, operate, and maintain the pipeline and cross-border facilities" of the Keystone XL pipeline:
"The House led by Rep. Bill Cassidy is to be praised for taking the lead on finally approving the Keystone XL pipeline. Americans for Limited Government urges every member to support this common sense legislation and get it moving to the Senate.

"Everything we ever needed to know about the Obama administration has been learned in its obstruction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Why hasn't it been approved by the Obama State Department? Not because there is anything exceptional about this pipeline. There already is another Keystone pipeline from Alberta operated by TransCanada that already delivers about 590,000 barrels of oil a day. The new pipeline would simply add another 500,000 barrels a day to the mix.

"This is just one more example of executive branch discretion run amuck. Where Obama's allegiance to green ideology trumps all considerations of policy that will help lead to North American energy independence. Obama is acting in somebody's interest, it's just not the American people's."
As the AP noted, “Long-stalled legislation to build the Keystone XL pipeline got new life on Wednesday after Senate Democrats suddenly abandoned efforts to block the measure . . . .”

In response to this sudden change, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “The American people have elected a new Republican Majority in the Senate and that has already made a difference. I was glad to see that Senate Democrats have finally backed off trying to obstruct construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the single largest shovel-ready project in America. I hope this post-election conversion on Keystone signals Democrat cooperation on a whole host of other energy bills they have blocked, and whose passage would help to make America more energy-independent.”

But in a story titled, “On the other side of the world, Obama determined as ever to bypass Congress,” CNN reports, “For President Barack Obama and the Republicans in Congress, distance does not make the heart grow fonder. With the president escaping to Asia for a critical foreign trip after last week's bruising losses for his party, White House officials are signaling Obama will take a hard-nosed approach with Congress when he returns to Washington.

“Obama is ‘nearing a final decision’ on issuing an executive order bringing reforms to U.S. immigration policy, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at a briefing in Naypyitaw, [Burma]. Earnest reiterated the President's goal to act on the issue by the end of the year. . . . The expected incoming Senate majority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has described such a move as a ‘poison pill’ that would damage relations with the new Republican Congress coming into power in January. . . .

“Earnest cited the President's new climate change deal with China as another area where Obama can pursue his own agenda without Congress. Asked whether the administration believes the United States can meet the agreement's carbon emission requirements without congressional involvement, Earnest said simply, ‘we do.’ . . . In his own response to the climate agreement, McConnell questioned whether China would be as ambitious. ‘I read the agreement - requires the Chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years while these carbon emission regulations are creating havoc in my state and other states around the country,’ the Kentucky Republican said. . . .

“On another top priority for Republicans, passage of legislation to accelerate completion of the contested Keystone oil pipeline, Earnest suggested the President is warming up his veto pen. Earnest declined to definitively say Obama would veto such legislation. But he quickly added the President has taken a ‘dim view’ of similar bills in the past.”

Is President Obama really still determined to stand in the way of an energy infrastructure project that would create jobs and enjoys broad bipartisan support, even in the wake of voters rejecting the Democrat Senate majority’s former opposition to it?

The Washington Post reminds the White House just how much support the Keystone XL pipeline enjoys from Americans across party lines: “President Obama is fond of telling Congress that it should pass things with the overwhelming support of the American people . . . . And yet, Obama could soon be in a position of vetoing something with a similar amount of support: the Keystone XL pipeline.

“Poll after poll has shown support for Keystone is somewhere between very strong and overwhelming. A Pew Research Center survey this month showed support for the project at nearly two-to-one, 59 percent to 31 percent. And that was about the lowest level of support we've seen to date. Support has registered as high as two-thirds of Americans.

“And as another recent Pew poll showed, it's not just Republicans and independents driving support for the project. In fact, basically the only group that opposes it is the most liberal of Democrats. . . .

“Which is a long way of saying that Obama would likely have very few supporters were he to wield his veto pen, as the White House suggests he will following votes by the House and Senate -- which by all indications will approve the bill.”

Tags: Washington, House, Senate, Republican 2015 leadership, Keystone FL Pipeline 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’s Taxing Plan To Regulate The Internet

by Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: President Obama is leaning heavily on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), an independent agency, to change the Internet from a competitive, free-market service into a government-regulated public utility. Philosophically and politically, it is a strangely tone-deaf response to a landslide national election calling for smaller, less-intrusive government. But the most important impact for most people will be much more immediate: Obama’s plan includes a new 16.1 percent tax on your Internet bill, and would automatically rise every three months – all without the approval of the people’s elected representatives in Congress.

Broadband Internet is the greatest infrastructure success story in America. While private investment has driven remarkable growth and innovation in the Internet, our water, sewer, power, and transportation infrastructure – largely run by government with tax dollars – are, to put it kindly, not doing nearly as well. Who, besides our president, looks at the state of infrastructure in America and says Internet is the problem area?

Beyond that obvious fact, there is this even more concrete problem Obama’s plan: it will replace private investment with taxes that will hit every American hard in the pocketbook.

Former FCC commissioner Harold Furchgott-Roth explained: “By classifying broadband access services as ‘interstate telecommunications services,’ those services would suddenly become required to pay FCC fees. At the current 16.1% fee structure, it would be perhaps the largest, one-time tax increase on the Internet.”

It will only get worse from there, because the tax will go up every three months –without a vote of Congress – and there is reason to believe that private investment would rapidly collapse, forcing the new tax higher and higher just to keep the Internet working. (And forget about it actually continuing to get better.)

On Wall Street, Obama’s plan is known as the nuclear option because of the devastating effect it would have on private investment. In fact, simply the announcement of Obama’s plan has caused AT&T to stall billions of dollars of investment in deploying expensive fiber-optics networks on about 100 cities.

Has anyone stopped to ask what exactly the problem is that we’re trying to solve?

Even Bill Clinton’s favorite think tank, the Progressive Policy Institute, railed against the Obama plan, warning that it is “inconsistent with the Democratic Party’s legacy. After all, the Internet took off in the 1990s, thanks in significant degree to the ‘light touch’ approach to regulation adopted by the Clinton-Gore Administration.”

When was the last time anybody said: “The Internet has really gone downhill since it was opened up to private commercial development”?

Who looks at bad old days of monopoly public utility regulation of Ma Bell and says: “The Internet would be so much better if it worked liked the old phone system”?

The whole push for the Obama plan comes from two constituencies: rent-seeking video giants like Google/YouTube and NetFlix who think a taxpayer-funded, government-regulated utility will guarantee them zero-cost access to customers, and ideological extremists like Free Press, whose founder Robert McChesney once famously explained: “the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.”

For pretty much everybody who isn’t a giant content company or a hardcore liberal extremist, regulating and taxing the Internet is obviously a terrible idea and Congress should therefore step in and stop the FCC from implementing Obama’s plan.
------------------
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment and a contributing author for the ARRA News Service.He is on Twitter and on Facebook.

Tags: President Obama, Taxing Plan, Internet Tax, regulate the Internet, Phil Kerpen, American Commitment 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's Cruel and Costly Climate Hoax

by Alan Caruba, Contributing Authors: The intense cold that many Americans are encountering arrives more than a month before the official start of winter on December 2l.

To discuss this, we need to keep in mind that weather is what is occurring now. Climate is measured over longer periods, the minimum of which is thirty years and, beyond that, centuries.

We are colder these days because the Earth has been in a cooling cycle for 19 years and that cycle is based entirely on the Sun which has been radiating less heat for the same period of time.

Describing the role of the Sun, Australian geologist, Ian Plimer, said, “There is a big thermonuclear reactor in the sky that emits huge amounts of energy to the Earth…The Sun provides the energy for photosynthesis. The Sun is the bringer of life to Earth. If the Sun were more energetic the oceans would boil. If the Sun were less energetic the oceans would freeze and all life on Earth would be destroyed.”

We don’t control the Sun. Or the climate. It controls us.

Consider the fact that the Sun has a diameter of 865,000 miles. The Earth’s diameter is 7,917.5 miles. Thus, the Sun’s diameter is 109 times greater than the Earth’s. Carbon dioxide is barely 0.4% of the Earth’s atmosphere. Reducing it as the U.S.-China agreement proposes would have zero effect on the Earth’s climate.

We not only can, but should ignore the blatant lies of President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, both of whom have been saying things about “climate change” without a scintilla of science to back them up. They’re not alone, however. In August, the U.N. Climate Chief, Christiana Figueres, warned of climate “chaos” in 500 days and told the World Health Organization that climate change was on a par with the outbreak of Ebola as a public health emergency.

It was big news on November 11 when The Wall Street Journal’s lead story on its front page reported that “The U.S. and China unveiled long-term plans to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases linked to climate change, a surprise move aimed at kick-starting a new round of international climate negotiations and blunting domestic opposition to cuts in both countries.”

Someone needs to tell The Wall Street Journal there is no “climate change” that is not entirely NATURAL and unrelated to anything humans are doing.

The announcement plays into the longtime efforts of the environmental movement to impose energy limits on the world’s population. Similar limits will be called for when climate talks are launched in December by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Lima, Peru.

Why the leaders of nations keep calling for limits that can only result in the reduction of energy production, the loss of economic benefits from industrial activity and the jobs it provides, and the modern lifestyle of advanced nations is one of life’s great mysteries.

If you really disliked America, you would no doubt pursue President Obama’s anti-energy agenda. That agenda is expressed by a series of climate and pollution measures that an article in Politico.com says “rivals any presidential environmental actions of the past quarter-century—a reality check for Republicans who think last week’s election gave them a mandate to end what they call the White House’s ‘War on Coal.’”

The authors of the Politico.com article, Andrew Restuccia and Erica Martinson, note that Obama’s assault on the nation is “Tied to court-ordered deadlines, legal mandates and international climate talks” over the next two months, all in the name of a climate change “And incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will have few options for stopping the onslaught, though Republicans may be able to slow pieces of it.”

“The coming rollout includes a Dec. 1 proposal by EPA to tighten limits on smog-causing ozone, which business groups say could be the costliest federal regulation of all time; a final rule Dec. 19 for clamping down on disposal of power plants’ toxic coal cash; the Jan. 1 start date for a long-debated rule prohibiting states from polluting the air of their downwind neighbors; and a Jan. 8 deadline for issuing a final rule restricting greenhouse gas emissions from future power plants. That last rule is a centerpiece of Obama’s most ambitious environmental effort, the big plan for combating climate change that he announced at Georgetown University in June 2013.”

This vile assault flies in the face of actual climate trends: record low tornadoes record low hurricanes, record gain in Arctic ice, record amount of Antarctic ice, no change in the rate of sea level rise, no evidence of a Greenland meltdown, and again no warming for 19 years.

As this and future winters turn colder, arrive sooner and stay around longer, Americans will be affected by the reduction of coal-fired plants that generate electrical power. The nation will encounter blizzards that will leave some homeowners and apartment dwellers without heat. It is predictable that some will die.

A cruel and costly climate hoax is being perpetrated by President Obama and, in particular, by the Environmental Protection Agency. The new Congress must take whatever action it can to reverse and stop the harm that it represents; people’s jobs and lives depend on it.
-----------------
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: Obama administration, EPA, cruel, costly, climate hoax, warning signs, Alan Caruba To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Police Officers Are Trained to Know Which of Your Belongings Are Most Worth Seizing

Image Via Townhall.com related article.
by Jason Snead and Andrew Kloster: Police officers are trained to know what property of yours makes the most sense to seize.

The Heritage Foundation has written much about a law enforcement tool known as civil asset forfeiture, which allows police departments to generate revenue from the seizure of money, cars, homes or anything else of value which they allege is connected to criminal activity.

Just looking at the numbers and reading the anecdotes, it is clear that law enforcement authorities are often tempted to prioritize their enforcement efforts where it is most profitable — but thanks to the Institute for Justice and The New York Times, we now know that this is not the result of a few rogue officers.

Instead, targeting expensive, easily liquidated property is how departments are trained.

At continuing education seminars around the country, civil forfeiture experts are on record not only encouraging law enforcement officers to use the practice, but offering advice on the most lucrative property to seize.

The jackpot items are televisions, cash and cars—jewelry just doesn’t pay, and neither do drugs (which perhaps is why some operations focus on the money coming out of a drug deal rather than the illicit substances going in). Officers were also advised on how to deal with judges who may not simply rubber stamp a forfeiture and how to ensure that forfeiture money stays in the law enforcement family.

At one seminar, Las Cruces, N.M., city attorney Harry Connelly Jr. lamented having to return a brand-new Mercedes to its owner. Officers were so busy lusting after the car’s forfeiture value that they arrested the car’s intoxicated owner for drunk driving before he had even touched his car door.

Santa Fe Sheriff Greg Solano took a similarly hardline stance when he pushed for a county ordinance allowing his office to seize the vehicles of drunk drivers – until his daughter wrecked his BMW while intoxicated. Suddenly on the receiving, or rather losing, end of a forfeiture, Solano changed his tune.

At another seminar in Georgia, a prosecutor bragged about his role in killing that state’s efforts at reform this past year. Georgia prosecutor Gary Bergman tried to justify the widespread use of forfeiture in his state because of “all the useful things [they] do with the money, the equipment, vehicles.”

Just what are these “useful things” authorities buy with these funds?

In Georgia, that would include the purchase of a Dodge Viper for a DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, a personal home security system for a district attorney and sports tickets and private parties, among other purchases.

Even if the funds were spent appropriately, good ends do not justify bad means when property is wrongly taken from innocent owners.

In fact, at a conference in Santa Fe, a police officer took the opportunity to belittle forfeiture’s potential impact on the guiltless by attacking the entire concept of an “innocent owner” — someone who has no knowledge his property is being used to commit a crime. Consider a man arrested for soliciting a prostitute while driving his wife’s car. In seizing the car, police are, in effect, punishing the innocent, betrayed wife.

This is not a hypothetical situation — it’s an actual Supreme Court case. In fact, as many as four out of every five seized vehicles are driven by somebody other than the owner. A statutory “innocent owner” defense is often the only way to win back the car (or home, in some cases).

Most forfeiture proceedings are handled in administrative hearings outside of a courtroom. And many forfeitures are never even challenged, owing simply to the fact that court costs and legal fees outweigh the value of whatever was seized. Many of these hearings are presided over by the very prosecutors whose offices get a cut of whatever they seize. This leaves one person to act as prosecutor, judge and jury—an unfair process if there ever were one.

Civil forfeiture was ramped up three decades ago to combat the violence of organized crime and drug gangs. And perhaps it has a place when due process is provided and it is limited to truly bad actors. But civil forfeiture is a cautionary tale of unintended consequences—what started out with noble goals has morphed into a system with too few checks and too many opportunities for abuse.

Many states are stepping up to the plate and passing reforms: Several bills have been proposed in Congress to reform federal forfeiture laws, and the new Congress should make forfeiture reform a priority.
-------------
Jason Snead and Andrew Kloster are research fellows at the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation focusing on civil rights, the role of the federal courts and other constitutional issues. Editor Note: Related recent Washington Post 11/10/14 article: Highway seizure in Iowa fuels debate about asset-forfeiture laws

Tags: law enforcement, police officers, sheriffis, seizure of property, asset forfeture, private property, big money, officer trained, property most worth seizing, reforms, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, Heritage Foundation, research fellows, Jason Snead, Andrew Kloster To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Gun Grab U.N. Arms Treaty Takes Effect Dec. 24, 2014

ARRA Editor Note: On behalf of the Obama administration Secretary of State John Kerry signed the U.N. Arms Treaty on Sept. 24, 2014.  However,  it has NOT been ratified by the U.S. Senate. This is the same John Kerry, who after leaving active military service but still a commissioned military officer, met during the Vietnam War with North Vietnamese Communists in 1970 in violation of U.S. law. The below IBD Editorial's final comment is very relevant considering the misguided former behavor of the Sec. Kerry and the Obama administration: "Despite assurances, our Second Amendment rights are still being jeopardized by a vague and misguided treaty."
----------
Investment Business Daily Editorial: Gun Control: To some, concern over a U.N. Arms Trade Treaty set to take effect Dec. 24 is much ado about nothing. But a president unconstrained by Congress or the Constitution may try to impose severe limits on gun rights.

All treaties must be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate, and that's not about to happen in the case of the unratified Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), particularly after the 2014 election that gave the GOP Senate control.

The same, of course, could have been said about the Kyoto Protocol and other climate change deals that mandate that governments tie their economies in knots to meet arbitrary emission goals to save the planet. The Senate has not and won't ratify any of those either.

Yet a president who pays no attention to Congress or the Constitution has through Environmental Protection Agency regulations sought to impose Kyoto and cap-and-trade through regulation and fiat.

The Orwellian-named United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, which has disarmed none of the world's tyrants or terrorists, has announced on its website that the ATT will take effect on Christmas Eve, a lump of coal in the stockings of anyone who believes, as our Founding Fathers did when they wrote the Second Amendment, that guns in the hands of private citizens are the best defense against predators, terrorists and, yes, tyrannical governments.

The Obama administration and its allies at the state and local level have gone after our Second Amendment gun rights through what they call "common-sense restrictions," and it wouldn't be beyond this president to seek to implement the treaty's gun-control provisions with his phone and pen as he's done with climate change.

Under the title of "General Implementation," Article 5 of the ATT requires that all states participating in the treaty "shall establish and maintain a national control system, including a national control list."

Article 12 mandates that the list include the "quantity, value, model/type" as well as the identity of the "end users" of each weapon covered under the ATT.

As the Heritage Foundation notes, imported firearms, considered part of the "arms trade" to be regulated, constitute about 35% of the new firearms market in the U.S. This would subject private American gun owners to the provisions of the treaty, ratified or not.

The U.S. is one of the few countries with anything like a Second Amendment, our Founding Fathers having enshrined the right to bear arms in our founding principles in recognition of its being the ultimate bulwark against tyrannical government.

It was guns owned by civilians that freed us from British tyranny. The fact that tyrants, dictators, thugs and gross human-rights violators want to control small arms worldwide is hardly a surprise.

"The historical reality of the Second Amendment's protection of the right to keep and bear arms is not that it protects the right to shoot deer," wrote Judge Andrew Napolitano recently in the Washington Times. "It protects the right to shoot tyrants, and it protects the right to shoot at them effectively, with the same instruments they would use upon us. If the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto had had the firepower and ammunition that the Nazis had, some of Poland might have stayed free and more persons would have survived the Holocaust."

The next meeting of the ATT nations, including the U.S., is scheduled for Nov. 27-28 in Berlin. Remember that this is an administration that has shown more respect for the United Nations Charter than to our own sacred founding document.

Despite assurances, our Second Amendment rights are still being jeopardized by a vague and misguided treaty.

Tags: Gun Grab, UN Treaty, UN, not ratified, U.S Constitution, 2nd Amendment, IBD Editorial 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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  • 11/15/15 - 11/22/15
  • 11/22/15 - 11/29/15
  • 11/29/15 - 12/6/15
  • 12/6/15 - 12/13/15
  • 12/13/15 - 12/20/15
  • 12/20/15 - 12/27/15
  • 12/27/15 - 1/3/16
  • 1/3/16 - 1/10/16
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  • 1/17/16 - 1/24/16
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  • 1/31/16 - 2/7/16
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  • 2/21/16 - 2/28/16
  • 2/28/16 - 3/6/16
  • 3/6/16 - 3/13/16
  • 3/13/16 - 3/20/16
  • 3/20/16 - 3/27/16
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  • 4/3/16 - 4/10/16
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  • 5/15/16 - 5/22/16
  • 5/22/16 - 5/29/16
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  • 6/12/16 - 6/19/16
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  • 7/10/16 - 7/17/16
  • 7/17/16 - 7/24/16
  • 7/24/16 - 7/31/16
  • 7/31/16 - 8/7/16
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  • 8/21/16 - 8/28/16
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  • 10/16/16 - 10/23/16
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  • 10/30/16 - 11/6/16
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  • 11/13/16 - 11/20/16
  • 11/20/16 - 11/27/16
  • 11/27/16 - 12/4/16
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  • 12/11/16 - 12/18/16
  • 12/18/16 - 12/25/16
  • 12/25/16 - 1/1/17
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  • 1/15/17 - 1/22/17
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  • 1/29/17 - 2/5/17
  • 2/5/17 - 2/12/17
  • 2/12/17 - 2/19/17
  • 2/19/17 - 2/26/17
  • 2/26/17 - 3/5/17
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  • 3/12/17 - 3/19/17
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  • 5/21/17 - 5/28/17
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