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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, December 19, 2014
Getting Schooled on Oil . . .
. . . Obama says “We can’t Drill our way to lower gas prices” as the gas prices fall due to fracking.
Tags:getting schooled. oil, lower gas prices, fracking, AF Branco, editorial cartoonTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
The Left's Assault On Christmas Is The Left's Attack On Christianity
by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: You know it's Christmas when the left-wing Scrooges come out and start attacking Christianity. Every year they do their best to turn this season of cheer into one of jeer. I don't know about you, but if this life is all there is, that's pretty depressing. No wonder atheists are such a grumpy bunch!
And this year is no exception. At the beginning of the month, billboards went up in four states with a picture of little girl writing a letter to Santa. It reads somewhat ironically, "Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas this year is to skip church. I'm too old for fairy tales."
The billboards were put up by the group American Atheists. According to the group's press release, "these billboards are located . . . to be near schools and churches."
American Atheists President David Silverman said, "Even children know churches spew absurdity. . . Today's adults have no obligation to pretend to believe the lies their parents believed. It's OK to admit that your parents were wrong about God, and it's definitely OK to tell your children the truth."
The truth is that one day every knee will bend before the King of Kings.
Not to be outdone, a satanic temple in Tallahassee, Florida, has petitioned to have its holiday display featured alongside a nativity scene, menorah and Christmas tree in the capitol rotunda. The temple's display consists of a "diorama of an angel falling into hell."
Thanks to left-wing judges, who have perverted the meaning of the Constitution's Establishment Clause, the satanic temple's display was approved, along with one from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You just can't make this up.
Christ was kicked out of the public schools years ago, but one liberal enclave in Massachusetts is now giving Santa Claus the boot. The Andrew Peabody Elementary School in Cambridge banned Santa Claus from this year's "winter concert." Did you get that folks? It wasn't even a Christmas concert. But presumably Santa Claus (St. Nicholas?) is so closely connected to Christmas, he's out of the winter concert.
And, of course, we're greeted this season with a deluge of articles telling us that Mary really wasn't a virgin, that Jesus was married or that he didn't exist at all.
Yes, yesterday's Washington Post treated us to a column by Raphael Lataster (a "professionally secular PhD researcher at the University of Sydney") who attempted to cast doubt, not only on the deity of Christ, but his historical existence as well. I won't hold my breath waiting for Mr. Lataster's critique of Islam and the life of Muhammad.
Don't miss the bigger picture, my friends. The attack on Christmas is an attack on Christianity.
During a recent Fox News interview, Reverend Franklin Graham said, "It's all over the country -- you have the secularists and humanists who wanted to take Jesus Christ out of His birthday and they want to deny He ever existed."
Reverend Graham then urged Christians to speak up and defend religious liberty. Graham said, "I think it's time Christians need to write their politicians, need to stand up and defend their rights because if you don't, we'll lose them. And we're already losing them -- just one at a time."
-------------------- Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families Tags:Left's assault, Christmas, attack on Christianity, 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!
This was not some amusing pop culture event in which a few “hackers” played games with celebrities.
This was not an entertaining series of embarrassing leaks that allowed us to learn how viciously and nastily some senior Hollywood bosses write about famous movie stars in internal emails.
This was a deliberate assault on sovereign American soil against an American company, costing it millions of dollars in direct damages and hundreds of millions in reputational damages while blocking most of its employees from using their internal systems to get routine work done.
This was a threatened physical assault against moviegoers and movie theaters nationwide if they ignored the cyberattack and dared to laugh at the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
Some commentators criticized the movie theaters for their “cowardice” in not standing up to the threats. Others criticized the rest of the movie industry for not coming to the defense of Sony.
Both critiques miss the core reality.
Private companies can’t fight sovereign nations.
Private companies cannot be asked to risk the lives of their employees and their customers because of an unanswered foreign threat of violence.
Defending America against foreign enemies is the duty of the United States government. To “provide for the common defense” is one of the reasons given in the preamble to the Constitution for forming a government.
This attack on American interests began on November 24 when there was a massive hacking assault on Sony. After 24 days of government passivity and ineffectiveness, the theaters caved to the threat of terrorist attacks.
Thus with more than three weeks to find and defeat the attackers, the American government proved to be impotent.
This attack is pure cyberwarfare.
There is a big difference between hacking for intellectual property theft and hacking to coerce a change in behavior.
The former is a crime. The second is an act of war.
The real danger is that this incident will become a precedent. Other countries and other terrorist groups will conclude that it is open season on American interests and even American lives. American companies will begin (in fact have already begun) self-censoring to avoid offending dictators and terrorists. The enemies of our freedoms will have won.
We need three decisive steps to react to this defeat in a cyberwar.
First, we have to go on the offense in this campaign and refuse to accept that the fight is over. North Korea must be made to pay an extraordinary price for this attack. One step might be to simply confiscate North Korean ships until the dictatorship pays triple damages to Sony and the theaters for the cost of its attack. What must not happen is for the American people to be told it is too hard or too dangerous to defend America against an out-of-control dictatorship. That could lead to anarchy and chaos, with every predator on the planet feeling they have the right to wage cyberwar against Americans.
Second, we should develop an immediate response capability to defend American interests and crush cyberopponents immediately. The time to hit back hardest was November 24, the day the attack began. We need protocols to enable companies and the federal government to spot an assault, report it and respond to it in virtually real time. This will require the creation of a command center — comparable to the air traffic control system in its speed of response — for the government and private companies to cooperate on cyberattacks.
Third, we must develop vastly better defensive and offensive capabilities. This will require considerable congressional involvement in thinking through the realities of the emerging permanent cyberdangers and the patterns of cyberwar.
No one should kid themselves.
We have now entered the age of cyberwar and we lost a major round in that war. The longer it takes us to confront this fact and take the necessary corrective actions, the greater our vulnerability to another defeat will be.
---------------- 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:Newt Gingrich, lost cyberwar, SonyTo 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 Cuba announcement is a slap in the face to Congress by Rick Manning: It only took a couple of days for the ink to dry on Congress' decision to fund the Obama administration's objectives for the rest of the year before it came back to bite them.
The choice to fund all of the government for the next nine months, besides the Department of Homeland Security, means that Congress has little recourse to rein in Obama's Cuban bailout.
For years, Cuba had depended upon oil-rich Venezuela for the hard cash it needed for the Castro regime to survive. The dramatic drop in oil prices has put Venezuela's government on the ropes as their socialized running of their industry has made their oil more expensive and less plentiful. The economy of Venezuela has been teetering toward collapse for years, but $100 a barrel oil kept them afloat.
Now they face oil being sold for under $60 a barrel while the government's estimated break-even price point is more than $150 a barrel. Their safety cushion is gone.
Cuba, as a financial dependent upon Venezuela, is in even worse shape. Into this environment Obama has offered the repressive regime that runs Cuba a lifeline without even bothering to get any human rights concessions or anything else that would help the people of Cuba.
Now Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Republican leaders are eating the spoiled fruit of their omnibus harvest.
It isn't as if they were not aware of the probability that President Obama would go Lone Ranger again. Not only did they have the executive amnesty example, but every conservative group in the country was begging them to do a short-term continuing resolution to serve as a stop-gap against this exact kind of action.
Of course, it could be argued that it wouldn't matter, as Congress has already ceded the power of the purse through the much-voiced determination of Republican leaders to avoid a government shutdown at all costs.
It is from this position of weakness that Boehner expressed his outrage on Twitter, declaring that "Relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalized, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom — & not 1 second sooner."
While the Speaker's position sounds strong, the truth is that he traded away his capacity to do anything about it, making his tweet even less meaningful than a Kim Kardashian 140-character observation.
The lesson that should have been learned over the past six years is that Obama doesn't care about the law and will move forward aggressively unless Congress preserves and is willing to use its constitutional prerogatives.
Obama's Cuba announcement in the days immediately following the great bipartisan compromise between Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the president should send a clear signal to Congress that it is their job to throw sands in the gears of Obama's fundamental transformation of America that voters thoroughly rejected in November.
There cannot be compromise with someone who has utter contempt for Congress and the Constitution and is feverishly working against a clock.
Somehow I suspect that this message is completely lost on the incumbent Republican congressional leadership.
---------------- Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is the vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Governmentshared on The Hill. Tags:President Obama, unilateral actions, appearance, a dictator, editorial cartoon, William Warren, Rick Manning, Americans for Limited Government, Cuba announcement, slap in the face to CongressTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
This came to mind when Secretary of State John Kerry testified in the Senate last week.
The new Iraq War has been pitched exhaustively to the American people as “only air strikes” and “absolutely no boots on the ground” — even as the Obama Administration continues to send additional U.S. military advisors to place their boots on Iraqi sand (and, at least once thus far, to engage ISIS directly via Apache attack helicopters hovering above Iraqi ground.)
Kerry again assured senators that the president “has been crystal clear that his policy is that U.S. military forces will not be deployed to conduct ground combat operations against ISIL.”
Strangely, however, the Secretary most adamantly urged Senators not to pass an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that would restrict President Obama from doing precisely what he has so often and emphatically pledged not to do: put combat boots on the ground in Iraq.
The fact that the Obama Administration has foreclosed any possibility of putting US troops on the ground to fight, according to Sec. Kerry, “doesn’t mean that we should preemptively bind the hands of the commander in chief or our commanders in the field in responding to scenarios and contingencies that are impossible to foresee.”
Impossible to foresee? Yeah, right. The “no boots” promise provides all the stability of leaves in the wind.
Having any trust in this administration is impossible to foresee.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
--------- Paul Jacobs (@pauljacob) is author of Common Sense which provides daily commentary about the issues impacting America — and about the citizens who are doing something about them. He is a contributing author on the ARRA News Service. Tags:Paul Jacob, Common Sense, John Kerry, Aeschylus, in war, truth is the first casualt, Iraq, 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!
Cuba Is Latest Benefactor of Obama’s Fairy-Tale Foreign Policy . . .
. . . In the his most recent “negotiation” with a foreign nemesis, President Obama has once again given away more and gotten less. Unfortunately for the United States, in the long run, this fairy tale is not likely to have a happy ending.
Tags:Cuba, US, President Obama, prisoner trade, editorial cartoon, Glenn FodenTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
10 Year Old in N.J. Speaks Against Common Core: It Stinks!
ARRA News Service - Elizabeth Blaine, a 10-year-old from New Jersey, doesn’t like Common Core. She shared her support for a policy that lets parents opt out their children from taking the Common Core test, also known as PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers).
“Because it stinks,” the fourth-grader told school board members Monday night in Montclair, N.J., during a meeting on the national standards."I love to read. I love to write. I love to do math. But I don’t love the PARCC. Why? Because it stinks," Elizabeth said.
"This is crazy!" she continued. "I am one of the most gifted students in my grade (or so my mom says) and I have not even the slightest clue as to what this means."
"I am glad my mom and dad are letting me opt out, because I don’t want to deal with this nonsense."Silencing everyone in the room, Blaine was critical of the assessment group known as PARCC, arguing that she should have the option to opt out of this “nonsense.” The story made headlines, even in The Washington Post.
Watch the video to see Elizabeth make her case and read her mom’s blog for the full story.
Full text of Elizabeth's speech:I love to read. I love to write. I love to do math. But I don’t love the PARCC. Why? Because it stinks.
For example, I took a EOY (end of the year) practice test for math in preparation for the PARCC. On the practice test there was adding, multiplying, and subtracting fractions, long division, and geometry. All of these things we have not learned (or even started learning yet). And we are supposed to know these concepts mentally by the end of the year!
I also don’t like the PARCC because it is all on computers.
On the test we will have to type full essays in a time limit, when most of us have not typed ever before! We might have taken a technology class, but we are not required to. Why couldn’t they make the test on paper? Also, my tech teacher told us that if, during the test, we click out we’re out.
Another thing that I don’t like is that we have lost six periods due to PARCC preparation. The preparation is for the technology on the test. The technology includes things like using a drag and drop ruler, a drag and drop protractor, drop-down windows, and scroll bars that only move certain mini windows only. And, there is this part (on some questions) where you make your own equation to show your work. That’s good, right? Yeah, but to make the equation it’s very complicated and hard.
So the math practice test stinks, what’s next? Why, the ELA test of course. On the ELA test there are some very confusing and extremely hard questions. For example, one of the essay questions was:
“Identify a theme in ‘Just Like Home’ and a theme in ‘Life Doesn’t Frighten Me.’ Write an essay that explains how the theme of the story is shown through the characters and how the theme of the poem is shown through the speaker. Include specific details from the story and the poem to support your essay.”
This is crazy! I am one of the most gifted students in my grade (or so my mom says) and I have not even the slightest clue as to what this means.
Also, on the ELA test there is a video, a Maya Angelou poem, and two stories. Along with that, there are questions to go with the poem and two stories. I had no idea what any of the questions to do with the poem meant and I didn’t understand the poem itself either. The questions for the first story were simple enough, but were terribly worded. The second story’s questions were about the same.
Now you know about the questions and technology on the PARCC. I am glad my mom and dad are letting me opt out, because I don’t want to deal with this nonsense, as I stated before. I agree with the policy being voted on tonight and hope that it passes through.
Thank you.Tags:Common Core, stinks, Opt Out, Elizabeth Blaine, a 10-year-old, speach, School board, Montclair, New Jersey, videoTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
New Day In Arkansas: Fiscal Policy Recommendations For Arkansas
On Tuesday, January 13, 2015, Arkansans will celebrate "A New Day in Arkansas" when Republican Asa Hutchinson is sworn in as Governor and Republicans are sworn for "every" Constitutional Office in Arkansas. In addition, the Republicans will be in greater control and thus have more responsibility in both chambers of the legislature. When Arkansans voted they also had expectations. They were and are looking forward to positive changes in how things are done across the board by state government. In addition to expecting a rollback in taxation and in government control of people's lives, Arkansans want "a wall of separation" maintained by their state to protect them from the excessive programs of various Federal agencies both now and into the future. The below article by the Arkansas Policy Foundation suggests "fiscal policy recommendations." However, this is only a beginning of many recommendations that the people of Arkansas have for prudent policies for our new administration. One of the greatest things this new administration can do is to lead in manner which believes in and supports the core values and decency of the majority of Arkansans. ~ Dr. Bill Smith, Editor
Greg Kaza, executive director,
Arkansas Policy Foundation, an
economic think tank in Little Rock.
by Greg Kaza, Arkansas Policy Foundation: Prudence should guide fiscal policy. Public services should be provided in an efficient, cost-effective manner. Savings should be used to encourage economic growth and make Arkansas competitive in terms of jobs creation and income growth. The Murphy Commission, a Policy Foundation project spent three years (1996-1998) studying state government before advancing ideas to make government cost-effective and accountable to taxpayers. Several ideas have advanced, including a performance-based budgeting pilot, and income and capital gains tax cuts. But more needs to be done.
Declare a Jobs Emergency
Incoming Gov. Asa Hutchinson inherits a weak labor market. Nonfarm payroll employment is the broadest state level indicator. Total Arkansas NPE was 1,201,200 (January 2007) and 1,195,300 (October 2014). U.S. employment increased 1.3% in the same period, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show. Governors have little influence over some policies1 that affect jobs. But they can lead in areas such as tax policy and regulation.
Continue Reducing the Capital Gains Tax
Some policymakers have recognized for 15 years that Arkansas fiscal policy discourages capital investment. After the Murphy Commission, the 82nd General Assembly (1999) approved a measure by state Sen. Jim Hill, D-Nashville, to exempt thirty percent (30%) of a capital gain from the state income tax. The Fluor GLS report, commissioned by the Assembly, also noted Arkansas' competitive disadvantage. The 89th Assembly cut another twenty percent (20%). The tax (3.5%) should be phased-out over a decade so Arkansas can compete against low-tax states with higher jobs creation.
Reduce the Income Tax Rate
Arkansas has the highest income tax rates of any border state.2 Mr. Hutchinson has proposed a middle-class tax cut, lowering the top rate from seven (7%) to six (6%) for those earning between $34,000 and $75,000.3 The proposal, advanced as an idea to spur jobs creation has greater potential to grow income. Arkansas per capita personal income increased from 78.4% (2007) to 82% (2013) of the U.S. after the grocery tax was cut. PCPI stagnated between 75.4% (1983) and 77.4% (2006) of the U.S. after sales tax and spending increases that failed to deliver much income growth.
An overlooked factor is the state of the business cycle. Arkansas general revenues tend to expand in national expansions and contract below trend in recessions, with a lag. Use of a trigger mechanism that reduces or freezes tax cuts in recessions, while funding vital services, is prudent public policy.
Dynamic analysis is an attempt to measure the full impact of tax proposals, on revenue estimates. It can also provide legislators with more information when considering proposals. One example is the 2008 severance tax increase: the static analysis failed to consider a decline in natural gas prices.
Activities-Based Costing and Performance-Based Budgeting
Activities Based Costing should be linked to the state's accounting system with spending tied to costs and measurable performance outputs. Performance-based budgeting, discontinued after a 1999 pilot program should be reconsidered. Mr. Hutchinson should name a performance director and volunteer advisory group for oversight purposes. ABC can be a vital management tool if tied to performance outputs and reporting to Arkansans. State constitutional offices would benefit from these reforms.
Deregulate Policies That Harm The Poor, Reevaluate Quick Action Fund
Poor and low-income households should not be punished by laws that prevent gainful employment. One example are restrictions on hair braiders. The $50 million Quick Action Closing Fund, by contrast, serves the politically-connected and trails the U.S. since its inception.4 The guiding policy should be low rates for all businesses, not taxpayer-funded privileges. 1 Arkansas and U.S. data seasonally adjusted. 2 Governors can praise or question International trade and monetary policies but they cannot lead in these areas. 3 State Individual Income Taxes (rates for 2014, as of January 1, 2014): Arkansas (7%); Louisiana and Missouri (6%); Oklahoma (5.25%); Mississippi (5%); Tennessee (dividends and interest only); Texas (no tax). Federation of State Tax Administrators. 4 Gov.-Elect Hutchinson has also proposed cutting the 6% rate to 5% for those earning between $20,400 and $33,999 annually. 5 Payroll employment: (Arkansas) 1,202,000 (July 2007) to 1,194,000 (September 2014); U.S. 137,984,000 to 139,466,000. Tags:Arkansas, Fiscal Policy Recommendations, New administration, Governor Asa Hutchinson, Greg Kaza, Arkansas Policy Foundation, Bill Smith, expectations, New Day in Arkansas, wall of separation, 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 Christmas For Dictators - America Handcuffed!
America Handcuffed - Down But Not Out!
by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: Yesterday, at the White House, amid great fanfare, President Obama announced a new policy toward Cuba. But it is nothing more than the same old left-wing appeasement.
Obama declared that America's foreign policy toward Cuba -- instituted by John F. Kennedy and carried out by subsequent Democratic and Republican administrations -- was "outdated." The president said, "We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result."
As usual, Obama misunderstands American policy. It is Cuba's failed economic system and brutal political repression that is "outdated." Our values are not the ones that need changing. Our policies are not the problem.
Nevertheless, Obama "extended a hand of friendship" in the interest of "normalizing relations" with the communist Castro regime. He vowed to open a new embassy in Havana and announced that his administration was further relaxing restrictions on travel and cash remittances to Cuba.
As part of this thaw in relations, the Vatican reportedly played a key role in securing a prisoner swap. I am pleased that American Alan Gross is now free after five years in a Cuban jail. This is a happy time for Gross and his family. But, as usual, Obama is the worst negotiator -- he agreed to release three Cuban spies.
Obama's announcement was greeted on Capitol Hill with bi-partisan criticism. Speaker John Boehner blasted the policy change as "another in a long line of mindless concessions." Boehner added, "Relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalized, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom -- and not one second sooner."
Florida's Senator Marco Rubio ripped Obama's move as "part of a long record of coddling dictators and tyrants," adding that Obama is "constantly giving unilateral concessions in exchange for nothing." Rubio also noted it would take an act of Congress to repeal the trade embargo.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, "President Obama's actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government. . . . Trading Mr. Gross for three convicted criminals sets an extremely dangerous precedent."
Dictators all over the world are receiving the gift they desired most -- America handcuffed by a president intent on giving them whatever they want. Yesterday it was the Castro brothers turn to sit on Obama's lap and get their goodies.
Cuba's communist government has its back against the wall. Russia is reeling from falling oil prices and couldn't bail Cuba out. The same is true for Cuba's socialist ally, Venezuela. And then along comes "Obama Claus."
Even the liberal Washington Post's lead editorial today accused Obama of giving Cuba a "bailout." The Post editors wrote: "President Obama granted the regime everything on its wish list. . ." They quoted Cuba's leading dissident blogger, Yoani Sanchez, who said yesterday, "Castroism has won," and sadly observed that freedom fighters like her in Cuba will have to endure the gloating of their oppressors.
While Obama was speaking to the American people yesterday and claiming that our "isolation" of the Cuban regime was a failure (It was not a failure -- it succeeded in marginalizing Cuba's dictatorial government), Raul Castro spoke to the Cuban people for four minutes. He used his brief address to dig in his heels and defend his communist/socialist regime.
Congressional Republicans were loud and strong in their condemnation of Obama's move, including Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Ted Cruz and Rep. Paul Ryan. But Senator Rand Paul broke ranks and said more trade with Cuba was "a good thing." I don't know what Paul's strategy is, but siding with Obama, Hillary and Jimmy Carter doesn't seem like a winner for 2016.
Elliott Abrams made perhaps the most insightful observation on the impact of Obama's move. You can read it here. His point: The world just saw our 50-year old foreign policy on Cuba change in the blink of Obama's eye -- and not because Cuba changed for the better. Fears among our allies will grow that he could do the same rash thing with Iran or China.
Our Increasingly Dangerous World - Internet hacking may not seem that significant compared to challenges posed by Russia, China, Iran and radical Islam. But the current attack on Sony offers a glimpse into the future.
American corporations and the U.S. government are under constant cyberattack. And the people most responsible for these attacks are in Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. The Obama Administration has done little, beyond encouraging the private sector to build more firewalls and install better virus protection software. But the time may be coming when we must act on the Pentagon's 2011 conclusion that cyberattacks can be an act of war.
The group behind the Sony cyberattack, the Guardians of Peace, is most likely being directed by North Korea. Sony was about to release a comedy about the CIA attempting to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The code used in the attack was written in Korean and is similar to "a presumed North Korean digital assault on South Korean banks and broadcasters last year."
While we may laugh at the hypocritical emails of Sony's elite liberal executives, this is a very serious attack -- a form of economic terrorism likely to cost Sony tens of millions of dollars, if not much more.
The group has also issued a threat, invoking the September 11th attacks, against theaters that show the film. The New York premier has been cancelled, theater chains are refusing to show the movie and the stars of the film have cancelled promotional tours. But Hollywood's appeasement sends the wrong message. Caving in to the demands of terrorists only reinforces their perception that terror threats work.
We know that foreign hackers have been probing banks, Wall Street and utility companies for years. Earlier this year, Iranian hackers attacked the Las Vegas Sands casino in revenge for comments made by CEO Sheldon Adelson. Reports indicate that the White House, State Department, Postal Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have also been hacked in recent months.
There is deep concern that the next war will begin -- and perhaps end -- with a massive assault on the electronic/Internet infrastructure that we increasingly rely on. Add this to the list of things that the next conservative president will have to clean up after the hapless Obama Administration leaves town.
------------- Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families Tags:President Obama, Christmas Present, for dictators, America Handcuffed, Cuba, Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, 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!
Claude Louis Hector de Villars - the great early 18th Century French general (back when France had them) - rightly observed: God save me from my friends. I can protect myself from my enemies.The late, inordinately great United States President Ronald Reagan believed it - and applied it directly to the worst “friend” of all:The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'Anytime government does anything, it costs We the People money - in (at least) two directions.
At the front end - because before government can do anything it must take from us the coin to do it.
The cost of just the federal government “helping” We the “Friends” is gi-normous. Costs for Americans to comply with federal regulations reached $1.863 trillion in 2013. That is more than the (Gross Domestic Product) GDPs of Canada or Australia.Every good and service we purchase - or try to sell - is thus in the aggregate nearly $2 trillion more expensive. Thanks for the assistance, Uncle Sam.
Some economic sectors are more abused than others. This is most often due to regulatory attrition - and addition.
Government gets a little involved - and of course things get worse. So the government assails the damage its done - as a failing of the (now less) free market. Spinning it into justification for further government involvement. And of course things worsen further. Lather, rinse repeat.
As we should all know by now, the solution to government - isn’t more government.
One of the most abused parts of the economy is the Farm Sector. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) alone is way beyond control. Using 105,000 total USDA employees and the BLS figure of 1.2 million farmers and farm workers — you get a ratio of 1 employee for every 11.4 farmers.Except it’s 1 for every 11.4 members of the sector – anyone involved in any way in farming. Not just farmers. That bureaucrat-to-useful-person ratio is absurd.
The tens of thousands of pages of regulations the USDA has issued these past 152 years to lord over the Farm Sector are cumulatively crushing.
But the USDA is a lightweight compared to the meteoric, merely 45-year-old Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA is ridiculously anti-free market – it’s its sole reason for being. And more and more, it is setting its sites on the Farm Sector.
You want to kneecap farmers? And make food exorbitantly more expensive? Turn farmers’ water into a weapon against them. The issue is the EPA's proposed changes to the Waters of the United States regulation. In March, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed new rules that would expand the agency's regulatory authority on streams and wetlands that feed into major rivers and lakes.
The EPA says 60 percent of the nation's streams and wetlands are not protected from pollution.That actually means 60% of the nation’s streams and wetlands are protected from government. The EPA won’t stand for that. Except:(T)wo U.S. Supreme Court decisions that limited what waterways the government can regulate and the proposed rule is meant to clarify which smaller ones they include.Why would that stop the EPA?(T)he rules…(would) allow the government to dictate what farmers can and cannot do with their farmland, which often includes small streams, ponds and marshes.How beyond-all-reason-and-reasonableness is this massive new EPA power grab?(Small Business Administration) SBA to EPA: Ditch the Waters of the U.S. Proposal
On October 1, 2014, an unexpected ally from within the administration filed comments with EPA claiming that EPA and the Corps "have improperly certified the proposed rule [WOTUS] under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) because it (WOTUS) would have significant effects on small businesses.”When another arm of the Leviathan thinks you’ve gone light years too far - just how far from the path have you strayed?EPA, of course, said its rule would not have a significant effect on small businesses.Of course it says that. And if you like your health care plan - you can keep it.The RFA requires any federal agency to consider the impact of a proposed rule on a small business or small local government. Moreover if an agency determines there will be a significant economic impact, then less burdensome alternatives must be reviewed and in EPA's case it is required to convene a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel.
As you might guess EPA ignored SBA requirements.Of course it did.SBA says that EPA and the Corps mislead the public by claiming that using a 1986 definition of the scope of the waters of the U.S. EPA is actually narrowing its jurisdiction.
SBA points out correctly, as does the Office of Management and Budget, that EPA should not be using the 1986 definition but use its current method for determining jurisdiction. SBA claims "Using an obsolete baseline improperly diminishes the effects of this rule."
by Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: One of the most perverse consequences of the feverish backroom deals used to get Obamacare past the finish line was the funding formula for the law’s Medicaid expansion, which started with the infamous Cornhusker Kickback, a sweetheart deal for Nebraska alone to get 100 percent federal funding for Medicaid expansion that was used to get then-Senator Ben Nelson’s vote.
When the whistle was blown on that dirty deal, Nelson implausibly explained that the Nebraska-only provision was intended to be a “placeholder” for higher Medicaid funding for all 50 states. And that’s what ended up ultimately passing: if a state expands Medicaid to able-bodied adults, the new population is eligible for 100 percent federal funding through 2016, phasing down starting in 2017 until it reaches 90 percent in 2020 and permanently thereafter.
Yet states continue to receive an average of 57 percent federal funding for the pre-expansion Medicaid population of needy families and people with disabilities. In short, under current law, states are given a huge financial incentive to favor able-bodied adults over the truly needy. It’s shameful and it should be fixed.
Here is a good explanation of the problem and a sensible proposal for a solution:“Under current law, States face a patchwork of different Federal payment contributions for individuals eligible for Medicaid and CHIP. Specifically, State Medicaid expenditures are generally matched by the Federal Government using the Federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP); CHIP expenditures are matched with enhanced FMAP (eFMAP); and the ACA provides increased match for newly-eligible individuals and certain childless adults beginning in 2014. This proposal would replace these complicated formulas with a single matching rate specific to each State that automatically increases if a recession forces enrollment and State costs to rise beginning in 2017. This proposal is projected to save $17.9 billion over 10 years.”The author of that paragraph? President Barack Obama.
It comes directly from the budget he submitted to Congress on February 13, 2012, and it was the kind of bipartisan reform that should have been able to pass Congress easily. It would have fixed a serious perverse incentive problem, reduced administrative complexity, and saved billions for federal taxpayers.
Just four months later, however, the Supreme Court struck down Obamacare’s provisions purporting to force states to expand Medicaid to able-bodied adults or lose all of their federal Medicaid funding for their existing programs. It was a resounding 7 to 2 decision, and it set off intense legislative battles over the issue in state capitals.
It also prompted President Obama to completely abandon his proposal for a single matching rate. His apparent political calculation was that dangling 100 percent federal funding for the expansion population would make it irresistible for state legislators and governors to go along with the now-optional expansion.
Yet at present 19 states have rejected Medicaid expansion and four are still considering it. So the 100 percent funding wasn’t irresistible at all, but it does mean that the 27 states that have adopted Medicaid expansion now face budget pressure to cut care for the truly needy while maximizing the number of healthy able-bodied adults they add onto their Medicaid rolls.
A study by Jonathan Ingram of the Foundation for Government Accountability found that 82.4 percent of the expansion population is comprised of able-bodied, working-age adults with no children. Analyzing what he called “the new Medicaid math,” Ingram determined that the current funding formula creates overwhelming pressure on states that adopt Medicaid expansion to cut Medicaid for the poor children and the disabled who are in the traditional Medicaid program. He also found empirical examples of such cuts in state like Arizona and Oregon, which were early to expand Medicaid to childless adults.
Obama Does Not Have the Authority to Lift Embargo on Cuba
by Mike Gonzalez: Cuba’s release of American hostage Alan Gross is to be welcome. Gross has vegetated in a Cuban jail for five years for the crime of bringing computers to Jews on the island.
But exchanging three hardened Cuban spies for him establishes a wrong moral and legal equivalency. Worse, extending recognition to Cuba’s dictatorial regime harms U.S. national interests and fails to advance freedom in Cuba.
The White House “Fact Sheet” on Cuba makes clear that the Obama administration received nothing in exchange for its many and substantial concessions to Havana’s Communist regime. In essence, after five years of “negotiations,” the White House ended up where Raul Castro started: Gross would be exchanged for three Cuban spies whose activities led to the death of an American in the 1990s.
The administration’s announcement that “the president has instructed the secretary of state to immediately initiate discussions with Cuba on the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba,” also gives in to a longstanding Castro demand. Cubans will not gain freedom of expression, of association, of thought or of anything else as a result.
Moreover, the White House’s explanation that it was acting because “U.S. policy towards Cuba has isolated the United States from regional and international partners,” shows degrees of fecklessness that should put fear into Israel and other allies for which American support brings condemnation of the U.S. at the United Nations and other international fora.
Obama obviously has decided to act on his own because he faced little opposition from Congress when he overreached his authority and acted on his own by giving amnesty to 5 million illegal immigrants. Congress needs to act now, or Obama simply will move on to the many other items on his bucket list.
Congress must make it abundantly clear to Obama that he does not have the authority to lift the embargo on Cuba on his own. Doing so would break U.S. law, namely the Helms-Burton Act.
Senators also should make clear they will not allow the appointment of an ambassador to Cuba to proceed until there have been changes on the island and look into the possibility of using policy riders in the upcoming Department of Homeland Security appropriations debate in February and the fiscal year 2016 appropriations process to deny the president funds for setting up relations.
-------------- Mike Gonzalez (@Gundisalvus), a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation, is a widely experienced international correspondent, commentator and editor who has reported from Asia, Europe and Latin America. He served in the George W. Bush Administration first at the Securities and Exchange Commission and then at the State Department. Tags:President Obama, Cuba, lifting embargo, embargo, CongressTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Republican leadership: $18 trillion dollars in debt, and they don't see anything wrong with that. Boehner and McConnell pushed through the CRomnibus spending bill (Continuing Resolution + Omnibus) that gives President Obama and his anti-American liberal friends everything they wanted - another $1.1 TRILLION dollars of spending. This and other ugly lame-duck yecch-fests includes full funding of the corrupt and dysfunctional ObamaCare program, amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants including billions of dollars of taxpayer-funded benefits save-the-rhinoceros funding, and more. Uggh. Much more.
Race-baiters: Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton (I will not honor them with the title "Reverend" until they show me a congregation and a mission that appears to be Christian) continue to foment racial division based on lies and ugly bigotry for nothing more than political power and personal profit. How disappointing is it that the first black president has set race relations back fifty years?
Our men and women serving in the military: They put up with ridiculous rules of engagement, social engineering, politicized leadership, unjust pay and benefits, and utter disrespect and scorn from our administration and many of our legislators. Our soldiers' Christmas stockings should be STUFFED.
The American Taxpayers: while our federal government forces them to fork over their earnings, and confiscates their property at will, the taxpayers work harder, take care of their families and employees, and find a little extra to give to those who truly need their help.
--------------- Tom Balek is a fellow conservative activist and musician. He blogs Rockin'; On the Right Side. Between playing in a couple weekend bands, he seeks "to educate fellow Americans who have been too busy with their work and families to notice how close to the precipice our economy has come. He is a contribution author on the ARRA News Service. He tweets @TomBalek He's making a list, checking it twice
Gonna find out who's naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town! Pentatonix- "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" (trad.)
Best Santa Claus rendition EVER! Tags:Santa Clause, naughty, nice, ISIS, Al Qaeda, Muslim Extremists, Bill Ayers, America-hating, race-baiters, Obama mentors, government, Boehner, continuing resolution, CRomnibus, Feinstein, Mcconnell, omnibus, American Taxpayers, Tom Balek, Rockin' On The Right Side, PentatonixTo 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: If there is one thing various experts and pundits like to do most it is to worry about all manner of speculative threats. I can recall when much of their focus was on the Soviet Union until 1991 when it collapsed along with the decline in the cost of oil. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 signaled that it was no longer the feared power it had been.
Despite its invasion of Ukraine to annex the Crimea, the Russian Republic is in the same position its predecessor was because, once again, the price of a barrel of oil is falling. Turns out that the fracking technology that many environmentalists fear has also produced large increases in both oil and natural gas here in the U.S., that have created an oil glut that is driving its price down.
Largely unnoticed, however, have been the growing ties between Russia and China. They haven’t been this friendly for a very long time. Even so, Communist China does not give any indication that it regards the U.S. as an “enemy” in the way Vladimir Putin does the European Union and NATO.
China has recently emerged as a larger economic power than the U.S., earning $17.8 trillion in terms of goods and services, compared to the U.S. $17.4 trillion. Not a great difference, but surely a symbolic one. China is a curiosity in that it has an authoritative Communist government and a burgeoning capitalist economy.
In 2013, China took steps to expand property rights (something that does not exist in Communist nations), expand fair and transparent market regulation, and prices set by the market.
When you have to govern more than 1.3 billion people, you have to find a way to lift as many as possible out of poverty. China’s problem is that many of them are elderly thanks to its one-child policy. In 2013, China took tentative steps to loosen its one-child policy and it’s a good guess they will get rid of it entirely at some point in the near future.
Examples of its economic power often make page one of The Wall Street Journal such as a December 9 article reporting that “In the past two years, Chinese investors have bought stakes in New York’s most valuable office power, one of its largest development projects and the country’s most expensive hotel ever sold.” Should we worry about this? No, a few decades ago, such stories were about Japan’s purchases of American properties and that nation has been in an economic stagnation for quite a while.
Back in 2008, Robert Samuelson, a Washington Post columnist, was worrying that “The real threat from China lies elsewhere. It is that China will destabilize the world economy. It will distort trade, foster huge financial imbalances, and tripper a contentious competition for scare raw materials.” That’s a pretty good description of what is being said about the United States today!
A new study by the Rand Corporation, “Blinders, Blunders, and Wars: What America and China Can Learn”, devotes a chapter to U.S.-China relations saying “Whether and how the United States and China can settle their differences without war is among the most important questions of the twenty-first century.” That has got to be one of the most presumptuous questions asked by the respected think tank. It borders on foolishness because there is no good reason why either nation would engage in a war on one another.
There is no question that China, the largest nation in Asia, has been flexing its muscles, building up its military capabilities, and seeking to expand its authority over the China Sea and adjacent areas. Any nation of its size would be expected to do the same thing. Even Russia is keeping its neighbors on edge with its Ukraine incursion, knowing perhaps that neither NATO nor the European Union would go to war over its complete takeover. The threat is there, but that does not mean it will occur.
The good news from Rand is their observation that war between the U.S. and China “could be catastrophic” and therefore “both powers are strongly inhibited from starting one.” You do not need to be a think tank expert to figure that out, but the Rand study also says “The danger of Sino-U.S. war by misjudgment is related to but different from that of Sino-U.S. war by accident.”
The study’s reason for this is that “China sees America’s East Asian alliances as throwback to Cold War thinking and, more alarmingly, as indicative of America’s new intent to align the region against China.” That’s think tank talk for China’s paranoia based on centuries of control and exploitation by outside forces such as the former British Empire, subjugation by the former Empire of Japan, and its fear of America’s longtime naval presence in the Pacific.
China most certainly has nothing to fear regarding war with the current U.S. administration that doesn’t want to even admit that it has reengaged in the war occurring in Iraq. In a similar way, the U.S. has no reason to disturb its financial dependence on a China that owns much of its debt.
Think tanks like Rand will not cease to worry about all the options and events that affect the China-U.S. relationship, but for the near future, there are other factors such as the threat the Islamic jihad represents. The only constant in international affairs is change.
----------------- 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: China, 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!
ARRA News Service - The Washington Postis unsparing in its criticism of President Obama’s unilateral decision to change US policy towards Cuba in an editorial today: “In recent months, the outlook for the Castro regime in Cuba was growing steadily darker. The modest reforms it adopted in recent years to improve abysmal economic conditions had stalled, due to the regime’s refusal to allow Cubans greater freedoms. Worse, the accelerating economic collapse of Venezuela meant that the huge subsidies that have kept the Castros afloat for the past decade were in peril. A growing number of Cubans were demanding basic human rights, such as freedom of speech and assembly. . . .
“On Wednesday, the Castros suddenly obtained a comprehensive bailout — from the Obama administration. President Obama granted the regime everything on its wish list that was within his power to grant; a full lifting of the trade embargo requires congressional action. Full diplomatic relations will be established, Cuba’s place on the list of terrorism sponsors reviewed and restrictions lifted on U.S. investment and most travel to Cuba. That liberalization will provide Havana with a fresh source of desperately needed hard currency and eliminate U.S. leverage for political reforms. . . . No wonder Yoani Sánchez, Cuba’s leading dissident blogger, concluded Wednesday that ‘Castroism has won’ and predicted that for weeks Cubans will have to endure proclamations by the government that it is the ‘winner of its ultimate battle.’”
The Washington Post editors explain, “Mr. Obama argued that his sweeping change of policy was overdue because the strategy of isolating the Communist regime ‘has had little effect.’ In fact, Cuba has been marginalized in the Americas for decades, and the regime has been deprived of financial resources it could have used to spread its malignant influence in the region, as Venezuela has done. That the embargo has not succeeded in destroying communism does not explain why all sanctions should be lifted without any meaningful political concessions by Cuba. . . .
“The administration says its move will transform relations with Latin America, but that is naive. Countries that previously demanded an end to U.S. sanctions on Cuba will not now look to Havana for reforms; instead, they will press the Obama administration not to sanction Venezuela. Mr. Obama says normalizing relations will allow the United States to be more effective in promoting political change in Cuba. That is contrary to U.S. experience with Communist regimes such as Vietnam, where normalization has led to no improvements on human rights in two decades. Moreover, nothing in Mr. Obama’s record of lukewarm and inconstant support for democratic change across the globe can give Ms. Sánchez and her fellow freedom fighters confidence in this promise.”
And in a must-read op-ed for The Wall Street Journal today, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) reviews the reasoning for American policy towards Cuba that the president is so cavalierly discarding.
“Since the U.S. severed diplomatic relations in 1961, the Castro family has controlled the country and the economy with an iron fist that punishes Cubans who speak out in opposition and demand a better future. Under the Castros, Cuba has also been a central figure in terrorism, narco-trafficking and all manner of misery and mayhem in our hemisphere.
“As a result, it has been the policy and law of the U.S. to make clear that re-establishing diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba is possible—but only once the Cuban government stops jailing political opponents, protects free speech, and allows independent political parties to be formed and to participate in free and fair elections.
“The opportunity for Cuba to normalize relations with the U.S. has always been there, but the Castro regime has never been interested in changing its ways. Now, thanks to President Obama’s concessions, the regime in Cuba won’t have to change.”
Sen. Rubio writes, “The entire policy shift is based on the illusion—in fact, on the lie—that more commerce and access to money and goods will translate to political freedom for the Cuban people. Cuba already enjoys access to commerce, money and goods from other nations, and yet the Cuban people are still not free. They are not free because the regime—just as it does with every aspect of life—manipulates and controls to its own advantage all currency that flows into the island. More economic engagement with the U.S. means that the regime’s grip on power will be strengthened for decades to come—dashing the Cuban people’s hopes for freedom and democracy.”
He also warns, “[T]he policy changes announced by President Obama will have far-reaching consequences for the American people. President Obama made it clear that if you take an American hostage and are willing to hold him long enough, you may not only get your own prisoners released from U.S. jails—as three Cuban spies were—you may actually win lasting policy concessions from the U.S. as well. This precedent places a new price on the head of every American, and it gives rogue leaders around the world more clear-cut evidence of this president’s naïveté and his willingness to abandon fundamental principles in a desperate attempt to burnish his legacy. There can be no doubt that the regime in Tehran is watching closely, and it will try to exploit President Obama’s naïveté as the Iranian leaders pursue concessions from the U.S. in their quest to establish themselves as a nuclear power.”
Sen. Rubio concludes, “For these reasons and many more, in the weeks and months ahead I will work with Republicans and Democrats who share my concerns and do everything in my power to prevent President Obama’s dangerous policies from becoming reality. . . . By conceding to the oppressors in the Castro regime, this president and his administration have let the Cuban people down, further weakened America’s standing in the world and endangered Americans.” Tags:Marco Rubio, news media, blast, President Obama, Cuba, policyTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Iran Nuclear Talks Resume: Is it Jaw-Jaw or War-War? Part 2
Iran nuclear talks have resumed, and the U.S. and Iran are at the table again. In this piece, part one of a two-part Q&A between former U.S. Ambassador to the UN for Human Rights Ken Blackwell and Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, President Rajavi answers important questions regarding the Iranian regime and strategies that the U.S. should consider. See Part 1: for 1-9 Q & A.
Iran'’s heavy-water plutonium reactor
150 miles SW of Tehran. (CNS News)
by Ambassador Ken Blackwell, Contributing Author: This is the voice of Iran’s freedom front. It’s been said that Iran’s mullahs with a nuclear weapon is “1,000 times more deadly” even than ISIS. Please take the time to read President Rajavi’s response to my questions:
10. Has the recent regional crisis had an impact on Tehran's behavior during the negotiations?
It has certainly increased the significance of acquiring nuclear weapons for Khamenei. Despite all his meddling, threats, and murders in Iraq, Khamenei failed to prevent the downfall of his proxy government (Maliki). This was a fundamental blow to the mullahs' domination over Iraq and it made Khamenei more fearful of the status of his rule in Iran itself. This is particularly the case since the regime has been unable to save Assad from the crisis in Syria over the past three years despite perpetrating an inhumane war through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The actual fear over the crisis spilling into Iran, which would rattle the entire regime, has increased Khamenei's need for the bomb. As a result, he avoided any sort of flexibility during the negotiations.
11. How do you react to the idea that there should be a role for the Iranian regime in Iraq and specifically in the fight against ISIS, which could lay the groundwork for cooperation?
This would be a repeat of disastrous past experiences, the consequences of which are still haunting the Middle East and the entire world, including in the United States. I am talking about the cooperation with the Iranian regime during the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and more importantly opening Iraq's doors to the Iranian regime, its surrogates and militias after the war to gradually solidify their control in Iraq. In practice, this policy has turned Iraq into a launching pad for the expansion of terrorism and fundamentalism led by Tehran. The rise of ISIS is one of the by-products of this policy. The people of Iraq see the clerical regime as an occupying power. Any form of cooperation with this regime would cast a shadow of doubt over the legitimacy of operations carried out by the international coalition. Such hypothetical cooperation would also fuel a conflict desired by ISIS, because ISIS is trying to paint its acts of terrorism as a battle between Shiites and Sunnis in a bid to recruit Sunnis to its ranks.
12. What do you think can solve the current regional crisis?
The solution and the main key lies in the hands of the peoples of the region themselves. Confronting terrorism and extremism masquerading as Islam (whether in the form of ISIS or militias tied to the Iranian regime in Iraq) is only possibly through uniting people and anti-fundamentalist forces in the region. This is a war that has no answer in the battlefield without the complete participation of Sunnis and Sunni tribes. There can be no solution without the meaningful participation of the real representatives of the various Sunni factions in the Iraqi government. But, in order to realize that outcome, the Iranian regime and its militias must be evicted from Iraq. They are the obstacle to such a participation, and they inspire sectarian war and religious killings.
13. What are your thoughts on fundamentalism and Islamic extremism and the reasons for its expansion?
Islamic fundamentalism, which in contrast to true Islam, is known for its characteristic religious dictatorship, misogyny, religious discrimination, inhumane punishments, and unimaginable deception, was born with the mullahs' regime in Iran in 1979. The mullahs proliferated this reactionary thought throughout the region starting three decades ago. These are characteristics that are exactly the same for fundamentalists under the Shiite banner and fundamentalists under the Sunni banner. The growth of fundamentalism, which has today manifested itself in ISIS, is culturally and historically the result of the proliferation of such ideology by the mullahs in Iran. From a political standpoint, the cruel suppression of Sunnis in Iraq by the Iranian-affiliated Iraqi government and their marginalization and widespread massacre of people in Syria, again at the hands of a dictatorship tied to the mullahs and the IRGC, created the breeding ground for this phenomenon.
But the solution to Islamic extremism lies in an alternative that is based on a democratic and tolerant Islam. In Iran, this alternative is represented by the MEK, which has been able to promote a pioneering role model for the entire region. This is one of the reasons for the 27 attacks and massacres of residents at Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty, which have taken place in recent years at the hands of the mullahs and their puppet government in Iraq. The residents of Ashraf and Liberty are the representatives and advocates of such an alternative.
14. What is your assessment of Rouhani's one-year record in various arenas, specifically human rights in Iran? Have there been any changes?
Mullah Hassan Rouhani's sixteen-month record reveals a complete defeat for him and for the entire regime. More than 1,200 executions during his tenure, including hangings of juveniles, a slate of acid attacks and stabbings against women, detaining of lawyers, journalists, new Christian converts, Sunnis, Dervishes (a branch of Shiism) and Bahaiis, and the ratification of extremely suppressive laws are only a part of his record. In April, Rouhani personally defended the executions and said that they can be considered either as Islamic edicts or as man-made laws, and in both cases we are responsible for implementing them. In October, the regime's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), on his orders, actively defended the hanging of Reyhaneh Jabbari, a young woman who had defended herself against a man trying to rape her. In the second week of December, the Intelligence Minister, who is very close to Rouhani, proudly boasted about a list of dissidents his ministry was responsible for assassinating outside of Iran's borders.
Rouhani has also failed to deliver on his promises to improve the economy. The value of the country's currency is even lower than its lowest point during Ahmadinejad's tenure, the price of bread has increased to the highest level in Iran's history, official estimate put the number of starving people at 12 million, and two in five people are unemployed.
As a result, once more it has been proven that the hopes for the rise of a "moderate" inside the religious fascism is nothing but a mirage.
15. Your movement has had a central role in exposing the regime's nuclear program. What do you think is the nature of this program?
There is no doubt that the program entirely has military objectives. Since revelations about the existence of the secret sites in Arak and Natanz in 2002 until now, the Iranian Resistance has made over 100 documented revelations about sensitive and wide-ranging details of this program, all of which expose its military objectives.
The Iranian Resistance has in this way trapped the mullahs, even as western governments have for years offered incentives to the mullahs instead of adopting a firm stance, which has granted the mullahs an opportunity to expand their nuclear program.
But the role and activities of the Resistance have created an extensive social awareness inside Iran in protest to this program, depriving it of any sort of legitimacy whatsoever. On the basis of such public opposition, our movement seeks a non-nuclear Iran in its political platform.
In their confrontation against a decaying tyranny, the Iranian people have a democratic alternative with a clear platform that seeks a secular and pluralistic republic, gender equality, a society based on respect for human rights and the abolition of the death penalty, abdication of the mullahs' Sharia laws, providing equal economic opportunities to all, a non-nuclear Iran, and peace and co-existence with the rest of the world.
16. How do you see the prospects for change in Iran?
Change in Iran is inevitable. This is not only due to the crises gripping the mullahs, the regime's nuclear impasse, or the blows it has received in Iraq and Syria. Beyond all this, change is inevitable because of the intense social discontent in Iran and the social readiness to revive popular uprisings. This is the most important reason that explains why the mullahs have resorted to splashing acid on women's faces and why they have increased the number of executions to levels not seen in the last quarter of a century, not to mention the attacks and imposition of pressures against the Iranian Resistance and especially the residents of Camp Liberty.
The mullahs' regime in Iran represents the rule of a minority of less than 5 percent of the population that relies on sheer force. Without torture, daily executions, censorship, and complete control, they cannot remain in power even a day longer. But, this exceedingly wobbly and unstable situation is not at all sustainable.
As a former U.S. Ambassador to the UN for Human Rights, I can verify that the failure to address the horrific record of the Tehran regime will guarantee failure when dealing with a dictatorial regime like the mullahs have run in Iran since 1979. President Rajavi should be thanked for helping us as Americans return to our best traditions and our greatest success.
-------------- Ken Blackwell is a former ambassador to the U.N., Ohio Secretary of State and mayor of Cincinnati. He serves on the board of directors of the Club for Growth, the National Taxpayers Union and the National Federation of Republican Assemblies. He is a contributor to the ARRA News Service. Tags:Ken Blackwell, Maryam Rajavi, Iran, nuclear talks, JAW-JAW, War-WarTo 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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