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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]
Contact: editor@arranewsservice.com (Pub. Since July, 2006)
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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, July 10, 2015

How We Got Here: A Foreign Policy of Left-Wing Clichés

by Newt Gingrich and Ross Worthington: Today is the tenth anniversary of the 7/7 suicide bomb attacks in London, which killed 52 people and wounded hundreds more. In the decade since, the threat from Islamic supremacists has gotten worse in ways that were almost unimaginable in 2005. Nearly everywhere in the world, the threat of violence is greater than it was a decade ago.

The U.S. has been focused during this period on the terrorist threat, even if there is little progress to show for it. But because the media and political establishments tend to focus on only one problem at a time, it has been easy to miss the rate at which other anti-American threats have been developing during the same period.

We are drifting into a period of extraordinary risk. In the vacuum, foreign powers have become progressively more hostile, capable, and risk-taking. Putin’s brazen rule in Russia, an increasingly aggressive Chinese regime, the relentlessly dishonest Iranian dictatorship, and the steady development of nuclear and missile technology in North Korea are emerging threats for which the U.S. currently has no strategy. Worryingly, we have refused to consider that our enemies could coalesce into an anti-American coalition.

President Obama, it is sad to say, has invited many of the risks we face today.

He owes his presidency to opposition, in the far-left of the Democratic Party, to a strong America abroad. Those outside the U.S. saw his election as a victory for that worldview—anti-Americanism combined with anti-capitalism—as indeed it proved to be. The New York Times reported from Gaza the day after his victory that “Mr. Obama’s election offers most non-Americans a sense that the imperial power capable of doing such good and such harm — a country that, they complain, preached justice but tortured its captives, launched a disastrous war in Iraq, turned its back on the environment and greedily dragged the world into economic chaos — saw the errors of its ways over the past eight years and shifted course.”

It wasn’t just non-Americans who viewed Obama’s election that way. Obama himself embraced the role. Among his first acts of foreign policy as president were sending a feel-good YouTube video to the Iranian mullahs (the start of six years of begging), and his European “apology tour,” in which he confessed America’s sins on our behalf—the “times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive,” and “a failure to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world.” It was for this atonement, evidently, that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Those less enamored with ideas like “the European project” and a worldwide environmental regime took a more realistic view of Obama’s promise: impotence, weakness, and timidity, all inherent in the left-wing clichés he and his base espoused. The result has been aggression against the American order everywhere we look.

Putin clearly has contempt for the U.S. administration and is determined to push at the periphery to see if he can break up NATO and reintegrate more of the former Soviet Union back into the Russian Empire. As a KGB trained, would-be tsar, Putin is unlikely to be deterred by words and weakness.

The Chinese could hardly be more open in their determination to change the balance of power in their own favor. It is hard to know which is more threatening: the flagrant hostility of hacking into U.S. government records and stealing 18 million personnel files, or the construction, out of open ocean, of an expansive chain of islands and military bases to enforce a Chinese claim to an enormous territory—crowding Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Indonesia. Both of these actions are potentially acts of war, but the President seems incapable of responding. The possibility that Chinese economic growth is slowing significantly makes that regime more rather than less dangerous.

Having ignored every red line he announced for Syria and Ukraine, President Obama is clearly committed to ignoring his red lines once again for the Iranian dictatorship. No level of Iranian mendacity, no depth of Iranian violation of agreements, no proof of Iranian support for terrorism are sufficient to slow the Obama administration’s rush to surrender on Iranian nuclear weapons.

After Russia, China and Iran, there are a number of increasingly threatening realities that the U.S. is avoiding because they so violate the ethos of the current administration. North Korea might have up to 60 nuclear weapons, according to Chinese sources. This is a huge increase from the failed Clinton policies of the 1990s and should serve as a warning about the current negotiations with Iran. Needless to say, it doesn’t.

All the while, we are failing even to contain the threat we are focused on. The attacks last Friday in Tunisia, Kuwait and France (not to mention the ongoing killings in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria) are a reminder that Islamic supremacists are gaining ground. A weak America has been a necessary condition for their progress, too.

This level of decline would have been unthinkable the day terrorists attacked London a decade ago, and tragically, the decline will likely result in more horrible days. The specter of feeble democracies trying to contain evil has not been this bad since the late 1930s. The danger now is that every bad actor in the world will view the next year and a half as their last best chance for aggression. This is what it looks like when left-wing opponents of a strong America get a chance to run our foreign policy.
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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. Original ran on The Transom and co-authored with Ross Worthington.

Tags: Newt Gingrich, Ross Worthington, foreign policy, left-wing clichés To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

40,000 Soldiers Cut: Army Now Smaller Than Before 9/11

by Justin Johnson and Carl Best : Today, the Army is announcing that it is cutting another 40,000 soldiers, leaving the United States with an Army that is smaller than before Sept. 11, 2001.

However the cuts themselves aren’t news—Army leaders have been forecasting this cut for years due to the dramatic budget cuts they are facing.

What Americans should be worried about is how these cuts continue to weaken our national security.

While the Army is cutting their personnel, it is also dangerously untrained and unprepared for conflict.

In March, Gen. Ray Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army, testified to Congress saying, “the unrelenting budget impasse has compelled us to degrade readiness to historically low levels.”

He went on to say that only one third of U.S. Army brigades are ready for combat today.

Because of these cuts to readiness and force structure, Odierno concluded that the Army can no longer execute the strategy for defending America.

The cuts to their personnel and training have been too deep, and it appears that the cuts will continue.

The Army is facing these dramatic reductions to force structure and readiness for one reason—budget cuts.

Since 2011, the Army’s base budget has gone down by 17.6 percent in real terms.

If you include Overseas Contingency Operations funding, the Army budget has gone down by 41.8 percent since 2011.

These cuts are worse than the overall cuts to the national security budget, which went down 15 percent during the same period.

In 2011 there were 566,000 soldiers in the Army.

Now there are 490,000 and these cuts will drop that number to 450,000 by the end of 2017.

Today’s announcement details how and where the Army plans to cut 40,000 soldiers.

After these cuts are completed, the Army will be reduced to approximately 30 Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs), 20 BCTs short of Heritage’s assessed minimum needed to keep the United States safe and secure.

The cuts have not been limited to Army personnel and training. Programs to modernize the Army have been slashed by 25 percent.

These important programs would have developed things like new infantry fighting vehicles and scout helicopters but have now been purged.

The Army’s future hangs in a delicate balance. Even if this 40,000 soldier cut is implemented, the Army budget situation is grim.

Gen. Odierno testified that, “in order for [this budget] to work, all of our proposed reforms in pay and compensation must be approved. All of our force structure reforms must be supported … we potentially face a $12 billion shortfall in our budget. If [Budget Control Act spending] caps remain, that adds another $6 billion in potential problems.”

More budget cuts could be in the works for the Army. If Congress and the president leave the national security spending caps in place the “tenuous house of cards” Odierno described will be severely threatened. Already unable to execute the Defense Strategic Guidance, sequestration would “compel us to reduce end strength even further.”

Given the threats facing the United States, now is not the time to divest our military capability and capacity.

Instead, Congress and the president should prevent these Army cuts and other debilitating cuts to our military.

The world is not getting safer, so the United States should not be naively cutting our ability to protect ourselves.
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Justin Johnson (@jus10j) specializes in defense budgets and policies for The Heritage Foundation’s Allison Center for National Security and Foreign Policy. Carl Best writes The Daily Signal.

Tags: U.S. Army, cuts,  40,000 soldiers To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

ICYMI: Chinese Hackers Stole Plans for America's New Joint Strike Fighter Plane . . .

Bill Smith, Editor: Earlier today, the ARRA News Service addressed the resignation of the OPM Director and the hacked employee government records. The alleged culprit is China. Thus it is appropriate to revisits an April 2012 article by CNSNews which addressed America being under attack by Chinese "digital bombs" and their theft of U.S. plans for the New Joint Fighter plane.  The report noted, "Lockheed Martin Corporation, Northrop Grumman Corporation, and British Aerospace and Engineering reportedly all have experienced penetrations from hackers based in China in the past three years."

We are under attack and the Obama administration has done little to lead in the defense of protected government records or in preventing these attacks.

If you think Red China, Russia, ISIS and the International hacker Group ‘Anonymous’ are going to stop, (maybe when the power and lights go off at your newspapers and TV stations), don’t say you were not warned.

Joint Strike Fighter
by Christopher Goins and Pete Winn | CNSNews (April 25, 2012): Intruders from China hacked into computers and stole the blueprints for America’s new joint strike fighter planes, the F-35 and F-22, according to the chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) made the statement during a Tuesday hearing on cyber security.

“I've been dealing with this issue for a long time,” McCaul said. “But I think it's important that the American people, who most of them don't understand this issue, have a better idea of what--what is at risk. You know when I look at the theft of intellectual property to the tune of $1 trillion, that's a serious economic issue for the United States.

"When I look at countries like China, who have stolen our Joint Strike Fighters, F-35 and F-22's, stolen those blueprints so they can manufacture those planes and then guard against those planes,” he said.

China has created citizen hacker groups engaged in cyber espionage, established cyber war military units and laced the U.S. infrastructure with logic bombs, he said.

It is not the only government to do so, he added.

“(M)ake no mistake, America' is under attack by digital bombs,” McCaul said. “There are several things the American public should understand about these attacks. They are real, stealth and persistent and can devastate our nation.

“They occur at the speed of light. They are global and could come from anywhere on the earth. They penetrate traditional defenses,” he continued.

“So who is conducting these attacks and why? An October of 2011 report to Congress on foreign economic collection and industrial espionage states it is part of China and Russia's national policy to identify and steal sensitive technology, which they need for their development,” McCaul said.

McCaul said Russia has been almost as active as China in trying to steal U.S. defense secrets.

“When you look at China and Russia who have hacked into every federal agency in the federal government including the Pentagon,” McCaul said. “You know we talk about the analogy agents of a foreign power call it paper files walking out with classified or non-classified information, it would be all over the papers. But yet in the virtual world, that's happening. And no one seems to know or really pay attention to it. And then the final piece, you know there's the espionage, the stealing of military secrets, satellite technology, rocket technology out of NASA, it's prevalent. It's everywhere.”

The Texas Republican, a former federal prosecutor, re-iterated his comments Wednesday on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” program.

Larry Wortzel, a member of the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee at a March 28, hearing that a report released by the commission last month had concluded that the People’s Liberation Army of China has made cyber attacks a “cornerstone” of its operations.

“At the same time, the report concludes, during peacetime, computer network exploitation has likely become a cornerstone of PLA and civilian intelligence collection operations supporting national military and civilian strategic goals," Wortzel said.

“The Commission report tells us that China's computer network exploitation activities to support espionage opened rich veins of information that was previously inaccessible or could only be mined in small amounts with controlled human intelligence operations,” Wortzel said.

The commission's 2009 Annual Report to Congress, citing a Wall Street Journal article, discussed "intruders, probably operating from China, that exfiltrated 'several terabytes of data related to design and electronics systems' of the F-35 Lightning II," one of the most advanced fighter planes under development.

In addition, the report noted, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Northrop Grumman Corporation, and British Aerospace and Engineering reportedly all have experienced penetrations from hackers based in China in the past three years.

Tags: Chinese, hackers, digital bombs, stole,  plans, Joint Strike Fighter Plan, OPM and Defense employee records, Obama administration To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Big Brother Takes Aim At Salaries

by Tom Balek, Contributing Author: The message addressed to "friend" in my inbox from Barack Obama paints a grim picture of life for a large class of working Americans:"When a working parent needs to put in more than 40 hours a week, that time can be measured in family dinners, tee-ball games, and ballet recitals missed -- and too often, that worker isn't even being paid fairly for the extra work."

Obama lays the blame for this alleged worker abuse at the feet of business owners. "Right now," he continues, "there are employers skirting even basic overtime laws, adding "manager" to somebody's job title solely to avoid paying workers what they've earned. Those workers are being cheated today, and this new step fixes that. The rule I've proposed will expand overtime eligibility to nearly five million workers. It's one of the fastest ways we can help expand opportunity for all Americans."
The Obama administration, invigorated by a string of recent policy victories that expand federal authority over personal and business interests, now seeks greater control of private employee compensation rates and methods. The Dept. of Labor has proposed revisions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that would further restrict employers from exempting some employees from overtime rules. Under current FLSA regulations, an employee is exempt from the 40-hour overtime rule if he or she earns over $23,660 per year and performs certain "white-collar duties".

Last week President Obama wrote an op-ed in the Huffington Post, taking several victory laps to celebrate the baffling Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage and Obamacare, the passage of new trade agreement authority, and "America's steady progress" under his guidance. And he proposed that the income threshold for exempt employees should be doubled to $50,400. If unchallenged, the revision would take place in September.

This move is consistent with the administration's ongoing battle against free-market principles. While the President focuses on "fairness", his policies totally disregard the timeless and proven practices that made American commerce and our standard of living the envy of the world: innovation and progress through competition, operational freedom, and the right to earn and keep profit and property.

The false promise of more pay for the same or less work might appeal to the short-sighted. But history proves that those who wish to achieve and succeed don't want government-proscribed limits on their ability to earn. Measuring a key employee's worth by hours of attendance only - disregarding talent, knowledge, creativity and other qualities - is shallow, if not condescending. Raising the exemption threshold will undoubtedly push wages downward and restrict upward mobility for entry-level employees. It is disingenuous to suggest that such a move will put more money in any employee's wallet. Employers, mostly small businesses, will not be able to absorb the estimated $9.5 billion annual cost without defensive strategies.

To win and keep customers, businesses must be competitive. Those who provide the best products and value for their customers, and make an acceptable profit, are the winners. These companies know that they can't execute a winning strategy without top-quality employees, and they aggressively compete for the best. If they fail to acquire and retain quality employees, they will rapidly drop out of the market. Just as employers compete for the best employees, workers compete for jobs from the best employers. It is a self-correcting system.

The traditional American business model is a win-win-win. Well-run companies enjoy growing market share. Their customers get the products and services they want at the best prices. And their employees are fairly compensated and fulfilled. Any attempt by government to mess up that formula is at best naive, and at worst manipulative pandering.
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Tom Balek is a fellow conservative activist, blogger, musician and contributes to the ARRA News Service. Tom resides in South Carolina and between playing in weekend bands, he seeks to educate those too busy with their work and families to notice how close to the precipice our economy has come. He blogs at Rockin' On the Right Side

Tags: Tom Balek, Rockin' On The Right Side, big brother, government,  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Unconstitutional Government

by Kerby Anderson, Contributing Author: Here’s a suggestion. Read Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution and then compare it to the government we have today. The framers set forth what is the legitimate role for the federal government.

You will find that it does give the government power to collect taxes and duties. It is required to provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States. It can coin money, establish post offices and roads. That’s about it.

Professor Walter Williams in his new book, American Contempt for Liberty, reminds us that: “Nowhere in the Constitution do we find authority for Congress to tax and spend for up to three-quarters of what Congress taxes and spends for today. In other words, there is no constitutional authority for farm subsidies, bank bailouts, food stamps, Social Security, Medicare, and thousands of other federal spending programs.”

The point he is trying to make is the current government is a significant departure from the original principles of limited government and individual freedom. And we are paying heavily for this expanded government.

He estimates that at the turn of the last century (1902) expenditures for all levels of government were $1.7 billion. The average taxpayer paid only $60 a year in taxes. Today federal expenditures alone are nearly $4 trillion, and the average taxpayer pays more than $10,000 a year in federal, state, and local taxes.

You can look at it another way. From the beginning of the country (1787) until 1920, federal expenditures were only 3 percent of GNP. Today federal expenditures are nearly 25 percent of GDP.

As bad at this trend is, we need to remind ourselves that government is spending more than it is receiving in taxes. Each day America goes deeper into debt. We have exceeded $18 trillion in debt and show no signs of balancing a budget any time in the future.

It is worth remembering these facts when evaluating candidates for federal office. I’m not interested in a politician that wants to keep driving down this road. It’s time to stop and turn around.
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Kerby Anderson is a radio talk show host heard on numerous stations via the Point of View Network endorsed by Dr. Bill Smith, Editor, ARRA News Service

Tags: Kerby Anderson, Viewpoints, Point of View, Unconstitutional Government To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Sen. Tom Cotton Introduces Bill Blocking "Sanctuary Cities" From Federal Law Enforcement Grants

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)
by Christine Rousselle, Town Hall: Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) has introduced an amendment that would prohibit "sanctuary cities" from receiving federal law enforcement grants. A "sanctuary city" (or state) is a locality that has passed an ordinance that prohibits employees from cooperating with immigration officials.
Cotton's official statement referenced the murder of Kate Steinle--a 32-year-old woman who was killed by Francisco Sanchez, a seven-time convicted felon who was tabbed to be deported from the United States for a sixth time. San Francisco officials ignored an ICE detainer order on Sanchez and instead released him from custody after drug charges against him were dropped. Sanchez stated that he chose to live in San Francisco due to the city's 1989 "sanctuary city" ordinance that would shield him from deportation.
"The senseless murder of a young woman in San Francisco last week tragically illustrates that the politicization of the immigration debate has now swamped even common-sense efforts to protect public safety. It is unacceptable that cities would issue ordinances that explicitly aim to frustrate federal immigration laws that are supposed to keep illegal immigrant felons off the streets. U.S. taxpayers shouldn't be expected to support such misguided local policies that put their safety in jeopardy. No matter their political affiliation, local officials should support the rule of law and protect the safety of all Americans."
The full text of the amendment can be read here.

A jurisdiction would become eligible for grants upon repealing any legislation involving "sanctuary" policies. The Attorney General would have to then certify that the area is no longer a sanctuary city.

This legislation makes sense--law enforcement grants should not go to places where city employees are prohibited from enforcing immigration law. A convicted felon tabbed for deportation should not be allowed to roam the streets due to a "sanctuary" policy. Immigration laws exist for a reason--and like other laws in this country, should be enforced.

Tags: Senator, Tom Cotton, new bill, blocking, Sanctuary Cities, Federal Law Enforcement grants To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

OPM Director Resigns Over Massive Cyber Breach of Employee Records

OPM Director Katherine
 Archuleta Resigns
Today in Washington. D.C. - July 10, 2015
OPM Director Katherine Archuleta has resigned. Her departure comes less than 24 hours after GOP leaders called for President Obama to fire her. The House Republican leadership quickly noted, "“The resignation of the OPM director does not in any way absolve the president of the responsibility to repair this damage to our national security. We know from last year’s resignation of the VA secretary that a change in personnel does not always lead to real change. We applaud the work of Chairman Chaffetz and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and we will hold the president accountable for restoring the public’s confidence.” More on this below.

The House reconvened today at 9 AM. It passed (344- 77) H.R. 6 — 21st Century Cures Act - "To accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery of 21st century cures, and for other purposes." Seventy Republicans voted against the bill with the Arkansas delegation split 50/50 with Crawford and Westerman voting no and Hill and Womack voting yes.

House adjourned at 12:15 PM and will reconvene at Noon on Monday.

Yesterday the House passed H.R. 2647 (262-167) — "To expedite under the National Environmental Policy Act and improve forest management activities in units of the National Forest System derived from the public domain, on public lands under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management, and on tribal lands to return resilience to overgrown, fire-prone forested lands, and for other purposes."

The Senate is not in session today and will reconvene on Monday at 3 PM, when it will resume consideration of S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015.

Sometimes we must wonder why the Senate doesn't keep working and vote up or down all the various bills the people's House sends to the Senate.

Yesterday, the Senate voted on 3 amendments to S. 1177 and agreed to 6 others by voice vote.

Also yesterday, the Senate voted 81-15 to invoke cloture on the motion to go to conference with the House on H.R. 1735, the Fiscal Year 2016 Defense Authorization bill (NDAA). The Senate then agreed by voice vote to the motion to insist on its amendment and go to conference with the House on H.R. 1735. One of those "tale it or leave it situations.

Senators then voted 44-52 to reject a motion by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) to instruct conferees to insist that Budget Control Act spending caps be eliminated or increased for both military and domestic spending.

The AP reports, “The head of the U.S. government's personnel office resigned abruptly on Friday, bowing to bipartisan calls for her to step down following a massive government data breach on her watch.

“Katherine Archuleta, director of the federal Office of Personnel Management, submitted her resignation to President Barack Obama on Friday morning, the White House said. She'll be replaced on a temporary basis by the agency's deputy director, Beth Cobert, who will step into the role on Saturday.

“Less than 24 hours earlier, Archuleta had rebuffed demands that she resign, telling reporters she had no intention of leaving and that her agency was doing everything it could to address concerns about the safety of data in its hands. But on Friday morning, Archuleta told Obama it was best for her to step aside to let new leadership respond to the recent braches and to improve systems to lessen risks in the future, according to a White House official who wasn't authorized to be quoted on the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.”

National Journal adds, “OPM announced Thursday that the size of a hack that began last year led to the pilfering of sensitive personal information of 21.5 million former and current employees. That admission, following weeks of scrutiny on Capitol Hill after OPM acknowledge a separate data breach that affected 4.2 million, led to a rush of lawmakers who called for her ousting, including the top three House Republicans and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee.”

Roll Call notes, “Members of Congress, who have torched Archuleta from both sides of the aisle over the unprecedented breach, sounded happy she’s out.

“‘This is the absolute right call,’ said House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. “OPM needs a competent, technically savvy leader to manage the biggest cybersecurity crisis in this nation’s history. ‘The IG has been warning about security lapses at OPM for almost a decade. This should have been addressed much, much sooner but I appreciate the President doing what’s best now. In the future, positions of this magnitude should be awarded on merit and not out of patronage to political operatives.’

“Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, also praised the move as ‘one that will help to restore confidence in an agency that not only poorly defended sensitive data of millions of Americans but struggled to respond to repeated intrusions. …’”

Earlier this week, FBI Director James Comey discussed the size and seriousness of this breach . . . describing the theft as an ‘enormous breach’ during testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, said his own personal information was stolen as part of the intrusion, which Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said likely was carried out by Chinese hackers. . . . ‘It is a very, very big number,’ he said of the number of Americans whose data was stolen. ‘It is a huge deal.’”

On Wednesday, the USA Today editors expressed their frustration with this state of affairs. “Hackers, whom government officials have linked to China, broke into computers at OPM and stayed there undetected for months, downloading vast amounts of information on millions of current and former federal employees. The hackers took millions of the forms used by people to disclose intimate details of their lives for national security clearances. The information could be used to unmask covert agents or to try to blackmail Americans into spying for an enemy. . . .

“Government employees have received letters promising them 18 months of credit monitoring services. That's cold comfort to people whose clearances contained information about drug abuse, money troubles, affairs, mental health treatment and other sensitive information.

“Michael Hayden, the former head of the NSA and the CIA, told The Wall Street Journal that the embarrassing theft was ‘a tremendously big deal.’ How did it happen? ‘Raw incompetence,’ he said. That sounds about right.”

They concluded, “If the government isn't going to play offense — or isn't going to publicize it if it does — it's going to have to get much better at defense. This situation simply cannot continue. Whether it's the rollout of the Obamacare website or these attacks on an unforgivably vulnerable computer system, the administration seems to need a disaster before it wakes up and gets technology right. It certainly has another one on its hands now.”

A good start would be for Congress to pass a bipartisan cybersecurity bill that allows companies to share information with the government to more quickly address hacks and breaches. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats filibustered this bill a month ago. .

Tags: OPM, Director Resigns, Katherine Archuleta, cyber breach, personnel records, Chinese 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, July 09, 2015

What We Are Dealing With

by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: As the Obama Administration continues its pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran, it is essential that we understand exactly what we are dealing with.

In a previous report, I reminded readers that the virulent virus of radical Islam has various strains. The Sunni extremists in ISIS grab the most headlines for their brutality, but the Shiite extremists ruling Iran are no less dangerous.

While Obama hopes for the best, New York Times reports that in Iran, "there has been a distinct change in tone: the anti-Americanism is getting even more strident."

One leading Iranian official said, "We march not only against Israel. . . . We also march against the arrogant powers," meaning the United States. The Times quotes another regime activist who asked, "What will be left of our revolution, of our position in the Islamic world, if we start relations with [the United States]?"

Why would he ask that? Because the regime believes that the goal of the Islamic revolution is to destroy the United States. Don't take my word for it. Pay attention to what the Iranians are telling us.
  • At a recent "Death To America" conference, one Iranian "intellectual" said that Iran's most important purpose is to "work tirelessly for the destruction of the United States. Our fight against America is not about this or that problem. It is about the very existence of America. . ."
  • Referring to the United States as the "great Satan," Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said recently, "When you consider someone and some organization as 'Satan,' it is clear how you should behave and feel towards them."
Just in case it isn't clear to our elites how the Iranians feel about us, today's New York Times writes that "[Iranian] State television, the main tool for disseminating official views, still reminds viewers day in and day out of all the evil acts and 'crimes' committed by the United States." And a close adviser to Supreme Leader Khamenei adds, "Those who think that even after a deal we will open our borders and change are very, very wrong."

World leaders made a monumental mistake by ignoring the belligerence of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s. They deluded themselves into thinking that they could reason with the Nazi dictator.

Sadly, history seems to be repeating itself. Obama's belief that a scrap of paper today can prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is just as naive as Neville Chamberlain's belief that Hitler's signature on a piece of paper brought peace in his time.
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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: Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families, Obama administration, Iran, Nuke Deal To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Reagan Economist Larry Kudlow Reveals The Republicans' Secret Agenda

Larry Kudlow, a CNBC commentator, speaks about the
economy. Photo credit SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
by Ralph Benko, Contributing Author: The Revelation: “All we want,” said Kudlow, “is for everybody to get richer.”

Therein hangs a tale. And therein, perhaps, hangs the outcome of a presidential race.

The Republican Party (much to the astonishment of practically everyone) is composed exclusively of … people. It thus is subject to human nature. It is undeniable that a significant part of the Republican voter base is made up of rich (or at least affluent) people.

Rich people (except in California, a parallel universe) vote Republican. So, naturally, Republicans love rich people.

And hate the poor. Nothing personal. Poor people vote Democratic.

So, naturally, the Democrats love the poor. Who wouldn’t? It’s easy to love the people who wish to put you into power. Conversely, Democrats (excluding Bill Clinton and few other outliers) naturally hate the rich.

In politics, however, nothing ever is quite as it seems. Paradoxes abound.

Revealed here, for the first time: the Republican Secret Agenda. What is at the core of their (OK, our) Nefarious Plot? Our Secret Plot is to make all the poor people rich. That’s the only way to end this ridiculous “two party” system and to make every Man-Jack and Woman-Jill in America into loyal Republicans.

As an aside, the Constitution provides explicitly that “The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government….” While the black helicopter right is looking at articles of impeachment for President Obama it should by no means overlook his failure to enforce, by whatever means necessary, this precious Constitutional guarantee. State Democratic Parties and elected officials are a clear violation of the black letter of the Constitution. Hello, Justice Kennedy!

While we are awaiting the enforcement of Article IV, section 4, however, iconic supply-sider Larry Kudlow, founding member of the newly fledged Committee to Unleash Prosperity, broke the Republican Code of Omerta and revealed the sinister game afoot.

In an interview with David Freedlander in The Daily Beast, The Rich New Yorkers Schooling GOP Hopefuls in Reaganomics, Kudlow spills the beans: “All we want,” said Kudlow, “is for everybody to get richer.”

Nefarious? Pure Evil Genius.

If the GOP makes all the poor people rich the Democratic Party base implodes. (Mwahahaha!) Even Progressives, who style themselves as champions of the poor, will lose their purpose. They will be forced either to join ranks with the GOP’s supply-siders (where they would be made welcome)… or go off to make batique, open up kilns, massage salons, yoga studios, and medical marijuana dispensaries in Berkeley, Ann Arbor, Madison and Asheville. (Which they might just find very congenial.)

Freedlander, in his Pulitzer-worthy exposé, nails it:
The Committee’s core group — … grew to include Steve Forbes and supply-side patriarch Art Laffer—believe that since World War II, the American economy has grown by 3½ percent annually, but that over the last 15 years, growth has shrunk to 2 percent annually.

“This growth slump has damaged investment, employment, incomes, poverty, social mobility, family life, and above all, lack of growth has damaged the American dream of opportunity for all,” says a Committee memo that serves as something of a founding document.

. . . The Committee has come up with key principles that would make Uncle Ronnie proud. Among them: “a flat tax; limited government spending; lite regulation; sound money; free trade; and the rule of Constitutional law.”

. . . “Yes, [the candidate's] rhetoric is not bad. There is a lack of detail and specifics however,” [Kudlow] told The Daily Beast in a phone interview…. “You’ve got a bunch of smart guys and most of them want to remain in the Reagan tradition of supply-side economics and tax cuts and deregulation. We get that.”

Club for Growth founder [Steve] Moore said that the point of the Committee to Unleash American Prosperity was not so much to remind the GOP contenders of core principles as it was to explain the basics to them.

“Many of them have not dealt with these kind of issues before. We are, quite frankly, trying to educate them,” he said.

Economic growth, Moore added, was actually being underplayed on the campaign trail.
One can infer that Kudlow’s confession was not, as we say in the journalism racket, a “leak.” It was a deliberate “plant.” By giving away the game he turns up the light for the Republican contenders and puts the Democrats into an untenable position.

By revealing “All we want is for everybody to get richer” Kudlow also points to the Secret Democratic Agenda. All the Democrats want is for everybody to get poorer. And why shouldn’t they? More poor people equals more Democratic voters.

Yet, speaking as a voter… really? As Bea Kaufman said, “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better.” Or as Dorothy Parker said, “I don’t know much about being a millionaire, but I’ll bet I’d be darling at it.” These wise women’s words sound, to me, more like America speaking.

The “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party” has shown itself marvelously proficient at creating poverty. It is pushing policies that even the Soviet Union repudiated (before dissolving itself in disgust at state-controlled economic policy).

Income inequality?

As Churchill said, “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” Equal sharing of miseries? Hello, America?

Thus the paradox. If you, as a voter (as opposed to a political partisan), are poor (and don’t like being poor) or are rich and secretly kind of like it (hello Hollywood!), or merely have a social conscience and truly love the poor you, post-Kudlow's revelation, now have only one legitimate “public option.”

The Democratic Party once had some great supply-side leaders. None, currently, are in evidence. If you wish to enlist in the War on Poverty you must join the Republican Party and help advance its Secret Agenda to make all poor people rich (and, thus, Republican voters). If you really are serious about ending poverty you might even join the Committee to Unleash Prosperity (as, full disclosure, I have ) to help guide the candidates' footsteps onto the Path of Mutual Prosperity.

If you, as a voter, seriously love the poor and hate the rich and are desirous of more poor people, yes, throw in with the Democrats in their relentless efforts to manufacture vastly greater numbers of poor people (and, thus more, Democratic voters). Take that Vow of Poverty on behalf of the Church of State!

Yet… really?

The Kinks, that great supply-side (see: Sunny Afternoon) rock band, again had it right. It’s … a muddled up world.

Republicans hate the poor. We, nefariously, are scheming to make the poor rich.

The secret, finally, is out. Your course, now, is clear.
-----------------
Ralph Benko is senior advisor, economics, to American Principles in Action’s Gold Standard 2012 Initiative, and a contributor to he ARRA News Service. Founder of The Prosperity Caucus, he was a member of the Jack Kemp supply-side team, served in an unrelated area as a deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House. The article which first appeared in Forbes was submitted for reprint by the author.

Tags: Ralph Benko, Reagan Economist, Larry Kudlow, Reveals, Republicans' Secret Agenda To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Maine Drops Concealed Carry Permitting; Joins “Constitutional Carry” States

Maine Gov. Paul LePage
by Bob Owens: Maine is the latest state to do away with concealed carry permitting, and will now join five other states that have so-called “constitutional carry” of concealed handguns.Maine Gov. Paul LePage has signed a bill that will allow residents to carry a concealed handgun without obtaining a permit.

Maine will become the sixth state in the country with such a policy when the law goes into effect 90 days after lawmakers adjourn later this month.

Supporters of the bill signed Wednesday say permits are a burden on responsible gun owners and don’t prevent bad people from carrying firearms. . . .

The bill deeply divided Maine's law enforcement community. Maine State Police supported it, but many local law enforcement agencies opposed it.
Maine residents will be able to begin carry concealed without a permit in October. It joins Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, and Vermont as the other states with constitutional carry. Wyoming has restricted version that allows it for Wyoming residents only.

Critics of constitutional carry like to point out that without a permitting system, concealed carriers won’t have a basic understanding of the concealed carry laws of their states, and are therefore a greater risk to the public.

I understand their argument. They are claiming that a baseline firearms education is needed, that there needs to be level of firearms proficiency proven, and that concealed carrier should know the laws justifying where they may carry and how they may use their handguns in self defense.

But here’s the thing.

I live in a state that requires classroom training to understand the intricacies of concealed carry law, and a firearms range qualification. While the part of the course covering concealed carry laws for our state was moderately informative, the fact of the matter remains that people are going to revert to their basic fight-or-flight instincts in a situation justifying the use of deadly force self-defense. The training was interesting from an academic perspective, but it wasn’t something that would have lives. At best, its long-term practical effect was to get the idea in people’s heads that there are some places you can’t legally carry.

As for the shooting portion… well, the less that is said about this, the better.

Firearms qualifications are done at close range, with very generous time constraints (if at all), on stationary targets large enough that they would be difficult to miss while point shooting blindfolded.

Neither portion of the class prepares someone for concealed carry in any realistic manner.

Maine and the other constitutional carry states recognize that putting impediments on law-abiding citizens only prevents good guys from being armed. Criminals view and accept the risk of being caught with an gun in their possession illegally as a “cost of doing business.” By removing this feel-good hurdle, Maine puts their citizens in a better position to combat armed criminals.

More states should follow their example.
------------------
Bob Owens is the Editor of BearingArms.com. A long-time shooting enthusiast, he began blogging as a North Carolina native in New York. His personal blog is  bob-owens.com, and he can be found on Twitter at  @bob_owens.

Tags: Main, drops, conceiled carry, permitting, Joins, Constitutional Carry To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Illegal Immigrant Sanctuary Cities -- Poster Boy Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez

. . . Sanctuary cities are self-established all across the U.S. to protect illegal immigrants.. Obama and the left seem to place more value on the lives of foreigners coming here breaking the law than they do their own U.S. Citizens’.
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

. . . Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez the Sanctuary City Poster boy.

Tags: Illegal aliens, Sanctuary Cities, criminals, murder, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, F Branco, editorial cartoon,  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Is Congress Up To The Job?

by Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: Congress officially writes the laws in the country, but they increasingly pass broad, vague generalities that allow regulators, bureaucrats, and judges to make all of the important policy decisions, often decades after the Congress that enacted the original law has left office.

The Supreme Court just upheld an IRS rule that spends about $20 billion a year on the theory that, quoting John Roberts: “the phrase ‘an Exchange established by the state’… may be limited in its reach to State Exchanges. But it is also possible that the phrase refers to all Exchanges--both State and Federal.”

Really?

The FCC recently issued an order reversing two-decades of free-market policy and reclassifying the Internet as a heavily regulated and taxed public utility under the Communications Act of – yes, seriously – 1934.

The EPA has become a super-legislature unto itself, using the Clean Air Act of 1970 as an all-purpose license to regulate the entire economy in the name of global warming and the Clean Water Act of 1972 as a grant of power over every puddle and stream in America.

Members of Congress complain a lot about the bureaucracy, but a lot of them secretly like outsourcing the real decision making. Otherwise they wouldn’t keep doing it.

Fortunately, a moment of clarity for the American people is expected soon, when the House – and then possibly the Senate – will vote on fixing the country’s regulatory system and restoring the basic constitutional principle that Congress is responsible for writing the laws.

The bill, H.R. 427, sponsored by Rep. Todd Young of Indiana, is known as the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act.

It didn’t come from any of the lobbyists, think tanks, or so-called experts in Washington: it came from a veteran, former judge, and longtime political activist named Lloyd Rogers in Alexandria, Kentucky.

In 2009 Rogers went to meet with his then-congressman, Geoff Davis. Both were outraged about an EPA stormwater management consent decree that cost the three northern Kentucky counties in a consolidated sewer a billion, with a B, dollars, approximately doubling water bills. Rogers, having studied the Constitution, didn’t understand how the EPA could double his taxes without so much as a vote in Congress.

Rogers asked Davis: “How come you guys can’t vote on these things?” He handed Davis a piece of paper with a paragraph of text. It said:

Proposed legislation:
In adherence to the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 1 “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” All rules, regulations, or mandates that require citizens, state or local government financial expenditures must first be approved by the U.S. Congress before they can become effective.

Davis took the idea back to Washington and developed the idea into the REINS Act, which requires all economically significant regulations to be approved by Congress and signed by the president – or subject to a veto-override – before they can take effect.

The bill wouldn’t stop all bad regulations, because Congress is of course perfectly capable of making bad decisions. But it would ensure that the major economic policies of the country are decided by elected officials, who can be forced to explain themselves and face their constituents at election time. It would end the “blame the bureaucrats” excuse.

When Geoff Davis and the bill’s original Senate sponsor, Jim DeMint, retired, Todd Young and Rand Paul took over as lead sponsors, and they are leading the charge again this year.

In previous Congresses, the REINS Act passed the House but Harry Reid scuttled it in the Senate without even allowing a vote. That should change this year, with Mitch McConnell in a position to move the brainchild of his fellow Kentuckians forward.

Of course, even if it passes the Senate, President Obama would likely veto it. But he won’t be president forever, and the American people deserve to see which members of Congress are up to the job of actually legislating.

Click here to support the REINS Act!
------------------
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment. Follow him at (@kerpen) and on Facebook. He is a contributing author at the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Congress, REINS Act, 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!

Status of Federal Highway Legislation

The U.S. transportation system has been broken for too long. The federal highway program was created half a century ago to build a coast-to-coast 42,000-mile network of interstate highways across the country. To pay for this program the government instituted a “user fee” in the form of a federal gas tax. This tax has not only remained in place long after the network was completed, it has grown considerably over the years. Now the Highway Trust Fund, where the money is pooled, has become a source of spending for so many needless, big government projects, that it has repeatedly required bailouts to stay afloat.

Congress needs to reform the way transportation dollars are spent and begin to return decision-making powers to the states where they belong. Our gas taxes are too high and the system we pay into is inefficient and usually counter-productive.

Highway Trust Fund: On July 31st the Highway Trust Fund’s authorization will expire. After this date the fund will not be able to spend money unless it receives legal authority from the government. In response, Congress will likely consider an $11 billion bailout of the fund. Heritage Action will oppose any bailout and instead wants to see real reform. A reform bill that Heritage Action supports is the Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA) which will likely be introduced this week by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL-06) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). The bill would turn back control of highway decisions to states.

Status: The federal government is responsible for 40 percent of national spending on surface transportation projects (highways and mass transit specifically). The account for that funding is called the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Congress is expected to produce legislation that bails out the HTF and extends the federal highway program for anywhere from a few months to several years. As a result of a recent short-term extension, on July 31st the legal authority for the HTF to distribute federal funds will expire. The Department of Transportation has also forecast that the amount of money in the HTF will drop below a critical level on that same date, July 31st.

The fact that HTF outlays have exceeded expenses since 2001 is ironclad evidence that federal surface transportation spending is out of control and inefficient. The next two months leading up to the deadline promise a spirited debate over the shape of a potential reform. The Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA) would return responsibility and revenue for transportation funding back to the states, placing infrastructure funding on a sound long-term footing.

Background: A major federal role in highway construction began with the 1956 Federal Aid Highway Act. This law also created the HTF. Modeled on the Social Security Trust Fund, the HTF was envisioned as a pay-as-you-go fund. Revenue would come in, and that money would be earmarked specifically for highway construction. The primary source for that revenue was and remains the federal gasoline tax, which at the time was 4.3 cents per gallon. Today the tax stands at 18.3 cents per gallon.

The Federal Highway System was completed decades ago, but Congress, accustomed to federal transportation spending, elected to continue the operation of the HTF and the taxes that supported it. In this same period, Congress also created the Mass Transit Account, diverting around 17 percent of gasoline tax revenue to fund mass transit projects.

A Broken Fund: Today, the HTF is insolvent, and will run out of money this July. More fuel efficient cars and wasteful diversions necessitate periodic transfers of federal money from the general fund into the HTF to cover obligations. This fiscal year’s transfer is estimated to be around $13 billion. Since 2008, more than $54 billion in bailouts have gone into the fund. Future shortfalls are growing astronomically, totaling $167 billion over the next decade. In the past, present and future, funding methods for the HTF have proven deeply ineffective.

Wasteful Diversions: The gap between revenue and outlays in the HTF is mostly self-inflicted, the result of a congressional infatuation with mass transit and pork-barrel spending. According to the Heritage Foundation, 25 percent of all gasoline tax dollars paid into the HTF are used for a purpose other than highways.

Mass transit spending is ineffective. According to the Brookings Institution, the average American commute is 25 minutes. The average transit trip is 47 minutes. As a result, rational commuters have chosen not to use mass transit. Spending on transit has climbed, and the American population has increased dramatically, but transit ridership has grown little. Traffic congestion has increased as well. Americans spend almost a workweek every year (38 hours) sitting in traffic. The evidence is clear that the 30-year experiment diverting funds originally marked for a successful transportation medium (highways) towards an unsuccessful one (transit) has failed.

There are other diversions from the HTF. The Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) allows funding for bike paths, museums, and highway beautification. Last year, the federal government spent almost $900 million on TAP. The Congestion Air Quality Mitigation Program, a program intended to help states reduce pollution, cost $2.2 billion in 2014 and has had little effect on air quality.

Unequal Treatment of States: The HTF has long allocated funds based on which states possessed the most political clout rather than on the basis of true highway needs. Transit money goes disproportionately to six cities: Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago. 28 states pay a larger proportion of the gasoline tax revenue than the proportion of federal highway spending that they receive. Northeastern states with large union presences get a bigger percentage of HTF revenue, while fast-growing southern states are left with more limited amounts.

Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA): TEA is the main conservative solution to the current system. It would reduce the federal gasoline tax in increments over a five-year period, down to 3.7 cents per gallon. Over that time frame, remaining revenue from the gas tax and other user fees would be block-granted to the states. At the end of the five-year period, state governments would become responsible for their own transportation planning and financing. States have unique transportation needs that should be met at the discretion of state officials, not distant federal lawmakers.

Under TEA, wasteful diversions would be eliminated, ensuring that highway dollars fund highways. If states wish to fund transit projects with their highway dollars they are welcome to do so. The federal government would retain a small role in maintaining connections between state transportation networks.

Bad Solutions: Some have suggested other policies to reform the HTF. “Repatriation” is a budgetary maneuver where the corporate tax rate is temporarily lowered. Companies keep large amounts of money offshore as a result of astronomical American corporate taxes. As a result of the temporary reduction, corporations will bring those monies back to the U.S. mainland, creating a short-term tax windfall. The money from the windfall will then be used to fund a massive new highway bill. The problem of HTF insolvency would then reoccur in the long-term, and the billions of dollars in wasteful diversions would continue.

Other suggested options are a short-term (yearlong) highway bill that would last until Christmas of this year. Supporters claim that this would allow time to consider a longer-term bill. Conservatives should oppose this course, as it simply continues the process of bailing out a broken system. The same is true for any other long-term highway bill that extends the HTF’s present structure without fundamental reforms.

Recommended Action: Heritage Action urges readers to contact their member of Congress and encourage him or her to oppose the coming $13 billion bailout of the HFT and to support the Transportation Empowerment Act.

Tags: Federal Highway, Legislation, U.S. transportation system, Highway Trust Fund, oppose bailout To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

AP: "Iran Nuke Talks Lurch Toward Deadline" As Iranians Make Ever Greater Demands

What Does the Obama Administration expect when
Iran still considers the U.S. as the Great Satan?
Today in Washington, D.C. - July 9, 2015
The House reconvened at 10 AM.  Bills which may be considered today:
H.R. 6 - "To accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery of 21st century cures, and for other purposes."
H.R. 2647 — "To expedite under the National Environmental Policy Act and improve forest management activities in units of the National Forest System derived from the public domain, on public lands under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management, and on tribal lands to return resilience to overgrown, fire-prone forested lands, and for other purposes."

Numerous amendments were offered and debated yesterday with no final vote on H.R. 2822 — "Making appropriations for the Department of the Interior, environment, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes."

Yesterday, after many amendments debate the House passed H.R. 2822 (218-213) — "Making appropriations for the Department of the Interior, environment, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes."

The Senate reconvened at 9:30 AM today and resumed consideration of S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015.

At 11:30, the Senate voted on a series of amendments to S. 1177: an amendment from Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), rejected by a vote of 44-54, an amendment from Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) agreed to by a vote of 98-0, and an amendment from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) agreed to by a vote of 98-0.

Around 1:45 PM, the Senate will vote on cloture on the motion to go to conference with the House on H.R. 1735, the Fiscal Year 2016 Defense Authorization bill (NDAA), on adoption of the motion to go to conference, and on a motion to instruct conferees regarding Overseas Contingency Operations funding offered by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI).

Yesterday, the Senate voted 47-50 to reject an amendment to the bill offered by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), 56-41 to agree to an amendment offered by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), and 45-52 to reject an amendment offered by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

In The News:
The AP’s Matt Lee writes today from Vienna, Austria, “Negotiations over Iran's nuclear program lurched toward another deadline on Thursday with diplomats reconvening amid persistent uncertainty and vague but seemingly hopeful pronouncements from participants. . . .

“The current round of talks has blown through two deadlines already and has been extended until Friday, but the Obama administration must submit an agreement to Congress before Thursday turns to Friday in Washington if it wants to avoid an extended legislative review. If the administration misses that target, the congressional review period will double from 30 to 60 days, possibly delaying the sanctions relief that the U.S. would have to give to Iran under the terms of an agreement. . . .


“When the talks missed their second deadline it raised new questions about the ability of world powers to cut off all Iranian pathways to nuclear weapons through diplomacy. Federica Mogherini, the European Union's foreign policy chief, spoke of ‘tense’ moments, and the State Department extended the current interim nuclear arrangement with Tehran through Friday. And new difficulties also have surfaced over the past few days. Iran is pushing for an end to a U.N. arms embargo on the country but Washington opposes that demand.”

The Wall Street Journal reports, “Tensions in the nuclear talks between Iran and six powers have boiled over in recent days, producing heated exchanges among foreign ministers as Washington and Tehran struggled to overcome remaining hurdles to a final agreement, according to people involved in the talks. . . . U.S. officials have insisted this week they don’t feel under pressure to get a deal by the congressional deadline, which arrives at midnight Thursday (6 a.m. Friday in Vienna.) . . .

“Western officials and Iranian media have outlined tense exchanges between the negotiating teams that took place Monday evening, at a point where the talks appeared close to stalling. At the time, negotiators were working toward a Tuesday deadline for a deal. . . .

“Western officials said that Monday evening’s meeting between the foreign ministers was a crucial point in the talks, a moment where it seemed that an agreement would be impossible without a major shift by one or both sides. . . . That night, the foreign ministers of the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran held two meetings, each between one and two hours long, and the second lasting into the early morning hours of Tuesday.

“Later on Tuesday, President Barack Obama told Senate Democrats in Washington that he now believed there was less than a 50-50 chance of a final deal with Iran, according to a person familiar with discussions.”

And yet the Obama administration appears ready to keep ignoring and extending deadlines on the negotiations. According to a Wall Street Journal story earlier this week, “International powers negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran failed to meet another deadline on Tuesday, the second missed target in a week, raising the prospect of an open-ended diplomatic process over an issue on which President Barack Obama has staked his foreign-policy record. . . .

“[W]ith negotiations making little headway, the White House on Tuesday laid the groundwork for a third outcome: continuing talks while keeping in place a November 2013 interim agreement that provided Iran with limited sanctions relief in exchange for rolling back parts of its nuclear program.

Such an outcome would allow Mr. Obama to avoid alternatives to diplomacy to confront Iran’s nuclear program, such as military force.”


Meanwhile, the Iranians keep making greater and greater demands. On Monday, Reuters reported, “A dispute over U.N. sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile program and a broader arms embargo were among issues holding up a nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers on Monday, the day before their latest self-imposed deadline.

“‘The Iranians want the ballistic missile sanctions lifted. They say there is no reason to connect it with the nuclear issue, a view that is difficult to accept," one Western official told Reuters. "There's no appetite for that on our part.’ . . .

“Separately, a senior Iranian official told reporters in Vienna on condition of anonymity that Tehran wanted a United Nations arms embargo terminated as well. A senior Western diplomat said a removal was ‘out of the question’.”

Even The Washington Post editors are seriously troubled by the direction these negotiations are taking. They wrote Monday, “If it is reached in the coming days, a nuclear deal with Iran will be, at best, an unsatisfying and risky compromise. Iran’s emergence as a threshold nuclear power, with the ability to produce a weapon quickly, will not be prevented. It will be postponed, by 10 to 15 years. In exchange, Tehran will reap hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief it can use to revive its economy and fund the wars it is waging around the Middle East.

“Whether this flawed deal is sustainable will depend on a complex set of verification arrangements and provisions for restoring sanctions in the event of cheating. The schemes may or may not work; the history of the comparable nuclear accord with North Korea in the 1990s is not encouraging.”

The editors are further alarmed by “a recent controversy over Iran’s compliance with the interim accord now governing its nuclear work is troubling. The deal allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium, but required that amounts over a specified ceiling be converted into an oxide powder that cannot easily be further enriched. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran met the requirement for the total size of its stockpile on June 30, but it did so by converting some of its enriched uranium into a different oxide form, apparently because of problems with a plant set up to carry out the powder conversion.

“Rather than publicly report this departure from the accord, the Obama administration chose to quietly accept it. When a respected independent think tank, the Institute for Science and International Security, began pointing out the problem, the administration’s response was to rush to Iran’s defense — and heatedly attack the institute as well as a report in the New York Times.

“This points to two dangers in the implementation of any longterm deal. One is ‘a U.S. willingness to legally reinterpret the deal when Iran cannot do what it said it would do, in order to justify that non-performance,’ institute President David Albright and his colleague Andrea Stricker wrote. In other words, overlooking Iranian cheating is easier than confronting it.”

They add, “This weakness is matched by a White House proclivity to respond to questions about Iran’s performance by attacking those who raise them. Mr. Albright, a physicist with a long record of providing non-partisan expert analysis of nuclear proliferation issues, said on the Foreign Policy Web site that he had been unfairly labeled as an adversary of the Iran deal and that campaign-style ‘war room’ tactics are being used by the White House to fend off legitimate questions.

“In the case of the oxide conversion, the discrepancy may be less important than the administration’s warped reaction. A final accord will require Iran to ship most of its uranium stockpile out of the country, or reverse its enrichment. But there surely will be other instances of Iranian non-compliance. If the deal is to serve U.S. interests, the Obama administration and its successors will have to respond to them more firmly and less defensively.”

Tags: U.S., House, Senate, Iran Nuke Talks, Iran, Greater Demands 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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  • 11/1/15 - 11/8/15
  • 11/8/15 - 11/15/15
  • 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
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  • 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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  • 4/17/16 - 4/24/16
  • 4/24/16 - 5/1/16
  • 5/1/16 - 5/8/16
  • 5/8/16 - 5/15/16
  • 5/15/16 - 5/22/16
  • 5/22/16 - 5/29/16
  • 5/29/16 - 6/5/16
  • 6/5/16 - 6/12/16
  • 6/12/16 - 6/19/16
  • 6/19/16 - 6/26/16
  • 6/26/16 - 7/3/16
  • 7/3/16 - 7/10/16
  • 7/10/16 - 7/17/16
  • 7/17/16 - 7/24/16
  • 7/24/16 - 7/31/16
  • 7/31/16 - 8/7/16
  • 8/7/16 - 8/14/16
  • 8/14/16 - 8/21/16
  • 8/21/16 - 8/28/16
  • 8/28/16 - 9/4/16
  • 9/4/16 - 9/11/16
  • 9/11/16 - 9/18/16
  • 9/18/16 - 9/25/16
  • 9/25/16 - 10/2/16
  • 10/2/16 - 10/9/16
  • 10/9/16 - 10/16/16
  • 10/16/16 - 10/23/16
  • 10/23/16 - 10/30/16
  • 10/30/16 - 11/6/16
  • 11/6/16 - 11/13/16
  • 11/13/16 - 11/20/16
  • 11/20/16 - 11/27/16
  • 11/27/16 - 12/4/16
  • 12/4/16 - 12/11/16
  • 12/11/16 - 12/18/16
  • 12/18/16 - 12/25/16
  • 12/25/16 - 1/1/17
  • 1/1/17 - 1/8/17
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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
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  • 2/19/17 - 2/26/17
  • 2/26/17 - 3/5/17
  • 3/5/17 - 3/12/17
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  • 3/26/17 - 4/2/17
  • 4/2/17 - 4/9/17
  • 4/9/17 - 4/16/17
  • 4/16/17 - 4/23/17