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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics
is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato
Friday, September 25, 2015
With This Decision By The U.S. Army, No One Should Enlist
by Allen West: There are some decisions which I simply cannot fathom how anyone could make. We've discussed the issue surrounding U.S. Army Special Forces Green Berets Captain Dan Quinn and Sergeant First Class Charles Martland. These men were relieved of their positions by the chain of command because they physically assaulted an Afghan police officer who had raped a young boy and beaten his mother.
We reported on SFC Martland's appeal regarding his involuntary discharge from the Army because of the adverse actions taken against him and placed in his personnel record. Captain Quinn left the Army.
We shared with you earlier this week how the U.S. Military has issued orders to troops in Afghanistan to disregard the instances of sexual abuse of young boys by Afghan officials - even if they occurred on U.S. Military bases. We know three Marines lost their lives in Helmand province when one of these "chai boys" took the AK-47 of the pedophile Afghan police chief and gunned them down while they worked out in the FOB gym.
And now we get this news.
As reported by The Daily Caller, "The U.S. Army has just rejected the appeal of Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland, who received a discharge scheduled to take effect Nov. 1 for shoving an Afghan rapist to the ground. "Consequently, your request for an appeal and continued service is disapproved," U.S. Human Resources Command (USAHRC) said in a Sept. 14 memo sent to Martland. The reason for the denial? The office said that Martland's appeal attempt "does not meet the criteria" because it brings no new information to the table.
Later, the letter added that the decision is final, Fox News reports. In 2011, Martland came up close and personal to a local Afghan police commander, who was accused of raping a boy and then assaulting his mother. The Afghan commander laughed when confronted by Martland, and so Martland shoved him to the ground. Along with his team leader, Martland was removed from the base in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan. In a memo obtained by Fox News, it seems clear that Martland received severe criticism from the leadership for interfering."
What rationale is being used by the U.S. Army Human Resources Command? And the commanding general of that command needs to be asked if he condones child sex abuse, regardless of culture. As I shared before, the motto of the Army Green Beret is "De Oppresso Libre" - to Liberate the Oppressed - what part of that motto is inconsistent with the actions of SFC Martland, who earned a Bronze Star with a valor device for his combat bravery? What message does this send to our men and women in uniform?
"Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, has strenuously denied the existence of any such policy requiring soldiers to ignore what they see. Instead, Campbell said he's taken the time to speak to President Ashraf Ghani about the problem."
The crux of that discussion should have been the cessation of U.S. financial support to Afghanistan if this despicable practice continues, a complete violation of standards of decency and humanity. What does it say to the mothers and little boys of Afghanistan when we are allowing this to happen - and punishing those who take a stand? If you speak to any Soldier who has served in Afghanistan they will tell you this is a common practice, and somehow, it is proliferated with no consequence. Someone has told our troops to keep quiet - and that person needs to be discovered.
And what is the new Secretary of the Army going to do about this? What shall the new Chief of Staff of the Army do about this? I call upon them to reverse this decision, promote SFC Martland to Master Sergeant, and if he wishes, bring Captain Quinn back to active duty.
I know, everyone is focused on Pope Francis visiting America, got it. He'll come and go, but this issue deserves the attention of our news media and every single American. If there is a bipartisan issue, this is one. Anyone out there tell me you agree with this decision? Tell me you agree with the silence in the face of this vile and savage behavior to rape young boys. Perhaps this is a cause of the PTSD for some of our troops - having to listen to the cries of these boys and not be able to do anything.
Where is the moral compass of the U.S. Army? And for the USAHRC to say this decision is final because there is "no new information brought to the table" is unconscionable. The known information should be enough to reverse this decision - unless the U.S. Army, MY Army, now condones child sex abuse, rape, and beating women.
Where is the respect for the chivalry of the Warrior? I am in Dallas, Texas and I can hear this Afghan police chief laughing, laughing right before he goes out and rapes another little boy. SFC Martland is fighting for his military career while a pedophile is laughing. Let me put this simply, if I were SecDef, that bastard would not be laughing, and SFC Martland would be my enlisted aide.
This is a call to action, melt the Pentagon phone lines and tell them in no uncertain terms that America will not send her sons and daughters to serve in an immoral military. Call the Commanding General of the USAHRC and demand this decision is reversed. Challenge the new Secretary of the Army to explain to us if he agrees with sexual abuse of young boys in the presence of our Soldiers. Email and call your congressional representatives, Republican, Democrat, Independent, and tell them to unite against this injustice against US Army Green Beret SFC Charles Martland.
I don't know what disgusts me more, the actions of the Afghans, which are to be expected...or that of our U.S. Army, which should not be expected.
----------------- Lt Col Allen West served 22 years in the US Army and represented Florida's 22nd Congressional District in the US House of Representatives from 2011-2013. He is currently President and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis. H/T Family Security Matters for this article. Tags:Allen West, U.S Army, military, Afghanistan, U.S. Military, orders, ignore, Afghan officials, raping, young boysTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
#TedCruz: GOP Leadership Won’t Fight to End Planned Parenthood’s Federal Funding
by Rob Bluey: Sen. Ted Cruz delivered a blistering critique of Republican leadership Thursday, just hours before lawmakers held what he described as a “show vote” attempting to end Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding.
The Texas Republican summoned a handful of reporters, including The Daily Signal, to his Senate office to blast his own party for surrendering on the issue before even attempting to fight President Barack Obama and Democrats.
“The reason why Republicans always lose these fights is because Republicans assume Barack Obama is the Terminator—he will never stop, he will never give up—and Republicans surrender at the outset,” Cruz said.
A short time later, Republicans failed to overcome a Democrat-led filibuster of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s short-term government spending bill. The plan included a one-year prohibition on funding Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider, is engulfed in a controversy stemming from a series of undercover videos about the harvesting and sale of body parts from aborted children.
Cruz has led the fight in the Senate against Planned Parenthood’s $500 million in taxpayer funding. He attributed its failure to Republican leadership’s decision to rule out a government shutdown.
“From a Democrat’s perspective,” Cruz said, “why would you let an appropriations bill pass if you can just wait until the end of the fiscal year, come right up to the edge of the cliff, and know Republican leadership will surrender? You don’t even have to guess on it. They promised you from the outset.”
This isn’t the first time Cruz finds himself amid a fight with leadership over a government shutdown. Two years ago, he rallied conservatives in their quest to defund Obamacare. The government closed for 16 days.
Cruz said Republicans failed to learn from that experience. The following year, he noted, many Republicans campaigned against Obamacare, and the GOP won a landslide election to take control of the Senate and expand its majority in the House.
“In 2013, when we were fighting against Obamacare, all the Washington graybeards went on television and said over and over again, ‘This is a catastrophic mistake. This will hurt Republicans.’ The Wall Street Journal opined that Cruz is the minority maker,” he told reporters.
“Not only did it not happen, it was exactly the opposite. It was one of the most overwhelming tidal-wave victories in history. And the No. 1 issue … was Obamacare,” Cruz said. “And it does not occur to Republican leadership there is any possible connection between energizing and mobilizing millions of Americans across this country and then winning a tidal-wave election on that exact issue in the very next election.”
Following the failure of Thursday’s plan to cut off Planned Parenthood funding, Cruz expects the Senate to abandon the abortion fight and move to a measure that Democrats will support. The same thing has played out before—in 2013 on Obamacare, last year with the so-called “CRomnibus,” and earlier this year with funding for Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
Cruz called Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi the de facto leaders of Congress for their ability to control the agenda. Republican leadership, he said, should take a lesson from their playbook.
“Republicans need to act like Republicans. Leadership needs to lead. Together,” Cruz said, “we need to actually honor the commitments we made to the men and women who elected us.”
Cruz said this is a point that he stresses to his Senate colleagues. They wonder, he said, why Americans are dissatisfied with Congress—and Republicans in particular. A Fox News poll released this week, for example, asked Republican voters if they think the GOP-led Congress is doing all it can to block Obama’s agenda. Two-thirds (66 percent) said no. In the same poll, 51 percent of all voters said they felt betrayed by politicians from their own party.
“You want to understand why people are mind-explodingly furious with Washington?” Cruz said. “Republican leadership has handed all of their authority to Barack Obama and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.”
--------------- Rob Bluey (@RobertBluey) is editor in chief of The Daily Signal, the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation. Tags:Ted Cruz, GOP Leadership, Planned Parenthood, Federal Funding, Rob Bluey, The Daily SignalTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Both the United States and the E.U. – particularly the wealthiest nations in the E.U. – are struggling with the economic and societal effects of unmitigated immigration. Yet, even though the United States has taken in nearly 11 million more migrants born outside its boundaries than the E.U. has taken in from outside its own, American politicians are pushing to increase immigration rates while many E.U. nations are pushing to reduce them.
The most recent major immigration bill considered by the U.S. Congress – the Senate’s ‘Gang of Eight’ immigration bill – proposed to dramatically increase future immigration, including tripling the grants of new permanent residency offered within a single decade. Similarly, the industry-supported Immigration Innovation Act of 2015 (or I-squared) would substantially boost annual net migration into the United States. Given these events, and the American public’s preference – by a wide margin – for immigration reductions, it is worth comparing the relative size and composition of the foreign-born populations in both the U.S. and E.U. countries. In order to use uniform international data, the chart is produced from official United Nations and European Commission reports.
Since citizens of E.U. countries can move into other E.U. countries – in much the same way that citizens of California can move to Missouri – this analysis focuses on a comparison of the number of people living in the U.S. who were born outside the U.S. to the number of people living in the E.U. who were born outside the E.U. Nearly 1 in 7 U.S. residents were born outside the United States while about 1 in 14 E.U. residents were born outside the E.U.
The ten most populous countries in the E.U. (Germany, UK, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Poland, and Romania) contain about 415 million of the E.U.’s 500-million plus residents. These ten E.U. countries are home to 28 million people born outside the E.U. – or nearly 20 million fewer people than the number of people in the U.S. born outside the U.S. (Even including intra-E.U. migration, these 10 countries still have nearly 3 million fewer migrants than the U.S. despite having a population nearly 100 million larger than the U.S.) As a share of the population, roughly 1 in 15 residents of these countries were born outside the E.U., compared to nearly 1 in 7 U.S. residents being born outside the U.S. To put that in context, in 1970 fewer than 1 in 21 U.S. residents were foreign-born. Assuming no law is passed to reduce annual immigration rates, the Census Bureau projects that the foreign-born population share in the United States will soon eclipse every prior record, and will continue rising to new all-time records every year to come – lowering wages for today’s workers, both immigrant and U.S.-born. This autopilot growth in the labor supply continues even as automation steadily reduces demand for workers.
As one further mathematical comparison: the total migrant population in all of Latin America is 7.75 million (many being regional migrants), meaning that the U.S. has admitted more people from outside its boundaries than 21 different Latin American countries put together and the E.U, combined.
----------- Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) serves on four Senate committees: Armed Services, Budget, Environment and Public Works, and Judiciary, where he is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest. This inforamtion was provided directly to the ARRA News Service editor. Tags: Senator, Jeff Sessions, Subcommittee, Immigration and the National Interest, United States, 10 Million More Foreign-Born Residents, European UnionTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
It’s not a moral issue, but about practical governance.
I love term limits, while my friend Lew Rockwell, the former Ron Paul aide who started the Mises Institute and runs the popular website LewRockwell.com, isn’t a fan.
In a brief post to his site, entitled “The Term Limit Hoax,” Rockwell lamented that “Term limits apply only to the institutionally weakest branch of government, the legislature, to further weaken it, and never to the presidential bureaucracy, which actually runs the government, nor to the judges. It’s why neocons, those ultimate presidential supremacists, love term limits.”
This is the classic logical fallacy of guilt by association. Neoconservatives breathe air, too. Should the rest of us turn blue?
Usually if politicians — neocon or otherwise — claim amorous feelings for limits, as the late Bob Novak warned, “They’re lying.” Yet, most regular folks — all races, genders, political parties, levels of neocon-ness, you-name-it — actually do want term limits.
Lew’s correct: Congress is weak. It was designed to be the strongest branch, holding the all-important purse strings and a law-making monopoly. Yet, career politicians have shrunk from fulfilling the First Branch’s constitutional role, consistently handing more and more power to the executive branch and the courts.
That’s not the result of term limits, but a lack thereof.
Why is there “never” a push for term limits on the “presidential bureaucracy”? Well, those bureaucrats don’t even have terms as such. And any limits would have to be legislated by Congress. Congress enacted that bureaucracy, every cubicle of it, and the longer congressmen stay in Washington, the more they champion it.
Limit judges? A term-limited Congress might help there, too.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
------------------ Paul Jacobs 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 also President of the Liberty Initiative Fund (LIFe) as well as Citizens in Charge Foundation. Jacobs is a contributing author on the ARRA News Service. Tags:Paul Jacob, Common Sense, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: Expansionist China regularly threatens the United States. It has hacked the personnel files of the government workers. Security analysts fear lives could be in danger as a result. Xi Jinping, president of China, mocks Barack Obama with some regularity in his public comments. China is threatening our allies and cleaning our clocks at the trade table.
But don't worry. The major newspapers are reporting this morning that the president of China and the president of the United States are close to an agreement to control the weather.
Xi's pledge to lower carbon emissions is meaningless -- he has little control over China's collapsing economy and nothing lowers carbon emissions faster than a cratering economy.
And when it comes to enforcing this new agreement, the administration has already signaled that its intention, just like the Iran deal, is to bypass Congress completely.
So President Obama will make an agreement on what is perhaps the least important issue, and he intends to enforce it through regulation. His policies will stifle our economy, cost jobs and cause hardworking families to pay higher energy bills.
All of which is a reminder that it is not going to be enough to elect a conservative president in 16 months. The next president must have an incredible amount of fight, and be prepared from day one to reverse a huge volume of policies that are wrecking the country.
From my years of experience in Washington, there will be a thousand people in this town, including some in the GOP, telling the new president why he or she can't do that.
------------- 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's PrioritiesTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Tom Balek, Contributing Author: If you listen to the network news, you probably think that most Americans favor abortion. You would be wrong. According to recent Gallup polling data, 70% of Americans think abortion should be always illegal or only allowed under certain circumstances, such as rape, incest, and life of the mother.
If you listen to the talking heads, you would think almost everybody opposes voter ID requirements to prevent election fraud. False. Rasmussen polls show 78 percent of voters are in favor of requiring voters to provide proof of citizenship.
You hear daily that you are out of the mainstream if you think illegal immigration is a big problem in this country. But that’s not true either – Rasmussen says 80% of voters consider it a very serious problem.
When it comes right down to it, Americans still share basic conservative values, despite the rapidly changing demographics. We pretty much all think it is wrong to harvest baby parts for profit. We support our policemen, firemen, and servicemen and women. We want to have a strong military, affordable health care, and safe roads and streets. We don’t like it when race-hustlers try to gin up conflicts among us. We want to raise our families and run our businesses without the government taking huge chunks of our paychecks and then trying to control every detail of our lives. We hate it when we find out the government is in bed with big business. We don’t want our country flooded with unvetted third-world foreigners who have no intention of becoming Americans. And we sure don’t think non-citizens are entitled to benefits at our expense.
These are not partisan issues. The vast majority of us agree.
So why won’t our elected officials do what we – the majority of Americans – elected them to do? And why won’t the media tell the truth about our shared American values?
Fortunately, it is not yet completely out of our control. We can make our elected officials represent us, and we can make them clean up the cesspool that our federal government has become. Elections have consequences, but so does good old-fashioned communication. If you want your congressman to know what your expectations are, you should be in frequent enough contact that he or she knows your name. If you are tired of manipulative media organizations, you can let them know your disapproval or turn them off. And if your neighbor, your father-in-law, your preacher or your teacher disagrees with the majority of us, you can persuade and invite them to join us in celebrating our shared American values.
For over a year I have been attending political and presidential campaign events. Whenever Speaker Boehner’s and Leader McConnell’s names are mentioned, there is a unanimous and resounding boo from the audience. The GOP candidates routinely advocate dumping the congressional leadership for a guaranteed ovation. Today’s news that Speaker Boehner will step down proves that Americans agree it is time for change, in such numbers that he had no choice.
Yes, these are dangerous times. Yes, there is corruption all around us. But please don’t believe that you are the one who is out of step. Americans agree much more than the idealogues want us to know. If we stand firm by our common values, our grandchildren still might have a nation worth living in.
--------------- 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 bands including his family band Caution! Blind Driver, 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, American values, John Boehner, partisan politics, polarized government, polls, race relations, unresponsive governmentTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Today in Washington, D.C. - Sept. 25, 2015:
The House reconvened this morning at 9 AM and recessed at 12:26 PM (EDT)
The following bill was considered, debated, amednments offered and passed:
H.R. 348 (233-170) — "To provide for improved coordination of agency actions in the preparation and adoption of environmental documents for permitting determinations, and for other purposes." They are addressing amendments as of this report and voted to pass HR
The next meeting is scheduled for 12:00 PM on Monday, Sept. 28, 2015.
The major House news today: Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-8) announced that he will retire and step down as Speaker of the House and vacate his congressional seat on October 30, 2015. He released the following statement today:
"My mission every day is to fight for a smaller, less costly, and more accountable government. Over the last five years, our majority has advanced conservative reforms that will help our children and their children. I am proud of what we have accomplished.
"The first job of any Speaker is to protect this institution that we all love. It was my plan to only serve as Speaker until the end of last year, but I stayed on to provide continuity to the Republican Conference and the House. It is my view, however, that prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution. To that end, I will resign the Speakership and my seat in Congress on October 30.
"Today, my heart is full with gratitude for my family, my colleagues, and the people of Ohio’s Eighth District. God bless this great country that has given me - the son of a bar owner from Cincinnati - the chance to serve."Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement in response to the pending retirement of House Speaker Boehner:"Speaker Boehner has led the House through some tumultuous times. While we have not always agreed with his tactics, we all shared a common desire to restore fiscal sanity in Washington, D.C. and his legacy will be the three-year leveling of outlays that have slowed the growth of the national debt.
"The transition provides a unique opportunity to reestablish the separation of powers between the branches of government. Rep. Ken Buck has been at the forefront of the push to the defend the House's Article I power of the purse, a vision shared by all House Republicans led by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
"The budget discussions ahead provide the perfect opportunity for House Republicans to set the spending priorities for 12 of the remaining 15 months of the Obama Administration. The shift in power provides a golden opportunity for Congress to put its imprimatur on policies that stop Obama's executive branch regulatory overreach."The House yesterday passed the numerous naming bills for federal buildings. The only passed bill that was consequential was H.R. 3116 (voice vote) - "To extend by 15 years the authority of the Secretary of Commerce to conduct the quarterly financial report program."
The Senate convened at 10:30 AM today. There will be no roll call Votes today.
On Thursday, cloture was filed on the motion to concur in the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 719, the TSA Office of Inspection Accountability bill, with amendment #2689 (Continuing Resolution through December 11). The cloture vote will take place on Monday at 5:30 PM. Tags:House Speaker, John Boehner, retiring, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Star Parker: Dr. Ben Carson is now under fire for suggesting the values of Islam are not consistent with those of the United States.
NBC’s Chuck Todd asked Dr. Carson if the faith of a candidate for president of the United States matters.
Carson responded that it depends on what that faith is. “If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter,” said Dr. Carson.
Todd then asked Dr. Carson if he thinks that Islam is consistent with American values and Carson responded, “No, I do not.” He then expanded to say, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.”
Now the whole world is on Ben Carson. How dare you!
Dr. Ben Carson is a very smart man. During his career as one of the world’s leading pediatric neurosurgeons, he found the time to write a good number of books, three of which are about the United States of America.
He understands our Constitution very well, and he knows that it protects the freedom to practice one’s religion and allows for a person of any faith to run for political office.
What he did say, and with which I totally agree, is that it is not advisable that Americans elect someone, particularly for our highest office, who does not share our values.
I love our country and respect our Constitution. However, I do not believe we should elect someone who believes it is acceptable to destroy life in the womb. Do I believe such an individual should be free to run for office and for Americans to vote for that individual? Of course. If we are foolish enough to elect such an individual, we get what we deserve.
What about Islam?
We don’t need a theological discussion about the Quran to appreciate that Dr. Carson’s views, as he expressed them to Chuck Todd, make all the sense in the world.
When Dr. Carson talks about American principles and values, what is he talking about? Most Americans would agree that the fundamental American value is freedom.
Is Islam consistent with the American value of freedom?
Let’s just look at how Muslims run their own affairs in their own countries.
According to the Pew Research Center, there are 31 nations in the world with Muslim populations of 90 percent or more.
Freedom House in Washington, D.C., rates nations around the world according to freedom. They rate according to civil liberties and political rights. Nations are broken down into three categories: free, partly free, and not free.
Of the 31 nations that are more than 90 percent Muslim, how many are rated free? Two. It seems pretty clear that freedom fares not so well in the Muslim world.
How about the Constitution?
The Constitution is not a value-free operating manual. The reason the founders created it was to preserve American values. They were quite clear about this in the preamble to the Constitution.
The preamble says: “We the people” establish the Constitution to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
I spend much of my time reading the Bible so I can be a good Christian. I don’t feel it is my responsibility to read the Quran and get into the business of trying to understand what Muslims believe. My measuring stick can only be how Muslims behave. And the evidence is overwhelming that Islam does not produce behavior consistent with the American value of freedom, the core value our constitution exists to preserve.
It is perfectly constitutional to elect someone with values that will destroy America. It’s just not a very good idea to do it.
When Ben Carson says he “would not advocate putting a Muslim in charge of this nation,” only someone who does not care about the future of this nation would question the power of his logic.
------------ Star Parker is an author and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education. CURE is a non-profit think tank that addresses issues of race and poverty through principles of faith, freedom and personal responsibility. Tags:Star Parker, Center for Urban Renewal and Education, CURE, Ben Carson. Right, IslamTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:global warming, taking a lot of faith, editorial cartoon, AF BrancoTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
This Is What “Separation of Church and State” Really Means
by Dr. Matthew Spalding:While it is often thought that religion and politics must be discussed as if they are radically different spheres, the Founders’ conception of religious liberty was almost exactly the opposite. The separation of church and state authority actually allowed—even required—the continual influence of religion upon public life. In a nation of limited government, religion is the greatest source of the virtue and moral character required for self-rule.
The health and strength of liberty depend on the principles, standards, and morals shared by nearly all religions. In his First Inaugural, Thomas Jefferson praised America’s “benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter.” In recognizing the need for public morality and the prominent role that religion plays in nurturing morality, the Founders invited the various religious communities to cooperate at the political level in sustaining the moral consensus they share despite their theological differences. While this does not exclude any religious denomination that agreed with this consensus, in America as a practical matter it overwhelmingly meant the Protestant denominations of the Christian faith and a religious tradition formed by Christian theology.
What the “separation of church and state” does, then, is liberate America’s religions—in respect to their moral forms and teachings—to exercise unprecedented influence over private and public opinion by shaping citizens’ mores, cultivating their virtues, and in general, providing a pure and independent source of moral reasoning and authority. This is what Alexis de Tocqueville meant when he observed that even though religion “never mixes directly in the government of society,” it nevertheless determines the “habits of the heart” and is “the first of their political institutions.”
This sense of religious liberty—by which faith is accorded maximum freedom while government gives no preference to any one particular religion— is clearly reflected in the United States Constitution. Usually taken for granted, the simplest articulation of the principle, and the starkest difference with earlier failed attempts to combine church and state, is found in Article VI: “ . . . [N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
The full dynamic of religious liberty in America is expressed in the first words of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The constitutional language here reflects two interconnected ideas, distinguished as the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. Often thought to be in tension, these clauses are actually two sides of the same coin of religious liberty.
The Establishment Clause prohibits Congress from passing a law to establish a national church or to disestablish a state religion. Six of the thirteen original colonies had established churches, and the First Amendment was designed not to disallow those churches, or displace them with a national church. Many opposed an established church because it was seen as a threat to free exercise of religion, which the Constitution’s framers were most concerned to protect. The Free Exercise Clause safeguards one’s freedom to believe and to practice one’s religious faith as a matter of right, without coercion or obstruction, regardless of whether one’s religion is traditional or at odds with tradition. Of course, this does not provide a free pass to violate the law in the name of religion. While the clause prohibits laws that restrict or discriminate against religion, persons of religious faith—like anyone else—are still obligated to abide by general laws. Human sacrifice, for instance, is not excused as an aspect of the free exercise of religion. This arrangement prevents the federal government from taking sides between religions even as it makes as much room as possible for a diversity of religions to flourish within reasonable and general parameters of civil society.
Religious liberty is sometimes thought to mean not only the prohibition of a religious establishment, but the prevention of any “intrusion” of religion in political life—national, state, or local. At the center of this assumption is a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut in 1802. Jefferson wrote: “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.” The letter, written after the First Congress, which Jefferson did not attend, has caused much confusion. Jefferson’s purpose was to explain why he was opposed as president to proclaiming national days of public fasts and thanksgiving—a practice that Congress during the revolution, and then presidents Washington and Adams, had followed, as had Jefferson himself as governor of Virginia. Scholars have generally argued that the letter should be read from the perspective of federalism, illuminating the meaning of the First Amendment, which Jefferson understood to apply only to—and thus limit—the national government and not the state governments.
The Supreme Court nearly a century and a half later seized upon the “wall of separation” phrase, arguing that Jefferson’s letter is an authoritative statement of the meaning of the First Amendment, and creating a new theory of religious-liberty jurisprudence around it. This new wall of separation “must be high and impregnable,” the Supreme Court decided in 1947. “We could not approve the slightest breach.” Thomas Jefferson did not intend such a radical separation, and neither did the other Founders.
While the Constitution officially “separates” church and state at the level of doctrine and lawmaking, it also allows the general (nonsectarian) encouragement and support of religion in public laws, in official
speeches and ceremonies, on public property and in public buildings, and even in public schools. Such activities were understood to be part of the free exercise of religion. On the day after Congress approved the Bill of Rights (including the First Amendment’s religious-liberty language), it called upon the president to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God.” Washington’s proclamation declared that it was “the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.”
Two days after he wrote the “wall of separation” letter, President Jefferson attended a religious service in the U.S. House of Representatives. Indeed, as president, Jefferson regularly attended official church services held in the congressional chambers and allowed executive branch buildings to be used for the same purpose. In general, the Founders saw nothing wrong with the federal government indirectly supporting religion in a nondiscriminatory and noncoercive way. Churches in America, for instance, are tax-exempt, and religious chaplains are paid by Congress to open legislative sessions and minister in the armed services.
Indeed, official recognition of religious faith has always been a central aspect of how we define ourselves as a political community. The Declaration of Independence speaks of men being “created equal” and having been “endowed by their Creator” with certain rights, and the Constitution dates itself “in the Year of our Lord” 1787. The official national motto is “In God We Trust,” and the Pledge of Allegiance speaks of “one nation, under God.” Every president has made official but nonsectarian religious statements, especially in major speeches and statements. Washington began the practice in his First Inaugural, when he spoke of “that Almighty Being who rules over the universe” and is the “Great Author of every public and private good.” In taking the Constitution’s oath of office, placing his hand on a Bible, Washington added in closing “ . . . so help me God.”
----------------- Matthew Spalding is Associate Vice President and Dean of Educational Programs for Hillsdale College in Washington, D.C. As such he oversees the operations of the Kirby Center and the various academic and educational programs of Hillsdale in the nation’s capital. Spalding is also the Director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies at The Heritage Foundation. This excerpt is taken from Spalding’s book, We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles and Reclaiming Our Future. H/T Intercollegiate Review (IR) who shared this article with the editor. IR is published by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) and is dedicated to advancing the principles that make America free, virtuous, and prosperous. Tags:Separation of Church and State, principles, reclaiming our future, Matthew Spalding, Intercollegiate Review, Intercollegiate, Studies Institute, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
The recipient of this charge had signed onto an entreaty to President Barack Obama, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren — along with 19 fellow climate scientists. They asked for an investigation into companies and organizations that publicly express doubt about predictions of impending catastrophic man-made global warming. Specifically, they urge the administration to pursue this line of assault using the oft-abused RICO statute, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act.
Yes, the scientists are calling for harassment of dissenters and straight-out censorship.
Ronald Bailey, over at Reason, calls this a “new low in politicizing science.” Climatologist Judith Curry, who quoted Webster’s above judgment as an epigraph to her post on the subject, colorfully characterized her reaction: “When I first spotted this, I rolled my eyes — another day, more insane U.S. climate politics.”
The 20 alarmists, for their part, draw a parallel to the tobacco RICO investigations that were so influential a few decades ago. But that original case was badly decided. Moreover, RICO laws are themselves an affront.
The anthropogenic global warming catastrophists have previously undermined their case — lies, conspiracies to hide data, misleading use of computer models, and a relentless campaign to turn scientific inquiry into “settled science” will do that. But now, the grotesque spectacle of scientists demanding that the full weight and force of coercive government come down on their “opponents” completely destroys any remaining shred of credibility.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
------------------ Paul Jacobs 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 also President of the Liberty Initiative Fund (LIFe) as well as Citizens in Charge Foundation. Jacobs is a contributing author on the ARRA News Service. Tags:Paul Jacob, Common Sense, Scientists, Censorship, Climate change, RICO, conspiracy, hide data, 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 Another Fiscal Cliff Coming? Why Conservatives Are Concerned
Republican budget blueprint that aims to balance in 10 years.
Democrats opposed the plan for cutting spending.
by Josh Siegel: Republicans riding high after passing their first budget plan in six years earlier this year are in for a familiar scare: the specter of a fiscal cliff and a so-called mega spending deal that may come with it.
But even as the stars align for such an all-in-one deal — the government again will likely run out of money at around the same time its borrowing authority expires in early December — conservatives say they will not give in on spending increases.
“I would oppose any effort to violate the budget that has already been adopted by Congress,” said Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., of the House Budget Committee.
“It is our budget or bankruptcy.”
While Congress faces a short-term deadline of Oct. 1 to prevent a shutdown, lawmakers are also trying to reach a deal on a longer spending measure that would run likely run through the end of the fiscal year in September 2016.
A congressional budget plan — and another presented by President Obama — is supposed to guide that process.
Though the Republican-controlled Congress ratified a 10-year budget in May that cuts spending by $5.3 trillion — keeping discretionary domestic spending below the limits imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 — its implementation went nowhere.
That’s because a budget deal by Congress serves merely as a nonbinding blueprint that does not require Obama’s signature.
Republican committee chairmen have to draft legislation — in the form of 12 separate bills appropriating money for different government departments — that actually impose the prescribed cuts dictated by the budget.
Democrats — vowing to block legislation that does not raise domestic spending to match an increase in defense spending — have stymied that process in the Senate, filibustering bills that keep intact sequestration.
Indeed, the Senate has passed exactly zero appropriations bills, while the House has approved six of them.
“Harry Reid will block all appropriations bills until some grand bargain is agreed to,” said Paul Winfree, an economic expert at The Heritage Foundation who used to work on the Senate Budget Committee. “And President Obama has issued a veto threat to each appropriations bill because they don’t go above the spending caps. In an ideal world, they would consider everything separate, but Democrats and the president have made that impossible.”
The result is that after Congress overcomes its latest flirtation with a shutdown — likely passing before Sept. 30 a short-term bill to fund the government through early December — lawmakers will at that time feel pressure do something bigger.
And for the GOP, big is bad.
Republicans believe that dealing with issues individually allows for more scrutiny and that package deals lead inevitably to tax and fee increases.
“We are likely heading for chaos, probably to be aimed at the end of December when everyone wants to go home for Christmas,” said Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., also of the House Budget Committee.
“The American people will be very upset if they see something like last year, where the right throws the kitchen sink and the left throws the kitchen sink and we hand more debt to our children.”
Knowing that Republican leaders are desperate to head off a financial crisis going into an election year, conservatives are already anticipating concessions.
Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., is circulating a letter in Congress, addressed to House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, encouraging them to not spend beyond the 2011 caps.
Republicans’ budget blueprint does technically get around the cap for military spending by funneling billions of dollars to a “war fund” that is exempt from sequestration.
In the letter — which is still open for signatories and has not yet been sent — Stutzman of the House Budget Committee writes: “For us to believe that the Republican budget was adopted in good faith, we must not increase the BCA [Budget Control Act] caps.”
The letter concludes that “if we do bust through the caps, we would have to acknowledge a new reality in which House Republicans cannot be trusted to keep the promises we make to our constituents, which would therefore give us pause before supporting future budget resolutions.”
Stutzman has already picked up more than 25 co-signers to the letter, including Brat and McClintock, and conservative stalwarts such as Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina and Raul Labrador of Idaho.
These lawmakers would like for congressional leaders to use the time between the likely passage of a short-term government funding bill and its expiration to take another stab at passing individual spending bills through the normal appropriations process.
“Ultimately Harry Reid and the Democratic blockade will have to answer to the American people,” McClintock told The Daily Signal.
“I expect the House to fill its responsibility to send the rest of the appropriations bills over to the Senate, and for McConnell to bring them up every single day until we count down to a shut down. The only justification for a short-term CR [continuing resolution] is so the House and Senate can continue that work.”
But the effort faces an uphill battle.
With the government’s borrowing power set to give out as early as November and another shutdown looming in early December — plus the need to pay for roads and bridges and to extend billions in expired tax breaks — the itch to tackle it all may prove too tempting.
“The last time I checked, Republicans in the House and Senate believe in smaller government, not bigger,” Brat told The Daily Signal. “Instead, it is a mystery to me how this will unfold. I anticipate more drama. And I don’t want a bad outcome blamed on me, or any conservatives when we are not engaged in the regular process.”
Brat concluded: “We knew this was coming, but in waiting for a crisis in December, we are following, not leading. We are not winning. President Obama is winning time and time again, and Congress finds itself backed up at crunch time.”
------------- Josh Siegel (@SiegelScribe) is the news editor for The Daily Signal. Tags:Fiscal Cliff, conservative concerned, Republican, Balanced Budget plan, Democrats opposed, Josh Siegel, The Daily SignaTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Pope Francis Speaks To America - Iran Takes Parchin Nuclear Samples Without IAEA
Speaker Boehner greets Pope Francis No attribution provided for this official photo.
Today in Washington, D.C. - Sept. 24, 2015: This morning, senators and representatives gathered for a Joint Meeting of Congress. At 10 AM, Pope Francis addressed the Joint Meeting. Pope Francis is not only the head of the world-wide Catholic Church (The Holy See), he the "head of state" for Vatican City. The U.S. established a official diplomatic relationships with Vatican City under President Ronald Reagan. Ken Francis Hackett is the present U.S Ambassador to the Holy See (Vatican City)
The House will not have any floor proceedings today. Update at 1:02 PM: The House reconvened, returning from a recess continued the legislative day of September 22.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today welcomed Pope Francis to the United States Capitol, where he became the first Pope to ever address a joint meeting of Congress. After the Pope’s visit, Boehner issued the following statement: “What a day. What a moment for our country. I’m so proud that so many came to greet the Pope here at our Capitol, the world’s greatest symbol of democracy. The Holy Father’s visit is surely a blessing for all of us. With great blessings, of course, come great responsibility. Let us all go forth with gratitude and reflect on how we can better serve one another. Let us all go forth and live up to the words, God bless America.”
The Senate will reconvene at 1 PM and resume consideration of H.J. Res. 61, now the vehicle for the continuing resolution (CR).
At 2 PM, the Senate will vote on cloture on Cochran substitute amendment #2669 which contains the text of the CR. The CR would fund the government through mid-December. The CR would and would divert funding from Planned Parenthood to actual women’s health centers.
On Tuesday, Democrats filibustered the motion to begin debate on H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
They later followed up by again blocking an attempt to move to the regular appropriations process, filibustering the Defense appropriations bill, H.R. 2685.
Earlier this week, Reuters reported, “Iranian nuclear experts have taken environmental samples from the military base at Parchin without United Nations inspectors being present, the spokesman for Iran's atomic energy agency was quoted as saying on Monday.
“The procedure for taking the samples, which could shed light on whether Iran's nuclear program ever had a military dimension, has been under intense discussion since Tehran reached a nuclear deal with world powers in July.
“Western diplomats told Reuters earlier this month inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations nuclear watchdog, would observe samples being taken.
“‘Iranian experts took samples from specific locations in Parchin facilities this week without IAEA's inspectors being present,’ Behruz Kamalvandi was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.”
The Wall Street Journal editors call these samples “Iran’s Nuclear Selfies” and again criticize this arrangement and the Iran deal. “The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Monday that Iran had turned over samples that the Iranians had themselves collected from the military site that IAEA inspectors haven’t been allowed to visit in a decade. . . . . . . [T]heir authenticity and integrity are not the decisive issues. What matters is whether they provide a complete picture of Iran’s previous nuclear work.”
They write, “We are a long way from the go-anywhere, look-at-anything inspections that President Obama promised during negotiations. The Parchin selfies are especially dangerous because they are likely to set a new arms-control precedent for inspecting contested military sites in the future.
“Gone are the kind of intrusive inspections that even Saddam Hussein had to tolerate until he kicked out inspectors. This is now the era of the selfie inspection, when rogue regimes provide their own samples, and inspectors-at-a-distance announce their gratitude for the cooperation.” Tags: House, Senate, Joint Meeting of Congress, Pope Francis, Iran, Parchin Nuclear Samples, without IEA To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
When will the Feds arrest Planned Parenthood officials?
by Phyllis Schlafly: Whenever Republicans and conservatives gather among themselves – and I’ve been to many such meetings in recent months – people talk about the need for new leadership in Washington. Every day I hear Republican voters expressing disappointment with the Republicans who occupy the top jobs in the U.S. House and Senate.
The intense desire of Republican base voters for effective leadership is what explains the success of the three “outsider” candidates for president – Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. Trump and Carson have consistently shown double-digit leads over all the other candidates, but last week Carly dazzled the grassroots with her compelling performance in the CNN debate.
While other candidates resorted to inside-the-beltway jargon about “defunding” Planned Parenthood, Carly cut to the chase with her vivid declaration: “I dare Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully-formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain. This is about the character of our nation.”
Since the mainstream media has ignored the video evidence, Democrats think they can get away with pretending it doesn’t exist. One pro-abortion journalist even said the video “may have been a figment of Fiorina’s fevered imagination.”
To see for yourself the truth of what Carly said, just point your computer to the seventh video released by the Center for Medical Progress and advance to the 5:56 mark. There you can watch as Holly O’Donnell, a former employee of Planned Parenthood’s body-parts customer Stem Express, explains what her job required her to do.
The House voted overwhelmingly last week to suspend funding for one year while the video evidence against Planned Parenthood is properly investigated, along with another bill to require medical care for infants born alive during an abortion. Both bills are also supported by a majority of Senators, so why aren’t they being attached to a bill that funds the government for the next fiscal year starting October 1?
Nothing shows the failure of leadership better than the apparent decision by Republican leaders in Congress to allow those bills to die like the fully-formed fetus on the table in the abortion clinic shown in the video, its legs kicking just as Carly said. After making a pro-life gesture or what’s known as a “show vote,” the Republican leaders have apparently decided to allow federal money to continue flowing to Planned Parenthood in the next fiscal year.
Newly elected Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA), who upset then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the primary last year, revealed last week on C-SPAN that House and Senate leaders decided months ago to abandon “regular order” for funding the government. They’ve planned all along to push through a government-wide Continuing Resolution (CR) at the end of this month, to be followed by an Omnibus spending bill just before Christmas.
In other words, we’re about to see a repeat of what happened last December when House Speaker Boehner and Senate leader McConnell, working behind closed doors, cobbled together the 1,600-page, $1.1 trillion “cromnibus” spending bill and forced it through the lame-duck Congress on a narrow, bipartisan vote. Nancy Pelosi delivered enough Democratic votes to compensate for the 67 conservative Republicans who voted against that monstrosity, which even included the money to implement Obama’s executive amnesty of 5 million illegal aliens.
Most Republicans ran on a promise to return our government to the Constitution. Our founding document clearly vests in Congress the power of the purse by providing that “The Congress shall have power to … provide for the … general welfare of the United States” and that “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.”
This is the same Republican Congress that passed the Corker bill, which exempted Obama’s dangerous deal with Iran from the two-thirds vote in the Senate which the Constitution requires. Congress has done nothing to curb the judicial supremacy by the Supreme Court and lower courts on social issues, despite clear authority in the Constitution for Congress to withdraw jurisdiction.
Our system is built on checks and balances, yet Congress is standing by while the President and the Supreme Court are encroaching on Congress’s powers. Congress should use its spending power to push back against overreaching by the other branches.
A final note: Carly Fiorina was the only candidate on stage who firmly declined the moderator’s invitation to recommend a woman for the $10 or $20 bill, replacing Hamilton or Jackson, two great men without whom America as we know it would not exist. The ten male candidates should have had the fortitude to resist that bad feminist idea.
-------------------- Phyllis Schlafly has been a national leader of the conservative movement since 1964. She founded and is CEO and Chairman of Eagle Forum. She has testified before more than 50 Congressional and State Legislative committees on constitutional, national defense, and family issues. Tags:Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum, Congress, exercise power of purse, Stop Planned Parenthood, Carly FiorinaTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Regulating Community: Local government Cracks Down On Little Free Libraries
I can think of few things less controversial than the Little Free Library movement, an idea for sharing the love of reading that simply involves putting some books in front of your house for neighbors to borrow. Unfortunately, some people are determined to make sure that every last bit of community life conforms to the dotted i's and crossed t's of local government regulations. This means that cities have been shutting down these perfectly innocuous little libraries gracing American's front yards on the grounds that they are "illegal detached structures." As Watchdog reporters have found in Kansas, Nebraska, Louisiana and beyond, this assault by nanny state government on both reading and neighborliness harms community ties and discourages an educated citizenry. It's a trend that threatens our core values as Americans, and one that citizens should be informed about. ~ Erik Telford, President, The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity
by Andrew Collins, Franklin Center: In the age of The Shallows and Bowling Alone, which raise concerns over Americans’ tendency toward isolation and distraction, many citizens are pushing back through the Little Free Library movement. The idea is simple: foster community and literacy by sharing books, usually presented in a crate or small structure in one’s front yard where neighbors can access them at their leisure.
It’s hard to image such a movement stirring up controversy, but that hasn’t stopped local governments from using every technicality and clause in their ordinances to crack down on the popular book-sharing system. In a recent piece for The Atlantic covering the travails of Little Free Libraries, Conor Friedersdorf summarizes the problem in a scathing indictment of the governing class.
“Alas, a subset of Americans are determined to regulate every last aspect of community life,” he wrote. “Due to selection bias, they are overrepresented among local politicians and bureaucrats. And so they have power, despite their small-mindedness, inflexibility, and lack of common sense so extreme that they’ve taken to cracking down on Little Free Libraries, of all things.”
Friedersdorf goes on to quote an L.A. Times column by Michael Schaub that calls out local governments for their misplaced priorities in targeting the libraries.
“Crime, homelessness and crumbling infrastructure are still a problem in almost every part of America,” Schaub wrote, “but two cities have recently cracked down on one of the country’s biggest problems: small-community libraries where residents can share books.”
As Watchdog reporters have found over the past year, however, the abuse hasn’t been limited to just two cities, but many – everywhere from Wisconsin to Los Angeles. Last summer in Nebraska, for example, Watchdog reporter Deena Winter wrote about how city officials in Lincoln ordered a church to remove a library on the curb of its front lawn just two weeks after it was built – or face a potential fine of up to $500.
Members of the Indian Village Neighborhood Association, which erected the library, were quick to voice outrage. Director Barbara Arendt looked up the city code referenced in the letter to the church. It talks about an “immediate public hazard” and “public nuisance.”
“A library? Excuse me?” she said. “Does our city have its priorities messed up or what?”
Earlier this year in Shreveport, Louisiana, resident Ricky Edgarton received a cease-and-desist letter from Caddo Parish officials after he built a Little Free Library to share some of his many books. The parish, apparently, considered it a commercial enterprise, even though Edgarton wasn’t making any money off the venture. And even though a number of other Shreveport residents have similar libraries in their front yards, the Metropolitan Planning Commission singled out Edgarton because an anonymous caller complained about it.
Edgarton said it would cost him $500 to appeal the MPC’s decision, so in symbolic protest, he responded by putting a padlock around the structure (rather than moving the books back into his house). Eventually parish officials decided to temporarily suspend the rules on his structure.
Perhaps the most high-profile incident took place in the city of Leawood, Kansas, where 9-year-old Spencer Collins faced city citations after he worked with his dad and grandpa to build a Little Free Library as a Mother’s Day gift. To comply with the code, the Collins would have had to attach the storage box to their house – which largely defeats the purpose of having the library in the first place, as it reduces curbside visibility and makes it less accessible to potential users.
The city, in a massive lack of foresight, was blindsided by the backlash. Many of those who heard about the situation exhorted the city council to amend its code to permit the Collins family to keep their library in place. Bolstered by widespread support online and national media coverage, Spencer made his case to city officials in Leawood.
“I think Little Free Libraries are good for Leawood, and I hope you will change the code,” he said.
In response, the city granted him a temporary stay against their municipality ordinance until they could decide what to do about it.
“There’s something about a little free library, the intimacy of it … that as a small home for books, and as neighbor reaching out to neighbor, gives us something that a large library cannot,” she said. “And so, I think we need more, not less, community in this day and age. I think we need more, not fewer, readers and thinkers in this day and age, and I think that the Little Free Library addresses both these needs in a single, graceful gesture.” Tags:Little Free Libraries, The Franklin Center, Andrew Collins, local government, bureaucracy, control, books, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Robert Romano: Emerging markets, and not monetary policy, appear to have dictated the rapid expansion of commodities prices since at least the 2000s. As demand rose overseas in China, Brazil and elsewhere, prices of everything from food to oil to metals increased.
And now that those emerging markets are in major correction, and demand is down, so too are prices finally correcting.
West Texas intermediate oil fell to about $43 a barrel in August, dangerously close to its Feb. 2009 low of $39. Foodstuffs have tracked very closely too. Rice dropped down to about $375 per metric ton in August, a level not seen since then end of 2007, when the price was still rising. Wheat was down to about $180 in August, a level not seen since 2010, the previous low.
In some cases, like beef, prices do indeed remain elevated, but they’re starting to break, too, down 22 percent off their Sept. 2014 high.
Sure enough, gold is off its Sept. 2011 high of $1,770 an ounce by 37 percent, down to about $1,117 in August. Silver too is 65 percent off its April 2011 high of $42.79 per Troy ounce, all the way down to $14.94 in August.
On oil, many analysts had argued that a supply surge thanks to the shale boom in North America was what had finally pricked the oil bubble.
Yet, with other commodities now falling without any supply surge to speak of, the evidence that global demand for almost everything is decreasing is becoming overwhelming.
It is in that environment that the Federal Reserve has forestalled hiking the federal funds rate as had been expected in September. In her statement, Fed head Janet Yellen cited low inflation currently as the major reason why the Fed did not act.
But, if declining global demand and collapsing prices presently is signaling a recession on the near horizon, that might mean the Fed simply waited too long for a rate hike.
In 2011, the Consumer Price Index was 3.16 percent, well above the Fed’s inflation target, and yet the central bank never moved interest rates upward to respond. Back then, food and energy prices, and other commodities, too, were surging. That was pretty much true all the way through 2014.
At any point therein, if rates had been raised, it might have been enough to have pierced the emerging markets bubble before it reached critical levels. But that window has passed.
All we know is the Fed has kept the federal funds rate at near-zero levels since 2008 to facilitate bank lending. Advocates of this policy say that the economy was still too weak after the financial crisis for the Fed’s lending rate to be raised.
We’ll never know the counterfactual.
And now, going by Yellen’s statement, if prices do not start increasing closer to the Fed’s target rate of 2 percent soon, we should all expect rates to remain near zero. Right?
Now, with the economy seemingly moving into correction again, the moment to act seems to have passed. If a rate hike does come, it might be at the last minute, and perhaps simply to afford the central bank an opportunity to push rates back down as soon as the recession really does hit.
That’s cynical, but on the other hand, Fed rate hikes do appear to have arrived shortly before the recessions have hit. What would be exceptional is proceeding into a recession with no room to maneuver. Yet, Yellen seems to have talked herself into a corner. If a hike comes but doesn’t meet up with her 2 percent inflation target, it will be an extremely bearish indicator.
So there may not be a rate hike this year after all, but if there is one it will have been too late. Meaning the Fed may have kept rates too low, for too long — again.
---------------- Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government. His article was first shared on the ALG's NetRight Daily blog. Tags:Robert Romano, Americans For Limited Government, The Fed, easy money, William Warren, Editorial Cartoon,Monopoly. moneyTo 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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