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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, January 08, 2016
Could We Be on the Brink of a Republican Realignment?
by Rod D. Martin, Contributing Author: We are constantly told of the demographic Armageddon that must shortly befall the Republican Party. But what if a different sort of realignment – a Republican one – comes first?
This may sound like crazy talk, I know. But it always does, right before it happens. No one believed the South would ever vote Republican, or that Virginia would ever shift back Democrat. No one believed Colorado would shift left, or shift back right again. California voted for the Republican in every presidential election but one from 1952 until Bill Clinton, and banned gay marriage with a popular vote of 52-47 as late as 2008.
The main constant in politics is its fluidity.
That last example is instructive. Prop 8 passed in a state that has been equated with gayness my entire life, not because Republicans rallied around it – there aren’t anywhere near enough of them – but because of a coalition of blacks, Hispanics and conservatives who shared a moral belief and a common cause that trumped traditional partisan divisions. Had it not been for that improbable alliance, Prop 8 probably would have received something like 37%.
Are there any other issues on which Republicans could build a coalition? Security, for instance? In a post-Paris, post-San Bernardino world, with Democrats hopelessly tone-deaf, maybe. Some will note that security had little impact on minority party identification during the Cold War, but until the demise of the Scoop Jackson Democrats, there was little reason for most Americans to believe Democrats weren’t committed to defending them. That’s patently different today.
There’s education. Courageous Democrats in several major cities, most notably New Orleans and Washington, have adopted the long-time Republican idea of charter schools, to truly impressive effect. In D.C., just under half of all high school students are now in charter schools, with a similar number in the traditional public system. The charter school kids are disproportionately poorer, blacker and in every way more disadvantaged. They’re also greatly outperforming their public school peers, with significantly higher graduation and college acceptance rates, dramatically higher than before the charter movement took hold.
In post-Katrina New Orleans, an astounding 94% of high school students are now in charters: they just exceeded statewide average test scores for the first time on record. The number of kids scoring at the Basic level or above has surged from 15% in 2005 to 57% in 2014. And for the first time, a majority are going on to college.
This is a conservative reform, making an enormous, obvious, life-altering difference in the toughest inner cities because black Democrat politicians decided their kids mattered more than teacher union dogma. I suspect most parents in most places would agree, given a chance, a choice and spokesmen who’ve shown what’s possible. Yet most Democrat leaders remain maniacally opposed to these real-world successes.
There’s prison reform. As I’ve written elsewhere, America has the world’s largest prison population, disproportionately minorities, much of it nonviolent. In a technological age, that makes no sense at all: we can track anyone, anywhere, any time. So why not do so, keeping nonviolent offenders at home with their families, requiring they work to support their own, and also to pay restitution to those they’ve harmed?
This is a vastly more compassionate approach: it puts the victims first, but it also keeps families intact and wives and children off welfare. It might not sit well with many who see criminal justice only in terms of law and order. But conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly, Richard Viguerie and former Attorney General Ed Meese are already leading on this issue, and there’s an opportunity here to bring people together who’ve never before seen eye to eye.
Or how about this one. Immigration, especially of the illegal sort, is widely believed to destroy American jobs and hold down American wages. We can debate the fine points of those arguments, but what is certain is that the people most affected – and most aware of being affected – are poor African Americans and Hispanics.
Though Republicans are really bad at this, it is easy to make the case that Democrats favor illegals who jump to the head of the line over their own core constituents. And this may even be more true for labor unions whose interests have been jettisoned by two consecutive Democrat presidents.
No one’s job prospects are harmed more by the flood of illegals than blacks; nearly half of U.S.-born Hispanics oppose Obama’s amnesty for the same reason. The conventional wisdom assumes that all Hispanics support amnesty and that outsider candidates like Trump and Cruz could never win them (odd considering Cruz’s heritage). But first, they don’t have to win all of them, just a larger minority than Republicans have previously; and second, their outsider status gives them the unique ability to say with unquestionable credibility: “I’m not a Democrat, but I’m not one of them either. Now let’s work together to solve your real problems.”
The “them” of course is several generations of the entire Republican leadership. Ergo, tabula rasa.
Both blacks and Hispanics generally poll conservative on many other issues, especially the social issues under renewed attack from the left. Moreover, Hispanics who become Evangelicals – a fast growing trend – vote 85% GOP. There’s a lot of fertile ground for common cause.
So what is to be done?
The first need is to deal with the fact that the overwhelming majority of both blacks and Hispanics think Republicans just don’t like them. That’s an ingrained belief GOP insiders probably can’t overcome. But Cruz, Rubio, Carson and even Trump might be able to bridge the gap – tabula rasa, once again – as might many other candidates for lower offices who meaningfully seek a coalition on issues of shared concern (California’s unisex public school bathrooms leap to mind).
Indeed, despite currently having to focus on the Republican base if they’re to win the nomination, we are seeing hints that this might be taking shape. Ben Carson has been polling 19% among blacks (Republicans usually get 10%, and black Republicans frequently do worse), and incidentally, running even with Hillary among women. A couple of polls have shown Trump as high as 24% among blacks (one outlier this week had him at an improbable 40%). Given his positions on trade, it is not at all impossible to imagine Trump winning the endorsement of the United Auto Workers and other unions, and if not that of their leadership, then at least of their rank-and-file.
If any of these things carried through to Election Day, Hillary wouldn’t just lose: she’d suffer one of the larger defeats in American history.
The second, third, tenth and twentieth needs are illustrated by the success of Prop 8: Republicans have to dump “outreach” – the very word sounds like us vs. them – and start recruiting, just as they would with any other group in the country. They need to make common cause with blacks and Hispanics on issues of shared concern, not talk at them (halfheartedly) about…whatever.
Am I arguing for a compromise of core principles? Certainly not. But there’s a lot of opportunity here, if someone creative would just think outside the old box.
And that’s really my point. Republicans’ surging outsider candidates are definitionally out of that box. To different degrees on different issues, they can carry new messages stated in new ways to new people their predecessors wrote off for decades. If conservative solutions really are better – and we strongly believe that they are – those messages will resonate with at least some who haven’t heard us before. And a lot of that will be because we actually go to them, above and around their normal, universally-leftist information sources.
That effort is not, as most GOP consultants have believed for two generations, futile. Remember: we don’t have to win a majority of either group to earn a landslide overall. And the combination of these candidates, new technologies, and the almost universal disenchantment with both parties creates a rare moment in history in which a genuine realignment could take place.
by Paul Jacob: The King Canute Memorial Award for Clueless Legislation (Winter 2015-16) goes to Senator Bernie Sanders. He had stiff competition from ocean-lowering President Barack Obama, this season, but surely earned it these past few months.
Canute famously warned his advisors that he was no miracle worker. Standing by the sea and commanding the tide to turn only works on a regular schedule -- set by natural forces, knowable in advance only after years of careful observation. All the hand-waving, incantations and official edicts cannot change the tide.
The award goes to those most in need of the Full Canute Object Lesson. Sanders's latest ninnyism begs for just such a lesson: He wants to establish maximum fees for ATMs, down to $2 per transaction.
As everyone knows, some ATMs charge more than others. Why? It is not costless to provide electronic bank inquiries and withdrawals around the country . . . and the world. And profitability varies.
Supply and demand. Entrepreneurs do not offer these services out of charity. Close off profits in some areas, there will be corresponding effects.
From my experience, transaction fees range from about five bucks down to . . . Zero.
I usually pay nothing.
Outlawing fees above some arbitrary maximum will almost certainly ensure there will be fewer ATMs -- particularly in low-use areas -- and might even raise those zero-priced transactions to one- or two-buck fees.
Prices aren't arbitrary, so no matter how loudly Bernie Sanders sputters "Unacceptable," price ceilings aren't magically going to produce the same service at less cost.
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 a contributing author on the ARRA News Service. Tags:Unacceptable, Bernie Sanders, ATM, fees, ninnyismTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:Editorial Cartoon, AF Branco, Obama Promises, like your guns, leep your gunsTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
He may or may not become the Republican nominee for president.
He may or may not win the presidency even if he becomes the nominee.
Yet it is clear that he is a phenomenon and that any history of the 2016 presidential race will have to spend a good bit of time analyzing Trump and his impact.
From the time he announced on June 16, Trump has dominated social and mainstream media. He dominates the conversation despite the lack of paid advertising.
Trump says outrageous things and his supporters shrug it off. At every turn, his poll numbers continue to rise.
As a step toward understanding this amazing performance, I spent part of the Christmas break reading his first bestseller, The Art of the Deal.
Written in 1987, this book is a classic among American business books and has influenced a generation of entrepreneurs.
Trump wrote The Art of the Deal when he was 41 years old and having a successful run. The book’s popularity contributed to Time Magazine’s decision to feature Donald Trump on its cover in January 1989.
The portrait that emerges from this easy-to-read and remarkably interesting book is of an aggressive, ambitious person who is constantly pushing, constantly learning, and always seeking the next challenge.
Reporters and analysts who are trying to understand Trump would be well served by slowing down and reading this nearly three-decade-old bestseller.
They would discover that Donald Trump has developed a remarkable set of rules and principles that allow him to make decisions with incredible speed.
Trump knows a lot, but what is amazing is how rapidly he figures out what he doesn’t know.
My favorite story is of the Wollman Skating Rink in New York’s Central Park.
The Wollman Rink was a heavily used public skating rink which had fallen into disrepair in 1980.
New York City tried for six years to fix it, spent $13 million, and the rink still was not ready to open.
In June of 1986 Trump, who could see the rink from his apartment, finally got tired of the embarrassment and offered to fix the rink at his own expense.
At first the city turned him down because its bureaucracy did not want to be embarrassed by someone fixing something they couldn’t fix. Trump kept pushing and finally out of embarrassment the city gave in.
The key part of the story is Trump’s reaction to being put in charge. He promptly recognized that he didn’t know anything about fixing a skating rink. He asked himself who built a lot of skating rinks. “Canadians!” he concluded. He found the best Canadian ice skating rink construction company.
When the Canadians flew in to assess the situation, they were amazed at how bad the city had been at solving the problem. They assured Trump that this was an easy job.
Trump fixed the six year embarrassment two months ahead of schedule and nearly $800,000 under-budget. (The city did end up paying for the work, and Trump donated the profits to charity.)
After reading this chapter you begin to think that maybe Donald Trump really could build a wall along our southern border for a lot less than our current government estimates.
The Art of the Deal is filled with stories like this — stories of common sense stories of calculated risk taking, and stories of innovation and marketing.
Anyone who would like to better understand Donald Trump would be helped by reading this remarkable book.
--------------- Newt Gingrich is a former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the U.S. House. He co-authored and was the chief architect of the "Contract with America" and a major leader in the Republican victory in the 1994 congressional elections. He is noted speaker and writer. The above commentary was shared via Gingrich Productions Tags:Understanding, Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich, 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 Rick Manning: Watching Congressional Republicans bemoan President Obama’s executive actions on gun control reminds me of the Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore movie “50 First Dates.” The Sandler, Barrymore comedy is based on the premise that a woman suffers from a malady which causes her to forget everything that transpired for most of her life every time she goes to sleep at night. When she wakes up the next day, she has to start over from scratch. Sandler meets Barrymore and falls for her and hilarity ensues.
The only question is whether Congressional Republicans think that the public has fallen prey to Barrymore’s ailment or are they unknowing sufferers?
As Republicans posture en masse claiming that they are going to use the power of the purse to rein in Obama one month after giving him a virtual blank check for most of the remainder of his time in office through the omnibus spending bill, they either think the collective memory is so dim or the eggnog so thick that few will remember their recent catastrophic failure.
What is worse however, is that while they are talking about President Obama enforcing the laws against criminal misuse of firearms that are on the books, Congressional Republicans are moving forward with plans to pass legislation reducing sentencing guidelines for those caught possessing a gun while committing a drug offense.
That’s right. At a time when Baltimore broke its annual homicide record and Chicago has returned to the days of Capone with eleven murders in the first week of the new year, a bi-partisan supported criminal justice reform measure would put a Republican rubber stamp on the release of thousands of major drug dealers back onto the streets from which they were forcibly removed.
What could go wrong?
On top of this Republican proposed release program, President Obama is drastically increasing Justice Department staff to handle the expected massive increase in pardons and clemency that the President is expected to issue beyond the 40,000 plus convicts he began releasing starting in Oct. 2015.
And into this mix, Congress is trying to pass legislation, which the President will sign, that retroactively cuts mandatory sentences of those still serving time in the federal penitentiary.
This might make sense if federal prisons were overrun with people who were caught up, arrested and convicted of simple possession of drugs charges. But that is not the case, in fact, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission as of the end of 2014, only 15 U.S. citizens were serving in federal prison for “simple possession,” and most were likely plead down from more serious charges.
The federal mandatory minimums are reserved for high-level traffickers. To earn a 10-year mandatory minimum, a person must possess at least one kilogram of heroin, the equivalent of 10,000 individual fixes and countless lives destroyed. Possession of five kilos of cocaine will get you the same 10-year mandatory minimum with a street value of almost $150,000. If you possess a ton of marijuana, you are 204 pounds short of what is needed to qualify for the 10-year mandatory.
People in federal prison under the mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for drug possession are not the kid in high school who sells his buddy a joint. Republicans would be releasing, on a bi-partisan basis as if that absolves them of culpability, the kingpin who is running a distribution network that is claiming the lives of hundreds if not thousands of people who fall into the snare of drug addiction.
Anyone who with a lick of sense and is paying attention would consider it lunacy to flood the streets of America with high-level drug dealers, many of whom are guaranteed to want to reclaim their place in the drug distribution system.
Dealing illegal drugs is a dangerous business. Gangs fight over neighborhoods and street corners and murder is the inevitable outcome. Passage of the proposed criminal justice early release bill in Congress will result in even higher homicide rates.
How do I know? A 2014 Bureau of Justice Statistics study tracked 404,638 state prisoners from 30 states released in 2005, 76.9 percent of drug offenders were re-arrested within 5 years (78 percent of possession offenders and 75 percent of trafficking offenders), with 25 percent of the recidivating offenses (for which they were arrested) being violent crimes. That’s a minimum of 100,000 more violent crimes.
Does this mean that our nation should lock them up and throw away the key?
No, but it does mean that Congress would be foolish to proceed with retroactively lowering the sentences of those already in prison for high-level drug trafficking or having a gun in their possession while they were engaged in the crime.
It means that before swinging the prison doors wide, Congress needs to consider that President Obama’s response to Ferguson and elsewhere has created a climate where police are unable to safely do the same job they did a few years ago. What’s more this creates the added problem that the law-abiding in the community are less likely to cooperate with the police out of fear of retaliation for collaborating with the enemy.
It is the wrong time for Congress to proceed with its dangerous and ill-advised criminal justice reform plan. This is one bi-partisan bill that Congressional Republicans should just say no to.
by Kerby Anderson, Contributing Author: Much of the debate about the minimum wage has focused on providing a living wage for hard-working people. As admirable that that might seem, there are consequences to raising the minimum wage, especially to the level demanded by activists who want everyone to have a living wage.
One of the prime targets has been Wal-Mart. The company did raise its base wage last April and is scheduled to increase the base wage again next month. Last month, Wal-Mart announced a 10 percent decline in earnings per share for the third quarter. The CEO claimed it was due to the higher wages.
Andy Puzder is the CEO of CKE Restaurants, and recently explained in his op-ed that certain companies can weather an increase in the minimum wage better than others. He provides a comparison between Wal-Mart and Apple to show the stark difference.
Apple is the most profitable company on the Fortune 500. Its annual profit is $39.5 billion with about 97,000 employees. The means Apple’s annual profit per employee is $407,000. Remember that amount.
Wal-Mart has nearly the same annual profit ($36.4 billion) but has 5.8 million employees. That means their annual profit per employee is $6,300. As you can see, there is a stark different between $407,000 and $6,300.
Increasing the base wage just one dollar an hour increases the annual wage cost by nearly $2,000. You can do the math. Subtracting $2,000 from $407,000 does not have much of an impact. Subtracting $2,000 from $6,300 has a great impact. Retail stores like Wal-Mart at some point actually start losing money by having employees on staff. To survive they have to fire some or not hire new employees.
This is some of the harsh economic reality to attempts to raise wages to a level demanded by activists.
----------- 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, Living WageTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Find Out How Your Member of Congress Voted on a Bill Repealing Obamacare
by Melissa Quinn: For the first time, Congressional Republicans sent a bill repealing key provisions of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law to his desk.
Following the upper chamber’s lead, the House passed a reconciliation bill, 240-181, repealing measures of Obamacare and placing a one-year moratorium on federal funding for Planned Parenthood this evening. The Senate passed the same bill last month.
The legislation now heads to the White House, where the president will veto it.
“We are confronting the president with the hard, honest truth: Obamacare doesn’t work. Higher premiums and fewer choices and restricted access—these are not signs of success,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said during a press conference today. “Obamacare is not successful. They are the signs of failure. And the American people deserve better.”
Though House and Senate Republicans are well aware the legislation is dead-on-arrival once it gets to the White House, they say it forces the president to explain why he continues to support the law when many Americans face higher premiums and deductibles, and have been forced to choose new plans despite Obama’s assurances to the contrary.
“Any time that you make someone in elected office take a stance, it’s extremely valuable because the American people don’t watch too much until then,” Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M. told reporters at the monthly event Conversations with Conservatives today. He continued:So [Obama] will absolutely say, ‘I refuse to understand that you as Americans are hurting because of this bill, that you’re losing your jobs, some of you have been cut back to part time … many of you now have lost the insurance that you’ve spent decades preparing for your family, and I, as the president of the United States, am going to tell you forget it, I’m going to veto it.’ I think that’s extraordinarily valuable in the political circumstances.In using reconciliation to repeal the health care law, conservative lawmakers also say it sets the stage for 2017, when a new president and Congress can use today’s vote as the precedent for repealing Obamacare using reconciliation once again.
“This sets us up very well for the election,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., said today, “but most importantly, in making certain that the strongest country in the world has the strongest health care system in the world that’s based on free-market principles, not just something put out by a bunch of bureaucrats and politicians in Washington, D.C.”
House Republicans have voted to repeal Obamacare more than 50 times, but the reconciliation bill passed last month marked the first time the Senate approved such legislation since the law’s implementation.
Reconciliation is a budget tool used in the Senate that allows a bill to pass with just 51 votes, avoiding a Democratic filibuster in the upper chamber.
The bill passed by the House today repeals the individual and employer mandates, Medicaid expansion, tax credits, medical device tax and Cadillac tax. It also strips the government of its authority to run Obamacare’s exchanges and lessens the fine for failing to comply with the mandates to $0.
The House passed a different version of the reconciliation bill in October, which left in place the Medicaid expansion and tax credits. The original legislation was met with skepticism from conservative senators, who originally said they couldn’t support a bill that left those provisions in place.
Not only did Republicans kick off 2016 with a vote to repeal Obamacare, Ryan promised last month his colleagues would unveil a plan to replace the health care law this year.
Conservatives view the reconciliation bill as a crucial step in reassuring the American people they are prepared to present them with an alternative.
“I think we want to make absolutely clear that Republicans in Congress have put together a plan to replace Obamacare. People are hurting,” Huelskamp said. “…We’ve voted dozens and dozens of times to repeal, and finally it’ll make his desk, and now it’s time to get to the hard work of setting the stage for actually fixing health care problems.”
See how your member of Congress voted on the bill below.
Every Driver Should Care About The Iowa Ethanol Debate
by Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: The ethanol mandate, known formally as the Renewable Fuel Standard or RFS, is an object lesson in misguided government policy surviving long after its original rationales have been destroyed.
The national security rationale was that oil was scarce, but now we’re the world’s leading oil producer and have begun exporting crude.
The environmental rationale was that ethanol would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but since a landmark study was published in Nature in 2008 we’ve known: “there's little doubt that ethanol is making global warming worse.”
Even the jobs rationale fails. Per the Congressional Budget Office: “roughly the same amount of corn ethanol would be used in 2017 if fuel suppliers had to meet requirements equal to EPA’s proposed 2014 volumes or if lawmakers repealed the RFS, because suppliers would probably find it cost-effective to use a roughly 10 percent blend of corn ethanol in gasoline in 2017 even in the absence of the RFS.”
Got that? Even with the decline in oil prices, ethanol is the most cost-effective octane booster. The era of 10% ethanol gasoline, E10, as America’s most common transportation fuel isn’t going to end if the RFS is repealed. Those ethanol jobs aren’t going anywhere.
But that doesn’t mean this is not a high stakes issue, because under current law the mandate is set to sharply increase, with devastating consequences.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that if the mandate hits as scheduled under current law in 2017, it will raise prices at the pump 30 to 51 cents a gallon for diesel and 13 to 26 cents a gallon for E10.
That’s a lot of money to spend for no environmental benefit.
Even Al Gore has admitted the mandate was a mistake. Gore supported it because: “I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president.”
Unfortunately, many 2016 candidates are repeating Gore’s mistake.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are enthusiastic supporters, as is Martin O’Malley – despite the fact that just a few years ago he begged the EPA to suspend the mandate because of the devastating impact it was having on the cost of feed for Maryland poultry producers.
On the Republican side, the ethanol industry created a group called America’s Renewable Future (ARF) and hired the governor of Iowa’s son to run it. The group secured early support for the RFS from Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Donald Trump.
Then they added John Kasich, who delightfully explained at an Iowa town hall: “I'm for your Renewable Fuel Standard. I've already sold out on that one.”
Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio would maintain current law through 2022, which until recently earned them a “needs work” score from ARF. The industry has since deemed that position acceptable in their final scorecard.
That leaves Rand Paul and Ted Cruz as the industry’s named enemies, but the latter is leading in the polls.
Cruz recently reiterated his support for actively phasing the mandate down to zero – but ARF, which had been attacking him for taking that position, instead celebrated it. Considering the CBO analysis that a freeze, let alone a phase down, would be economically equivalent to repeal, it suggests the industry is trying to position itself to spin a Cruz victory.
Cruz did also say in a Des Moines Register op-ed that he intends to use anti-trust enforcement to enhance market access for ethanol, including blends of E25 and E30. Cruz claims that higher ethanol blends “could prove quite popular with American consumers, who are increasingly concerned with fuel economy.” That’s odd because ethanol has about 34% less energy per unit volume than gasoline, therefore higher ethanol blends will have worse, not better, fuel economy.
Still, Cruz’s position is essentially a prediction, however unlikely, about what would happen in a free market without any energy mandates or subsidies, not a retreat from his plan to repeal the RFS.
No matter who wins Iowa, it is increasingly clear that the RFS is no longer a political imperative – and that’s great news for everybody who fills a gas tank. ------------------ 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:Phil Kerpen, American Commitment, Every Driver, Should Care, Iowa, Ethanol DebateTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:Editorial Cartoon, AF Branco, President Obama, crying, anti-gun agenda, not moving fast enoughTo 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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by Paul Jacob, Contributing Author: Weeks ago, I took Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to task for behaving like rude, dishonest children — she, fibbing about Trump being used in an ISIS recruitment video; he, using a vulgar term to describe her 2008 defeat by President Obama.
The mainstream media is joining the bad behavior, copacetic with “Clinton avoiding the same kind of treatment as Trump,” Callum Borchers informs in his piece headlined: “Does the media have a double standard on Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s embellishments?”
Short answer: Yes.
When Mrs. Clinton made her false accusation, ISIS was actually using her husband, former Pres. Bill Clinton, in a recruitment video. Even with this man-bites-dog angle — astoundingly underreported — Borcher predicts that Hillary will “emerge from this media brush fire unsinged” in no small part because there are “enough . . . supportive media outlets.”
Now the Post reports that a new 51-minute “propaganda video released by the Somali-based al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabab includes a clip of Trump calling on the United States to bar Muslims from entering the country . . .”
The story’s smears Mr. Trump with guilt by association: Last month, The Washington Post reported that white nationalists have begun using Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as a recruitment tool. Now, the polarizing Republican presidential front-runner has become the recruitment fodder for another group of marginalized extremists.The Post’s previous article found white supremacists trying to somehow glom on to, but clearly being rebuffed by, Trump. Repeatedly associating the two is gutter journalism. Should we hold our breaths for stories about members of the Revolutionary Communist Party favoring Clinton or Bernie Sanders?
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, Yellow Journalism, Hillary ClintonTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by John C. Velisek, Contributing Author: I have spent some time watching the press conference where Obama decreed that there must be changes made to gun control in this country. Speaking to a crowd of those that agree that more must be done and Democrat sycophants there were straw men built up and knocked down. As a former military veteran and father, I could empathize with what was said about protecting our children. As an American patriot, I can longer stand by without giving my opinions on what was said.
Many sites of these despicable mass shootings were mentioned. The facts that all these sites were gun free zones, and that if there had been someone trained in the use of a firearm and with access to a firearm could have stopped these massacres from happening were ignored..
Once again, Obama used the false fact that the United States is the only country where this happens. In fact, the United States is not the only country with mass shootings; we are actually number 6 behind Norway, Finland, Slovakia, Israel, and Switzerland. Valerie Jarrett declares that imposing more gun laws will make the United States a “More perfect union”. Does anyone honestly believe that stricter gun control laws will stop criminals from getting guns? Valerie Jarrett has already make connections to help states to impose more gun laws to infringe on the rights of the citizens on a state level. These laws have accomplished nothing more than having more mass shootings under the Obama administration than any administration before.
Obama has stated many times that most of the citizens in this country support stricter gun controls, but polls over the past three years do not support that claim. A September 2015 CNN poll, not exactly neutral of gun control, showed that 60% of citizens did not approve of the way that Obama is handling gun control. A majority polled also believed that comprehensive gun control through background checks would have little or no impact and would not keep criminals from obtaining guns. The alleged general consensus that Obama speaks of to support more gun control does not exist.
It informative that he says there are good people on both sides of the gun control issue that are open for discussion. He then dismisses anyone who does not agree with him. He says there are no excuses for inaction and blames Republicans for stopping his unconstitutional laws in Congress even though there was a great many Democrats who sided with the Republicans. Obama wants to force this through as a part of his legacy and to further erode the constitutional rights of American citizens. This so-called constitutional lawyer and former part time university adjunct showed his true colors when he said he wasn’t trying to change the Constitution, after all the Second Amendment is written of a “piece of paper”. You would think a real constitutional lawyer would remember the name of the Constitution.
Another "saw man" point Was his declaring one online website was selling guns had sold firearms to criminals. He even stated a "one in thirty" number as how many they have sold. If that was the case, why have we not heard about the ATF arresting them and closing them down?
Again, he mentioned the gun show and online loopholes. Both are required to perform background checks by Federal law. Again, if they are not doing this, where are the arrests of those involved?
I agree that more research should be done about people who suffer from mental illness, I think most people agree that those with mental illness should not have access to guns. Obama did speak of spending more money on mental health access, but even that may go too far. In California, anyone can claim you are mentally unstable, and the State will confiscate your guns. Your doctor is required to notify the state if they feel you are depressed. In all cases, the gun is blamed by the Democrats not the person holding it.
Obama mentioned Chicago, but failed to articulate that it has one of the most stringent gun control statutes in history, is a free fire zone. Nor did he explain that blacks are 13% of the population, but commit 50% of the murders in the United States for 30 years. The Pew Research Center, the FBI, and the CDC have all shown that gun violence in the United States has gone down in the past 30 years, with the exception of stringent gun control cities run by Democrats.
Petula Dvorak from the Washington Post had declared that the guns are responsible, and those that fill our prisons because of the improper use of guns are not responsible. It is the Republicans, who so far have stood up for the Second Amendment who are to blame. And it is the citizens of this country who are responsible for believing that the Second Amendment give them the rights to legally bear arms. Ms. Dvorak is convinced that if the entire country would become a gun free zone that there would be less gun violence. The logical conclusion that there would be more gun violence does not enter into her thinking. She refuses to admit that the mass shootings that have happened have been in gun free zones. She either refuses to admit or to look at the numbers that show gun free zones make criminals more bold and the citizens more vulnerable.
I fully expect the next Executive Action that this administration will take is to demand that citizens on the no fly list not be allowed to purchase a firearm. The Department of Homeland Security Inspector General found that there were 72 individuals under his purview that were on the no fly list. By the best estimates, over 280,000 people on the no fly list have no terrorist ties or affiliation, and are tasked with proving they do not belong on the list, a timely and costly process.
Registration of firearms are a first step. It has been reported that the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) is already being used to create a national registry available to federal agencies. There have been journalists, activists who are non violent, and even Nelson Mandela placed on the no fly list. The FBI, acknowledging that the NICS is being promulgated to the federal government has stated that 2,00 known or suspected terrorists have bought firearms. This makes it clear that they are collecting information on those buying firearms.
The NICS is retaining records of legal purchases that are required to be kept confidential. The background check contains enough information to identify persons buying firearms and is being shared with the federal government in violation of federal law.
This will be just the first step. Now being pushed by this administration is that those on Social Security will not be able to purchase a firearm. The SEC is looking into a vendetta started by this administration and being pushed through the New York public advocate against Smith and Wesson. Claiming that they are responsible for the use of their products, they are demanding that Smith and Wesson provide numbers of how often the products they produce are involved in crimes and what they are doing to keep the product they produce out of the hands of criminals.
Will this administration do the same with automobiles, or with those they are letting into the country?
I don’t think so.
---------------------- John C. Velisek, retired Navy is a California conservative activist writing articles for various publication and is a contributing author to the ARRA News Service. You can follow John's work on @sjspecialist on Twitter and One Patriots Opinion on Facebook. Tags:John C. Velisek, President Obama, false facts, gun controlTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Republican Presidential New Year’s Resolution: Shut Down the Ridiculous EPA
Earth Day Ain’t
Vladimir Lenin’s Birthday
by Seton Motley, Contributing Author:: Happy New Year, All. ’Tis the time to resolve them if you’ve got them. For Republican presidential primary contenders, here’s an anti-Establishment thought: Pledge to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (There are, after all, fifty state versions thereof. The federal is thus, at the very least, utterly redundant.)
The EPA is all that is wrong with Washington, D.C. It is the result of yet another awful foray into bipartisanship (in DC, if it’s bipartisan – it’s almost always awful). Pseudo-Republican Richard Nixon created the mess in 1970 in typical DC fashion – he pretended to be Congress and signed an executive order. The Democrat-controlled Congress then pretended to be Congress – and “ratified” the EPA with committee hearings, rather than passing actual legislation birthing the bureaucracy.
So the EPA is in its entirety a Constitutional house of cards. What lives via the executive order – can die via the executive order. Republican presidential candidates can simply add it to the list of fiats they intend to undo upon entering office.
Born of executive order – the EPA now operates almost exclusively by executive order. Which continues unabated the violence being done to the Constitution. The EPA – in fact every Executive Branch agency, commission, department and board – is actually (supposed to be) a creation and creature of Congress. Thus no Executive bureaucracy can do anything – unless and until Congress writes a law empowering them to do it. Just about every arm of the Leviathan is far exceeding its legal reach. Arguably none more than the egregious EPA.
Under President Barack Obama, what was once obnoxious has now become atrocious – and atrociously routine. The Daily Caller on New Year’s Day published “These Are The Most ABSURD 2015 EPA Power-Grabs Of Dubious Legality.”
“Dubious” – is being very generous. The article chronicles four absolutely huge EPA power grabs – executed just last year. Totally bereft of any legislation from Congress. And looks at the tee-up of a fifth – the power grabs most likely to come as a result of the ridiculous Paris Climate Change summit.
You want to kneecap farmers? And make food exorbitantly more expensive? Turn farmers’ water into a weapon against them.
The issue is the EPA’s proposed changes to the Waters of the United States regulation. In March, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed new rules that would expand the agency’s regulatory authority on streams and wetlands that feed into major rivers and lakes.
The EPA says 60 percent of the nation’s streams and wetlands are not protected from pollution.
That actually means 60% of the nation’s streams and wetlands are protected from government. The EPA won’t stand for that. Except:
(T)wo U.S. Supreme Court decisions that limited what waterways the government can regulate and the proposed rule is meant to clarify which smaller ones they include.
Why would that stop the EPA?
(T)he rules…(would) allow the government to dictate what farmers can and cannot do with their farmland, which often includes small streams, ponds and marshes.
How beyond-all-reason-and-reasonableness is this massive new EPA power grab?
(Small Business Administration) SBA to EPA: Ditch the Waters of the U.S. Proposal
On October 1, 2014, an unexpected ally from within the administration filed comments with EPA claiming that EPA and the Corps “have improperly certified the proposed rule [WOTUS] under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) because it (WOTUS) would have significant effects on small businesses.”
When another arm of the Leviathan thinks you’ve gone light years too far – just how far from the path have you strayed?
GAO: EPA Used ‘Covert Propaganda’ in Promoting WOTUSThe assaults on farmers and the food they produce are reason enough to shut down the EPA. Add to it this cornucopia of terrible ideas, private sector assaults and corruption – and it quickly becomes a litany for immediate agency termination.
Closing the EPA makes eminent policy sense. And in this presidential election cycle – eminent political sense.
A 2016 New Year’s Resolution to do so – would help make for a VERY happy 2017.
---------------- Seton Motley is the President of Less Government and he contributes to ARRA News Service. Please feel free to follow him him on Twitter / Facebook. Tags:Republican Presidential New Year’s Resolution, Shut Down, Ridiculous EPA, Seton Motley, Less GovernmentTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Saudi-Iran Dispute Won't Cause Lasting Oil Price Rally
by Nick Cunningham: Oil prices jumped on the first trading day of 2016 as Middle East tension outweighed a selloff in financial markets around the world.
Oil markets remain oversupplied and depressed, but geopolitical flashpoints have a historical tendency to disrupt market trends. Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia carried out a mass execution of 47 prisoners, including a prominent Shiite cleric Nemer al-Nemer. The executions prompted condemnations from around the world, but in Iran protestors threw Molotov cocktails at Saudi Arabia's embassy, setting fire to the building. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Saudi Arabia would face "divine retribution" for executing the Shiite cleric.
The conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia has simmered for months, with the wars in Yemen and Syria playing out as proxy fights between the two rivals. Now the conflict has erupted into a more direct standoff. The execution of al-Nemer "risks to be really explosive in the broader region" a senior Western diplomat told The Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. government, which has sought to lower the temperature between the two countries in 2015 and bring Saudi Arabia on board with the nuclear agreement it brokered with Iran, called on both sides to take "affirmative steps to calm tensions" following this weekend's events.
Oil prices briefly jumped on Monday, with WTI up more than 3 percent and Brent up more than 4 percent in early trading hours. Both benchmarks spiked above $38 per barrel. That is a long way from the $100 per barrel routinely seen in years past when Middle East tension spooked oil markets, but prices were up from the 11-year lows seen in December.
The significant price increase came even as global financial markets saw turmoil on the first trading day of the New Year. U.S. stock indices plunged 2 percent on January 4, following negative economic news coming out of China. New data showed that China's factory activity slowed in December, sending the Shanghai Composite down by 7 percent. Trading came to a halt to prevent a further selloff.
The episode conjured up bad memories of the summer of 2015, when China suffered several weeks of a stock market meltdown. The economic fissures have not healed in the meantime, and the factory data from December points to ongoing sluggishness in China. The slowing economy could force a further depreciation of the yuan, which in turn will depress China's oil demand. This stands out as a bearish black swan for crude markets in the coming months.
In fact, global economic forces, along with oil supply and demand fundamentals, are much more important than the tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Unless the conflict escalates in a significant way, the supply overhang will continue to be much more influential on the price of oil than the war of words between Tehran and Riyadh. After spiking early on January 4, crude fell back by the afternoon as the markets digested the bearish news from China.
Moreover, the Saudi-Iran conflict could merely play out in the oil markets. OPEC was already unlikely to agree to a common strategy that would see production cuts, but now everyone can essentially rule out any cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Both countries may try to ramp up production (Iran plans on doing that anyway when sanctions are lifted) and discount their oil in an effort to claw away market share from each other.
In other words, global economic weakness and the glut in oil supplies will continue to weigh on crude. At this point, only tension in the Middle East is providing a bit of a lift to oil markets, but even that won't be enough to push up prices in any lasting way.
--------------- Nick Cunningham is a Vermont-based writer on energy and environmental issues and author of this article which was contributed by James Stafford the editor of OilPrice.com, the leading online energy news site, to the ARRA News Service. Tags:Nick Cunningham, James Stafford, Oilprice.com, Saudi-Iran Dispute, Won't Cause, Lasting Oil Price RallyTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Obama’s Executive Actions on Guns Are All Politics
Once again, President Obama is back to pandering and the
“look, look, we’re doing something” strategy as opposed to
going back to the drawing board and working with Congress.
(Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters/Newscom)
by Genevieve Wood: The controversial measures President Barack Obama announced will likely face constitutional challenges in the courts, but it’s already clear they won’t be effective.
The main executive action Obama announced that raises legal questions is about defining who must register as a licensed gun dealer and who does not have to register. The president has some, but not a lot of, leeway in how and to whom he applies the law.
But will the president’s desired goal of “closing gun show loopholes,” by requiring more of those selling guns at such venues to become licensed, do what he claims—namely, decrease the number of crimes committed with guns?
We don’t need a legal debate to answer that last question. There is little evidence that simply expanding background checks will do anything to stop mass shootings or other criminal activities involving guns. Such action would not prevent tragedies like San Bernardino. The problem there was Islamic terrorism, not gun laws.
But the president’s unwillingness to take that issue head-on aside, how exactly would more background checks prevent people intent on doing evil from doing evil things?
Since 1998, background checks for firearms have been run by the FBI through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Two observations:
One: Criminals don’t obey the law—that’s why they are criminals—and they will not be deterred by more background checks from obtaining a gun off the black market, or stealing one, or paying someone with a clean record to purchase the gun for them. They may be criminals, but most aren’t as stupid as proponents of gun control seem to think they are.
Two: Even when the federal government through the background system identifies felons trying to purchase guns, it has a less than stellar record in doing anything about it. And that is under both Republican and Democrat administrations.
According to government reports tabulated in an article by the Washington Post, in 2010, NICS denied the applications of 72,659 people seeking to purchase a firearm. Of those, 48,321 were felons and fugitives. What happened to those folks? Most walked away—only 44 of those denials ended up being prosecuted. And a look at 2006, under the Bush administration, doesn’t look much better. Of the 69,930 denials that year, 29,494 of which were felons and fugitives, only 112 were prosecuted.
What gives? Who better to answer that than Vice President Joe Biden, who said in 2013, “[W]e simply don’t have the time or the manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form, that checks a wrong box, that answers a question inaccurately.”
Perhaps Obama thinks adding an additional 200 ATF agents will solve the enforcement problem? This is unlikely, considering that he also wants to add a whole host of new folks to run checks on and investigate. It would seem, then, that this is more show than a tried and true answer.
In his weekly radio address last Friday, the president said he has received “too many letters from parents, and teachers, and kids, to sit around and do nothing” about the issue.
He says he tried three years ago to work with Congress on this issue, but because they wouldn’t act, he must go it alone. For the record, at the time the proposed legislation couldn’t get through the Senate, Democrats controlled that body.
And the legislation failed not just because the National Rifle Association opposed it. It also failed because it wouldn’t be effective: Had the legislation passed, it would have done nothing to stop what happened in Newtown, Conn., the impetus for the action, and the public apparently wasn’t interested in more laws just for the sake of more laws.
But once again, Obama is back to the “look, look, we’re doing something” strategy as opposed to going back to the drawing board and working with Congress on measures that actually would be effective, such as a real analysis of how our country treats those suffering from mental health issues.
But we’re supposed to feel better because he’s “doing something.”
----------------- Genevieve Wood advances policy priorities of The Heritage Foundation as senior contributor to The Daily Signal. Tags:President Obama, executive actions, guns are politics, Genevieve Wood, The Daily SignalTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Daniel Greenfield: Now that North Korea continues, very predictably, to escalate its nuclear program (just as Iran will), let's jump into our time machines and remember how Bill Clinton solved the Nork nukes.Good afternoon. I am pleased that the United States and North Korea yesterday reached agreement on the text of a framework document on North Korea's nuclear program. This agreement will help to achieve a longstanding and vital American objective: an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula.
This agreement is good for the United States, good for our allies, and good for the safety of the entire world. It reduces the danger of the threat of nuclear spreading in the region. It's a crucial step toward drawing North Korea into the global community.Pretty much the same speech Obama gave on Iran. So you, and anyone who can count to four, knows how that one is going to end.Today all Americans should know that as a result of this achievement on Korea, our Nation will be safer and the future of our people more secure.And that's the way it was. North Korea detonated an H-bomb, but Bill Clinton almost got six figures to give a speech in North Korea. So it was all worth it.Bill Clinton was so eager to rake in six-figure speaking fees he asked his wife’s staff at the State Department whether he could accept invitations involving the repressive nations of North Korea and Congo.
But Bill Clinton was still interested in the event linked to the secretive country led by brutal dictator Kim Jong-un, and Desai name-dropped Hillary Clinton’s brother in a follow-up sent three weeks after Mills’ rejection.
“This came via Tony Rodham. So we would be grateful for any specific concerns that we could share, beyond just saying it would be concerning,” Desai wrote.So close, but no cigar. The official lefty media narrative is that North Korea getting nukes was Bush's fault for being mean to the Norks. Either that or maybe Teddy Roosevelt's fault. Some Republican did it anyway. It can't be a Democrat because they never do anything wrong. Just look at the Carter administration. Or the Obama administration which will no doubt respond to this with the brilliance we have all come to expect from its coterie of foreign policy experts who used to be speechwriters, Communists or terrorists. Mission accomplished.
------------- Daniel Greenfield is Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. David Horowitz is a Contributing Author of the ARRA News Service Tags:remembering, Bill Clinton, ended, nuclear threat, North Korea, President Obama, IranTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Phyllis Schlafly: On the last day of 2015 the longest serving member of President Obama’s Cabinet, Arne Duncan, quietly stepped down from his official position as what the Washington Post called “the most powerful education secretary in U.S. history.” The federal government now provides about 10 percent of the money spent on public schools, and Duncan used that money, to an extent never before, to impose his will on local schools.
Arne’s departure is a good time to review what’s wrong with America’s public schools and how the federal government has made them worse. Instead of giving an account of his stewardship, however, Arne Duncan chose to devote his final speech to complaining about Congress’s failure to pass new gun-control laws.
Duncan’s gun-control speech was given in Chicago which, despite the nation’s most restrictive gun laws, nevertheless closed out the year 2015 with more homicides (at least 468) and shootings (over 2,900) than any other American city including New York and Los Angeles. With his call to deprive law-abiding citizens of the means of protecting themselves in their own homes, it’s no wonder that Arne Duncan was rated the most “anti-gun” member of Obama’s Cabinet by the National Rifle Association.
Duncan likes to brag that the high-school graduation rate edged upward to 82 percent during his tenure, but what he doesn’t say is that student achievement has simultaneously declined according to “the nation’s report card,” the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The NAEP test confirms that most of today’s high-school graduates simply haven’t learned what Americans expect high-school students to know, nor have they acquired the basic skills they need to support themselves and their future families.
The value of a high-school diploma, as measured by the earning power of high-school graduates, continues to decline, and the free-trade economy is creating fewer jobs that require no more than a high-school education. Students who graduate from high school today are much worse off economically than high-school graduates of one, two, or three generations ago.
The mantra of “college and career ready” is often used as the measure of what a high-school diploma is supposed to represent. Let’s take math, and especially algebra, mastery of which is necessary for any kind of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) career.
New York State uses the statewide Regents exam for high-school algebra in which a raw score of 30 out of 86 was “scaled” to a passing score of 65 (even though, if you do the math, 30 divided by 86 means that only 35 percent of the questions were answered correctly, not 65 percent). But only 63 percent of high-school seniors managed to achieve that so-called passing score, even after several tries; less than a quarter of the students attained the higher “college ready” score.
Even the term “college ready” is misleading, because it only means ready for a two-year community college with open admissions, not a competitive four-year college. At most community colleges, half the students must take “remediation” courses before they can even begin to do college-level work, and most students who enter remediation never earn a college degree.
The decline of public education explains the rebellion against the Common Core, which was foisted on the nation without public approval. It explains why in the Republican presidential contest, all the governors (Bush, Walker, Kasich, Christie, and Huckabee) remain in single digits while the leading candidates say that Common Core is a disaster and pledge to do away with it.
Common Core produced voluminous standards for reading and math, replacing fiction and literature with instructional texts, and replacing computational shortcuts with useless busy-work. Its minimum standards were set low enough for nearly every student to pass, as if we’re in Lake Wobegon, where “all the children are above average.”
Speaking on December 22 at the high-school gym in Keota, Iowa, Hillary Clinton vowed, “I wouldn’t keep any school open that wasn’t doing a better than average job.” Math wasn’t my strongest subject, so I asked my granddaughter, who graduated from college with a math degree and now works as an actuary, to explain how Hillary’s proposal would work.
If Hillary really means to close any school “that wasn’t doing a better than average job,” that would mean closing half the nation’s 90,000 public schools next year, half the remaining schools the following year, and so on until just one school was left open. And then that one school would have to close too, because if there’s only one school, it can’t be “better than average.”
Of course Hillary, whose presidential campaign has already been endorsed by both teachers unions (the NEA and the AFT), doesn’t really intend to close all public schools. She just wants to continue pretending that every public school is “better than average” so that parents will have no choice about what their children are taught (or not taught).
-------------------- Phyllis Schlafly has been a national leader of the conservative movement since 1964. She founded and is president 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, President Obama’s Cabinet, Arne DuncanTo 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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