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

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The DEMS’ Novel Interpretation of the Election Results

Dems Choose To Address FDA Reorganization, START Treaty, An Amnesty Bill, And “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Over The Economy, Jobs, And Preventing Massive Tax Increases

Dem Priorities Are “SCREWED UP!”

THE WASHINGTON POST’S DANA MILBANK:< “But It Would Be A Novel Interpretation Of The Election Results To Conclude That Americans’ Top Priority At This Pivotal Moment Is A Reorganization Of The Food And Drug Administration.” (Dana Milbank, “Chuck Schumer Helps The Democrats Get Political,” The Washington Post, 11/17/10)

Sen. Harry Reid On The DREAM Act: “I Have The Right To Bring That Up Any Time I Want”

“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Has Promised To Bring The DREAM Act, An Important Piece Of Legislation For The Latino Community, To A Vote In The Senate After The November Elections -- Whether Or Not Democrats Retain Their Majority.” (“Harry Reid Promises Senate Will Hold A Vote On The Dream Act In Lame-Duck Session,” The Huffington Post, 10/29/10)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “I Have The Right To Bring That Up Any Time I Want.” “‘The answer is yes,’ Reid told Univision host Jorge Ramos in October when pressed about whether there will be a vote. ‘I have the right to bring that up any time I want.’” (“Will Congress Vote On DREAM Act For Illegal Immigrants In 2010?” ABC News, 11/15/10)

“Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D-N.Y.) And Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) Will Meet With President Barack Obama Tuesday Afternoon To Talk About The Chances Of Getting Comprehensive Immigration Reform Or The DREAM Act Passed In The Lame Duck Session, a House Democratic source said.” (“Obama, Dems To Meet On DREAM Act,” Politico, 11/15/10)

Dem Senators: “Act Immediately” On “‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ During The Lame Duck Session”

“In A Joint Statement Issued Tuesday By Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.) And Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), The Lawmakers Call On Senate Leaders To ‘Act Immediately To Debate And Pass A Defense Authorization Bill And Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ During The Lame Duck Session.’” (“Senate Trio Urges Action On DADT,” Roll Call, 11/9/10)

START Treaty “Top Priority” For President Obama

PRESIDENT OBAMA: “I Reiterated My Commitment To Getting The START Treaty Done During The Lame-Duck Session.” “President Barack Obama, capping a far-flung Asian trip of mixed results, assured Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday that getting the Senate to ratify the START nuclear weapons treaty is a ‘top priority’ of his administration.  ‘I reiterated my commitment to getting the START treaty done during the lame-duck session," Obama said, noting that Congress returns next week for its postelection session.” (“Obama To Medvedev: START Vote Is 'Top Priority',” The Associated Press, 11/13/10)

“The Democratic Chairman Of The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry, Said Wednesday He's ‘Very Hopeful’ The Senate Will Vote In December. ‘We're Going To Try To Move To The START Treaty And We're Going To Get The START Treaty Done,’ He Vowed.” (“Is A Full Stop Likely For New START?” CNN, 11/12/10)

Tags: Democrats, Congress, FDA Reorganization, START Treaty, DREAM Act, Amnesty Bill, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Ignoring the Economy, Jobs, Preventing Massive Tax Increases To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Ron Paul Responds to TSA Abuses: Introduces 'American Traveler Dignity Act'

Congressman Ron Paul (TX-14) has introduced the American Traveler Dignity Act in response to regulatory measures taken by the TSA to implement potentially dangerous X-Ray screening procedures or invasive "pat-downs" by TSA officials. Paul said, "The legislation is simple. It establishes that airport security screeners are not immune from any US law regarding physical contact with another person, making images of another person, or causing physical harm through the use of radiation-emitting machinery on another person. It means they are subject to the same laws as the rest of us. Imagine if the political elites in our country were forced to endure the same conditions at the airport as business travelers, families, senior citizens, and the rest of us. Perhaps this problem could be quickly resolved if every cabinet secretary, every member of Congress, and every department head in the Obama administration were forced to submit to the same degrading screening process as the people who pay their salaries."

Read the American Traveler Dignity Act

Tags: Rom Paul, US House, TSA, American Travler Dignity Act, Airports, groping people, sexual contact, airport security, x-ray, national security To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Don't Censor the Net

Bill Smith, Editor: The below article by Warner Todd Huston addresses efforts to stop the "COIC Act" and to to stop the Obama administration (or any administration) from having the power to force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block sites that the government doesn't like.

While Huston words speak for themselves, a major concern of mine is the potential to block the sites /blogs of conservative bloggers. There are numerous political bloggers - left, right and center. Also there are tens of thousands of bloggers who focused on specific topics (e.g., military life style, free speech, abortion, pro-life, gay rights, gun rights, gun control, green turtles, scrap booking, or whatever). Most of these bloggers are not blogging for money. They are writers / pamphleteers on their areas of interest - sharing articles, photos, videos, etc. that interest them with their readers.

For these bloggers / writers who do not write for money or solicit money for stories, there is doctrine under the The Copyright Law identified as the "Fair Use Doctrine" which allows them to even share copyrighted material. Specifically, the "Fair Use Doctrine" allows copyrighted material to be made available to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a "fair use" of such copyrighted material as provided for in section Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

For example this blog (site) is distributed without profit to readers to view for the expressed purpose of viewing the included information for research, educational, or satirical purposes. However, readers are warned: "This site/blog may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. . . . [Based on the above Fair Use Doctrine] . . . Any person/entity seeking to use copyrighted material on this site/blog for purposes that go beyond "fair use," must obtain permission from the copyright owner."

It has become evident that there are members of the Obama administration as well as members of Congress who would like to stop bloggers from addressing issues and stirring up "we the people" with information that leads to calling Washington, D.C. elites into accountability. The Internet with a myriad of sites and blogs, is a powerful tools to protect individuals freedoms and rights, including free speech, to address the abuses of power, to promote transparency and accountability and to share opinions on issues. There has been a noticeable rise in proposals and even potential regulations or legislation floated to silence bloggers and organizations using the Internet to oppose actions by the government.

I do not fear liberal bloggers who have diametric opinions to mine. I only fear a government be it right or left minded that would prevent us from presenting our ideas and information to others.

Huston's article regarding Censoring the Internet reminds us of the approach being used in China to limit any speech the Chinese government does not wish to be shared. This Orwellian idea would be destructive to our free society. I have joined Warner Todd Huston and others in signing the STOP the COICA petition referenced below. Hope you will do so as well. Now for Huston's article.

Don’t Censor the Internet! STOP the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act
by Warner Todd Huston, Publius' Forum: The politicians are at it again. They never cease to amaze for their constantly revolving attempts to take over complete control of the Internet and everything connected to it. This time, in the guise of safeguarding copyrighted material, Congressional Democrats intend to introduce into this zombie session of congress the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA).

COICA would give the Attorney General the power to shut down websites accused of illegally distributing copyrighted material by requiring Internet Service Providers to block such sites from its customers.

Certainly, as a capitalist, I am solidly for protections against copyright infringement, but, as is the case with most things that government does, this bill goes that much too far and offers a threat to freedom of expression on the Internet.

After all, this bill would give the power to block websites to a relatively few number of government officials, a situation ripe for misuse and abuse. Further such overt power could easily chill nascent companies that might shy from investing in new ideas for fear of running afoul of the government.

AT STOP the COICA - - Sign the petition.

This bill has even alarmed a group of eighty-seven engineers who played a part in the creation of the Internet.
If enacted, this legislation will risk fragmenting the Internet’s global domain name system (DNS), create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure. All censorship schemes impact speech beyond the category they were intended to restrict, but this bill will be particularly egregious in that regard because it causes entire domains to vanish from the Web, not just infringing pages or files. Worse, an incredible range of useful, law-abiding sites can be blacklisted under this bill.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has many concerns over COICA.
If this bill passes, the list of targets could conceivably include hosting websites such as Dropbox, MediaFire and Rapidshare; MP3 blogs and mashup/remix music sites like SoundCloud, MashupTown and Hype Machine ; and sites that discuss and make the controversial political and intellectual case for piracy, like, p2pnet, InfoAnarchy, Slyck and ZeroPaid . Indeed, had this bill been passed five or ten years ago, YouTube might not exist today. In other words, the collateral damage from this legislation would be enormous. (See why all these sites would be targets?)
Critics of the COICA say that there are already plenty of laws to prevent copyright infringement and this bill would only add uncertainty in an era when economic activity is sorely needed.

I have joined a growing list of individuals and organizations to try and stop this bad bill. This new effort has been launched at Please stop by and sign the petition and let’s send a message to Congress.
Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. political columns are featured on numerous websites. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines.

Tags: Internet, Net, censorship, Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, COICA, Don't Censor the Net, Warner Todd Huston To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Fact Checking VP Biden On Premiums And Dropped Coverage

Vice President Biden Erroneously Claims “Premiums Haven’t Gone Up” And Companies Aren’t “Dropping Health Care” As A Result Of New Health Law

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: “Yeah. And … [People] Are Starting To Find Out Now … That What They're Told Is Simply Not True. Their Premiums Haven't Gone Up. They're Not In A Position Where Their Companies Are Dropping Health Care.” (“$#!% Joe Biden Says,” GQ, 12/10)

Health Law Is Causing Premiums To Increase

“AARP's Endorsement Helped Secure Passage Of President Barack Obama's Health Care Overhaul. Now The Seniors' Lobby Is Telling Its Employees Their Insurance Costs Will Rise Partly As A Result Of The Law.” (“Citing Health Overhaul, AARP Hikes Employee Costs,” The Associated Press, 11/4/10) (“Citing Health Overhaul, AARP Hikes Employee Costs,” The Associated Press, 11/4/10)

“Blue Cross And Blue Shield Of Nebraska Estimates That The New [Health Care] Law Will Cause Premiums To Increase By 1 Percent To 5 Percent For Next Year, while Omaha-based benefit consultant Kim Lobato of Aon Risk Solutions is seeing the middle part of that range, about 2 percent or 3 percent.” (“Health Care Law Gives Booster Shot To Premiums,” Omaha World-Herald, 11/14/10)

“Caterpillar Inc. Employees Will Face Increased Health Insurance Premiums As A Result Of Higher Costs Associated With The Health Care Reform Law Adopted Earlier This Year. For some employees, premiums for family coverage will increase by $41 a month, beginning Jan. 1. Even employee-only coverage will increase $5 a month, said a memo to management and salaried personnel that went out Thursday.” (“Caterpillar Raising Health Care Premiums,” Peoria Journal Star, 10/28/10)

“Aerospace Giant Boeing Is Joining The List Of Companies That Say The New Health Care Law Could Have A Potential Downside For Their Workers. In A Letter Mailed To Employees Late Last Week, The Company Cited The Overhaul As Part Of The Reason It Is Asking Some 90,000 Nonunion Workers To Pay Significantly More For Their Health Plan Next Year. A copy of the letter was obtained Monday by The Associated Press.” (“Citing Health Care Law, Boeing Pares Employee Plan,” AP, 10/18/10)

Health Law Is Causing Many To Lose Their Current Health Care Policies

“The Principal Financial Group Announced On Thursday That It Planned To Stop Selling Health Insurance, Another Sign Of Upheaval Emerging Among Insurers As The New Federal Health Law Starts To Take Effect. The Company, Based In Iowa, Provides Coverage To About 840,000 People Who Receive Their Insurance Through An Employer.” (“Insurer Cuts Health Plans As New Law Takes Hold,” The New York Times, 10/1/10)

“At The Principal Financial Group, The Company’s Decision Reflected Its Assessment Of Its Ability To Compete In The Environment Created By The New Law. ‘Now scale really matters,’ said Daniel J. Houston, a senior executive at Principal, which is headquartered in Des Moines. ‘We don’t have a significant concentration in any one market.’” (“Insurer Cuts Health Plans As New Law Takes Hold,” The New York Times, 10/1/10)

“3M Co. Confirmed It Would Eventually Stop Offering Its Health-Insurance Plan To Retirees, Citing The Federal Health Overhaul As A Factor.” (“3M To Change Health-Plan Options For Workers,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/4/10)

“Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Has Notified Customers That It Will Drop Its Medicare Advantage Health Insurance Program At The End Of The Year, Forcing 22,000 Senior Citizens In Massachusetts, New Hampshire, And Maine To Seek Alternative Supplemental Coverage. The decision by Wellesley-based Harvard Pilgrim, the state’s second-largest health insurer, was prompted by a freeze in federal reimbursements and a new requirement that insurers offering the kind of product sold by Harvard Pilgrim — a Medicare Advantage private fee for service plan — form a contracted network of doctors who agree to participate for a negotiated amount of money.” (“Harvard Pilgrim Cancels Medicare Advantage Plan,” The Boston Globe, 9/28/10)

Lynn Bowman, Vice President Of Customer Service At Harvard Pilgrim’s Office In Quincy: "We Know That Cuts In Medicare Are Being Used To Fund National Health Care Reform." (“Harvard Pilgrim Cancels Medicare Advantage Plan,” The Boston Globe, 9/28/10)

Tags: INSERT TAGS To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Today in Washington, D.C. - Nov 19, 2010 - Dem Priorities Continue To Be Wildly Out Of Touch

We are liberals - what do you expect?
The Senate had no roll call votes today. Last night, the Senate voted agreed to the motion to proceed to S. 510, the food safety and FDA reorganization bill, by a vote of 57-27.

Congress is scheduled to be in recess next week for Thanksgiving and return on Monday, November 29th. On Nov 29th at 6:30 PM, the Senate will vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the Harkin substitute amendment to S. 510. If cloture is invoked, the Senate will then consider 4 motions to suspend the rules to allow amendments.

The motions will be offered by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), for an amendment to eliminate the onerous 1099 reporting requirements on small businesses in the Democrats’ health care bill, by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), for an amendment to scale back the 1099 requirements, and by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), for his own substitute amendment to the bill and for an amendment to ban earmarks. Each motion to suspend requires 67 votes to be approved. Senators will vote on all four motions and then on final passage of S. 510.

Yesterday, the House ethics after previously finding Charlie Rangel panel guilty of 11 out of 13 counts of corruption. recommended that House censure Rangel.  this is basically a slap in the hand.  Bill Wilson, President of Americans for Limited Government, said, "Such a timid punishment is what one might expect in a 3rd grade classroom. How about a dunce cap, too? . . . Is it any wonder why [this Democrat led ] Congress ranks at the bottom of institutions in a Gallup survey? Just 11 percent stated they had a great deal of confidence in Congress."

After a week of demonstrating their priorities still aren’t aligned with those of the American people, even in the wake of an historic election, Democrats in Congress still don’t seem to have learned anything. Most Americans are concerned with the economy, and one of the best things that could be done from Washington to help would be to ensure that Americans are not hit with across-the-board tax increases in January. Extending current tax policy will prevent Americans from facing a tax hike when they can least afford it and will finally provide some certainty for job creators. Yet Democrats still refuse to make this a priority.

National Journal’s Major Garrett reports today, “Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the new No. 3 leader of House Democrats in the 112th Congress, said it’s not ‘essential’ for Congress to extend the Bush tax cuts because if all income taxes go up as scheduled on January 1, ‘you’ve got a big deficit reduction taking place, which is also a good thing.’” Is Clyburn indicating it’s not a problem for Americans to wake up to massive tax increases on New Year’s Day? As The Washington Post notes, “Unless Congress acts, virtually every taxpayer will be hit with higher taxes in January that could leave monthly paychecks hundreds of dollars lighter.”

Even though they huddled for hours yesterday, The Washington Post reports, “President Obama and congressional Democrats failed to agree on a strategy Thursday for extending an array of expiring tax breaks, with the party badly divided over whether to temporarily extend the cuts for all taxpayers or stick with their pledge to protect only the middle class.”

Some Democrats are acknowledging they can’t agree on what to do. “‘There's not a consensus,’ said Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), emerging from an afternoon meeting at which Senate Democrats wrestled with the tax issue for nearly three hours, discussing numerous options without reaching agreement. ‘I think there's a reality here, which is that while it might be best to continue the middle-class tax cuts and raise taxes on higher-income people, the votes are not there to do that,’ Lieberman said, adding that he would support continuing all the cuts for two years to avoid an across-the-board tax hike.”

But Democrats were able to agree on something, according to The Post: “During a meeting at the White House, Democrats resolved to stage a vote on the plan that they have backed for months, which formed a key plank in Obama's presidential campaign platform: Extend the tax breaks for families earning less than $250,000 a year while letting tax rates rise for wealthier taxpayer.”

In other words, Democrat leaders have decided to “stage a vote” for which other Democrats acknowledge “the votes are not there to do that.” As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday, “Votes structured for symbolic reasons in December won’t prevent a tax hike in January. It’s not enough to talk about the problem of the looming tax hike on families and hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the country—we have to fix it. And fixing this problem should be our priority in the limited time remaining this year—not forcing votes on the liberal wish list.”

At the same time the House Democrats have made it official – they will settle for nothing less than a massive, job-killing tax hike on the small businesses Americans are counting on to create jobs.  As POLITICO reports, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told President Obama that Democrats remain “firmly committed” to raising taxes on American families and small businesses on January 1st, telegraphing to the nation’s employers that they better plan for more tax hikes, not hiring more employees.  Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) confirms that Democrats even plan to hold a vote on imposing a job-killing tax hike on small businesses. 

Democrats have continued to hold votes on and push liberal priorities that simply are not the chief concerns of Americans. The Senate has now spent two days on a bill to reorganize and expand the powers of the FDA, after a show vote on a bill designed to help trial lawyers. And according to The Washington Post, “Thirteen Democratic senators signaled strong support Thursday for ending the military's ‘don't ask, don't tell’ policy and said they are willing to work well into December to ensure passage of a defense bill that would end the ban on gays openly serving in uniform.” Meanwhile, President Obama is still pushing for ratification of a nuclear weapons reduction treaty. The New York Times writes, “Just two weeks after an election that left him struggling to find his way forward, President Obama has decided to confront Senate Republicans in a make-or-break battle over arms control that could be an early test of his mettle heading into the final two years of his term.”

Both Pelosi and Reid plan to schedule a vote on another liberal social program called the Dream Act -- Amnesty (S. 729 and H.R. 1751), as early as Monday, November 29. However, the senate is unlikely to act quickly due to other scheduled votes. The DREAM Act is a sweeping mass amnesty for most illegal aliens younger than 35. The Amnesty would make millions of illegal aliens legal and would put them on the path to citizenship. It would make them eligible for welfare and Medicare. It would allow them to bring in family members from other countries. The far Left has been pushing for years to get full amnesty for all 20 million illegal aliens in the U.S. But now they know their time is short as this may be their last chance to pass it before they lose their majority. The recent push on the Dream Act is being promoted by several pro-Amnesty Members of Congress led by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) who are making the rounds of the news services and also met with Obama, asking the president's help in seeking a vote before Congress adjourns.

It’s astonishing how out of touch Democrats remain. Their leaders are saying preventing tax hikes on all Americans in the middle of a recession not “essential,” preferring instead to stage show votes that rank-and-file members acknowledge won’t succeed. At the same time, other Democrats are talking up things like repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” while the President is demanding ratification of his nuclear weapons treaty before Congress adjourns.

These priorities are baffling. As Sen. McConnell observed yesterday, “The deadline to prevent a tax hike on every American taxpayer is January 1, and the clock is ticking. While some in Congress have a strange desire to raise taxes on hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the country, Republicans and a growing chorus of [rank-and-file] Democrats believe that no one should have the government take even more out of their paycheck next year.”

Tags: US Senate, US House, Washington, D.C., liberals, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, James Clyburn, tax cuts, liberal priorities, FDA, DREAM Act, amnesty, Charlie Rangel, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quantitative Easing Explained

Quantitative Easing: hat the Federal Reserve is up to, and how we got here. The video has some minor frustrated language issues but is understandable and realistic even though the cartoon characters are not. Education and makes the point. Over 1,690,000 views already.

Tags: Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve, Fed, quantitative easing, monetary policy, educational, money, economy To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

American Rights, American Responsibilities

When you give Washington not hundreds of billions but trillions of dollars to hand out, you create corruption on steroids.
Gov. Bobby Jindal
by Gov. Bobby Jindal, NRO Online: In America today, we need to trust ourselves — not look to others to take care of us. As a society, we bloom when we allow individuals to work hard and enjoy what they can achieve. Economist and Nobel laureate F. A. Hayek rightly credited the “unchaining of individual energies” with creating and sustaining the West’s freedom and prosperity. Only individuals create and dream, something Americans have recognized since the nation’s founding. That is why we Americans reject collectivism. We do not believe that, in the words of one turn-of-the-century German thinker, “The individual is nothing in relation to the course [of time], the species is everything.”

However, we cannot ever allow our society to drift to the opposite extreme, at which the individual is everything, and the group is nothing. As Americans, we are bound together by a common outlook and heritage. We have freedom, but we also have responsibilities, both to ourselves and to those around us. That is what makes us great.

In my family, our need to care for others — not just our family but strangers, too — springs from our Christian beliefs. The greatest commandment, which envelops so many others, is the voluntary obligation to love your neighbor as yourself. Government coercion is a poor and dangerous substitute for that appeal to our better angels. As Winston Churchill said just over 100 years ago, the good Lord taught us to believe “all mine is yours,” not “all yours is mine.” Christian charity is about giving, not taking.

Here in Louisiana, when the storms have come, we have seen the incomparable generosity of the American spirit. I’ll never forget what I saw: people standing on rooftops begging to be rescued. Hospitals meant to save lives, suddenly helpless to preserve them. Families torn apart for all time by the relentless force of the rising waters.

A monumental failure of government contributed mightily to what we saw during those grim days in 2005.We will see other storms come to our state but, as governor, I’ve worked to make sure those tragic events never visit Louisiana again. I’ve also put everyone in the state on notice that all of us, as individuals, must take greater responsibility for preparing for the storms life brings us. All of us must be responsible for meeting the needs of the truly disadvantaged, people with physical or mental limitations. People who can take responsibility for themselves should not expect someone else do so. We will help you when catastrophe comes, but you’d better not sit there and just wait for someone to pull you out when you could climb out, or pick you up when you could stand on your own two feet.

Today, we have taxpayer dollars going to banks, investment houses, and automakers, and financial firms that are judged “too big to fail.” Our government is supposed to be a “partner” with these businesses. As one businessman told me, that’s like an alligator having a chicken as a partner for dinner. I believe big government should not be picking and choosing which companies we will bail out or rescue. That political competition lets the best lobbyists determine the winner.

Government’s role is to serve as an objective referee and make sure companies abide by the rules, compete fairly, and obey the law. We don’t want the referee tilting the football game. But when the federal government starts bailing out individual businesses, that’s exactly what it does. Of course, if you think there isn’t enough backroom dealing and corruption in Washington now, then let’s give big-government officials the chance to pass out more cash, loans, and contracts.

When you give Washington not hundreds of billions but trillions of dollars to hand out, you create corruption on steroids. Some will use their power and privilege to enrich themselves. Others will enrich their political allies. Either way, with new trillion-dollar pots of gold to lust after, I’m sure corruption is growing, even now, in Washington.

Consider the words of Harry Hopkins, who oversaw both the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the distribution of funds from the Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA) under FDR during the Great Depression. “I thought at first I could be completely non-political,” Hopkins said (as quoted by Robert E. Sherwood in the definitive Roosevelt and Hopkins: An Intimate History). “Then they told me I had to be part non-political and part political. I found out that was impossible, at least for me. I finally realized that there was nothing for it but to be all-political.” When trillions of dollars are sloshing around the Treasury, awaiting direction from the privileged few, we know what will happen: People who walk into public service with nothing will walk out with the taxpayers’ gold in their pockets. And businessmen who walked in with empty pockets will walk out millionaires because of whom they knew, not whom they served. Look at the list of the most corrupt countries in the world today, and you will see that centralized economies are at the top of the list.

In his 1958 book The Affluent Society, John Kenneth Galbraith said that with a home, a car, a television set, and a family member in college, the American family had reached its economic pinnacle. Then, in the 1970s, Stanford University professor Paul Ehrlich warned us that the immediate future would bring widespread famine, shortages, and despair. He wrote in his book The Population Bomb (1968): “By 1985 enough millions will have died to reduce the earth’s population to some acceptable level, like 1.5 billion.” In his book The End of Affluence (1975), Ehrlich said Congress would be dissolved “during the food riots of the 1980s.” In 1977, Jimmy Carter warned, “We could use up all of the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade.”

Of course, there were no food riots in America in the 1980s. Our oil reserves expanded; they did not evaporate, despite our still-growing dependence. And, at last count, there were approximately 6 billion people on earth, including, surprisingly, Paul Ehrlich.

Yet today there are still some people who want to harp on America’s limits. They still say that our best days are behind us. These big-government advocates tell us their failures are the best Americans can do. Forget cooking up anything new — let’s just divide the old American pie into smaller, equally unsatisfying pieces.

That is all bunk. It’s not a sunset but a sunrise that still starts America’s day.
— Bobby Jindal is governor of Louisiana and author of Leadership and Crisis (Regnery, 2010), from which this article is adapted.

Tags: Bobby Jindal, Governor, LA, Louisiana, Rright, American Rights, American Responsibilities, NRO To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Washington Times Takes Aim At Big Sister's TSA's Tyrannical Tactics

 An Editorial by the Washington Times places in perspective the conflict of people being forced by DHS Chief Janet Napolitano to no longer fly or to be subject to your choice of a "pornographic scanners" or "public groping sessions."  The TSA "Public grouping session" by anyone else would be illegal "sexual contact" which the Times defines using the U.S. Code. The Times also points out that "Once freedom at airports is "locked down," it's inevitable that TSA will next target buses, trains and the Metro." And warns, "Strict controls on internal travel is the hallmark of a police state."

Because of the excellent presentation, the the editorial it is excepted below for educational purposes.

Washington Times Editorial: Big Sister's police state
TSA's tyrannical tactics threaten American freedoms

DHS Sec. Janet Napolitano said
that TSA is “doing what we need to
do to protect the traveling public.”
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has crossed the line. As if subjecting millions of Americans to X-rated x-ray scans and public groping sessions weren't bad enough, the agency now threatens $11,000 in fines against anyone refusing to submit to humiliation at the airport.

Oceanside, Calif., resident John Tyner found this out after he posted on YouTube a video of his degrading encounter with TSA screeners. Mr. Tyner's catchy phrase, "If you touch my junk, I'll have you arrested," spread quickly. . . .  

The term is not used lightly. Under 18 U.S. Code Section 2244, " 'sexual contact' means the intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh or buttocks of any person with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade." It's no coincidence that TSA initiated sexual-contact pat-downs after fliers began to refuse the pornographic scanners. There can be no question that when threats of civil punishment are used to ensure compliance, those encounters with the TSA lose their status as a voluntary transaction. It's even more outrageous that these unnecessary searches are being conducted on children.

There's also no doubt that some rogue TSA agents seek self-gratification at the expense of passengers. In January, a TSA agent planted white powder in the bags of passengers, according to documents posted on the Smoking Gun website. Apparently, scaring members of the public into thinking they were being busted for smuggling drugs made for a good "joke." The new screening rules open yet more opportunities for the worst elements at TSA.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano insists that anyone who has a problem with the state of affairs simply shouldn't fly. Unelected bureaucrats like Ms. Napolitano - known across the blogosphere as Big Sister - have no business making decisions that touch upon such a fundamental right as the ability of innocent citizens to travel freely. In Ms. Napolitano's view, Americans wishing to visit family and friends across the country exercise a privilege granted by the government. Air travel is no longer a free transaction between a member of the public and an airline.

Once freedom at airports is "locked down," it's inevitable that TSA will next target buses, trains and the Metro. After all, al Qaeda has attacked each of these modes of transportation in other parts of the world. Strict controls on internal travel is the hallmark of a police state.

No matter how invasive TSA searches become, there's no guarantee anything the agency does will prevent a terrorist attack. A balance must be struck between reasonable security measures and the maintenance of a free society. These decisions cannot be made by Obama administration officials without involving the public in the discussions. . . .  Stopping TSA would be a good first step.

Tags: Washington Times, DHS, TSA, Tyrannical tacticts, freedom to travel, pornographic scanners, sexual contact, invasion of personal space, police state To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Today in Washington, D.C. - Nov 18, 2010 - Ghailani Verdict Illustrates Problems With Trying Terrorists In Civilian Courts

Congress reconvened today. The Senate Senate resumed post-cloture consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 510, the food safety and FDA reorganization bill. They invoked cloture on the bill yesterday.  Also yesterday, Senate Democrats failed by a vote of 58-41 to get cloture on their misleadingly named “Paycheck Fairness Act.” Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) said of the bill, “The primary beneficiary of this legislation will be trial lawyers.”

House Republicans unanimously passed an earmark ban for the 112th Congress.  Since they will be in control in the House, they will be able to stop Democrat earmarks. One House staffer was excited and said, "As many of our GOP leaders have said, we’ve got to get the fiscal house back in order!" Rep. Jeff Flake (AZ) said, "Earmarks have become symbolic of congressional excess. We’re not going to be able to balance the budget and reduce the debt by simply eliminating earmarks, but it’s a huge signal to taxpayers that Republicans are serious about getting the federal government back on solid fiscal ground.” Representative-elect Sean Duffy (WI) published an op/ed on the subject today in Politico, entitled "Listen to the people on banning earmarks." In the piece, he emphasizes the GOP's commitment to changing the way Washington does business.

The Washington Post reports today, “The first former Guantanamo Bay detainee to be tried in federal criminal court was found guilty on a single conspiracy charge Wednesday but cleared on 284 other counts. The outcome, a surprise, seriously undermines - and could doom - the Obama administration’s plans to put other Guantanamo detainees on trial in U.S. civilian courts. After deliberating for five days, a jury of six men and six women found Ahmed Ghailani, 36, guilty of conspiracy to damage or destroy U.S. property but acquitted him of multiple murder and attempted-murder charges for his role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa.”

Importantly, The Post points out, “The Obama administration had hoped that a conviction on most, if not all, of the charges would help clear the way for federal prosecutions of other Guantanamo detainees - including Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators accused of organizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The administration did not want to rely exclusively on the military commissions that the George W. Bush administration had made a centerpiece of its detention policy. President Obama’s strategy, however, has run into fierce, cross-party opposition in Congress and New York, in part because of concerns that it would be harder to win convictions in civilian court. The failure to convict Ghailani, a native of Tanzania, on the most serious terrorism charges will bolster the arguments of those who say the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should be kept open, both to host military commissions for some prisoners and to hold others indefinitely and without trial under the laws of war.”

The Post also notes, “[T]he verdict was still a blow to administration officials, who were quietly confident that Ghailani would be found guilty on all charges. For some, a conviction on only one count amounted to a close call. Had he been cleared of all charges, the administration would probably have been forced to take Ghailani back into military custody rather than see him released.”

In fact, Obama administration officials were not so quiet about their confidence on what would happen to Ghailani. A year ago, Attorney General Eric Holder, declared, “Failure is not an option. These are cases that have to be won. I don’t expect that we will have a contrary result.” In May 2009, Holder said, “By prosecuting Ahmed Ghailani in federal court, we will ensure that he finally answers for his alleged role in the bombing of our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.” Asked last month about a key witness being excluded from the Ghailani trial and if that would make it harder to try terrorism suspects in civilian courts, Holder responded, “I think the true test is, ultimately, how are these cases resolved? What happens? Can these cases be brought into Article III Courts and can they be successfully resolved from the government’s perspective? … And at the conclusion of the Ghailani case, I’ll ask you to ask me that question again.”

Unfortunately, it appears the Ghailani trial has shown the accuracy of long-standing Republican concerns and critiques about trying terrorists in civilian courts. As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said today, “Yesterday’s acquittal in a federal court of accused terrorist Ahmed Ghailani on all but one of 285 charges of conspiracy and murder is all the proof we need that the administration’s approach to prosecuting terrorists has been deeply misguided and indeed potentially harmful as a matter of national security. You’ll recall that Attorney General Holder assured the American people last year that Ghailani would not be acquitted of the charges against him. . . .  He said Ghailani’s prosecution in civilian court would prove its effectiveness in trying terrorists who are picked up on the battlefield. At the time, most Americans wondered why we would even take the chance. And now they’re wondering when the administration will admit it was wrong and assure us just as confidently that terrorists will be tried from now on in the military commission system that was established for this very purpose at the secure facility at Guantanamo Bay, or detained indefinitely, if they cannot be tried without jeopardizing national security.”

Leader McConnell and Republicans have long warned that trying terrorists in civilian courts is the wrong approach for a host of reasons. The Obama administration should change course and return to the military commission system.

Tags: US Senate, US House, Washington, D.C., earmarks, Ahmed Ghailani, terrorist trial, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Republican House Leadership Team

Although the top four names were identified in a previous post, below is the complete Republican leadership team list.  During organizational meetings today, House Republicans – including newly elected and returning Members – selected their leadership team for the 112th Congress:

  • Speaker of the House: Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)
  • Majority Leader: Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)
  • Majority Whip: Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
  • Conference Chairman: Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)
  • NRCC Chairman: Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX)
  • Policy Committee Chairman: Rep. Tom Price (R-GA)
  • Conference Vice-Chair: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
  • Conference Secretary: Rep. John Carter (R-TX)
  • Freshman Representative: Rep.-elect Kristi Noem (R-SD)
  • Freshman Representative: Rep.-elect Tim Scott (R-SC)
  • Rules Committee Representative: Rep. David Dreier (R-CA)
  • Chairman of the Leadership: Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR)
There are several highly qualified House Republican names which did not appear on the leadership list which will be the movers and shakers (leaders) in the 112th Congress.

Tags: Republican, leadership, US House, 112th Congress, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Another Government Failure: The Postmaster General's Golden Parachute

Update 11/24/2010 via The Washington Times: "Outgoing U.S. Postmaster John E. Potter, who earned nearly a quarter-million dollars in incentive pay in 2010 on top of a $273,000 salary, is telling fellow Postal Service executives that from now on bonuses and salary increases will be tied to the agency's financial condition. Mr. Potter said in a memo obtained by The Washington Times that for fiscal 2011, the Postal Service's board of governors decided that 'all future officer executive pay and incentives will be linked to the Postal Service's financial condition.' . . . It's unclear whether the pay policy will affect top executives who already have employment contracts that include incentive payments. In one recently approved contract with Paul Vogel, the $245,000-per-year president of shipping and mailing services, a provision states that he'll receive, at minimum, a performance incentive of 25 percent of his basic salary at the end of each year. . . ." [No change though for US Postmaster John Portter - he keeps all his $228,000 in incentive bonus for 2010 and $5.5 million in deferred retirement package.]
Bill Smith, ARRA Editor: Ed O'Keefe, Federal Eye, WPO gives us another reason not to cheer the ineptness of government supported operations. Even Generals who have been in combat in their former careers get the following special treatment. Below is a summary from O'Keeefe's report:

Outgoing Postmaster General' Golden Parachute

Postmaster General John E. Potter could earn about $5.5 million in deferred compensation, retirement benefits and accrued annual leave for the rest of his life when he leaves the U.S. Postal Service next month, according to financial statements.

Potter also is eligible for up to two years of outplacement assistance and may continue receiving health-care insurance from USPS for up to one year after his departure.

Potter's departure package includes payouts from about $1.3 million earned in a special USPS pension benefit established for him from June 2001 to June 2007. He's also accumulated about $3.06 million in benefits through the Civil Service Retirement System. CSRS payments are made annually and Potter's sum is on par with the earnings of other federal employees who've served for more than 30 years, postal officials said.

Potter has also accumulated about $881,500 in deferred performance-based awards he's accumulated with 5 percent annual interest since joining the USPS executive suite in the 1990s. Finally, Potter is due $243,900 in accrued leave time. . . . [Full Story]
O'Keefe's article also pointed out that the government had attempted to compensate the Postmaster General position after consideration of certain of earnings by other business executives like United Parcel Service CEO Michael L. Eskew and FedEx CEO Frederick W. Smith. It seems they forgot that 1) The USPO Master hasn't been held responsible for the operational inefficiency and operating costs for the failing USPO and 2) the position was supposed to be that of a public's servant. If UPS and FedEx operated as poorly as the USPO, both of their executives would have lost their positions or their operations would have ceased to exist and the void filled by new alternative market competitors.

Also, the USPO even has the Federal Government backing up its failures. If it weren't for 3rd class junk mail, non profit bulk mailing, campaign literature, IRS related mail, and celebration cards and gifts mailed for birthdays, mother's day, father's day, Christmas and other special days, the USPO mail delivery would be minimal and a lot of trees would be alive (pandering to the "greenies").

As reported previously, "The federal agency with the largest back-tax bill? The US Postal Service, where hundreds of thousands of employees owed a total of more than $283 million." Maybe it is time! Time for America to make some hard choices and eliminate or severely down size the US Post Office. We can no longer afford the cost of the USPO's inefficient operations. Neither can we afford the USPO's over paid management nor its employees who fail to pay their taxes. Time to place the USPO out for bid or to close its doors and allow the private business, the Internet and technology fill the void.

Tags: USPO, United States, Post Office, postmaster general, golden parachute, income, retirement, performance bonuse, inefficient operations, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Today in Washington, D.C. - Nov 17 2010 - Did Democrats get the message on Election Day?

The Senate reconvened today They voted on cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 3772, a bill Democrats have misleadingly named the “Paycheck Fairness Act.” Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) explained today, “The primary beneficiary of this legislation will be trial lawyers.” The bill failed to get cloture by a vote of 58-41. Also, the Senate then voted 74-25 to invoke on cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 510, the food safety and FDA bill.

In the House, the Democrats and Republicans voted for their future leaders.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was elected (150-43) by Democrats to serve as Minority Leader in the next Congress.  Some democrats felt after her party suffered historic losses in the midterm elections, she should set down from being their leader.  Based on Pelosi's past actions, the Republicans found themselves cheering on her election.  On the Republican side of the isle,  John Boehner (R-OH) was elected to lead their party as the House Speaker-Designate.  The following are excerpts from his comments to his Republican colleagues after being elected:
"This is the dawn of a new majority, one I believe will be humbler, wiser, and more focused than its predecessors on the priorities of the people. It will have these traits not because of me, but because of you, and the people you serve. It will have these traits because it was forged in the fires of a new movement that repudiated Washington, and gave us more than 80 new colleagues to stand with us for freedom and smaller government.”

“The job of the next Speaker is to work to restore the institution, restore it to being the People’s House. It’s not about us; it’s about them. And what they want is a smaller, less costly, more accountable government. More jobs, less spending. It’s that simple.”

"For the good of our nation, and the hopes and dreams of future generations, we have to get this right. We’re going to move ahead with humility. . .cheerful in our demeanor, and steady in our principles. . .always mindful that the power we hold is entrusted to us by our fellow countrymen and the nation we serve. I’m honored and humbled by your confidence in me to lead the House as we begin this journey. From the bottom of my heart – thank you. Let’s get to work.”
Eric Cantor (R-VA) was chosen as the new Republican majority leader and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) picked to succeed Cantor as the Republican whip. The new House Republican Conference Chair will be Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).

On the Senate floor this morning, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “I’m extremely proud of the clarity my Republican colleagues have expressed about what our priorities must be, and that we have listened to the American people. Last night, Republicans expressed the need to cut spending, reduce the debt, shrink the size and scope of the federal government, and help spur private sector employment. In short, change the way Washington is doing business to get our economy going again. There is no question that is a sentiment shared by the American people. I would be remiss if I didn’t also express some dismay with the priorities that are being put forward from the other side of the aisle. This is a lame-duck session, and our colleagues have an opportunity to respond to the American people before we convene for the 112th Congress, but there is no reason why we can’t get to work on their behalf today.”

But considering what Democrats are focusing on in their first week back after an election where Americans sent a clear message on their priorities with the economy and spending, it appears Democrats are still not getting it.

The very first vote scheduled by Senate Democrats today was on a bill which Sen. Mike Enzi, the ranking Republican on the HELP Committee, pointed out primarily benefits trial lawyers. He added, “The litigation bonanza this bill would create would extend even to the smallest of small businesses, only further hampering our economic recovery.”

Following that, the Senate voted on cloture of a bill to give more regulatory powers to the Food and Drug Administration. Even The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank can only shake his head at this. He writes today, “As the Senate on Wednesday holds its first legislative session since the election, Democrats have a chance to show what lessons they've learned. Will they address the urgent need for job promotion? Work out agreement on extending the Bush tax cuts? Actually, no. Instead, Senate Democrats are planning, as their first order of business, a debate on . . . food safety. . . . [I]t would be a novel interpretation of the election results to conclude that Americans' top priority at this pivotal moment is a reorganization of the Food and Drug Administration.”

Curits Coleman, head of the Arkansas Based Curtis Coleman Institute for Congressional Policy responded that S. 510 is a horrific bill and needs to be stopped. Coleman is also the cofounder and former President/CEO of Safe Foods Corporation (“Safe Foods”). The mission of Safe Foods is to make the world’s food supplies safer. Coleman details his reasons and research in an article. A few of his comments:
"The Government claims you have no right to consume your choice of foods, no right to bodily and physical health, and no freedom of contract. . . .

My experience with the FDA is that the agency is staffed with too many employees who are primarily obstructionists. At the conclusion of one meeting I attended I overheard one FDA staffer brag that 'nothing has ever been approved on my watch.' How much are we paying that guy? I have been frequently appalled at how little FDA employees know about food or food processing. But then, many of them are non-real-world bureaucrats who have never worked in the real-world private sector. . . .

The FDA doesn’t need to be “modernized” with additional regulatory power to more effectively strangle and cripple American farmers, food growers and food processors. It needs to be downsized, and the breadth of its authority and focus needs to be severely constricted. . . .

Neither the right to choose the food one consumes, the right to bodily and physical health, nor the right to limit the freedom of contract are listed in the powers delegated to the federal government in Article One, Section Eight of the contract. Those rights and freedoms are, therefore, unequivocally reserved to the people."
Democrats have noted they have other priorities, too. President Obama called the new START treaty (an agreement with Russia to reduce nuclear weapons) a “top priority,” according to the AP. “‘I reiterated my commitment to getting the START treaty done during the lame-duck session,’ Obama said . . . .” ABC News noted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “has promised a Senate vote this year on a small piece of immigration legislation known as the DREAM Act, which would give hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants a conditional path to legal residency.” Politico reported, “Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) will meet with President Barack Obama Tuesday afternoon to talk about the chances of getting comprehensive immigration reform or the DREAM Act passed in the lame duck session, a House Democratic source said.” And Roll Call reported last week, “In a joint statement issued Tuesday by Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), the lawmakers call on Senate leaders to ‘act immediately to debate and pass a defense authorization bill and repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ during the lame duck session.’”

Even on something the public seems quite clear on, earmarks, Democrats still appear to have other priorities. Roll Call wrote yesterday, “Most Senate Democrats continued on Tuesday to oppose a moratorium on earmarks, despite growing public demands for an end to the practice and a nascent reform movement within their own ranks.” And the AP noted, “Thus far, however, some Senate Democrats seem to be in denial.” In fact, Reid told Roll Call, “I don’t accept [a ban] as reform. I think it’s a tremendous step backward. . . .” And Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) said, “I think the ban is not something I would favor.”

Democrats simply don’t seem to be in touch with what Americans signaled their priorities were on Election Day. Sen. McConnell said today, “Let me share with you what I believe our priorities need to be during the lame duck session: preventing massive tax increase on families and small businesses, and stopping the Washington spending spree.” But none of the Democrats’ stated priorities—easing rules on employment discrimination lawsuits, expanding the powers of the FDA, a nuclear arms reduction treaty, the DREAM Act, repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell”—even address these issues. And on the one issue that Democrats have weighed in on that concerns Americans, spending and earmarks, Democrats have decided to stand alone defending them. Did Democrats get the message on Election Day?

Tags: US House, US Senate, Washington, D.C. FDA, S. 510, Food Safety, government control, Curts Coleman, Harry Reid, START treaty, DREAM Act, amnesty, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What Are Earmarks? Read An Earmark Primer

Today, US Senate Republicans agreed to a ban on earmarks proposed by Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.). The Republican Conference by voice vote called on Democrats to adopt a voluntary ban moments. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) called on Democrats to swear off requests for “Congressionally directed spending item, limited tax benefit or limited tariff benefit” during the 112th Congress (the next two years). The House Republican leadership who will control Congress in January had already signaled to the Senate earlier that they would ban earmarks in the during the 112th Congress.

Curtis Coleman answers the following important questions  An Earmark Primer: A simple summary of a complex conundrum - and a solution:
  • What are earmarks?
  • How do they work?
  • Are they good?
  • Are they bad?
  • Are they constitutional?
  • Do they increase our national debt?
  • Do they cause corruption in government?
  • Is there a solution?
Curtis Coleman is President of The Curtis Coleman Institute for Constitutional Policy, headquartered in North Little Rock, Arkansas and a contributor to the ARRA News Service.

Tags: earmarks, earmark ban, US Congress, earmark primer, review, answered questions, solution, Curtis Coleman, Institute for Constitutional Policy To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Charles Rangel (D-NY) Guilty On 11 Counts

End of Day Review:  A House ethics subcommittee who tried Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY),  found him guilty today (Tuesday) for breaking 11 separate congressional rules related to his personal finances and fundraising efforts for a New York college. The subcommittee is sending Rangel's case to the full committee for the equivalent of sentencing.

It is doubtful that he will be expelled from Congress as that would take a vote of the full House with two-thirds agreeing.  He will be reprimanded.  Even if he were expelled, Rangel could return in January 2011, as a newly elected Congressman.  It is situations like Rangel's and his abusive of power and even his use of earmarks to influence voters, that is reprehensible.  

The House needs to  strip Rangel of all committee positions as he cannot be trusted!  He definitely does not need to be near the banking committee, or anything to do with Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.   His  new office should be less than than any of the least tenured new representatives.  A boom closet in the next session of Congress would be more than he deserves. His other privileges during the next two years should be suspended. Finally, if Rangel crosses the line again in any way during the next session of Congress, he should  be immediately expelled.

Sadly, Americans will be paying Charles Rangel for years to come either in office or in retirement.

Tags: Us House, Charles Rangel, Charlie Rangel, corruption, violations of rules To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Government Employees Owe $3.3 Billion in Delinquent Taxes

Uncle Sam taking money out of your wallet
by Eamon Javersm CNBC Washington:  Need a quick three billion dollars, Uncle Sam? How about looking in your own pockets?

Deficit cutters struggling to make ends meet in Washington are eyeballing an unusual pot of potential revenue: back taxes owed to the government by federal employees themselves.

According to an IRS study last year, those employees and federal retirees owed a staggering $3.3 billion dollars in delinquent tax payments to the government.

The federal agency with the largest back-tax bill? The US Postal Service, where hundreds of thousands of employees owed a total of more than $283 million, said the report.

Also high on the list is the Department of Veterans Affairs, where employees had more than $156 million in back taxes.

The biggest group, though, is retired military personnel. That group owed more than $1.5 billion dollars. [Inserted Note, much of this may be due to deployed military who have not filed tax returns but are allowed additional time to file after they return from deployment; also, the  income earned in combat zones will not be taxable.  What is the excuse of all those not serving in the military!]

And even the White House folks are behind in their taxes. Employees in the executive office of the president, which includes nearly 2,000 employees, owed more than $831,000 to Uncle Sam, the IRS found. . . . [Full Story]

Tags: Government employees, delinquent taxes, billions of dollars, unpaid taxes To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

As Republicans Coalesce On Earmark Moratorium, Pressure Builds On Democrats

Congress is not in session today, so Democrats and Republicans can hold their respective leadership elections and policy lunches. The House Republicans caucus tomorrow to pick their leadership for the next Congressional session.

The Senate Republicans choose their  leadership this morning. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was re-elected by acclamation to serve as Senate Republican Leader after being nominated by Senator John McCain of Arizona and Senator-Elect Marco Rubio of Florida. It was the third time that Republicans have unanimously chosen Sen. McConnell to serve as their leader and the fifth straight party election he has won by acclamation.

Also today, Senate Republicans unanimously re-elected Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona as Senate Republican Whip, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee as Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota as Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming as Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, and Sen. John Cornyn as Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Senate Republicans agreed to a ban on earmaks proposed by Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.). The Republican Conference by voice vote called on Democrats to adopt a voluntary ban moments. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) called on Democrats to swear off requests for “Congressionally directed spending item, limited tax benefit or limited tariff benefit” during the 112th Congress (the next two years).

On Wednesday, up to three cloture votes on motions to proceed to bills are scheduled: on S. 3815, a bill concerning natural gas and electric vehicles, on S. 3772, a bill Democrats have misleadingly named the “Paycheck Fairness Act”, and on S. 510, the food safety bill.

The New York Times writes today, “Senate Republicans opened the lame-duck session of Congress on Monday by signaling their commitment to the antispending posture that fueled their big gains on Election Day, underscoring the Tea Party movement’s influence on the Republican leadership. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, drove the point home as soon as the Senate convened by announcing that he would support a proposed ban on Congressional earmarks . . . .”

The Wall Street Journal editorializes, “Mr. McConnell . . . had the wisdom to reverse himself. ‘Old habits aren’t easy to break, but sometimes they must be,’ he said in a strong statement on the Senate floor. For two years, he said, he has accused ‘Democrats of ignoring the wishes of the American people. When it comes to earmarks, I won’t be guilty of the same thing.’ It was a necessary act of leadership by the Minority Leader and should reinforce his authority in the larger battles ahead. His new position also clears the way for a big GOP vote in favor of the ban. With House Republicans also poised to pass a moratorium—thanks to leaders Eric Cantor and John Boehner—the Grand Old Party will stand united against the special-interest projects that have become the poster child of Washington’s spending blowouts.”

As the WSJ editors point out, “That cohesion will let Republicans cast the spotlight onto Democrats, who have been in control of the earmark favor factory the past four years.” Indeed, the NYT notes, “Mr. McConnell’s move also put pressure on Democrats to move in the same direction and highlighted a potential clash between President Obama, who has criticized earmark spending, and top Senate Democrats, who have shown no willingness to ban the practice.”

But according to Roll Call, “Many Senate Democrats don’t seem to feel the same pressure to forgo their power of the purse through earmarks. While earmarks are expected to come up today during their weekly luncheon, the idea of an earmark ban received a cool reception from many in the Conference.”

And The Wall Street Journal reports, “Senate Democrats showed no inclination to match the Republicans’ move. ‘It’s up to each senator whether or not they will support congressionally directed funding to their state,’ said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. He added: ‘Sen. Reid makes no apologies for delivering for the people of Nevada.’ . . . Among Senate Democrats, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa told reporters after Mr. McConnell’s statement: ‘I’ve always maintained there are valid and good reasons for congressionally directed funding.’ Mr. Harkin added, ‘Everything’s out in the open.…The president is dead wrong on this.’ Asked if there was any move afoot among Senate Democrats to ban earmarks, departing Sen. Ted Kaufmann (D., Del.) laughed and said, ‘Not that I know of.’”

However, there are some Democrats who appear to be joining with Republicans in supporting a moratorium on earmarks. In fact, President Obama seemed to be supportive of Sen. McConnell’s position yesterday, releasing a statement saying, “I welcome Senator McConnell’s decision to join me and members of both parties who support cracking down on wasteful earmark spending, which we can’t afford during these tough economic times.” And Roll Call writes, “[A]t least two Democrats, Sens. Mark Udall (Colo.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.), hailed the GOP’s decision. ‘I welcome Senator McConnell to the fight to ban earmarks,’ McCaskill said in a statement. McCaskill is up for re-election in 2012. ‘Tax dollars are always best distributed based on merit. I’m glad that Republican leadership is coming around to this idea; now it’s my Democratic colleagues’ turn to get on board.’”

Will Democrat leaders in the House and Senate heed Sen. McCaskill’s call to join Republicans in forgoing earmarks?

Tags: US Senate, Earmarks, moratorium, Republican, Senate leaders, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Warning! Obama - Don't Touch My Junk

Bill Smith, Ozark Guru: Being inspired by William Warren's cartoon and the ineptness of TSA,  I could resist editing several images to come up with the following warning to Obama and the Obama administration minions - Don't Touch My Junk - my freedom, my rights, my money, my property, etc.  Everyone is welcome to grab and to use this image.  Please, leave a comment!

Tags: Obama, Barack Obama, TSA, Don't Touch My Junk, my freedom, my rights, my money, my property, ozark guru To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Don’t Touch My Junk!

by William Warren: My latest cartoon comments on Charlie Rangel, who will (hopefully) finally be brought to justice for all of his ethics mess. It also plays off of the stories regarding the TSA, including the “Don’t Touch My Junk!” video that went viral.

Tags: Charlie Rangel, Don't Touch My Junk, Political Cartoons, TSA, William Warren To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Today in Washington, D.C. - Nov 15, 2010 - Warning: Congress Back in Session - Democrats Still In Control

Warning: Congress is Back in Session and the Democrats are still in control for the Lame Duck sessions. The Senate will reconvene at 2 PM today. No votes are scheduled for today or Tuesday. At 4 PM, Senator-elect Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senator-elect Chris Coons (D-DE) will be sworn in to fill out the remaining terms of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Vice President Joe Biden (D-DE), respectively.

On Wednesday, a cloture vote is scheduled for S. 3815, a bill concerning natural gas and electric vehicles. Next week House and Senate Republicans plan to hold their leadership elections.

The halls of Congress and various events around Washington are flooded with newly elected members of Congress - mostly Republicans - who are in town to attend their party's orientations and to participate in next week's party caucus leadership votes for the next session of Congress beginning in January, 2011.

As Democrats plan their final spending binge, Republicans this week will demonstrate that they are listening to the American people by voting on a proposal that would extend the current House Republican moratorium on earmarks. Last week, House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) reaffirmed Republicans’ commitment to implementing an earmark moratorium in the new majority, and urged President Obama to press Congressional Democrats to hold a similar vote.

Responding to the grassroots voters and the actions by House leaders, today, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell joined them in supporting a ban on earmarks:
"Unless people like me show the American people that we’re willing to follow through on small or even symbolic things, we risk losing them on our broader efforts to cut spending and rein in government. That’s why today I am announcing that I will join the Republican Leadership in the House in support of a moratorium on earmarks in the 112th Congress. . . .

"Republican Leaders in the House and Senate are now united on this issue, united in hearing what the voters have been telling us for two years — and acting on it.

"This is no small thing. Old habits aren’t easy to break, but sometimes they must be. And now is such a time. With a $14 trillion debt and an administration that talks about cost-cutting, but then sends over a budget that triples the national debt in 10 years and creates a massive new entitlement program, it’s time for some of us in Washington to show in every way possible that we mean what we say about spending.

"With Republican leaders in Congress united, the attention now turns to the President. We have said we are willing to give up discretion; now we’ll see how he handles spending decisions. And if the president ends up with total discretion over spending, we will see even more clearly where his priorities lie. We already saw the administration’s priorities in a Stimulus bill that’s become synonymous with wasteful spending, that borrowed nearly $1 trillion for administration earmarks like turtle tunnels, a sidewalk that lead to a ditch, and research on voter perceptions of the bill.

"Congressional Republicans uncovered much of this waste. Through congressional oversight, we will continue to monitor how the money taxpayers send to the administration is actually spent. It’s now up to the President and his party leaders in Congress to show their own seriousness on this issue, to say whether they will join Republican leaders in this effort and then, after that, in significantly reducing the size and cost and reach of government. The people have spoken. They have said as clearly as they can that this is what they want us to do. They will be watching."
Last week, The New York Times reported, “As Obama administration officials put into place some of the new rules that go into effect under the federal health care law, they are issuing more waivers to try to prevent some insurers and employers from dropping coverage and also promising to modify other rules because many of the existing policies would not meet new standards. . . . Concerned about the potential disruption that would be created by enforcing the new rules, the administration has granted dozens of additional waivers and also made clear that it would modify other rules affecting these policies.”

So once again, the Obama administration is issuing waivers for its ill-conceived health care legislation. Regulations in the bill could force numerous employers to drop their health care coverage. The NYT noted, “Last month, federal officials granted dozens of one-year waivers that were aimed at sparing certain employers, including McDonald’s, insurers and unions who offer plans that sharply limit the coverage they provide. These limited-benefit plans, also known as ‘minimeds,’ fail to comply with new rules phasing out limits on how much policies will provide in medical care each year.”

This time, according to The Times, “Among the waivers recently granted were for employers like Darden Restaurants, which operates the Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurants, for 34,000 of its workers. Federal officials have granted 111 waivers to employers, insurers and union plans, who are responsible for covering about 1.2 million people. Darden said the waiver would allow it to offer employees access to affordable coverage as the health care law is started.” It was back in July that restaurants first started to realize that Democrats’ unpopular health care law might force them to drop their coverage.

It appears the administration was again faced with the choice of leaving these poorly-designed rules in place or yet again violating President Obama’s (repeatedly violated) pledge that “If you like your current plan, you will be able to keep it.”

If the only way to allow millions of workers to keep their health coverage is to waive the rules set forth in Democrats’ health care bill for many companies, why even keep the rules at this point? This story is just the latest reason why that health care law should be repealed and replaced. As the Associated Press recently put it, ‘this is a promise that’s beyond the President’s power to keep.’” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated to CBS’ Bob Scheiffer recently, “This was a terrible bill.  We've got an obligation to those who gave us more authority in the Congress than we had last Congress . . . to try to repeal and replace this.”

Tags: Washington, D.C., US Senate, US House, Lame Duck, earmark reform, earmarks, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

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  • 12/21/14 - 12/28/14
  • 12/28/14 - 1/4/15
  • 1/4/15 - 1/11/15
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  • 1/25/15 - 2/1/15
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