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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, December 28, 2013

Spot On: John H. Cochrane: How America Should Have, And Still Could, Reform Health Care

John H. Cochrane: professor of finance -
Univ. of Chicago Booth School of Business,
 Senior fellow at the Hoover institution,
and adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute.
(image via Univ. of Chicago)
 by Dan Calabrese, Best of Cain: If you only read one column about how to fix health care in America, make it this one.

I had never heard of John H. Cochrane before I read this piece ... in the Wall Street Journal. That was my loss. He is a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution, and he has a clear sense that even most Republicans miss about what was really wrong with health care pre-ObamaCare, and why ObamaCare was not the right solution at all.

Better, Cochrane has a game plan for what to do once ObamaCare has collapsed:
Only deregulation can unleash competition. And only disruptive competition, where new businesses drive out old ones, will bring efficiency, lower costs and innovation.

Health insurance should be individual, portable across jobs, states and providers; lifelong and guaranteed-renewable, meaning you have the right to continue with no unexpected increase in premiums if you get sick. Insurance should protect wealth against large, unforeseen, necessary expenses, rather than be a wildly inefficient payment plan for routine expenses.

People want to buy this insurance, and companies want to sell it. It would be far cheaper, and would solve the pre-existing conditions problem. We do not have such health insurance only because it was regulated out of existence. Businesses cannot establish or contribute to portable individual policies, or employees would have to pay taxes. So businesses only offer group plans. Knowing they will abandon individual insurance when they get a job, and without cross-state portability, there is little reason for young people to invest in lifelong, portable health insurance. Mandated coverage, pressure against full risk rating, and a dysfunctional cash market did the rest.

Rather than a mandate for employer-based groups, we should transition to fully individual-based health insurance. Allow national individual insurance offered and sold to anyone, anywhere, without the tangled mess of state mandates and regulations. Allow employers to contribute to individual insurance at least on an even basis with group plans. Current group plans can convert to individual plans, at once or as people leave. Since all members in a group convert, there is no adverse selection of sicker people.
What sets Cochrane's ideas apart from many Republican plans is that it's not just about how you buy health insurance, but it's also about changing the whole idea of health insurance so that it works in the way insurance is supposed to work - as protection against risk, and not, in Cochrane's words, as "a wildly inefficient payment plan for routine expenses."

He also takes on the most frequently trotted-out lies of the left about there being no alternative to ObamaCare, or even that ObamaCare is some sort of necessary evil because there is no other way to fix the problems that were inherent in the system. That's nonsense. Of course there were other ways to fix them, and much better ways, but all Democrats wanted to do was further sink the tentacles of the federal government into the economy - and ObamaCare was a monstrous method of doing so.

Please send a copy of Mr. Cochrane's piece to every member of Congress. The Republicans need to know how to really talk intelligently about what needs to be done on the health care front. And the Democrats need a clue. This offers many of them, if only they will listen.
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Dan Calbrese is both a free lance writer and owns the Michigan-based newspaper syndicate North Star Writers Group. A new edition of Dan's book "Powers and Principalities" is now available in hard copy and e-book editions. Follow all of Dan's work, including his series of Christian spiritual warfare novels, on Facebook.

Tags: Dan Calabrese, John H, Cochrane, reforming healthcare, Obamacare To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Congratulations - 2014 New Years' Baby

by Mike Shelton

Tags: Mike Shelton, editorial cartoon Whatchdog, New Years Day, New Years Day, 2014, Obmacare, satire To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Collusion On IRS Scandal May Reach FEC, SEC, And The White House

 by Robert Romano: More and more, on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal targeting of the tea party and other 501(c)(4) organizations, the question is less who was involved, but now, who was not.

First, it was supposed to be two rogue employees at the Cincinnati office Exempt Organizations Determinations Unit. Then, the Exempt Organizations Technical Unit in Washington, D.C. was implicated, including the manager at the office, Holly Paz. So was the head of Exempt Organizations, Lois Lerner.

As were the chief of staff for former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, Jonathan Davis, plus the chief counsel at the agency, William Wilkins, both of whom were visitors to the White House while the scandal was taking place.

Along the way, it has been revealed that several Democrat representatives and senators in Congress, including Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mon.), who in 2010 was directly urging the agency to target GOP-affiliated and other conservative 501(c)(4) groups.

Next, a Republican member of the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) has uncovered emails that he says show potential collusion between staff there and the IRS office of exempt organizations on at least two conservative organizations’ tax-exempt status, including the American Future Fund.

As if all that was not enough, now the House Oversight Committee is looking into pressure applied by Democrat lawmakers to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) after the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling to target potential corporate contributions to 501(c)(4)s.

Fortunately, the agency reportedly resisted the pressure, not wishing to become a political speech monitor.

Coupled with the IRS targeting itself of the tea party and other (c)(4)s, plus the Democrat push for the DISCLOSE Act targeted at (c)(4)s all throughout 2010, what emerges is an effort across several agencies and Congress to stifle political speech of the opposition. And to defy the Citizens United ruling, which allowed for-profit and non-profit corporations to engage in independent expenditures for or against candidates standing for public office.

To say the least, it is becoming hard to believe that a multi-agency and congressional push against conservative (c)(4)s was not directed by the administration itself.

Then there is the timing of Obama’s own broadside against the Supreme Court on Citizens United. Within days of the Jan. 2010 ruling, President Barack Obama was trashing the Supreme Court in his State of the Union Address, saying “last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections.”

Within a month of that statement, groups were being targeted by the IRS for engaging in political activities.

Maybe it was just a coincidence, but probably not. The chances of each subsequent agency getting involved in the scandal being a mere coincidence are infinitesimal, if not impossible. It strains believability. It looks more and more like a coordinated push.

As Sherlock Holmes and Mr. Spock were always fond of noting, when attempting to unravel a whodunit, a useful postulate is: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

With so many players involved all pushing for the same outcome — legal action against conservative and other 501(c)(4) political activities — it is becoming increasingly impossible that the effort was not coordinated. The only question that remains, for a special prosecutor, undoubtedly, is who did the coordination.
----------------
Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government. His article was first shared on the ALG's NetRight Daily blog.

Tags: IRS scandal, FEC, SEC, White House, Robert Romano, Americans For Limited Government To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

War on ‘Free Exercise’ of Religion

by Phyllis Schlafly: Americans who believe in God had better wake up and realize that a well-orchestrated campaign is moving to fundamentally transform the United States into a scrupulously secular nation. If this succeeds, we will no longer enjoy our First Amendment right of “free exercise” of religion but will be forbidden to speak or display any prayers, Bible quotations, or other evidences of religion in any public place or event.

The major strike force working to accomplish this consists of the ACLU plus various atheist groups. They are always ready to file lawsuits to get some supremacist judge or school superintendent to restrict religious expression and even religious music.

This effort is magnified by two other organizations that have a major impact on our culture: the military who feel the temptation to be politically correct and the liberal bureaucrats in public schools who now feel free to teach their leftwing views. Barack Obama’s fingerprints are not on most of these acts, but his anti-religious attitudes are widely enough known to encourage those on the public payroll to charge ahead with extremist politically correct policies.

We’d like to know if Pentagon officials have met with any Christian leaders to balance the aggressive lobbying by those who want to silence all religious expression by members of the military. Nine senior Army or Navy officers were dismissed this year, and some wonder if this was a purge of senior officers suspected of not toeing the Obama party line.

A U.S. Air Force chaplain has come under fire for posting a column in the Chaplain’s Corner section of his base’s website entitled “No Atheists in Foxholes; Chaplains Gave All in World War II.” An outfit called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation sent an irate letter to the base commander claiming that 42 anonymous airmen had complained. Col. Kenneth Reyes was then ordered to remove his article. The anti-religion group wasn’t satisfied; it then called for further punishment of the chaplain, complaining that the title “No Atheists in Foxholes” is a “bigoted, religious supremacist phrase,” and the article is an “anti-secular diatribe.”

You may be wondering what exactly was in Col. Reyes’s column. The answer is it was a very innocuous message. He summarized the World War II origins of the “no atheists in foxholes” phrase and commented that faith could be religious or secular. There was no mention of atheists outside of the historical phrase or to any particular religion. There was no implication that faith has to be in any particular God. Col. Reyes’s column merely implied that everyone has faith in something. Incidents like this build a climate of intimidation and discrmination against Christians in the military. It is really the atheists attacking Col. Reyes who are spreading a climate of hate.

A Young Marines program in Louisiana, which has been helping at-risk youth for 25 years, lost its federal funding because its graduation ceremony mentions God. The oath says simply, “I shall never do anything that would bring disgrace or dishonor upon my God, my country and its flag, my parents, myself or the Young Marines.” Graduation also includes a voluntary and non-denominational prayer that, in 25 years, no one ever complained about. But Obama’s Department of Justice discovered the oath and prayer in a random audit and then demanded that both be removed or else the government would cut off its $15,000 in federal funding.

The U.S. Air Force Academy has ordered the removal of the phrase “So help me God” from the Cadet Oath, the Officer Oath, and the Enlisted Oath in the Academy Cadet Handbook. Parents are attacking this move as a disservice to the men and women who want to include the oath as a solemn reminder that they are pledging their fidelity to God and their country. As Chaplain Ron Crews said, “This phrase is a deeply rooted American tradition which George Washington began as the first president of the United States, and many who take an oath of service to our Country still state it.” Parents are calling on the Air Force to restore the oath so that cadets who come from faith backgrounds would be supported in solemnizing their oath with the words that generations of officers before them have used.

Some public school busybody bureaucrats are trying to suppress any and all religious mention on school property. Their orders are far more extreme than anything courts have ever held to be violations of the First Amendment.

Sports are a favorite target of the anti-religious crowd. A high school football coach, Marcus Borden, was forbidden even to bow his head or “take a knee” during voluntary student-led prayers before the games. In Texas, a boy’s track relay team ran its fastest race of the year and defeated its closest rival by seven yards, which should have enabled it to advance toward the state championship. The team’s anchor runner pointed to the sky to give glory to God as he crossed the finish line, but someone didn’t like the gesture so the authorities disqualified this winning team because of it.

In North Carolina, a high school junior knelt for a brief two-second prayer before a wrestling match, and the referee penalized him a point for doing so. High school officials in Kountze, Texas, and a Wisconsin atheist group called Freedom From Religion made a tremendous effort to stop the cheerleaders from displaying a banner before a football game that read: “And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

The ACLU and an atheist group called the Freedom From Religion Foundation sued a little school district in Jackson City, Ohio, to force the school to take a picture of Jesus off the school wall. The picture was one of 24 famous historical figures displayed in small frames ever since 1947. The school agreed to remove the picture of Jesus, but the school is now required to pay the ACLU $80,000 for its attorney’s fees plus $15,000 to reward five anonymous plaintiffs.

A senior at Tomah High School in Wisconsin was given a zero on an art project because he added a cross and the words “John 3:16 A Sign of Love” to his drawing of a landscape.

Christmas has come under attack in many schools, trying to ban Christmas observance far beyond what supremacist judges have ever called for. The choir director in Wausau West High School in Wisconsin told the press that he was given three choices by school officials. He could eliminate all Christmas music, he could cancel all December performances, or he could perform one religious song for every five secular songs at all performances, and the district had to approve every selection. The choir director said he would cancel all performances. Parents and the public were outraged. After a stormy school board meeting, the obnoxious orders were rescinded and the kids sang their Christmas carols.

The ACLU in Rhode Island filed a lawsuit to force Cranston High School to remove a prayer banner in the auditorium, even though there had been no complaints in 38 years. The banner reads in part: “Our Heavenly Father: Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win. Teach us the value of true friendship, help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School.” The sad part of this lawsuit is that it will cost the city of Cranston and Cranston High School a lot of money to pay the attorneys to defend the banner.

An atheist tried to cancel Christmas in the small town of Shreveport, New York this year. The town had hosted “Christmas on the Canal” for 17 years. The event included carols, a tree-lighting, a nativity scene, and a visit from Santa. After the atheist threatened to sue, the major asked the committee of volunteers who organized the celebration to change the name to “Holiday on the Canal” and remove the nativity scene. The committee refused, the town denied funding, and the event was cancelled. The committee then went public with the story, donations poured in, and Christmas on the Canal went ahead as planned. Congratulations to Shreveport for understanding the value of keeping Christ in Christmas and not being intimidated by the atheists.

You can laugh at the following rule issued by the principal at Heritage Elementary in Madison, Alabama, but she was downright serious. She allowed Easter observances including a costumed rabbit, but she issued this imperious warning, “Make sure we don’t say ‘the Easter bunny’ because that would infringe on religious diversity.”

America was founded on very different beliefs about government actions. As Alexis de Toqueville, the Frenchman who traveled around our country in the mid-19th century, wrote: “Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention. . . . The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.”

Barack Obama has repeatedly shown his disdain for any public acknowledgment of God, Christianity or religion. This year when he recorded his reading of the Gettysburg Address on the 150th anniversary of that famous speech, he purposely omitted Abraham Lincoln’s famous words “under God” after “one nation.” In at least one of his Thanksgiving Day addresses, he thanked a lot of worthy people, but somehow God didn’t make the cut.

Obama’s goal seems to be to shrink our First Amendment right of the “free exercise” of religion to what he calls “freedom of worship,” which means it would still be OK to go inside your church, shut the doors and say a prayer; but you would be prevented from speaking about your faith or religion at any public meeting, event, or school. The best source for more information about this is No Higher Power: Obama’s War on Religious Freedom by Phyllis Schlafly and George Neumayr.
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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: War on, free exercise of Religion, Obama's War on Religious Freedom, Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Where Did Your Tax Dollar Go?

 Michael Sargent, Heritage Foundation: Wonder what happens to your hard-earned cash after you hand it over the IRS each year? Almost half goes toward paying for the ballooning entitlement programs—Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—a proportion that will only increase as the number of retirees expands in the near future. Even worse, your tax money only funded 70 cents of every federal dollar spent in 2012, meaning the remaining 30 cents was borrowed and tacked on to the massive national debt.

Tags: Tax Dollar, entitlements, National Defense, income security, Interest transportation, education, chart, Heritage Foundation, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

It's Official—HHS Declares Obamacare A Hardship

by Alyene Senger and Robert Moffit: The latest announcement from the Obama Administration has confirmed what so many Americans already know: Obamacare is a hardship.

With millions of reported insurance cancellations, unbalanced by just 500,000 sign-ups for coverage on the Administration’s excuse for a website, the White House is or should be in full panic mode. And issuing more government rules to correct the consequences of their unworkable government rules is the only thing they seem to know how to do.

Thus, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary is now exercising her authority to grant a “hardship” exemption to the individual mandate to purchase health insurance. The Administration announced that those who have had their previous policies canceled will now qualify for a “temporary” hardship exemption (no exact time frame is given) from the individual mandate. Thus, as the law allows, those who get a “hardship exemption” are now able to purchase a catastrophic plan—typically only available to those under age 30. This is supposed to be beneficial because catastrophic plans have cheaper premiums, as Secretary Sebelius estimates, on average about 20 percent lower than other plans available on the exchange.

Under the Affordable Care Act, however, catastrophic plans have the highest deductibles allowed—$6,350 for self-only coverage—before the plan pays benefits. In addition, catastrophic plans are not eligible for subsidies in the exchanges.

The Administration’s latest action begs a crucial question: Is this a workable option for the people who had their coverage canceled? First, to qualify, of course, you must have had your policy canceled. You must also state that you found no other options “affordable.” Apparently, this means that no other plan was “affordable” despite the possibility of getting taxpayer subsidies for those other plans. Verification is going to be a challenge.
Meanwhile, the Administration itself reportedly expects few of the eligible consumers to take up the offer.

One thing is certain: The Administration’s latest initiative is not going to simplify anything. Rest assured it is going to create even greater confusion for health insurers trying to sell these products. Also, don’t expect the unhappy consumers who’ve just lost their previous coverage to understand clearly which plan they can pick and be legally qualified to pick it.

Following the numerous administrative delays, modifications, and even suspensions of statutory law, the Administration’s latest feckless attempt to fix what the Administration has broken fits a pattern. At heart, Obamacare is largely a vast grant of decision-making authority to the Secretary of HHS, who can make and unmake rules at her pleasure and even be “creative” with the law.

What’s next? Who knows? When the broad and vague statutory language of the health law is no sure guide, one’s only recourse is to read—carefully—the fine print of the regulations. But they are always subject to change. Whether you own a small business or run a medical practice, an insurance company, or a hospital, it is hard to plan or prepare. Now ordinary Americans also know this disheartening feeling.

Tags: ACA, Affordable Care Act, cancellations, exchanges, exemption, Health and Human Services, HHS, individual mandate, Obama administration, regulation, Subsidies, Heritage Foundation To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Tehran Defies Obama | Obamacare Targeting Volunteers | More Bad News For Dems

AF Branco Toon: Iran Was Defying Obama 22 Mo.s Ago
 Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: Tehran Defies Obama -  Remember Obama's much-hyped nuclear deal with Iran, announced just before Thanksgiving? It was supposed to delay Iran's nuclear program for six months, allowing time to negotiate a more comprehensive agreement. Predictably, the mullahs are using the time to their advantage.

The Associated Press reports that Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's nuclear agency, announced yesterday that the Islamic Republic is developing "a new generation of centrifuges for uranium enrichment." Under the Geneva deal, Iran agreed to limit the number of centrifuges currently spinning in its enrichment program. But it is still permitted to develop new ones, and that is exactly what the Iranians are doing.

If no deal is reached in six months, it is a sure bet that these new centrifuges will be immediately included in Tehran's nuclear weapons program. Obama's agreement appears to have done little more than given Iran the green light to further advance its nuclear research and development efforts.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, a bi-partisan coalition of senators (15 Democrats and 19 Republicans) is pushing legislation to tighten sanctions on Iran. It is important to note that members of Obama's own party are leading the charge in opposition to Obama's weak-kneed approach toward Iran.

The sanctions bill is being sponsored by the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez. Liberal New York Senator Chuck Schumer, usually a key Obama ally, said this week, "There are many of us, Democrats and Republicans in this Senate, who believe the best way to avoid war and get Iran to give up nuclear weapons is by ratcheting up sanctions, not by reducing them."

That is how out-of-touch Obama is when it comes appeasing the mullahs in Tehran. Sadly, Obama has vowed to veto the sanctions bill if it passes the Senate, making him, in effect, Tehran's top lobbyist in Washington!

Obamacare Targeting Volunteer Groups - The unintended consequences of the poorly written Obamacare law continue to shock the country. Here are a few recent examples:
  • The New York Times reports that many AmeriCorps workers were told just last week that their health plans are not in compliance with Obamacare's mandates and regulations. If they don't buy new policies quickly, they may be forced to pay a penalty tax.

    This is somewhat ironic given that AmeriCorps is essentially a government program. One worker told the Times, "It's as if the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. The Affordable Care Act has been on the books since 2010. Why are we hearing only now that our health plan is not compliant?"
  • Federally-funded volunteers aren't the only ones feeling Obamacare's ill effects. Fire departments and other emergency service organizations across the country are panicking over whether Obamacare may force them to raise taxes or fire their volunteers.

    For example, Clay County, Florida, employs 157 firefighters. But that force is supported by 60 volunteer firefighters. Current Obamacare IRS regulations appear to count the volunteers as employees eligible for healthcare coverage. That means the county must raise taxes in order to dramatically increase its budget for health insurance or to pay a fine for each volunteer it refuses to cover. Or it must fire all the volunteers.
  • And here's one more example of just how badly congressional Democrats wrote the Obamacare legislation: The Washington Post writes that because of Obamacare, "…it will be literally impossible for an individual to buy a new policy in the Northern Mariana Islands, and difficult in other [U.S.] territories."

More Bad News For Democrats - Yesterday I reported on a CNN poll that found Republicans had expanded their lead over the Democrats to five points in the generic ballot test for the 2014 congressional elections. Two months ago, Democrats were leading by eight.

But even that huge swing does not tell the whole story. Here's more bad news for Obama, Reid and Pelosi:
  • There is a big enthusiasm gap. 36% of Republicans are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting next year. Only 22% of Democrats say the same.
  • Obama is a big drag on Democrats. While Republicans are generically ahead of Democrats by five points, voters overwhelmingly prefer candidates who will oppose Obama's agenda. When asked whether they preferred to vote for a candidate who opposed Obama or one who supported Obama, 55% of voters said they were more likely to vote for a congressional candidate who opposes him, while 40% said they were likely to vote for a candidate who supports him.
That last figure highlights a major contradiction in the liberal media's reporting. Big Media's mantra has been that the public overwhelmingly wants Washington to get along and work together. When liberal pundits say that, they generally mean that Republicans need to cave in to Obama's demands.

But here is polling data clearly indicating that voters want more politicians who will fight Obama's radical agenda. Again, don't hold your breath waiting to hear this on the nightly news.
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Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families

Tags: Tehran, Defies Obama administration, Obamacare, Targeting Volunteers, Bad News For Democrats, Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families, AF Branco, editorial cartoon To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

What If a Typical Family Spent Money Like the Federal Government?

Michael Sargent, Heritage Foundation: While middle-class families are still plagued by a sluggish recovery in the Obama economy, this is what their finances would look like if they spent money like the government—and it’s not a pretty picture. Most families understand that it is unwise to constantly spend excessive amounts compared to what they take in, but the government continues its shopping spree on the taxpayer credit card with seemingly no regard to the stack of bills that has already piled up.

Tags: government spending, debt, chart, heritage foundation To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Reporters Hit a White House Stone Wall

Image Via Warning Signs
 Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: Obama’s promise to lead an open and transparent administration has become an “albatross” according to a Dec 24 Politico analysis by Josh Gerstein. As Obama’s fifth year in office wraps up, much of the Washington and nation’s press corps is very unhappy.

With the exception of those who depend on Fox, ABC radio, the Wall Street Journal, and other conservative outlets, too many of the consumers of news are blissfully unaware of the liberal, rubber stamp product they are receiving. It is the complete betrayal of those whom the press is supposed to serve.

They did not report the truth about Obamacare. They have not reported the truth about Obama’s failed foreign affairs policies, including the attack on Benghazi. They have largely ignored other scandals. Obama’s new economic “inequality” lies are right out of the Communist Manifesto. The result, however, was his reelection in 2012 and millions of cancelled health plans.

All administrations have sought to control the information—the message—that reaches the public, but the Obama administration has gone to greater lengths than previous ones. In particular, its public affairs offices (PAOs) have become obstacles to press access.

Writing in the Dec 17 edition of Editor & Publisher, the newspaper trade magazine, Jim Dickinson said, “Over two hours at the National Press Club a few months ago, the truth finally hit me. Journalism has done it to itself, the ‘it’ being the surrender of our First Amendment-protected responsibility to tell the people what their government is really, actually doing—as opposed to what the government tells us it wants the people to know.”

The panel to which Dickerson was referring was entitled “Government Public Affairs Offices: More Hindrance Than Help?” He wrote that “Public affairs offices increasingly require that reporters conduct all interviews through the press office. U.S. Departments and agencies often mandate that their employees only talk to reporters through official channels and with communications staff present.”

Not only do government employees know that this means their job can be on the line, but as I noted in October, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act signed into law in November 2012 in reality puts whistleblowers at risk of going to jail.

Reporters find that the leaks from whistleblowers and routine information from government employees are drying up. Ironically, the actions of former NSA employee Edward Snowden and U.S. Army corporal Bradley Manning exposed more information than the administration wanted anyone to know. Manning went to jail and Snowden has found asylum in Russia. Both said they acted in the public interest; a public being told that the NSA’s acquisition of data on every phone call is being done to protect them.

The problem is manifest in efforts under the Freedom of Information Act to secure feedback from government agencies. Politico’s Gerstein pointed out the availability of government records under FOIA often results in requests routinely lingering for years “and often end up producing a ream of blacked-out text.” News is expected to be timely and delaying access to public records negates that.

What has been and is reported these days are the lies for which the Obama administration has become famous.

The administration has called the scandals of the first term “phony” and a recent Sixty Minutes interview with Susan Rice, now the national security advisor to Obama, dismissed the Benghazi cover-up as “false.” It was Rice who went on five Sunday news shows to spread the lies about the attack—on the anniversary of 9/11—having been caused by a video no one had ever seen. That earned her a promotion!

The daily White House press briefing has become increasingly heated and, when the President gave a press conference before leaving on a Christmas vacation, he was asked if 2013 had been the worst year to date for him. He obliquely acknowledged what everyone knows, but denied he pays any attention to polls, something every President of the modern era has always done.

The mainstream press has learned that, in return for having published the White House “party line” throughout its first term, that it would tap their phones and accuse a Fox News reporter of being an “accomplice” for releasing information it wanted to keep secret.

Its use of public information offices to thwart or control what news is released, its increased use of “official” White House photos, its widespread failure to respond to Freedom of Information requests, and its use of social media and organizations allied with the White House to advertise and spread its message all add up to a highly manipulative effort to influence the public.

The good news is that the Internet has become a major source of news and analysis available to everyone. As traditional print newspapers suffer decline due to the loss of advertising revenue and the younger generation’s preference for electronic access to the news, the scope of news has expanded to sources beyond government control.

A secretive and deceptive Obama administration is suffering from an abundance and availability of the TRUTH. Too bad that too many journalists have not been active contributors.
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Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, Warning Signs disseminated on many Internet news and opinion websites and blogs. He is a contributing author at ARRA News Service.

Tags: Reporters, White house, Stone Wall, Warning Signs, Alan Caruba To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Obama Regulations Disenfranchise Minority, Low-Income College Students

Ken Blackwell
 Ken Blackwell, Contributing Author: Education is the great equalizer. Yet, while President Obama was talking earlier this month about how minority and underprivileged Americans need a “decent education,” his Department of Education (ED) was pushing more onerous regulations that would have the opposite effect. ED is finalizing the administration’s second attempt at passing “gainful employment” standards that place restrictions on institutions that can receive government funding for its students.

In short, the new rules would require programs that receive government funding to students graduate with less than a 12 percent debt-to-income ratio or a debt-to-discretionary-income ratio of less than 30 percent.

This is another example of the administration’s attempt to constantly pick winners and losers – and dictate via government funding how private organizations should operate. But this is more than government bureaucrats meddling with business; these rules potentially impact the futures of thousands of individuals who are trying to make their lives better.

Take President Obama for example. He graduated from one of the most prestigious law schools in the country – Harvard Law. Doing so, he incurred a debt in excess of $42,000 on tuition of less than $14,000. Since the early 1990s, tuition has increased by 320 percent. Adjusting the President’s debt by the same proportion, his debt would balloon to upwards of $134,000.

The median salary coming out of Harvard Law now: roughly $130,000. That means that the President’s own law program – and one of the premiere programs in the country – would have failed ED’s regulations. But still no red flags for ED or the regulation-heavy Obama Administration.

A study conducted by the Department of Education should have set off more red flags. In that study that looked at college graduates in 2009, a greater proportion of programs at private non-profit institutions would fail the 12 percent threshold than those at for-profit colleges – 39 percent of private graduates faced excessive loan repayments vs. 35 percent of for-profit graduates. And, lest you think public colleges are immune, a full 26 percent of public graduates would face loan payments in excess of 12 percent of income.

What happens to the college system when so many programs – as many as a million – no longer exist? Particularly since a large proportion of the students impacted are from low-income and minority groups?

That potential even has liberal Congressmen concerned. In a letter this week, Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and 29 other Congressman inquired to the ED for its rationale. In particular, these liberal congressmen were concerned that “the Department’s proposed regulation […] would negatively impact millions of students nationwide.”

But the Congressmen aren’t alone. An Inside Higher Ed/Gallup poll of university presidents said that an overwhelming majority thought the ED’s college rating system was a bad idea. A full half said that the President’s plan would negatively impact their college.

So, if evidence and common sense, as well as those in Congress and the higher education community, tells you this will fail, why is ED pushing it?

Put simply, its symptomatic of the brand of liberalism that is seen everywhere from Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban to Obama’s quest to kill coal power; the brand of liberalism where leaders tell constituents what is good for them, instead of trusting them to make informed decisions. And this iteration of that disease threatens to disenfranchise low-income and minority students, those who need opportunity the most.
----------------------
Ken Blackwell is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council. He is a contributing author to the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Ken Blackwell, education, Obama regulations, disenfranchise, minority, low-income, college students To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

The 15 Most Stupid Things Liberals Said in 2013

by Warner Todd Huston: Well, we are coming to the end of the year and that usually brings us to lists of things that happened during the year. To get a jump on that trend, I give you the top 15 most stupid things said by Democrats and liberals in the year 2013.

Certainly what should appear on a “top” list of anything is subjective and we are certain we will miss something really, really stupid that some halfwitted, demagoguing Democrat said sometime during the year, but we’ve come up with fifteen real whoppers, here.

Naturally we just had to use a photo of the king of Democrat stupidity, Vice President Joe Biden, to adorn our list. Biden is a man who at a really once asked Missouri State Senator Chuck Graham “stand up” and be recognized. Chuck Graham is confined to a wheel chair.

Topping the list is most certainly what is now the most famous presidential lie in American history, “If you like your plan, you can keep it.” This line of BS was issued over and over again–not just in 2013 but since 2008–by none other than President Obama himself. It has to rank as the most stupid thing any Democrat has said for years. But Obama isn’t the only leftist running about saying stupid things. So, starting with number fifteen and going to number one, here is our list.

Number 15:

“You know what I heard… that it’s not black on black crime that’s killing kids in Chicago, it’s actually cops shooting those kids.”
This load of horse hockey was uttered by Chicago Democrat Monique Davis.

Chicago is closing in on some 400 murders for 2013 of which 80 percent are black. One would think that the national news would be aghast if the Chicago police had shot over 350 blacks in the Windy City! Of course, Rep. Davis is full of crap and is just pushing more racebaiting nonsense.

Number 14:

“Men often do need maternity care.” (Seen at about 2:30 into the video above)
This blather was unloaded on the country by Obama’s Health and Human Services chief, Kathleen Sebelius.

Number 13:

“Gabby Giffords, my good friend, was shot and mortally wounded.”
Our clown of a Vice President, Joe Biden, said this in March.

Um, Joey, if Giffords was “mortally wounded” she’d be dead, you moron.

Number 12:

“Believe me, as a busy single mother… er, I shouldn’t say single. When you have a husband who’s president it can feel a little single… but he’s there.”
First Lady Michelle Obama is apparently dreaming the dreamy dream of dumping Barack with this line she blurted out in April. And with Barack’s wandering eyes and rushin hand’s with blond bombshell and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, one can understand why Michelle is already starting to consider herself a “single mother.”

Number 11:

“I do think there are certain times we should infringe on your freedom.”
Said the nation’s worst buttinski, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in March. He thinks government has a right to suppress your rights. Nice, eh?

Number 10:

“We don’t need to be having something like sequestration that’s going to cause these jobs losses, over 170 million jobs that could be lost.”
This is what California Democrat Maxine Waters warbled in February of this year. Of course, the nation has less than 170 million jobs in the first place with only about 143 million people employed when she made that stupid statement. So, she thinks we’d lose more jobs than we even have available? Idiot.

Number 9:

“These are ammunition, they’re bullets, so the people who have those now, they’re going to shoot them, so if you ban them in the future, the number of these high-capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot and there won’t be any more available.” (Seen in the video above at the end of the clip)
This brilliant point was laid on the people of Colorado by dummy Representative Diana DeGette (D, CO) during a recent discussion about guns. This fool is wholly unqualified to talk about or make policy on guns, though, as she is painfully ignorant of the fact that a pistol or rifle ammo magazine can be re-used over and over again.

Number 8:

“There are still generations of people, older people, who were born and bred and marinated in it, in that prejudice and racism, and they just have to die…. There’s a level of disrespect for the office that occurs. And that occurs in some cases and maybe even many cases because he’s African American. There’s no question about that and it’s the kind of thing nobody ever says but everybody’s thinking it.”
This was blathered by TV talk show queen Oprah Winfrey in November.
So, you racists have to die and everyone hats Barack only because he’s black. Blah, blah, blah.

Around this same period Oprah claimed that a store clerk at a luxury Swiss boutique was a “racist” who didn’t want to serve her because she was black. Oprah later had to apologize for her lie.

Number 7:

“We haven’t had a very collective notion of ‘these are our children,’ so, part of it is that we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.”
Your kids belong to the government, so says MSNBC’s dumbest talking head, Melissa Harris-Perry.
This is also the same idiot that said that kids shouldn’t count as real human beings “until parents decide” they should qualify as “life.”

Number 6:

“Open borders attacks the root cause of Muslim extremism… it’s Muslim poverty that’s threatening our security, not our immigration system… Giving these men the chance to work here could diminish their poverty, their anger, and their misunderstanding of the U.S. before they are radicalized… Open borders will improve the world.”
This was the absurd idea to stop terrorism burbled out in May by MSNBC’s resident racist–well, one of them anyway–Touré Neblett.

Number 5:

“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.”
This failed attempt by Hillary Clinton to brush away the deaths of four Americans in the terror attacks on our embassy facilities in Benghazi, Libya was made in January at a hearing on Capitol Hill. We are all hopeful that these ignorant words are hung around her neck like an albatross for the rest of her miserable life.

Number 4:

“Tell your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating. Vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone.”
This was the timely and sage advice from the University of Colorado given to female students to help them avoid being raped.

No, they were serious. This was not from The Onion.

Number 3:

“These statements uttered by Robertson are more offensive than the bus driver in Montgomery, Alabama, more than 59 years ago. At least the bus driver, who ordered Rosa Parks to surrender her seat to a white person, was following state law. Robertson’s statements were uttered freely and openly without cover of the law, within a context of what he seemed to believe was ‘white privilege.’”
Racebaiting “Reverend” Jesse Jackson made this absurd comparison only days ago.

Number 2:

“Pretty soon we’ll all be leaving for the Fourth of July recess. Next week, when we celebrate Independence Day we’ll also be observing health independence.”
California Democrat Representative and former Speaker of the House (I just love to say that) Nancy Pelosi thought that it would be a great idea that instead of celebrating Independence Day on July fourth we should celebrate “health independence day” because of Obamacare.

Who needs that old, boring holiday created by dead, racist white guys, anyway? We have a new communist-inspired holiday to celebrate!

That is only one of the many, many stupid things Pelosi said this year. Only weeks ago, for instance, Pelosi revealed that she obviously thinks you mothers out there are losers when she said that she was once a stay-at-home mother, too, but then she “got a life” and ran for Congress.

What an ignoramus.

Number 1:

And, as mentioned in the intro to this story, Barack Obama wins top honors for his constant lie that we could keep our health insurance if we liked it, a blatant lie that he knowingly blurted out dozens and dozens of times since 2008.

But by the December the nation learned at last that Obama was lying through his teeth and millions of Americans began to lose their health plans and their doctors and hospitals as Obamacare began to kick in. But, worse, this will continue in 2014 as hundreds of thousands of businesses will have to cancel healthcare plans next year to comply with Obamacre.

We can’t keep our healthcare plans, Mr. President, and you knew it all along. You lied.

Even the left-wing Politifact has called Obama’s claim the “lie of the year.”

Here are a few videos of compilations of dumb comments of years past…


So, there you have it, folks. I am sure there are thousands of other stupid Democrats that could fit on this list, but here is ours. What do you think?
--------------
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. He first shared this article on his own blog Publius Forum. He Twitters at @warnerthuston.

Tags: Anti-Americanism, Barack Obama, Congress, Constitution, Democrats/Leftists, Ethics, Government, Government Corruption, Guns, House of Representatives, Joe Biden, Kathleen Sebelius, Liberals, Nancy Pelosi, Policy, President, Progressives, Senate, Warner Todd To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Slam-Dunk Win for the GOP: #SchoolChoice

Bill Smith, Ph.D., Editor.  Readers of the ARRA News Service have had a steady diet of articles advocating for School Choice.  I was pleased to join Kira Davis and others in Milwaukee, WI to discuss School Choice issues.  We toured different schools where parents had exercised their option under Wisconsin law to choose better schools for their children.  One of those schools was Hope Christian School which is mentioned in her article.  I added the video because I was impressed by Hope's last two graduating classes having 100% of their students "accepted to college."

We also heard from students who at first didn't want to leave their local friends and go to a charter christian school that their mothers had decided they must attend.  They described how their lives changed at the Hope Elementary and then at  Hope High Schoo..  They admitted to changed lives which became more disciplined and prepared to learn.  They were looking forward to attending college because they know they are prepared and ready for college and are very thankful to their teachers and for the commitment and sacrifice of their parent moving them from inner city schools to a charter school.

Davis' article addresses how the Republican Party has a win-win opportunity by openly and actively supporting school choice which the democrat party opposes.

Kira Davis: The GOP has been pushing hard to lead the way on immigration reform. The conventional wisdom dictates that whichever party can stake a claim to legalizing millions of illegal immigrants will in turn secure the precious votes of those very same people.

Republicans seemingly threw away a victory when they recently caved on the government shutdown debacle. With mid-term elections less than a year away the establishment is increasingly sensitive to optics and polling. Immigration reform has been a sensitive topic on the right and stirring up support from the base has proven to be problematic. The GOP badly needs a win that will resonate in minority communities and the general population.

That win is sitting right in front of Republicans wrapped up in fancy box with ribbon on top. It’s a slam dunk in every sense. It unites Democrats and Republicans alike and will garner the coveted independent vote.

It's School Choice!

I recently had the opportunity to visit several schools in Milwaukee, a city that has been at the forefront of the school choice movement since the early ’90s. Hope Christian High School was my first stop where I discovered a school that served a 98% African-American student population and boasted a 100% college acceptance rate two years running…and 100% of its students are beneficiaries of Milwaukee’s school choice initiative.
Rotonda Smith is the director of communications at Hope and also the mother of a young student at one of Hope’s elementary academies. The African-American single mother says she decided to take advantage of the school choice options after witnessing her young niece’s success at Hope Christian’s elementary program.

“She was reading so well already in kindergarten, really grasping it and excited about learning. So when it was time for my son to go to school.” She says that without the choice system her son would be going to the local public school, an option she seemed less than excited about. “We love good schools. I was excited about the option of a Christian school. He’s already excited about college!”

With a high school graduation rate of less than 50% among African-American males the option of a private school education with an emphasis on college entry is a highly coveted opportunity in said community. African-American and Latino parents overwhelmingly support school choice when it is an option and pro-choice states consistently boast 90%+ parent satisfaction with choice programs.

If the GOP really wants to sway the minority vote school choice is a no brainer. Its strongly supported in minority communities, receives consistent bi-partisan support (Cory Booker, Chris Christie and Juan Williams all endorse school choice and many school choice organizations are headed by liberals). The real kicker is that the Democrat party is explicitly opposed to school choice.

This is a red line that deserves to be drawn. This is a golden opportunity to peel off a significant portion of the Democrat base while having that neat little side effect of actually benefiting the country. As a bonus, the Republicans don’t have to piss off their base by pursuing squishy immigration reforms. The school choice fight fits a variety of fronts in the GOP -
  1. It is ripe with opportunities to tell emotional stories (something Republicans fail at time and time again).
  2. It is a chance to highlight the abolitionist, civil rights history of the Republican party as school choice is most definitely the civil rights struggle of our time.
  3. It offers an easy opportunity to distinguish Republican policies and intentions from those of Democrats.
    It is overwhelmingly supported in minority communities.
  4. The optics of Democrats denying struggling families the opportunity to escape underperforming schools would be unparalleled to anything an immigration debate could yield.
Its a no-brainer. An aggressive media campaign and some good story-telling could piggy-back this fight onto the Obamacare fiasco and produce a momentum that might easily reach the level of the 2010 midterm “tea party” sweep.

But if there is anyone who can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, its the Republican Party.
-----------------------
Kira Davis is an actress, writer, blogger and talker. She is also a mother, wife, proud American and black conservative who is concerned about the nation’s shift away from traditional American values and Constitutional principles. She wrote and first shared this article on the Independent Journal Review.  She is a School Choice activist standing in the gap for parent's right to choose a better education for their children. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Tags: School Choice, Hope Christian School, Milwaukee, WI, win or GOP, Kira Davis To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Leaving Afghanistan

 Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: On December 31, the United States is slated to begin removing its troops from Afghanistan. They have been there since shortly after 9/11 in 2001. At this writing, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a security agreement that would permit contingents of U.S. and allied troops there to train and assist its security forces beyond the end of 2014.

Karzai says we have different definitions for terrorists. They were and they are the Taliban. He wants to negotiate with them. On Christmas day, they attacked the U.S. embassy in Kabul. No one was injured.

In late December, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Martin Dempsey, held a Pentagon press conference in which they asserted that the Afghan security forces are capable of “overcoming and, in most cases, overwhelming their Taliban competitors for control of Afghanistan," but that they “lack confidence.” In addition, they face a political transition in their central government, the outcome of which is unpredictable.

President Obama deemed the Afghan conflict a good war in contrast to Iraq. Since the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, it has been in a state of political crisis with constant attacks that kill Iraqis on a weekly basis. On Christmas day, Christians were attacked three times in Baghdad, Iraq, killing at least 37.

At the heart of the Afghan and Iraq problem is Islam, its long battle between Sunnis and Shiites, and its enduring hatred of Christians, Jews and all other faiths.

We’re in Afghanistan because it was an al Qaeda staging area for 9/11. Had we taken the approach that freed Kuwait from Iraqi conquest in 1990, we would have been in and out in short order. The U.S. led assault on Iraqi forces began in mid-January 1991 and it was over by late February.

Instead, we remained in Afghanistan. There were 630 U.S. casualties in the years between 2001 and 2008, but following Obama’s “surge” they increased to 1,544 between 2009 and 2012. In 2013, there have been 126. The Taliban suffered casualtiesl, but they did not go away. Parked in Pakistan, their main support, they can and will return. Much of Afghanistan’s problems stem from the establishment of Pakistan in 1947.

The National Priorities Project tracks the cost of the Afghanistan conflict, asserting that taxpayers have paid $683,242,655, 879 (and growing) since it began in 2001, calculating that it costs $10.45 million an hour. The Iraq war cost $816,255,519,665.

Neither conflict produced a desired outcome and, combined with Obama’s agenda to withdraw the U.S. from any military role in the Middle East, many Americans are believed to have embraced a neo-isolationism whose roots reach back to the Vietnam conflict and earlier. The reality is that most have grave doubts and concerns about five years of failed foreign policy by the Obama administration that has sided with Islamists.

A recent Pew poll said that 52% believe “the U.S. should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own.” The problem with that is the prospect of Middle East and African nations in which al Qaeda and other jihadists would gain control and expand their holy war on the West.

In an analysis of Afghanistan after a U.S. withdrawal, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and an adjunct assistant professor in Georgetown University’s security studies program, noted recently that “Afghanistan has known some 2,600 years of foreign invasion. The invaders did much “to shape the country’s culture, religion, politics, and geography, and some of Afghanistan’s most critical turning points came as those invaders left the scene.”

There is considerable irony in what occurred when the then-Soviet Union invaded and was eventually forced out by Afghans and jihadists like Osama bin Laden who received considerable aid from the U.S. to drive out its army in 1989. This was followed by its collapse in 1991 and Afghanistan did as well, “into anarchy and civil war.”

Several scenarios were offered by Gartenstein-Ross, but given Afghanistan’s history few hold out much hope for a strong centralized government. As the Taliban say, the U.S. military wears watches while they measure time in decades and centuries.

My own best guess is that the Taliban conflict in Afghanistan will expand. Whether an Afghan army, still in its earliest years, can protect a central government is anyone’s guess.

When jihadists are emboldened enough to try to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria and as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states join together to prepare for or deter a possible conflict with a nuclear-armed Iran, the Middle East holds the promise of a very ugly future. The implications for the U.S. can only be ignored at our peril.
-------------------------
Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, Warning Signs disseminated on many Internet news and opinion websites and blogs. He is a contributing author at ARRA News Service.


Editor’s Note: An extraordinary book on our fighting forces in Afghanistan, a tribute to their courage and dedication, is “Afghanistan on the Bounce” by Robert L. Cunningham, a noted photographer of Presidents and heads of state who was embedded with our troops there, photographing all aspects of their lives. If you served there, know someone who did, or are a veteran, this is worth adding to your library. As always, endorsements are our own and no fees have or will be accepted for endorsements.

Tags: United States, leaving, Afghanistan, casualties, cost, analysis, Alan Caruba To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Podesta To Carry Out The Obama Doctrine

Marita Noon
by Marita Noon: “Canada is a sovereign nation and we will develop our resources with appropriate regulations and enforcement to protect the environment,” said Paula Caldwell St-Onge. The Consulate General of Canada, St-Onge was in Albuquerque to talk up, and answer questions about, the Keystone pipeline.

She’d done media interviews prior to her arrival at the University of New Mexico Science and Technology Park where a smattering of aggressive, sign-waving Keystone opponents awaited. Security escorted St-Onge from the parking lot to the meeting room.

I, too, was addressing the folks who’d come in support of the controversial pipeline.

Sans security, I approached the rotunda alone. (Guards were present to keep the protesters from accosting the attendees who were bold enough to continue past the cluster of vocal opponents shouting accusations about “ruining the planet for the children.”)

When I passed by, one called out: “That’s Marita Noon! She supports the oil-and-gas industry! She doesn’t believe in climate change!” Basking in my newfound celebrity, I turned, smiled, and waved as if I was greeting adoring fans — and entered the building.

I was the first speaker, followed by Bill Eden, international representative of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada. St-Onge rounded out the trio.

Always the optimist, I opened with: “This is an exciting time to be alive!” and addressed the fact that we were on the cusp of achieving the holy grail of energy security that had eluded decades of American presidents. I pointed out how the Keystone pipeline was an important part of that goal. I talked about my visit to the Canadian oil sands and Mexico’s new energy reforms. I bragged about New Mexico’s energy riches.

I looked at St-Onge and repeated my frequent prediction that Keystone would not be approved under the Obama Administration. I stated: “We know that Obama doesn’t care about Republicans. We know he doesn’t care about the oil-and-gas industry. We may even question whether or not he cares about America. But he does care about his base—and, of his base, there are only two groups who care about the Keystone pipeline.” I asked the audience who those two groups were. They rightly asserted: “environmentalists” and “unions.”

I, then, explained what I call the Obama Doctrine — his primary mode of operation: “Reward your friends, punish your opposition.” With a shrug, I told them, “You don’t need to know anything more than that to know that Keystone will not be approved.”

At first the audience was puzzled — after all, both the environmentalists and the unions are “friends” of the Administration. I asked: “What have the unions done lately?” And answered: “Publically embarrassed Obama on his signature legislation.” The lights came on.

I backed up my view with a quote from the December 14 New York Times regarding John Podesta’s return to the White House: “his very presence could influence Mr. Obama’s thinking on the proposed pipeline from Canada’s oil sands — even though Mr. Podesta has said that he will recuse himself from the final decision because the liberal think tank he founded 10 years ago, the Center for American Progress, has been unsparingly critical of the entire enterprise.”
When St-Onge took the platform, she pointed to me and, in a jovial manner, said: “Marita, I hope you are wrong.” I called out: “I hope I am too! And, I hate to be wrong.”

All the while, the protesters were outside — at first pressing their signs against the windows (until the blinds were closed) and then shouting through a megaphone in a failed attempt to disrupt the meeting.

Fortunately, I’d had major plumbing problems at my home that morning. I am not happy that I had to leave two plumbers in my house when I headed off to speak at the Keystone meeting, but dealing with the problems prevented me from reading the pages of research I’d printed out on John Podesta and his views on the Keystone pipeline. I read them later in the day, on the plane on the way to join my family for Christmas.

Had I read everything I had on Podesta, I couldn’t have started with: “This is an exciting time to be alive!” I couldn’t have been my usual, positive, cheerleading self.

While I’ve been pessimistic about the future of the Keystone pipeline, I’ve spoken and written optimistically about America’s overall energy position and related politics. I’ve touted the increased domestic oil-and-gas development. I’ve pointed out the general demise of the climate change argument and the failure of Europe’s green energy policies. I’ve talked up the good-paying jobs provided by the energy industry. I’ve been encouraged by the changing politics in the other countries of the Anglosphere. I’ve said: “With my ear to the ground, I see good things coming…” But, with Podesta’s return to the White House as an advisor specializing in energy policy, I must admit my optimism was misplaced. I’ve been wrong. And, I hate to be wrong.

Having read extensively on Podesta and his policies, if I was giving the speech today, I’d have to start with: “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

The Daily Caller (DC) starts an article on Podesta’s White House return this way: “John Podesta’s return to the White House should have oil, gas and coal producers worried.” He is a former lobbyist and chief of staff to President Clinton. He is the founder of the liberal think tank the Center for American Progress (CAP) — which Bloomberg news called “an intellectual wellspring for Democratic policy proposals.” Many Obama staffers and policies have come from CAP. The DC says: “In 2010, Podesta wrote the foreword for a CAP report on how the president could use his executive authority to advance a progressive agenda, including actions to unilaterally force the U.S. economy to become greener.” CAP and the name Podesta have come up repeatedly in the Green-energy Crony-corruption Scandal that I’ve covered extensively with Christine Lakatos.

The New York Times states: “Mr. Podesta’s main task will be to give the Environmental Protection Agency the support it needs to devise new rules controlling greenhouse gases from new and existing power plants.” And, “He will further elevate the issue of climate change.” The New Yorker magazine’s coverage of the Podesta position agrees: “Podesta’s climate-change portfolio will therefore be limited largely to overseeing the implementation of E.P.A. regulations.”

Regarding Podesta’s role, The Hill reports: it’s “likely to include administration decisions about how to lease out federal lands and which energy development and mining projects to permit.” It also cites Jay Carney as saying: “Podesta will help implement ‘executive actions where necessary when we can’t get cooperation out of Congress.’” And, states: “Officials and outside energy groups are particularly optimistic he’ll be able to advance the administration’s environmental agenda through administrative policy.” According to the New Yorker, Podesta believes that Obama needs “to be expansive in his use of executive power.”

Specifically addressing the Keystone pipeline, Podesta has said: “I think he should not approve it. I’m of the view that you just can’t meet the standard now that Obama set out: Does it or does it not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution? What are the net effects? And I think a fair review of that would say the net effects are big and they’re negative.” The New Yorker ends its “Podesta and the Pipeline” report with this: “If Obama approves the project, he will have to do so knowing that he is contradicting the assessment of his new climate-change adviser.” The Washington Free Beacon (WFB) claims: “President Obama has consigned Keystone to bureaucratic purgatory.”

According to the DC, the Keystone pipeline is: “A minor concern when compared to the potential regulatory onslaught that Podesta could unleash from within the White House” — about which the WFB coined the term “Regicide.”
Yes, oil, gas and coal producers should be worried — and the individuals and industries that count on America’s abundant, available and affordable energy should be afraid, very afraid.
-----------
Marita Noon is the author of Energy Freedom and serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). This article was shared by the Americans For Limited Government blog.

Tags: Coal, Energy, Energy and the Environment, Gas, Keystone Pipeline, Green Energy, Green Environmentalism, Oil Drilling, John Podesta, Obama Doctrine, Marita Noon, Energy Freedom, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

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