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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)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Republican Senators-Elect Statement on Iran Nuclear Negotiations

Editorial Cartoon A.F. "Tony" Branco
Washington, D.C. - One year ago, the Obama Administration bypassed Congress and brokered a dangerous and ill-advised deal with Iran over their nuclear program. Today, as Senators-elect and members of the new Majority party, we respectfully urge President Obama to ensure any long-term deal with Iran effectively eliminates their nuclear program and all future nuclear capabilities.  At a minimum, Iran must allow for the comprehensive inspection of suspected nuclear development sites and comply with the United Nations’ previously enacted limitations on their nuclear program.

“Given Iran’s history, and the fact that it continues to be the world’s largest state-sponsor of terrorism, we fear Iran is not negotiating in good faith. The United States has already rolled back $14 billion in sanctions and it seems we have little to show in return. If the Obama administration reaches a deal that we deem unacceptable, we will join our colleagues in the Senate to act to keep America safe.”

Senator-elect Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
Senator-elect Tom Cotton (R-AR)
Senator-elect Steve Daines (R-MT)
Senator-elect Joni Ernst (R-IA)
Senator-elect Cory Gardner (R-CO)
Senator-elect James Lankford (R-OK)
Senator-elect David Perdue (R-GA)
Senator-elect Mike Rounds (R-SD)
Senator-elect Ben Sasse (R-NE)
Senator-elect Dan Sullivan (R-AK)
Senator-elect Thom Tillis (R-NC)

Tags: Republicans, 2015, U.S Senator-elect, Statement, Iran, nuclear negotiations, rditorail cartoon, AF Branco To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Mike Lee's Plan To Fix 114th Congress

Past articles have mentioned or referenced Sen. Mike Lee's Plan to reform Congress. The days of the 113th Congress are almost completed and the 114th Congress (January 3, 2015 to January 3, 2017) will soon begin. This new Congress will have both a Republican controlled House and Senate. Thus, it seemed appropriate to share Republican Sen. Mike Lee's plan to fix the 114th Congress. It is indeed time to fix the way business is done in Congress. I am hoping that readers will consider Lee's plan and then share your thoughts with your U.S. Representative and two Senators. Of course, for those represented by liberal radicals, such a task could prove waste of time so I understand your opting to not casting proverbial "pearls before swine." ~ Dr. Bill Smith, Editor, ARRA News Service

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
Five Steps To Restore Trust, Transparency, And Empowerment
by Sen. Mike Lee: After years of frustration and months of feverish work, the Republican Party has finally won back the U.S. Senate, and with it, undivided control of Congress. But no sooner had Tuesday night’s balloon drops hit the floor than Republicans around the country—and especially in certain offices in Washington, DC — faced that timeless question of election-night winners: Now what?

This is never an easy question to answer, given the requisite balancing act between expectations and realities, politics and substance. And answering it could be especially difficult for the leaders of the new Republican Congress, for two additional reasons.

First, there is the still-strained relationship between the GOP’s Washington establishment and its grassroots conservative base. And second, the party establishment and consultant class chose to de-emphasize Republican policy alternatives during the campaign. So despite that strategy’s apparent success Tuesday night, our new majority cannot claim a sweeping legislative mandate.

But this question needs to be answered, nonetheless. And soon.

As a frequent critic of my party’s strategic timidity—and as incoming chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, whose job it is encourage bolder thinking and action—I thought it incumbent on me to offer some concrete, early, and hopefully constructive suggestions about how the new Republican Congress might be steered toward unity and success.

As the reader will see, the ideas below are not really policy goals. (I have my own ideas about what our party’s reform agenda ought to be, and I will spend most of the next two years advocating them.)

Rather, these are five suggestions to my Republican colleagues to help repair the dysfunctional legislative branch we have inherited, rebuild Congress’s reputation among the American people, and by extension slowly restore the public’s confidence in the Republican Party.

Rather, these are five suggestions to my Republican colleagues to help repair the dysfunctional legislative branch we have inherited, rebuild Congress’s reputation among the American people, and by extension slowly restore the public’s confidence in the Republican Party.

1. Rebuilding Trust
The greatest challenge to policy making today is distrust. The American people distrust their government, and Congress in particular. For their part, Washington policymakers seem to distrust the people. And almost as pressing for the new majority, the distrust that now exists between grassroots conservative activists and elected Republican leaders can be particularly toxic.

Leaders can respond to this distrust in one of two ways. One option is the bare-knuckled partisanship that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has exhibited for the last eight years: twisting rules, blocking debate and amendments, and systematically disenfranchising hundreds of millions of Americans from political representation.

But this is no choice at all for the new Republican majority. First, contempt for the American people and the democratic process is something Republicans should oppose in principle. Second, our new Senate majority will be both ideologically diverse and temperamentally independent—unlikely to be as docile and partisan as Senate Democrats have been. And finally, the 2016 presidential primary campaign may include several Republican senators, whose incentives for differentiation in a crowded field will make internal politics even harder to predict or control.

No, the new Republican majority has neither the institutional credibility nor the cast of characters to expect backbenchers—let alone conservative activists and groups—to unquestioningly follow orders. Rather than resent or deny this fact, Republican leaders should embrace it. We should throw open the doors of Congress, and restore genuine representative democracy to the American republic.

No more “cliff” crises. No more secret negotiations. No more take-it-or-leave-it deadline deals. No more passing bills without reading them. No more procedural manipulation to block debate and compromise. These are the abuses that have created today’s status quo—the status quo Republicans have been hired to correct.

What too few in Washington appreciate — and what the new Republican Congress must if we hope to succeed—is that the American people’s current distrust of their public institutions is totally justified. There’s no misunderstanding. Americans are fed up with Washington, and they have every right to be. The exploitative status quo in Washington has corrupted Americans’ economy and their government, and made its entrenched defenders rich in the process.

This situation was created by both parties, but repairing it is now going to fall to the Republican Party. It’s our job to win back the public’s trust. And that can’t be done simply by passing more bills, or even better bills. The only way to gain trust is to be trustworthy. I think that means we have to invite the people back into the process, to give the bills we do pass the moral legitimacy Congress alone no longer confers.

This openness should probably extend beyond the formal legislative process to the strategy­ development process, too. Congressional majorities too often approach their work on an ad hoc basis, bobbing like a cork in a creek between reactive opportunism and institutional inertia. But as we have seen in recent years, the leadership vacuums that kind of passivity creates never stay unfilled.

Whatever one might think of their relative merits, recent strategic initiatives led by congressional back-benchers — the “Cut, Cap, Balance” budget plan in 2011, the filibuster letter on gun control in early 2013, the effort to defund Obamacare last fall, and, to an extent, even the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill—all represented efforts to fill vacuums created by Republican leaders’ reticence and inaction.

Rather than resist this new reality, the new Republican majority can use it to our advantage.

Republican leaders should embrace a more open-source strategy development model that includes everyone on the front end to avoid confusion, suspicion, and division on the back end. The last four years have repeatedly shown the folly of excluding anti-establishment conservatives from strategy formation — bills pulled from the floor, intra-Conference chaos, and back-biting in the press.

Now, with the minority Democrats desperate to highlight such episodes, Republican leaders have every reason to get out in front of every issue, every major bill, every project, and get everyone on board before the train leaves the station.

An excellent example of this kind of approach is that of Sen. Lamar Alexander, likely incoming chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Alexander has made no secret of wanting to do a major reauthorization of the federal Higher Education Act. He and his staff have quietly sounded out various higher-ed reform ideas for over a year already. That’s a model all Republican decision-makers should be following, starting immediately.

Inclusive legislative and strategy processes will come with tradeoffs, of course. Leaders will have to surrender some of their institutional power. Conservatives will have to be prepared to accept defeat, fair and square, if our ideas cannot carry the day. Members will have to expose themselves to inconvenient amendment votes. The results of some votes and the fates of certain bills may prove unpredictable. But the costs of an open-source, transparent process are worth it for the benefits of greater inclusion of more diverse voices and views, and for the opportunity such a process would offer to rebuild the internal and external trust necessary to govern.

2. Don’t Forget Cronyism
We’re going to be hearing that word, “govern,” a lot in coming weeks; as in, “Now Republicans must show they can govern.” What is meant by this is passing bills—quickly and with bipartisan support—and having them signed into law, in order to show the country that Republicans can “get things done.”

In this advice, there is much truth, and also a trap.

The truth is that, yes, Republicans should take every opportunity to reform federal law wherever common ground with Democrats can be found. And if good policy makes for good politics, as it usually does, so much the better.

But the trap is that Republicans in fact can’t “govern” from the House and Senate alone—especially without a Senate supermajority. We can clearly articulate our views and advance our ideas, and then see where we can work with the president and congressional Democrats. But we have to do these things in that order. We should find common ground that advances our agenda, rather than let the idea of common ground substitute for our agenda.

If we fail to grasp that, we will be drawn into advancing legislation that is both substantively and politically counterproductive, and that sends the wrong message to the public about our party. For instance, the easiest bipartisan measures to pass are almost always bills that directly benefit Big Business, and thus appeal to the corporatist establishments of both parties. In 2015, this “low-hanging fruit” we’ll hear about will be items like corporate tax reform, Obamacare’s medical device tax, patent reform, and perhaps the Keystone XL pipeline approval.

As it happens, these are all good ideas that I support. But if that’s as far as Republicans go, we will regret it. The GOP’s biggest branding problem is that Americans think we’re the party of Big Business and The Rich. If our “Show-We-Can-Govern” agenda can be fairly attacked as giving Big Business what it wants—while the rest of the country suffers—we will only reinforce that unpopular image.

Insofar as the pent-up K Street agenda includes good ideas, then by all means let’s pass those pieces by huge margins and send them to the president. But a new Republican majority must also make clear that our support for free enterprise cuts both ways — we’re pro-free market, not simply pro-business. To prove that point, we must target the crony capitalist policies that rig our economy for large corporations and special interests at the expense of everyone else—especially small and new businesses.

In other words, Republicans should seek common ground between conservative principles and the interests and needs of the general public, not just between Washington Republicans and Washington Democrats. And the search for that genuinely common ground will point to a lot of low-hanging fruit too, even when it comes to the proper relationship between government and business. We could pass legislation winding down the Export-Import Bank or the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. We could—and really, must — eliminate the taxpayer bailouts for big insurance companies in Obamacare’s “risk corridors” program. Or we could start to break up taxpayer subsidies for the energy industry or large agribusinesses.

Anti-cronyism legislation is win-win for the GOP. It is good policy, restoring growth and fairness to an economy that Big Government and Big Business have rigged against the little guy. And it’s even better politics, standing up for the middle class while pinning hypocritical Democrats between their egalitarian talking points and their elitist agenda.

Taking on crony capitalism is a test of the political will and wisdom of the GOP. To become the party of the middle class and those aspiring to join it—our only hope for success in 2016 and beyond—we have to change more than our rhetoric. The new Republican Congress does have to get things done, but those things have to be for Main Street, too, not just Wall Street and K Street. A big part of our “governing” test is whether we can stand up to special interests. Leaders like Paul Ryan and Jeb Hensarling in the House, and Marco Rubio and Jeff Sessions in the Senate have made the fight against cronyism a point of emphasis—and it’s sure to be a theme in the 2016 presidential primaries, too.

This issue is reaching critical mass on the Right. And as I see it, it’s now a political necessity, another one that we should embrace rather than resist.

In passing anti-cronyism bills, we can either achieve policy wins for economic growth and opportunity, or we can let the president explain in his veto messages why taxpayers, whose take-home pay is stagnant, should be subsidizing corporations, whose profits have never been higher. That’s a brand-changing debate Republicans can win.

3. Keep it Simple on the Budget
The biggest strategic and legislative question the new Republican Congress will face in 2015 is what we should do on the budget. The procedural and political realities of the budget process demand that, in an era of divided government, it highlight the contrasts between the two parties. (Unless, like the Democrats, you ignore federal law and just don’t do a budget at all, the better to conceal your true beliefs from the public.)

Come the spring, House and Senate Republicans have to pass a common Budget Resolution for the fiscal year starting next fall. The budget’s privileged process allows for its passage in the Senate with only 51 votes—which in all likelihood will mean 51 (hopefully 54!) Republicans and no Democrats. This step must be fulfilled to begin the so-called reconciliation process, under which Congress can fast-track a single fiscal reform bill later on—again with only 51 Senate votes.

It’s such a complicated process, and such a delicate political balancing act that to succeed, the Republican establishment and conservative grassroots should come to an agreement very early on the broad parameters of what the budget must entail. Arguing over specific spending levels, cuts, programs, and reforms at this point is probably unwise. Rather, we should try to agree on a handful of principles that all Republicans can agree on and not try to have the budget alone substitute for everything Congress needs to do.

The three most obvious Republican consensus principles—to me, anyway—are that our budget should:
  1. Balance within ten years (without accounting gimmicks),
  2. Not raise taxes, and
  3. Repeal Obamacare.
These goals comprise the closest thing our party has to a mandate in the wake of this election, and my guess is that every House and Senate Republican is already on record supporting them. If we want to avoid an ugly establishment-grassroots battle next spring, Republican leaders and Budget Committee leaders would do well to reach out to all wings of the party to get buy-in on a framework like this, and only then begin the sausage-making.

There are rumors around Capitol Hill that some Republicans don’t want to repeal Obamacare in the budget process. They would prefer to pursue something else—corporate tax reform, for instance—where bipartisan cooperation may be more attainable. They want to use budget reconciliation to “get a win.”

But this has things backwards, it seems to me. President Obama and many Democrats have already voiced some support for corporate tax reform. Any plan that could get the president’s signature wouldn’t need to be done via reconciliation, because such a bipartisan compromise could easily get 60 votes in the Senate. The whole point of reconciliation is that it allows the majority one chance to pass something with only simple majorities. For Republicans in 2015 — not as a matter of ideological purity but of practical coalitional unity — that one thing has to include repealing Obamacare. Corporate tax reform, and much else, can be pursued in other ways.

4. Fund It? Fix it.
One of the biggest traps Republicans and conservatives fall into is any debate about budget “cuts.” When you stop for a moment and think, blindly “cutting” the federal government’s budget is not a very conservative approach to governing. After all, the conservative critique of Washington is not that the federal government is a bit profligate, but otherwise efficient and effective with our money. No, the problem with Washington is that it’s comprehensively wasteful, unfair, and dysfunctional. It is, in a great many areas of policy, trying to do the wrong things and doing them in the wrong ways.

Just spending less on a misguided program doesn’t get you any closer to a real solution than just spending more on it. If the program is dysfunctional—if it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, and what it’s supposed to do is worth doing — fix it. Fixing a leaky faucet is not an arbitrary “cut” in one’s water bill, it’s repairing a broken system so that it only costs what it must.

Republicans can approach federal reform the same way. We can make a commitment in coming years not merely to cut big government, but to fix broken government, which is the more difficult but far more important work.

For instance, we know for a fact that the federal highway trust fund wastes money: on bureaucracy, on special interest giveaways, on projects that are purely local and can be managed by state and municipal governments. Therefore, when the time comes next spring to reauthorize the federal highway program, the Republican Congress should insist on making the system at least a little bit better—rather than just “finding the money” to fully fund a legacy system we already know doesn’t work.

I along with several other conservatives have proposed a plan to permanently reform the highway program; I also know that President Obama is unlikely to sign it. Republicans shouldn't accept the president’s veto threat as the end of the negotiation, however, but the beginning. If he wants infrastructure money, he should accept some structural reforms to give states more flexibility and let gas tax revenue go further.

Similarly, Head Start is a program that the Obama administration itself has found does not work. Decades of rigorous analysis have shown that it does not yield lasting benefits for children in need. So, rather than spend less money on exactly the same broken system—and merely deserve fewer poor children—Republicans should start to fix it to better serve more children, at lower cost to the taxpayers.

Sen. Tom Coburn has fought for years to clean up wasteful aspects of the Defense Department budget that have no bearing on national security. Sen. Dick Durbin and I have introduced a bill to reform federal criminal sentencing guidelines, which would save taxpayers $2.5 billion over ten years. Crumbling public support of Common Core should force action on federal K-12 grants. The Ebola outbreak demands serious reprioritization at the Centers for Disease Control.

The annual appropriations process should take up this approach, too. We should put an end to “omnibus,” all-or-nothing spending packages, and instead insist on consideration of each appropriations bill in regular order—with hearings, amendments, and specific votes. This is how the Constitution protects Americans from waste and exploitation, after all. It’s also the only way Congress can hope to rein in the Obama administration’s unprecedented abuses of power—by withholding funding from corrupt bureaucracies.

Indeed, the entire congressional budget-and-spending process is due for a comprehensive overhaul. But at a minimum, Congress should only fund reformed programs. (Only in DC would this suggestion be even remotely controversial.) If the president rigidly resists intelligent, surgical reform based on thorough oversight, then we could turn to across-the-board cuts, as we did in 2011.

These are not heavy lifts or ideological crusades I’m describing. They only seem novel because it’s been so long since we’ve had a functioning legislature. My modest proposal is that if there is a good reason for Congress to fund a program, that in and of itself is a good reason to continually improve it.

5. Ryan-ize the Committees
Ironically (or not, if you know how Congress works), the most important policy development in the Republican Party in the last decade was not undertaken by party leaders in the House, Senate, or White House. In fact, formal party leaders largely discouraged it.

Instead, that work was conducted by Congressman Paul Ryan when he became the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee in 2007. Ryan instructed his new committee staff to think big, to transcend the short-termism that plagues Congress and develop solutions to long-term problems. Ryan and his staff dove deep into America’s structural budget shortfalls and the long-term challenges to our entitlement programs and economy.

The end result was what Ryan called his “Roadmap for America’s Future.” It called for major reforms to our tax system, our entitlement programs, our health care system, and across the federal government. It was controversial, of course. The immediate reception was predictable: Democrats trashed it and most Republicans ran for cover. But in time, people on both sides of the aisle were forced to admit that the Roadmap was a serious document. It warranted a serious debate, and it has gotten one ever since. When Republicans took back the House of Representatives in 2011, some of the broad outlines of the Ryan Roadmap became de facto positions of the Republican party—positions on issues Democrats still try to pretend don’t exist.

For all the well-deserved plaudits Ryan gets for his brains, the Roadmap—whatever one thinks of it—was really an achievement of his guts. He had the courage to take his plan into the arena, and withstand criticism, even from his allies. That is, he did what all politicians say we want to do—and succeeded.

So the fifth step to a healthy Republican majority in the one hundred and fourteenth Congress is to use congressional committees to begin developing the agenda for the one hundred and fifteenth, and one hundred and sixteenth, and one hundred and seventeenth Congresses, too. We should “Ryan-ize” the committees, for lack of a better word, encouraging our chairmen to think big. House and Senate Republicans should make it part of the job description of “chairman” that each committee—and ideally, each subcommittee—propose at least one major, fundamental, long-term policy overhaul each year.

These reforms could not be passed in this Congress, of course. And conservatives are rightly suspicious of “big bill” legislating at all anymore. But such proposals would serve the valuable purpose of identifying long-term goals that nearer-term, incremental proposals can move policy toward. They would be outlines, not thousand-page bills, and they would help shape the small bills and gradual steps necessary to advance a conservative vision of government.

America’s health care, energy, higher education, telecommunications, security, and criminal justice needs (to name just a few) appear to be in the midst of transitions, nearing tipping points that will help define our nation in decades to come. In such a moment, it’s not enough to ask ourselves, “What can we pass this year?” without first asking—and investing every possible resource into answering, “How can our needs be met in the twenty-first century?”

Government itself is one of the prime candidates for this kind of thinking. Most systems we use to provide government services were designed decades ago, before the tech and telecom revolutions that have changed the way Americans do almost everything else. In 20 years, will we need, say, a Government Printing Office or Internal Revenue Service in anything like their current forms? If disruptive innovations continue to personalize and localize the economy, will centralized, monolithic bureaucracies be the right instruments to regulate it? Or is government just as badly in need of some disruptive innovations that would enable market forces, public desires, and longstanding constitutional principles to once again show us the way and make our institutions more accountable?

Of course politicians cannot predict the future, nor can government direct future industries any better than it directs current ones. But we know that our society and our economy have rocketed out in front of our government, and that the bureaucracy in its current form is unlikely ever to catch up. Insisting that today’s leaders look beyond the next news cycle and the next election cycle will benefit the country and the Republican Party in the long run.

The only way to move incrementally in the right direction is to know which way the right direction is. Long-term reform projects will lay down markers for the Party while identifying opportunities for innovation in the nearer term.

Time To Go Bold
The above suggestions represent dramatic departures from Congress’s status quo, but that’s the point. The new Republican majority cannot indulge in fantasies of a mandate or public contentment with its political institutions.

Everything about American life today is becoming more decentralized, open-source, localized and personalized. Everything, that is, except government. An increasingly customizable economy and diverse social networks of mini-communities will not long tolerate the innate incompetence of clumsy, self-serving, Big Government. Since the end of the Cold War, the American people have experimented with every conceivable combination of partisan control in Washington—presidents, Houses, and Senates of both parties.

In that time, the costs of the staples of middle-class life—housing, health care, education, child-rearing, and retirement security—have risen, unabated. Yet take-home pay is stagnant and jobs are increasingly insecure. We are not getting this right.

But the cliché that Washington doesn’t work is not right, either. Washington does work, for Washington. For many years, Congress has worked perfectly well for so-called “stakeholders” on Wall Street, K Street, and Pennsylvania Avenue. The challenge for the new Republican majority is to put Congress back to work for Main Street—to make Washington work for America.

The status quo is failing. So leaders need to seek for strategies and tactics outside the status quo. The new Republican Congress cannot be led according to the old ways of hierarchical deference, or appeals to institutional trust. But just because Republican unity cannot be imposed doesn’t mean it cannot be achieved. There are other paths to unity and cooperation and shared success, including the path that the Republican Party already embraces in America’s free enterprise economy and voluntary civil society.

What I propose, then, is an agenda of empowerment — an internal Republican agenda of empowerment to complement our external one. Let Congress operate less like a nineteenth-century industrial mill, and more like a twenty-first-century open-source network.

The media wants to criticize the GOP’s diversity and independence as disunity and weakness. But this criticism says much more about the critics than about us. It’s like saying in 1999 that Borders Books would rout Amazon, or saying today that taxi cartels are “stronger” than Uber. In today’s world, individual and community empowerment are strengths for organizations who know how to use them.

Transparency, equality, diversity, and innovation—these are not abstract values, but practical strategies that our new majority can use to unite the Republican coalition, revive public trust in Congress, and put the federal government back on the side of the working families and communities our broken status quo is leaving behind.

Republicans won a great victory.

Now what? Deserve it!
Mike Lee is a U.S. Senator from Utah and the chairman elect of the Republican Senate Steering Committee. He shared this article on The Federalist.

Tags: Mike Lee, U.S. Senate, Senator, Plan, To Fix Congress  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Climate Agreement

. . . reached at the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Meeting in China.
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: Climate Agreement, APEC, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, China, USA, Obama, editorial cartoon, AF Branco 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 Do the 2016 GOP Hopefuls Really Think About Same-Sex Marriage?

by Genevieve Wood: The marriage issue didn’t play a major role in the 2014 midterms, but activist courts overturning state laws and lawsuits threatening the rights of those who disagree with redefining marriage may very well make the issue a top one in 2016.

Since 1998 and across the early 2000s, millions of Americans voted at the state level to define marriage as the union of a man and woman and more than 38 states have such laws on their books today. Yet with state and district courts overturning those laws across the country and the Supreme Court punting on the issue earlier this fall, a number of questions increasingly come in to play:
  • Should the definition of marriage be decided state by state, and how does that then affect federal law dealing with marriage?
  • What happens if, as we’re seeing happen, the courts take the issue out of the hands of individual states and bans their right to define marriage in their state and also forces them to recognize the marriage laws of other states?
  • How do we protect the religious freedoms of business owners, churches and others who don’t want to participate in same-sex marriages–a problem we’re already encountering?
These are questions potential presidential candidates should be prepared to answer. A sampling of statements from leading GOP contenders shows most have some homework to do. All say they favor marriage being defined as the union of a man and woman–good–but in light of recent events, few offer policy or legal prescriptions for how they would actually promote and defend that position or deal with the increasing number of related issues raised above.

Below, in alphabetical order, are some of the most talked about contenders for the 2016 GOP nomination, in their own words:

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-FL, in a 2013 interview with Newsmax: “I would prefer it to be a state-by-state issue. That’s how we have dealt with a lot of issues in the United States. Our federal system is a spectacular way to deal with changing mores–and states can take advantage of opportunities much better than federal government.”

Gov. Chris Christie, R-NH, talking to reporters this summer at the National Governor’s Association: “It should be done state by state.”

In 2013, Christie did not appeal the New Jersey State Supreme Court’s decision ruling the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. A press release from the governor’s office stated: “Although the governor strongly disagrees with the court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tx, via a press release following the Supreme Court’s decision not to take up any of the lower court cases overturning state marriage laws: “Marriage is a question for the States. That is why I have introduced legislation, S. 2024, to protect the authority of state legislatures to define marriage. And that is why, when Congress returns to session, I will be introducing a constitutional amendment to prevent the federal government or the courts from attacking or striking down state marriage laws.”

Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-LA, responding the day after the Supreme Court decision, said in a conference call with reporters that he agrees with Sen. Cruz and that, “I support what the senator is doing.” He also said, “I know there are folks that are changing their position on this. I know former Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton, President Obama, have changed their positions on this. I know you can certainly see where opinion polls it appears a lot of folks have changed their positions on this. I’m not a weather vane on this issue, and I’m not going to change my position. I continue to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, talking to a reporter following an event at the College of Charleston in September: “I believe in old-fashioned traditional marriage. But I don’t really think the government needs to be too involved with this, and I think that the Republican Party can have people on both sides of the issue.” (I’ve written before on Paul’s lack of clarity on this issue.)

Gov. Rick Perry, R-TX, has supported the federal marriage amendment in the past, but following the ruling by a federal judge in February of 2014 that a Texas law banning gay marriage was unconstitutional, Perry made a states right argument, saying, “Texans spoke loud and clear by overwhelmingly voting to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman in our Constitution. The Tenth Amendment guarantees Texas voters the freedom to make these decisions, and this is yet another attempt to achieve via the courts what couldn’t be achieved at the ballot box.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, speaking at Catholic University last July: “Those who support same sex marriage have a right to lobby their state legislatures to change state laws. But Americans who support keeping the traditional definition of marriage also have a right to work to keep the traditional definition of marriage in our laws without seeing that overturned by a judge.”

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, explaining his 2004 vote for a federal marriage amendment which did not muster the two-thirds of votes needed to pass: “Marriage is not simply a legal arrangement between individuals. The institution of marriage is an integral part of our civil society, and its significance goes well beyond eligibility for benefits and similar considerations. Its future should not be left to a few overreaching judges or local officials to decide. That’s why I support this effort to amend our Constitution to protect marriage.”

Fast forward to 2012 where Ryan said as the GOP vice presidential nominee that he believes “marriage is between a man and a woman” but depending on actions of the Supreme Court it may become a “federalism” issue where states become the deciders.

Gov. Scott Walker, R-WI, in a press statement in 2006 calling on the state legislature to pass a constitutional amendment: “The Wisconsin State Legislature is currently deliberating this issue, and I strongly urge them to pass the constitutional amendment defining a marriage as a commitment between one man and one woman. Then, it will be up to the voters to say what defines a marriage in Wisconsin.” (The legislature passed the amendment, voters overwhelmingly approved it, but then a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional. Wisconsin was one of the states directly affected by the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the lower court cases earlier this fall.)

Here are Walker’s comments following the SCOTUS decision: “For us, it’s over in Wisconsin.” He continued, “I’d rather be talking in the future now more about our jobs plan and our plan for the future of the state. I think that’s what matters to the kids. It’s not this issue.”

But “this issue” does matter and will continue to matter to many Americans voting in the 2016 Republican primaries and the general election. The full court press by the pro same-sex marriage lobby to label anyone opposing them as a bigot and anti-equal rights, along with public opinion polls showing an uptick in support for same-sex marriage among the general population, no doubt makes it one of the tougher issues to talk about.

But newsflash: Running for president isn’t for sissies. Additionally, public opinion polls have not mirrored voter behavior. Regardless of what Americans tell pollsters, the majority of those going to the polls that matters most, the voting booth, have supported defining marriage as being between one man and one woman.

Those contemplating throwing their hat into the 2016 ring should contemplate now how they will address this issue. It’s not going away.
Genevieve Wood advances policy priorities of The Heritage Foundation as senior contributor to The Daily Signal. Folkow her on Titter at @genevievewood

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King v. Burwell: “What is a State Exchange?”

by David Greenberg: The Supreme Court agreed to review the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal decisions for King v. Burwell, 759 F.3d 358 (4th Cir. 2014). The Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virgina ruled that the language in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) unambiguously permitted the IRS to grant tax credits to individuals who purchased health insurance in federal exchanges (997 F.Supp.2d 415, 428). The Fourth Circuit disagreed with this interpretation, but determined that the IRS reasonably rooted their regulation in the Congressional intent of ACA.

Interpreting the ACA
All lawyers or law students should know that all statutory interpretation begins with the text of the statute. These same people should also know that the text of the statute rarely provides an adequate solution. The text of the ACA is over 900 pages long, so there are bound to be slight inconsistencies in language. Proofing such a large, complex document is next to impossible. Judges (more realistically, both parties’ lawyers) must piece together the meaning of those words so one provision does not cancel out another provision, or make a different provision meaningless. Simultaneously, the judge must attempt to honor the intent of the Congress insofar as Congress did not go beyond their authority. This is no easy task.

The ACA has a second important dynamic. It basically created, altered, or expanded tons of Federal agencies. This case, like every other ObamaCare case you have read about, is at the core a question of an agency’s action. There are two Supreme Court cases that determine how all courts must judge these actions: Chevron and Skidmore. In this case, Chevron governs.

Chevron set up a two-step process to determine if an agency’s regulation was legitimate. First, the Court must determine if Congress had a specific intent in enacting the language of a statute. If Congress’s intent is clear, then agencies must honor that intent. If the intent is ambiguous, then the court may proceed to the second step. The court must look at the regulation to determine if it reasonably accomplished Congress’s intent in establishing the law. In most cases, the court determines the agency acted reasonably.

So, at the heart of this case is two questions: Did Congress provide unambiguous intent in crafting these provisions in the ACA? If so, did the IRS violate its intent? If not, then did the regulation violate the intent of the ACA generally?

The Supreme Court’s Interpretation Dynamic
The Supreme Court honors its past decisions describing form, but individual justices often disagree at how these test should be applied. Like questions of Constitutional interpretation, the Supreme Court is divided sharply on statutory interpretation. Generally speaking, the Court can be divided into three general classes: purposivist, intentionalists, and textualists. These three general concepts differ in two questions: the amount of textual ambiguity required to look to secondary sources and which secondary sources are relevant.

Textualists generally require the highest amount of ambiguity or absolute absurdity to overcome the plain meaning of a statute. Even in these cases, textualists prefer to look within the Act for clarity before turning to secondary sources. In the event secondary sources are needed, they tend to look to general or technical dictionaries from the era of passage before legislative history. The Court has three textualists: Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.

Intentionalists have a slightly lower threshold of ambiguity. If that threshold is met, the question changes slightly. They attempt to determine Congress’s intent to give the language additional meaning. THe theory is laws are passed to solve a social problem. If the Court can determine the Congress’s intended solution, then they can honor that intention. Intentionalists are willing to look at legislative history to determine intent when the statute is silent. The Court has two intentionalists: Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy.

Purposevists have an even lower threshold of ambiguity. The standard is so low that if a statute is before the Supreme Court, it will meet the threshold. Like intentionalists, the question changes slightly after the threshold is met. Purposevists want to know the purpose, or ultimate goal, of the statute. The interpretation that best reaches that end is the best possible interpretation. The Court has four purposivists: Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.

Applying Chevron to King
Applying Chevron to King v. Burwell requires the Court to first look at the statutory language. The specific section is in 26 U.S.C. 36B (b)(2). It reads as follows:The premium assistance amount determined under this subsection with respect to any coverage month is the amount equal to the lesser of— the monthly premiums for such month for 1 or more qualified health plans offered in the individual market within a State which cover the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse, or any dependent (as defined in section 152) of the taxpayer and which were enrolled in through an Exchange established by the State under 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or the excess (if any) of— the adjusted monthly premium for such month for the applicable second lowest cost silver plan with respect to the taxpayer, over an amount equal to 1/12 of the product of the applicable percentage and the taxpayer’s household income for the taxable year.Making things a little bit less ambiguous, Section 1311 of the Patient Protection Act (42 U.S.C § 18031) only describes state run exchanges, while section 1321 (42 U.S.C. § 18041) describes federally run exchanges. Likewise, Congress understands the difference between State and Federal programs, and it would be a hard thing to believe that Congress meant “Federal and State” when it used the word “State” in this context. Textualist interpretation likely will end on this distinction. The statue is unambiguous, limiting the authority of the IRS to provide this tax credit when health insurance is purchased in state operated exchanges.

None of the Court of Appeals decisions have come to this final conclusion (Halbig is being review en banc in the D.C. Circuit). As such, it is never this simple. Section 1321 provides,If—a State is not an electing State under subsection (b); or the Secretary determines, on or before January 1, 2013, that an electing State—will not have any required Exchange operational by January 1, 2014; or has not taken the actions the Secretary determines necessary to implement—the other requirements set forth in the standards under subsection (a); or the requirements set forth in subtitles A and C and the amendments made by such subtitles; the Secretary shall (directly or through agreement with a not-for-profit entity) establish and operate such Exchange within the State and the Secretary shall take such actions as are necessary to implement such other requirements.Courts have interpreted this provision to mean that Federal exchanges that are set up under these circumstances are functionally the same exchanges set up under section 1311. For most of the Supreme Court, this fact may be enough to view the language is ambiguous. Because legislative history is essentially non-existent, courts have been unable to determine which is these interpretations Congress intended.

Because of this, courts have entered the second stage of Chevron. This opens the door to further information. Court’s first attempt to determine the ill targeted by the ACA. Chief Justice Roberts provided the answer in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, “The Act aims to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care.” If this is the ill, does the IRS expansive interpretation reasonably further this goal? That is plainly yes.

The big question for commentators and Fantasy Supreme Court players is how the Court’s intentionalists will handle the lack of legislative history. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy understanding of the Act’s constitutionality differ greatly, but the constitutionality of an Act and the interpretation of that Act are completely different questions.
David Greenberg is a Juris Doctor candidate at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. He has worked for several conservative think-tanks and grassroots organizations researching government studies, energy policy, and constitutional law. He shared this article on The College Conservative.

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Is There Anywhere Safe to Be a Jew?

by Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: One might think that being a rabbi praying in a synagogue in an ultra-orthodox neighborhood of Jerusalem, Israel was about as safe as one could get, but you would be wrong.

Jews, no matter where they are, understand they can be attacked and killed for being Jews. It is the price of their Covenant with God (Exodus, Chapter 12). This has been part of the history of Judaism for three millennia. In the last century it manifested itself as a Nazi genocide that killed six million European Jews and in this one it is the continuation of an Islamic war on Israel.

On Tuesday, November 18, two Palestinians, armed with a rifle and butcher knives, killed three American-Israeli rabbis, a British-Israeli rabbi, and a police officer. They injured seven others. The synagogue isn't even close to the line that divides the Jewish and Arab sections of the city. In recent months Jerusalem has been the scene of a number of attacks attributed to Muslim anger regarding the desire of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, a holy site on which a mosque, al-Aksa, was built following the Arab conquest of the city in 637 A.D.

News of Tuesday’s killings was celebrated in the streets of Gaza and no doubt elsewhere. While condemning the killings, President Obama also managed to blame Israel for building housing for its citizens. Why he thinks he has the right to tell the Israelis where and how much housing can be built is testimony to both his arrogance and his enmity toward the Jewish State.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abba condemned the killings in one breath and incited more hatred with the next, claiming that Jews had “contaminated” the Temple Mount where Abraham’s faith was tested by God.

From its independence in 1948 to the present, Israel has been attacked in wars and with organized terror campaigns called intifadas. The Palestinians rewarded the Israeli decision to turn the whole of Gaza over to them in 2005 by rocketing it ceaselessly from there until the Israelis conducted a military operation in June to bring a stop to it. In the process, they discovered dozens of tunnels intended to be used by terrorists to attack Israelis.

The Palestinians have been given many opportunities to have peace with Israel but they have never chosen to embrace it. American efforts by several Presidents have all failed. There are two Palestinian groups that claim governance or representation, the Palestinian Authority located on the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza.

The answer why is perhaps best found in the Hamas founding document. Proclaimed in 1988, it calls for the creation of an “Islamic state in Palestine in place of Israel and the Palestinian territories, and the obliteration or dissolution of Israel.” How is that to be achieved? Victory is defined as “killing the last Jew on earth…”

The murderous nature of Islam was highlighted in the latest Global Terrorism Index published by the Institute for Economics and Peace. CNS news reported that “The number of people killed by terrorists worldwide in 2013 rose by 60 percent compared to the previous year—from 11,133 to 17,958—with four Sunni Muslim extremist groups responsible for two-thirds of all fatalities…”

The Middle East was the region where most of the killings occurred and it should be noted that Christians for whom the region has been home for millenia have been also been targeted in the same fashion as Israel's Jews.

In a broader context, the level of anti-Semitism has been increasing in recent years and, despite the horror of the Holocaust during World War II, it is particularly evident in Europe. The increased Muslim population in European nations may have something to do with that, but it is also clear that the hostility toward Jews is evident in its non-Muslim population. It is not an exaggeration to say that one can find anti-Semitism virtually anywhere in the world, even in nations where there is no perceptible Jewish population.

The two Palestinians who perpetrated the attack were killed in a police shootout. In a November 19 editorial, The Wall Street Journal opined that “What Israel needs now is confidence that the U.S. will not reward these acts of jihad by browbeating Mr. Netanyahu back into negotiations with Mr. Abbas.”

“The best way to prevent another intifada is to reassure Israel that the U.S. supports its self-defense, while warning Palestinians that they will never have a homeland as long as they cultivate a society that celebrates murdering the innocent in the name of religion.”

The Palestinians are not members of a sovereign state and never have been. The closest one gets to one is Jordan which is home to many Palestinians. Other Middle East nations have not assimilated the Palestinians, often keeping them in camps for generations and denying them any vestige of citizenship. They are the oldest refugee group of the modern era, but those who chose Israeli citizenship enjoy the rights of all Israelis. According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the Arab population in 2013 was 1,658,000!

Jews are members of the oldest monotheistic religion on Earth. Judaism birthed a breakaway religion called Christianity which incorporates the Old Testament with the New, and about 1,400 years ago Mohammad declared he was the newest and last prophet. He proclaimed Islam, an amalgam of the first two religions and the paganism of his Arab culture.

In 1948, Jews resurrected Israel and restored it as the Jewish state. Killing rabbis and other Israelis will not change that, something that Muslims antagonistic to Israel refuse to understand, but they also don’t understand why having two distinct and warring sects claiming to be the only true Islam, Sunni and Shiite, nor killing each other doesn't make a lot of sense either.

Are Jews safe in Israel? No more than on any other inch of planet Earth.
Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, Warning Signs". He is a contributor to the ARRA News Service.

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Even MSM Reports: Obama Is "Saying, And Doing, More Than" He Claims, "Obama’s Action Is...Already Raising Serious Legal And Constitutional Questions"

Today in Washington, D.C. - Nov. 21, 2014
The Senate has adjourned for Thanksgiving recess. It will reconvene on Monday, December 1st, at 2 PM with votes scheduled on two ambassador nominees.

Yesterday, the Senate voted 95-0 to confirm Pamela Pepper to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, 96-0 to confirm Brenda Sannes to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of New York, and 49-46 to confirm Victor Allen Bolden to be United States District Judge for the District of Connecticut.

The Senate confirmed Madeline Cox Arleo to be United States District Judge for the District of New Jersey and Wendy Beetlestone to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by voice vote. Also confirmed by voice vote were ambassadors to Moldova, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Jamaica, Albania, and Slovenia, two judges for the U.S. Tax Court, and Robert Speer to be Assistant Secretary for the Army.

The House has also adjourned for Thanksgiving recess. Yesterday the House passed H.R. 4795 (238-172) — "To promote new manufacturing in the United States by providing for greater transparency and timeliness in obtaining necessary permits, and for other purposes."

Last night President Obama announced his unilateral executive action on immigration including granting social security cards to 5 million illegal aliens in the United States. They will now be able to have driver's licenses and take American jobs away from legals.

In a fact-checking piece about President Obama’s speech last night, the AP points out that the president claimed, “It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive - only Congress can do that. All we're saying is we're not going to deport you.”

Actually, the AP writes, “He's saying, and doing, more than that. The changes also will make those covered eligible for work permits, allowing them to be employed in the country legally and compete with citizens and legal residents for better-paying jobs.”

Even The New York Times acknowledges, “Mr. Obama’s action is also a far more extensive reshaping of the nation’s immigration system. ‘The magnitude and the formality of it is arguably unprecedented,’ said Peter J. Spiro, a Temple University law professor. ‘It’s fair to say that we have never seen anything quite like this before in terms of the scale.’ The breadth of Mr. Obama’s decision is already raising serious legal and constitutional questions, fueling Republican charges of imperial overreach and worries among some Democrats of future fallout.”

The Times notes, “[S]ome lawyers critical of Mr. Obama argue that by publicly grouping a large number of undocumented immigrants who are not subject to American law and granting them a special status, the president has gone far beyond the limits of prosecutorial discretion and crossed the line into legislative fiat.

“‘This action certainly looks a lot more like, “I’m changing the rules of the game,” rather than “I’m just choosing not to exercise my discretion,” and that runs counter to Congress’s power to decide what the law is,’ said Shannen W. Coffin, who in the George W. Bush administration was a Justice Department lawyer and then counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney. ‘It’s highly questionable as a constitutional matter.’ As the chief executive, Mr. Coffin added, the president has a duty to enforce the law, and while declining to do so may not be unconstitutional in every case, ‘at some point when you’re doing it en masse, you’re doing something very damaging.’ . . .

“David A. Martin, a University of Virginia law professor who was a counsel at the Department of Homeland Security in 2009 and 2010, said that beyond the question of whether Mr. Obama was staying within the bounds of his power, the bigger problem for the future was one of precedent. Even if his directive is legally defensible, Mr. Martin said, Mr. Obama may be paving the way for future Republican presidents to act similarly to contravene laws that Democrats cherish. ‘It is problematic if presidents can just make major inroads in programs that Congress has enacted and funded,’ he said.”

Michael A. Needham, CEO, Heritage Action for America responded, "Barack Obama has announced a lawless and unconstitutional plan to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. This action purposely bypasses Congress, the elected voice of the American people, and ignores the Constitution. This dispute is between the President and the American people. And hardworking Americans must rise up and demand Congress use its constitutional power of the purse to block amnesty. Congress needs to know that the American people are not on board with the President's agenda and that you want action now."

As House Speaker John Boehner said following the president’s speech last night, “The American people want both parties to focus on solving problems together; they don’t support unilateral action from a president who is more interested in partisan politics than working with the people’s elected representatives. That is not how American democracy works. Not long ago, President Obama said the unilateral action he just announced was ‘not an option’ and claimed he’d already ‘done everything that I can on my own.’ He said it would lead to a ‘surge in more illegal immigration.’ He said he was ‘not a king’ and ‘not the emperor’ and that he was ‘bound by the Constitution.’  He said an action like this would exceed his authority and be ‘difficult to justify legally.’ He may have changed his position, but that doesn’t change the Constitution.”

The Washington Times noted today that Speaker Boehner obviously has had enough with the lawlessness of the Obama administration. The Speaker "filed a long-awaited lawsuit Friday that alleges President Obama took unlawful steps to delay part of his health care law and is paying out funds to insurers without congressional approval. The Republican-led lawsuit has arrived more than three months after the House authorized Mr. Boehner to sue, and after two law firms decided not to take part." . . . “Time after time, the president has chosen to ignore the will of the American people and re-write federal law on his own without a vote of Congress,” Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said. “That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work. If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well. The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action.”

Other news reports explain that the president’s claims that he needed to act now also ring hollow. The AP fact check states, “He overlooked the fact that he promised as a candidate for president in 2008 to have an immigration bill during his first year in office and move forward on it quickly. He never kept that promise . . . .”

Another AP story notes, “To those who argue the actions are long overdue or don't go far enough, Obama pins the blame solely on Republicans who oppose broader legislation. But Obama himself has contributed to the delays, making political calculations that left legislative efforts languishing throughout his first term and paused the promise of executive action in his second.”

Indeed, the president first pledged to take his controversial actions early in the summer, but delayed it repeatedly for political reasons. As the AP writes, “Less than three months later, the president announced he was delaying unilateral measures until after the midterm elections. The move came in response to requests from nervous Democrats who feared the controversial actions could upend their chances of keeping control of the Senate.”

And of course, the AP reminds readers, “As a presidential candidate, Obama told supporters he would ‘guarantee’ an immigration bill within his first year in office. Yet his entire first term slipped by without a real effort to seek legislation. . . . [T]he president pursued health care legislation before losing the Democratic control of Congress that would have given him his best opportunity to pass an immigration bill.”

Meanwhile, Politico reports that the Obama administration’s focus on this executive action has taken up much of the time of the leaders of the Department of Homeland Security. “Nine months ago, the new Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, received a request from the White House. President Obama wanted him to personally take on perhaps the administration’s toughest political assignment: looking for creative ways to fix America’s immigration system without congressional action—or executive overreach.

“Just four months into the job, Johnson had been prepared to take on tough security issues: Bombs on planes. Deadly diseases. Radical Islamists carrying U.S. passports. As the Pentagon’s chief counsel, Johnson had routinely dealt with contentious national security matters, finding himself in the midst of sensitive political fights like whether and how to close Guantanamo Bay, allowing gays in the military, and the rapid expansion of America’s killer drone program.

“He wasn’t prepared for a crisis of purely political making. . . .

“It was a consuming task: in all, sources said, the immigration issue ate up fully half of the Homeland Security secretary’s time in recent months, with Johnson — a high-powered corporate attorney in his previous life — writing the final presidential memorandum himself.

By the time Obama went before the American people to unveil his plan in an Oval Office speech to the nation Thursday night, the White House and DHS had exchanged dozens of drafts and endured months of starts and stops, punctuated by a sharp electoral defeat for their fellow Democrats.”

Nathan Mehrens, President of Americans for Limited Government responded to President Obama's announced illegal alien amnesty plan: ""Last night's pronouncement by President Barack Obama that he will change our nation's immigration laws with the stroke of his pen sets up a profound constitutional crisis. If Obama is allowed to impose changes in law that Congress has specifically rejected, it sets an irreversible precedent that forever changes the separation of powers between the two branches. Congress must immediately return to Washington, D.C., and defund every aspect of the announced amnesty. Acquiescence to this constitutional power grab is not an option."

William Gheen, President, Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, said, "Barack Obama has just exceeded his Constitutional authority more than any prior American President. Each item he cites such as paying back taxes and having been in America for more than five years, etc., well, those were all elements of the legislation that the American public and Congress have rejected. Every middle school student in America is taught that our Congress makes laws and the President does not have the power or authority to create laws that have not been approved by the lawmakers who are the product of our elections. Congress must act to curtail Obama immediately and must cast aside the advice of the Republicans who serve as Obama's amnesty facilitators. Obama does not fear that a Republican who supports immigration reform will impeach him for establishing immigration reform by decree!"

As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Some people seem to have forgotten this already, but we just had an election. Before that election, the President told us about his plan to act unilaterally on immigration. He reminded us that his policies were on the ballot. And then the people spoke. The President doesn’t have to like the result, but he has a duty to respect it. The American people sent a message. . . .

“What they didn’t say they wanted to see was the President sidestepping the very representatives they just elected. That’s why so many Kentuckians have been calling my office in opposition to this plan. I know phones have continued to ring off the hook all week in other offices across Capitol Hill. Our constituents want to be heard. President Obama needs to listen to their voices.”

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Emperor Strikes Back

Editorial Cartoon by William Warren

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Obama Was Wrong. We Were Right

by Newt Gingrich: One of the more amusing periods of the 2012 presidential campaign season was the 6 weeks President Obama, the White House, the news media, and most of the Washington elite spent insisting that more oil and gas production in the United States would not put downward pressure on gasoline prices.

At the time, many Americans were paying more than $4 a gallon to fill up their cars, and they were rightly unhappy about it. I argued that $2.50 a gallon gasoline was achievable if we stopped artificially restricting American energy. The astonishing improvements in the technology of oil production, I predicted, had the potential to dramatically increase the supply of oil and reduce the cost of gasoline at the pump. By refusing to allow more drilling on millions of acres of federal lands the American people own, President Obama was keeping the price of gasoline unnecessarily high.

Outside of the heat of a presidential campaign, this observation of reality and suggestion of basic economics probably would not have provoked such rabid protest, indignation, and accusations of ignorance and malice. With gasoline over $4 a gallon in an election year, however, the idea was a serious threat to the President’s popularity.

President Obama responded by embarking on a month-long energy tour insisting he could do nothing to affect gasoline prices and promising that exotic alternatives were just around the corner.

“The next time you hear some politician trotting out some three-point plan for $2 gas, you let them know, we know better,” the President told a crowd in North Carolina. “Tell them we’re tired of hearing phony election-year promises that never come about.”

The White House went so far as to say I was “lying” that $2.50 a gallon gas was achievable.

Pinocchio-wielding “journalists” in the business of “fact checking” opinions and value judgements managed to find a prediction about the future to be “false” years ahead of time.

The press tracked down dozens of supposed experts to explain that I “didn’t know what I was talking about,” that “only a depression” would bring gasoline prices down to $2.50 a gallon, and that “if we drilled in the middle of Manhattan and everybody drilled in their backyard we would not have enough oil to move the global market.”

When they all work together, the Washington elites can be amazingly effective at denying reality for a few weeks. Sometimes even for a few years. But eventually reality intrudes. Events have tested the proposal that dramatically increasing the available supply of oil puts downward pressure on prices, and, unsurprisingly, it turned out the environmental left was wrong.

By next year, U.S. oil production will be almost double what is was in 2008 and the highest since 1972, due in large part to breakthroughs in drilling technology that make it possible to extract energy previously thought unrecoverable.

As even Slate pointed out recently, prices have responded. According to AAA, the average gas price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline this week was $2.89. It is forecast to continue falling.

A friend recently sent me this photo from a gas station at the Costco near his home in Richmond, Virginia:
We managed to achieve $2.50 a gallon gasoline (or at least well below $3) without entering a depression or drilling in the middle of Manhattan in everybody’s backyards.

We also managed to achieve it without help from President Obama, who has continued to block increased leasing of federal lands. Virtually all of the increase in production has come on private lands the President can’t directly control. Just imagine what the price of gasoline might be today if we had a President who actually wanted to lessen this significant cost for millions of Americans.

President Obama and those who oppose greater American energy production should tell us why they’re still refusing to allow more drilling, now that markets, innovation, and simple economics have proved to work on gasoline prices just as they work everywhere else.
Newt Gingrich is a former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the U.S. House. He co-authored and was the chief architect of the "Contract with America" and a major leader in the Republican victory in the 1994 congressional elections. He is noted speaker and writer. The above commentary was shared via Gingrich Productions.

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You've been Gruber'd, Stupid!

Editorial Cartoon by Michael Ramirez
by Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: No. I -- I did not. Uhhh, I just heard about this... I -- I get well briefed before I come out here. Uh, th-th-the fact that some advisor who never worked on our staff, uhh, expressed an opinion that, uhh, I completely disagree with wuh, uhh, in terms of the voters, is no reflection on the actual process that was run.” -- President Obama replying to a question about Jonathan Gruber at the conclusion of the G-20 Conference in Brisbane, Australia.

Will the last name of the MIT professor identified as the “architect of ObamaCare” become a verb some day? Will people say “I’ve been Gruber’d? or “The government is “Grubering again”?

After all, when he admitted that ObamaCare’s passage was achieved by deceiving the Congressional Budget Office and the entire American public, turning his name into a synonym for lying is not unthinkable. Adding insult to injury, he said the voters were “stupid.”

How stupid was it for the Democrat-controlled Congress to pass a two-thousand page piece of legislation that none of them had read? (No Republican in Congress voted for it.) ObamaCare took over one-sixth of the U.S. economy and did something that makes me wonder why we even have a Supreme Court. It required people to buy a product whether they wanted to or not. If they didn’t, they would be subject to a penalty.

One way of the other, the federal government was going to squeeze you. The Court did conclude early on that ObamaCare was a tax, but don’t expect the mainstream media to tell you about all the other taxes hidden within it.

What surprises me about the Gruber revelations—available on YouTube to any journalist who wanted to investigate, but none did—is that there appears to be so little public outrage. An arrogant MIT professor who received $400,000 from the government and made millions as a consultant to the states who needed to understand ObamaCare, calls voters stupid and the initial reaction of the mainstream media was to ignore the story.

At the heart of the Gruber affair is the fact that Obama and his administration has been lying to the voters from the moment he began to campaign for the presidency. In virtually every respect, everything he has said for public consumption has been and is a lie.

In one scandal after another, Obama would have us believe he knew nothing about it. That is the response one might expect from a criminal rather than a President.

One has to ask why it would be difficult to repeal in full a piece of legislation that the President said would not cause Americans to lose their healthcare insurance if they preferred their current plan, that would not cause them to lose the care of a doctor they knew and trusted, and would save them money for premiums. The initial deception was to name the bill the Affordable Care Act.

Repeal would help ensure the solvency of Medicare and restore the private sector market for healthcare insurance.

This is a President who was elected twice, so maybe Prof. Gruber is right when he speaks of stupid voters. Not all, of course, but more than voted for Obama’s two opponents. As this is written over 45% of those polled these days continue to express approval for Obama’s performance in office. How stupid is that?

What is so offensive about Gruber’s own revelations about the manner in which the bill was written and the lies that were told to get it passed is the incalculable misery it has caused millions of Americans.

It has caused the loss of jobs. It has forced others into part-time employment. It has caused companies to reconsider expanding to grow the economy. It has driven up the cost of healthcare insurance. It has impacted local hospitals and clinics to the point where some have closed their doors. It has caused many healthcare professionals to retire or cease practicing medicine.

I invite you to make a list of all the things you think the government should require you to purchase whether you want it or need it. Should you be required to own a bike and use it as an alternative to a car? (Yes, you must own auto insurance to defray the cost of accidents, just as you must pay a tax on gasoline to maintain our highway system.) Should you be required to wear a certain style or item of clothing? Should you be required to get married by a certain age? Should you be required to eat certain foods and avoid others?

A new study by the Legatum Institute in London ranked citizen’s perception of their personal freedom in a number of nations. Americans ranked way down the list at 21 out of 25, well below Canada, France, and Costa Rica to name just three. The study was based on a 2013 poll.

What is a stake here is (1) the absolute need for a trustworthy federal government and (2) the need to repeal a piece of legislation based entirely on lies. On a larger scale, the right to make your own decisions on matters not relevant to the governance of the nation should be regarded as sacred, it’s called liberty.

The Republican-controlled Congress and the Supreme Court are the two elements of our government that can and must provide a measure of protection against the deception that is practiced every day by President Obama and members of his administration. Let’s hope neither is "stupid" in the two years that remain.
Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, Warning Signs". He is a contributor to the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Obamacare, Gruber'd, Stupid, Alan Caruba, warning signs To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

A Lame Duck Move . . .

. . . Lame duck session may bring in amnesty by Obama against the will of the people.
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: PResident Obama, Lame Duck Move, Amnesty, editorial cartoon, AF Branco 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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  • 12/28/14 - 1/4/15
  • 1/4/15 - 1/11/15
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  • 11/22/15 - 11/29/15
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  • 12/20/15 - 12/27/15
  • 12/27/15 - 1/3/16
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