Heckler’s Veto

Today’s Daily Caller posted a story about the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to uphold a California high school’s ban on American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo.

The article reports:

Officials at Live Oak High School banned American flags on May 5, 2010 because the year before there had been altercations between white students and Mexican students. There were American flags and chants of “USA.” According to reports, there were also Mexican flags and kids running around saying, “Fuck them white boys. Let’s f**k them up.”

On Cinco de Mayo in 2010, students who showed up with American flags on their shirts were asked to turn the shirts inside out.

The article concludes:

As UCLA law professor and Washington Post law blogger Eugene Volokh notes, the First Amendment typically does not allow government entities to censor speech this way. However, order and tranquility are paramount in a school setting. The Ninth Circuit’s decision arguably accords with previous case law. At the same  time, it amounts to a “heckler’s veto” allowing violent people to co-opt the government into using its own compulsion to enact their desires.

I have a few problems with this. Why weren’t the Mexican students disciplined when they acted up? Why didn’t the school tell the Mexican students that the celebration would  be cancelled unless they behaved? Were the Mexican students allowed to wear Mexican shirts? If a student is violent or threatening violence, why not punish that student instead of limiting the freedom of other students? Why weren’t violent students suspended? Other than that, the decision makes perfect sense. Sure.

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At Some Point, Even Low-Information Voters Will Laugh At These Reports

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted an article today about recent economic growth in America. The Bureau of Economic Analysis claimed a moderate economic annualized growth rate of 3.2% last month. The Bureau has now adjusted its numbers, saying that the economy only grew at the stagnation level of 2.4%:

The article reports the following from the Bureau of Economic Analysis:

The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the “advance” estimate issued last month. In the advance estimate, the increase in real GDP was 3.2 percent. With this second estimate for the fourth quarter, an increase in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) was smaller than previously estimated.

Reuters reports the following:

Consumer spending was cut to a 2.6 percent rate, still the fastest pace since the first quarter of 2012. It had previously been reported to have grown at a 3.3 percent pace. Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, contributed 1.73 percentage points to GDP growth, down from the previously reported 2.26 percentage points.

As a result, final domestic demand was lowered two-tenths of a percentage point to a 1.2 percent rate. The loss of momentum appears to have spilled over into in the first quarter of 2014, with an unusually cold winter weighing on retail sales, home building and sales, hiring and industrial production.

The article at Hot Air concludes:

Weather will be a factor in 2014 Q1, but it wasn’t in 2013 Q4. The economy was stagnating well before the polar vortices arrived, and has been ever since the June 2009 technical recovery. This is just more of the same.

President Obama’s economic policies are not working. Can we please try something else?

 

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Russia Is Playing Chess, America Is Playing Checkers

The U.K. Telegraph posted an article today detailing the rapidly changing situation in the Ukraine. As it stands now, Russia admits that it has moved troops into the Ukraine, and the Ukraine has regained control of an airport taken over by Russian troops. Please follow the link above to the article to read about the latest events.

The article reports:

US Secretary of State John Kerry attempted to relieve diplomatic pressure that has increasingly assumed Cold War overtones by announcing that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had assured him that Moscow “will respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

Putin also appeared to take a more conciliatory approach late on Thursday by vowing to work on improving trade ties with Ukraine and promising to support international efforts to provide Kiev with funds that could keep it from declaring a debt default as early as next week.

As I said, checkers.

I don’t have a lot to say about the situation in the Ukraine, because I believe there may be a whole lot of things going on under the radar that I am unaware of. However, I will say that I suspect that there are many people in the Ukraine that are longing for freedom as they have seen it in the West, rather than the type of government they have seen in Russia. My prayer is that this situation will end peacefully with a free Ukraine. However, Putin is flexing his muscle, and America right now does not have a muscle to flex. That is not good.

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Learning About The Politics Of My New Home State

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I have recently moved from Southeastern Massachusetts to Coastal North Carolina. Obviously the politics are a little different, and I am spending some of my time learning about some of the groups that share my political philosophy. (I’ll probably never get the language down, but the climate and politics I love!)

Today I had the privilege of sitting down with Hal James, Chairman of the Watchdog Committee of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA). I asked Mr. James to list some of the current concerns of the Watchdog Committee.

Mr. James began by mentioning his concerns about the Common Core curriculum which is being introduced into North Carolina and other states around the nation.  He stated that the Common Core curriculum is a federal intrusion on education, and is thus unconstitutional (in violation of the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution). The Common Core curriculum is an attempt to influence the values of young people in a direction not consistent with the traditional values of America. The CCTA is currently working to make parents and voters aware of the things in the Common Core curriculum.

The general goal of the Watchdog Committee is the hold elected officials accountable to the people who elected them.  Members of the Watchdog Committee attend meetings of various city and county boards and legislative meetings. Their goal is to become informed so that they can share information that may not be included in the news in order to make voters more aware of what their government is doing. Watchdog Committee members study the county budget and read the audits. North Carolina law requires every governmental agency to have an independent audit of its books. Those audits are made public, and members of the CCTA Watchdog Committee read them.  Reading the audits will reveal such things as unfunded liabilities that might not be obvious in simply reading the budget.

We are currently entering into the budget process. Department heads in Craven County will be submitting budgets to the County Manager. After review by the County Manager, the budget will be submitted to the Board of Commissioners. There will be public meetings in the county during this process.

Mr. James pointed out that the Board of Commissioners has recently been studying the idea of privatization of home hospice care in Craven County. That move would be a cost cutting move for the county and would save taxpayers money.

Mr. James also pointed out that Carolina East Hospital, which is run by a private corporation, is built on county land. The hospital pays no rent (or taxes) for the use of the land. Originally this occurred because it assured the area of having a local hospital. As the area has grown, other hospitals have been built, and it is time to seek a new arrangement with Carolina East.

Mr. James also addressed the claim by the Board of Commissioners that they have reduced real estate taxes in the county two years in a row. It is true that real estate taxes have been reduced, but somehow they failed to mention that the reduction was about $10 on an average-size home.

If you are interested in learning more about the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association, their website is www.cctaxpayers.com.  The organization is very welcoming and always willing to share the results of their research on various issues.

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The People Who Control The Language Control The Argument

The people who control the language control the argument. This was made very clear recently in the debate over Arizona SB 1062. The bill was designed to protect the rights of Christians in the marketplace. The legislature of Arizona felt that the bill was necessary because of various incidents resulting in lawsuits in other states. When the State of Arizona passed the bill through its legislature, the state was threatened with boycotts, loss of the Super Bowl, and various other forms of economic harassment. The bill was labeled ‘anti-gay,’ ‘Jim Crow, and various other things. The opponents controlled the language. The bill is only two pages long. It is written in legalese, but is fairly straightforward and easy to understand.

Power Line posted a link to the bill on Tuesday.  Here is the bill:

State of Arizona

Senate

Fifty-first Legislature

Second Regular Session

2014

 SB 1062

Introduced by

Senators Yarbrough: Barto, Worsley

 

 

AN ACT

 

amending sections 41‑1493 and 41‑1493.01, Arizona Revised Statutes; relating to the free exercise of religion.

  (TEXT OF BILL BEGINS ON NEXT PAGE)

 Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:

Section 1.  Section 41-1493, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

41-1493.  Definitions

In this article, unless the context otherwise requires:

1.  “Demonstrates” means meets the burdens of going forward with the evidence and of persuasion.

2.  “Exercise of religion” means the practice or observance of religion, including the ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.

3.  “Government” includes this state and any agency or political subdivision of this state.

4.  “Nonreligious assembly or institution” includes all membership organizations, theaters, cultural centers, dance halls, fraternal orders, amphitheaters and places of public assembly regardless of size that a government or political subdivision allows to meet in a zoning district by code or ordinance or by practice.

5.  “Person” includes a religious assembly or institution any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly or institution, estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity.

6.  “Political subdivision” includes any county, city, including a charter city, town, school district, municipal corporation or special district, any board, commission or agency of a county, city, including a charter city, town, school district, municipal corporation or special district or any other local public agency.

7.  “Religion‑neutral zoning standards”:

(a)  Means numerically definable standards such as maximum occupancy codes, height restrictions, setbacks, fire codes, parking space requirements, sewer capacity limitations and traffic congestion limitations.

(b)  Does not include:

(i)  Synergy with uses that a government holds as more desirable.

(ii)  The ability to raise tax revenues.

8.  “Suitable alternate property” means a financially feasible property considering the person’s revenue sources and other financial obligations with respect to the person’s exercise of religion and with relation to spending that is in the same zoning district or in a contiguous area that the person finds acceptable for conducting the person’s religious mission and that is large enough to fully accommodate the current and projected seating capacity requirements of the person in a manner that the person deems suitable for the person’s religious mission.

9.  “Unreasonable burden” means that a person is prevented from using the person’s property in a manner that the person finds satisfactory to fulfill the person’s religious mission.

Sec. 2.  Section 41-1493.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

41-1493.01.  Free exercise of religion protected; definition

A.  Free exercise of religion is a fundamental right that applies in this state even if laws, rules or other government actions are facially neutral.

B.  Except as provided in subsection C, government of this section, state action shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.

C.  Government State action may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it the opposing party demonstrates that application of the burden to the person person’s exercise of religion in this particular instance is both:

1.  In furtherance of a compelling governmental interest.

2.  The least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

D.  A person whose religious exercise is burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding, and obtain appropriate relief against a government regardless of whether the government is a party to the proceeding.  The person asserting such a claim or defense may obtain appropriate relief.  A party who prevails in any action to enforce this article against a government shall recover attorney fees and costs.

E.  In For the purposes of this section, the term substantially burden is intended solely to ensure that this article is not triggered by trivial, technical or de minimis infractions.

F.  For the purposes of this section, “state action” means any action by the government or the implementation or application of any law, including state and local laws, ordinances, rules, regulations and policies, whether statutory or otherwise, and whether the implementation or application is made or attempted to be made by the government or nongovernmental persons.

 

I have posted the bill in order to allow readers to draw their own conclusions about what the bill said and what the bill didn’t say. Those of us who support family values and religious freedom need to be very aware of what happens when those who oppose these values control the vocabulary.

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Losing The Second Amendment

On Wednesday Guns.com posted a story detailing the latest chapter in Connecticut’s war on gun owners. A law was passed at the end of last year that required certain gun owners to register their weapons with the State of Connecticut by December 31, 2013. Many gun owners simply did not register their guns. Others sent their applications in late or their applications were delivered late. Those people recently received a letter from the state:

http://www.rightwinggranny.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CT-Assualt-Weapon-Letter.jpg

The long and short of it it–if you missed the deadline, we will take your weapon away.

The article states:

According to the Journal Inquirer, 106 rifle owners and 108 ‘large capacity magazine’ owners in Connecticut were recently sent letters from the state police advising them that they had missed the deadline for registering their now-illicit firearms and accessories.

The state knew these individuals had these items because their registration applications were sent in, but postmarked too late to be processed.

This should be a wake-up call for anyone who doesn’t see gun registration as the beginning step of gun confiscation.

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The Timeline Of The IRS Scandal

This article has two sources, an article posted in the Wall Street Journal yesterday and an article posted by Scott Johnson at Power Line today. Both articles printed the timeline of events surrounding the IRS’s attempt to curtail the free speech of groups that opposed the Obama Administration.

One of the most telling events on the timeline is from the Wall Street Journal article:

• Feb. 11, 2010: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) says he will introduce legislation known as the Disclose Act to place new restrictions on some political activity by corporations and force more public disclosure of contributions to 501(c)(4) organizations. Mr. Schumer says the bill is intended to “embarrass companies” out of exercising the rights recognized in Citizens United. “The deterrent effect should not be underestimated,” he said.

All of this was in response to the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case, which allowed corporations to make political donations. This ruling finally leveled the playing field–the unions had been contributing massive amounts of money to political campaigns for years. (See rightwinggranny.com). The actions of the IRS were an attempt to undo the leveling of the playing field that occurred with the Citizens United decision.

Please follow one of the links above to see the timeline. It paints a picture of a genuine attempt to limit free speech in America.

The President may or may not have given any direct orders regarding the use of the IRS to limit free speech, but the ending paragraph of the Wall Street Journal article truly sums up what happened:

In 1170, King Henry II is said to have cried out, on hearing of the latest actions of the Archbishop of Canterbury, “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” Four knights then murdered the archbishop. Many in the U.S. media still willfully refuse to see anything connecting the murder of the archbishop to any actions or abuse of power by the king.

Unfortunately we are dealing with a President who chooses to act more like a king than a president.

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The Co-Founder Of Greenpeace Has Forgotten The Talking Points

Yesterday the Daily Caller posted a story about a Senate Committee hearing on Tuesday. Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore was testifying.

The article reports:

Moore argued that the current argument that the burning of fossil fuels is driving global warming over the past century lacks scientific evidence. He added that the Earth is in an unusually cold period and some warming would be a good thing.

“There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years,” according to Moore’s prepared testimony. “Today, we live in an unusually cold period in the history of life on earth and there is no reason to believe that a warmer climate would be anything but beneficial for humans and the majority of other species.”

…Moore argued that the current argument that the burning of fossil fuels is driving global warming over the past century lacks scientific evidence. He added that the Earth is in an unusually cold period and some warming would be a good thing.

“There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years,” according to Moore’s prepared testimony. “Today, we live in an unusually cold period in the history of life on earth and there is no reason to believe that a warmer climate would be anything but beneficial for humans and the majority of other species.”

I, for one, have always been in favor of slight global warming. It is encouraging to me to know that I can now use hairspray, air conditioning, and my blow dryer without endangering the planet. However, on a serious note, it is the responsibility of all of us to do what we can within reason to keep our planet clean.

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Flawed Logic Coming From The White House

Today’s Washington Examiner is quoting President Obama as stating that the stimulus “actually worked, despite what everybody claimed.”

The article reports:

Speaking from the Union Depot in St. Paul, Minn., the president cited the station, which had been refurbished and improved thanks to TIGER grants from the stimulus, as an example of successful spending to improve infrastructure and create jobs.

I am glad that Union Depot was refurbished, but I do have a basic problem with the President’s logic.

Yesterday the Heritage Foundation posted an article examining the actual impact of the 2009 stimulus package. The article explains the flawed logic in the claims that the stimulus package of 2009 actually improved the American economy.

The article at Heritage Foundation reports:

cbostimulus1cbostimulus2

President Obama is now stating that since the first stimulus was a success, we should have another one.

The article at the Washington Examiner states:

The president said his own forthcoming budget proposal would request over $300 billion in new infrastructure spending.

“While Congress decides what it’s going to do, I’m going to do what I can to create more good jobs,” Obama added.

The president warned that if Congress failed to pass transportation funding by the end of the summer, projects across the country would grind to a halt, costing workers their jobs.

The American workforce as a percentage of American workers is at an all time low. Unemployment has dropped because people who are no longer seeking employment are not counted in the statistics. Our true unemployment number is probably above 9 percent. I think the policies of President Obama have cost enough Americans their jobs despite his claims to the contrary. I hope Congress will stand up to the President and demand at least some degree of fiscal responsibility.

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Standing For Something

Yesterday Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted an article about two contrasting speeches given in the Senate that tell a lot about politics in America. The first speech was given by Senator Tom Harkin, who recently returned from a trip to Cuba. Senator Harkin offered a rosy view of Cuba’s efforts on literacy and health care.  Senator Harkin made no mention of the oppression of the Cuban people or the poverty of the vast majority of Cuban people. Senator Marco Rubio, who parents were Cuban exiles, was not impressed.

Here are Senator Rubio’s remarks, quoted from the article at Hot Air:

A few moments ago, the body was treated to a report from the senator from Iowa about his recent trip to Cuba. Sounded like he had a wonderful trip visiting, what he described as, a real paradise. He bragged about a number of things that he learned on his trip to Cuba that I’d like to address briefly. He bragged about their health care system, medical school is free, doctors are free, clinics are free, their infant mortality rate may be even lower than ours. I wonder if the senator, however, was informed, number one, that the infant mortality rate of Cuba is completely calculated on figures provided by the Cuban government. And, by the way, totalitarian communist regimes don’t have the best history of accurately reporting things. I wonder if he was informed that before Castro, Cuba, by the way, was 13th in the whole world in infant mortality. I wonder if the government officials who hosted him, informed him that in Cuba there are instances reported, including by defectors, that if a child only lives a few hours after birth, they’re not counted as a person who ever lived and therefore don’t count against the mortality rate.

I wonder if our visitors to Cuba were informed that in Cuba, any time there is any sort of problem with the child in utero they are strongly encouraged to undergo abortions, and that’s why they have an abortion rate that skyrockets, and some say, is perhaps the highest the world. I heard him also talk about these great doctors that they have in Cuba. I have no doubt they’re very talented. I’ve met a bunch of them. You know where I met them? In the United States because they defected. Because in Cuba, doctors would rather drive a taxi cab or work in a hotel than be a doctor. I wonder if they spoke to him about the outbreak of cholera that they’ve been unable to control, or about the three-tiered system of health care that exists where foreigners and government officials get health care much better than that that’s available to the general population.

I also heard him speak about baseball and I know that Cubans love baseball, since my parents were from there and I grew up in a community surrounded by it. He talked about these great baseball players that are coming from Cuba — and they are. But I wonder if they informed him — in fact, I bet you they didn’t talk about those players to him because every single one of those guys playing in the Major Leagues defected. They left Cuba to play here.

He also talked about how people would come up to him in the streets and not a single person said anything negative about America. Nobody came up to him wagging their fingers saying, ‘You Americans and your embargo is hurting us.’ I’m glad to hear that. Because everyone who wants to lift the embargo is constantly telling us that the Castros use that to turn the people against us. So obviously, that’s not true. So I’m glad to hear confirmation of what I already knew to be true. I heard about their wonderful literacy rate, how everyone in Cuba knows how to read. That’s fantastic. Here’s the problem: they can only read censored stuff. They’re not allowed access to the Internet. The only newspapers they’re allowed to read are Granma or the ones produced by the government.

I wish that someone on that trip would have asked the average Cuban, ‘With your wonderful literacy skills, are you allowed to read The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal or any blog, for that matter?’ Because the answer’s, ‘No.’ So it’s great to have literacy, but if you don’t have access to the information, what’s the point of it? So I wish somebody would have asked about that on that trip. We heard about Mr. Gross, who is not in jail. He’s not a prisoner. He is a hostage. He is a hostage. And in the speech I heard a moment ago, I heard allusions to the idea that maybe we should — he didn’t say it, but I know the language, I know the code in this — that maybe there should be a spy swap. Here’s the problem: Mr. Gross was not a spy. You know what his crime was, if that’s what you can call it? He went to Cuba to hand out satellite radios to the Jewish community. But, we’re glad to hear that the Cubans are so nice to him that they let him walk 10,000 steps a day and do pull-ups and they let him build a necklace out of bottle cap tops. Very nice of them to allow him to do those things. How generous.

I wonder if anybody asked about terrorism, because Cuba is a state sponsor of terrorism. I wonder if anybody asked about the fact that, just a few months ago, a North Korean ship going from Cuba to North Korea was stopped in the Panama Canal and it contained items in violation of international sanctions against a government in North Korea that, a report just came out confirming what we already knew, has death camps and prison camps. And the Cubans are allowing them to evade these sanctions. Did that come up in any of the wonderful conversations in this socialist paradise in the Caribbean? I bet you it didn’t.

Let me tell you what the Cubans are really good at, because they don’t know how to run their economy, they don’t know how to build, they don’t know how to govern a people. What they are really good at is repression. What they are really good at is shutting off information to the Internet and to radio and television and social media. That’s what they’re really good at. And they’re not just good at it domestically, they’re good exporters of these things. And you want to see exhibit A, B, C and D? I’m going to show them to you right now. They have exported repression in real-time, in our hemisphere, right now.

Let me show you the first slide here. This gentleman here is the former mayor of a municipality in Caracas. His name is Leopoldo Lopez. And this is the National Guard of Venezuela pulling him into an armored truck last week. You know why? Because he’s protesting against the government. He’s protesting against the government of Venezuela, which are puppets of Havana, completely infiltrated by Cubans and agents from Havana. Not agents, openly, foreign military affairs officials involved in Venezuela. You know why? Because the Venezuela government is giving them cheap oil and free oil, in exchange for help during these sorts of repressions. So here he is, he’s sitting in jail right now because he’s protesting against the government. He’s sitting in jail right now.

So here’s the next slide. This is Genesis Carmona. She’s a beauty queen and a student in a city called Valencia. She’s on that motorcycle because the government in Venezuela and the thug, these so-called civilian groups that they’ve armed — another export from Cuba, a model the Cubans follow — they shot her in the head. She died last week. This is the government that the Cubans support. Not just verbally, not just emotionally, but with training and tactics. This is who they export — this is what they do. And she’s dead. And this is her being taken on a motorcycle to the hospital where they were unable to save her life because she was shot in the head by Venezuelan security forces.

Here’s another slide. Remember I showed you Mr. Lopez? These are his supporters being hit with water cannons — by water cannons in the street because they’re protesting against the government. This has been going on now for two weeks. This is the allies of Cuba, Venezuela, the puppets of Cuba. And this is what they do to their own people. Water cannons knocking people to the ground. Why? Because they’re protesting the government.

Let me show you the next slide. Here’s a demonstrator detained by police. Look how they drag him through the streets. This is in Caracas, Venezuela.

Let me show you another demonstrator. This is a student — by the way, these are all students in the street. You see this young man here? He was also shot in the head by security forces and pro-government groups in Caracas. This happened on February 11. This is what they do in Venezuela. This is what the allies of the Castro regime does, this is what they export. This is what they teach. This is what they support. And it doesn’t stop here.

Who are Cuba’s allies in the world? North Korea. Before he fell, the dictator in Libya, the dictator in Syria, the tyrant in Moscow. This is who they line up with. This is this wonderful paradise? By the way, this in and of itself deserves attention, what’s happening in Venezuela, in our own hemisphere. It is shameful that only three heads of state in this hemisphere have spoken out forcefully against what’s happening. It is shameful that many members of Congress who traveled to Venezuela and were friendly with Chavez, some even went to his funeral, sit by saying nothing while this is happening in our own hemisphere. And this wonderful Cuban paradise government that we heard about? This is what they support. Just this morning, the dictator that calls himself a president — never been elected to anything, Raul Castro — announced he is there for whatever they need to help them do this.

I listen to this stuff about Cuba and I listen to what’s happening in Venezuela, they’re very similar. Not just in the repression part, but the economics part. You know Venezuela’s an oil-rich country with hardworking people? They have a shortage — we don’t have an embargo against Venezuela. They have a shortage of toilet paper and tooth paste. Why? Because they are incompetent. Because communism doesn’t work. They look more and more like Cuba economically and politically every single day.

What’s the first thing the Venezuelan government did when these broke out? They cut off access to Twitter and Facebook and the Internet. They ran CNN out of there. They closed down the only Colombian station. Years before, they had closed down all the independent media outlets that criticized the government. Where did they learn that from? From Cuba. And yet we have to listen to what a paradise Cuba is. Well, I wonder how come I never read about boatloads of American refugees going to Cuba? Why have close to one and a half million people left Cuba to come here? But the only people that leave here to move there, are fugitives from the law and people that steal money from Medicare that go there to hide? Why? How come no American baseball players defect to Cuba? Why don’t any American doctors defect to Cuba if it’s such a paradise?

He cited a poll, ‘More Americans want normal relations with Cuba.’ So do I — a democratic and free Cuba. But you want us to reach out and develop friendly relationships with a serial violator of human rights, who supports what’s going on in Venezuela and every other atrocity on the planet? On issue after issue, they are always on the side of the tyrants. Look it up. And this is who we should be opening up to? Why don’t they change? Why doesn’t the Cuban government change? Why doesn’t the Venezuelan government change?

Throughout this week, I will be outlining proposals and ideas about what we need to do, the sanctions we should be pursuing against the individuals responsible for these atrocities. So with North Korea, we have sanctions. Why? Because they’re a terrorist government and an illegitimate one. Against Iran we have sanctions. Why? Because they support terrorism and they’re an illegitimate government. And against the Cubans we have sanctions. Why? Well, you just saw why. Sanctions are a tool in our foreign policy toolbox, and we, as the freest nation on Earth, are looked to by people in this country, and all around the world, to stand by them in their moment of need when they clamor for freedom and liberty and human rights. They look for America to be on their side, not for America to be cutting geopolitical deals or making it easier to sell tractors to the government there. We should be clear about these things.

But here’s the great news. I don’t know if they get C-SPAN in Cuba. I bet you the government people do. I hope you see that in America, we’re a free society. You’re allowed to come on the floor and you’re allowed to say and spread whatever you want. You think Cuba’s a paradise? You think it’s an example and a model that we should be following? You’re free to say that, here, in the press and anywhere you want. But we’re also free to come here and tell the truth. We’re also free to come here and denounce the violations of human rights and brutality. And I would suggest to my colleagues, the next time they go to Cuba, ask to meet with the Ladies in White. Ask to meet with the Yoani Sanchez. Ask to meet with the dissidents and the human rights activists that are jailed and repressed and exiled. Ask to meet with them. I bet you’re going to hear something very different than what you got from your hosts on your last trip to the wonderful Cuba, this extraordinary socialist paradise. Because it’s a joke. It’s a farce.

And I don’t think we should stand by here with our arms crossed, watching these things happen in our hemisphere and say nothing about them. I can close by saying this: Over the last week, I have tweeted about these issues. I get thousands of retweets from students and young people, until they shut them out, in Venezuela who are encouraged by the fact that we are on their side. What they want is what we have, the freedom and the liberty. That’s what all people want. And if America and its policy-makers are not going to be firmly on the side of freedom and liberty, who in the world is? Who on this planet will? If this nation is not firmly on the side of human rights and freedom and the dignity of all people, what nation on the Earth will? And if we’re prepared to walk away from that, then I submit to you that this century is going to be a dangerous and dark one. But I don’t believe that’s what the American people want from us. Nor the majority of my colleagues.

A man with an argument never has a chance against a man with an experience!

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A Very Interesting Afternoon

Yesterday afternoon I was privileged to attend a meeting between North Carolina Department of Public Instruction State Superintendent, Dr. June Atkinson, Karyn Dickerson, the North Carolina Teacher of the Year, Jen Currin, the North Carolina Virtual Teacher of the Year, and some of the leadership of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss concerns about the Common Core standards for education that are coming to North Carolina. The meeting was very cordial, and both sides of the discussion were genuinely interested in providing the best possible education for children and young adults in the North Carolina schools.

There was, however, some very basic disagreement on the value of the Common Core standards and curriculum. One example of inaccurate teaching of history was found in Prentice Hall’s The American Experience, a textbook which has been aligned to the Common Core.

Townhall.com posted a story about this textbook, citing the chapter in the book about World War II:

There is no reading in this chapter ostensibly devoted to World War II that tells why America entered the war. There is no document on Pearl Harbor or the Rape of Nanking or the atrocities committed against the Jews or the bombing of Britain. The book contains no speech of Winston Churchill or F.D.R. even though the reading of high-caliber “informational texts” is the new priority set by the Common Core, and great rhetoric has always been the province of an English class. There is not a single account of a battle or of American losses or of the liberation of Europe.

As the daughter of an Army veteran who landed on Utah Beach on D-Day, I am offended by this. As an American, I am offended by this.

I admire Dr. Atkinson’s desire to bring quality education to the children of North Carolina. I just feel that she has not examined the Common Core curriculum closely enough to realize that the Common Core curriculum will not give her the quality education for the students in North Carolina that she desires.

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Tax Policies Do Impact Employment

CBS News posted a story yesterday detailing the impact of the Medical Device Tax included in ObamaCare on jobs in the medical device industry. The information about the impact was taken from a survey of the Advanced Medical Technology Association.

The article reports:

“According to the report, the tax has led to employment reductions of approximately 14,000 industry workers and foregone hiring of 19,000 workers,” the study stated. “The total job impact of the tax on industry employment was approximately 33,000.”

Stephen J. Ubl, CEO of AdvaMed, said this tax needs to be repealed.

“During a time when there is bipartisan support for growing high-technology manufacturing jobs, these results should serve as a wake-up call. As a result of the medical device tax, we have seen an unprecedented impact on jobs and key investments in R&D (research and development),” Ubl said. “The findings of the report underscore the need to repeal this tax.”

This is just one of the problems with ObamaCare.

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More Cuts To Military Benefits

Yesterday Stripes posted an article explaining how the cuts to the military budget will impact commissaries.

The article explains:

The long-feared cuts to military commissaries appear to be real: The Defense Department subsidy would drop from $1.4 billion annually to $400 million under a defense budget proposal the Obama administration plans to deliver to Congress next week, Pentagon officials announced Monday.

The commissary cut will be accomplished not by eliminating any commissary locations, but by reducing the amount of savings over civilian markets that servicemembers enjoy. The cut will be phased in over several years.

A recent study by Defense Commissary Agency, or DeCA, found that using the commissary saves shoppers an average of 30.5 percent annually when compared to other stores off base.

The savings would drop to about 10 percent, defense officials said in a briefing that covered all aspects of the 2015 defense budget, including hardware and military pay.

At that rate, our military would do just as well to shop at the local discount stores. This is a disgrace.

What impact are all the proposed cuts in benefits going to have on the morale of our military and the re-enlistment rate? I really think our government is going in the wrong direction on this. If the current Congress will not put a stop to this, we need to elect a Congress that will.

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Misplaced Prorities

During a period of danger and unrest around the world, the Obama Administration is attempting to balance the budget on the backs of our military. Hopefully Congress has more sense than that.

Yesterday The Hill posted an article detailing some of the proposed cuts to our military. I have no doubt that there are places in our military that can be cut, but I believe that reducing the army to pre World War II levels is not wise. I also believe that reducing benefits to soldiers who have been at war for almost thirteen years is also wrong–not to mention the veterans of previous wars whose benefits will be cut.

The Hill reports:

Lawmakers, as well as groups that represent veterans and the military, accused the Pentagon of balancing its pocketbook on the backs of soldiers and their families.

“We know the Defense Department must make difficult budget decisions, but these cuts would hit service members, making it harder for them and their families to make ends meet,” said Paul Rieckhoff, the founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).

Coupled with a 1 percent ceiling on pay hikes and assuming a 5 percent annual increase in housing costs, the Military Officers Association of America estimated an Army sergeant with a family of four would see an annual loss of $1,400. An Army captain would lose $2,100, it said.

The group said those figures doesn’t account for other costs that would affect military families, such as increased prices at military commissaries because of another budget proposal and an increase in healthcare fees for military family members. 

Meanwhile, on August 29, 2013, the New York Times reported:

Paul Krugman and others attribute essentially all of the SNAP spending growth to the depressed economy. They have the general direction right – a more depressed economy will cause unemployment and antipoverty programs to spend more – but have missed the single largest factor increasing program budgets: program rules that are more generous now than they were in 2007.

Veterans benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families all experienced a depressed economy, too, but they somehow managed through it without doubling their spending. Veterans benefits increased the most among these – 49 percent beyond inflation and population growth – compared with 110 percent for SNAP. (These data, which exclude administrative costs, can be found in the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ National Accounts Table 3.12.) Even state unemployment benefit spending, which is directly linked to layoffs in the economy, increased “only” 24 percent beyond inflation and population growth. (The italics are mine)

We are taking money away from people who have earned it and giving it to people who have not. Admittedly, we have to take care of the poor, but we have created a system that encourages poverty–not discourages it.

In May 2013, this chart appeared at The Blaze:

Guess How Many More Americans Are on Food Stamps Now as Compared to 10 Years Ago

As usual, the Obama Administration is punishing the producers and encouraging non-producers to continue not producing. Cuts should be made to both the administration of our food stamp and welfare programs and those receiving aid, and these programs should be redone to encourage work–not poverty. President Obama has undone the welfare reforms that President Clinton put in place during his administration. Those reforms resulted in a decrease in the welfare rolls. We need to bring those reforms back and examine those programs before we begin cutting military benefits.

Just a note. I don’t appreciate it when the President and members of Congress refer to Social Security and Medicare as entitlement programs. The government set up those programs and has been willing to take money from people who work to support them for many years. If they are entitlement programs, then the people who work should not be required to pay into them. As long as the government is taking money from working people with the promise of eventually giving it back to them, these are not entitlement programs.

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Pictures vs. Words

Yesterday John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article quoting a leak to the Washington Post on President Obama’s proposed budget. The Washington Post reported: “With 2015 budget request, Obama will call for an end to era of austerity:”

It has always been my belief that a picture is worth a thousand words. From Yahoo.com:

federalspending

Where is the austerity?

However, there is more to the problem.

John Hinderaker reminds us:

But wait! Democrats and Republicans agreed on discretionary spending levels that supposedly were binding for a decade to come in the Budget Control Act, which included the sequester. Just a few months ago, the Ryan-Murray compromise modified the sequester and increased discretionary spending. That bipartisan agreement was supposed to put spending debates to rest for at least the next couple of years. Now, apparently, the Obama administration intends to throw all prior agreements into the trash can, and demand still higher spending.

This illustrates a point that I have made over and over: all budget agreements that purport to achieve savings over a long period of time, usually a decade, are a farce. The savings always come in the “out years,” but the out years never arrive. Once you get past the current fiscal year, budget agreements are not worth the paper they are printed on. For Republicans to agree to more spending today in exchange for hypothetical cuts in later years is folly–those cuts will never come.

Leadership in both political parties do not desire to cut federal spending. Their debate is only over which party will control the massive spending. That is why it is imperative that we change the establishment leadership of the Republican party. The Republicans used to be the party of small government, there is hope that they can be again. The Democrats have always supported big government. The only solution to this problem is new leadership in the Republican party.

 

 

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Agreement On Something From Both Sides Of The Political Spectrum

It’s rare when the right and left agree on anything. It is really rare when publications on the far right and the far left agree, but that has happened on the issue of rationing drugs for the elderly. This article is based on articles in The American Spectator and The Huffington Post.

The American Spectator reports:

Buried beneath the avalanche of recent news reports about the latest Obamacare-mandated funding cuts to the Medicare Advantage (MA) program is a related but far more disturbing story — the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken a major step toward rationing medications to the elderly. Since passage of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, seniors enrolled in the Medicare prescription drug program have been guaranteed access to “all or substantially all” of the drugs in several classes of pharmaceuticals. President Obama’s health care bureaucrats, however, have proposed removing three of these classes from the “protected” list.

The Huffington Post reports:

A proposed rule issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would make significant changes to the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. In short, the rule change affects what are known as the “protected classes” of pharmaceuticals under Part D — classes of drugs in which, under current law, coverage must be provided for “substantially all” medicines. The logic in maintaining these protected classes is inarguable. Medicare beneficiaries coping with serious, chronic illnesses should have access to the medications that they and their physicians have deemed the most effective treatment for their conditions.

Medications are not interchangeable. One drug can have vastly different effects, and side effects, on different patients. Thus, Medicare Part D is structured to ensure that patients who require antidepressants, antipsychotics and immunosuppressants (critical drugs for patients who have undergone organ transplants) have access to the unique medicines they need to protect their lives and health.

…The best way to make Medicare more cost-efficient is to help patients better manage their chronic illnesses and avoid long hospitalizations and expensive acute care episodes. The CMS proposed rule change will do just the opposite. Restricting access to the medicines patients need to manage depression, avoid organ transplant rejection, and treat psychosis will drive healthcare utilization in far more costly ways. That’s a betrayal of Medicare’s promise of access to care for our most vulnerable, older Americans.

The Obama Administration seems to forget that senior citizens vote. Senior citizens also pay attention. ObamaCare may have been passed with the support of the AARP, lulling seniors into a false belief that the it would not be harmful to them, but many seniors are waking up to the fact that serious cuts to Medicare are part of the President’s plan for ObamaCare. Senior citizens and Americans have been lied to about ObamaCare. It is time to repeal it and start over.

 

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The Dangers Of An Unjust Judge

Today’s New York Post featured the story of former Judge Mark Ciavarella, a Luzerne County Pennsylvania judge, who is now serving 28 years in prison for accepting $2.2 million as a finder’s fee for the construction of a for-profit prison facility to house the teenagers he was sentencing to jail for minor infractions.

Kids for Cash is a movie that tells the story of some of the families that were impacted by the judge’s dishonesty. The trailer for the movie can be found on YouTube:

The stories of some of the children impacted by this dishonest judge can be found at the website kidsforcashthemovie.com. Please follow the link and read the stories. After you read the stories, take some time to hug your children today.

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An Historic Passing

WCVB.com in Boston is reporting that Maria von Trapp, the last surviving member of the von Trapp family who fled Nazi-occupied of Austria in 1938, has died at age 99. The play and movie “The Sound of Music” were loosely based on a book written by Maria von Trapp’s stepmother, also Maria von Trapp.  After they escaped from Austria, the musical family performed concerts in Europe and America. In the early 1940’s the family settled in Vermont and opened a ski lodge in Stowe.

The death of Maria von Trapp is another reminder that the generation that fought and was impacted by World War II is rapidly disappearing. We need to remember their courage and hold on to the principles they stood for.  Maria’s father, Georg von Trapp, was a captain in the Austrian Navy. He had the wisdom to see where the country was going under the Nazis and the courage to get his family out of there.

 

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Some Perspective On The Ukraine

On Thursday the U.K. Telegraph posted an article by Edward Lucas about the situation in the Ukraine. Obviously, events there are moving very quickly. The U.K. Daily Mail posted an article by Mark Almond yesterday. Both articles point to the danger of the spread of the unrest in the Ukraine. Please follow the links to the articles. There is a lot of information in both articles.

The article in the Daily Mail reminds us that the Ukraine is made up of both Russians and Ukrainians. Each group has their own concept of what the country’s relationship with Europe and Russia should be. There is a serious division among the population of the country.

The article in the Telegraph states:

Without Vladimir Putin, Ukraine would be at peace today. It was Russia which forced Ukraine to shun the economic agreement offered by the EU in October, launching a crippling trade war against Ukrainian exports. It was Russia which offered cheap gas and soft loans as the Ukrainian economy tottered. It was Russia which installed hundreds of “advisers” in key Ukrainian public bodies and ministries, including the SBU secret police, to ensure that they toe the Moscow line. Without Russia’s silent putsch, Ukrainians would have not have needed to build barricades in the streets in protest at the regime’s misrule. Even then, without the continued and escalating Russian pressure on Mr Yanukovych, the conflict could have been defused.

We have seen enough of Putin to know that he will not let the Ukraine move toward Europe politically and economically without a fight. President Putin has openly stated that his dream is to bring back the old Soviet Union.

The Telegraph reports:

But Russia’s interference in Ukraine has intensified in recent months, just as Western efforts have floundered. European policymakers still cling to the notion that talks with Russia can bring a mutually beneficial solution to Ukraine’s agony. That is a false hope. The Kremlin does not like win-win solutions. It likes outcomes in which it wins, and its detestable Western rivals lose, preferably humiliatingly – this, for Mr Putin, is a matter of personal prestige. In short, though the EU finds the whole notion of geopolitics old-fashioned and unappealing, geopolitics is happening on its doorstep. And it is losing.

America is out of the game, too. The Obama administration has neglected its European allies since the day it took office. Its senior official dealing with Ukraine, Toria Nuland, is admirably energetic – and blunt (she recently declared “F— the EU” in a phone call to her ambassador in Kiev, bugged and then leaked by Russian intelligence). But she lacks the clout to make the wheels of policy turn in Washington. Without Moscow’s interference, the EU and United States could marshal their modest resources to make a difference. Faced with Russia in all its implacable fury, both are outgunned. The fallout from Edward Snowden’s leaks of secret material from the National Security Agency has corroded and weakened the transatlantic alliance: fury with American snooping in countries such as Germany has paralysed what should be vital discussions on security.

Hopefully this will end with freedom for the people of the Ukraine, but I am not optimistic. I remember how hard Poland fought to be free of the Soviet Union. Putin does not give up easily, and he does not compromise.

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I Love The Irony In This

Yesterday the Daily Caller posted an article about the impact of ObamaCare in Massachusetts–the home of RomneyCare. RomeyCare was supposed to be the model for ObamaCare, but when you look closely at RomneyCare, there are some significant differences. Neither one did what was promised, but at least RomneyCare did not totally wreck healthcare in Massachusetts. It has taken ObamaCare to do that!

The article reports:

Starting in 2007 — over a period of three years — Massachusetts spent $3,449,520 developing a first-in-the-nation online health exchange, which allowed the state’s citizens to purchase health coverage. And when President Obama campaigned for the passage of his own federal health law, he leaned on the Massachusetts experiment as a model for the nation.

But the changes mandated by Obama’s Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, have actually gutted the effectiveness of Massachusetts’ once-working model.

Thanks to Obamacare, in 2012, Massachusetts began a transition to a new federally compliant health exchange, budgeted to cost $69 million. But to date, not one person has purchased health care through that federally funded exchange.

…The Massachusetts legislature didn’t even vote until June of 2013 to authorize the Connector Authority to change from their original functioning exchange over to the new system. Shortly after that vote, as The Boston Globe reported, officials started warning the Health Connector that the website would not work.

…On the unsubsidized side, Connector Authority spokesman Jason Lefferts told the Daily Caller, “We have worked with carriers to define the most similar plan to current coverage. The members will get a notice with the details. If they like it, all they do is pay the bill and they are all set. If they don’t, they are able to shop for a new plan. This new mechanism will allow these people to keep coverage without having to go through the website. All members will get notices within the next week.”

Yet four and a half months after the launch date of the new exchange, there remains no end date in site for the fixes.

Yang summed up the current situation at the last board meeting: “We have to work harder,” she said, according to the Boston Globe. “That means I need to tell the staff members they’re not doing a good enough job and I’m telling them that, even though they have been doing this tirelessly for months, and they’re exhausted.”

RomneyCare was no bargain, but it has taken ObamaCare to ruin it completely.

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The Future Of The Ukraine

Max Boot posted an article at Commentary Magazine today about the recent events in the Ukraine.

The article states:

The agreement reached between President Viktor Yanukovych and Ukrainian opposition leaders is about as good as the anti-government forces can possibly hope to get.

Mr. Boot points out that the foreign ministers of Poland, France, and Germany, all of whom are in Kiev, all signed the agreement. The Russian delegate refused to sign it.

The article reminds of the risk the protestors will take if they refuse to sign the agreement:

Yet, many protesters in the streets are not prepared to accept what is largely a victory. Many of them refuse to disperse from Independence Square until Yanukovych resigns. Their position is understandable but misguided. As Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski reportedly told demonstrators: “If you don’t support this [deal] you’ll have martial law, you’ll have the army. You will all be dead.”

Sikorski should know what he is talking about, having spent a good part of his life as a refugee from Poland, which saw the imposition of martial law in 1981.

If the people in the streets of Kiev are willing to accept the agreement, they will avoid an all-out war and the imposition of martial law. I believe that if they sign this agreement, the countries whose delegates also signed it will make sure that the current leadership of the Ukraine and the Russians abide by the agreement.

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Fighting For An Honest Election Process

Breitbart.com posted an article today about complaints that Battleground Texas has violated election laws in Texas by misusing voter registration information.

The website posted a copy of a letter from Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst to Secretary of State Nandita Berry regarding complaints against Battleground Texas:

It has been apparent that the Democrats have decided to turn Texas from a red state to a blue state. I don’t have a problem with their goal–I do have a problem with their methods if they are not above board.

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This Does Need To Be Looked Into

Today’s Weekly Standard posted an article about the recent indictment of author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza. There is some real question as to whether or not Mr. D’Souza is under indictment because of his open criticism of President Obama and President Obama’s policies. Senators Charles Grassley, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Jeff Sessions, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee have written a letter to FBI director James Comey asking questions about the indictment.

This is a copy of the letter:

These are questions that need to be answered. The Obama Administration has shown a very uneven hand in its administration of justice. The New Black Panthers were never prosecuted for voter intimidation, and the only person who was ever arrested in relation to Benghazi was the filmmaker who had nothing to do with the incident. This Justice Department has not upheld its duty of administrating justice equally.

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