The Consequences Of Meddling With Mother Nature

The Marine Mammal Protection Act was signed into law in 1972 and amended in 1994.

The act:

…protects all marine mammals, including cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), sirenians (manatees and dugongs), sea otters, and polar bears within the waters of the United States.

The Act makes it illegal to “take” marine mammals without a permit. This means people may not harass, feed, hunt, capture, collect, or kill any marine mammal or part of a marine mammal. The Act also formalized the marine mammal health and stranding response program to improve the response of stranding and unusual mortality events. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration web site gives the complete text of the Act.

So what are the consequences of this act? FoxNews in Boston posted an article today about some of the results of the act.

The article reports:

Great white sharks are discovering what tourists have known for years: Cape Cod is a great place to spend the summer.

…The white shark population is probably significantly larger, because the scientists can’t possibly spot all of them, Skomal (Greg Skomal, a senior scientist with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, and the state’s top shark expert) said.

Two of the more interesting findings are the increasing number of young sharks, and that they appear to be swimming farther afield.

“Last summer we saw greater numbers of smaller sharks, including juveniles, and that tells us that the population is rebuilding,” Skomal said.

Great whites, made famous in the 1975 movie “Jaws,” about a monstrous shark that terrorizes a fictional New England resort town, are coming to Cape Cod waters to feast on seals. Once hunted to near extinction, the now-protected seals are found in great numbers.

The seals used to be concentrated at the Monomoy Wildlife Refuge, off limits to humans, but as they have moved farther north, so have the sharks, Skomal said.

In 2013, WGBH reported that the increased seal population was impacting the fishermen in the area.

WGBH reported:

But the cuteness factor is lost on local fishermen like Nick Muto. He said he now has to compete with seals for fish, and it’s the seals who have a clear advantage.

“Fishermen feel we’re being blamed for a lot of the decline of the codfish population,” he said. “But in essence, in just the Cape Cod area alone, there’s 14,000 unregulated fishermen – being, the seal population.”  

Muto’s statistic may actually be a bit low. Current estimates place the number of seals around Cape Cod at more than 15,000 – almost triple the number from 1999. They gravitate to places like Monomoy because it’s isolated, and ideally suited to raising pups. The seals are here in big numbers. They’re here to stay. And these wily predators have gotten very good at competing with local fishermen for dwindling numbers of fish.

It’s obvious that the Marine Mammal Protection Act has had some unintended consequences. I am not a scientist and do not claim to have the answer to the negative impact protecting the seals has had on the fishermen and the impact the law has had on the shark population off Cape Cod. However, I think the law has to be reevaluated and the idea of limited killing of the seals explored. Otherwise, the beautiful beaches of Cape Cod will eventually become a safe habitat for great white sharks and an unsafe habitat for swimmers.

 

The Number of Americans In The Workforce Has Dramatically Increased

On Friday The Washington Free Beacon posted an article about the latest workforce participation rate.

The article reports:

The number of Americans either working or looking for work in the past month hit a record high of 160,056,000, the first time this number surpassed the 160,000,000 mark, according to numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last month, there were 159,716,000 Americans in the labor force.

There were 340,000 more Americans who joined the labor force in February, while 176,000 left. The number of Americans not participating in the labor force declined from 94,366,000 in January to 94,190,000 in February. The bureau counts those not in the labor force as people who do not have a job and did not actively seek one in the past four weeks.

The labor force participation rate, which is the percentage of the population that has a job or actively looked for one in the past month, increased from 62.9 percent in January to 63.0 percent in February.

Because the number of unemployed also went down, the unemployment number also went down from 4.8 percent in January to 4.7 percent.

The article also reported:

The “real” unemployment rate, otherwise known as the U-6 measure, was 9.2 percent in February, which declined from 9.4 percent in the previous month.

This is what the U-6 number has been from January 2005 through January 2016:

This is the true unemployment number, and it needs to continue to decrease.

Some Thoughts On The Recent CIA Leaks

Sometimes the best perspective comes from someone who has been there. There are a lot of diverse opinions on the information recently leaked by Wikileaks about CIA techniques. Some media have focused on the invasion into the privacy of Americans, and other media has focused on the damage the leaks do to American national security.

On Thursday, Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst, posted an article with his observations about the leaks. The article is posted at the Center for Security Policy website.

These are the points he makes in the article:

  • Why did CIA have a cyber warfare office at all?   I noted in this December 2016 NRO article that there are cyber warfare offices in four separate intelligence agencies.  I suspect this is because different intelligence agencies all wanted to cash in on funding opportunities on a high profile topic.   Such overlap is getting worse and make U.S. intelligence more bureaucratic and less efficient.
  • The new leaker was probably hired as a result of CIA Director Brennan’s decision to lower standards for CIA hiring because he wanted to create a more diverse CIA workforce and Brennan rushed to staff his new cyber office.  I wrote about this in Investor’s Business Daily in 2015.   It also reportedly has been difficult for the U.S. government to find personnel to staff cyber offices who can meet the Agency’s usual security requirements.   This probably is why Edward Snowden was hired despite his lack of a college degree and how he was able to increase his access to classified material and move between intelligence agencies despite his poor performance.
  • Did CIA learn nothing from the Snowden leaks on the urgency to compartment information on sensitive intelligence sources and methods?  How could another disgruntled intelligence officer have been able to access and leak such a huge number of such documents?

This is another area where President Trump needs to drain the swamp and create a more efficient and secure place to keep America‘s secret operations. We will always have a need for the CIA, but we definitely need to be more careful in hiring practices and access to information.

 

Why Is Anyone Surprised?

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial today about the current state of the economy. The editorial reminds us that under President Trump, the economy is growing rapidly.

The editorial reports:

Growth: For eight years, economic indicators repeatedly came below forecasts. Now, there’s been a string of reports — the latest one is on jobs — that have outperformed economist predictions. What’s changed, we wonder?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that the economy added 235,000 jobs in February, when economists expected 200,000 new jobs. And that comes after January’s 227,000 gain, which also beat economists’ forecasts by a substantial margin.

That’s not all. Other recent indicators have come in better than economists had expected.

Orders for capital goods were higher in December than forecast.

There were supposed to be 5.55 million existing-home sales in January. The actual number was close to 5.7 million — which was the highest level since 2007.

Retail sales in January climbed 0.4%, where economists had predicted they’d advance only 0.1%. At the same time, the Commerce Department revised the December sales increase upward to 1%.

Now, obviously we can’t draw any broad conclusions from a few unexpectedly good economic results.

But it’s worth pointing out that this is a dramatic change from the Obama years, when about the only thing that you could predict with any degree of accuracy was that the economy would underperform economists’ predictions.

This is an example of soft bias on the part of the media. When the economic numbers are changed during the month following their release, they may not receive the media coverage that the numbers received when they were originally released.

The editorial concludes:

…The National Federation of Independent Business‘ small business optimism index hit a 12-year high in January. The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index was the highest it’s been since October 2004. The Dow has gained nearly 17% since the November elections.

This sudden change of heart appears to be having an immediate impact on the economy. The unexpected rise in home sales, for example, is being driven in part by “a postelection jump in mortgage rates, led by optimism about President Donald Trump‘s plans to ease regulations and spur economic growth,” noted Crain’s Business. The jump in capital goods orders “is a sign that businesses might be following up buoyant postelection sentiment by spending more after years of tepid global growth,” according to Bloomberg.

Whether this will last depends on whether Trump gets his economic policies in place.

In the meantime, it’s worth asking why it is that economists consistently overestimated the economic impact of Obama’s tax-regulate-and-spend policies, and now appear to be underestimating Trump’s pro-business agenda.

It’s time to get on board–it seems that the train has left the station.

A Law We Can Understand And Support

Yesterday CSC Media Group, a conservative website, posted an article about S.222, a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Rand Paul. The bill, called the ObamaCare Replacement Act, would repeal and replace ObamaCare. Currently the bill has been referred to the Committee on Finance. The bill is four pages long. The summary of the bill is not yet posted at Thomas.gov, but you can go to Thomas.gov and put in S.222 and read the entire bill. You can also follow the link to the website above and read the bill.

The following is the CSC Summary of the bill given in the article:

Legalizes Inexpensive Insurance Plans:

  • Ensures that Americans can purchase the health insurance coverage that best fits their needs.
  • Eliminates Obamacare’s essential health benefits requirement, along with other restrictive coverage and plan requirements, to once again make low-cost insurance options available to American consumers.

Protects Individuals with Pre-Existing Conditions:

  • Provides a two-year open-enrollment period under which individuals with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.
  • Restores HIPAA pre-existing conditions protections. Prior to Obamacare, HIPAA guaranteed that those in the group market could obtain continuous health coverage regardless of preexisting conditions.

Helps More People Save To Buy Health Insurance and Cover Medical Costs:

  • Incentivizes savings by authorizing a tax credit (up to $5,000 per taxpayer) for individuals and families that contribute to HSAs.
  • Removes the annual cap on HSAs so individuals can make unlimited contributions.
  • Allows HSA funds to be used to purchase insurance, cover premiums, and more easily afford a broader range of health-related expenses, including prescription and OTC drugs, dietary supplements, nutrition and physical exercise expenses, and direct primary care, among others. 

Guarantees Fair Tax Treatment of Health Insurance:

  • Equalizes the tax treatment of the purchase of health insurance for individuals and employers by allowing individuals to deduct the cost of their health insurance from their income and payroll taxes.
  • Frees more Americans to purchase and maintain insurance apart from their work status.
  • Does not interfere with employer-provided coverage for Americans who prefer those plans.

Helps Individuals Join Together to Purchase Insurance:

  • Expands Association Health Plans (AHPs) to allow small business owners and individuals to band together across state lines through their membership in a trade or professional association to purchase health coverage for their families and employees at a lower cost.
  • Also allows individuals to pool together through any organization to purchase insurance.
  • Widens access to the group market and spreads out the risk, enhancing the ability of individuals and small businesses to decrease costs, increase administrative efficiencies, and further protect those with pre-existing conditions.

Allows the Purchase of Insurance Across State Lines:

  • Creates an interstate market that allows insurers who are licensed to sell policies in one state to offer them to residents of any other state.

Increases State Medicaid Flexibility:

  • Enables states to fully exercise current flexibilities afforded to them through Medicaid waivers for creating innovative state plan designs.

Empowers Physicians:

  • Allows non-economically aligned physicians to negotiate for higher quality health care for their patients.
  • Amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow a physician a tax deduction equal to the amount such physician would otherwise charge for charity medical care or uncompensated care due to bad debt, limited to 10% of a physician’s gross income for the taxable year.

Rand Paul is a doctor who practiced medicine for more than ten years before becoming a Senator. I believe he understands the problems involved in health insurance better than most senators. Among other things, his plan allows doctors to treat patients who cannot pay and take a limited tax deduction for providing the services. I think that is a wonderful idea.

This is a healthcare plan I can support.

Remember The IRS Scandal? It Just Got Worse

Yesterday The Washington Free Beacon posted an article about the IRS Scandal of targeting tea party groups and their members.

The article reports:

The Internal Revenue Service has located 6,924 documents potentially related to the targeting of Tea Party conservatives, two years after the group Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for them.

The watchdog group intended to find records regarding how the IRS selected individuals and organizations for audits that were requesting nonprofit tax status.

The agency will not say when it will make the documents available to the public.

“At this time, the Service is unable to provide an estimate regarding when it will complete its review of the potentially responsive documents,” the agency said. “The Service will begin producing any non-exempt, responsive documents by March 10, 2017, and, if necessary, continue to produce non-responsive records on a bi-weekly basis.”

The IRS needs to be cleaned up from top to bottom. I am sure there are good people doing their job at the IRS, but it has become obvious that the agency has become politicized in recent years. The best solution would be to abolish the IRS and go to a use tax that did not require monitoring by the IRS.

The Dangers Of Unchecked Immigration

A few years ago I had the privilege of meeting Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff. I wrote about it here. She is now on a speaking tour in America shedding light on what has happened in Europe because of the large number of Muslim immigrants. An article outlining her observations is posted at The Gates of Vienna.

In the article she explains some of the history and some of the consequences of the unchecked migration into Europe:

The most important thing to remember is that it is PLANNED.

It did not start in 2015 when Chancellor Merkel made her famous invitation to all the “refugees” to come on in from the Middle East. It had been going on since the “Arab Spring” began in 2011, and especially since Qaddafi was deposed and killed. By the time the flood started in 2015 the masses of people were all there ready to move, and the traffickers were equipped to move them.

The current routes being used run across the Mediterranean from Libya. Vessels owned and operated by NGOs meet the “refugees” off the coast of Libya shortly after their launch and “rescue” them. They are assigned this task, and they collude with the people-traffickers to accomplish it.

The thing to remember in dealing with the Islamic culture is that their perspective is long-term. They are not part of the microwave society that we live in.

The second most important thing is that it is EXPENSIVE.

The routes used in 2015 across the Aegean into Greece costs thousands of dollars per head. The migrants themselves did not pay the costs. Somebody else did; the big question is WHO?

We don’t know for certain that Soros is behind it, although we know that his organizations are involved. (a) Some of his organizations are among those that own and operate the boats picking up migrants in the Med off the coast of Libya. (b) His organizations were discovered to have printed maps and helpful instruction sheets handed out to migrants during the great exodus of 2015.

The migrants did not walk across Europe. They traveled by ferry, bus, and train — a MILLION of them or more. Someone paid for that transport. It was expensive to charter those buses and run those trains.

We know that some of the cost was borne by the governments en route, but not all of it. George Soros was definitely involved, and there are strong indications that governments in the Persian Gulf gave financial assistance.

When they arrived in Slovenia and Austria, refugees bought goods and hired taxis using brand new €500 notes. Those notes are very unusual, and the refugees did not find them on the ground along the way. Someone gave the notes to them — WHO?

I suspect that the answer to that question will lead us to many more questions.

The article continues:

Sweden is the European country that is closest to collapse. Although Germany has been hit harder, its economy is stronger, and can withstand the current (very expensive) crisis longer.A couple of years before Merkel invited in the migrants from Syria, the Swedish prime minister at the time, Fredrik Reinfeldt, did EXACTLY the same thing — he made a public announcement that anyone from Syria who came to Sweden would be accepted. As a result, for a while Sweden was their preferred destination.

Now Sweden in undergoing nightly riots, gang wars, arson, bombings, rapes, and murders. It has reinstituted border controls.

Obviously Sweden has learned from experience. It remains to be seen whether or not the Swedes will ever reclaim their country.

  Free speech has been a casualty of the new open-borders policy. Immigration is not popular, but governments are determined that it must happen, so they crack down vigorously on any publicly-expressed sentiments against immigrants or Islam.Dissidents on the Great Migration are fired and harassed. They are routinely prosecuted in Sweden, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, France, and Britain. Prison sentences are now handed out for Facebook posts or for putting bacon on the door handle of a mosque.

It is no longer possible to speak out freely, honestly, and truthfully about the consequences of immigration in Europe.

This is the result of the unchecked invasion of Europe. I strongly suggest that you follow the link above to read the entire article. We have the ability to prevent this from happening in America. The question is whether or not we will do what is necessary.

 

Circumstantial Evidence

The Washington Free Beacon posted an article today that explains why President Trump may be right in stating that he was wiretapped.

The article reports:

“As far as I know from people I’ve spoken to and sources that I’ve reached out to about this, it is entirely plausible that in fact Trump in some way or fashion was bound up in some sort of wiretap,” Kredo (Adam Kredo, senior writer for the Washington Free Beacon) said. “My understanding is that during an investigation into possible ties to Russia and business dealings that a FISA warrant reached this kind of stuff.”

Kredo then presented a question that he believes Clapper should answer to clarify what he knows about the issue.

“If there was no such wiretap and that did not exist as he says, where did the transcripts of the conversations that reporters at the New York Times and others were passed along about conversations between Michael Flynn and Russian officials, where did those come from?” Kredo asked. “I think it is very curious that, if in fact there was no sort of wiretap, there would be no record of those conversations, when in fact we all know there is.”

It is time for Congress to take a really good look at this. Who else was or is being wiretapped? Has privacy become a thing of the past for all Americans?

 

It Can Be Fixed, But It’s Not Right Yet

Yesterday The Heritage Foundation posted their evaluation of the bill to replace ObamaCare. Admittedly, The Heritage Foundation is a politically conservative group, so their solution to ObamaCare would be aimed at shrinking government, not just moving the chairs around.

The article lists some of the problems with the bill:

Basically, the bill focuses on protecting those who gained subsidized coverage through the law’s exchange subsidies and Medicaid expansion, while failing to correct Obamacare’s misguided insurance regulations that drove up premiums for Americans buying coverage without government subsidies.

That is both a policy problem and a political problem.

The article goes on to explain that the people who need relief from ObamaCare are the people whose premiums and deductibles rose dramatically. That is the group the does not get relief in the new bill. The new bill leaves costly regulations in place and attempts to offset those costs with subsidies. That is what most Americans want to get rid of.

The article explains:

In that regard, the draft bill’s new “Patient and State Stability Fund” is particularly problematic. That program would provide grants to states of up to a total of $100 billion over the nine years 2018-2026.

There are a several significant problems with this new program.

First, it substitutes new funding for old Obamacare funding without adequately addressing the misguided Obamacare insurance market rules and subsidy design that made the exchanges a magnet for high cost patients.

Those mistakes in Obamacare created an insupportable burden on the individual insurance market by concentrating expensive patients in only that small portion of the total market.

Second, like Obamacare, it doesn’t actually reduce premiums, but rather masks with subsidies the effects of Obamacare provisions that drove up premiums in the first place.

Third, it creates a new entitlement for states. Furthermore, without a resulting reduction in unsubsidized premium levels, future Congresses will likely face pressure from states and constituents to extend and expand the program.

That is exactly backwards from what is needed.

The new healthcare bill also fails to reign in Medicaid.

The article reports:

Under the Medicaid expansion, the federal government reimbursed states 100 percent of the cost of expanding Medicaid to able-bodied adults, with federal support eventually declining to 90 percent.

Yet, states continue to receive significantly less federal assistance (50 percent to 75 percent, depending on the state) for covering the more vulnerable populations (such as poor children and the disabled) that the program was intended for. That policy was both inequitable and unaffordable.

The draft bill does not correct that inequity, but rather reduces the enhanced match rate from 95 percent to 80 percent. The better approach would be to allow states to immediately cap expansion population enrollment, while also setting federal reimbursement for any new expansion enrollees at normal state match rates.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. There are three things that need to happen with health insurance in America–the policy needs to be attached to the person–not their employer, policies need to be portable across state lines, and people with pre-existing conditions need to have a way to be insurance. Other than that, the government needs to get out of the healthcare business and let the free market rule. It will be bumpy for a short while, but if we don’t do it now, things will only get worse.

Some People Are Not Happy With The Current Silent Coup

Judicial Watch posted the following press release today:

Judicial Watch Sues CIA, DOJ and Treasury for Records Related to Intelligence Leaks Regarding Investigation of General Flynn

MARCH 06, 2017

National Security Agency Refuses to Confirm or Deny Existence of Records 

(Washington DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the United States Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury regarding records related to the investigation of retired United States Army Lieutenant General Michel Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak (Judicial Watch v. Central Intelligence Agency et al. (No.1:17-cv-00397)).  (The National Security Agency refused to confirm or deny the existence of intelligence records about communications between Gen. Flynn and Amb Kislyak.)

Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit after the agencies failed to respond to a January 25, 2017, FOIA request seeking:

Any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to the investigation of retired Gen. Michael Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak between October 1, 2016 and the present.

This request includes, but is not limited to, any and all related warrants, affidavits, declarations, or similar records regarding the aforementioned investigation.

For purposes of clarification, please find enclosed a CNN report regarding the investigation, which cites information that was provided to CNN by members of the Intelligence Community.

In its complaint Judicial Watch asks the court to order the agencies to search for all records responsive to its FOIA requests and demonstrate that they employed reasonable search methods; order the agencies to produce by a specific date all non-exempt records and a Vaughn index of all withheld records; and instruct the agencies to cease withholding all non-exempt records.

On January 23, 2017, CNN reported that the government was investigating Flynn, former national security adviser to President Trump:

The calls were captured by routine US eavesdropping targeting the Russian diplomats, according to the intelligence and law enforcement officials. But the officials said some of the content of the conversation raised enough potential concerns that investigators are still looking into the discussions, amid a broader concern about Russian intelligence-gathering activities in the United States.

The officials all stressed that so far there has been no determination of any wrongdoing.

FBI and intelligence officials briefed members of the Obama White House team before President Barack Obama left office about the Flynn calls to the Russian ambassador, sources said.

“President Trump is on to something. The Obama-connected wiretapping and illegal leaks of classified material concerning President Trump and General Flynn are a scandal,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Judicial Watch aims to get to the truth about these crimes and we hope the Trump administration stands with us in the fight for transparency.”

This is a necessary action. There are some serious questions about the actions of President Obama and some of the people in government during the transition of power to the Trump Administration.

Why We Need To Increase Defense Spending

The Heritage Foundation has posted highlights from the 2017 Index of U.S. Military Strength and the 2016 Index of U.S. Military Strength. I strongly suggest following the links and reading the report summaries, but I can give you the bullet points here:

From 2016:From 2017:

This is the summary of the 2017 Report:

Overall, the 2017 Index concludes that the current U.S. military force is capable of meeting the demands of a single major regional conflict while also attending to various presence and engagement activities—something it is doing now and has done for the past two decades—but that it would be very hard-pressed to do more and certainly would be ill-equipped to handle two nearly simultaneous major regional contingencies. The consistent decline in funding and the consequent shrinking of the force over the past few years have placed it under significant pressure. Essential maintenance continues to be deferred; the availability of fewer units for operational deployments increases the frequency and length of deployments; and old equipment is being extended while programmed replacements are either delayed or beset by developmental difficulties.

The military services have continued to prioritize readiness for current operations by shifting funding to deployed or soon-to-deploy units at the expense of keeping units that are not deployed in “ready” condition; delaying, reducing, extending, or canceling modernization programs; and sustaining the reduction in size and number of military units. These choices and their resulting condition, driven by the lack of funding dedicated to defense, hazard America’s ability to secure its interests now and erode America’s ability to shape conditions to its advantage by assuring allies and deterring competitors.

As currently postured, the U.S. military is only marginally able to meet the demands of defending America’s vital national interests.

If we are to remain free and protect our citizens, I believe that we have to increase our defense spending.

The Mainstream Media Is Still Reporting Fake News

John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article today about the current discussion about wire taps at Trump Tower.

There are two major points in the article:

  1. There is one item of actual hard news: the House Intelligence Committee will investigate.

      2. Every time the AP mentions FISAgate, it includes this ritual defense of the Obama administration:

Trump has offered no evidence or details to support his claim, and Obama’s spokesman has denied it.

The AP’s statement is false. It is a classic instance of fake news. Barack Obama’s spokesman has not denied that “the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower last year.” He only denied that Barack Obama personally ordered such surveillance. But that isn’t the question. Presumably, the order to conduct surveillance came from Loretta Lynch’s Department of Justice. But no one thinks that Lynch would have ordered the opposing presidential candidate’s telephones tapped, or his computers hacked, without her boss’s approval.

Zero Hedge posted an article yesterday that also sheds some light on the issue.

Zero Hedge reports:

The best example of this came from Ben Rhodes, a former senior adviser to President Obama in his role as deputy National Security Advisor, who slammed Trump’s accusation, insisting that “No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.” He also said “only a liar” could make the case, as Trump suggested, that Obama wire tapped Trump Tower ahead of the election.

It would appear, however, that Rhodes is wrong, especially as pertains to matters of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance, and its associated FISA court, under which the alleged wiretap of Donald Trump would have been granted, as it pertained specifically to Trump’s alleged illicit interactions with Russian entities.

…But what is perhaps most important, is that we may know soon enough. As the NYT reported on Saturday afternoon, a senior White House official said that Donald F. McGahn II, the president’s chief counsel, was working on Saturday to secure access to what the official described as a document issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing surveillance of Mr. Trump and his associates.

If and when such a document is made public – assuming it exists of course – it would be Trump, once again, that gets the last laugh.

Stay tuned. This is going to be an interesting story. However, it is becoming obvious that we cannot trust the mainstream media to report it honestly.

A Necessary Explanation

President Trump has referred to ISIS. President Obama referred to ISIL. What is the difference, and why should we care? Actually the difference is significant, and the change is an important step in the right direction.

On Wednesday the American Center for Law and Justice posted an article on their website explaining the difference between ISIS and ISIL.

This is the essence of that article:

The change of leadership in the White House just produced a striking change of terminology in the war against the Islamic State terrorist group. The name preferred by the Obama Administration, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, (or ISIL) goes away. In its place comes the name favored by President Donald Trump: The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

A February 13, 2017 memo from the Office of the Secretary of Defense James Mattis says the switch to “ISIS” makes the Pentagon “consistent with” Trump’s language in a January 28 directive in which he called for a new plan to defeat the extremist group. That plan, to utterly destroy the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria, is due on the President’s desk today, although we may not know the details of the Pentagon’s recommendations for some time.

ISIS traces its roots to al-Qaida in Iraq, which declared an Islamic State of Iraq in 2006. In 2013 the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, renamed it the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.

Al-Sham is an Arabic word for a vaguely defined territory that includes what is now Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan, virtually all of the Middle East. It is often translated as the Levant, the closest English term for the territory it describes and the term preferred by the Obama Administration. Alarmingly, the concept of Levant lumps Israel in with all the countries bordering the eastern Mediterranean in a nameless and demeaning fashion, thus denying that the historic land of Israel even dates back to the time of Abraham as their ancestor.

Al-Baghdadi claimed that the territory under his control would be a Caliphate, or Islamic State.  ISIS further believes, while it is not yet a political or geographical reality, that even now their self-proclaimed Caliphate is the moral and religious authority for this entire region, including the nation of Israel. Consistent with this viewpoint, violence is justified, even encouraged, against the Infidels living in these lands who do not recognize the “lawful” authority of the Islamic Caliphate.

Parenthetically, the opponents of ISIS in Iraq and other Arab countries call the Islamic State Daesh, an Arabic acronym corresponding to ISIS. The term is deliberately designed to mock and insult ISIS because it diminishes its territorial claims. It is also close to the word “dahesh” meaning “one who tramples,” an apt expression for the majority of the Muslim world who oppose the terrorist organization.

All of this makes the Obama Administration’s preference for the term “ISIL” all the more disturbing. In contrast with the Trump Administration’s decision to officially refer to ISIS, the Obama Administration’s official policy referred to the Islamic State as ISIL. Why?

The very term “ISIL,” with its intentional connection to the Levant as the land from which this murderous group would rule the Middle East, is aspirational. It reflects the ambitions of ISIS and its leader, al-Baghdadi. It elevates the group’s territorial conquests. This provokes two questions: (1) Why would then-President Obama, or anyone else for that matter, want to acknowledge the claims of a group of genocidal jihadists and use the name that this hateful group prefers? And 2) Why would anyone use a name that constitutes an encouragement for this bloody group which reifies their objective of conquering all of the Middle East, if not the world?

Provoked by such changes, since November 2015 the ACLJ has been critical of the terminology preferred by both the terror organization and President Obama. We have contended for almost two years that the name ISIL tacitly acknowledges the irrational claims of the terrorist group. To call them ISIL legitimizes this radical Islamic group, which commits genocide on Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities and murders all who stand in their way, including their fellow Muslims.

This is another example of the Trump Administration’s understanding the fact that Israel is our only true ally in the Middle East and that we need to support them in every way possible. Somehow the Obama Administration was not willing to do that.

Not All Previous Scandals Have Gone Away

Judicial Watch posted the following Press Release on Thursday:

Federal Court Hearing Tuesday, March 7, in Clinton Email Case, Judicial Watch Seeking Answers on Abedin/Weiner Laptop Emails

MARCH 02, 2017

(Washington DC) – Judicial Watch today announced a hearing will be held Tuesday, March 7, 2017, regarding Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails that were sent or received during her tenure from February 2009 to January 31, 2013, as well as all emails by other State Department employees to Clinton regarding her non-‘state.gov’ email address (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:15-cv-00687)). The case is before Judge James E. Boasberg.

Items of discussion at the hearing will be the emails of Clinton aide Huma Abedin that were found on the laptop of Anthony Weiner, Abedin’s estranged husband. Judicial Watch also will be seeking answers as to the timing of the release of Clinton’s emails that were recovered by the FBI in its investigation of the server used by Clinton and others.

The State Department has previously been ordered to produce documents to Judicial Watch, and is currently processing 500 pages per month from disk one of seven available disks. At the upcoming hearing, the State Department must address the number of documents subject to FOIA on the remaining disks.

The hearing details are:

Date: Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Time: 9:30 a.m. ET
Location: Courtroom 21
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
333 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001

The lawsuit was originally filed in May 2015.

How The Free Market Economy Works

Hot Air posted an article today about job losses at the Boeing Aircraft plant in Washington State. The company announced this week that 1,800 unionized employees at the Seattle facility will be losing their jobs.

The article further reports:

Nearly three-quarters of eligible production workers at Boeing’s South Carolina plant voted Wednesday not to join the International Association of Machinists in a major setback for organized labor.

The Post & Courier newspaper reported that 2,097 of 2,828 voting workers — 74.2 percent — cast ballots against unionization.

Under NLRB rules, workers must wait a year before another union vote. In a statement, Machinists organizer Mike Evans said the union was disappointed with the vote but vowed to stay in close touch with Boeing workers to figure out next steps.

The article concludes by explaining exactly what is happening:

So 1800 workers in Washington are finding themselves unemployed. At the same time, more than 3000 people in the Palmetto State have gone to work, begun training and started pumping new life into the economy. So why aren’t the two unions in Washington who are making this doleful announcement talking about that story? I’m just taking a shot in the dark here, but it might be because South Carolina is a right to work state and the union has already been roundly rejected by the workers there who want to see the business grow and not kill the new goose which is suddenly laying a considerable quantity of golden eggs.

Boeing is not crashing and burning, nor is the economy collapsing. What we’re seeing is a rebalancing of resources where employers are going to places where there is an available pool of skilled labor and they can simultaneously keep labor costs under control to remain competitive in a challenging global market. Much like everything else in our capitalist system, such transitions produce winners and losers. Unfortunately for the employees of Boeing, their unions have opened the door to the “loser” side of the equation hitting the folks in Washington state while the benefits accrue to the citizens of South Carolina.

And that, folks, is how the free market works. In the end, more people gained jobs than lost them, and Boeing will be more competitive in world markets. That is a win-win. Unions are a useful tool, but they need to remember that if their contracts produce an unworkable business model for the company they work for, everyone loses.

At Some Point We Are Going To Have To Deal With This

There are some things going on in Washington that are under reported in the news. We as Americans are going to have to deal with these things quickly. Most of them have to deal with the actions of the former President and his undermining of the current President. Evidently the plans for undoing the Trump Administration were laid before the November election. Some of these actions would be envied by the Nixon Administration–they make Watergate look like the third-rate burglary that it actually was.

Breitbart posted the list yesterday. Mark Levin is credited with doing the research:

1. June 2016: FISA request. The Obama administration files a request with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to monitor communications involving Donald Trump and several advisers. The request, uncharacteristically, is denied.

2. July: Russia joke. Wikileaks releases emails from the Democratic National Committee that show an effort to prevent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) from winning the presidential nomination. In a press conference, Donald Trump refers to Hillary Clinton’s own missing emails, joking: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.” That remark becomes the basis for accusations by Clinton and the media that Trump invited further hacking.

3. October: Podesta emails. In October, Wikileaks releases the emails of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, rolling out batches every day until the election, creating new mini-scandals. The Clinton campaign blames Trump and the Russians.

4. October: FISA request. The Obama administration submits a new, narrow request to the FISA court, now focused on a computer server in Trump Tower suspected of links to Russian banks. No evidence is found — but the wiretaps continue, ostensibly for national security reasons, Andrew McCarthy at National Review later notes. The Obama administration is now monitoring an opposing presidential campaign using the high-tech surveillance powers of the federal intelligence services.

5.  January 2017: Buzzfeed/CNN dossier.Buzzfeed releases, and CNN reports, a supposed intelligence “dossier” compiled by a foreign former spy. It purports to show continuous contact between Russia and the Trump campaign, and says that the Russians have compromising information about Trump. None of the allegations can be verified and some are proven false. Several media outlets claim that they had been aware of the dossier for months and that it had been circulating in Washington.

6. January: Obama expands NSA sharing. As Michael Walsh later notes, and as the New York Times reports, the outgoing Obama administration “expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.” The new powers, and reduced protections, could make it easier for intelligence on private citizens to be circulated improperly or leaked.

7. January: Times report. The New York Times reports, on the eve of Inauguration Day, that several agencies — the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Treasury Department are monitoring several associates of the Trump campaign suspected of Russian ties. Other news outlets also report the exisentence of “a multiagency working group to coordinate investigations across the government,” though it is unclear how they found out, since the investigations would have been secret and involved classified information.

8. February: Mike Flynn scandal. Reports emerge that the FBI intercepted a conversation in 2016 between future National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — then a private citizen — and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The intercept supposedly was  part of routine spying on the ambassador, not monitoring of the Trump campaign. The FBI transcripts reportedly show the two discussing Obama’s newly-imposed sanctions on Russia, though Flynn earlier denied discussing them. Sally Yates, whom Trump would later fire as acting Attorney General for insubordination, is involved in the investigation. In the end, Flynn resigns over having misled Vice President Mike Pence (perhaps inadvertently) about the content of the conversation.

9. February: Times claims extensive Russian contacts. The New York Times cites “four current and former American officials” in reporting that the Trump campaign had “repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials. The Trump campaign denies the claims — and the Times admits that there is “no evidence” of coordination between the campaign and the Russians. The White House and some congressional Republicans begin to raise questions about illegal intelligence leaks.

10. March: the Washington Post targets Jeff Sessions. The Washington Post reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had contact twice with the Russian ambassador during the campaign — once at a Heritage Foundation event and once at a meeting in Sessions’s Senate office. The Post suggests that the two meetings contradict Sessions’s testimony at his confirmation hearings that he had no contacts with the Russians, though in context (not presented by the Post) it was clear he meant in his capacity as a campaign surrogate, and that he was responding to claims in the “dossier” of ongoing contacts. The New York Times, in covering the story, adds that the Obama White House “rushed to preserve” intelligence related to alleged Russian links with the Trump campaign. By “preserve” it really means “disseminate”: officials spread evidence throughout other government agencies “to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators” and perhaps the media as well.

President Trump is continuing to move forward on his agenda. That is good, but at some point the Justice Department that former President Obama is attempting to cripple will have to move forward with charges on some of these actions. The actions of former President Obama are a serious threat to our republic. This is not about Democrat or Republican–this is about a former President who is willfully undermining a current President. That is not acceptable behavior.

Why We Need To Support Trump As President

Ed Morrissey posted an article at Hot Air today about an event that somehow has escaped the major media. Sabrina De Sousa is a former CIA agent caught up in the legal fight in Europe over the US’ controversial “extraordinary rendition” program.

Newsweek provides a summary of the case:

De Sousa, who was freed Tuesday from a Portuguese prison where she was awaiting extradition to Italy, has always maintained her innocence in the case, which was the subject of a sensational 2009 trial. She and 25 other Americans, all but one CIA employees, were convicted in absentia for their roles in snatching an Egyptian cleric off a Milan street and transporting him to Cairo. Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known more widely as Abu Omar, says he was repeatedly tortured while under interrogation there. He was released in 2007 and convicted of terrorism charges in absentia by an Italian court in December 2013.

De Sousa, the subject of an international arrest warrant since her conviction, was detained as she tried to transit the Lisbon airport from the U.S. en route to visit her mother in India in October 2015. (De Sousa was born in the former Portuguese enclave of Goa.) She was freed shortly afterward but ordered to stay in Portugal pending a decision on her extradition. …

As is often the case involving the CIA, the U.S. government had nothing to say about De Sousa’s reprieve this week. The CIA has consistently refused to comment on the case. A State Department spokesman referred Newsweek to the White House for comment, but officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Yet Pete Hoekstra, a former Republican representative and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee who took up De Sousa’s cause, claims she would not have been released “without extraordinary help from the Trump administration.” Hoekstra told Newsweek he began lobbying officials in the Donald Trump campaign, and later the transition, to do something about the former officer’s predicament. He had a number of friends in the national security apparatus from his time on the House Intelligence Committee—people like Michael Flynn, the recently departed White House national security adviser, fellow former Representative Mike Pompeo, now director of the CIA, and former Senator Dan Coats, the new director of national intelligence. And it didn’t hurt that he had chaired Trump’s Michigan campaign.

Ms. De Sousa tweeted the following:

The Trump Administration prevented a patriotic American (she held dual citizenship in the United States and in Portugal) from being imprisoned for doing her job.

The article also includes a rather sad side note:

De Sousa, 61, a dual U.S. and Portuguese citizen who lives in Lisbon, said she is elated by the last-minute decision, although she feels it came three months too late: Her mother, Julia De Sousa, died in early December at the age of 90. De Sousa couldn’t be with her.

“The sad thing is, I really wanted this to be resolved awhile ago so I could turn to her and say ‘It’s done,’” De Sousa said in a Skype interview on Wednesday. “People don’t seem to realize how a conviction impacts you and your normal daily life. I couldn’t see my family.”

The Obama Administration had a checkered record of how they treated Americans who had worked for America overseas. Hopefully, this story is an indication that the Trump Administration will not abandon people who have faithfully done their jobs.

The Mud Puddle In Your Front Yard Is No Longer Under Government Control

In April 2015, The Heritage Foundation posted an article on the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule.

The article includes the following:

The proposed rule would assert jurisdiction over numerous types of waters, including “tributaries,” “adjacent waters,” and “other waters.” The definition for “tributaries” covers any water with a bed, banks, and ordinary high water mark that contributes flow, either directly or through another water, to a traditional navigable water, interstate water, territorial sea, or impoundment.[8] This definition is even broader than it sounds. As explained by the American Farm Bureau Foundation:

The agencies use the words “bed” and “bank” and “ordinary high water mark,” which sound like parts of a river or stream. In reality, though, the agencies’ explanation makes clear that those words just mean some kind of channel (land with higher elevation on each side of land with a lower elevation) plus any physical marks left by flowing water.

A broad interpretation of this law means that any mud puddle that forms in your yard in the spring has the potential of being under government control. The could impact your ability to build, landscape, or use your property in other ways.

On February 27, the White House issued the following statement about the Waters of the United States rule:

Presidential Executive Order on Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the “Waters of the United States” Rule

EXECUTIVE ORDER

– – – – – – –

RESTORING THE RULE OF LAW, FEDERALISM, AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
BY REVIEWING THE “WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES” RULE

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. It is in the national interest to ensure that the Nation’s navigable waters are kept free from pollution, while at the same time promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and showing due regard for the roles of the Congress and the States under the Constitution.

Sec. 2. Review of the Waters of the United States Rule. (a) The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (Administrator) and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works (Assistant Secretary) shall review the final rule entitled “Clean Water Rule: Definition of ‘Waters of the United States,'” 80 Fed. Reg. 37054 (June 29, 2015), for consistency with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order and publish for notice and comment a proposed rule rescinding or revising the rule, as appropriate and consistent with law.

(b) The Administrator, the Assistant Secretary, and the heads of all executive departments and agencies shall review all orders, rules, regulations, guidelines, or policies implementing or enforcing the final rule listed in subsection (a) of this section for consistency with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order and shall rescind or revise, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules rescinding or revising, those issuances, as appropriate and consistent with law and with any changes made as a result of a rulemaking proceeding undertaken pursuant to subsection (a) of this section.

(c) With respect to any litigation before the Federal courts related to the final rule listed in subsection (a) of this section, the Administrator and the Assistant Secretary shall promptly notify the Attorney General of the pending review under subsection (b) of this section so that the Attorney General may, as he deems appropriate, inform any court of such review and take such measures as he deems appropriate concerning any such litigation pending the completion of further administrative proceedings related to the rule.

Sec. 3. Definition of “Navigable Waters” in Future Rulemaking. In connection with the proposed rule described in section 2(a) of this order, the Administrator and the Assistant Secretary shall consider interpreting the term “navigable waters,” as defined in 33 U.S.C. 1362(7), in a manner consistent with the opinion of Justice Antonin Scalia in Rapanos v. United States, 547 U.S. 715 (2006).

Sec. 4. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

DONALD J. TRUMP

THE WHITE HOUSE,
February 28, 2017.

Thank you, President Trump. I support clean air and clean water. I don’t support government’s interference in the property rights of Americans.

Getting On Board With Building The Wall

Yesterday The Hill posted an article sharing some news about the wall Donald Trump plans to build on the southern border of America.

The article reports:

…The Hill reported late Tuesday that 225 companies — mainly construction and engineering firms — have voiced interest in building Trump’s proposed wall.

The list was compiled from a website for contractors interested in doing business with the federal government.

Contractors intrigued by the project have until March 10 to submit a prototype concept paper, followed by a formal request for proposal by March 24.

Interested parties so far include construction companies like Caddell and Raytheon, a top defense contractor.

A number of small businesses have also applied, including 20 owned by Hispanic-Americans who could come under scrutiny for helping create the structure.

…The Department of Homeland Security estimated last month that Trump’s could take 3.5 years to complete and cost up to $21.6 billion.

In November 2014, I reported:

“The Internal Revenue Service continues to make little progress in reducing improper payments of Earned Income Tax Credits,” a press release from Treasury’s inspector general for Tax Administration says. “The IRS estimates that 22 to 26 percent of EITC payments were issued improperly in Fiscal Year 2013. The dollar value of these improper payments was estimated to be between $13.3 billion and $15.6 billion.”

Fixing that problem would provide a major portion of the cost of building the wall. I am sure there are other costs to illegal immigration that could also be eliminated to pay for the wall.

Ronald Reagan said it best:

“A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation.”
Ronald Reagan

Be Smart About What You Support

Yesterday The Washington Free Beacon posted an article about the spending habits of The Congressional Black Caucus PAC (CBC PAC). It seems that the CBC PAC, whose purpose it is to raise money for potential candidates, spends more money on itself than it gives to candidates.

The article reports:

The CBC PAC claims its mission is to increase “the number of African Americans in the U.S. Congress” and to “support non-Black candidates that champion our interests, and promote African American participation in the political process-with an emphasis on young voters,” according to its website.

The PAC spent hundreds of thousands throughout the 2016 election cycle on administrative expenses that included bills for lavish trips that were paid by the committee.

A $5,000 payment was made in January 2016 from the PAC to the Buccaneer Hotel located in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, one of the “world’s top 50 tropical resorts.”

Later, on March 21, 2016, the PAC made another payment to a resort in the Virgin Islands. This time, the money went towards a stay at the “one-of-a-kind” Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort and Spa also located in St. Croix. The Renaissance is situated “among the foothills of a lush tropical rainforest and only steps away from the pristine sands of Estate Davis Bay.”

The PAC spent $820 on taxicabs while in the Virgin Islands. More than $2,000 was spent at Sweeny’s St. Croix Tours in the town of Christiansted, considered “the most beautiful town in the West Indies.” Sweeny’s provides an open-air bus for its guests as they embark on safari tours of the island. More than $4,500 was also spent by the PAC on catering at Un Amore, an Italian restaurant.

The group’s largest expenses were made in New York and Washington, D.C.

The article notes a number of expenditures on various luxury hotels and spas in New York City and California.

The article concludes:

Benjamin Branch, who provides administrative and managerial consulting services to the PAC, pocketed nearly $177,000 from the group.

The committee put $283,100 total towards administrative expenses while $127,000 went towards fundraising purposes. The PAC contributed just $91,000 to federal candidates, according to overall data of the PAC from the Center for Responsive Politics.

The CBC PAC did not respond to requests for comment on its expenditures by press time.

I wonder how many well-meaning people who might not have a lot of extra money donated to this PAC. While I don’t necessarily have the same goals as the CBC PAC, they do have a right to exist and to put forward their agenda. However, if I were a donor, I think I would give any money I had directly to the candidates I supported. The questionable priorities in their spending habits may be perfectly legal, but they are definitely not doing all that they should to advance their cause. It would be interesting to know if this sort of behavior was also found in other PACs.

What Happens When Expectations Are Raised Too High?

The Daily Caller posted an article today that illustrates the problem with teaching children to expect things they didn’t earn.

The article reports:

Nearly half of all America’s college students have deluded themselves into believing that the federal government will graciously forgive their student loans despite the fact that the federal government forgives only a very low percentage of student loans.

LendEDU, a student loan marketplace website, documented this startling disparity between belief and reality in a nationwide survey of 500 students currently attending America’s colleges and universities, reports the New York Post.

The survey shows that 49.8 percent of the students surveyed think they will be eligible for federal student loan forgiveness.

In reality, only about 10 percent of all college graduates will ever see any portion of their student loans forgiven under current loan forgiveness law.

Under President Obama, the government took over the student loan program in 2010.

Yesterday Fox Business reported:

According to the New York Federal Reserve, U.S. student loan debt has soared to $1.3 trillion becoming the second highest consumer debt category, more than both credit cards and auto loans.

In an exclusive interview with FOX Business’ Liz Claman, Washington College President and former Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chair Sheila Bair said the student loan debt crisis could spark next financial crisis, since it is a “tremendous drag” on the U.S. economy.

During the financial crisis of 2008–09, excessive mortgage debt collapsed consumer spending as more families opted to pay off debt. Bair said the same dynamic could be seen if the student debt bubble bursts.

When the housing bubble burst, there were assets that could be sold (although at a loss). There will be no assets to sell if the student debt bubble bursts–a lot of the people with the debt are living in their parent’s basements.

The Daily Caller reports:

Of the $1.31 trillion in outstanding student debt, some $31 billion, is “seriously delinquent,” meaning the debtors are at least 90 days past their payment dates.

Well known economist Milton Friedman is credited with saying, “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.” I think it’s time to get the government out of the student loan business and give that business to the banks. Banks are better judges of how to lend money and how to get paid back. I have a strong suspicion that the taxpayers may get stuck holding the bag on this one.

We Will Always Need To Protect Our First Amendment

We have elected a President who is less hostile to Christianity than our last President, but that doesn’t mean we can let our guard down as far as protecting our Constitutional rights. On Monday, a website called aleteia.org posted a story about some recent events in Radnor Township, New Jersey, home of Villanova University.

Here is the story:

As part of a $285 million expansion project, Villanova University is erecting a pedestrian bridge that will run over Lancaster Avenue — something the township required for safety reasons to allow safe passage from the campus on one side of the road to the other.

But controversy has ensued over the design of the bridge, specifically the Catholic university’s plan to erect 4-foot, 7-inch metal crosses atop stone pillars on either side of the structure.

Some Radnor Township residents say such an audacious show of religion has no place in a township of many faiths.

“I think they are overstepping their sense of ecumenism to shove these crosses in our faces,” said Sara Pilling, a long-time township resident who lives a couple of blocks from the university.

Villanova officials, however, say the school is well within its right to include the crosses, which will be on school property and which the university will fund.

“On every building on campus there’s a cross,” said the Rev. Peter Donohue, president of Villanova. “I understand people’s sensitivities but it’s just something we’ve always done. It’s just part of who we are. We are a faith-based institution.”

The pedestrian bridge is being constructed on University property with University money. It is a Catholic University.

The article includes an update:

The Radnor Township Board of Commissioners late Monday approved a controversial pedestrian bridge that would link Villanova University’s main campus with a planned expansion on the southern side of Lancaster Avenue.

The 6-0 decision, with board President Elaine P. Schaefer abstaining, came after an hour of debate and discussion over a key element of the bridge’s design: 4-foot, 7-inch metal crosses atop stone pillars on opposite sides of the structure. In the end, the board concluded that it did not have the authority to regulate or prohibit the crosses.

My understanding from the article is that Villanova University is building the pedestrian bridge and paying for the pedestrian bridge. If I were a taxpayer in the town, I think I would just say thank you and not worry about the crosses on the bridge.

The Dangers Of Government Overreach

Government overreach is a term thrown around frequently by conservatives. To most of us it doesn’t mean very much–until our ox is gored. Well, today I stumbled across a story that illustrates the impact it has on all of us.

John Hinderacker posted a story at Power Line about a new book, Cardiac Arrest: Five Heart-Stopping Years as a CEO On the Feds’ Hit-List. The book was written by Howard Root, the founder and CEO of Vascular Solutions, Inc.

The article reports:

Howard was the founder and CEO of Vascular Solutions, Inc., a successful medical products company that was set up as a victim by Barack Obama’s hyper-politicized Department of Justice. For five years, Obama’s DOJ persecuted and harassed Howard and his company with bogus claims. Thankfully, Howard Root had both the financial resources and, more important, the courage–he was facing prison time–to stand up to the DOJ’s bullies.

Ultimately, a jury acquitted Howard and Vascular Solutions on all charges. One of the jurors wrote Howard to say that what the government tried to do to him was a disgrace. Still, Howard had to leave the medical products industry, as he knew that he could continue to be a target of vengeful prosecutors, to the detriment of the company that he had led since its founding. Last month, he sold Vascular Solutions.

Think about this for a moment. What if he had not had the financial resources to stand up to an overzealous Department of Justice? How much were the company and the products it sells impacted by the money that had to be diverted to legal expenses? Did the cost of the product sold increase because of the mounting legal expenses?  Isn’t it sad that an overzealous government agency can force a man to sell a business he has spent years building?