While We Were All Focused On A Shiny Object Over There…

BizPacReview reported yesterday about some information in the Obama Administration’s Friday night document dump.

The article reports:

Before the start of the Columbus Day holiday weekend, the Treasury Department made it easier for offshore banking institutions to make transactions with Iran, as long as the money doesn’t actually enter the U.S. financial system. Although many sanctions were lifted as a part of the Iran deal, certain “specially designated nationals,” or SDNs, are still subject to the sanctions for reasons which include their human rights record or support for terror groups.

Now, even these SDNs are no longer completely banned from transacting with U.S. businesses.

The Associated Press reports that this change in the rules is the result of complaints from Iran that the remaining U.S. Sanctions have limited Iran in its commercial dealings with other countries.

The article concludes:

Just another bad postscript to a bad deal, and we can expect plenty more of the same if people keep paying attention to the puppet shows instead of the man, or woman, behind the curtain.

The Iran deal was a really bad deal. We are financing terrorism and the development of an atomic bomb by Iran. We can expect more of the same from a President Hillary Clinton.

Politicians Don’t Like Being Held Accountable

Generally speaking, politicians don’t like being held accountable. They don’t like being held to any standard of transparency either. This has been particularly true in the relationship between the Obama Administration and Judicial Watch. Judicial Watch is an equal opportunity government watchdog organization. The have investigated the Clinton Administration, the Bush Administration, and the Obama Administration.

Needless to say, they were more appreciated by Americans who wanted to hold their government accountable than they were by the administrations they were holding accountable. The Obama Administration, however, has reached a new low in its dealings with Judicial Watch.

On Thursday, The Washington Times reported that an Inspector General‘s report revealed the following:

Political operatives within the Obama administration wrongly punished conservative legal group Judicial Watch, stripping it of “media” status and trying to force it to pay higher fees for its open records requests, the General Services Administration inspector general said in a letter released Thursday.

The GSA botched several high-profile open records requests, delaying them for months while political appointees got involved, Inspector General Carol F. Ochoa said. The findings were released while the administration was facing charges of slow-walking open records requests for Hillary Clinton’s emails, as well as other requests.

In the case of Judicial Watch, the order to strip it of media status came from political operatives with long ties to Democratic causes — and even from the White House.

The inspector general said the decision came at the behest of Gregory Mecher, a former Democratic campaign fundraiser who at the time was liaison to the White House. He is married to Jen Psaki, a longtime spokeswoman with the Obama administration and its election campaigns.

 Ms. Ochoa said stripping Judicial Watch of media status violated several agency policies and things got worse when the GSA denied an appeal by the group.

The same person who ruled on the initial request also ruled on the appeal, “contrary to GSA procedures,” the inspector general said.

Judicial Watch ended up suing over the request, the agency finally agreed to waive all fees and even ended up paying Judicial Watch $750 as part of the settlement.

This is disgusting. We have entered a period of unbelievable corruption in Washington that reaches all the way to the top. We have had stories this year of archives of press conferences being altered after the fact to make the administration look better, now we have press credentials pulled on people simply doing a service to America.

Please follow the link and read the entire article. It is a basic course of the relationships among the elites in Washington. It truly is time to throw them all out!

Borders Matter

Yesterday Breitbart posted an article about the crimes committed by immigrants legally and illegally entering America with nefarious intentions.

The article reports:

In the month of September alone, a Turkish immigrant allegedly shot and killed five people in a Washington State mall; an Afghan immigrant allegedly planted bombs in New York and New Jersey injuring roughly 30 innocent people; a Somali immigrant allegedly stabbed nine people at a Minnesota mall; a twice-arrested illegal alien with a prior DUI conviction allegedly murdered a Kansas sheriff’s deputy; an illegal alien and convicted child rapist allegedly shot two California corrections officers; an illegal alien with a prior drug arrest, who had been a recipient of Obama’s executive amnesty, allegedly engaged in reckless driving killing a 12-year-old girl; a three-time deported illegal alien allegedly killed two people on what was described as a crime “rampage;” and a Mexican immigrant and Arizona pastor was arrested after it was revealed that he had allegedly molested children for years, many of whom are believed to belong to his church, and for impregnating one of his victims when she was 13 years old.

At the same time, a Department of Homeland Security audit revealed that over 1,800 foreign nationals who were slated to be deported were instead awarded U.S. citizenship.

In football, when you see an extremely long running or pass play, you can usually assume that someone on the defense missed his assignment. I think it is safe to say that somewhere in our immigration process, someone (or someones) has missed his assignment.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. The people who are in charge of our safety are not doing their job. They are either incompetent or have intentionally closed their eyes to the threat. Either way, they have missed their assignment.

Following The Money

There have been a lot of stories told about the $400 million that was paid to Iran (coincidentally just as some American hostages were being released). Yesterday Claudia Rosett posted an article in the New York Sun that offers an interesting explanation as to where the $400 million came from.

The article reports:

Congressional investigators trying to uncover the trail of $1.3 billion in payments to Iran might want to focus on 13 large, identical sums that Treasury paid to the State Department under the generic heading of settling “Foreign Claims.”

The 13 payments when added to the $400 million that the administration now concedes it shipped to the Iranian regime in foreign cash would bring the payout to the $1.7 billion that President Obama and Secretary Kerry announced on January 17. That total was to settle a dispute pending for decades before the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal in at The Hague.

…The Judgment Fund has long been a controversial vehicle for federal agencies to detour past one of the most pointed prohibitions in the Constitution: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”

The Judgment Fund, according to a Treasury Department Web site, is “a permanent, indefinite appropriation” used to pay monetary awards against U.S. government agencies in cases “where funds are not legally available to pay the award from the agency’s own appropriations.”

In March, in letters responding to questions about the Iran settlement sent weeks earlier by Representatives Edward Royce and Mike Pompeo, the State Department confirmed that the $1.3 billion “interest” portion of the Iran settlement had been paid out of the Judgment Fund. But State gave no information on the logistics.

Aside from the fact that we are funding a regime that is using the money to fund attacks against American civilians and servicemen, I would like to note that the Tribunal at the Hague decided that America owned money to a known sponsor of terrorism. Based on that decision, I don’t think the Tribunal at The Hague is force for global peace. Giving money to a known sponsor of terrorism is not a good idea under any circumstances.

I Guess Things Didn’t Go As Planned

ObamaCare is touted as one of the crowning achievements of the Obama Administration. Like some of the other achievements touted, the benefits are somewhat questionable. The two main promises of ObamaCare–if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it, and if you like your doctor, you can keep him–have not really worked out as claimed. Now the claim that ObamaCare has cut the cost of health insurance seems to be in doubt as well.

Forbes Magazine posted an article on Thursday disputing the claims of Loren Adler and Paul Ginsburg of the Brookings Institution that health insurance premiums have decreased under ObamaCare. The authors cite a 2014 Brookings study that concluded premiums have increased.

The article reports:

While I will discuss the relevant evidence of the ACA’s effect on premiums in depth, there are three data points worth emphasizing. First, unlike Adler and Ginsburg’s approach, Brookings 2014 study used actual data and found that “enrollment-weighted premiums in the individual health insurance market increased by 24.4 percent beyond what they would have had they simply followed…trends.” Second, S&P Global Institute found that average individual market medical costs increased substantially between 2013 and 2015, up an estimated 69%. Third, 2014 insurer data shows that premiums for individual market Qualified Health Plans (QHPs), ACA-compliant plans certified to be sold on exchanges, were much higher than premiums for individual market non-QHPs, mostly plans in existence before 2014 that did not comply with the ACA. Relative to non-QHPs, insurers collected more than $1,000 per enrollee in higher premiums and more than $2,300 in higher premium revenue per enrollee in 2014 after accounting for large premium subsidy programs for their QHPs.

The article includes the following graph:

PMPM Chart - Mercatus

The data shows a huge increase in PMPM costs in the individual market between 2013 and 2015. According to S&P, PMPM costs increased 38% between 2013 and 2014, and another 23% between 2014 and 2015. The two-year increase (69%) is the product of the two single-year increases.

…It is worth noting that the individual market includes both ACA-compliant plans as well as non-ACA-compliant plans. If only ACA-compliant plans were included in the post-2013 data, the spike would likely be much larger.

I do wonder how much of this will be reported by the mainstream media. The fact that most people will experience this on a personal level means that the public will become aware of it.

 

 

 

Some People In Congress Have Forgotten Who They Work For

The Washington Examiner is reporting today that Democrats on the House Select Committee on Benghazi voted against releasing the findings of the committee.

The article reports:

Sections of witness testimony and internal documents remain classified, although committee Chairman Trey Gowdy has pushed the White House to clear as much information as possible for release.

“We urge the Obama administration to clear for public release all of the supporting evidence and documents referenced in the more than 2,100 footnotes in the report, including all of the transcripts of the committee’s witness interviews and all of the video footage from the drones operating over Benghazi during the attacks,” the committee’s Republican members said in a statement. “The administration should do this as fast as possible so the American people can see all of the evidence for themselves.”

As Americans, we are entitled to see the results of this investigation without any filters. We should be smart enough to read it and draw our own conclusions. It’s time to end secrecy in Washington.

Changing History As It Occurs

Yesterday Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article about the recent editing of a State Department press briefing on December 2, 2013. A question asked by Fox News reporter James Rosen was edited out of the archived video of the briefing.

The article reports:

The deleted segment of the briefing featured Fox News reporter James Rosen asking then-State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki whether the Obama administration had lied about having secret talks with Iran in 2011. Psaki essentially admitted that it had.

Rosen inquired, “Is it the policy of the State Department, where the preservation or the secrecy of secret negotiations is concerned, to lie in order to achieve that goal?” Psaki responded, “James, I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress. This is a good example of that.”

The start date of the Iran nuclear negotiations is back in the spotlight because of a New York Times Magazine piece in which Ben Rhodes admitted that the Obama administration “largely manufactured” a narrative for the Iran deal in order to garner support for it. A key element of the manufactured narrative was that negotiations began in 2013 with the election of a “moderate” Iranian president.

It looks like the State Department tried, by editing the video, to cover up the administration’s lie about when Iran negotiations commenced (together with the admission that it is willing to lie), and then lied again by claiming that the cover up was the product of a glitch.

Remember, this video is supposed to be an accurate archived record of American history. The State Department chose to edit it to rewrite a portion of history. I thought only Communist countries did that.

The article explains the consequences for the editing of the video:

Who requested the scrubbing? The State Department claims not to know. It says that officials “tried” to determine who ordered the edit, “but it was three years ago and the individual who took the call [to edit the tape] just simply doesn’t have a better memory of it.”

Jen Psaki, who made the admission that needed to be deleted, is an obvious suspect. She denies responsibility.

Will the State Department launch an investigation? No it will not. Current spokesperson John Kirby says:

There were no rules governing this sort of action in the past, so I find no reason to press forward with a more formal or deeper investigation. What matters to me — and I take it seriously — is our commitment to transparency and disclosure.

The Obama State Department just can’t stop lying.

I have been known to complain about the mainstream media slanting the news or lying to Americans. Now we have evidence that the government is lying to us. It’s time for a new government.

Can Anyone Stop This Runaway Train?

Actually, there are two runaway trains–one is federal spending and the other is overreach by President Obama. Yesterday The Daily Signal posted an article that illustrates both of them. The article was written by Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma.

The article reports:

Last week, the Senate passed legislation to address and prevent the spread of the Zika virus. However, the Senate failed to pay for it, and instead approved a $1.1 billion “emergency” spending supplemental bill that is not subject to the budgetary caps that were agreed to last year.

While congressional inattention to the budget crisis is inexcusable, it is even more disturbing that the Obama administration already has the authority to pay for a Zika response from existing agency budgets, but chose not to.

…But an international medical emergency has now become a U.S. budget emergency, a major debt crisis that will impact our children as well.

If there was a way to both respond to Zika and prevent new debt spending, wouldn’t it be reasonable to do that? The Department of Health and Human Services, Department of State, and International Assistance Programs currently have about $80 billion in unobligated funds.

A small fraction of this could be reprogrammed and redirected to respond to the Zika emergency and not add any additional debt to our nation’s children. This is exactly the type of authority the Obama administration asked for in 2009 during the height of the H1N1 virus scare.

…In a floor speech last week, I also shed light on the fact that Congress last December provided the Obama administration with authority to pull money from bilateral economic assistance to foreign countries.

They can use those funds to combat infectious diseases, if the administration believed there is an infectious disease emergency. In the middle of the Zika epidemic, the administration did use their authority to pull money from foreign aid and spend it, but they didn’t use it for Zika.

You might ask—so what did the administration spend the infectious disease money on earlier this year?

You guessed it… climate change.

It gets worse.:

In March, President Obama gave the United Nations $500 million out of an account under bilateral economic assistance to fund the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund.

Congress refused to allocate funding for the U.N. Climate Change Fund last year, so the president used this account designated for international infectious diseases to pay for his priority.

While I understand that intelligent people can disagree on the human effects on the global climate, it is hard to imagine a reason why the administration would prioritize the U.N. Green Climate Fund over protecting the American people, especially pregnant women, from the Zika virus.

The U.N. Green Climate Fund is connected to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which recently accepted the “State of Palestine” as a signatory. There is currently in place a U.S. funding prohibition that forbids any taxpayer dollars to fund international organizations that recognize “Palestine” as a sovereign state. Evidently the Obama Administration chose to ignore that prohibition and also to create more debt that our children and grandchildren will have to deal with. Someone needs to stop this runaway train.

Coming To A Neighborhood Near You

On July 19, 2013, the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Department of the federal government proposed the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation.

This is a brief summary of the regulation taken from the Federal Register:

This proposed rule would amend HUD regulations in 24 CFR part 5 that contain general HUD program requirements, and specifically 24 CFR part 5, subpart A, which contains generally applicable definitions and federal requirements that are applicable to all or almost all HUD programs. This rule proposes to add new §§ 5.150-5.180 under the undesignated heading of “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.” These new sections will primarily provide the regulations that will govern the affirmatively furthering fair housing planning process by states, local governments, and PHAs, but reserves additional sections in subpart A for HUD to continue to provide regulations that will assist all HUD program participants in more effectively affirmatively furthering fair housing.

Purpose of Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Regulations (§ 5.150). New § 5.150 states that the purpose of HUD’s new regulations (AFFH regulations) is to provide more effective means of meeting the statutory obligation imposed on HUD program participants to affirmatively further fair housing. The new AFFH regulations are intended to add clarity to the goals that are at the heart of affirmatively furthering fair housing, to provide for guidance and interaction between HUD and program participants and, to the extent appropriate, inform other housing and urban development programs that are subject to AFFH requirements. The new regulations envision a process that is structurally incorporated into the consolidated plan and the PHA planning process, building upon what is already familiar to HUD program participants and thus reducing burden and connecting disparate planning processes.

So what exactly does this mean? Americans for limited government puts it in real terms:

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today urged the Senate to support an amendment by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), S.3897, to the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) appropriations bill that will prohibit implementation of the HUD regulation “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH) that conditions $3 billion of yearly community development block grants on 1,200 recipient cities and counties rezoning neighborhoods along income and racial guidelines:

“There is zero excuse for allowing the federal government to dictate local zoning policy via community development block grants to impose racial and income zoning quotas on cities and counties. Zoning ordinances only determine what can be built where, not who lives there. People can move wherever they want, and rent or buy. Real housing discrimination, that is, denying housing on the basis of race, has been illegal for decades. It is not at all what is at issue in the upcoming vote in the Senate.

“The Lee amendment simply says that community development block grants, which have been around for more than 40 years, can be spent by local communities as they see fit to put affordable housing where they think it makes sense. That’s the way these block grants have always been allocated, but suddenly, the Obama Administration found some new power for HUD to condition the community development block grants based on fulfilling the department’s utopian vision of racial and income equality.

“Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing is not about expanding the poor’s access to housing, it’s about expanding the federal government’s reach into local municipalities. Republican or Democrat, defunding this overreach should be an easy vote for every senator.”

One example of how the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation actually works is cited at a website called Obamazone.org:

In Westchester County, N.Y., a trial run for the rule has already occurred where HUD has attempted to rezone six cities, 19 towns and 20 villages as a condition for receiving $5 million of grants. Rather than submit to federal rule, County Executive Rob Astorino simply rejected the money from 2012, and Westchester lost out on some $7 million of grants from 2011 for the same reason. Watch the video of Astorino explaining how the HUD regulation will affect your neighborhood.

This is just the beginning, and left unchecked, the impact of this regulation will be felt nationwide. In 2012, HUD dispersed about $3.8 billion of these grants to almost 1,200 municipalities. By virtue of accepting the grants, under the rule, each of these 1,200 municipalities will be forced to comply with HUD’s racial zoning edicts.

The House of Representatives has already acted, defunding implementation of the regulation two years in a row. Now, it is the Senate’s turn to act. Senator Mike Lee has introduced an amendment to the Transportation and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) appropriations bill defunding implementation of the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” rule.

Zoning laws are done by local governments who understand the area they are dealing with–the infrastructure, the land, and the resources. The federal government has no business overriding local government laws and decisions.

Effectively Using The Power Of The Purse

Theoretically, the House of Representatives can limit executive power by using its control of the purse strings. According to the U.S. Constitution, the government cannot spend money unless that spending is authorized by the House of Representatives. We haven’t seen the House of Representatives use that power as much as I would have liked under the Obama Administration, but the power is there. In fact, there was one recent incident where the House of Representatives successfully used that power.

In October I posted a story about the Obama Administration attempting to spend money that was not allocated by Congress. At issue were payments to insurance companies to alleviate their losses under Obama.

As reported by the Daily Signal in October:

In January, Sessions’ committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee had identified that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) lacked an appropriation for bailing out insurance companies through the risk corridors. They asked the Government Accountability Office to look into the matter. That September, the GAO issued its legal opinion: the administration would need an appropriation from Congress to make outgoing payments.

Today The Los Angeles Times reported:

A federal judge ruled for House Republicans on Thursday in their suit against President Obama and declared his administration is unconstitutionally spending money to reimburse health insurers without obtaining an appropriation from Congress.

The judge’s ruling, though a setback for the administration, was put on hold immediately and stands a good chance of being overturned on appeal.

The ruling upholds the Constitution, why would it be overturned on appeal?

The article at The Los Angeles Times reports:

The Constitution says “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law,” said Judge Rosemary Collyer, yet the administration has continued to pay billions to insurers for their extra cost of providing coverage for low-income Americans.

“Paying out Sec. 1402 reimbursements without an appropriation thus violates the Constitution,” she wrote. “Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one.”

Stay tuned to see if the Constitution will be upheld.

Creating A Catch-22 For Landlords

Owning rental property is one way to plan for your retirement. If you are handy and live close to the property, it can be a very profitable investment. If you don’t live nearby, a good rental agency can handle the details for you.

Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily posted a story about a new federal regulation that is going to make being a successful landlord more difficult.

The article reports:

The Obama administration has just made it easier for felons to move in next door. Landlords who don’t want tenants who are going to mug their neighbors or deal drugs will now be treated as racists and potentially sued.

Last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued new guidelines to landlords, warning that bans against renters with criminal convictions violate the Fair Housing Act because they disproportionately affect minorities.

In effect, the Obama regime is now outlawing criminal background checks for apartment rentals, even though such screening is critical for the protection and security of tenants and property, and serves a legitimate business need.

In a newly released 10-page missive, HUD warns landlords they can be held liable for discrimination if they deny housing over criminal records.

It gets really interesting when you consider the other side of the coin:

So now landlords, real estate agents and property managers will think twice before turning away drug dealers and thieves, even rapists, who are members of this “protected class” — even though barring high-risk tenants serves a legitimate, nondiscriminatory purpose.

This puts landlords in a terrible legal bind.

To protect themselves from federal action, they would be wise to avoid even inquiring about the criminal records of prospective tenants. But if they fail to adequately screen them and rent to one who robs or hurts a neighbor, they could be sued by the victim for negligence.

No doubt many will see no option but to raise rents to indirectly exclude criminals from their rentals, which will just end up hurting everybody who rents housing — including innocent, law-abiding tenants.

In a move to protect the rights of convicted felons, the federal government has just created problems for the average American. I believe people who are renting property have the right to know the background of their renters. If a landlord feels that a former criminal has changed his ways, he should be free to rent to him. However, if there is no indication that a former criminal has changed his ways, the landlord should have the right to determine whether or not he wants to rent his property to that person.

Policies Have Consequences

From the beginning of the Obama Administration, one of the goals of the administration has been to remove guns from the hands of ordinary citizens. I don’t believe this goal has ever been stated in those exact words, but if you look at some of the laws attempted and the executive actions taken, that is the goal. One of the early attempts at convincing Americans that guns were really awful was the “Fast and Furious” program. We still don’t have all of the details of the program–there are ongoing legal battles to obtain information about the program, but basically we sold guns to criminals in the hopes that the crimes committed by the people who bought them would sour Americans on the idea of buying or selling guns. The program was discovered and shut down, but the consequences remain.

Fox News posted the following today:

A .50-caliber rifle found at Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s hideout in Mexico was funneled through the gun-smuggling investigation known as Fast and Furious, sources confirmed Tuesday to Fox News.

A .50-caliber is a massive rifle that can stop a car or, as it was intended, take down a helicopter.

After the raid on Jan. 8 in the city of Los Mochis that killed five of his men and wounded one Mexican marine, officials found a number of weapons inside the house where Guzman was staying, including the rifle, officials said.

When agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives checked serial numbers of the eight weapons found in his possession, they found one of the two .50-caliber weapons traced back to the ATF program, sources said.

Federal officials told Fox News they are not sure how many of the weapons seized from Guzman’s house actually originated in the U.S. and where they were purchased, but are investigating.

Out of the roughly 2,000 weapons sold through Fast and Furious, 34 were .50-caliber rifles that can take down a helicopter, according to officials.

If you are unfamiliar with Fast and Furious, please use the search engine on this site to learn about the program. It was one of the nastiest plans of the Obama Administration.

The article at Fox News concludes:

The operation allowed criminals to buy guns in Phoenix-area shops with the intention of tracking them once they made their way into Mexico.

The operation became a major distraction for the Obama administration as Republicans in Congress conducted a series of inquiries into how the Justice Department allowed such an operation to happen.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt after he refused to divulge documents for a congressional investigation into the matter.

This is the third time a weapon from the Fast and Furious program has been found at a high-profile Mexican crime scene. 

Sleep Well

Yesterday PJMedia reported the following at a House Oversight Committee hearing:

At a House Oversight Committee hearing yesterday, a State Department official admitted the government does not know the whereabouts of thousands of foreigners who had their visas revoked over terror concerns.

“You don’t have a clue do you?” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told Michele Thoren Bond, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Bond told the committee that the U.S. has revoked more than 122,000 visas, 9,500 of which were revoked due to terrorism concerns.

Chaffetz asked Bond where those individuals were located now, to which she responded: “I don’t know.”

The startling admission came as members of the committee pressed administration officials on what safeguards are in place to reduce the risk from would-be extremists.

At issue is how closely the U.S. government examines the background of people seeking entry to the country, including reviews of their social media postings.

“If half the employers are doing it in the United States of America, if colleges are doing it for students, why wouldn’t Homeland Security do it?” said Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass. “We don’t even look at their public stuff, that’s what kills me.”

People wanting to come to America are not yet citizens–they do not have the rights of citizens. It is the government’s responsibility to vet them carefully. If the government cannot do that, we need a different government.

With Friends Like President Obama, Israel Does Not Need Enemies

Yesterday The Daily Caller reported that U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power was instructed to skip Benjamin Netanyahu‘s remarks at the United Nations on Thursday. Secretary of State John Kerry was also not present at the United Nations for Netanyahu’s speech. The U.S. delegates who did attend did not applaud the speech.

The Wall Street Journal described Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech as follows:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday delivered a fiery address here condemning the Iranian nuclear deal, largely unbowed in his opposition despite losing steep political ground to President Barack Obama over the issue this year.

In his speech to the General Assembly, Mr. Netanyahu thundered that Iranian threats to destroy Israel have been met in the world body by “utter silence, deafening silence.”

Evidently the Obama Administration did not want to hear the truth.

The Wall Street Journal further reports:

Still, Mr. Netanyahu’s supporters don’t see the debate over the nuclear agreement as over. U.S. lawmakers are drafting new legislation to target Iran’s support for international militant groups and to limit the ability of foreign companies to invest in Iran.

Much of the congressional debate over Iran is focused on trying to dry up funding for Iran’s elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which dominates the Iranian economy.

Israeli officials and many Iran watchers in Washington say they believe there is a high likelihood that Iran will cheat on the nuclear agreement, and that the West must be prepared to move quickly with punishments if it does.

“The next phase is not just enforcing the nuclear accord, strictly, but putting in place new mechanisms to guard against the cancer of Iran spreading across the region,” said Josh Block, president of The Israeli Project, which campaigned against the nuclear deal.

Releasing billions of dollars to a country that has supported terrorism since the 1970’s is not a path to peace. Hopefully those who support this agreement will realize that before it is too late.

Unless The Republicans Develop A Backbone, America Is Poised To Become The Largest Sponsor Of Terrorism In The World

Yes, you read that right. If the economic sanctions on Iran are lifted, $100 billion will flow to Iran (according to npr). A large percentage of that money will go toward funding terrorism around the world. The Republicans had the power to stop this from happening, but got outmaneuvered by President Obama and his allies.

Andrew McCarthy posted an article at National Review today about the Iran deal.

The article details the mistakes those opposed to the deal have made which will make it very difficult to undo the damage the nuclear deal will do:

On Thursday, Senate Democrats successfully filibustered a Republican attempt to pass a futile “resolution of disapproval” against the Iran deal. Republicans had already forfeited their power to suspend the Corker review process. They would have been justified in suspending it because Obama failed to comply with the statute’s fundamental condition — the mandate that he disclose the whole agreement to Congress, including embarrassing “side deals” the administration has withheld. (These undeniably include understandings between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency on the critical issue of inspections; they probably also include commitments by Obama to protect several nations from “snapback” sanctions when, inevitably, Iran violates the agreement.)

Under Corker, which not only rigged the vote in Obama’s favor but also gave Democrats the option to prevent the vote by filibuster, the failed resolution authorized Obama to relieve sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. The mullahs will get their cool $100 billion and double down — no, quintuple down — on their promotion of jihadist terrorism.

Here’s the “I told you so” part: No sooner had the Democratic filibuster succeeded than did two well-regarded legal scholars take to the pages of The Atlantic to pronounce that Obama’s Iran deal is the law of the land. Yale’s Bruce Ackerman and New York University’s David Golove contend that the agreement cannot be unilaterally repudiated by a future Republican president, no matter how much GOP congressional leaders and 2016 hopefuls bloviate to the contrary.

This conclusion will shape bipartisan conventional wisdom in Washington and the chattering class. And guess what? The progressive professors have a strong case because of the way the Corker law was written by GOP congressional leaders (in consultation with their Democratic counterparts and the White House). Corker’s law is quite plausibly interpreted as authorizing a full repeal of the sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program — meaning they could not be reinstated absent new legislation (which the Democrats and the “international community” would vigorously oppose). Certainly the odds are good that the federal courts would see it that way. (Did I mention that Senate Republicans have already confirmed over 300 Obama appointees to the bench?)

It is time for new Senate leadership. This Senate has allowed something to happen that is truly dangerous for America and for the rest of the world. I believe that what President Obama has agreed to in the Iran deal is treason and he should be impeached for it. Any Senator who voted in favor of the Iran deal should also be impeached for treason, and the Senators who allowed this to happen should be voted out of office for stupidity. The Iran lobby paid for this vote (rightwinggranny), and they will get their money’s worth (and more). The world will have to live with the consequences of lifting the sanctions–more terror, more refugees, more deaths, and eventually a nuclear Iran. Please remember this when you vote next November.

Is The President Required To Follow The Law?

Scott Johnson posted an article at Power Line today about an aspect of the Iran nuclear deal that has not been widely discussed. It seems that one of the provisions in the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (the Corker-Cardin bill) that was signed by President Obama is that President Obama is required to transmit to Congress the agreement–“including all related materials and annexes.” He is required to do this “not later than five days after reaching the agreement.”

The article reminds us:

Obama has not done so. The administration has failed or refused to submit the IAEA side deal with Iran regarding the possible military dimensions of Iran’s research at the Parchin military facility to Congress.

Indeed, the administration claim not even to have seen the IAEA side deal. Rather, administration officials claim only to have been briefed by the IAEA on the terms of the side deal. They claim it is cloaked in secrecy that prevents its disclosure. The side deal is nevertheless an integral part of the JCPOA and its disclosure expressly required by the act.

So what happens now?

The article reports:

Rep. Mike Pompeo and attorney David Rivkin take note in a brief Washington Post column. They write:

 Congress must now confront the grave issues of constitutional law prompted by the president’s failure to comply with his obligations under the act. This is not the first time this administration has disregarded clear statutory requirements, encroaching in the process upon Congress’s legislative and budgetary prerogatives. The fact that this has happened again in the context of a national security agreement vital to the United States and its allies makes the situation all the more serious.

For Congress to vote on the merits of the agreement without the opportunity to review all of its aspects would both effectively sanction the president’s unconstitutional conduct and be a major policy mistake. Instead, both houses should vote to register their view that the president has not complied with his obligations under the act by not providing Congress with a copy of an agreement between the IAEA and Iran, and that, as a result, the president remains unable to lift statutory sanctions against Iran. Then, if the president ignores this legal limit on his authority, Congress can and should take its case to court.

There is another aspect to this. Democratic Senators do not want to go on the record in terms of voting for this agreement. The agreement is not popular with the American public, who understands that the agreement paves the way for Iran to go nuclear and will start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. So why in the world is President Obama pushing this treaty? There are a lot of guesses, but no real answer. It would be a feather in his cap to negotiate an agreement with a country that has been at war with America since 1978. The problem is that after the agreement is signed, Iran will still be at war with America. There is no financial gain for America in this treaty–Iran gets more money to fund terrorism and kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. Iran is also allowed to flood the world markets with oil, possibly crippling American efforts at energy independence. There is no upside for America in this treaty–it is a President looking for what he considers a foreign policy accomplishment. He may well get his accomplishment, but it’s a safe bet that history will not look kindly on this treaty.

Spending Money We Don’t Have On Something We Don’t Need To Do

On Monday The Wall Street Journal reported that President Obama plans to restore funds for prisoners to get Pell Grants for college.

The article reports:

The plan, set to be unveiled Friday by the secretary of education and the attorney general, would allow potentially thousands of inmates in the U.S. to gain access to Pell grants, the main form of federal aid for low-income college students. The grants cover up to $5,775 a year in tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses.

Prisoners received $34 million in Pell grants in 1993, according to figures the Department of Education provided to Congress at the time. But a year later, Congress prohibited state and federal prison inmates from getting Pell grants as part of broad anticrime legislation, leading to a sharp drop in the number of in-prison college programs. Supporters of the ban contended federal aid should only go to law-abiding citizens.

Shouldn’t Congress be the group to make this decision? The goal is to educate prisoners so that they can get jobs when they leave prison. The theory is that an educated prisoner is less likely to return to prison. That is the theory, but it seems to me that this is another example of rewarding bad behavior. What about the middle-class families struggling to pay for their children’s education? Shouldn’t we make more money available to them rather than to prisoners?

The article reports:

Stephen Steurer, head of the Correctional Education Association, an advocacy group, said two Education Department officials told him at a conferenceearly this month the agency was moving to restore Pell grants for prisoners and allow many colleges and universities to participate. Money from the grants would directly reimburse institutions for the cost of delivering courses in prisons rather than go to prisoners, Mr. Steurer said.

“It will be substantial enough to create some data and to create enough information for some evaluation,” said Rep. Danny Davis (D., Ill.), who is co-sponsoring a bill with Rep. Donna Edwards (D., Md.) to permanently restore Pell grants for prisoners.

Let’s let Congress vote on this bill–it shouldn’t be done by the President.

A Danger To Our Constitution

Today’s Daily Caller posted an article today about President Obama’s plan to deal with climate change. President Obama is planning on unilaterally committing America to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions in the coming years.

Aside from the questionable ‘science’ of global warming, there is the issue of how President Obama is going about this.

The article reports:

In a congressional hearing Thursday, George Mason University law professor Jeremy Rabkin told lawmakers that Obama’s argument that he unilaterally commit the U.S. to a United Nations agreement without Senate ratification was “a real change in our Constitution.”

…“We have certain background assumptions about how our government is supposed to work, that’s why we have a Constitution,” Rabkin responded.

“And what this is fundamentally about is saying, ‘ah, that’s old-fashioned, forget that, that didn’t work for [President Bill] Clinton– we’re moving forward with something different which the president gets to commit us,’” Rabkin added. “That’s a real change in our Constitution.”

This is a problem. Unless Congress has the intestinal fortitude to stand up against this power grab, we will be in danger of losing our Constitution. Because the U.S. Constitution functions as ‘the law of the land,’ at that point we will no longer be a nation of laws. The only way to stop this runaway train is to watch your Representatives and Senators to see what they do, and then vote accordingly in November.

More Laws Not Written By Congress

Yesterday’s Washington Times reported that the Health and Human Services Administration has rewritten the rules in ObamaCare regarding birth control.

The article reports:

The Obama administration on Monday ordered all insurers to provide IUDs, the contraceptive patch and other birth control free of out-of-pocket charge to all women, thereby rewriting the rules after reports that some insurance carriers were refusing to cover all types of contraceptives.

Insurers must now cover at least one brand of contraception in each of 18 different methods outlined by the Food and Drug Administration, such as one type of oral contraceptive pill, one version of the emergency contraceptive morning-after pill and, notably, the vaginal ring, which some women could not get before without paying out of pocket.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article, but I am only going to focus on two aspects of the law. First of all–the Obama administration ordered all insurers. Insurers are asked to comply with a law that was never even considered in Congress. How does the implementation of this law represent anything the voters had any say in? Secondly, in what way is anyone in charge of implementing this law accountable to the voters? Has the government completely taken over the health insurance industry–telling them what they can cover and what they can’t cover?

The article further reports:

The Supreme Court last year ruled closely held corporations do not have to insure types of birth control that violate their moral beliefs, and the Obama administration is expected to update its rules soon.

Religious nonprofits, meanwhile, are still pursuing their cases through the courts, arguing that the “accommodation” the administration designed for them still leaves them complicit in contraceptive coverage.

America was established as a representative republic–our public officials are supposed to represent us and be accountable to us. ObamaCare is an example of what happens when a political class that is deaf to the wishes of Americans ignores the law. Meanwhile, members of Congress committed fraud to make sure that they and their staff were exempt from ObamaCare (rightwinggranny.com). It is time to reign in Washington and get back to government by the people.

 

The Government Doesn’t Even Follow Its Own Laws

The Washington Times is reporting today that the Department of Homeland Security had broken a judge’s order halting the administration’s new deportation amnesty.

The article reports:

The stunning admission, filed just before midnight in Texas, where the case is being heard, is the latest misstep for the administration’s lawyers, who are facing possible sanctions by Judge Hanen for their continued problems in arguing the case.

The Justice Department lawyers said Homeland Security, which is the defendant in the case, told them Wednesday that an immigration agency had approved about 2,000 applications for three-year work permits, which was part of Mr. Obama’s new amnesty, even after Judge Hanen issued his Feb. 16 injunction halting the entire program.

I really have nothing to add to this story other than to say that it is a disgrace. The Obama Administration has shown so little regard for the Constitution and the laws governing America, I guess this really should not be a surprise. However, it is extremely sad that the people charged with upholding our laws have chosen to break them.

The Impact Of No Effective Immigration Policy

I am not opposed to immigration–it is what built America and part of what keeps it great. I am opposed to illegal immigration because I believe that a country should control its borders. Our legal immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed so that more legal immigrants can come to America. We need an efficient immigration system that allows skilled workers and people seeking refuge to come to America. However, we also need to allow the people who come here time to be assimilated. We also need to encourage them to assimilate. We also need to make sure that we protect Americans and their jobs.

The Daily Caller posted an article yesterday about the impact of immigration during the past forty years.

The article reports:

Wages and share of income for the bottom 90 percent of American wage-earners declined over the past 40 years, as the foreign-born population increased dramatically, data requested by the Senate Judiciary Committee shows.

Since 1970, the foreign-born population of the U.S. increased 325 percent, the Congressional Research Service found, while wages for the bottom 90 percent of earners decreased by 8 percent and their share of income by 16 percent. (RELATED: Media Ignores Evidence Americans Want To Reduce Legal Immigration)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker weathered sharp criticism from Democrats and some conservatives this week after saying immigration policy should put American workers first.

We seem to be the only country in the world that has abandoned the responsibility of protecting its borders. If Americans were sneaking into Mexico through the Mexican border the way illegal immigrants are sneaking into America through the Mexican border, they would be arrested and deported (or jailed) promptly. I don’t understand why that doesn’t happen on both sides of the border.

The article at The Daily Caller includes the following graph:

Source: Congressional Research Service Report

It also includes a very disturbing chart:

Source: Center for Immigration Studies

There is nothing wrong with allowing legal immigrants to enter America, but immigration needs to be regulated with the needs of Americans taken into consideration.

Playing Politics With National Security

The topic of discussion right now is the nuclear deal reached with Iran. What is needed is an open, honest discussion about what the deal does and what it doesn’t do. What we are getting is political garbage.

Townhall.com posted an article today which perfectly illustrates what has happened to honest debate in America.

The article reports:

Regardless of bipartisan opposition, the White House is pinning opposition and criticism of the current deal and process on Republicans. The administration is painting Republican concerns as illegitimate while at the same time entertaining the same concerns of “principled” Democrats.

“My view is that there are a number of members of Congress that have considered this in a principled way. And those are members of Congress with whom we can have legitimate conversations about our efforts to try and prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Earnest (Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary). said Monday afternoon. “There are a substantial number of members of Congress, all of them Republicans as far as I can tell, who have engaged in an effort to just undermine the talks from the very beginning.” 

These are the sort of remarks that make cooperation between the political parties very difficult. Voters who are thoughtfully considering issues will view these statements as one more reason to tune out Washington.

This really is not the way to run a country.

Changing The Law For Political Convenience

USA Today posted an article today about White House plans to remove a federal regulation that subjects its Office of Administration to the Freedom of Information Act.

The article reports:

The White House said the cleanup of FOIA regulations is consistent with court rulings that hold that the office is not subject to the transparency law. The office handles, among other things, White House record-keeping duties like the archiving of e-mails.

But the timing of the move raised eyebrows among transparency advocates, coming on National Freedom of Information Day and during a national debate over the preservation of Obama administration records. It’s also Sunshine Week, an effort by news organizations and watchdog groups to highlight issues of government transparency.

Amazing. Historically, the Office of Administration has responded to FOIA requests.

The article reports:

In 2009, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled that the Office of Administration was not subject to the FOIA, “because it performs only operational and administrative tasks in support of the president and his staff and therefore, under our precedent, lacks substantial independent authority.”

The appeals court ruled that the White House was required to archive the e-mails, but not release them under the FOIA. Instead, White House e-mails must be released under the Presidential Records Act — but not until at least five years after the end of the administration.

In a notice to be published in Tuesday’s Federal Register, the White House says it’s removing regulations on how the Office of Administration complies with Freedom of Information Act Requests based on “well-settled legal interpretations.”

The White House has stated that there will be no 30-day comment period on this change, and thus the change will be final.

I understand that sometimes security needs require that information be kept from the public. However, we live in a representative republic. The government represents us. The American people have every right to know the details of what is going on in our government. We need more sunshine in our government–not more secrecy.

Ignoring The Truth Doesn’t Really Help Anyone

Breitbart.com posted an article today about the verbal gymnastics the Obama Administration is going through to avoid calling the attack in Paris Islamic terrorism.

The article reports:

Earnest explained to White House reporters during the press briefing that this is a question of “accuracy.”

“We want to describe exactly what happened. These are individuals who carried out an act of terrorism, and they later tried to justify that act of terrorism by invoking the religion of Islam in their own deviant view of it,” he said.

The White House may call it a deviant view, but there seem to be an awful lot of armed Muslims who share that view and are ready to die for it.

It is not an incredible coincidence that a Kosher Deli was attacked. Antisemitism is a serious problem in France, fueled in part by the growing Muslim population in France. Meanwhile, the Obama Administration has whitewashed the terrorism briefings of our military and diplomatic corps, taking out the words Islamic terrorism and replacing them with the word extremism. The report on September 11, 2001, has also been purged of the words Islamic terrorism. Sun Tzu, the great Chinese strategist stated that the first rule of war is to “know your enemy.” Someone needs to remind the Obama Administration of that rule.

It May Seem Like A Good Idea, But Does It Work?

One of the new mantras of the political left is income inequality. It is simply a crime that people who spent years becoming educated and learning things make considerably more money than those who didn’t. A college graduate has always made more money than a high-school graduate (but that was back when people majored in subjects that included marketable skills–but that’s a whole different issue).

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal posted an editorial explaining how President Obama’s efforts at wealth redistribution have impacted the poor and middle class. In one sentence, higher taxes and redistribution policies have helped neither the poor nor the middle class.

The article reports:

On taxes, Mr. Obama often claims that the rich don’t pay their “fair share,” yet the most affluent one-fifth of taxpayers on average supplied 68.7% of federal revenue for 2011. That’s according to the Congressional Budget Office, which last week updated its statistics on the U.S. distribution of income and taxes for 2011 and preliminary calculations for last year.

As for the top 1%, they funded 24% of everything the government does in 2011. The CBO also estimates that the end-of-2012 fiscal cliff deal that lifted the top marginal income tax rate to 39.6%, plus ObamaCare’s taxes on high-income individuals, increased their average federal taxes by 4.3 percentage points to 33.3% of income. The Warren Buffett minimum-tax rule asserted that no millionaire should pay an effective tax below 30%. Mission accomplished.

So what has been the impact of the increase in taxes on the wealthy? The editorial reports that in 2011, two years after the recession was declared over, middle class income fell by 1.9% compared with 2007.

The article concludes:

The main lesson in these statistics is not about dependence on government. Rather, it is a verdict on Obamanomics. Presidents who put reducing inequality above increasing prosperity end up with less growth and opportunity that benefits everyone, and thus with more inequality.

There’s also a lesson about the exhaustion of the liberal tax agenda. As a matter of arithmetic in a tax system as tilted toward the high end as America’s, the rich aren’t nearly rich enough to finance progressive ambitions. If Hillary Clinton wants more redistribution, she’ll inevitably have to tee up everybody between the 21st to 80th income percentiles for a European-style value-added tax, carbon tax or some other revenue maker.

Have you ever noticed that the people who want to redistribute wealth have enough money to pay accountants to shield their money? It is always the middle class that ends up paying the bill.