Don’t Pass It Until People Are Held Accountable

One America News posted an article today about Congressional attempts to extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Frankly, I don’t think it should be extended until those who abused it in the past are held accountable for their actions. FISA was used (just as the Watergate break-in was attempted to be used) to spy on an opposing political campaign. If the act is extended and no one is held accountable, it is a pretty safe bet that political parties that are in power could do the same thing that the Obama administration did–use the law to spy on the political campaign of their opposition. That is not acceptable. That sort of action puts us on the road to having a two-tiered justice system with the government having almost unlimited authority to spy on Americans.

The article reports:

The Senate voted on a temporary extension of recently lapsed intelligence programs to provide time for discussion on major provisions in the renewal process. The extension was passed Monday, just minutes before a scheduled procedural vote on the matter.

The move came as a way to give lawmakers more time to consider the bill, which would reauthorize the controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). However, the extension for the Senate was unanimously agreed to in order to give members more time to debate on the House’s revisions.

Specifically, there is bipartisan push-back to FISA, which senators on both sides of the aisle fear violates people’s privacy rights. Two of the most vocal opponents to the act are Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah).

“The secret FISA court should be forbidden from allowing spying on political campaigns ever again, period,” said Sen. Paul. “…History has proven just how dangerous it can be when we sacrifice our rights to create a temporary and ultimately false sense of security.”

Until I see indictments of people who knowingly lied to the FISA court, I don’t want to see FISA renewed.

Seems Fair To Me

On Saturday, The Washington Free Beacon posted an article about the logical next step after the Supreme Court decision that mandatory government union dues violate the First Amendment.

The article reports:

In 2018, Mark Janus convinced the Supreme Court that mandatory government union dues violate the First Amendment. Now he wants his money back.

After his triumph at the High Court, Janus asked a federal trial judge to require the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) pay out about $3,000 in agency fees the union collected from his paycheck between 2013 and 2018. The judge declined and Janus lost on appeal, prompting a new petition to the Supreme Court.

So-called right-to-work cause lawyers including the Liberty Justice Center and the National Right to Work Foundation are litigating some 30 cases that collectively seek $120 million in garnished wages for public sector workers. Public sector unions proved surprisingly resilient after the Janus decision, seeing modest increases in membership and limited losses of revenue. Judgments ordering restitution to aggrieved workers, however, could vindicate doomsayers who predicted the end of agency fees would devastate organized labor. Approximately 5.9 million public employees paid mandatory fees prior to Janus, a massive pool of prospective plaintiffs.

The article concludes:

Trial judges in about two dozen other cases and two appeals courts have reached the same conclusion and rebuffed worker attempts to recoup lost wages. If allowed to stand, those decisions “are likely to doom all such cases,” Janus’s petition to the High Court warns.

“This Court should grant review so the employees in these suits can recover a portion of the ‘windfall’ of compulsory fees unions wrongfully seized from them,” the petition reads.

Other Janus follow-on cases are currently pending before the Supreme Court. One petition asks the Court to declare the so-called integrated bar unlawful under Janus. Integrated bar rules require lawyers to join a state bar association and pay fees as a condition of practicing law. Another petition asks whether employers can designate a union as the sole representative of its workers in collective bargaining.

The Court will hear the case in its next term, which begins in October, if it grants review. AFSCME’s response to Janus’s petition is due on April 9. The case is No. 19-1104 Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31.

Open Secrets details some of what the dues paid to AFSCME were used for:

In the 2016 races, almost all of AFSCME’s more than $1.7 million in candidate contributions went to Democrats, including Hillary Clinton. The breakdown is similar in the 2018 election cycle — more than 99 percent of its $1.1 million in candidate contributions so far have gone to Democrats.

The AFSCME also contributes millions of dollars to liberal outside spending groups.

The union has given roughly $3.6 million to outside spending groups in the 2018 election cycle alone. More than 70 percent of that spending has gone to a super PAC called For Our Future, which was formed by labor unions to support Democratic candidates. Sky Gallegos, who is listed as For Our Future’s treasurer, is the Democratic National Convention Committee’s deputy CEO for intergovernmental affairs.

The union gave just over $11 million to outside spending groups in 2016, and about half those contributions went to For Our Future.

The AFSCME has lobbied Congress on right-to-work policies, according to lobbying disclosures. The union’s lobbying efforts overall have totaled than $2.3 million annually since 2009, peaking at $2.9 million in spending in 2011.

Union dues account for much of the money in politics. If people who choose not to join the union are not required to pay union dues, this will impact political campaigns in America.

Why The Citizens United Decision Matters

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), is a landmark United States Supreme Court case concerning campaign finance. The Supreme Court ruled on January 21, 2010, prevents the government from restricting campaign contributions from corporations, including nonprofit corporations, labor unions, and other associations.

National Review posted an article on March 5, 2014, showing political campaign donations from 1989 to 2014. Below is the chart included in the article:

As you can see, unions donate a significant amount of money to political campaigns.

On Thursday, The Washington Examiner reported that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is investing $150 million to defeat President Trump in November.

The article reports:

The get-out-the-vote campaign is the biggest investment that the union has ever made in getting voters to the polls. It will largely focus on Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin, according to the Associated Press. It will also focus on urban areas such as Detroit and Milwaukee. And while television ads will be part of the campaign, most of its resources will go to direct contact and online ads targeting minority voters.

Maria Peralta, the union’s political director, said Trump has made inroads with some minority voters who traditionally vote Democratic if they do vote. The Trump campaign plans to open community centers to win the black vote. The offices will feature African Americans who support Trump.

So what is this about? Through deregulation and other policies, the Trump administration has seen record economic growth. In order for the Democrats to stay in power, they need a permanent underclass that is dependent on the government to support them.

On February 15, Breitbart reported:

Approximately 6.1 million individuals dropped off the food stamp rolls since President Donald Trump’s first full month in office in February 2017, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

This is a threat to the growth of the Democrat party. If the Democrats can defeat President Trump, reverse his economic policies, and create a failing economy, they can gain more control over the everyday lives of Americans. That is their goal. That is the reason we need corporate money in elections to counter the union money. That is the reason Citizens United was a good decision.

It should also be noted that as the number of people dependent on the government decreases, the size of the administrative state should also decrease. That should also decrease the cost of government. That is a goal that totally frightens those involved in the administrative state. If the administrative state continues at its present size, we will never get federal deficits under control. Eventually the deficit will crash the economy.

Spying, What Spying?

Supposedly Attorney General Barr dropped a bombshell when he told Congress that there was spying on the Trump campaign. Although Congress seemed shocked, I suspect most Americans were not.

An article in The Gateway Pundit yesterday quotes James Comey in a recent interview:

“With respect to Barr’s comment, I have no idea what he’s talking about when he talks about spying on the campaign and so I can’t really react,” Comey said Thursday at a Hewlett Foundation conference.

…“The FBI and the Department of Justice conduct court-ordered electronic surveillance, “Comey said. “I have never thought of that as spying…and if the Attorney General has come to the belief that that should be called ‘spying’ – WOW!”

“But I don’t know what he meant by that term — and factually I don’t know what he meant because I don’t know of any court-ordered electronic surveillance aimed at the Trump campaign and that’s the reason for my confusion,” Comey said.

So now the argument is that the FISA warrants were not aimed at the Trump campaign? I’m sure it is just an incredible coincidence that most of the surveillance allowed by those FISA warrants were on members of the Trump campaign who would have communicated with the candidate fairly frequently. This may be believable to the never-Trump crowd, but I sure wouldn’t try to sell it anywhere else.

He who defines the words controls the debate.

It really doesn’t matter if it is court-ordered or not, if you are listening to a person’s private conversations, it is spying. Notice that in claiming it was court-ordered, he avoids the issue of whether or not the court was deceived.

We need to keep in mind that this was court-ordered surveillance of a political opponent’s campaign. It was the use of the government to spy on that campaign–it was not simple ‘opposition research.’ Richard Nixon was impeached for far less. Unless we hold those responsible accountable, this will become an everyday occurrence in political campaigns.

Women’s Health Is Improving–The Causes

The Washington Examiner posted an article today with the following headline: “Women’s health has improved over the last century, and Planned Parenthood had absolutely nothing to do with it.”

The article lists the scientific and cultural changes that impact the health of women:

1. Mammography–note–not a single Planned Parenthood facility offers mammography to patients.

2. Breastfeeding–the article states:

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services cites breastfeeding as a benefit to infants, and to mothers, where women who breastfeed are “less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, breast and ovarian cancer, and postpartum depression.”

On Planned Parenthood’s website, the only note on breastfeeding is buried deep in the “birth control” page, where the only emphasized benefit of the practice is its natural tendency to wane with ovulation. It boasts how “you can’t get pregnant if you don’t ovulate.”

3. Smoking (In 1985 28 percent of women smoked; in 2012 the number had dropped to 16 percent. Obviously quitting smoking improves a woman’s health.)

4. Mental health–the article states:

A recent survey on abortion and mental health risks found that “women seeking abortions may be at higher risk of prior mental health disorders,” and it recommended that abortion care settings should be an intervention point for mental health screening. Because there is little to no access to behavioral healthcare at Planned Parenthood, many of the company’s patients may go untreated for their mental health needs.

5. Sexually transmitted diseases–the article states:

Last year’s Center for Disease Control STD report revealed a sharp increase in STD infections for the fourth year in a row, with gonorrhea cases increasing 67 percent between 2013 and 2017 and syphilis increasing 76 percent over those four years. Chlamydia, which was virtually nonexistent in the 1980s, is now a common condition. The National Coalition of STD Directors’ David Harvey noted that the U.S. has “the highest STD rates in the industrialized world.”

After the CDC report was released, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, Dr. Gillian Dean, blamed a lack of sex education as the reason STD rates were rising and applauded her organization as “the nation’s largest provider of sex education and one of the nation’s leading HIV testing providers.”

But here’s the thing: The states with the most Planned Parenthood clinics disproportionately suffered the largest increases in STDs.

California, for instance, with the most Planned Parenthood Clinics per capita of any state, saw a record rise in STDs and a spike in the number of stillbirths caused by syphilis for the third year in a row. California also mandates sex education in schools, which was incidentally signed into law nearly four years ago, when this alarming trend began.

6. Abortion and Maternity–the article states:

Planned Parenthood is notorious for its focus on abortion services as the crown jewel of the organization. The company continues to claim that abortions are only about 3 percent of its services, even though the Washington Post debunked that claim.

…An organization that boasts its “100 years of women’s healthcare” history but does not support vital protections, like a 20-week cutoff for abortion or the requirement that they be done by qualified doctor who graduated medical school, leaves women vulnerable to unsafe, low-quality, and high-risk healthcare.

The article concludes:

Planned Parenthood has yet to make a mark on women’s healthcare for anything other than promoting various controversial birth control methods and performing abortions. Looking back at the company’s history in the last 100 years, it’s clear that the U.S. government and its various women’s health initiatives in the last few decades have done far more than Planned Parenthood in its entire century of existence.

For Planned Parenthood to think it can claim the topic of women’s healthcare as its own is laughable, especially for an organization which has arguably done the most to hurt women in the last 100 years with its subpar, bare-bones medical offerings — abortion being at the very top of the list.

Abortion is a million-dollar business, and unfortunately a lot of that money is funneled into political campaigns through PAC’s. Political candidates like campaign money, and many candidates have no problem with taking money from people who kill unborn babies and sell aborted baby body parts. That is extremely sad.

A Sobering Thought

Yesterday The Daily Caller reported:

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Tuesday night, expanding abortion access and codifying a woman’s right to abort under state law.

Cuomo, a Democrat, signed the Reproductive Health Act on the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, making good on his promise to add abortion protections to the state constitution, according to the New York Post.

Roe v. Wade gave women the constitutional right to an abortion under the 14th Amendment on Jan. 22, 1973. The ruling extended the right to abort up to the point of fetal “viability,” a slippery term that continues to foster debate as neonatal care advances.

The bill codified a woman’s right to abort under state law and removes abortion from New York’s criminal code.

The bill will also allow women to have abortions after 24 weeks in cases where “there is an absence of fetal viability, or at any time when necessary to protect a patient’s life or health,” according to the legislation. Nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants and qualified health care professionals can provide abortions under the legislation.

Meanwhile, CNS News reported:

Last Thursday, Jan. 17, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stated that undercover video footage filmed by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), which showed Planned Parenthood employees discussing the sale of tissue from aborted fetuses, was “authentic” and “not deceptively edited.”

The federal appeals court also vacated an injunction by a district court, which had barred the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) from terminating Medicaid provider agreements with Planned Parenthood affiliates throughout Texas. The federal appeals court sent the case back to the district court.

…In 2015, the CMP, a pro-life organization, released several hours of undercover video footage that showed employees and doctors from various Planned Parenthood affiliates discussing potential research partnerships with individuals who expressed interest in obtaining body parts of fetuses aborted during the second trimester of pregnancy and paying a handling and shipping fee for those parts.

After the footage was released, the OIG sent Planned Parenthood affiliates a notice of termination of their Medicaid agreements. The OIG argued that the affiliates had violated “accepted medical standards, as reflected in federal and state law,” and were no longer “qualified to provide medical services in a professionally competent, safe, legal and ethical manner.”

The article at CNS News concludes:

CMP founder David Daleiden wrote that the court’s decision “vindicated” the CMP’s “citizen journalism work” by “debunking Planned Parenthood’s smear that the videos were ‘heavily edited’ or ‘doctored.’”

“Now, it is time for the U.S. Department of Justice to do its job and hold Planned Parenthood accountable to the law,” Daleiden added.

Since the videos were released in 2015, Planned Parenthood has claimed CMP’s footage was heavily and deceptively edited. Many mainstream news outlets have reported that the footage was altered or distorted, using, as the basis for these claims, a Fusion GPS report that was commissioned and funded by Planned Parenthood.

It’s amazing how the same names keep coming up.

In April 2016, Life News reported:

On average, Planned Parenthood receives approximately $500 million a year in taxpayer funds, as a GAO report indicated last year.

Theoretically, this money does not pay for abortions.

In September 2018l Live Action reported:

Taxpayer-funded abortion corporation Planned Parenthood has announced its political arms are joining other “progressive” groups to invest an “unprecedented” $30 million to influence who is elected to key state and federal offices in the 2018 midterm elections.

Does anyone else object to the idea that an organization that takes money from the federal government contributes to political campaigns?

 

Bringing Efficiency Into Federal Employment

Yesterday The Washington Times posted an article about President Trump’s recent executive orders to change civil service regulations.

The article reports:

“These executive orders will make it easier for agencies to remove poor-performing employees and make sure taxpayer dollars are more efficiently used,” Mr. Bremberg said.

The move will promote efficiency, save taxpayer dollars and create better work environments for “thousands of employees who come to work each day and do a great job,” said another official.

as expected, unions objected loudly. The article reports some of the reasons for the reforms:

Office of Personnel Management data shows federal employees are 44 times less likely to be fired than a private sector worker once they’ve completed a probationary period.

A recent Government Accountability Office report showed that it takes between six months and a year to remove a federal employee for poor performance, followed by an eight-month appeals process.

The National Affairs blog posted the following this spring:

Even President Franklin Roosevelt, a friend of private-sector unionism, drew a line when it came to government workers: “Meticulous attention,” the president insisted in 1937, “should be paid to the special relations and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government….The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.” The reason? F.D.R. believed that “[a] strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied. Such action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable.” Roosevelt was hardly alone in holding these views, even among the champions of organized labor. Indeed, the first president of the AFL-CIO, George Meany, believed it was “impossible to bargain collectively with the government.”

Many of our current civil service policies are the result of the unionization of government workers. It is time for that practice to end. Government workers are paid very well and should be subject to the same rules as the rest of the workforce. Unions should not be able to collective bargain with people whose political campaigns they help finance.

Beware Erroneous Campaign Ads

It is very obvious that integrity and political campaigns parted ways a long time ago. However, every now and then a whopper is told that is so big that even the mainstream media will correct it. Yesterday Hot Air posted a story about a fact check that CNN did on a Hillary Clinton campaign ad.

The article reports:

A new Clinton ad, which is airing in seven states this month, echoed the previous claim saying Hillary “got the treaty cutting Russia’s nuclear arms.”

But as Jake Tapper points out nearly all of this is false. It’s true that there is a treaty called New START which sets limits on the number of strategic nuclear weapons Russia can deploy. However that treaty doesn’t say anything about short range nukes or the number of total nuclear weapons Russia can have. It doesn’t require a single nuclear weapon be destroyed.

Even more striking, Tapper notes that Russia was already under the agreed limit when the treaty was signed in 2011. Russia has since increased the number of strategic nuclear arms by nearly 200, from 1,537 to 1,735. “Not only did it not cut the number of nuclear weapons,” Tapper says, “there’s actually been an increase.” Here’s a chart created by FactCheck.org back in April showing the number of strategic nuclear arms held by the U.S. and Russia. Note that the number of warheads held by Russia is up:

nukesTapper and FactCheck.org both grant that the treaty has value but the claims Clinton is making about the treaty reducing the number of Russian arms is false.

The campaign season will be over in about six weeks. Thank God.

For Those Of You Interested–The Money In Political Campaigns

The following is from opensecrets.org:

aaaaaacampaignspending2014aaaaaaacampaignspending2014bMy point in posting this is to illustrate that the money in politics comes from both sides. As much as all of us hate to see the amount of money spent on political campaigns, we need to remember that the money spent does provide jobs for people working on the campaign, jobs for people in various forms of media, jobs for publishers, and other people directly and indirectly related to the political season. I don’t think you can limit the amount of money spent on political campaigns without interfering with free speech rights. The only way to look at these numbers and retain your sanity is to realize that much of this money provided jobs for people who might have been otherwise unemployed.