Little By Little We Are Learning The Truth

Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article about the sentencing of General Michael Flynn. The article sheds some light on the circumstances that led to the charges against General Flynn and the role former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe played in creating those circumstances.

The article reports:

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who arranged the bureau’s interview with then-national security adviser Michael Flynn at the White House on Jan. 24, 2017 — the interview that ultimately led to Flynn’s guilty plea on one count of making false statements — suggested Flynn not have a lawyer present at the session, according to newly-filed court documents. In addition, FBI officials, along with the two agents who interviewed Flynn, decided specifically not to warn him that there would be penalties for making false statements because the agents wanted to ensure that Flynn was “relaxed” during the session.

The new information, drawn from McCabe’s account of events plus the FBI agents’ writeup of the interview — the so-called 302 report — is contained in a sentencing memo filed Tuesday by Flynn’s defense team.

I understand that politics can be a dirty business, but this is a disgrace. It is becoming very obvious that General Flynn was set up. It would be interesting to know what he was threatened with by the Mueller gang if he chose not to plead guilty.

The article further reports:

Citing McCabe’s account, the sentencing memo says that shortly after noon on Jan. 24 — the fourth day of the new Trump administration — McCabe called Flynn on a secure phone in Flynn’s West Wing office. The two men discussed business briefly and then McCabe said that he “felt that we needed to have two of our agents sit down” with Flynn to discuss Flynn’s talks with Russian officials during the presidential transition.

McCabe, by his own account, urged Flynn to talk to the agents alone, without a lawyer present. “I explained that I thought the quickest way to get this done was to have a conversation between [Flynn] and the agents only,” McCabe wrote. “I further stated that if LTG Flynn wished to include anyone else in the meeting, like the White House counsel for instance, that I would need to involve the Department of Justice. [Flynn] stated that this would not be necessary and agreed to meet with the agents without any additional participants.”

…”The agents did not provide Gen. Flynn with a warning of the penalties for making a false statement under 18 U.S.C. 1001 before, during, or after the interview,” the Flynn memo says. According to the 302, before the interview, McCabe and other FBI officials “decided the agents would not warn Flynn that it was a crime to lie during an FBI interview because they wanted Flynn to be relaxed, and they were concerned that giving the warnings might adversely affect the rapport.” (The underline is mine.)

I personally think the charges against General Flynn should be dismissed.

How Much Does It Cost?

The following chart was posted at The Washington Examiner today:

Although I object to the word ‘native’ being used in this context, the chart shows that a large portion of our tax money is going to people who are not American citizens. The real problem with this is that veterans and other Americans are not getting the services they need because money is limited and our national debt is skyrocketing. Supporting people who are here illegally is simply a luxury we can no longer afford.

The article further states:

  • In 2014, 63 percent of households headed by a non-citizen reported that they used at least one welfare program, compared to 35 percent of native-headed households.
  • Welfare use drops to 58 percent for non-citizen households and 30 percent for native households if cash payments from the Earned Income Tax Credit are not counted as welfare. EITC recipients pay no federal income tax. Like other welfare, the EITC is a means-tested, anti-poverty program, but unlike other programs one has to work to receive it.
  • Compared to native households, non-citizen households have much higher use of food programs (45 percent vs. 21 percent for natives) and Medicaid (50 percent vs. 23 percent for natives).
  • Including the EITC, 31 percent of non-citizen-headed households receive cash welfare, compared to 19 percent of native households. If the EITC is not included, then cash receipt by non-citizen households is slightly lower than natives (6 percent vs. 8 percent).
  • While most new legal immigrants (green card holders) are barred from most welfare programs, as are illegal immigrants and temporary visitors, these provisions have only a modest impact on non-citizen household use rates because: 1) most legal immigrants have been in the country long enough to qualify; 2) the bar does not apply to all programs, nor does it always apply to non-citizen children; 3) some states provide welfare to new immigrants on their own; and, most importantly, 4) non-citizens (including illegal immigrants) can receive benefits on behalf of their U.S.-born children who are awarded U.S. citizenship and full welfare eligibility at birth.

I am reminded of the line from the movie “Men In Black,” “We’re not hosting an intergalactic kegger down here.” We can do everything we can to help people in poor countries, but we need to understand that until those countries have some form of economic freedom, our aid simply goes to the corrupt officials at the top. The answer to the number of illegals coming to America is for those illegals to gather together to fight the corrupt governments in their own countries. Based on the fact that the large majority of the people currently trying to break into America are military-age men, we need to ask them to go back home and work to fix things. We simply cannot afford to taken in everyone in the world who is looking for a better life. At some point you simply cannot put any more people on the bus.

The Only People Actually Conducting A Real Investigation Of Federal Misconduct Are Judicial Watch

Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article about a recent Freedom of Information Act Request filed by Judicial Watch. Judicial Watch is an impartial government watchdog agency–they have gone after Clintons, Bushes, Obamas, etc.

The article reports:

A conservative watchdog group announced Friday it had filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Justice Department seeking communications records that relate the FBI’s investigation into whether Hillary and Bill Clinton’s charity organization participated in pay-to-play schemes or other improper behavior with the U.S. government.

The latest lawsuit by Judicial Watch related to the Clintons, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the FBI denied their FOIA request and appeal this fall, targets the offices of prominent Obama-era officials, including former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former FBI Director James Comey, and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Specifically, Judicial Watch demands the DOJ do a search, and “demonstrate that it employed search methods reasonably likely to lead to the discovery,” for “[a]ll records of communication, including but not limited to e-mails (whether sent or received on .gov or non-.gov e-mail accounts), text messages, or instant chats, sent between officials in the offices of the FBI Director, Deputy Director and General Counsel on the one hand, and officials in the offices of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General and or Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General on the other hand, regarding the closure or possible closure of an investigation into the Clinton Foundation.”

The article concludes:

The watchdog also singled out the DOJ inspector general’s report released in April in which McCabe described a “very dramatic” call he had with another high-level department official about the handling of the Clinton Foundation probe. That same inspector general’s report, which led to McCabe’s firing, found McCabe ” lacked candor” on four separate occasions, including three times while under oath, in connection with the disclosure to the Wall Street Journal leak to push back on a report about large donations McCabe’s wife received from Democrats during her bid for the Virginia state Senate — a leak that effectively confirmed the existence of the Clinton Foundation probe.

“The record shows the Obama Justice Department suppressed a public corruption investigation into the Clinton Foundation,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said in a statement. “It’s time for the DOJ to stop shielding the Clintons and produce records on this miscarriage of justice.”

It may be that the Clintons are totally innocent of any wrongdoing. However, much of their past behavior definitely calls their honesty into question.

Looking Forward And Protecting Your Gains

Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article about some of Representative Nancy Pelosi’s plans should she become Speaker of the House. Say what you will about the lady, she wants to protect the Democrat party from themselves.

The article reports:

Democratic leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in the midst of fending off a coup to derail her return to the House speakership, is proposing a series of rules changes that could kneecap liberals from pursuing a bold agenda in the new Congress.

Among the many proposed rules changes the incoming majority plans to make in a draft document obtained by the Washington Post, is one backed by Pelosi and Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, that would “[r]equire a three-fifths supermajority to raise individual income taxes on the lowest-earning 80% of taxpayers.”

The proposed changes also hint at restoring some sort of “reasonable rule” aimed at making sure legislation is paid for, though there isn’t much elaboration.

Below is a chart from Pew Research Center illustrating who pays taxes. The chart is from 2016:

Raising taxes on the lowest 80 percent of taxpayers would theoretically even the tax burden, but it would be another blow against the Middle Class. Keep in mind that one of the signs of a country with a healthy economy is a thriving Middle Class. I would like to see all Americans pay some income tax–everyone needs ‘skin in the game’, but simply raising taxes on the lower 80 percent of Americans makes no sense–it will only slow down the economy and not raise revenue.

The article concludes:

Now, I suppose Democrats technically would have some wiggle room if the new rule were adopted. Because the proposed rule specifies “income taxes” it leaves an opening to raise money in other ways — payroll taxes, VAT taxes, and so on. But politically, that’s really a nonstarter. If Democrats make the 80 percent pledge and end up raising taxes on the middle class, Republicans will be able to effectively campaign against it as a broken promise, and any Democratic candidate trying to claim, “Well, we said income tax, but not payroll tax,” will be scorched.

I mean, I didn’t expect Pelosi to suddenly go full speed ahead with the Sanders agenda, but I also wouldn’t have predicted that she would have cut liberals down right out of the gate.

Representative Pelosi is attempting to protect her party’s chances in the 2020 presidential election. As much as I don’t wish her success, her fellow party members would do well to pay attention to what she is doing–she is trying to protect the future of the party. Older Americans are the majority of the voting population, and generally speaking, they do not support socialism–they have seen too much.

Economic Policies Have Consequences

Today’s Washington Examiner posted a story about Congressional Budget Office (CBO) statements on the condition of the American economy. The CBO is not optimistic about the future.

The article reports:

The CBO updated its fiscal projections Wednesday, and they reflected its new gloomy view that the future of the U.S. economy is one of slower growth and lower productivity.

“They think that we will get back up to potential growth,” said Loren Adler, an analyst at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, “but they make it clear that they think potential growth is lower than it used to be in the ‘80s and ‘90s.”

The CBO first reached the conclusion that future growth will be slower when it released its long-term budget projections in July, but only incorporated it into its official 10-year budget projections Wednesday.

In its new projections, the CBO sees the economy suffering from a scenario in which its potential is slightly lower than before — 1 percent lower in 2024 than previously expected.

As a result of weak economic growth this year and slightly slower potential growth over the next 10 years, the CBO sees $514 billion in lost revenue.

…The CBO’s scenario — slower growth and permanently lower interest rates — is consistent with the “secular stagnation” scenario outlined by former Obama economic adviser and Harvard professor Larry Summers, who has argued that the U.S. economy may not be able to generate enough consumer demand for goods and services on its own without stimulus from the Federal Reserve or through federal spending.

The assumption that demand will return to normal “now seems problematic,” Stein (Center for American Progress’ Harry Stein) told the Washington Examiner, noting that he wasn’t sure whether the CBO assumed secular stagnation in its model.

So how do you grow an economy? Ronald Reagan seemed to have the answer–lower taxes. If you look at the deal that President Reagan made with Congress (a Democrat-controlled Congress), Congress was going to cut spending along with the tax cuts. Unfortunately, Congress chose to ignore their part of the bargain, and spending during the Reagan years increased greatly and deficits went up despite record tax revenues coming into the government. Even with the growing deficits, the economy grew rapidly once the tax burden was taken off of the people who create jobs and produce wealth. The Obama Administration has increased the income of the wealthy while leaving the middle and lower classes behind. This is the fruit of crony capitalism. The gap between rich and poor has increased during the Obama Administration–not decreased. If you want to see America prosper again, elect people to Congress who will cut taxes and cut spending.

When Lawlessness Becomes A Pattern

Today’s Washington Examiner posted a story about the number of emails missing or destroyed in various agencies of the Obama Administration. Federal regulations require that emails of federal agencies be retained for certain periods of time. It is becoming very obvious that the federal agencies in the executive branch of the Obama Administration have chosen to ignore that regulation.

The article reports:

The latest example comes from the Department of Health and Human Services, which admitted Wednesday that hundreds of Obamacare emails subpoenaed in 2013 by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform were destroyed months ago.

Subpoena, what subpoena??!!

The article concludes:

And it’s not just emails. As Christopher Horner wrote earlier this week in the Washington Examiner, Environmental Protection Agency officials routinely destroy official text messages, contrary to law. And let’s not forget those fake EPA email names like “Richard Windsor.”

And there’s this: 47 inspectors-general told Congress in a letter this week that their investigations are often obstructed, delayed or otherwise impeded by top agency officials.

It became abundantly clear several years ago that the Obama administration was waging a campaign of massive resistance to legitimate congressional oversight.

That campaign — and a parallel one against aggressive journalism — has made an utter mockery of Obama’s opening-day promise of the “most transparent administration in history.”

So what is it these people are so desperate to cover up?

Richard Nixon and Rosemary Woods would be green with envy.

It’s Generally Inconvenient When The Chickens Come Home To Roost

Guy Benson posted an article at Townhall.com today about what is happening to health insurance premiums in Florida due to ObamaCare.

The article reminds us of some of the promises made when ObamaCare was passed:

“We will lower your premiums by $2,500 per family, per year.”

“…save a typical family an average of $2,500 on their healthcare costs…”

“Everybody will have lower rates.”

Well, it just hasn’t worked out that way. There will be an average health insurance rate increase of 13.2 percent for Floridians who buy healthcare insurance on the individual market next year.

Those who supported ObamaCare also told us that ObamaCare would bend the ‘cost curve’ of overall health spending downward. That hasn’t happened either. The projected ten-year cost of ObamaCare has nearly doubled from its original estimated cost. It has followed the path of other government programs over the years–cost more, solve fewer problems.

To add to the mess, the Washington Examiner posted a story yesterday about a government healthcare program started in California as part of the economic stimulus package.

The Washington Examiner reported:

“We need to bundle payments so you aren’t paid for every single treatment you offer a patient with a chronic condition like diabetes, but instead paid well for how you treat the overall disease,” Obama told the crowd of physicians.

Obama was articulating what would become one of the key payment reforms in his health care law — a proposal aimed at giving incentives to providers to control costs by rewarding them for providing less expensive care.

But a study published in the journal Health Affairs looked at an ambitious three-year pilot program of bundled payments in California that was funded by a $2.9 million grant from Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus package — and found that the program was such a massive failure, it could hardly get off the ground.

“In spite of a high level of enthusiasm and effort, the pilot did not succeed in its goal to implement bundled payment for orthopedic procedures across multiple payers and hospital-physician partners,” the study reads. “An evaluation of the pilot documented a number of barriers, such as administrative burden, state regulatory uncertainty, and disagreements about bundle definition and assumption of risk. Ultimately, few contracts were signed, which resulted in insufficient volume to test hypotheses about the impact of bundled payment on quality and costs.”

Can we please get the government out of our healthcare and let the people who actually know something about it run it?

 

Why We Are Still Investigating Benghazi

Byron York posted an article at the Washington Examiner yesterday explaining why Congress had formed a committee to investigate the Benghazi attack. In the article, he mentions two reasons that have been set forth by the Democrats as the reason to form an investigative committee–to destroy Hillary Clinton as a Presidential candidate in 2016 or some sort of weird Republican fixation. But he puts forth a much more logical reason for a Congressional probe–more than two years later, we still don’t know very much about the attack on Benghazi, why help wasn’t given to the people there, and what the attack was about. That’s why we need a committee.

The article reports:

Republican sources on Capitol Hill say that in general, the Pentagon’s cooperation has been a model of how to deal with such an investigation, while the State Department and White House have been models of what not to do.

If the rest of the administration had followed the military’s example, the Benghazi controversy would likely be over by now.

The probe started with three questions. One, was the U.S. adequately prepared for possible trouble abroad on the anniversary of Sept. 11?

Two, did the government do everything it could to try to rescue the Americans who were under attack for seven and a half hours?

And three, did the Obama administration tell the straight story about what happened?

Republicans in Congress have been reluctant to form an investigative committee–fearing that it would be seen as a political move. That changed with the recent release of emails obtained by Judicial Watch in a Freedom of Information request that revealed a White House role in creating a misleading narrative about the attack. From my perspective, the attack and the fact that we did not send help is bad enough, but the political whitewashing and misleading the American people that went on afterward is a disgrace.

I look forward to the answers to the three questions above.

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The New Definition Of Senate Oversight

Yesterday the Washington Examiner posted a story about an exchange between HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin and ranking Sen. Lamar Alexander at a Senate Hearing.

Senator Alexander asked Labor Secretary Thomas Perez  if he believes that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is qualified to judge the impact of raising the minimum wage. The CBO has stated that raising the minimum wage will cost jobs. Perez did not directly answer the question.

The article reports what happened next:

Harkin said that Perez can “answer as he wants to answer, not as you direct him to answer. You can’t force him to say one thing or another. If he wants to answer that question, then he can answer that question.”

Alexander: “So a senator is not entitled to a yes-or-no answer to a specific question?”

Harkin: “The senator is entitled to ask a question, and the secretary can give the answer as he sees fit.”

Alexander: “That’s not much congressional oversight in my book.”

Harkin: “Well, it’s being respectful of people who want to respond in the way that they feel is best suited to answering the question.”

Alexander: “Well then we might as well not ask questions if we can’t get answers.”

This exchange depicts where we are in Washington. Congress has given up so much power that it has lost its oversight of the executive branch of government. It will be interesting to see if the minimum wage gets raised by an executive order. Then we will see if there are enough people in Congress who respect the Constitution to demand that it be followed. America has serious economic issues–this is not the time to play political games with people’s lives.

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The IRS Scandal Summed Up In One Paragraph

Yesterday’s Washington Examiner summed up the IRS scandal in one paragraph:

These simple questions – each based on indisputable facts – establish that somebody outside of the IRS told her they wanted the tax agency to “fix” something involving groups seeking 501(c)(4) tax status, that she directed subordinates to begin a (c)(4) project she feared could be seen as “political,” that she viewed Tea Party groups as “dangerous,” and that she ordered that such groups be subjected to “multi-level review.” Those are the four essential points of the IRS scandal: Who ordered the tax agency to get involved, who in the tax agency responded, who they targeted and what actions they took. She cannot answer these questions because, as she herself has claimed, that would be incriminating. Lerner and others must hope Issa doesn’t already have the answers.

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Phantom Spending Cuts

One of the biggest scams in Washington is something called baseline budgeting.  It is a way for Congress to claim that they are making spending cuts while increasing the amount of the federal budget. It is actually a rather clever use of the language to mislead the American public. Hopefully the public is beginning to get wise. The budget recently announced by President Obama and the way it is being reported by most of the press is an amazing example of political doublespeak.

Yesterday the Washington Examiner posted an article explaining the real numbers behind the President’s budget and the fact that in the stories in most of the media, the exact numbers are not being reported. All that is being written is that the President’s budge represents a reduction in government spending.

In a nutshell:

...in the current year, the federal government is expected to spend $3.77 trillion. With all the spending cuts being talked about, a reasonable person might assume that spending next year will be down a bit. But it’s not. In fact, the president’s budget calls for spending $3.90 trillion in 2015. That’s approximately $230 billion more than this year. It’s not a one-year aberration either. Spending increases are projected every single year for the next decade and beyond.

It’s hard to write that the president’s budget is cutting spending by $600 billion while also reporting numbers showing spending going in the opposite direction.

Sadly, Washington reporters have chosen to overcome this difficulty by leaving the real numbers out of their stories. That’s a huge problem. We can reasonably expect politicians to spin the numbers and hide the truth because that’s what they do. However, in a free society with a free press, we should be able to count on journalists to report the facts rather than the spin. Unfortunately, we can’t.

Until the average voter gets wise to this sort of journalistic spin, we can expect government spending to increase. This is a game played by both political parties and by journalists. The Washington insiders are not fighting about cutting the budget–they are fighting over who gets to spend the money. Until America elects fiscal conservatives to office, Washington will continue to drive the country into bankruptcy.

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Flawed Logic Coming From The White House

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

The article reports:

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

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

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

The article at Heritage Foundation reports:

cbostimulus1cbostimulus2

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

The article at the Washington Examiner states:

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

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

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

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

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Congress Isn’t The Only Branch Of Government That Has Mastered The Art Of Kicking The Can Down The Road

As of February 10, 2014, there have been 35 changes to ObamaCare according to the Galen Institute. Those changes include 18 by executive action, 15 by Congress, signed by President Obama, and 2 changes made by the Supreme Court.

The most recent change to ObamaCare is a delay of the employer mandate requiring companies to provide insurance for full-time employees. The Galen Institute reports that the latest change postpones enforcement of the requirement for medium-size employers until 2016 and relaxes some requirements for larger employers. Businesses with 100 or more employees must offer coverage to 70% of their full-time employees in 2015 and 95% in 2016 and beyond.

On Tuesday, The Heritage Foundation posted an article explaining why these changes are important.

The Heritage Foundation explains the problem in one sentence:

Congress included a mandate when it passed the law. Obama signed that law. So (unless lawmakers repeal it, and of course they should) the mandate should take effect, even if that causes the entire law to collapse like a burning firework factory.

Yesterday Michael Barone posted an article at the Washington Examiner which asked two questions about the changes made to ObamaCare.

The two questions are:

The first question is: Are employers’ legal counsel advising that those provisions might be enforced, retroactively, at some later date? After all, the provisions remain on the books. If this administration or a later one decides that, say, the employer mandate should be enforced as written, does the employer have to pay up?

My second question is: What would stop a future administration from following Obama’s precedent and declaring that it would not enforce other provisions in tax laws?

Those members of Congress who are not speaking out against the executive overreach that is currently happening might want to consider how they would react if it were being done by an administration they did not agree with.

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Ignoring The Financial Report Deadlines

Today the Washington Examiner reported on the progress of the Budget Process under President Obama.

The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (Titles I-IX of P.L. 93-344, 2 U.S.C. 601-
688) established the congressional budget process, which coordinates the legislative activities on the budget resolution, appropriations bills, reconciliation legislation, revenue measures, and other budgetary legislation. Under this budget process, the President is required to submit a budget to Congress on the first Monday in February.

The article in the Washington Examiner reports:

“The Office of Management and Budget recently announced that President Obama’s FY 2015 budget would be delivered to Congress on March 4, just over one month past the statutory deadline (which requires the President’s budget to be submitted by the first Monday in February),” explains a news release from Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. “This will be the 18th occasion that the Administration has missed an in-law budget deadline.”

…Obama has never submitted a plan to control Medicare spending following a Medicare funding warning, though the law states that “if there is a Medicare funding warning … made in a year, the president shall submit to Congress, within the 15-day period beginning on the date of the budget submission to Congress under subsection (a) for the succeeding year, proposed legislation to respond to such warning.”

Such warnings have were issued and ignored in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Obama’s team has not submitted a final sequestration transparency report, which was due Jan. 21 of this year. They were late submitting the earlier installation of the report.

Obama’s team was also late filing mid-session reviews in 2010, 2011, and 2011. The financial reports on the United States were filed late in 2009, 2011, and 2012.

The obvious question is, “What good is the law if the President refuses to honor it?”

The President has stated that if Congress does not cooperate with his agenda, that he has a pen and a phone and he will go around them. It seems as if he has already  insulted them by ignoring the laws they have passed. Maybe the President needs to look in his own back yard before complaining about the trash in his neighbor’s yard.

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The Challenge To Union ‘Closed Shop’ Laws Moves Forward

The Washington Examiner is reporting today that a California case challenging union ‘closed shoplaws is moving forward. The Center for Individual Rights (CIR) has been trying to get the case challenging those laws to the Supreme Court. Currently they will be appealing the case to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The ‘closed shop’ laws require anyone who is hired by a company where there is a union has to pay dues to that union whether they choose to join the union or not. The supposed rationale behind that is that the person hired benefits by the fact that the union has negotiated the current wage and benefits package of the company, and since the employee benefits from that negotiation, he should be required to pay union dues. In a ‘right to work’ state, that practice is prohibited.

The article reports:

CIR’s case argues that unions should not be able to get “security clauses” in the contracts they negotiate management. These clauses, also called “closed shop” rules, say that anyone hired must either join the union or at least pay dues to one. The rationale is that the clauses prevent economic “free riders” since all workers theoretically benefit from union collective bargaining.

Such clauses have long been a standard feature of union contracts, though 24 states have “right to work” laws that prohibit the practice.

CIR’s case argues that the practice should be prohibited even in those states without right to work laws because they violate the individual rights of workers. “These fees do nothing but cause ongoing and irreparable injury to their First Amendment rights,” Pell (CIR  President Terry Pell) said.

If this case goes to the Supreme Court and the right of the individual not to pay union dues if he chooses, all states will become ‘right to work’ states. Obviously, the unions are trying to prevent that from happening.

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Jobs For The Unemployed

Today’s Washington Examiner is reporting that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has approved the practice of unions paying protesters to protest. The case involved union members being paid to protest against WalMart.

The article reports:

In a Nov. 15 memorandum from the NLRB’s general counsel office regarding the so-called “Black Friday” protests staged by United Food and Commercial Workers against the nonunion retailer last year, the NLRB lawyers determined that the UFCW’s offer of $50 gift cards to anyone who showed up to protest “was a non-excessive strike benefit.”

The lawyers said there was “no evidence to indicate that the gift card was meant to buy support for OUR Walmart” since the card was available not just to the retailer’s employees but to anyone who showed up at the unions’ protests.

CORRECTION:

The article incorrectly stated that OUR Walmart’s $50 gift cards were available to “to anyone who showed up to protest” implying that non-Walmart employees could get them. The NLRB document only states that the cards were available to “anyone who struck, not just members of OUR Walmart” indicating they were limited to Walmart employees.

The article also points out that very few of the people protesting WalMart actually work for WalMart. There is another interesting aspect of this story. Most people who shop at WalMart shop there because of the low prices. One of the reasons for those low prices is the fact that it is a non-union shop and the company does not have to negotiate with unions, cater to unions, and sometimes sacrifice  good business practices to appease union leaders. Many union members are not particularly wealthy, and by unionizing WalMart, they will lose a good source of inexpensive food and other goods. If the union members support the unionization of WalMart, they are also supporting something that will make their own lives more difficult.

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It’s Only A Surprise Because Most Of The Mainstream Media Didn’t Cover It

Yesterday, Byron York posted a story at the Washington Examiner about the shock many people are experiencing when their health insurance policies are cancelled. Byron York posted the transcript of a conversation between Christina Romer, then chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Representative Tom Price, who is also a doctor, at a House Education and Labor Committee hearing of June 23, 2009.

This is part of the transcript:

REP. PRICE: I’m asking about if an individual likes their current plan and maybe they don’t get it through their employer and maybe in fact their plan doesn’t comply with every parameter of the current draft bill, how are they going to be able to keep that?

MS. ROMER: So the president is fundamentally talking about maintaining what’s good about the system that we have. And —

REP. PRICE: That’s not my question.

MS. ROMER: One of the things that he has been saying is, for example, you may like your plan and one of the things we may do is slow the growth rate of the cost of your plan, right? So that’s something that is not only —

REP. PRICE: The question is whether or not patients are going to be able to keep their plan if they like it. What if, for example, there’s an employer out there — and you’ve said that if the employers that already provide health insurance, health coverage for their employees, that they’ll be just fine, right? What if the policy that those employees and that employer like and provide for their employees doesn’t comply with the specifics of the bill? Will they be able to keep that one?

MS. ROMER: So certainly my understanding — and I won’t pretend to be an expert in the bill — but certainly I think what’s being planned is, for example, for plans in the exchange to have a minimum level of benefits.

REP. PRICE: So if I were to tell you that in the bill it says that if a plan doesn’t comply with the specifics that are outlined in the bill that that employer’s going to have to move to the — to a different plan within five years — would you — would that be unusual, or would that seem outrageous to you?

MS. ROMER: I think the crucial thing is, what kind of changes are we talking about? The president was saying he wanted the American people to know that fundamentally if you like what you have it will still be there.

REP. PRICE: What if you like what you have, Dr. Romer, though, and it doesn’t fit with the definition in the bill? My reading of the bill is that you can’t keep that.

MS. ROMER: I think the crucial thing — the bill is talking about setting a minimum standard of what can count —

REP. PRICE: So it’s possible that you may like what you have, but you may not be able to keep it? Right?

MS. ROMER: We’d have — I’d have to look at the specifics.

That testimony took place more than four years ago. The mainstream media ignored the testimony, and the American voters were in the dark about what ObamaCare would mean to them. Because of the way the law has been written, Congress can keep their healthcare coverage, the President will keep his healthcare coverage, and most Congressional staffers will keep their healthcare coverage. When did we reach a point in America where there was one set of standards for the average American and another set of standards for the people who write our laws? Keep in mind that one reason a health insurance plan could be cancelled under ObamaCare would be that it did not provide pediatric dental coverage for a single man of twenty-five or a married couple in their sixties. I need someone to explain to me why a plan for those people without that coverage would be considered inadequate.

 

 

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Some Observations On This Week’s Election

This article is based on three articles, the first posted at Politico yesterday, the second posted at bizpacreview yesterday, and the third posted by Michael Barone at the Washington Examiner yesterday. My focus is on the election in Virginia. Bill Bolling was the preferred candidate for governor of Virginia by many Republicans. A technicality in the way the candidate was chosen resulted in the selection of Ken Cuccinelli. Ken Cuccinelli is a good man, but he was not an ideal candidate.

Politico reported:

The main news stories of the last two weeks of the race were about the botched rollout of the health exchanges and troubling revelations about people getting kicked off their health plans.

Cuccinelli called the off-year election a referendum on Obamacare at every stop during the final days.

“Despite being outspent by an unprecedented $15 million, this race came down to the wire because of Obamacare,” Cuccinelli said in his concession speech Tuesday night.

Bizpacreview reported:

As close as the race was, a report out Tuesday by The Blaze indicates that there were shenanigans at play:

“A major Democratic Party benefactor and Obama campaign bundler helped pay for professional petition circulators responsible for getting Virginia Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert C. Sarvis on the ballot.”

According to the report, campaign finance records show that the Libertarian Booster PAC made the largest independent contribution to Sarvis’ campaign.

The Blaze identified Austin, Texas, software billionaire Joe Liemandt as the Libertarian Booster PAC’s major benefactor. He also happens to be a top bundler for President Barack Obama.

Michael Barone observes:

1. The Obamacare rollout fiasco and Obama’s lies hurt Democrats.

2. The government shutdown didn’t much hurt Republicans.

3. Millennials are souring on Democrats.

Some conservative pundits have cited the lack of funding given to Ken Cuccinelli by the Republican party as a problem for conservative candidates. I am not sure whether or not these complaints are valid, but the Democrats outspent the Republicans by almost $15 million. One of the major problems with the election of Terry McAuliffe is what it will mean for the 2016 Presidential election. Terry McAuliffe is a very strong supporter of Hillary Clinton and will be an asset for her in the state of Virginia. However, the good news is that ObamaCare will be a problem for the Democrats in 2014 and possibly in 2016.
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Make Sure You Sign Up For ObamaCare On The Right Site

One thing that has always amazed me is that people who steal from other people in creative ways would probably be very successful if they directed their efforts into an honest endeavor. One glaring example of that is the amount of cyber-squatting that has surrounded the launch of ObamaCare.

On Wednesday the Washington Examiner posted an article about the number of cyber-squatters attempting to capitalize on the launch of ObamaCare.

The article explains:

For instance, there is a website — www.obama-care.us — that brands itself as part of the “Obamacare enrollment team,” directs people to an “Obamacare enrollment form” and asks users for their name, address, Social Security number and other contact information. According to a counter at the bottom of the page, more than 3,000 people have visited obama-care.us.

This website does not actually enable people to enroll in Obamacare. It was registered with GoDaddy.com on Sept. 2 — less than a month before the official launch of the health care exchange websites — according to who.is, a website that provides information on internet domains and their owners.

The practice of setting up websites with names that are similar to high-profile pages is known as cyber-squatting.

What happens as a result of this cyber-squatting is that some unsuspecting person who thinks they have accessed the government healthcare website types in all their pertinent financial information and then an identity thief takes all their money. Most of the younger generation is pretty savvy about cyber security, but the older baby boomers may not be. This is dangerous.

The article explains how a website host should avoid the confusion:

To prevent cyber-squatting, professional website owners typically purchase domain names that are similar to the main page.

For instance, former Senate candidate Sharron Angle wanted to make sure that people who misspelled her first name by using only one “R” would still reach her website.

So she bought the domain name — sharonangle.com — and the page automatically redirects users to the proper website.

For the same reason, the owners of washingtonexaminer.com also own washingtonexaminer.net.

“I was shocked to find out that they have not picked up any of these other top-level domains,” the cybersecurity expert said.

He also provided the Washington Examiner with a list of 221 websites that he identified, using proprietary software, as cyber-squatters taking advantage of the healthcare.gov rollout — websites such as healthcarer.com — and another 499 that he identified as squatting on state exchange websites.

Either the government was not interested in protecting the American people from fraud, or they were uninformed of the problem. Either way, it looks as if the people who put together the ObamaCare website were totally incompetent.

 

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Private Property Rights Are Important In America

One of the foundations of the American republic is the concept of private property rights. Occasionally those rights have been under attack and the battle has been lost–for example the Supreme Court decision regarding Kelo and the State of Connecticut. (n June of 2005, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the City of New London, Connecticut, could, under the rule of eminent domain, seize the homes of several homeowners in order to use the land for a purpose that would generate more tax revenue for the City.)  Due to tough economic times (and basic karma), the plant that was built on that site closed and moved to Groton.

At any rate, property rights of Americans have been threatened on numerous occasions. The latest threat comes from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) following the plan already outlined in Agenda 21.

Today’s Washington Examiner is reporting on a new EPA rule:

...the “Water Body Connectivity Report” – that would remove the limiting word “navigable” from “navigable waters of the United States” and replace it with “connectivity of streams and wetlands to downstream waters” as the test for Clean Water Act regulatory authority.

…If approved, the new rule would give EPA unprecedented power over private property across the nation, gobbling up everything near seasonal streams, isolated wetlands, prairie potholes, and almost anything that occasionally gets wet.

Smith and Stewart (House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith of Texas and Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah, chairman of its environment subcommittee)accuse EPA of “pushing through a rule with vast economic and regulatory implications before the agency’s Science Advisory Board has had an opportunity to review the underlying science.”

If this sounds familiar, it is. This is the language used by the United Nation‘s Agenda 21 program:

As I reported in December 2011 (rightwinggranny.com):

One of the aspects of Agenda 21 is the location of vernal pools and the ‘corridors’ that connect them. Those pools and corridors are then used as excuses to severely limit the use of property. Property owners can be asked to make alterations to their property that are extremely expensive and that might cause them to abandon the property. Property owners can also be severely limited as to what they can do on their own property.

A land grab is a land grab. It doesn’t matter whether it comes from the UN or from our own government–it is still a land grab. Pay attention–this could be coming to your town soon.

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This Is What Happens When You Ignore The Bidding Process

Back in the days of dinosaurs when America had a space program, one of the astronauts commented that he had mixed emotions about sitting on the launch pad knowing that every piece of the spaceship he was on was supplied by the lowest bidder. Having said that, the space program generally worked pretty well, and the bidding process was successful in finding the people who were able to do the job at the lowest cost. Contrast the success of NASA in sending astronauts into space with the rollout of the ObamaCare website.

The Washington Examiner reported on Sunday that the usual government bidding process was not followed in hiring the firm to design and implement the ObamaCare website.

The article reports:

Rather than open the contracting process to a competitive public solicitation with multiple bidders, officials in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid accepted a sole bidder, CGI Federal, the U.S. subsidiary of a Canadian company with an uneven record of IT pricing and contract performance.

CMS officials are tight-lipped about why CGI was chosen or how it happened. They also refuse to say if other firms competed with CGI, or if there was ever a public solicitation for building Healthcare.gov, the backbone of Obamacare’s problem-plagued web portal.

It gets even more interesting. Today the Washington Examiner reported on exactly who runs CGI.

That article reports:

Prior to the official award, senior CGI executives met with top White House officials and attended a number of invitation-only addresses by President Obama.

Two of the meetings attended by CGI executives were with Vivek Kundra, Obama’s chief information officer. Kundra was a key figure in Obama administration information technology initiatives across the government.

The article reports that the executives of CGI had close ties with the government and possible conflicts of interest.  John Loonsk was a former director for health information technology at HHS, which awarded the Obamacare web project. He is now CGI’s chief medical officer, as well as a member of the initiative.

This may be totally innocent, but it sure doesn’t look that way. The Obama Administration has a history of picking winners and losers, and it looks like that is what they did in awarding the information technology contract to implement ObamaCare. As a result of this, we have an electronic sign-up system that puts the people who sign up at risk for identity theft–assuming they can get far enough into the system to input their personal information.

The total failure of the ObamaCare website is one of a multitude of reasons the program should be delayed for at least a year. It would be better to scrap ObamaCare and start over, but if that is not possible, a one-year delay would give the government some time to at least try to fix the problems.

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America Is Having A Bad Day

This quote has been reported by various sources:

“We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can,” an angry Park Ranger told the Washington Times. “It’s disgusting.”

The National Mall in Washington is closed, the World War II Memorial is barricaded, the Vietnam Memorial is closed, and other monuments are blocked off. However, if your politics agrees with the politics of the Obama Administration, you have access to the closed Mall.

Today’s Washington Examiner reported:

Susana Flores, a spokesperson for the rally (“Camino Americano: March for Immigration Reform“), confirmed for the Washington Examiner that the Park Service will allow the event to take place under the group’s rights granted by the First Amendment.

About 30 members of Congress are expected to attend the rally, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

The event is hosted by several immigration activist groups, together with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the AFL-CIO.

What about the rights of the businessmen the Park Service has closed or the elderly couple the Park Service evicted from their houseboat on Lake Mead? This is politics at its worst. We need to remember this in November 2014. The problem here is not the shutdown–we have had shutdowns before–the problem is the war on the American public by the government. The Obama Administration loves to pick winners and losers. In this battle the losers are the American public. We need to vote anyone out of office who took part in this war on Americans.

 

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Detroit Goes Under

The Washington Examiner is reporting today that the city of Detroit is filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

The article reports:

According to the bankruptcy filing, Detroit now has more than $18 billion in unfunded liabilities. The city’s population has dwindled from 1.85 million in 1950 to under 700,000 today, and its tax revenues have shrunk accordingly even as the average tax burden has risen to the highest level of any town in the state. A deficit estimated at $237 million in June was too much for the once-mighty industrial town to handle.

A website called Pensions & Investments posted the following on July 11:

Mr. Orr (Kevyn Orr, the city’s emergency fiscal manager) has proposed that city employees with less than 10 years of vested service be taken out of the defined benefit plan and be moved to 401(k)-style savings plans.

There’s no way employees or unions will bargain away pension benefits, said Michael VanOverbeke, a lawyer for the general employees retirement system, after the meeting. Michigan‘s constitution prohibits changes in accrued pension benefits, Mr. VanOverbeke said. Mr. Orr has said that a bankruptcy filing would negate the state protection.

This is a problem a lot of cities, states, and municipalities are going to be faced with in the very near future. For years unions have negotiated contracts that included retirement plans that were totally funded by taxpayer money. As private companies have converted to 401k plans where employees contribute to their retirement, public employee unions have not followed suit. The bankruptcy of Detroit is not really a surprise to anyone. You can’t continue to spend more than you take in without running out of money at some point. As the jobs left Detroit, the city had no way to make up the lost income. It attempted to raise taxes to generate income, but that simply drove people out of the city.  It’s just a shame that the leadership of the city couldn’t have done more to avoid the problem.

 

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H.R. 2417

On June 18, 2013, Representative Trent Franks (AZ-8) introduced H.R. 2417. The latest title of the bill is “To amend the Federal Power Act to protect the bulk-power system and electric infrastructure critical to the defense and well-being of the United States against natural and manmade electromagnetic pulse (“EMP“) threats and vulnerabilities.”

This is one of those bills that will not be important until we need it and don’t have it. What the bill does is protect the major parts of the American electrical grid from electromagnetic pulse (“EMP”). The United States became aware of the EMP during nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll during the 1940’s and 1950’s. After one of the nuclear tests, all of the traffic lights in Hawaii stopped working properly. An investigation began, and the concept of EMP was born.

EMP can happen naturally or it can be man-made. On June 18, the Center for Security Policy posted an article about the EMP threat.

In reporting on H.R. 2417, the Center for Security Policy states:

It’s no idle threat, either: in March 1989, the power grid in Quebec went from normal to shutdown in 92 seconds during a huge magnetic storm, according to a recent report by insurance giant Lloyds of London. It took 9 hours to restore normal operations, during which time five million people were without electricity. Total cost: about $2 billion.

The bill centers on protecting modern high-voltage transformers, which can weigh up to 400 tons, cost millions of dollars, and are made in only a handful of facilities in the U.S. A June 2012 report a June 2012 report by the Dept. of Energy called them a key failure point in the grid, citing volatile raw-material pricing – copper and electrical steel – and a lead time for manufacturing that can stretch to 20 months.

“It’s critical that we protect our major transformers from cascading destruction. The SHIELD Act encourages industry to develop standards necessary to protect our electric infrastructure against both natural and man-made EMP events,” Franks said, according to the Washington Examiner.

Shielding our major transformers would not be a great expense, and that shielding would prevent a much greater expense. H.R. 2417 needs to be passed and acted on quickly.

 

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The Extra Zero That Changed The Bill

There has been a lot of talk recently about the immigration bill that Congress will be considering in the near future. There is one school of thought that says it is a political bill–not designed to pass, but designed to make House Republicans lose the 2014 election. Based on some recent changes to the original bill, that seems to be very likely.

Yesterday Byron York at the Washington Examiner reported that there has been a change in the original bill that significantly changes the cost.

The article reports:

The bill establishes a “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Trust Fund” to cover the various costs of reform.  It directs that when the bill is enacted, $6.5 billion will be transferred from the Treasury to the trust fund.  And then the bill specifies money to be appropriated for the start-up costs of the process to legalize the estimated 11 million immigrants currently in the country illegally.

The original bill said this: “On the later of the date of the enactment of this Act or October 1, 2013, $100,000,000 is hereby appropriated from the general fund of the Treasury, to remain available until September 30, 2015, to the Department [of Homeland Security] to pay for one-time and startup costs necessary to implement this act.”

The substitute bill reads differently: “On the later of the date of the enactment of this Act or October 1, 2013, $1,000,000,000 is hereby appropriated from the general fund of the Treasury, to remain available until September 30, 2015, to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to pay for one-time and startup costs necessary to implement this Act.”

Wow. We went from $100,000,000 to $1,000,000,000, and the bill hasn’t even passed yet. Imagine where it could go if it were passed!

The article in the Washington Examiner includes an update:

UPDATE: After this item was posted, a Gang of Eight spokesman emailed to say that, “The initial $100 million number listed for startup was incorrect; $1 billion is needed to ramp up operations to handle 11 million applicants and other new visa programs.  The money will be refunded to the Treasury from fines collected, so it is deficit neutral over the next few years.”

Somehow that doesn’t make me feel any better.

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