Trying To Buy A Crucial Election

Obviously some elections are more important than others. However, in keeping our focus on national elections, we sometimes forget the words of Tip O’Neill, “All politics is local.” The phrase was originally used by Washington AP bureau chief Byron Price in 1932. Tip O’Neill first used the term in 1935. We also need to remember that some local races are more important than others. That fact is not lost of those who pour exorbitant amounts of money into political races (see Rocky Mountain Heist). George Soros has evidently figured out that the District Attorney race in San Deigo will be key in the future (destruction) of California.

Yesterday FrontPage Magazine reported:

Leftist billionaire George Soros is injecting big money into a San Diego district attorney race as part of his larger effort to install extremist prosecutors across America who will refuse to enforce inconvenient laws that liberals and progressives don’t like.

Soros, who turns 88 in August, has been underwriting district attorney races across America in an effort to dismantle the criminal justice system, empty the prisons, and sabotage the enforcement of immigration laws. Soros supports state and local efforts to resist U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and wants to cripple police in order to advance the neo-Marxist abstraction known as social justice that simplistically breaks the world down into race, class, and sex or gender. Radicals claim that American laws and institutions are inherently corrupt and that these systems protect, for example, wealthy, white, native-born, non-disabled males at the expense of everyone else.

Getting people who share Soros’s worldview into public office at every level is key to promoting his ugly vision of how America, which he calls “the main obstacle to a stable and just world order,” should look.

Months ago Soros saturation-bombed his Open Society Foundations philanthropy with an $18 billion donation, likely guaranteeing OSF will remain one of the most important players in left-wing activism for decades to come. According to the New York Times, this was “one of the largest transfers of wealth ever made by a private donor to a single foundation.” (Click here for a brief video primer on Soros narrated by yours truly. Click here for an in-depth Discover The Networks profile of Soros.)

George Soros is putting the money into the race through the California Justice & Public Safety PAC.

The article details some of the positions of the candidate George Soros is funding:

The current DA, Summer Stephan (R), launched a website called ThreatToSanDiego that provides a laundry list of leftist positions embraced by Jones-Wright. The site states that “anti-law enforcement $$$ is coming into San Diego,” and highlights quotations from Soros, such as his statement that he has “always harbored an exaggerated view of self importance” and that he thinks of himself as “some sort of god.”

Stephan campaign strategist Jason Roe told the Washington Free Beacon that Jones-Wright “has fully embraced his [Soros’s] positions on decriminalizing sex crimes, closing jails and prisons, and eliminating bail.” Roe added that the Democrat candidate is “committed to not enforcing what she calls ‘quality of life crimes’ like breaking and entering and other things that are not necessarily violent crimes.”

Money can’t buy elections (Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush proved that), but voters around the country need to be aware of who is funding various candidates. Open Secrets is a good source for that information. You might want to bookmark that link for the 2016 primary campaigns.

A Foreign Policy Totally Devoid Of Common Sense

The Washington Free Beacon is reporting today that as Russia begins moving tactical nuclear weapons into the Crimea, the Obama administration is funding non-official arms control talks with Russia through a Washington think-tank that are aimed at curbing U.S. tactical nuclear arms in Europe.

First of all, I would like to remind everyone that Russia has paid no price for taking over the Crimea–there is no one standing up for the rights of the people in the Ukraine to expel the Russians from the Crimea and re-unite their country. The Russian takeover of the Crimea is considered part of the current baseline, and no one is talking about it as if it were the problem it is.

The article reports:

Regarding the nuclear deployments to Crimea, Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member James Inhofe (R., Okla.) first disclosed last month that Putin had announced in August his approval of deploying nuclear-capable Iskander-M short-range missiles along with Tu-22 nuclear-capable bombers in Crimea, located on the Black Sea.

“The stationing of new nuclear forces on the Crimean peninsula, Ukrainian territory Russia annexed in March, is both a new and menacing threat to the security of Europe and also a clear message from Putin that he intends to continue to violate the territorial integrity of his neighbors,” Inhofe stated in a Sept. 8 op-ed in Foreign Policy.

In their Sept. 23 letter to the president, McKeon, Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.), chairman of the subcommittee on strategic forces, and Rep. Michael Turner (R., Ohio), chairman of the subcommittee on tactical air and land forces, noted Russia’s violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty by building a banned cruise missile. The missile has been identified by U.S. officials as the R-500.

The lawmakers said the Russian nuclear deployment in Crimea represents the “clear, and perhaps irrevocable tearing” of the 1997 agreement between NATO and Russia that allowed Russia to maintain a military presence within the alliance.

This is another example of America’s lack of strength making the world less safe–not safer. We need to increase our defense spending to make sure we have the weapons in place if Russia decides to go after a country in Europe next.

A Step In The Right Direction?

Yesterday the Washington Free Beacon posted an article about Mohamed Elibiary, who has left his position as a senior member of DHS’ Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC). Mr. Elibiary’s recent statement that about the “inevitable” return of the Muslim “caliphate” may have played a role in his departure.

In October 2013, the Center for Security Policy posted an article about Mohamed Elibiary.

The article describes Mr. Elibiary’s role at the DHS:

Elibiary’s official functions have been the focus of congressional and media attention, particularly in light of his controversial associations with leading American Islamists.  These include the radical Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America and convicted Hamas fundraiser Shukri Abu Baker.

Troubling as such connections are, the implications of the policies Elibiary has espoused are even more worrying.  For example, Elibiary’s promotion of the narrative that the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists are “moderates” appears to have been influential in encouraging the Obama administration’s blindness to what is, in fact, an unbroken continuum between the ideology and goals of the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda.

Moreover, Elibiary has insisted that even the most basic information about the doctrinal drivers of jihadist terror be purged from U.S. government training materials. Pursuant to the guidance he has helped President Obama promulgate, even quoting the Brotherhood’s own written statements can be portrayed as “Islamophobia.”

The article includes a link to an An Annotated Interview with DHS Advisor Mohamed Elibiary, which explores some of his connections to the Holy Land Foundation and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Mr. Elibiary has done considerable damage to the security of America. His purging of government training materials of valid information about the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic goals for America will take years (and a willing administration) to correct. The difference between the Muslim Brotherhood and AlQaeda is method–not goal. The Muslim Brotherhood uses the American judicial system to quietly bring the principles of Sharia Law into America; Al Qaeda simply wants to conquer by physical destruction. Sending Mr. Elibiary packing is a step in the right direction, but he should have never been allowed anywhere near the Department of Homeland Security–he has strong ties to people whose goal is the destruction of America.

 

Even Uninformed Voters Won’t Believe These Statements

Yesterday the Washington Free Beacon posted a video showing Democrat’s recent statements about the security of our southern border. The video is also found at YouTube.

The fact that Washington is not effectively handling the border crisis is bad enough, but do they have to insult our intelligence in the process?

A Multi-Faceted Approach To Censorship

The Washington Free Beacon posted an article today about a group, Mayday PAC, headed by Lawrence Lessig, supposedly formed to ‘take the money out of politics.’ While I admire their noble objective, sometimes it pays to look at the past actions of people supporting a point of view.

Last week Mayday PAC raised $5 million to elect politicians who will pledge to reduce the influence of money in the American political process. That sounds as if they are doing exactly what they are opposing.

The article gives us some basic facts about the group and its objectives:

Lessig pitched wealthy donors in the tech community last week on the utility of restricting corporate political speech, saying their political agenda would be much easier to advance if opposing forces were restricted from influencing the political process.

“We have no protection for network neutrality because of the enormous influence of cable companies’ money in the political system,” he told TechCrunch. “If NN is your issue, then this is why you should see that politic$ is your issue too.”

…Lessig has been explicit about the ideological nature of his campaign finance reform position. Liberal political ideas would prevail, he insists, but for the ability of their detractors to spend money opposing those ideas.

Lessig took a similar tack with respect to climate energy policy. Environmentalists, Lessig said in 2012, spent “hundreds of millions of dollars … to get global warming legislation, and they got nothing.”

“If money didn’t buy results in Washington,” he said, environmentalists would have been able to achieve their goals by injecting substantially less money into the political process.

The article explains some of the ties between Lessig and Democrat organizations and operatives. The bottom line here is simple–most Democrats who are campaigning to ‘take the money out of politics’ do not include union money in that statement. The anger is there because with the Citizens United decision, the playing field of big money has been leveled–generally speaking corporations donate to Republicans and unions donate to Democrats. It used to be that all the big money in politics went to Democrats and came from unions.  A website called Open Secrets tracks campaign donations. Just for the record, there is still more money going to Democrats than Republicans.

When you read the article at the Free Beacon, you discover that the reason for wanting to ‘take the money out of politics’ is to censor the opposing viewpoint. That is not what American is or should be about. The push to ‘take the money out of politics’ is more dangerous than any amount of money in politics. Censorship under any name is wrong and has no place in America.

But I Didn’t Think That Law Would Apply To Me!

Yesterday the Washington Free Beacon reported that Media Matters is forcing its employees to make the vote to unionize under the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) a secret ballot. This is amazingly ironic. Media Matters is a liberal organization headed by David Brock, a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton.

The article reports:

It is unclear why Media Matters did not opt to allow its employees to organize through a card check campaign, in which a union submits signed petitions from employees expressing their interest to join the union. MMFA, its attorneys, and the SEIU did not return requests for comment.

Media Matters has a long record of slamming Republicans and conservatives who want to protect secret ballot union elections.

The organization published multiple pieces celebrating the Democrat’s so-called Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for unions to organize through card check campaigns and prevent employers from forcing a secret ballot election.

Media Matters researcher Meagan Hatcher-Mays took to the organization’s blog to criticize “a wave of Republican anti-union legislation [that] has placed obstacles between workers and union representatives and disrupted opportunities for workplace productivity.”

It is becoming very obvious that the best way to illustrate the problems with the liberal agenda is to ask liberals to abide by their own laws.

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Where The Money Went

The Washington Free Beacon posted an article yesterday about the ten most outrageous projects supported by the government stimulus. These projects represent your tax dollars at work.

Here is the list:

10) $1.3 Million for Stimulus Highway Signs

9) $152K to Get Lesbians Ready for ‘Adoptive Parenthood’

8) $600,000 to Plant Trees in Wealthy Neighborhoods

7) $384,949 Study of Duck Penises

6) $1.2 Million Study of Erectile Dysfunction in Overweight Men

5) $100,000 Anti-Capitalist Puppet Shows

4) $389,357 for College Students to Keep a Diary of Their Marijuana and Malt Liquor Use

3) $3.4 Million Turtle Tunnel

2) $8,408 Study to See if Mice Get Drunk

1) $535 Million on Solyndra

Please follow the link to the article to see the details of these expenditures. Is this really where you want your tax money to go?

 

 

 

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A Really Dumb Law That Is Putting Americans At Risk

Today’s Washington Free Beacon posted an article today about problems New Jersey is having getting road salt. The supply of road salt in a few New Jersey communities is very low because of the recent snow storms. The problem in getting the road salt has nothing to do with its availability or proximity–the problem has to do with union workers.

The article reports:

Townsquare Media reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) denied the state’s request for a waiver of the Jones Act, a 1920 law requiring that all cargo and passengers moving between points in the United States be transported on American vessels.

A waiver would have allowed New Jersey to get the salt within days from a foreign transport in Searsport, Maine.

New Jersey Department of Transportation Spokesman Joe Dee told the Washington Free Beacon that a waiver from the Jones Act appears “unlikely.”

“We were pursuing a waiver, but we’ve been advised we wouldn’t get one,” Dee said. “It seems unlikely we will get it.”

Jersey City, New Jersey, is expecting snow tonight and tomorrow morning, and then possibly more snow on Wednesday. This has been a very harsh winter in the northeast, and it is really silly to put people’s lives at risk because the salt needed does not happen to be on an American ship. There at least needs to be a waiver of the Jones Act granted. It would also be a good idea to pass a law making sure that when public safety is at stake, the law would be quickly waived.

 

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Why We Need Real Answers On Benghazi

Benghazi was a horrible event. Killing an ambassador is an act of war, but somehow in all the discussion that fact has been overlooked. I’m not sure what we would have accomplished by going to war with Libya, but on the other hand, not doing much of anything hasn’t worked either.

To add to the miscellaneous information that has dripped out about the Benghazi attack, the report of the Bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee Report cites former CIA Director Mike Morell as having a major role in creating the talking points used by Susan Rice on the Sunday news shows after the attack. (see Fox News video February 3, 2014.)

The Washington Free Beacon also posted the story yesterday.

The article in the Washington Free Beacon reports:

On September 15 one day before Susan Rice made her infamous appearances on various Sunday shows, according to the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report Morell received an email from the CIA station chief in Libya indicating the Benghazi attacks were “not/not an escalation of protests.” The report does not indicate when Morell read the email, but that same day Morell cut the word “Islamic” from the talking points and left the word “demonstration.”

On September 16, Morell emailed embassy staff in Tripoli asking for more information. The FBI and CIA reviewed the closed circuit footage on September 18 showing there were no protests. Yet, President Obama still employed the “demonstration” verbiage just days later.

It is becoming obvious that the Obama Administration chose to lie to the American people about the Benghazi attack–who did it and why. It was politically expedient to lie about the attack, because admitting it was an Al Qaeda attack would have created a problem with President Obama’s statement that Al Qaeda had been destroyed. The attack on Benghazi might also have been seen as a threat to Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions.

The article further reports:

Adding another layer of complexity to the Morell’s backstory, Sen. Richard Burr (R., N.C.) told Fox News many of Morell’s recent statements on the war on terror run contrary to what he told Senate committees over the previous decade as a CIA employee.

Herridge goes on to report some speculate Morell may have higher political ambitions considering his employment at Beacon Global Strategies, a government relations firm founded by close Hillary Clinton confidante Philippe I. Reines.

Whatever the reason for the lies, a country that elects leadership that puts politics above national security will not continue to exist in a world where terrorism is growing stronger. Islamic radicals now control more territory in the Middle East than they did before President Obama took office. This is not a good thing for innocent civilians in these areas (or non-Muslims), and it is not a good thing for America.

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Another Security Problem With ObamaCare

Yesterday the Washington Free Beacon posted an article expressing concern about the software in ObamaCare.

The article states:

U.S. intelligence agencies last week urged the Obama administration to check its new healthcare network for malicious software after learning that developers linked to the Belarus government helped produce the website, raising fresh concerns that private data posted by millions of Americans will be compromised.

The intelligence agencies notified the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency in charge of the Healthcare.gov network, about their concerns last week. Specifically, officials warned that programmers in Belarus, a former Soviet republic closely allied with Russia, were suspected of inserting malicious code that could be used for cyber attacks, according to U.S. officials familiar with the concerns.

The article reports that last year there was an Internet data “hijacking” involving Belarusian state-controlled networks. Belarus is a dictatorship aligned with Russia.

The article further reports:

David Kennedy, head of the security firm TrustedSec, said the Obamacare website was not designed well and has “a lot of security flaws.”

One major concern is that the system connects the healthcare network to other sensitive U.S. government networks, including the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security.

“That makes it a treasure trove for hackers,” Kennedy said in an interview, adding that a major concern would be cyber attacks from sophisticated state-sponsored adversaries.

The threat of “backdoor” access points is a particular worry. The Chinese military-linked Huawei Technologies is suspected of using that technique in its network equipment, Kennedy said.

HHS technology officials recently contacted him about the security vulnerabilities and indicated the department is interested in taking measures to mitigate the security flaws.

White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden has stated that the Belarusian software was “recalled by the intelligence community shortly after it was issued.”

To me, this is just another reason to avoid the ObamaCare website. Lately, I tend not to believe a lot of what White House spokespeople are saying.

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After The Speech, The Truth Comes Out

Today’s Washington Free Beacon posted an article entitled, “The Big Chide,” the writer’s term for President Obama’s foreign policy.

In his State of the Union speech, President Obama stated:

American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated. (Applause.) And we will continue to work with the international community to usher in the future the Syrian people deserve — a future free of dictatorship, terror and fear.

Well, not so fast. The Washington Free Beacon reported today:

…Well, who could have predicted it, but this week we learned that Assad has retained 95 percent of his WMD stockpile while continuing to miss the deadlines to hand over his weapons. More than 125,000 Syrians are dead, millions more are displaced, and al Qaeda affiliates claim jurisdiction over much of the country.

The conflict has drawn thousands of foreign fighters from 50 countries into Syria, foreign fighters who have every intention of bringing the jihad back home when they return to Africa, Asia, Europe, and the United States. The Syrian chaos has spilled over into Lebanon and into Iraq, where ethno-sectarian conflict has resumed and al Qaeda has reappeared.

But do not worry. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is on the case. “The United States is concerned that the Syrian government is behind in delivering these chemical weapons and precursor materials on time, and with the schedule that was agreed to,” he said in a statement from Poland. And if that is not enough to get Assad back on schedule, the State Department made the hilarious claim that the military option remains “on the table.”

The Syrians have not complied, the agreement we signed assured that Bashar Assad will stay in power, and put Russia in the position of being the power negotiator in the region. That is not a positive diplomatic achievement.

The article goes on the cite some of the other results of President Obama’s concept of ‘leading from behind.’ The President has projected weakness in foreign affairs, and the perception of America as weak has made the world a more dangerous place.

The article further reports:

Russia, for instance, has been caught violating a decades-old nuclear missile treaty. A high-ranking administration official has admitted as much to our NATO allies. But the Obama State Department does not want to acknowledge the violation formally because, the New York Times reports, “With President Obama pledging to seek deeper cuts in nuclear arms, the State Department has been trying to find a way to resolve the compliance issue, preserve the treaty, and keep the door open to future arms control accords.” This is logic at which Yossarian would not be surprised: We cannot say the Russians broke the treaty because that would jeopardize our chances of signing more treaties with the Russians.

The President also stated in the State of the Union:

And it is American diplomacy, backed by pressure, that has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program — and rolled back parts of that program — for the very first time in a decade. As we gather here tonight, Iran has begun to eliminate its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium.

It’s not installing advanced centrifuges. Unprecedented inspections help the world verify every day that Iran is not building a bomb. And with our allies and partners, we’re engaged in negotiations to see if we can peacefully achieve a goal we all share: preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The article reports:

Then there is the Iranian president, who says the interim nuclear deal “means the surrender of the big powers before the great Iranian nation.” There is his foreign minister, who visited the grave of a Hezbollah terrorist. There is his chief nuclear negotiator, who said the interim deal could be undone in a day. And there is the White House response: All of this is simply Iranian propaganda, meant for internal consumption. The real Rouhani, the real Zarif, the real Araqchi want exactly the things John Kerry wants.

The question the writer at the Washington Free Beacon asks is, “What will the world look like in 2017?” I just hope America can survive the reality check that is coming.

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Breaking Faith With The Brave Men And Women Who Defend Us

The Washington Free Beacon is reporting today that the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill negotiated by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R., Ky.) and Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.), would only restore retirement benefits for 17.5 percent of military retirees.

The article reports:

Title X of the bill exempts veterans who receive Chapter 61 retirement. Chapter 61 applies to combat veterans who are disabled as a result of their service. The spouses of deceased veterans will also be exempt, according to section 10001 of the legislation.

However, the bill keeps in place the one percent decrease in the cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for all other military retirees. The change, effective December 2015, affects retirees under the age of 62 and will result in thousands of dollars in lost retirement pay.

Enlisted servicemembers could lose a minimum of $72,000 over a 20 year period of their retirement, while commissioned officers could face up to $124,000 in lost compensation.

I don’t care if it saves a million billion dollars, there is no excuse for doing this. It is breaking a contract made with military currently serving–this is not what they were told when they signed up. Our current military has done multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, they have missed the birth of their children, children’s birthdays, graduations, dance recitals, etc.,. because they were overseas serving their country. Now their country is giving them the short end of the stick.

Americans were left with the impression that this would be changed in the final bill. It has NOT been changed. The bill is being passed under the radar in the hopes that no one will notice. Please raise a ruckus about this. Call you Congressman and register your disgust.

This is outrageous!

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Please Remember This In November

On Friday the Washington Free Beacon reported that Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked a Republican attempt to restore military pensions cut in last month’s budget deal. The Democrats denied a vote on an amendment that would have ended the loophole that allows illegal aliens to obtain millions in tax refunds and restored the cuts to military pensions.

The article reports:

Among them (the Republican Amendments)  was Ayotte’s (Sen. Kelly Ayotte R., N.H.) measure, which would repeal cuts to military pensions by ending a loophole in the tax code that allows illegal immigrants to receive the Additional Child Tax Credit. Her attempt to get a vote failed 42-54, with only one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), voting with Republicans.

“It’s a sad day when a common sense amendment to responsibly pay for legislation that helps struggling Americans, repeals unfair military retirement benefits and reduces the deficit can’t even get a vote in the Senate,” Ayotte said in a statement.

The amendment would have repealed a provision in the budget deal that hits military retirees with a 1 percent decrease in their annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), which could cost servicemembers up to $124,000 in lost retirement pay. Federal civilian retiree pensions were not cut.

The budget agreement also did not exempt disabled military retirees despite early assurances from the House Budget Committee. The cuts will save an estimated $6 billion over 10 years.

There were no cuts made to the pensions of either Congress or civil service employees. Civil servants have unions–the military does not. Cutting military retirement pay is a disgrace.

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Breaking Faith With America’s Wounded Veterans

The Washington Free Beacon is reporting today that disabled veterans will not be exempt from the pension cuts included in the budget deal currently being considered in the Senate.

The story reports:

The Free Beacon previously reported that military retirees under the age of 62 would receive 1 percentage point less in their annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in the plan crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D., Wash.).

The section of the U.S. code that has been altered also applies to disabled servicemembers, many of whom have been wounded in combat.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, called the change “unthinkable.”

“It has been asserted that the controversial change to military retirees’ pensions affects those who are ‘working-age’ and ‘still in their working years,’ with the clear suggestion being that these individuals are able to work,” Sessions said in a statement. “That’s why I was deeply troubled when my staff and I discovered that even individuals who have been wounded and suffered a service-related disability could see their pensions reduced under this plan.”

“It is unthinkable that this provision would be included in a deal that spares current civilian workers from the same treatment,” he said. “An equivalent amount of savings and more can be easily found, and I hope the Senate will move to address the unbalanced treatment of our servicemembers before considering the legislation any further.”

This is simply obscene, and it really bothers me that I haven’t seen this provision commented on in any major news outlet.

The article further reports:

Rep. Ryan told the Weekly Standard that the changes are appropriate because servicemen and women who retire in their 40s after serving for two decades are still young enough to maintain a job.

“We give them a slightly smaller adjustment for inflation because they’re still in their working years and in most cases earning another paycheck,” Ryan said.

Sens. Roger Wicker (R., Miss.), Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), James Inhofe (R., Okla.), and Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.) have said they are opposed to the deal because it cuts the benefits of military retirees, while not imposing equal cuts to federal civilian workers.

Paul Ryan is clearly on the wrong side of this issue. When anyone currently in the military joined the military, they were promised a certain pension if they retired after so many years of active duty or if they were retired due to injury. This is a breach of contract as well as a disgrace. The reason the cuts went to the military and not the federal civilian workers is that the federal civilian workers have unions–our military does not. This is simply wrong.

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The Cost Of Compromise

A budget compromise was needed by both sides–establishment Republicans and Democrats for different reasons. The Republicans did not want to be blamed for another shutdown when the Continuing Resolution (CR) expired or when the debt ceiling needed to be raised (that day is rapidly approaching and there are no guarantees that either side will  handle it well). The Democrats needs to pass a budget (for the first time in five years) to change the subject from ObamaCare. Each side had their reasons. However, it bothers me that both side were willing to throw the veterans who served our country and went to war at the request of Congress under the bus.

Yesterday the Washington Free Beacon reported that the budget compromise which has passed the House of Representatives could cost military service retirees as much as $124,000 in retirement pay.

The article reports:

The Washington Free Beacon reported that under the budget agreement crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D., Wash.), military retirees younger than 62 will receive 1 percentage point less in their annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

While new federal employees who are hired after Jan. 1, 2014 will be required to pay 1.3 percent more of their pay into their pension plans, federal retirees will continue to receive their generous pension benefits and current employees will not be required to pay more.

Please excuse my cynicism, but note that the federal employees have unions–the military does not. Unions make very large political contributions–the military does not. This is a horrible perversion of priorities. We ask our soldiers to risk their lives, and then we cut their pensions rather than cutting the pensions of civil servants who work in safety. That is simply awful.

The article reports:

A loss of one percentage point in their COLA translates into thousands of dollars in lost retirement income.

For instance, a 42-year-old who retires as an enlisted E-7 could lose a minimum of $72,000. E-7 refers to the ranks of Sergeant First Class, Chief Petty Officer (CPO), Master Sergeant, and Gunnery Sergeant.

A 42-year old Lieutenant Colonel could lose a minimum of $109,000 over a 20-year period.

If an E-7 retires at 40, they would lose $83,000. Commissioned officers could lose much more. Lieutenant colonels and commanders (an O-5 rank) who retire at 40 would lose $124,000.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.) has also come out against the deal late Thursday.

“I cannot support a budget agreement that fails to deal with the biggest drivers of our debt, but instead pays for more federal spending on the backs of our active duty and military retirees – those who have put their lives on the line to defend us,” Ayotte said in a statement.

“My hope is that both parties can work together to replace these unfair cuts that impact our men and women in uniform with more responsible savings, such as the billions that the Government Accountability Office has identified in waste, duplication and fraud across the federal government.”

It will be interesting to see if this part of the bill gets changed. If not, everyone who voted for the compromise should be voted out of office.

 

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Were There Actually Two Sides Negotiating In Geneva?

Today’s Washington Free Beacon posted an article about Iran‘s announcement that it has developed ballistic missile technology.

The article reports:

Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the lieutenant commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), made the critical weapons announcement just days after Iran and the West signed a deal aimed at curbing the country’s nuclear activities.

Salami claimed that “Iran is among the only three world countries enjoying an indigenous ballistic missile technology,” according to the state-run Fars News Agency.

“Many countries may have access to cruise missiles technology, but when it comes to ballistic missiles, I am confident that only the U.S. and the [former] Soviet Union could master this technology, and now we can announce that we own this technology as well,” Salami told Fars.

Obviously this may or may not be true, but how much are will willing to bet on the truthfulness of his claim.

The article quotes Michael Rubin on the situation:

“Perhaps, [Secretary of State] John Kerry believes that Iran only wants ballistic missiles for peaceful purposes,” said Rubin, author of Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes.

“The fact of the matter is that Kerry and crew left both ballistic missiles and the nuclear warhead trigger experimentation at Parchin [military site] off-the-table” during talks in Geneva, Rubin said. “It’s the diplomatic equivalent of installing a burglar alarm system in your house but leaving the keys in the door.”

Most of us would like to see peace come to the Middle East. Somehow I don’t think the path we are currently traveling as a country is leading in that direction.

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Forward Progress Is Hard When Members Of The Team Are Pulling In Opposite Directions

Today the Washington Free Beacon reported that Russia is helping Iran build a second  nuclear power plant. Iran claims that the plant will be used to generate electricity, but the plant will also give Iran access to plutonium, which could be used to fuel a nuclear weapon. Meanwhile, Congress is trying to put new economic sanctions on Iran, and the White House is blocking them.

The article reports:

However, the White House continues to pressure lawmakers to hold off on passing a new round of sanctions, arguing that they would likely spark a war with Iran.

Democrats and Republicans balked at this assessment during a congressional hearing on Wednesday, saying that sanctions are the only way to rein in Tehran’s ongoing nuclear work.

“Sanctions have forced Iran to the table and we should build upon this success with additional measures,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R., Calif.) said during a hearing to assess Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s first 100 days in office.

“The Iranian regime hasn’t paused its nuke program,” Royce said. “Why should we pause our sanctions efforts as the admin is pressuring Congress to do?”

The sanctions on Iran have had a major impact on the Iranian economy. On October 8, 2013, the Washington Free Beacon reported:

The Iranian economy is just 18 months away from collapse according to Israeli intelligence minister Yuval Steinitz.

Steinitz, speaking at a conference Monday at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, said that international sanctions have effectively caused major damage to Iran’s economy.

It is no wonder that Iran is willing to negotiate to save its economy. What Iran is not willing to negotiate is the continuation of its nuclear program. We need to remember that.

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What Has Happened To Our Vetting Process For Public Office?

Mohamed Elibiary is a member of DHS’s Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC). On Friday, the Washington Free Beacon reported that when asked to name an Islamic country where non Muslims are treated with equality, Mr. Elibiary tweeted, “America and yes I do consider the United States of America an Islamic country with an Islamically compliant constitution. Move On!”

Wow. The U.S. Constitution is not Islamically compliant. Women in America have an equal voice in legal matters. Women in America are not subject to female genital mutilation. Women in America are not put in prison if they are raped. America does not recognize honor killings. That’s just the beginning.

The article reports:

Elibiary has expressed great support for the Muslim Brotherhood, claiming in a recent interview with Clarion that the organization is “pragmatic” and “non-violent.”

Supporters of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood have been cited for a range of violent crimes before and after the fall of Morsi, including the desecration of churches and other abuses.

“I believe that MB and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, has by and large acted responsibly, if not always effectively, during the democratic transition period that Egypt is in the very early stages of,” Elbiary told Clarion.

Elibiary has served on the DHS’ “Countering Violent Extremist Working Group,” as well as its “Faith-based Security and Communications Advisory Committee.”

Elibiary’s critics say that someone with his views should not be advising DHS, the country’s chief counter-terror agency responsible for advising local governments across the country.

“This isn’t just a foreign policy issue,” said Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst for the Clarion Project. “Elibiary’s beliefs are reflected in DHS training guidelines that leave counter-terrorism personnel unaware that the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood even exists.”

Neither Elibiary nor a DHS spokesperson responded to a Washington Free Beacon request for comment.

We will never win the war on terror if we refuse to understand who the terrorists are.

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Something Is Wrong With This Picture

Yesterday the Washington Free Beacon reported that a report by the inspector general of the Department of Energy shows that a top legal official was advising the human resources people at the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) on how to implement hiring practices that put veterans at a disadvantage. When two employees at BPA questioned the hiring practices, the BPA attempted to remove them from service.

The article reports:

The report reinforces criticism of BPA by congressional investigators, who in August held a hearing investigating similar allegations from the department’s IG.

“Today’s report offers shocking new details about the Bonneville Power Administration’s illegal hiring practices that discriminated against veterans and the agency’s culture of intimidation toward whistleblowers,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a statement.

According to the report, a staff attorney at Bonneville “provided guidance that likely facilitated” hiring practices that disadvantaged veterans.

Federal regulations require that veterans receive preferential treatment in federal hiring.

During an investigation into what was happening, employees of BPA were not willing to speak before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee because they were afraid of losing their jobs.

Does anyone see a pattern here?

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Absurdity In Government

The Washington Free Beacon posted a story today about the shutdown of the Claude Moore Colonial Farm. The shutdown is supposedly the result of the stalemate over the budget.

The article reports:

According to Anna Eberly, managing director of the farm, NPS sent law enforcement agents to the park on Tuesday evening to remove staff and volunteers from the property.

“You do have to wonder about the wisdom of an organization that would use staff they don’t have the money to pay to evict visitors from a park site that operates without costing them any money,” she said.

The park withstood prior government shutdowns, noting in a news release that the farm will be closed to the public for the first time in 40 years.

Please note: the government spent money to close down a park that operates without government funding and does not cost them any money.

The article further reports:

Farm staff repeatedly asked the NPS to allow the farm to remain open. “Every appeal our Board of Directors made to the NPS administration was denied,” Eberly said.

She called the decision “utter crap.”

“We have operated the Farm successfully for 32 years after the NPS cut the Farm from its budget in 1980 and are fully staffed and prepared to open today. But there are barricades at the Pavilions and entrance to the Farm,” Eberly explained.

Previous federal funding battles have threatened the farm’s operations. A group of citizens in 1980 formed the Friends of Turkey Run Farm, established a $500,000 endowment for the farm, and negotiated a 30-year no-fee lease.

This park is on federal land, but has no relationship to the federal budget. It is small and petty to shut it down.

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Connections Americans Need To Know About

Yesterday the Washington Free Beacon posted a story about Gehad El-Haddad, a former employee of the William J. Clinton Foundation. Mr. El-Haddad was arrested in Cairo on Tuesday and charged with inciting violence.

The article reports:

Gehad el-Haddad served as one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s top communications officials until Egyptian security forces seized him as part of a wider crackdown on officials loyal to ousted former President Mohamed Morsi.

Before emerging as a top Brotherhood official and adviser to Morsi, el-Haddad served for five years as a top official at the Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit group founded by former President Bill Clinton.

…He was raised in a family of prominent Brotherhood supporters and became the public face of the Islamist organization soon after leaving his post at the Clinton Foundation.

However, much of his official work with the Brotherhood took place while he was still claiming to be employed by the Clinton Foundation.

“It was only a matter of time before Gehad el-Haddad was arrested,” Egypt expert Eric Trager told the Washington Free Beacon. “Many of the other Muslim Brotherhood spokesmen have been apprehended, and in addition to decapitating the organization, the military-backed government has been specifically targeting the Brotherhood’s media wing, including by shutting down its T.V. stations at the time of Morsi’s ouster on July 3.”

This is not the only connection between the Clintons and the Muslim Brotherhood. Huma Adedin, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top adviser, has strong family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The article further reports:

El-Haddad represented the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Climate Initiative in Egypt during his overlapping tenure, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He additionally “setup the foundation’s office in Egypt and managed official registration,” “supervised policy-making workshops & presented foundations views,” and “presented projects to high-level government officials,” among many other duties.

El-Haddad left the Clinton Foundation in August 2012, two months after Morsi assumed the Egyptian presidency.

He was appointed a “senior adviser and media spokesman” to the Muslim Brotherhood in January 2013 and served in that role until his arrest.

It seems as if the military rulers in Egypt are more aware of the threat to democracy represented by the Muslim Brotherhood than our own elected officials.

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Cover-up? What Cover-up?

Today’s Washington Free Beacon is reporting that a CIA employee has been suspended after refusing to sign a non-disclosure agreement barring him from discussing Benghazi.

The article reports:

Rep. Frank Wolf (R., Va.) revealed at an event on Monday that his office was anonymously informed about the CIA employee, who is purportedly facing an internal backlash after refusing to sign a legal document barring him from publicly or privately discussing events surrounding the Benghazi attack.

The revelation comes about a month after several media outlets reported that CIA employees with knowledge of the terror attack had been forced to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDA) and submit to regular polygraph tests.

…The newly formed Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi has similar goals as congressional investigators but is not confined by rules governing the legislative body, speakers at the event said.

Retired Air Force Col. Richard Brauer, cofounder of the group Special Operations Speaks, said the committee would aim to find out why U.S. military assets were ordered to “stand down” during the Benghazi attack.

“We’re tired of the lies and the cover-up that continues to this day,” Brauer said. “Who gave the order” to stand down, “to remain in place in Tripoli and the other locations and do nothing. When was this order given and why?”

“Forces were available on that very night, likely champing at the bit, but they were told to stand down,” he said. “These are words that will live in infamy.”

There were four Americans killed at Benghazi, one of whom was an American Ambassador. Under normal conditions, the attack on the annex at Benghazi and the killing of the Ambassador would be considered an act of war. There are many questions as to why no American forces were allowed to come to the rescue and as to why this attack was not considered an act of war. The only person to go to jail because of the Benghazi attack was the person who made the video that was not responsible for the attack. He has recently been let out of jail, but the fact remains that he is the only person who has gone to jail because of what happened at Benghazi. This whole scenario reads like something out of Through the Looking Glass.

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We Need A Common-Sense Immigration Policy

I don’t support the current immigration bill. Because we currently have an administration that selectively enforces the law, I am afraid that the enforcement parts of the immigration bill will not be enforced. However, we desperately need to revise our immigration laws. One example of bureaucratic nonsense relating to immigration appeared yesterday in the Washington Free Beacon.

The story involves Hafez (a pseudonym to protect his identity), who served as an Afghan translator for Marine Corporal Dakota Meyer during the battle of Ganjgal. Dakota Meyer is the first living Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam war.

The article reports:

But Meyer says his friend Hafez is still waiting to receive a U.S. visa he applied for years ago. The former translator remains in Afghanistan under daily threat from the Taliban while his application is caught in the bureaucratic limbo of the State Department.

“He stood next to me, by my side pretty much the entire time [during the Battle of Ganjgal],” Meyer, 25, said in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon on Monday. “He helped me carry my guys out.”

“If we can’t help get this guy back who sacrificed so much to bring these Americans home, I’m sure he’ll be killed,” he said.

As the American presence in Afghanistan decreases, translators have been targeted by the Taliban . We need to grant this man (and his family) political asylum in America as soon as possible. We won’t have anyone in the world willing to help us anywhere if we continue to behave like this.

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About That Transparency Thing…

Today’s Washington Free Beacon posted an article about the Department of Justice’s handling of Freedom of Information Act requests. The article points out that the Department of Justice has not challenged a single instance of a federal agency withholding records from Freedom of Information (FOIA) requesters since 2009.

The article reports:

The audit (a government-wide audit performed by the National Security Archive in December) prompted a letter to the justice Department from Issa and Cummings.

“Given OIP’s role in in implementing compliance with FOIA, the committee seeks information about a number of issues including what many term as outdated FOIA regulations, exorbitant and possibly illegal fee assessments, FOIA backlogs, the excessive use and abuse of exemptions, and dispute resolution services,” Issa and Cummings wrote in February.

The Justice Department did not respond to oversight’s letter for four months.

The National Security Archive sought the information through a FOIA request in March, but the Justice Department told the NSA the records were exempt from disclosure.

“The fact that this document was blocked from release using a b(5) exemption is a good example of why the DOJ isn’t meeting the president’s instruction on FOIA,” National Security Archive FOIA coordinator Nate Jones told the Free Beacon.

Issa and Cummings wrote to the department again on Monday, saying Justice’s failure to respond “extremely disappointing.”

The Washington Free Beacon has previously reported that the number of FOIA requests has greatly increased during the Obama Administration.

The article further reports:

An August 2012 Washington Post analysis found that early freedom of information progress by the Obama administration “stalled and, in the case of most departments, reversed in direction.”

The number of FOIA requests denied in full due to exemptions rose more than 10 percent last year, to 25,636 from 22,834 the previous year, according to the Post’s analysis.

This really does not sound like transparency to me.

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It Wasn’t Historic–It Wasn’t Even Close

The title of the story in yesterday’s Washington Times reads, “Chuck Hagel makes history as first to be blocked from Defense.” Well, not so fast.

The Washington Post archives report:

U.S. Senate confirmation of a president’s Cabinet nomination of a former U.S. senator is usually pro forma. But the treatment of George Bush’s pick for secretary of defense, ex-Texas senator John Tower, was anything but standard.

After five grueling weeks of testimony, debate, and rumor-mongering, Tower’s nomination was defeated in March 1989 by a mostly party-line vote. Accusations of extensive womanizing and heavy drinking filled the airwaves and newspapers, supplementing more traditional charges of conflict-of-interest in Tower’s previous work for defense contractors.

Many media organizations unquestionably let their standards slip, with unproven allegations receiving equal weight with legitimate commentary. By the time of the final Senate vote, Tower felt compelled to make a humiliating public pledge on national television to abstain from drinking if confirmed, on pain of resignation if he broke his promise. (the italics are mine)

There is definitely a double standard here. The charges against Tower were a mixture of proven and unproven. The filibuster of Senator Hagel is the result of his refusal to release financial records and transcripts of his speeches, combined with a desire of the Senate to find out the truth about Benghazi.

The article at the Washington Times reports:

GOP senators said they are delaying the confirmation in order to have more time to study Mr. Hagel’s record and to obtain more information on the White House’s handling of the September attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a matter on which they accuse the administration of stonewalling or providing wrong information. Republicans expect they will green-light him later this month after the chamber returns from a weeklong vacation.

It is generally thought that Senator Hagel will be confirmed. Considering some of his speeches, some of his financial backers, and some of his comments on various aspects of the war on terrorism, that is unfortunate.

We do need to remember, however, that Senator Hagel is not the first Presidential appointee to have a bumpy road to confirmation or not to be confirmed. The press needs a history lesson.

For more information on some of the antics of the media regarding the Senator Hagel nomination, see this Washington Free Beacon article posted today.Enhanced by Zemanta