Garamendi Blocks Up to 130,000 Jobs & Raises Taxes on Middle-Class Families
California Democrat Paves the Way for Tax Increases on Middle-Class Families While Allowing Himself a Pay Raise
Washington --- John Garamendi today broke new ground in demonstrating just how out of touch he is with middle-class families in California when he voted against the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act. Garamendi sided with President Obama and Nancy Pelosi and voted to pave the way for higher payroll taxes on all working Americans, block the 130,000 potential jobs from the Keystone XL pipeline project, and even allow a pay raise for himself in the process. Garamendi certainly went far to appease his Democrat leaders in Washington today, but struggling families and small businesses in California will be paying the price.
“This is a win-win for middle-class Americans who need tax relief and jobs, but somehow John Garamendi figured out a reason to oppose it,” said NRCC Communications Director Paul Lindsay. “Garamendi voted to block up to 130,000 jobs associated with the popular Keystone XL pipeline project and pave the way for payroll tax hikes on all working families. The only thing Garamendi can confidently say he did with this vote is allow himself a pay raise.”
Democrat leaders in Washington have been strongly opposed to the popular Keystone XL pipeline project, fearing they will alienate radical Democrat activists:
“Environmental groups have been protesting the pipeline that would run from Alberta oil sands to Texas refineries, and there have been rumblings that greens would abandon Obama next fall if he approved it. At the same time, labor unions have backed the pipeline, arguing that it would create badly needed jobs for American workers.” (Dan Berman and Darren Goode, “Obama punts Keystone XL pipeline,” Politico, 11/10/11)
The union-backed Keystone XL pipeline project would potentially create up to 130,000 jobs:
“Many of those 20,000 jobs on the construction of the pipeline would have been filled by skilled union members. Eventually, the completed pipeline was expected to result in as many as 130,000 jobs…” (Editorial, “Keystone pipeline delay is the wrong call,” Houston Chronicle, 11/11/10)
Even Democrats admit there is little reason to oppose a package that creates jobs and prevents tax increases on middle-class families:
“At a time when many are without work, it is time that we come together in a bi-partisan way to pass this legislation which will create tens of thousands of new jobs. I commend the Speaker for including the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that is supported by business and labor.
“I also believe that this bill should attract votes from both political parties, because it takes initiatives supported by President Obama including the payroll tax cut extension and the extension of unemployment benefits, while also including initiatives supported by congressional Republicans like freezing federal worker pay.” (Press Release, “Boren Supports Payroll Tax Cut Extension Legislation That Includes Permitting The Keystone XL Pipeline,” Congressman Dan Boren, 12/12/11)
The package also prevented scheduled pay raises for Members of Congress. (“Sec. 5421: Extension of Pay Limitation for Federal Employees,” H.R. 3630: The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, House Committee on Ways and Means, Accessed 12/12/11)
John Garamendi toed the line for President Obama and Nancy Pelosi today, and middle-class families in California will pay the price with higher taxes and fewer jobs. When Garamendi votes to allow himself a raise while hiking everyone else’s taxes, his constituents in California can only conclude that he is a part of the growing problem in Washington.
Garamendi Blocks Up to 130,000 Jobs & Raises Taxes on Middle-Class Families http://bit.ly/vK66yL #madeinwdc
The Rich Are Getting Richer; So Are the Poor
By Jarrett Skorup
“No matter your thoughts about the Occupy Wall Street movement, the protesters were right in at least one respect: The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer.”
Variations on this statement were repeated in dozens of blogs, commentaries, and even news reports in the past months. The claim comes via a Congressional Budget Office analysis that shows incomes for the top 1 percent of Americans growing by 275 percent between 1979 and 2007, while the lowest 20 percent saw their inflation-adjusted incomes grow by “only” 18 percent.
The numbers from the report are correct, but the assertions based on it are true only because of careful wording. While the “top 1 percent” had the highest growth of income, if broadened to include the top 20 percent (the usual way of analyzing such figures), the growth rate was a far less stratospheric 65 percent. This contrasts with about 40-percent growth for the middle three-fifths of all wage earners, and 18 percent for the lowest one-fifth.
Statistically, the lowest 20 percent of households are poor for one main reason: They don’t work as much. Among the causes are medical issues, disability, and bad incentives. Not surprisingly, households in the top 20 percent are far more likely to include people with jobs. Here’s how professor Mark Perry, a member of the Mackinac Center’s Board of Scholars and chairman of the economics department at the University of Michigan-Flint, described it:
"American households in the top income quintile have almost five times more family members working on average than the lowest quintile, and … are far more likely … to be well-educated, married, and working full-time in their prime earning years. In contrast, individuals in low-income households are far more likely to be less-educated, working part-time, either very young or very old, and living in single-parent households."
More significantly, the “rich getting richer” storyline insinuates that the top 1 percent and bottom 20 percent include the same individuals over time. For example, as reporter Julie Mack writes, “Overall, the numbers show that the more affluent you are, the better you’ve done in the past three decades.” Note how this ignores the reality that many individuals who were in the poorest group years ago have long since moved up and out, while among the rich are many families who are literally nouveau riche—they’ve recently arrived from lower income levels.
That’s the risk of relegating real people into statistical categories. Economist Thomas Sowell explained it this way: “The actual empirical evidence cited has been about what has been happening over time to statistical categories turns out to be the direct opposite of what has happened over time to flesh-and-blood human beings, many of whom move from one category to another over time.”
Data that tracks real people show that Sowell is correct. For example, as reported in The Wall Street Journal, IRS tax-return data shows that individuals in the bottom one-fifth back in 1996 experienced income growth of 91 percent by 2005. In contrast, individuals in the highest one-fifth saw their incomes increase just 10 percent over the same period. Incomes of households in the top 5 percent and 1 percent actually declined, by 7 percent and 24 percent, respectively.
Anecdotally, this makes sense: For example, in 1985, my father was just out of college and probably in the lowest 20 percent. But by 2007 he had moved up. Such examples are commonplace, but are completely missed by statistical aggregates.
In the late 1970s, Steve Jobs was trying to expand a struggling computer company. Bill Gates was writing code and just beginning to start working on a personal computer. And one of the founders of Google, Sergey Brin, had just arrived as a six-year-old immigrant from the USSR. These are individuals who did not enter that top 1 percent until many years later—in the process displacing former “one percenters.”
It was these individuals, not statistical categories, who created companies and wealth by making products people wanted. Establishing conditions in which individuals can move up the income ladder by creating, innovating, and building is what America is all about.
Jarrett Skorup is a 2009 graduate of Grove City College and former student fellow at The Center for Vision & Values. He is the research associate for online engagement for Michigan Capitol Confidential at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided
Reckless Congress REINS in Clean Water Rules
by Sharon Guynup
The U.S. House of Representatives gave Americans a strange gift this holiday season. They passed a bill to gut safe drinking water protections, even as millions of California, Nevada and Arizona residents struggle with the contamination of their Lake Mead and Colorado River drinking water supply by perchlorate, a rocket fuel.
Elsewhere in the West, the San Francisco Bay delta and San Joaquin River are contaminated with selenium and mercury. Las Vegas tap water contains radium; Reno’s Truckee River carries toxic arsenic levels. And in Midland, Texas this year residents sued Dow Chemical for dangerous levels of hexavalent chromium in their drinking water. Chromium-6 is a cancer-causing chemical made infamous by Julia Roberts’ film, Erin Brockovich.
Americans overwhelmingly want safe drinking water – 84 percent of respondents to a recent Gallup poll ranked water pollution as the top U.S. environmental concern. Yet numerous bills passed this year by the GOP-led House ignore citizens’ very real concerns, well-established scientific evidence, and health risks in an attempt to dismantle or delay regulations that keep pollutants out of America’s drinking water.
The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act is the scariest of these initiatives. Passed by the U.S. House on December 7th, it is flying below the media radar and is embedded within a Senate bill for “job creation.” REINS requires a Congressional vote on any regulation with an annual economic impact over $100 million – that’s up to 100 congressional votes per year – creating a scheduling logjam that would make passage of any new federal regulation virtually impossible.
Under the Act, if one house rejected or failed to vote within 70 working days on a new regulation, it would “be dispatched to the regulatory graveyard,” notes The Washington Post. REINS will essentially return environmental regulation to 1890s standards – when corporations polluted with impunity.
The current war on clean water is part of a GOP deregulation agenda that screams “job killer!” at any environmental protection. Both Senate and House Republicans make no secret of their ultimate goal: to end all environmental regulation and abolish the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
While advertised as money savers, these attempts at deregulation are thinly-veiled corporate giveaways that bolster industry profits at the expense of our families’ health. The REINS Act is a stealth attack on clean water and clean air protections that would cause tens of thousands of premature deaths annually. Bipartisan analyses have repeatedly shown that the cost of environmental regulation is exponentially cheaper than the costs of toxic cleanup and medical care.
Americans want healthy lives for themselves and their children – and that means protecting our water supply. But EPA is under intense pressure from Congress and corporate lobbies not to do their job. As a result, millions of us ingest toxic traces of pesticide, rocket fuel, arsenic, heavy metals, and industrial and waste treatment chemicals each day. Not because they’re safe, but because EPA has only gotten around to testing 114 of the 315 pollutants found in U.S. tap water. There are no standards for the rest.
Last year, EPA finally regulated perchlorate – the first chemical regulated by EPA in 15 years. This rocket fuel is known to cause neurological problems in babies and pollutes drinking water in 26 states. Since 1996, the fiscally- and resource-strapped agency has reviewed just 138 chemicals, and failed to set drinking water safety standards for any of them; these chemicals collectively pollute the drinking water of 110 million Americans.
EPA administrator Lisa Jackson openly admits such failings. In a New York Times interview she agreed that the nation’s water doesn’t meet public health goals, and that enforcement of water pollution laws is unacceptably low.
Americans clearly want and have a right to safe drinking water, free of dangerous chemicals. EPA must be strengthened – not abolished – and meet its Congressionally-appointed duty to enforce clean water laws. The agency needs to protect public health by speeding research and regulation of hazardous industrial contaminants.
Of course, this can’t happen until Americans stand up to polluting industries and their political allies in Congress who pass dangerous legislation like the REINS Act.
Journalist Sharon Guynup’s writing has appeared in Smithsonian, The New York Times Syndicate, Scientific American, The Boston Globe, and nationalgeographic.com. © www.blueridgepress.com 2011.
GOV. DANIELS: RELEASE INDIANA'S PUBLIC PENSION NUMBERS!
CHICAGO - Taxpayers United of America Vice President, Christina Tobin, called on Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to set the standard for transparency by leading his state to release its government pension data.
“I have written a letter to Gov. Daniels, urging him to change the culture of secrecy surrounding government employee pension benefit amounts. He can champion enforcement of Indiana’s existing freedom of information law: IC 5-14-3-1, regarding access to public records, viz, : “…all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government…”
“Indiana has refused to release the names and pension amounts for its retired employees at every level of government. There is a culture of resistance and secrecy around the salaries of current employees as well. Indiana State and local government officials have been more resistant in providing salary data than any other state in which we have researched the government pensions”, said Tobin.
“In states like Indiana that refuse to disclose individual pensions, we estimate pensions for current employees using their current salaries and the specific pension rules for the fund in which they participate. While this provides a reasonable estimate, the people have a right to know actual pension amounts.”
“Speaking of the total pension funds in terms of millions of dollars doesn’t mean anything to average working people who are making $30,000 or $40,000 a year. But when people see that they are paying to support the lavish, million dollar payouts of their retired neighbors, the problem becomes very clear”.
“In Indiana, the government employee pensions are funded entirely by the taxpayers with no employee contributions. This is the peoples’ money and they have a right to the details of the spending of it”.
“The issue of the Indiana government pensions, and the secrecy surrounding it, has received extensive press coverage, affirming the taxpayers’ need to know”.
"Governor Daniels has championed some important fiscal improvements in Indiana and we are calling on him to again lead the way to a transparent culture of government, by and for the people,” said Tobin.
Neocons Don't Believe Their Own Anti-Iran Propaganda
by Sheldon Richman
We’re being lied to about the purported Iranian nuclear threat, and the war party knows it.
In ways eerily reminiscent of the 2002 buildup to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the American people are being fed a steady diet of war propaganda about Iran and its alleged quest for a nuclear weapon. As with Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein, comparisons to Hitler circa 1938 abound. Max Boot, the neoconservative columnist, is just one of many propagandists working to agitate Americans into supporting a military attack on Iran. He wrote recently, “After the failure to stop Hitler and Bin Laden, among others, Westerners were said to have suffered a ‘failure of imagination.’ We are suffering that same failure today as we fail to face up to the growing threat from the Islamic Republic.”
The message is unmistakable: Time is running out. Get Iran now before it’s too late.
But despite what Boot and his ilk would have us think, there is no evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon. The U.S. government’s dozen and a half intelligence agencies have twice said so. The latest International Atomic Energy Agency report recycled some old, discredited claims and fabricated “evidence” while nevertheless certifying that Iran has diverted none of its uranium to weapons production.
Yet those who are bent on war are undeterred. Republican president candidates (except for Ron Paul) try to outdo each other in their anti-Iran saber-rattling. Michele Bachmann has gone the furthest, recklessly peddling the falsehood that Iran’s president (who doesn’t control the military) has vowed to launch a nuclear attack on Israel and the United States as soon as a bomb is in hand. This is a lie.
An attack on Israel or the United States would be suicidal, and no one seriously thinks the ayatollahs seek the destruction of Persia. Moreover, Iran’s leadership has issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons.
Now we know that even the neocon vanguard doesn’t believe its own propaganda.
Occasionally, leading neoconservative intellectuals forget that the wider world is listening and say things that belie their own case for war. Take, for example, Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. In a recent video statement Pletka said, The biggest problem for the United States is not Iran getting a nuclear weapon and testing it, it’s Iran getting a nuclear weapon and not using it. Because the second that they have one and they don’t do anything bad, all of the naysayers are going to come back and say, “See, we told you Iran is a responsible power. We told you that Iran wasn’t getting nuclear weapons in order to use them immediately. …”
And they will eventually define Iran with nuclear weapons as not a problem.
Let that sink in: the biggest — biggest — problem with Iran’s acquiring a nuclear weapon is that it might not use it. Got that? And why would that be bad? Because “naysayers” (that is, people against war) would be able to point to Iran’s responsible conduct as proof that Iran is not irresponsible. Imagine that!
Pletka leaves the implication that the U.S. government should attack Iran, which would devastate that country and murder countless innocent people, in order to stop it from demonstrating that it is not a reckless, insane, and suicidal power in the Middle East. Has there ever been a worse reason to launch a war?
This is what passes for reason and logic among our “serious” foreign-policy thinkers in Washington. These are the same people who gave us Operation Iraqi Freedom, which killed or injured hundreds of thousands and created four million refugees.
But those who are prepared to sacrifice innocent Iranians to solve this “problem” aren’t mad. In their worldview, they are right to worry about Iran being perceived as a responsible power. Pletka’s colleague Thomas Donnelly spelled it out in The Weekly Standard: “We’re fixated on the Iranian nuclear program while the Tehran regime has its eyes on the real prize: the balance of power in the Persian Gulf and the greater Middle East.”
Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org) and editor of The Freeman magazine
OSAWATOMIE SPEECH GREEN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:
"White House has already betrayed progressive values"
(BOSTON) Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate, reacted to today's speech by President Obama in Osawatomie, Kansas, by saying that, "Obama is known for his rhetoric, but the reality is that the White House is wall to wall, Wall Street." She added that, "The current White House poured $7.77 trillion into the big banks, but provided only a trickle to assist the tens of millions of regular Americans who lost their homes, health care, jobs, and access to education."
Stein is a medical doctor and reform advocate who has appeared on national television shows such as The Today Show and 20/20. Stein is at this moment returning to her home in Massachusetts from a weeklong tour in California, and is available for media interviews this evening and tomorrow.
Dr. Stein has made the Green New Deal a centerpiece of her campaign. She proposes to create 25 million jobs, stop home foreclosures, forgive student debt, provide medicare for all, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through massive investment in a green transition, funded by taxes on the very wealthy and major corporations.
The Stein campaign points out the that the White House's choice of location is ironic, as Osawatomie's historic symbolism is tied to third parties that broke with the political establishment. Both Teddy Roosevelt and John Brown, the two men who made the town famous, were proponents of independent progressive parties. The Green Party is the modern day incarnation of that independent progressive tradition.
Coast Guard and Department of State share resources for new integrated health information system
The U.S. Coast Guard's Health, Safety and Work-Life Directorate Monday announced an Interagency Agreement with the Department of State to share an Integrated Health Information System (IHiS), which includes a commercial electronic health record, Epic.™
This unique agreement provides substantial benefits to both agencies, including efficiencies generated by leveraging joint purchasing power and allowing the Coast Guard and the Department of State to share resources. It also will significantly increase the interoperability of healthcare information within the federal government and the private sector, a critical component of healthcare reform.
This collaboration leverages the Coast Guard's initial health care systems investment while sharing life-cycle costs with the Department of State, generating immediate and long-term economic benefits. Coast Guard medical clinics nationwide will be able to access Coast Guard personnel medical records from a central database instead of having to transfer paper records from different locations. The Department of State will share this main server to support its medical records database and will provide its back-up system for use by the entire records database.
Under the provisions of the agreement, clinicians for the Coast Guard and the Department of State also will have access to the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record, the unified health record for active and former members of the U.S. armed services and to the Nationwide Health Information Network.
Generations bookend Rural America
Rural youth and elderly hold their own, but rural areas lag in working age young adults
Lyons, Nebraska - A Center for Rural Affairs report released today finds that rural areas in the Great Plains and Midwest continue to lose population and are caught between “bookend generations” - the youngest and the oldest - with a demographic valley in between.
“Increasingly, rural America’s greatest exports are our young people. We send them off to college and hope they return home after graduation, and often they want to return but if the jobs and economic opportunity are not here they will be drawn to the opportunity and bright lights of the city,” said Jon Bailey, Research Director of the Center for Rural Affairs and author of the report.
The distribution of population by age further demonstrates what is happening to population in rural areas of the region, Bailey continued. Rural areas hold their own with urban areas in proportion of population of their youngest residents. But as the youngest residents turn 20 and age into their 30s and mid-40s, the prime working years, rural populations compared to urban populations begin to lag. This is a significant illustration of the lack of economic opportunities in many rural places in the region.
The report, Age Distribution on the Great Plains, is the second in a series of briefs examining data from the 2010 Census. The analysis covers a 10 state region that includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa and selected counties in Colorado, Montana, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
A full copy of the report can be downloaded at: http://files.cfra.org/pdf/census-brief2-age.pdf
“The age distribution of the region’s population has significant implications for the region both immediately and in the long-term,” continued Bailey. “The relative youth of the urban areas of the region affects the economics of the entire region. Investment to create economic opportunities is likely to flow into urban areas of the region to capitalize on the youth and education of there. Conversely, the aging of rural areas of the region (nearly half of the rural population is 45 years of age and older) and the relatively large population of the youngest residents means rural areas must focus on a different set of issues that are critical to those “bookend generations” such as health care and education.”
In order to reverse rural America’s “brain drain” trend, it is crucial for rural communities and public policy to find new, innovative ways to create rural economic opportunities and revitalize rural economies,” said Bailey.
A 2007 Center for Rural Affairs analysis demonstrated that USDA and Congress have severely over-subsidized the biggest and most powerful farms while consistently under-investing in rural economic development, spending twice as much on subsidizing the 20 largest farms in each of 13 leading farm states as it invested in rural development programs to create economic opportunity for millions of people in thousands of towns in the 20 rural counties with the most out-migration in each respective state - (the full report - An Analysis of USDA Farm Program Payments and Rural Development Funding In Low Population Growth Rural Counties, a.k.a. Oversubsidizing and Underinvesting... can be viewed or downloaded at: http://www.cfra.org/node/603).
According to Bailey, federal contributions to rural development have been plummeting for years – almost one-third of the USDA Rural Development budget has been cut since 2003. And Congress is considering making even further cuts to already bare-bones rural development programs. For example, one-third of the funds for the popular Value Added Producer Grant could be taken away, as well as all the money for the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program. The USDA only uses about 1.7 percent of it’s budget for rural development, equaling about $40.68 for every rural resident.
The Center for Rural Affairs proposes that instead of continuing the Brain Drain trend, a Rural Renewal Initiative should be created in the next farm bill and Congress should commit $500 million over five years to a Community Prosperity Fund that the Secretary of Agriculture could spend in existing rural development programs. New opportunities are arising all the time in broadband, renewable energy, food systems and ecotourism, and this investment could breathe new life and capital into communities suffering population loss.
Morevoer, this investment could be fully paid for by tightening the limits on farm payments received by the largest farmers – a policy the Center for Rural Affairs has advocated for many years. It could also be paid for by reducing direct farm payments by just 2 percent. Though $100 million dollars per year is small in the context of farm bill spending, it would represent a significant and much-needed increase for rural development.
Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.
An Open Letter to President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta,
Why are Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Blatantly Attacking Israel Our Only Democratic Mideast Ally?
In recent days our Secretary of Defense has put his cards on the table and given Israel an ultimatum "Get to the damned negotiating table," where the cards are stacked against Israel. This curt demand was made public Friday December 2nd at the leftest Brookings Institute's Saban Center for Middle East Policy. A day later Secretary of State Clinton railed against Israel by supporting the policies of Israel's radical Left minority. She accused Israel of disrespecting women's rights. This is how they treated America's only long-time democratic ally in the Middle East - with total disrespect.
Our public officials' adversarial role was forthcoming despite unprecedented concessions made by Israel which included a 10 month legal building moratorium in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem. At the same time, the PA refused to negotiate or even recognize the existence of the Jewish state. Prime Minister Netanyahu had even offered to speak with President Abbas this past September when they were at the UN in New York and his offer was rejected. It is the Palestinians who are not coming to the negotiating table, to whom his profane command should have been directed.
The question arises: If the "Palestinians" will not even recognize the existence of a Jewish state, who will they negotiate with? The "Palestinians" have refused to recognize Israel's very existence. Is it possible to negotiate with a non-existent adversary? It appears obvious that the answer to this question is "no." There cannot be negotiations with an invisible non-entity, a non-existent second party. Which leaves the Israelis negotiating with themselves, a rather impossible assignment.
Our undiplomatic Secretaries of State and Defense need to rethink their position and behave in a more civil fashion to their allies, rather than fantasizing about making would-be friends with our enemies, whose countries are in turmoil and are being taken over by the tyrannical, barbaric Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.
Both Secretary Panetta and Secretary Clinton can begin to bring Israel and the Palestinians together by demanding that the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state of Israel. Until both parties recognize each other they cannot possibly have meaningful negotiations.
Respectfully, Esther Levens
Dr. Stein Condemns White House Blockade of Binding Agreement on Greenhouse Reduction Emissions at Durban
Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate, criticized the White House today for effectively killing a legally binding global agreement at the UN Climate Change meeting in Durban. The meeting concludes on December 9th.
Stein has called for a Green New Deal to create jobs while reducing climate change.
"I condemn the White House's inaction in the face of a global emergency," said Stein. "The U.S.' and other rich countries' inaction on climate change is not only inexcusable. U.S. and global emissions continue to rise, and national legislation to reduce emissions is nowhere in sight. Even when the Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate in 2009-10, efforts to pass even weak legislation to reduce emissions were completely unsuccessful due to the powerful influence of Big Oil and Big Coal on both of the establishment political parties."
The White House's global position reflects the influence of the fossil fuel companies that continue to dominate the energy agenda of both the Democrats and the Republicans. President Obama has himself supported offshore drilling, including granting permits to exploit the pristine environment of the Arctic, expanding nuclear power, and promoting the unproven technique of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).
"Climate change is the biggest threat facing the U.S. and the planet. We don't need a nice sounding but meaningless statement coming out of Durban. The White House continues to block the creation of binding agreements for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse emissions and provide financial support for developing countries to transition to carbon-free economies," stated Dr. Stein.
As part of her aggressive plan to combat climate change, Stein has proposed a Green New Deal, "that would create millions of green jobs through investment in weatherization, renewable energy, clean manufacturing, sustainable agriculture, public transportation and reforestation. The Green New Deal, according to Stein, would be paid for by redirecting trillions of dollars being squandered on wars for oil, Wall Street bailouts, and tax breaks for the wealthy. She says she will also end the White House's subsidies for "clean coal" schemes.
The emission reduction targets of the Kyoto Protocol, the only binding international agreement on greenhouse gases, expire in 2012. Despite the weakness of the Protocol, the U.S. has failed to ratify the agreement under both Democratic and Republican presidents. The United States and some other industrialized nations say they will adopt emissions limits only if rising powers like China, India, and Brazil (which were excluded from the original 1997 goals) also commit to matching reductions, which, according to Stein, "has been a formula for stalemate. The U.S. and a few other developed countries are responsible for releasing the vast majority of the global warming pollution that's in the atmosphere. It is appropriate that we take the lead in reducing the emissions."
"Global warming is already having a serious impact on the United States and the rest of the world. The year 2011 has been a year of extreme weather events marked by record rainfall and flooding, forest fires, and deadly tornadoes, and severe hurricane activity. These events have taken a huge toll on the lives and livelihoods of many thousands of U.S. residents. The global picture is one of growing climate instability and ever rising emissions. Yet the developed countries have made it clear that a new global agreement will not be in effect until 2020 at the earliest. U.S. leadership is desperately needed to galvanize a new world treaty to rescue the climate and our future economy that depends on it."
Since the disastrous UN climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009, the White House has worked to undermine the chances of a rules-based global agreement along the lines of the Kyoto Protocol. The Administration's support for ineffective voluntary commitments to reduce emissions in the form of a so-called "pledge and review" system has brought the UN process to the brink of collapse, as other major emitters have followed the U.S. and lowered their own already inadequate emissions reductions targets. "This isn't leadership" said Stein. "It's an abdication of responsibility to the future that we can no longer tolerate."
Paid for and authorized by Jill Stein for President/ http://www.JillStein.org
Broad Coalition to File “Millionaires’ Tax” to Fund Education, Senior Services, Public Safety
A broad coalition of educators, unions and community groups announced today it is filing a ballot initiative to restore critical funding to schools and universities, essential services for seniors, and public safety, as well as start rebuilding the state’s crumbling roads and bridges. It asks the wealthiest Californians—people who earn over a million dollars per year—to help pay to rebuild the state. The “California Funding Restoration Act” would increase personal income taxes only on those who make $1 million or more annually to restore funding to services that make California communities stronger and safer, and ensure seniors receive the care they deserve.
“As a teacher and parent, I have seen the terrible impact of state budget cuts on our schools through teacher layoffs and larger class sizes,” says Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers. “It is time for the wealthiest Californians to pay their fair share to restore funding for education and essential services.”
The coalition tested various approaches in opinion research with likely voters. No other type of proposal came close to the strength of voter opinion in favor of the idea that the richest Californians should pay their fair share to restore funding for schools and services. Pollster Ben Tulchin notes that “Extensive recent public and private polling show that California voters strongly support a progressive approach of raising taxes on the rich to fund education and other essential services that have been cut in recent years.”
The coalition estimates that the initiative, under discussion by Restoring California since last March, will restore $6 billion in funds for K-12, higher education, social services, public safety, and roads. It would help people like Jazmin Casa, an East Los Angeles Community College student, who says, “I lost my job caring for seniors because of the state budget cuts. Now, I’m fighting to keep my home.” Jazmin is an active member of California Calls, a statewide alliance of organizations that has identified 325,000 voters in support of this type of reform.
Rick Jacobs, chair and founder of the 750,000 strong Courage Campaign says, “This is the only initiative proposal that would restore funding devastated by the recession, and rehire thousands of teachers, senior care providers and public safety personnel, without affecting the wallets of working families and the middle class. It addresses the heart of the problem: that total income share to the state’s richest 1% has doubled over the last twenty years, while their tax rates have fallen and the 99% have fallen farther behind.”
Groups in support of this reform include:
California Federation of Teachers
Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment
Inner City Struggle
Community Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment
Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education
Dolores Huerta Foundation
Knotts Family and Parenting Institute
Communities for a New California
Causa Justa/Just Cause
The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Working Partnerships USA
Warehouse Workers United
Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement
Mobilize the Immigrant Vote
University of California Student Association
Garamendi Ignores Continuing Consequences of Job-Killing Government Takeover of Healthcare
California Democrat Opposes Repealing the Law that Continues to Kill Jobs in a Struggling Economy
Washington --- The Democrats’ government takeover of healthcare continues to burden businesses with unprecedented new mandates and fees, but John Garamendi seems unconcerned in this bad economy and opposes repealing the disastrous law (Roll Call #14, 1/19/11). Garamendi has made it clear he prioritizes defending President Obama’s disastrous takeover of healthcare despite the fact that a plurality of voters want to see it repealed and its burden on the economy continues to grow.
“The consequences continue to pile on from the Democrats’ disastrous government takeover of healthcare, which makes it even more amazing that John Garamendi defiantly stands by the law,” said NRCC Communications Director Paul Lindsay. “Garamendi's constituents in California recognize that the Democrats’ takeover of healthcare cut $500 billion from Medicare and is destroying jobs when they are needed most, which is why a plurality of Americans now want to see it repealed.”
Examples of how the Democrats’ government takeover of healthcare imposes an extraordinary burden on the economy continue to reveal themselves:
“When CKE’s health-care advisers, citing Obamacare’s complexities, opacities and uncertainties, said that it would add between $7.3 million and $35.1 million to the company’s $12 million health-care costs in 2010, Puzder said: I need a number I can plan with. They guessed $18 million — twice what CKE spent last year building new restaurants. Obamacare must mean fewer restaurants.
“And therefore fewer jobs. Each restaurant creates, on average, 25 jobs — and as much as 3.5 times that number of jobs in the community. (CKE spends about $1 billion a year on food and paper products, $175 million on advertising, $33 million on maintenance, etc.)…”
“In an economic climate of increasing uncertainties, Puzder says, one certainty is that many businesses now marginally profitable will disappear when Obamacare causes that margin to disappear. A second certainty is that ‘employers everywhere will be looking to reduce labor content in their business models as Obamacare makes employees unambiguously more expensive.’” (George F. Will, “Choking on Obamacare,” The Washington Post, 12/2/11)
It is no wonder that a plurality of Americans want to see the disastrous law repealed:
“A Gallup survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults found that 47 percent favor the repeal of healthcare reform, versus 42 percent who want the law kept in place. Eleven percent had no opinion.” (David Morgan, “More Americans than not want health law repeal: poll,” Reuters, 11/16/11)
John Garamendi continues to demonstrate how out of touch he is when he opposes repealing the Democrats’ government takeover of healthcare in the face of so many disastrous consequences. This is yet another example of how Garamendi and his fellow Washington Democrats are doing more harm than good to job creators when middle-class families in California want economic growth above all else.
Macy's Fires Employee for Protecting Women's Dressing Rooms from Cross-dresser
San Antonio, TX - A young woman was fired from a Macy's department store for refusing to violate her religious beliefs by permitting a young man dressed as a woman from entering the women's dressing room. Natalie Johnson claims she saw the young man walk out of the women's fitting room and politely told him that he could not go back in because it was for women only. The cross-dressing young man claimed that he is a "female." Johnson said that he was wearing make-up and girl's clothing, but clearly he was a male. The cross-dresser was accompanied by five other individuals. The group argued with expletives that Macy's is LGBT-friendly, to which Johnson replied that Macy's is also non-discriminatory toward religion, and that it would go against her religious beliefs to lie that he was a woman or compromise with homosexuality. The group then demanded to speak with a manager.
When Johnson was confronted by her employer, she explained that she could not allow a male to change in a female's fitting room. Johnson's boss referred her to Macy's LGBT policy which allows "transgender" people to change in any dressing room they want. However, Johnson pointed out that the same policy also protects against religious discrimination and, in this case, it protects her right to her beliefs that were being violated. The manager demanded that she comply with the LGBT policies or lose her job. Johnson refused to go against her sincerely held religious beliefs and was terminated from her job.
Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, commented: "Macy's policy which allows men to use the women's dressing room is fraught with problems. This policy will cause significant problems and will alienate the majority of Macy's customers. Macy's has essentially opened women's dressing rooms to every man. The LGBT agenda has become the theater of the absurd."
Obama's War Record Should Appall Progressives
by Sheldon Richman
“Why are liberals so desperately unhappy with the Obama presidency?” asks New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait, a self-proclaimed “Obama apologist.”
He answers his own question: “ Liberals are dissatisfied with Obama because liberals, on the whole, are incapable of feeling satisfied with a Democratic president.”
See? It isn’t Obama’s fault. It’s something in the so-called liberal, or progressive, psyche. (“Liberalism” originally meant a philosophy of maximum individual freedom, free markets, and minimum government, not today’s support for intrusive, comprehensive bureaucratic management.)
One wades through the 5,000-word essay hoping to witness Chait at least acknowledge that Obama has let his supporters down with his “war on terror” policies. But all we get is this:
Obama … has enjoyed a string of foreign-policy successes—expanding targeted strikes against Al Qaeda (including one that killed Osama bin Laden), ending the war in Iraq, and helping to orchestrate an apparently successful international campaign to rescue Libyan dissidents and then topple a brutal kleptocratic regime.
Excuse me? Progressives — who properly savaged George W. Bush for his autocratic presidency, civil-liberties flouting PATRIOT Act, undeclared war on Iraq, use of detention and torture at Guantanamo and elsewhere, and warrantless surveillance — are supposed to be happy with Barack Obama, who has essentially carried on most Bush policies, even kicking them up a few notches?
If we listen to Chait, there is nothing at all disappointing about Obama’s expansion of drone attacks in Pakistan and Somalia, with their routine “collateral damage” to innocents; his flagrant violation of the War Powers Resolution (not to mention the Constitution and his campaign promise) with his intervention in Libya; his intensification of the war in Afghanistan; his sanctions (an act of war) against Iran; his broken pledge to close Guantanamo; his support of indefinite detention without charge; his policy of assassinating even American citizens abroad without due process; his renewal of the PATRIOT Act; his placement of Marines in Australia with the words, “The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay”; his failed attempt to lift the UN ban on cluster bombs; or his invocation of state secrets to keep torture victims out of court.
Chait thinks Obama should get credit for “ending the war in Iraq” — but hold on. The December 31, 2011, withdrawal date is set in the Status of Forces Agreement negotiated between the Iraqi government and the Bush administration. Obama tried — but failed — to persuade Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to let U.S. troops stay longer. As it is, they will simply be moved down the road to Kuwait, and a large contract mercenary force will likely be left behind at the humongous embassy in Baghdad.
For Chait and his ilk, these all must count as “foreign policy successes.”
And what about torture? Nothing upset Progressives more during the Bush years. Toward the end of the administration, the criminal policy was abandoned and was forsworn by Obama. Yet the detention center at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan has been called “worse than Guantanamo” by Daphne Eviatar, an attorney for Human Rights First. Adds John Glaser of Antiwar.com,
There are now 3,000 detainees in Bagram, up from 1,700 since June (!) and five times the amount there when Barack Obama took office. Many of them have not been charged, have seen no evidence against them and do not have the right to be represented by a lawyer, aren’t given fair trials, and the U.S. claims it is not even obligated to explain why these people are caged.
U.S. special operations “black site” at Bagram features “sleep deprivation, holding detainees in cold cells, forced nudity, physical abuse, detaining individuals in isolation cells for longer than 30 days, and restricting the access of the International Committee of the Red Cross,” according to Jonathan Horowitz’s investigation for the Open Society Institute.
Finally, in a move that bodes ill for the future, Obama refuses to criminally or civilly investigate Bush administration officials for illegal torture of prisoners. He won’t even empanel a “truth commission” to bring the facts before the American people. Future administrations will thus have little to fear when they break the law.
Most progressives are silent about Obama’s shameful record. But it may explain the disappointment Chait can’t understand.
Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org) and editor of The Freeman magazine.
Federal Lawsuit Filed Against California's Ban on Openly Carried Loaded Firearms in Public
A Federal Civil Rights lawsuit naming California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., California Attorney General Kamala Harris, the City of Redondo Beach, its police department and police chief has been filed in the Federal Central District Court for California.
Defendants have until December 14th to waive service of summons. Those who do not will be served the following day which coincides with the 220th Anniversary of the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights.
In 1967, the California Legislature made it a crime to openly carry a loaded firearm in most public places in California. This was a knee-jerk reaction to the activities of the Black Panther Party which included a band of its members marching into the California State Capitol building openly carrying loaded firearms.
One of the Penal Code sections enacted as a result of this impromptu publicity stunt was California Penal Code section 12031 which makes it a crime to openly carry a loaded firearm in incorporated cities and areas of a County where the discharge of firearms is prohibited.
The opinion of then Attorney General Thomas C. Lynch was that “...it remains clear that the Legislature did not direct the provisions of section 12031 against all uses of firearms but only at uses of firearms which are inimical to the peace and safety of the people of California.”
Then Governor Ronald Reagan was adamant that the legislation not apply to openly carrying loaded firearms through town for peaceful purposes such as hunting.
The lawsuit was intended to disarm the members of the Black Panther Party. Since then, it has been applied to persons which the statute itself exempts such as hunters and persons with loaded firearms inside of mobile residences.
This year, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill AB 144 into law which makes it a crime to openly carry an unloaded handgun as well. That law goes into effect on January 1st. As a result, California has banned a complete class of weapons commonly used for the purpose of self-defense from being openly carried in public. Only unloaded rifles and shotguns may be openly carried after the new year.
The lawsuit was filed by Charles Nichols, President of CaliforniaRightToCarry.org. The plaintiff in the lawsuit has filed as an individual. CaliforniaRightToCarry.org is not a plaintiff in this case.
The case number is CV-11-9916 SJO (SS). The case has been assigned to Federal Judge S. James Otero.
Funds for the lawsuit are being raised by Open Carry advocates across the state:
California Right To Carry
Riverside Open Carry Club
Inland Empire Open Carr
Orange County Open Carry
Bay Area Open Carry Movement
California Open Carry Movement
Donations to the lawsuit can be made online at http://do.nr/4Rj and http://tinyurl.com/PC12031Lawsuit
Donations are not tax deductible.
If you would like more information about this topic, please send inquiries to Charles Nichols: email Press@CaliforniaRightToCarry.org
California Right To Carry is a California nonprofit registered with the California Secretary of State. It does not solicit or accept public donations for its organization. Operating expenses are provided entirely by its membership.
100% of the donations to the legal fund will be used for the Federal lawsuit. None of the money goes to the organization – California Right To Carry. Donations are not tax deductible.
Denham Statement On Recent Unemployment Numbers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Jeff Denham today released the following statement regarding this morning’s employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
“While lower unemployment rates are always welcome news, especially as we head into the holidays, we must be realistic about the situation. There is still much more that we can do to create American jobs and House Republicans have demonstrated this for the past year. Just this week, we passed three more bills to create jobs and we continue to work in bi-partisan ways towards pro-growth strategies. Unemployment in the Valley remains well above the national average, and we need to remain focused on getting people back to work by bringing a reliable source of water to the Valley and reducing regulations on small businesses and farms.
”NOTE: Congressman Denham addressed these concerns on the House Floor this week.
The week the House passed three pro-growth bills that would ease the regulatory burden hampering California businesses. Information on these three bills is below.
The Regulatory Accountability Act (H.R. 3010) is bipartisan legislation that “requires agencies to assess the costs and benefits” of new regulations on small businesses and “in most cases, to adopt the least-costly alternative to achieve the regulatory objectives of Congress,” says the House Judiciary Committee. Several dozen groups representing job creators, small businesses, and manufacturers support the bill, saying it “would modernize and update the 65-year old regulatory process” and help prevent new federal rules from destroying American jobs.
The Workforce Democracy & Fairness Act (H.R. 3094) prevents the Obama administration’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from imposing sweeping new regulations that threaten American jobs. According to the House Education & the Workforce Committee, the bill ensures “[n]o union election will be held in less than 35 days,” giving workers “the ability to make a fully informed decision in a union election,” and it and overturns new NLRB rules that would raise costs on job creators. These NLRB rules were cited in a memo by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) on the “top 10 job-destroying regulations” that would be addressed by the House this year.
The Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act (H.R. 527) closes loopholes used by federal agencies that allow them to impose costly, job-crushing regulations, says Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO). According to the House Judiciary Committee, it “requires federal agencies to identify and reduce the costs new regulations would impose on small businesses.” The bill was cited in Leader Cantor’s memo as one that makes “fundamental and structural reform of the rule-making system” to help create a better environment for jobs.
The Marcellus Shale Boom
By Steve Irwin
Marcellus Shale is becoming a household name, from discussions around kitchen tables to town halls with (sometimes) angry citizens. Endless media coverage, economic analysis, geological prediction, business maneuvers and political debate encompass this complex topic. Even the experts concede that the breadth of this issue will only be fully understood after gas production continues for many more years.
An important effect of natural gas production in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia is simple: jobs. In contrast to America’s chronically high unemployment rate, the Marcellus-generated job activity within these regions can only be described as a gold rush. Thousands of trucks, ranging from semi-tankers to white diesel crew-cab pickups, have flooded the streets and back roads of many towns. While billions of dollars in federal spending have done little to nothing to improve jobs and infrastructure, the dollars invested into these reborn communities, once hurting by economic depression, are all thanks to subsurface layers of dirty black shale.
Infrastructure improvements and job creation are not the only byproducts of Marcellus Shale drilling. Land owners are likewise reaping tremendous benefits. Three years ago, some land leased for gas production had a market value of $10 an acre, tops. The driving market force of competition has caused that number to surge, with landowners negotiating payment terms upwards of $3,000 an acre with 15 percent or better royalty rates. That’s cash in hand, checks in the mail, and escrow in the bank.
And still, a mere one percent of expected wells have been drilled within the Marcellus-rich region, with a potential of 200,000 wells. The full potential offers a source of American energy that is hard to estimate. The pipeline system needed to transport the hydrocarbons has only begun to be constructed, with boom-centers of crackers and compressors along the way. This could portend an economic viability extending 100 years.
This phenomenon can be understood in very basic economic terms. The development of Marcellus Shale could only happen in America. Consider: citizens in this nation have long enjoyed not only the unique freedom to pursue happiness but the liberty to own property. Although other portions of the globe could be cashing in shale—namely China, Canada, and Europe—an individual citizen’s control of land, even to the depths of thousands of feet, is unique to the United States. Furthermore, it is only through private industry and corporations that the efficient technology of hydrofracturing is made available. Companies like Chesapeake Energy, Range Resources, Hess, BP, and Consol are all publicly traded and held liable to their creditors, and thus are making private business decisions for their own sake and profit.
Of course, also part of the American phenomenon is the government’s regulatory role, which plays a crucial role in Marcellus development—or the lack thereof. Look no further than the state of New York, where a moratorium on natural gas exploration has capped economic activity. Yet, gas producers remain cautiously optimistic. If Governor Rendell were still in office, things might look different. For the time being, Republican Governor Tom Corbett has only proposed an impact fee on natural gas production, of which the tax portion is not expected to survive state legislation. Maybe Governors John Kasich and Earl Ray Tomblin in bordering Ohio and West Virginia will take note.
Exploration and production of Marcellus Shale is certainly a sign of the times in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, exhibited by the boom towns that have been revived from drilling activity. These times are producing the creation of real jobs and money infused into local communities, and this is just the start. No doubt, Marcellus drilling also provides distinct challenges, which are being hotly debated, and which indeed need to be carefully considered. For now, though, the economic benefits in these dire economic times are undeniable.
teve Irwin is a senior at Grove City College and a student fellow with The Center for Vision & Values.
Fuel Job Growth with Wise Energy Investments, Scientist Urges
First Solyndra, then Beacon Power Corp.
Both alternative energy companies declared bankruptcy this year after receiving millions in federal job stimulus dollars. It’s just what the United States does not need right now, says nuclear scientist Michael T. Gamble, an alternative energy researcher and investment-banking analyst.
The public backlash to ill-spent tax dollars could hurt a vital emerging industry – one that is very much key to future U.S. jobs.
“Cheap energy would enable little Silicon Valley businesses to develop phenomenal things because they’re not hampered by the increased cost of doing business,” says Gamble, a former scientist at the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico and author of Zeroscape (www.zeroscape-thebook.com), a high-tech thriller. “Work with certain technologies, like high-energy lasers, requires large amounts of energy. A little photonics company could be a future Apple.”
Apple Inc., he notes, had 46,600 full-time employees in September 2010, up a third from the previous year. That was job growth during the throes of economic recession.
Gamble says the public perception of the alternative energy industry as a worthy recipient of taxpayer dollars may be tainted by what were essentially business failures exacerbated by the falling cost of solar-grade silicon. Perhaps they were poor choices for Energy Department loan guarantees.
“Solyndra was never even close to manufacturing cost-effective, competitive solar panels,” he says. “Their cost was $3 to $6 per watt.”
However, there are companies, and even government research, worth investing in, Gamble says.
A robust photovoltaic company that’s close to achieving competitive pricing is Nanosolar of San Jose, Calif. Its thin-film, printable solar collection panels use copper, indium, gallium, selenium and nanoparticle inks as opposed to the widely used silicon panels, a lower-cost strategy. When combined with the savings from minimal installation labor, Nanosolar’s panels are on course to produce energy for 60 cents per watt and achieve production efficiencies comparable to silicon panels within the next few years.
Of the regional options for renewable energy – tidal on the coasts, geothermal in the West, and wind in myriad locations – the latter is ripe for harvest. In 2010, China replaced the United States as the world leader in wind energy production, adding 16.5 gigawatts – comparable to the maximum electricity generated by 16 large nuclear power plants. It now surpasses the United States by 2 gigawatts. The U.S. lag was due, in part, to the expiration of the Obama administration’s Recovery Act, a one-time tax incentive for deployment of renewable energy installations.
Free as they are, sun and wind may be overpowered by success of the most high-tech energy source sought: nuclear fusion. Different from the nuclear fission employed by nuclear reactors, fusion is environmentally friendly, much less risky for humans, and uses fuel derived from water. It produces lots of energy; helium is the byproduct. The Lawrence Livermore National Lab near San Francisco has built a laser fusion device called the National Ignition Facility (NIF), capable of delivering 500 terawatts to a BB-size target while liberating clean energy. “Now that NIF is operational,” Gamble says, “its budget must be directed principally toward its mission as the groundbreaking American device closest to realizing a fantastic renewable energy source.”
Dr. Gamble is a former staff member of the physics division of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he researched directed-energy devices such as terawatt laser systems. He is a former Vice President of Manufacturing Technology for Nanovation Technologies, Inc. and a founding partner of Fidelys, LLC, a California investment banking and corporate advisory firm. Gamble holds degrees in nuclear and mechanical engineering, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
A Union-Industry Model for Solving Energy Problems
By Merrill Matthews, Ph.D.
Sometimes a political movement can find itself at cross-purposes. That's pretty much what's happened with President Obama's desire to create jobs and his simultaneous disdain for expanding the development of traditional energy sources such as oil and gas.
On the one hand, the president wants to create high-paying, and especially unionized, jobs to spur the economy-and his chances for reelection. On the other hand, he has strongly resisted increased oil and gas drilling, which would ... create thousands of high-paying union jobs and perhaps increase his chances for reelection.
Take, for example, the Keystone XL pipeline, a $7 billion project that would pump Canadian tar-sand oil-a heavier oil that is more difficult to transport and refine than the preferred "sweet light crude"-across the plains, through Texas and down to the Houston area where several refineries can handle heavy crude. Officials estimate that building the pipeline would create 20,000 jobs immediately, and another 100,000 indirectly.
And several unions representing more than 2 million workers agree. The Pipe Line Contractors Association, United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the U.S. and Canada, International Union of Operating Engineers, Labors' International Union of North America, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters have all signed a labor agreement with TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline.
These unions have workers who are ready and eager to jump into the project, and yet they have been sidelined for more than a year waiting on Obama administration approval-which finally appears to be forthcoming.
That's not to say that every union supports the project; several oppose it over environmental concerns-but many or them don't have jobs at stake. It's a lot easier to take a stand against something when someone else will suffer the loss.
Significantly, at a time when there appears to be a growing national clash between unions and corporate leaders-witness the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, which apparently are drawing union workers-the oil and gas industry and a number of unions seem to be working in a rare harmony.
For example, in June of 2009 the oil and gas industry's American Petroleum Institute (API) signed an agreement with 15 labor unions to create the Oil and Natural Gas Industry Labor-Management Committee in a first-ever effort to work together to promote job creation and retention and economic growth. The agreement included several unions in the construction trades associated with the AFL-CIO, and the Teamsters and Operating Engineers, among others.
Actually, the industry-labor agreement sounds, at least initially, like the steps taken by German companies between 2002-05 that radically reformed labor relations in that economically strong country. German unions sat down with mostly mid-sized companies, they listened to each other's needs and concerns, both made some compromises, and they created a blueprint for moving the country forward in a way that helped both sides. The result was an economy that was booming at 9 percent growth last year, while the U.S. economy was struggling at 1.6 percent.
The primary focus of the Labor-Management Committee currently is to get Congress and the Obama administration to move forward quickly on the Keystone XL pipeline. And it looks like they may win that battle pretty soon, with perhaps even more victories to come.
The Obama administration recently announced it would uphold nearly 500 oil leases to drill in the Arctic Ocean issued during the Bush administration. One company said it planned to begin drilling by the summer of 2012, and hiring would start even earlier. Now that's what you call "shovel ready."
While some commentators have dismissed the Arctic drilling approval as a sop to the oil companies, it would be shortsighted to overlook the role union lobbying may have played. President Obama has never shown the oil companies much love; the same cannot be said for unions. While moving forward with the Keystone XL is in the interest of the oil and gas companies, it clearly benefits thousands of union workers. Just maybe this industry-union agreement can serve as a model for worthy projects in other sectors of the economy.
Regardless of which group the president might be trying to placate, both the oil and gas industry and the related unions win-not to mention the victory for the American people who will have to import that much less energy from outside North America. And that is at least one good first step in creating jobs and energy independence.
Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, Texas.
DMV LAUNCHES NEW WEB PAGE TO HONOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY
Sacramento – The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is proud to honor the courageous men and women of the armed forces with a new “Area of Interest” web page, exclusively designed to offer a centralized clearinghouse of valuable resources accessible from anywhere in the world.
“Whether you are a veteran or currently serving, the DMV wants to thank you and your family for the sacrifices you have made for this country and the citizens of California,” said DMV Director George Valverde. “Many of our own employees are veterans, so we feel a personal connection to our military community.”
Veterans, active military and their families will not only enjoy convenient DMV online services at http://www.dmv.ca.gov/coi/veterans/veterans.htm, but can also link with our partner, the California Department of Veterans Affairs, to find resources including information about home loans, voter registration, medical services, and educational assistance.
In addition, a few clicks of the mouse will transport visitors to the websites of the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. State Department.
“We are grateful to our partner, the DMV, for creating this website which serves and honors California’s veterans,” said Peter J. Gravett, CalVet Secretary. “This DMV web page will greatly assist veterans in taking care of issues dealing with their motor vehicles. I also remind all veterans to make sure they identify themselves as veterans on the form when they renew their drivers license or identification card so we can ensure they get notified of all the benefits they have earned.”
An estimated 2.2 million veterans live in the Golden State and that number increases as an average 30,000 troops return each month from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Remember, you can order California Veterans special interest license plates at www.dmv.ca.gov. The California Department of Veterans Affairs uses proceeds to benefit participating county veteran service offices and to commemorate veteran organizations.
Find us online by visiting our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/mycalvet.
New Book Measures Presidential Qualifications and Candidate Rankings
Author Jamin Soderstrom asked one simple question: Would you hire your president?
HOUSTON, TEXAS – Is Donald Trump more qualified to be president than Barack Obama? What about Rick Perry? Sarah Palin? Hillary Clinton? The critical question voters must ask every four years is: Who is actually “qualified” to be president? That’s the focus of Jamin Soderstrom’s new book, Qualified (published by iUniverse).
Soderstrom’s book takes an innovative approach to presidential politics by creating resumes for all 43 presidents using eight constitution-based categories. “As the book came together it became clear that party affiliation, powerful speeches, and ideological stances on particular issues were far less important than a candidate’s overall resume qualifications when it comes to predicting presidential success,” says Soderstrom.
The ultimate results of the book’s analysis are striking. Qualified proves that more qualified candidates become more successful presidents. But it doesn’t stop there. It also creates resumes for 17 current or potential candidates and shows who is qualified, who isn’t, and what Barack Obama’s re-election chances are as an incumbent in 2012.
Soderstrom acknowledges that there are other “intangible” considerations American voters will look to when choosing their leaders, but for him a smart decision should always start with the candidates’ resumes. “Likeability and political agreement are great, but they shouldn’t trump basic resume qualifications,” he says. “If a candidate can’t perform the job successfully once elected, his or her intangible personal characteristics simply don’t matter.”
In the end, Soderstrom argues that it is nice for candidates to have five-step plans for solving our nation’s problems, but it is necessary for them to have enough relevant experiences and abilities to actually deliver positive results.
About the Author: Jamin Soderstrom is an attorney and currently serves as a law clerk for Judge Harold R. DeMoss, Jr. in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Soderstrom published “Back to the Basics: Looking Again to State Constitutions for Guidance on Forming a More Perfect Vice Presidency” in the Pepperdine Law Review in 2008, and writes occasional op-eds. He lives with his wife Lisa and Boston Terrier “Moose” in Houston, Texas.
Modern Whig Party
WASHINGTON, DC – The Modern Whig Party of America is proud to announce this Veterans Day of its new Veterans Affairs Assistance Committee (VAAC). The VAAC of the Modern Whig Party exists to help Whig veteran members and veterans who are not members with veterans’ issues. The committee will organize the Modern Whig Party response to difficulties that veterans may be having with their benefits or any other veteran issues. The Committee will also help veterans’ families as well. The VAAC also is able to help active duty military as well as their families.Hubert Murray, the VAAC director, on working to help the military, “"I am full of excitement about this new task. This gives another option to solve inconvenient issues and reach out to help our service men and women."
The VAAC is made up of Whig members who are veterans or active duty and have experience dealing with the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs. The committee will listen to requests for help on behalf of the Modern Whig Party and then recommend a course of action for the party to take. Andrew Evans, the Modern Whig chairman had this to say about the VAAC, “We do not promise anything but we will use our membership and media connections to bring pressure against those who are hindering our veterans, active duty military and their families in a way that is not right. The Modern Whigs are all about service and this is a way we can serve those who have served America.”
Established in 1833, the Whigs are one of America's oldest mainstream political parties. They were the original party of Abraham Lincoln and four other U.S. Presidents. Revived by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, the grassroots movement has quickly attracted tens of thousands of members. The Whigs have been covered by CNN, Time magazine, and the Wall Street Journal. They represent moderate voters from all walks of life that focus on a methodological approach to issues working for the most effective solution over a strict ideological approach. This Washington, DC-based national movement values common sense, rational solutions ahead of ideology and partisan bickering.
For more information on the VAAC or the Modern Whig Party please visit www.modernwhig.org.
Congressman Denham Honors Veterans And Their Families On Veterans Day
WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Jeff Denham released the following statement on Veterans Day:
“This Veterans Day, we all pause to honor, remember, and respect the sacrifices our brave service members have made. Our veterans have selflessly fought to protect the values of our country and today, we must rededicate ourselves to upholding our commitment to them and their families.
“In the next two years, several hundred thousand men and women will return home from overseas and making sure they have the care and benefits they have earned is up to us. In the generations to come, it will be one of our most important responsibilities.
Today, let us all stop and thank a veteran and their family for their exceptional courage and sacrifice, and show our deep admiration for their service,” said Congressman Denham, veteran of Desert Storm.
Several weeks ago, Congressman Denham and Congressman Tim Walz, visited our service members in Afghanistan. They wrote a joint column reflecting on the sacrifices so many of our brave men and women have made, and recommitted themselves to sacrificing for them. You can read their joint column in honor of Veterans Day on military.com.
More than 200 Expected at First Public Forum
Preliminary economic cluster analysis findings to be shared and discussed November 15
SACRAMENTO—A huge swell of public interest around the first Next Economy Regional Forum fortifies the visceral need for a focused regional action plan that moves the Capital Region beyond today’s harsh unemployment and lethargic economy.
215 stakeholders have registered to attend the first of three public meetings that will occur over the next 6 months. “We are not surprised to see this high level interest,” said Bill Mueller, CEO & managing partner of Valley Vision, the nonprofit organization charged with administering the regional project. “People are fed up with the economy and want to be part of shaping the next one.”
The Next Economy Regional Forum, scheduled on November 15, is a time when community input and feedback will be collected in reaction to cursory cluster analysis research. This feedback, combined with research findings, will help shape specific strategies and joint actions to drive new job creation, investment, and innovation in the Sacramento region. Subsequent meetings will be held on February 17 and May 4, 2012.
November 15, 2011 from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Speaking at the Forum and available for news interviews are:
Mark Otero – President and CEO of KlickNation
Craig McNamara – President and owner of Sierra Orchards
Martha Lofgren – Partner, Brewer Lofgren LLP
Jim Williams – President, Williams + Paddon Architects + Engineers
Brice Harris – Chancellor, Los Rios Community College District
Ryan Sharp –Director, Center for Economic Research
West Sacramento City Hall Galleria
1110 West Capitol Avenue
What Immigration Problem?
by Sheldon Richman
Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia have each enacted stringent laws aimed at curbing illegal immigration. Before saying more, let’s be clear about the alleged problem. What is an “illegal immigrant”? It’s simply a person — possessing natural rights, mind you — who comes to the United States without the permission of the U.S. government. Now isn’t it curious that in this country, which began in rebellion against and secession from an empire, people are upset about other people moving around without government permission? In revolutionary times the smuggler of goods was a hero, and the customs agent was a villain. If we were true to the best parts of our heritage today the “illegal” would be a hero, and the border agent would be a villain.
This shows how far we have slipped from America’s substantially libertarian origins. This is really quite sad.
Imagine if we Americans needed government permission to move from state to state. We’d be appalled at the hassle, not to mention the grave interference with our freedom. Would we put up with it? I hope not.
Then what is the justification for having an elaborate, presumptuous, tax-financed bureaucracy whose purpose is to determine who may live in this country? Rights belong to all human beings, not just to Americans. Note that the Constitution expressly protects the rights of persons, not just those of American citizens.
But, we are told, a country is not a country without secure borders. Why? This premise goes unexamined.
A country is defined by its traditions and attitudes rather than by its border checkpoints and armed guards. It is disheartening to hear people claim to believe that America is not synonymous with government and yet favor harsh measures to “secure our border” and stop free migration.
All the economic arguments for stemming the flow of immigrants fall when examined even casually. The nativists can’t quite get their story straight. Are the newcomers ambitious go-getters trying to “take our jobs,” or are they freeloaders planning to collect welfare? Those who are afraid of the former fail to understand that people not only produce when they hold jobs, but also consume. Newcomers expand the market and the division of labor, which Adam Smith taught us is the path to higher living standards. Some opponents of immigration bring up the current high unemployment as an objection. But that is purely a government-produced phenomenon, and it has nothing to do with immigrants. Seriously, scapegoating does not become us.
As for any government-financed services that immigrants might use, let’s not forget that they also pay a good deal in taxes. There’s no reason to think they are a net drain on the welfare state.
But that is really beside the point. If we don’t want people living off the taxpayers — and this should apply to American citizens as well — we should transfer welfare services to private charity and the free market. There is no good reason for government — the essence of which is physical force — to be running schools and hospitals, which are the tax-financed facilities most likely to be used by immigrants. I really see no moral difference between a citizen and a noncitizen taking advantage of a government program. The most objectionable aspect of government largess is not who accepts it but how the politicians obtain the resources that they then distribute. Taxation is robbery.
Finally, there is a good deal of worry on the Right these days that immigration is making “white America” a thing of the past. Those who hold this view say earlier immigration presented little concern because most newcomers were European and could assimilate into American culture. But this is selective memory in the first degree: virtually every group from Europe was at one time spoken of in the same degrading and alarmist terms as are today’s Latino and Muslim immigrants. In fact, as Thaddeus Russell documents in his fascinating book, A Renegade History of the United States, almost every European immigrant group — including Italians, Irishmen, Poles, and Jews — were initially not considered to be white! As a result, many of the new immigrants felt close to blacks and African-American culture. Only with the passage of time were they admitted into the ranks of the white race by the establishment.
The more things change, the more things stay the same.
Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org) and editor of The Freeman magazine.
The Super Committee Can Tackle Entitlement Spending
By Grace Marie Turner
Hope is fading that the congressional Super Committee will agree to significant deficit reduction, but there still is an opportunity for members to take steps toward tackling entitlement spending, especially in Medicare and Medicaid -- the key drivers of our nation's ballooning budget deficit.
These programs must be changed to meet their future obligations and for Congress to have any hope of controlling federal spending.
The Medicare Prescription Drug Program provides the model. Adopted in 2003, Part D provides affordable drug coverage to seniors by harnessing competition and choice. Private companies approved by Medicare offer drug coverage to seniors who shop to find the plan that best meets their needs. In the process, they force health plans to actively compete to offer the lowest prices and best benefits.
The result is an entitlement program that is actually under budget. Medicare Part D is coming in 46 percent below original estimates -- saving money for taxpayers and seniors. The average Part D enrollee pays $30 a month, far below the $53 premium originally projected by this point.
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan has a plan to extend this concept to all of Medicare. Beginning in 2022, the Ryan proposal would provide a generous payment so seniors can purchase a Medicare-approved health plan that best meets their needs. The older, the poorer, the sicker seniors are, the larger their Medicare payments would be. Everyone who qualifies for Medicare would be guaranteed coverage.
As Super Committee members honestly study the options, they can't help but see that this is the right platform to modernize and save Medicare. A number of bi-partisan commissions have come to the same conclusion. Congress' challenge is to make sure the payment is adequate for seniors to obtain coverage while not putting future taxpayers in the poor house.
The Super Committee can make recommendations that would compel the standing committees in Congress to get to work on reforms that will reduce the future flood of red ink driven by uncontrolled entitlement spending. The alternative is the path we are on in which the new health law would force deep cuts in payments to doctors that will drive many out of practice and lead to rationing by the unelected, unaccountable Independent Payment Advisory Board.
While it works to develop positive reform, it's just as important for the Super Committee to avoid changes that will make problems worse. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) want the group to require pharmaceutical firms to pay a rebate on prescription drugs for people who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. This is misguided. Studies show these rebates would ultimately shift costs back to seniors in the form of higher drug costs and premiums.
The Committee also must beware of programs masquerading as competition. The so-called "Competitive Bidding Program" is designed to save money in Medicare's purchasing of medical equipment -- everything from diabetic supplies to sophisticated home wound care equipment.
Instead of Washington setting prices, the agency that runs Medicare is supposed to get competitive bids on these medical supplies. It sounds like a good idea. But the agency's regulations for this program actually drive out competition and violate all the rules of market-driven bidding. Companies can bid so low that they drive out legitimate suppliers, and then the winning bidder doesn't have to supply the product!
The key to real reform is building in changes to Medicare and Medicaid that rely on consumer choice and competition, not price controls and crushing government regulations.
The Medicare drug program works because consumers are in charge of seeking the best value in their health spending, forcing providers to deliver better services at lower cost.
To ensure the future of Medicare and Medicaid -- and to correct our disastrous fiscal course -- the Super Committee can take the long-term view of reform with steps that move away from the failed approach of Washington micro-management and toward modern reforms that rely on consumer choice and market competition.
Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, is a co-author of the new book Why ObamaCare Is Wrong for America (Broadside/HarperCollins).
Retooling Obama's Jobs Bill
By Kmele Foster
Earlier this month, the President's jobs bill failed in the Senate. Now the White House intends to break up the bill and gin up sufficient Republican support to pass key pieces. "We will now work with Senator Reid to make sure that the individual proposals in this jobs bill get a vote as soon as possible," said President Obama in a statement released shortly after the Senate vote.
This piecemeal approach might be politically expedient, but the provisions the White House is pushing are still a whiff policy-wise. They're just too superficial. Extending unemployment benefits and cutting the payroll tax aren't going to fuel the sustained, robust job growth Americans are so desperate for.
What the President can and should do is immediately rework his bill to pursue a structural realignment of the tax and regulatory burden facing American business.
Mr. Obama should focus his attention on reducing the tax burden faced by consumers and businesses. The proposed legislation takes some steps in this direction. It cuts the payroll tax in half to 3.1 percent in 2012 and institutes a temporary tax credit for businesses that hire new workers or buy new equipment.
But these cuts have already been tried and they don't go far enough. Temporary cuts are no substitute for comprehensive tax reform, and they mean even less without commensurate spending reductions. Washington should be taking steps to simplify the tax code, broaden the base, and lower rates on corporations and individuals.
It's time to stop tinkering around the edges of our Byzantine tax system and fundamentally
reform it -- it's no longer controversial to admit that America's tax code is impeding our ability to compete in the global economy and create jobs.
The half trillion-dollar jobs bill also contains billions in new spending. The president's bill calls for public investments directed at sectors that are politically popular among Democrats. For example, it earmarks $25 billion for investment in school infrastructure and $35 billion to state and city governments to prevent public teacher layoffs.
But these "investments" reflect the philosophy of previously failed efforts to stimulate the economy. At best, short-term spending by government will produce short-term employment opportunities. And these temporary jobs often come at the expense of sustainable new employment in other parts of the economy.
Rather than focusing on short-term solutions, the administration should be empowering executives and entrepreneurs to create viable patterns of employment. If more government spending could turn around our desperate economic situation, then surely the first $1.5 trillion stimulus would have solved the problem already.
Finally, a recalibrated jobs bill must eliminate regulatory impediments to industries that are proven job generators.
One sector that could generate hundreds of thousands of new, high-paying jobs is domestic energy production. Research suggests that opening up known offshore resources would generate 144,700 new positions and expanding access to federal lands for energy exploration would create 500,000 more.
The President could immediately encourage investment and job creation in the energy industry by simplifying permitting and reducing the number of new regulations.
Private companies should be allowed to explore and develop domestic energy resources without undo interference or assistance. The Solyndra scandal and the lackluster jobs numbers posted by other federally backed "green jobs" initiatives illustrate the governments inability to engineer a solution to the country's employment crisis. Opening new domestic frontiers for traditional energy production would generate the jobs that other politically popular programs have manifestly failed to produce.
Obama's jobs strategy is more of the same. Even if this new piecemeal strategy works, the results will be just as underwhelming as the White House's previous efforts to stoke employment. A truly effective jobs initiative would permanently cut, taxes, and reduce spending, while curtailing unnecessary regulations, and empower industries that are proven to create jobs.
Kmele Foster is the co-founder and vice president of TelcoIQ, a telecommunications consultancy. He is also the chairman of America's Future Foundation.
"God Bless Them?" Congresswoman Pelosi on the Wall Street Mob
By Dr. Paul Kengor
This article first appeared at CatholicVote.org
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has a lengthy track record of jaw-dropping political statements. Among them, the lifelong Roman Catholic has been a huge disappointment to her Church on matters of unborn human life, which I’ve personally written about on many occasions.
But it isn’t just Pelosi’s actions on the sanctity and dignity of human life. Her supportive comments on radical people and causes generally have been legion. For years, Congresswoman Pelosi has made outrageous statements, from the Cold War to the Middle East, that consistently leave one speechless.
I’ll never forget her stunning House floor tribute to Harry Bridges, a notorious communist/labor agitator who spent a lifetime lying about his secret loyalties to Stalin and the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), even while his position on the Central Committee of CPUSA was directly authorized by Stalin’s Kremlin. “Today we can all hold our heads high and be proud of Harry Bridges’ legacy,” said Pelosi. “Harry Bridges is … beloved by the workers of this nation, and recognized as one of the most important labor leaders in the world.”
Bizarre statements about the extreme Left are old hat for Congresswoman Pelosi. And now, add yet another.
Commenting on the out-of-control gang of Wall Street “Occupiers,” Pelosi glowed and said warmly, “God bless them for their spontaneity.”
“God bless them?”
What a remarkably strange thing to say. Of everything said about this Manhattan mob, this strikes me as the most bewildering.
“God bless them?”
Well, we certainly don’t want God to damn them. We would like God to bless everyone. We should pray for everyone.
But, frankly, I doubt this particular band of protestors is even thinking along such lines. This is an extremely secular, militant crowd. These aren’t exactly the nuns who taught Nancy Pelosi in parochial school.
Ironically, Pelosi’s comments came at almost the same time a representative of the mob, Roseanne Barr, literally called for guillotining—yes, guillotining—wealthy American bankers. She openly called for their forcible “re-education” and execution.
I have friends and students there in New York observing this spectacle. They email me daily. One took a picture of two homosexual men embracing while holding a sign imploring the brethren to “KILL YOUR PARENTS.”
As he snapped this picture, the throng initiated a frightening march upon the homes of those loathsome “millionaires and billionaires” that President Obama targets unceasingly with his terribly destructive class-based rhetoric.
It’s only a matter of time before this angry, envy-filled insurrection turns violent.
“God bless them?” I say “God help them”—and help those they threaten to hurt.
Think about that strange inflection from Pelosi: “God bless them.” What does it normally mean, or how is it typically applied?
It’s the kind of sentiment you usually wish to a church secretary or Religious Ed director who unselfishly does five peoples’ jobs for $18,000 per year; to your pastor on call 24/7; to a little girls’ choir singing angelically; to earnest kids raising money for a soup kitchen; to a woman suffering in silence from breast cancer; to Salvation Army volunteers paying peoples’ heating bills; to a Crisis Pregnancy Center volunteer who works the rape hotline; to a nursing-home attendant who cheerfully bathes mentally challenged adults; to the guy who snow-blows every driveway on the block; to the black college students who stoically entered an Alabama school building while ugly rednecks spat on them; to Rosa Parks.
Yes, God bless those people.
“God bless them” isn’t the kind of sentiment anyone would normally direct to a ranting, raving, raging, screaming crush of self-professed “occupiers” bordering on anarchy without nary a whiff of religious motivation. I seriously doubt that the horde smashing and littering the streets even cares for someone to “bless” their event. Are there prayer chains and prayer circles going on there?
As anyone paying attention can see, this is an unkempt, cursing lot, some of them trust-fund kids on voluntary sabbatical from $100,000 (per year) elite educations. They hoist a Starbucks in one hand and iPhone in the other while shouting “down with capitalism!” As anyone there will tell you, some elements of the crowd are engaging in everything from group sex to group bong sessions.
This is not a Norman Rockwell picture. It’s about as cute as an LSD trip, as quaint and charming and innocent as a Grateful Dead concert.
Is this the kind of thing Christians are expected to bless?
To Congresswoman Pelosi, apparently it is. Yet again, her comments leave one dumbfounded. This latest statement has taken me a few days to try to assimilate.
I say God pray for them, pray for all of us, pray for me—and pray for Nancy Pelosi.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism" and his latest release, "Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century."
Committee Approves Denham’s Civilian Property Realignment Act
Washington, DC – Representative Jeff Denham’s Civilian Property Realignment Act passed out of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today. The Committee approved the legislation that will improve the management of federal property, shrink the federal government’s footprint and save taxpayers billions of dollars.
“I believe the potential to save billions of dollars is real, and H.R. 1734 creates a process that can help us realize those savings. There are vacant or underused buildings across the country that will result in taxpayer savings and efficiencies immediately,” said Congressman Denham. “There has been inaction for too long – my bill will increase transparency and cut through the bureaucratic red tape to literally shrink the size of government and maximize utilization rates.”
H.R. 1734, the “Civilian Property Realignment Act” (CPRA), was approved by a vote of 30 to 22. Congressman Denham’s bill would employ a BRAC-like process for civilian properties, reduce the federal footprint and save taxpayers billions of dollars. This cost saving initiative would achieve a reduction in the size of the federal real property inventory through selling or redeveloping underutilized properties, increasing the utilization rates of existing properties, and expediting the disposal of surplus properties.
Provisions and benefits of the bill include:
- Establishes an independent civilian commission, similar to the Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) to make property recommendations to Congress;
- Recommendations can only be disapproved en bloc by the President and Congress;
- After a one-time appropriation of initial seed funding, the process would be self-funded by sale proceeds;
- Proceeds will go towards deficit reduction;
- Requires the sale or transfer of several underutilized GSA properties including for the National Women’s History Museum, the consolidation of the National Gallery of Art and the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Energy, and the proposed Los Angeles Courthouse, all of which will benefit taxpayers and result in immediate savings;
- OMB estimates such a proposal would result in $15 billion in future savings;
- Anticipated CBO direct spending savings of at least $400 million in the first five years.
Pledge of Allegiance Day Celebrated as Part of America's Exceptionalism
Source: Liberty Counsel
Washington, DC - An estimated 12 million students recited the Pledge of Allegiance in school for the first time 119 years ago on October 12, 1892. Following the Pledge, students, teachers, school administrators, and public officials either said a prayer or read scripture from the Bible. Each principal at schools in Boston, Massachusetts, recited Psalm 145.
The first celebration of Columbus Day in 1892 was an original effort to keep American exceptionalism alive and to prevent America from losing its freedom and liberties in becoming a socialist nation. James Upham began uniting Americans in 1891 during a very divisive time, by inspiring patriotism through a campaign to hang an American Flag at every school in the nation. The following year on the first Columbus Day, Upham's idea of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance underneath the flag became a national tradition. Columbus Day is a day to celebrate the discovery of America - a day of patriotism, unity, and freedom. The celebration of Columbus Day allowed all Americans to boldly declare their love of our nation and their fortitude to keep America free.
In 1954, the words "under God" were added to the Pledge. The full Pledge reads: "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all."
Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, commented: "The Pledge of Allegiance's proclamation that America is united as one nation under God is consistent with the Declaration of Independence. The Judeo-Christian values that formed the foundation of America are the reason for American exceptionalism. When we say the Pledge, we are not Republicans or Democrats. We are Americans."
All Hands on Deck to Preserve the JAGM Program
By Rebecca Grant
When Washington, DC spins into a frenzy over defense cuts, even good programs can be ditched in a panic. Sadly, at times like this joint programs and supposed "extras" like new missiles are particularly vulnerable.
That's the case with the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile program, known as JAGM. JAGM does not have a zippy name or a big marketing campaign behind it. Basically, it's a replacement for three famous but aging missile types: the Hellfire, the Air-Launched TOW and the Maverick. Despite incremental improvements over the years, there's no getting around the fact that all three of those missiles are 1960s-era designs at the end of their service lives.
Enter JAGM, a nearly $1 billion dollar initiative to develop a single missile that all branches of the military can share. Because it's a joint program it has to make it through triple the budget reviews to survive. Fear is spreading that the Navy or Army will pull out, try to stick the other service with the whole bill, and end up collapsing the JAGM program like a house of cards.
That would be a mistake, because JAGM comes with important new capabilities that the warfighter has long been asking for. And it does so at lesser cost to the taxpayer than the legacy missiles it replaces.
JAGM beats Hellfire on the battlefield because it can be used night or day, in all types of weather. Add in smoke or bad weather and government studies show that four JAGMs can neutralize as many targets as seven Hellfires under those conditions.
Here's the good part for the men and women carrying out these missions. The JAGM's maximum range is greater than Hellfire's. At 28 kilometers for fighters and 16 kilometers for helicopters, JAGM can launch from safely outside point area defenses. And the JAGM is lethal against a static or moving target, from advanced armor to small boats and troops in the open.
Currently, a Raytheon-Boeing team and Lockheed Martin are developing competing missiles for the JAGM program. This competitive prototyping is a new way of acquiring weapons has yielded solid results. To date, the Raytheon-Boeing missile has gone 3-for-3 in government flight tests, and Lockheed has also had a successful test. Tests like these dramatically lower program risk and keep both contractors fighting hard to deliver best performance and best price.
JAGM in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps inventory saves money by cutting back on maintenance, replacement and inventory costs. Because JAGMs are more effective than Hellfires the taxpayer over time will pay for fewer of them to be produced.
So what's the problem? It's the risk of a panic default to just upgrading Hellfire. New motors and seekers for that venerable missile still won't deliver the better performance of JAGM. Worse, scrapping JAGM and investing in upgrades wouldn't save money in the long-term. In the end, we'd still be using multiple Hellfires to do the job of a single JAGM.
The U.S. Military has already invested $912 million developing the JAGM -- including $372 million spent by the Army and Navy before the Joint Common Missile program was initially canceled in 2005 for going over budget. But the program was soon resurrected. Why? Because the need for the missile did not go away. What makes us think that the outcome this time will be any different? For nearly $1 billion, the military deserves to end up with a fielded product.
And if this program is killed, what next? Do we want to send the message that important R&D programs can be killed anytime and never mind the sunk cost? There is a chilling effect when we abandon a program like this -- particularly the prototyping program that should serve as an example of how to run future acquisitions. It needs to survive in order to spawn others like it.
Guess what. This actually is rocket science. We're talking advanced seekers, exploiting several chunks of the electromagnetic spectrum in the guidance, detection and warhead targeting. It takes time and persistence and dollars. But that's all worth it when JAGM allows a helicopter crew to shoot from safer range or the Reaper operators to get the target they've been watching for hours.
Protecting the JAGM program is important because we can't afford to lose it. The short-term savings gained from dropping the program now wouldn't begin to cover the added expense of starting it up again later or fielding multiple alternatives. If the goal is saving money, the plan should be to keep this program funded.
Rebecca Grant, Ph.D., is president of IRIS Independent Research, a public-policy research organization in Washington, DC. She is also director of the General William Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies, the non-profit research arm of the Air Force Association.
Student Punished for Christian Beliefs About Homosexuality Pushes Back
Source: Liberty Counsel
Fort Worth, TX - On Tuesday, high school freshman Dakota Ary was given in-school suspension for stating in class that he believes homosexuality is wrong because of his Christian faith. Liberty Counsel is representing Dakota in this case, demanding full vindication and a full retraction of the suspension. If the school board does not comply, a lawsuit will be filed for violation of Dakota's First Amendment rights.
Dakota was in a German language class at Western Hills High School on Tuesday when the topic of homosexuality arose. "I'm a Christian and, to me, being homosexual is wrong," Dakota said to one of his classmates. His teacher overheard the comment, wrote Dakota an infraction, and sent him to the principal's office. The class topic was religious beliefs in Germany. During the discussion, one student asked what Germans thought about homosexuality in relation to religion. Another student then asked to hear some translated terms such as "lesbian." These questions provoked the conversation about Christianity and Dakota's expression of his opinion to one classmate.
The discipline referral form says the comment was out of context, even though the lesson for the day was on religious beliefs. The teacher charged Dakota with "possible bullying" and indicated, "It is wrong to make such a statement in public school." Last week, the teacher displayed a picture of two men kissing on a "World Wall" and told the students that homosexuality is becoming more prevalent in the world and that they should just accept it. Many of the students were offended by the teacher's actions and his continually bringing up the topic of homosexuality in a German language class.
Matthew Krause, Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel, along with Dakota's mom, Holly Pope, met with school administrators Wednesday morning. Krause states: "Just because you walk through the schoolhouse doors doesn't mean you shed your First Amendment rights. Dakota wasn't disrupting class. He wasn't bullying or harassing anybody. He was just stating his personal opinion on a topic somebody else brought up and in a civil and respectful manner."
Liberty Counsel recently defended Florida Teacher of the Year Jerry Buell, after he was suspended for a comment he made outside of class on his personal Facebook page, expressing his disapproval of legalized homosexual marriage in New York. After a week-long "investigation," the Lake County School Board fully exonerated and reinstated Buell.
Harry Mihet, Senior Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel, commented: "The double standard advocated by homosexual activists is mind boggling. Jerry Buell was suspended for opposing same-sex "marriage" outside of class. This teacher in Texas is actually bullying his students into accepting the homosexual lifestyle inside the class, and yet it is his student, not him, that gets suspended. We will vigorously defend and restore Dakota's constitutional rights."
American Workers Deserve Respect
By Roger Smith
"The middle class would not exist without organized labor."
So proclaimed Vice President Joe Biden at a recent speech in Ohio. He's right. And with unemployment stuck above 9 percent, the need for strong unions has never been greater.
I am the CEO of an international life insurance company. If you think a management perspective automatically means opposition to labor unions, think again. I am humbled to witness the impact of millions of workers' voices as they proudly affirm, "Workers matter, and we are one!"
America's middle class and workers are under systematic attack. Our failed and reckless economic policies, the Wall Street raid on Main Street, the coddling of millionaires and billionaires, and the gaming of a tax system that favors Big Corporations and offshore tax havens - taken together, all of these amount to a thinly veiled attempt to silence American workers and profit at their expense.
It isn't working. What started in Wisconsin with thousands of union members clad in red, battling to keep the rights they earned through their collective voice, has transformed into a national struggle. The stakes are towering, and there is no place for bystanders.
Havens of hope are turning up everywhere. A record number of Wisconsin voters spoke in a recent recall election. Though they fell short of reclaiming a state senate majority in favor of workers' rights, they won back two seats and reenergized the spirit of American workers, who are now readying themselves for the next round at the ballot box.
In Ohio, when the state legislature approved SB 5, a bill that gutted years of hard-won worker rights, over 1 million people joined in petitioning for a state referendum to overturn it. Once again, a sea of red is spilling into the streets.
Even if you don't believe, as I do, that organized labor is the surest path to a solid middle class and that collective bargaining creates the type of shared prosperity we need in this country, you must join the fight for fairness. This is not about union or non-union. It's about respect for American workers and the value of their labor.
The few at the top are grabbing all the gains for themselves, leaving nothing for the workers whose increased productivity has resulted in record corporate profits. CEO pay jumped 27 percent in 2010, while the pay of workers in the private sector grew little over 2 percent. This fundamental unfairness must come to an end. This battle will be fought at the worksite and at every polling place in America.
Last month, 45,000 courageous workers went on strike against Verizon, a corporation with over $22.5 billion of profits in the past four and a half years. The strike has since been put on hold while union officials negotiate a new contract with Verizon. Shockingly, Verizon wants to renege on benefits for retirees, eliminate sick days for new hires, abolish disability benefits for workers injured on the job, outsource company jobs, and stick already struggling families with over $20,000 in annual concessions.
I hope millions of America's workers see this fight for what it is - another attempt to devalue labor and silence workers. American corporations must be brought to understand that they can remain competitive, be profitable and do right by their workers.
It's important that we support American workers seeking a fundamental transformation to a fair shake for all: a fair wage while working and protection for rightfully earned benefits like Social Security and Medicare.
All people of goodwill should join our protestors clad in red, the unemployed and underemployed, and business leaders who want to do right by our workers. Their voices ask all of us, including CEOs such as myself, to do our part and pay our fair share in rebuilding our great country and our middle class.
Roger Smith is the president and CEO of American and National Income Life Insurance Companies.
GOVERNMENT IS BIGGEST LAW BREAKER
New E-Pamphlet Shows Constitution Has Been Trampled, and How Americans May Reclaim It
Manassas, VA -- Just in time for Constitution Day, longtime conservative activists Richard A. Viguerie and Mark Fitzgibbons have exposed one of the country's dirtiest secrets: Government is the oldest, largest and most pervasive lawbreaker in America. This is described in stunning detail in the new pamphlet, The Law that Governs Government: Reclaiming the Constitution from Usurpers and Society's Biggest Law Breaker . Viguerie and Fitzgibbons are veterans in the war against government lawbreaking, and set forth a timely and comprehensive pamphlet of principles, purpose and proposals for and about constitutional conservatives and the Tea Party (The full 60-page e-pamphlet is available at www.ReclaimtheConstitution.com at no charge).
"Lawbreaking by government in terms of cost and the number of people victimized is of a scale unmatched by any other organization or group -- leaving nothing as a close second," write Viguerie and Fitzgibbons.
A major marketing, PR, and advertising campaign is being launched to make the failure of most of our political leaders to follow the Constitution an important issue in the 2012 primaries and general election. To encourage others to get this message out, the e-pamphlet is not copyrighted.
The authors cite examples of government misdeeds by the President, the entire Executive Branch, Congress, the courts and states curtailing free speech and property rights, intrusions into family life, and heavy handed actions by the police.
"Government has injected itself into nearly every aspect of private affairs, and has taken an
excessive, intrusive and omnipotent view of what are public matters. Given the vast and unilateral authority it claims to have over so much of society and property, government has unmatched opportunity for lawbreaking. It makes and rigs the rules in its favor. It cloisters and covers up its lawlessness, and makes it almost impossible to challenge its lawbreaking when exposed.
"In addition to its lawbreaking that takes place in the open, there is the cloistered lawbreaking done by anonymous bureaucrats and in backroom deals by public officials. Government transparency is mostly a fiction. We see and know only what government wants us to. The irony is that government lawbreaking is done mostly under the guise and misnomer of the rule of law. The law has become one big slap in the face to all Americans.
ReclaimtheConstitution.com is a project of ConservativeHQ.com, which was founded by Richard A. Viguerie. Mark J. Fitzgibbons is the President of Corporate and Legal Affairs, American Target Advertising.
Mississippi Supreme Court Rules that Citizens May Vote on the Personhood Amendment
Source: Liberty Counsel
Jackson, MS - The Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Initiative Measure 26, otherwise known as the Personhood Amendment, and will allow this historic issue to appear on the ballot on November 8. The Court denied a challenge to the constitutionality of the Amendment brought by the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the Center for Reproductive Rights. Steve Crampton, General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, presented argument at the Mississippi Supreme Court on behalf of the Personhood Amendment.
If passed, the law would amend the Mississippi Constitution to include an unborn child in Mississippi as a "person" and thus protected under the Constitution. Liberty Counsel represents Personhood Mississippi and expects that this Amendment could ultimately go to the United States Supreme Court and overturn Roe v. Wade, making abortion illegal nationwide.
The Court ruled 7-2 that it "cannot impede voters from submitting proposals through the voter initiative process." The ACLU had argued that the Personhood Amendment impermissibly modifies a portion of the state Constitution's Bill of Rights by defining the terms "person or persons." But the Court noted that "those terms have never been defined. Therefore, Measure 26 cannot modify a definition that does not now exist."
Crampton commented on the ruling: "We are obviously very pleased with the Court's decision to let the people vote on this fundamental issue. Although our opponents were beaten in this lawsuit, we know that they will not stop in their desperate attempts to deny the obvious truth that life begins at conception and that every life deserves to be protected in the law. Not only Mississippians, but all Americans, should support this commonsense Amendment."
Barack Obama's Patriotism, and Everyone Else's
By Rob Schwarzwalder
Barack Obama wants you to know he is a patriot. You see, he offered legislation to foster employment during the Sept. 8 joint session of Congress, and if you disagree with him, you are not a patriot - which, ergo, means he is one.
Consider the progression of his remarks about Republicans over the past month:
- "The only thing keeping us back ... is the refusal of some in Congress to put country ahead of party. Some in Congress would rather see their opponents lose than the country win." - August 11, 2011, Holland, Mich.
- "The only thing preventing us from passing these bills is the refusal by some in Congress to put country ahead of party." - Weekly radio address, August 20, 2011
Okay, so "some in Congress" are so obtuse that they are willing to sacrifice the good of the country for the benefit of their parties. An arguable proposition, that, but for the sake of argument let's presume it might be true. Anyone who puts party ahead of country is a scoundrel, and deserves dressing-down from our President. Fine and good.
However, Mr. Obama clarified his comments further when, speaking to a loud and angry crowd of union executives and workers on Monday in Detroit, he said the following:
"We're going to see if we've got some straight shooters in Congress. We're going to see if congressional Republicans will put country before party. We'll give them a plan, and then we'll say, do you want to create jobs?" - September 5, 2011, Detroit, Mich.
Suddenly things burst into perspective: It's not "some in Congress" who are the problem - it's Republicans! Those flag-loving Democrats are fighting the evil, unpatriotic GOP for the sake of the masses - er, the people.
How do we know this? Because our President tells us that to disagree with his jobs bill is to put party ahead of country. To disagree with Mr. Obama is to be unpatriotic: In the lectionary of modern American politics, this is a self-evident, axiomatic reality, at least according to Mr. Obama himself.
This is not the first time Mr. Obama has demeaned those who disagree with him. Consider his words to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) at last year's Blair House health care summit: When McCain said something Mr. Obama disagreed with, the latter said, "We're not campaigning anymore. The election's over."
Later at the same event, after Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) challenged the President about some health care issue, Mr. Obama said, "These are the kind of political things we do that prevent us from actually having a conversation."
Nice and neat: Agree with the President, and you're serious, apolitical, patriotic. Disagree, and you are a political hack, a mere partisan whose tendentious affectations betray insincerity, cynicism, even evil motives.
I believe Mr. Obama loves America, although his understanding of our country varies significantly from my own. I am offended, however, that he would suggest that disagreement with his agenda is unpatriotic: Free and conscientious dissent is at the very heart of what it means to be a true American.
Those on the Left believe that their enlightenment is so transparent that to differ with them demonstrates one of three things: Innate stupidity; a failure on the part of the Left itself to communicate clearly and simply enough that the unlettered bourgeoisie can understand it; or ill-will and malign intent.
In other words, it is incomprehensible to the Left that people honestly disagree with them. As Thomas Sowell wrote in his book, The Vision of the Anointed, the Left's understanding of life and the world "so permeates the media and academia, and has made such major inroads into the religious community, that many grow into adulthood unaware that there is any other way of looking at things."
Mr. Obama appears to take rank with the "many" of Dr. Sowell's description. It is left to the rest of us, the wrong and ignorant (Mr. Obama's view of us, apparently) - those who disagree with him - to try to save the nation from policies we believe will wreck it. His policies, that is - patriotically intended they might be, but disastrous and unconstitutional and corrupting nonetheless.
Robert Schwarzwalder is Senior Vice President at the Family Research Council.
Divided Court of Appeals Issues Ruling on ObamaCare Lawsuit
Resource: Liberty Counsel
Richmond, VA – The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly known as “ObamaCare”) in the case of Liberty University v. Geithner and issued a separate opinion on the case of Commonwealth of Virginia v. Sebelius. Liberty Counsel represents Liberty University and two private individuals, challenging both the individual and the employer mandates in ObamaCare.
The panel of judges for the case included one judge appointed by President Clinton, Judge Diana Gribbon Motz, and two judges appointed by President Obama, Judges Andre M. Davis and James A. Wynn Jr. Judge Motz wrote the opinion, in which Wynn concurred. Judge Davis wrote a dissenting opinion.
In the case of Liberty University, the divided court ruled that the mandate is a “tax” under the Anti-Injunction Act (AIA), and thus the court does not have jurisdiction to rule on the merits until the “tax” is paid and a refund sought by the taxpayer. Thus, the case could not be brought until the mandate becomes effective in 2014. Every court which has considered this question has found that the mandate is a “penalty,” not a tax, and the AIA does not apply. Even the federal government defendants argued that the AIA does not apply and that the statutory intent clearly indicated that the AIA was inapplicable.
In the Virginia case, the court ruled 3-0 that Virginia does not have standing to bring a challenge to the individual mandate, because that right is for individuals affected by the mandate.
In the case of Liberty University, the next and final stop in the battle over ObamaCare will be the United States Supreme Court. Liberty Counsel will file a petition with the High Court.
Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, presented oral argument in early May. Staver said: “From the beginning everyone knew that the final frontier in the battle over ObamaCare would be the United States Supreme Court. The court’s ruling goes against every court in America that considered this case. Even the United States Government argued that the Anti-Injunction Act does not apply to this case. We look forward to the final round in this battle over ObamaCare at the United States Supreme Court.”
The U.S. Constitution and Common Sense Prevail in Lake County, Florida: School Board Exonerates and Reinstates Teacher Suspended for Comments on Homosexual Marriage
Mount Dora, FL - Jerry Buell has been reinstated as a teacher, allowing him to return back to the classroom tomorrow. The Lake County School Board made its decision today after a week-long "investigation" into a comment Buell made on his personal Facebook page expressing his disapproval of legalized homosexual marriage in New York.
The Superintendent met with Buell and Liberty Counsel Attorney Harry Mihet this afternoon to announce the Board's decision. Buell has encountered nationwide scrutiny and has missed the first three vital days of getting to know his students and preparing them for the year. The amount of damage that has already been done and the effect this will have on his students is irreversible and should not go unnoticed.
Buell was suspended last week by the Board and reassigned to administrative duties pending its "investigation." A 2002 Mount Dora High School graduate who never had Buell as a teacher, complained to the Board about Buell's Facebook comments. That complaint ultimately led to the suspension.
Harry Mihet, Senior Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel, commented: "This is a great day for the Constitution. By fully exonerating Mr. Buell, the Lake County School Board has reaffirmed what the rest of Americans already knew. The First Amendment protects the right of public servants to express their personal opinion without any fear or intimidation. It is a shame that Mr. Buell had to miss three days of teaching for his employer to learn this lesson."
On August 25, 2011 Liberty Counsel will host Florida Awake! at the First Baptist Church of Leesburg. Buell is scheduled to attend the event and share his experience, along with others who have received similar persecution for their Christian beliefs. This event will gather support from individuals in Florida to take a stand for their constitutional rights. The rally seeks to motivate, educate, and equip the public to restore our nation's values, as our Founders originally intended.
Teacher of the Year Suspended for Facebook Comment Against Same-S*x Marriage
Mount Dora, FL - Jerry Buell, last year's "Teacher of the Year" at Mount Dora High School, has been suspended from the classroom for a comment he made on his own personal Facebook page, expressing his disapproval of legalized same-s*x marriage in New York. Buell commented that homosexuality is a sin and that seeing two "grooms" kissing on a news story revolted him. School officials received a complaint about Buell's comment on Tuesday from a 2002 Mount Dora graduate, who was never even in Mr. Buell's class. The Lake County School District responded by taking away his teaching privileges and reassigning him to administrative duties. Liberty Counsel is representing Buell and demanding that he be immediately reinstated with an apology for violating his First Amendment rights.
Buell has been a teacher for more than 22 years, served as the Social Studies Department Chair at Mount Dora High School, and taught American history and government. Buell has always been open to students, including those who identify as homosexual, about his conservative principles but has never forced his beliefs on anyone. Furthermore, Buell's students understand he has an open line of communication, which has built a high level of trust in his classes.
The school district's response to Buell's comments is unconstitutional, violating his right to free speech. Groups who are pushing "same-s*x marriage" and "marriage equality" are claiming any speech that is contrary to their viewpoint is considered "hate speech" and should be censored.
Harry Mihet, Senior Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel, commented: "Public school teachers are not constitutional orphans. They, like all Americans, enjoy the freedom to engage in discourse about matters of public concern. Mr. Buell is being investigated and punished for communicating his mainstream objection to homosexual marriage, an objection shared by a large majority of his fellow Floridians who have outlawed homosexual marriage through a constitutional amendment. If the First Amendment does not protect Mr. Buell's right to voice his personal opinion, on his personal time, from his personal computer, on his personal Facebook page, then the First Amendment means nothing."
Next Thursday, August 25th, Liberty Counsel will host the Florida Awake! at the First Baptist Church of Leesburg, where Buell resides. This event will gather support from individuals in Florida to take a stand for their constitutional rights. The rally seeks to motivate, educate, and equip the public to restore our nation's values, as our founders originally intended.
How to Make Democrats Heroes for Medicare
By Douglas E. Schoen
The debt ceiling debate didn't end well for the Democrats. Faced with unified Tea Party delegates in the House, they were forced to cede huge cuts in federal spending without an iota of revenue increases in the final deal.
It was the right move at the time -- reaching a deal averted fiscal catastrophe. But now, Democrats are thirsty for a win. And rightfully so -- they need an opportunity to show the American people they're serious about fiscal reform -- but that they're also uniquely committed to preserving vital public services in the process.
Repealing IPAB -- short for "Independent Payment Advisory Board" -- offers just such an opportunity. Established last year by the President's health bill, IPAB has grown increasingly unpopular among the American public and Capitol Hill lawmakers alike. And there's good evidence to suggest that IPAB will severely undermine the quality of care in Medicare -- a key program for the Democrats' base.
The President should give his party the go-ahead to get rid of IPAB.
IPAB is supposed to make the tough cost-cutting decisions for Medicare that Congress has failed to make. It's comprised of 15 presidential appointees serving six-year terms. Starting in 2014, if Medicare exceeds a preset annual spending target, the Board is authorized to make cut recommendations.
IPAB's powers are limited -- it can't adjust premiums, cost-sharing arrangements or eligibility requires. But, the powers it does have are dangerous. Notably, IPAB can slash reimbursement rates of participating healthcare providers.
Medicare's reimbursements are already dangerous low. Indeed, the American Academy of Family Physicians has reported that over 12 percent of its doctors now don't accept Medicare patients because rates are so paltry -- and that percentage is rising.
If IPAB makes even more cuts, more doctors will opt-out of the program, the pool of available providers will shrink, and patients will face longer wait times to get treated.
Medicare does need fiscal reform. The CBO and the Medicare trustees both predict the program will go bankrupt in less than ten years. But slashing reimbursements and compromising patient care is the wrong strategy.
What makes the Board all the more dangerous is that it's effectively unchecked. Unless Congress passes cuts achieving the same amount of savings or vetoes IPAB's recommendations outright with a supermajority vote, the Board's proposals automatically become law. And there is no legal mechanism for appeal available to patients or doctors.
IPAB is just bad policy. And, politically, getting rid of it is a no-brainer. The GOP is all but unanimously against the Board. Republicans have formed caucuses in the House and Senate exclusively comprised of physicians with the single purpose of getting rid of IPAB.
A recent letter sent to Congress pushing repeal was signed by 270 major healthcare stakeholders. The American Medical Association recently passed a resolution against the board.
There's growing opposition among Democrats, as well. Even last year, in the heat of the healthcare debate, over 70 congressional Democrats signed a letter to then-Speaker Pelosi urging her to remove the IPAB provision from the legislation.
And just last month the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee held a hearing examining the board and two Democrats -- Reps. Frank Pallone (NJ) and Allyson Schwartz (PA) -- broke party lines and voted for repeal. In early August, Reps. Loretta Sanchez of California and Tim Bishop of New York signed on to the IPAB repeal bill.
The political will is there. The Democrats should cash in on it.
Given that IPAB was part of his healthcare bill, the President can't come out and explicitly endorse its repeal. But he can send subtle signals to the Congressional leadership that he won't veto a bill to that effect.
The President would not be sacrificing any of his legislation's key components. It still expands the ranks of the insured and installs price-reduction mechanisms. The White House would not be sacrificing anything of consequence by letting IPAB die.
Getting rid of IPAB would bolster Democrats' reputation as champions of Medicare -- that they're a party that cares about fiscal reform, but not at the expense of our nation's most vulnerable.
Douglas Schoen is a political strategist and author of Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System, published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins.
The Need to Restructure the DoD: Part I
By Dr. Earl Tilford
In 1914, on the eve of the Great War, the Duke of Cambridge wrote, “There is a time for all things. There is even a time for change; and that is when it can no longer be avoided.”
Speaking of change, the current debt crisis could force drastic cuts in the Department of Defense budget, perhaps as high as 50 percent.
In the immediate post-Cold War era, DoD futurists envisioned a 25-year period of “strategic pause” before the nation faced a “major peer competitor” sometime between 2015 and 2020. In the 1990s, major candidates for peer-competitor status included China and a resurgent Russia. India and a nuclear-armed Iran were cast as lesser threats. In those heady days, terrorism was seen as a tactic and more the purview of law enforcement. The major emphasis was on being prepared for big wars against peer competitors—wars no world power can afford to lose. Preparing for those wars also satisfied each service’s need to perpetuate itself in familiar ways wrapped around developing and acquiring high-tech weapon systems. Programs like “The Army After Next,” “From the Sea,” and “Air Force Next” addressed future strategic paradigms focused on parochial core strengths.
To be sure, there were cuts in defense spending during the 1990s. The size of the American military shrank. The Air Force, alone among the services, reorganized its force structure from one based on strategic deterrence to power projection. Cuts were “salami slices” that, for the most part, reduced but did not reform outmoded force structures.
And then, September 11, 2001 changed everything. In the immediate aftermath, the Bush administration made a major mistake by declaring a “War on Terror” rather than specifying the enemy as Al Qaeda, associated groups, and nations that support them. With a generic “terror” as the enemy, the war easily morphed from one into two wars, with Operation Iraqi Freedom launched in March 2003. Ten years later, the fighting in Iraq continues, and what was originally a campaign to root out and destroy al Qaeda in Afghanistan has become an endless struggle against the Taliban. This war has exhausted the American military, contributed to our national economic nightmare, and derailed critical thinking about the future.
This exhausted force is also outmoded. Cutting such a force by a quarter, much less half, would invite aggression by nations like Iran and North Korea. Keeping the current force at the status quo would be expensive and also leave the nation vulnerable to current threats and unable to cope with a rapidly growing Chinese threat.
The U.S. military needs massive restructuring. Its current structure originated with the reforms instituted in 1903 after the Spanish-American War. A major overhaul on the eve of World War II made it possible to fight the Axis powers. The National Security Act of 1947 institutionalized the Industrial Age force extant today. Now, the armed forces of the United States would be hard-pressed to counter a North Korean invasion of South Korea without using nuclear weapons.
In fact, war on the Korean peninsula is one of our immediate threats. Iran, soon to be a nuclear-armed state, is bent on establishing hegemony in the world’s energy epicenter. Despite a predictably forthcoming declaration of “victory” in the ill-conceived War on Terror, al Qaeda and associated groups will continue to attack U.S. interests abroad while putting the nation on the defensive at home.
An anti-American alliance between Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, and possibly Cuba is not beyond the realm of possibility. If Mexico continues to descend into anarchy, that alliance could extend to our immediate and un-defended southern border; imagine the cost of trying to fortify it sufficiently to keep it secure.
Slicing the salami thicker will result in fewer divisions, cutting new weapons acquisition, and trimming at the edges by reducing costs associated with professional military education. This is like starting a weight reduction with a frontal lobotomy and removing a few fingers. What is needed is drastic restructuring of the armed forces, massive reduction in the associated bureaucracy, and major changes in the way officers are educated.
Meanwhile, China is building a first-class fighting force, one capable of global power projection. While Russia’s ability to project power remains questionable, its modernization programs focus on high-tech weaponry and on revitalizing nuclear forces.
Critics argue that the United States now spends more on its military than the next 10 nations combined. True. A lot of that goes to sustaining force structures that are redundant, unnecessary, and ill-suited for Information Age warfare. Much of it goes to personnel costs (including retirement), maintaining bases and posts that are no longer needed, and unnecessary civilian personnel. There is much that can be cut, but also much more that needs to be restructured if the United States is to survive the challenges beyond 2015.
Dr. Earl Tilford is a military historian and fellow for the Middle East & terrorism with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. A retired Air Force intelligence officer, Dr. Tilford earned his PhD in American and European military history at George Washington University. From 1993 to 2001, he served as Director of Research at the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute. In 2001, he left Government service for a professorship at Grove City College, where he taught courses in military history, national security, and international and domestic terrorism and counter-terrorism.
A Cheer and a Half for the Tea Party
by Sheldon Richman
Were it not for the Tea Party, the debt-ceiling controversy might never have taken place. Kudos on that count alone.
It comes as no surprise that the governing class and its boosters in the media portray the Tea Party folks as a collection of bumpkins and idiots who “don’t know the difference between campaigning and governing” — indeed, who would rather destroy the world economy than compromise their dogmatic insistence on spending cuts and resistance to tax increases.
But the policy and media elites’ attitude reveals more about them than about the Tea Party. The spenders and borrowers in Washington have had their way largely unimpeded for generations. What have they wrought? A formal debt about equal to the American economy’s annual output (GDP), a 75-year “entitlement” unfunded liability of $39 trillion, a budget deficit that far exceeds $1 trillion a year (more than 40 cents per dollar spent, about 10 percent of GDP), and federal spending that consumes about 25 percent of GDP.
And that isn’t enough for the governing class and its apologists in the intelligentsia!
All this happened before there was a Tea Party. Without it the debt ceiling would very likely have been raised with little fuss, as it has been so often before. It would not have been linked to a debate over cutting spending, reducing the deficit, and shrinking the government. Some Tea Partiers opposed raising the ceiling under any circumstances. Contrary to the power elite, that is not a sign not of ignorance and inexperience but of good sense.
No one exemplified anti–Tea Party snobbery more clearly than MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell (though he had close competition from his colleagues Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow). Stunned and outraged that the Tea Party was able to keep a new debt-ceiling bill from being passed without difficulty or even public notice, he furiously waved an old one-page debt-limit bill, fuming, “There is nothing easier for Congress to do than to raise the debt limit.”
How pathetic to see O’Donnell being so clueless about two important things: first, that the ease with which the government has been able to borrow is a big part of the problem facing the country, and second, that this ease in abusing the American people is precisely why the Tea Party emerged.
For O’Donnell and his state-worshiping ilk, any resistance to the growth of government spending — which, let us recall, is nothing but the forcible transfer of scarce resources from private owners to greedy, power-lusting politicians — is an impertinence, a sign of disrespect for one’s betters. How dare anyone question those anointed to “run the country”? How dare mere citizens object to being committed to more debt, which will impose additional burdens on them, their children, and their grandchildren? How dare they thwart the grand schemes their benevolent rulers have in store for them?
Well, the Tea Party knows better than O’Donnell & Company that the politicians are not our betters. And they know a political comeuppance is long overdue.
For all that, I give a cheer and a half for the Tea Party. But why not more than that?
Because the Tea Partiers need to be more radical. They have missed too many opportunities to advance their cause.
For one thing, they have been largely silent on the American empire. The government spends more than $1 trillion a year on imperial activities misleadingly called “defense,” far more than the nearly $700 billion in the War Department’s budget. Empires are bloody expensive, and the sooner the Tea Party understands that, the more effective it will be in fighting for smaller government. They also should understand that that trillion dollars is not just a misguided effort to protect American security. It is a scam largely designed to line the pockets of the military-industrial complex. They can start by reading President Eisenhower’s farewell address.
Second, Tea Partiers need to learn that the middle-class welfare state is a snare and a delusion. Social Security and Medicare masquerade as benevolent mutual-aid programs, but they are devices to foster allegiance to power. If you depend on politicians for support in your later, vulnerable years, how can your freedom truly be secure? The welfare state robs working people while turning the elderly into wards of the cold state.
Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org) and editor of The Freeman magazine.
Denham Statement on Budget Control Act
Washington, DC – Representative Jeff Denham today issued the following statement after the House of Representatives approved the Budget Control Act of 2011.
“Today I voted to shrink a federal government that has done nothing but expand for the past 40 years. I voted for the Budget Control Act of 2011 to hold the President and Washington accountable and ensure that we’re never in this situation again. While this legislation is far from perfect, it is one step towards ensuring economic security for our kids and grandkids.
“While the numbers are smaller than I would like, today we made real progress towards mandating fiscal discipline in Washington and instilling confidence in America’s job creators. Californians have been forced to tighten their belts for too long, it’s now time that Washington did the same. With this legislation we have the opportunity to hold Washington accountable for the money it spends by voting on a Balanced Budget Amendment and sending it to the states for ratification.”
Tribute to Staff Sergeant Russell Jeremiah ProctorHouse Chamber, Washington, D.C.July 21, 2011
Source: Congressman Tom McClintock
On June 26th, a roadside bomb in Jalula, Iraq claimed the life of a young man from Oroville, California. He was Army Staff Sergeant Russell Jeremiah Proctor, age 25, on his third tour of combat duty.
He was laid to rest last week in solemn ceremonies in California. Sgt. Proctor leaves behind a grieving widow, a devastated family, and a nine-month old son who will know his father only by reputation.
And it is reputation that I want to speak of today. I never met Sgt. Proctor. I, too, know him only by reputation.
It is a reputation commemorated by – among other decorations – two Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, two Army Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, two Overseas Service Ribbons, a Combat Action Badge, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
It is a reputation memorialized by those who knew him best: the men he served with. “He was a leader among leaders” said one, “His drive to be the best motivated all of us to reach our potential.” Another said, “He led from the front. He inspired everyone around him to better themselves.”
Perhaps the most poignant was this simple post: “My son was killed with (Sergeant) Proctor. (Private First Class) Dylan Johnson and the rest of the soldiers in the unit all looked up to Russell for leadership and guidance. They are both heroes to me as well.” It is signed, “A grieving Dad.”
I had the honor to speak last week with Sgt. Proctor’s widow, Soila. She’s also active duty Army; they met while serving at Fort Hood. She was deployed in the same Forward Operating Base as Russell – they were billeted together and she was nearby when he was killed. I cannot begin to imagine the hell that she has been through. And yet, having endured all this, she plans to continue her service to our Country in the U.S. Army.
Mr. Speaker, James Michener’s question thunders down on us at such moments: where do we get such people? I don’t have an answer to that question. As I talked with Soila last Monday, I was struck by the transcendent nobility that accompanies her grief.
Perhaps a more pertinent question is what would our country do without such people as Sgt. Proctor – or the nine generations of Americans who have preceded him in the defense of our nation. General Patton was right when he observed that “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”
And so, Mr. Speaker, I rise today for exactly that purpose – to thank God that Russell Proctor lived. And to pray that his infant son, Ezekiel, grows up in a nation made safer by his sacrifice – and a nation that will never forget not only what we owe to those who Lincoln once called “the loved and lost,” but what we owe to the families who so personally bear that loss.
A chaplain who brought the dread news to the family wrote a commentary over the fourth of July weekend – a weekend filled with barbecues, picnics and fireworks -- in which he noted the grief of that family amidst all the frivolity around them. And he noted that at age 25, Russell Proctor will never again celebrate a birthday, take his son fishing or hug his wife.
Sgt. Russell Proctor and all those who preceded him since the first shots on Lexington Green believed enough in our country and what it stands for to sacrifice all those precious years of love and life and joy so that we -- their fellow Americans -- could enjoy those same blessings of liberty in safety and security – including a baby boy named Ezekiel whose Dad won’t be there to take him fishing or hug him or celebrate birthdays with him.
Ezekiel, if you should someday stumble upon these words, I hope you will know that, like you, many of us knew your Dad only by reputation.
And we stood in awe of him.
Summary Judgment Requested to Stop Anti-Christian Bias at New Mexico School
Source: Liberty Counsel
Roswell, NM - Liberty Counsel has filed a brief requesting summary judgment in the lawsuit Taylor v. Roswell against the Roswell Independent School District, for retaliating against a Christian group called Relentless in Roswell. The school punished and suspended members of the group for buying and giving fresh Krispy Kreme doughnuts with Bible verses to each of their teachers. In the past these students have handed out sandwiches, hot chocolate, and candy canes to the student body and faculty. They helped staff with the trash and fellow students with their lunch trays and also distributed rocks with affirming words like "U are wonderful" painted on one side and "Psalm 139" on the other. However, the school has bullied and suspended students who were exercising their freedom of religion by distributing abstinence wristbands and plastic models of babies at 12 weeks gestation, bringing attention to the life of the unborn.
Relentless in Roswell expressed appreciation for their teachers by giving them doughnuts. Since the closest Krispy Kreme shop was in Texas, some of the group drove almost six hours round trip, stayed overnight, got up at 3:00 a.m. filled their car's back seat with fresh doughnuts and got back to school on time to deliver the doughnuts. When the doughnuts were handed out, a scripture verse was included. One student was immediately sent home and two others were forced to spend a Saturday morning sitting alone in the classroom for four hours as a punishment.
When the plastic babies were handed out, school officials said, "It's time to shut this down. Some people are getting offended." That morning, one student had decided to take her own life because of her past decision to abort. When she received a model baby with the scripture, "you are fearfully and wonderfully made," she cried and prayed with the students and her life was saved, both physically and spiritually with the forgiveness of God. However, the students were then pulled out of class and instructed to cease their "Christian" acts, because they had made their point.
Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: "Some teachers are worried about their students giving them bullets, and this school suspends students over a Bible verse! These students are living their Christian beliefs by showing kindness. It is outrageous that the Roswell school officials are mean to these students solely because they are hostile to their Christian faith."
How do we responsibly cut Medicare as part of the budget debate?
By Douglas E. Schoen
Although President Obama continues to meet with top House and Senate Republicans in an effort to reach a budget agreement before the August 2nd deadline for raising the debt limit, it is unclear how far-reaching the final deal will be.
Obama wants to achieve the boldest possible package through an agreement that would save up to $4 trillion over the next decade, which would consist of large cuts in Medicare and other entitlement programs -- while requiring new tax revenue. Meanwhile Republicans advocate for a more modest deal to avoid a default on the national debt that contains some spending cuts and has no tax increases.
Despite these differences the President and the Republicans have agreed that the nation's budget problems must be addressed, and Medicare reform is a critical part of any agreement.
Throughout negotiations, it is critical that cuts to the Medicare program are responsible and productive. Medicare reform must still protect policies and programs that work while eliminating those that are no longer effective.
One productive Medicare program that must be kept intact is Part D, the prescription drug benefit program. Part D is the most cost-effective and successful entitlement program the federal government runs. Thanks to strong competition, the program costs the government and beneficiaries far less than initial projections. This year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reduced its baseline 10-year spending projection for all of Medicare by $186 billion, two-thirds of which is accounted for by a reduction in Part D spending.
The Medicare Trustees report released this year says that this competition will continue to drive savings. Research shows that in the Part D program, the proportion of prescriptions filled with a generic drug has increased each year, as plans strive to keep premiums low.
While Medicare Part D is an example of an effective Medicare program, it is clear that not all Medicare policies and programs are as productive.
The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) that was created with the passage of last year's health care law is one such provision that should be eliminated. Essentially, IPAB would allow an unelected board make binding "recommendations," or rather, demands, to reduce Medicare spending.
IPAB is a threat to all Medicare beneficiaries. Proponents of the board argue that IPAB will lead to improved quality of care as a result of the cost-cutting measures it enacts in order to save. This is doubtful.
The board must make cuts that reach annual targets, and can only look at specific parts of the health care system when making these decisions. Standard line item cuts will result, only reinforcing systemic problems -- not fixing them -- meaning unsustainable savings.
Major changes in the Medicare program should be decided by elected officials who are held accountable for their decisions. IPAB's arbitrary system lacks transparency and oversight.
Our political leaders should look at other ways to help reduce Medicare spending and increase savings as negotiations progress.
For example, increasing the savings mechanisms in the current health care law could be done by guaranteeing the law's $500 billion worth of savings from reduced Medicare payments to health providers and insurers by accepting a "trigger" for further cost cutting if those savings don't materialize.
Lawmakers could also cut subsidies for beneficiaries to buy supplemental "Medigap" insurance, and save $92 billion by 2021. While increasing premiums that beneficiaries pay for Medicare doctors' coverage by just 10 percent would save $241 billion. Also, raising the eligibility age for Medicare to 67 from 65 would save $124 billion.
Employers and employees could be incentivized to select more cost-effective health plans by capping the tax exclusion of employer-provided health benefits in 2018, and then phasing it out over ten years. The exclusion of employer-provided health care benefits is the single largest tax expenditure. It is estimated to cost the government more than $1 trillion over the next five years.
Medicare's copayment structure could be modernized with a deductible and out-of-pocket maximum that is indexed to increases in spending per beneficiary -- saving about $14 billion through 2018.
Bundling Medicare's payments for post-acute care to reduce costs and increase incentives for efficiency would result in cumulative budget savings from 2012 through 2018 of $5 billion.
There are many options lawmakers have to reform Medicare without resorting to drastic measures. Cuts must be made, but not at the expense of programs that work. Parts of the Medicare program that are effective must be left alone, while those that are not must be changed.
Douglas Schoen is a political strategist and author of Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System, published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins.
The Year of School Choice—But Not for African-American Kids in NYC
By Dr. John A. Sparks
In a recent editorial, The Wall Street Journal calls 2011 the “year of school choice.” Parents and the legislators who represent them, particularly in inner-city schools, are tired of waiting for the promised effects of “educational reform” on the public schools their children attend. Therefore, according to the Wall Street Journal, in one form or another, 13 states have passed school-choice legislation, and similar changes are proposed in 28 other states. Such legislation often permits the formation of publicly financed “charter schools,” which are run by new schools boards whose members insist upon an educational environment that will produce real learning.
Despite progress in many places, New York City children, many of them African-American, may not be able to return to charters or start in them anew in the fall due to a lawsuit instituted against the NYC’s Department of Education by what would seem to be a tragically ironic twosome: the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT).
One would certainly assume that NYC’s charter program—which would allow parents to withdraw their children from the 22 poor public schools in New York and move them to effective charter or other schools—would be eagerly supported by the NAACP and the UFT. After all, these are schools deemed (by pre-established criteria) to be “failing.” But that is not the case. Why?
Perhaps one could understand the UFT, long an ideological champion of public schools, no matter how poorly they perform, engaging in such a suit, but why the NAACP, in light of its announced commitment to black and Latino youths and their parents? Here is a case where political/ideological dedication to the public-school monopoly is stronger than loyalty to the very people which the NAACP is pledged to help.
Fortunately, NYC parents with children attending or about to enter charter schools in the fall are not committed to this ideological blindness. They simply want the good schooling for their children that educational choice provides, and they are speaking out. Akeisha Adams, who has a child in Explore Charter School, recently spoke to a group of outraged parents in front of UTF headquarters. Her message was short and sweet to the UTF. “The UTF’s power just keeps growing and growing and growing, right? Now, that is what the teachers’ union is used to. They’re used to children and parents making sacrifices so the teacher’s union can keep its strong hold on public education. Guess what? We are here to tell them today, ‘no more!’”
The same could be said to the NAACP. How can an organization supposedly committed to helping blacks and other minority groups climb the educational ladder file a lawsuit to obstruct educational opportunities for what amounts to 7,000 of New York’s most disadvantaged kids? Black parents have a right to be perplexed, frustrated, and outraged by such a stance.
The Economist reports that another parent, Ny Whittaker, whose child attends a Harlem charter school, summarized it well: the “NAACP is on the wrong side of history.”
Precisely so, and the disgraceful stance of the NAACP and the UTF should be reassessed by its leaders. As a banner at a recent rally read: “UFT your lawsuit hurts my child.”
Dr. John A. Sparks is dean of the Calderwood School of Arts & Letters at Grove City College (Grove City, PA), where he teaches U.S. constitutional history and business law. He is a fellow for educational policy with The Center for Vision & Values and a member of the State Bar of Pennsylvania. Contact him at: email@example.com.
BOXER STATEMENT ON ADMINISTRATION’S DECISION TO RELEASE OIL FROM STRATEGIC PETROLEUM RESERVE
Senator Had Previously Called for Release to Help Consumers and Protect the Economic Recovery
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) praised the announcement today by Energy Secretary Stephen Chu that the United States will release 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in conjunction with the release of another 30 million barrels from member states of the International Energy Agency. Oil reserves will be offered on the world market over the next 30 days in an effort to address supply disruptions and high gas prices, which have hurt the economic recovery.
Senator Boxer said, “This decision will provide relief for consumers who are struggling with high prices at the pump. With the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at record levels and oil prices soaring because of unrest in the Middle East, it’s appropriate to take this step to protect our fragile economic recovery.”
Releasing reserves from SPR, which is currently at a historically high level of 727 million barrels, will help offset the disruptions in the oil supply caused by turmoil in the Middle East that have contributed to high oil prices.
In March, Senator Boxer joined with other Senators to call on President Obama to release oil from the SPR to address high gas prices and spur economic growth. The Senators’ letter is available here.
Should We Let Hypocrisy Shake Our Faith?
Activist Explains Why Public Figure Scandals Should Not Shape Our Views
Hypocrisy season looks to be in full swing, but one expert says we shouldn’t let it get in the way of our own faith.
Between Weiner-Gate, John Edwards being indicted on charges he used campaign funds to cover up the affair that destroyed his political career and former House speaker Newt Gingrich launching his presidential bid after admitting he cheated on his second wife, it seems like there is no end to the breakout of hypocrisy that has infected the headlines recently.
“It’s very easy for people’s faith to be shaken when their leaders are shown to be hypocrites,” said N.T. McQueen, author of Between Lions and Lambs (www.cityhillpublishing.com). “After the pedophile scandal hit the Catholic Church in 2008, the Pew Institute reported that the church lost about 25 percent of its members, so it’s not like we don’t see the effects of hypocrisy. Voter turnout, participation in our churches and political system all suffer when these scandals hit, but it shouldn’t be that way.”McQueen believes it’s imperative that people hold on to their faith – whether it’s faith in their religion, democracy or even the legal system – in the face of hypocrisy.
“Just because someone you might have looked up to or respected turned out to be a hypocrite, it doesn’t mean that whatever he was associated with is also guilty of that hypocrisy,” he said. “Just because some people associated with the church turned out to be evil doesn’t mean that being faithful is an evil thing. Just because some politicians were crooked – and there will always be crooked politicians – doesn’t mean that the democratic process is crooked. Voting and participating in the democratic process is still important and one of the freedoms generations of Americans died for as we were building this country.”
The research shows the direct link between hypocrisy and the loss of faith, with Catholics leaving the church and voter turnouts dropping like lemmings off a cliff. That’s why McQueen feels we should dig a little deeper and find more reasons to believe.
“So what if Anthony Weiner acted like a jerk?” he added. “Does that mean that every politician is a jerk, too? Does it mean the democratic process is broken? Does it mean that representational government should just go in the trash bin as the experiment that never quite worked? Of course not. It simply means that Anthony Weiner acted like a jerk – one man, not the avatar that represents all of politics.”
Sometimes, hypocrisy can also be a good thing, according to McQueen.
“The irony about people like Weiner and John Edwards and the lot of them who are all in trouble is that their being in trouble is proof that the system eventually does work,” he said. “Weiner will be investigated and the media coverage practically ensures he’ll never hold another public office or be put in a position of holding the public’s trust. Edwards was the man who wanted to be president of the United States. With the new indictments, he won’t even be voted president of a bowling league. Their getting caught for being hypocrites is proving to us that the institutions they served are stronger than the scandals, and exist to punish those who try to use their power and celebrity as selfish tools for their own aggrandizement.”
About N.T. McQueen
N.T. McQueen grew up attending several churches and absorbing the ways of the religious. He began writing short stories on his breaks while working as a parking officer. He graduated Cum Laude from CSU-Sacramento with a degree in American Literature and will be pursuing a Masters in Creative Writing. He lives in Northern California with his wife and two children.
Tax Day Tea Parties a HUGE Success!
On April 15, 2009, at over 800 locations across this great country, the Tea Party Patriots gathered to protest government spending, bailouts, deficits and high taxes. [More]
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