Thursday, April 24, 2014

'Most transparent' White House ever rewrote the FOIA to suppress politically sensitive docs

'Most transparent' White House ever rewrote the FOIA to suppress politically sensitive docs
By |                    
It's Sunshine Week, so perhaps some enterprising White House reporter will ask press secretary Jay Carney why President Obama rewrote the Freedom of Information Act without telling the rest of America.
The rewrite came in an April 15, 2009, memo from then-White House Counsel Greg Craig instructing the executive branch to let White House officials review any documents sought by FOIA requestors that involved "White House equities."
That phrase is nowhere to be found in the FOIA, yet the Obama White House effectively amended the law to create a new exception to justify keeping public documents locked away from the public.

A serious breach
The Greg memo is described in detail in a new study made public today by Cause of Action, a Washington-based nonprofit watchdog group that monitors government transparency and accountability.
How serious an attack on the public's right to know is the Obama administration's invention of the "White House equities" exception?
"FOIA is designed to inform the public on government behavior; White House equities allow the government to withhold information from the media, and therefore the public, by having media requests forwarded for review. This not only politicizes federal agencies, it impairs fundamental First Amendment liberties," Cause of Action explains in its report.
Equities are everything
The equities exception is breathtaking in its breadth. As the Greg memo put it, any document request is covered, including "congressional committee requests, GAO requests, judicial subpoenas and FOIA requests."
And it doesn't matter what format the documents happen to be in because, according to Greg, the equities exception "applies to all documents and records, whether in oral, paper, or electronic form, that relate to communications to and from the White House, including preparations for such communications."
Forget making FOIA deadlines
The FOIA requires federal agencies to respond within 20 days of receiving a request, but the White House equities exception can make it impossible for an agency to meet that deadline.
In one case cited by Cause of Action, the response to a request from a Los Angeles Times reporter to the Department of the Interior for "communications between the White House and high-ranking Interior officials on various politically sensitive topics" was delayed at least two years by the equities review.
"Cause of Action is still waiting for documents from 16 federal agencies, with the Department of Treasury having the longest pending request of 202 business days.
"The Department of Energy is a close second at 169 business days. The requests to the Department of Defense and Department of Health and Human Services have been pending for 138 business days," the report said.
So much for "the most transparent administration in history."

Premium rates soar under Obamacare

Premium rates soar under Obamacare

by Paul Mirengoff in Obamacare
Fox News reports on a recent survey of 148 insurance brokers which shows that Obamacare is sending premiums upwards at the fastest clip in decades. The survey, conducted by Morgan Stanley, shows an increase in premium costs nationally of about 12 percent. California experienced a 53 percent increase; in Florida the increase was 37 percent; Pennsylvania’s was 28 percent.
According to Fox, analysts attribute the higher costs primarily to Obamacare:
“There are certain regulations and certain requirements that had to be in there. And because of that it’s driven up the costs of these benefits,” says John DiVito of the Flexible Benefit Service Corporation, which represents hundreds of agents.
The hikes reported in the survey are for the first policies issued under ObamaCare in 2014. Next year is likely to be worse:
“They’re going to see an announcement that next year’s premium’s going to be 25 percent or maybe 50 percent higher than what they’re now paying,” says John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis.
John Divito of Flexible Benefit Service Corporation says, “we’re reading studies where the rates could be 10 to 30, 40 percent higher. Again, it all depends geographically where these rates are being looked at but definitely an increase in rates.”…
Insurance executives say the same thing. Marc Bertolini, CEO of Aetna, recently told an earning conference that he anticipates 2014 spikes of 20 to 50 percent, going as high as 100 percent in some markets.
The suggestion that the Democrats’ Obamacare worries are behind them because more than 7 million people signed up for it is bunk.

Ben Carson: White House wanted apology for ‘offending’ Obama

WASHINGTON - JUNE 19:  U.S. President George W. Bush (R) presents a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Benjamin S. Carson, Sr. M.D (L), for his work withneurological disorders during an East Room ceremony June 19, 2008 at the White House in Washington, DC.  The medal is the nation WASHINGTON - JUNE 19: U.S. President George W. Bush (R) presents a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Benjamin S. Carson, Sr. M.D (L), for his work withneurological disorders during an East Room ceremony June 19, 2008 at the White House in Washington, DC. The medal is the nation's highest civilian award. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Ben Carson: White House wanted apology for ‘offending’ Obama

Photo of Alex Pappas
Alex Pappas
Neurosurgeon Ben Carson says the White House wanted him to apologize for “offending” President Obama after he famously delivered a conservative message at the National Prayer Breakfast last year.
Carson, the former director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, recalls the events surrounding his 2013 speech in his new book, One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future. The Daily Caller obtained an advance copy of the book, which is set for release May 20.
“He did not appear to be hostile or angry,” Carson writes of Obama, “but within a matter of minutes after the conclusion of the program, I received a call from some of the prayer breakfast organizers saying that the White House was upset and requesting that I call the president and apologize for offending him. I said that I did not think that he was offended and that I didn’t think that such a call was warranted.”
Conservatives rallied around Carson last year after his remarks, made from a podium as Obama sat just feet away. In his speech, he railed against “political correctness” and offered specific ideas for health care reform.
“Many have commented that the president appeared to be uncomfortable during my speech, but I was not paying particular attention to him or his reactions, as my comments were really directed more at the American people than the people on the dais,” Carson recalls. “At the conclusion of the program, the president approached me to shake my hand and thank me for my participation.”
Since that speech, a super PAC has been formed to encourage Carson to run for president in 2016.
In his book, Carson suggests he has no plans to run, but hints he would if he “felt called by God.”
“I have been offered support from around the country and tremendous financial resources if I decide to run for national office,” he writes in his book. “But I have not felt called to run. I suspect that there are many others who think logically and are interested in a political future who might be better candidates than myself. Nonetheless, if I felt called by God to officially enter the world of politics, I certainly would not hesitate to do so.”
Watch Carson’s speech:

Follow Alex on Twitter

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Did Muslim hardliners try to infiltrate and takeover TWENTY FIVE Birmingham schools?

Did Muslim hardliners try to infiltrate and takeover TWENTY FIVE Birmingham schools? Probe into 'Trojan horse' plot expands

  • Plot against Birmingham schools was uncovered in document last month
  • Muslim extremists allegedly plotted to overthrow moderate school leaders
  • Nicknamed Operation Trojan Horse, document told how to force staff out
  • Probe into alleged hardline Muslim plot now been expanded to 25 schools
  • Birmingham City Council appoints special adviser to probe allegations
  • Children in schools in Manchester and Bradford may be at risk of similar plot
  • Ofsted inspectors are told to fail any school that appears to be involved
Thousands of schoolchildren's education could have been threatened by a hardline Muslim plot to force out moderate school governors and heads and replace them with extremists.
It emerged today that 25 Birmingham schools are now being investigated for links to the alleged radicalisation plot, and while Birmingham City Council has refused to name the schools, some of which have upwards of 600 students, it means that vast numbers of pupils could have been at risk.
The number of schools allegedly involved rose today from 15 to 25 as Education Secretary Michael Gove is said to have told Ofsted inspectors to fail any school 'where religious conservatism is getting in the way of learning and a balanced curriculum'.
This afternoon Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg backed the investigations, saying schools should not be allowed to become 'silos of segregation'.
It emerged today that 25 schools in Birmingham, including Park View Academy, pictured, are being investigated by Ofsted over allegations that Muslim extremists were trying to force out moderate headteachers
It emerged today that 25 schools in Birmingham, including Park View Academy, pictured, are being investigated by Ofsted over allegations that Muslim extremists were trying to force out moderate headteachers

As the scale of the alleged plot became apparent, Birmingham City Council appointed a new chief adviser, former head teacher Ian Kershaw, to handle at least 200 complaints received in relation to the 'Trojan Horse' alleged plot to take over primary, secondary, and community schools as well as academies in the city.
The unsigned and undated Trojan Horse letter claimed that a small but radical group of Muslims was pursuing its own agenda in the classrooms, with uncooperative headteachers and governors forced out.
It said that the plot had caused 'a great amount of organised disruption' in the city, crediting it with forcing a change of leadership at four schools.At the centre of the scandal is Birmingham’s Park View Academy, where it is alleged that £70,000 was spent on loudspeakers to call pupils to Islamic prayers.Birmingham City Council's investigation will run beside a separate inquiry by the Department for Education (DfE), and will report back on 15 schools initially next month, with a fuller report due in July.
Headteachers and governors judged to be performing 'inadequately' in terms of pushing religious views to the detriment of children's education may be immediately dismissed.
Since the appearance of the letter in March, anonymous whistle-blowers including former staff have come forward, making claims that boys and girls were segregated in classrooms and assemblies, and sex education was banned.
It was also alleged that non-Muslim staff had been bullied, and in one case it was alleged that the teachings of a firebrand Al Qaeda-linked Muslim preacher praised to pupils.

Birmingham City Council today announced the six-month appointment of Mr Kershaw, managing director of Northern Education, to handle the investigation, and the council said it was also setting up a review group made up of MPs, councillors, police and faith groups.
The council's leader, Sir Albert Bore, said the investigation was slowed by the two-tier school system, which meant that academies, which are at the centre of the allegations, were answerable not to the local authority but to the DfE, calling the situation 'frustrating in the extreme'.
And Sir Albert suggested that the alleged Muslim extremist plot may extend beyond Birmingham, saying that his authority had spoken to councils in both Manchester and Bradford.
He said: 'There are certainly issues in Bradford which have similarities with the issues being spoken about in Birmingham.'
Fresh claims have emerged in Manchester and at Bradford's Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College and Carlton Bolling College.
An Ofsted spokesman said it had not begun inspections there, but did not rule it out.
Sir Albert also said that West Midlands Police, which has reopened a fraud inquiry into one of the schools caught up in the allegations, was still looking into the authorship of the Trojan Horse document, the authenticity of which is still unclear.
Lindsey Clark, the headteacher of Park View, said she would act against anyone plotting against the school
Lindsey Clark, the headteacher of Park View, said she would act against anyone plotting against the school


One of the schools being investigated over extremist infiltration cancelled its annual visit from Father Christmas last year.

Teacher Vicky Hubble, who organised the event at the secular Ladypool Primary School, was allegedly told to cancel it by the new Muslim headmaster, Huda Aslam.

He is said to have told her there would be no presents and ‘no mention’ of Jesus being the son of God.

According to a fellow teacher, Mr Aslam wanted to reduce festivities to little more than sing-alongs to songs such as Jingle Bells, but was forced to reinstate the Christmas assembly by Birmingham Council. However, Santa remained banned.
But a DfE official said yesterday: ‘Extreme religious conservatism often acts as an entry to later problems.
‘A child who is brought up age eight, nine, ten, believing that you should segregate the sexes and hand out Islamic textbooks is more likely to be radicalised in later life.’
David Cameron has promised ‘swift action’ to ensure schools are not used to spread terrorist ideology.
Birmingham city council froze appointments of any new school governors last week. But MPs said change should have come sooner.
Liam Byrne, Labour MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, which covers several of the schools, said the probe was moving at ‘glacial’ speed.
Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood said that the council has known of the claims for ‘eight years at least’ but had failed to act for fear of ‘appearing anti-Muslim’.
'Sinister' group plotted to oust me, claims head

Regulator Without Peer

Regulator Without Peer

By at least one measure, Obama surpasses all of his predecessors.

Anyone wondering why the U.S. economy can't seem to grow at its usual pace should examine one product category where production is booming: federal regulation.
Washington set a new record in 2013 by issuing final rules consuming 26,417 pages in the Federal Register. While plenty of government employees deserve credit for this milestone, leadership matters. And by this measure President Obama has never been surpassed in the Oval Office.
The latest rule-making tally comes from the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Wayne Crews, who on April 29 will publish his annual review of federal regulation in "Ten Thousand Commandments." This is important work because politicians and the media treat regulation as a largely cost-free public good. Mr. Crews knows better.
Congress may be mired in gridlock, but the federal bureaucracy is busier than ever. In 2013 the Federal Register contained 3,659 "final" rules, which means they now must be obeyed, and 2,594 proposed rules on their way to becoming orders from political headquarters.
The Federal Register finished 2013 at 79,311 pages, the fourth highest total in history. That didn't match President Obama's 2010 all-time record of 81,405 pages. But Mr. Obama can console himself by noting that of the five highest Federal Register page counts, four have occurred on his watch. The other was 79,435 pages under President George W. Bush in 2008.
And the feds aren't letting up. Mr. Crews reports that there are another 3,305 regulations moving through the pipeline on their way to being imposed. One hundred and ninety-one of those are "economically significant" rules, which are defined as having costs of at least $100 million a year. Keep in mind that the feds routinely low-ball their cost estimates so the public will continue to think regulation is free.
Drawing largely on government statistics, Mr. Crews estimates that the overall cost of regulatory compliance and its economic impact is about $1.9 trillion annually. This means that the burden of complying with federal rules costs roughly the annual GDP of Australia, Canada or Italy.
This regulatory tax makes U.S. businesses less competitive, but it also burdens every American because it is embedded in the prices of all goods and services. Mr. Crews estimates that "U.S. households 'pay' $14,974 annually in regulatory hidden tax," or 23% of the average income of $65,596.
All of this is the fruit of ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, and the manifold other expansions of government that have marked the Obama years. By far their greatest and most tragic cost has been slower economic growth, which has meant fewer jobs, lower incomes and diminished economic possibilities for tens of millions of Americans.

On Tax Day, RNC Sues The IRS (DP: happened last week but still...)

On Tax Day, RNC Sues The IRS

On Tax Day, the Republican National Committee announced it is suing the IRS for stonewalling Freedom of Information Act request for documents about the tax agency's politicized scrutiny of conservative and Tea Party groups.

The RNC filed the request on May 21, 2013, in an attempt to expose the documents and emails surrounding agency’s process in handling applications of non-profit organizations such as conservative and Tea Party groups.
“We’re filing this suit because the Obama administration has a responsibility to be transparent and accountable to the American people. The IRS has a legal obligation to answer our inquiry for these records,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. “On Tax Day especially Americans deserve to know whether they can trust the agency to which they’re sending their taxes.
After the RNC filed the request, the IRS has requested several extensions, which has already delayed the release by 226 business days.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

In the court of King Barry…

In the court of King Barry… 
by Scott Johnson in Barack Obama, Obamacare where we seem to be with Obama’s declaration that the debate on Obamacare is over and he won. Is there a red-blooded American who doesn’t recoil at such talk? Someone in a position of authority really ought tell him to stuff it, someone like the citizenry ’round about election day this year.

At the Weekly Standard, Jeffrey Anderson provides a useful reminder of what is important in this context:

[I]n truth, all of this talk about enrollment numbers is beside the point. Back when the Democrats defied public opinion and rammed Obamacare into law using the Cornhusker Kickback, Gator Aid, the Louisiana Purchase, and all the rest of the unseemly gimmicks they employed, opponents of Obamacare didn’t claim that the reason why the health-care overhaul would be bad was because it wouldn’t hit the coverage numbers the CBO projected. (If anything, opponents argued that Obamacare would surpass those numbers, as employers would dump people into the exchanges against their will, thereby costing American taxpayers even more than the CBO was projecting.)

No, Obamacare isn’t bad because it didn’t hit 9 million in Obamacare-compliant exchange purchases, nor because it didn’t include 39 percent young adults among its purchasers. It’s bad—horrible, actually—because it requires private citizens to buy a product of the federal government’s choosing for the first time in our nation’s entire history; because it funnels unprecedented amounts of power and money to Washington, D.C. and away from everyday Americans; because it incentivizes employers not to hire people and to cut hours for millions of people they’ve already employed; because it bans millions of people’s health insurance policies (except when Obama lawlessly un-bans them); because it causes people who like their doctors not to be able to keep their doctors; because it raises health costs; because it requires young people to subsidize maternity coverage and pediatric dental care for 60-year-olds who have no need or desire for such coverage; because it effectively bans doctors from expanding existing doctor-owned hospitals or building new ones, makes it difficult for doctors to stay in private practice, and tries to corral them into hospitals where they can more easily be controlled; because it will raise federal spending by a projected $2 trillion over its real first decade; because it will cut projected Medicare funding by a whopping 10 percent over that same decade, siphoning that money out of Medicare to (partially) pay for Obamacare; because it particularly goes after Medicare Advantage funding; because it stifles medical innovation; because it disrespects religious freedom; and because it mandates communal funding of abortion.

In short, it’s bad because it raises health costs, undermines liberty, costs jobs, and seeks to put American medicine under the control of the same folks who brought you

And then there is this:

It might seem surprising, therefore, that Obama would have chosen to declare victory yesterday, imperiously proclaiming that “the repeal debate is and should be over.” In reality, however, his words might actually be true—just not in the way he intended. The American people hated Obamacare even before the Democrats willfully passed it, they hate it now, and they never stopped hating it in between. There’s strong evidence that the debate is, indeed, over—and that Obama and his allies have lost.

According to Real Clear Politics, since July 4, 2009, 458 polls have been taken on Obamacare. Twenty have shown Americans liking it, five have shown ties, and 433 (95 percent) have shown them disliking it. Perhaps even more strikingly, 299 (65 percent)—including the five most recent polls—have shown Americans opposing Obamacare by double-digits.

Anderson invites the customary thought experiment: “Imagine if Republicans were so stubbornly pushing something that was so evidently unpopular—and then had the gall to declare the debate over (in their favor).” My imagination isn’t that good, and I doubt yours is either.!

House Oversight GOP: Cummings Behind IRS Probe of True the Vote

Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee accused the panel's senior Democrat on Wednesday of spurring the IRS investigation of True the Vote after the group filed its application for tax-exempt status in 2010.

Rep. Darrell Issa, the panel's chairman,
released emails showing that staff working for the ranking member, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, had communicated multiple times with the Houston-based group between August 2012 and last year.

Issa also charged that information obtained by Cummings' staff was shared with the IRS and its embattled former supervisor, Lois Lerner, and that the Democrat did not disclose any of those dealings with committee Republicans.

"Although you have previously denied that your staff made inquiries to the IRS about conservative organization True the Vote that may have led to additional agency scrutiny, communication records between your staff and IRS officials — which you did not disclose to majority members or staff — indicates otherwise," Issa said
in a letter sent to Cummings.

The letter, also signed by the five Republicans who chair oversight subcommittees, referenced the committee's planned vote on Thursday to hold Lerner in contempt for her twice refusing to testify before the panel in its investigation.

"You have an obligation to fully explain your staff’s undisclosed contacts with the IRS," the letter says.

Cummings, who has been in the House since 1996, has contended that he was conducting appropriate oversight of True the Vote. A staffer told Newsmax on Wednesday that a statement from the congressman was forthcoming.

Catherine Engelbrecht, True the Vote's president, said Wednesday that the organization filed an ethics complaint against Cummings in February. She criticized the Democrat for his information requests at a committee hearing that month.

"Today's committee action reveals what we knew all along: partisan politics and the weaponization of government against opponents of this administration is real and continues," Englebrecht said. "Elijah Cummings has blocked the IRS abuse investigation all along. We now see clearly that two branches of government have colluded to target and silence private citizens."

She said the organization was amending its complaint against Cummings to include the latest information.

"America has come to a tipping point," Engelbrecht said. "No more lies. No more cover-ups. No more collusion. Enough is enough."

The new emails came as the House Ways and Means Committee voted to recommend that Lerner, who retired from the IRS last year, be investigated for criminal violations by the Justice Department.

That panel found in its investigation that Lerner engaged in an "aggressive and improper pursuit" of Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, a nonprofit political group co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove.

Ways and Means is
calling for a criminal inquiry because it found that Lerner treated conservative groups unfairly.

A vote-monitoring organization founded in 2009, True the Vote was among dozens of tea party, conservative, and religious groups singled out for special scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service in their applications for tax-exempt status starting in 2010 and through the presidential election.

The organization was granted its tax-exempt status last September after three years and a lawsuit against the agency. The
lawsuit is pending. The status that True the Vote received, 501(c)(4), allows the organization to keep its donors private.

According to the emails released on Wednesday, members of Cummings' staff first contacted the IRS about True the Vote in August 2012.

The next January, staffers sought more information from the agency about the group. The emails showed that Lerner made special efforts to obtain information from Cummings' office.

For instance, a Jan. 28 email — sent three days after staffers requested more True the Vote information — Lerner wrote to her deputy, Holly Paz, asked, "Did we find anything?"

Paz, who is now on administrative leave in light of the scandal, responded immediately, saying that no information had yet been found.

Lerner then replied, according to the emails, "Thanks, check tomorrow please."

In Feburary, Engelbrecht charged in an Oversight Committee hearing that Cummings “sent letters to True the Vote, demanding much of the same information the IRS had requested” after the group filed its application.

She added that
Cummings then “would appear on cable news and publicly defame me and my organization.”

Engelbrecht added that her organization and her manufacturing company received IRS audits and six separate inquiries from the FBI regarding “domestic terrorism” after the group filed its application.

In addition, her business was inspected and fined by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Politico reports.

“For decades I went unnoticed, but now find myself on the receiving end of interagency coordination into and against all facets of my life,” she said at the hearing.

In response, Cummings said: "There is no one that I know of that cares more about the rights of our citizens than I do. I don’t care if you’re tea party or Democrat or Republican — I want to make sure no one is blocked from voting."

Lerner, who headed the agency that evaluated applications for tax-exempt status, ignited the controversy last May when she disclosed the scandal in response to a question asked at a conference in Chicago.

Her response came just before the Treasury Department's inspector general released a report disclosing the IRS targeting.

President Barack Obama fired Steven Miller, head of the IRS, who apologized in testimony to Ways and Means Committee, calling it "horrible customer service," and at least three other IRS workers have been placed on put on administrative leave.

In testimony before the oversight committee, Lerner has twice invoked her Fifth Amendment, though she has denied wrongdoing.

Lerner's attorney, William Taylor, has charged Republicans with trying to "vilify Ms. Lerner for political gain.”

He also disclosed last month that Lerner has discussed the IRS targeting with the Justice Department. Taylor did not disclose the date of the private session but indicated that his client was not under oath.

Don's Tuesday Column

THE WAY I SEE IT   by Don Polson  Red Bluff Daily News   4/29/2014

Lawlessness, terrorists—in eye of beholder

The just-concluded Red Bluff Roundup is a reminder that the entire sport—from ranch hand rodeos displaying practical aspects of cattle wrangling and horsemanship, up to and including commercialized, widely promoted events—are based on the range, the ranch and the men and women whose vocations derive there from. Take away the range, either through conversion into residential spreads too small for herds or by arbitrary governmental regulatory decree, and there is the risk of relegating the entire heritage and viability of cattle ranches into outdoor museums.

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a relative new kid on the western block compared to century-plus ranching operations, makes decisions about species and habitats never specifically voted on by the people’s elected representatives. Such decisions recently stirred up armed resistance in Nevada. The BLM also simply decreed, again absent a vote by the people or their elected officials, that a legal, longstanding grazing right for rancher Cliven Bundy in Nevada was now subject to further limits on the number of cattle—a fraction of what he and generations of Bundys had sustainably grazed there.

He refused to recognize the BLM’s authority and right to issue decrees over the 20+ year old designation of turtle habitat, while continuing to charge grazing fees for a vastly reduced economic value. Bundy was the victim of a literal “taking” of a previously agreed monetary grazing right—without compensation as would be required were the BLM to condemn part of his private property for a public use, like a road, etc. The BLM then used legal, regulatory and judicial authority to commence seizing what they deemed “trespass cattle,” meaning they acted as, if not the judge and jury, certainly the executioner or jailer for Bundy’s private property.

I’ve stated it as forthrightly as possible, while presenting facts and a perspective that has eluded even certain conservative commentators who have simplified the situation to a “rule of, and adherence to, the law until it’s legally changed through the democratic process.” The “Bundy-as-scofflaw” theme is an arguable one and contains correlations to the so-called “tax protester” refusing to pay income taxes. However, tax laws are changed and amended by our elected representatives, not by the enforcing mechanism of the IRS itself; the actions of the BLM, as stated above, proceeded from bureaucratic decisions many degrees removed from direct Congressional votes.

Indeed, when an existing use of land or resources predates newer rules or laws by agencies or lawmakers, the most important considerations and rights are 1) the “grandfathering” of those uses previously legal—for over a hundred years in Bundy’s case—or 2) a fair and open compensation for value lost. These are among the most basic of mandates upon government in the panoply, or bundle, of private property rights that predate even the U.S. Constitution.

The willingness and appearance of armed citizens and militia members is troubling on one level but encouraging on another when one considers that the only recourse against militarized despotism by agencies such as the BLM, ATFE, and others (the Department of Education has SWAT teams and vast stocks of ammunition—for what, I ask?) is an armed citizenry. Our Founders knew this and wrote of it—“the militia” was the entire population of armed adults capable of mustering against governmental oppression, not just the Militias or National Guard under government authorization. I think it was a perhaps necessary provocation by armed citizens, that produced the reasonable reaction by BLM to back off, return the seized cattle (minus some calf deaths) and, hopefully, pursue their case against Bundy in a less militarized, less dictatorial manner.

I must call attention to one of the most despicable, hypocritical and arrogant Senators in history: Harry Reid of Nevada (decried “lawlessness” by Bundy). To most on the progressive left, “lawlessness” is subject to their interpretation: Immigration laws are apparently meant to be broken, I mean adapted to consider the needs of the masses who broke our laws to be here. Obamacare getting rewritten at Obama’s whim—not a problem. In Reid’s case, he is accused of illegally taking six-figure bribes to make “a federal investigation into (Jeremy Johnson’s) company quietly disappear” (Salt Lake Tribune). Guilt is yet to be determined. Reid never expressed a discouraging word over then-Pres. Bill Clinton’s felonious actions obstructing justice, as determined by courts.

Along with numerous Democrats, Reid has zero shame calling the militia and armed citizens at the BLM/Bundy confrontation “domestic terrorists.” Leftists never said a bad word about gun-wielding Black Panthers in the 1960s, as I recall.

Finally, has Reid ever called Islamist murderers “terrorists”, such as Capt. Hassan’s terrorist attack on unarmed people at Ft. Hood? Did Reid or media reporters identify Hassan as a “Soldier of Allah” (stated on his own business card)? However, “neo-nazi” and “white supremacist” accompanied every mention of the guy who killed people at the Jewish centers in Kansas. Duplicitous hacks and speech manipulators proliferate in Congress and the news media.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tax Freedom Day Is April 21 This Year

Tax Freedom Day Is April 21 This Year

Americans on average will work until Monday, April 21, to pay off their total tax burdens this year — three days longer than last year, according to the Tax Foundation.

The foundation each year calculates Tax Freedom Day, when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay its total tax bill for the year.

This year Americans will pay $3 trillion in federal taxes and $1.5 trillion in state taxes, for a total of $4.5 trillion, up from $4.22 trillion last year.

Tax Freedom Day 2014 is 111 days into the year, and "three days later than last year due mainly to the country's continued slow economic recovery, which is expected to boost tax revenues especially from the corporate, payroll, and individual income tax," foundation economists Kyle Pomerleau and Lyman Stone noted.

Americans will spend more on taxes this year than they will spend on food, clothing, and housing combined.

If federal borrowing, representing future taxes owed, is included in the calculation, Tax Freedom Day would not come until May 6 this year 15 days later.

Not including borrowing, the latest calendar date of Tax Freedom Day was May 1, 2000. A century earlier, in 1900, it fell on Jan. 22. With borrowing included, the latest day was May 21, 1945, during World War II.

This year Americans will work 33 days to pay federal income tax; 27 days to pay Social Insurance taxes — which includes Social Security; 13 days for sales and excise taxes; 11 days for property taxes; and nine days for state and local income taxes. Also included are federal excise taxes, federal corporate income taxes, state and local corporate income taxes, and several other outlays.

This year's April 21 date is an average — individual states have their own Tax Freedom Day. Higher-income and higher-tax states mark Tax Freedom Day later, while lower-income and lower-tax states mark it earlier.

The latest state Tax Freedom Days in 2014 will be May 9 in Connecticut and New Jersey, May 4 in New York, and April 30 in California.

The earliest days this year came on March 30 in Louisiana, April 2 in Mississippi, and April 4 in South Dakota.

Obama Playing Politics With Keystone Pipeline

Obama Playing Politics With Keystone Pipeline

President Obama is holding off approving construction of the vital Keystone XL pipeline not for environmental concerns but for political reasons — his fear of alienating one of his core constituencies, environmentalists, charges online magazine The American.

The pipeline would facilitate delivery of up to 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to refineries in the United States. The State Department concluded in 2011 that Keystone poses "no significant impacts" on the environment, and reiterated that finding earlier this year.

Yet the administration insists that the pipeline will be approved only if "it does not significantly exacerbate" carbon pollution.

"President Obama refuses simply to get out of the way of what should be the routine construction of energy infrastructure — why?" asks The American, the journal of the American Enterprise Institute.

Is protecting America from "dirty oil" from Canada the reason? Oil from Canada's oil-sands fields is already flowing into the United States by pipeline from Alberta to Oklahoma. The Keystone would simply extend the pipeline to the Gulf Coast and add another leg from Alberta to Nebraska.

Safety concerns? A recent study by the Fraser Institute disclosed that the transport of oil and gas is safer by pipeline than by rail or roadway.

Economic concerns? The State Department predicted that pipeline construction would produce about 42,100 jobs throughout America and boost local property tax revenue in many places.

Obama's opposition to Keystone isn't based on popularity, either. Pew polling reveals that 65 percent of Americans support extension of the pipeline and just 30 percent oppose it.

"That 30 percent, of course, includes the hard core of the environmental movement, and that may be the key to understanding the president's opposition," states The American article written by Kenneth P. Green, senior director of natural resource studies at the Fraser Institute, and Alan W. Dowd, a senior fellow there.

"Rather than building broad political support around unifying themes, Obama has generally advanced his agenda by cobbling together short-term coalitions comprised of micro-issue blocs. One of those blocs is the environmental movement," they write.

"Keeping Keystone in limbo keeps them happy, and the president — and his allies in Congress — probably reckon that they gain more from the environmentalists' deep and lasting support than from a temporary spike in the national polls."

Obama in general opposes the hydrocarbon economy. But the fact is, oil is the fuel of "both the present and the foreseeable future," The American asserts.

Petroleum is the primary source of energy for the entire country, accounting for 36 percent, followed by natural gas at 26 percent, and coal at 18 percent. Renewables account for just 9 percent.

What's more, North America now has access to huge supplies of oil and gas thanks to new fracking and horizontal drilling techniques, and the United States could have sufficient supplies to allow the export of oil and gas.

But pressure from the environmentalists can also be blamed in part for preventing America from becoming an energy exporter.

The 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act, passed after the 1973-74 oil embargo crisis, bans most exports of U.S. crude oil.

Exporting natural gas is legal, but the Department of Energy has been slow in approving the terminals needed for liquefying the gas so it can be shipped overseas.

"Energy companies have been urging Congress to lift the lid on exports and start treating oil and gas again like any other commodity that's freely traded in world markets," The Daily Beast pointed out.

The strongest opposition to oil and gas exports has come from a coalition of environmental activists, who wrote an open letter to President Obama claiming that natural gas exports would make it "almost impossible" for the world to avoid "catastrophic climate change," adding that the nation's fossil fuel reserves should stay "in the ground."

The Daily Beast concluded: "What makes no sense is to let the dead hand of 40-year-old energy policies constrain America's freedom of action today."

Earth Daze: Overcoming Environmental Hysteria

Earth Daze: Overcoming Environmental Hysteria

Environmentalism is now more religion than science.

Of course, some things got better because of government: We passed environmental rules that got most of the filth out of the air and sewage out of lakes and rivers. Great—but now we're told that we're in big trouble because greenhouse gases cause global warming. I mean, climate change.
"Crop yields are down, deaths from heat are up," says theLos Angeles Times. The "Worst Is Yet to Come," warnsThe New York Times. This hype is not new. Alarmists always fool the gullible media. They once fooled me.
A few years back, we were going to be killed by globalcooling, overpopulation, pesticide residues, West Nile virus, bird flu, Y2K, cellphone radiation, mad cow disease, etc. Now it's global warming.
Reporters don't make these scares up. The recent hype about global warming comes from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Most of its members are serious scientists. But reporters don't realize that those scientists, like bird flu specialists, have every incentive to hype the risk. If their computer models (which so far have been wrong) predict disaster, they get attention and money. If they say, "I'm not sure," they get nothing.
Also, the IPCC is not just a panel of scientists. It's an intergovernmental panel. It's a bureaucracy controlled by the sort of people who once ran for student council and are "exhilarated by the prospect of putting the thumb of the federal government on the scale."
Actually, that wasn't a quote from a global warming alarmist. It's from anti-marijuana alarmist and former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Joe Califano. But it's the same crisis mindset. Scientists who disagree, who are reluctant to put their thumbs on the government scale, don't feel welcome in the IPCC.
It's possible climate change may become a problem. But even if industrialization brings warming, we've got more important problems. On my TV show this week, statistician Bjorn Lomborg points out that "air pollution kills 4.3 million people each year ... We need to get a sense of priority." That deadly air pollution happens because, to keep warm, poor people burn dung in their huts.
Yet, time and again, environmentalists oppose the energy production most likely to make the world cleaner and safer. Instead, they persuade politicians to spend billions of your dollars on symbolism like "renewable" energy.
"The amazing number that most people haven't heard is, if you take all the solar panels and all the wind turbines in the world," says Lomborg, "they have (eliminated) less CO2 than what U.S. fracking (cracking rocks below ground to extract oil and natural gas) managed to do."
That progress occurred despite opposition from environmentalists—and even bans in places like my stupid state, New York, where activists worry fracking will cause earthquakes or poison the water.
Do environmentalists even care about measuring costs instead of just assuming benefits? We spend $7 billion to subsidize electric cars. Even if America reached the president's absurd 2015 goal of "a million electric cars on the road" (we won't get close), how much would it delay warming of the Earth?
"One hour," says Lomborg. "This is a symbolic act."
Symbolic. Environmentalism is now more religion than science. It even comes with built-in doomsday stories to warn people about what will happen if they disobey—a bit like the movie "Noah" that's in theaters now.
While environmentalists lament that our time is running out, environmental indicators get better, technological improvements reduce carbon dioxide, water gets cleaner for millions, and human life expectancy goes up.
This Earth Day, instead of attacking those who sell fossil fuels, I will applaud them for overcoming constant environmental hysteria—while providing affordable energy that will allow us to fight poverty, which is the real threat to the people of the world.

The right ideological credentials mean never having to say you’re sorry

Progressive Insurance
The right ideological credentials mean never having to say you’re sorry
By Victor Davis Hanson
...(more of article at link)!