“The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all citizens.” –Thomas Jefferson, Note in Destutt de Tracy, 1816
It’s come to the point where the executive branch, with the swoop of a pen, can doom the entire economy of a state. The Department of the Interior released a revised conservation plan of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Sunday, which proposes a prohibition of oil and gas production on 13 million acres of federally owned land in Alaska. The economy of Alaska is already struggling thanks to low oil prices and lower extraction rates in the state. “What’s coming is a stunning attack on our sovereignty and our ability to develop a strong economy that allows us, our children and our grandchildren to thrive,” Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski said in a statement responding to Interior’s plan. In his State of the Union address, Barack Obama boasted, “We are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years. … Today, America is number one in oil and gas. … And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save about $750 at the pump.” With proposals such as the one from Interior, we’re reminded quite clearly that the boom is no thanks to him. More…
“After a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999,” Barack Obama boasted in his State of the Union address. Indeed, he mentioned “jobs” some 19 times. The trouble is, it’s not his policies that are growing the job market – it’s the end of his policies. Democrats have long claimed that paying people not to work creates jobs, but as Ronald Reagan once quipped, “Our liberal friends … know so much that isn’t so.” According to a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, roughly 60% of 2014’s job growth came because Democrats' lavish unemployment benefits were not extended again. The study is by no means the last word on the subject, as there are innumerable factors that go into something so complex as the job market. But as National Review’s Patrick Brennan summarizes: “The general economic consensus has always been that unemployment insurance slightly boosts the unemployment rate. … [W]e still have unemployment insurance, of course, because we want a safety net for people in the event of job loss. That just has to be balanced against the costs that the program imposes on the labor market.” More…
Even after last year’s dismal launch of the federal health insurance exchange website, the government still can’t learn from its mistakes and build a website that doesn’t harm those who use it. Last week, news broke that the government was sharing with third parties the sensitive health information of Americans who used the federal exchange. Now, the Associated Press reports the government has stopped the practice. But the government went into damage control by not speaking to the AP reporter, as if protecting the image of the administration is more important than the privacy of millions of Americans. Still, it’s not clear how much information the government was sharing, what that data was used for, and if there was any abuse. It’s not even clear if they can protect the privacy of Americans. The Department of Health and Humans Services fired CGI Federal for creating the original, unworkable website. But now, the IRS hashired the contractor to help with its ObamaCare tax enforcement. The government can’t even hire a competent IT firm. Why do we think it will successfully protect Americans' privacy? More…
Al Gore and Felipe Calderon, former president of Mexico, have hit upon a grand plan to save the world from global warming: a massive social engineering scheme that will make cities denser. For $90 trillion, the climate-fighting duo proposed at the World Economic Forum ripping up neighborhoods and squeezing together millions of people so tightly that cars won’t be used in major cities. The Daily Caller reports, “Calderon and Gore argued that $90 trillion is going to be spent anyways in the coming decades upgrading cities around the world. They argue that it should be spent on making cities more climate friendly. ‘The mistake we made in Mexico was to let cities develop however they want, and it’s a mess,’ Calderon told Business Insider.” The duo can pontificate, but while they’re proposing restricting the mobility of millions of people worldwide, Gore for one isn’t about to give up his mansion in Tennessee, nor his private jet. How else would he travel the world blowing smoke about global warming? More…
Democrats don’t often like federalism, and, when they do, you have to wonder what they’re smoking. Speaking of that habit, Barack Obama weighed in on the controversy over legalized pot, saying, hey, it’s a states' rights issue, man. “[W]hat you’re seeing now is Colorado [and] Washington – through state referendum – they’re experimenting with legal marijuana,” he said. “The position of my administration has been: We still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance, but we’re not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue.” That’s funny – when he’s not forcing states to do his bidding via ObamaCare he’s lobbying the courts to overturn their marriage laws or suing them over voter ID laws and immigration enforcement. Talk about making a hash out of policy.
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A large part of the Republican presidential field got a test run during this weekend’s Iowa Freedom Summit. In other words, the GOP presidential primary has begun. And a large field of candidates will face a skeptical primary voting base.
It should be abundantly clear after the last four years of GOP leadership in Congress that politicians will “refine” their message to mobilize a specific audience for a specific window of time. Saying that which tickles the ears and soothes the anger – yet with no results – has been the playbook for the DC GOP. It has now sown a thread of distrust throughout the tapestry of the Party of Reagan.
Analysis of voting records, previous electoral performance and conservative rankings all seem important in a GOP primary, but this early in the game the key factors are structural and strategic. Much has been written about the internal race for the “Establishment” among Governors Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. The Establishment brings money and a national network of consultants and strategists who tap into the aristocracy of the center-right.
The remainder of the field will divide the “Not-Establishment” vote. In years past, that has meant divide and
The Not-Establishment GOP voter will look to candidates such as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker. There are others, but for now let’s take a quick peak at these three gents.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, in his first term in the upper chamber, is articulate, passionate, youthful and experienced. A son of Cuban immigrants who fled Fidel Castro’s brutal regime and became naturalized American citizens, Rubio has lived the ideals of the Republican base regarding the headlining immigration issue. Raised by God-fearing parents who obeyed the law, Rubio was educated in public school, conferred his degrees in state universities and paid his school loans off in 2012.
His very presence in the public arena is an existential threat to those who argue the legal immigration process is impossible. Perhaps that guided his participation with the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” in trying to cobble together “comprehensive immigration reform,” even though “comprehensive” is virtually never the way to go. Rubio’s public service, reaching back to his time as a commissioner in West Miami, has no sniff of family dynasty or anything shy of personal grit, political savvy and an eye for opportunity.
However, Rubio isn’t the Grand Old Party’s only Latino senator looking toward the White House. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, also in his first term, has found an intense base of support – the most passionate element of the Tea Party. Cruz has successfully positioned himself as the Tea Party rebel who enjoys the game of chicken in government shutdowns, drawing attention through filibuster speeches, and becoming the Right’s tireless campaigner.
But Cruz’s electoral history is thin. While having a record of public service, it had been through appointed positions until he ran for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s open Senate seat in 2012, which he won in a run-off with Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. And that’s the extent of his campaign history – something that may hurt him in the free-for-all presidential primary.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has done what neither Rubio nor Cruz can claim – balanced budgets, defeated public unions, cut taxes, reduced spending and excelled in a state that has not voted for a GOP presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan’s 1984 landslide. It was his standoff with public unions that brought him to national prominence.
He’s also the quintessential DC-outsider. And he has a successful electoral history, though he has spent the majority of his time as governor defending his seat. Walker has won political campaigns on the local and state levels since 1993. As the son of a Baptist minister, his Christian conservative credibility is solid.
Rubio, Cruz and Walker would likely share much in the basis of policy. But their approach to governance would quickly separate the three based on their histories and their current roles.
Critical questions remain: Can any or all of these men raise the $50-plus million anticipated to keep their viability? Will any of these men have the ground game and network necessary to emerge as a winner? Will any of these men convince a jaded Republican base that the empty promises of the last two election cycles won’t be repeated? And can conservatives rally around a champion to avoid another Establishment candidate?
Barack Obama is furious. A president who embellished the truth so often during his State of the Union address that the Associated Press felt compelled to fact-check his speech wants no interference – more commonly known as congressional input – in his effort to reach an agreement with Iran.
“New sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails – alienating America from its allies and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again,” Obama said during his address. “It doesn’t make sense. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress.”
Yet for the first time in recent memory (or perhaps ever), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) decided an opposing viewpoint on this highly critical issue would be appropriate, especially one coming from an individual well-versed in Islamofascism and Iran’s murderous ambitions. Thus Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress on March 3.
Boehner offered up his rationale for the invitation. “[Obama’s] exact message to us was, ‘Hold your fire.’ He expects us to stand idly by and do nothing while he cuts a bad deal with Iran,” Boehner said. “Two words: ‘Hell no!’ We’re going to do no such thing.”
And lest anyone think it’s strictly Boehner and the GOP who are upset by Obama’s stance, think again. “The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran. And it feeds to the Iranian narrative of victimization, when they are the ones with original sin, an illicit nuclear weapons program going back over the course of 20 years that they are unwilling to come clean on. So I don’t know why we feel compelled to make their case,” said Sen. Robert Menendez, ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Furthermore, 11 other Senate Democrats have previously cosponsored legislation to impose sanctions on Iran – meaning the Senate is dangerously close to having the necessary two-thirds majority to override an Obama veto. And maybe an inspirational speech by Netanyahu might be just the impetus to get them across the finish line, allowing Congress to set the agenda and defy a president who has made a habit, often unconstitutional, of ignoring the legislative branch altogether.
The story given to the American public was quite different. Press Secretary Josh Earnest contended Boehner’s invitation is a breach of normal diplomatic protocol. Apparently Earnest forgets former Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi breached normal diplomatic protocol during a visit to Syrian dictator and Iranian ally Bashar al-Assad in 2007. Proving progressives were no less naive then than they are now, Pelosi insisted at the time, “The road to Damascus is a road to peace.” And that’s as far as an apples-to-apples comparison goes, given the inconvenient reality that Netanyahu is a staunch ally while Assad is a terrorist-enabling Islamic thug.
According to Haaretz, Obama, along with Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden, will shun Netanyahu during his visit, a snub Earnest claims is nothing more than a desire not to influence Israel’s upcoming elections. However, an unnamed senior U.S. official illuminated the administration’s real response: “We thought we’ve seen everything, but Bibi managed to surprise even us. There are things you simply don’t do. He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price.”
It would be far better for Americans to remember Obama’s strategy of blatant appeasement. One that allows Iran to continue enriching uranium to 3.5% purity in unlimited quantities, approximately 60% of the purity needed to produce weapons-grade material. Its development of ICBMs also continues apace, as does its plan to build two more light-water plutonium reactors. Meanwhile, negotiations have continued with the world’s foremost sponsor of state terrorism for more than 10 years.
Bottom line: Obama wants a “legacy moment” even if it means endangering our national security and engendering a nuclear arms race in the world’s most unstable region. Netanyahu, Senate Republicans and a number of Senate Democrats oppose him. Yet our reliably arrogant commander in chief and his clueless administration are determined to shut them down with a pre-announced veto aimed at Congress and back-channel threats aimed at Netanyahu for nothing more than daring to speak the truth. As of now, none of it is flying.
That’s why Obama is furious.
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The Gipper: “Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefitting from their success – only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free. Trust the people. This is the one irrefutable lesson of the entire postwar period contradicting the notion that rigid government controls are essential to economic development.”
Economist Larry Kudlow: “[A]ccording to the Tax Policy Center, the top 1 percent of Americans paid 33.4 percent of their expanded cash income in federal taxes in 2014. Meanwhile, Americans in the middle 20 percent paid only 13.7 percent of their income in federal taxes, while the poorest paid 3.1 percent. You’d think a good class warrior such as Obama would like these numbers. Apparently not. Why? He wants more money for government spending. A partial list includes more spending on childcare, sick leave, equal pay, lower mortgage premiums, a higher minimum wage, student-debt forgiveness, tax credits and free community college. Some say this could wind up costing $500 billion. So there’s a lesson here for congressional Republicans and some of my fellow conservatives: Do not get sucked into this class-war politics. You will never outbid the Democrats on middle-class benefits. And take a cue from Ronald Reagan, who rejected class politics and argued that his policies would increase prosperity for all Americans.”
Columnist Jeff Jacoby: “For any large political party, a boisterous battle over policy and principle is a sign of fitness, not feebleness. While ‘diversity’ is a sacred cow on the left, it is on the right where real diversity – diversity of ideas and viewpoints – has most often been showcased. In the 1970s, Ronald Reagan famously debated William F. Buckley Jr. on whether the United States should relinquish the Panama Canal. In the 1980s, Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich fiercely clashed over supply-side tax cuts. More recently, Republicans have gone at each other over war in Iraq, education reform, and ‘enhanced interrogation.’ However disconcerting in the short run, the right’s current rumble over immigration policy is heartening, especially when the argument focuses on ideals and values, and reflects a thoughtful interest in crafting wise, not merely popular, public policy. … It’s true: Republicans and others on the right, battling it out over immigration, seem awfully fractious and confused these days. For those who take their ideas seriously, that’s often how the democratic process works.”
Humorist Frank J. Fleming: “Is there a good example of someone who never earned more than minimum wage for years and years? Inequality in the U.S. is millionaires whining and crying they’re not billionaires.”
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