Thursday ~ TheFrontPageCover

The Front Page Cover
 2016             The truth will set you free 
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Featuring:
The Brute Force of Government Spending on Autopilot
Debra J. Saunders
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 nObamaCare's Six-Year Anniversary  Checkup  On March 23, 2010, Barack nObama signed the "Affordable" Care Act (a.k.a. nObamaCare) into law. It's time we give it a checkup for its six-year anniversary. Via Investor's Business Daily, here are seven of its most significant shortcomings:
          1.) Taxpayers will probably not recuperate $1.2 billion (a figure almost guaranteed to rise) after 12 of nObamaCare's 23 co-ops collapsed. 2.) The federal government distributed $5 billion to the states to help set up their own exchanges, but already $1.5 billion (a figure also bound to increase) of that has been wasted. 3.) Healthcare.gov, the $2 billion federally operated marketplace disaster, "was supposed to be self-financed, [but] nObama wants an additional $535 million to keep it running next year." 4.) Many insurance companies are operating deep in the red, so the White House is "diverting $3.5 billion meant for the Treasury to insurance companies to help cover losses." 5.) About 500,000 fraudulent beneficiaries received roughly $750 million in nObamaCare subsidies. 6.) The IRS needs an additional $881 million to cover the added workload from nObamaCare. 7.) And finally, "An analysis by the American Action Forum concluded that businesses and individuals have spent 165 million hours to comply with nObamaCare's 106 new regulations. In dollar terms, that works out to $45 billion."
          "Add it all up and it comes out to $55 billion," writes Investor's. "And that's being generous to nObamaCare. This figure doesn't count what families forced off health plans they liked had to pay in to buy nObamaCare's  overpriced insurance. Or the adverse impact nObamaCare has had on the labor market. Nor does it count the vast amounts of waste and fraud in Medicaid before nObamaCare vastly expanded eligibility."
          When he signed the bill six years ago, nObama said, "This legislation will ... lower costs for families and for businesses and for the federal government, reducing our deficit by over $1 trillion in the next two decades. It is paid for. It is fiscally responsible. And it will help lift a decades-long drag on our economy." Every year it gets older, it's clear nObamaCare was a huge mistake. Let's birth a new kind of health care reform.  -The Patriot Post
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 'No Boots on the Ground' in Iraq? 
Did you know there are now 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq? Barack nObama would certainly rather you didn't realize how many boots were on the ground when he promised there wouldn't be any. A brief history review: Upon withdrawing American forces completely in 2011 — after having rejected George W. Bush's strategy of establishing a status of forces agreement (SOFA) to secure our hard-won gains in Iraq and the region — nObama declared, "Everything Americans have done in Iraq, all the fighting, all the dying, the bleeding, the building and the training and the partnering, all of it has led to this moment of success. … We're leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq." All because he kept his promise to end the war there, he'd have you believe.
          Except the U.S. leaving the theater didn't mean the war was over. The Islamic State filled the vacuum he left and now controls much of Iraq and Syria, which it uses to extend its global reach — as we saw yet again this week in Brussels (more on that below).
          nObama is too proud to make much of his stealth escalation. David French, an Iraq veteran, writes, "[T]o change his public message is to admit a series of colossal errors. He thought he could leave Iraq without suffering serious consequences. He was wrong. He thought by turning the page on the Bush era, he could stabilize the Middle East. He was wrong. He thought he could defeat ISIS without a serious escalation and re-commitment to Iraq. He was wrong. He thought he could end the war in Afghanistan. He was wrong."
          That's why nObama hasn't announced or otherwise highlighted that there are 5,000 Americans in Iraq today. Over the weekend, Marine Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin became the first casualty in this renewed war. There will be more American blood shed, and it's largely because nObama was so derelict in his duty as commander in chief.   -The Patriot Post
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 FBI on Apple Hack: Never Mind 
In a surprise filing ahead of a scheduled court appearance, the FBI announced it might have a way to crack into the iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists without needing to force Apple to compromise the security on its own product. On Sunday, a third party that the FBI swears isn't another branch of the U.S. government (a.k.a. the NSA) demonstrated a method that could possibly crack the phone used by Syed Farook. "Testing is required to determine whether it is a viable method that will not compromise data on Farook's iPhone," government lawyers wrote in their Monday filing. "If the method is viable, it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple Inc. ("Apple") set forth in the All Writs Act Order in this case."
          From the beginning, the government said the only way it could access the data in the phone was to compel Apple to give the government a backdoor to the device. However, the fact that it was entertaining third-party advice, listening to unknown members of the tech security world, shows that siccing the All Writs Act on Apple wasn't a move of last resort. It implies that, all along, the FBI simply wanted to change the security landscape in its favor.
          What may be most notable here is that the government fears an unfavorable ruling on the All Writs Act. Most legal analysts think a court would smack down the government's request, setting the opposite precedent from the one sought by the FBI. In other words, the government has a lot to lose.  -The Patriot Post
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U.S. Facing Looming Shortage of Merchant Mariners
John Grady
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{news.usni.org} ~ By 2022, the United States will need “70,000 new people” for the nation’s maritime fleet, but the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., and the six state maritime academies only graduate 900 per year and are at capacity... Paul Jaenichen Sr., the head of the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), told the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee on Tuesday. He added that even with a new military-to-mariner program for separating service members—and other programs like it—the real issue is now those individuals would get credit for the necessary licenses required. He told the panel American mariners are “also a very aging work force” that could aggravate the shortfall in the future. Addressing existing requirements for mariners in support of global power projection, Jaenichen said that while the administration can meet the requirement for immediate deployment, “the first crew rotation is critical.” After four to six months, he said, there were “not enough mariners for sustained operations.”         http://news.usni.org/2016/03/22/u-s-facing-looming-shortage-of-merchant-mariners?utm_source=USNI+News&utm_campaign=556a9bc368-USNI_NEWS_DAILY&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0dd4a1450b-556a9bc368-231491269&mc_cid=556a9bc368&mc_eid=3999f18767
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New U.S.-Philippine Basing Deal Heavy on
Air Power, Light on Naval Support
Armando J. Heredia
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Civil service mariners from USNS Sacagawea train with Marines by connecting
a HUMVEE to a MV-22 Osprey in the Philippines in 2013
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{news.usni.org} ~ Over the weekend, the United States and the Philippines concluded their Sixth Annual Bilateral Security Dialogue session in Washington, D.C. ... At that forum, one of the first fruits of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) came to bear: the announcement of five bases where the United States could rotate troops and pre-position facilities and materials in support of the U.S. Pacific Pivot. Notably, four out of five of the locations are air bases: Basa AB in Luzon, Antonio Bautista AB in Palawan, Mactan-Benito Ebuen AB in Cebu and Lumbia AB in rebel-stricken Mindanao. Fort Magsaysay, to the north of the capital of Manila, is the only dedicated ground-force facility. The choices present some interesting possibilities. Basa is home to several Philippine air force tactical strike squadrons and has plenty of room for any potential U.S. Air Force Combat Command components such as fighters and bombers. Mactan near the center of the archipelago holds most of the heavy lift planes of the Philippine air force, and is also co-located with an international airport and the nearby port. Lumbia is located in rebel-torn Mindanao, but just north of where most recent fighting has occurred, and home to the 15th Strike Wing, which has delivered air power against the insurgency effort for years.        http://news.usni.org/2016/03/22/analysis-new-u-s-philippine-basing-deal-heavy-on-air-power-light-on-naval-support?utm_source=USNI+News&utm_campaign=556a9bc368-USNI_NEWS_DAILY&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0dd4a1450b-556a9bc368-231491269&mc_cid=556a9bc368&mc_eid=3999f18767
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6th Circuit Dings IRS in Tea Party Targeting Case
Jonathan Levin
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{legalinsurrection.com} ~ The opinion by Chief Judge Raymond Kethledge on behalf of a three-judge panel opens... Among the most serious allegations a federal court can address are that an Executive agency has targeted citizens for mistreatment based on their political views. No citizen—Republican or Democrat, socialist or libertarian—should be targeted or even have to fear being targeted on those grounds. Yet those are the grounds on which the plaintiffs allege they were mistreated by the IRS here. The allegations are substantial: most are drawn from findings made by the Treasury Department’s own Inspector General for Tax Administration. Those findings include that the IRS used political criteria to round up applications for tax-exempt status filed by so-called tea-party groups; that the IRS often took four times as long to process tea-party applications as other applications; and that the IRS served tea-party applicants with crushing demands for what the Inspector General called “unnecessary information.” Yet in this lawsuit the IRS has only compounded the conduct that gave rise to it. The Sixth Circuit reminds us of the insidiousness of the IRS’s underlying behavior: In 2010, the IRS began to pay unusual attention to 501(c) applications from groups with certain political affiliations. As found by the Inspector General, the IRS “developed and used inappropriate criteria to identify applications from organizations with ‘Tea Party’ in their names.” The IRS soon “expanded the criteria to inappropriately include organizations with other specific names (Patriots and 9/12) or policy positions.” As to the policy positions, the IRS gave heightened scrutiny to organizations concerned with “government spending, government debt or taxes,” “lobbying to ‘make America a better place to live,’” or “criticizing how the country is being run.” The IRS collected these criteria on a spreadsheet that would become known as the “‘Be On the Lookout’ listing” or BOLO listing. These “inappropriate criteria remained in place for more than 18 months.”        http://legalinsurrection.com/2016/03/6th-circuit-dings-irs-in-tea-party-targeting-case/
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Vassar Prof: “Anti-Jewish speech off and
on campus is very real”
William A. Jacobson
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{legalinsurrection.com} ~ The anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement at Vassar College has been unusually ugly and aggressive in the two-plus years I’ve been covering developments there... In my first post on March 27, 2014, Anti-Israel academic boycott turns ugly at Vassar, I detailed — based on interviews with professors who witnessed the events first-hand and documents provided to me — the picketing of a course because it involved travel to Israel, and the vitriol directed not only at the professors at a campus-wide Open Fourm, but also at Jewish students who spoke out in defense of Israel: What transpired was anti-Israel vitriol directed at Professors and students taking a course that involved travel to Israel and the West Bank, an intimidating protest outside a classroom, and a campus forum in which the Professors and Jewish students were belittled, heckled and mocked in such crude ways that it left even critics of Israel shaken. Why is this happening in America? It shouldn't...Jewish students have the right as everyone.         http://legalinsurrection.com/2016/03/vassar-prof-anti-jewish-speech-off-and-on-campus-is-very-real/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LegalInsurrection+%28Le%C2%B7gal+In%C2%B7sur%C2%B7rec%C2%B7tion%29
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In Aftermath of Brussels Attacks, Conservatives
Call for Border Security
Melissa Quinn
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{dailysignal.com} ~In the aftermath of Tuesday’s terror attacks in Brussels that left at least 30 dead, conservatives in Congress say that addressing border security is the key to ensuring terrorists don’t end up in the United States... In response to a question about how the country can improve its intelligence capabilities, lawmakers attending the monthly event Conversations with Conservatives pointed to securing the border as a way to stop terrorists from striking or entering the United States. “We’ve been saying over and over this isn’t about dealing with Mexico. This is dealing with national security,” Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., told reporters Tuesday. “This dialogue about immigration and all the people that are coming across the border, it doesn’t do justice to the fact that it is a serious security breach, and if we’re going to take seriously dealing with ISIS and other terrorist groups across the globe, then we have to secure the border.” This might be alittle to late, but needs to be done.        http://dailysignal.com/2016/03/22/in-aftermath-of-brussels-attacks-conservatives-call-for-border-security/?utm_source=heritagefoundation&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=morningbell&mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRonu6rJdu%2FhmjTEU5z16uwlXaS1iokz2EFye%2BLIHETpodcMTcdrPLzYDBceEJhqyQJxPr3NLtQN191pRhLiDA%3D%3D
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Europe’s Breeding Ground for Terror
Mike Gonzalez
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{dailysignal.com} ~ Belgians and all Europeans are looking around themselves today with renewed apprehension, having been reminded once more by the attacks in Brussels about their vulnerability to terrorism that arises from within their midst... They’ve allowed parallel societies to emerge, and now they fear that the problem can only grow. It was only fitting, for example, that when police arrested the suspected terrorist Salah Abdeslam in the gritty Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels late last week, across town, European Union leaders were meeting at the plush EU Commission headquarters to discuss the immigration crisis that bedevils Europe. Fitting because the Molenbeek neighborhood represents the division and separation that exist in European society, and why there is a fear that migrants arriving in Europe in their hundreds of thousands could find in such places networks ready to radicalize those migrants.        http://dailysignal.com/2016/03/22/europes-breeding-ground-for-terror/?utm_source=heritagefoundation&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=morningbell&mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRonu6rJdu%2FhmjTEU5z16uwlXaS1iokz2EFye%2BLIHETpodcMTcdrPLzYDBceEJhqyQJxPr3NLtQN191pRhLiDA%3D%3D
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Brazil Should Throw the Blighters Out
 Martin Hutchinson
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{wallstreetdaily.com} ~ Last week, the Brazilian cabinet briefly contained two Presidents, incumbent Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, before a court ruled that Lula was ineligible to enter Rousseff’s government.... Meanwhile, the economy continues to decline, and the budget deficit is spiraling to infinity. The Brazilian electorate, having voted for the Lula/Rousseff Workers’ Party four times, now appears to be coming to the reluctant, overdue conclusion that the only way to clean up the economy is to throw these blighters out. Lula came to office at the end of 2002, when Brazil’s debt was causing problems partly because investors thought a Lula government would overspend and drive the country into bankruptcy. He did overspend, but he hid it well, preferring to fund boondoggles through the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) and other state companies rather than through the official budget... http://www.wallstreetdaily.com/2016/03/23/brazil-presidency/
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Go Against the Herd to Profit From Emerging Markets
 Carl Delfeld
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{wallstreetdaily.com} ~ History shows that trades and investments that deliver big returns have one thing in common – they are all based on thinking differently from the herd... Hitting movie theaters in December 2015, The Big Short focused on this theme. While everyone deemed mortgage-backed bonds especially the higher-quality mortgages a safe investment, a few perceptive investors saw the reality – that they were a house of cards. The investors in the film, realized the truth because they did some serious independent thinking backed by on-the-ground research. Their research included going door to door in Florida to see just how speculative the housing market had become... http://www.wallstreetdaily.com/2016/03/23/trades-investments-big-returns/
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Unless The West Changes Fast, There’ll Be More Brussels/Paris-like Terror
Jeff Dunetz
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{lidblog.com} ~ At this writing, terrorist attacks in two Brussels subway stations and the Brussels airport early Tuesday have left 31 people dead and 136 people injured... These attacks are horrible, as were the attacks in Paris, London, Boston, Benghazi, Jerusalem, New York, Washington D.C., etc, etc. Making those attacks even more tragic is that in most places, especially in the United States we have not done what is necessary to protect ourselves  from these terrorists. The failure is not in the military or police heroes trying to protect us, nor is it in the intelligence people trying learn about the attacks before they happen.  The number one reason we are vulnerable is our political leaders who refuse to do what is necessary. Those words were very prophetic because Western leaders refuse to identify the enemy. Call it Political Islam or Radical Islam, it doesn’t matter.  But pick something describing what it is, a religion that turned into a political movement. Of course it is not all Muslims, but it is a political movement that started in Islam, and they want to rule the world. And allow me to suggest that it is this silly game of political correctness preventing us from identifying the enemy is allowing the cancer of radical Islam to metastasize and spread terrorism throughout the world.       http://lidblog.com/unless-the-west-changes-fast-therell-be-more-brusselsparis-like-terror/?utm_source=The+Lid+List&utm_campaign=afb7ca3136-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_597b72c01c-afb7ca3136-291705165
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The Brute Force of Government Spending on Autopilot
Debra J. Saunders
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{townhall.com} ~ My car was towed from an area near a train station in San Francisco last month. I had parked in front of a small "No Parking" sign that I had not seen. I spent an hour looking for my car and calling an attendant who didn't answer the phone. When someone finally answered, she told me my car had been towed. It cost me $350.
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At least I could afford to pay to get my car back. California is filled with people who are one traffic ticket away from losing their means of independent transportation. They get a ticket for a busted taillight or a small-change moving violation. On paper, the fine is $100, but with surcharges, it adds up to a lot more. People who cannot pay often do not show up in court -- which drives up the cost. According to the Judicial Council of California, about 612,000 Californians have suspended driver's licenses because they didn't pay fines. In 2013, more people -- 510,811 -- had their licenses suspended for not paying fines than the 150,366 who had lost their licenses for drunken driving.
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"For a lot of people, the car is the only asset they own in this whole damn world," noted Mike Herald of the Western Center on Law & Poverty. "When you take their car, you're taking the thing that helps them make money."
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Herald is an author of a report -- about how traffic courts drive inequality -- that helped prompt Gov. Jerry Brown to institute an 18-month amnesty program to deliver Californians from a "hellhole of desperation." Under the program, Californians can get their outstanding fines reduced by 50 percent -- or 80 percent if they make 125 percent of the federal poverty level or less. The amnesty program does not apply to parking tickets, reckless driving or drunken driving.
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This is one of those issues that unite activists on the left and the right. The Western Center on Law & Poverty sees how the system crushes the working poor. Conservatives also see excessive fines and penalties as backdoor tax increases that lawmakers employ because they don't need to sell them to voters. In December, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, joined U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the White House for an event that lauded the Brown amnesty program.
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"We've turned too many of the police into tax collectors and wonder why they don't have strong relations with the community," Norquist said, according to NBC News. When people can't pay fines in California, it means they have to forfeit their licenses. It's deceptive advertising; a $100 fine can front for an extra $390 in add-ons. The price tag can grow exponentially if unpaid and lead to losing one's license.
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The penalty is harsh and crushing on the poor, but these fees also are undeserved for the middle class. If Sacramento wants to levy a $490 fine for moving violations, let lawmakers put honest numbers on their legislation -- instead of pretending that the fine is $100. Alas, the Legislature has found that hidden fees are a handy way to finance the court system without voting to raise tax revenue. It's the easy road.
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And though judges might claim that they never asked for this system, they have been able to use the threat of driver's license suspension as leverage to make Californians pony up.
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The practice of throwing in extra sources of revenue is so ingrained in Sacramento that there is a $50 amnesty program fee. That's right; if you want to pay off unpaid traffic fines that have ballooned because of hidden fees, first you have to pay another albeit smaller hidden fee.
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"They're a little tone-deaf," Herald told me. Fellow activists explained that the $50 fee "is a barrier," but to no avail.
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If a private corporation advertised a $100 payment for something that really costs $500, California Attorney General Kamala Harris probably would go after the corporation for false advertising. If a credit card company boosted its fees the way the courts do, activists would call the practice usury. If the police yanked people's driver's licenses because they didn't pay a $100 fine, the public would regard such a harsh penalty as excessive force. Yet Sacramento has codified a system that commits all three sins and it's perfectly legal. Really, is there anything more brutal than government on autopilot?
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