The articles posted on this page are written from a conservative, Christian worldview. Patriot Post publications are usually posted M, W, & F. Others are posted as discovered by yours truly. These posting are meant to instill a love for God, family and country as well as to educate, equip, enlighten, and challenge to good deeds for the betterment of mankind, those who visit these pages.
"The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president." Author Unknown
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GDP: Gross Disapponting Presidency
1/30/2015 11:15:00 AM
GDP growth cooled to 2.6% for the fourth quarter according to the Commerce Department's preliminary report.
Economists were expecting growth of around 3 to 3 1/2%.
GDP should be known now as Gross Disappointing Presidency.
While consumer spending was a bright spot thanks to falling oil prices, as we foretold here and on TV and radio, government spending on defense related items plunged 12 1/2% in the quarter.
That doesn't come as a surprise as government spending on defense items increased 16% in the third quarter. This is the kind of government arithmetic that typically comes in an election year.
In their race to make everything look rosy the administration moved up spending for defense related items likely into the third quarter.
That means that for the year we're at 2.4% GDP growth...anemic in other words, which is exactly how to describe Obama's foreign policy.
Weak at home, weaker overseas.
But don't despair market watchers. This is the kind of economic growth that we've come to expect, and it's likely the kind that will continue the market moving higher.
But even if it doesn't just make sure that you have a plan and you follow the plan. Because apparently you're just like economist: you can't predict the future either--- but you can plan for it.
75 years ago tomorrow Miss Ida May Fuller, a legal secretary in Vermont, received the very first Social Security check.
It was for $22.54, dated January 31, 1940.
Miss Fuller who lived to be 100 years old collected $23,000 in benefits over her life, collecting 1,000 times what she paid in, thereby blowing the actuarial tables for Social Security with the very first check.
And so it's all been taxes this and benefits that ever since.
So happy birthday Social Security checks.
Let's hope you live as long as Ms. Fuller did.
Or at least until I am 100.
Jobless claims came in at a 15 year record low.
But wait it's not what you think. Jobless claims were reported at 265,000 new claims for last week, but analysts say that with a shortened holiday week not all claims were processed.
But that's not stopping newspapers and news outlets from trumpeting the fact that we have record low unemployment claims.
Last week I reported that unemployment claims went up a bit surprising economists.
So it shouldn't surprise us that economist were also surprised by this week's report when unemployment claims dropped.
What is surprising however is that economists failed to take into account the shortened holiday week --- since, you know, economists generally work for the government, universities or think tanks, presumably they had a day off too.
I hope they enjoyed it though-- because they apparently needed it.
A new study from Cogent Reports says that more people are participating in 401(k) plans year-over-year. And the surprise in all of this is that Generation X and Generation Y is setting the trend.
Of course a healthy Bull Market has not hurt matters.
Young people are participating more and more in defined contribution plans as they become more aware of what these plans can potentially do for them in retirement, says Cogent.
The key factor could also be the perceived unreliability of the Social Security system for future generations.
Well, this gives me hope for the future. Maybe Generation Y or Generation X could be the greatest generation and we can get rid of Social Security all together.
Or maybe not.
Social Media is Making Us Anti-Social
1/31/2015 12:01:00 AM - Christine Rousselle
Like many others, I have jumped on board the Timehop train. Timehop is an app that presents itself as “a time capsule of you,” and digs up social media activity from years past on that day from connected apps—Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Normally, these posts are funny or cringe-worthy—let’s just say I was a big fan of posting song lyrics as Facebook statuses during my teen years—but today I saw one that gave me pause:
My first thought was, “wait…who do I know that died six years ago today?” Eventually I figured it out: it was a patient I had met while volunteering over the summer at a hospital back in Maine. The girl had cystic fibrosis and developed a cancerous tumor in her chest during my time as a volunteer, effectively going from “sick-but-doing-okay” to “deathly ill” in the course of two months. While she fought valiantly against her illnesses, she passed away in January 2009 at the age of 12. She was the first young person I had ever known who had died, and I was devastated when she passed away during my senior year of high school. Now, six years later, the anniversary of her death is merely an afterthought. This is not okay.
While Facebook, Twitter, are Instagram are all seemingly useful tools for keeping in touch with friends and family (especially for people like me, who live a solid 500 miles away from their nearest relative), social media might be causing us to forget the value of memory. What’s the use of remembering someone’s birthday or anniversary or whatever if Facebook is going to tell you anyway? Facebook now has notifications for when someone has a child or gets married. This may be cheapening relationships, in a sense. It’s an information overload. Gone is the meaning of actually going out of your way to both remember and wish someone a happy birthday. After all, it’s right there for everyone to see. Facebook will even auto-fill the "Happy Birthday, [name]!" post to save you the trouble of having to physically type out a personalized greeting to someone you may or may not care about.
I’m not sure there’s anything that can be done to reverse this trend. While I have definitely noticed a sense of “Facebook fatigue” of young people abandoning the social network in droves in favor of comparatively stripped-down and less personal information-heavy social media sites Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, my generation of recent college grads people is still fairly reliant on Facebook. We need to end this reliance—but not necessarily delete our accounts.
Facebook has diluted the real meaning of “friend.” While I may have over 2,000 “friends” on Facebook, I talk to maybe 20 on a fairly regular basis. “Friend” has been transformed from someone whom a person has a fulfilling relationship with into someone who lurks in the background of life, occasionally liking pictures or statuses and wishes them a “happy birthday!” when prompted to by a website. That is the opposite of “fulfilling.” Furthermore, divorce attorneys are reporting an uptick in the number of couples citing “social media” as the reason for their divorce. It’s no wonder my generation has become a cynical mess. This isn't "social" behavior at all--this is antisocial behavior.
The awkward irony is that despite being equipped with tools that can tell us exactly what we did online on this date seven years ago, we have no real reason to actually work hard to remember anything that’s happened. It’s a bad idea to rely on technology to maintain a record of personal life events: Facebook and Instagram probably aren’t going to be around forever. While I’m not advocating becoming a digital hermit and deleting all accounts on every site, I think it’s a good idea to take a step back and actively try to remember meaningful things.
Don't get me wrong: I like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. They have their place. When used appropriately, they are great outlets for creativity and sharing news, pictures, etc. They should not, however, become a substitute for the human brain or a failsafe against having to actually remember something about someone else. If our grandparents and parents could remember things without an app telling them, we should be able to as well.
Michael Moore’s Long Tradition of Defaming Heroes
1/30/2015 2:21:00 PM - Humberto Fontova
The “military hero as coward” motif has a long tradition with Michael Moore. But his earlier oinkings in this regard--well before the release of American Sniper-- were aimed at much safer targets.
“Wimps,” writes Moore in Downsize This. “These Cuban exiles, for all their chest-thumping and terrorism, are really just a bunch of wimps—that’s right: Wimps.”
In a manner that would instantly arouse and mobilize the politically–correct police (were it any minority group except overwhelmingly Republican Cuban-Americans) Moore was dissing Cuban-Americans in general but singling out the Bay of Pigs freedom-fighters for special spite and scorn. “Ex-Cubans with a yellow stripe down their backs,” he wrote about Brigada 2506 veterans, “and crybabies too.”
At the Bay of Pigs, the objects of Moore’s scorn and ridicule (mostly civilian volunteers, some as young as 16) battled savagely and to their last bullet against a Soviet-trained and led force 10 times theirs’ size, inflicting casualties of 20-to-1. “They fought magnificently—and they were NOT defeated.” stressed their trainer Marine Col. Jack Hawkins, a multi-decorated veteran of Bataan, Iwo Jima and Inchon. “They simply ran out of ammunition after being abandoned by their sponsor the U.S. Government.”
"They fought like tigers," wrote a CIA officer who helped also trained these Cuban freedom-fighters, and actually hit the beach alongside them. "But their fight was doomed before the first man hit the beach."
That CIA man, Grayston Lynch, also knew a bit more about combat than did Michael Moore (we’re guessing). He carried scars from Omaha Beach, The Battle of the Bulge and Korea's Heartbreak Ridge. But in those battles, Lynch and his band of brothers could count on the support of their own chief executive.
“Florida’s Cubans” continues Michael Moore in his book, Downsize This,“are responsible for sleaze in American politics. In every incident of national torment that has deflated our country for the past three decades…Cuban exiles are always present and involved.”
By the way, can you imagine someone writing, say: “New York Jews,” or “Detroit Blacks,” or “California Mexicans are responsible for sleaze in American politics,” and escaping the wrath of the usual watchdogs in these matters as did Michael Moore?
“When you don't like the oppressor in your country,” writes Moore, “you stay there and try to overthrow him. You don't just turn tail and run like these Cubans. Imagine if the American colonists had all run to Canada-and then insisted the Canadians had a responsibility to overthrow the British down in the States!...So the Cubans crybabies came here expecting us to fight their fight for them. And, like morons, we have."
Here's a much better analogy, “Professor” Moore (and for simplicities' sake let's go ahead and equate the level of repression and police control of British Colonial rule with that of Stalinism.) Let's say that France, rather than backing George Washington's rebels (more French troops fought and died at Yorktown than did American troops, “Professor” Moore)—anyway, let's say France not only yanked the rug out from under Washington's rebels, but then turned around and signed a deal with King George (he was the British King at the time, “Professor” Moore) pledging France to prevent, by force of arms or political blackmail, any other power-- say Spain or Holland (these are nations in Europe that at the time did not get along with King George, “Professor” Moore) from aiding the American rebels in any way, shape or form. What might the prospects for a successful Colonial rebellion been then, “Professor” Moore? (what JFK signed with Khruschev to end the so-called Missile Crisis perfectly mimics the analogy above, “Professor” Moore.)
With a solid ally (by which I mean Republicans under Reagan, ask Nicaragua's Contras) for Cuba's freedom-fighters iduring 1961- 62 Miami radio stations today would feature much more Tim Mc Graw and Miranda Lambert than Pit-Bull and Gloria Estefan. And some "Fidel Castro" fellow would merit a teenzy quarter page in a Time-Life book on "Those Fabulous Fifties."
More importantly, given Cuba's economic record in her brief 55 years as an independent republic (not to mention her expatriates' record in Florida) Cuba would today be a Caribbean Singapore or Japan, rather than a sister to Haiti and Zimbabwe economically and to North Korea politically.
By the way, after the Bay of Pigs backstab hundreds of those Cuban “wimps with yellow stripes down their backs” promptly joined the U.S. Army and many volunteered for action in Vietnam. One of these was named Felix Sosa-Camejo.
By the day Mr. Sosa-Camejo died while rescuing a wounded comrade, he’d already been awarded 12 medals, including the Bronze Star, three Silver Stars and two Purple Hearts. I’ll quote from his official citation:
“On February 13, 1968, the lead platoon was hit by an enemy bunker complex manned by approximately forty North Vietnamese Regulars. Upon initial contact the point man was wounded and lay approximately 10 meters in front of the center bunker. The platoon was unable to move forward and extract the wounded man due to the heavy volume of fire being laid down from the enemy bunker complex.
“Captain Sosa-Camejo immediately moved into the firing line and directed the fire against the enemy bunker. With disregard for his safety, Captain Sosa-Camejo ran through the intense enemy fire and pulled the wounded point man to safety. After ensuring that the wounded man was receiving medical treatment, Captain Sosa-Camejo returned to the fire fight and again exposed himself to the intense enemy fire by single handedly assaulting the center bunker with grenades killing the two NVA soldiers manning the bunker. As he turned to assault the next bunker an NVA machine gun opened up and he was mortally wounded. Captain Sosa-Camejo’s valorous action and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.”
From his limousine Michael Moore sneers at this Cuban-American veteran and his Band-of-Brothers as “wimps and crybabies with yellow stripes down their backs.”
Pro-life Tim Tebow Super Bowl Commercial Prompted Mother to Reject Abortion
1/30/2015 5:40:00 PM - Cortney O'Brien
Super Bowl commercials make us smile, they make us laugh, they make us cry, and, sometimes, they save lives.
Susan Wood is a young woman who was pressured by her boyfriend to have an abortion in 2010. But, thanks to a trip to her friend’s Super Bowl party and one particular commercial, she decided to choose life. Today, she has a beautiful four-year-old daughter named Avita Grace.
In a four-minute video featured online, Wood explains how a Focus on the Family Super Bowl ad saved her unborn child the night of Feb. 7, 2010. In the ad, football player Tim Tebow’s mother, Pam, explains how she rejected pressures to have an abortion and gave birth to her talented son. Wood was moved by Mrs. Tebow’s story:
“That was the night that I saw Tim Tebow’s commercial. That’s really what brought me to Focus on the Family. I went home and I watched the commercial again on YouTube. I explored the site, I watched video after video, then I emailed Focus on the Family…Then I got an email back and literally within reading that email it was almost instantly that decision, the things that she said just clicked. And I knew that all along that was what I wanted to do, that I needed to have the strength to do it. There was nothing after that, I knew I'm keeping the baby. I'm having her. ”
Today, Susan says being a single mom to Avita Grace is challenging and exhausting, but that's okay because she "would do anything for her." What a beautiful testimony.
Chilling reports have revealed that 64 percent of abortions are coerced. Whether it’s verbal and physical threats or blackmail, women with unplanned pregnancies have a host of pressures to endure – even from their own boyfriends and family members. Susan Wood and Pam Tebow showed true courage in overcoming these obstacles and choosing life. Mrs. Tebow called her son a “miracle baby” – no doubt Ms. Wood would say the same about her daughter.
It’s encouraging to know that Super Bowl commercials can be more than just Doritos and beer. One particular new ad from Pampers suggests that there will be even more joyful pro-life messages in between the tackles and touchdowns this Sunday. In the meantime, read more about Susan’s story and enjoy the ad that saved her precious little girl:
The Patriot Post
Friday’s Daily Digest
Jan. 30, 2015
“The province of the Court is solely to decide on the rights of individuals. … Questions, in their nature political or which are, by the Constitution and laws, submitted to the Executive, can never be made in this court.” –John Marshall, Marbury v. Madison, 1803
TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS
From the Captain Renault Files2, we’re shocked – shocked – that one of the “Taliban Five3” Gitmo terrorists Barack Obama released in exchange for Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl4, now wants to rejoin Taliban terrorists. (Yes, they are terrorists despite the Obama administration’s insistence5 they are not.) The Taliban Five were supposed to be under Qatar supervision, but even Obama conceded last June, “Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely.” On the other hand, Hillary Clinton downplayed the threat6 declaring, “These five guys are not a threat to the United States.” But as Mark Alexander has argued since the administration started releasing terrorists, “Eventually, when it is determined that some of those terrorists returned to the killing fields – and that time will come – their victims, particularly any American or allied deaths, will be hung around Obama’s neck.” In his State of the Union7, Obama said, “[W]e’ve worked responsibly to cut the population of Gitmo in half. Now it is time to finish the job. And I will not relent in my determination to shut it down.” The price of this “responsible cut” will be heavy.
The president so adept at capitalizing on every crisis has called the “Republican” sequestration a “manufactured crisis” – a crisis, by the way, that was his idea. Barack Obama will present his proposed budget to Congress Monday. In it, he attempts to undo the gains made10 in cutting spending growth. Yet in a Huffington Post blog entry, the president wrote11, “I’m proud that since I took office, we’ve experienced the fastest period of sustained deficit reduction since the end of World War II. … Of course, to make these common-sense investments in our future without adding to our deficits, we need to turn the page on the manufactured crises that have defined the debates over our budget in recent years.” As usual, Obama doesn’t tell the complete truth. The deficit quadrupled during Obama’s first months in office and he has spent six years paring it down. Even now, the deficit is higher than pre-Obama levels. And that’s just enough for Obama to create a manufactured breakthrough.
House Speaker John Boehner announced another vote to repeal ObamaCare. Obviously, this will go nowhere beyond the House – it will likely die in the Senate despite Republican control – but, as Boehner explained, “We have 47 new members of Congress on the Republican side who have never had the chance to cast their vote to repeal ObamaCare.” House Republicans, he added, are also working on alternatives: “Three committee chairmen who have jurisdiction over the health care policy in our country … are working together to craft what we believe would be a better approach with regard to health care for the American people than ObamaCare. … There will be an alternative, and you’ll get to see it.” The three chairmen are Fred Upton (Energy and Commerce), Paul Ryan (Ways and Means) and John Kline (Education and the Workforce). Details remain to be seen, but Republicans also know an alternative won’t become law as long as Barack Obama occupies the Oval Office.
In a 62-36 vote, the Senate sent a bill authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline to the House. Nine Democrats voted for the pipeline, but that still leaves the legislation five votes shy of overriding a promised presidential veto. The bill came with amendments benefitting the Left, including one in which 98 senators15 declared climate change is happening. “I’d like to congratulate Sen. [Mitch] McConnell for passing this bill in an open, inclusive and bipartisan way,” House Speaker John Boehner said16. “After dropping his scheme to tax middle-class college savings, we hope President Obama will now drop his threat to veto this common-sense bill that would strengthen our energy security and create thousands and thousands of new, good-paying American jobs.” But the White House will unlikely do so. As political analyst George Will wryly observed17, “America built the Empire State Building, then the world’s tallest office building, in 410 days during the Depression. We built the Pentagon, still the world’s largest low-rise office building, in 16 months while waging a war across two oceans. Keystone has been studied for more than six years. And Obama considers this insufficient?”
Barack Obama said he won’t meet with Benjamin Netanyahu when the Israeli prime minister visits Washington in March because it will be too close to the Israeli elections. It would be “inappropriate,” he explained. As Caroline Glick, deputy managing editor for the Jerusalem Post, wrote20, “Obama … believes in protocol and propriety which is why he won’t get involved. No, he’s not getting involved at all. He’s just sending his 2012 field campaign manager to Israel to run a campaign to defeat Netanyahu. That’s all. No interference whatsoever.” That’s right: Jeremy Bird, the man who served as Obama’s national campaign director, and who leveraged social media and big data to send Obama to the White House, was hired by a group called OneVoice21 to inject U.S. campaign influence into the Israeli election. This is the Obama of the perpetual campaign. Not only have he and his meddlesome, anti-Israel goons taken campaigns to the international level, they are using this politicking to unseat a tough, terror-fighting world leader whom Obama despises.
Eric Schultz opened up a can of worms when answering a question from ABC’s Jonathan Karl at Wednesday’s White House press briefing24. Schultz, the White House deputy press secretary, gave a meandering answer on Jordan’s willingness to trade a convicted terrorist to ISIL for one of its captured pilots, noting that the United States doesn’t pay ransom to or negotiate with terrorists. Except when Barack Obama wants to.
Karl then asked, “[Y]ou say the United States government does not give in to demands [and] does not pay ransom. But how is what the Jordanians are talking about doing any different than what the United States did to get the release of [Bowe] Bergdahl – the releasing prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay to the Taliban, which is clearly a terrorist organization?”
Schultz stammered, “As you know, this was highly discussed at the time. And prisoner swaps are a traditional, end-of-conflict interaction that happens. As the war in Afghanistan wound down, we felt like it was the appropriate thing to do. The president’s bedrock commitment as commander in chief is to leave no man or woman behind.” (Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith and Ty Woods were unavailable for comment.)
Pressed for clarification, Schultz added, “I’d also point out that the Taliban is an armed insurgency; ISIL is a terrorist group. So we don’t make concessions to terrorist groups.”
The Taliban must be wondering what it has to do to earn the “terrorist” label. Apparently, the massacre of more than 130 school children in Pakistan last month wasn’t enough to impress the Obama administration. Nor was the Taliban’s role in killing three American contractors25 in Kabul this week.
Did we mention that one of the Taliban Five is seeking to return to the battlefield1?
Leaving aside the legal questions26 about the five-for-one swap for a deserter, few believe Schultz’s hair-splitting contrast between the Taliban and ISIL. And, by the way, it’s no mean feat for ISIL to be promoted from the junior varsity27 to a terrorist group with whom we’re not willing to negotiate – yet.
When Schultz’s boss, Press Secretary Josh Earnest, tried to clarify the remarks28, they became even muddier. It was the groups' scope of effort, explained Earnest, because “the Taliban’s objectives are focused specifically on Afghanistan” while ISIL and al-Qaida have a much larger agenda. That’s small consolation for the American families who lost loved ones fighting the Taliban’s terrorist regime in Afghanistan, particularly as Obama negotiates his foolish withdrawal from that country. The assertion also contradicts the Treasury Department’s consideration of the Taliban as terrorists for the purpose of economic sanctions.
In either case, we’d venture to guess that soon the Taliban will make peace with and provide safe haven for their ISIL brethren, regardless of what the White House press office wants to call it.
The problem with Obama’s foreign policy is that everything is a domestic political calculation. And, therefore, the fruit of Obama’s meandering foreign policy is quite rotten.
Cuban dictator Raul Castro announced an extensive list of demands this week in order to re-establish diplomatic relations with the United States. Under normal circumstances this would constitute a deal breaker for the American government. Unfortunately, circumstances are far from normal with Barack Obama at the helm of American foreign policy.
Castro ticked off a whole grocery list of items at a Community of Latin American and Caribbean States meeting Wednesday that he claims are necessary for normalized relations. This list includes a complete lifting of the economic embargo, compensation for economic damage caused by the decades-long embargo, an end to U.S. support of Cuban dissidents, Cuba’s removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, an end to anti-Castro radio and television broadcast transmissions, and the return of Guantanamo Bay to the Cuban government.
As for what the U.S. is supposed to receive in return for all this, well, that would be basically nothing. But Obama would get to claim that he opened Cuba, a hollow victory that would nevertheless occupy an entire wing in his future presidential library.
Obama announced his intention to re-establish diplomatic relations30 with the Communist regime on Dec. 17. His motivations were two-fold, both equally self-serving. First, he was eager to wash away the embarrassment of the complete rejection of his agenda in the midterms, and second, he wanted something, anything that historians could point to as a major accomplishment of his time in the Oval Office.
In the context of this ongoing dialogue, Castro’s recent demands would supposedly constitute the next step toward normalization. But Raul, like his older brother Fidel, who surfaced long enough to give his blessing to the talks while expressing distrust of the U.S.31, recognizes that Obama is motivated by love of self far more than he is by love of country. And the Castro brothers will play that to their advantage.
It’s likely why Castro floated such a bold list of demands. He has already stated that he will take whatever the U.S. gives him, but there are no plans whatsoever32 to change Cuba’s current system of government.
Let’s set aside the fact that Obama cannot make good on many of Castro’s demands without congressional approval. (Though his presidency is littered with examples of his lack of concern for Congress or constitutional process.) There are a number of reasons he should not honor a single one of Castro’s demands. However, these demands fit nicely into Obama’s plans for his own legacy. Take for instance his long-stated goal of closing the terrorist holding facility at Guantanamo Bay. No doubt he can’t wait to use relations with Cuba as another excuse for abandoning the territory.
But the naval station at Guantanamo isn’t just a holdout of American territory from a bygone era. It’s a strategic point of operations the U.S. military has used since the Spanish-American War. It has served as a base of operations for U.S. military action against terrorists in the Western Hemisphere. And it held strategic importance on many occasions throughout the Cold War, particularly during the Cuban Missile Crisis, during which the Castro regime was complicit in nearly starting a nuclear war on its own soil.
Obama chooses not to remember any of that. He also chooses to ignore that his offer of normalized relations between the U.S. and Cuba comes with no obligations or sacrifice on the part of the Castro government. Obama is chasing legacy, come what may.
OPINION IN BRIEF
General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964): “The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It’s the age-old struggle – the roar of the crowd on one side and the voice of your conscience on the other.”
Columnist Jonah Goldberg: “By artificially keeping oil prices low, the Saudis get to deal a powerful blow to the energy revolution in the U.S. (They also get to deliver a severe economic blow to their enemies the Iranians, which is nice.) In exchange, Obama gets an unearned political windfall and can claim vindication for his ineffectual economic policies. Obama is paying back the Saudis by permanently taking the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve’s billions of barrels of oil off the table for all time. By doing so, he also puts the entire Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System (TAPS) on a starvation diet. … Saudi Arabia’s short-term economic hit is an investment in future dependence on Saudi oil. Of course, there need not be a conspiracy, just a convergence of economic and political interests. But the fact remains that Obama could never have gotten away with restricting energy development in ANWR before an election or when gas prices were high. This is Obama’s window, and it appears the Saudis are holding it open for him for as long as he needs.”
Columnist Charles Krauthammer: “The Iranian bomb is a national security issue, an alliance issue and a regional Middle East issue. But it is also a uniquely Jewish issue because of Israel’s situation as the only state on earth overtly threatened with extinction, facing a potential nuclear power overtly threatening that extinction. On the 70th anniversary of Auschwitz, mourning dead Jews is easy. And, forgive me, cheap. Want to truly honor the dead? Show solidarity with the living – Israel and its 6 million Jews. Make ‘never again’ more than an empty phrase. It took Nazi Germany seven years to kill 6 million Jews. It would take a nuclear Iran one day.”
Comedian Argus Hamilton: “NASA reported that an asteroid a third of a mile wide passed close by the earth Monday, coming to within a relative whisker of direct impact with our planet. The asteroid just missed hitting the earth by seven hundred thousand miles. Michael Moore noted the near-miss and called the universe a coward.”
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Join us in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform – Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen – standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families.
The Power of Personality
Jackie Gingrich Cushman
1/29/2015 8:00:00 AM - Jackie Gingrich Cushman
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill, Britain's prime minister during World War II. Churchill took up painting as a hobby in 1915, after the Gallipoli debacle, where 46,000 allied lives were lost over nine months of the campaign. He went on to paint more than 500 paintings during his lifetime. As wartime prime minister, he took a break from painting, focusing instead on the task at hand -- winning the war, no matter the cost.
Churchill's output and accomplishments were extraordinary. He "produces more published words than Shakespeare and Dickens combined, wins the Nobel prize for literature, kills umpteen people in armed conflict on four continents, serves in every great office of state including prime minister (twice), is indispensable in victory in two world wars and then posthumously sell his paintings for a million dollars," wrote Boris Johnson in "The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History."
His first speech as the wartime prime minister laid out his vision for war policy: "You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy."
Always aware that his speeches were meant not only for listeners in Great Britain but also for audiences on the other side of the Atlantic, where his mother was from, the United States.
When he spoke at the United States Capitol, on Dec. 26, 1941, shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, which pulled the United States into the War, Churchill used language to connect the United States and Great Britain into one body. "Here we are together facing a group of mighty foes who seek our ruin; here we are together defending all that to free men is dear. Twice in a single generation the catastrophe of world war has fallen upon us; twice in our lifetime has the long arm of fate reached across the ocean to bring the United States into the forefront of the battle."
Churchill made one exception to his break from his hobby, painting a sunset in January of 1943 at Marrakech, Morocco, "The Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque." Rather than representing a relief from the pressures of the war, this painting, given to President Franklin Roosevelt, was a gesture of friendship that served to tighten the bond between the two leaders. Churchill had persuaded Roosevelt to visit Marrakech after the two held a summit meeting in Casablanca.
It was in Casablanca that the two leaders agreed upon and adopted the policy of demanding unconditional surrender. This connected the United States and Great Britain together until the end of the war. Stalin, who was tied up fighting the Nazis on the Eastern side of the war, did not attend the summit. Churchill was determined to strengthen his ties with Roosevelt, who had recently entered the war a little more than a year earlier, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
It wasn't just that Churchill made history; it was that he shaped history. He had recognized the threat posed by Nazi Germany in the 1930s while in the political wilderness and clearly identified the coming threat of Communism in a speech in Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946. Though he had just lost his bid to serve as prime minister of Great Britain, he did not let his personal defeat prevent him from declaring that, "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent."
The Iron Man labeled the Iron Curtain.
He understood that "success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm," and enthusiastic he was.
Possibly it was his belief in democracy and freedom that drove him forward, or it may have been the reprieve and restoration he received from painting. Whatever drove him, we can't know. But we can take from his life, and his achievements, that failure often happens to the best of us. And we can learn a valuable lesson: A person is defined not by any failure, but by what he or she does after the failure.
Obama's Narcissistic Dissing of Israel
1/30/2015 12:01:00 AM - David Limbaugh
It is just like the Obama administration to twist its own mistreatment of Israel into an opportunity to slander Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer.
Like petulant children, Obama and his crew treat any resistance to their agenda as unprovoked hostility, personally directed at Obama, and lash out personally at those who would resist their dubious and aggressive behavior.
Despite Obama's persistent slighting of Israel, he simply will not let pass Netanyahu's acceptance of House Speaker John Boehner's invitation to speak before a joint session of Congress. It doesn't matter that he refused to meet with Netanyahu, disingenuously citing concerns over interfering with the upcoming Israeli elections. Truth be told, he'd like nothing more than to interfere with those elections in an effort to unseat Netanyahu. In fact, unconfirmed news reports have circulated that an Obama political team is in Israel working on that very goal.
The Drudge Report led its page Thursday morning with the headline "Outrage at Israel," over a photo of Obama scowling at Netanyahu. The link is to a New York Times article, which confirms that Matt Drudge was hardly guilty of hyperbole here.
The Obama administration admits how "angry" it is that Netanyahu accepted Boehner's speaking invitation without consulting the White House. By no means must anyone, including the leader of one of our allies, ever do anything that could be interpreted as being disrespectful to this president -- irrespective of whether this president drew first blood with his own pattern of disrespect toward that leader. What's good for the goose, in this case, is not good for the gander, because the gander is our imperial president, Barack Obama, whose preferences and ego must take priority over the interests of the United States.
Putting presidential pettiness aside, what should responsible world leaders and congressional leaders in the United States do in response to an aggressive Iran hellbent on acquiring nuclear strike capability and an administration hellbent on blocking realistic efforts to thwart Iran? Are they to sit around in joint paralysis because they would rather betray the interests of their nations, world peace and sanity than offend the narcissist in the Oval Office who has turned an intentionally blind eye to Islamic terrorism and the threat Iran represents?
Moreover, don't you think it's objectively untoward for the Obama administration to fan the flames of a public feud with Israel? It has broken decades of precedent by publicly criticizing Israel and Israel's leaders throughout Obama's time in office, and it is castigating Israel for poisoning the relationship between our countries? It's the type of behavior you get with an administration more engaged in navel-gazing than governing on behalf of the nation under its charge.
While the administration is classlessly attacking the Israeli ambassador, he is showing restraint in return, declining to return personal insult for personal insult and responding, "I have no regrets whatsoever that I have acted in a way to advance my country's interests." Dermer said that he didn't think it was his place to inform the administration and that it was Boehner's prerogative to notify the White House of the Netanyahu congressional address. Sounds reasonable to me.
It is so typical of our media to focus on the party in conflict with the Obama administration. With this event, the spotlight is on Dermer instead of the administration's reckless passivity regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions and its snubbing of Israel and Netanyahu.
Obama has repeatedly assured us that his administration is monitoring Iran, while Iran has pressed forward and the administration has virtually allowed it to continue through its phony promises and deferred negotiations.
In between veto threats in his State of the Union address, Obama lectured us on the imperative of "combining military power with strong diplomacy" and leveraging "our power with coalition building. ... We're upholding the principle that bigger nations can't bully the small."
Well, tell that to Netanyahu and Israel. Tell them you and Secretary of State John Kerry haven't been bullying them into swallowing your agenda for them -- including halting settlements in their own West Bank and accepting the 1967 borders. Tell them you haven't publicly sympathized with anti-Israeli positions by referring to the lands Israel acquired from enemies who unsuccessfully waged war against it as "occupied lands" and by effectively declaring moral equivalence between Israel and Gaza in Gaza's war of aggression against Israel in 2014.
Then please explain to the rest of us how your diplomacy has been working out with Iran -- not to mention Russia and the rest of the world.
President Obama is doing a fine job of appeasing terrorists, especially in releasing the most dangerous terrorists back into the world, where they can resume their jihad right where they left off, and in eliminating from the administration's lexicon words that properly identify the terrorism we face with Islamic extremism.
This administration is so wrong about so many things, but sharing space at the top of that list are its willful ignorance in recognizing our enemies and its intentional mistreatment of our ally Israel.
A Better Cuba Deal
1/30/2015 12:01:00 AM - Mona Charen
Cuban President Raul Castro has issued new demands for normalizing relations with the U.S. He wants us to lift the trade embargo, remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terror and give Cuba the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay. Truly. You can look it up.
One can imagine President Obama being awfully tempted to give Guantanamo to them. He's planning to close the prison there piecemeal anyway. And who needs naval bases these days when, as Obama schooled Mitt Romney, "We have these things called aircraft carriers now..."?
More astonishing than the audacity of the demands is the fact that Castro thinks he's in a position to make any demands at all. Before the revolution, Cuba's average per-capita income was higher than in much of Europe. Communism brought Cuba the distinction of being the only country in the Western Hemisphere whose standard of living has steadily fallen for 50 years.
The usual Castroite excuse for Cuba's squalor and degradation (buildings are dilapidated, cars are old wrecks and prostitution is extremely widespread) is that the U.S. maintains a trade embargo. Nonsense. The rest of the world, including the European Union, Russia, India, China, Canada and Latin America, trades with Cuba and has done so forever. Want a Cuban cigar? Just drive to Canada or Mexico.
But all of that trade couldn't help Cuba, because it's communist. Cuba's crippled economy stayed afloat (more or less) through generous subsidies from the Soviet Union. In return, Cuba provided the USSR with a foreign legion, sending arms and agents to kill freedom-loving people in places like Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Grenada, Angola and Ethiopia. When the USSR went down, many thought Cuba would soon taste liberty. But Hugo Chavez rode to Fidel Castro's rescue and supported the island dictatorship with Venezuelan oil money.
Now, with oil prices dropping below $44 a barrel and Venezuela sinking from atrocious leadership, we have Cuba over a barrel -- or we should, except that Obama has stepped into Chavez's boots, riding to the Castro brothers' rescue.
Obama negotiated with Raul Castro. Castro got full diplomatic recognition, increased travel and remittances, the return of three spies, and the promise that Obama would attempt to lift the embargo fully. Obama got an intelligence agent who worked for the CIA, Alan Gross (a State Department contractor who was wrongfully arrested and imprisoned for attempting to give computers to Cuba's Jewish community), and the release of 53 political prisoners.
Obama proclaimed the bargain a great breakthrough that would "begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas" and replace a "rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born."
Raul Castro told his people not to get too excited: "We must not expect that in order for relations with the United States to improve, Cuba will abandon the ideas that it has struggled for."
You can take that to the bank. Cuba did release some political prisoners, though exactly how many remains murky, and the State Department seems uncurious about their names and whereabouts. Two already have been rearrested for attempting to attend a pro-democracy meeting. Just two weeks after the announcement of the diplomatic breakthrough, the BBC reports, Cuba arrested dozens of dissidents who were planning a demonstration in Revolution Square. Raul didn't lie.
In the years since Fidel Castro seized Cuba, its chief exports have been violence, terror and subversion. But it has contributed one precious, shining ornament to the world and especially to the U.S.: Cuban emigres. Admittedly, the Castros didn't send them willingly, but one million left. They carried with them a burning hatred of tyranny and an appreciation for freedom.
Among elected Democrats, Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey stands out for his eloquent defense of human rights. As a Cuban American, he seems to have a visceral understanding of despotism -- and he applies that insight to others, such as the Iranian regime. Among Republicans, hardheadedness about foreign threats is more common (if not quite as universal as it once was), but who can deny that Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz bring particular passion and intensity to the defense of freedom?
Here's the deal Obama should have made: In exchange for the release of Gross, he should have asked for the release of all political prisoners held in Cuba's jails (several thousand) and invited them to become Americans. That would have improved their lives and our politics. The deal Obama actually made benefits only the Castros.
America Opposes Amnesty…Will the GOP Listen?
1/30/2015 12:01:00 AM - Ken Blackwell
The 2014 midterm elections was one for the history books. When President Barack Obama said all of his policies were on the ballot, voters rushed to the voting booths to give Republicans an extraordinary landslide victory. And as we know now, one of the biggest motivating factors was Obama’s illegal executive actions on immigration policy.
It is extraordinary to watch a twice-elected President create a humanitarian crisis on the Southern border. For the sake of a radical-left political agenda, Obama is willing to keep the border unsecured, grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, and ensure our country is less safe. The end goal is a long-term and permanent demographic shift to favor the Democratic Party and big government for future generations.
But the American people are waking up. New polling from the respected Paragon Insights shows that voters will overwhelmingly support the Republican Party if they chose to fight Obama’s efforts to grant amnesty to the approximately 12 million illegal immigrants in this country.
The poll shows that only 19 percent of people making less than $50,000 and only 15 percent of blue-collar workers support Obama’s amnesty efforts. But 40 percent and 47 percent, respectively, strongly oppose it. The Paragon Insights poll mirrors a poll conducted by Facebook’s pro-amnesty CEO Mark Zuckerburg, which found that even 78 percent of Hispanics support increasing security along the Southern border, with roughly the same number support rules for employer background checks and stronger penalties for overstaying visas.
These numbers are devastating, and should give the GOP the grassroots ammunition they need to win this critical fight. And this is bad news for Democrats in the Senate, as all 46 Senators signed a letter opposing the defunding of Obama’s executive amnesty.
The problem is, the political establishment in both parties supports amnesty. An eclectic and well-funded network of big businesses, progressive community organizers, and Hispanic groups are very influential in Washington, D.C.
So far, the House Republicans have yet to offer serious legislation to secure the border. Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-TX), introduced the "Secure Our Borders First" bill (H.R. 399), but it does not stop amnesty or address the need for more fencing. In fact, anyone from Mexico who claims to be asylum-seekers will be waved into the country after breaking our laws. No wonder the GOP proposed it the same day as Obama's State of the Union address, and are in such a rush to pass it.
Now, it is time to call out the House leadership for being more interested in appearances than actually fighting Obama’s amnesty agenda.
The stakes have never been higher, especially as Obama just appointed Loretta Lynch, an amnesty supporter, to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General. She once said, “If someone is here, regardless of status, I’d prefer they are participating in the workplace.”
Obama’s Progressive government is already busing illegal immigrants into cities without warning local governments, and border states are being forced to spend millions of dollars to handle this growing crisis.
The border needs a double-fence, a biometric exit system, and more well-trained Federal agents. Until a new President is elected, it is up to Republicans to use the mandate voters gave them and secure the border now.
The Patriot Post
Thursday’s Daily Digest
Jan. 29, 2015
“[A] bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.” –Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, 1787
TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS
Despite Republican budget cuts helping the nation boost its Index of Economic Freedom score2, Barack Obama worked to make sequestration as painful as possible – even though it was his idea in the first place. For example, he blamed the Republican budget for his drawdown of military strength to anemic levels. Not only that, an analysis of federal grants3 by Reuters and the Brookings Institution shows Obama funneling more money to states he won in 2012 than to states he didn’t. On average, blue states saw their federal dole decline 25% while red states saw the payout slashed 40%. As Congress banned the practice of earmarking funds, the executive branch picked up that power. It’s all been a strategy to further Obama’s “middle-crush economics4,” as he’s about to introduce a budget to Congress that lifts sequestration entirely. It’s for the middle class, leftists like Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) argue: “Arbitrary cuts through sequestration never made sense, and House Democrats have consistently supported replacing them with a smarter, more balanced approach to long-term deficit reduction. What our country needs is a growing economy that works for all Americans, not just the wealthy few.” But waging class warfare and then redistributing the loot on vote-buying schemes won’t accomplish economic growth.
Two projections about ObamaCare in the Congressional Budget Office’s latest report6 will probably contradict each other. First came the breathless news that the government will spend 20% less7 than what the CBO first divined back in April. Now, the government is expected to spend $1.35 trillion from 2016 to 2025 – $2 trillion in expenses8 offset by income from penalty payments and other tax revenue. Here’s what CBS News has to say about it: “Consequently, the CBO reduced its 10-year cost estimate for Obamacare by $101 billion by making the following changes: It’s predicting the government will spend $68 billion less on Obamacare subsidies, spend $59 billion more on Medicaid, and bring in $97 billion more in revenues from projected changes in employer-based coverage. Additionally, the CBO is projecting the government will spend $5 billion more due to changes in estimated penalty payments and certain taxes collected.” In short, they are expecting businesses to pick up a larger portion of the nation’s health care tab. But the CBO also says 10 million Americans will lose employer-provided insurance9 during that same period. With the track record the federal government has on ObamaCare promises, expect to see a revision soon.
ABC News' Jonathan Karl wanted to know: What was the difference between the Bowe Bergdahl exchange11 with the Taliban and Jordan’s attempted swap12 of prisoners with ISIL? When Karl brought the question up at a White House press conference, Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz responded that prisoner exchange is a “traditional end of conflict transaction.” But then Schultz said, “I would also point out that the Taliban is an armed insurgency. ISIL is a terrorist group. So we don’t make concessions to terrorist groups.” So if the full brunt of the U.S. military is thrown against a terrorist organization, it legitimizes the organization in the eyes of the Obama administration? This is just another example of Obama playing verbal gymnastics, obfuscating his foreign policy. As political analyst Charles Krauthammer observed, the Taliban “slits throats, it attacks busses, it drives car bombs into markets, and it’s not a terrorist group? Look, you can’t parody this administration.” Sad, but true.
Can you ever get tired of hearing yourself talk, much less making it all about you? Not if you’re Barack Obama. The president made a stop in New Delhi this week to deliver a speech that was once again replete with personal pronouns. After analyzing the yawn-inducing remarks, Grabien reported, “Somehow in the span of just 33 minutes, Obama referenced himself 118 times.” They added, “For those keeping score at home, that’s 3.5 Obama references per minute.” Whether he’s demogugeing here at home, or proselytizing abroad, it’s never about “We the People,” as the beginning words of the U.S. Constitution make clear. It’s about “I, Barack Obama.” As if that weren’t embarrassing enough, the man actually believes he’s accomplished something.
The proposal to restrict the Second Amendment rights of Virginians backfired on Governor Terry McAuliffe when he watched his bills die in committee while measures granting greater gun freedom moved forward. McAuliffe announced16 in December gun control would be a cornerstone of his administration, such as renewing Virginia’s expired law limiting handgun purchases to once a month. In what Philip Van Cleave, president of Virginia Citizens Defense League, called “an awesome day,” the commonwealth’s Senate Courts of Justice Committee rejected the governor’s bills and instead approved bills that would allow Virginians to get a lifetime gun permit and carry on school grounds if school is not in session. While Charles Cooke17 says McAuliffe signing these bills has about as much chance as a donut before Michael Moore, Virginia’s senate couldn’t have sent a stronger message.
Support the NRA! This week, NRA Life members or those who have been members for five or more years, will receive National Board ballots in your NRA publication. I ask your support for a seasoned member of that board, my colleague Joe DeBergalis, an NRA Benefactor Life Member. Joe’s a career law enforcement officer in New York, but he has dedicated untold hours in support of the Second Amendment20 and the NRA, serving as Chairman of the NRA’s Education and Training Committee – there are now more than 117,000 certified Instructor and Coach members. He also serves as Vice Chair of Action Shooting and on the Executive, Finance, Law Enforcement, Legislative Affairs and Sport Shooting Committees. In addition to the NRA, Joe has promoted Essential Liberty21 nationwide. He is the founder of the very popular AR15.com Pro-AM 3 Gun Championship and works with numerous other 2A training and advocacy groups. Joe is an active opponent of the so-called NY SAFE Act and Leftist Michael Bloomberg’s gun control schemes22 in Colorado, California and across the nation. Check for your ballot in your magazine, or if you receive the magazine electronically, a ballot will be mailed to you via USPS. Support our friend Joe DeBergalis and make plans to attend the NRA Convention23 in Nashville, April 10-12, 2015.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation last September, effective when a replacement is confirmed. On Wednesday, Congress conducted the first day of hearings with that nominee, U.S. attorney Loretta Lynch. And it appears she’ll pick up right where Holder left off.
Early in the hearing, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) explained, “[T]he Attorney General is the premier law enforcement officer … in America. He or she sets the tone for law in America, the commitment to law, and must resist politicizing law and do the right thing on a daily basis.”
And Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) lamented, “Public confidence in the department’s ability to do its job without regard to politics has been shaken, with good reason.”
Indeed, what a tone Holder set. To name but a few egregious activities from the last six years in which he served as Barack Obama’s criminal co-conspirator26, the AG trafficked illegal guns to Mexican drug cartels via Operation Fast and Furious27, tossed an airtight voter-intimidation case28 against the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia and sued Southern states over voter ID laws29. So he’s leaving big shoes to fill.
Enter Lynch, the current U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Grilled by Senate Republicans hoping to find that she’s “not Eric Holder,” Lynch gave every reason to believe that she’d endeavor to be his heir.
That isn’t to say she didn’t strike some euphonious political notes. Regarding law enforcement, she said it would be a priority to strengthen “the vital relationships between our courageous law enforcement personnel and all the communities we serve.” In fact, she added, “In my career, I have seen this relationship flourish – I have seen law enforcement forge unbreakable bonds with community residents and have seen violence-ravaged communities come together to honor officers who risked all to protect them. As attorney general, I will draw all voices into this important discussion.”
All well and good, but the relationship between communities and law enforcement has absolutely not flourished in the wake of Holder’s noxious race-baiting30 after police shootings in Ferguson and New York City. Notwithstanding Lynch’s conciliatory rhetoric, we find it hard to believe she’ll do much better. Obama wouldn’t choose her if she would.
So what about immigration? If the AG “sets the tone” for the nation, as Sessions accurately noted, what can we expect from the Justice Department after Obama’s lawless amnesty?
First, Lynch claims it was only a “temporary deferral” of enforcement and therefore not “a legal amnesty” – by which she means Obama didn’t grant amnesty. While she wasn’t part of crafting the policy, she doesn’t “see any reason to doubt the reasonableness” of the action.
Second, in a convoluted line of testimony, she seemed to contend that illegals have the right to work in the U.S. “I believe that the right and the obligation to work is one that’s shared by everyone in this country regardless of how they came here,” she said. “And certainly, if someone is here, regardless of status, I would prefer that they be participating in the workplace than not participating in the workplace.”
Lynch did later clarify that there is currently a “legal framework” requiring proof of citizenship or eligibility for employment, but that hardly eases the concern we have over her “right to work” answer. The issue of “rights” for illegals is at the root of Obama’s lawlessness, and Lynch’s answer signifies that she’s in lockstep with the president. Shocking, we know.
And don’t think for a minute that any leftist actually believes a poverty plantation31 welfare recipient has an “obligation to work.”
Lynch cannot possibly restore trust between American communities and law enforcement when the law is based on nothing more than the political whim of the White House. Her answer regarding Holder’s decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court is illustrative: There are, she said, “rare instances” when the Justice Department may find “constitutional issues” with a law. This is Left-speak for selective law enforcement.
Unfortunately, though Sessions and a few other Republicans will oppose32 Lynch’s confirmation, it seems she will win enough votes to become the next attorney general. Worse, her quiet demeanor, diminutive stature (she’s all of five feet tall) and the fact she will be the first black woman to serve as AG (with the last name of Lynch, no less) add up to mean she could be both worse than Holder and harder to oppose.
In less time than it takes to fill out a college application, Barack Obama dropped his plan to tax 529 college savings accounts in order to offer two “free” (ahem) years of community college. Just seven days after floating the idea in the State of the Union address34, the White House deduced that it had become such a “distraction” as to warrant abandonment.
Given this administration’s penchant for coming up with, and then bitterly clinging to, economically disastrous ideas (ObamaCare, anyone?), political resistance was quick and universal enough that even Obama couldn’t ignore reality.
You see, 529s are education savings plans that help families set aside money for college. While contributions are not tax-deductible on federal tax returns, distributions from the funds to pay for college are tax-free, making 529 plans highly attractive for families wanting to save for their children’s education. The problem – well, one among many – is that the president seemed to assume those who take advantage of these accounts are “rich,” defined in his parallel universe as those who make $250,000 per year. So taxing these accounts would be the obvious choice in Obama’s class-warfare utopia. Shared responsibility and all.
He grossly underestimated the backlash given how many middle-class people actually have college savings. As of last year, there were more than 12 million accounts, and the average balance was $19,774 – far less than the $240,000 the Obamas put into college savings for their private-school-educated daughters in one year alone.
Furthermore, according to the College Savings Foundation35, some 70% of 529 accounts are held by households earning less than $150,000 per year – hardly “rich.” Almost 10% are held by households making less than $50,000 per year, and nearly 95% of 529 plans are owned by households making less than $250,000 annually. The president can’t pass this one off as trying to tax the One Percent.
Still, demonstrating his ever-present disconnect from reality, he actually pitched his proposal as part of his “middle-class economics” plan. He defines this campaign theme as36 “the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”
In reality, Obamanomics means government calls the shots, fair share is forcibly relinquishing what you earn fair and square to those who do squat, and the rules are whatever the latest executive order says they are. It would be better known as middle-crush economics4.
Far from helping the middle class, Obama’s plan took direct aim at average Americans, as the truly “rich” often pay out of pocket for college and the poor are eligible for financial aid, something middle-class families are often deemed too well-off to receive.
The idea that anyone would propose such a middle-class-crushing tax seems ludicrous, but it’s par for the course when you’re trying to fund exponentially bigger government and running out of revenue sources.
The president must have realized things were bad when two of his top cheerleaders, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), pleaded with him to drop the idea. They realized that nothing says “don’t re-elect me” quite like “I want to scalp your college savings.”
While some may call the plan a political blunder, at the end of the day it was simply a case of Obama exposing his true economic philosophy. As Robert Tracinski notes37, “The truly committed leftist looks upon our private savings as a vast reserve of capital unfairly withheld from its proper function of servicing the needs of the state.”
So don’t think the president’s money grab is over. Instead, be on the lookout for what he’ll try to commandeer next.
OPINION IN BRIEF
British novelist C. S. Lewis (1898-1963): “Again, the new oligarchy must more and more base its claim to plan us on its claim to knowledge. If we are to be mothered, mother must know best. This means they must increasingly rely on the advice of scientists, till in the end the politicians proper become merely the scientists' puppets. Technocracy is the form to which a planned society must tend.”
Economist Stephen Moore: “The big news from [last] week’s State of the Union address is that the economic ‘crisis is over.’ Apparently, we’ve been rescued from a second Great Depression and everything this president has done to fix the economy has worked. All that was missing from Mr. Obama’s celebration was the old ‘Icky Shuffle’ end zone dance. This no doubt came as a bit of a shock to voters since the economy has been sickly for a long, long time. As recently as this fall, half of Americans were saying that the country is still in recession. Conditions have improved in the last six months for sure, with growth accelerating, inflation low and stable, hiring picking up and gas prices tumbling. Still, if things are as good as the White House says they are, why do we feel so bad? … Americans aren’t breaking out the champagne because they instinctively realize that an economic recovery built on trillions of dollars of debt, overspending, and trillions more in easy money is a house of sand. Mr. Obama’s only economic idea is to redistribute wealth via ever-rising taxes from the productive class and the job creators to everyone else. If Republicans let him, things will get worse for everyone before they get better.”
Columnist Ann Coulter: “The Republican leadership in Congress still hasn’t held hearings on why college is so expensive, although I proposed the idea two weeks ago. Of course, it’s been a month since the GOP took control of Congress, and they also haven’t voided Obama’s unconstitutional executive amnesty, passed e-Verify, a fence bill or the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act. Democrats are on offense all the time, even when they’ve just had their legs cut off. They announce absurd agenda items and then indignantly demand to know why Republicans are refusing to deal with the free unicorn-rides proposal. Obama is a lame-duck president and, three months ago, his party was slaughtered in midterm elections. And yet, I gather that his State of the Union address consisted of a litany of insanely expensive, utterly pointless ideas. And Republicans fall for it every time. They consider it a major victory to come back with a free-market approach to surrender. In response to Obama’s ‘free’ community college idea, Republicans should say: We’re not giving you anything, and, in fact, we’re demanding answers from the entire ‘higher ed’ establishment. You’ll be surprised how liberating and fun it is to go on offense, Republicans.”
PJTV’s Scott Ott: “Meteorologists: If anyone gives you a hard time about your blizzard prediction, hold your head high. At least you’re not an economist.”
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Join us in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform – Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen – standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families.
Funerals And Things:
By all accounts, Harold was a bright child. He grew up in America. He went to school and had a bright future ahead of him. Harold's full life was cut short in a violent moment.
While few people had ever heard of Harold before his death, many did afterwards. And in death, something shocking happened. What was so shocking, especially when it is compared to the death of someone else recently in the news?
Harold is Harold Greene, Major General United States Army. On August 5th, General Greene was killed by a Taliban terrorist. He was returned to America with full military honors. It has been a tradition that the President attends the funeral of flag officers killed in the line of duty.
Flag officer is a term applied to an officer holding the rank of general lieutenant general major general or brigadier general in the US Army Air Force or Marine Corps or admiral vice admiral or rear admiral in the US Navy or Coast Guard. US government protocol requires American Flags to be flown at half-staff and their funerals be attended by sitting Presidents are their designee, of at least a cabinet level.
Richard Nixon attended the funeral of Major General Casey killed in Vietnam and George W. Bush attended the funeral of Lieutenant General Timothy Maude, who was killed in the 9/11 attacks.
While Major General Greene was buried, Barack Obama was golfing. The Vice President wasn't there either. Neither was the Secretary of Defense. Flags were not even lowered to half-staff.
Four days after Harold Greene gave his life for America, Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson Missouri. It is safe to say, Brown was at best a thug. The media repeatedly showed photos of Brown flashing gang signs.
Some media outlets have even associated him with a specific gang. In the minutes before his death, Brown committed a robbery at a local convenience store. According to other reports, Brown struck officer Darren Wilson and shattered his orbital bone. Obama sent a three-person delegation to Michael Brown's funeral.
Obama would not attend the funeral of the highest ranking military officer killed in the line of duty since 9/11, yet he sent a delegation to the
funeral of a thug.
When Margaret Thatcher, one of America's staunchest allies and Ronald Reagan's partner in bringing down Soviet communism, died, Obama sent only a small low-level delegation to her funeral. The snub was not missed by the British.
When Chris Kyle, the most lethal American sniper in history was murdered, there was no expression of sympathy from the White House. There was no White House delegation at his funeral. American heroes die and Obama goes to the golf course. A thug dies and he
gets a White House delegation.
What is WRONG with this administration? The answer is everything!
Can Israel Survive?
Victor Davis Hanson
1/29/2015 12:01:00 AM - Victor Davis Hanson
Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East and North Africa. Eight million Israelis are surrounded by some 400 million Muslims in more than 20 states. Almost all of Israel's neighbors are anti-Israeli dictatorships, monarchies or theocracies-- a number of them reduced to a state of terrorist chaos.
Given the rise of radical Islam, the huge petrodollar wealth of the Middle East and lopsided demography, how has Israel so far survived?
The Jewish state has always depended on three unspoken assumptions for its tenuous existence.
First, a democratic, nuclear Israel can deter larger enemies. In the Cold War, Soviet-backed Arab enemies understood that Israel's nuclear arsenal prevented them from destroying Tel Aviv.
Second, the Western traditions of Israel -- free-market capitalism, democracy, human rights -- ensured a dynamic economy, high-tech weapons, innovative industry and stable government. In other words, 8 million Israelis could count on a greater gross domestic product, less internal violence and more innovation than, say, nearby Egypt, a mess with 10 times more people that Israel and nearly 50 times more land.
Third, Israel counted on Western moral support from America and Europe, as well as military support from the United States.
Israel's stronger allies have often come to the defense of its democratic principles and pointed out that the world applies an unfair standard to Israel, largely out of envy of its success, anti-Semitism, fear of terrorism and fondness of oil exporters.
Why, for example, does the United Nations focus so much attention on Palestinians who fled Israel nearly 70 years ago but ignore Muslims who were forced out of India, or Jews who were ethnically cleansed from the cities of the Middle East? Why doesn't the world worry that Nicosia is a more divided city than Jerusalem, or that Turkey occupies northern Cyprus, or that China occupies Tibet?
Unfortunately, two of these three traditional pillars of Israeli security have eroded.
When the United States arbitrarily lifted tough sanctions against Iran and became a de facto partner with the Iranian theocracy in fighting the Islamic State, it almost ensured that Iran will get a nuclear bomb. Iran has claimed that it wishes to destroy Israel, as if its own apocalyptic sense of self makes it immune from classical nuclear deterrence.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) summed up the Obama administration's current policy on Iran as "talking points that come straight out of Teheran." Obama has cynically dismissed Menendez's worries about negotiations with Iran as a reflection not of the senator's principles, but of his concerns over "donors" -- apparently a reference to wealthy pro-Israel American Jews.
Symbolism counts, too. President Obama was about the only major world leader to skip the recent march in Paris to commemorate the victims of attacks by radical Islamic terrorists -- among them Jews singled out and murdered for their faith. Likewise, he was odd world leader out by skipping this week's 70-year commemoration of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Obama is not expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will address Congress in March. An anonymous member of the Obama administration was quoted as calling Netanyahu, a combat veteran, a "coward" and describing him with a related expletive. Another nameless administration official recently said Netanyahu "spat in our face" by accepting the congressional invitation without Obama's approval and so will pay "a price" -- personal animus that the administration has not directed even against the leaders of a hostile Iran.
Obama won't meet with Netanyahu, and yet the president had plenty of time to hold an adolescent bull session with a would-be Internet comedian decked out in Day-Glo makeup who achieved her fame by filming herself eating breakfast cereal in a bathtub full of milk.
Jews have been attacked and bullied on the streets of some of the major cities of France and Sweden by radical Muslims whose anti-Semitism goes unchecked by their terrified hosts. Jewish leaders in France openly advise that Jews in that country immigrate to Israel.
A prosecutor in Argentina who had investigated the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 -- an attack widely believed to have been backed by Iran -- was recently found dead under mysterious circumstances.
Turkey, a country whose prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was praised by Obama as one of his closest friends among world leaders, has turned openly non-secular and is vehemently anti-Israel.
Until there is a change of popular attitudes in Europe or a different president in the United States, Israel is on its own to deal with an Iran that has already hinted it would use a nuclear weapon to eliminate the "Zionist entity," with the radical Islamic madness raging on its borders, and with the global harassment of Jews.
A tiny democratic beacon in the Middle East should inspire and rally Westerners. Instead, too often, Western nations shrug and assume that Israel is a headache -- given that there is more oil and more terrorism on the other side.
When in Riyadh, Don't Do as Royals Do
Debra J. Saunders
1/29/2015 12:01:00 AM - Debra J. Saunders
First lady Michelle Obama made an important statement when she showed up in Saudi Arabia with her husband Tuesday to mourn the death of King Abdullah and meet successor King Salman. Though the first lady dressed in a fashion respectful of Saudi custom -- in black pants and a long, loose jacket that fully covered her arms and legs -- she did not don a headscarf. Saudi women do not have that choice. Thus, the first lady made a fashion statement that sent a politely assertive message to the all-male Saudi delegation.
I approve. Saudi women cannot drive. Saudi law requires women to get a man's permission to go to college. In 2011, King Abdullah granted women the right to vote and to run for office starting this year. The kingdom's religious police, known as mutaween, infamously enforce dress codes and restrictions to segregate men and women in public. "Their low point came in 2002," New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote during a fact-finding trip in 2010, "when they notoriously stopped teenage girls without head scarves from fleeing a fire at a school in Mecca; 15 girls died."
American presidents have been forced to walk a tightrope when dealing with the Saudi royal class. On the one hand, the oil-rich Saudis are valuable allies in the often hostile Middle East. On the other hand, the kingdom has a dismal human rights record -- and women are not the only victims. A Jiddah court recently convicted blogger Raif Badawi for "adopting liberal thought" and "insulting Islam" and sentenced him to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes.
Often, then, it falls on foreign women to make Saudi royals squirm. In 2006, first lady Laura Bush did not cover her head when she met King Abdullah, although she did cover her head when she visited a mosque. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice eschewed a headscarf as she joined the Obamas in Riyadh and when she visited Jiddah in 2007. German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not cover her head when she visited the royal palace in 2010, nor did then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she met with the foreign minister in 2012.
Accompanying President Barack Obama to Riyadh, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also eschewed a headscarf. In 2007, GOP hopeful Mitt Romney faulted the then speaker for wearing a scarf when she visited Syria in 2007. Actually, Pelosi wore a knee-length suit during her visit with President Bashar Assad, although she donned an abaya with a headscarf when she visited a mosque -- which shows she has good manners.
When you think about it, the first lady and Pelosi had little choice but to eschew scarves in solidarity with their Saudi sisters. It's hard to rail about the alleged Republican "war on women" if you cozy up to a government that won't let women get behind the wheel.
Some Muslims used social media to slam Michelle Obama for cultural insensitivity. Not Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "As an American Muslim woman, I see it as a nonissue," Billoo told me. Billoo wears a headscarf. She sees it as her choice to dress modestly and Michelle Obama's choice to not wear a headscarf. What about the men in the Saudi delegation who would not shake hands with Michelle Obama? "That's their personal choice," Billoo answered.
Lucky Saudi men. They have choices.