Thursday, February 13, 2014

Current Events - February 13, 2014

From Twitter:

Michelle Obama's dress = $12,000. US Poverty Level = $11,490.

If Only a Snow Shovel Could Dig Us Out of This

By Amy Payne
Thanks to Congress, the U.S. now doesn’t have a debt limit for the next year. Let two Heritage experts put this into perspective.
“President Obama, after less than five years in office, has already increased the debt limit by more than any other president in U.S. history, including President George W. Bush over eight years in office,” report Romina Boccia and Michael Sargent, authors of the newly updated Federal Budget in Pictures.

For the next year, now that Congress has given Obama a blank check, we’ll be following the borrowing and the spending and all the debt Washington is piling on Americans. The national debt, at $17.3 trillion, already exceeds $140,000 per household.
 Sargent and Boccia, the Grover M. Hermann Fellow, teamed up with Heritage’s Senior Data Graphics Editor John Fleming to bring us 20 charts that will convince you the country’s in trouble.
There are some scary fiscal times ahead.
Imagine all of America and all of the taxes people pay to the federal government every year. Do you have an overwhelming idea in your mind? Just 16 years from now, ALL of that money will pay for just two things: entitlement programs and interest on the debt.
All of it.
The entitlement programs include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare’s new entitlements. So if you think anything is important besides these mammoth entitlement programs—like national defense, a real constitutional priority—Congress needs to get going on some major reforms.
These are just a few of the mind-boggling facts you can see and share—if you dare—in this visual resource. Find out where your tax money went and get the latest on Obamacare’s tax hikes.

Report: New Navy Map Shows U.S. Had ‘Multitude of Forces’ in Region Surrounding Libya During Benghazi Attack

By Jason Howerton
Government watchdog group Judicial Watch published a U.S. Navy map on Wednesday showing the locations of ships in the region surrounding Libya on the night of the deadly Benghazi Attack.
The unclassified map was obtained by Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Randall R. Schmidt via a Freedom of Information of Act (FOIA) request. Schmidt is reportedly investigating the U.S. military’s response to the Benghazi attack and provided a copy of the map to the group.
“The U.S. military had a multitude of forces in the region surrounding Libya when terrorists attacked the Special Mission in Benghazi and murdered four Americans,” Judicial Watch writes.
Screengrab via Townhall
 ...The map isn’t definite prove that the Obama administration didn’t do enough to respond to the assault in Benghazi. Clearly more information is needed to determine if any of these fleets were actually prepared tactically to respond to such an attack or could have made it to Benghazi in a reasonable amount of time.

The Continuing Battle for Free Speech

Pressure groups are doing their best to suppress corporate political opinions. 

By Joe Trotter
...With the assault against recipients of donations in full swing, other groups of anti-speech activists decided to attack political money on another front.
Though they are unable to impose legislative limits on corporate nonprofit donors, coalitions of investors, academics, and activists use a stick-and-carrot approach to discourage public corporations from engaging in politics. It goes like this: Groups go to corporations with the message that engaging in political activity can be harmful to shareholder value, and therefore the corporation should disclose its political activities to the public. The more the corporation complies with the request, the higher it ranks in studies of political accountability and the more it is publicly lauded by activists. If the corporation does not comply, it ranks lower in the studies and is subjected to a negative media campaign by the activists.
But even if a corporation complies with the initial demands, the campaign doesn’t end there. The studies change their criteria year to year in order to gradually draw greater concessions from previously targeted companies.
This is hardly a comprehensive list of avenues explored by the pro-regulation community in its quest to clamp down on political spending since Citizens United. Activists have mounted a letter-writing campaign asking the Securities and Exchange Commission to enact intrusive, unnecessary disclosure requirements on public corporations. Others have focused on pressuring the Federal Communications Commission to adopt unprecedented and extensive disclosure regulations, such as requiring television stations to name donors who provide 10 percent or more of an advertisement’s funding. Thus far the agency has rejected these rules.
Americans trying to speak about candidates and issues, as is their First Amendment right, have faced a government uninterested in ensuring that our political debate is robust, diverse, and wide-open, and activists intent on pressuring them into silence. But despite all these efforts and political abuse by the IRS, free-speech advocates have so far emerged mostly victorious, and all of us who prize vigorous participation in the public square should be thankful.

Vulnerable Senate Dems plead with IRS to help stifle 'outside groups'

By Rick Moran
Not very subtle, are they?
Senate Democrats who find themselves in very competitive races in 2014 are asking the IRS to intervene and prevent "outside groups" from spending money to defeat them.
Of course, they're careful to say that any new rules should apply to both liberal and conservative groups equally. But how is that possible when there are 20 times more conservative groups to be affected than liberal ones?
The Hill:
 Senate Democrats facing tough elections this year want the Internal Revenue Service to play a more aggressive role in regulating outside groups expected to spend millions of dollars on their races.
In the wake of the IRS targeting scandal, the Democrats are publicly prodding the agency instead of lobbying them directly. They are also careful to say the IRS should treat conservative and liberal groups equally, but they're concerned about an impending tidal wave of attack ads funded by GOP-allied organizations. Much of the funding for those groups is secret, in contrast to the donations lawmakers collect, which must be reported publicly.
....The entire purpose for the existence of Tea Party groups is to educate the public about the Constitution. The new rules proposed by the IRS would make it impossible for these independent groups to fulfill their mission. Just about anything they do would be considered "political activity" and banned by the IRS.
As for groups like Americans for Prosperty, they have thrived by being able to keep their donors from suffering backlash against giving to a conservative group. Without that protection, their First Amendment rights would be curtailed substantially.
Of course, Democrats fully realize all of this and are desperate to drastically curtail the educational activities of outside groups. They don't want the public constantly reminded of their vote to pass Obamacare, or any other controversial vote they've taken. They rightly fear the wrath of voters and want the IRS to do their dirty work for them in keeping outside groups off their backs.
Unfortunately, it will probably work. Democrats aren't about to let this opportunity to stifle the free speech of conservatives go to waste.

Obama's clever campaign to constrict the flow of criticism

By Andrew Malcolm
Among the many costs of the Barack Obama presidency is an intentional corrosion for its own political gain of public faith in so many American institutions, among them Congress, the Supreme Court and the media.
If numerous sectors of society are feuding or distrustful of each other, then a well-controlled central authority like a chief executive can more easily rule the pieces. It's classic Chicago politics, the way the mayor there controls the city's feuding neighborhood fiefdoms of Democrat pols and workers.
We're going to examine the American media today and urge some temperance and caution in the now endemic condemnation of the much-reviled MSM for the country's own self-interest.
...Now that the Obama crowd has separated media from many who once trusted it, comes an even more dire threat. The Federal Communications Commission this spring will launch a nationwide "study" of newsroom values, priorities and processes to see if they meet a list of government "critical information needs." This will also involve print media over which the FCC has heretofore had no authority under the Constitution.
This process, similar to ones employed by Communist regimes behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, is not designed to gather any information at all. It's designed to sow doubt, fear and intimidate traditionally independent news media into self-censorship, which can be a very powerful tool limiting critical news coverage.
And -- oh, look! -- there's an important midterm election coming in nine months.
Americans need not trust, respect or even like the nation's disparate news media to see this campaign for what it is: A bold political move by an omnivorous government that threatens, like a clogged human artery, to limit the flow of independent information envisioned by the Founding Fathers as so essential to the daily health of this democracy.

Crony Capitalist Chronicles: Comcast wants to gobble up Time Warner Cable

By Thomas Lifson
One of the Obama administration's best corporate friends wants to buy its biggest competitor, using stock. Ryan Nakashima of AP:

Comcast Corp. will buy Time Warner Cable Inc. for about $45.2 billion in a deal that combines the nation's top two cable TV companies and would create a dominant force in both creating and delivering entertainment to U.S. homes.
The all-stock deal was approved by the boards of both companies. It is expected to close by the end of the year, pending shareholder and regulatory approvals.

The prospective merger is so anti-competitive that Peter Weber of The Week avers:

The deal isn't going to happen. Not in any recognizable form. (snip)
"Let's get to the bottom line," says Michael Hiltzik at the Los Angeles Times. "There's no way this combination can conceivably be in the public interest." The only real question on the table is "whether the FCC will fold against the economic and political power of these two behemoths."

I wish I could agree with Weber, but crony capitalism is a powerful force, and Comcast has a lot of chips to cash in when it comes to the Obama administration, whose motto is help your friends and punish your enemies.  Comcast owns NBC and MSNBC, the two biggest media friends of the Obama administration, whose efforts to shore up the Democrats often verge on the comic.

Defenders of the merger claim that because the cable TV operations of the two companies are in distinct geographical areas, there is no anti-competitive effect. But that is nonsense. The real game is in content control, and the ability to shape access to broadband. Comcast's already huge bargaining advantage over cable content providers will be enhanced by controlling a much larger share of viewership. It will be able to demand that Fox News Channel - to select a perfectly random example - accept reduced compensation per viewer in return for access to viewers on Comcast.
...At stake is nothing less than control over the primary information channel reaching American homes.
The Obama administration and Democratic Party would love nothing more than the ability to strangle their opposition through control of the information superhighway.

This merger is an abomination. But don't expect Republicans. While Comcast gives the majority of its employees' political contributions to Demcorats, the two biggest single recipients, 2013-14: John Beohner and Mitch McConnell.

PK' S NOTE:  But this is the history of our government: kick the can down the road.

Behind the White House's ObamaCare Dodges

The delays are designed to shield Democrats from voter retribution, at least as long as he's in office.

By Karl Rove
...Why did the president do this? Politics. Mr. Obama saw the firestorm that erupted last fall when Americans lost their health policies because their policies didn't conform to ObamaCare's requirement for "essential benefits" and other mandates. Based on a flurry of reports and estimates that have come out since October, Jim Angle of Fox News says that 6.2 million have lost their health coverage so far. (There is no hard number from the Department of Health and Human Services.)
The president didn't want another avalanche of cancellations before this fall's midterm election. Yet one was coming because the law discourages small businesses from providing health-care coverage. Here's how it works: Businesses can continue to pay a hefty share of their workers' premiums ( AON AON +0.14% Hewitt estimates they now run roughly $11,000 a year per employee) or dump coverage and pay a $2,000 fine per employee. Companies would have to decide this summer or fall whether to continue providing coverage for 2015.
Yet the dirty little secret is that this loss of coverage is by design. ObamaCare was intended to move America toward a single-payer system as more small businesses dropped coverage, dumped workers into the exchanges, and substituted a $2,000 fine for the ever-increasing premiums.
Mr. Obama is constantly amending his own law not because it doesn't do what it was intended to do, but because it's accomplishing precisely what it was meant to. His challenge is to transform the system without blowing up his party in the meantime.
And after he's gone? ObamaCare won't be fully operational until at least 2016, just in time for the next president to deal with its exploding costs and imploding private insurance system.
Mr. Obama's pattern is to act, or fail to act, in a way that will leave his successor with a boatload of troubles. 
...Then there's Medicare, whose Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will go bankrupt in 2026. For five years, Mr. Obama has failed to offer a plan to restore Medicare's fiscal health as he is required by the law establishing Medicare Part D. When Medicare goes belly-up, he will be out of office.
From the record number of Americans on food stamps to the worst labor-force participation rate since the 1970s to rising political polarization to retreating U.S. power overseas and increasing Middle East chaos and violence, Mr. Obama's successor—Republican or Democratic—will inherit a mess.
At Monticello earlier this week with French President François Hollande, Mr. Obama was overheard joking, "That's the good thing about being president, I can do whatever I want." His words call to mind the famous words attributed to one of Mr. Hollande's predecessors, Louis XV : " Après moi le déluge."

28 Delays, and Counting, to Health Reform

By Elizabeth MacDonald
For the second time in about a year, the Obama administration gave companies, including small businesses, more time before they must offer affordable health insurance to almost all their full-time workers or pay a tax.
To date, there have been 28 delays to provisions in health reform, and counting. Still no delay in the individual mandate, which requires all U.S. citizens to buy health insurance or pay a mandate tax. Here’s a running tally of the delays to health reform:
Timeline of Major Health-Reform Delays
November 6, 2012 Medicaid physician reimbursements:
January 31, 2013 Bundled Payments initiative:
February 1, 2013 Medicaid funds and preventive care:
February 6, 2013 Basic Health Program:
February 20, 2013 Out-of-pocket costs:
April 1, 2013 Small Business Health Options Program:
July 2, 2013 Employer mandate:
July 2, 2013 Employer reporting requirements:
July 5, 2013 Verifying coverage status:
July 5, 2013 Verifying income:
July 5, 2013 Electronic Medicaid notices:
August 27, 2013 Finalizing federal exchange plans:
September 26, 2013 Online enrollment for small-business exchanges:
September 26, 2013 Online enrollment in Spanish:
October 23, 2013 March enrollment deadline: 
November 14, 2013 Canceled insurance plans and minimum standards:
November 22, 2013 Extra days to enroll for Jan. 1, 2013 coverage:
November 22, 2013 Health Insurance Enrollment for 2015:
November 27, 2013 Online enrollment for small businesses:
December 12, 2013 Payment deadline delayed:
December 12, 2013 High-risk insurance pools:
December 19, 2013 Delay of individual mandate for some:
December 23, 2013 Extra day to enroll for Jan. 1, 2013 coverage: 
January 14, 2014 High-risk insurance pools:
January 18, 2014 Equal coverage rules: 
February 10, 2014 Employer mandate for medium-sized employers:
February 10, 2014 Employer mandate coverage percentage:
February 10, 2014 Measuring employees for employer mandate:

The Man With No Party

CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News and ABC World News broadcasts gave brief mention to the conviction of former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin Wednesday on 20 federal counts, including bribery and conspiracy, but all three omitted the fact that he was a Democrat.
CBS anchor Scott Pelley and ABC fill-in anchor George Stephanopoulos referred to him as the “former mayor” while NBC’s Brian Williams called him “controversial.”

A Deeper Naginism

The Nagin corruption scandal points to a deeper problem within our polity. 

By Kevin D Williamson
....The situation is in some cases much worse at the state and local levels. Imagine that you are a taxpayer or a city councilman being asked to vote for a bond issue to update Philadelphia’s airport. Or imagine that you are a private firm or neighboring jurisdiction considering a partnership with the airport. How would you proceed, knowing that not too long ago a mayor’s brother, by occupation a hotdog vendor, had been awarded a seven-figure contract for providing services at the airport — a contract that also absolved him from any financial responsibility in his dealings? If you are a taxpayer in Atlanta being asked to consider spending more money on the city’s schools, surely the corruption of their managers must weigh on your decision.
The problem extends beyond outright corruption: Perhaps you are an American taxpayer who believed the president when he said that his stimulus package would “put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges,” only to learn that almost none of that money was spent on roads or bridges, or indeed on any other infrastructure project, but was instead channeled to the president’s political allies?
A reasonable person might grow wary.
...Why should firms invest in physical capital? Here, too, we are missing out because of defective institutions. Building a factory is an expensive, long-term commitment, and many investors will hesitate to do so if, for example, they are unsure of what their future labor environment will look like, whether the corporate-tax code will be used to subsidize their politically connected competitors, or what environmental rules they will be operating under. The Obama administration’s penchant for executive fiat makes the policy environment much less predictable — and does so largely for reasons of political self-interest. Things like the Keystone-pipeline delays and the EPA’s overreach on carbon dioxide emissions are pure politics, and nothing more. But they impose real costs.
The Obama administration is willing to undermine the U.S. economy when its political self-interest is served by doing so: That is the lesson of Keystone and much more. But the problem goes all the way down: A Michigan teachers’ union has been fighting tooth-and-nail to ensure severance pay for a teacher convicted of sexually molesting a student — the union’s financial clout is the only thing in which it places real value. That will occur to a few taxpayers the next time the union comes demanding a little something “for the children.” Education is crucial to long-term productivity and to technological innovation. What Ray Nagin did was a crime, but there are worse things than crimes. It is possible to undermine critical institutions without ever violating a law.

Did I Move?

By Ann Coulter
...The House Republicans' "Standards for Immigration Reform," for example, contains this fat, honking nonsense: "One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents."
As the kids say: WTF?
That may be a pleasant-sounding sentiment, but it has absolutely nothing to do with our country's history. Not the first thing. Did Republicans really think they could pawn off the idea that our forefathers fought and died at Valley Forge so that illegal aliens wouldn't have to live in the shadows?
Yeah, it was a long shot. We didn't know you guys had read the Constitution. We'll be quiet now.
Apart from the fact that protecting children from the mistakes of their parents has not the slightest connection with the nation's founding, it's a ridiculous concept.
Yes, children suffer when their parents break the law. Also when their parents get divorced, become alcoholics, don't read to them at night, feed them junk food and take them to Justin Bieber concerts. None of that is the child's fault.
But it's not the country's fault either.
If we have to excuse lawbreaking so as not to "punish the children," there's no end to the crimes that have to be forgiven -- insider trading, theft, rape, murder and so on.
How do you think kids feel when their father has to "live in the shadows" because he committed a rape? The kids did nothing wrong, but they have to go to bed every night wondering: Is tomorrow the day Dad is going to be caught?
...Why not just forgive the crimes of all perpetrators who have kids? At a minimum, shouldn't we allow criminals to defer their sentences until their kids turn 26 so they can stay on Dad's health insurance? Or at least until their kids have gone to college? Chris Christie can give them in-state tuition!
"It's not the kids' fault" proves too much. People can get away with anything if they're willing to use their children as trump cards to avoid the force of law.

...We're living in a different country now, and I can't recall moving! Had I wanted to live in Japan, I could have moved there. Had I had wanted to live in Mexico, Pakistan or Chechnya -- I could have moved to those places, too.
(Although maybe not. They all have stricter immigration policies than we do.)
I'm sure they're lovely, but I wanted to live in America. Now I can't. At the current rate of immigration, it won't exist anymore. The Democrats couldn't win elections there, so they changed it.

Democrats Who Oppose Keystone XL Pipeline Own Shares in Competing Companies

Disclosure documents show Tim Kaine and Alan Lowenthal are invested in Keystone Competitors

By Lachlan Markay
Democrats who oppose the Keystone XL pipeline have thousands of dollars invested in direct competitors to the company looking to build the pipeline, public records show.
A recent environmental assessment by the State Department was seen as a step toward the pipeline’s approval, but Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.) remains opposed to its construction.
“In my view, there is now enough evidence to conclude that construction of this pipeline is not in America’s long-term interest,” Kaine said in a statement on the review.
The freshman Democrat has between $15,000 and $50,000 invested in Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, according to his most recent financial disclosure. Kinder Morgan is looking to build a pipeline that would directly compete with Keystone.
Kinder Morgan is considering expanding its Canadian pipeline infrastructure with an expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which carries oil sands crude from Alberta to refineries and export terminals on Canada’s west coast.
...Another anti-Keystone Democrat, California Rep. Alan Lowenthal, has between $15,000 and $50,000 invested in Enbridge Energy Management, $1,000 to $15,000 in Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, and $15,000 to $50,000 in Kinder Morgan Management, which is a limited partner in and handles everyday management for the company’s Energy Partners subsidiary.
Lowenthal has been less outspoken then Kaine on Keystone, but he voted against legislation last year that would have approved the pipeline without sign-off from the administration, which has repeatedly put off a decision on the project.
He was also one of 22 Democrats to sign a December letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman insisting that the Keystone Pipeline would be detrimental to the environment.
...“This is not an ‘appearance of conflict of interest,’ it is a bald-faced conflict of interest,” said Ron Arnold, executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.

You're not going to believe this one.
You know how we sometimes talk about the Harrison Bergeronification of America, right?  Well, a school in Lake County, Florida is a perfect example of what we're talking about, because they have banned teachers from giving out grades of "zero."  And you know why?  Because that grade is "overly negative to the student.”
And we can't have kids who deserve grades of zero feeling BAD about it, now, can we?
The school district spokesman, Chris Patton, was defensive about it, saying, "It’s overly negative to the student. I know you are trying to compare it to the real world, which we do want, but we also want students to have the opportunity to make changes and have second chances.”
So they get 2nd chances to get graded on the SAME assignments?  Is this how schools work now?  Because back when schools were functional and effective, you took a test, you got graded, and you lived with the result.  And then you tried harder on the next test, or you lived with another bad result.  In other words, you were accountable for your performance.  You didn't get do-overs or second chances.  Because that's not how life works.  Try imagining second chances when you're a surgeon.  Or a pilot.  Or ANYTHING ELSE IN THE REAL WORLD.
But Chris Patton doesn't see it that way.  Chris Patton says, "There’s definitely consequences. More importantly, it teaches kids we want them to succeed, we want them to do well.”
So what ARE those consequences, Chris Patton? Because I don't get it. In fact, if Chris Patton were to give me a test on understanding the consequences in this situation, I should get a ZERO on it.
Incidentally, as the sourcelink indicates, Lake County School is under investigation for falsifying class sizes to avoid paying state fines.  But I'm sure if they just get a second chance, or a do-over, they won't have to pay those fines.  After all, fines might feel "overly negative" to them.  And we can't have that, now, can we?

Lawmaker: Iran Deal Still ‘Shrouded in Secrecy’

By Adam Kredo
A leading House lawmaker is calling on President Obama to publicly release the full text of the recently signed Iran nuclear deal, which is currently being held under lock and key in a secure compound on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R., Fla.), a leading member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote to Obama on Wednesday in a bid to force the Iran deal into the public.
The precise details of the deal have remained “shrouded in secrecy” despite the critical nature of the agreement, Ros-Lehtinen said.
The White House has come under increasing fire from lawmakers and others for refusing to publicly release the text of the deal. Lawmakers and qualified Hill staffers must submit to an extensive security procedure just to view the text, which is being kept hidden from the American public.
The deal was even kept from members of Congress until the last moment, according to Ros-Lehtinen.
“While the administration released an outline to the public of what the deal entailed, it was not until just days before implementation that the full text of the agreement was made available for members of Congress to review,” she wrote.
“While you and members of your administration have touted the significance of this agreement, the fact is that you have provided only some of the details to the American public while keeping the rest shrouded in secrecy,” the letter states.
The secrecy surrounding the deal has prevented Congress from providing critical oversight on the negotiations with Tehran, according to Ros-Lehtinen.
“In order for Congress to properly perform its oversight functions and for the American people and our allies to have a full and open debate on the issue, I respectfully request that you make public the full text of the” deal, she wrote.
As the deal text stays hidden in a secured office of Capitol Hill, Iran has “developed [nuclear] centrifuges that are 15 times faster than what they currently possess and claimed to have successfully test fired to long range missiles,” Ros-Lehtinen added.

White House Keeping Tabs on Who Views Secret Iran Deal

A step-by-step look at how ‘unclassified’ deal text is kept hidden from public

 By Adam Kredo
The White House is keeping close tabs on who has read the text of the recently signed Iran nuclear deal, a document that has been marked as “unclassified,” yet is being kept in a highly secured location.
Members of Congress and staffers with high-level security clearances are being forced by the White House to consent to top-secret security measures in order to view the deal text, which is off limits to the American public, according to a senior Senate aide familiar with the process.
...One senior Senate source described to the Washington Free Beacon an elaborate security process aimed at tracking who views the document and ensuring that no details emerge publicly.
This is the type of treatment typically reserved for highly classified information, the source said.
All members of Congress have clearance to view the deal. Yet “only staff who hold a ‘secret’ level or higher clearance are allowed to view it”—even though the deal is officially marked as an “unclassified document,” the source said.
And everyone—members and staffers alike—must submit to a series of security procedures.
Those looking to view the deal must go to a highly secured Capitol Hill office and submit to multiple security procedures meant to ensure that the Iran deal text does not become public.
...“All of this for a document marked ‘unclassified’ at the top,” the Senate aide said. “This is complete insanity. People are right to wonder why an agreement the president hails as a milestone is being guarded from the public like gold at Fort Knox.”
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) has also described the deal text as being held in a “super secret location” that is shrouded in a “cone of silence.”
“Why is it that members of Congress have to go to a super secret location, a cone of silence … to look at the deal?” Ros-Lehtinen asked a panel of nuclear experts last month during a House hearing.
Ros-Lehtinen described the secret document as “quite eye opening” and wondered why the Obama administration continues to keep it under lock and key.
“It’s a very easy to read document; one doesn’t have to be as expert,” she said, urging other members on the committee to examine the deal.
“If this is such a great deal and so good for peace and diplomacy in our time why is it held in secret?” Ros-Lehtinen went on to ask. “If the administration is proud of it, I think they should highlight it.”

Congress Warned About Evolution of Jihadist Networks

More then 6,800 terrorist attacks killed more than 11,000 people in 2012, making it the most active year of terrorism on record.

By Rodrigo Sermeno
Terrorism experts warned Congress last week that Islamist terrorist groups are expanding in complex networks across the Middle East, highlighting the evolving nature of the threat these organizations pose to the region.
Seth Jones, a national security analyst with the RAND Corporation, told the House Armed Services Committee that there has been an increase in the number of Salafi jihadist groups, particularly in North Africa and the Levant. Al-Qaeda is the largest one, and all emphasize the importance of returning to a pure Islam and believe that violent jihad is a religious duty.
He said that while about a half-dozen terrorist groups have sworn allegiance to al Qaeda’s core, led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, there now exists various Salafi jihadist groups that have not formally pledged allegiance to the militant group, and yet they share a common goal of establishing an extreme Islamic emirate.
“They are committed to establishing an Islamic emirate, and several of them have plotted attacks against the U.S., against U.S. embassies, against U.S. diplomats, against U.S. targets overseas,” Jones said.

Obama’s Newspeak

The meaning of words, and history itself, are malleable when it comes to our president and his record.

By Victor Davis Hanson
The nightmare societies portrayed in the George Orwell novels “1984 and Animal Farm gave us the word “Orwellian.” That adjective reflects a vast government’s efforts not just to deceive and control the people, but also to do so by reinventing the meaning of ordinary words while rewriting the past itself.
America, of all places, is becoming Orwellian. The president repeatedly reminds the American people that under his leadership, the U.S. has produced a record level of new oil and natural gas. But didn’t Obama radically curtail leases for just such new energy production on federal lands? Have the edicts on the barn wall of Animal Farm been changed again, with the production of new oil and gas suddenly going from bad to good?
Does anyone remember that the Affordable Care Act was sold on the premise that it would guarantee retention of existing health plans and doctors, create 4 million new jobs, and save families $2,500 a year in premiums, all while extending expanded coverage to more people at a lower cost?
Only in Orwell’s world of doublespeak could raising taxes, while the costs of millions of health plans soars, be called “affordable.” Is losing your existing plan and doctor a way of retaining them? 
The Congressional Budget Office recently warned that Obamacare would “keep hours worked and potential output during the next 10 years lower than they would be otherwise.” That nonpartisan verdict should be bad news for workers.
Not in our brave new world. The Obama administration says it is pleased that workers will now be freed from “job lock.” What is job lock — a made-up Newspeak word right out of 1984? Work fewer hours, make less money, and create fewer outputs — and be happy.
About every January since 2009, the president has promised to close Guantanamo Bay. Is the detention facility now sort of virtually closed — in the manner that Syrian president Bashar Assad and his chemical weapons are now virtually gone as Obama decreed years ago, and in the manner that we are still hunting down the murderers in Benghazi who were supposedly outraged over a video? Is there an Orwellian “memory hole” where these embarrassing proclamations are disposed?
In 2004, many in the media reported that George W. Bush, the demonized Emmanuel Goldstein of our era, had overseen a “jobless recovery.” Unemployment at election time in 2004 was 5.4 percent.
Yet since January 2009, only two months have seen joblessness dip slightly below 7 percent. A record 90 million able-bodied Americans are not participating in the workforce. Yet the president, in Orwellian doublespeak fashion, recently claimed that the job picture is good. If 5.4 percent unemployment was once called a jobless recovery, are we now in a jobless recovery from a jobless recovery?
In 2013, the IRS confessed that it had targeted particular political groups based on their names or political themes — a Big Brother intrusion into private lives that was revealed at about the same time the Associated Press and National Security Agency eavesdropping scandals came to light. During the initial media frenzy, President Obama blasted the politicization of the IRS as “outrageous.”
After the IRS was confirmed to be delaying the tax-exempt requests of conservative groups at a far greater rate than their liberal counterparts, the agency’s director, Douglas Shulman, stepped down at the end of his term. His replacement, acting commissioner Steven Miller, subsequently resigned from the agency. And the IRS official in charge of tax-exempt decisions, Lois Lerner, invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before Congress. She and Joseph H. Grant, commissioner of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division, both abruptly retired from the IRS.
Congressional committees and the treasury inspector general for tax administration found that groups loosely associated with the Tea Party were more likely to have their tax-exempt requests put on hold than other nonprofits. Yet recently, President Obama concluded of this entire mess that it did not entail “even a smidgen of corruption.”
It takes Orwell’s doublethink to explain how a scandal might have rated an “outrageous” before the people in charge quit, retired, or invoked the Fifth Amendment, and then, after their embarrassing departures, was reinvented as an episode without a smidgen of corruption.
In politics, of course, Left and Right, conservative and liberal, make up stuff. But Orwell, who also blasted the rise of European fascism, focused more on the mind games of the statist Left.
Why? He apparently feared that the Left suffered an additional wage of hypocrisy in more openly proclaiming the noble interests of “the people.” Because of those supposedly exalted ends of equality and fairness, statists were more likely to get a pass from the media and public for the scary means they employed to achieve them.
Right now in America, the words and deeds of both past and present become reality only when the leaders put them in the correct service of the people.

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