Category Archives: National Politics

daily-signal-logo-white

The Most Glaring Flaws in Obama’s Iran Deal

The Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran has major flaws that could dangerously undermine the long-term national security interests of the United States and its allies.

Although the administration entered the negotiations pledging to cut off all pathways to a nuclear weapon, the agreement amounts to little more than a diplomatic speed bump that will delay, but not permanently halt, Iran’s drive for a nuclear weapons capability.

The agreement in effect legitimizes Iran as a nuclear threshold state.

Once key restrictions on uranium enrichment expire in 10 to 15 years, Iran will have the option to develop an industrial scale enrichment program that will make it easier for it to sprint cross that threshold.

 Iran used red lines and deadlines to wear down the administration, which played a strong hand weakly.

The administration undermined its own bargaining position by making it clear that it wanted a nuclear agreement more than Tehran seems to have wanted one, despite the fact that Tehran needed an agreement more for economic reasons.

The administration’s downplaying of the military option and front-loading of sanctions relief early in the negotiations reduced Iranian incentives to make concessions.

This gave the Iranians bargaining leverage they have used shrewdly.

Iran dug in its heels on key red lines proclaimed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, while the administration’s red lines gradually became blurred pink lines.

Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is left largely intact. Centrifuges will be mothballed but not dismantled.

Iran’s illicit nuclear facilities Natanz and Fordow, whose operations were supposed to be shut down under multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions, have now been legitimized, despite the fact that they were built covertly in violation of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

Iran is essentially rewarded for cheating under the agreement.

It gained a better deal on uranium enrichment than Washington has offered to its own allies.

Taiwan, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates were denied enrichment arrangements that Iran now has pocketed.

Instead of dismantling Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, the agreement dismantles the sanctions that brought Tehran to the negotiating table in the first place.

This fact is not lost on our allies, friends and “frenemies” in the region.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who understandably sees Iran’s potential nuclear threat as an existential issue, denounced the deal as “a historic mistake.”

Sunni Arab states threatened by Iran are likely to hedge their bets and take out insurance by working to expand their own nuclear options.

Saudi Arabia already has let it be known that it will demand the same concessions on uranium enrichment that Iran received.

The Saudis have begun negotiations to buy French nuclear reactors and this civilian program could become the foundation for a weapons program down the line.

Other Arab states and Turkey are likely to tee up their own nuclear programs as a prudent counterweight to offset to Iran’s expanding nuclear potential, after some of the restrictions on its uranium enrichment program automatically sunset.

The end-result could be accelerated nuclear proliferation and a possible nuclear arms race in the most volatile region in the world.

Another major problem is verification of Iranian compliance.

The administration’s initial insistence on “anytime/anywhere” inspections was downgraded to “sometimes/some places.”

Iran has up to 14 days to weigh the requests of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors. If it decides to object, its objections would be relayed to an arbitration committee that would have 7 days to rule. If it rules against Iran, Tehran would have another 3 days to arrange an inspection.

This gives Iran up to 24 days to move, hide or destroy materials sought by inspectors. This is far from a foolproof system, particularly in light of Iran’s long history of cheating.

Sanctions relief is another potential headache. Tehran would benefit by the release of about $150 billion of its money frozen in overseas accounts.

Ultimately the Iranian economy would be boosted by tens of billions of dollars more through a surge of oil revenues as oil sanctions are lifted.

This could help Iran reshape the regional balance of power and establish hegemony over Iraq, Yemen, important oil resources and oil supply routes.

Much of this money will go to fund the Assad regime, Hezbollah, Yemeni Houthi rebels, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups funded by Iran.

This would rapidly lead to escalation of the wars, shadow wars and civil wars already taking place around the Middle East.

The dangers posed by Iran’s enhanced ability to finance global terrorism would be compounded by the administration’s last minute capitulation on the U.N. arms embargo, which will be gradually eased if Iran remains in compliance with the agreement.

This would allow Iran to upgrade its conventional weapons through imports from foreign suppliers and enable it to more easily arm its foreign allies and surrogates.

The bottom line is that the Obama administration now has signed an agreement that will expand Iran’s power and influence, strain U.S. relations with its regional friends, weaken long-standing non-proliferation goals on restricting access to sensitive nuclear technologies and contribute to the evolution of a multi-polar nuclear Middle East.

Oikophobia — fear and hatred of one’s own culture and people. It has brought down civilizations since there have been civilizations. And now we’re infected, too.

 

Personal Libert Digest New

morality concept

Advancing deviancy advances collectivism

Following a week or more of in-your-face coverage of Bruce Jenner’s posing as a woman on a magazine cover and exposing his psychological problems to the world, the Occupation Safety and Health Administration has issued a four-page guideline for employers to provide transgender-friendly restroom facilities. Coincidence? I think not.

The mainstream media glorified Jenner for his “courage.” ESPN, one of the leading proponents of perversion today, picked Jenner as its recipient of this year’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award to be presented at the ESPY Awards in July. This was too much for even Bob Costas to stomach.

The OSHA guidelines, while not yet binding but likely soon will be (especially once the Supreme Court OKs gay “marriage”), will require employers to ensure restrooms are accessible to people according to their “inner gender” as opposed to their natural plumbing. But assigning gender-confused people their own restroom is not acceptable to the agency. Among the best policies, OSHA writes, are for the employer to provide “additional options, which employees may choose, but are not required to use” include:

  • Single-occupancy gender-neutral (unisex) facilities; and
  • Use of multiple-occupant, gender-neutral restroom facilities with lockable single occupant stalls.

So “Men” and “Women” on the restroom doors no longer will have meaning and, under the guidelines, will likely just be removed. And that man ogling your wife or daughter can follow them into the restroom with no questions asked.

A New World Order in social evolution has emerged over the past couple of decades, and it’s not the world your granddad knew.

How has the American nation fallen so far that a growing number of the masses and almost all the politicians not only accept but endorse the sodomites and “gender-confused” and all the sick things they do? The answer is: tolerance. The politicians and the propaganda machine have taught Americans to tolerate everything except that which is godly.

Fyodor Dostoevsky warned that without God, all bad things are possible.

Note that all major religions focus on “tolerance.” They tolerate everything but Christianity.

All those bad things have come to pass in America’s toleration of sodomy and the “gender-confused” as a “civil right” and “lifestyle.”

The secret truth is that sodomy is so much more. It is the secret ritual of political power. It is a recruitment tool for global collectivism. Globalism, with its underlying principle of collectivism and its secret ritual of sodomy is not primarily an economic or political development. Globalism, collectivism and sodomy are the result of moral decline on a mass scale.

We now have in this country state-approved abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, a “green” movement that exalts nature above people and much, much more.

Included in this “much, much more” would be Keynesian economics, gun control, confiscatory taxation, mass government spying, unquestioned support of Big Brother Government to the point of neighbors snitching on each other, corporate-government development of laws and public policy, and media-government collaborative propaganda.

It is all collectivism. It is all totalitarianism. All of these features of Nazism are features of modern democracy. One of my favorite formulas revealing the true nature of collectivism is: Communism = socialism = Nazism = democracy = occultism. The past 100 years will go down in history as the most successful hundred years of collectivism, led by the socialist democracy of the United States.

The great irony is that because of the occult power of collectivist propaganda, when one criticizes any of the things of collectivism he is the one who is falsely branded a “fascist.” As the kids on the playground exclaim, it takes one to know one!

daily-signal-logo-white

by Diana Stancy 

A group of House Republicans unveiled a 192-page health care plan that fully repeals Obamacare and replaces it with “patient-centered reforms” and “free-market solutions.”

“American citizens are suffering from the president’s broken promises under the unaffordable Obamacare law,” says @AustinScottGA08

Lawmakers released the plan Thursday as the GOP-led Congress prepares to attack the Affordable Care Act. Both houses of Congress have already signaled their intentions to repeal Obamacare by a simple majority vote using the reconciliation process—just as the law was passed in 2010.

The new GOP plan, American Health Care Reform Act, was written by Reps. Phil Roe of Tennessee and Austin Scott of Georgia. It has the backing of the Republican Study Committee, a caucus made up of nearly 170 members of the House of Representatives.

Authors of the plan say it’s an “aspirational model” of American health care.

“This is not the perfect bill,” said Roe, who worked as a physician for more than 20 years prior to joining Congress. “We’re open for amendments.”

Highlights of the bill include removing any subsidy assistance, increasing tax benefits, expanding federal funding for state “high-risk pools,” allowing Americans to purchase policies across state lines, reforming medical liability laws, and investing in research for the most common causes of death in the United States.

There is nothing in the legislation that requires health plans to provide coverage for abortion services. Using federal funds to pay for elective abortions is specifically prohibited, except in the case of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is jeopardized.

Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., author of the Republican Study Committee's health reform bill. (Credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom)

While introducing the legislation to a small group of reporters, members of the Republican Study Committee slammed the Affordable Care Act.

“Access to a waiting line is not access to health care,” said Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky. He called Obamacare a “spectacular and breathtaking failure.”

“American citizens are suffering from the president’s broken promises under the unaffordable Obamacare law,” Scott added. “That’s why today, I am proud to join my colleagues in offering a plan that fully repeals Obamacare while replacing it with a patient-centered, free-market alternative.”

The American Health Care Reform Act covers four broad areas:

 

1) Encouraging Competition in the Health Care Market. The Republican Study Committee criticized the Affordable Care Act for not offering competition in health care.

“There’s less competition in the health care system than ever before,” Scott said.

The proposed legislation addresses this issue by allowing Americans to purchase health insurance products across state lines. Small businesses also are permitted to merge together to coordinate better rates.

Scott said adding more insurance carriers into the health care market is paramount to providing more competition.

2) Improving Access for Vulnerable Americans. Federal support for state high-risk pools will increase to $25 billion over 10 years.

Under the bill, premiums would be capped at 200 percent of the state’s premium average. Additionally, those with pre-existing conditions can alternate between health insurance markets, provided they maintain “continuous coverage.”

Roe said veterans would be positively impacted and would receive a Veterans Choice Card, providing more health care options.

3) Supporting Medical Breakthroughs. The bill provides funding for an eight-year, $15 billion Medical Breakthrough Fund at the National Institutes of Health to develop cures for the top five causes of death in the United States: heart disease, cancer, strokes, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. These conditions kill more than 1.5 million people each year.

There’s also a $1 billion prize for the first FDA-approved cure or vaccine for Alzheimer’s.

“Alzheimer’s costs a lot, and I’m not talking about just dollars,” said Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., who noted that finding a vaccine for Alzheimer’s would save the government a significant amount of money.

4) Reforming Medical Liability Laws. The bill identifies several solutions to the medical liability crisis, which increases health care costs and deters physicians from practicing, according to lawmakers.

Solutions include requiring review by an independent panel prior to malpractice discovery and a “voluntary right of removal to federal court so long as there is a federal payer or a federal statute.” Barr said that this reform increases the quality of care by establishing national guidelines for physicians to follow and helps reduce “frivolous lawsuits.”

The legislation wouldn’t replace the current subsidy structure that exists under the Affordable Care Act, which provides aid to those who cannot afford health insurance.

Regardless, Barr claimed the House bill’s provisions are preferable to a subsidy.

“We are doing something better than the status quo before Obamacare and under Obamacare,” Barr said. “We give patients choices.”

Truth Revolt

Today’s Climate Change Doom is Yesterday’s Overpopulation Hysteria

In 1968, Standford University biologist Dr. Paul Ehrlich wrote the millions-selling book The Population Bomb which predicted nothing short of the global extinction of humankind due to starvation caused by an overpopulated planet.

Some of his predictions included the end of England by the year 2000, 65 million Americans starved to death by the 1970s, and an overcrowded India leading to its own demise. Of course, none of these prophecies was fulfilled and the Earth’s population has now surpassed seven billion — double that of the ’60s.

But Ehrlich’s warnings were heeded by many at that time through reading his book and watching his various appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. The media was all over the story sharing the professor’s warnings. President Richard Nixon made headlines urging Congress to “attack” overpopulation. It was mass hysteria perpetrated and legitimized by the media and the government.

Followers of Ehrlich’s group Zero Population Growth (ZPG) began the movement by altering the dynamics of their own families. Many “stood up” for the cause by only having one or two children and encouraged others to do the same. All the while, Ehrlich was broadcasting his own twisted views of population control by suggesting “compulsion if voluntary methods fail” and organizing boycotts of people, companies, or products that violate the efforts of population control. He even offered “responsibility prizes” for childless marriages and proposed an extra tax of $600 to families with two children, and an additional $1,200 per child born thereafter. To top it off, a luxury tax was suggested on cribs and diapers.

Stewart Brand, a former follower of Ehrlich’s overpopulation fears, reflects back on his association with ZPG in a fascinating Retro Report by The New York Times:

How many years do you have to not have the world end to decide that whatever reason you thought the world was going to end — it actually, maybe, didn’t end because that reason was wrong?

Brand is just one of Ehrlich’s former believers that appear in the NYT mini-documentary (embedded below) that not only highlights the ZPG fallacies, but touches on the actual and current phenomenon of population implosion and its impact on the world. Brand suggests that because many countries’ population demographics are going in the opposite direction of too many, the headlines when the Earth reaches nine billion inhabitants in the next 30 years will be, “Oh, my God. We’re running out of people.”

Though Ehrlich now admits he was wrong about his predictions, he still believes that the population is out of control and the world’s end is just a matter of time. But now, his end-times visions, echoed today by many, include fears of overconsumption leading to global warming:

My language would be even more apocalyptic today. The idea that every woman should have as many babies as she wants is, to me, exactly the same kind of idea as everybody ought to be permitted to throw as much of their garbage into their neighbor’s back yard as they want.

Climate change is the new overpopulation hysteria. The Obama administration now claims that global warming is a threat to national security, it will impact how the military responds during a crisis, it will continue allowing terror groups to gain strongholds, and will directly contribute to a rise in poverty around the world.

For decades, dire predictions about the world’s end due to global warming have been spread through the mainstream media and by politicians who assure that their data is backed by the most respected scientists. Based on many of those prophecies, the oceans should have risen and engulfed entire cities by now and sea ice should be almost non-existent. Yet, that is not the case at all.

This is where Brand’s question is very timely and worth repeating: “How many years do you have to not have the world end to decide that whatever reason you thought the world was going to end — it actually, maybe, didn’t end because that reason was wrong?”

the-daily-signal-logo-black

Commentary By

In another midnight filing last week in the immigration lawsuit filed by 26 states against the Obama administration in the Southern District of Texas, the U.S. Justice Department admitted that the Department of Homeland Security had violated federal Judge Andrew Hanen’s Feb. 16 injunction against President Obama’s immigration amnesty plan.

This was not the first such admission by the government. It had previously filed an “Advisory” on March 3 informing Judge Hanen that between Nov. 20, 2014, when the president announced his immigration plan, and Feb. 16 when the injunction was issued, the Department of Homeland Security had begun implementing part of the president’s plan by issuing three-year deferrals to over 100,000 illegal aliens.

In other words, despite having told Judge Hanen both in court and in written pleadings that no part of the president’s plan was being implemented until late February at the earliest, government officials were doing exactly the opposite.

On April 7, Judge Hanen issued an order with a scathing analysis of the Justice Department’s misbehavior, finding that “attorneys for the government misrepresented the facts” to the court. He told the Justice Department that he expected all of the parties in the case, including the government, “to act in a forthright manner and not hide behind deceptive representations and half-truths.”

Hanen also gave the Justice Department lawyers a hard time over not having informed him immediately upon their discovery of this misrepresentation, saying that their claim that they took prompt, remedial action was “belied by the facts”—namely, that they waited over two weeks to tell the judge.

In the latest Advisory filed on May 7, the Justice Department informed Hanen that the Department of Homeland Security “sent three-year work authorizations after the Court had issued its injunction” to approximately 2,000 individuals. This time, the Justice Department lawyers assert they only found out about the violation of the injunction order the day before the filing.

They also say that Department of Homeland Security is in the process of converting “these three-year terms into two-year terms” and that Secretary Jeh Johnson has asked the “DHS Inspector General to investigate the issuance of these three-year [Employment Authorization Documents].”

In a separate, supplemental three-page order issued on May 8, Judge Hanen cites additional evidence to support his finding that the states have standing to challenge Obama’s immigration plan. In his Feb. 16 injunction order, Hanen referenced statements by Obama that there would be consequences for any Homeland Security employee who did not follow the requirements of the Nov. 20 amnesty plan. The Justice Department had tried to downplay the president’s statements.

However, Judge Hanen notes that while testifying on April 14—after the injunction was issued—before the House Judiciary Committee, Sarah Saldana, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, “reiterated that any officer or agent who did not follow the dictates of the 2014 DHS Directive would face the entire gamut of possible employee sanctions, including termination.”

Hanen said that “the president’s statements have now been reaffirmed under oath by the very person in charge of immigration enforcement.”

Thus, according to Hanen, the government “has announced, and has now confirmed under oath, that it is pursuing a policy of mandatory non-compliance (with the [Immigration and Nationality Act]), and that any agent who seeks to enforce the duly-enacted immigration laws will face sanctions—which could include the loss of his or her job.”

It is this “clear abdication of the law by the government—a law that is only enforceable by the government and outside the province of the states” that gives the states standing to bring suit.

The latest actions by the government may make it even harder for Justice Department lawyers to convince the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Judge Hanen’s injunction.

the-daily-signal-logo-black

Transportation funding could hit a dead-end at the end of the month. On May 31, the Highway Trust Fund’s authorization to pay for the nation’s highway and mass transit projects will expire.

Even worse, the fund is running a $13 billion cash flow deficit this year and is expected to exhaust all its money sometime in July unless lawmakers take action.

Here’s a snapshot from Heritage’s latest Backgrounder on what you need to know about the Highway Trust Fund:

What is the Highway Trust Fund?

The Highway Trust Fund was established in 1956 to pay for the construction of the Interstate Highway System. Although it was intended to be temporary, it is now the primary federal mechanism to finance transportation projects across the country.

The fund is financed mostly by the gas tax—an 18.3 cent tax on gasoline and a 24.3 cent tax on diesel fuels. It spends over $50 billion every year on roads and mass transit, which includes rail, buses, streetcars and other forms of public transportation.

What’s the problem?

Like most federal programs, the Highway Trust Fund consistently spends more than it receives in revenues. Congress has constantly had to bailout the fund with money from the Treasury in order to keep its balance in the black, and has spent $62 billion covering the fund’s shortfalls since 2008.

This year, the Congressional Budget Office projected the Highway Trust Fund’s spending will top its revenues by $13 billion.

Why is the fund in such bad shape? 

Unable to relinquish the taxing and spending authority that should have expired when the Interstate Highway System was completed in the 1980s, Congress has expanded the Highway Trust Fund far beyond its intended scope.

The fund now spends more than ever and diverts billions from roadways to projects that should be left to states and localities. These boondoggles not only include unnecessary mass transit projects, but things like sidewalks, roadside landscaping and bike paths.

And spending increases have vastly outpaced fuel tax revenues, which have flattened as cars have become more fuel efficient. The result is a meandering, unsustainable fund that is plagued by special interests and unreliable for state transportation planning.

What should Congress do about it?

Some members of Congress are saying that they should just provide more money to the trust fund, either through a bailout or a gas tax hike, so that it can continue its profligate spending.

This is the wrong approach.

Congress needs to examine the inherent flaws in the way the nation invests in transportation infrastructure. The current system of taxing drivers and then redistributing their money through the federal government to projects unrelated to highways no longer makes sense.

Instead, Congress should end the top-down approach that breeds inefficiency and special interest handouts at the expense of prudent infrastructure investment.

The right approach would be to let states and localities—which are more in touch with the needs of their citizens—make their own decisions on transportation. Allowing them to tax and spend on infrastructure as they see fit without the interference of Washington would inject a much-needed degree of accountability and reliability into transportation investment.

For more information on the Highway Trust Fund and the upcoming deadline, see Highway Trust Fund Basics: A Primer on Federal Surface Transportation Spending.

the-daily-signal-logo-black

by Curtis Dubay /

Ever since President Obama started running for president in 2007, there has been a debate about how much tax rich Americans pay and whether they should pay more.

In that ongoing debate, Paul Krugman and Matt Yglesias criticized the chart below because, according to them, it does not give a complete picture of the tax burden borne by Americans because it only includes the federal income

408chart

Since the rich pay a higher share of federal income taxes than of total federal taxes, they argued we were misleading by making it look like the rich pay a higher share of taxes than they do.

We responded to them here and here.

In those responses, we showed we weren’t being misleading because we make plain the chart includes only federal income tax. Furthermore, examining the federal income tax makes sense because President Obama has long wanted to raise it on the rich.

We also agreed that it made sense to look at the total federal tax burden, in addition to federal income taxes, to offer additional context to the debate.

In that spirit, here is a new chart that shows the burden of all federal taxes, including individual income, corporate income, payroll, excise and other miscellaneous taxes:

414chart

It still shows the same story: Top earners pay a disproportionately large share of the federal tax burden.

The top 10 percent pays 53.3 percent of all federal taxes. When looking at just federal income taxes, they pay 68 percent of the burden.

The top 1 percent pays 24 percent of all federal taxes compared to 35 percent of all federal income taxes.

The data for total federal taxes comes from the Congressional Budget Office. The data for federal income taxes comes from the IRS. Heritage has not altered the data from either in any way, except to combine income categories in the Congressional Budget Office data.

The respective sources use different breakpoints for income categories. They also use different definitions of income. The Congressional Budget Office’s is broader because it is market income, which includes more government transfer payments than the IRS’s use of Adjusted Gross Income. Nevertheless, comparing them is still a useful way to understand who pays how much federal tax.

The top 10 percent and top 1 percent pay smaller shares of the tax burden when looking at total federal taxes than federal income taxes because the payroll tax, which accounts for more than a third of all federal tax receipts, is more evenly distributed than the income tax. But the corporate tax tempers that effect because it falls mostly (75 percent according to Congressional Budget Office) on shareholders, most of whom earn higher incomes, although not all of them.

Neither chart makes a judgment on whether those top earners pay too much or if they should pay more. The purpose of the original chart and this one is simply to give the American people facts.

Given the information in the charts, people will have differing opinions as to how the tax burden on the rich should change, or whether it should change at all. But at least they will know the starting point from which they are changing the distribution of the tax burden, instead of thinking that high earners are not paying a large share of the tax burden, as some have led them to believe in recent years.