Tag Archives: government overreach

What Happened to “We the People”? It seems “We” may not matter.

13 Aug

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We must regain control of our country.

A startling new political science study concludes that corporate interests and mega wealthy individuals control U.S. policy to such a degree that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
The startling study, titled “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” is slated to appear in an upcoming issue of Perspectives on Politics and was authored by Princeton University Professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Professor Benjamin Page. An early draft can be found here.
Noted American University Historian Allan J. Lichtman, who highlighted the piece in a Tuesday article published in The Hill, calls Gilens and Page’s research “shattering” and says their scholarship “should be a loud wake-up call to the vast majority of Americans who are bypassed by their government.”
The statistical research looked at public attitudes on nearly 1,800 policy issues and determined that government almost always ignores the opinions of average citizens and adopts the policy preferences of monied business interests when shaping the contours of U.S. laws.
The study’s findings align with recent trends, where corporate elites have aggressively pursued pro-amnesty policies despite the fact that, according to the most recent Reuters poll, 70% of Americans believe illegal immigrants “threaten traditional U.S. beliefs and customs,” and 63% believe “immigrants place a burden on the economy.”
The solution, say the scholars, is a reinvigorated and engaged electorate.
“If policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened,” conclude Gilens and Page.
declaration signing

DEMOCRAT RIPS OBAMA FOR NOT VISITING THE BORDER

9 Jul

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Instead, He chose to drink a beer and shoot some pool…

Democratic congressman Henry Cuellar ripped President Obama for being “aloof” and “detached” by not visiting the Texas border to see first hand the immigration crisis. Cuellar made the comments on MSNBC:

“He’s so close to the border. And let me say this: when I saw, and I hate to use the word bizarre, but under the circumstances, when he is shown playing pool in Colorado, drinking a beer, and he can’t even go 242 miles to the Texas border, and plus, if he doesn’t want to go down to the border, there’s the Air Force Base where HHS is holding some of the young kids from the border. He could at least make that trip to San Antonio, but again, border community leaders wants to see him down there on the border, and I think the optics and the substance of it is that he should show up at the border,” said Cuellar.

And he had some advice for the White House.”If they are worried about putting a face, the president’s face, to this human crisis, humanitarian crisis, I think it’s worse if he doesn’t even show up. Either way, he’s going to be tied into this humanitarian crisis. he either can roll up his sleeves and go down to the border, or he can just look aloof and detached and not go to the border, send surrogates down there, and say that he’s got everything under control.”

He adds, “It Just floored me, because if he’s saying he’s too busy to go to the border but you have time to drink beer, play pool.”
The president was in Colorado last night — drinking beer and playing pool.

(THE WEEKLY STANDARD)

Mark Caserta: Conservatives must stand firm for justice

3 Jul

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Jul. 03, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

The Obama administration has been so ridden with scandal, Americans are becoming desensitized to the muck and mire surrounding Capitol Hill. But scurrilous behavior and a blatant disregard for the constitutional functions of our republic can’t be ignored.

During the Obama presidency, headlines have been inundated by scandals involving dereliction by the Justice Department such as the Fast and Furious gun-walking operation, the unwarranted surveillance of the media, and most recently the IRS targeting of conservative groups.

Liberals may want these stories to just go away, but America deserves better.

But the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, the man charged with upholding our nation’s laws, Attorney General Eric Holder, has instead been grossly negligent in his duties to the American people.

Consider Operation Fast and Furious, the infamous gun-walking program by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms that allowed guns to flow into Mexico in an attempt to track them back to notorious drug cartels.

The program was approved at the highest levels of the Justice Department and put thousands of illegally purchased weapons into the hands of drug lords. One of these guns was found at the murder scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in December 2009. During Congressional investigations, Holder dodged questions, was inconsistent in his testimony and refused to comply with Congress’ subpoena for documents related to the operation. With bipartisan support, Holder became the first head of the Justice Department in U.S. history to be held in contempt of Congress.

Evidence also shows that Holder committed perjury when he testified under oath to Congress about the Justice Department’s investigation of Fox News Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen.

Last year in May, Holder testified before the House Judiciary Committee that he was not involved in nor had knowledge of a potential prosecution of Rosen as a “co-conspirator” in alleged violations of the Espionage Act. But three days later, the Justice Department released documents authorizing such an investigation of Mr. Rosen, which required approval from the Attorney General. This proved Holder knew of the investigation. Holder has since placed a “gag order” on members of the Justice Department, prohibiting them from answering further questions about the scandal.

Holder is also grievously failing the American people by refusing to appoint a special prosecutor to independently examine the IRS scandal. Mounting evidence shows that IRS officials were directing the illegal practice of targeting groups based on political affiliation, which is a federal crime.

Holder is just a tool in the Obama shed for “progressively” changing America. It’s an indescribable shame that there are liberals willing to compromise the very soul of our nation to propagate their progressive agenda.

Conservatives must not falter during these tumultuous times.

As President Reagan warned, “If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth.”

My advice to conservatives: Become even more tenacious about demanding justice in the United States and speaking out against the progressive movement.

Only conservatives stand between our republic and those who would sacrifice it.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

Justices: Can’t make employers cover contraception

30 Jun

OBAMACARE

By MARK SHERMAN
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled Monday that some corporations can hold religious objections that allow them to opt out of the new health law requirement that they cover contraceptives for women.

The justices’ 5-4 decision is the first time that the high court has ruled that profit-seeking businesses can hold religious views under federal law. And it means the Obama administration must search for a different way of providing free contraception to women who are covered under objecting companies’ health insurance plans.

Contraception is among a range of preventive services that must be provided at no extra charge under the health care law that President Barack Obama signed in 2010 and the Supreme Court upheld two years later.

Two years ago, Chief Justice John Roberts cast the pivotal vote that saved the health care law in the midst of Obama’s campaign for re-election. On Monday, dealing with a small sliver of the law, Roberts sided with the four justices who would have struck down the law in its entirety.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion. The court’s four liberal justices dissented.

The court stressed that its ruling applies only to corporations that are under the control of just a few people in which there is no essential difference between the business and its owners, like the Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby chain of arts-and-craft stores that challenged the provision.

Alito also said the decision is limited to contraceptives under the health care law. “Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance-coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer’s religious beliefs,” Alito said.

He suggested two ways the administration could ensure women get the contraception they want. It could simply pay for pregnancy prevention, he said.

Or it could provide the same kind of accommodation it has made available to religious-oriented, not-for-profit corporations. Those groups can tell the government that providing the coverage violates their religious beliefs. At that point, the groups’ insurers or a third-party administrator takes on the responsibility of paying for the birth control.

The accommodation is the subject of separate legal challenges, but the court said Monday that the profit-seeking companies could not assert religious claims in such a situation.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was part of the majority, also wrote separately to emphasize that the administration can solve its problem easily. “The accommodation works by requiring insurance companies to cover, without cost sharing, contraception coverage for female employees who wish it,” Kennedy said. He said that arrangement “does not impinge on the plaintiffs’ religious beliefs.”

Houses of worship and other religious institutions whose primary purpose is to spread the faith are exempt from the requirement to offer birth control.

In a dissent she read aloud from the bench, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the decision “potentially sweeping” because it minimizes the government’s interest in uniform compliance with laws affecting the workplace. “And it discounts the disadvantages religion-based opt outs impose on others, in particular, employees who do not share their employer’s religious beliefs,” Ginsburg said.

The administration said a victory for the companies would prevent women who work for them from making decisions about birth control based on what’s best for their health, not whether they can afford it. The government’s supporters pointed to research showing that nearly one-third of women would change their contraceptive if cost were not an issue; a very effective means of birth control, the intrauterine device, can cost up to $1,000.

The contraceptives at issue before the court were the emergency contraceptives Plan B and ella, and two IUDs.

Nearly 50 businesses have sued over covering contraceptives. Some, like those involved in the Supreme Court case, are willing to cover most methods of contraception, as long as they can exclude drugs or devices that the government says may work after an egg has been fertilized. Other companies object to paying for any form of birth control.

There are separate lawsuits challenging the contraception provision from religiously affiliated hospitals, colleges and charities.

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found 85 percent of large American employers already had offered such coverage before the health care law required it.

Most working women will probably see no impact from the ruling, corporate health benefits consultants expect. Publicly traded companies are unlikely to drag religion into their employee benefit plans, said Mark Holloway, director of compliance services at the Lockton Companies, an insurance broker that serves medium-sized and growing employers.

“Most employers view health insurance as a tool to attract and retain employees,” said Holloway. “Women employees want access to contraceptive coverage and most employers don’t have a problem providing that coverage. It is typically not a high-cost item.”

It is unclear how many women potentially are affected by the high court ruling. Hobby Lobby is by far the largest employer of any company that has gone to court to fight the birth control provision.

Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby has more than 15,000 full-time employees in more than 600 crafts stores in 41 states. The Greens are evangelical Christians who also own Mardel, a Christian bookstore chain.

The other company is Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. of East Earl, Pa., owned by a Mennonite family and employing 950 people in making wood cabinets.

OBAMA DETERMINED TO CHANGE AMERICA – VOWS TO ACT ON HIS OWN

28 Jun

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Seemingly unfazed by the threat of a lawsuit, President Obama on Saturday vowed to press on and use executive actions wherever and whenever possible.

In his weekly address, the president didn’t directly address House Speaker John A. Boehner’s announcement earlier this week that he’ll sue Mr. Obama for supposed abuses of executive authority.

But the president did take aim at the so-called GOP “obstruction” that, in his view, necessitated the go-it-alone strategy now utilized by this White House — an approach that bypasses both the House and Senate.

“Republicans in Congress keep blocking or voting down almost every serious idea. This year alone they’ve said no to raising the minimum wage, no to fair pay, no to student loan reform, no to extending unemployment insurance,” Mr. Obama said. “This obstruction keeps the system rigged for those at the top and rigged against the middle class. And as long as they insist on doing it, I’ll keep taking actions on my own — like the actions I’ve already taken to attract new jobs, lift workers’ wages and help students pay off their loans. I’ll do my job.”

Mr. Obama’s remarks come as he attempts to reconnect with average Americans. On Thursday and Friday, the president spent time with a working mother in St. Paul, who had written a letter describing her family’s financial struggles.

While in the twin cities, Mr. Obama also visited local businesses, held a town-hall meeting and spoke at a Democratic party fundraiser.

At the fundraiser, he repeated his plea for a Democratic Congress, urging voters to give him the majority he needs to enact more of his agenda.

While Democrats say that agenda will greatly aid the middle class, Republicans allege the president and his allies on Capitol Hill actively are holding back projects that would create jobs and pump billions of dollars into the economy.

In the GOP weekly address, Louisiana Rep. Bill Cassidy — seeking the Senate seat now held by Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu — blasted Democrats for holding up the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would create more than 40,000 jobs, according to the Obama administration’s own research.

“President Obama continues to oppose job-creating projects, such as Keystone,” Mr. Cassidy said. “Sadly, Democrats in Washington stand with President Obama rather than standing with hardworking families in Louisiana and elsewhere. They would rather your family struggle than offend their political base. President Obama and his allies like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are more interested in rolling out the red tape than the red carpet for these jobs.”

The president has delayed a decision on Keystone for the entirety of his time in office. A bill that would take the decision out of Mr. Obama’s hands passed a key Senate committee last week with bipartisan support, but Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, thus far has refused to allow it to come up for a full vote on the Senate floor.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jun/28/obama-ignores-boehners-lawsuit-threat-ill-keep-tak/#ixzz35znOazHs
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

CONTRACTOR: FINDING LERNER’S LOST EMAILS EASY

24 Jun

WASHINGTON – The CEO of a major a federal contractor, which has several contracts with the Treasury Department, says it should be relatively easy for IRS contractors to retrieve the “lost” emails of Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the center of the tea party-targeting scandal.

lernerRon Gula is CEO and chief technical officer of Tenable Network Security, an information technology services company nestled in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., that has major contracts with many federal agencies, including the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service and United States Mint.

“It is very unlikely that the emails in question are not stored on a backup machine someplace else,” Gula told WND.

Gula also said questions about the lost emails from Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa, R-Calif., for Monday evening’s hearing are spot on.

Over the weekend, Issa called IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to testify Monday evening about the IRS’ “email systems, data retention policies, and document production processes.”

“Because the IRS has refused to provide basic information about these matters to the committee in advance of the hearing, and in the interest of promoting a frank and thorough discussion at the hearing, I ask that you provide answers to the factual questions posed below,” Issa said in a letter to Koskinen.

In his letter, Issa asked Koskinen to provide further details about the “failure of the hard drive,” identify employees involved in examining the hard drive, explain steps taken by the IRS to recover the information and give dates of those attempts. He also asked for the identities of all IRS employees who had any role or responsibility in maintaining or servicing IRS email servers since 2009 and for other details on the IRS archival systems.

After reviewing the letter, Gula said, “Many of the questions outlined for [Monday’s] session are on the right track.” He said the emails in question could also be stored on any number of laptops and systems such as spam filters, which process email throughout the IRS.

Gula noted that because IRS contractors have the same access as employees to email systems, there shouldn’t be any issue retrieving lost data.

“In my experience, contractors who were authorized to do work for organizations like the IRS have full access to email and corporate resources,” he said.

To make email work for an organization the size of the IRS, Gula said, “there must be a great deal of redundancy and separate systems to deliver email reliably.”

WND found that several large corporations hold the IRS’ Total Information Processing Services, or TIPSS-4, contract to handle the IRS’ email servers and provide staff to work, in many cases, on site at IRS offices.

Those companies include: Accenture, Unisys, AT&T Government Solutions, Avaya Government Solutions, Booz Allen Hamilton, CGI Federal, Computer Sciences Corp., Deloitte Consulting, General Dynamics, HP Enterprises, IBM, Leidos, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman Systems and Pragmatics.

Issa called an archivist from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration and invited White House counsel Jennifer O’Connell to testify Monday in a continuation of the investigation.

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2014/06/contractor-easy-to-find-lerners-lost-emails/#iCsMZpD5MCPOiXGr.99

Mark Caserta: Taliban trade may mar Obama legacy

12 Jun

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Jun. 12, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

The Obama administration just released arguably the five most dangerous Taliban leaders detained at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. And it appears the president knowingly and willingly broke the law in doing so.

Under the National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by Obama last year, the administration was required to notify Congress 30 days in advance of any such action. And even if the president can somehow find “legal” justification for what he did, he did not abide by the law.

Even Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said that it was “very disappointing” that President Obama decided not to alert Congress about the deal, suggesting a low “level of trust” at the White House.

Taliban leaders are reportedly hailing the release of the five prisoners as a major victory over Obama and the U.S.

A senior member of the Afghan Taliban described the exchange for Bergdahl as an “historic moment for us.” He went on to tell NBC News this was the first time its “enemy” had “officially recognized our status.”

President Obama was defiant in his remarks that he will “make no apologies” for a trade in which he openly admitted the possibility that these leaders may “return to activities that are detrimental to us,” despite families who still mourn the loss of six brave American troops who died while searching for Bergdahl after he went missing five years ago.

So who were these five Taliban leaders Obama released?

One was Abdul Haq Wasiq, a Taliban deputy minister of intelligence who reportedly used his office to support al-Qaida and to “assist Taliban personnel in eluding capture.” Wasiq has been accused by Human Rights Watch of mass killings and torture.

Mullah Norullah Noori, a senior Taliban military commander, is described as a military mastermind who engaged in hostilities “against U.S. and Coalition forces.” Noori has been implicated in the murder of thousands of Shiites in northern Afghanistan and reportedly “does not express any regret” for his actions.

Mullah Mohammad Fazi, a former Taliban deputy defense minister, was held at Guantanamo after being identified as an enemy combatant by the United States. He’s also wanted by the United Nations on war crimes for the murder of thousands of Shiite Muslims in Afghanistan.

Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa, the former governor of the Herat province, once had close ties with Osama Bin Laden. He “represented the Taliban during meetings with Iranian officials seeking to support hostilities against the U.S. and coalition forces.”

Mohammad Nabi Omari, a senior Taliban leader, once held multiple leadership roles in various terror-related groups. Nabi reportedly helped al-Qaida operatives smuggle missiles in Pakistan for use against the U.S. and coalition forces.

So what would prompt Obama to bypass Congress to trade these Taliban militants for a questionable soldier and risk retribution against the U.S.?

The president’s argument that “we don’t leave our men or women in uniform behind” is pretty hollow given his failure to act in Benghazi.

This is one decision which may return to haunt the Obama legacy.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

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