04/24/13

Obama Counts on Media to Shift Blame for Flight Delays

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

Americans have repeatedly learned from the mainstream media that some of their favorite services are threatened by the sequester, even though the agencies making the cuts have leeway in where, when and what is cut. Early on, we learned that White House tours were canceled. Then we learned that border security would face furloughs, and that thousands of illegal aliens were released from federal detention centers, including a substantial number with criminal records. Now U.S. citizens are experiencing delayed flights across the country as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) furloughs each of its employees one day every other week. “The FAA has said that planes will have to take off and land less frequently, so as not to overload the remaining controllers on duty,” reports the Associated Press.

“We know that the FAA has the flexibility to reduce costs elsewhere, such as contracts, travel, supplies, and consultants, or to apply furloughs in a manner that better protects the most critical air traffic control facilities,” asserted Republican Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA). “Yet rather than take this approach, the Administration has made choices that appear designed to have the greatest possible impact on the traveling public.”

Shuster is not alone in this assertion. In fact, some members of the mainstream media—and Washington—have questioned whether the President might be playing political football with these cuts.

“As TV crews panned across anxious and angry passengers in New York terminals, the debate revived in Washington over whether the controller furloughs announced last week were necessary or a White House ploy to dramatize the effects of sequestration,” report Ashley Halsey III and Luz Lazo for The Washington Post. “The Obama administration brushed off suggestions that air travel had become ‘a political football,’ but crowds of delayed passengers undoubtedly made better television than announcements that federal office workers would have to take unpaid days off” (emphasis added).

“For the most part, travelers said they had not experienced big delays,” they report. In other words, the sequester may still end up being a non-story despite the media hype about it. “Information from the FAA and others showed that flying Sunday was largely uneventful, with most flights on time,” reports the AP. But the slowdown is just getting started.

“With the sequester, FAA has some leeway,” Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com, told NBC News. “If they yank (controllers) out of 6 or 7 choke-points, they could cause all sorts of heartburn; if they do it in places where it doesn’t matter as much, it could have minimal impact.”

The Wall Street Journal suggested that “President Obama’s sequester scare strategy has been a political flop, but his government keeps trying. The latest gambit is to force airline flight delays until enough travellers stuck on tarmacs browbeat enough Republicans to raise taxes again.”

So how hard the American public feels the effects of the sequester depends on the motivation and aptitude of the agencies as they are making cuts. In other words, agencies do have some leeway in implementation, despite the “meat cleaver” metaphor that has been bandied about.

While some in the media have responsibly questioned whether the FAA cuts are being used for political gain, others seem, to varying degrees, to swallow whole the idea that the cuts are “necessary” because of the sequester. “The furloughs, or temporary unpaid employee leaves, are the result of the nearly $1 trillion in automatic, arbitrary, across-the-board spending cuts—known as the sequester—that began in March of this year,” reports MSBNC’s Emma Margolin. “$637 million of those cuts have to come from the FAA’s budget, forcing the administration to furlough 47,000 employees for up to 11 days between now and the end of the fiscal year.”

“Brace yourselves.” This, despite the fact that no significant changes to flights have been detected as of this writing. Margolin’s article appeared under the title “Sequester: Let the FAA furlough (and the misery) begin.” The embedded video indicated that Florida flights were seeing delays despite the fact that these delays were at least partially due to Florida storms.

The FAA furlough is “one of several such moves that federal agencies are making in response to the automatic spending cuts of ‘budget sequestration,’ which went into effect because Congress and the President couldn’t agree on an alternative way of reducing the deficit,” asserts Jonathan Cohn for the New Republic. “If so, those fliers would merely be confronting a reality that’s already setting in elsewhere—a reality in which the government does less, and provides less, than it did before the cuts took effect.”

According to the Associated Press, “Flight delays piled up all across America on Monday as thousands of air traffic controllers were forced to take an unpaid day off because of federal budget cuts, providing the most visible impact yet of Congress and the White House’s failure to agree on a long-term deficit-reduction plan” (emphasis added).

But, perhaps the Obama Administration is using the cuts for political gain, cutting where it hurts most—most publicly, that is. After all, back in February, the Administration issued a veto threat against the Toomey-Inhofe bill, which would have given the Administration more leeway in making sequester cuts. This would have been a chance to make the sequester cuts more palatable. “This bill is an effort to shift the focus away from the need for the Congress to work toward a bipartisan compromise that would avoid sequestration,” responded the Administration, according to this February Washington Post article.

In other words, the Obama Administration says it wants the sequester to go away, not to work better for the American public. Ezra Klein, writing for the Post, went so far as to explicitly outline this fact: “The bottom line is that Republican bill makes the sequester easier to live with, and the White House doesn’t want the sequester to be easier to live with,” he writes.

“Obama’s announcement is a repeat of a traditional ‘gold watch’ budget tactic, in which the president identifies high-profile and painful cuts to maximize his political leverage,” wrote Neil Munro, White House Correspondent, back in February for the Daily Caller. “Previous presidents, for example, have threatened to shut down the national parks in summer and close the Washington Monument in D.C.,” he wrote. In fact, Obama has withheld funding cuts from those programs he aligns with politically, according to Munro. “The exempt programs include green-energy spending, funding for Planned Parenthood, enforcement of environmental regulations, funding for Obamacare and billions in foreign aid,” he writes.

Included in that billions of federal aid is $250 million in “economic assistance” to Egypt and its Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi. “Egypt is trying to meet conditions to close on a $4.8 billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund,” reported the Associated Press. “An agreement would unlock more of the $1 billion in U.S. assistance promised by President Barack Obama last year and set to begin flowing with [John] Kerry’s announcement.”

This is the same Egypt whose leader, Morsi, called Jews “blood-suckers” and “descendants of apes and pigs,” and who supports the Iranian backed terrorist group Hamas.

Yet at the same time, Obama accuses Republicans of “partisan recklessness” and asks, “Are Republicans in Congress really willing to let these cuts fall on our kids’ schools and mental health care…to slash military health care and the Border Patrol…to inflict more pain on the middle class?” he asks, adding that “the American people have worked too hard for too long to see everything they’ve built undone by partisan recklessness in Washington.”

What other fun programs has the Obama Administration decided not to cut? Consider, for example, the $75 million dollars for the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP)—part of which benefits Planned Parenthood—to discuss sexual topics with kids, or the ongoing funding of puppets and puppet research by the Administration. In addition, the Obama Administration has a NASA grant to study what cooking might be like on Mars. Perhaps some of these less newsworthy programs deserve their share of the cuts, as well.

The Wall Street Journal pointed out that on Monday of this week, as the Obama flight-delay strategy unnecessarily went into effect, “the top story on the Department of Transportation’s website announced a $474 million grant program that promises to ‘make communities more livable and sustainable.’” The website also announced that “DOT launches Women in Transportation History online exhibit.”

While most of the network coverage has toed the Obama line, CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson—last year’s winner of Accuracy in Media’s Reed Irvine Award for investigative journalism for her work on the Obama administration scandal, Operation Fast & Furious—cited critics of the Administration, and mentioned $3 billion in airport improvement funds that, so far, hasn’t been touched by the budget cuts.

This ploy definitely has the potential to damage the Obama Administration, if enough people recognize the cynical game they are playing with the air-travelling public in their effort to get Republicans to cave on increasing taxes as part of some grand bargain. But they are counting on their friends in the media to cover for them, and to keep the heat on the GOP. And that’s probably a safe bet.

Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at [email protected].

04/24/13

Quote of the Day – 04/23/13

Hat Tip: Ask Marion

“We Americans are so tired of being thought of as dumbasses by the rest of the world that we went to the polls this past November and removed all doubt.”

Clint Eastwood

04/24/13

Texas v. Tyranny: Abbott Warns Obama

By: Sharon Sebastian

America is in a gunfight. The bad guy government wants to disarm the good guy citizens. The battle: tyranny versus freedom. The Obama government has started the bleeding-out of Constitutional rights and protections for all citizens through its ramped-up attacks and erosions of Constitutional amendments. On patrol at the Constitution’s perimeter are leaders like Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, among others, who refuse to back down and bow to totalitarianism.

Few Americans are aware of the surprisingly narrow defeat in the Senate, 53-46, of a United Nations Arms Trade Treaty that would have effectively savaged the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. To see which senators voted for the U.N.’s control over American gun rights, read here.

The following letter from Texas Attorney General Abbott to President Barack Obama regarding this President’s support of the U.N. treaty over the Constitutional rights of American citizens demonstrates how real leaders, defending America, step forward in times of peril:

April 2, 2013

Sent via facsimile and U.S. mail

Dear Mr. President:

The Arms Trade Treaty agreed to today by the United Nations (UN) is a threat to Americans’ Constitutional liberty. I urge you to reject that treaty. If you sign it, and if the U.S. Senate ratifies the treaty, Texas will lead the charge to have the treaty overturned in court as a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

America is exceptional in part because our Constitution safeguards our individual liberties — including the right to keep and bear arms enshrined in the Second Amendment. During your reelection campaign, you consistently claimed to support Second Amendment rights. Yet the day after you won reelection, you announced your support for the Arms Trade Treaty, a UN agreement on firearms restrictions. That treaty:

Fails to recognize the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms or the right to defend one’s family, person, and property;

Empowers a new UN bureaucracy focused on firearms restrictions that will be run by international bureaucrats who are not accountable to the people of the United States; Employs vague and sweeping language that could be used for any number of future restrictions on Second Amendment rights; and Places no defined limits on the UN’s power to interfere with Second Amendment rights.

The UN has concluded its negotiations on the Arms Trade Treaty. It is now up to you to sign it – or reject it. Do not sign this treaty.

Agreeing to the treaty does more than trample Second Amendment rights. It also threatens to erode all liberties guaranteed to Americans in the Constitution by establishing the precedent that the UN has some level of authority to govern our lives. The very reason we fought for independence was to free ourselves from dictates by leaders in other lands. This treaty contradicts the underpinning philosophy of our country.

I recognize that the ostensible purpose of the treaty is to combat the illegal international trade of weapons into third-world war zones. The treaty could, however, draw law-abiding gun owners and gun store operators into a complex web of bureaucratic red tape created by a new department at the UN devoted to overseeing the treaty. For instance, the treaty appears to lay the groundwork for an international gun registry overseen by the bureaucrats at the UN.

The treaty also contains a vague and open-ended call for heightened domestic regulation of imported firearms, which make up a large percentage of the market for new firearms in this country. Indeed, the most troubling aspect of the treaty is the vagueness of its language. As with most so-called international-law documents promulgated by the UN, the draft treaty is not written using the precise, unambiguous language required of a good legal document. Instead, the treaty employs sweeping rhetoric and imprecise terminology that could be used by those who seek to undermine our liberties to impose any number of restrictions on the right of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms.

Treaties do not trump constitutional liberties. Even if you, as the President, signed and the Senate ratified the UN Arms Trade Treaty, our Constitution remains the Supreme Law of the Land and would supersede any treaty provision that violated Second Amendment rights. When the Constitution says, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” it means no one–including the UN–can infringe that right.

These principles have long been recognized by the United States Supreme Court. In Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1, (1957), the Supreme Court ruled that the United States cannot use its treaty power to violate Constitutional rights. In that case, an international agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom provided that dependents of American service members stationed in the UK would be tried for crimes by military tribunal and thus deprived of certain Sixth Amendment rights, including the right to trial by jury. When the wife of an American serviceman was accused of murder and convicted by a military court, the Supreme Court reversed the conviction. The Court rightly concluded that “no agreement with a foreign nation can confer power on the Congress, or on any other branch of Government, which is free from the restraints of the Constitution.” Id. at 16. In a passage that should be required reading in our public schools, the Supreme Court affirmed that “The United States is entirely a creature of the Constitution. Its power and authority have no other source. It can only act in accordance with all the limitations imposed by the Constitution.” Id. at 5-6. For that reason, the Supreme Court “has regularly and uniformly recognized the supremacy of the Constitution over a treaty.” Id. at 17.

As Reid v. Covert demonstrates, the Second Amendment is by no means the only constitutional right that can be threatened by international agreements. Regardless of their position on gun rights, all Americans should oppose any treaty that does not adequately protect our constitutional rights. If the Second Amendment can be trusted to international organizations that do not share our constitutional traditions, then why not the First Amendment? Why not the Fourth Amendment or the Fifth Amendment?

Our Nation’s Bill of Rights is a rare and precious thing. It does not exist anywhere else in the world. And the UN cannot be trusted with it. The UN includes foreign governments that have shown hostility to the kinds of constitutional liberties guaranteed to Americans. All Americans are harmed when unaccountable international bodies like the UN are empowered to interfere with our protected freedoms.

If the UN Arms Trade Treaty is ratified or applied in a way that violates the right of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms, it will be null and void. That will be little comfort, however, to law-abiding gun owners who would no doubt wonder why the United States entered into a treaty that empowers the UN to interfere with their Second Amendment rights. Rather than reach that point, the better course is to stop the treaty before the Senate can even consider it.

If the UN Arms Trade Treaty is not stopped at the federal level, I — and my fellow state attorneys general — will take up the fight to preserve the Constitution. Ratification of this treaty would compel immediate legal action to enforce the Constitution’s guarantee that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Sincerely, Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

The battle over gun control is the battle against government tyranny. Simply put, the decision is over whether to be a free people or not to be a free people. Obama was against the UNATT treaty before his re-election and promptly switched his position once he was returned to office. The President’s wishes for a U.N. controlled national registry of U.S. gun owners and gun manufacturers was defeated — this time — by a slimmer margin than any freedom loving American should tolerate.

YouTube analysis on the U.N’s dismantling of America: Click here.

Sharon Sebastian (www.DarwinsRacists.com) is a columnist, commentator, author, and contributor to various forms of media including cultural and political broadcasts, print, and online websites. In addition to the heated global debate on creation vs. evolution, her second book, “Darwin’s Racists: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow,” highlights the impact of Social Darwinism’s Marxist/Socialist underpinnings on the culture, the faith and current policy out of Washington. Critics are calling Darwin’s Racists, “Incredibly Timely” and “A Book for our Times.” Sebastian is a featured guest on broadcasts nationwide on topics ranging from politics, the economy, healthcare, culture, religion and evolution to Agenda 21’s global green movement. Sebastian’s political and cultural analyses on a wide range of national and global events are published nationally and internationally. Website: www.DarwinsRacists.com. “Darwin’s Racists – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” may be purchased at: www.DarwinsRacists.com, www.Amazon.com, www.BarnesandNoble.com and at bookstores online and worldwide.

04/24/13

Watcher’s Council Nominations – One Day In Boston Edition

The Watcher’s Council

Welcome to the Watcher’s Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the ‘sphere and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday.

Council News:

This week, Thinkers And Sinkers, Liberty’s Spirit, Ask Marion and The Pirate’s Cove took advantage of my generous offer of link whorage and earned honorable mention status with some great articles.

You can, too! Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries.

Simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title and a link to the piece you want considered along with an e-mail address (which won’t be published) in the comments section no later than Monday 6 PM PST in order to be considered for our honorable mention category. Then return the favor by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week.

It’s a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members, while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh?

So, let’s see what we have this week…

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Enjoy! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us Twitter… ’cause we’re cool like that!