02/27/15
Cap and Trade

‘Cap and Trade’ is Alive and Well, Despite Having Never Passed Congress

Gulag Bound
Seton Motley
PJ Tatler, PJ Media

cap-and-trade-heritage

from the days of 2011 when Congress was still deemed to matter

Remember “Cap and Trade?” The anti-market allegedly “market-based” “solution” to man-faked global warming climate change?

A central authority (usually a governmental body) sets a limit or cap on the amount of a pollutant that may be emitted.

The limit or cap is allocated and/or sold by the central authority to firms in the form of emissions permits which represent the right to emit or discharge a specific volume of the specified pollutant.

Permits (and possibly also derivatives of permits) can then be traded on secondary markets.

Except:

Cap-and-Trade Schemes Are Not Markets

Only if (you) want government to raise energy prices, make coal uneconomical as an electricity fuel, or restrict Americans’ access to carbon-based energy.…

“Cap and trade” is a policy so disastrous it couldn’t pass a Democrat-majority Congress – with Democrat President Barack Obama eagerly waiting with pen at the ready.

(Democrat) Ben Nelson: Cap-and-Trade Will Not Pass This Congress

Cap and Trade is Dead (Really, Truly, I’m Not Kidding)

Except with this President, no terrible idea dies just because the Constitutional process demands it.

(Environmental Protection Agency) EPA: If Congress Doesn’t Pass Cap-and-Trade, We Will

And so they have. Here’s the EPA’s “Cap and Trade” page.

And in government, terrible ideas are like kudzu – they rapidly, illegally spread everywhere.

 

“The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have announced an expanded partnership to support water quality trading…”

USDA, EPA Partnership Supports Water Quality Trading

Oh look – the government is assaulting our farmers’ water supply. Where else have we seen that?

The EPA is Turning Water on Farms Into a Weapon Against Farmers

The EPA exists to assault the private sector. And it is teaming up with other government departments to maximize the damage.

The USDA is a complete waste of money, time and space. Humans have engaged in agriculture for 10,000 years – we did so for 9,900 of those years without a government department. I think we’ve got this.

And, of course, there is zero Constitutional authority granted to the federal government to have a USDA.

Having no useful purpose, the Department of Agriculture works day and night to make private agriculture more difficult and expensive. Which raises our food prices – and makes our farmers less competitive on the now-global market.

These government-inflicted regulations and costs – by a department that shouldn’t exist – foster other government programs that shouldn’t exist.

Like the horrendous Farm Bill. Government makes it nearly impossible for farmers to turn a profit – then subsidizes them.

Like Food Stamps. Government jacks the price of food – then buys tens of millions of people food at the government-inflated prices because they can no longer afford it.

The Obama Administration is assaulting the private sector with every department, agency, commission and board at its $4-trillion-a-year disposal. Including unilaterally imposing “Cap and Trade” across multiple agencies. And what has transpired during the Obama Administration’s tenure?

14 Million More on Food Stamps Under Obama

Food Stamp Growth 75X Greater than Job Creation

It would seem there is a correlation there.

02/25/15
ISIS Job Fair

Watcher’s Council Nominations – Getting Ahead Edition

The Watcher’s Council

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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 morning.

Council News:

This week, The MidKnight Review, Anne’s Opinions and The Pirate’s Cove 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.

To bring something to my attention, simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title and a link to the piece you want considered along with an e-mail address (mandatory, but of course it 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 when it comes out on Wednesday morning.

Simple, no?

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 for you this week…

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Enjoy! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter… ’cause we’re cool like that! And don’t forget to tune in Friday for the results!

02/24/15
Barack Obama

Media Accepting Obama’s Spin on the Economy

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

With as many lies and distortions that proceed from this scandal-plagued administration, one might think that mainstream reporters would turn a skeptical eye toward another one of President Obama’s carefully crafted narratives. Each narrative is designed to push “progressive” policies or to cover up administration mismanagement. But our corrupt media reflexively cheer whenever the leftist agendas for amnesty, Obamacare, climate change, and economic regulation are mentioned. Add to the list of official narratives the hyped state of the economy, the successes of which cannot fail to be championed because they reflect on the viability of the current President’s policies.

Yet President Obama’s claims about how his administration’s efforts have boosted the economy, or that the economy is actually improving, are based on cherry-picked data.

“At this moment when our economy is growing and creating jobs, we’ve got to work twice as hard, especially in Washington, to build on our momentum,” claimed President Obama in his recent economic report, according to The New York Times. He continued, “And I will not let politics or partisanship roll back the progress we’ve achieved on so many fronts.”

Back in January, the labor force participation rate was the lowest since 1978. It has since increased by a mere 0.2%. And while hiring may be up, wages remain stagnant.

What type of progress, exactly, is the President citing? His entitlement and regulatory policies, such as Obamacare and proposed EPA regulations, shackle American economic ingenuity with an ever-increasing burden.

“Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed,” wrote Gallup President Jim Clifton in, “The Big Lie: 5.6% Unemployment.”  “Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast ‘falling’ unemployment.”

“Our concern with our analysts is that [the unemployment statistic is] very, very misleading because what America really wants are full-time jobs. … The percent of full-time jobs in this country, to the population, is the worst it’s been in thirty years,” Clifton said on CNBC. He connected this to the middle class crisis.

Mortimer Zuckerman, of The Wall Street Journal has argued that the President’s signature health care legislation depresses full-time hiring. “Many employers cut workers’ hours to avoid the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to provide health insurance to anyone working 30 hours a week or more,” wrote Zuckerman last July. “The unintended consequence of President Obama’s ‘signature legislation?’ Fewer full-time workers.”

But President Obama, his administration, and the media are on a full-blown public relations campaign to promote “middle class economics,” with more government as the answer.

“In a letter to Congress with the report, Mr. Obama called on lawmakers to approve his economic agenda of expanded tax breaks for the middle class and increased spending on initiatives such as early childhood education,” reported The Washington Times. “The president also wants to raise several hundred billion dollars through tax increases on mostly wealthier families.”

“The [recent economic] report…also contained a fair dollop of wishful thinking—or what some might call the administration’s own ‘dynamic scoring,’” observed Neil King Jr. for The Wall Street Journal.

President Obama has tied his favorite policies to theoretical economic gains which may, or may not occur. “So various measures to provide free preschool or expand the Earned Income Tax Credit would bring more adults into the workforce, thus expanding the tax base,” writes King. “A revamped immigration system would in turn lure more foreign-born workers to counteract what the president’s report calls ‘the effects of an aging native-born population.’”

“Although annual budget deficits have fallen from the trillion-dollar-plus levels early in Mr. Obama’s presidency, the national debt has continued to soar and topped $18 trillion late last year,” notes The Washington Times.

With the current controversy over comments by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani questioning whether or not President Obama loves this country, we are reminded of President Obama’s comments when criticizing then-President George W. Bush for running up $4 trillion of new debt during his eight years in office. Obama said it was “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.” President Obama has so far added over $8 trillion in new debt, and he still has two more years in office. So how would he rate himself?

Both The Wall Street Journal and New York Times ran articles which summarized the economic report without questioning its assumptions, effectively offering the administration additional platforms from which to spout its economic spin.

I reported last November that President Obama unsuccessfully attempted to sell the “illusion of economic success” to the public in order to “salvage what most polls indicate is about to be a dismal election for Democrats.” This effort continued with the President’s State of the Union, where he argued that “we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth.”

Obama’s tired rhetoric of hope and change resonated with the media back in January, and it still does. Meanwhile, many in America struggle to put bread on the table.

“Not only have the ‘benefits’ of the Obama recovery not been ‘fully shared,’ but many Americans are still worse off today than when Obama became president,” reports Townhall. The 2013 median family income, “the most recent year available,” is more than $2,000 less than what it was in 2009 when Obama became President, it reports.

The media are doing their part to validate Obama’s claims about the economy. It is all about their political agenda and double standard.

Among Democrats, there are divisions over the degree to which Hillary Rodham Clinton, considered their leading contender, should praise the recovery and run on Mr. Obama’s stewardship of the economy,” wrote Jonathan Martin for The New York Times on February 22. “And Republicans—assessing falling unemployment and soaring job creation under a president with still-mediocre approval ratings—are grasping for the right way to frame their 2016 campaign message.”

Martin, like so many other reporters, operates under the premise that the economy has actually recovered. But to the extent it has, there may be other factors at work besides Obama’s initiatives. How much credit for the nation’s economic growth belongs to the Republican-led states, such as Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida and especially Texas; states which are doing far better at adding jobs and balancing their budgets than the federal government? And how much is attributable to the powerful capitalist economy in this country, which chugs along despite the burdensome taxation, regulatory and bureaucratic demands that have been imposed on it by this administration?

02/20/15
Barack Obama

No “Major Scandal” in Obama Administration?

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

David Axelrod’s book tour is off to a rollicking start, with perceived attacks on Hillary Clinton’s upcoming presidential run, and an absurd comment about the ethics and integrity of the administration he served so loyally, and continues to do so.

Axelrod, former senior advisor to President Obama, recently asserted something so patently untrue that it demands a response. “And I’m proud of the fact that, basically, you’ve had an administration that’s been in place for six years in which there hasn’t been a major scandal,” he pronounced at a University of Chicago event.

The Washington Post leapt in to defend Axelrod’s claim by pointing to how President Obama’s approval ratings did not shift in the wake of the potential scandals he has faced since taking office. “It could be that scandals don’t have a lot to do with how Americans rate the president,” writes Hunter Schwarz for the Post.

It could also be that the liberal media, along with academia, determine what is classified as a “scandal”—and then refuse to report on scandals which don’t meet their own predetermined criteria. In this case, any lies, corruption, abuses of power, financial payoffs, or associations with unsavory characters or organizations that involve President Obama or anyone in his administration are never to be treated as a scandal.

The ongoing incestuous relationship between the Obama administration and the media often tilts in favor of the administration, leaving many scandals uninvestigated, minimized, or outright ignored. For example, both CBS News president David Rhodes and former ABC News president Ben Sherwood have siblings working for the administration. CNN’s deputy Washington bureau chief, Virginia Moseley, is married to Tom Nides, a former Obama staffer under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And David Plouffe, Obama’s former campaign manager, joined Bloomberg News, while MSNBC hired Axelrod.

President Obama even joked in 2013 that “… David Axelrod now works for MSNBC, which is a nice change of pace since MSNBC used to work for David Axelrod.”

With so many members of the elite media in bed with the administration, Dartmouth College professor Brendan Nyhan’s 2011 observation that “the current administration has not yet suffered a major scandal, which I define as a widespread elite perception of wrongdoing” becomes essentially meaningless. Nyhan said that a scandal becomes a scandal “once the S-word is used in a reporter’s own voice in a story that runs on the front page of the [Washington] Post.”

If Axelrod is using the same criteria, then, of course, President Obama probably can be considered scandal-free. But a real scandal involves actual administration wrongdoing or lies, regardless of the “perceptions” dished out by the media.

Axelrod’s comments ignore the presence of a number of real scandals which the mainstream media, including The Washington Post, continue to report on as phony—including but not limited to:

Benghazi:

The deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 were greeted with a concerted public relations campaign by the Obama administration blaming the attacks on a protest inspired by a YouTube video, as revealed in the smoking gun Ben Rhodes email. (Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor to President Obama, is CBS’ President David Rhodes’ brother.) The media, including David Kirkpatrick of The New York Times, continue to dispute key facts of the case such as al Qaeda’s involvement, have championed erroneous Congressional reports, ignore evidence of a cover-up, and have generally covered for the administration by promoting the idea that this is one of many “phony scandals.” The interim report of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi details the various failings and scandals related to Benghazi.

IRS scandal:

The IRS targeted conservative groups applying for non-profit status from 2010 to 2012. In what some see as an attempt to influence elections, the IRS began requesting inappropriate information disproportionately from conservative groups and then delaying their approval, generally chilling free speech throughout the country. Lois Lerner, at the heart of the scandal, has refused to testify before Congress, pleading the Fifth Amendment. The media continue to argue that President Obama is not connected to this scandal, but it can be tied directly to the White House. The President has tried to assert that there isn’t a “smidgeon” of corruption at the IRS.

Fast and Furious

The Obama Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) encouraged gunwalking across the Mexican border of thousands of weapons, resulting, ultimately in the murder of border agent Brian Terry. An ATF whistleblower, John Dodson, spoke out in 2011 about the problems with the ATF’s decision to let guns go to Mexico. As I wrote about in 2011, Fast and Furious was a scandal that no longer could be denied, but the media continued to do so. Sharyl Attkisson recounts in Stonewalled, “But as outrageous and remarkable as the allegations are, most of the media don’t pick up on the story. They’re steering clear.” As I wrote, the scandal “involves some 1,500 guns, about 1,000 of which ended up in Mexico, and a Border agent…who was murdered with weapons found near the scene of the crime in Arizona. The weapons were among 57 linked to Fast and Furious which have been tied to at least 11 violent crimes in the U.S., including the Terry murder.” Like Benghazi, Fast and Furious resulted in real deaths—but the media continue to ignore or downplay this scandal.

Veterans Administration

Following revelations in 2014 that there was widespread Veterans Administration falsification of health care wait times, and that certain locations had created secret waiting lists for veterans, the media finally declared this a scandal. But it’s not Obama’s scandal, it’s a Veterans Affairs scandal. Hunter Schwarz writes for the Post that “It was a very significant scandal, to be sure, but perhaps not one that people laid directly at Obama’s doorstep.” The Washington Post’s Fact Checker Glenn Kessler recently referred to this one as a scandal, noting that only eight people have lost their jobs so far as a result of this veterans care debacle, not 60 as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald said last week on Meet the Press. But as I have argued, there were really two scandals at the Veterans Administration at the time: health care wait times and the disability benefits backlog.

Solyndra

Solar panel business Solyndra received more than half a billion dollars as part of the administration’s green energy program, before going bankrupt. Its executives took substantial bonuses before the layoffs began. And, a Solyndra investor was also a major bundler for Obama, demonstrating a conflict of interest when the administration refused to turn over more documents as part of a Congressional investigation. And yes, the Post reported on its front page that the Obama administration had asked the company to “delay announcing it would lay off workers until after the hotly contested November 2010 midterm elections that imperiled Democratic control of Congress.” But NPR ran an article last year victoriously announcing that “Now that the loan program is turning a profit, those critics are silent”—as if that had anything to do with the crony capitalism of the Solyndra scandal.

Obamacare

Obamacare is an ongoing debacle of premium increases and high deductibles coupled with crippling regulations. It leads to less, not more, health care access. While the focus has been on errors made within the “Obamacare rollout,” the media continue to champion exaggerated statistics regarding the alleged 10 million who have received health insurance under President Obama’s signature legislation. In reality, this program marks a rapid increase in Medicaid, and many enrollees are part of a “substitution effect” by which people who previously had insurance have switched to Obamacare. The subsidies, which the media casts as essential to the law, are under dispute in the courts, and increase the burden on the American taxpayer. Even Politifact called President Obama’s false assertion that Americans could keep their health plan if they liked it the 2013 “Lie of the Year.” Meanwhile, the complicit media finds every chance it can to champion this legislation’s “successes.”

This list just scratches the surface. Executive overreach has become standard fare, whether on immigration or environmental regulations. The Obama administration’s penchant for controlling leaks, a lack of transparency, and a war on journalists has been noted by the likes of former Washington Post executive editor Len Downie Jr. who said “The [Obama] administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration leaks,” and New York Times reporter David Sanger who said, “This is the most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered.” James Risen of the Times added that the Obama administration has been “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.”

The administration’s Middle East policies have been a disaster, if not scandalous. Just look at the growing threat from the Islamic State (ISIS) and other radical jihadist Muslim groups. More than 200,000 have been killed in Syria, Libya has become a jihadist playground, described by former CIA officer Bob Baer as “Mad Max,” and Yemen, as recently as September held up as example of where Obama’s foreign policy is working, has seen a coup by Iranian backed jihadists. And looming over all of this is the unfolding, outright appeasement of an Iran with nuclear aspirations.

What unifies all of these scandals and lies is how our news media have looked past all the administration’s corruption, treating, these occurrences as discrete, minor grievances, gaffes—or even conservative or Republican political maneuvering. This means that the constant lies by the administration, and President Obama himself, can be made with impunity. The media simply will not hold President Obama, or any of his associates who might tarnish his reputation, accountable.

02/20/15
50 Shades of Government

The Council Has Spoken! The Watcher’s Council Results – 02/20/15

The Watcher’s Council


The People’s Cube

The Council has spoken, the votes have been cast and the results are in for this week’s Watcher’s Council match-up.

“The difference between golf and government is that in golf you can’t improve your lie.” – George Duekmejian, former Republican governor of California

“It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. – President Thomas Jefferson

“If we can really understand the problem, than the answer will come out of it, because the answer is not separate from the problem.” – Krishnamurti

“It’s easy being a humorist when you’ve got the whole government working for you.” – Will Rogers

https://askmarion.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/right2bplanet.jpg?w=500

This week’s winning essay, The Right Planet’sMore Hipster Harf: ‘We Can’t Stop ISIS by Killing Them; We Need to Give Them Jobs’, uses State Department spokesperson Marie Harf’s ridiculous statement about buying off Islamic State and others with ‘jobs’ as a starting point for an explanation on why the Left has such a problem facing up to radical Islam. Here’s a slice:

For many years now I have said the State Department needs to be cleaned out from top to bottom. And I’m not alone in that opinion, either. The U.S. Department of State has a long history of working against the best interests of the United States, consistently shilling for all things socialist. Those who have looked into tax-exempt foundations like the Carnegie Endowment, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Consortium, Guggenheim Fellowship, etc., and the subsequent investigation by the Reece Committee, might know what I’m talking about.

The first U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal, once said, “Consistency has never been a mark of stupidity. If the diplomats who have mishandled our relations with Russia were merely stupid, they would have occasionally made a mistake in our favor.”

State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf recently told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews ISIS could be stopped if we could just create jobs for them.

At first blush, for those ignorant of Marxist ideology, this sort of thinking seems preposterous. Well, I am strongly inclined to agree. But I digress.

For dyed-in-the-wool Marxists and their fellow travelers (sympathizers), it makes perfect sense. This is why I believe it so important more Americans gain a better understanding of Marxism—since it is lauded and approved of by so many American universities and the liberal media, not to mention those in positions of power within our own government.

Karl Marx believed our view of history needed to be changed (cf. “hope and change”). Cleon Skousen wrote in his book The Naked Communist about the central importance economics plays in the Marxian religion. Marx believed history should be changed to “a fixed, undeviating, pre-determined course of progress which could be charted in the past and predicted for the future on the basis of a single, simple criterion—economics.”

According to Marx and his votaries, if we could only “level the playing field” by making everyone and everything the same (see “equality and fairness”), it would usher in a veritable utopia, i.e., the long hoped for “workers’ paradise.” Interestingly, about 90 percent of what Karl Marx wrote concerned economics (see Das Kapital).

Well, let’s just get something straight: ISIS doesn’t give a damn about economics—quite the contrary. Their motivations and actions are not influenced by Marxism, per se, but rather the teachings of Muhammad, and a literal interpretation of the Koran and the Hadith.

Although it should be noted that Marxism and Islam have quite a bit in a common.

More at the link.

In our non-Council category, the winner was Graeme Wood in the Atlantic with an interesting piece, What ISIS Really Wants, submitted by Bookworm Room. He attempts to present something very rare in today’s climate, an examination of the conflict from the point of view of the Islamic State. An excellent read.

Here are this week’s full results. Only Bookworm Room and Ask Marion were unable to vote this week, but neither was subject to the usual 2/3 vote penalty for not voting:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week!

Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum and every Tuesday morning, when we reveal the week’s nominees for Weasel of the Week!

And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council and the results are posted on Friday morning.

It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere and you won’t want to miss it… or any of the other fantabulous Watcher’s Council content.

And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter… ’cause we’re cool like that, y’know?

02/19/15
Rain

Gov. Hogan’s proposal to abolish rain tax a sign of Maryland’s ‘new direction’

By: James Simpson
WatchDog.org

Rain tax, flush tax, Maryland’s newly elected governor hopes to make it all water under the bridge

Gov. Larry Hogan made history in 2014 as only the third GOP governor elected in over 40 years. He did so based on promises to reel in the many excessive taxes imposed on the state by former Gov. Martin O’Malley and to take the state in a “new direction.” This Tuesday, he took the first step, proposing legislation to abolish Maryland’s infamous “rain tax.”

Shutterstock Image

Shutterstock Image: NO TAXATION ON CONDENSATION: Gov. Hogan is getting to work on his tax cutting campaign promises by proposing legislation to get rid of Maryland’s notorious rain tax.

Maryland is the only state in the nation to impose such a tax. Formally called the storm water runoff fee, its ostensible purpose is to fund efforts to abate nitrogen and phosphorus pollution into the Chesapeake Bay from storm water runoff. Individuals and businesses are charged a variable tax, based on the area of impermeable surface on their property. For businesses, the fee can run into thousands of dollars annually.

On top of all the other taxes and regulations imposed on Maryland citizens and businesses, it convinced voters, registered as Democrats at a ratio of 2 to 1 over Republicans, to give Hogan a 4 point victory over his Democratic opponent last November, despite being heavily outspent. But Hogan has his work cut out for him.

Democrats still enjoy substantial majorities in both houses of the state Legislature, and gave O’Malley a blank check to do virtually whatever he wanted. Despite claiming he cut the budget by $9.1 billion, spending grew from $29 billion in FY 2007 to $38.9 billion for FY 2015 under O’Malley’s watch– a 34 percent increase.

To help finance this spending spree O’Malley rained down 40 new taxes costing Marylanders $9.5 billion during his tenure. Hogan estimates that by 2018, taxpayers will have shelled out a total of $20 billion for these taxes if nothing is done.

Many of these, including the notorious “rain tax” were rationalized as essential to fighting Chesapeake Bay pollution. But the former governor became notorious for repeatedly raiding funds specifically set aside for this and other purposes.

For example, the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund (BRF) was created in 2004 ostensibly to cut Bay pollution from waste water treatment plants (WWTP) and septic tanks. This fund is paid for by one of Maryland’s other notorious fees, the “flush tax.” In addition to regular water bills, Marylanders must pay an annual fee for the privilege of flushing their toilets. The tax was doubled in 2012, supposedly to cover cost increases. But the O’Malley administration repeatedly raided the fund. Published accounts estimated at least $135 million removed between 2009 and 2013.

But it was actually more than twice that amount. No problem, said O’Malley, just issue bonds to replace the depleted funds. And that is what the state did. In its 2014 annual BRF status report, the state listed the current funding level at $586 million, of which $290 million was in state obligation bonds issued to replace $290 million “transferred to the general fund.” (See p. 9). In other words, over half the BRF has been financed by debt, despite a doubling of the flush tax.

O’Malley similarly raided Maryland’s Transportation Trust Fund to the tune of $1.1 billion. Despite receiving $771 million in stimulus funds for transportation and infrastructure projects, he repeatedly raised the gas tax used to finance the fund. Democratic State Comptroller Peter Franchot protested a 2013 gas tax increase saying that “it’s going to be for general fund relief, not traffic congestion relief.”

Meanwhile, the justification for some of these taxes rests on arguments that are shallower than a mud puddle. For example, EPA pollution targets for Maryland’s storm water runoff equate to a mere 0.6 percent of the Bay’s annual nitrogen load and 1 percent of the phosphorus load. The state anticipates having to spend $7.4 billion between now and 2025 to meet these targets. This amounts to an abatement cost of $3,442 per pound of pollutant.

Conspicuously absent from the various Bay analyses are the many “illegal” spills of municipal sewer systems. These occur when sewer pipes either jam or pumping stations malfunction. Sewage then backs up and spills over into storm water pipes where it empties directly into the Bay. The state tracks these spills, but because they are considered “illegal” they are not counted in official estimates; neither are they included in WWTP or storm water reduction targets.

The numbers however, are substantial. 3.8 billion gallons of raw sewage has been pumped into the Bay between 2005 and 2013. That equates to approximately 16 million tons, or two million tons per year for the time in question, if one assumes the weight of water – more if the sewage is heavier.

Marylanders have suffered through eight years under the former governor, as these few examples suggest. Taxpayers and businesses with the wherewithal to do so have been leaving the state in droves to avoid it. According to Hogan’s Change Maryland website:

Since 2007, nearly 31,000 Marylander’s fled to other states, the highest in the region, 6500 small businesses have left or shut down, the second-highest in the region, and just three Fortune 500 companies remain in the state. This is a sharp contrast to 24 large corporate headquarters in Virginia and 23 in Pennsylvania.

One of the most recent departures was firearms manufacturer Beretta USA, which is moving its U.S. manufacturing facility to Tennessee. The company had been located in Maryland for 40 years. The decision was made following enactment of a widely unpopular gun measure that O’Malley pushed through despite an unprecedented uproar from citizens throughout the state. That was O’Malley’s style.

Gov. Hogan hopes to cultivate Democratic support for his “new direction” tax and spending plans. He needs their support. It remains to be seen whether or not he will get it.

This article was written by a contributor of Watchdog Arena, Franklin Center’s network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists.

02/18/15
Obama on Jobs for ISIS

Watcher’s Council Nominations – ‘All ISIS Needs Is Jobs’ Edition

The Watcher’s Council

http://www.youngcons.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/isis-growing.jpg

The Obama Regime’s State Department in action, courtesy of spokeshole Marie Harf:

When even Chris Matthews gets it (sort of), we’re in real trouble.

The Obama regime can’t even create decent jobs here in America, let alone Iraq. Do these people seriously think we’re going to be able to buy off the Islamic State?

Then there’s the president’s new ‘war’ request, which ought to be voted down, at least at this time. The video above tells us why the sort of mindset that prevails in the White House shouldn’t be trusted to manage a successful war.

  • First, the AUMF Matthews refers to isn’t really a declaration of war, just another half-assed ‘authorization’ and we’ve certainly been there before.
  • Second, IS is not anywhere near the imminent threat Iran is, and taking ISIS out simply delivers Iraq to Iran as part of their goal… a Shi’ite, Iran-ruled nuclear armed bloc controlling both sides of the Persian Gulf and stretching to the Mediterranean. Taking out ISIS simply removes one more obstacle to Iran, the same way our taking out Saddam Hussein did. Let’s deal with Iran first… which of course will never happen with this president.
  • And finally, based on this president’s record as Commander-in-Chief, do we really want him in charge of creating yet another stupid blunder? Do we want our troops fighting another war and dying because they’re handcuffed by his ridiculous rules of engagement? Just today, he insulted the Egyptians and criticized them for bombing targets in Libya after ISIS killed a number of Egyptian Copts there… whom the Obama Administration in their statement pointedly did not refer to as Christians. Our president would be challenged running a McDonald’s successfully,let alone a war. A loose AUMF that gives him the leeway to play amateur strategist inbetween golf games is not the answer.

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 morning.

Council News:

This week, Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion, The People’s Cube and The Political Commentator 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.

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02/18/15
Unemployment

Irreconcilable differences: Obama’s job approval ratings and unemployment

By: James Simpson
WatchDog.org

Shutterstock Image

PERCEPTION VS. REALITY: A number of economic statistics not covered in official reports reveal the differences between the public’s perception of the president’s performance in handling unemployment and the reality.

PERCEPTION VS. REALITY: A number of economic statistics not covered in official reports reveal the  differences between the public’s perception of the president’s performance in handling unemployment and the reality.

According to a recent poll by AP-GfK, President Obama currently has a 47 percent job approval rating, up from 41 percent in December. Fifty-one percent of Americans approve of Obama’s handling of the unemployment issue, compared with 44 percent before, while 45 percent approve of his handling of the economy overall, up from 41 percent in December.

These numbers track with the declining unemployment rate and optimistic newscasts that followed the publication of the most recent unemployment statistics, but do not reflect actual economic conditions. In fact, a closer look at the poll itself reveals that people have grave reservations about the economy—reservations that are reflected in a number of economic statistics not covered in published reports.

The overall unemployment rate has been on the decline since the trough of the recession in 2010 (see Chart 1. below); however this paints a very deceiving picture. Were it indicative of a true economic recovery, other indicators would show similarly positive results. But this is not the case. For example enrollment in food stamps has grown 65 percent since President Obama took office, from 28 million in 2008, to 46 million today. Despite a small decline in 2014, food stamp use has been at its highest levels in recorded history—magnitudes higher than any previous time. Over 46 million people, equal to about 30 percent of the civilian labor force, now use food stamps.

simpsonC1

Chart 2 shows the number of people working part time for economic reasons. Workers in this category are defined by the Bureau of Labor statistics as being part timers due to slack work, poor business conditions, or only being able to find a part-time job. These people would work full-time if the opportunity were available. While these numbers have come down somewhat, they remain at the highest level in recorded history.

simpsonC2

The overall civilian unemployment rate does not account for these part-timers. It also does not consider those marginally attached to the labor force. This includes the so-called “discouraged workers,”—i.e. people who have given up looking for work in the past year because they do not believe they will find a job—and others who are unemployed as a result of work slowdowns or temporary layoffs.

When these groups are included, a much more troublesome picture emerges. As of January 2015, this unemployment rate stands at 11.3 percent. This is the real unemployment rate, and is the lowest it has been since October 2008. It reached an unprecedented high of over 17 percent in 2010. The last and only time the rate went over 11 percent was in early 1994. (See chart 3.)

SimpsonC3

The civilian labor force participation rate measures the percentage of those among the population who are working or actively seeking work. In measuring this rate, the most important demographic is 25 to 54 year-olds. Younger people often leave the labor force to attend college, and as the baby boom generation reaches retirement age, older folks are retiring at an increasing rate, thus the absence of these groups may not directly reflect economic conditions. This rate reached an all-time high of 84.6 percent in 1999. It fell substantially following 9-11 but began to recover during the later Bush years. Since the end of 2008 however, it has fallen precipitously with little sign of recovery.

SimpsonC4

Real (inflation adjusted) wages are also a good indication of economic conditions. Real wages have grown consistently year-over-year since the mid-1990s. For the past four years however, real wages have been flat. (See chart 5. Note: the CPI less food and energy was used to correct the wage figures for inflation. That data series removes the volatility associated with food and energy prices and is considered a better measure of underlying inflation.)

SimpsonC5

These economic statistics present a much worse picture of the economic situation than portrayed by the civilian unemployment rate taken alone. Indeed the same AP-GfK poll indicates that while Obama’s approval ratings have improved slightly, the assessment of overall economic conditions has not.

Only 35 percent of families say they have fully recovered from the recession. An almost equal number, 33 percent, say their situation has improved little or not at all. For small business owners, 46 percent said they have not recovered at all, while only 18 percent responded that their businesses had completely or mostly recovered. Thirty-nine percent of individuals said the job market in their area had not improved, while only 27 percent said it had recovered. Finally, only 38 percent believe the economy will improve in the next 12 months.

That response is unchanged from December. Fifty-nine percent believe the economy will either remain as is or get worse. In December, 61 percent believed this. So, while the media like to harp on the falling unemployment rate and Obama’s modest poll improvements, the actual poll, supported by numerous economic statistics, reveals continued widespread pessimism about the economy.

This article was written by contributors of Watchdog Arena, Franklin Center’s network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists.

02/18/15
Muslim Brotherhood Control of US Govt

The Betrayal Papers – Part I of V – Under Obama: The U.S. Captured by the Muslim Brotherhood

Muslim Brotherhood Control of US Govt

The Betrayal Papers will trace the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Obama administration’s foreign and domestic policies. The five-part series will present a picture of a conspiracy that is manipulating the American government to the benefit of a totalitarian, genocidal movement that seeks to establish a global Islamic State.

  • The Muslim Brotherhood is an international political, financial, terrorist and movement whose goal is to establish a global Islamic State (Caliphate).
  • They have and continue to exert tremendous influence of the American government’s foreign and domestic policies under President Barack Hussein Obama.
  • The violence in the Middle East and across North Africa is a direct consequence of the Muslim Brotherhood’s effective control over American foreign policy in the region.
  • They operate through various “civic” front groups, as well as through American institutions who take their money as operational funding (Georgetown University, Brookings Institution).

In America, we have a weak and struggling economy, growing public and private debt and millions are un- and underemployed. While a weaponized IRS targets Tea Party groups and other voices of liberty, and military veterans are labeled as “domestic terrorists” by the Department of Homeland Security, the federal government refuses to secure the southern border. Educational policy now includes the teaching Arabic and visits to mosques for schoolchildren.

Internationally, America is in retreat. The Middle East is in ashes, and in the midst of an ongoing genocide replete with daily horrors, the likes which have not been seen for centuries. Former allies have been abandoned and are embittered. Under the present leadership in the White House and State Department, Israel is considered the aggressor and Hamas the oppressed.

In sum, the world is at its most volatile point since the outbreak of World War II.

If you think that this is a result of something other than an “incompetent,” “stupid,” or “clueless” President, words regularly used by those who sense something is wrong but, can’t quite bring themselves to own up to the ugly truth, you’re not alone.

Millions of Americans are realizing that the Obama administration is not merely “misguided.” It is actually and consciously anti-American, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, and broadly anti-Western. Yet , the American public does not yet fully appreciate why and how the administration always finds itself square against everything this country is based on – religious freedom, capitalism, and justice under law.

This series of articles will explain the force and mechanics behind Obama’s anti-American global agenda: the Muslim Brotherhood.

Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimoon: The Root of Today’s Islamic Evil

Husseini speaking with Hitler in 1941

Husseini speaking with Hitler in 1941

Founded in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood (aka, the Society of Muslim Brothers, or Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimoon in Arabic) is an international movement (some would argue an international conspiracy) that seeks to establish a worldwide Islamic State (or Caliphate). When it was created in the late 1920s, the Brotherhood was a contemporary of the Nazi Party of Germany. Indeed, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine, Amin al-Husseini, is considered by some as the man who catalyzed the Holocaust; for it was only after Husseini visited Hitler in Berlin in 1941 that the systematic extermination of Jews and other minorities began with industrial efficiency.

After the war, despite the insistence by many wartime leaders (Churchill included) that he be brought to justice, Husseini escaped to the Middle East. He lived there until his death in the 1970s, serving as a mentor to a young Yasser Arafat. Husseini and the Nazi Party are the connection points between the Holocaust and today’s Middle Eastern genocide.

The Allies conscious failure to arrest and prosecute Husseini haunts us today.

A Terror Hedge against Stalin and Soviet Russia

At the beginning of the Cold War, working with former Nazis, the American CIA began to court the Muslim Brotherhood as an ally against Soviet Russia. This calculus may have made sense when facing down Josef Stalin, a totalitarian tyrant hell-bent on world domination, but it has proved a costly strategy in the long run.

In the years and decades that followed World War II, the Muslim Brotherhood has evolved into a modern day Nazi International, not unlike the old Comintern (Communist International). It has a vast network of financial and business interests across the world; it has agents, supporters, and apologists within western governments; and it has a support network of “civic” organizations in the West.

These all serve as a cover for its darker and insatiably violent ambitions.

For despite all their intrigue and political gamesmanship, the Muslim Brotherhood is not strictly a political movement, nor a financial cabal. It’s also the mothership of virtually all Islamic terrorist groups operating in the world today, including Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, the Taliban, Boko Haram, and many more. Such groups, all children of the Muslim Brotherhood’s fanatical Islamic ideology, are today ethnically cleansing countries such as Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Nigeria of all traces of Christianity. No less than the President of Egypt, Muslim Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, a devout Muslim, has said as much.

Considering how the Muslim Brotherhood and their terrorist pawns treat fellow Muslims in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Iraq, butchering them by the bushel including women and children, it should come as no surprise that Egypt and Saudi Arabia have declared the them a “terrorist” organization.

It should also come as no surprise that the United Arab Emirates has designated Muslim Brotherhood front groups operating in the United States “terrorist” entities. In November, the UAE effectively declared that the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Muslim-American Society (MAS) were no different than Al Qaeda. Why? It’s because they share a common origin in the Muslim Brotherhood. One could add to this list of domestic terrorist collaborators and enablers the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), and the Muslim Students Association (MSA).

A New HQ in America

Equally alarmingly, all-American institutions such as Georgetown University and the Brookings Institution have accepted so much money from the Muslim Brotherhood government in Qatar, that their political positions are virtually indistinguishable from the Muslim Brotherhood’s domestic front groups!

Yet, the United States government does not see these organizations and their employees as the enemy, as apologists for the worst kinds of barbarity. In fact, the highest profile people from these organizations advise the Obama administration, including the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the National Security Council. In January, the Department of State actually welcomed the Muslim Brotherhood to a meeting, and shortly thereafter Egypt exploded in jihadi violence. This is no magical coincidence.

To the detriment of our safety and well-being, the domestic Muslim Brotherhood front groups help dictate counterterrorism policies. It is their influence which leads to the farcical idea, recently expressed by Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast, that the Crusades have something to do with ISIS and the mass murder of innocents in the Middle East today.

These front groups shape our foreign policy, which since the Arab Spring and continuing to this day is on the side of the Muslim Brotherhood.

So-called “moderate Muslims” employed at these front groups have made the country of Qatar, a totalitarian sharia-based society, and an “ATM for terrorists,” the closest ally of the United States under Obama’s Presidency. With enthusiasm from Obama and Eric Holder, they have us emptying Guantanamo Bay of the most vicious killers and sending them to Qatar, with only the vaguest of security assurances.

The remaining four articles will explore the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood on American policy, both foreign and domestic (including in Common Core, Obama’s position on illegal immigration and amnesty, and the hostility of the administration toward police officers). The exposé will also detail the operatives in the government who work to advance the Muslim Brotherhood’s ambitions for a worldwide Caliphate. And it will put into context the mysterious influence that George Soros and Valerie Jarrett have over Barack Hussein Obama, his administration, and the policies that affect every American.

The Betrayal Papers is a collaborative effort by the Coalition of Concerned Citizens, which includes: Andrea Shea King, Dr. Ashraf Ramelah, Benjamin Smith, Brent Parrish, Charles Ortel, Chris Nethery, Denise Simon, Dick Manasseri, Gary Kubiak, Gates of Vienna, IQ al Rassooli, Jeff Bayard, Leslie Burt, Marcus Kohan, Mary Fanning, General Paul E. Vallely, Regina Thomson, Scott Smith, Terresa Monroe-Hamilton, Colonel Thomas Snodgrass, Trever Loudon, Wallace Bruschweiler, and William Palumbo.

Also see: Restoring Liberty: Joe Miller