Global Warming Not Influencing Annual Streamflow Trends in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic United States
Smoking Gun: Obamacare Subsidies For States Without Exchanges Invented Admin 2 Years After Law Passed
Washington Times columnist and editor Drew Johnson joins The Heartland Institute’s Budget and Tax News managing editor Jesse Hathaway to talk about the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “Article 6,” a proposed global tax aimed at making tobacco products prohibitively expensive.
Johnson, ejected from covering the public meetings for reporting on the WHO proceedings in Moscow, talks about the United Nations health organization’s misguided priorities, and the undemocratic nature of the proposed tariff rules.
Last week, the U.N. ant-narcotics chief, Yury Fedotov, made headlines when Reuters reported he said moves by American states to end the prohibition on marijuana were illegitimate due to existing international drug conventions. He added that he may take action against these states as well.
The drug conventions mentioned by Fedotov are the 1961 convention on narcotic drugs. This 50+ year old agreement limits the production and consumption of cannabis to only medical purposes. So, the dozens of states that have passed medical marijuana laws are still in compliance. However, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and D.C. passed laws through ballot initiatives that legalized marijuana for recreational use. These are the cases that caught the attention of Fedotov. “I don’t see how (the new laws) can be compatible with existing conventions,” said Fedotov.
But what can the U.N. do to fight this? Luckily not much. In response to question about what the U.N. could do about it, Fedotov stated he would discuss the issue in the near future in Washington.
While Fedotov and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) may have no real ability to combat these moves, the hubris alone is overwhelming. To think an international governmental organization like the U.N. can change the policies enacted by individual states in America is frightening. Marijuana prohibition should not be a responsibility of a international governing body. In fact, it should not even be a concern of the federal government.
The actions taken by these states do fly in the face of U.N. drug conventions; they are also inconsistent with federal law. Fortunately for liberty advocates, the federal government has condoned these moves in order to avoid conflict and potential political fallout. Individual states have been allowed the freedom to craft their own recreational drug policies. This, however, does not rule out a reversal on this position in the future.
Hopefully nothing will materialize from all of this. The U.N. should take a lesson from the federal government on this matter and keep its nose out of the business of these states.
The Internet ecosystem just added a new tool to preserve the property of rights holders even while encouraging greater use of broadband. The Motion Picture Association has announced the launch of a new search engine called WheretoWatch.com.
As Variety has reported, “MPAA — upping efforts to help consumers find legal sources of content instead of pirating it — has rolled out WheretoWatch.com, an advertising-free entertainment search engine designed to point people to TV shows and movies from authorized sources. WheretoWatch.com includes info and links from providers including Netflix, Apple’s iTunes, Amazon.com and Hulu as well as smaller sites like SnagFilms and WolfeOnDemand. MPAA said it expects to expand its list of partners in the coming months.”
Great, but what does this have to do with public policy? Rather than relying on another years-long legislative battle, which may fail to reach any sort of resolution, the industry got to work creating a solution to help protect its property. This sort of industry self-help should be lauded and encouraged across the digital ecosystem.
More success will come as all parties understand that they must do their part and that an economically thriving digital ecosystem requires good faith cooperation, within the bounds of the law, with an eye towards what is best for the broader ecosystem. Less infringement combined with great legal choices available in many places for consumers is in the best interest of all.
[Originally published at Madery Bridge]
In a segment on a recent episode of Your World with Neil Cavuto, Heartland Institute research fellow David Applegate outlined the options Republicans can use to push back against Obama’s executive orders on immigration. Applegate says some options won’t yield much but others have the potential to produce results.
In a very revealing montage to begin the clip above, Obama is shown repeatedly saying over four years that he has no legal ability to legislate by executive order in this manner. This seems to have been forgotten in light of recent announcements by the Obama administration. Republicans, however, have a few options that may block these executive orders.
The first two options mentioned by Cavuto may not have much success. As Applegate says, taking the matter to court would likely not work. “Suing in the courts is something that the courts really do not want to handle.” Whatever case there may be would likely be ignored by the courts. Applegate says the option other, impeachment, is a legitimate constitutional option congress has. However, this is also unlikely to go anywhere. Regarding impeachment, Applegate says, “politically that would go nowhere.” There is some hope for the Republicans however.
Applegate says Mitch McConnell and John Boehner need “to realize they still have two very strong cards to play.” One is to use the power of the purse. According to Applegate, Republicans could use the threat to defunding specific government programs to help negotiate against the Obama administration. Another option would be for Republicans to compromise with the president and agree upon a more bipartisan move on illegal immigration.
It will be interesting to see what options are pursued by Republicans in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more insight and information on this developing situation.
Apart from his halting, staccato, eight-to-ten-word phrase delivery when not reading off a TelePrompTer, President Barack Obama has two noticeable and telling verbal tics. The first is “folks”; the second is “just some guy.” The first is just an annoying and apparently insincere way of trying to show that, despite being President, he’s really, you know, just one of us. But the second is a tell-tale sign that he’s throwing somebody under the bus.
Perhaps “folks” is the way that Harvard-educated lecturers in law at the University of Chicago are taught to talk about their fellow Americans, but I rather doubt it. Having attended an Ivy-league school myself and having studied law at the University of Chicago for three years, I’m pretty sure I never heard the word “folks” once. Even Tennessee Ernie Ford used “people,” as do the U. S. Constitution’s opening three words, “We the People …” .
Obama uses the word “folks” whenever he wants to sound sage and, well, folksy; usually when about to make a patronizing observation about the American people that justifies, in his mind, his administration’s increasingly one-party top-down style of governing.
“That’s just how white folks will do you,“ he wrote in Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance , referring to what he perceived as white arrogance and cruelty. “These are folks who are strong allies and supporters of me,” he said in an October 20, 2014, interview with Al Sharpton, referring to Democratic candidates who were running away from him in the recent midterm elections. “We need to internalize this idea of excellence,” he said on another occasion. “Not many folks spend a lot of time trying to be excellent.” And, in a particularly portentous and lecturing moment, “Folks haven’t been reading their Bibles.”
Most infamously, Obama awkwardly claimed during an impromptu Friday, August 1, 2014, White House news conference regarding the War on Terror that “We tortured some folks.” That struck many “folks” as inappropriate, leading one commentator on Twitter to ask incredulously, “Wow. How does the supposedly rhetorically great Obama use ‘torture’ and ‘folks’ in the same sentence?”
But it’s Obama’s use of “just some guy” that signifies when someone has outlived his usefulness to the president, at least for public consumption.
Obama’s political mentor in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood for many years was American terrorist Bill “Guilty as hell, free as a bird” Ayers, a founder of the radical Weathermen group. Ayers is widely suspected of having ghost-written at least large portions of Obama’s two books for him, and Obama and Ayers worked closely together on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a five-year failed philanthropic venture for which Ayers wrote the grants and Obama chaired the board that distributed the money. But when Obama ran for President and Sarah Palin called him out for “palling around with terrorists,” Ayers became “just a guy who lives in my neighborhood” who hasn’t been publicly seen in the President’s company since.
Obama’s most recent use of the phrase is in reference to Jonathan Gruber, the now-infamous MIT professor who was one of Obamacare’ s architects. While working to help get Obamacare passed, Gruber was highly regarded and highly rewarded. The administration cited Gruber frequently in hearings and White House blogs, dedicated a webpage to his analysis, met with him repeatedly at the White House, and paid him $380,000 of taxpayer money in 2009 alone.
Now that videos have surfaced in which Gruber calls his fellow Americans not “folks” but “stupid” and brags that Obamacare was founded and sold on deliberate lies, Gruber has become just “some adviser who never worked on our staff,” which even Politifact rates as “mostly false.”
Even worse for the administration, perhaps, Gruber is also on record having said that the intent of Obamacare’s design was that, to encourage states to set up health care exchanges, if a state did not do so then its residents would not be eligible for income tax subsidies. Now that 36 states have declined to set up exchanges and Obama has directed his IRS to provide subsidies anyway, Gruber’s comments have become just a misquoted typo taken out of context and Gruber himself, in the President’s own words, has become just another guy.
If Congress or the media seek incisive oversight/accountability questions to ask the FCC about the real world implications and unintended consequences of its Title II net neutrality plans, here are ten that fit the bill.
1. Authority? If the FCC truly needs more legal authority to do what it believes necessary in the 21st century, why doesn’t the FCC start the FCC modernization process and ask Congress for the legitimacy of real modern legislative authorities? Or is it the official position of the FCC that its core 1934 and 1996 statutory authorities are sufficiently timeless, modern and flexible to sustain the legitimacy of FCC regulation for the remainder of the 21st century?
2. Growth & Job Creation? While it may be good for the FCC’s own power in the short-term to impose its most antiquated authority and restrictive Title II regulations on the most modern part of the economy, how would that heavy-handed regulation be good or positive for net private investment, economic growth and job creation?
3. Zero-price? Does the FCC seek new legal theories and authority for the purposes of setting a de facto permanent zero-price for some form of downstream Internet traffic, or not?
4. Consumers? How is it neutral, equal or fair under FCC net neutrality regulations for consumers to pay for faster Internet speed tiers/lanes and their Internet usage, but it is somehow a violation of net neutrality for Silicon Valley giants to pay anything other than a price of zero for delivery of their hugely-outsized downstream Internet traffic? (And why would FCC Title II reclassification also not have the unintended consequence of triggering large new fees and taxes on unsuspecting consumers?)
5. UN-ITU? Would the FCC reclassifying Internet traffic as “telecommunications” enable the U.N.’s International Telecommunications Union the legal authority and cover to assert governance over the Internet like it has long had over international telecommunications, and International telecommunications trade settlements? (And in imposing the most restrictive American regulatory regime available to prevent potential problems, wouldn’t the FCC be leading, and giving political cover to, autocratic nations which seek to impose similar maximal regulation of their Internet for the autocratic purposes of censoring, spying on, and controlling their people?)
6. Cost-Benefit? In any potential Title II action will the FCC abide by the President’s 2011 Executive Order 13563 that requires the FCC to use “the least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends,” and to “adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that its benefits justify its costs?”
7. Forbearance? Under a “hybrid” (Title II/Section 706) approach, how does the FCC square the circle of the FCC justifying forbearance from most all Title II regulations by showing there is enough competition to protect consumers, while simultaneously justifying reclassification of the Internet as a Title II utility because of insufficient competition to protect consumers
8. Deployment Barriers? Since Section 706 is about removing barriers to broadband deployment, how would Title II Section 214, which requires that the FCC get prior approval to upgrade any “telecommunications” facilities (a process that can routinely takes months at a minimum), not be considered to be a barrier to broadband deployment under Section 706?
9. Internet Backbone? What is different competitively in the Internet backbone market now from the last 20 years of no FCC regulation, that warrants maximal FCC regulation under Title II for the first time since the Internet was privatized in the early 1990s?
10. Supreme Court? Wouldn’t a June 2014 Supreme Court precedent (Util. Air Reg. Grp v. EPA) — that establishes that FCC rules “must be “ground[ed] … in the statute,” rather than on “reasoning divorced from the statutory text” – disallow the FCC from reclassifying services solely for the purpose of evading other statutory provisions that Congress passed to restrict FCC authority?
[First published at the Precursor blog.]
“No. I — I did not. Uhhh, I just heard about this… I — I get well briefed before I come out here. Uh, th-th-the fact that some advisor who never worked on our staff, uhh, expressed an opinion that, uhh, I completely disagree with wuh, uhh, in terms of the voters, is no reflection on the actual process that was run.” — President Obama replying to a question about Jonathan Gruber at the conclusion of the G-20 Conference in Brisbane, Australia.
Will the last name of the MIT professor identified as the “architect of ObamaCare” become a verb some day? Will people say “I’ve been Gruber’d? or “The government is “Grubering again”?
After all, when he admitted that ObamaCare’s passage was achieved by deceiving the Congressional Budget Office and the entire American public, turning his name into a synonym for lying is not unthinkable. Adding insult to injury, he said the voters were “stupid.”
How stupid was it for the Democrat-controlled Congress to pass a two-thousand page piece of legislation that none of them had read? (No Republican in Congress voted for it.) ObamaCare took over one-sixth of the U.S. economy and did something that makes me wonder why we even have a Supreme Court. It required people to buy a product whether they wanted to or not. If they didn’t, they would be subject to a penalty.
One way of the other, the federal government was going to squeeze you. The Court did conclude early on that ObamaCare was a tax, but don’t expect the mainstream media to tell you about all the other taxes hidden within it.
What surprises me about the Gruber revelations—available on YouTube to any journalist who wanted to investigate, but none did—is that there appears to be so little public outrage. An arrogant MIT professor who received $400,000 from the government and made millions as a consultant to the states who needed to understand ObamaCare, calls voters stupid and the initial reaction of the mainstream media was to ignore the story.
At the heart of the Gruber affair is the fact that Obama and his administration has been lying to the voters from the moment he began to campaign for the presidency. In virtually every respect, everything he has said for public consumption has been and is a lie.
In one scandal after another, Obama would have us believe he knew nothing about it. That is the response one might expect from a criminal rather than a President.
One has to ask why it would be difficult to repeal in full a piece of legislation that the President said would not cause Americans to lose their healthcare insurance if they preferred their current plan, that would not cause them to lose the care of a doctor they knew and trusted, and would save them money for premiums. The initial deception was to name the bill the Affordable Care Act.
Repeal would help ensure the solvency of Medicare and restore the private sector market for healthcare insurance.
This is a President who was elected twice, so maybe Prof. Gruber is right when he speaks of stupid voters. Not all, of course, but more than voted for Obama’s two opponents. As this is written over 45% of those polled these days continue to express approval for Obama’s performance in office. How stupid is that?
What is so offensive about Gruber’s own revelations about the manner in which the bill was written and the lies that were told to get it passed is the incalculable misery it has caused millions of Americans.
It has caused the loss of jobs. It has forced others into part-time employment. It has caused companies to reconsider expanding to grow the economy. It has driven up the cost of healthcare insurance. It has impacted local hospitals and clinics to the point where some have closed their doors. It has caused many healthcare professionals to retire or cease practicing medicine.
I invite you to make a list of all the things you think the government should require you to purchase whether you want it or need it. Should you be required to own a bike and use it as an alternative to a car? (Yes, you must own auto insurance to defray the cost of accidents, just as you must pay a tax on gasoline to maintain our highway system.) Should you be required to wear a certain style or item of clothing? Should you be required to get married by a certain age? Should you be required to eat certain foods and avoid others?
A new study by the Legatum Institute in London ranked citizen’s perception of their personal freedom in a number of nations. Americans ranked way down the list at 21 out of 25, well below Canada, France, and Costa Rica to name just three. The study was based on a 2013 poll.
What is a stake here is (1) the absolute need for a trustworthy federal government and (2) the need to repeal a piece of legislation based entirely on lies. On a larger scale, the right to make your own decisions on matters not relevant to the governance of the nation should be regarded as sacred, it’s called liberty.
The Republican-controlled Congress and the Supreme Court are the two elements of our government that can and must provide a measure of protection against the deception that is practiced every day by President Obama and members of his administration. Let’s hope neither is “stupid” in the two years that remain.
Congressman David Schweikert, Republican representing Arizona’s 6thdistrict is the chairman of the House subcommittee on the Environment in the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. In this capacity, Representative Schweikert introduced the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 (H.R. 4012) and with the support of Texas’s own Lamar Smith, chairman of the full committee, it was passed out of committee.
The bill requires the EPA to disclose all the science, research, models and data used to justify regulations, and the results would have to be reproducible by independent researchers. Schweikert argues research used to make rules imposed on the public, especially when it is funded directly or indirectly by taxpayers, should be transparent.