Posts Tagged With: Iran

Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare: Hint — it’s not Bernie Sanders…


By Judge Andrew P. Napolitano…

Hillary Clinton’s nightmare is not the sudden resurgence of Bernie Sanders. It is the fidelity to the rule of law of the FBI.

The recent revelations of the receipt by Clinton of a Special Access Program email, as well as cut and pasted summaries of state secrets on her server and on her BlackBerry nearly guarantee that the FBI will recommend that the Department of Justice convene a grand jury and seek her indictment for espionage. Here is the backstory.

It seems that every week, more information comes to light about Clinton’s grave legal woes. Her worries are in two broad categories: One is her well-documented failure to safeguard state secrets and the other is her probable use of her position as secretary of state to advance financially her husband’s charitable foundation. The FBI is currently and aggressively investigating both. What I will describe below is in the state secrets category. It is apparently not new to the FBI, but it is new to the public.

Among the data that the FBI either found on the Clinton server or acquired from the State Department via its responses to Freedom of Information Act requests is a top-secret email that has been denominated Special Access Program. Top secret is the highest category of state secrets (the other categories are confidential and secret), and of the sub-parts of top secret, SAP is the most sensitive.

SAP is clothed in such secrecy that it cannot be received or opened accidentally. Clinton — who ensured all of her governmental emails came to her through her husband’s server, a nonsecure nongovernmental venue — could only have received or viewed it from that server after inputting certain codes. Those codes change at unscheduled times, such that she would need to inquire of them before inputting them.

The presence of the SAP-denominated email on her husband’s server, whether opened or not, shows a criminal indifference to her lawful obligation to maintain safely all state secrets entrusted to her care. Yet, Clinton has suggested that she is hopelessly digitally inept and may not have known what she was doing. This constitutes an attempted plausible deniability to the charge of failing to safeguard state secrets.

But in this sensitive area of the law, plausible deniability is not an available defense; no judge would permit the assertion of it in legal filings or in a courtroom, and no lawyer would permit a client to make the assertion.

This is so for two reasons. First, failure to safeguard state secrets is a crime for which the government need not prove intent. The failure can be done negligently. Thus, plausible deniability is actually an admission of negligence and, hence in this case, an admission of guilt, not a denial.

Second, Clinton signed an oath under penalty of perjury on Jan. 22, 2009, her first full day as secretary of state. In that oath, she acknowledged that she had received a full FBI briefing on the lawfully required care and keeping of state secrets. Her briefing and her oath specified that the obligation to safeguard state secrets is absolute — it cannot be avoided or evaded by forgetfulness or any other form of negligence, and that negligence can bring prosecution.

What type of data is typically protected by the SAP denomination? The most sensitive under the sun — such as the names of moles (spies working for more than one government) and their American handlers, the existence of black ops (illegal programs that the U.S. government carries out, of which it will deny knowledge if exposed), codes needed to access state secrets and ongoing intelligence gathering projects.

The crime here occurs when SAPs are exposed by residing in a nonsecure venue; it does not matter for prosecution purposes whether they fell into the wrong hands.

Clinton’s persistent mocking of the seriousness of all this is the moral equivalent of taunting alligators before crossing a stream. SAPs are so sensitive that most of the FBI agents who are investigating Clinton lack the security clearances needed to view the SAP found among her emails. Most FBI agents have never seen a SAP.

Shortly after the presence of the SAP-denominated email was made known, the State Department released another email Clinton failed to erase wherein she instructed her subordinates to take state secrets from a secure venue, to cut and paste and summarize them, and send them to her on her nonsecure venue. Such an endeavor, if carried out, is a felony — masking and then not safeguarding state secrets. Such a command to subordinates can only come from a criminal mind.

Equally as telling is a little-known 2013 speech that recently surfaced given by one of Clinton’s former subordinates. The aide revealed that Clinton and her staff regularly engaged in digital conversations about state secrets on their BlackBerries. This is not criminal if the BlackBerries were government-issued and secured. Clinton’s was neither. It was purchased at her instructions off the shelf by one of her staff.

Can anyone doubt that Clinton has failed to safeguard state secrets? If her name were Hillary Rodham instead of Hillary Rodham Clinton, she’d have been indicted months ago.

What remains of the rule of law in America? The FBI will soon tell us.

Categories: Congress, Constitution, Democrats, Government Secrets, Obama, Politics, Strange News, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Obama Got Wrong in the State of the Union….


Heritage Foundation experts weighed in on the policies President Barack Obama mentioned in his last State of the Union address. Here is what they had to say after the president’s speech.

Economy

The Economy Is Far From Booming

President Obama boasts America is in the “middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history.” On paper, he is right. But the economy is far from booming.

While the labor market has improved, it remains much weaker than before the recession hit.

As Obama noted, the unemployment rate has fallen and the economy has added jobs. Unfortunately, much of this improvement comes from Americans dropping out of the labor force. People not looking for work do not count as unemployed.

Yet, they still lack jobs.

The employment rate for 25-54 year olds remains over 2 percentage points below pre-recession levels. Most of the hiring the president touted was simply job creation keeping pace with population growth.

Those Americans who did lose their jobs still have a hard time finding new work. The average unemployed worker has spent over six months jobless. That is longer than any time between the end of World War II and Obama’s inauguration. Workers have good reason to feel anxious about the economy.

– James Sherk, research fellow in labor economics

Obama’s Backwards Thinking on Economic Value of Renewable Energy

President Obama boasted that “On rooftops from Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills and employs more than coal – in jobs that pay better than average.”

Proponents of renewable energy consistently argue that renewables create more jobs per kilowatt hour and thus are a good investment. If that’s the recipe for job creation and economic growth, we can scrap using machinery to pave roads and grow crops.

By Obama’s logic, we can create more jobs by giving people shovels to perform those duties. That would certainly create jobs, but it would also significantly reduce productivity. If we can produce more energy with less labor, that frees up human resources to be productive elsewhere in the economy.

Importantly, there are several key omissions from Obama’s statement. Heavy-handed regulations devoid of any meaningful environmental benefit are driving out coal as an important, reliable energy source and destroying jobs in the process. Solar benefits from generous taxpayer-funded subsidies and while the costs are coming down, solar still remains one of the priciest ways to generate electricity.

If Obama wants to tip his hat to something, he should point to that fact that market-driven small drilling technologies have put money back into the wallets of families. According to the government’s own Energy Information Administration,

“Wholesale electricity prices at major trading hubs on a monthly average basis for on-peak hours were down 27 percent-37 percent across the nation in 2015 compared with 2014, driven largely by lower natural gas prices.”

As Obama said, “I believe a thriving private sector is the lifeblood of our economy.” The oil and gas boom is but one shining example.

Nicolas Loris, Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow

It’s Obama’s Economy, Not the Robots, Workers Should Fear

The President argued that automation has become uniquely challenging for American workers. It’s a strange problem to highlight, for two reasons. First, economists have found no historical relationship between automation and employment rates. In the past, workers who lost their jobs because of technology always found new work. Automation only seems like a threat because finding new jobs in Obama’s recovery has been historically difficult.

Chart2

Second, the rate of automation has slowed sharply since 2003. Employers are finding fewer new ways to automate labor in this decade than they did in the last. Increased automation increases labor productivity; it allows employers to produce their goods with fewer man hours (and more machine hours) than before. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics finds labor productivity has slowed for the past decade. Automation has become a smaller challenger for workers than it was in the past.

The economy faces many challenges. Robots broadly eliminating the need for human labor is not among them.

 – James Sherk, research fellow, labor economics

Government Policies Caused the Financial Crisis and Made the Recession Worse

No, recklessness on Wall Street did not cause the financial crisis, a host of terrible government policies did.

President Bill Clinton’s National Partners in Homeownership set a completely arbitrary goal of increasing home ownership, and it turned out most qualified homebuyers already owned homes. All the additional lending helped to create a housing bubble and increased consumer debt, and the capital requirements that federal regulators imposed on the financial system spread risky loans throughout the markets.

The ever-increasing socialization of losses, by both implicit and explicit government guarantees, added fuel for the fire. The system that gave us the crisis – affordable housing goals, shaky underwriting standards and Fannie and Freddie – remains largely in place.  If we want to prevent another crisis,these policies need to be reversed.

Norbert Michel, research fellow in financial regulations

We Dont Need Government ‘Investments’ in Energy

Energy is one of the last sectors of the economy that needs help from the federal government or a centralized plan. The laws of supply and demand work quite well. We have an abundance of resources, and a great deal of suppliers producing energy from a mix of energy sources. The global market for energy is a multi-trillion dollar opportunity.

One energy consulting firm estimated that in 2011, world expenditures for energy totaled more than $6 trillion – 10 percent of global Gross Domestic Product and the second largest expenditure behind health care.

The International Energy Agency projects that that tens of trillions of dollars of energy investment will be necessary to meet global energy demands over the next twenty years. Any company that has a viable technology will not need any help from the taxpayer or a government program. Profits will reward innovative ideas and promising technologies.

Nicolas Loris, Herbert & Joyce Morgan Fellow

Obama-Era Regulations Cost Taxpayers $80 Billion a Year

President Obama tonight stated that “there are outdated regulations that need to be changed, and there’s red tape that needs to be cut.”

He is right. But he has said that many times before. And, despite all the talk, his administration has done virtually nothing to reform or repeal the unnecessary red tape. Instead of rooting out outdated rules, he has added on record numbers of new ones.

Overall, according to our annual “Red Tape Rising” report on federal regulation, 184 major new rules have been imposed on the American people since Obama took office, costing some $80 billion each and every year. The number of such rules pared back: only 17. So much for cutting red tape.

Rather than the careful assessment of new and old rules the president spoke of, in practice his regulatory policy has been a one way ratchet toward ever more rules from Washington governing the lives of Americans.

James Gattuso, senior research fellow in regulatory policy

Squeezed Earnings Happened Under Obama’s Watch

President Obama talked about long-term economic trends squeezing workers. He should have made it clear this squeeze is a recent phenomenon.Congressional Budget Office data shows that workers at every income level prospered between 1979 and 2007.

During that period non-elderly households in the middle quintile saw their labor market earnings rise by a third. Households in the poorest quintile saw their labor market income rise well over 50 percent. From the Reagan Presidency until the Great Recession, American economic opportunities expanded up and down the income ladder.

Chart

Since the Recession and the slow Obama recovery that has changed. Between 2007 and 2011 (the most recent data available) labor income for non-elderly households in the middle quintile dropped roughly 10 percentage points.

No wonder Americans are down on the economy. But these problems have predominantly occurred on Obama’s watch. That should make Americans skeptical that doubling down on his preferred policies would fix them.

James Sherk, research fellow, labor economics

No Presidential Leadership on Entitlement Reform

President Obama stated in the State of the Union tonight that “Social Security and Medicare are more important than ever; we shouldn’t weaken them, we should strengthen them.” Beyond catering to his political base, Obama offered no details on how he would strengthen these programs.

Obama failed the nation during his term thus far when it comes to reforming Social Security and Medicare. Despite his 2009 promise that “some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else,” we’ve seen very little action from the president on accomplishing this feat. Unsustainable, poorly conceived cuts to Medicare from Obamacare and a bailout of Social Security’s disability program can hardly be counted as entitlement reform.

One of every $10 produced by the U.S. economy in fiscal year 2015 was spent on only three federal programs: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

These three programs alone consume more than half of all federal spending and they are growing rapidly. The next president must lead on entitlement reform upon entering office.

Romina Boccia, deputy director, Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies and Grover M. Hermann Research Fellow

When Job Training Hurts, Not Helps

The Hippocratic oath enjoins doctors to “first, do no harm.” The president should keep that in mind with his job training proposals. He suggested sending unemployment insurance recipients through federal job training. But evaluations find one of the major federal job training programs makes it harder for workers to get jobs.

The federal government funds “Trade Adjustment Assistance” benefits for workers who lose their job to foreign trade. The program includes generous federal subsidies and free job training. You might expect this to improve displaced workers’ incomes. But when Mathematica evaluated the program, it found participants made $27,000 less than workers outside the program.

What happened? Trade Adjustment Assistance encouraged jobless workers to enroll in federal job training programs instead of looking for new work immediately. But the job training didn’t improve their job prospects. So they wasted over a year they could have spent job hunting in a training program employers didn’t value. Workers never fully recovered from missing those potential job opportunities. Even the federal subsidies only partially made up their losses. The unemployed workers would have made more money skipping the training program, even if it meant forgoing the federal subsidies.

Congress should think carefully before creating another federal job training program. They could easily wind up hurting the workers they want to help.

James Sherk, research fellow, labor economics

The Same Tired Line on Federal Infrastructure Spending

Once again, President Obama made a cursory mention of infrastructure in his State of the Union, claiming that if only the federal government would spend more taxpayer money (gleaned from higher taxes on fossil fuels), the government can “put tens of thousands of Americans to work building a 21st century transportation system.” But as innocuous as this agenda sounds, it fundamentally misses the mark.

Using government spending to stimulate job creation was a cornerstone of the Obama stimulus plan that ultimately failed to produce the “shovel ready” jobs the president promised. A big problem is that infrastructure projects take a long time to plan and require highly-skilled labor, meaning that spending on these projects is ineffective at creating new jobs for recently unemployed Americans (most of whom lack the necessary job skills). The federal government has a very poor track record as a job creator, and spending on infrastructure is no exception.

Instead, transportation infrastructure should focus scarce resources on enhancing mobility and relieving congestion so that American workers, businesses, and travelers all over the country can get where they need to go. At this, the top-down federal transportation program has been ineffective. The federal gas taxes that were originally intended to maintain the Interstate Highway System – a true national priority – are diverted to various special interests by Congress and federal bureaucrats. Over a quarter of gas taxes are siphoned to projects that are not proper federal priorities, such as local transit and bike-share programs, while a mere six percent goes to the actual construction of major projects.

Due to perennial overspending on transportation projects, the federal Highway Trust Fund has required over $140 billion in bailouts since 2008. And even though the president pledged that we should not “subsidize the past”, the federal government spends millions in subsidies incentivizing cities to build cumbersome and expensive streetcar projects, which last saw their heyday in the early 20th century.

Federal promises of job creation and effective infrastructure investment have floundered. Rather than continuing the one-size-fits all approach out of Washington that has left millions of Americans stuck in traffic, the federal government should get out of the way to empower the states and private sector–who can best gauge local priorities–to truly build a 21st century transportation system.

Michael Sargent, research associate, Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies

Presidents Obama vs. President Reagan on Trade

In his final State of the Union Address, President Obama suggested the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would “open markets, protect workers and the environment, and advance American leadership.”

The key factor for Congress to evaluate will be whether TPP really doespromote open markets and economic freedom. If it does, workers and the environment will benefit. The latest rankings of trade freedom around the world in the Heritage Foundation’s forthcoming 2016 Index of Economic Freedom confirm that citizens of countries that embrace free trade are better off than those in countries that do not. The data continue to show a strong correlation between trade freedom and a variety of positive indicators, including economic prosperity, low poverty rates, and clean environments.

Obama missed an opportunity to explain the benefits of trade when he said, “Companies in a global economy can locate anywhere, and face tougher competition. As a result, workers have less leverage for a raise.” In fact, the global economy brings enormous benefits to workers, both through importsused by American manufacturers to compete, and through jobs provided to nearly 6 million workers thanks to foreign investment in the United States.

As President Ronald Reagan observed in his final State of the Union address: “One of the greatest contributions the United States can make to the world is to promote freedom as the key to economic growth. A creative, competitive America is the answer to a changing world, not trade wars that would close doors, create greater barriers, and destroy millions of jobs.”

Bryan Riley, Jay Van Andel senior policy analyst

Education

President’s Preschool Push Entangles Washington in the Care of the Youngest Americans

President Obama’s suggestion that government should become further entangled in the education and care of the youngest Americans would not serve children or taxpayers well.

Washington already has a poor track record engaging in K–12 education, with federal spending more than doubling over the past three decades while academic achievement and attainment has languished, particularly among low-income students.

Further federal intervention in preschool and childcare will crowd out the private provision of care, increase costs for taxpayers, and will fail to create lasting academic benefits for children, as recent evaluations of state and federal programs have demonstrated. A large-scale evaluation of the federal Head Start program found the program had no impact on the academic outcomes, social-emotional well being, health outcomes, or parenting practices of participants.

A recent evaluation of Tennessee’s voluntary pre-K program (TN-VPK) had similarly unimpressive outcomes. Researchers from Vanderbilt found that in Tennessee’s program, which is lauded as a model of state preschool programs by proponents, by second grade,

the [experiment and control] groups began to diverge with the TN-VPK children scoring lower than the control children on most of the measures. The differences were significant on both achievement composite measures and on the math subtests.

More federal intervention in preschool and childcare will also fail to address deeper social issues while being largely duplicative of existing efforts, as nearly three-quarters of four-year-olds are already enrolled in some form of preschool.

Lindsey Burke, Will Skillman Fellow in Education at The Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity

More Federal Subsidies Will Not Solve the College Cost Problem

The president’s proposal to provide “free” community college is not the solution to the college affordability problem. Students who are low-income already have access to federal student aid such as Pell Grants, which can be used to finance the cost of attending community college. So the proposal will serve as little more than a federal handout to the community college system. Community colleges also face their own challenges, with less than 20 percentof first time students enrolled in community colleges graduating within three years.

America’s $1.2 trillion student loan tab presents a serious problem in our economy. Americans would be better served by policies that actually help to lower higher education costs, making higher education an engine of upward mobility for American who choose to pursue it. That goal requires broad reforms to accreditation, reforms to federal student aid programs, and streamlining and reducing burdensome regulations and requirements that permeate higher education today.

Mary Clare Reim, research associate in education policy 

Foreign Policy and National Security

No Strategy, Only Spin When It Comes to Fighting ISIS

A few years ago President Obama described ISIS as the “JV team.”

Today, the terror group poses more of a threat to the world than ever before. As recent Heritage Foundation research pointed out, in the past two years ISIS has established a presence in 19 countries. Foreign fighters are flocking to the wannabe caliphate in droves.

In Syria and Iraq, ISIS controls territory the size of Maryland and rules over a population equivalent to Virginia’s. Although ISIS was recently kicked out of the Iraqi town of Ramadi, it still occupies Mosul—Iraq’s second largest city of almost 2 million people.

Obama’s remarks tonight reaffirmed what everyone already knew: that there is no strategy to defeat ISIS and he cannot wait to pass the buck to his successor.

Even though the U.S. dropped 22,110 bombs against ISIS in 2015 (by comparison, during the first 30 days alone of the 2003 Iraq invasion the U.S dropped 29,000 munitions) the air campaign has achieved minimal success on the ground. The administration’s program to train and equip so-called ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels has been a complete failure—to the tune of $500 million. More importantly, the U.S. has failed at drumming up more support on the Arab Street to take on ISIS.

Sadly, the next U.S. President will inherit a mess in the region.

Luke Coffey, director of Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy

A Delusional National Security Review

When it came to national security issues, President Obama’s State of the Union address veered from delusional to dishonest. He presented the American people with a series of false choices, straw arguments and inaccurate assessments regarding his track record.

Regarding Islamic State (ISIS, or ISIL), Obama tried to downplay the existential threat they posed. The president has past form on this. It was, after all, his complacency towards the gathering strength of the group in 2013/14 (when he referred to them as a “jayvee team”) that helped ISIS grow into the threat it now truly is. Rather than learning this lesson, he instead focused his ire on those who “build [ISIL] up”.

Obama went on to provide a list of initiatives that the U.S. was spearheading in the war against the group, which included efforts to “cut off ISIL’s financing, disrupt their plots, stop the flow of terrorist fighters, and stamp out their vicious ideology.” These were unusual examples to cite, because on every count, these efforts have failed. ISIS is stocked with foreign fighters, its ideology has spread across the globe, it has launched attacks in mainland Europe and it remains financially strong.

Obama also dismissed the idea that theology could be at the heart of ISIS’s appeal, dubbing them simply “killers and fanatics”. Yet a refusal to acknowledge the religious component to ISIS’s activities is counter-productive. It is only by understanding the group’s appeal and its beliefs that we can subsequently cut off the sources of its recruitment.

Obama constructed another straw man by claiming that “the lesson of Vietnam, of Iraq” was that the U.S. cannot “try to take over and rebuild every country that falls into crisis”. This was particularly absurd. No one seriously believes that the U.S. could or should take on such a role. It also ignores the fact that what Obama claims to be his “smarter” approach has led to disasters in Libya, Syria and Yemen, to name but three. Attempting to argue that his “patient and disciplined” strategy meant the U.S. was “leading international efforts to help that broken society pursue a lasting peace” in Syria was a particularly deluded attempt at recasting the situation there as anything other than an utter disaster.

Robin Simcox, Margaret Thatcher Fellow

US Lacks a Grand Strategy to Deal With Russian Aggression

Almost seven years later, the so-called Russian ‘reset’ policy is now a Russian regret. Russia still occupies 20 percent of Georgia’s territory. Moscow’s imperialism has resulted in the illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea and a Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine. Russia is testing NATO in the Baltics, rebuilding its military bases in the Arctic, and has intervened in the Syrian Civil War with no regard to the consequences.

Since taking office President Obama and many of those around him have assumed that Vladimir Putin is someone you can do business with, that Europe is no longer important, and that military power no longer buys the same influence on the world stage as it once did. These assumptions have led to bad policy decisions (such as the removal of 10,000 U.S. troops from Europe and drastic cuts to the U.S. military) by this White House that has emboldened Russian aggression and tested the transatlantic alliance to its limits.

During the State of the Union address Obama glossed over Russia’s aggression. Astoundingly, the upcoming NATO Summit in July 2016, Obama’s last, did not even get a mention in the Commander in Chief’s 5,438 word long speech. In fact, the word NATO was not said at all.

Just because a problem is ignored does not mean it will go away. As Heritage Foundation experts have pointed out, the U.S. needs a comprehensive grand strategy to deal with Russia. Unfortunately, it looks like America and her allies will have to wait for 2017 because this becomes a possibility. No doubt Putin will be taking advantage of the situation during the meantime.

Luke Coffey, director of Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy

A Disconnect on Middle East Policy

President Obama remained in denial about the disastrous nature of his Middle East policy throughout the small parts of his state of the union speech that dealt with foreign policy.

He said that: “Priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks.” That certainly was not the case in his last state of the union speech, which was the first that did not mention al-Qaeda since George W. Bush’s 2002 speech. He glossed over the uneven results of his half-hearted, slow-motion incremental response to the rise of ISIS and fumbling responses to the deepening crisis in Syria, where his administration has been consistently behind the curve.

His optimism on defeating these two terrorist networks would be reassuring if he wasn’t the same misinformed person who told Americans that the war in Iraq had ended, that ISIS was a “J.V. team” and that ISIS was contained the day before it launched the Paris terrorist attacks that killed 130 people.

He also made no mention of Iran’s terrorist network, which is sure to be boosted when Tehran collects up to $100 billion in sanctions relief under his risky nuclear deal. But perhaps he believes that Iran’s theocratic dictatorship will swayed by his optimism that “the unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

– James Phillips, senior research fellow for middle eastern affairs

Yet Another ‘Close GITMO’ Promise

Once again, President Obama used his State of the Union speech to urge Congress to work with him to close the terrorist detention facility at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GITMO). But it is worth reminding everyone that GITMO is open for one reason and one reason only: because Obama failed to close the facility when the stage was set for him to do so.

In 2009-2010, Obama’s own party held a 59-41 majority in the Senate, and a 257-178 advantage in the House of Representatives. If the president needed any legislation to close Guantanamo—a debatable point—or simply the political backing of the majorities in both houses of Congress, the stars were aligned for him to do so.

But instead of working with Congress to close GITMO in 2009-2010, the administration engaged in a series of controversial moves that caused a bi-partisan uproar, resulting in the Democrat-controlled congress passing legislation that each year since 2009 has made it more difficult to close GITMO.

Failing to lead has serious consequences. The window to close GITMO has come and gone.

Today, the threats from al-Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, ISIS and associated forces are very real. Transferring some of the 103 remaining detainees and moving the rest to the United States – in direct violation of a congressional statute passed with Democratic support – is not prudent.

Changing the zip code of where we keep terrorist detainees will not alter the terrorists’ hatred for and attempted attacks against the United States one bit.

– Cully Stimpson, manager, national security law program and senior legal fellow

Obama’s Failed Cuba Policy

The facts clearly demonstrate the ineffectiveness of President Obama’s radical new Cuba policy. Diplomatic recognition and increased commercial opportunities to the Castro regime have emboldened the military dictatorship. This has directly resulted in historic levels of repression against the anti-Castro opposition.

It’s also resulted in a continuation of hostility against U.S. national security interests.

Despite a year chock full of unilateral concessions, Havana continues undermining the U.S. and our interests. Dissidents have suffered historic levels of repression, even during Pope Francis’s visit to the island.

Recently, it was discovered the regime has been in possession for over a year of an inert U.S. Hellfire Missile, which was shipped from Spain to the island. The administration has not been able to answer how it got there, or if other hostile countries have obtained sensitive defense technology from it.

We must also keep in mind that it was only two summers ago when the Cuban government violated U.N. Security Council sanctions by clandestinely shipping weapons to North Korea.

It was incredibly shameful for the president to laude his overtures to Havana as a “success.”

– Ana Quintana, policy analyst, Latin America and the Western Hemisphere

A Presidential Lecture

Perhaps one of the most petulant presidents in modern history, lectured the country during the State of the Union not to assume that people who disagree with them act with malice. And this same president, known for a slew of controversial executive actions on such important issues as immigration and the right to bear arms, grumbled that he could not act alone, but needed Congress.

Yes, just three months after pouring invective on governors and congressmen who disagreed with him on refugees as not simply leaders with whom he disagreed; they were “un-American” and “shameful,” President Barack Obama said in the State of the Union message that “democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens. It doesn’t work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice, or that our political opponents are unpatriotic.”

Obama appeared close to coming to grips with the fact that his peevish, sullen approach to politics has made things worse in Washington. “It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency – that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better. There’s no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide,” said Obama.

But then, Obama added, “But, my fellow Americans, this cannot be my task – or any president’s – alone.” Tell that to a Congress that keeps complaining that Obama does go alone whenever he doesn’t get his way on Capitol Hill.

Mike Gonzalez, senior fellow, The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy

Obama Tries to Downplay ISIS Threat (Again)

First President Obama called the Islamic State a “JV Team,” then he said they were “contained,” just before an ISIS inspired terrorist attack. Now Obama has characterized ISIS as “masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks” during the State of the Union address.

The president’s most recent characterization of ISIS again tries to downplay the terrorist group’s capabilities, suggesting it is something far less formidable than it actually is.

ISIS is, however, armed to the teeth with tanks, Humvees, surface-to-air missiles, and artillery. It fields a conventional force that has routed a far-larger Iraqi military that was trained and equipped by the United States. It still controls swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, and millions live under its subjugation. It is carving out a presence in Libya, and making a push to control that country’s lucrative oil fields.

ISIS lost approximately 14 percent of its territory in 2015, but it is far from defeated. It is certainly not a ragtag band of second-tier terrorists, which is how Obama too frequently portrays the group. During the State of the Union, the President decried the mistrust between Republicans and Democrats. Frequently mischaracterizing the ISIS danger that is obvious to most Americans is precisely the sort of thing that breeds the very suspicion the president laments.

Luke Coffey, director of Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy

A False Foreign Policy Alternative 

President Obama offered his usual false alternative between occupying and rebuilding “every country that falls into crisis” (an option that literally no one is proposing), or agreeing with his foreign policy. Putting it that way is a cheat, not a choice.

But let’s take the president at his word, which is that he wants the U.S. to “help remake” the international system that the U.S. built after 1945.

Even he doesn’t seem sure about this, because a few lines later, he suggests instead that we should be seeking to strengthen that order, not remake it. And a president more grounded in history might wonder if it’s wise to want to remake the order: from 1815 to 1918 to 1945 to 1991, the system has been at its most flexible after the world has been exhausted by a major war, which isn’t what any of us want.

Nor did the president suggest a single measure that would genuinely re-make the world order: from fighting terrorism to complaining about ungoverned spaces to lecturing Russia to talking about trade deals, his proposals (or rather, his applause lines) were all old hat. But yet, if his goal really is to remake the order, he’s actually doing a good job of it. That order was grounded on U.S. pre-eminence – but from Ukraine, to Syria, to Iran, it’s American weakness, not its strength or its leadership, that’s on display.

A world order without American leadership would indeed be a new one. But it’s not one that most Americans, or most people around the world, would like.

Theodore R. Bromund, senior research fellow in Anglo-American relations

Climate Change

Reasons You Should Not Feel Lonely If You’re Questioning Whether Climate Change Is a Problem

President Obama said feel free to question the science behind climate change but doing so will leave you “pretty lonely” because “you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.”

This “problem” of climate change is hardly one at all. Natural variations have altered the climate much more than man has. Proponents of global action on climate change will argue that 97 percent of the climatologists agree on climate change. There is significant agreement among climatologists, even those labeled as skeptics, that the Earth has warmed moderately over the past 60 years and that some portion of that warming may be attributed to manmade carbon dioxide emissions. However, there is no consensus that temperatures are increasing at an accelerating rate and we’ve seen them plateau for nearly two decades now.

Even studies that have attempted to refute the 18-year pause in global warming show that the temperature trend is much less than that projected by climate models. And even though man-made greenhouse gas emissions have increased, the world has not experienced trends in the increased frequency or magnitude of extreme weather events.

Heritage research has shown that the statistical models that the administration relies on to quantify the economic impact of climate change are heavily dependent upon certain assumptions and extremely sensitive to very reasonable tweaks to these assumptions.  In fact, under some assumptions one of the models that the administration relies on suggests that there may even be net benefits to global warming. That’s right: benefits.

The climate data simply does not suggest that man-made global warming should be at the top of the list of public concerns. Most importantly, even if you do believe the planet is heading toward catastrophe, the Obama administration’s climate agenda will drive up energy costs by driving out affordable energy sources for no meaningful climate reduction. We could grind all economic activity to a halt, hold our breaths forever, and cut carbon emissions to zero in the U.S. — and still only wind up lowering average temperatures by no more than 0.2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

Politicians might want to start listening to those “lonely” climate voices and have an objective, scientific debate on climate change.

Nicolas Loris, Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow

Kevin Dayaratna, senior satistician and research programmer

Obama’s Climate Agenda Will Cost the Economy, Not Grow It

When discussing taking action on climate change, President Obama said that it doesn’t really matter if you believe in climate change because “why would we want to pass up the chance for American businesses to produce and sell the energy of the future?” He went on to say, “But the jobs we’ll create, the money we’ll save, and the planet we’ll preserve – that’s the kind of future our kids and grandkids deserve.”

But the reality of a government-forced shift away from carbon-emitting natural resources such as coal, oil and natural gas will be a net cost to the economy – not a net gain. And the math isn’t even close. At a time when 80 percent of America’s energy needs are met by these carbon-emitting energy sources, restricting their use will drive up costs for households and businesses.

Carbon dioxide cutting policies will do nothing but kill jobs and stifle the American economy for years to come. Heritage research has found that the policies associated with these carbon cutting regulations will reduce aggregate gross-domestic product (GDP) by more than $2.5 trillion and kill hundreds upon thousands of jobs over the course of the next decade—all for a negligible impact on global temperatures. Manufacturing employment throughout the country will be hit particularly hard.

Obama’s climate agenda is all pain, no gain.

– Kevin Dayaratna, senior statistician and research programmer

Nicolas Loris, Herbert & Joyce Morgan Fellow

Agree or Disagree With Catastrophic Global Warming, There Are Serious Problems With Obama’s Approach

President Obama continues to distract from the legitimate disagreements Americans and their representatives in local, state, and federal levels of government have with this administration’s global warming agenda. Obama focused on painting a picture of “lonely” opponents who are anti-science. But even people who believe that global warming is a problem have disagreed with the President on how he has attempted to address it.

Most notably, the cornerstone of Obama’s agenda – a pair of greenhouse gas regulations known as the Clean Power Plan – fail to meet the standards of the American system of government. The Clean Power Plan rules require states to meet carbon dioxide emissions reduction goals for existing power plants and to cap emissions of carbon dioxide from new power plants to levels that are so low as to effectively prevent any coal power plant from running without carbon capture and sequestration technology (technology which has yet to be proven feasible).

Laurence Tribe, a Harvard law professor, put it eloquently in saying that representative government, not the pros and cons of addressing climate change, is at issue:

“At its core, the issue the Clean Power Plan presents is whether EPA is bound by the rule of law and must operate within the framework established by the United States Constitution. … Accordingly, EPA’s gambit would mean citizens surrendering their right to be represented by an accountable and responsive government that accords with the postulates of federalism.”

As Obama said, “Our Founders distributed power between states and branches of government, and expected us to argue, just as they did, over the size and shape of government, over commerce and foreign relations, over the meaning of liberty and the imperatives of security.” But that system breaks down when decisions normally left to states and individuals are centralized in Washington.

Regardless of political party or position on climate change or global warming, there are serious problems with the climate agenda that the Obama administration has attempted to push through.

– Katie Tubb, research associate, Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies

The Energy Investments ‘We’ Made

President Obama boasted during his State of the Union address that “Seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history.”

The trouble isn’t investing in alternative technologies like wind and solar; as with other energy resources, these should have the opportunity to compete in a truly free market of energy choices. The problem is who Obama means when he says “we.”

Rather than leaving energy choices to American families and businesses, “we” has consistently meant forcing taxpayers to subsidize politically preferred energy technologies. And here are some of those results:

  • Americans footed the bill for billions of dollars in federal energy spending under the Obama stimulus package, which increased federal energy spending by over 2,000 percent. And yet politicians keep buying into the same mentality that got us Solyndra, which cost American taxpayers millions.
  • $23.8 billion in tax credits will go to subsidize wind, solar, and other renewables over the next decade by the yet-again extension of production and investment tax credits for these energy sources. The wind production tax credit has been extended, re-extended, and retroactively extended 10 times, and the solar investment tax credit as it’s known today has been around since 2005 (though it goes back to the 1970s).
  • As Obama pointed out, jobs in the solar industry have increased and solar energy is becoming more affordable. The same can be said for wind. And yet these industries have become dependent on federal support in the form of loan guarantees, targeted tax favors, and government programs. In the long run, targeted subsidies only hurt the industries they’re intended to help.
  • Even the president’s stated goal of impacting global temperatures cannot be listed as among the benefits of forcing taxpayers to subsidize green energy technologies. According to the National Academy of Science, eliminating the tax credits would increase greenhouse gas emissions by only 0.3 percent. In fact, if the president were truly concerned about environmental impacts, he might consider that a very efficient wind farm would need 260 times the amount of land to produce the same amount of electricity as a typical nuclear power plant requires, the latter which produces virtually no emissions.

Instead of defining the rules of the game as the government should do, the president’s vision for “all of the above” energy choices has consistently meant special treatment for his politically preferred energy resources.

– Katie Tubb, research associate, Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies

Health Care

Less Competition and Less Access to Doctors

President Obama and his allies in Congress said that the Affordable Care Act would increase competition. In fact, there is no evidence that the law has increased the number of carriers in the insurance market. The absence of competition at the county level is stark.

Another Heritage Foundation analysis of health plan participation at the state level shows that in 2013, there were 395 individual market carriers, and in 2015, under the exchange, there were 310, a 21.5 percent reduction.

The president also said that if a person liked their doctor they would be able to keep their doctor. In fact, the law has made that access increasingly difficult. Insurance plan changes, and the loss of previous coverage, often resulted in a loss of physician or health care provider networks. For example, in April 2014, analysts at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the exchange plans had much narrower networks than they anticipated.

While the narrowing of networks reduced plan costs and thus the cost of the government insurance subsidies, the effect has been to constrict enrollee access to medical providers.

Robert Moffit, senior fellow, Center for Health Policy Studies

Public Opinion on Obamacare

President Obama claims his health care law is a success. Yet public opinion does not follow. According to the Real Clear Politics average, the health care law has yet to see approval outweigh opposition. In its latest average, from November to January – public support flounders at 43.3 percent while opposition is at 51.7 percent.

– Nina Owcharenko, director of the center for health policy studies

Health Insurance Costs

President Obama and his allies in Congress sold the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a measure to lower health care costs for individuals, businesses and the federal government. The president even stated, repeatedly, that his version of health reform would lower health insurance premiums for the typical family by $2,500 per year.

The exact opposite of what the president promised has occurred. Beginning in 2014, as Heritage has shown, the first full year of Obamacare, premiums in the individual market sharply increased in most states. In some states, the increases were dramatic; for 50-year-olds alone, there was a premium increase of 50 percent or more in 13 states. The administration likes to emphasize that premium subsidies are available to paper over the premium costs; but no person with an annual income above 400 percent of the federal poverty level (approximately $47,000) is eligible for those subsidies. This is a big hit on the middle class.

In 2015, there was indeed a moderation of premium increases, but insurance deductibles continued to skyrocket: for the “silver” plans in the exchange – the benchmark plans – the average deductible was $2,927 for an individual and $6,100 for a family plan. In comparison, employer-based plans had traditionally low deductibles.

The biggest “rate shock” hit those persons transitioning from employer to exchange coverage. (The average deductible in employer based health insurance – nationwide – is a little over $1,200 for individual coverage). As with premiums, there are also government subsidies to paper over the costs of these high deductibles.

But no person with an annual income above 250 percent of the federal poverty level ($29,425) is eligible for those subsidies, and moreover, that assistance is only available if they enroll in a “silver” exchange plan – not bronze, gold or platinum plans. This is another big hit on the middle class.

Robert Moffit, senior fellow, Center for Health Policy Studies

Health Plan Enrollment

While the law has increased some insurance coverage, enrollment has fallen well short of the robust official projections. For 2016, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that there would be 21 million in the exchanges. More recently, the Obama administration conceded that the enrollment would be much less: a little more over 10 million.

Based on previous experience, there is every reason to be skeptical of projections. In the Spring of 2014, the administration claimed that over 8 million persons selected plans on the government website. It later corrected itself and reported that the number of those selecting plans was 7.3 million. Toward the end of 2014, around the time of the Christmas holidays, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said the correct number at 6.7 million.

For 2015, CBO projected 13 million people in the exchanges. But then, HHS said that 11.7 million signed up. HHS later announced that between 9 to 9.9 million were expected to enroll by the end of 2015. About 17 percent of 2014 enrollees, HHS projected, would not renew in 2015.

Enrollment depends on a variety of things: how people felt about their experience, the cost the deductibles, the networks, their satisfaction with their coverage in the exchange, the opportunities to re-enroll in employer-based coverage, and various other factors.

Projections are, of course, a poor substitute for raw data. Examining the final data for 2014 confirmed the ACA’s enrollment pattern due mostly to expansion of coverage through Medicaid, a poorly performing welfare program, where roughly one in three enrollees have trouble finding a doctor to care for them is hardly progress toward an expansion of quality care.

At the time of passage of the Affordable Care Act, the president  also insisted, routinely, that if persons like their current plan, they would be able to keep their current plan. That also turned out to be untrue. Heritage research showed that for the first three quarters of 2014 while Individual private market coverage in the exchanges grew by over 6.3 million, the number of persons with employment based coverage declined by 4.9 million. So, based on the raw data, concern over a loss of employment based coverage was justified.

Robert Moffit, senior fellow, Center for Health Policy Studies

Alternatives to Obamacare

While not raised tonight, the president and his allies in Congress repeatedly charge that congressional opponents have no alternative health plans.

This charge is flat out false. Republican Sens. Hatch, R-Utah, and Burr R-N.C., and Rep. Upton, R-Mich., produced a health plan replace blueprint. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., and members of the Republican Study Committee have authored comprehensive health plans. Before that Speaker Paul Ryan included major health reforms in his “Road to Prosperity” proposal.

Meanwhile, conservative public policy institutes including the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute, the Goodman Institute, and many others, have outlined comprehensive plans to reform the health care system. All are united on common objectives: the reform of the tax treatment of health insurance, reform of Medicare and Medicaid, the reduction of federal regulation and the creation of open markets driven by consumer choice and competition.

 – Robert Moffit, senior fellow, Center for Health Policy Studies

Taxpayer Costs

President Obama has previously said that no taxpayer making less than $250,000 would face increased taxes. This was also clearly untrue. In fact, as Heritage Foundation analysis has shown, the bulk of the taxes imposed through Obamacare would directly impact middle or low income persons or be passed on to them in higher health care costs. This is particularly true of the tax penalties that accompany the individual and employer mandate, the medical device tax, and the federal health insurance fees. Taxes imposed on companies such as the so-called “Cadillac Tax” on high value health plans, the elimination of the employer deduction for Part D drug subsidy will also directly affect middle income citizens.

– Robert Moffit, senior fellow, Center for Health Policy Studies

Legal

The President is Correct to Support Criminal Justice Reform

At the beginning of his speech, President Obama voiced his support for bipartisan criminal justice reform. The President is correct that this does present an opportunity. Indeed, Republican and Democratic governors have been leading that reform effort throughout the country, as incarceration rates have continued to fall due to innovative approaches to fix our criminal justice system.

Congress will have the opportunity to consider bipartisan proposals such as the Smarter Sentencing Act, the Recidivism Reduction and Public Safety Enhancement Act, as well as much-needed mens rea (criminal intent) reform, all designed to make our criminal justice system more fair and more effective for all Americans. Proposals along these lines merit serious consideration.

– Alden Abbott, Rumpel Senior Legal Fellow and deputy director of the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

The President has the Wrong Perspective on Campaign Finance

The president stated that “we have to reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families and hidden interests can’t bankroll our elections – and if our existing approach to campaign finance can’t pass muster in the courts, we need to work together to find a real solution.” This statement ignores the fact that individuals have a First Amendment right to spend their money to engage in political speech, as the Supreme Court has recognized.

Moreover, the notion that “a handful of families and interests” bankroll our elections is inaccurate and misleading. Put simply, there is no need “to find a real solution” to a supposed campaign finance “problem” that does not exist.

– Alden Abbott, Rumpel Senior Legal Fellow and deputy director of the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

The President’s Discussion of the Voting System is Misguided

The president stated that “we’ve got to make voting easier, not harder, and modernize it for the way we live now. And over the course of the year, I intend to travel the country to push for reforms that do.” There is simply no credible evidence that voting is unnecessarily hard, nor that undefined “reforms” are needed to “modernize” it.

Rather, to the extent there are problems associated with voting, they arise out of the hundreds of cases of criminal voter fraud that have been documented and published on the Heritage Foundation’s website.

To deal with this problem, election officials should seek to guarantee the sanctity of the ballot box by taking steps to prevent fraud, including in particular cleaning up voter registration rolls and verifying voter IDs.

– Alden Abbott, Rumpel Senior Legal Fellow and deputy director of the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

Life and Marriage

Expansion of EITC for Single, Childless Adults Would Increase Welfare System’s Marriage Penalties

President Obama talked about fighting poverty by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for childless adults. It’s a strategy that, as the President noted, has also been promoted by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.

However, increasing EITC for single, childless adults would increase marriage penalties already rampant in the government’s means-tested welfare system. Absent fathers and other single individuals would only be eligible for the expanded tax credit until they married. Marriage is the greatest protection against child poverty.

Children in married-parent homes are 80 percent less likely to be poorcompared to their peers in single-parent households. Tragically, more than 40 percent of children are born outside of marriage every year. Rather than increase marriage disincentives in the government’s massive welfare system, policymakers should look for ways to reduce these penalties and strengthen marriage.

– Rachel Sheffield, policy analyst in policy analyst in the DeVos Center for Religion & Civil Society 

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Parrot laughs like a super villain…


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Obama’s dangerous lie to the Jewish community…..


Written by Allen West on November 15, 2013

Americans are single-mindedly focused on one particular Obama lie: “If you like your healthcare plan you can keep it period.” This purposeful, blatant deceit of the American people, on top of past lies (such as a crude video being the impetus for the spontaneous demonstration resulting in the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya) has eroded any trust, confidence, and credibility for Barack Obama.

However, there is another lie which has far greater implications for American credibility: “Iran will not get nuclear weapons.”

According to the follow-on reports from the negotiations of the UN P5+1 and Iran in Geneva, President Obama, through his characterless mouthpiece, Secretary of State John Kerry, was willing to end all sanctions against the rogue Islamic regime for minuscule concessions.

Even worse, our allies in the Middle East know of this betrayal. And to have Mr. Kerry further threaten Israel’s economic and national security forcing them to bend to President Obama’s PLO love fest is unconscionable.

America under Barack Hussein Obama is being fundamentally transformed into a weak, retreating, untrustworthy actor on the international stage. The Obama administration severely lacks integrity, which reflects adversely upon our nation and its citizens.

I hope at some point the American Jewish community will awaken. I’ve almost lost any hope for my own black community, which is being led to a slaughter in the inner cities. If the Jewish American community continues to live in the fantasy world that these progressive socialists actually care about Israel, it is completely delusional.

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Bomb Shelter Boom Sees Underground Pools, Basketball Courts……


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The latest real estate boom to sweep America comes with all the trappings of luxurious living: custom-built swimming pools, gyms, full-length basketball courts, and even airplane hangars.
The only catch is that this time, the features are all buried underground.
The boom in bomb shelter sales over the past 15 years has taken the spartan 1950s notion of a fallout shelter and given it a makeover, according the owners of three companies that make and sell shelters.
Now, custom installations can create 100,000 square foot underground dwellings that could hold dozens of people for months or years.
“You can have all your major amenities: TV, high power and high voltage (appliances)… horticulture rooms where you can grow vegetables and gardens, a full shower, all the amenities of your full home. We’re not limiting what people can do,” said Brad Roberson, marketing director for Rising S Company, which builds and installs custom shelters.
The basic requirements that most owners want in a shelter include air filtration systems to protect from nuclear, chemical and biological warfare, ventilation systems and a toilet system, as well as blast-proof and fallout-proof casing on the outside, he and other makers told ABC News.
But in addition to that, shelters can have “secret doors, hidden passageways, panic rooms, bulletproof glass,” running water, toilets, showers, and electricity, according to Roberson.
“Budget and imagination are the only limits,” he said.
A bunker on the small side of 10 feet by 20 feet starts at about $54,000. They go up from there to $10 million, Roberson said.
At Utah Shelter Systems, corrugated pipe shelters start about $50,000 for an 8-foot diameter by 32-foot length shelter. They go up to about 490,000 for a 12 –foot by 50-foot run, Packer said.
Rising S recently built an $8 million shelter in Colorado that measured 15,000 square feet, with camouflaged elevators and handicap ramps to provide access to a disabled client. They placed a log cabin over the top of the bunker to serve as a safe house. Behind the logs will be a bulletproof half-inch steel plate protecting the structure, he said.
“Everything above ground is camouflaged by an old barn or water silo that sits above it,” Roberson said. “He’s got a basketball court, and airplane hangar large enough to park 2 Cessna planes that will open up to face a hill or mountain. He’s got a large gym, 22 rooms, he has a large family.”
In the past 15 years, companies that make and sell underground bunkers have sprouted up

 

Bomb Shelters Make a Comeback Amid Nuclear, Economic Uncertainties around the country, mainly in the West and South, according to the founders of three companies.
“I think probably around the year 2000 we started seeing quite an increase in sales,” said Sharon Packer, co-owner of Utah Shelter Systems in Draper, Utah. Her company installs shelters made out of 10-foot-wide concrete pipes linked together to create rooms six feet underground.
“People were concerned about the very real issue of possible effects on our computers. ‘Y2K’ started the upsurge, and for 13 years it’s been a good steady business,” Packer said. “After 9/11 we had a big surge in the East, in New York.”
Recently, fears of a nuclear armed Iran or North Korea have stoked the fear that a nationwide disaster would force residents to retreat to safety underground, to wait out nuclear fallout or social instability, Packer and others said.
“It’s sad to say, the worse the state of affairs get, our government gets, the closer we see these policies the government is forcing down our throats, and foreign threats as well. It inflames peoples’ desire to give themselves a retreat,” Roberson said.

Buying Bomb Shelters Like Buying Insurance
“People are awakening to the threat,” Packer said. “A lot of it is the terrorist attacks, a lot of it is the economy. People are concerned about having a government failure. Some of it is Earth changes.”
Brian Duvaul, the sales manager at American Safe Homes, said that in the last quarter of 2012 his businesses saw a 25 percent jump in calls that he attributed, in part, to the Mayan calendar ending and fears about the end of the world. He also said he had previously seen jumps in sales during the anthrax scares of 2002 and 2003, and after the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown in Japan in 2011.
“People don’t always come out and tell us why they’re doing what they’re doing. We had one guy tell us he had to get a blast door for his wife’s birthday, which happened to be one day before the Mayan calendar ended,” Duvaul said. “I didn’t believe him, but we got him the door.
Bomb shelter manufacturers said that their average customer is a middle-aged, affluent man, though beyond that, all different types of people have come looking for protection from future disasters.
“The purchasers, they understand the need for it. It’s almost like buying insurance. You don’t know if we’ll have a scenario in our lifetime, though we suspect it, that will drive us underground,” Roberson said.
“It seems to be not as much about fallout,” he said, explaining the motivation for installing a shelter. He said that logically, most people won’t be within range of nuclear fallout,
“It won’t matter how close you were to the blast radius. It’s going to be the ‘haves and have-nots’, and if they need it they’re going to take it, to come into your house and burn it down,” he said.
Packer of Utah Shelter Systems said that of her customers, she has seen few traditional “survivalists,” and many more ordinary, highly-educated professionals coming to her in case of a worst-case scenario.
“The vast majority are professionals,” Packers said. “They are very well educated, a lot of doctors. The majority of them are physicians, and attorneys, a lot of engineers, all of whom understand the real threat.”
Spencer Weart, the author of the “The Rise of Nuclear Fear,” said that bomb shelters are a logical act for people who really believe there will be a nuclear war or some type of disaster. Weart has catalogued America’s nuclear fears dating to the 1950s.
“It’s a way of putting money where your mouth is, isn’t it?” Weart said. “If you believe there’s actually going to be a nuclear war, you’re kind of in a tough situation. If you’re convinced of that, it makes sense to make yourself a fallout shelter. So most people convince themselves there isn’t going to be a nuclear war. It’s optimists versus pessimists.”
The rise in popularity of bomb shelters shows a persistent strain of skepticism about community in America, he said.
“The thing about a bomb shelter is it assumes a societal breakdown, and this is one of the great myths that’s been propagated since the 19th century, that society will break down and it’s every family for himself, which is not what happens in a disaster,” Weart said.
“People tend to pitch and help each other, even at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It ties in a fundamental distrust of human nature. It shows a complete distrust in society and the social system.”

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BREAKING NEWS….IRAN SOURCE: PRESIDENT AHMADINEJAD ARRESTED


Taken to secret location for 7 hours before released

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was arrested and held for seven hours Monday and warned to keep his mouth shut about matters detrimental to the Islamic regime before he was released, according to a source within the Revolutionary Guard’s intelligence unit.

After his visit to Tehran’s 26th international book fair Monday, the source said the head of Ahmadinejad’s security team informed the Iranian president that he had been asked to appear at the supreme leader’s office for an urgent matter.

On the way to the meeting, contact between the security team within the president’s convoy was disconnected while three other cars joined the convoy, instructing the lead car to take a different direction. Ahmadinejad, instead of being taken to the supreme leader’s office, was taken to a secret location in one of the buildings belonging to the Foreign Ministry, which is under the control of the Revolutionary Guards’ intelligence unit.

As soon as Ahmadinejad exited the car, he and his security team were involved in an altercation with Guards’ members in which his team was disarmed and communications equipment confiscated. Ahmadinejad was then forced to enter an office belonging to Hossein Taeb, the head of the Guards’ intelligence, located underneath the building.

As this was happening, the source said, hundreds of other Guards’ members from the intelligence unit sought out Ahmadinejad’s associates throughout Tehran and questioned them on the existence of documents detrimental to the regime.

Ahmadinejad was questioned for hours in a meeting with Taeb; Asghar Hejazi, the head of intelligence at the supreme leader’s office; Mojtaba Khamenei, the supreme leader’s son; and Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei, the attorney general. He was warned to back down from his claims against regime officials and given an ultimatum. The source added that Ahmadinejad was released back to his security team at 11:45 p.m. Monday, Tehran time.

Earlier, the regime’s media outlet Baztab reported that with just days remaining for the registration of presidential candidates, Ahmadinejad warned associates that if his hand-picked candidate to succeed him, a close confidant and a top adviser, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, was rejected as a candidate, then he would reveal tapes that will show the regime defrauded the voters in the 2009 presidential election.

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FOUND! IRAN’S SECRET BALLISTIC MISSILE BASE


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The Badr base, a center for air defense which has about 50 underground missile silos housing Iran’s Shahab 3 ballistic missiles, serves as Iran’s second-largest missile-launching site, and is under the control of the Revolutionary Guards.
The base, in the deserts of Semnan far from any city, has many underground tunnels connecting to the silo launching pads, according to a source in the Revolutionary Guards intelligence unit.

The base’s command and control are connected to other bases in Noje, Hamdan, Shahid Doran in Shiraz and the country’s air traffic control centers in Tehran, Birjand and Bandar Abass.

Last year, the Revolutionary Guards aired footage on Iranian TV showing commanders along with a reporter travel via private jet to the base to observe a test launch of a Shahab 3 from an underground silo.
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At that time, Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards aerospace division, claimed that by placing the ballistic missiles in underground silos, the country is preparing for asymmetrical warfare, which will allow the country to stand up to more powerful enemies. Asymmetric warfare is war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly.
Hajizadeh last September warned Israel that the Islamic regime would launch a pre-emptive attack if it felt its enemies were preparing to attack Iran.

“We cannot imagine the Zionist regime starting a war without America’s support,” he said. “Therefore, in case of a war, we will get into a war with both of them and we will certainly get into a conflict with American bases. … In that case, unpredictable and unimaginable things would happen and it could turn into a World War III.”

The regime holds one of the largest ballistic missile arsenals in the Middle East and, as reported exclusively on WND, with the help of Russian and North Korean scientists, it has developed eight microbial agents, including anthrax, plague, smallpox and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), with some of the microbes genetically altered to leave the world defenseless against such an attack.

Iran has 170 missiles targeted at Tel Aviv from underground silos, some of which are armed with biological warheads, according to another source who served in Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and who recently defected.

The first source said the Semnan ballistic missile base is surrounded by many smaller bases that provide training to the support forces from the Badr and Khatamol Anbia brigades. The base and the surrounding bases also serve as the center for the regime’s aerospace activities, including the launches of Safir missiles that successfully placed satellites into orbit. Those launches are part of the intercontinental ballistic missile program.
Brig. Gen. Larimi commands the missile base, with Col. Ahmad Reza Azizi in charge of security and protection.

The Guards have mapped out an extensive list of U.S. bases in the Middle East to attack with their missiles in case of a confrontation over the regime’s illicit nuclear program, disrupting the movement of U.S. forces and the operation of the U.S. Air Force, which the Guards believe will be the main thrust of any attack by America.

In their preparations, the Guards have also drawn up plans to disrupt the oil flow from the Persian Gulf. They know that about 20 percent of the world’s oil and the majority of oil exports of eight countries in the Persian Gulf pass through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway that could be blocked by the regime’s forces.
The Semnan base, the source said, serves as a key role for that purpose with its capability to target Israel, U.S. military bases in the region and targets in the Persian Gulf.

The source warned that the regime will not give up its pursuit of the nuclear bomb and therefore is preparing for war and that the time wasted by meaningless negotiations has only empowered them with their preparations, which will engulf the region and collapse the global economy.

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Israeli expert: Iran could have bomb in 4-6 months……


A former chief of Israeli military intelligence says Iran could develop a nuclear weapon within the next four to six months.
Amos Yadlin says Iran already has all the necessary components needed to build a nuclear bomb. He says from the moment it decides to do so, it could complete the task between four to six months.
Yadlin made the assessment Monday at a news conference announcing the strategic outlook of Tel Aviv’s Institute of National Security Studies, which Yadlin heads.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Iran could pass the threshold Israel could no longer tolerate by this spring or summer.
Israel has repeatedly hinted it might act militarily to stop Iran’s nuclear program if needed. It says Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at weapons development. Iran denies that.

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NightWatch……… For the night of 11 December 2012


North Korea: Update. North Korea launched its long range rocket on 12 December. The North Koreans claimed the launch was a success.
The Yonhap news agency, citing a South Korean government source, said the rocket took off from the Sohae/Tongchang-ri launch center on the west coast at 0951 local time (0051 GMT) and was immediately detected by South Korean navy ships deployed in the Yellow Sea. Multiple other news sources reported the rocket launched at 0949 local time.
Japanese sources reported a rocket stage fell into waters off the Philippines at 1005, 12 December, giving a flight time of 14-16 minutes.
The US military confirmed the trajectory of what it called a missile and said, “Initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit.”
Comment: The information about technical troubles appears to have been disinformation. A 16 minute flight time would support the North’s claim that the launch was a success. If confirmed, this would be the first North Korean success in launching a satellite into orbit, and the first successful test of the components of an intercontinental ballistic missile. That makes this a great marketing tool for the North.
Naturally and reflexively the Allies condemned the launch. The only comments that matter, however, are those from China. None have been reported during this Watch. The Chinese made clear last week their opposition to any North Korean action that promotes instability in Northeast Asia. On the other hand, the Chinese will be the first to observe that this launch has caused no significant instability, aside from diplomatic bombast..
This is North Korea’s second rocket launch this year in apparent defiance of Chinese official public opposition. It is time to question whether all factions in the Chinese government are opposed to North Korean provocations. Alternatively, it is time to explore which factions in the Chinese government are encouraging North Korean provocative behavior.
Syria: The United States designated the Syrian Islamist rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist organization. The US believes al-Nusra has links to al Qaida, according to the US State Department.
Comment: Today, al- Nusra fighters captured what is being called a strategically vital army base near Aleppo. In fact, government forces abandoned it and took anything of value with them. They have been abandoning peripheral bases, which have become difficult to supply, and steadily falling back towards Damascus to defend the center of power.
Relative to al-Nusra, no other Syrian opposition fighting group is doing what it is doing, taking abandoned bases. That might not seem to be a significant achievement, but then that is what the most intrepid of the Syrian opposition fighters is capable of achieving.
The notion that US denunciation has any significance on this fighting is risible. The Asad government’s fall back to Damascus means that the end game has begun. Violent internal instability in all states is centripetal.
The US, the West and the Saudis have lost influence over, much less control of, the Syrian main opposition fighters, despite the new so-called unified chain of command. Jabhat al-Nusra was not invited to the meetings last week in southern Turkey, but it appears to be spearheading success at Aleppo. The jidaists are in the vanguard and the Western powers are playing catch-up… poorly.
Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. The United States’ decision to designate the Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist organization was “very wrong and too hasty,” Deputy Leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood Farouk Tayfour said on 11 December. The chaos in Syria makes it too early to categorize people, and the decision will cost the United States popularity in Syria, Tayfour said.
Comment: The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has little use for US, western or Saudi opinions. As pro-Brotherhood fighting groups continue to lead the struggle, they have made it clear that US influence will be negligible in the end game..
NightWatch Special Comment: (This is a NightWatch editorial opinion.) The US is helping to destabilize the government of Syria, just as it did the government of Egypt.
US interests generally favor stable governments, whether elected or not. The Chinese take the same approach to North Korea. They judge that instability in Northeast Asia is contrary to China’s national interests. It is bad for business, investment and development projects. Thus, even the Chinese would consider the current US policy as confusing because it promotes instability with no clear end state in mind.
In the Syrian case, the US is acting as a proxy for Saudi Arabia, which is determined to block the spread of Iranian influence in Arab countries.
The US has no high-minded moral interest in this fight, as if it were helping the downtrodden struggle against an authoritarian government. Were that the motivating factor, the US might have denounced Egyptian president Mursi’s assumption of dictatorial powers on 22 November. Asad has no comparable powers. The US has said nothing about Mursi’s personal coup d’etat.
The big winner from instability in Syria and Egypt will be Iran because its policy of hostility towards Israel is a magnet for all Arabs.
The Saudis lost the struggle to influence or control the direction of the Arab Spring states when Hamas survived eight days of Israeli air attacks, owing exclusively to Iranian, Egyptian and Sudanese help. Saudi Arabia, with all its $billions, was irrelevant.
The US and Saudis appear to be on the wrong side of history, because Iran already appears to have made contingency preparations for supporting an anti-Israel, fundamentalist, Sunni regime in Damascus, just as it did with the Mursi government in Egypt.
US policy in the Middle East appears to be promoting an increased threat to Israel by uniting the new Islamist regimes against Israel under Iranian leadership. This is the one issue on which they can agree and this is a warning.
Egypt: Dueling protests occurred in Cairo, separated by concrete barriers. Anti-Mursi protesters breached a barricade outside the presidential palace in Cairo, but did no damage. Pro-Mursi supporters fired birdshot into the camp of the anti-Mursi protestors in Tahrir Square.
Egyptian Defense Minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi invited all sectors of the Egyptian population, including journalists, politicians, athletes and artists, to meet on 12 December in the Olympic Village to discuss a way to end Egypt’s current political crisis. He said the national unity talks will not cover politics or the referendum but will bring Egyptians together.
Comment: Today, the leaders of Egypt were Army officers, once again. There is no revolution if a civilian elected government has to rely on the Army. Mursi and the Brotherhood have grasped defeat from the jaws of victory, but they do not yet seem to appreciate the implications of what they have done in bringing back the Army.
Ironically, Mursi refused to accept that the courts had authority over him, but personally accepted Army authority over him when he asked for Army protection.
Mali: Malian Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra announced his resignation and the resignation of his government early 11 December, just hours after soldiers acting on the orders of ex-coup leader Amadou Sanogo arrested Diarra at his home. In a brief speech given at and aired by national broadcaster ORTM, Diarra said that he resigned with his government. He gave no reason for resigning.
Comment: A new prime minister has been appointed but this act by Sanogo and his thugs indicates he has not accepted that his coup failed; his actions strategically damaged, if not destroyed the integrity of Mali and that he should be in prison for treason, instead of ordering the arrest of anyone for any reason.
This action has undermined the international effort to recapture northern Mali from the Islamists, jihdists and terrorists. Until Sanogo is in irons and behind bars, nothing useful can be done in Mali.
Morocco: Comment. This week news sources have reported new political restiveness and frustration that the King’s commitment to political reform is weak.
The NightWatch hypothesis for warning purposes is that the Arab monarchies are the next targets of Arab Spring activism in 2013. The first round of anti-monarchy demonstrations took place in Jordan. The second round occurred in Morrocco.
The secular leaders have been overthrown. The monarchs are next, including the House of Saud, before 2013 is over.

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IRAN AIMS BIOLOGICAL WARHEADS AT ISRAEL……


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Iran has 170 ballistic missiles aimed at Tel Aviv, many with biological warheads, intelligence has learned.

According to a source who served in Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and who recently defected, the Islamic regime has armed hundreds of its ballistic missiles with biological warheads, and 170 of them are targeting Tel Aviv from underground missile silos

The Islamic regime ruling Iran has prepared for the total destruction of Israel, he said.

As reported in the Washington Times in August, a commentary in Mashregh, the media outlet of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, confirmed that the Islamic regime not only has weapons of mass destruction but has armed its terrorist proxies with them, including Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad. The commentary warned Israel that if the fighting in Syria does not stop, an all-out attack on the Jewish state will be launched and that at zero hour, Tel Aviv will be the first city to be destroyed.

A senior Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, warned then that Tel Aviv “will burn to ashes,” and the regime’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, promised “the superfluous and fake Zionist regime will disappear from the landscape of geography.”

The source, confirmed that Iran has made significant advances on several fronts – chemical, biological, nuclear and electronic warfare – and that the regime is looking at the deterioration in Syria and the possibility of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities with the intent of setting Israel and the region on fire.

The regime is adamant about its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the source said, and is working on its nuclear weapons program at several sites unknown to the West. The International Atomic Energy Agency, the source said, is on the wrong track by focusing only on the Natanz and Fordo nuclear sites.

There are more than 70 North Korean military advisers and scientists working in Iran on the country’s defense projects, including work on a plutonium bomb, the source said.

According to a source who served in Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and who recently defected, the Islamic regime has armed hundreds of its ballistic missiles with biological warheads, and 170 of them are targeting Tel Aviv from underground missile silos.

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