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Harry Reid’s Crusade Against the Koch Brothers Threatens Your Free Speech

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This is from The Foundry.

Dingy Harry Reid and the DemocRats are getting desperate to stay in power.

To that end they are using the cover story of muzzling The Koch Brothers to restrict every bodies free speech rights.

In doing so they will be able to control the press and stay in power.

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has promised the Senate will take up a proposed constitutional amendment this year that would radically alter the First Amendment.

The Senate resolution would allow Congress to limit fundraising and spending on election campaigns and independent political speech. Reid and others insist restricting the amount of money that may be raised and spent on political speech is not the same as limiting speech. That’s like saying that limiting the amount of newsprint a newspaper can buy does not limit its speech.

Having lost the battle at the Supreme Court, Reid and his cohorts are now pushing this constitutional amendment to reverse decisions—including Citizens United v. FEC andMcCutcheon v. FEC—that protect the rights of Americans to speak their minds about elected officials and candidates and to engage in the political process.

Shutting down conservative speech certainly appears to be a motivating factor behind this push to amend the First Amendment. Reid has given many interviews and speeches on the Senate floor demonizing the Charles and David Koch for “dumping unseemly amounts of money” into politics, “rigg[ing] the system” and “trying to buy the country.” Of course, he never mentions efforts by big Democratic contributors, such as George Soros and the SEIU. Imagine the audacity of those “un-American” and “shrewd businessmen” (Reid’s words) who would back candidates and causes they believe will make America better.

Champions of the proposed constitutional amendment claim it will “level the playing field” in elections. But that’s wrong for two reasons.

1) The amendment expressly exempts the press. The New York Times and MSNBC may continue to spend as much money, newsprint and airtime as they want to support their preferred candidates (or attack those they oppose), but the Kochs and other Americans would be severely restricted in their political activity and speech.

2) This proposed constitutional amendment would protect incumbent politicians.Allowing Congress to regulate the raising and spending of money in campaigns will tie the hands of candidates seeking to unseat them, which is already a long shot. Incumbents are able to amass war chests over the years. As Rick Manning of Americans for Limited Government has pointed out, even if a challenger “run[s] a flawless race,” the incumbent has “a dramatic advantage in issue knowledge, local media contacts and relationships.”

Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on this proposed constitutional amendment. It’s not easy to amend the Constitution (of more than 11,500 proposed amendments, only 27 have been ratified by the states), so S.J. Res. 19 is likely to end up as a talking point used to rile up the anti-Citizens United base in advance of the 2014 election.

Heritage will hold an event today at 2 p.m. that will feature a panel of campaign finance experts. Bobby Burchfield, who argued McCutcheon v. FEC, Don McGahn, the former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, and Heritage scholar Hans von Spakovsky will discuss this attempt to silence free speech by amending the Constitution.

 

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School Car Wash Fundraisers Banned in Virginia County

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This is from The Foundry.

What in the name of all that is Holy has happened to Virginia?

What would our Founding Fathers say about this out of control government?

I can tell you they would say get off of your lazy backsides and do

something, We started a Reveloution for a whole lot less.

 

 

For years, car washes have been a fundraising staple for high school sports teams, marching bands and youth groups.

Just get some kids together with buckets and soap, rent out a parking lot, put up a sign and hope it doesn’t rain.

But in Arlington, Va., you also have to hope the government doesn’t catch you.

Charity car washes and car wash fundraisers are now banned on school property there, after the Department of Environmental Services issued new rules for stormwater and water runoff.

The county pins the blame on the Virginia General Assembly, which approved more stringent water regulations last year.

“There is an underlying reason why most types of car washing are not allowed under state and federal stormwater regulations,” DES spokeswoman Shannon Whalen told the Arlington News.

Those important reasons: washing cars can cause chlorinated water and soap to wash into local streams, which flow into the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.

But Whalen found a silver lining in the new regulations.

“There are educational and environmental benefits that come with finding new and environmentally friendly ways to raise money for extracurricular activities,” she said.

One of those educational benefits: high school kids get a first-hand civics lesson in how government shuts down just about any activity it doesn’t like. Try finding that lesson in any textbook.

Coaches told the Arlington News they’re concerned about how the ban will affect sports and other activities. After all, the market can only handle so many bake sales.

The new stormwater regulations in Virginia have consequences beyond Arlington.

By the letter of the law approved in July 2013, all car washes that aren’t for personal use require a permit from the state government, even charity car washes held on private property.

Obama Is Bypassing Congress Again. This Time It’s Going to Cost You.

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This is from The Foundry.

Take a close look at the map below and see the job loss created by this move.

But you morons that voted for Obama do not give two hoots in Hell about job loss as your getting 99 weeks of welfare  unemployment.

Let us not forget your food stamps, Obama phones and section 8 housing.

 

 

Next week, the Obama administration is planning to unveil a climate action plan that it intends to implement without legislative approval. It’s a creative approach to governing, not unlike other executive actions President Obama has taken to bypass Congress.

When lawmakers refused to pass cap-and-trade legislation, Obama announced there was more than one way to skin the cat. Through climate plans, executive orders and regulatory action, he directed his agencies to find ways to curb the country’s carbon dioxide output and commit to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

Leading the charge, unsurprisingly, is the Environmental Protection Agency, which will release its carbon-dioxide regulations for existing power plants on Monday. The plan will drive up energy prices for American families and businesses without making a dent in global temperatures.

Our infographic explains what it means for jobs, incomes and the states hurt most.

EPA cap and trade regulation

 

America’s Veterans Deserve Better: 5 Priorities to Fix VA

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This is from  The Heritage Foundations The Foundry.

I have no doubt Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinsek became the fall guy for the incompetent as that is president.

Now Obama has his sheeple distracted, he can get on with destroying America.

 

 

All Washington is speculating on when—not if—U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki will have to step down. And once that happens, all the chatter will turn immediately to who gets to take the hot seat next. In many ways, that’s the wrong question.

Washington is ever fixated on who’s in and who’s out. But the most important question here is: How can we build a more effective and efficient Department of Veterans Affairs?

That’s a task that requires much more than a new face in President Obama’s cabinet. To fix VA, the next secretary will need an attentive, committed partner in the White House and bipartisan support in the Congress. That’s the only way to establish the administrative and legislative foundation necessary to deliver the world-class service our veterans deserve.

So rather than start with names, let’s start with identifying five fixes all of Washington needs to pursue to get VA right.

1) Create a culture of accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Lack of accountability is not a problem specific to VA headquarters or the Phoenix hospital; it is department-wide. The VA Management Accountability Act can be highly useful in achieving this goal: The secretary needs to be able to fire the leaders who work underneath him. Employees found to be in violation of VA procedures should face real consequences—not just be shuffled over to another slot in the bureaucracy. The same goes for middle management and rank-and-file employees, who right now are largely sheltered from oversight.

2) Empower employees to speak up about wrongdoings. The revelations of falsification of wait lists and bureaucratic corruption have come largely from whistleblowers who were courageous enough to speak truth knowing their truth-telling likely would cost them their job. Many more stories are waiting to be told. The inspector general’s interim report from the Phoenix VA states that investigators received “numerous allegations daily of mismanagement, inappropriate hiring decisions, sexual harassment and bullying behavior by mid- and senior-level managers at this facility.” VA employees should not be afraid to speak out on such matters. Whistleblower protections should be strengthened, the inspector general’s budget increased, and the inspector general should be empowered to pursue these new allegations.

3) The department must be made to answer congressional inquiries in a direct, transparent and timely manner. The House Veterans Affairs Committee documented hundreds of congressional requests for information that have been ignored by department officials. The committee has tried to shame VA into compliance by publicizing the lack of cooperation, but that tactic was met with more inaction and unresponsiveness.

4) Increase the efficiency of service delivery and elevate the quality of care provided by the VA system to that found in the private sector. Recent reports indicate the work schedules of VA doctors are several times lighter than those of their private-sector counterparts. Such inefficiency, driven by excess regulation, red tape and so-called “protections,” necessarily leads to increased wait time. Obama acknowledged the system’s productivity problems when he talked of the need to bring the department into the 21st century. It is not a matter of resources, but rather creating the incentives for those resources to be used efficiently.

5) Increase medical options for our veterans. VA already has a program that allows veterans to go outside the VA health care network on a per-fee basis. Despite the resistance from VA employees, that program needs to be dramatically expanded. Veterans should be given the direct choice to access private care—based on triggers such as geographic hardships, excess wait times or a general lack of quality care. At a House hearing on Tuesday, VA officials admitted they’ve been operating under misguided priorities, and they need to refocus on making outcomes for veterans the primary goal—not the perpetuation of VA’s monopoly. Injecting choice into the VA system also allows free-market incentives to induce VA to improve their service, lest veterans go somewhere else for care.

These priorities are not just for the next secretary. No one man or woman can make it happen. All of Washington—House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, Veterans Affairs and the White House—needs to roll up their sleeves and get the job done.

VA has a legal obligation to provide services to veterans. But all us have a moral obligation to give back to those who have served us. As advocates, we can fight for a better VA—and we must. And as individuals, we can welcome veterans back into our communities and help them thrive—and in doing so, inject the courage, selflessness and leadership America desperately needs right now.

 

 

Upstart Airline Creates Turbulence for Big U.S. Carriers, Union Leaders

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This is from The Foundry

My two cents worth is the unions fear they will not be able to shake down the Norwegian employees for union dues.

Their union is also afraid their victims will learn the unions are not needed to get better pay.

 

 

 

An upstart transcontinental airline says it’s making headway with lower costs for passengers and higher pay for workers, but its business model put it on the radar screen of established carriers and a powerful labor union. Now those forces want Washington to forbid the competition to land in the United States.

The surviving big birds of American aviation – United, Delta, and American – have weighed in on the side of the world’s biggest airline pilots union. The union bluntly claims Norwegian Air International doesn’t have the well-being of customers and employees at heart.

To Norwegian employee Bill Hennessey, a flight attendant for 23 years and himself a former official with another union, it’s all about keeping a daunting competitor from taking off.

“Together, these U.S. Airlines’ control almost 90 percent of the transatlantic market,” Hennessey says in an interview with The Foundry. “That’s a monopoly, and that’s why the profit margins on those tickets are so enormous. They make a killing because there is no competition.”

His advice to the traveler who wants to go overseas this summer, but is constrained by finances? Check out the fares available atwww.norwegian.com.

“We have no demographic; we target anyone,”  says Hennessey, who represented his airline’s chapter to the Association of Flight Attendants union from 2001 to 2005 and flies with Norwegian out of his home base of Orlando, Fla. “That is, anyone who wants to travel across the Atlantic, but who can only afford a certain amount. … We have business travelers and vacationers who travel the same route back and forth between the U.S. and Europe.”

Compare flights offered by the established transatlantic carriers out of the United States—namely United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines—against the service Norwegian launched last year.

On American, for instance, a round-trip ticket June 2 and 9 from New York-JFK International Airport to Oslo costs about $1,440. The same flight on Norwegian?  Around $862. That’s a $578 difference.

And that’s Hennessey’s take on the need for competition.

Officials of the Air Line Pilots Association, International, which bills itself as the world’s largest union of airline pilots, disagree.  In December, the Washington-based pilots union asked the U.S. Department of Transportationto reject an application by Norwegian’s newest affiliate, Norwegian Air International (NAI), to continue service to the United States.

“Norwegian Air International was clearly designed to attempt to dodge laws and regulations, starting a race to the bottom on labor and working conditions,” Capt. Lee Moak, president of the union, said in a press statement.  “If successful, the company would gain a serious and unfair economic advantage over U.S. airlines in the competition for the business of international passengers flying to and from the United States.”

Now, the Air Line Pilots Association reportedly is about to unleash an advertising blitz called “Deny NAI” that urges Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to turn down Norwegian’s application.

The pilots union repeatedly has accused Norwegian of substandard labor practices that translate into lower wages and inferior work conditions.

Competing airlines have been vocal as well. A joint statement from Delta, United, and American to DOT accusing the Norwegian affiliate of circumventing Norway’s labor laws coincided with the union’s broadside.

‘A new business model’

So what gives? Is Norwegian somehow gaming the system?  Or is it breaking up an anti-competitive monopoly that does a disservice to customers and employees?

“Norwegian is offering a new business model that directly impacts the people who are heavily invested in the old business model,” says Robert Mann, president of R.W. Mann and Co., an airline industry analysis and consulting firm based in Port Washington, N.Y.

Norwegian’s international service has been “disruptive to the industry,” Mann notes, but contrary to corporate and union critics, he doesn’t think the airline has engaged in unfair practices.

“If Norwegian is successful, you will see others step in,” Mann says.

Norwegian Air Shuttle, which began operation in 1993, launched international flights between the United States and Scandinavia in May 2013.  In November, it added “long-haul routes” to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., from Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm.

Low-cost, long-haul services traditionally have not been particularly successful, Mann says, because airlines have to cover fuel costs and longer distances translate into fewer flights.

A critical turning point came in February when Norwegian obtained an air operator certificate from the Irish Aviation Authority in Dublin.  This is important because Irish carriers are part of the “Open Skies” air service agreement allowing any airline based in the United States or European Union to access airports in both regions.

Norwegian would like to take full advantage of these rights, but needs U.S. government approvals to do so.

‘Competition is good for everyone’

This year, the airline plans to expand round-trip services to include new flights from Stockholm to Oakland and Los Angeles; from Copenhagen to Los Angeles and New York; and from Oslo to Oakland, Los Angeles, and Orlando. Norwegian recently announced it will begin service in July from London’s Gatwick Airport to New York, Los Angeles, and Fort Lauderdale.

“No other airline on the globe is doing what we are doing,” Hennessey insists. “That’s because low-cost carriers focus on short- to medium-haul routes. But we are looking at what Southwest, JetBlue, and Spirit are doing here in the U.S. with low fares and applying that concept at a much broader level. We are doing this overseas and across the Atlantic.”

Contrary to what U.S.-based unions and legacy airlines contend, he says, Norwegian is creating opportunities for workers in the industry and improving customer service.

The airline pilots union puts out “inaccurate statements that are highly irresponsible and I think quite harmful to those the union is supposed to represent,” Hennessey says. “I don’t consider myself substandard, and I certainly don’t think my colleagues are substandard. Competition is good for everyone. ”

Before joining Norwegian Air International, Hennessey was president of American Eagle’s Master Executive Council to the Association of Flight Attendants, part of the AFL-CIO.

“I have been, and always will be, 100 percent pro-union,” Hennessey says. “If you’re going to be a union president, you have to be aboveboard. That’s why I always held such high standards for our public statements. I don’t think that’s what is happening here, which is why I sent a letter to Captain Moak.”

Norwegian is the first European air carrier to become a major employer for U.S. pilots, flight attendants, and baggage handlers. The airline will hire about 300 new American workers before the end of this year, Hennessey anticipates.

“The union is here to protect American jobs, not close off opportunities,” the veteran flight attendant says. “But if ALPA is successful in its efforts to deny Norwegian access to the U.S., this will mean a loss of jobs. The union is supposed to speak on behalf of those of us in the industry, but [leaders] are not listening to anything we have to say.”

‘The world is changing’

In his letter to Moak, Hennessey tells the head of the pilots union that his salary and benefits as a flight attendant are comparable to other airlines—and, in some respects, the benefits are better. He criticizes the pilots union for actions he says could jeopardize job security for union workers:

Captain Moak, the world is changing. We no longer can afford to live in a world where we expect our respective airlines to provide for 15 percent annual increases in salary when the flying public is demanding lower airfares. (Fact—it cost twice as much in 1983 to fly coast-to-coast than it does in 2013 using the exact same type of aircraft)

Although Moak didn’t respond directly to Hennessey, the pilots union provided a statement to The Foundry rebutting the letter.

The union and its 50,000 members who are U.S. and Canadian pilots oppose Norwegian’s “evasive scheme,” the statement says, and will continue to urge U.S. transportation officials to reject Norwegian’s application for a foreign air carrier permit.

Norwegian Air International’s business model is “designed to avoid” Norway’s national labor laws by “scouring the globe for the cheapest labor it can find,” the union argues:

NAI pilots and cabin crews are hired via third-party contractors with wages and working conditions that are substantially inferior to those of Norwegian Air Shuttle’s Norway-based pilots. There are also many questions about which labor standards apply to the pilots and cabin crew who are responsible for the safety of those in the air and on the ground.”

Photo: FRANCIS JOSEPH DEAN/DEAN PICTURES

Mann, the industry analyst, disputes this. “These aspersions union leaders have directed against Norwegian are not reasonable,” he says, adding:

Norwegian is operating according the rules as they are interpreted through the E.U.-U.S. agreement.  Since Norway is not part of the European Union, the only way the airline could offer this service is by basing their international operations in Ireland. Yes, there are higher labor costs and tighter regulations in Norway that the airline avoids in the E.U.”

‘That is horrible policy’

The pilots union contends that at least 20 union leaders from the private and public sectors and more than 100 members of Congress are on record opposing Norwegian.

That may sound formidable, Hennessey says, but it amounts to little more than posturing from entrenched special interests that are unwilling to change with the times.

James Sherk, senior policy analyst in labor economics at The Heritage Foundation, tends to agree.

“In economic terms, unions are labor cartels,” Sherk says in an interview with The Foundry. “They try to raise the pay of their members by controlling the supply of labor—which [in this case] means keeping out Norwegian Air International employees. Unions operate much like OPEC, only with jobs instead of oil.”

Sherk says economists find that monopolies—labor or otherwise—hurt the overall economy.

“The airlines pilot unions are asking the federal government to benefit their members at the expense of the broader public. That is horrible policy.”

For his part, Hennessey argues that the union actions harm, not help, other workers.

“I’ll tell you what this is about: There is a pilot shortage in the country,” he says. “The foreign carriers pay better, the work conditions are better, and the pay is better. That’s why American citizens are leaving [unionized] carriers and going elsewhere.”

The U.S. pilot shortage is to some extent a result of “sub-par working conditions,” Mann says, adding:

Here’s the irony that union leaders seem to miss. When they criticize Norwegian, they are criticizing a service that could spur U.S. airlines to improve working conditions and lure back pilots who have been going over to airlines outside of the U.S.  I would think this is something union leaders would like to see addressed.”

6 Environmental Truths the Left Conveniently Ignores

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This is from The Foundry.

For the left you could say they are inconvenient truths.

 

 

According to a March Gallup poll, 50 percent of respondents thought the quality of the environment in the U.S., as a whole, is getting worse. But the reality is very different. Heritage hosted an Earth Day panel event in Apriladdressing some of the overlooked truths about the state of the nation’s environment:

1. Human freedom and prosperity lead to environmental success.

Photo: Cartoonbank.com

Studies show that wealthy countries are environmentally healthier countries. Able to worry less about meeting basic needs, wealthier societies can afford to direct their attention to environmental improvement.

earthday-2

2. We’re not running out of resources.

Kenny LeBaron, left, and his brother Joshua moved to North Dakota from Minnesota to take advantage of higher salaries due to an oil boom there. Here they service a gas and oil well near Watford City, North Dakota, on September 27, 2011. (Glen Stubbe/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT)

Some would have us believe that as population increases and economies grow, we are consuming resources too quickly. But this simply isn’t the case. In fact, many natural resources are renewable and respond positively to stewardship and management. As we learn more, innovate, and advance technology we develop more efficient ways to access, use, and reuse natural resources. The recent boom in shale oil and natural gas is a perfect example of this process.

3. The quality of our air is cleaner and safer.

Photo: Getty Images

Over the past 30 years (data gathered from 1980 through 2012) concentrations of each of the six common air pollutants have drastically decreased:

  • Ozone: decreased by 25 percent
  • Particulate Matter: 33 percent (data starting in 2000)
  • Nitrogen Dioxide: 60 percent
  • Sulfur Dioxide: 78 percent
  • Carbon Monoxide: 83 percent
  • Lead: 91 percent

This reduction in pollutants has happened at the same time the country has grown in wealth, population, and economic activity.

4. Although tough to measure, water quality is also improving.

Photo: Getty Images

Americans are using water more efficiently even as population has increased, and only 9 percent of the waters of the United States are considered impaired.

5. The government owns more land than it can manage.

Photo: Peggy Peattie/U-T San Diego/ZUMAPRESS.com

While the nation’s air and waters have improved in quality, the nation’s land management continues to stagnate— at best. The federal government owns some 28 percent of the United States and indirectly controls well beyond that amount through laws like the Endangered Species Act. The federal government alone owns:

  • 42 percent of Arizona
  • 47 percent of New Mexico
  • 62 percent of Idaho and Alaska
  • 81 percent of Nevada.

The government doesn’t have the resources to maintain such vast amounts of land and waters, but also because it has no incentive to steward it well. And in many cases the federal government has thwarted efforts of private citizens to improve the land.

6. Thanks in part to the big successes made in other areas of the environment, the environmental pressure groups have pitched global warming as the next great environmental issue of the day.

Former EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The result has been heavy handed regulations that treat CO2 emissions as pollutants to be cut. Yet even if one were to assume climate alarmists’ models were correct and decide to  cut all U.S. carbon emissions today—no driving or flying, no running factories, stores or homes unless they run on nuclear power, and probably best not to exhale either—this would only decrease world temperatures by 0.08 degrees Celsius by the year 2050. Former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has herself conceded that America’s efforts alone would not meaningfully impact global CO2 levels.

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