Executive Orders: A liberal constitutional scholar warns of the concentration of power not only in the hands of one branch of government but in a single man who ignores the Constitution and acts of Congress on a whim.
As the story goes, Benjamin Franklin emerged from Independence Hall at the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on Sept. 18, 1787, when a woman asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin is said to have replied, “A republic, madam — if you can keep it.”
The Founders designed a system of checks and balances among three branches of government that was based on the consent of the governed. The power grab that is ObamaCare, nationalizing one-sixth of the economy, is just the latest example of an increasingly imperial presidency that ignores the Constitution, the will of Congress, the laws sworn to be faithfully executed and the will of the people who never wanted it in the first place.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, recently noted to Fox News’ Sean Hannity how President Obama “extended the employer mandate for a year, even though the law says ‘shall commence in each month after December of 2013.’ He extended the individual mandate, stretched that out and now the small-package plans. There’s at least three times that he’s violated the Constitution with ObamaCare.”
When confronted with his lies that under ObamaCare you could keep your plan and doctor if you like them, and millions were losing the coverage they liked, the president held a press conference where he decreed that insurance companies could violate the “law of the land” and reissue policies that did not contain Obama-Care’s 10 essential mandates, if only for a year.
This prompted Jonathan Turley, a liberal law professor at George Washington University and supporter of the Affordable Care Act, to tell the House Judiciary Committee at a Dec. 3 hearing, titled “The President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws,” that Obama’s abuse of executive power has grown to the point that “he’s becoming the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid.”
Turley cited the “radical expansion of presidential powers” and the rise of what he termed the “fourth branch” of government — massive federal departments and agencies that can write regulations that have the effect of law written by unelected bureaucrats often contrary to the will of Congress and the American people.
Indeed, how can the governed give their consent when they don’t know what they’re consenting to? Philip Klein of the American Spectator counted 700 references in ObamaCare to the secretary “shall,” 200 to the secretary “may” and 139 to the secretary “determines.” That would be HHS Secretary Sebelius, for whom no one voted.
"That is a very dangerous sort of thing for the president to do, to wantonly ignore the laws," Michael Cannon, Cato Institute’s director of health policy studies, also testified on Tuesday, "to try to impose obligation upon people that the legislature did not approve."
In 2012, Judge Andrew Napolitano, a constitutional scholar and Fox News commentator, raised the danger of Obama’s shredding of the Constitution and his assault on the authority of the courts in a second term free of electoral restraints.
"I think the president is dangerously close to totalitarianism," Napolitano opined. "A few months ago he was saying, ‘The Congress doesn’t count, the Congress doesn’t mean anything, I am going to rule by decree and by administrative regulation.’ Now he’s basically saying the Supreme Court doesn’t count. It doesn’t matter what they think. They can’t review our legislation. That would leave just him as the only branch of government standing."
Yes, we were left with a republic. But whether we can keep it under this president is becoming increasingly uncertain.
My entire adult life has been dedicated to the deliberate management of violence. There are no two ways around that fact. My job, at the end of the day, is about killing. I orchestrate violence.
I am not proud of that fact. Indeed, I am often torn-up by the realization that not only is this my job, but that I am really good at my job. But my profession is about directed violence on behalf of the nation. What is happening inside our country is random and disgusting, and living here in England I am at a complete loss as to how to explain this at all. In 2011 the number of gun deaths in the United States was 10.3 per 100,000 citizens. In 2010 that statistic in the UK was 0.25. And do not even try to tell me that the British are not as inclined to violence or that their culture is so different from ours that this difference makes sense. I can say nothing when my British officers ask me about these things, because it is the law. […]
Guns are tools. I use these tools in my job. But like all tools one must be trained and educated in their use. Weapons are there for the “well regulated militia.” Their use, therefore, must be in defense of the nation. Shooting and killing somebody because they were not “upset enough” over the loss of a college football team should not be possible in our great nation. Which is why I am adding the following “Gun Plank” to the Bateman-Pierce platform. Here are some suggestions:
1. The only guns permitted will be the following:
a. Smoothbore or Rifled muzzle-loading blackpowder muskets. No 7-11 in history has ever been held up with one of these.
b. Double-barrel breech-loading shotguns. Hunting with these is valid.
c. Bolt-action rifles with a magazine capacity no greater than five rounds. Like I said, hunting is valid. But if you cannot bring down a defenseless deer in under five rounds, then you have no fking reason to be holding a killing tool in the first place.
2. We will pry your gun from your cold, dead, fingers. That is because I am willing to wait until you die, hopefully of natural causes. Guns, except for the three approved categories, cannot be inherited. When you die your weapons must be turned into the local police department, which will then destroy them. (Weapons of historical significance will be de-milled, but may be preserved.)
3. Police departments are no longer allowed to sell or auction weapons used in crimes after the cases have been closed. (That will piss off some cops, since they really need this money. But you know what they need more? Less violence and death. By continuing the process of weapon recirculation, they are only making their jobs — or the jobs of some other cops — harder.)
4. We will submit a new tax on ammunition. In the first two years it will be 400 percent of the current retail cost of that type of ammunition. (Exemptions for the ammo used by the approved weapons.) Thereafter it will increase by 20 percent per year.
5. We will initiate a nationwide “buy-back” program, effective immediately, with the payouts coming from the DoD budget. This buy-back program will start purchasing weapons at 200 percent of their face value the first year, 150 percent the second year, 100 percent the third year. Thereafter there will be a 10 year pause, at which point the guns can be sold to the government at 10 percent of their value for the next 50 years.
6. The major gun manufactures of the United States, less those who create weapons for the federal government and the armed forces, will be bought out by the United States of America, for our own damned good.
Update: He leaves his email at the bottom of his piece.
These opinions are those of the author and do not reflect the United States government, the United States Department of Defense, the United States Army, or any other official body. As for the NRA, they can sit on it. (Sorry, I grew up with Happy Days. “Sit on it” means something to those of my generation.) R_Bateman_LTC@hotmail.com.
Defense: What the president calls “my military” is being cleansed of any officer suspected of disloyalty to or disagreement with the administration on matters of policy or force structure, leaving the compliant and fearful.
We recognize President Obama is the commander-in-chief and that throughout history presidents from Lincoln to Truman have seen fit to remove military commanders they view as inadequate or insubordinate. Turnover in the military ranks is normal, and in these times of sequestration and budget cuts the numbers are expected to tick up as force levels shrink and missions change.
Yet what has happened to our officer corps since President Obama took office is viewed in many quarters as unprecedented, baffling and even harmful to our national security posture. We have commented on some of the higher profile cases, such as Gen. Carter Ham. He was relieved as head of U.S. Africa Command after only a year and a half because he disagreed with orders not to mount a rescue mission in response to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi.
Rear Adm. Chuck Gaouette, commander of the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, was relieved in October 2012 for disobeying orders when he sent his group on Sept. 11 to “assist and provide intelligence for” military forces ordered into action by Gen. Ham.
Other removals include the sacking of two nuclear commanders in a single week — Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, head of the 20th Air Force, responsible for the three wings that maintain control of the 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles, and Vice Adm. Tim Giardina, the No. 2 officer at U.S. Strategic Command.
From Breitbart.com’s Facebook page comes a list of at least 197 officers that have been relieved of duty by President Obama for a laundry list of reasons and sometimes with no reason given. Stated grounds range from “leaving blast doors on nukes open” to “loss of confidence in command ability” to “mishandling of funds” to “inappropriate relationships” to “gambling with counterfeit chips” to “inappropriate behavior” to “low morale in troops commanded.”
Nine senior commanding generals have been fired by the Obama administration this year, leading to speculation by active and retired members of the military that a purge of its commanders is under way.
Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, an outspoken critic of the Obama administration, notes how the White House fails to take action or investigate its own officials but finds it easy to fire military commanders “who have given their lives for their country.” Vallely thinks he knows why this purge is happening.
"Obama will not purge a civilian or political appointee because they have bought into Obama’s ideology," Vallely said. "The White House protects their own. That’s why they stalled on the investigation into Fast and Furious, Benghazi and ObamaCare. He’s intentionally weakening and gutting our military, Pentagon and reducing us as a superpower, and anyone in the ranks who disagrees or speaks out is being purged."
Another senior retired general told TheBlaze on the condition of anonymity, because he still provide services to the government and fears possible retribution, that “they’re using the opportunity of the shrinkage of the military to get rid of people that don’t agree with them or do not toe the party line. Remember, as (former White House chief of staff) Rahm Emanuel said, never waste a crisis.”
For President Obama, the military of a once-feared superpower is an anachronistic vestige of an America whose exceptionalism and world leadership require repeated apologies. It must be gutted and fundamentally transformed into a force wearing gender-neutral headgear only useful for holding the presidential umbrella when it rains. It is to be “his” military and used only for “his” purposes.
Exactly 72 years ago today, Japan launched more than 350 fighters, bombers, and torpedo planes against the U.S. naval base in Hawaii—a “date which will live in infamy,” in the words of President Franklin Roosevelt. In fact, that Sunday morning is so seared into America’s memory that the tumult of the weeks and months afterward is often overlooked. Here, on the 72nd anniversary of Pearl Harbor, LIFE.com presents rare and unpublished photos from Hawaii and the mainland, chronicling a nation’s answer to an unprecedented act of war.
Unpublished, a rally at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Dec. 1941.
The Brooklyn Navy Yard was founded in 1801. It had contributed ships to every American conflict, including the War of 1812, the Civil War, and World War I. It would prove absolutely essential to the war effort during World War II.
Source: George Strock/TIME & LIFE Pictures
Unpublished, young defenders beside a mounted machine gun, Hawaii, Dec. 1941.
"Close observers of Japan," LIFE noted in mid-1941, "have said for years that if that country ever found itself in a hopeless corner it was capable of committing national hara-kiri by flinging itself at the throat of its mightiest enemy … [On December 7] it took the desperate plunge and told its enemies in effect: "If this be hara-kiri, make the most of it."
Source: William C. Shrout/TIME & LIFE Pictures
Unpublished, Vice Admiral Joseph “Bull” Reeves, Waikiki Beach, Dec. 1941.
While the U.S. was stunned by the attack on Pearl Harbor, the nation’s political and military leaders had long been conscious of tensions with Japan — which was obviously gearing up for war long before December 1941. An example of the measures the U.S. took in expectation of some sort of conflict in the Pacific: Joseph “Bull” Reeves, retired since 1936, was recalled to active duty in 1940. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, he was already 69.
Source: Bob Landry/TIME & LIFE Pictures
Unpublished, Pearl Harbor, Dec. 1941.
At the time of the attack, there were roughly 50,000 troops based at Pearl Harbor. Afterwards the number of soldiers spiked, as there were several hundred thousand of them stationed in Hawaii by 1945. (The number dropped to less than 70,000 by 1946.) “Out of the Pacific skies last week,” LIFE magazine wrote in its December 15, 1941 issue, “World War II came with startling suddenness to America … With reckless daring Japan aimed this blow at the citadel of American power in the Pacific.”
Source: William C. Shrout/TIME & LIFE Pictures
Unpublished, training with gas masks in Hawaii, early 1942.
"Ambassador Nomura and Envoy Kurusu," LIFE reported in mid-December 1941, "had come with the answer to Hull’s note [of protest to the Japanese delegation in D.C.]. Hull read it through and then, for the first time in many long, patient years, the soft-spoken Secretary lost his temper. Into the teeth of the two Japanese, who for once did not grin, he flung these words: "In all my 50 years of public service I have never seen a document that was more crowded with infamous falsehoods and distortions — on a scale so huge that I never imagined until today that any government on this planet was capable of uttering them."
Source: William C. Shrout/TIME & LIFE Pictures
Unpublished, troops shore up defenses in Hawaii in the weeks after Pearl Harbor.
World War II lasted four more years — until Germany surrendered in May of 1945 and Japan surrendered in September of that year, in the wake of America’s destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The attack on Pearl Harbor, meanwhile — rather than Japan’s greatest victory — turned out to be an act of belligerent folly that, in many ways, guaranteed Japan’s eventual defeat.
Source: William C. Shrout/TIME & LIFE Pictures
No Job Too Small — Dec. 1942
A Naval officer — dwarfed by the vessel in his view — gazes at a cruiser’s propeller at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. During the course of World War II, more than 5,000 Allied ships were brought to Brooklyn for repairs.
Source: George Strock/TIME & LIFE Pictures
Unpublished, a poster at the Brooklyn Navy Yard calls for vigilance, Dec. 1941.
Within days of the attack, while the eyes of America were understandably focused on Pearl Harbor and the Pacific, a naval yard in New York City was already ramping up for what looked to be a long, long war.
Source: George Strock/TIME & LIFE Pictures
A closer look at the USS Arizona's wreckage, 1942.
Source: Bob Landry/TIME & LIFE Pictures
"U.S. aircraft rose at once to repel the Japanese attack," LIFE wrote in December 1941, overstating the efficacy of the American response to the assault. In fact, more than 2,400 Americans (including scores of civilians) were killed in the attack; hundreds of U.S. aircraft were destroyed. In contrast, fewer than 70 Japanese were killed. The American response to the massive, sudden attack was unquestionably stalwart; but there’s also little question that, in terms of sheer losses, America endured a hellish blow.
Wildlife conservationists are livid at the Obama administration’s approval of a new rule that extends wind farms leases up to 30 years. On Friday, wildlife protection groups decried the new regulation as a “stunningly bad move” that gives wind power companies the ability to kill eagles and other birds for the next 30 years.
The Wildlife Society Bulletin approximates that 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats are killed by flying into wind turbines every year. National Audubon Society President David Yarnold expressed his anger over the Obama administration’s new rule: “It’s outrageous that the government is sanctioning the killing of America’s symbol, the bald eagle.”
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, however, argues that the new regulation is beneficial to wildlife and renewable energy development: “The changes in this permitting program will help the renewable energy industry and others develop projects that can operate in the longer term, while ensuring bald and golden eagles continue to thrive for generations.”
Moreover, Peter Kelley, VP of Public Affairs for the American Wind Energy Association, says that the new rule provides that wind energy companies must have accompanying wildlife protection programs to ensure more eagles are not dying than expected. Kelley explained that the Dept. of Interior demands they “document all of the different ways you’ll preserve the eagles,” and that the companies will be reviewed every five years for compliance. Kelley also contends the real number one threat to eagles and wildlife is climate change.
But Michael Hutchins, national coordinator of the American Bird Conservancy, says that the five year reviews are “almost exclusively on self-reporting by for-profit companies to tell them whether or not they’ve killed threatened or endangered species.” Hutchins thinks that profit making energy companies may need more than a self monitoring safeguard: “President Reagan used to say, ‘trust, but verify.’ … This ruling sets up a system of permitting that allows, for the first time, the legal killing of bald and golden eagles. We think it’s a bad idea.”
Hutchins added, “You can’t call it green if it’s killing hundreds of thousands of birds and bats annually and if it’s killing large numbers of protected eagles.”
“That is very true, but it starts almost with the oath of office which usually ends with, ‘So help me God.’ Now, most presidents swear on a Bible before taking office, even though we have the separation between church and state. You see it again and again. You don’t have to use a Bible. Teddy Roosevelt didn’t. John Quincy Adams swore on a law book and Lyndon Johnson took the oath on a book he thought was the Bible. We don’t know what the book was… We talk about the separation between church and state and almost every president ends up saying, ‘so help me God.’”
Americans who buy health insurance through the federal Obamacare exchange website could have their personal information stolen by hackers and never even know it.
Most of the state-run health exchange websites will be covered by state laws that require notification when government databases are breached by hackers. But there is no law requiring notification when databases run by the federal government are breached, and even though the Department of Health and Human Services was asked to include a notification provision in the rules being drawn up for the new federal exchange, it declined to do so.
Other protections for individuals’ privacy, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, do not apply to the government-run exchange, only to health providers and insurance companies operating within the exchange.
Privacy advocates and cyber-security experts have had concerns about the lack of a federal notification law for years and hope the scrutiny of the Obamacare exchange will finally bringchange.
“The notification requirement is a very important part of overall security,” said Deven McGraw, director of the Health Privacy Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “People should be told when their information is at-risk.”
The lack of a notification requirement is particularly bad for the health insurance exchange website because of all the questions surrounding the site’s security. Poor security, coupled with the website’s high-profile problems, could make it a target for hackers either seeking to steal identities or embarrass the government.
Unfortunately, security is often an afterthought for the government, said David Kennedy, CEO of TrustedSEC, an Ohio-based cyber-security firm. Kennedy has testified before Congress about security threats in the Obamacare exchange and the need for notification laws.
“All we need is something that says if the federal government is breached, all we have to do is alert the public,” he told Watchdog.org. “Healthcare.gov is just one website of hundreds that have had these issues going back through the years.”
Together it creates a possible nightmare scenario. Without strong security on the front end, the hastily built and not fully operational website could become a treasure trove for hackers looking to steal identities. But without any laws requiring that those victims be notified by the federal government users of the Federal health exchange will be in the dark about any potential security breaches of their private data.
When the federal Obamacare exchange was being developed by HHS prior to its troubled launch on Oct. 1, experts told the department that it should include a data-breach provision in its policies for the website even though one was not required under federal law.
The department flatly declined to do so.
The final rules for the exchanges were approved on March 27, 2012, meeting of HHS officials, according to the Federal Register.
The department’s response: “We do not plan to include the specific notification procedures in the final rule. Consistent with this approach, we do not include specific policies for investigation of data breaches in this final rule.”
Since there is no federal notification requirement, breaches of any and all federal databases can occur without the public ever being informed.
But hacks that happen behind the scenes —potentially stealing everything from Social Security numbers to Department of Homeland Security watch lists — never have to be reported.
“That’s alarming because there could be a number of federal databases that are compromised already and we don’t know about it,” Kennedy said. “The exchange is part of a bigger problem.”
Federal privacy protections contained in HIPAA also do not apply to the databases created by the federal exchange website, McGraw said, even though health insurers doing business through the exchange must be HIPAA compliant.
In other words, the health plan itself is covered by HIPAA and any breaches of security that affect a consumer who has purchased a specific plan would have to be reported. But the process of choosing and purchasing a plan through the federal exchange — along with any information entered into the federal exchange as part of that process — is not subject to HIPAA protections.
“The problem with the exchanges is that they are such new entities, and they are so unique that existing laws don’t really cover them,” McGraw said.
But 48 states have laws on the books requiring that they give notification to individuals who may have had personal information stolen or leaked from a government database. Many states require that government agencies and departments alert the state attorney general so investigations can be launched.
In states that opted to run their own health insurance exchanges, those laws generally cover security breaches of the exchanges, McGraw said, though it depends on the specific wording of each state law.
Those state laws are how data breaches of several state-level health insurance exchange websites have come to light.
Even though the federal government does not have to report any breaches of security, at least a few already have occurred.
The most high-profile case so far is that of Thomas Dougall, a South Carolina lawyer who had his personal information accidentally leaked to another person after using the Obamacare exchange last month.
Dougall only found out about that breach of security because the recipient was kind enough to give him a call. Without a requirement that the exchanges report such problems — whether the result of nefarious hackers or glitches in the programming — it is impossible to tell how many other Americans have had their private information released by the federal exchange.
Kennedy said he would not recommend that anyone use the federal exchange until it is more secure and until breaches of security are reported.
“I would say think twice about it, at least until we get more details,” he said.
Kennedy says he supports universal health care and his criticisms of the website are not rooted in political motivations. But the former U.S. Marine whose firm provides computer security to several Fortune 100 companies says there have been “zero changes” to the security of the health insurance exchange website in the run-up to the much-touted Dec. 1 re-launch.
David Thaw, a law professor at the University of Connecticut who specializes in cyber-security and the legal framework around it, said data breach notification laws, combined with comprehensive data security, are an essential part of protecting consumers and businesses.
Late Friday afternoon, Politico Magazinepublished an update dismantling White House claims that President Barack Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held “dozens” of unrecorded one-on-one working meetings over the last three-and-a-half years leading up to Obamacare’s unveiling.
The update, written by Government Accountability Institute (GAI) President and Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer, refuted Friday comments by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
In a telling exchange between Carney and NBC News reporter Peter Alexander and ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl, Carney claimed the GAI report showing one meeting between Obama and Sebelius since Obamacare’s signing was incorrect because it was based on spotty White House visitor logs. The problem, wrote Schweizer in the Politico Magazine update, is that the GAI report was not based on visitor logs; it was based on the White House’s own official calendar and was further verified by Politico’s comprehensive presidential calendar.
“Press Secretary Jay Carney said Friday, ‘Cabinet secretaries don’t regularly get entered into the visitor logs.’ The GAI report was not based on visitor logs; it was based on the White House’s own calendar and the Politico presidential calendar,” wrote Schweizer.
Carney also claimed to reporters that Secretary Sebelius “is here a lot and meets with the President with regularity,” but he admitted he did not know how many one-on-one meetings Obama had with Sebelius.
If so, said Schweizer, “Why aren’t they listed? How many meetings took place and when did they occur?”
As Schweizer pointed out, “Obama’s calendar lists 277 one-on-one meetings between the President and his Cabinet Secretaries, including 73 with former Secretary Clinton and 57 with former Secretary Geithner.” Why not Sebelius? asked Schweizer.
The Politico Magazine update then posed the question at the heart of the controversy: “If Obama and Sebelius worked together closely and regularly, why did the President publicly state he did not know about the problems with Healthcare.gov?”
Schweizer says Obama must make good on his promises of transparency. “This is the most transparent Administration in history,” Obama said previously.
Obama must level with Americans about “how much time President Obama personally spent over three-and-a-half years leading, managing, and working alongside Secretary Sebelius on his signature achievement,” wrote Schweizer.
The growing controversy places an already beleaguered Obama White House in an untenable political position. If, as HHS spokesperson Joanne Peters claimed late Friday, Obama had “dozens” of one-on-one working meetings with Sebelius, why did he promise in his roundly criticized November 14 press conference he was unaware of the serious problems with healthcare.gov that contractors had warned Sebelius of for months?
“I was not informed directly that the website would not be working as—the way it was supposed to,” said Obama. “Clearly, we and I did not have enough awareness about the problems in the website.”
And if, as the White House and Politico presidential calendars reveal, Obama held but one meeting with Sebelius in the three-and-a-half years of the Obamacare implementation, why was the President not “leading, managing, and working alongside Secretary Sebelius on his signature achievement,” asks Schweizer.
The Obama Administration has yet to produce a list of the “dozens” of dates and times it claims Obama and Sebelius spent working on Obamacare.
***What an idiot.. I’d boycott Nevada just because they keep electing this loon!
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., wades through reporters in October on Capitol Hill. / AP file
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nv, denied a CNN report saying that he was the only top congressional leader to exempt “some of his staff from having to buy insurance through the law’s new exchanges.”
GOP House Speaker John Boehner, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have all directed their staffs to join the exchange, CNN has reported, citing their aides.
“What does top congressional leaders mean?” Reid asked, during an interview in his Reno office this afternoon. “Like me and McConnell?
"No, that is simply not true," Reid said. "Some of the people on my leadership team have done the same thing, following my lead. CNN is wrong.”
Reid mentioned “my leadership team.” CNN’s report focused on the No. 1 Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate.
Reid said he did not read the report but noted that the Las Vegas Review-Journal has published a story about it.
“I did not see the report,” Reid said. “But they had it front page of the R-J and a lot of other people did the same thing.
“All I did was follow the law,” Reid said. “The law says that if you have committee staff, leadership staff, they stay where they are. If you have other staff, which is most everyone, they go to the exchanges.
“I followed the Affordable Care Act,” Reid said. “It is the law.”
Some Republicans have been critical of Reid because of the story.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told Steve Tetreault of the Stephens News Bureau (Review-Journal) that Reid’s move “is the clearest example yet of Obamacare’s failures and Washington hypocrisy. His staff worked to pass it and continue to promote it, now they don’t want to be part of it because it’s a disaster.”
Reid mentioned Cruz during the interview in Reno.
"I was really troubled when Ted Cruz complained. That really hurt me to the core,” Reid said. “The only people complaining are those who don’t like the Obamacare. I followed the law.
"And I will also note that there are 150,000 million different families that get their health care through their employees," Reid said. "So should all federal employees, although under Obamacare, my insurance costs me about $4,500 more that it did before. Yes, because it is age-related and it wasn’t like that before.”
Friday, Reid will participate in a Combat Action Medal pinning ceremony for 8 Nevada Air National Guard members who were deployed to Afghanistan in 2002.
Americans from Buzz Aldrin to president Barack Obama say it’s a waste of time to put men back on the moon — so why are foreign countries so eager to take that one small step?
While several private American companies are planning robotic missions to the moon, China launched a man-sized robotic scout to the moon on Monday. The country’s recent manned missions and efforts to build a new space base suggest a future manned mission to the moon, though why is an open question. Speculation has run from the desire to build a military missile base — a Death Star of sorts — to national pride to simple economics.
The answer may be far simpler: The moon is “easy” to get to.
“If you’re still trying to test out your space legs, it’s a great place to do it,” said one NASA engineer familiar with the agency’s plans. NASA’s current space agenda includes a highly challenging project to tow an asteroid back to Earth, as well as transporting men to Mars within two decades — projects of vast technical complexity compared with the moon landings America ended four decades ago.
'NASA is not going to the moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime.'
- NASA administrator Charles Bolden
“Mars and the asteroid mission is just clearly not something most of them can even fathom taking a major role in, whereas going to the moon is something that they can do, as the Chinese have proven,” he said.
Others, including a chorus of ex-astronauts and policy experts, argue that NASA is making a mistake by ignoring the moon, which still fascinates the Earthbound. Only 12 men have ever set foot on the moon, Americans all of them, the last one 41 years ago.
Dennis Wingo, a space entrepreneur and author of the book “MoonRush,” thinks the Chinese mission is about supporting the world’s exploding population.
“China is spending billions on resource acquisition in Africa, South America and other places around the world,” he told FoxNews.com. “If you look at the design of their system for this mission, it is very much a mineral prospector as much as a science mission.”
Yet America will not return to the moon, NASA administrator Charlie Bolden makes clear.
“NASA is not going to the moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime,” Bolden said at an April panel in Washington. Bolden acknowledged the worldwide interest in putting men back on the moon — and said he was willing to help out any other nation in their efforts.
“They all have dreams of putting humans on the Moon,” he said. “I have told every head of agency of every partner agency that if you assume the lead in a human lunar mission, NASA will be a part of that.”
NASA echoed that sentiment today, telling FoxNews.com that it is working with international partners to plan missions to the moon and elsewhere.
"The Global Exploration Roadmap we recently released is a clear signal that the global community is committed to working together on a unified deep-space exploration strategic plan, with robotic and human missions to destinations that include near-Earth asteroids, the moon and Mars," NASA’s David Weaver said.
That’s fine with some, including legendary moonwalker Buzz Armstrong himself.
"Do not put NASA astronauts on the moon. They have other places to go," Aldrin said in his book, "Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration.” Aldrin argues that NASA should strive to put humans on Mars instead. But other experts call America’s agenda a profound oversight.
“Our political system made a possibly fatal mistake in 1968 [by] shifting the entire focus of the American government from one of forward looking future-supporting projects such as the interstate highway system, advanced aerospace, and space development,” Wingo said. “We are reaping the fruits of that mistake today.”
The NASA engineer described the situation as complicated, partly due to politics.
“George Bush was going to the moon, and when the new administration came in they were looking for something to do,” he told FoxNews.com.
It’s clear that the far more scientifically challenging mission to an asteroid isn’t resonating, said Albert Carnesale, former chancellor of UCLA and chair of a recently completed National Academies Committees on NASA’s Strategic Direction.
“The asteroid mission clearly had not been accepted either within or without the NASA community as a next step,” Carnesale told FoxNews.com.
It may be time to reconsider our missions, some suggest, especially if you could find innovative ways to get to the moon. And several U.S. companies have been working on just that. The latest is Moon Express, which will unveil the MX-1 spacecraft at the Autodesk University show in Las Vegas Thursday evening — the micro-spacecraft that will in 2015 mark the first U.S. soft landing on the moon since the days of the Apollo program.
The craft looks for all the world like two stacked donuts wearing an ice cream cone, and the tiny vehicle clearly isn’t big enough for a human being. It’s just big enough to scoop up some rocks and dirt and return to Earth. Moon Express plans to mine our satellite, and NASA endorses that idea.
“NASA … supports commercial exploration of the moon,” Weaver said. “We have solicited ideas from industry to help stimulate commercial robotic lunar transportation services as the first step in assessing interest for public-private partnerships to jointly develop a robotic lander that could demonstrate technologies and enable research opportunities for government and commercial customers on the moon.”
Bigelow Aerospace’s CEO recently said he wanted to sell property on the moon, a Japanese firm suggested a solar panel ring around the moon, and China’s Chang’e 3 lander — which should touch down on the moon in mid-December — will be the first controlled landing since the Soviet Union’s Luna-24 mission in 1976.
China’s mission could serve as a wake-up call to the world, Moon Express CEO Bob Richards said.
“We’re kind of waiting to see if it’s the Sputnik of our generation,” he told FoxNews.com.
***Have always thought it was odd that Libs don’t hold 0Mama for stopping American manned space flight. I would think the “Star Trek / Science” crowd would be up in arms about it.
Can you imagine JFK depending on the Russians to get us to space? WOW how far we’ve slid. They have collected more taxes in the last 5yrs than in any other time I’ve been alive. Where does that money go? Bridges? Roads? Nope„„
Obama dismisses IRS targeting of conservatives: ‘They’ve got a list, and suddenly everybody’s outraged’
President Obama rejected the notion that the IRS’ targeting of Tea Party groups was illegal — or even improper — during his interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Thursday.
Obama was at American University to sell his flailing health care law to the young people upon which the insurance exchanges heavily rely. As promised, Matthews allowed him to make his pitch with no tough questions or pushback.
But the interview became interesting when the Hardball host asked why Americans were growing increasingly skeptical of government. Obama noted that the media never seems interested in government success stories. “When we do things right, they don’t get a lot of attention,” he said.
OBAMA: That’s not — that’s not something that’s reported about. If, on the other hand, you’ve got an office in Cincinnati, in the IRS office that — I think, for bureaucratic reasons, is trying to streamline what is a difficult law to interpret about whether a nonprofit is actually a political organization, deserves a tax exempt agency. And they’ve got a list, and suddenly everybody’s outraged.
MATTHEWS: 501(c)(4) is tricky to begin with, how to define it.
OBAMA: To begin with.
The president even appeared annoyed that liberal commentators once dared to challenge him on the point:
OBAMA: And by the way, Chris, I’ll point out that there are some so-called progressives and, you know, perceived to be liberal commentators who during that week were just as outraged at the possibility that these folks, you know, had — had been, you know, at the direction of — the Democratic Party, in some way — discriminated against these folks.
Obama later passed blame for his failures onto his cabinet agencies — claiming that “somebody somewhere at this very moment is screwing something up” — and repeated the nauseating platitude that “government’s not somebody else. Government’s us.”
President Obama’s repeated use of presidential powers is causing a tough problem — his own supporters now expect him to use it to achieve everything they want.
From immigration to the minimum wage, congressional Democrats and liberal activists this week urged Mr. Obama to declare an end run around Capitol Hill, assert executive authority and make as much progress as he can on the expansive agenda he laid out for his second term.
A day after Mr. Obama denounced income inequality, progressive lawmakers said he should take the lead by issuing an executive order requiring all federal contractors to pay workers more than the minimum wage. A dozen lawmakers and immigration activists held a news conference outside the Capitol on Thursday asking him to halt all deportations as a down payment on an eventual immigration bill.
On immigration, Mr. Obama raised expectations when, after years of denying he had such powers, he issued a policy last year saying he no longer would deport young illegal immigrants, the “Dreamers” who were brought to the U.S. as minors by their parents and are considered the most sympathetic cases. He said he was using prosecutorial discretion.
More than two dozen House Democrats have written a letter to Mr. Obama saying he can expand that authority to encompass nearly all 11 million illegal immigrants.
Presidents regularly claim broad powers, and Mr. Obama’s own list of assertions is long. He committed the U.S. to military action in Libya without congressional authorization, he has tweaked interpretations to education, welfare and health care laws, and he has tested the limits of his recess appointment powers in a case that is pending before the Supreme Court.
Mr. Obama’s base, though, wants to see more — as he learned last week on a trip to the West Coast, where he was met with hecklers.
One man PLANT interrupted the president’s immigration speech to urge him to halt all deportations, just as he did for the Dreamers. Mr. Obama said he didn’t have that much power.
Hours later, as Mr. Obama ticked off his agenda at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser, a man PLANT in the audience repeatedly called out “executive order.”
“Somebody keeps on yelling, ‘Executive order.’ Well, I’m going to actually pause on this issue because a lot of people have been saying this lately on every problem, which is, just sign an executive order, and we can pretty much do anything and basically nullify Congress,” the president said — immediately drawing approving applause from his audience.
“Wait, wait, wait, before everybody starts clapping — that’s not how it works,” Mr. Obama said. “We got this Constitution. We got this whole thing about separation of powers and branches.”
Furious: Anti-bankruptcy protesters rallying in front of the US Courthouse in Detroit.
‘Nothing distinguishes pension debt in a municipal bankruptcy case from any other debt.”
These thirteen words come from a ruling this week by US Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes. In strictly legal terms, they’re part of a larger decision that does little more than confirm the obvious: Detroit is bankrupt.
But make no mistake. The judge has set off a seismic shock that will reverberate far outside Detroit. For he has confirmed something fairly radical in the world of public employees: the law applies to workers for a bankrupt city much the same way it does to workers for a bankrupt company.
Even for those who think this common sense has been a long time coming, it’s a tough hit for Detroit city workers at or near retirement age. Not only does it mean they’ll get less than they were promised, the news comes late in their lives, at a time when they have little way to make up for it. And they won’t be the last, given the unfunded pensions across this country.
In Detroit, much of the ire from city workers has been directed at Judge Rhodes. That’s misplaced. A far better target would be their own unions.
For years, public-workers unions have behaved as though their cities’ financial and pension crises aren’t their problem, largely because they’ve deemed their pensions as sacrosanct. In Michigan this sense of unreality was encouraged by a state constitutional amendment (similar to one in New York) which the unions and the political class took as a guarantee that pensions couldn’t be touched even if the city went belly-up.
Now, the economic solution to the pension mess isn’t that complicated. Cities need to move their workers from retirement plans that guarantee benefits to ones where benefits are based on contributions. The advantage to the city would be to eliminate the problem of unfunded liabilities, while the advantage to workers is that they’d own their plans outright — so they wouldn’t ever face the dismal prospect Detroit city retirees are now facing.
The obstacle is almost all political. The Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon puts it this way: “The norm for city and state unions has been to press for maximum pension promises — even if it meant accepting unfunded liabilities.”
This was entirely rational, by the way, given the assumption that taxpayers would ultimately have to make up any shortcomings. It also made sense for the unions because part of the old deal was union representation on the boards of these great big pension funds, which gave them enormous political clout.
As for the public workers, many accept this arrangement because the deal they get is unbeatable by anything in the private sector — where, as the Manhattan Institute’s Nicole Gelinas points out, “There is no way a cop or a firefighter could retire after 22 years and be confident of supporting not only himself but a surviving spouse for another 40 years.”
The hope is that younger public workers, watching what is happening in Detroit, come to realize another fact of the status quo: The defined-benefit systems for public workers really serves the lifers. Those who leave their jobs before retirement — between 40 and 50 percent of teacher do so within their first five years — lose out big-time.
Not all such contracts for VIP travel expenses are released by the government, although when they come, the releases always lag behind the trip dates for security reasons. Security concerns are also the reason for the lack of “full and open competition” that is often required on government contracts. When asked for comment regarding the requirements of posting travel-related contracts, a State Department spokesperson responded via email:
Federal acquisition requirements for posting contract awards related to Presidential and Vice Presidential Travel to FedBiz Ops are that any contract for more than $150,000 should be posted within 30 days of the contract award date.
The above contract was awarded on July 18, 2013, but was not posted until December 4, 2013, which amounts to 139 days. When asked to comment regarding the delay in posting this and other such contracts, the spokesperson replied:
The Department takes our obligations under the Transparency Act very seriously, and strives for complete, timely reporting from all of our missions worldwide.