Barack Obama

Obama’s inconsistency, incoherence has created a foreign policy mess for America

Cognitive dissonance is defined as the discomfort one feels when holding contradictory beliefs, thoughts, ideas, or values simultaneously. It’s based on the idea that it is inherently human to want consistency — it makes us feel secure and, frankly, sane.

What, then, to do with political policy decisions that should induce these feelings of discomfort given their glaring inconsistencies but that apparently produce no such feelings since no one in the press or the White House is commenting on the confusion? For example, how can the nation under President Obama be simultaneously weakening the military and drawing back on foreign policy, yet going ahead with what the Free Beacon calls “imperialist meddling in Nigeria”:

As the pressure mounts from America’s media elites and hashtag aficionados, what will he do when strongly worded condemnations fail to persuade Boko Haram’s elected leader Abubakar Shekau to release the hundreds of girls his group has (allegedly) enlisted in its quest for religious freedom?

Another IRS scandal: One in 10 Tea Party donors were audited by the tax agency

In  light of the recent vote held by the Republican-led House to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress, new evidence suggests that conservative groups that were targeted by the IRS division entrusted with organizations that have tax exempt status, had 10 percent of the names from their donors’ lists audited. The percentage represents a much higher rate within targeted groups, especially when compared to how often average Americans are audited.

The House voted on Wednesday to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress. House Republicans insist that that the former IRS director only invoked her constitutional right after she declared her innocence to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Because new revelations pertaining to this case saw the light of day, Republicans were the first to jump at the new information.

According to the documents, nearly one in every 10 tea party donors were subject to audits after groups were forced to turn in their lists of donors, a rate that is suspiciously higher than the average 1 percent audit rate for the general public.

While the IRS maintained that it never targeted conservative or liberty-minded groups at the beginning of the investigation, the agency finally came clean, at least enough to admit that its agents were in fact singling out conservative or libertarian groups.

To Help The Poor, To Not Help The Poor

Republicans in the Senate blocked legislation this week that would increase the federal minimum wage. Currently, the federal minimum wage level is at $7.25 an hour and the failed proposed increase would have raised it to $10.10 an hour. Democrats promoting the bill claimed it was a strong way to combat poverty.

The expected outrage at the failure of the bill included sound bites from an angered Obama aimed at Republicans, saying, “They said ‘no’ to helping millions working their way out of poverty.” Republicans responded to the many criticisms citing the CBO report showing that 500,000 jobs were expected to be lost if the increase was passed.

Though that is a great argument to make since it is quite difficult to work your way out of poverty if you no longer have a job, it is not the only one. The options for a business owner that is presented with a forced increase to labor costs include raising prices and cutting hours as well as cutting jobs entirely.

So, from the view of a poverty stricken minimum wage worker these options look just as bad. They are faced with an increase in the prices of goods and services they need. Not to mention they now run the risk of having their hours cut or losing their job entirely.

How many people in poverty would see an increase in pay because of this bill? According to the Census Bureau, in 2012, nearly 60% of those living at or near the poverty level were not in the workforce, meaning an increase in wage would not help.

HealthCare.gov — Obama can’t build that

For anyone that remembers the Kevin Kline movie Dave, these days call the scenes of the accountant going over the national budget like a normal business person would. When it comes to getting HealthCare.gov working, it’s probably reaching the point where Murray the accountant would be tearing out what hair he had left.

The latest news is that the initial estimates for fixing the site were grossly underestimated. That’s no surprise, but that doesn’t make it any better. Accenture is claiming that it will need $121 million to make it through January 10, 2015.

To place that in perspective, just the latest figure exceeds at least one set of estimates for 10 highly popular web start-ups. That is exceeding the cost to start all of them, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Uber, Pinterest and Vine. You can even throw in a healthy dose of green pigs and egg wielding Angry Birds in that much smaller figure of approximately $7.25 million. That was adding up the high-end estimates and rounding up a bit.

Yes, the cost to just fix one website for the government apparently costs close to 17 times what it probably cost to start ten of the most popular websites out there. Just makes you yearn for the good old days when the biggest ticket items people would complain about in government budgets were $200 hammers, and $500 toilet seats, doesn’t it?

House Republicans move forward on Benghazi, analyzing testimony for contradictions

A group of House Republicans are reviewing testimony provided by witnesses who have testified in front of congressional committees looking into the 2012 attack on the American compound in Benghazi which claimed the lives of four Americans.

In an interview with United Liberty on Thursday afternoon, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, explained that he and several other House Republicans have been reviewing testimony from congressional witnesses to look for contradictory statements.

Westmoreland said that he went to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) approximately six weeks ago to get his blessing to form a group consisting of members of three key House committees — Oversight and Government Reform, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs. He wanted members with prosecutorial experience to build a potential case.

“We would look at the testimony, we would look at a list of witnesses that have testified in front of Government Oversight and Foreign Affairs,” Westmoreland told United Liberty. “And we would look at them, and we would look at their testimony and see if there [were] any contradictions in testimonies that may have been presented by somebody else at another committee.”

Boehner’s staff contacted Westmoreland two weeks later, offering staff support to assist the group as it reviews some 50,000 pages of testimony and interviews.

“[I]t’s a small group,” said Westmoreland. “We don’t want any big committee chairs, we wanted the average run-of-the-mill kind of guy that could look at this and not be on TV every night, or be doing interviews and trying to make a lot of gain out of it, because the American people, they want to know the truth, and that’s what we’re doing our best.”

Liberals Frothing at the Mouth over McCutcheon Ruling

“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” — William F. Buckley Jr.

For the second time in four years, liberals all over America are once again in the throes of apoplectic rage at the Supreme Court over a decision expanding free speech rights.

On January 21, 2010, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that the First Amendment protections of free speech prohibit the government from restricting political donations by corporations (and labor unions, but you never hear the left complaining about that).

This ruling became a rallying cry for the left, who decry the corrupting influence of money on our political process. Eight days after the decision, Barack Obama stood before the assembled members of the House and Senate, as well as the justices of the Supreme Court, and railed against the immorality and danger of the decision.

Quoth Emperor Barack, “With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections…I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps correct some of these problems.”

Supreme Court Rejects NSA Phone Spying Case

After U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s preliminary injunction was issued back in December, which kept the NSA from gathering metadata pertaining to certain Verizon customers who took part in a lawsuit filed by conservative legal activist Larry Klayman, the Supreme Court decided to refrain from reviewing the case.

According to Judge Leon’s ruling, the Justice Department didn’t produce enough evidence to make him believe that the massive surveillance program was justified, which led to his decision to call the NSA’s surveillance programs unconstitutional.

The decision was announced Monday.

Per the rules of the court, at least four of the nine justices must agree on taking up the cause for a full review before it’s accepted, but since the process failed to grant the case a go, the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s surveillance program remains unchecked by the Supreme Court.

The debate over President Barack Obama’s proposal to change how data gathered by private companies will be stored has also sparked this administration’s harshest critics, especially when it comes to the unconstitutional surveillance programs carried out by the NSA.

Proposed NSA reforms close one loophole while leaving others open

President Barack Obama rolled out a proposal earlier this week that would end the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk phone metadata collection program. The House Intelligence Committee has a proposal of its own purports to achieve the same end.

The proposal pushed by the White House has been received with cautious optimism from civil libertarians, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). They like what they’ve heard, but have explained that the devil is in the details.

Others, like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), have pointed out that there’s already a proposal in Congress, the USA FREEDOM Act, that would end bulk data collection. Privacy advocates, however, have panned the House Intelligence Committee’s proposal, which is backed by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

In Wednesday’s Cato Daily Podcast, Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the Cato Institute, discussed and dissected both President Obama and the House Intelligence Committee’s proposal, finding them to be welcome news. But he also pointed out that both measures still leave open the possibility of access to Americans’ personal information.

Why Republicans should follow Rand Paul’s lead

The Republican Party seems poised for a successful mid-term election. There has even been talk of a building “Republican wave,” should voter dissatisfaction intensify and solidify, though its far too early to say for sure what will happen.

But if a “Republican wave” does indeed happen this fall and the party takes control of the Senate, a goal that has proved to be out of reach in the past two cycles, GOP leaders and talking heads should be cautious in overstating what it means.

Yes, President Barack Obama is plagued by low approval ratings and rejection of Obamacare, his signature domestic achievement. Voters aren’t too thrilled about the state of the economy or his handling of foreign policy.

But Republicans must realize that electoral success this doesn’t mean that voters have embraced the party, as polls almost universally show. In a two-party system at a time of malaise, the party not in control is the beneficiary of voter anger. This was true in 2006 when Democrats won control of Congress. It was true in 2010 when Republicans gained 63 seats on their way to winning the House of Representatives.

There is no denying that the Republican Party has a very real messaging problem, and party leaders realize it. That’s why the Republican National Committee released a report, The Growth and Opportunity Project, to try to figure out what went wrong in the 2012 election as well as try to find solutions to expand its reach.

Though that “autopsy,” so to speak, raised some excellent points, it alienated many of the grassroots activists that compromise part of the Republican base.

Current Job Market for Teens is the Toughest on Record

Thomas Sowell used his latest piece to address a common misconception regarding the left’s avowed concern for minorities. In his column, the renowned economist pointed out that the educational policies pursued by the left in the name of the poor and the minorities often hurt those they claim to protect.

The same can be said about other policies pursued by Democrats who tend to defend that more interventionism will undoubtedly lead to more opportunities for the poor, the young and the minorities.

According to a Brookings Institute study, teens have been having a harder time finding jobs in recent years. In 2000, research shows that 45% of teens in the U.S. had jobs, now only 26% of teens aged 16 to 19 are employed.

Researchers used Department of Labor and Census data to track youth employment among the 100 largest metro areas in the country. The study shows that 1.8 million teens are either actively looking for a job but are unable to get one or they have part-time jobs, whereas they’d prefer to obtain full-time employment instead. The study refers to this pattern as “underutilization,” which means that teens are not satisfied or financially stable to focus solely on school.

In other words, more teens need to work but are unable to find work.

 


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