The Patriot Post® · Daily Digest
“In such a performance you may lay the foundation of national happiness only in religion, not by leaving it doubtful ‘whether morals can exist without it,’ but by asserting that without religion morals are the effects of causes as purely physical as pleasant breezes and fruitful seasons.” –Benjamin Rush, letter to John Adams, 1811
TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS
The economy will have three years of growth before the government’s deficit weighs the country down, according to a report on the nation’s economic outlook issued by the Congressional Budget Office. By 2025, the federal budget may be returning to a $1 trillion deficit, mostly thanks to an increase in entitlement spending due to ObamaCare and the Baby Boomer generation collecting Social Security. In the short term, the economy will grow because of low oil prices, higher hourly compensation, and more people returning to the workforce and starting households. But the CBO revised its August prediction to say the GDP will only grow 2.5% per year instead of 2.7% because it overestimated how many people are leaving the workforce permanently – possibly for retirement. As James Pethokoukis writes for the American Enterprise Institute, “Let me boil it down for you: These are the good times. Enjoy them because things are unlikely to get much better. In fact, they are likely to get worse.” The economy will shift as the White House administration turns over. Hopefully by then, Washington leadership has enough economic acumen to tackle the deficit, regardless of how it may affect political careers. More…
$2 trillion. That’s what the Congressional Budget Office now says ObamaCare will cost over the next decade. If that figure sounds a bit higher than you remember in the 2009 sweep of Hope ‘n’ Change, that’s because it’s more than double what Democrats told us it would cost. The Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein writes, “When Obama pitched the healthcare law to Congress, he said it would cost ‘around $900 billion’ over 10 years. But his statement was misleading because the way the law was designed, the major spending provisions didn’t kick in until 2014. This meant that 10-year estimates at the time the law was passed in 2010 were artificially low, because they included four years (2010 through 2013) in which spending was negligible.” Democrats told the BIG Lie because they needed the American people to swallow ObamaCare, and keeping it in the “few hundred billion dollar” range was critical to helping the medicine go down. And for all that, 31 million people will remain uninsured 10 years from now. It was never about insurance, though – it was and is about control. More…
Billionaire Jeff Greene, who Bloomberg News describes as having “amassed a multibillion dollar fortune investing in real estate and betting against subprime mortgage securities,” has a pessimistic view of the U.S. economy. “Our economy is in deep trouble,” Greene said. “We need to be honest with ourselves. We’ve had a realistic level of job destruction, and those jobs aren’t coming back.” Because of that, he argues, “America’s lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted so we have less things and a smaller, better existence. We need to reinvent our whole system of life.” To highlight his hypocrisy, he made the comments after having flown his wife, children and two nannies on a private jet (just one of about 1,700) to the climate confab in Davos, Switzerland. But we’re the ones who need to tighten our belts. By the way, Greene is a Democrat who ran for the Florida Senate seat currently held by Marco Rubio.
The trade of Bowe Bergdahl for five Guantanamo Bay prisoners set a dangerous precedent in the White House where terrorists – if detained for a few years – are viewed as harmless relics of the War on Terror. The sleeper agent for al-Qaida, Ali Saleh Al-Marri, was released with no oversight from Congress at the request of Qatar. As Noah Rothman at Hot Air points out, the trade may have been illegal because Obama broke the law by not informing Congress 30 days before he released the Gitmo prisoners. Ultimately, the administration’s trade of Bergdahl has only yielded bitter fruit. Bergdahl will be charged with desertion, a charge Obama would rather keep buried for political reasons. “This is shaping up to be a titanic struggle behind the scenes,” retired Lt. Col. Tony Schaffer told Fox News. “Believe me, the Army here wants to do the right thing. … And the White House, because of the political narrative, President Obama cozying up to the parents and because he, President Obama, releas[ed] the five Taliban. … The narrative is what the White House does not want to have come out.” It’s always cynical politics for Obama.
First, the good news: Thanks to U.S. airstrikes and Kurdish boots on the ground, ISIL has been almost repelled from Kobani. Taking back the Syrian town at the border with Turkey is mostly symbolic, but after the summer’s news of ISIL winning victory after victory this turnaround, however small, is welcome. The bad news is that ISIL has roughly doubled its territory since August despite U.S. bombings. The overall conflict has digressed so much that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, broke from the White House’s saccharine foreign policy rhetoric. “I think the deteriorate and destroy of ISIL [sic] has had some victory,” Feinstein said. “I don’t know whether 6,000 ISIL people have been killed or not, but that’s the figure that’s been floated around. But that’s not going to do it. So where [Senator John] McCain is right, I do think we need some Special Operations [Forces] in these countries, on the ground, more than just advisers. And I think we need to protect our allies – that’s Israel, that’s Jordan, that’s Saudi Arabia – and be more pronounced about it.” You know the Obama administration is failing miserably when a Democrat calls for sending troops. More…
For more, visit Right Hooks.
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Over the last several months, Americans have enjoyed paying much lower prices at the gas pump than they did the previous five years. While the relief at the pump is a welcome reprieve to Americans who have struggled to make ends meet, there’s trouble on the horizon.
During the State of the Union address, Barack Obama proudly announced, “We are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years. … And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save about $750 at the pump.” While this is welcome news, the truth is, to borrow his own phrase, Obama didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.
Rebutting Obama’s claim, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said, “Our nation’s energy industry deserves the credit for the growth we see today. We are experiencing an energy revolution in spite of the president’s policies that are intended to stifle the development of our domestic resources.”
At least someone in Washington is willing to give credit where it is due.
Obama made clear during the SOTU that he would veto any legislation concerning the Keystone XL pipeline, which doesn’t comport with his frequent rhetoric about creating jobs. Senate Democrats followed the Pied Piper and temporarily blocked Republican legislation on Keystone Monday. But Obama isn’t just stopping with Keystone.
In a recent video depicting the beautiful wilderness in Alaska, he announced – from gas-guzzling Air Force One, no less – “I’m going to be calling on Congress to make sure that they take it one step further … designating it as a wilderness so that we can make sure that this amazing wonder is preserved for future generations.” That’s right, he wants Congress to designate the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as a wilderness, so that it can never be used to drill for oil.
His Interior Department proposed on Sunday preserving more than 12 million of the 19.8 million acres of land in ANWR, which includes approximately 1.5 million acres believed to contain an abundance of oil and natural gas. Consistent with Obama’s contempt for Congress, The Wall Street Journal notes, “This abrogates a 1980 deal in which Congress specifically set aside some of this acreage for future oil and gas exploration.”
It’s worth mentioning that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has pushed for ANWR to be opened for drilling to boost Alaska’s economy and allow for America to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. “What’s coming is a stunning attack on our sovereignty and our ability to develop a strong economy that allows us, our children and our grandchildren to thrive,” Murkowski said in a statement. But Democrats and now the president have said “no.”
Certainly, the Republican-led 114th Congress will reject any such proposal, so what’s the big deal? In short, Obama doesn’t think he needs Congress. According to another Wall Street Journal story, “[T]he proposed move puts the area into a state of de facto designation as wilderness and would prevent drilling.” Worse, the move could endanger the Alaska oil pipeline itself.
Clearly, the president lied to America when he said he wanted to work with Congress.
America has so much land full of natural resources such as oil and natural gas that can be extracted safely while doing minimal damage to the environment. And yet we can’t expect the price of oil to remain low, in part because Obama’s regulatory bonanza will always put ecofascism and his climate change agenda ahead of economic growth.
John Hofmeister, founder and chief executive of Citizens for Affordable Energy, warns that Americans are likely to see $5 per gallon of gas later this decade. Oil prices fluctuate and, although we are enjoying the benefits of an increase in American production and an increase in the global supply that has driven prices down, it would be naive for us to think that these prices will stay this low forever.
Put simply, government needs to get out of the way. Rather than creating regulations and job-crippling policies that impede our nation’s advance toward acquiring untapped sources of energy, it needs to allow ANWR and other federal lands to be put to use. Our economic future depends on it. And, by the way, there will still be plenty of wilderness left for caribou, polar bears and future generations to enjoy.
In case there were any remaining doubters, Barack Obama’s remarks on Iran during his State of the Union speech last week made it perfectly clear he believes reaching a deal is more important than the content of the deal. But he’s facing increasing opposition in Congress – even from his own party.
Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) have co-sponsored a bill that would ramp up the sanctions pressure on Iran, rightly judging that Iran has no reason to cooperate absent significant outside pressure. Even Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) may hop on board. The president threatened to veto any such legislation, claiming new sanctions “will all but guarantee diplomacy fails, alienating America from its allies and ensuring Iran starts up its nuclear program again.”
Perhaps it has escaped Obama’s attention that we have already alienated our key Middle East allies and friends when it comes to Iran, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. They all look with growing alarm at Iran’s progress toward nuclear capability at a time when Iran is expanding and consolidating its influence throughout the region. Yemen’s government could not be reached for comment, having just been toppled by Iranian-backed Houthi militants. Israel’s government will soon speak when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of Congress, despite petulant objections from the White House.
Perhaps it also eluded Obama’s notice that Iran cannot “re-start” its nuclear program – because it has never been stopped. Iran retains all the components needed to produce nuclear weapons, a situation the current Joint Plan of Action essentially concedes to Iran. Despite five different UNSC Resolutions between 2006 and 2010 requiring Iran to cease uranium enrichment activities, Iran has not only continued those activities but has dramatically increased its enrichment infrastructure.
Despite the president’s claim that we have “reduced [Iran’s] supply of nuclear material,” we have in fact done no such thing. Iran has merely changed the chemical composition of some of its nuclear material, a process that is reversible at any time. Despite UN insistence that Iran halt work on the heavy water reactor at Arak, it is now physically complete and ready for initial testing.
After 12 years of lying, cheating, threatening, obfuscating and general misbehavior, Iran still faces no serious impediment to its nuclear program. U.S. and European sanctions targeting Iran’s oil industry – virtually the sole source of Iran’s economy – had been the only successful means of gaining cooperation from Tehran. But sanctions were cast aside just as they were showing real results, and the prospect of restoring them seems remote.
With oil prices the lowest they have been in years, Iran’s economy is showing signs of extreme stress even without sanctions. Restoring sanctions would thus be even more effective today than when they were imposed in 2013. But with a president apparently determined to achieve literally any deal he can get, don’t hold your breath on new U.S. sanctions – or any change in Iran’s behavior.
For more, visit Right Analysis.
TOP 5 RIGHT OPINION COLUMNS
- Cal Thomas: GOP Abortion Bill: Right Ends, Wrong Means
- Thomas Sowell: Random Thoughts
- David Limbaugh: Kudos to Congress and Netanyahu
- Arnold Ahlert: The Upcoming Showdown at the EU Corral
- Ed Feulner: Regaining Lost Economic Freedom
For more, visit Right Opinion.
OPINION IN BRIEF
Senator Daniel Webster (1782-1852): “If the States were not left to leave the Union when their rights were interfered with, the government would have been National, but the Convention refused to baptize it by that name.”
Columnist Cal Thomas: “[I]f Republicans are serious about advancing protection for the unborn in the age of Obamacare, they will adopt a different strategy. They might start by looking back 50 years to the civil rights movement. People who are old enough to remember, or have seen the film ‘Selma,’ recall how pictures and personal stories helped move the hearts and change the minds of many Americans in support of civil rights legislation. Pictures of blacks being beaten by white police officers or being denied service at lunch counters or forced to use separate restrooms – even murdered – shocked much of the nation. As Black History Month begins next week, the Republican Congress should hold a series of hearings on the impact the elimination of 55 million unborn lives has had on our culture. They can begin with testimony from black women and men like J. Kenneth Blackwell, a former Ohio secretary of state and currently a policy board member of the American Civil Rights Union. … If ‘black lives matter’ – and they do and should – they need to be protected in the womb, as well as in the streets.”
Columnist Thomas Sowell: “When someone tries to lay a guilt trip on you for being successful, remember that your guilt is some politician’s license to take what you worked for and give it to someone else who is more likely to vote for the politician who plays Santa Claus with your money. … Some people see discrimination when schools punish black students more often than white students. But schools punish white students more often than Asian students. Lenders turn down black applicants for loans more often than white applicants – but they turn down whites more often than Asians. Most statistics on such things omit Asians, rather than spoil a politically correct story. … President Obama may have gained something politically or ideologically by recognizing Cuba, but just what did the United States gain? Like so much that has been done by this administration, the diplomatic recognition of Cuba demonstrates how safe it is to be our enemy, while our policies toward Ukraine and Israel demonstrate how risky it is to be our ally.”
Comedian Argus Hamilton: “Joe Biden acknowledged to reporters that he might run against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, and cited his foreign policy experience. Last spring, the U.S. traded five Taliban prisoners for one American POW. Originally the deal included Biden, but the Taliban said no.”
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
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