Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

When the shoe is on the other foot in politics

original article: God Bless Harry Reid
February 2, 2017 by CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER

Senate Democrats have Reid to thank for being powerless to block Gorsuch’s nomination.

There are many people to thank for the coming accession of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Donald Trump for winning the election. Hillary Clinton for losing it. Mitch McConnell for holding open the High Court seat through 2016, resolute and immovable against furious (and hypocritical) opposition from Democrats and media. And, of course, Harry Reid.

God bless Harry Reid. It’s because of him that Gorsuch is guaranteed elevation to the Court. In 2013, as then–Senate majority leader, Reid blew up the joint. He abolished the filibuster for federal appointments both executive (such as cabinet) and judicial, for all district- and circuit-court judgeships (excluding only the Supreme Court). Thus unencumbered, the Democratic-controlled Senate packed the lower courts with Obama nominees.

Reid was warned that the day would come when Republicans would be in the majority and would exploit the new rules to equal and opposite effect. That day is here. The result is striking.

Trump’s cabinet appointments are essentially unstoppable because Republicans need only 51 votes and they have 52. They have no need to reach 60, the number required to overcome a filibuster. Democrats are powerless to stop anyone on their own.

And equally powerless to stop Gorsuch. But isn’t the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees still standing? Yes, but if the Democrats dare try it, everyone knows that Majority Leader McConnell will do exactly what Reid did and invoke the nuclear option — filibuster abolition — for the Supreme Court, too.

Reid never fully appreciated the magnitude of his crime against the Senate. As I wrote at the time, the offense was not abolishing the filibuster — you can argue that issue either way — but that he did it by simple majority. In a serious body, a serious rule change requires a serious supermajority. (Amending the U.S. Constitution, for example, requires two-thirds of both houses plus three-quarters of all the states.) Otherwise you have rendered the place lawless. If in any given session you can summon up the day’s majority to change the institution’s fundamental rules, there are no rules.

McConnell can at any moment finish Reid’s work by extending filibuster abolition to the Supreme Court. But he hasn’t. He has neither invoked the nuclear option nor even threatened to. And he’s been asked often enough. His simple and unwavering response is that Gorsuch will be confirmed. Translation: If necessary, he will drop the big one.

It’s obvious that he prefers not to. No one wants to again devalue and destabilize the Senate by changing a major norm by simple majority vote. But Reid set the precedent.

Note that the issue is not the filibuster itself. There’s nothing sacred about it. Its routine use is a modern development — with effects both contradictory and unpredictable. The need for 60 votes can contribute to moderation and compromise because to achieve a supermajority you need to get a buy-in from at least some of the opposition. On the other hand, in a hyper-partisan atmosphere (like today’s), a 60-vote threshold can ensure that everything gets stopped and nothing gets done.

Filibuster abolition is good for conservatives today. It will be good for liberals tomorrow when they have regained power. There’s no great principle at stake, though as a practical matter, in this era of widespread frustration with congressional gridlock, the new norm may be salutary.

What is not salutary is the Reid precedent of changing the old norm using something so transient and capricious as the majority of the day. As I argued in 2015, eventually the two parties will need to work out a permanent arrangement under which major rule changes will require a supermajority (say, of two-thirds) to ensure substantial bipartisan support.

There are conflicting schools of thought as to whether even such a grand bargain could not itself be overturned by some future Congress — by simple majority led by the next Harry Reid. Nonetheless, even a problematic entente is better than the free-for-all that governs today.

The operative word, however, is “eventually.” Such an agreement is for the future. Not yet, not today. Republicans are no fools. They are not about to forfeit the advantage bequeathed to them by Harry Reid’s shortsighted willfulness. They will zealously retain the nuclear option for Supreme Court nominees through the current Republican tenure of Congress and the presidency.

After which, they should be ready to parlay and press the reset button. But only then. As the young Augustine famously beseeched the Lord, “Give me chastity and continency, only not yet.”

congress, constitution, Democrats, government, ideology, legislature, politics, Republicans, unintended consequences

Filed under: congress, constitution, Democrats, government, ideology, legislature, politics, Republicans, unintended consequences

Republican lawmakers slam ‘diversion’ of ObamaCare funds from Treasury

original article: Republican lawmakers slam ‘diversion’ of ObamaCare funds from Treasury
March 11, 2016 by FoxNews

Republican critics say an ObamaCare program is breaking the law by shorting the U.S. Treasury — and therefore U.S. taxpayers– billions of dollars collected from the insurance industry.

Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., chairman of the health subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, called it “an illegal wealth transfer from hard-working taxpayers to (insurers).”

He recently joined Republican colleagues in grilling Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell about the shortfall of money  supposed to be flowing into Treasury coffers – as mandated in the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

They followed up that hearing by sending a letter this week seeking clarification from the administration, according to The Hill.

Under the law, money is collected each year from insurers for the ACA’s reinsurance program, which helps plans taking on higher costs associated with sicker enrollees.

While $10 billion was supposed to go back to the market to pay those costs in 2014, the first year, an additional $2 billion was supposed to go to the U.S. Treasury under the law. It never arrived.

That was because not enough money was brought in to cover both, so the administration prioritized. Then HHS published a new rule saying payments would be made to insurers first in the event of a shortfall.

The rule, set in 2014, was published publicly for comment and received no reaction at the time, Burwell told a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing when the matter was raised again by lawmakers last week.

According to health care law expert Tim Jost, a professor at Washington & Lee University School of Law, the reinsurance program is not permanent and was instituted as a way to shoulder some of the burden for the new costs connected with new, at-risk enrollees who weren’t able to get adequate coverage before ObamaCare.

The reinsurance program was to collect $10 billion from insurance companies in 2014, $6 billion in 2015, and $4 billion in 2016. The Treasury would get $2 billion in 2014 and 2015 and $1 billion in 2016.

In 2014, according to reports, only $9.7 billion was collected from the industry , and 2015 totals were expected to be short, as well.

Critics say the law is clear: the Treasury gets the money and it cannot be transferred elsewhere, even if that “elsewhere” is to the insurance companies for the reinsurance program.

According to The Hill, presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., teamed up with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R- Utah, to write a letter decrying the administration’s moves.

“The statute in question is unambiguous, and the HHS regulation and recent practice violates its clear directive,” the letter read.

Jost is not so sure. He says it all depends on how the mandate is interpreted. “(The administration’s) reading of the statute is, that the reason for adopting this program was to establish a reinsurance program, and therefore if there was a shortfall the money collected should first go to reinsurance,” and if more is collected, “only then would it go to the Treasury,” Jost told Foxnews.com. “(Republicans) say that reading is wrong.”

“It’s a disagreement on how to read the statute,” he added, “but I don’t think there is anything illegal, unconstitutional or immoral in respect to what the administration is doing.”

bureaucracy, congress, ethics, funding, government, health care, nanny state, politics, public policy, rationing, reform, regulation, spending

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Cummings Calls Gowdy a Liar…Gowdy Turns the Table on Him

original article: Cummings Calls Gowdy a Liar…Gowdy Turns the Table on Him
October 18, 2015 by The PC Graveyard

Elijah Cummings, one of the criminals from the IRS scandal has accused Trey Gowdy of lying and demanded he apologize to Hillary.  Cummings called Gowdy a liar because of a comment he made about Hillary endangering national security and lives with her handling of her emails.  This we know to be true.  Funny thing is that Cummings was able to get an answer from the CIA in 45 minutes on a weekend, while republicans are still waiting for information they requested over six months ago.

The CIA information is suspect also.  They said that naming their secret asset in Libya was not classified.  You don’t need to be a super spy to know that naming an asset that’s in the middle of terrorists is not a good thing and is never done.  Gowdy made mention of the response Cummings got.  Here is the letter Cummings wrote:

The CIA yesterday informed both the Republican and Democratic staffs of the Select Committee that they do not consider the information you highlighted in your letter to be classified.  Specifically, the CIA confirmed that “the State Department consulted with the CIA on this production, the CIA reviewed these documents, and the CIA made no redactions to protect classified information.” …

Unfortunately, the standard operating procedure of this Select Committee has become to put out information publicly that is inaccurate and out of context in order to attack Secretary Clinton for political reasons.  These repeated actions bring discredit on this investigation and undermine the integrity of the Select Committee and the House of Representatives.

On Sunday, Gowdy answered in a missive of his own:

Contrary to your assertion, the CIA did not inform the Committee that anything about the facts stated in the October 7 letter “[was] wrong.”  As usual, I would ask you to completely and accurately relate the facts rather than attempt to create an impression that is misleading based on an incomplete and selective recitation of the facts.  In fact, my understanding is the CIA advised the Committee in a very brief email late Saturday night that it had reviewed the material in question and asked for no material to be redacted…

As such, we will continue to redact certain information to protect sensitive information regardless of how others treat that information.  Whether Secretary Clinton received protected information from Sidney Blumenthal or simply recklessly wrong information from Sidney Blumenthal is relevant at some level.  What is most important is to protect information that can endanger others.  As you will recall we had this same conversation when we received a letter from you we found troubling as it relates to the naming of certain assets.  We did the responsible thing which was come to you, alert you to the issue, and allow for that information to be withdrawn and or otherwise not made public…

So, our position is consistent.  Sources and methods of intelligence are among the most closely guarded information our government has.  We will continue to redact that information and treat it with the highest level of confidentiality and sensitivity, and we would advise you to do the same…

PS:  I am envious of your staff’s ability to get information from this administration in less than 45 minutes on a weekend.  This is something the majority Members struggle to do on weekdays.  Perhaps you would be willing to help us gain access to the information the Committee has been seeking from the administration for over half a year now.

Someone is lying.  I’m betting the rent money on Cummings.

bias, congress, corruption, cover up, ethics, government, hypocrisy, ideology, law, politics, scandal

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Pope’s Challenge to Protect Life Instantly Dismissed

original article: Pope’s Challenge to Protect Life Instantly Dismissed
September 24, 2015 by Kimberly Ross

The Pope was in town today, if you didn’t know, but the drooling dropped jaws of the Left probably tipped you off. As the country has been preparing for the papal visit, we’ve been subjected to channels such as CNN essentially turning into EWTN. Suddenly the Pope is revered, and Catholic teaching, most of it anyway, should be seriously considered, albeit briefly. The Pope’s speech before Congress was everything a social justice-leaning Pope would present to the leaders of a nation, complete with remarks about the environment, abolition of the death penalty, and coming together for the common good. You will see these remarks replayed over and over, and there is plenty of “good” in his statements. But there is one remark which will not be logically connected to the greatest sin of this generation. The sin of abortion. As Pope Francis said:

Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.

Naturally, “every stage of its development” refers to life from the very beginning – conception – through to the end. While Pope Francis did not use the term “abortion” in his speech before Congress, he has spoken out against it by including the “innocent victim of abortion” in the list of those needing our protection, and determining “It is wrong, then, to look the other way or to remain silent”. This conflicts with those such as cowardly House minority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) 16%, a pro-choice Catholic, who was recently quoted in a New York Times article: “The church has their position, and we have ours, which is that a woman has free will given to her by God”.

The dust had barely settled on media coverage of the Pope’s visit to DC when news outlets began to carry articles of Carly Fiorina’s visit to the ultrasound room of a pregnancy center. CNN‘s headline to the story? “Carly Fiorina trashes Planned Parenthood at South Carolina pregnancy center”. That’s odd, since about five minutes before that they were squealing with delight at the Pope’s speech.

The article opened…

Carly Fiorina took her attacks on Planned Parenthood to the ultrasound room of an alternative pregnancy center in the heart of the Bible Belt on Thursday morning.

“Wow, that shot of the spine is amazing. Look how well developed it is,” she remarked as she observed images of the 18-week fetus.

And the “trashing” the article refers to? Just this:

When Fiorina paced its narrow hallways, staff and pregnant women asked her to “stand for life” and “fight back.”

In between questions about soon-to-be-born child’s names, Fiorina pledged to do just that.

“The character of this nation cannot be about butchery of babies for body parts,” she told supporters in the foyer. “(Liberals) are perfectly prepared to destroy other people’s jobs and livelihoods and communities in order to protect fish and frogs and flies, but they do not think a 17-week-old, a 20-week-old, a 24-week old (baby) is worth saving.”

The lives worth saving, as mentioned by Fiorina, are the same exact lives that Pope Francis mentioned, but Carly is branded as trashing a women’s “health” organization, while the Pope as a whole is praised. How pale the “convictions” of the Left are, and how fleeting. CNN has done an excellent job at showing how absolutely limp the media is, as well as those who heard the Pope’s morning declarations in person, the members of Congress.

Of any two images that show the stark contrast between life and those who applaud its demise, these two pictures, tweeted close to one another, capture that reality.

popevisit

Liberals, both in the media and in Congress, quickly celebrated the Pope’s visit, and, just as quickly, ignored certain challenges that even dared to infringe on their political agenda. The most basic of rights is the right to life, and any desire to do good in this world must hinge on protecting that right. What good is a United States of America if we seek to use natural resources wisely, all the while destroying our most precious gift; the unborn? What good is encouraging the next generation to combat the evils of terrorism if we federally fund legal homicide? What good is celebrating the words of Pope Francis if they are glossed over one minute later while reviewing presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s stop at a pregnancy center?

With the Pope’s visit to Congress, the Left again showed their true colors. Not only is the representative of Catholicism celebrated and fawned over by those who routinely mock faith, but they give weight to just a portion of what he says for fear that the rest might destroy their own concrete “convictions”. I, for one, am not fooled by their paper-thin ideologies which dismiss the thing we should hold most dear.

abortion, babies, bias, congress, cover up, freedom, ideology, left wing, liberalism, news media, political correctness, progressive, relativism

Filed under: abortion, babies, bias, congress, cover up, freedom, ideology, left wing, liberalism, news media, political correctness, progressive, relativism

Planned Parenthood and Unfettered Congressional Spending

original article: Planned Parenthood and Unfettered Congressional Spending
July 22, 2015 by Zack Pruitt

The U.S. Constitution permits congressional spending for two purposes only — to pay debts and to provide for the common defense and general welfare of the country (Article 1, Section 8).  Experts have debated ad nauseam over the proper interpretation of the terms “common defense” and “general welfare” but it is difficult to deny that modern spending has far surpassed the intent of the Founders and, in some cases, reached the point of absurdity.  With entire websites devoted to exposing the excesses of government spending that has virtually no limits, it is inevitable that taxpayers will be forced to subsidize things that they view as morally questionable.

Planned Parenthood receives over $500 million each year from American taxpayers, which comprises over 40 percent of its budget.  It was recently shown on video ostensibly seeking to profit from the sale of aborted baby parts (as opposed to being reimbursed for tissue donation), perhaps in violation of federal law.  Make no mistake, the big picture story here is not congressional overspending; it is the Senior Director of Medical Services at Planned Parenthood graphically describing her efforts to “not crush” vital organs when performing abortions in an effort to preserve them and recoup “between $30 and $100 per specimen.”  In another video, the President of Planned Parenthood’s Medical Directors Council indicates a profit-motive for aborted parts by negotiating for higher prices and haggling over the cost of “intact tissue.”  When a system allows for unfettered spending, taxpayers can wind up paying not only for unnecessary services, but ones that straddle the line between genocide and the commercialization of human body parts.

Without government assistance it is unlikely Planned Parenthood could survive as currently structured.  A system without proper checks and restraints allows for congressional funding of a multitude of programs that are unnecessary, and some, like Planned Parenthood, that blur ethical and moral lines.  Numerous calls for investigation and defunding have followed the release of this video, but under the current setup it will be difficult to fully strip federal grants because congressional Democrats and the President support the continued funding of Planned Parenthood despite the recent revelations.  In 2013, President Obama said, “You’ve also got a president who is going to be right there with you, fighting every step of the way… Thank you Planned Parenthood, God bless you.”

It should come as no surprise that when the government sanctions a morally questionable procedure such as abortion, that other morally suspect actions will stem from that tree, even ones that shock the conscience.  Historically, polls have shown this nation to be nearly 50-50 when it comes to general abortion rights, but the same polls move sharply against abortion in the 2ndand 3rd trimesters.  Partial-birth abortion is illegal but the methods described by Dr. Deborah Nucatola in the video closely resemble techniques in the partial-birth procedure.  She said that “[Planned Parenthood doctors are] very good at getting heart, lung, and liver…so I’m not going to crush that part, I’m going to crush below, I’m going to crush above, I’m going to see if I can get it all intact.”  Dr. Nucatola implies that specific steps are taken to preserve body parts, deviating from legal abortion standards.  In response to this aspect of the video evidence, Bill Murphy, co-Director of the Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center at the University of Wisconsin, told the Washington Post “The general consensus is that’s unethical and unsafe… you can’t modify a life-saving procedure for a patient in order to harvest organs.”

Control of the nation’s money with few limitations on expenditures encourages legislators to provide funding for projects they personally deem necessary for society and equality.  The results are runaway spending and massive budget deficits.  Politicians routinely use the public coffers to strengthen their reelection efforts by securing the support of special interest groups.  Irresponsible fiscal policy combined with substantial political support for abortion rights have led to taxpayer funding for an organization that harvests and sells baby body parts for research.  It strains credibility to reason that this is what the Founders had in mind when they authorized spending only for debt, defense, and general welfare.

Public money is used for a multitude of things that many Americans find objectionable.  When standards for congressional spending become virtually obsolete, the financial door swings wide-open for potential abuse.  Likewise, it is not a stretch that a society that permits abortion and the use of fetal parts for research would give rise to groups looking to profit from it.  As Dr. Nucatola explained in the video, “I think for [Planned Parenthood] affiliates, at the end of the day, they’re a non-profit… if they can do a little better than break even, and do so in a way that seems reasonable, they’re happy to do that.”

What has resulted is a perfect storm of economic entropy and blurred bioethical lines, in which congressional spending is rubber-stamped and prices can be placed on human body parts.  This lethal downward trajectory of fiscal and moral standards tugs at the fabric of society in ways that is harmful to both the economy and to the culture.  It is one thing for evil to exist but it is another for that evil to be sanctioned by the government and paid for by the people.  Without dramatic financial reforms and near-unanimous condemnation of immoral actions, we can expect an exponential increase of morally objectionable activity subsidized by the taxpayers.

Ending the trafficking of aborted baby parts will not be easy, but a return to the original plan for congressional spending would be a good start.

abortion, babies, bureaucracy, congress, constitution, corruption, ethics, extremism, funding, government, greed, ideology, political correctness, politics, public policy, reform, relativism, scandal, spending, taxes

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What do Democrats really think of the first amendment?

Here is the full text of the 1st Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

DEMOCRATS TRY TO REPEAL FIRST AMENDMENT
June 3, 2014 by JOHN HINDERAKER

Today in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Democrats held a hearing on Tom Udall’s proposal to gut the First Amendment by allowing Congress to prohibit or restrict participation in political campaigns. The Democrats like to say that the amendment would reverse the effect of the Citizens United and McCutcheon cases, but in fact it goes much farther than that. The amendment, which is favored by Harry Reid and most Senate Democrats, would give Congress unprecedented power to limit debate on public issues in the context of elections.

Democrats’ First Amendment Problem
September 10, 2014 by George Will

The constitutional amendment proposed in the Senate is a rare act of true extremism in American politics.

Senate Democrats’ Free Speech Problem
June 27, 2014 by Michael Barone

A proposed constitutional amendment would exclude political speech from protected status.

Govt will need to help shape U.S. media–Waxman
December 2, 2009 by IBTimes Staff Reporter

A top Democratic lawmaker predicted on Wednesday that the government will be involved in shaping the future for struggling U.S. media organizations.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, saying quality journalism was essential to U.S. democracy, said eventually government would have to help resolve the problems caused by a failing business model.

Krugman: Conservative Views About Debt Ceiling Should Be Censored From News Reports
July 27, 2011 by Noel Sheppard

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman on Tuesday said it was a “moral issue” for the press to censor conservative views about the debt ceiling.

Quite shockingly, the Nobel laureate took to his blog to complain that the news media are being too fair and balanced in their coverage of this highly contentious issue:

Sen. Kerry Asks Media to Stop Giving ‘Equal Time or Equal Balance’ to ‘Absurd’ Tea Party Ideas
August 5, 2011 by Noel Sheppard

Last week, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said conservative views about the debt ceiling should be censored from news reports.

On Friday’s “Morning Joe,” Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) took this a step further calling on media to stop giving “equal time or equal balance” to Tea Party ideas that people like him consider “absurd” and “not factual”

Elizabeth Warren: First Amendment Right ‘Scares Me’, Needs ‘Dialing Back’
September 23, 2010 by Mark Finkelstein

Remember the MSM brouhaha when some conservatives suggested reconsidering the automatic granting of citizenship to children born in the US to illegal immigrants? Suddenly, the sanctity of the 14th Amendment became the single most precious thing to liberals—even though no amendment of it, let alone its abolition, would have been necessary to revise the policy on birthright citizenship.

So should we expect the liberal media to take up its constitutional cudgel against Elizabeth Warren? After all, Pres. Obama’s newly appointed [not nominated] head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau went on Morning Joe today and in effect proclaimed that the right to petition government for the redress of government “scares” her. More disturbingly, Warren suggested we need to work on “dialing back” that right.

Sen. Baldwin: 1st Amendment Doesn’t Apply to Individuals
July 2, 2015 by Brian Sikma

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) says the 1st Amendment’s religious liberty protections don’t apply to individuals. On MSNBC last week, Wisconsin’s junior Senator claimed that the Constitution’s protection of the free exercise of religion extends only to religious institutions, and that individual’s do not have a right to the free exercise of their own religion.

censorship, civil rights, congress, constitution, Democrats, elitism, extremism, first amendment, freedom, government, left wing, liberalism, philosophy, politics, progressive, public policy, regulation, relativism

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Obamacare supporters finding it harder to defend architect

White House basically lied to minimize Jonathan Gruber’s role in shaping Obamacare
June 22, 2015 by Ben Bullard

Controversial MIT economist Jonathan Gruber reportedly played key role in ObamaCare law
June 22, 2015 by Fox News

Editor says he owes GOP sources ‘an apology’ after new Gruber emails
June 24, 2015 by Fox News

Obfuscatedcare
by Snopes.com

It should be pointed out that although Gruber’s comments suggest the Obama administration relied on obfuscation, distortion, lies, and manipulations to pass the increasingly ironically named “Affordable Care Act” the reason you’ll find so many defenders of Obamacare treating this scandal like it’s no big deal is because that’s how legislation is normally passed in Congress every day. It’s not a big deal to the corrupt political machine in Washington, D.C. or to its ultra-left groupies in the news media.

bias, bureaucracy, congress, corruption, culture, Democrats, economy, energy, ethics, extremism, fraud, government, health care, ideology, left wing, legislation, liberalism, lies, nanny state, news media, pandering, politics, progressive, propaganda, public policy, relativism, scandal, taxes

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How did federal agency get $500M from stimulus? ‘We misled Congress’

How did federal agency get $500M from stimulus? ‘We misled Congress,’ ex-official says
June 18, 2015 by Judson Berger

On paper, it sounded like a true government success story: The Social Security Administration in September opened a “state-of-the-art” data center in Maryland, housing wage and benefit information on almost every American, “on time and under budget.”

However, six years after Congress approved a half-billion dollars for the project — the largest building project funded by the 2009 stimulus — a whistleblower says the center was built on a lie.

“We misled Congress,” Michael Keegan, a former associate commissioner who worked on the project, told FoxNews.com.

Officials originally claimed they needed the $500 million to replace their entire, 30-year-old National Computer Center located at agency headquarters in Woodlawn, Md. But Keegan says they overstated their case — the agency has no plans to replace the center, and only moved a fraction of the NCC to the new site.

Keegan’s claims were first heard last week at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing, where he testified on alleged retaliation he faced as a whistleblower. Though two watchdog agencies previously discarded his complaints, documents submitted to Congress and obtained by FoxNews.com along with congressional records appear to back him up, at least in part. They show:

1) SSA officials told Congress in 2009, and as late as 2011, they planned to “replace” the National Computer Center, using $500 million from the stimulus.

2) That never happened. Rather, the agency built a new data center called theNational Support Center, in Urbana, Md. This now houses data center functions from the National Computer Center, and is what was touted inSeptember 2014. But the original, supposedly outdated NCC continues to operate, and hundreds still work there. And transcribed depositions from Keegan’s lawsuit against the agency show top officials indeed have no plans to replace the entire NCC.

Keegan maintains the agency didn’t have to move anybody out of the NCC, and could have simply renovated the floor holding the old data center.

“The data center occupies one half of one floor in a four-story building,” he told FoxNews.com. “We didn’t need to build [the new center] to begin with.”

Agency leaders disagree, and forged ahead. Yet the records show while officials originally talked about replacing the building, there are no plans to do so now.

‘[W]e have yet to receive a coherent response from the agency as to the reasons it didn’t do what it told Congress had to be done.’

– Morris Fischer, attorney for ex-SSA official

Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin said in a deposition she “did not” know of any plan to abandon the NCC or move all its workers to another site. Other officials echoed this statement.

“After seven months, we have yet to receive a coherent response from the agency as to the reasons it didn’t do what it told Congress had to be done,” Keegan’s attorney Morris Fischer said.

Former SSA Commissioner Michael Astrue, who led the agency under President George W. Bush and for several years under President Obama, also said he’s not sure why the building isn’t being replaced entirely.

Astrue said he made the original decision to replace the NCC, toward the end of the Bush administration. He said the building was “antiquated and fraying,” and was worried a disruption in payments could send “the entire economy into recession.” A backup SSA center in North Carolina, he said, was not enough.

Astrue said his intention was to replace and phase out the NCC entirely, and disputed Keegan’s claims that Congress was misled. He maintains the proposal was the “correct decision.”

But he said he was “surprised” to learn the NCC is still in operation. He doesn’t know why.

The agency’s claims to Congress over the years were, at best, confusing.

In congressional hearings in 2009, SSA officials repeatedly said they planned to use stimulus funds to replace the NCC. In one April 2009 hearing, Mary Glenn-Croft, a deputy commissioner at SSA, said the funds “will help us process our increasing workloads and replace our aging National Computer Center.”

But officials also occasionally referred to simply building a new “data center.”

This may have given the agency just enough wiggle room.

When the Office of the Inspector General reviewed Keegan’s complaints, it concluded the SSA “did not mislead” Congress to believe the NCC wouldn’t be needed. At the same time, the OIG acknowledged SSA talked about “replacing” the center and “did not implicitly state” it would stay in use. (Further, while IG Patrick P. O’Carroll, Jr., oversaw the spending, he also was among those making the case for the project, telling Congress in 2009 the NCC was “rapidly approaching obsolescence.”)

Like the OIG, the Office of Special Counsel last year also said they could not determine whether agency leaders misled Congress. Keegan disputes these findings.

The Social Security Administration has not yet responded to a request for comment from FoxNews.com.

The agency has said the new data center will meet SSA’s “anticipated IT workloads for at least the next 20 years.” The full budget for the project reportedly was about $750 million; it’s unclear what the final price tag was for the “under budget” building, or what happened to the unused money.

Keegan suspects agency leaders pushed for the new building because they saw it as a “slam dunk” once word got out in 2009 about stimulus funding. “I think every IT person wants a new toy,” he said, and they decided to go for “the whole ball of wax.”

Of the new building, he said, “It’s palatial.”

Astrue, speaking with FoxNews.com, acknowledged the offer of stimulus funds prompted his agency to make the case for the building.

“That money was going to get spent one way or the other,” he said, claiming the SSA project was more worthy than many others. “And Congress agreed.”

Keegan’s complaints are now at the center of nasty legal dispute over his treatment at the agency. As project executive for the center’s construction, he said he brought his concerns to his higher-ups, but was subsequently placed under an internal probe and relieved of his duties. He said he was confined to an empty office with little or no work to do until mid-2014, when he retired early.

bureaucracy, congress, corruption, ethics, fraud, funding, government, greed, nanny state, politics, scandal, spending, stimulus, taxes

Filed under: bureaucracy, congress, corruption, ethics, fraud, funding, government, greed, nanny state, politics, scandal, spending, stimulus, taxes

Playing politics with abortion instead of helping the poor

The pro-abortion lobby loves to call pro-lifers who support abortion regulations extremists; however, we’re not the ones filibustering late-term abortion bans and bipartisan legislation to stop human trafficking, or throwing fits about the non-controversial Hyde amendment.

As LifeNews previously reported, prior to the passage of the pro-life amendment in 1976, the federal Medicaid program paid for 300,000 abortions a year.

Unbelievably, now Senate Democrats are trying to stop a bipartisan deal on Medicare between Rep. Nancy Pelosi and House Speaker John Boehner.

Roll Call reports that Pelosi and Boehner are working on a piece of legislation that would benefit the poor by ditching the yearly fixes to the payment formula for Medicare doctors. The deal would do this by blocking a 21% cut in doctors’ Medicare fees and change how doctors are reimbursed for Medicare patients in the future. It would also provide money for a health program for low-income children.

However, Minority Leader Harry Reid expressed concern that the tentative House agreement would write restrictions on abortions at community health centers into law. Of course Planned Parenthood jumped at the opportunity to support abortion and said on Twitter, “Senator Reid is standing up for women against #HydeandSneak attacks. Ask Sen. McConnell, SpeakerBoehner, and NancyPelosi to do the same!”

The post is truly laughable considering Pelosi’s infamous love affair with abortion. If you don’t remember, she’s the representative who called late-abortion “sacred ground” in 2013 after a reporter asked her about the difference between gruesome abortions and infanticides done by Kermit Gosnell.

full article: Democrats in Congress Would Rather Fund Abortions Than Help the Poor
March 24, 2015 by SARAH ZAGORSKI

abortion, bias, budget, bureaucracy, congress, Democrats, funding, government, health care, legislation, liberalism, pandering, politics, progressive, public policy, spending

Filed under: abortion, bias, budget, bureaucracy, congress, Democrats, funding, government, health care, legislation, liberalism, pandering, politics, progressive, public policy, spending

Apparently some people need racism (and it may not be who you think)

On Sunday’s Melissa Harris-Perry MSNBC show (h/t to Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters) viewers witnessed yet another example of an all too common phenomenon in American politics. It’s the same phenomenon we witnessed during the Henry Lewis Gates controversy (where the Cambridge police department, including black police officers, defended their white comrade against accusations of racism made by Prof. Gates) and the Duke Lacrosse team controversy (where members of the Duke Lacrosse team were falsely accused of racism and the account of their accuser changed too many times to know what was true and what wasn’t). It’s the phenomenon, as the honorable Bob Parks put it, of finding racism even when it isn’t there.

Evidently some people need racism. Acknowledging that there has been a great deal of progress against racism since the 1960s is not the same as saying or in any way suggesting racism has been eliminated. That some unnamed Americans claim racism has been eliminated is a red herring perpetrated by people who make their living criticizing racism, even if they have to manufacture it in order to have something to criticize. To keep themselves employed these individuals and groups must charge someone else of racism or of somehow diminishing the importance of race issues. In reality, charges of false racism damage efforts to fight real racism – often racism ignored by the so called defenders of civil rights.

Ron Christie was the sole conservative voice on a 5 person panel on the MSNBC program. As is typical of main stream news venues, when a conservative voice is permitted at all it is vastly outnumbered (in this case 4 to 1, including the ultra left wing host Harris-Perry). One of the guests, Angela Rye, unsurprisingly perpetuated the myth that racism permeates the Tea Party. Her particular charge was that referring to the still unprovable incident of Rep. John Lewis being spit upon while walking through a Tea Party protest.

The problem with this particular charge is that there is ample video footage of the alleged incident where no N-word can be heard and no spit can be found being hurled at Rep. Lewis. And as Ron Christie explains, he was physically present at said event. But, in the world of those who get paid to find racism, mere accusations and syndication of those accusations qualify as evidence. Many people regard opinion polls on matters of race as “studies” and treat as legitimate overtly left wing “news” reports with loaded questions and rigged metrics. (One blogger finds no reason to question left wing sources or narrative which filters any and all information about the Tea Party, Republicans, or conservatives at large – all while dishonestly denying they are suggesting ALL members of these groups are racist, when in fact that is precisely what they are suggesting).

Angela Rye was in fact arguing the Tea Party is a racist organization. While having real evidence to support the assertion is not required, she does have popular sentiment among fellow progressives who likewise accept these accusations simply because so many other progressives believe them too. Following the narrative is what satisfies left leaning logic in political matters. For Rye, an eye witness account and lack of video evidence among plenty of video footage will not trump propaganda. All evidence for right wing racism must be treated as self evident of the character of the entire entirety of the political right. Why? Because looking at a situation without anti-conservative bias would not yield the necessary “racist undertones” required for progressivism and race baiting to survive. Among progressives, the Tea Party is widely “known” as a racist organization primarily because it is what progressives have already decided to believe, thus it becomes a self fulfilling perspective – reality be damned. (no need to talk about racism found at left wing protests)

Instead of evidence, progressives simply repeat the typical ultra-left play book. This means, as we saw with the Gates situation and the Duke Lacrosse situation, one can make accusations and not bother with the facts. In all three cases (Gates, Duke, and the Tea Party) accusations of racism are made, the accusations get wide news coverage, and evidence may or may not be disclosed later – because the evidence is not what is important. As in the case of the Gates and Duke Lacrosse incidents, a total lack of evidence is largely ignored by the left. Why ignore evidence of left wing racism and foment racial strife with the political right? One may get the impression that combating racism really isn’t the point. The battle is against the political right, against conservatives. Because, to the progressive, what is really at stake is not freedom or justice, but power.

It’s easier to fight against freedom and promote supposedly benevolent oppression if everything the other side says and does can be portrayed as evil. So you don’t have to listen to “kill the bill” when members of the Congressional Black Caucus walk through a protest. You don’t have to worry about the fact that the federal government can now punish you for NOT purchasing a particular product – at a rate of $4000 dollars per year. Anything and everything the Tea Party, Republicans, or conservatives say must be interpreted with ill intent, so the words they actually say no longer have meaning – it’s better to pretend we know what they “really” meant to say – and put words in their mouth or presume their true intent. The entire progressive movement NEEDS racism if they are to maintain their political power, even if it means manufacturing racism.

If Ray, Harris-Perry, and so many others find it so necessary to discuss racism among the Tea Party I humbly suggest they should be equally zealous to expose left wing racism as well. But it seems easier to just pretend there isn’t any left wing racism, or at least pretend any incidents of left wing racism are isolated (which is somehow supposed to make them insignificant), and any incidents of right wing racism are common place (even if they have to be invented).

Regarding the alleged spitting incident, there is some video evidence of this happening, but not with Rep. John Lewis as is so often stated. As is often the case, what happens on screen can be interpreted quite differently, depending on the bias one brings to the table. This video shows Rep. Emanuel Cleaver walking behind Rep. Lewis. You’ll see Rep. Cleaver walking up the steps with protesters yelling “kill the bill”. [Note to leftists reading this post: “kill the bill” is not code for “I want to kill you” or anything other than opposition to a piece of legislation.] As the video shows, the Congressmen walk in close proximity to some yelling protesters, one of whom has his hands clasped over his mouth forming something like a megaphone. This particular protester yells his “kill the bill” message at Rep. Lewis and others who walk in front of Rep. Cleaver, and continues the yelling as Rep. Cleaver walks past. It appears as thought fluid does in fact leave the protester’s mouth. But rather than acknowledge a likely possibility, that saliva built up in his mouth during his yelling and he ACCIDENTALLY spit on the passing Congressman, the progressives would have you believe the man is skillful enough to continue yelling and hock a luge at the same time, DELIBERATELY spitting on the Congressman. Likewise, progressives selectively acknowledge the difficulty in understanding anything said at the loud protest, but insist with absolute certainty racial epithets were stated, undiscernible though they may be. Of course, being a Tea Party protest, only the worst possibilities are be acknowledged. No benefit of the doubt is necessary. While the expectoration could easily have been accidental the baseless accusations of racial epithets and race hustling cannot.

bias, bigotry, congress, conservative, culture, discrimination, fraud, government, hate speech, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, legislation, legislature, news media, pandering, political correctness, politics, propaganda, protests, racism, racist, relativism, right wing

Filed under: bias, bigotry, congress, conservative, culture, discrimination, fraud, government, hate speech, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, legislation, legislature, news media, pandering, political correctness, politics, propaganda, protests, racism, racist, relativism, right wing

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