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August 25th, 2015 at 11:35 am
Barone: Even Clinton and Obama Military Appointees Widely Oppose Iran Nuclear Capitulation
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In recent days we’ve noted how the American public now opposes Obama’s Iran nuclear weapons agreement by 2-to-1 margins, and how opposition in both the Senate and House of Representatives is approaching 2/3 veto-proof majorities.

Apparently, opposition within military and intelligence communities is similarly broad.

In a new piece this week, Michael Barone lists a number of military and intelligence figures appointed during the Clinton and Obama administrations who voice sharp opposition to the proposed deal.  From well-known names like General Michael Hayden to General Barry McCaffrey and several others, it’s an impressive list.  As Barone concludes, “These are all highly respected retired military officers whose judgment should command respect, and their criticisms of the Iran deal are certainly withering.”

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August 24th, 2015 at 3:15 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Lineup

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.”  Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT:  Clark Neily, Senior Attorney for the Institute for Justice – Separation of Powers;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Quin Hillyer, Newspaper Columnist and Writer – Candidates 2016, Including Trumps Visit to Alabama Quin’s Interview with Scott Walker;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Sarah Westwood, Watchdog Reporter for the Washington Examiner – Hillary Clinton E-Mails; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President for Legal and Public Affairs – Iran, Puerto Rico and the First Amendment.

Listen live on the Internet here.   Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330

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August 24th, 2015 at 11:44 am
Puerto Rico: Rule of Law and Fidelity of Contract, Not Bankruptcy
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

At CFIF, we stand for the rule of law and with American taxpayers, investors, savers and seniors against the destructive proposal floated by some in Washington, D.C. of changing longstanding law to allow Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy.

Accordingly, we’re happy to see that in her weekly “The Americas” column in today’s Wall Street Journal, Mary Anastasia O’Grady highlights the way in which pro-bankruptcy advocates undermine the rule of law by disregarding contractual property rights:

The governor, and the legislature which his party controls, made a conscious decision when they approved the budget not to put the funds aside for that payment.  ’They are explicitly legislating default because they think that puts the creditors on their knees.  Then the creditors will have to make concessions…  Creditors have protections [in bond contracts],’ he adds, ‘and a court of law is going to enforce those agreements.’  Securitized bonds provide bondholders with a property right to a designated cash-flow stream.”

As we specified previously, better alternatives exist:

For example, the Puerto Rican government could actually pay the hundreds of millions of dollars it owes to the power authority (PREPA), or Congress could impose greater oversight over Puerto Rico.  Remember, a financial control board was effective in reforming the District of Columbia’s finances 20 years ago, accomplished on a bipartisan basis by a Republican Congress and a Democratic president.  Ultimately, that might be the way to put in place comprehensive, structural reforms so that Puerto Rico never again spirals out of control.”

The solution is adherence to the rule of law and the enforcement of mutually bargained-for contract, not yet another bailout imposed upon American taxpayers.

August 21st, 2015 at 9:47 am
Iran Deal: House and Senate Approaching Veto-Proof Majorities
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

As we recently noted, we’ve reached a strange state of political affairs when the definition of “success” in the Obama Era is reduced to scraping together a 1/3 minority of either chamber of Congress to salvage an executive accord with the terrorist state of Iran.

With clear majorities in both the House and the Senate already opposed to the accord, and an overwhelming majority of Americans also opposed, Obama’s remaining hope is that he can convince 1/3 of either house to stick with him.  Should that occur, expect another one of his tawdry “victory” dances afterward.

According to the latest tally from The Washington Post, however, even achieving that 1/3 minority level of support is in jeopardy.  In the House, 290 votes are required to override an Obama veto of a resolution rejecting the accord.  The Post confirms that “all 246 House Republicans are expected to vote against the deal,”  with 18 Democrats either already against the deal or leaning against the deal, for a total of 264.  With 82 Democrats either for the deal or leaning toward favoring it, that means only 26 of 88 undeclared Democrats are needed to reach the veto override threshold.

In the Senate, meanwhile, 67 votes are required to override an Obama veto.  The Post calculates that “56 Senators – including all Republicans plus two Democrats (Sens. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Bob Menendez (N.J.)) – are either overtly against the pact or presumed foes.”  According to its estimate, 31 Democrats are either on record supporting the agreement or leaning that way, leaving 13 undecided.

Persuading 11 of that remaining 13 to do the right thing rather than march in lockstep with a president who will be out of office in little more than one year will be an uphill climb.  Each day, however, brings new disturbing revelations regarding the mechanics of the accord, including this week’s news that Iran will essentially be allowed to self-report on its nuclear activities.  That drip, drip, drip only makes support for Obama’s deal less defensible, and increases the justification for rejecting this dangerous capitulation.

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August 20th, 2015 at 10:20 am
Greetings From Puerto Rico… the Welfare State
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

August 17th, 2015 at 2:23 pm
With Crime Up 26% in NYC, Guardian Angels Make a Return
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Although we support criminal justice and prison reform, we have cautioned against abandoning the tougher policing and sentencing reforms that resulted in such a remarkable and unexpected drop in American crime rates over the past two decades:

The U.S. homicide rate has been cut in half since 1992, from 9.3 murders per 100,000 people to 4.7.  That is its lowest level since 1963.  Violent crime rates reached 80 per 1,000 in 1993, but are down to 20 per 1,000 today.  No city represents that improvement more than the one most associated with broken windows policing and get-tough policies, the formerly dystopian New York City.  In 1993, the city’s murder rate  reached 26.5 per 100,000 people, and accounted for almost 8% of all U.S. homicides.  After twenty years of broken window police tactics, the rate has plummeted to 4 per 100,000, tourism has increased, famous public places are safer and the city has enjoyed an economic and lifestyle renaissance.

Disturbingly, however, two decades of plummeting crime rates have paradoxically allowed a popular sense of complacency to return, at least among political leaders seeking street cred with electoral subgroups and media indulgence.”

Unfortunately, we’re already witnessing early consequences of that movement.  In New York, as detailed today by The Telegraph, crime has already risen 26% this year, prompting the return of something to which we became accustomed in the ugly days of the 1970s and ’80s there:

With their bright red jackets and berets, the Guardian Angels were once a common sight in a city riddled with violent crime.  And this week they made a pointed return to New York’s Central Park for the first time in more than two decades, citing a 26 per cent rise in crime there so far this year.”

If nothing else, the sense of security that had returned to New York is already slipping away.  Meanwhile, even CNN reports today that a police officer pistol-whipped unconscious last week in Alabama deliberately hesitated to use appropriate force in the face of attack out of fear of being accused of racism.

While prison and criminal law reform are somewhat severable from tough policing as policy issues, this is simply not something on which we can remain complacent, lest the bad old days return.

August 14th, 2015 at 11:07 am
Gallup: Obama’s Iran Sales Job Failing with Americans
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

It says a lot about how far the Obama years have defined “success” downward that he will claim victory if he can manage to convince just 1/3 of either house of Congress to approve his much-maligned Iran nuclear capitulation.  That’s all he’ll need to overcome a near-certain veto, but leave it to him to claim that 33% amounts to some sort of mandate and justification for yet another tawdry victory lap.

Judging from public opinion, however, he may not even reach that minimal degree of support.  According to a new Gallup survey, only one in three Americans support his dealings with Iran.  In fact, Obama is under 50% approval on every single one of eight surveyed issues – race relations, the economy, terrorism, immigration, foreign affairs, education, climate change and Iran:

Only one in three Americans approve of President Barack Obama’s handling of the situation in Iran – his lowest rating of eight issues measured in a new Gallup survey.  The president’s policy toward Iran has been a major focus as he tries to drum up support for the multi-national agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities that Secretary of State John Kerry helped broker.  Obama earns his highest marks on race relations, education and climate change, though he does not receive majority approval on any.”

A president typically retains greater latitude and approval from Americans when it comes to foreign affairs, but the fact that the public rejects Obama’s Iran accord by such a wide margin is encouraging.  Now if only enough members of Congress can demonstrate similar sobriety and reject this dangerous deal with such disastrous potential long-term consequences for the nation, the region and the globe.

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August 13th, 2015 at 1:32 am
Larry Lessig . . . for President?!
Posted by Ben Boychuk Print

Campaign finance reform crusader and aspiring censor Lawrence Lessig is threatening to form an exploratory campaign to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for president. Because apparently Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton aren’t serious or strident enough.

Yes, he is serious.

I want to run. But I want to run to be a different kind of president. “Different” not in the traditional political puffery sense of that term. “Different,” quite literally. I want to run to build a mandate for the fundamental change that our democracy desperately needs. Once that is passed, I would resign, and the elected Vice President would become President.

This is the Presidency as referendum. Our constitution, unlike some states, doesn’t give us a referendum power directly. This hack adds one in. Almost never would it be necessary — in a well-functioning democracy. But when a democracy has lost the capacity to act as a democracy, a referendum president is a peaceful means to force a change that Congress is otherwise not going to make. When the system has become the problem, we need an intervention from the outside.

We are at one of those moments now. In no plausible sense do we have a representative democracy in America today. That fact shows itself in a thousand ways — from #BlackLivesMatter to billion dollar SuperPACs, and none more profound than the deep sense that most Americans have that their government is not theirs. “The system,” as Elizabeth Warren puts it, “is rigged.” And the fundamental challenge for our democracy today is to find a way to fix that rigged system.

The problems here are manifest. Would it be pedantic to point out that the United States was founded as a republic, not a democracy, and that the difference matters? Or to mention that the Constitution was written to limit government as well as democratic impulses? Or to bring up the small fact that direct democracy is a disaster?

(Incidentally, your writer understands that attacks on the initiative, referendum, and recall most often come from progressive quarters nowadays. It wasn’t always so.)

Lessig likes to cite polls suggesting “96 percent of Americans say it’s ‘important to reduce the influence of money in politics.’” More recently, he’s become fond of citing a MoveOn/YouGov poll that purports to show that 82 percent of Americans of all political stripes agree “the system is rigged.” Many conservatives and libertarians would agree with the latter proposition.

So what? As always, the question must be: what’s the remedy?

Lessig’s answer is the Citizen Equality Act of 2017, which includes such novelties as “a meaningfully equal freedom to vote,” ranked-choice voting; and taxpayer-funded (or, to use his parlance, “citizen-funded”) elections.

Do read the proposal. All three ideas are worth deeper exploration—and sound refutation. In lieu, we have James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal, who made sport of Lessig’s quixotic campaign in Wednesday’s Best of the Web Today:

Lessig would ask Congress (1) to abolish freedom of speech in favor of “equality of speech,” whatever that means, (2) to prohibit state legislatures from engaging in “political gerrymandering,” and (3) who knows what else. It doesn’t seem to occur to him that (1) and (2) have glaring constitutional problems. Maybe he should consult with some law professors.

Oh wait, he is a law professor. At Harvard no less.

Lessig last month stepped down as chairman and of MayDay, the SuperPAC he founded to promote “reform” candidates in the 2014 congressional elections. The effort raised $10 million and had virtually no impact. Only one of the candidates MayDay supported won and that was Rep. Walter Jones, the Republican from North Carolina whose reelection was a mortal lock.

This cycle, he’s been urging the two leading Democratic candidates to go bigger on campaign finance reform. In July, Lessig wrote a memo to Sanders urging on the senator to take advantage of his growing popularity by making “citizen equality” the “first issue — the one change that makes all other changes believable.”

. . “…[A]fter the surge of support for you, the single strongest attack is going to be the ‘reality argument,’” Lessig wrote. “You’re talking about a string of reforms that simply cannot happen in the Washington of today. The ‘system is rigged.’ If that rigging is good for anything, it is good for blocking basically everything you’re talking about.”

Looks like Lessig didn’t get the response he was hoping for.

Now Lessig has launched a “kickstarter-like” campaign (Kickstarter itself doesn’t allow political fundraising) to raise $1 million for his new effort by Labor Day. If he makes it, Lessig vows to give “this run every ounce of my energy.” If he falls short, he’ll give the money back.

He’s raised about $166,000 so far, so who knows? Maybe he can waste another $10 million in service of an ignoble cause.

August 11th, 2015 at 8:54 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Obama’s Clean Energy Plan
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

August 10th, 2015 at 3:13 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Show Lineup
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.”  Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT: Tim Wyrosdick, Superintendent of Schools, Santa Rosa County: A New School Year;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT: Mario Lopez, President of the Hispanic Leadership Fund: Dangerous New Climate Regulations;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT: Ryan Lovelace, Campaign Reporter for The Washington Examiner: Takeaways from the 2016 Presidential Debate and RedState Gathering; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT: Troy Senik, CFIF’s Senior Fellow, Editor-in-Chief at Ricochet and Former Speechwriter for President George W. Bush: America Divided, Iran and Other Current Events.

Listen live on the Internet here.   Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330

August 7th, 2015 at 10:44 am
Conservative Heroes
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Garland S. Tucker III, author and historian, discusses his latest book, “Conservative Heroes: Fourteen Leaders Who Shaped America, From Jefferson to Reagan.”

Listen to the interview here.

August 4th, 2015 at 11:48 pm
Your Weekly Mencken: Republican Presidential Debate Edition
Posted by Ben Boychuk Print

The first Republican presidential debate is set for Thursday night. Fox News on Tuesday announced the lineup, which includes the top 10 of 17 GOP contenders based on an average of national polls.

In: Donald Trump; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Out: former Texas Gov. Rick Perry; former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina; South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham; former New York Gov. George Pataki; and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.

What to make of this motley crew? H. L. Mencken made an art of skewering politicians. Although he would describe himself over the years as an “enlightened tory,” an “extreme libertarian,” a “reactionary,” and a “whig,” he was a lifelong Democrat who revered Grover Cleveland and hated Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt. And although Mencken judged practically every president after George Washington as inferior to the task, he directed some of his best barbs at the presidency itself. Here’s what he had to say about the sort of men who seek the Oval Office ahead of the 1924 election:

Let us turn from such specially bred men [as kings] to the sort of fellows who constitute the common run of Presidents under democracy — the Franklin Pierces, Tafts, Eberts, Poincares, Chester A. Arthurs, Benjamin Harrisons, John Tylers, Rutherford B. Hayes and so on — mainly ninth-rate politicians, petty and puerile men, strangers to anything resembling honor. It is my contention that even such preposterous worms, if they were turned into kings, would make relatively honest and competent administrators — that, at worst, they would be better than any Presidents save a miraculous few. . . . The point is that . . . [their] good qualities are now under constant adverse pressure — that they can be given free play only by heroic efforts, too often beyond the man’s strength. If he were absolutely free, as the responsible head of a great state ought to be — if he could devote his whole energies to administering the government according to his best skill and judgment, instead of spending nine-tenths of his time engaging in obscene devices to enchant the mob or humiliating bargainings with villainous politicians — then the chances are that he would run the state . . . competently . . . and so give us a government a great deal better than any democracy deserves, or will ever get. His job does not require genius; it requires only industry, honesty, courage and common sense. But how can a man harbor such qualities and at the same time make votes? What chance has he got against the nearest mountebank? (The Baltimore Evening Sun, April 2, 1923)

Three years earlier, as the Age of Wilson was winding down, Mencken famously wrote:

The Presidency tends, year by year, to go . . . to mediocre men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. (The Baltimore Evening Sun, June 26, 1920)

The reader is left to judge whether Mencken’s sobriquet applies to any of the current crop of candidates, Republican or Democrat.

August 4th, 2015 at 11:08 pm
Obama’s Clean Coal Initiative: A Warning from California
Posted by Ben Boychuk Print

The Los Angeles Times‘ front-page headline Tuesday comes across as remarkably upbeat: “California is ahead of the game as Obama releases Clean Power Plan.”

But the story’s lead paragraph reads more like a threat than a promise: “President Obama’s plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants over the next 15 years will force states to address climate change by pushing them to act more like California.”

The president cited California’s example when he announced the plan on Monday, recalling the smog that hung over the Los Angeles basin in the late 1970s and early 1980s. “You fast-forward 30, 40 years later, and we solved those problems,” Obama said.

Well, yes, we did — and it’s a good thing, too. But the president is conflating those clean-air rules with policies of a more recent vintage.

California has led the way in pushing utilities to adopt renewable energy from sources such as windmills and solar panels in lieu of natural gas and coal-fired plants. According to the Times: “In 2013, the most recent year available, nearly 19% of California’s electricity came from renewable sources, while less than 8% came from coal, according to the California Energy Commission. In January, Brown proposed an ambitious target of 50% renewables by 2030.”

The story doesn’t mention, however, that the Golden State ranks close to the top in terms of energy prices. It’s no coincidence that the cost of renewable energy in California increased by 55 percent between 2003 and 2013, as the renewable portfolio standard was being phased in. And costs will continue to rise, in no small part because the state Public Utilities Commission earlier this year ordered changes in California’s tiered pricing for electricity, moving from four tiers to two. As a result, the first tier rate will increase significantly, and the second tier rate will rise marginally.

The Times also reports that California is on track to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 as required under AB 32, the “Global Warming Solutions Act” of 2006. Gov. Jerry Brown in January issued an executive order that would accelerate the mandate’s requirements, with the goal of reducing emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030. Expect rates to go higher still.

Not surprisingly, Brown hailed Obama’s plan as “bold and absolutely necessary.”

But a new Manhattan Institute report by Jonathan A. Lesser of Continental Economics highlights the real consequences of California’s decarbonization efforts, some unintended, some not. Among Lesser’s key findings:

  • California households’ electricity prices have risen as a result of the state’s renewable-energy mandates and carbon cap-and-trade program—and will likely continue to rise at an even faster rate in coming years.
  • The aforementioned policies have created a regressive energy tax, imposing proportionally higher costs in certain counties, such as California’s inland and Central Valley regions, where summer electricity consumption is highest but household incomes are lowest.
  • In 2012, nearly 1 million California households faced “energy poverty”—defined as energy expenditures exceeding 10 percent of household income. In certain California counties, the rate of energy poverty was as high as 15 percent of all households.

This is the model that President Obama lauds and his EPA wants to emulate. The EPA’s new regulations would mandate that states cut carbon emissions 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

A tough Wall Street Journal editorial notes that the EPA’s final rule “is 9 percent steeper than the draft the Environmental Protection Agency issued in June 2014,” and opines: “The damage to growth, consumer incomes and U.S. competitiveness will be immense—assuming the rule isn’t tossed by the courts or rescinded by the next Administration.”

Steven F. Hayward, a professor of politics at Pepperdine University and an expert in environmental policy, observed in a post at Power Line on Monday, “By [EPA's] own admission, full implementation of the emissions targets will avert only 0.018 degrees C of warming by the year 2100. I’m sure we’ll all notice that much change in temps!”

The final rule is nearly 1,600 pages long, and the regulatory impact analysis is nearly 400 pages, so needless to say it will take some time for the lawyers and wonks to sort everything out. But Hayward found an odd paragraph in near the middle of the impact analysis that led him to wonder if the government is putting us on:

As indicated in the RIA [Regulatory Impact Assessment] for this rule, we expect that the main impact of this rule on the nation’s mix of generation will be to reduce coal-fired generation, but in an amount and by a rate that is consistent with recent historical declines in coal-fired generation. Specifically, from approximately 2005 to 2014, coal-fired generation declined at a rate that was greater than the rate of reduced coal-fired generation that we expect from this rulemaking from 2015 to 2030. In addition, under this rule, the trends for all other types of generation, including natural gas-fired generation, nuclear generation, and renewable generation, will remain generally consistent with what their trends would be in the absence of this rule. [Hayward's emphasis.]

Hayward poses a fascinating question: “if the electricity sector under this new regulation is going to unfold more or less along the lines of business as usual, why are we bothering with this regulation in the first place? Is the EPA seriously admitting that their regulation does nothing substantial at all, or that they’ve spotted a parade going down the street and decided to march at the head of it?”

The Wall Street Journal’s editors encourage a vigorous legal challenge to the new rules, noting:

The Supreme Court did give EPA the authority to regulate carbon emissions in Mass. v. EPA in 2007. But that was not a roving license to do anything the EPA wants. The High Court has rebuked the agency twice in the last two years for exceeding its statutory powers.

“When an agency claims to discover in a long-extant statute an unheralded power to regulate a significant portion of the American economy, we typically greet its announcement with a measure of skepticism,” the Court warned last year. “We expect Congress to speak clearly if it wishes to assign to an agency decisions of vast economic and political significance.”

Congress did no such thing with the Clean Power Plan, which is a new world balanced on a fragment of the Clear Air Act called Section 111(d). This passage runs a couple hundred words and was added to the law in 1977, well before the global warming stampede. Historically Section 111(d) has applied “inside the fence line,” meaning the EPA can set performance standards for individual plants, not for everything connected to those sources that either produces or uses electricity.

When the EPA rule does arrive before the Justices, maybe they’ll rethink their doctrine of “Chevron deference,” in which the judiciary hands the bureaucracy broad leeway to interpret ambiguous laws. An agency using a 38-year-old provision as pretext for the cap-and-tax plan that a Democratic Congress rejected in 2010 and couldn’t get 50 Senate votes now is the all-time nadir of administrative “interpretation.”

“This plan is essentially a tax on the livelihood of every American,” the Journal’s editorial concludes, “which makes it all the more extraordinary that it is essentially one man’s order.” As California goes, so goes the nation? Let’s hope not.

August 3rd, 2015 at 9:56 am
New Poll: Americans Oppose Obama-Iran Accord By Over 2-to-1
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

There’s good news to begin the week from the public opinion front.

Despite – or perhaps because of – the Obama Administration’s desperate effort to sell a skeptical Congress and American electorate on its dangerous nuclear accord with Iran, a new Quinnipiac poll shows that the public opposes the deal by more than a two-to-one margin:

American voters oppose 57-28 percent, with only lukewarm support from Democrats and overwhelming opposition from Republicans and independent voters, the nuclear pact negotiated with Iran, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.  Voters say 58-30 percent the nuclear pact will make the world less safe, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds.”

That skepticism is matched by some in Congress, including Senator Tom Cotton (R – Arkansas) and Representative Mike Pompeo (R – Kansas).  In a Wall Street Journal commentary this morning, they highlight how secret side deals between Iran and third parties offer an additional reason to withhold support:

The response from the administration to questions about the side deals has brought little reassurance.  At first the administration refrained from acknowledging their existence.  Unable to sustain that position, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on July 22 during a White House press briefing that the administration ‘knows’ the ‘content’ of the arrangements and would brief Congress on it.  Yet the same day Secretary of State John Kerry, in a closed-door briefing with members of Congress, said he had not read the side deals.  And on July 29 when pressed in a Senate hearing, Mr. Kerry admitted that a member of his negotiating team ‘may’ have read the arrangements but he was not sure.

That person, Undersecretary of State and lead negotiator Wendy Sherman, on July 30 said in an interview on MSNBC, ‘I saw the pieces of paper but wasn’t allowed to keep them.  All of the members of the P5+1 did in Vienna, and so did some of my experts who certainly understand this even better than I do.’

A game of nuclear telephone and hearsay is simply not good enough, not for a decision as grave as this one.  The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act says Congress must have full access to all nuclear agreement documents – not unverifiable accounts from Ms. Sherman or others of what may or may not be in the secret side deals.  How else can Congress, in good conscience, vote on the overall deal?”

The simple answer is that it cannot.  The Obama Administration’s disastrous Iran proposal must be rejected, and we urge our supporters and activists to contact their elected representatives in both the Senate and House to demand opposition.

August 2nd, 2015 at 11:33 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The Obama Recovery
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

July 31st, 2015 at 10:01 am
Sticker Shock: Healthcare Spending Spikes As ObamaCare Takes Effect
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

For some time now, Barack Obama and his apologists have trumpeted slowing healthcare costs as somehow attributable to ObamaCare.  Never mind that the declines predated Obama’s election, and that even The Washington Post gave him three Pinocchios in its Fact Checker analysis of this claim on November 5 of last year:

Healthcare inflation has gone down every single year since the law [ObamaCare] passed, so that we now have the lowest increase in healthcare costs in 50 years – which is saving us about $180 billion in reduced overall costs to the federal government and in the Medicare program.”

To illustrate how he played the role of rooster taking credit for the sunrise, healthcare cost inflation reached 7% in 2003, but plummeted to approximately 2% before Obama even took office.

Regardless, but healthcare costs are spiking again as ObamaCare actually takes effect:

Growth in national health spending, which had dropped to historic lows in recent years, has snapped back and is set to continue at a faster pace over the next decade, federal actuaries said Tuesday…  The jump comes after five consecutive years of average spending growth of less than 4% annually – a rate touted by the Obama Administration as the lowest since the government began tracking health spending in the 1960s and a sign that the health law’s Medicare provisions were helping rein in health costs.”

Ooops.

Chalk up yet another failure of ObamaCare, which helps explain why it remains so unpopular among Americans as we “find out what’s in it” in the words of Nancy Pelosi.

July 31st, 2015 at 8:02 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Hillary’s E-mail Problems
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

July 31st, 2015 at 6:06 am
Just Say No: The Iran Nuclear Deal
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Tzvi Kahn, Senior Policy Analyst for the Foreign Policy Initiative, discusses the Iran nuclear deal and its implications for U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East.

Listen to the interview here.

July 28th, 2015 at 3:47 pm
Congress Should Oppose the So-Called “Local Radio Freedom Act”
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Elementary concepts of fairness demand that musical artists and performers remain free to negotiate performance rights with broadcasters that seek to play their songs.  Indeed, current law allows artists to mutually bargain with satellite, Internet and cable stations.

The only exception:  traditional AM-FM radio stations, which are unfairly protected by federal law from having to negotiate with artists for performance rights.  This is precisely the sort of crony capitalism against which the American electorate is increasingly irate.

Unfortunately, rather than advocating market reform, some in Congress wish to cement the current protectionist status quo.  Under the so-called “Local Radio Freedom Act,” whose very name contradicts its real-world effect, terrestrial radio’s unjustifiable exemption from having to negotiate performance rights would be made more permanent.  The bill would foreclose bargained-for negotiation between artists and stations for compensation, perpetuating stations’ ability to earn billions by playing songs without paying for them.  And in an example of of supreme chutzpah, the same traditional radio stations benefiting from that loophole turn around and ask Congress to require cable and satellite providers to pay them for retransmission of television programs of stations they happen to own.

The bill’s proponents advance the offensive claim that artists seeking payment should just shut up and appreciate that their works get played over the air, thereby providing them publicity and advertising.  But that’s not something that stations should dictate.  The creators and performers of those songs should be free to determine which market model they prefer – performance for payment or free of charge.  That’s how a free market works.

Accordingly, we at CFIF have joined an array of fellow free-market organizations in a letter to Congress stating our objections to this protectionist and crony capitalist proposed legislation:

We urge you to refrain from co-sponsoring the Local Radio Freedom Act, which sanctions the status quo, and has a chilling effect on the development of a forward-thinking policy that respects the rights of all music producers in all media.  The Constitution protects private property rights and specifically delegates to Congress the authority to protect creative works.  Unfortunately, LRFA closes the discussion about how to best protect property rights by resolving that terrestrial radio should never pay performance royalties on music broadcast on their stations used for raising advertising revenue.  This is not equitable treatment for any musical artist or music distribution service.”

Americans are justifiably fed up with the sort of protectionism and cronyism that this proposed legislation represents.  We accordingly urge Congress to reject it, and that our hundreds of thousands of supporters and activists across the country to contact their representatives in Congress and express their opposition as well.

July 27th, 2015 at 4:50 pm
Video: Puerto Rico Today, America Tomorrow?
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In this latest installment of the Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses Puerto Rico’s debt crisis, explains why a Chapter 9 bailout is a bad idea, and warns that Puerto Rico should serve as a wake-up call for the entire nation to get its fiscal house in order.