Friday, September 4, 2015
Friday, August 28, 2015
Thursday, August 27, 2015
The most transparent administration in American history is at it again — dodging sunlight and evading public disclosure.
Joining former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her secret servers, former IRS witch hunt queen Lois Lerner and her secret email accounts, former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and her Internet alter egos, and former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and his non-public email account is White House science czar John Holdren.
President Obama’s top climate change adviser is defending his hide-and-seek game in federal court. Earlier this month, the Washington, D.C.-basedCompetitive Enterprise Institute appealed a D.C. district court ruling protecting Holdren’s personal email communications from Freedom of Information Act requests.
CEI argues that federal transparency law “applies to the work-related records of agency employees regardless of where they are stored. Many agencies routinely instruct their staff to preserve any such documents that they might have on their personal email accounts.” Yet, as head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Holdren has placed himself above the law and spirit of transparency that Obama fraudulently vowed to uphold.
“It makes little sense to claim that an agency is not ‘withholding’ documents when it refuses to produce documents held by its own chief executive that relate to ‘agency business,'” CEI’s legal brief rightly argues. “Even if OSTP had demonstrated that these emails were not within its actual control — which it did not — its failure to search its director’s personal account would still violate FOIA because any agency records in that account fall within the agency’s ‘constructive control.'”
The White House science czar’s private email account–which was uncovered when CEI unmasked former EPA head Lisa Jackson’s private email aliases, which were used to conduct government business–resides with his former employer, the Woods Hole Research Center. It’s a far-left eco-alarmist group that pushes radical anti-capitalist interventions (Remember “cap and trade”?) to eliminate the decades-long hyped “global climatic catastrophe.” Their ultimate goal? Establishing government rule by eco-technocrats who detest humanity.
To this day, Holdren has escaped questions about his freaky-deaky population-control agenda. Remember, this is the unrepentant sky-is-falling guru who joined fellow whack jobs Paul and Anne Ehrlich in co-authoring “Ecoscience,” a creepy tome that called for saving the planet by proposing that:
–Women could be forced to abort their pregnancies, whether they wanted to or not.
–The population at large could be sterilized by infertility drugs intentionally put into the nation’s drinking water or food.
–Single mothers and teen mothers should have their babies seized from them against their will and given away to other couples to raise.
–People who “contribute to social deterioration” (i.e. undesirables) “can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility” — in other words, be compelled to have abortions or be sterilized.
–A transnational “Planetary Regime” should assume control of the global economy and also dictate the most intimate details of Americans’ lives — using an armed international police force.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy obstinately refused to answer my questions for Holdren on his views about forced abortions and mass sterilizations or on his continued embrace of forced-abortion advocate and eugenics guru Harrison Brown, whom he credits with inspiring him to become a scientist. Holdren’s mentor likened the global population to a “pulsating mass of maggots.”
These are not harmless dalliances of the past. Holdren’s insidious ideology — and his hidden policy communications — now have an untold impact on American taxpayers. He is the top strategist in Obama’s war on carbon, war on coal, war on the West and war on the economy. Holdren is the zealot “right at the heart” (as The New York Times put it) of devising White House climate change initiatives that reward environmental cronies, send electricity rates skyrocketing and kill jobs.
Who is Holdren conducting government business with, and what is he hiding from the public? What data is being doctored, what scientific evidence is being stonewalled in the name of rescuing the planet and consolidating power in the hands of the green elite? It’s time to turn up the heat.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Friday, August 21, 2015
At the end of January 2009, less than a month in the Senate and a brand-new member of the Senate banking and housing committee, Jeff Merkley saw a problem in how the Obama administration was planning to deal with the Great Recession's mortgage crisis.
"Folks in key positions at the top of the Obama financial team," he cautioned, "are more oriented to Wall Street than families."
Despite Merkley's concerns, the administration proceeded with its Home Affordable Refinance Program and Home Affordable Modification Program, promising to adjust 4 million mortgages to keep families in their homes. Endangered homeowners would get in touch with their mortgage holders, get their payments reduced with the help of $50 billion in federal money set aside for the purpose, and both families and neighborhoods would be stabilized.
By that summer, the phones in government offices — and some at The Oregonian/OregonLive — were swamped by calls from applicants complaining about banks losing applications and documents, repeatedly asking applicants for the same information, telling homeowners not to make mortgage payments because they were applying for modification and then telling them they were in foreclosure because they hadn't made payments. By the end of 2009, Merkley warned, "There are some incredibly telling signs that this is not going well. The program is, so far, a huge disappointment."
By the end of the next year, the program that had promised to modify 4 million mortgages had totaled just over half a million. To the House financial services committee, Jack Schakett, Bank of America's executive for credit-loss-mitigation strategies, conceded "ineffective communications with customers, shortcomings in document maintenance, misunderstandings about program requirements and the inability to comply by some borrowers."
In 2011, Merkley introduced a bill to require banks to provide a single contact for applicants, to allow homeowners to refinance with different providers and to let bankruptcy judges modify the terms of mortgages, as they can with other debts. By then, Republicans had taken the House, and the issue was dead.
A report issued at the end of last month by Christy L. Romero, special inspector general of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, explained just how the program — which after six years has modified 887,000 mortgages, instead of 4 million — ended up as less profit than loss. With participation voluntary for the banks, all banks rejected the majority of applications — led by Citibank with 87 percent — and roadblocks in the process led virtually all applicants to be rejected the first time around. The report told of homeowners improperly rejected four times before finally, with legal help, getting approved.
"We are constantly seeing problems," Romero told The New York Times, "with the way servicers are treating homeowners and not following the rules. I don't understand why there hasn't been a stronger policing from Treasury on servicers."
To Merkley, his six-year-old doubts and objections about the program have all been painfully confirmed.
"The program was and is poorly defined," the senator said this month, and he holds to his diagnosis of the basic problem: Obama's economic advisers — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and National Economic Council Chairman Larry Summers — "were more concerned about strengthening the banks than helping families."
Partly as a result, the ultimate decisions were all made by the mortgage holders, often distracted by their collecting fees on overdue payments.
"There were fundamental conflicts of interest and poor design," concluded Merkley. "There is an incentive to prolong the process. The only point when it's in the interest of the banks (to complete the modification) is when a family is just about to go under."
Which, not occasionally, was too late.
The bail-out programs have now been extended through 2016, but nobody expects them to make much progress toward 4 million modifications, or in fact to make much progress at all. Merkley reports his office now gets only about one call a month on modifications — most of the people who needed help having found another approach or, more likely, having left their house.
Instead, Merkley thinks about what could have been the effect of the 3 million mortgage modifications that were promised but never achieved.
"That's a lot of families not relocated, of kids staying in their schools, of marital tensions that would have been directly reduced," he says. "It would have had a strengthening effect on the economy. It would have been a real win-win."
Instead, with the design and operation of the program, and how hard it was for homeowners to get help, the recovery didn't move as much.
But a lot of American families did.
David Sarasohn's column appears on Wednesdays and Sundays. He blogs at davidsarasohn.com.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Monday, August 17, 2015
The administration’s current approach to dealing with detained illegal immigrants has been characterized as “catch and release.” It is an apt term. In fishing, “catch and release” is designed to preserve a population, and that is precisely what the Obama Administration’s border policies are doing in the American pond—preserving a population of dangerous, deported individuals with a criminal history who re-enter the United States illegally.
Late last year, a leaked Department of Homeland Security documentrevealed that there are 176,000 illegal immigrants in the United States who were convicted in a court of law, lawfully deported from the United States and then returned. In addition to those proven criminals are those who go on to commit crimes after their premature release. As reported in April this year, Jonny Alberto Enamorado-Vasquez, an illegal immigrant from Honduras, was released from detention for “lack of space” and is now in a Houston jail on homicide charges. Jalmar Mejia-Lopez, initially booked as a 17-year-old when he crossed into the United States illegally, has been charged with aggravated rape for impregnating his 12-year-old girlfriend.
The Obama Administration is pushing for faster clearing of detention centers, ignoring rule of law in lieu of more expedient dictatorial direction. In some cases, the Administration’s approach ensures dangerous criminals never even reach federal custody. Take the Obama Administration’s Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), for example, which replaced the Bush-era Secure Communities program. PEP ties Immigration and Customers Enforcement (ICE) agents’ hands, limiting collaboration with state and local law enforcement while severely restricting when they can take custody of an illegal immigrant with a criminal conviction.
Such a blunt, limiting approach to a complex situation is not only illegal but may also reignite the massive influx of people streaming across the border who believe (perhaps correctly) that weak U.S. immigration enforcement will allow them to dodge U.S. law and find residency. In 2014, more than 60,000 families poured into the United States from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and elsewhere. That tsunami of illegal immigration has subsided to a raging river, but it could surge again at any point.
Meanwhile, unilateral direction from the White House sends the wrong message to the dedicated Americans risking their lives on the border. Giving credit where due, the Border Patrol is working hard to better monitor the border and stop people who sneak into the United States. But there are laws on the books they are sworn to follow. If detention facilities are forcibly emptied before investigative and immigration workers have completed their processing protocols, what does that tell the Border Patrol or ICE agent who signed up to enforce the law, not circumvent it?
Most concerning about the Administration’s “catch and release” approach is that it puts millions of Americans in danger, particularly those in the Hispanic community. Many criminal immigrants flock to sanctuary cities, which, by local law or tradition, shelter illegal immigrants. Yet, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 75% of former prisoners in 30 states are arrested within 5 years of their release. It takes little deduction to recognize that creating a safe-haven for criminals jeopardizes the community in which they live, which in a sanctuary city may well be largely Hispanic.
Recently, Sen. Cruz (R-TX) held a hearing examining the number of illegal immigrants who are convicted of crimes and then return to our streets. Sen. Cruz explained that in 2013, 104,000 convicted criminals were released, since the Obama administration has refused to deport 68K criminals, required by federal law, and has also released 36,000 with criminal records who were in deportation hearings in 2013.
The hearing also included testimony from families of recent victims of illegal criminal violence:
- In January, Grant Ronnebeck was shot while clerking at a convenience store.
- In the fall, Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver, Sacramento law enforcement officers, were killed as they tried to protect residents.
- In July, Kate Steinle was shot on Pier 14 in San Francisco.
Kate’s father, Jim Steinle, summed up the injustice many now endure: "Unfortunately due to disjointed laws, and basic incompetence on many levels, the U.S. has suffered a self-inflicted wound in the murder of our daughter by the hand of a person that should have never been on the streets of this country.”
Sens. Cruz and Session have each introduced measures to curb this crime. Sen. Cruz’s legislation, named “Kate’s Law” in her honor, establishes a five-year minimum sentence for anyone who illegally reenters the country.
Flinging open the detention doors for illegal immigrants to waltz freely into America without precisely following laws for detention, processing and deportation presents enormous threats. Many of our immigration woes lead right back to an Administration that views its authority as superseding legislation. But laws are not laws if they can be ignored because their implementation is too hard or sometimes unpalatable. The “catch and release” approach undercuts the rule of law, and it ensures taxpayers’ money and safety will be sacrificed for a border immigration
Nelson Balido is the managing principal at Balido and Associates, chairman of the Border Commerce and Security Council, and former member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Follow him on Twitter: @nelsonbalido
Defeating the political machine in one-party Democratic stronghold Maryland, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan went from nobody to overnight (and still going) sensation among conservatives across the country, especially for Republicans in a state where, aside from a Congressman here and there plus a celebrity governor, Republicans never fared well. With “Change Maryland”, his non-partisan interest group with bipartisan support, Governor Hogan pushed tax and spending cuts, supported education, and killed expensive public projects.
A team player interested not just in furthering his career but helping his fellow Republicans, the son of a former Congressman has invested time and energy improving the Republican brand and increasing GOP outreach to otherwise unknown or untapped constituencies, particularly young voter and minorities. With Republicans nearing majority status in select counties, plus the growing weariness of voters taxed and regulated beyond reason, Hogan declared joyfully on the steps of the state house: “It’s a great day to be a Republican in Maryland”. With majority control over five of nine county executive boards, the new Governor is setting his sights on long-term growth and development for a state which barely survived eight years of uber-liberal Martin O’Malley.
Hogan has issued executive orders to require state officials and legislators to end the endless gerrymandering which marginalizes the most resolute of Old Line State residents. Despite the current push-back from the still Democratically dominated state legislature in Annapolis, Hogan is gaining prestige and strength. People want change, and Hogan is bringing it. One of his most recent and popular measures? Reducing the tolls and fees for Marylanders as well as visitors traversing the state. Following the Baltimore riots, the governor exulted with national press that Baltimore would celebrate its world famous horse race. Residents stepped out to clean up and improve their city. The port of Baltimore is open for business, and bringing in major commerce with the largest shipping firm in the world.
Law and order has become the order of the day under the Hogan Administration, too. Recently, he has shown some muscle against illegal immigration, particularly in cases where a violent crime has occurred, despite the two-to-one Democratic voter registration in the state and previous Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley’s relentless policies to promote illegal aliens and transform them into “new Americans”.
Departing from the previous governor’s policy of non-cooperation, Hogan informed Marylanders that he would change the course of the state’s non-compliance legacy, comply with the federal government, and detain illegal aliens for Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
The Washington Post reports:
Immigration advocates in Maryland are criticizing a decision by Gov. Larry Hogan to notify federal immigration officials when an illegal immigrant targeted for deportation is released from the state-run Baltimore City Detention Center.
Advocates consider Hogan’s stance to be a departure from the policy of his predecessor, Democrat Martin O’Malley, who last year joined other elected officials in refusing requests from the Obama administration to coordinate with federal law enforcement whenever a detainee was being released.
With a latent political savvy determined not only to thwart amnesty proponents but coalesce widespread general support for his decision, Hogan’s office responded:
When pro-amnesty group CASA de Maryland protested outside Governor Hogan’s mansion, hisoffice released another statement:
The Baltimore City Detention Center is simply complying with a request from the Obama administration in regard to individuals who have already been detained. If CASA has concerns about Obama’s Priority Enforcement Program, I would recommend they take those concerns to the White House.
“Priority Enforcement” comes in light of President Obama’s executive amnesty in late November last year, when he announced to the United States that he would defer deportation and permit five million illegal aliens to remain in the country who had not broken any other laws.
What a supreme and gratifying irony: A Republican governor in a deep blue state is enforcing the law,, rounding up illegal aliens who endanger the public; an executive —whoa—enhances public safety all while rebuffing critics by referencing the President’s own unconstitutional order to expand immigration and benefits to illegal aliens. Even the “shrilly, shrilly liberal” Washington Post had to concede to the Republican governor’s “common sense” on immigration.
Following those bold measures, Governor Hogan took unprecedented action and shut down a corrupt, inefficient, and dysfunctional detention center in Baltimore City, too. Fiscal prudent and morally sound, Hogan practices fiscal discipline without sacrificing the safety and security of his citizens. Surviving and thriving in spite of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, the (once considered unlikely) conservative Republican Governor of Maryland has become the face of the growing conservative upswing sweeping the country, a nation fed up with government serving itself instead of taxpayers, hardworking men and women who just want a leader who will get things done.
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