Saturday, April 13, 2013

RNC Votes Unanimously Backing Traditional Marriage
By: Sandy Fitzgerald / Newsmax
 
Less than a month ago, National Chairman Reince Priebus released a 98-page document that appraised his party's political liabilities in an attempt to re-brand the party and attract voters following last November's election setbacks.

However, the RNC's resolved to uphold its stance on marriage, declaring that the union between a man and a woman is “the optimum environment in which to raise healthy children for the future of America,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

The 168 RNC members, by casting their unanimous vote, shows the party faces further challenges as it looks for ways to broaden its voting base. While some Republicans agree with Priebus that the party needs to further acknowledge and attract minority groups and younger voters, others believe doing that will cause the GOP to abandon its core values.

The party's base seems to agree with the RNC's vote, according to the results of a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released this past week. The poll showed that while 53 percent of Americans favor allowing same-sex marriages, only 27 percent of Republicans approve.

Supporters of the new RNC resolution say it was made to create the party's clear line on marriage.

"At the very least we wanted to clarify the position of the party," said A.J. Spiker, who chairs the Iowa Republican Party. “(We) can certainly be welcoming without compromising on marriage and the definition of marriage."

Meanwhile, social-conservative group leaders, including Gary Bauer and Tony Perkins, wrote a letter to Priebus last week to voice their “great displeasure” with his assessment of the party, warning that the party will make a “huge historical mistake” by skirting “the issues which attract and energize them by the millions.”

Priebus and other GOP leaders, though, say they are trying to balance the party's stance on traditional marriage while being more accepting of other views.

“What's important is for people who disagree with this stance to know they're welcome in the party,” said former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, who helped draft the RNC re-assessment report.

The RNC's resolution also urges the Supreme Court to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, which limits the recognition of gay marriage, and California's Proposition 8 legislation, which bans same-sex unions. Both issues remain under court review.

Priebus Friday rejected suggestions that he and others want the party to change its values.

“I'd never suggest we should waiver on our principles," he said in a speech before the vote was taken.

"But I also won't tell anyone they can't be a part of this party. If you're willing to defend liberty and champion opportunity, then you should be a Republican."
Israel May Fast-Track Plans to Attack Iran 
By David A. Patten / Newsmax
Analysts fear a dramatic advance in North Korea’s nuclear missile technology, revealed inadvertently during a Congressional hearing Thursday, will quickly find its way to Iran — forcing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to fast-track a long-contemplated attack against Tehran’s nuclear-enrichment facilities.


Pentagon officials are playing down a U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency assessment that North Korea probably has the ability to miniaturize a nuclear weapon and place it on an ICBM. U.S. officials say that miniaturization capability, if it exists, is untested and unreliable.

In February, North Korea detonated what is described as a “lighter, miniaturized atomic bomb.” At the time, there was speculation this could signal the Hermit Kingdom had developed a nuclear warhead that it could place on its long-range missiles. Pentagon officials, however, continued to insist North Korea was at least a year away from developing that capability.

Jerusalem Post defense analyst Yaakov Katz, author of “Israel vs. Iran: The Shadow War,” tells Newsmax that U.S. and Israeli intelligence officials have generally agreed that it would take Iran six to 12 months to build a nuclear device once it tried to break out and enrich its material from the 20-percent to the 90-percent level required. Beyond that, intelligence experts have projected, it would then take Iran another year or two to produce a miniaturized warhead that could be installed on a missile.

Now, Katz says, the time lag between reaching nuclear capability and Iran’s ability to arm a missile with a nuclear warhead appears to have vanished. That means Thursday’s revelation could reduce Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nonmilitary options against Iran, forcing the Jewish state to step up its timetable for attacking the Persian nation should it acquire enough enriched uranium to be a significant threat.

“If the North Koreans are much more advanced than we assumed, then that could mean that when the Iranians surge to move forward, that the whole time frame would change also,” Katz tells Newsmax. “It would mean Israel and the West would have to revisit the time frames that they’ve put in for the Iranians, and that could be much shorter now — which means your window of opportunity [to attack] is also becoming smaller.”

Experts say Israel would have to assume that any North Korean miniaturization technology would soon find its way into the hands of Iran’s mullahs. In fact, it is possible Iranian technology enabled North Korea’s push to miniaturize its warheads — the step that makes them capable of being installed on an ICBM. There is widespread agreement in the intelligence community that the two embattled nations routinely exchange technology, and sometimes military hardware as well.

“That’s no secret,” says Katz. “There’s been a lot of cooperation between the Iranians and the North Koreans.”

He adds: “Israel has always made the assessment that whatever is going on in North Korea, you have to assume it’s also … taking place in Iran. So that technical cooperation is still working.”

Obama administration officials have been downplaying the immediate threat from North Korea, even as the Pentagon rushed a THAAD missile interceptor system, which had not been scheduled to enter service until 2015, to Guam to protect American interests. It also announced it would revive the Bush-era plan to add 14 more interceptors to the missile shield that protects America’s West Coast, which it had previously canceled.

The news that one U.S. intelligence agency believes North Korea already has achieved the ability to design nuclear-missile warheads was inadvertently disclosed by GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado on Thursday during a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee. He was reading a portion of a classified document that had been erroneously marked declassified.

That disclosure means Israeli leaders must now assume the window between the moment Iran acquires nuclear capability, and the horrific moment when it could launch an attack on a major Israeli city such as Tel Aviv, would be a matter of months or weeks rather than years, experts say.

That North Korea has helped Iran bolster its missile technology is well established. In recent years, as Iranian technology surpassed that of North Korea, the technical assistance flowed the other way as well, sources say.

According to Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Bruce Klingner: “Clearly there has been a decades-long missile relationship, and it began with a one-way sale of missiles to Iran. … Over time it became a two-way, collaborative relationship.”

Klingner adds that a collaborative relationship between the two rogue nations on nuclear technology “is beyond question,” although much more difficult to assess due to its secretive nature.

One example of that cooperation: A February 2010 diplomatic cable released by the WikiLeaks organization revealed that Iran had obtained 19 advanced North Korean missiles with a Russian design known as R-27. The R-27 was initially used aboard Soviet submarines to launch nuclear missiles. At the time, analysts predicted the acquisition of the R-27 would enable Iran to reverse-engineer a new class of missiles with greater range and payloads.

“Every once in a while, you hear reports a North Korean scientist has popped up in Iran or vice versa,” Human Events senior writer John Hayward tells Newsmax.

“We have been assuming … we’ll know the exact moment when Iran has everything it needs to make a devastating weapon,” Hayward adds. “But it seems from today’s news we don’t really have that confidence anymore. We don’t know where either Iran or North Korea really is.”

Intelligence experts have decried the dearth of U.S. “humint,” or human intelligence, from North Korea. As for Iran, Israeli intelligence is believed to have both human and electronic intelligence sources. While North Korea’s capabilities are often opaque, Katz says intelligence officers in Israel and the West have “always been quite confident” that they will know almost immediately should Iran try to break out and enrich its uranium to be nuclear-weapons capable. And so far that has not occurred.

In his September speech to the United Nations, Netanyahu spoke of a “red line” that Iran must not be allowed to cross. He also stressed that time was already running out to rein in Iran’s nuclear activities.

“Each day, that point is getting closer,” he said. “That’s why I speak today with such a sense of urgency. And that’s why everyone should have a sense of urgency. … The relevant question is not when Iran will get the bomb. The relevant question is at what stage can we no longer stop Iran from getting the bomb.”

Thursday’s revelation hardly marked the first time national-security experts have underestimated the Hermit Kingdom’s nuclear progress. Just months before the CIA announced in January 1994 that North Korea probably had developed nuclear weapons, U.S. diplomats were negotiating with North Korea in the belief there was still time to reach an agreement.

Now, U.S. analysts appear once again to have underestimated its capabilities.

Before the DIA analysis was revealed, Michael A. Dodge of the conservative Heritage Foundation told Newsmax: “North Korea has demonstrated the basic technology to hit the U.S.; the question is whether they can miniaturize the nukes to put on the missiles. We think we have some time before they can do that, but in the past we have had a tendency to underestimate the North Korean threat.”

Hayward of Human Events doubts Israel would take action against Iran while the U.S. national security apparatus is on tenterhooks over North Korea. But he says the news that North Korea may have mastered the ability to miniaturize its nuclear weapons and put them on a ballistic missile has moved up Netanyahu’s red line for unilaterally launching an attack on Iran’s nuclear-enrichment facilities.

“He believes that ‘moderate confidence’ assessment, and he has said many times they can’t afford to take risks. That was the whole point of that speech where he drew the bomb on that piece of paper at the U.N. He was busy explaining: ‘We can’t gamble;
we can’t suppose they’re years away when they’re not. We have to stop this before it crosses a certain point.’

“And if you’ll remember, that ‘certain point’ was basically getting things that are small enough to be assembled in locations that are almost impossible to strike, and then getting them into ballistic missiles. It’s not just the missile capability. It’s the fact that once you get there, it becomes very difficult to stop the process. So I think he may see that red line being right on top of him.”

In December, North Korea launched a Unha-3 missile that placed an object into orbit. U.S. officials have estimated the range of that missile at some 6,200 miles, sufficient to threaten Guam, Hawaii, Alaska, and the U.S. West Coast. The Musudan missiles North Korea is expected to launch in coming days have a much shorter range, about 2,500 miles. But that still puts Japan and Guam well within range. The United states has 28,000 military personnel in South Korea; 40,000 in Japan; and Guam, a U.S. territory, has a population of approximately 160,000. It also hosts major U.S. Navy and Air Force bases.

In recent days the administration has responded to the North Korean threat by rushing advanced radar systems and anti-missile capabilities to the Pacific theater, and decided to beef up its missile interceptor capability on the West Coast.

Says Klingner: “I think the Obama administration’s reversal on the missile interceptor programs was the administration getting caught flat-footed apparently, supposedly by the long-standing North Korean nuclear and missile threat. … They based it on a sudden, unexpected acceleration of the Korean missile threat. Well, it was not.”

In fact, Klingner tells Newsmax, a 2001 intelligence assessment predicted that by 2015, at the current rate of progress, the United States would face an ICBM threat from North Korea.

Former U.S. ambassador to North Korea Christopher Hill, meanwhile, told Fox News on Friday that the Pentagon’s insistence that North Korea has yet to test the accuracy of its nuclear-missile technology is largely irrelevant. Whether the DIA’s projection, which is made with “moderate” rather than “high” confidence, is accurate now misses the larger point, he says.

“Sooner or later that report is going to be correct, so the same old question is, what are we going to do about it? … We’ve got to make very clear that we are not going to accept this,” Hill said.

He added that North Korea’s bellicose missile launches and nuclear-arms development must now be the No. 1 diplomatic issue between the United States and China.

Occupy and Redistribute D.C

By: John Ransom / Townhall Finance Editor

Here’s an idea: Let’s occupy and then redistribute D.C.

Let’s take the $3.6 trillion in spending that Obama wants in his latest budget and split it up equally between the 115 million households in the United States. The $31,304.35 income bump normal households would see wouldn’t quite bring the median American household income-- $50,054-- up to the level of those enjoyed by people who live on the D.C. metro area-- $86,680 -- but it would come close.

It would at least be better than the most recent idiocy coming out of Washington where they “taught” the rich a lesson by raising taxes on all working Americans by 2 percent… plus quite a bit more in hidden taxes.

Because suddenly, even liberal economists in the mainstream media are figuring out that, oops, maybe raising taxes wasn’t such a good idea.

From Reuters:

Retail sales contracted in March for the second time in three months, a sign the American economy may have stumbled at the end of the first quarter.

Retail sales fell 0.4 percent during the month, the Commerce Department said on Friday. That was below analysts' expectations that sales would be flat.

The sales data supports the view that the U.S. economy continues to struggle and hasn't gained as much momentum has analysts believed just a few weeks ago. 

The culprit?

"The miss in retail sales sends concerns about the impact of higher payroll taxes," Omer Esiner, a market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange told Reuters, likely emphasizing the words “higher… payroll… taxes” by speaking them verrrry slowly to a recent graduate of journalism school, who probably minored in gender studies either the hard way or the easy way.

“So it’s a tax scheme, huh? Who would have believed it?” I can hear the eager-beaver journalist say.
Washington’s remedy for the poor fourth quarter 2012 GDP, which posted a revised gain of about 0.4 percent, was to give D.C. even more of your money- starting in the first quarter of 2013. And so it began.

But if you think the economic slowdown now is related to the tax increase then, well you might be good at math, but you know nothing about Washington math and Washington journalism, both of which are the highest forms of the art of opinion.

Because wait, there more to the story. We haven’t heard from the government experts yet. These are experts, by the way, who mostly reside in about the Washington, D.C. and just coincidentally enjoy, with their friends and neighbors, a median household income of $86,680-- not $50,054. 
     
Reuters is very quick to point out that the 2 percent cut in government spending- also known as Super Sequester Sandy- is also to blame for decline consumer spending, along with taxes, even though: 1) Sequester cuts haven’t really happened; 2) They really aren’t cuts; and 4) <----- I’m using Washington math there, just as an example (I’m not areal journalist so technically I’m not qualified to use D.C. math) - Super Sequester Sandy doesn’t come close to the impact payroll and other taxes have had on the economy this year- and years to come.

“Fiscal policy tightened further in March when the federal government began across-the-board spending cuts known in Washington as the sequester,” reports Reuters, “part of Washington's efforts to shrink the budget deficit. Non-partisan researchers working for the U.S. Congress estimate Washington's austerity drive will subtract about 1.5 percentage points from economic growth this year.”

Let me explain the problem with the figures from those “non-partisan researchers working for the U.S. Congress.”

Since federal spending as proposed by Obama will make up roughly 25 percent of GDP, there is no mathematical way that a 2 percent cut in federal spending could reduce GDP by “1.5 percentage points” this year.

Government economists and journalists need to pay attention because I’m going to do some math here: 2 percent of 25 percent of GDP equals… 0.5 percent of GDP.

And here’s the other problem that “non-partisan researchers working for the U.S. Congress” have with that math: Only about half the cuts happen this year. Even if you add a type of multiplier effect, there’s no way that government spending cuts bring down GDP growth by “1.5 percentage points” this year.

Increased taxes might, but not tiny cuts in government spending.

I suspect that the real math problem that those “non-partisan researchers” have is that their friends and their neighbors, along with themselves, have a median annual income of $86,680 per year.

And the solution to that math problem is to occupy and redistribute D.C.   
Obama’s Growth-Busting Budget
No matter how you slice the Obama budget pie, the inescapable fact is that the president wants to get rid of the roughly $1 trillion budget-cutting sequester and substitute in a $1 trillion-plus tax hike. In other words, more spending, more taxing. Growth-busting. The GOP should just say no.

And let me provide some counsel to my Republican friends in Washington, in particular in the House. Balanced budgets don’t create growth. This mantra is wrong. It’s growth that creates balanced budgets.

Cut spending? That’s a pro-growth measure. Lower tax rates? Another pro-growth measure. The combination of limited government and true tax reform will balance the budget soon enough,  with government coming in at a smaller share of GDP while sufficient investment and work incentives get growth moving towards the 4 or 5 percent range.

That kind of growth would make up for the lost ground of the past 15 years. And if you add in deregulation and a sound King Dollar, you’d have a growth budget that would propel America back into prosperity.

Indeed, with some tweaking of eligibility requirements, a true economic-growth budget would lower food-stamp enrollment, unemployment compensation, disability benefits, and other forms of welfare-dependency spending that plague the country. Medicare is a more complex issue, but Social Security would be solved by a long-run growth spurt.

Of course, this is not what President Obama is aiming for. He wants more than $500 billion in tax revenue from a 28 percent income-tax deduction limit. But this is not tax reform, since there are no offsetting reductions in marginal tax rates. He also wants a $50 billion Buffett rule that would jack up taxes on capital gains and dividends. He would slap energy companies with a $100 billion tax hike, at least. Offshore corporate income would see a $150 billion tax increase. And banks and financial institutions would get slammed with $100 billion in new taxes.

And there’s no serious corporate tax reform in this budget. Even with some temporary tax-credit offsets, some have suggested that there might be room for a 1 percentage point business tax cut, from 35 percent to 34 percent. That’s pathetic. Instead, the most powerful growth measure would have small-business, sub-chapter-S-type firms pay the same 25 percent tax rate as large C-corp companies might. This would be a huge growth booster, and it would attract investment from all over the world.

Then there’s the budget’s incredible and arbitrary limit or tax on -- or even possible confiscation of -- IRA-type tax-advantaged savings accounts. Who exactly gave the federal government the right to tell free people how much they can save for retirement? Obama wants a $3 million cap on these accounts. And he thinks $205,000 a year in some kind of annuity would “be substantially more than needed for reasonable retirement.” This is statism at its worst.

Plus, people pay taxes when they redeem their IRAs. And on top of that, the U.S.A. needs more saving to promote more investment and create more jobs and growth. Better that savings and investment are tax free and we tax consumption instead.

I don’t have a problem with Obama’s modest change in the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security, called the chain CPI. That could be worked in someplace. But in terms of overall entitlement reform, it’s just a drop in the bucket.

It may be possible for Republicans and Democrats to work out deals on gun background checks that won’t violate the second amendment. And a good deal on immigration reform would substantially promote economic growth in the years ahead. But the GOP should not get suckered into a budget deal that ends the spending-cut sequester and delivers yet another huge tax hike.

The litmus test for budgets should be growth. More spending and taxing won’t get you there. One of the few economic positives from recent government policy is that federal spending could come down a couple trillion dollars if the last two budget deals are held in place. But limiting tax deductions with no offset in marginal tax rates is neither tax reform nor pro-growth.

I’ll give a modest “yes” to political thaws on gun control and immigration if they’re done right. But I give an absolute “no” to the Obama high-tax-and-spend budget proposal.
Op-ed: 
'Saving face'...is it worth the consequences
By: Diane Sori

In a show of even more incompetency coming from this White House, this past Thursday during a session of the House Armed Services Committee, Representative Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) read on the record an unclassified segment of a 'supposedly' classified report about North Korea's nuclear capabilities. This report nor any part of it was ever meant for public dissemination, but was made public due to the report erroneously being labeled as unclassified when in fact it was not.

The ghosts of Benghazi come to mind...

This report, a spy dossier titled Dynamic Threat Assessment 8099: North Korea Nuclear Weapons Program (March 2013), outlined the Defense Intelligence Agency's (DIA) findings that it's believed that North Korea might already have a nuclear weapon small enough to be placed atop a ballistic missile...meaning it's deliverable NO matter who says what to the contrary.

And while Director of National Intelligence James Clapper played down the DIA findings, saying that "North Korea has not yet demonstrated the full range of capabilities necessary for a nuclear armed missile" he overlooks the fact, as do most, that with North Korea being as secretive as it is, and with it being shunned and isolated by the international community, we really don't know with any certainty what the rogue nation's military capabilities might or might NOT be.

And it must be remembered that last December North Korea launched a Taepodong 2 missile that put a satellite into orbit. And while the orbit appeared tenuous at best it did prove that this rogue nation does indeed have long-range missile technology, and that does NOT bode well in the face of the recent threats coming from Pyongyang against South Korea, Japan, and us.

Now add an untested, immature, bloviating man-child into the mix, one who must now shut up or put up to 'save face' in light of all his recent posturing and threats, and the situation on the Korean peninsula can NO longer be ignored or even downplayed. And with two mid-range mobile Musudan ballistic missiles having been placed and readied (meaning they're in an upright position ready for firing) in the town of Wonsan along North Korea's eastern coast, the situation has now reached a critical level.

Could this be just a game on Kim Jong-un's part to call our bluff in regards to removing the sanctions, anything is possible but this is NOT a game we or our allies can afford to lose or ignore. So while White House Press Secretary Jay Carney continues to spew Obama's line that “North Korea has not demonstrated the capability to deploy a nuclear-armed missile," we cannot allow ourselves to trust Obama or anything his people have to say, just like we could NOT and still CANNOT trust them to tell the truth in regards to what happened in Benghazi.

And with Secretary of State John 'Swiftboat' Kerry (gag) bloviating at a press conference in Seoul the Obama rhetoric that we will NOT abide a nuclear armed North Korea, this administration is doing NOTHING to stop them...just like this administration did NOTHING to help Ambassador Stevens and continues to do NOTHING of substance to stop Iran from continuing it's work on acquiring nuclear weapons.

Also, just a few days ago, North Korea lobbed new threats against Japan saying that Tokyo would, in the event of war, be the first target "if it continues to maintain its hostile posture." What North Korea considers a hostile position is that Japan said it would destroy any missile heading toward their country. Hello...what is Japan supposed to say and do...I guess according to Pyongyang just sit back and let themselves be bombed...possibly into oblivion.

And after that threat our ever-loving president said, “Now is the time for North Korea to end the belligerent approach they have taken and to try to lower temperatures," adding that he preferred to see the tensions on the peninsula resolved through diplomatic means, but added that "the United States will take all necessary steps to protect its people."

Does that mean like he protects our ally Israel's people against the very arms, weapons, F-16s, and Abrams tanks he sends to her enemies...just wondering.

So while intelligence and satellite photos show NO indication of major troop numbers amassing along the Korean border with the South, as in a preparation for war, which would have given some definitive credence to Kim Jong-un's bloviations, Monday, April 15th is the 'Day of the Sun,' the commemoration of the birth of North Korea's (actual name:Democratic People's Republic of Korea) founder Kim Il-sung, and if anything will happen, any show of power of any kind from Pyongyang, it will most certainly happen on that day.

And we need to be prepared just in case for if North Korea does dare to do anything of substance we need to be prepared to end their nonsense once and for all...and that does NOT mean slapping even more sanctions on them.

Bye-bye Kim Jong-un...the civilized world will NOT mourn your loss.