Friday, May 9, 2014

Leadership is often about prioritizing, and paramount among Harry Reid's priorities is firing off daily broadsides against two private citizens whose political donations run afoul of his sensibilities.

While he's assailing the "un-American" Koch brothers for everything from abetting Vladimir Putin to causing global warming, he's also busy explaining why he doesn't despise other right-leaning billionaire donors. Rich people who engage in the political process for the "right reasons," as determined by Reid of course, should be left alone. Others -- who supposedly get involved in politics for personal gain (about which Harry knows a thing or two) -- must be publicly slandered at every opportunity. Among the hallowed class is Reid's buddy Tom Steyer, a liberal environmentalist billionaire who's pledged to raise $100 million in support of Democrats this year. Steyer is a staunch opponent of the Keystone pipeline, as are many of his fellow travelers on the ideological fringe. That he appears to have financial interests in blocking the job-creating, environmentally-secure pipeline is irrelevant. Gramps has judged Steyer's heart to be in the right place, so his money is deemed clean and green. The Obama administration has repeatedly sided with the vocal minority on Keystone, rejecting and delaying its approval at every turn.

After yet another State Department study determined the project would have negligible environmental impact, the White House punted a decision until after the election -- much to the chagrin of vulnerable Democrats, anxious to bring home a "win." Frustrated Senate Republicans and a number of Democrats are trying to force a binding vote on the issue, but Harry Reid has Obama and Steyer's back:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., used a parliamentary maneuver to block a bid by pipeline supporters to include the pipeline measure in an energy efficiency bill moving forward in the Senate. Republicans also were seeking an amendment to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing new greenhouse gas regulations on coal-burning power plants. Reid's actions came after Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell objected to Reid's offer to call an up-or-down vote on the energy bill, with a promise for a separate vote on Keystone later.
The partisan wrangling threatened to doom prospects for both the energy efficiency bill and the pipeline measure, which would authorize immediate construction of the proposed pipeline from Canada to the United States. Supporters say the measure is needed to end years of delay by the Obama administration on whether to approve the project...All 45 Senate Republicans and as many as a dozen Democrats support a bill that would force a decision on the project....Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who has pushed for Keystone approval as a key part of her re-election campaign, expressed frustration that the Senate appeared likely to miss opportunities for both the energy efficiency bill and the pipeline measure.
That would be the same Mary Landrieu who recently bragged to the New York Times that she'd helped forge a filibuster-proof majority in favor of the pipeline. She evidently lacks the sway within her own party to force a vote on the issue. Reid's obstructionist procedural maneuver took place yesterday. Today, he reiterated his opposition to the Keystone project and continued to play parliamentary games designed to prevent an open and fair legislative process. Reid is joined in opposition by a majority of his caucus, including a number of Senators who are beholden to Tom Steyer's big money -- including Mark Udall of Colorado, where the pipeline is immensely popular. Reid says he'll only permit a vote on Keystone if he can shut down the amendment process on another bill:

During his tenure, Reid has blocked all amendments -- a move known as "filling the amendment tree" -- far more often than the last six majority leaders combined. His level of vote-blocking obstructionism is unprecedented. When the GOP retaliates, Reid labels them the true obstructionists, and uses the dysfunction he's created as a pretext for additional power grabs. The Keystone pipeline would create thousands of American jobs, improve our relations with our Canadian allies, and help streamline North American energy production. It is environmentally sound -- it's safer and would produce fewer emissions, in fact, than alternative modes of transporting fuel. It is overwhelmingly supported by the American public. By continually throwing up barriers to a decision with broad bipartisan consensus, Harry Reid is placing the special interests of major Democratic donors ahead of what's best for the country, then screaming about the rotten Kochs to distract from his own transparent "dark money" quid pro quo.
All politics is local. So Republican politicians with national ambitions better pay attention to what grassroots parents are saying and doing about the federal education racket known as Common Core. In bellwether Indiana this week, anti-Common Core activists won a pair of pivotal electoral victories against GOP Gov. Mike Pence.

Pence's attempt to mollify critics by rebranding and repackaging shoddy Common Core standards is fooling no one.

Tuesday's Republican primary elections in the Hoosier state resulted in the landslide defeat of two establishment incumbents running for statewide re-election. Pence had endorsed GOP State Rep. Kathy Heuer over challenger Christopher Judy. Pence's Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann had endorsed GOP State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki over challenger Curt Nisly. The incumbents enjoyed the support of the Common Core-promoting U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

These same Big Business elites backed Pence's ploy to stave off grassroots parental opposition by "withdrawing" from Common Core -- and then immediately adopting "new" standards that recycle the same old rotten ones. (See my April 30 column, "Big Government GOP's Common Core Rebrand Hustle.") As Hoosier mom Erin Tuttle put it, Pence's stunt "gave the appearance of voiding the Common Core, while the Indiana Department of Education and the Center for Education and Career Innovation walked it through the backdoor."

Challengers Judy and Nisly made their opponents' refusal to help end Common Core in the state a central issue. Hoosiers Against Common Core, led by moms Tuttle and Heather Crossin, endorsed the dark-horse challengers. With little money and scant press attention, they beat Pence's machine by astonishingly wide margins: Judy ousted Heuer 57-43; Nisly defeated Kubacki 65-35.

Well before the horrors of Common Core had penetrated cable TV and late-night comedy shows, Indiana parents led the lonely charge. They were at the vanguard of challenging the constitutionality, costs, substandard academic quality, privacy invasions and special interest lobbyists fueling Fed Ed.

In 2012, Hoosiers Against Common Core spearheaded the stunning ouster of Tony Bennett -- the Indiana GOP's scandal-plagued former state education secretary who fled to Common Core-peddling former Gov. Jeb Bush's Florida for another educrat job. (See my August 2, 2013, column, "Rotten to the Core: Jeb Bush's Crony Republicans Against Higher Standards.")

The way Pence is going, his 2016 ambitions may soon face the same fate. Pence's hero Ronald Reagan advocated for abolishing the federal Department of Education. Yet, Pence is busy emulating the bureaucratic behemoth. In addition to embracing the expedient "cut and paste" rewrite of Indiana's academic standards overseen by D.C. Common Core operatives, Pence is now pursuing the construction of a statewide student database. It looks and sounds a lot like the federal data-tracking warehouse championed by Common Core advocates.

You'll remember that one of those national information collection schemes is inBloom. The idea was originally funded with Obama stimulus money and grants from the liberal Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. A division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. built the database infrastructure. The nonprofit startup "inBloom Inc." evolved out of this strange alliance to operate the invasive database.

The entity planned to compile everything from student and family health-care histories to income information, religious affiliations, voting status, blood types and homework completion.

Once again, grassroots parents revolted. Moms and dads on both sides of the political aisle rose up across the country to reject the latest tech boondoggle peddled by educrat nosybodies. Last fall, voters kicked out three school board members in Jefferson County, Colo., over their support of inBloom. Challengers Julie Williams, John Newkirk and Ken Witt won decisively over their incumbent opponents.

The new board cut ties with inBloom; the superintendent, Gates Foundation-supported Cindy Stevenson, was forced to resign. And a few weeks ago, inBloom announced it was dissolving. It undoubtedly will morph into a newly renamed and repackaged entity, just like the Common Core standards in Indiana.

In their new book, "Conform," on what ails education in America, Glenn Beck and Kyle Olson expose the "open contempt" educrats have for parents. It's a classic Saul Alinksy tactic: Demonize your political targets. True to form, the professional character assassins of the Southern Poverty Law Center are now attacking anti-Common Core activists as "extreme" and "far right."

That's nonsense. The principles that unite parents of all ideologies against Fed Ed are bedrock tenets of our constitutional republic: local control, parental sovereignty, privacy protections and fundamental skepticism about the actual educational benefits of massive government expenditures in the name of "reform." The Davids of the Stop Common Core movement are exercising their freedoms of speech and association to beat back the deep-pocketed Goliaths at their schoolhouse doors.

As always, sunlight is the best disinfectant. The ballot box is the ultimate sanitizer. Ideas have consequences. And Indiana is a harbinger. If the Common Core cheerleaders and rebranders in both parties think their bad ideas won't ever come back to haunt them at the polls, they are in for a very rude awakening.

Pathetic excuse of a First Lady...just saying.

Michelle Obama wages hashtag counter-jihad

  / Jihad Watch

MichelleObamaBringBackOh yes, this will work.

If any one photo sums up the impotence, self-indulgence and silliness of the West’s response to the jihad threat, it is this one.

Oh, and aren’t you supposed to type hashtag slogans into Twitter, rather than write them on a piece of paper?

’2nd American revolution’ looming over free speech

Pamela Geller / Atlas Shrugs

“There is no more crucial issue facing America than the war on free speech. Should the Obama administration move forward with legislation to repress speech (which is exactly what he sought to do in attacking a YouTube video in the wake of the Benghazi attacks), he will have a second American revolution on his hands,” Pamela Geller said.
I am widely quoted in Bob Unruh’s article on the Obama administration’s fresh attack on our First Amendment rights.
The great battle looms:
“’2nd American revolution’ looming over free speech,” By Bob Unrun, WND, May 7, 2014
The publisher of “The O’Leary Report,” Brad O’Leary, warned America five years ago that the end goal for some key players in the Obama administration was the evisceration of the First Amendment, so that conservative speech could be shut down.
In “Shut Up, America! The End of Free Speech,” he noted talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh talks about a core constituency in Congress that does not believe the “free market of ideas” is good for America.
In other words, they believe “you and I aren’t smart enough to figure things out for ourselves, and … we need their help in order to form the correct points of view – their points of view,” he said.
So on Wednesday, when the chairman of the Federal Election Commission said in an interview with the Washington Examiner that there are “government officials” who “are angling to curtail the media’s exemption from federal election laws governing political organizations,” O’Leary wasn’t surprised.
But he’s not willing to retreat, and he doesn’t think Americans are either.
“I don’t think the nation would stand for one voice in the political spectrum being silenced while the other voices are allowed to say what they want,” he told WND.
Commentator Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs, who repeatedly has waged battles over the First Amendment’s free-speech rights, was a little more direct.
“The First Amendment protects freedom of speech with political speech being the most protected speech. This is the most basic tenet of a free society. The First Amendment protects all speech, not just the ideas that the ruling party likes but all speech. If controls were to be imposed, who would control what’s good and what’s forbidden? The government? That is a declaration of war and peaceful men would be forced to resort to violence,” she said.
“There is no more crucial issue facing America than the war on free speech. Should the Obama administration move forward with legislation to repress speech (which is exactly what he sought to do in attacking a YouTube video in the wake of the Benghazi attacks), he will have a second American revolution on his hands,” she said.
Joseph Farah, founder and CEO of WND, WND Books and WND Films, said that as “a 35-year veteran of the press in both forms, traditional media and new, I find even the discussion of imposing federal regulations on speech, especially constitutionally protected political speech, to be scary and anti-American.”
“When the founders crafted the First Amendment, they were confirming God-given rights to be pamphleteers,” he said. “Only the form and efficiency of dissemination of information has changed since then. But there are always forces in society that seek control, power and the ability to operate in secrecy and without public accountability. Those are the forces at work behind this anti-liberty, anti-free speech and anti-press agenda today.”
In the interview with the Washington Examiner, Federal Election Commission Chairman Lee E. Goodman said the right “has begun to break the left’s media monopoly, particularly through new media outlets like the Internet, and I sense that some on the left are starting to rethink the breadth of the media exemption and Internet communications.”
He cited such successes as the Drudge Report and Sean Hannity’s radio program.