YURCHAK – COMMON CORE; ERICKSON – To each his own; KLEIN – BO signs it away; WILL – What BO shares with TEA; HANSON – Where now?; STEYN – Potemkin parliament.
HEALTH CARE: Darcy – Cruz & the next shut down; McCarthy – Art of the impossible; WSJ;- Sibelius runs; Turner – Cruz & Paul Revere.
DOMESTIC: Goldberg – TEA’s wasted energy; Hall – Congress slush funds; Hawkins – No ratification for UN; Gehrke – GOP approved McConnell; Glüsing – NSA in Mexico; Morano – The least turbulent weather; Pew – You hate govt except for the depts where you deal; Forsyth – TX welcomes Cruz.
PA: $700M for pet projects.
END NOTES: Palin – Corrupt bastards club; Stafford – Liebovich compared Drudge & Allen.
“We’re used to getting the blame. We’re used to being called “Hobbits” and “suicide bombers” and various other insults packaged in a “don’t you know who you’re dealing with” arrogance. We’re not going to sit on the sidelines just because some of you think the GOP will lose. We’re at $17 trillion in bipartisan national debt. We’ve already lost. The only way to start winning is to start fighting.”
“. . . ‘the prevailing political realities of the United States do not allow for any meaningful course correction.’ That’s what the political class confirmed yet again this week. Which brings me to the sentence immediately following: ‘And, without meaningful course correction, America is doomed.’”
1797: The Navy frigate USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides,” was launched in Boston.
1867: In Kansas, leaders of the Southern Plains Indians signed the Medicine Lodge Treaty, in which they give up their hunting grounds and agree to move to reservations in Oklahoma.
1879: Thomas Edison invented the first practical electric incandescent lamp.
1916: The first ROTC units were established at the University of Arkansas; University of Maine; St. John’s College, Annapolis; Texas A&M; College of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota; and the Citadel, Charleston, South Carolina.
Jo Yurchak: Common Core
“If you haven’t written to the IRRC (Independent Regulatory Review Commission) yet about Common Core, please do so. The IRRC is responsible for regulatory review of nearly all regulations before implementation occurs. They are currently reviewing the newly renamed ‘PA Core Standards’ implementation. They are asking for comments, and are supposed to listen to the public.
1. I urge you to send the IRRC your testimonial (comments) by E-Mail to: http://www.irrc.state.pa.us/contact.aspx
2. Reference IRRC #2976, and address your comments to Mr. David Sumner, the Executive Director of the IRRC.
3. Let them know why you oppose Pa Core Standards. They are particularly concerned about the cost of implementation. Your testimony will be considered.
4. I have attached a file that contains talking points. The first page is short and sweet; the second is more detailed.
5. If you want to do more, I’ve also attached a file of a CALL TO ACTION that contains E-Mail addresses and phone numbers for all legislators on the Education Committees, with live links for E-Mail addresses. Even a few sentences are fine. If you write one short note, you can E-Mail it to a myriad of legislators, etc. (best to do individually) in no time!
I have sent mine (shown below) in an E-Mail but am also going to send it certified by snail mail to: Mr. David Sumner, Executive Director, IRRC, 333 Market Street, 14th Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17101. You certainly don’t have to do this, but it can’t hurt!
Yurchak Letter about Common Core
“Dear Mr. Sumner:
After months of extensive research into the Common Core State Standards initiative (CCSS — recently renamed PA Core Standards), I am becoming increasingly concerned with regard to its unquestionable deleterious consequences on our students and our educational system, and also its fiscal impact on Pennsylvania’s fragile economy. In listing the various reasons why I oppose the CCSS, I speak from the perspective of a retired educator who has taught at the university level for decades and also as the grandmother of four public school students.
Although my personal primary concern of this transformational, untested initiative is the loss of local control, I shall first address the fiscal aspect since it is crucial that legislators and regulatory agencies understand the enormous fiscal impact that Common Core will impose on Pennsylvanians. The initial costs and ongoing execution of the CCSS will be prohibitive, resulting in massive unfunded mandates at a time when our Commonwealth is facing severe budgetary problems, including an exponentially expanding pension crisis. Initial and continuing costs for implementation will involve hiring countless additional staff, extensive training of both new hires and current teachers, purchasing new instructional materials and technology equipment, developing and aligning curriculum to the CCSS, providing remediation and project-based assessments, and administering and grading the innumerable mandated assessments, some of which will include essay and open-ended response items. Many of these costs will undoubtedly be the responsibility of local districts.
A major fiscal concern involves the Keystone exams which, under the CCSS Chapter 4 regulations (General Provisions for Academic Standards and Assessments), will be required for graduation (Algebra I, Literature, and Biology, with more to be added in later years). Students who don’t pass these exams can repeat them until they do. Those who continue to fail them must be remediated and/or given project-based assessments, which will undoubtedly prove to be exceptionally costly, particularly in the poorer districts.
It is astounding and inexcusable that no fiscal impact study was undertaken before PA signed on to the CCSS in July of 2010, but it is even more reprehensible and unfathomable that no complete fiscal analysis has been forthcoming to date, even though legislators have repeatedly requested this information from the PA DOE.
The Pioneer Institute and the American Principles Project estimate that the cost of implementing the CCSS in PA over the next seven years will be $645 MILLION. Although this high figure has been disputed, the PA DOE themselves, in their initial requests for Race to the Top funding from the Federal Government (a document that can be obtained on-line), stated that, along with the federal dollars being requested, it would require an ongoing phase-in of $2.6 BILLION to districts in new state monies, to implement Common Core. The PA DOE stated specifically to the Feds that these amounts “are both necessary and sufficient to meet and sustain the ambitious goals summarized in our application.“ Legislators and regulatory agencies should be aware of these enormous cost estimates that were presented to the federal government by the PA DOE in 2010, but are they?
Misrepresentations and Misleading Statements re: the CCSS by the PA DOE
In my opinion, the adjectives used by the PA DOE to describe the CCSS, namely, VOLUNTARY and STATE-LED, are deliberately misleading. Deception of this sort tends to lessen the credibility of any other statements that the obviously biased PA DOE makes with regard to this initiative.
State-Led???? The National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO, which represents state education commissioners), in partnership with Achieve, initially led the creation and execution of the CCSS. In spite of their official sounding names, the NGA and the CCSSO are essentially trade organizations who received huge grants from special interest groups and corporations, many of which will profit from the implementation of the CCSS. Achieve is a nationwide education reform organization that, according to its own web site, currently provides technical assistance to states in their standards, assessments, curriculum and accountability systems. Its web site also notes that Achieve has provided Common Core boot camps to a number of states in the Network to support implementation efforts.
Voluntary???? At a time when the country and individual states were undergoing a calamitous fiscal crisis (2010), the federal government offered strong incentives (bribes) for states to adopt the CCSS. Stimulus funds and the possibility of opting out of the extremely unpopular No Child Left Behind (NCLB) were offered to states as an enticement to adopt the Common Core standards. A state could not get Race to the Top stimulus money unless they signed on to the standards. Indeed, a major fiscal concern of the states is that the CCSS will lead to Title I monies being withheld from low income schools if the federal government isn’t satisfied with a states compliance to the CCSS standards.
Diane Ravitch, a former assistant U. S. Secretary of Education under both Bill Clinton and GHW Bush (and a former CCSS supporter), disputes the contention that the CCSS are state-led, saying: President Obama and Secretary Duncan often say that the Common Core standards were developed by the states and voluntarily adopted by them. This is not true. They were developed by an organization called Achieve and the National Governors Association, both of which were generously funded by the Gates Foundation. There was minimal public engagement in the development of the Common Core. Their creation was neither grassroots nor did it emanate from the states.
The PA legislature was bypassed completely in the decision to implement CCSS in PA.
The PA State Board of Education (an unelected committee) adopted federally-controlled CCSS in math and English (ELA) on 7/1/2010 with an effective date of putting them into place of 7/1/2013. Standards for other subjects (science, history, etc.) were to be added later.
“Although writings by the PA DOE lead one to believe that this initiative was widely publicized to the public and to legislators, and particularly to those on the Education Committees, the opposite seems to be true. Although the PA legislature has the power of the purse, they were not provided with any fiscal analysis of this initiative (as is noted above). After attending several official meetings and hearings on Common Core over the last several months and speaking to various legislators, I have no doubt that most legislators, including many on the Education Committees, were virtually clueless until just recently as to the particulars of this initiative and its potential deleterious budgetary and educational impacts on Pennsylvanians. Just as egregious is that few parents, school board members, and taxpayers understood or were aware of the transformative educational implementation that was to begin in our schools in July of 2013.
“Finally, just a few short months before full implementation was set to occur, hearings were held in Harrisburg which enabled proponents and opponents to present their cases to the legislature. It is inexcusable that public hearings such as this were not held before PA signed on to the CCSS and began the expensive process of implementing them!
“One has to wonder why this transformational initiative was kept under the radar for so long. Emmett McGroarty, a CCSS opponent, provides the most reasonable explanation: The NGA (Natl. Governors Assn.) wanted to implement its plan quickly and avoid the tedium of the democratic process. If given the chance, the people — through their elected representatives — might muck around with, or reject, NGAs eventual product. The fact that an unelected committee such as the PA DOE made such a momentous decision with little if any input from our State Legislature and our citizens is a subversion of the democratic process.
Federal Control MeansLessening or Loss of Influence of Parents and Local School Boards on the Educational Process
Participating CCSS states must align 85% of their standards with the National CCSS with only 15% flexibility. This imposition of federal control will lessen or eliminate the influence of parents, teachers and local school boards in providing a curriculum tailored to their individual students needs.
Although the PA DOE insists that the CCSS is state-led and state-controlled — even to the point of their using a marketing technique of changing the name from Common Core State Standards to PA Core Standards, the fact remains that PA received money from the federal government in RTTT funds and that money has stipulations attached. Although theoretically it is standards that PA has to align with national standards, these standards are tied to curriculum and assessments. The federal government will be able to effectively control the Common Core curriculum by virtue of the fact that the results of the assessments that are based on the relatively inflexible CCSS standards are tied to funding.
Maggie Gallagher, a Fellow at the American Principles Project, states: Common Core advocates continue to insist that Common Core does not usurp local control of curriculum, but in practice high-stakes tests keyed to the Common Core standards ensure that curriculum will follow Once a state adopts Common Core, its curriculum goals and assessments are effectively nationalized. And the national standards are effectively privatized, because they are written, owned, and copyrighted by two private trade organizations (NGA and CCSSO).
Joseph A. Califano, Jr., former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, wrote, In its most extreme form, national control of curriculum is a form of national control of ideas. Unfortunately, in three short years, the present administration has placed the nation on the road to a national curriculum.
“The CCSS was neither field-tested nor validated before states (including PA) signed onto it.
“There is no empirical evidence that implementation of the CCSS will improve our educational system or learning outcomes. Diane Ravitch, a proponent-turned-opponent, in an article entitled: Why I Cannot Support the Common Core Standards, stated: The Common Core standards have been adopted in 46 states and the District of Columbia without any field test. They are being imposed on the children of this nation despite the fact that no one has any idea how they will affect students, teachers, or schools. We are a nation of guinea pigs, almost all trying an unknown new program at the same time.
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wouldn’t consider allowing the distribution of a drug to the general populace without extensive field-testing. Why should our students be guinea pigs in a pricey educational experiment to determine whether the latest educational design works?
There is far too much focus and time spent on assessments.
“A West Chester school board member told me that 17 days will be spent on assessments this year; other local school districts have reported even more testing days. The excessive focus on assessments and their influence on evaluations will put tremendous pressure on teachers to use their 15% flexibility to teach to the test — an educationally unsound practice – instead of providing unique and interesting supplemental modules that establish a love of learning in their students. Many have opined that the Common Core initiative will resemble the vastly unpopular No Child Left Behind on steroids!
“There are many other concerns that I have about the CCSS that are equally as important as those noted above. Two of these are the data mining of students and potential for indoctrination in subjective areas such as social studies and science when the federal government is in control. Im sure that other individuals will provide detail for these consequential issues.
“It is unfortunate and unconscionable that too many proponents of Common Core support this initiative because of the financial benefits that they will receive from its implementation. In spite of pressures from these sources, I hope that our legislature and regulatory agencies will come to their senses and see that it was a huge mistake to sign on to the CCSS and effectively sell our souls to the Feds.
“Although the PA DOE has been lobbying tirelessly to convince everyone that it is Pennsylvania and not the federal government that is in control, the fact that PA has taken money from the Feds with stipulations attached invalidates their contentions in this regard. Unless we return the money from the RTTT grant to the Feds, refuse any more of their money, and obtain a written release, the state of PA will not be in control! It is disappointing that Governor Corbett has recently applied for additional grant money for early childhood education. This further entangles us in the web of national control.
I strongly urge everyone in the legislature and regulatory agencies to stop the implementation of this disastrous initiative before we are so entwined that we cannot disentangle ourselves from it. Our children must not be used as guinea pigs in an educational experiment!
Erick Erickson, Red State: “To Each His Own”
“I don’t really care if you want to stand with Mitch McConnell in his re-election. I hope you might go with Matt Bevin, but I’m not going to get worked up over it. I’m excited to support Matt Bevin.
“Likewise, I’m very pleased to support Chris McDaniel in Mississippi against Thad Cochran, who has been Mississippi’s Senator since I was three years old.
“But I’m not going to be upset if you don’t.
“There is a whole lot of outrage at the Senate Conservatives Fund for endorsing Matt Bevin today. I will personally be sending SCF more money to help with their fight. There was, likewise, a lot of angst over Club for Growth throwing in with Chris McDaniel. I’ll have to remember to send them some money too.
“I think many of the Republicans in Washington need to be replaced. It is not that they are liberal and my picks are conservative. It’s that I think we can do better. It’s that I think they have lost touch with their base and many of them have been corrupted by their long tenure in Washington.
“I do not expect to have to win every one of the races, but then the brilliance of this effort is that the establishment must win them all and we don’t have to.
“We all share the same goal of Republicans taking back the Senate. But we deviate in that I refuse to settle for just any Republicans taking back the Senate. I do not want another Republican majority to give us No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, and unchecked domestic spending hiding behind a war in Iraq. I do not want a Republican majority that whores itself to K Street and ignores Main Street.
“In the primaries I intend to do my best to defeat a select list of Republicans in the House and Senate and, in some open seats, to find a good conservative to fill those spots. . .”
Aaron Klein, KleinonLine: “OBAMA SECRETLY SIGNING AWAY U.S. SOVEREIGNTY. Shock plan regulates food, medicine, financial markers, Internet freedom”
Working on his next job . . .
“Despite the government shutdown, the Obama administration has continued secret negotiations to complete what is known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.
“The expansive plan is a proposed free-trade agreement between the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
“The agreement would create new guidelines for everything from food safety to fracking, financial markets, medical prices, copyright rules and Internet freedom.
“The TPP negotiations have been criticized by politicians and advocacy groups alike for their secrecy. The few aspects of the partnership leaked to the public indicate an expansive agenda with highly limited congressional oversight.
“A New York Times opinion piece previously called the deal the “most significant international commercial agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995.”
“Last week, the White House website released a joint statement with the other proposed TPP signatories affirming “our countries are on track to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. . .’”
George Will, WaPo: “What Obama and the tea party have in common”
“Much is wrong with Washington these days, including much of what is said about what is wrong. Many Americans say there is “too much politics” in Washington. Actually, there is too little. Barack Obama deplores “politics as usual” here. But recently Washington has been tumultuous because politics, as the Framers understood it, has disintegrated. Obama has been complicit in this collapse.
“His self-regard, the scale of which has a certain grandeur, reinforces progressivism’s celebration of untrammeled executive power and its consequent disparagement of legislative bargaining. This is why Obamacare passed without a single vote from the opposition party — and why it remains, as analyst Michael Barone says, the most divisive legislation since the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act.
“Obama and his tea party adversaries have something important in common — disdain for the practice of politics within the Framers’ institutional architecture. He and they should read Jonathan Rauch’s “Rescuing Compromise” in the current issue of National Affairs quarterly.
“‘Politicians,’ Rauch notes, ‘like other people, compromise because they have to, not because they want to.’ So Madison created a constitutional regime that by its structure created competing power centers and deprived any of them of the power to impose its will on the others.
“The Madisonian system, Rauch says, is both intricate and dynamic: ‘Absent a rare (and usually unsustainable) supermajority, there is simply not much that any single faction, interest, or branch of government can do. Effective action in this system is nothing but a series of forced compromises.’
“Rep. Tom Cole, who represents southwest Oklahoma, has a PhD in British history and studied at the University of London, says some of his colleagues in the House of Representatives ‘think they are in the House of Commons.’ That is, they have not accepted the fact that, in the Madisonian system, legislative and executive powers are separated. . .”
Victor Davis Hanson, NRO: “Where Now?”
“The government gridlock is, to use now politically incorrect metaphors, only one lost battle in a long campaign, and we are now back to the original proposition of watching the administration try to implement Obamacare. We know the president does exceedingly well when he can campaign against the forces of darkness, but when attention, even for a moment, turns to his own efforts — Obamacare; the stimulus; Solyndra; cash for clunkers, Benghazi; the AP, IRS, and NSA scandals; gun control; Syria, etc. — as it will now for a few weeks until the next psychodramatic “war” against someone, he flounders.
“And while the glitches and signup problems of Obamacare should ameliorate, and while no doubt some of the uninsured will eventually sign up, the real contributors to its unpopularity are fundamental and probably won’t go away soon.
“All the president’s promises will probably stay broken: Premiums will go up, not down; young people of a mostly downscale cohort will have to be taxed to pay for others and so resist; the deficit will not be helped; existing plans will be altered; doctors will be less not more accessible; businesses will not enjoy a new competitiveness; exemptions for administration pets will continue.
“Critics of the defunding movement lamented that without such easy targets, the media over the last two weeks would have had to focus on the lapses on Obamacare. Now there is no such excuse; the problems are still mounting; and we shall see how they are reported. . .”
Mark Steyn, NRO: “Potemkin Parliament”
“The least dispiriting moment of another grim week in Washington was the sight of ornery veterans tearing down the Barrycades around the war memorials on the National Mall, dragging them up the street, and dumping them outside the White House. This was, as Kevin Williamson wrote at National Review, ‘as excellent a gesture of the American spirit as our increasingly docile nation has seen in years.’ Indeed. The wounded vet with two artificial legs balancing the Barrycade on his Segway was especially impressive. It would have been even better had these disgruntled citizens neatly lined up the Barrycades across the front of the White House and round the sides, symbolically Barrycading him in as punishment for Barrycading them out. But, in a town where an unarmed woman can be left a bullet-riddled corpse merely for driving too near His Benign Majesty’s palace and nobody seems to care, one appreciates a certain caution.
“By Wednesday, however, it was business as usual. Which is to say the usual last-minute deal just ahead of the usual make-or-break deadline to resume spending as usual. There was nothing surprising about this. Everyone knew the Republicans were going to fold. Folding is what Republicans do. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are so good at folding Obama should hire them as White House valets. So the only real question was when to fold. They could at least have left it for a day or two after the midnight chimes of October 17 had come and gone. It would have been useful to demonstrate that just as the sequester did not cause the sky to fall and the shutdown had zero impact on the life of the country so this latest phoney-baloney do-or-die date would not have led to the end of the world as we know it. If you’re going to place another trillion dollars of debt (or more than the entire national debts of Canada and Australia combined) on the backs of the American people in one grubby late-night deal, you might as well get a teachable moment out of it.
“The GOP was concerned about polls showing their approval ratings somewhere between Bashar Assad and the ebola virus, but it’s hard to see why capitulation should command popularity: The late Osama bin Laden’s famous observation about the strong horse and the weak horse has some relevance to domestic politics, too. Republicans spent a lot of time whining that, if Obama was prepared to negotiate with the Iranians, the Syrians, and the Russians, why wouldn’t he negotiate with the GOP? Well, the obvious answer is Rouhani, Assad, and Putin don’t curl up in a fetal position at the first tut-tut from Bob Schieffer or Diane Sawyer. . .”
HEALTH CARE . . .
Drudge Report (10/21/13)
Oliver Darcy, The Blaze: “Ted Cruz Refuses to Rule Out Another Gov’t Shutdown in Struggle to Stop Obamacare”
“In his first sit-down interview since the end of the government shutdown, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) vowed to keep fighting President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, refusing to rule out another possible shutdown.
“‘So you would do it again?’ ABC News’ John Karl asked the Texas firebrand.
“‘I would do anything and continue to do everything I can to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare,’ Cruz answered. . .”
Andrew McCarthy, NRO: “The Art of the Impossible”
“The strategy to repeal Obamacare by winning serial elections is not even a Hail Mary pass.
“I agree that we must be realistic about what was achievable in the Obamacare battle. What I don’t get, though, is why our sympathetic cast of mind must be from the GOP-establishment perspective alone. Aren’t we also obliged to be realistic about the options available to the Republicans who took seriously their campaign promises to do everything within their power — which includes their constitutional power of the purse — to stop Obamacare?
“Virtually all congressional Republicans elected or reelected since 2010 ran on that promise. Stopping Obamacare is the cause that most animated the conservative base, without which there would be no Republican majority in the House. If Republicans expected to maintain that support, they had to act on that commitment.
“Beyond promises, something also had to be done because Obamacare is a disaster for the productive part of the country. And, more urgently, that something had to be done now. This was not a manufactured crisis. Obamacare was set to commence on October 1. Consequently, Republicans had two options. Option One was the GOP establishment’s “win elections, then repeal” strategy: Do nothing for now; allow Obamacare to be implemented; assume its unpopularity would increase, creating a climate for extended, uninterrupted GOP electoral success, finally leading to a Republican Congress of such substantial majorities that an Obamacare repeal would pass both houses and be signed by a Republican president. As we shall see, core assumptions of “win elections, then repeal” require the suspension of disbelief.
“Alternatively, there was Option Two: Because, as a matter of law, Obamacare could not proceed unless both congressional chambers agreed to fund it, and because Republicans control the House, House Republicans could deny it funding. The hope was that Obamacare’s unpopularity and patent unreadiness, coupled with the Democrats’ desire for the rest of government to be funded at today’s exorbitant levels, would pressure the Senate and the president to agree to a delay. Option Two would be tough to pull off, but it was not exclusive of Option One; and, contrary to conventional wisdom, there was the chance that the memory of any government shutdown would fade quickly while raising public consciousness about Obamacare’s downsides would have enduring electoral benefits.
“Republicans tried Option Two and lost, at least for now. It is only natural, I suppose, that defeat brings myopic focus on the strategy that has been defeated. Thus, it is fair enough, in the post mortem, to emphasize how uphill a battle the defund/delay strategy faced. Nevertheless, since the point is to be realistic about what all the alternatives were, we must account for what GOP-establishment sympathizers keep glossing over: The utter implausibility of their preferred option.
“It is repeatedly said that the crusade to defund Obamacare was delusional, that it never had a chance. That is an overstatement. Hail Mary passes are tried because they occasionally work . . .”
WSJ: “Sebelius on the Run”
“The Affordable Care Act’s botched rollout has stunned its media cheering section, and it even seems to have surprised the law’s architects. The problems run much deeper than even critics expected, and whatever federal officials, White House aides and outside contractors are doing to fix them isn’t working. But who knows? Omerta is the word of the day as the Obama Administration withholds information from the public.
“Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is even refusing to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a hearing this coming Thursday. HHS claims she has scheduling conflicts, but we hope she isn’t in the White House catacomb under interrogation by Valerie Jarrett about her department’s incompetence.
“The department is also refusing to make available lower-level officials who might detail the source or sources of this debacle. Ducking an investigation with spin is one thing. Responding with a wall of silence to the invitation of a duly elected congressional body probing the use of more than half a billion taxpayer dollars is another. This Obama crowd is something else. . .”
Janine Turner, PJM: “Ted Cruz – The Paul Revere of American Medical Care”
“Liberal networks rejoiced about the end of the recent government shutdown, singing the praises of Obama. They salivated, licking their chops, as they hunted Republicans spear in hand. The conservative networks, with debt clock displayed, worried about the consequences of the bill that re-opened the government, tossing an obligatory jab at Ted Cruz. Though the conservative networks were more mild mannered and on target, both contingencies neglected a critical aspect of the event — what was in the bill? No one seemed to know at the time. One news anchor suggested that the final bill contained income validation for those applying for Obamacare subsidies. Yet, when he asked the veteran reporter what else was in it, the reporter replied with “uhmmm, I don’t know….” and deftly changed the subject.
“The consequences of this lack of knowledge, brought on by a mammoth, incomprehensible government, are dangerous and devastating. American politics has become a caricature, a shell, of what it should be – lacking character. American governing has become a comedy of errors in a Shakespearean tragedy.
“The American people, like sheep walking through the valley of debt, have been misled by a faction of miscreants — miscreants who have raided and neglected the goodwill and trust of the American people for selfish reasons. They, and the apparatuses that aid and abet them, have been keeping Americans in the shadow of darkness.
“Ironically, even with all the social media, radio and television shows, the American people are living in the political dark ages. Who truly understands anything that is happening in Washington, D.C.? James Madison predicted the dire repercussions of such obscurity in Federalist 62. He prophesied that if the laws were too voluminous and too incoherent, a republic couldn’t stand. If no one understood the laws, it would be irrelevant to elect men of our own choice. Why indeed? It is futile to elect men of our own choice if we cannot, and even they cannot, understand what laws they are promulgating.
“Some of this deceit has been inherited . . .”
DOMESTIC . . .
Jonah Goldberg, NRO: “The Tea Party’s Wasted Energy”
“The shutdown fight within the GOP was over tactics and power, not ideology.
“Liberal Republican sounds like a contradiction in terms today, particularly for young people who grew up in the age of strictly ideological parties. But for most of American history, the parties weren’t strongly ideological institutions so much as coalitions of interests. There were very liberal Republicans and very conservative Democrats. Occasionally parties were defined — or indeed created — over single issues (the GOP was created to fight slavery, for instance), but the idea that you can guess someone is a conservative or liberal just by their party ID is a fairly recent development.
“The Rockefeller Republicans were authentic liberals well to the left of Richard Nixon, who would today be considered to be to the left of the GOP on most issues. They liked the New Deal, or at least grew to like it. Rockefeller Republicans believed in fiscal rectitude, but only to the point where they thought the party should be, in Newt Gingrich’s cutting description, “tax collectors for the welfare state.” Abortion didn’t become a big issue until after they were already in decline, but they were unabashedly pro-choice. In fact, the Rockefellers were among the earliest and most ardent supporters of population control and eugenics.
“And guess what? The Rockefeller Republicans are basically extinct, at least among GOP officeholders. . .”
Wynton Hall, Big Journalism: “60 Minutes: Congress Using ‘Slush Funds’ to Bankroll Lavish Lifestyles”
“On Sunday, a 60 Minutes investigative report by veteran CBS reporter Steve Kroft and Government Accountability Institute (GAI) President and Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer revealed how leadership PAC loopholes allow members of Congress to convert campaign cash into lavish lifestyle upgrades for themselves and their family members.
“‘It’s another example, unfortunately, where the rules that apply to the rest of us, don’t really apply to the members of Congress,’ said Schweizer on 60 Minutes.
“The report, which contained selected material from Schweizer’s forthcoming book Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets, revealed embarrassing and outlandish instances of cronyism and self-enrichment by members of Congress. Despite the fact that funds from leadership PACs are supposed to go to help elect fellow members of one’s own political party, lax campaign laws allow lawmakers to turn their leadership PACs into private slush funds to fund just about anything. . .”
AWR Hawkins, Big Peace: “House, Senate Tell Obama UN Arms Treaty Ratification Not Happening”
“During the past week, the House and Senate released bipartisan letters informing President Obama the ‘U.S. will not be bound by [the] U.N. Arms Trade Treaty’ (ATT).
“The treaty was signed by Secretary of State John Kerry on September 25.
“The letter from the House was announced in a press release from Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) on October 15.
“Backed by 180 members of the House, the letter says:
‘Today the Peoples’ House takes a stand for national sovereignty where the White House failed to do so. The ATT is a clear threat to the Constitutional rights to all Americans and should have never been signed. This letter makes absolutely clear to President Obama and his Cabinet that the United States Congress will not support any implementing legislation to give this dangerous treaty the legs it needs to take effect.’
“The letter from the Senate was detailed in a press release from Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), who announced that 50 Senators, including Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), “overwhelming [oppose]” ratification of the treaty. The letter clearly states that the “U.S. will not be bound by [the] U.N. Arms Trade Treaty. . .”
Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner: “Entire GOP conference signed off on the ‘Kentucky Kickback’”
“Every Republican senator had a chance to object to the Kentucky dam spending provision of the debt limit deal that angered conservatives but none did.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., alerted the conference that the bill would include funding authorization for an Ohio River project in Kentucky during a Wednesday meeting.
“It’s not an earmark and no one suggested it was or raised a complaint at the Time either,” Alexander spokesman Ryan Loskarn told the Washington Examiner.
“But the funding immediately drew the ire of grassroots groups who suspected the work of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. . .”
Jens Glüsing, et al., de Spiegel: “Fresh Leak on US Spying: NSA Accessed Mexican President’s Email”
“The National Security Agency (NSA) has a division for particularly difficult missions. Called “Tailored Access Operations” (TAO), this department devises special methods for special targets.
“That category includes surveillance of neighboring Mexico, and in May 2010, the division reported its mission accomplished. A report classified as ‘top secret’ said: ‘TAO successfully exploited a key mail server in the Mexican Presidencia domain within the Mexican Presidential network to gain first-ever access to President Felipe Calderon’s public email account.’
“According to the NSA, this email domain was also used by cabinet members, and contained ‘diplomatic, economic and leadership communications which continue to provide insight into Mexico’s political system and internal stability.’ The president’s office, the NSA reported, was now ‘a lucrative source.’
“This operation, dubbed ‘Flatliquid,’ is described in a document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, which SPIEGEL has now had the opportunity to analyze. . .”
Marc Morano, Climate Depot: “New Study: ’2013 ranks as one of the least extreme U.S. weather years ever’– Many bad weather events at ‘historically low levels’”
“’Whether you’re talking about tornadoes, wildfires, extreme heat or hurricanes, the good news is that weather-related disasters in the US are all way down this year compared to recent years and, in some cases, down to historically low levels.’
“Tornadoes: ‘lowest total in several decades’
“Number of wildfires: ‘On pace to be the lowest it has been in the past ten years’
“Extreme Heat: The number of 100 degree days may ‘turn out to be the lowest in about 100 years of records’
“Hurricanes: ‘We are currently in the longest period (8 years) since the Civil War Era without a major hurricane strike in the US (i.e., category 3, 4 or 5)’ ( last major hurricane to strike the US was Hurricane Wilma in 2005) . . .”
Pew: “Trust in Government Nears Record Low, But Most Federal Agencies Are Viewed Favorably”
“Public trust in the government, already quite low, has edged even lower in a survey conducted just before the Oct. 16 agreement to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.
Just 19% say that they trust the government in Washington to do what is right just about always or most of the time, down seven points since January. The current measure matches the level reached in August 2011, following the last battle over the debt ceiling. Explore a Pew Research interactive on Public Trust in Government: 1958-2013.
The share of the public saying they are angry at the federal government, which equaled an all-time high in late September (26%), has ticked up to 30%. Another 55% say they are frustrated with the government. Just 12% say they are basically content with the federal government.
Jim Forsyth, Reuters: “Senator Cruz returns to Texas welcome after shutdown battle”
“SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) – Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a favorite of the conservative Tea Party movement, returned home to a rousing welcome in Texas on Saturday after his attempt to derail Obamacare with a shutdown of the federal government led to sharp criticism of his tactics as reckless and futile.
“‘After two months in Washington, it’s great to be back in America,’ Cruz joked in speaking to a crowd of about 750 people in a packed downtown San Antonio hotel ballroom.
“Cruz was greeted with an eight-minute standing ovation in an appearance organized by the Texas Federation of Republican Women. People in attendance, many of them wearing red to show their support for keeping Texas a conservative-leaning state, lined up to greet him.
The speech and another talk earlier in the day at a panel in Austin marked Cruz’s first public appearance in his home state of Texas since his part in the showdown in Washington over the rollout of Obamacare that resulted in a 16-day shutdown of the federal government that ended on Thursday. . .”
PA . . .
Eric Boehm, PA Independent: “PA lawmakers can still grab $700M more from pet project program after reforms”
“HARRISBURG – State lawmakers agreed unanimously Wednesday to a $600 million decrease in the debt limit for the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, an economic development driver used for lawmakers’ and governors’ pet projects.
“Even with the new $3.45 billion limit for debt in the RACP program, lawmakers have plenty of wiggle room when it comes to funding their projects.
“As Karen Langley, a reporter with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, first reported Thursday, the RACP program currently has about $2.75 billion in debt.
“That means lawmakers can still spend $700 million in RACP before hitting the new, lower limit.
“That doesn’t mean the legislation passed Wednesday was entirely symbolic. By putting the new limit into law, it will make it more difficult for future administrations and General Assemblies to crank up the RACP machine into high gear again. . .”
END NOTES . . .
Sarah Palin, Big Govt: “D.C.’s ‘Corrupt Bastards Club’”
“In Alaska we had a group of politicos who chuckled as they dubbed themselves the “CBC,” which stands for “Corrupt Bastards Club.” But it was no laughing matter. I, and many others, took them on. We won. When I served as chairman of our state’s Oil and Gas Commission, I reported on the cronyism of the chair of my own Party, who had been appointed by our governor to that same energy regulating commission. (Click here to see a reporter’s reaction to a short Newt Gingrich interview on the matter.) “The whistle blowing resulted in him receiving the largest ethics fine in the state’s history. But that was just the tip of the oily iceberg. The FBI investigated Alaskan lawmakers for taking bribes from the oil industry in exchange for votes favorable to that industry, and politicos ended up in jail.* The lawmakers actually called themselves the Corrupt Bastards Club and even emblazoned the CBC initials on baseball caps they gifted each other – that’s how untouchable they believed they were. But average, concerned citizens said, ‘enough is enough,’ and shook things up. Though some of the CBC members ended up in horizontal pinstripes, much of the compromised party apparatus stayed in power.
“I’ll never forget standing at the podium during our state GOP convention and asking delegates to stand up with me and oust the status quo because the political environment had to change for Alaska to progress toward her manifest destiny as a more productive—and ethical—state to help secure our union. Only about half stood up. The rest looked around gauging the political winds and sat on their thumbs. Our federal delegation was incensed at me. Their influence resulted in much of the party machine staying put, but I’ll never be sorry I fought it.
“Today, doesn’t it seem like we have a Corrupt Bastards Club in D.C.? On steroids? It might not be as oily and obvious as its Alaska counterpart, but it’s just as compromised because its members, too, are indifferent to what their actions mean for We the People.
I’m prepared to be attacked for suggesting this comparison of the D.C. political establishment with the CBC. But I call it like I see it. And lived it. The fight over defunding socialized healthcare, aka Obamacare, should have opened everyone’s eyes to call it the same. . . “
Grae Stafford, Daily Caller: Who is the most powerful man in ‘This Town’: Mike Allen or Matt Drudge? [VIDEO]
“New York Times magazine correspondent and author of the explosive book “This Town” Mark Leibovich detailed intricate internal workings of Washington and compared two of the most powerful men in news and politics, Mike Allen and Matt Drudge, in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller.
“Mike Allen’s morning ‘Playbook’ email has the power to shape the political discussion, he explained, because hundreds of decision makers in the political circuit read it every morning.
“These hundreds of people are TV bookers, and reporters, and hill staffers of both parties, and White House staffers, and lobbyists and a lot of people in some of the state capitals, too,” he said.
“Mike basically has this knack for writing this email about things that people have missed over night, things that are central to the political discussion,” Leibovich said. ”What is striking about Mike, in addition to him being a very quirky, kind of eccentric, fascinating guy, is that he has this inordinate amount of power in that people read what he says, and then you can just see ten cable shows in a given day given over to what Mike says is important. You can see the front page of the next days newspapers. So he is what we would call now a ‘conversation driver.’”
“Leibovich compares the reach that Allen has with that of Matt Drudge, the owner and operator of the hugely successful news aggregation website site, The Drudge Report.
“‘They are very distinct.’ Leibovich said ‘I mean, they both have incredible amounts of power, incredible amounts of reach. I think Mike’s reach is more to insiders per say and it flowers out… Conservative media, liberal media will read him. I think Drudge is more of a headline. You literally have millions of people on there a day and it just goes directly to those news consumers and it is much more direct, frankly… Mike is a conversation starter. Drudge has a much more definitive conversation within his website which he is updating constantly. They are both wildly influential and I read both of them.’. . .”