Is Today the Beginning or the End of the Monarchy?

Today, January 14, 2013 President Obama stated at a White House press conference, “My understanding is the vice president’s going to provide a range of steps that we can take to reduce gun violence. Some of them will require legislation, some of them I can accomplish through executive action. And so I will be reviewing those today, and as I said, I will speak in more detail to what we’re going to go ahead and propose later in the week. But I’m confident that there are some steps that we can take that don’t require legislation and that are within my authority as president, and where you get a step that, has the opportunity to reduce the possibility of gun violence, then I want to go ahead and take it.”

On this day the Bill of Rights either died and a monarchy was established or it will go down in history as the day the monarchy died.

After the press conference Mark Levin stated, “I think we have an imperial president, he sounds imperial, he’s arrogant as hell and I’m furious about this and I’m going to tell you why. We are a magnificent country. We don’t need to be turned upside down. We don’t need to run from crisis to crisis to crisis. He’s bankrupting this country.”

Tom Trento, President of the Florida based organization The United West, made this exact point at a South Carolina TEA Party Coalition Convention two days ago:

Trento states, “These are times that try men’s souls. This is no time for the sunshine patriot.”

Two-hundred and thirty-eight years ago on March 20, 1775 inland at Richmond in what is now called St. John’s Church, Delegate Patrick Henry presented resolutions to raise a militia, and to put Virginia in a posture of defense. Henry’s opponents urged caution and patience until the crown replied to Congress’ latest petition for reconciliation.

On March 23rd, Henry presented a proposal to organize a volunteer company of cavalry or infantry in every Virginia county. By custom, Henry addressed himself to the Convention’s president, Peyton Randolph of Williamsburg. Henry’s words were not transcribed, but no one who heard them forgot their eloquence, or Henry’s closing words: “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

White House Petition Declares Catholic Church a “Hate Group”

Zach N from Atlanta, GA is listed as the creator of a White House petition begun on Christmas Day, December 25, 2012. The petition states:

“In his annual Christmas address to the College of Cardinals, Pope Benedict XVI, the global leader of the Roman Catholic Church, demeaned and belittled homosexual people around the world. Using hateful language and discriminatory remarks, the Pope painted a portrait in which gay people are second-class global citizens. Pope Benedict said that gay people starting families are threatening to society, and that gay parents objectify and take away the dignity of children. The Pope also implied that gay families are sub-human, as they are not dignified in the eyes of God.

Upon these remarks, the Roman Catholic Church fits the definition of a hate group as defined by both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.”

Matt Smith, President of the Catholic Advocate in an email states, “This petition is truly shocking, and it’s an attack against ALL people of faith, not just Catholics! That’s why I’m so urgently asking you to stand with Catholic Advocate today and help us launch an all-out campaign against the Obama Administrations hateful, secular agenda.”

According to NewsMaxWorld.com, “Pope Benedict said on Sunday that Roman Catholic leaders must have the courage to stand up to attacks by ‘intolerant agnosticism‘ prevalent in many countries.”

“Today’s regnant agnosticism has its own dogmas and is extremely intolerant regarding anything that would question it and the criteria it employs,” added Pope Benedict.

Watchdog Wire has sent an email to both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League asking if they define the Catholic Church as a “hate group” based upon its position on gays and gay marriage. Replies will be posted as an update when received.

UPDATE 1/7/2013:

According to Penny Weaver, from the Public Affairs office of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the SPLC only monitors “’Radical traditionalist’ Catholics, who may make up the largest single group of serious anti-Semites in America, subscribe to an ideology that is rejected by the Vatican and some 70 million mainstream American Catholics. Many of their leaders have been condemned and even excommunicated by the official church.” Weaver stated the SPLC, “[Does] not [monitor] the mainstream Catholic Church.”

ADL: Roman Catholic Church is Not a Hate Group

New York, NY, January 4, 2013 … In response to an online petition calling on the Obama Administration to label the Roman Catholic Church as “a hate group” for its conservative views on marriage, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today condemned the petition as an “outrageous and offensive conceit,” adding, “It was irresponsible for the promoter of this petition to use our name.”

The petition, titled “Officially recognize the Roman Catholic Church as a hate group” and posted to the whitehouse.gov web site on December 25, claimed that Pope Benedict XVI “demeaned and belittled homosexual people around the world” in his annual Christmas address to the College of Cardinals.  It asserted that the Catholic Church “fits the definition of a hate group as defined by both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.”

“The claims made in this petition to the White House are abhorrent, and the notion that the Catholic Church could be defined as a hate group is an outrageous and offensive conceit,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  “While one may agree or disagree with the Church’s position on homosexuality and marriage, any attempt to label the entire faith as a hate group is illegitimate and unacceptable.  It was irresponsible for the promoter of this petition to use our name.”

Florida Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Bill Young, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ander Crenshaw, Vern Buchanan cave

History will mark this day as the death of the Republican Party as they caved on their core principles. The Republican ideals of smaller government, lower taxes and less spending are now officially history.

Future generations will look back on this day as the end of the Party of Lincoln and the beginning of the end of the republic.

Republicans, Democrats and President Obama are all now on the same page. There is less than one degree of separation between the parties. Tax, spend and borrow are the new mantras. All of the political posturing during the holidays was a joke on the American taxpayers, especially those making over $250,000.

Big government is the “new-normal” inside the beltway.

The Washington Times reports that the “fiscal cliff” deal that was designed to save money actually includes $330.3 billion in new spending over the next decade, according to the official estimate the Congressional Budget Office released Tuesday afternoon.

CBO said the bill contains about $25.1 billion in new cuts, but those are swamped by the new spending on extended unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless and other new refundable tax credits that President Obama fought for.

Of those cuts, only $2 billion are scheduled to take effect in 2013.  All told, the bill deepens the deficit by nearly $4 trillion over the next decade, when the new tax cuts and spending are combined.

According to the Heritage Foundation, “In addition to tax increases on Americans making more than $250,000 a year, the bipartisan deal will actually raise taxes on the vast majority of American workers. How? The payroll tax ‘holiday’ has ended. The Wall Street Journal calculates that the ‘typical U.S. family earning $50,000 a year’ will lose ‘an annual income boost of $1,000‘.”

Republicans and Democrats have perfected the art of compromise, which is the art of losing our unalienable rights slowly. Nothing has changed except the date certain of the financial collapse of the United States. As Senator Marco Rubio stated, “This deal just postpones the inevitable.”

As of January 2, 2012, the United States officially has what is in effect a one party system. Republicans and Democrats alike are fundamentally progressives with the same core principle – government is the solution, not the problem. The big loser is the American dream.

Pax Americana is dead.

UPDATE:

Representative Buchanan sent the below statement via email to constituents about his vote:

 I wanted to let you know about the bipartisan vote in Congress last night to keep the country from falling off the fiscal cliff.  I was one of 85 Republicans to support this compromise legislation, which now goes to the President for his signature.

This legislation reduced taxes for 99 percent of American taxpayers and ensures that seniors on Medicare can continue to see the doctor of their choice.  While the legislation is not perfect (it does nothing to address out-of-control spending), we could not allow gridlock to push the nation off the fiscal cliff and risk an economic meltdown.

It is my expectation that the spending issue will be addressed by Congress in the next 60 days.

Please let me know what you think of last night’s passage of the bipartisan “American Taxpayer Relief Act”.

Vern

An Atheist and Muslim Debate: Is Religion a Force for Good or Evil?

Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion and a self-professed atheist, agreed to an Al Jazeera interview with Mehdi Hasan, a Muslim journalist. The interview is highly enlightening. This may be the first time Dawkins has been interviewed by a journalist who is faithful to the second largest religion in the world – Islam.

While this begins as an interview it turns into more of an interrogation and at times a debate between Dawkins, with Hasan taking the position of a theist.

According to Al Jazeera, “Fanaticism, fundamentalism, superstition and ignorance. Religion is getting a bad press these days. Much of the conflict in the world, from the Middle East to Nigeria and Myanmar, is often blamed on religion.”

“But how are things from a different perspective? Defenders of religion claim Adolf Hitler was an atheist. Communism under Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot or Mao Zedong banned religion, but also massacred millions. And science brought incredible and amazing advances, but also pollution and the atomic bomb,” notes Al Jazeera.

During the interview Hasan notes that religion like science can be used for good or evil. Both Dawkins and Hasan agree that politics has a lot to do with how both are perceived and used. Has science become a religion to those like Dawkins?

During the interview Dawkins and Hasan discuss the existence of a mono-theistic God. Dr. William Lane Craig, noted Christian apologist and author of Reasonable Faith, lays out detailed arguments that God does exist in his column “The New Atheism and Five Arguments for God“. Dr. Craig’s moral argument for a God, for example, takes the following form:

  • If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
  • Objective moral values and duties do exist.
  • Therefore, God exists.

It is in times of great suffering and turmoil that individuals turn to religion. Many believe we are in those times and religion may be the only thing that will provide us with comfort and salvation. What do you think?

Gingrich vs. The Pope on Gay Marriage

Former Speaker of the House, architect of the Republican revolution, Presidential Candidate, social conservative and Catholic Newt Gingrich stated, “gay marriage is both inevitable and okay by him”. It appears that Newt’s dramatic change in attitude is politically based. “Legalization of same-sex marriage in three states in 2012’s election changed the landscape, and conservatives have to come to terms with it,” he said according to The Hollywood Gossip magazine.

The Pope in an end-of-year speech warned that the very future of mankind is at stake over gay marriage .

According to The Telegraph, “In the fight for the family, the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question,” the Pope stated in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

The Pope spoke of the “falseness” of gender theories and cited at length France’s chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim, who has spoken out against gay marriage.

“Bernheim has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper,” Pope Benedict XVI said.

Reuters reports, “Bernheim, also a philosopher, argues that homosexual rights groups ‘will use gay marriage as a Trojan Horse’ in a wider campaign to ‘deny sexual identity and erase sexual differences’ and ‘undermine the heterosexual fundamentals of our society’. His study, ‘Gay Marriage, Parenthood and Adoption: What We Often Forget To Say’, argues that plans to legalize gay marriage are being made for ‘the exclusive profit of a tiny minority’ and are often supported because of political correctness.”

Is Gingrich being politically correct? Have Republicans caved on the most important social issue facing mankind? Does politics trump core human principles?

“The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned.” ~ Pope Benedict XVI

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Adoption of Common Core Standards a Big Mistake?

On July 27, 2010 State Board of Education Chairman T. Willard Fair issued the following statement:

“Today, the Florida State Board of Education, in a unanimous and unified vote, approved the adoption of the Common Core State Standards for English/Language Arts and Mathematics. This approval marks a vital next step on Florida’s long-standing and successful education reform journey by strengthening our curriculum standards for these critical subjects and laying the groundwork for the comparison of our state’s academic progress with our nation and the world.”

Sandra Stotsky, Professor of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas and former Senior Associate Commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Education, states in a research report:

“Since coming to office, the Obama Administration has been intent on standardizing what is taught at each grade level in all of the nation’s schools. It has used its flagship ‘Race to the Top’ competitive grant program to entice states to adopt the K–12 standards developed by a joint project of the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). It has also suggested, in its 2009 Blueprint for Education Reform, that adoption of these common standards could one day be a qualification for states wanting future Title 1 dollars for low-income schools.”

“Parents, teachers, and education leaders along the political spectrum are increasingly raising questions about the constitutionality and transparency of this joint project, called the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI). They are also expressing concern about the high cost of implementing the standards and the national tests that will be based on them, as well as the potential loss of local control of curriculum and instruction,” notes Stotsky.

Stotsky concludes, “Common Core’s standards not only present a serious threat to state and local education authority, but also put academic quality at risk. Pushing fatally flawed education standards into America’s schools is not the way to improve education for America’s students.”

On announcing the appointment of Dr. Tony Bennett as Commissioner of Education, State Board Chair Gary Chartrand said, “Florida has made a great deal of educational progress over the past decade as yesterday’s announcement of the international assessment results clearly showed. We still have more work to do as we continue our transition to Common Core State Standards and ensure we offer a world-class education to Florida’s students.

Dr. Bennett is touted by some as a free market educator. However, Indiana adopted the Common Core Standards on August 3, 2010. If CCSSI is “a serious threat to state and local education authority” and “puts academic quality at risk” then it is also incompatible with a free market education philosophy.

What will Dr. Bennett do now that the CCSSI strategy is being questioned?

The Income Tax: Root of All Evil

Politicians and pundits alike are discussing the “fiscal cliff”. What has become a focus of the discussion by both political parties and the President are income taxes. Specifically, raising income taxes on the rich. None are addressing the root cause of the crisis the United States faces today, which is the income tax itself. The title of this column is from a book written by Frank Chodorov in 1954.

Chodorov wrote, “Income and inheritance taxes imply the denial of private property, and in that are different in principle from all other taxes.”

“The government says to the citizen: Your earnings are not exclusively your own; we have a claim on them, and our claim precedes yours; we will allow you to keep some of it, because we recognize your need, not your right; but whatever we grant you for yourself is for us to decide,” states Chodorov.

In the forward to Chodorov’s book J. Bracken Lee, the ninth Governor of Utah, wrote, “[A] weak government is the corollary of a strong people.”

Lee wrote, “The Sixteenth Amendment [which created the income tax] changed all that. In the first place, by enabling the federal government to put its hands into the pockets and pay envelopes of the people, it drew their allegiance away from their local governments. It made them citizens of the United States rather than of their respective states.”

“Theft loyalty followed theft money, which was now taken from them not by their local representatives, over whom they had some control, but by the representatives of the other forty-seven states. They became subject to the will of the central government, and their state of subjection was emphasized by every increase in the income-tax levies,” warned former Governor Lee in 1954.

Chodorov puts into historical perspective the how and why we have arrived at this point and today face yet another fiscal cliff. The United States faced this same crisis in 1873.

Chodorov stated, “But hungry people are impatient. They cannot wait for deflation to wipe out the debris of their own orgy. A much quicker cure is called for, and the medicine that promises a quick cure is money. During the [Civil] war, it was reasoned, the government printed greenbacks and there was prosperity; why not print more greenbacks and force prosperity to come back? And so, during the depression of 1873–76, and for twenty years after, there was a loud clamor for greenbacks, plus silver money to supplement the scarce gold. This was the principal recipe of the social doctors of the times, a loud-mouthed lot who acquired the generic name of Populists.” [Emphasis mine]

Chodorov noted that during the depression of 1873, “These [Populist] do- gooders were most vocal in the new West, where the ‘hard times’ hit hardest and held on for the longest time. The story of this area is the story of the railroads. In the light of later experience, we can describe the railroad expansion of the 1880’s as a make-work program, fostered by government subsidies and bounties.” Sounds eerily familiar to today’s calls to fund infrastructure improvements by the President and members of Congress.

Chodorov wrote, “[T]he income tax appealed to them [the Populists] as a means of wreaking their vengeance on those they hated—that is, those who had more than they had.”

Additionally, “Income taxation appeals to the governing class because in its everlasting urgency for power it needs money.” By 1891, the Populists, who had by that time coagulated into the People’s Party (1892-1908), included an income-tax plank in their platform. The Democratic Party later appropriated it. A typical remark in the debate on income taxation of 1894 is the following from a speech by the Populist Senator William. A. Peffer from Kansas:

“The only object we have in view in presenting this amendment [graduated income tax] is to rake in where there is something to rake in not to throw out the dragnet where there is nothing to catch. The West and the South have made you people rich.”

Chodorov notes, “The Populists, as do all reformers, assumed that social good can be achieved through political action. They ignored the age-old fact that whenever the government does “good” it acts in the interests of some at the expense of others, meanwhile acquiring power for itself. The end product of government intervention in the economy of the country is more power for government.”

“The American brand of socialism known as the New Deal was made possible by the income tax. But with the advent of income taxation, socialism was unavoidable,” wrote Chodorov.

Government never gives up power, it never voluntarily abdicates.

Chodorov offered a solution. According to Chodorov, “Compulsion means force; there must be a policeman to see that the individual does not follow his own inclinations. But policemen must live. Since they do not produce a thing by which they can live, others must support them.”

No plan can be bigger than its bureaucracy.

The only bulwark remaining against bigger federal government is the 10th Amendment – States rights and the will of the people.

Governor Lee stated, “For those of us who still believe that freedom is best, the way is clear: we must concentrate on the correction of the mistake of 1913. The Sixteenth Amendment must be repealed. Nothing less will do.”

Egypt Sentences Florida Pastor Terry Jones To Death

Sarah El Deeb of the Huffington Post reports, “An Egyptian court convicted in absentia Wednesday seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor, sentencing them to death on charges linked to an anti-Islam film that had sparked riots in parts of the Muslim world.”

Deeb states, “The case was seen as largely symbolic because the defendants, most of whom live in the United States, are all outside Egypt and are thus unlikely to ever face the sentence.” However, Islamists tend to carry out these of kinds of sentences on foreign soil.

Notable examples happened after the cartoons of Mohammed were published in the Danish magazine Jyllands-Posten.

Numerous violent plots related to the cartoons have been discovered in the years since the main protests took place in early 2006. These have primarily targeted editor Fleming Rose, cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, the property or employees of Jyllands-Posten or other newspapers that had printed the cartoons, or representatives of the Danish state. Westergaard particularly has been the subject of several attacks or planned attacks and now lives under special police protection. On New Year’s Day 2010 police had to shoot a would be assassin in his home.

Deeb reports:

Florida-based Terry Jones, another of those sentenced, is the pastor of Dove World Outreach, a church of less than 50 members in Gainesville, Fla., not far from the University of Florida. He has said he was contacted by the filmmaker to promote the film, as well as Morris Sadek, a conservative Coptic Christian in the U.S. who posted the video clips on his website.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Jones said the ruling “shows the true face of Islam” – one that he views as intolerant of dissent and opposed to basic freedoms of speech and religion.

“We can speak out here in America,” Jones said. “That freedom means that we criticize government leadership, religion even at times. Islam is not a religion that tolerates any type of criticism.”

Some are concerned that the imprisonment of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the  producer  of the video, is a sign that freedom of speech is being limited by the Obama administration in order to appease Islamists. Some have called Nakoula a “political prisoner“. Pastor Jones had nothing to do with the creation of the video.

Sentencing Americans to death by Egyptian courts is problematic and not to be taken lightly.

Progressives: Focusing on the Micro, Ignoring the Macro

Many wonder why so many people embrace the progressive utopia.  There are progressives in all political parties, in every community, state and nation. There have been many theories put forward on why individuals become progressives. One that is not addressed is: Progressives consistently focus on the micro and ignore the macro. From finance, to politics, to public policy, to national security, to foreign affairs, to science, the progressive, like a laser, focuses on the smallest common denominator.

Progressives proverbially cannot see the forest for the trees.

Some practical examples are in order.

Foreign Policy – Take the current crisis in the Middle East and the progressive diplomatic approach. Progressives focus upon the Israel-Palestinian conflict ignoring the larger issue of the rise of radical Islam in the fifty-six members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). OIC members consist of 1.4 billion people, of which the most powerful militarily surround Israel. Progressives see Israel as the bully or aggressor. Taking a broader view one sees that it is Israel that is the victim of aggression on multiple fronts and from multiple aggressors. It is outnumbered, out spent and out manned.

Public Policy – Progressives view public policy in terms of the smallest common denominator – the individual. Programs are created not to make society better but rather to address the needs of the individual. Crime is a consistent problem, so progressives focus on guns. Control or get rid of guns and crimes of violence will disappear is the mantra. They focus on an individual case, such the  Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, to make the case for gun control and against self-defense, while ignoring the daily violence occurring in places like Chicago, St. Louis and Philadelphia. If guns were the cause of murders then cars cause accidents and spoons cause obesity.

Social Policy – Progressives focus on contraception to reduce the number of un-wed mothers. Progressives ignore the larger issue of a consistent decline in the number of  wed-mothers and traditional families, the building block of every prosperous society. With more traditional families more children are welcomed as a good for society. It is single parenthood and the cycle of single parents begetting more single parents that is the greater challenge for society. Progressives subsidize un-wed mothers, while punishing traditional families. Abortion on demand deprives the US of over 772,000 new citizens each year. More than enough to meet our long term workforce needs, without immigration.

Financial Policy – Progressives focus on the 1% who pay more than their fair share of taxes, rather than the 50% who pay no taxes at all. Micro-managing a financial system such as that of any nation is impossible. Such management done by government leads to errors on a grand scale. Witness various nations with central banks failing in Europe and the West. Industriousness and entrepreneurship are replaced with risk aversion. Banks not longer hold the risk, government does. Homeowners do not own their mortgages, FHA does. Businesses do not focus on customers they focus on government. Economic micro-management inextricably leads to more government micro-mangers, debt and ever more spending.

Politics – Progressives focus on sub-groups and sub-sub-groups rather than fundamental policy. Big ideas are replaced with pandering to individual voters.  Attacking the political opponents is preferred to debating ideas and finding solutions for big problems. The more the bigger picture is ignored the more likely progressives will be elected.

Science – Progressives focus micro science. Evolution is micro-science. Earth science is reduced to single meteorological events and ignoring recorded weather patterns over long periods of time. The earth historically warms and cools in cycles. Climate changes by its very nature. Man cannot make nature, or weather, change. However, progressives focus on the polar bear population rather than the human population to create policy.

Governing – Finally, progressives govern in the micro at every level of public office. This is the mantra of progressives – think little. Whether it is regulating big gulps or what health insurance you may purchase they consistently think of ways to interject themselves in every aspect of  individual lives. From providing rules of behavior like eating habits to micro-managing entire systems like medicine, progressives are always there.

The only thing that will stop progressives is Herbert Stein’s Law, which he expressed as, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.”

 

Allen West Concedes

Allen West released the following statement this morning:

For two weeks since Election Day, we have been working to ensure every vote is counted accurately and fairly. We have made progress towards that goal, thanks to the dedication of our supporters and their unrelenting efforts to protect the integrity of the democratic process. While many questions remain unanswered, today I am announcing that I will take no further action to contest the outcome of this election.

While there are certainly still inaccuracies in the results and the actions of the St. Lucie County and Palm Beach County Supervisors of Elections rightly raise questions in my mind and for many voters, after much analysis and yesterday’s recount in St. Lucie County, our legal team does not believe there are enough over-counted, under-counted or fraudulent votes to change the outcome of the election.

While a contest of the election results might have changed the vote totals, we do not have evidence that the outcome would change. Given the extremely high evidentiary hurdles involved in a successful challenge, I will not ask my generous supporters to help fund a drawn-out, expensive legal effort with little chance of success. Therefore, we will not contest the certification or challenge the seating of Congressman-Elect Murphy.

Serving the people in the House of Representatives has been among the highest honors of my life, but this seat does not belong to me, or for that matter, to any individual. It belongs to the people. I want to congratulate my opponent, Patrick Murphy, as the new Congressman from 18th Congressional District. I pray he will serve his constituents with honor and integrity, and put the interests of our nation before his own.

I must thank my wife Angela, and my daughters Aubrey and Austen for their support, patience, understanding and most of all, love. These are three of the toughest women I know. They have sent me off to defend our nation overseas at war and to Capitol Hill to serve our nation in the House of Representatives. They have all handled the challenges of these last few months, and the last many years, with amazing grace. I know they will be my side for whatever is our next chapter.

I must also thank my congressional and campaign staff for their service, and most importantly, I must thank you and our other tremendous supporters who provided their time and money to power our campaign. I am humbled by the dedication and perseverance of our supporters, and their commitment to a free and prosperous America. I cannot thank them enough for all they have done for our campaign, but most importantly, what they have done, and will continue to do for our country. None of us should let the outcome discourage us. We should only redouble our resolve.

Above all, I want to thank God for his blessings, and for blessing me with the opportunity to serve.

Only God knows what is in store for each of us. I have dedicated my life to serving this nation, and the results of this election will not change my purpose. Just as I did in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan, just as I did on Capitol Hill, I will continue to fight for our Republic.

Our nation will not overcome our challenges overnight ,and the road ahead for each one of us will not be easy. But this nation would never have become that shining beacon of light if our founders had chosen the easy path 236 years ago. We all must proudly continue their legacy.

God bless you and God bless these United States of America.

Steadfast and Loyal,

Allen B. West

Update: Situation in Israel

From Arlene D. Schiff, Executive Director, the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires:

The Israel office of The Jewish Federations of North America continues to follow closely the continued severe violence in the South of Israel as Operation Pillar of Defense enters its third day.

In the last twenty four hours, over 250 rockets have been fired at the State of Israel, landing in the South and in the greater Tel Aviv area. The Israel Air Force has targeted over 450 terror activity sites in Gaza with the aim of impairing terrorists’ rocket launching capability.

Homefront Security Minister, Avi Dichter warned Thursday evening “We’re on our way to a night that won’t be quiet” and that “This is no time for indifference.”  He expects hundreds of rockets to be fired from Gaza to Israel over the next days.

Rockets have been hitting Southern Israel since Saturday, with over 250 rockets on Thursday alone. The Iron Dome Defense system has intercepted 130 rockets headed towards populated areas and the IDF is readying to deploy a fifth battery.  Intended for use starting 2013, the fifth, more advanced, battery of the Iron Dome is needed earlier.

Thursday night, a rocket hit near Bat Yam, landing in the sea. The sirens sounded in Tel Aviv, for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War, bringing home to Tel Aviv the immediacy of the violence inflicted on the periphery. Sirens were also heard in Rishon Letzion, Israel’s fourth largest city, and in Holon, cities both very close to Tel Aviv.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in reference to the continued rocket fire that “From our experience there is no ‘quick fix’, and this test will continue, a test which we must face with resilience and composure.  We are all family.  And today in Tel Aviv, we are feeling something that over one million Israelis have been feeling for a long time, especially in these days.”

The IDF suspended strikes over Gaza for three hours during Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil’s visit to Gaza today. Kandil was sent by President Morsi and condemned Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza.

Rockets have scored direct hits on homes and vehicles today and the emotional trauma suffered by the besieged Israeli citizens is severe. 25 Israelis were rescued after the building they were in collapsed on top of them. Yesterday, Aharon Smadga, 49, Itzik Amsalem, 24, and Mira Sharf, 26 were buried after a rocket attack directly hit the apartment in Kiryat Malachi.

Mira Sharf was visiting Israel from New Delhi where she served as a Chabad emissary with her husband. She came with her husband and three children to mark the anniversary of the 2008 attack on the Mumbai Chabad House which killed nine, including Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg and was due to give birth in a few weeks. Her husband and 4-year-old son were seriously injured.

Hundreds of soldiers from the Paratroops, Golani and Givati Brigades and Armored Corps units, have been transferred to the Gaza border in preparation for a possible wide ground offensive. Right now 16,000 reservists have been called up in response to a “Tsav 9″ call-up of reservists. Tsav 9 is a limited emergency call up, similar to a “Tsav 8″ but smaller in number. 14,000 more reservists may be called up in addition. Families are adapting to the anxiety and pressures this demands.

Operation Pillar of Defense is working to reduce Hamas’ ability to launch Fajar-5 rockets. Fajar-5 rockets are able to strike further across the country and target more people.

The IDF continues to distribute leaflets to Gazan citzens advising them to distance themselves from terrorists in the coming days. Watch the launch of rockets from Gaza into Israel.

President Peres addressed the targeting of Ahmed Jabari yesterday by the IDF and the strikes against Hamas’ weapons and said, “The IDF operated with the utmost effort to avoid civilian casualties. Jabari was an arch-murderer and responsible for terror attacks and the killing of many. I salute the IDF and the security services for their accurate, surgical and strategically important operation.”

Despite Operation Pillar of Defense and the onslaught of rockets pounding the millions of Israelis, Israel has not stopped providing electricity and water to Gaza as well as medical care for Palestinians who need it.

President Peres said, “There is no nation that loves peace and hates bloodshed like Israel, our enemies are not the people of Gaza, our enemies are not the Muslim people. Our enemies are the terrorists who operate without reason and without thought.” The President stressed that Israel’s hand is outstretched for peace but that Israel will do whatever is necessary to protect her citizens, “The world is beginning to understand that we are operating with responsibility and we do not take human life lightly. I don’t know any country that would show restraint for as long as Israel did during the attacks on the south.”

The Jewish Agency for Israel is preparing relief for a thousand new immigrant youth living in Jewish Agency absorption centers and 23,500 students between 1st and 12th grades throughout Beersheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, Ibim, and Arad, the center of the conflict, who will be in dire need of a break from the escalating security situation. The Jewish Agency for Israel is also preparing special group psychological interventions for parents and children for those suffering from emotional trauma.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is preparing emergency kits for elderly and the disabled in the afflicted regions, in addition to working with emergency case workers who provide elderly and disabled with emotional and physical support so that they can stay in their homes during the sirens. The JDC is also delivering food to the elderly as day care centers are not able to run currently, running activities for children in shelters and settling in place post trauma interventions for children.

The Israel Trauma Coalition is running phone hot-lines, setting in place group workshops for children and parents, team training and support for those in the field, direct care for those in need in coordination with local councils.

Radio stations are announcing rocket attacks and on some stations the broadcasting is interrupted constantly by sirens and alerts. The Israel Broadcasting Authority will operate a radio frequency (531 AM) during Shabbat house that will be silent except for emergency announcements. This arrangement is used only in times of severe national emergency.

Israeli social media has been put to good use in aiding citizens in finding alternative accommodations, offering their homes and even locations for weddings. Israel’s center for coordinating public diplomacy efforts Continues to fight against propagated falsehoods on Facebook, Twitter and other media avenues.

The Jewish Federations of North America have donated $5 million to the Fund for the Victims of Terror in Israel to assist those Israeli citizens currently living under a constant threat of danger and also have set up an SMS system for donating via your cellphone. You can text ISRAEL to 51818.

JFNA and JCPA held a call Thursday with Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, head of the International Media & Communications Branch of the IDF Spokespersons Unit who explained the situation and encouraged all abroad to fight Israel’s media battle by combatting the falsehoods and misconceptions in the press.

More information on Operation Pillar of Defense can be seen here:

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4306430,00.html 

http://www.timesofisrael.com/southern-israel-under-fire-air-force-strikes-terrorist-targets-in-gaza/ 

http://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-forces-pound-gaza-strip-from-the-air-after-missiles-threaten-tel-aviv-region/

IDF carries out widespread attacks on Gaza terror sites

Operation Pillar of Defense continues

IDF targets 320 terror sites. Over 300 rockets strike Israel, killing 3. Iron Dome intercepts 130 rockets. Updates here and on Twitter

Date: 16/11/2012, 5:25 AM Author: IDF Website

2:29 a.m.: Contrary to Hamas reports, no IDF unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has been downed.

Thursday, November 15

11:30 p.m: Over the past 24 hours, the IDF has continued with Operation Pillar of Defense, targeting dozens of rocket launching sites and inflicting severe damage on the rocket launching capabilities of terror organizations operating in the Gaza Strip. In addition, IAF aircraft targeted several terrorist squads that were involved in firing rockets toward Israel. The aim of targeting these sites is to impair the rocket launching capability of terror organizations in the Gaza Strip and hamper their continued build-up.

Since the start of the operation, the Israel Air Force has targeted 300 terror activity sites in the Gaza Strip. Additionally, Armored Forces targeted terror activity sites in the northern Gaza Strip. This evening, Israeli Navy soldiers fired towards Hamas’ terror targets on the Gaza shoreline.

Over the past few days, hundreds of rockets were fired at Israeli communities. One rocket hit the central Israeli city of Rishon LeZion, home to some 200,000 residents, located approximately 60 km from the Gaza Strip. The Iron Dome anti-missile defense system has successfully intercepted over 130 rockets launched from Gaza, aimed at Israel.

Hamas – which rules over the Gaza Strip – has turned it into a frontal base for Iran, forcing Israeli citizens to live under unbearable circumstances. The IDF is determined to continue targeting sites that are used to carry out terror attacks against Israeli citizens.

10:36 p.m.: Since yesterday, hundreds of rockets have struck Israel. Additionally, the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system has intercepted 130 rockets, preventing them from striking populated areas in Israel.

During the same period, the IDF has targeted 320 terror activity sites in the Gaza Strip.

9:56 p.m.: During the past hour, during a rapid and coordinated military strike, the IDF targeted approximately 70 underground medium-range (up to 40 km) rocket launching sites in the Gaza Strip. Direct hits were confirmed.

The sites that have been targeted were positively identified by precise intelligence collected over the course of months. The aim of targeting these sites is to significantly impair the rocket launching capability of terror organizations in the Gaza Strip.

7:46 p.m.: Since yesterday, the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system has intercepted 105 rockets, preventing them from striking Israeli communities – while hundreds of rockets have struck Israel.

In the same period, the IDF has targeted 250 terror activity sites in the Gaza Strip.

7:23 p.m.: A short while ago, IDF Spokesperson Yoav (Poly) Mordechai addressed the media. He warned that tonight “will not be a quiet night” in the Gaza Strip.

7:06 p.m.: A short while ago, warning sirens sounded in Tel Aviv, sending residents running for shelter. However, no rockets struck the city.

6:30 p.m.: A short while ago, IDF Spokesperson Yoav (Poly) Mordechai addressed the media regarding Operation Pillar of Defense. “The IDF continues to operate surgically in the Gaza Strip – precise strikes, not against outposts, not against police stations, but against rocket-launching sites,” he said. “So far, a very harsh blow has been dealt to the long-range fire of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.”

5:09 p.m.: A short while ago, a rocket fired from Gaza struck an open area outside of the city of Rishon LeZion, home to over 200,000 citizens.

4:41 p.m.: Today, despite the heightened security concerns, Israel has admitted 14 Palestinians into its hospitals for medical treatment.

4:35 p.m.: Over the past day, IAF aircraft continued targeting over 100 rocket launching sites across the Gaza Strip, severely damaging rocket launching capabilities used by terror organizations.

Since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense, over 200 terror activity sites have been targeted in the Gaza Strip. These sites are being targeted in order to impair the rocket launching capability of terror organizations in the Gaza Strip and hamper their weapon build-up capabilities.

Additionally, IAF aircraft targeted several terrorist squads that were involved in firing rockets at Israeli communities.

Three Israeli citizens were killed today by a rocket that directly hit their home in Kiryat Malakhi. In addition, an infant was critically wounded. Three IDF soldiers were injured today by a rocket that exploded in their vicinity in southern Israel.

The Iron Dome anti-missile defense system has successfully intercepted over 80 rockets launched from Gaza, aimed at Israel.

3:18 p.m.: A short while ago, three IDF soldiers were injured – two moderately and one lightly – by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel. The three were evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva.

3:08 p.m.: Over the past 24 hours, the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system has intercepted over 80 rockets headed toward southern Israeli communities.

11:10 a.m.: Since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense, the IDF has targeted 156 terror sites in the Gaza Strip.

The aim of targeting these sites is to impair the rocket launching capability of terror organizations in the Gaza Strip and damage their further build-up.

9:20 a.m.: Update: A short while ago, 3 civilians were killed by a direct hit from a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip.

8:56 a.m.: Moments ago, a house in southern Israel was directly hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip. Over the last 24 hours, dozens of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip have struck Israel. An additional 43 rockets have been intercepted by the Iron Dome system.

8:45 a.m.: In addition to the leaflets dispersed by the IDF over the Gaza Strip, over 20,000 phone calls have been made to warn the residents of the Gaza Strip to stay away from Hamas and other terror organizations’ operatives and facilities that pose a risk to their safety.

8:00 a.m.: The IAF has released a video of last night’s aerial strikes on launch sites and storehouses of Hamas’ long-range missiles. These missiles have the capability to strike Tel Aviv and the heart of Israel, threatening over 3.5 million Israelis. Click here to view the videos.
7:20 a.m.: Today, Thursday November 15, 2012, the IDF dispersed leaflets above several locations in the Gaza Strip. These leaflets warn the residents of the Gaza Strip to stay away from Hamas and other terror organizations’ operatives and facilities that pose a risk to their safety.

The leaflets stress that Hamas is dragging the region toward violence, and that the IDF is prepared to defend the residents of the State of Israel until quiet is restored to the region.

7:18 a.m.: Overnight, the IDF targeted approximately 100 medium- and long-range rocket launch and infrastructure sites across the Gaza Strip. This has significantly damaged the rocket launch capabilities and munitions warehouses operated by Hamas and other terror organizations.

The aim of targeting these sites is to impair the rocket launching capability of terror organizations in the Gaza Strip and damage their further build-up.

In addition, Israel Air Force aircraft targeted several rocket launching squads as they prepared to fire rockets towards southern Israel. Furthermore, the IDF, using tank shells, targeted several terror activity sites throughout the Gaza Strip.

5:45 a.m.: Overnight, Hamas has continued its rocket assault on Israeli civilians. Dozens of rockets have struck Israel since the beginning of the operation. In addition, the Iron Dome system has intercepted an additional 28 rockets.

Over the course of 2012, 822 rockets have hit Israel.

4:30 a.m.: Since the beginning of the operation, the IDF has struck approximately 100 terror sites.

12:30 a.m.: Hamas has continued to fire rockets at Israel, in an effort o harm Israeli civilians. To this point, the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system has intercepted 25 rockets fired from Gaza.

Wednesday, November 14th

10:48 p.m.: Over the past few hours, the IDF has targeted dozens of Hamas’s medium-range (up to 40km) under-ground rocket launch and infrastructure sites. This has significantly damaged their rocket launch capabilities as munitions warehouses owned by Hamas and other terror organizations were targeted. In addition, Israeli Navy soldiers targeted several Hamas terror sites stationed along the shoreline of the Gaza Strip.

The aim of targeting these sites is to impair Hamas’ rocket launching and weapons build up capabilities.

10:05 p.m.: As of now, the Iron Dome has intercepted 17 rockets over the course of the day.

10:00 p.m.: Below is a photo of the Fajr-5 launch site that was struck a short while ago by IAF aircraft. Note the proximity to a mosque and other civilian structures.

9:45 p.m.: A short while ago, a rocket struck a shopping center in a major city in southern Israel.

8:30 p.m.: The Israeli Navy has stuck terror sites in the Gaza Strip.

In addition, the Iron Dome intercepted 13 rockets over the past few hours.

7:15 p.m.: The IDF has published a video of its pinpoint strike on Ahmed Jabri, the head of Hamas’ military wing in Gaza, the video can be seen here.

5:35 p.m.: The IDF has targeted a significant number of long-range rockets sites (over 40 km) owned by Hamas. This deals a significant blow to the terror organization’s underground rocket launching capabilities and munitions warehouses that are owned by Hamas and other terror organizations.

The aim of targeting these sites is to cripple the terrorist organization’s rocket launching and weapons build-up capabilities.

4:30 pm: In the past hour, the IDF targeted Ahmed Jabri, the head of Hamas’ military wing, in the Gaza Strip. Jabri was a senior Hamas operative who served in the upper echelon of the Hamas’ command and was directly responsible for executing terror attacks against the State of Israel in the past number of years.

The purpose of this operation was to cripple the command and control chain of the Hamas leadership, as well as its terrorist infrastructure. This was a surgical operation in cooperation with the Israeli Security Agency, that was implemented on the basis of concrete intelligence and using advanced capabilities.

The IDF will continue to target sites that are used for carrying out terror attacks against the citizens of Israel while improving their daily security.

IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Yoav (Poly) Mordechai said the IDF operation began following the “intolerable situation in the south of the country, and seeks to harm terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip. During the night, IDF Chief of Staff Gantz approved the detailed plan. All options are open in order to seriously damage Hamas and other terrorist organizations.”

Top U.S. Policy And Industry Leaders To Gather In Miami To Discuss Health Care

CORAL GABLES, Fla., Nov. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/

In the wake of the 2012 U.S. presidential and congressional elections, the University of Miami School of Business Administration will bring together some of the nation’s leading health care policy and industry leaders for a conference focused on the impact that the election results will have on health care reform and what it will mean for health care organizations and business in general.

The conference on Feb. 1, 2013, ” The Business of Health Care Post-Election ,” will be hosted by the School’s Center for Health Sector Management and Policy and will come within two weeks of the inauguration of Barack Obama for a second term as president.

“The re-election of President Obama and other election results put renewed focus on health care reform and the impact that it will have on the financing and delivery of health care as well as on the business community,” said Steven Ullmann, director of the Center for Health Sector Management and Policy at the UM School of Business. “This conference will provide a unique opportunity for professionals across industries to hear from many of the thought leaders who have been at the forefront of the health care debate, and to exchange ideas on what’s in store for businesses and health care organizations as a result of the election.”

Conference Speakers and Moderators Include:

  • Tom Daschle, Senior Policy Adviser, DLA Piper; Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader; and Author, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis”
  • Robert Galvin, MD, CEO, Equity Healthcare Operating Partner, The Blackstone Group; and Former Executive Director, Health Services and Chief Medical Officer, General Electric
  • Karen Ignagni, President and CEO, America’s Health Insurance Plans
  • Chris Jennings, President, Jennings Policy Strategies; Former Senior Health Care Advisor to President Bill Clinton; and Former Staff Director, Bipartisan Policy Center’s Comprehensive Health Reform Policy Project
  • Mark McClellan, MD, Director and Leonard D. Schaeffer Chair in Health Policy Studies, Engleberg Center for Health Care Reform, Brookings Institution; Former Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services; and Former Senior Director, Health Care Policy under President George W. Bush
  • James T. Olsen, Managing Director and Head of Healthcare Advisory Services, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • Moderators include Donna E. Shalala, president of the University of Miami and former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services; Richard L. Clarke, former president and CEO of the Healthcare Financial Management Association; and Patrick J. Geraghty, the chairman and CEO of Florida Blue.

The conference is expected to draw those working within the industries of health care, health care delivery and health care policy and administration, as well as business leaders and other professionals in the finance, technology, legal, marketing, government and public policy, and academic sectors. The conference is presented by Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Florida Blue. The early registration deadline is November 30 . More information can be found here.

About the University of Miami School of Business Administration

The University of Miami School of Business Administration is a comprehensive business school, offering undergraduate business, full-time MBA, Executive MBA, MS, Ph.D. and non-degree executive education programs. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Miami, the School is located in a major hub of international trade and commerce and acclaimed for the global orientation and diversity of its faculty, students and curriculum. More information about the University of Miami School of Business Administration can be found here.

SOURCE University of Miami School of Business Administration

CONTACT: Tracy Simon, University of Miami School of Business Administration, +1-267-679-277, tsimon@bus.miami.edu or tlsimonPR@gmail.com

Time for government employee pay and benefit cuts?

President Obama, senior administration officials and public policy advisers have stated that the greatest threat to our national security is our national debt. Our military understands this and the Department of Defense is taking the lead in proposing major cuts in pay and benefits for our military, veterans and their families.

The Center for American Progress led by Chairman John Podesta has called for capping military pay raises, eliminating military health benefits for many retirees who are covered by an employer-provided plan, and reducing the value of military retired pay as well as making military retirees wait until age 60 to start receiving it. These proposals have been embraced by the Department of Defense. It is estimated these changes will save $1 trillion over the next ten years.

Should all government employees at every level show the same commitment and take the same pay and benefit cuts to keep us all from falling off the “fiscal cliff”?

If our soldiers who are on the front lines defending this nation and our veterans who have served honorably can sacrifice cannot every government employee? Should not teachers, our police, firefighters, city, county state and federal employees not do their part as well? Are we not one nation facing the same fiscal future?

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) has recognized government pay and benefits as a priority issue to be addressed during the upcoming Florida legislative session.

The Five for Florida Plan states, “Our politicians must stop making promises that taxpayers can’t afford. We must force them to be honest with us, and make decisions that will protect us now and in the future. We need an honest, transparent retirement plan that works for both hardworking taxpayers and government workers.”

AFP’s Five for Florida Plan reports:

  • Florida’s Retirement System (FRS) serves more than 1 million government employees, making it the fourth largest public pension program in the country. Source: James Madison Institute
  • The FRS is 88% funded, assuming a 7.75% return on investment. Over the last 12 years, the fund has received an average return of 3.3%. Source: James Madison Institute
  • Florida currently has an optional defined contribution plan, however only 16% of employees elect to be enrolled in it, versus the 84% in the pension plan. Source: James Madison Institute
  • Public sector pension programs guarantee a rate of return that is 3 to 4 times higher than what private sector workers are able to earn. Source: The Heritage Foundation
  • The State of Florida currently contributes $5.5 billion per year to the FRS, but would need to double that contribution to $11 billion a year for the fund to remain solvent. Source: James Madison Institute

Changes must come; government must set the example for the rest of us by stepping up to the plate and making the hard decisions to rein in spending in the short and long terms. Government employee salaries and benefits are now coming under greater scrutiny by both liberal think tanks like the Center for American Progress and conservative ones like Americans for Prosperity.

Finally, we are getting somewhere when both of these organizations come to the same conclusions. The question is do our political leaders have the will to do what is needed?

Now is the time for political leaders at the city, county, state and federal government to see the writing on the proverbial “fiscal cliff”.

How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions?

The debate over whether teachers unions help or halt education reform has caused much controversy among educators, parents, and communities as a whole. Critics are up in arms over the alleged hold unions have on education policy—specifically regarding how difficult it is to fire an ineffective tenured teacher. Proponents of the unions argue that they protect teachers’ rights, support professionalism, and aren’t against reform.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute took an in-depth look at the role unions play in each state. The study ranks teacher unions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on resources and membership, involvement in politics, scope of bargaining, state policies, and perceived influence.

The five strongest are: 1. Hawaii, 2. Oregon, 3. Montana, 4. Pennsylvania and 5. Rhode Island. The five weakest are: 1. Arizona, 2. Florida, 3. South Carolina, 4. Arkansas and 5. Virginia.

Click here for the full state-by-state report.

This timely study represents the most comprehensive analysis of American teacher unions’ strength ever conducted, ranking all fifty states and the District of Columbia according to the power and influence of their state-level unions. To assess union strength, the Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now examined thirty-seven different variables across five realms (see below map):

Click on map for larger view

The study analyzed factors ranging from union membership and revenue to state bargaining laws to campaign contributions, and included such measures as the alignment between specific state policies and traditional union interests and a unique stakeholder survey. The report sorts the fifty-one jurisdictions into five tiers, ranking their teacher unions from strongest to weakest and providing in-depth profiles of each.