Obama Administration Seeks Volunteers Who Want Government To ‘Score’ Their Home Energy Consumption

The U.S. Department of Energy will introduce new software tomorrow that allows volunteers to begin assessing energy consumption in their homes by using “scoring” criteria created by the government.

The software, dubbed the Home Energy Scoring Tool, is one tool in the Obama Administration’s effort to soft-sell energy consumption to private individuals.

But the President’s recent history of unilaterally promulgating green energy rules and mandates from within the Executive Branch suggests there’s nothing to keep the program, which is now voluntary, from one day becoming policy.

As it stands, volunteers can pay an assessor to visit their homes and compile a list of variables that affect the government’s energy “score” that are unique to each home. Then the software decides how much energy each home should be consuming over the course of a year, and benchmarks that amount as the standard from which the home’s real energy usage will deviate. It assigns a numeric energy consumption score on a 1-10 scale, and compares how a home is faring relative to others in the same zip code.

As more homeowners voluntarily sign on for the program, the National database of information surrounding domestic energy consumption will grow, presumably achieving a size sufficient for the government to begin drawing generalizations about what amount of power usage is expected of a “typical” household.

Tea Party Wants To Give Boehner Something To Cry About In 2014

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is up for re-election along with the rest of his House colleagues this year, and conservatives jaded by his penchant for playing politics down the middle are mobilizing a search for a conservative candidate to defeat him in the GOP primary.

The Tea Party Leadership Fund, among the Nation’s largest and best-organized conservative political action committees, announced Friday it was sponsoring a search for a suitable Ohio candidate to oust Boehner from Congress.

“John Boehner has declared war on conservatives demanding lower taxes and limited government. Today we declare war on him.  We intend to send a message to his fellow ‘Republicans In Name Only’ that such ideologically bankrupt leadership must come to an end,” said spokesman Rusty Humphries.

The Fund is backing the campaign to rid of Boehner by launching a petition drive at primaryboehner.com, with a goal of reaching 1 million signatures by Jan. 31. It’s also buying print and television ads to promote the effort.

Breitbart reports the group is confident of its chances, thanks to a poll that reflects half of Ohio voters’ desire for more conservative representation in Congress. But the clock is ticking, since candidates have until Feb. 5 to file their paperwork for the May 6 primary election.

The Fund lists several grievances with Boehner, including his tacit support for the “funding of Obamacare” and his idle complicity in Congressional Democrats’ victory in October’s debt ceiling fight. They’re not happy about his stance on amnesty for illegal aliens and his open hostility toward the Republican Party’s most conservative members.

Oklahoma Lawmaker: Stop Punishing Schoolchildren For Making Finger Guns

A Republican Oklahoma legislator has just about had it with silly media reports of kids getting kicked out of school for making pistol shapes with their fingers or eating their Pop Tarts into the shapes of guns. So she’s drafting a State bill that would prevent schools from disciplining kids for being… well, kids.

Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern is sponsoring what she calls the “Common Sense Zero Tolerance Act” in order to legislate the restraint that, in her opinion, adults ought to have been able to exercise on their own.

“Real intent, real threats and real weapons should always be dealt with immediately. We need to stop criminalizing children’s imagination and childhood play,” Kern told News9 in Oklahoma City last week. “We need to stop criminalizing children’s imagination and childhood play. If there’s no real intent, there’s no real threat, no real weapon, no real harm is occurring or going to occur — why in the world are we, in a sense, abusing our children like this?”

Her bill would forbid schools from taking action to “punish, humiliate, intimidate, be condescending to, or bully a student” found to be in “possession of a toy weapon.” It would also stop administrators from disciplining kids for “using a finger or hand to simulate at weapon,” “drawing a picture of a firearm” or making gun noises.

Predictably, the State’s teachers’ union is against the bill.

“The proposed legislation removes local control from teachers, counselors, administrators and local school boards,” Linda Hampton, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, told News9. “Educators are degreed professionals, trained and experienced in dealing with children.”

Obamanomics: Unemployment Falls Because Nobody’s Looking For Work

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the American economy added 74,000 jobs in December of 2013 – and yet the unemployment rate still managed to fall from 7 percent to 6 percent.

How can that be? Because nobody’s looking for work.

The civilian labor force in December shrank again, this time from 155.3 million to 154.9 million people. By percentage, that means the current 62.8 percent participation rate in today’s labor force is the lowest it’s been since 1978.

Meanwhile, there are now 91.8 million people not participating in the labor force – an all-time high that shows no sign of slowing down. About half a million people dropped out of the labor force in December alone, far outpacing the meager 74,000 added jobs.

The employment-to-unemployment ratio sits stagnantly at 58.6 percent to 41.4 percent. For all of 2013, the economy grew by an average of 182,000 jobs each month – more than double the December figure. And the matrix of 74,000 new December jobs can’t be envied for its quality. The retail sector was responsible for 55,000 of those jobs – 24,000 of which were in food and clothing stores.

In fact, if the labor force had held steady at its 2009 level of 162 million – before a “post-recession” decline that saw an additional 7 million people drop out – the actual unemployment rate would now stand at 10.8 percent. But the BLS doesn’t use workforce dropouts to tally unemployment, even though people who don’t have jobs and aren’t looking for work are, by definition, unemployed.

Who’s In Charge Of The IRS Tea Party Discrimination Investigation? An Obama Donor

Wonder why the U.S. Department of Justice’s purported criminal investigation into the Internal Revenue Service discrimination scandal, which involves the targeting of Tea Party nonprofit groups during the 2012 Presidential election season, doesn’t seem to be going anywhere?

It might have something to do with the fact that the DOJ picked attorney Barbara Kay Bosserman, a documented Barack Obama campaign donor, to lead the investigation.

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Wednesday that the committee’s own investigation revealed that Attorney General Eric Holder had put Bosserman, who works in the department’s Civil Rights Division, in charge of the criminal probe, effectively stymieing any hope of an objective inquiry.

“By selecting a significant donor to President Obama to lead an investigation into inappropriate targeting of conservative groups, the Department has created a startling conflict of interest,” Issa and Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) wrote to Holder Wednesday in a call for Bosserman to be removed from the probe. “It is unbelievable that the Department would choose such an individual to examine the Federal government’s systematic targeting and harassment of organizations opposed to the President’s policies. At the very least, Ms. Bosserman’s involvement is highly inappropriate and has compromised the Administration’s investigation of the IRS.”

Bosserman donated more than $6,000, in total, to Obama’s two Presidential campaigns, and also made separate, smaller donations to the Democratic National Committee in 2004 and again in 2008.

According to The Washington Times, which first reported on the discovery, the DOJ’s justification for not vetting Bosserman’s political affiliations is that it would be a violation of her Constitutional rights.

“[T]he Justice Department said it isn’t allowed to consider a career lawyer’s political leanings when doling out assignments and that it would violate an employee’s constitutional rights if he were penalized on the job for making legal political contributions,” the Times’ Stephen Dinan wrote.

The IRS investigation has dragged on for eight months with no evident progress, save for periodic updates — mostly filled with criticisms of the DOJ’s languorous pacing — from the Oversight Committee’s Republican leadership.

The criminal investigation is reportedly a joint task shared by the DOJ and the FBI. In his Wednesday letter to Holder, Issa reiterated his previous assertion that the FBI’s continued, “blatant” stonewalling of the Oversight Committee’s ongoing requests for information amounts to criminal obstruction of a Congressional investigation.

Colorado Bureaucrat Withstands Pressure To ‘Trash’ Obamacare Numbers

In an assiduous effort to minimize any negative publicity surrounding the rollout of Obamacare in his home State, Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) attempted to get the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) to lie about the number of Coloradans whose existing policies were being canceled. But one DOI staffer wasn’t going to be bullied by the Senator.

The Complete Colorado, an independent political blog covering State politics, got access to emails that DOI Director of Internal Affairs Jo Donlin had sent to colleagues after being pressured by Udall.

Udall, an ardent supporter of Obamacare, wanted the State to report low policy cancellation numbers — but low cancellation rates were not what the numbers showed. According to The Complete Colorado:

At the height of controversy surrounding President Obama’s promises on the federal health care overhaul, U.S. Senator Mark Udall’s office worked assiduously to revise press accounts that 249,000 Coloradans received health care cancellation notices. Because the 249,000 figure was produced inside the Colorado Division of Insurance, Udall’s office lobbied that agency to revise the figure, or revise their definition of what qualified as a cancellation.

Donlin sent out a warning to colleagues in a Nov. 14 email last year, letting DOI employees know where the agency stood on the matter:

Sen. Udall says our numbers were wrong. They are not wrong. Cancellation notices affected 249,199 people. They want to trash our numbers. I’m holding strong while we get more details. Many have already done early renewals. Regardless, they received cancellation notices.

Donlin followed that up the next day by contacting Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s office, as well as Udall’s staff, with her breakdown of the DOI accurately arrived at the 249,000 figure. It’s worth noting also that, during the same six-week Obamacare launch window that saw the 249,000 in-State cancellations, only 3,700 Coloradans had actually enrolled in a new plan through the State-run Obamacare marketplace.

As the original story observes, the timing of Udall’s original communication with DOI — in which he first pressured the agency to spin the high cancellation numbers — came as the Senator was in the midst of an abrupt about-face in his support for the first-year mandates attached to the Affordable Care Act.

Obama’s ‘Promise Zones’ Picked For Their Strategic Value To Democratic Party

President Barack Obama designated five areas Thursday as Economic Promise Zones: three in cities, one in rural Kentucky and one on the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma – and nearly all of them offer Democrats stronger political inroads with resistant local voters.

Obama described the ‘Zones as places where kids would, with the Federal government’s help, have the same opportunities to realize the American Dream as kids in more affluent parts of the country.

“They’re neighborhoods where we will help local efforts to meet one National goal: that a child’s course in life should be not by the ZIP code she’s born in, but by the strength of her work ethic and the scope of her dreams,” the President said.

The cities selected for the first zones are Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Antonio, while the Kentucky zone covers a multicounty region in the southeastern Highlands area. Obama said the program will be expanded to 20 locations Nationwide during the next three years.

“And each of these communities is designing from the bottom up – not the top down – what it is they think they need, and we’re working with them to make that happen,” he said. “And each of these communities is prepared to do what it takes to change the odds for their kids.”

The president said the idea was born from his own experience as a community organizer on Chicago’s South Side and on the work of people like Geoffrey Canada, who formed the Harlem Children’s Zone.

As Breitbart observed Thursday, most of the five announced locations have “interesting connections” that suggest their selection wasn’t arbitrary, nor solely based on the President’s altruistic desire to end poverty:

One of the main priorities in the 2014 election for Democrats is unseating Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), so Southeastern Kentucky, where the voters are heavily GOP, is a target which may allow Democrats to make some inroads.

San Antonio’s targeted district is the home of Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro, the twin brother of San Antonio mayor Julian Castro who is marked as a future star for the Party. That district, according to the Cook Partisan Voting Index, is only scoring a D+3, so Joaquin Castro could be in trouble.

Although Philadelphia is a Democratic stronghold, there are three suburbs nearby where GOP incumbents may be replaced by Democratic opponents: the Sixth and Eighth, which are both R+1, and the Seventh which is a tossup.

Oklahoma’s Second District is one of the five Promise Zones, and it includes the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Obama has been trying to reach out to the Choctaw nation for some time; Deborah Powell, Native American Development Specialist for the Housing Authority of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, was a guest in Michelle Obama’s box for Obama’s 2010 State of the Union Address.

The “Promise Zone” program will be administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and will dangle tax incentives and grants in front of the selected communities in order to create a dependence partnership between local government, businesses and agencies and the Federal government “to create jobs, leverage private investment, increase economic activity, expand educational opportunities, and improve public safety.”

The UPI contributed to this report.

Obama’s Poverty Pivot Invites More Poverty

As President Barack Obama attempts to stave off an election-year repeat of the public relations disaster he saddled his own party with in 2013, he’s kicking his policy rhetoric into community-organizing mode.

Launching an income inequality initiative is Obama’s way of bailing incumbent Congressional Democrats out of the Obamacare debacle they created, as they enter the 2014 campaign season. But it obviously won’t cause Obamacare to swerve from its predictable course, and it arms GOP challengers — if they’re smart enough to seize on it — with rich political fodder.

That’s because it’s illogical and factually nonsensical for the Obama Administration, in particular, to promote “income equality” policies that, in fact, demonstrably swell the ranks of the “impoverished” in America. And if precedent offers any indication of how the future will look, “poverty” under Obama is only going to increase.

In the United States, “poverty” in its classical sense is an almost meaningless word, especially among the elected class. Poverty does hold significant value as a political tool, though — and that’s what Obama is banking on in an election season that features a lot of embattled Congressional Democrats.

Democrats need a strong voter turnout to retain their Senate majority, but midterm elections are typically low-turnout affairs that tend to draw a disproportionate number of disgruntled voters to the polls. Given the year Obama had in 2013, the disgruntled voter demographic favors the GOP this year — so Democrats need a tent-pole issue to get their own political base disgruntled about.

That’s where “income inequality” comes in. But there’s a problem: The Obama Administration and its subservient, partisan Senate minions are more open than any other elected incumbents to criticism when it comes to poverty policy.

“Although the President often rails against income inequality in America, his policies have had little impact overall on poverty,” The Washington Times observed Tuesday. “A record 47 million Americans receive food stamps, about 13 million more than when he took office.”

The piece continues:

The poverty rate has stood at 15 percent for three consecutive years, the first time that has happened since the mid-1960s. The poverty rate in 1965 was 17.3 percent; it was 12.5 percent in 2007, before the Great Recession.

About 50 million Americans live below the poverty line, which the federal government defined in 2012 as an annual income of $23,492 for a family of four.

President Obama’s anti-poverty efforts “are basically to give more people more free stuff,” said Robert Rector, a specialist on welfare and poverty at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

“That’s exactly the opposite of what Johnson said,” Mr. Rector said. “Johnson’s goal was to make people prosperous and self-sufficient.”

But an America stocked with prosperous and self-sufficient citizens would obviate the far-left progressive leadership that has come to dominate the Democratic Party, because there’d be precious few people left in this country enthralled by the false promise of receiving something for nothing.

EPA Takes Land From State In Violation Of Century-Old Congressional Act

Republican Wyoming Governor Matt Mead issued a statement Monday blasting the Environmental Protection Agency for unilaterally ignoring Congressionally established law in order to take roughly 1 million acres of property out of State jurisdiction and hand it over to two Indian tribes.

The EPA ruled in December that a 1905 law that allowed non-Indians to establish homesteads inside the disputed territory did not end the territory’s reservation status. But Congress had made no such distinction at the time it passed the law.

The Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes, each of which occupies the Wind River Indian Reservation (located in the west-central portion of the State), had approached the EPA with a “Treatment as a State” request in order to acquire jurisdictional control over the territory under the Clean Air Act.

The EPA ruling’s overt implication is that the tribes now have the legal prerogative to be notified of any air quality permit filed within 50 miles of the reservation’s boundary.

But the ruling has other implications that concern municipal and State officials — especially “that land that the state, Fremont County and the city of Riverton consider to be under local jurisdiction is, in fact, Indian Country,” according to the WyoFile nonprofit news blog. “And,” WyoFile observes, “as part of the Wind River Indian Reservation, the city and surrounding area could be subject to federal policing, among other laws.”

Mead has responded to the ruling by pledging to ignore it, and to wage a court battle to have the EPA’s decision overturned.

“I understand that the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone Tribes have a different opinion about the Wind River Reservation Boundary,” his statement reads. “My deep concern is about an administrative agency of the federal government altering a state’s boundary and going against over 100 years of history and law. This should be a concern to all citizens because, if the EPA can unilaterally take land away from a state, where will it stop? …The federal government clearly had a predetermined outcome it sought to uphold.”

Income Inequality: Obama Rewards More Donors With Posh Ambassador Posts

President Barack Obama demonstrated his commitment to ending income inequality in America this week by asking the Senate to lavish five major Democratic donors with cherry ambassadorships in conflict-free countries like Iceland, New Zealand and The Netherlands.

Obama sent his picks to the Senate on Monday for confirmation, even though the nominees knew before Congress went on its Christmas break that they were in line for the posts. Here’s the rundown, courtesy of the nonprofit Sunlight Foundation government watchdog blog:

  • Rob Barber, a Massachusetts attorney nominated to represent the United States in Iceland, has donated more than $80,000 to Democratic campaigns, according to records compiled on Influence Explorer from the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in Politics. Political Party Time shows that Barber helped host a fundraiser last year for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

 

  • Colleen Bell, a Hollywood soap opera producer whom Obama has tapped to be ambassador to Hungary, has donated more than $293,000. Her husband, fellow “The Bold and the Beautiful” producer Bradley Bell, was an especially enthusiastic funder of the Obama campaign. The couple also hosted a star-studded fundraiser for the president at their home during the last campaign, PT records reveal.

 

  • Timothy Broas, nominated to serve as ambassador to the Netherlands, has donated more than $183,000 to Democrats in addition to showing up in Party Time as a fundraising host.  As USA TODAY has reported, Obama is giving Broas a second chance at a job the DC “super lawyer” opted out of in 2012 after a drunk driving arrest.

 

  • Dwight Bush, a DC investment banker who hopes to take over the embassy in Morocco, has, together with his son, Dwight Bush Jr., made more than $140,000 in campaign contributions. With a few strategic exceptions that money went almost entirely to Democrats.

 

  • Mark Gilbert, a former baseball player turned investment banker, has donated nearly $436,000 to Democratic candidates and causes. Perhaps endearing him still further to Obama, Gilbert used to play outfield for the president’s beloved White Sox. That makes him a rarity among members of the First Fan’s favorite team, most of whom prefer Republicans. [Note: Gilbert is in line for an ambassadorship to New Zealand.]

The secular version of American simony isn’t unique to the Obama Administration. As we reported in July of last year – just after Obama had outraged our European allies by cashing in political favors with another of his ambassadorial nominations – the practice has a long and corrupt history regardless of who the President has been. But wouldn’t the President of Hope and Change, who’s set to take on the wealth gap and renew his partisan focus on equal opportunity for all Americans – carve out a little more credibility for his legacy by being the first to buck that trend?