EPA official calls climate change a major concern for Americans as Weather Channel founder and 9,000 scientists insist it doesn’t exist

Speaking Friday at a Conference on Energy and the Environment at Georgetown University, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy insisted that climate change is an “overwhelmingly” major area of concern for Americans.

“From all the recent public opinion work out there on climate change, what stands out to me is this: First, people overwhelmingly consider climate change a problem, and they want action. And second, what’s even more impressive, is the overwhelming support specifically for EPA action to curb carbon pollution from power plants,” the official said.

Of course, recent polling data out from Gallup refutes the EPA official’s claim, as CNS News noted:

[O]nly 40 percent of respondents identified climate change as either a “very important” or and “extremely important” factor in their votes. That was well behind the second-lowest-ranking concern, which was abortion and access to contraception, which was considered an important factor by 50 percent of respondents.

Likewise, a Gallup poll in March 2014 found that only 24 percent of Americans worried a great deal about climate change. In that poll, both “climate change” and “quality of the environment” were near the bottom of a list of 15 issues Gallup asked Americans to rate.

And in last month, a Pew Poll found that while most Americans believe in climate change, they give it a low priority. Forty-eight percent rated global climate change as a major threat — well behind the level of concern shown for other issues.

Worse yet for global warming alarmists such as McCarthy, John Coleman, the founder of Weather Channel and a leading meteorologist, said in a letter last week that he and 9,000 Ph.D. scientists all agree: “There is no significant man-made global warming at this time, there has been none in the past and there is no reason to fear any in the future. Efforts to prove the theory that carbon dioxide is a significant ‘greenhouse’ gas and pollutant causing significant warming or weather effects have failed. There has been no warming over 18 years.”

The 80-year-old weatherman’s comments were made in an open letter to the Hammer Forum, a discussion venue at the University of California, Los Angeles, which recently scheduled Michael Mann and Brenda Ekwurzel — both firm believers in global warming — as speakers.

Coleman continued in his letter:

[A]t your October 23 Hammer Forum on Climate Change you have scheduled as your only speakers two people who continue to present the failed science as though it is the final and complete story on global warming/climate change. This is major mistake.

I urge you to re-examine your plan. It is important to have those who attend know that there is no climate crisis. The ocean is not rising significantly. The polar ice is increasing, not melting away. Polar Bears are increasing in number. Heat waves have actually diminished, not increased. There is not an uptick in the number or strength of storms (in fact storms are diminishing). I have studied this topic seriously for years. It has become a political and environment agenda item, but the science is not valid.

I am the founder of The Weather Channel and a winner of the American Meteorological Society honor as Broadcast Meteorologist of the Year. I am not a wacko flat Earther. Nor am I a “paid shill” (as has been claimed) of the Koch Brothers. I am a serious Professional. I am strongly urging you to reconsider your plan.

William Happer, Ph.D., a Princeton University climate researcher who Coleman named in his letter, said in a later interview that he supports the Weather Channel founder’s view, noting to The Express:

No chemical compound in the atmosphere has a worse reputation than CO2, thanks to the single-minded demonization of this natural and essential atmospheric gas by advocates of government control and energy production.

The incredible list of supposed horrors that increasing carbon dioxide will bring the world is pure belief disguised as science.

Survey: Voters with GOP on key issues, but hold favorable view of Democrats

Closing in on the 2014 midterm elections, a majority of likely American voters agree with Republicans on key issues. But Democrats continue to enjoy a more positive image than politicians on the right.

That’s according to the latest numbers out from the pollsters at Pew Research.

Republicans led Democrats by 17 points when voters were asked about the parties’ ability to handle terror threats, by 15 points on budgetary matters, by 6 points on the economy and by 5 points on immigration.

“However,” Pew points out, “the Democrats have advantages on a number of qualities and traits — from honesty to empathy and a willingness to compromise. And on some dimensions, the Republican Party is viewed less positively by voters than it was just prior to the 2010 election, when it captured the House.”

Democrats led by 22 points when voters were asked about each party’s commitment to bipartisanship, 21 points on being empathetic to the needs of people, and 8 points on honesty and ethics.

According to the poll, voters deem Democrats better able to handle the nation’s healthcare (by 6 points), they believe Republicans can better manage the federal government overall (by 3 points).

“This year’s elections, like the previous two midterms, will take place against a backdrop of deep public dissatisfaction with national conditions,” Pew also notes, pointing out that 65 percent of likely voters say they are dissatisfied with the direction the nation is headed.

Behind the scenes, U.S. officials fret about ISIS attacks on homeland

Even after the deadly terror attacks in Canada this week, some Democrats continue to insist that the Islamic State poses no threat to the U.S. homeland. But the apologist rhetoric from the left aimed at easing worries over President Obama’s ISIS aloofness is upended by a recently released government bulletin warning of impending ISIS attacks on U.S. law enforcement.

The October 2014 intelligence bulletin revealed by Breitbart Texas comes from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI and is titled “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Its Supporters Encouraging Attacks Against Law Enforcement and Government Personnel.” It focuses largely on Internet chatter about possible ISIS threats to the U.S.

“While we have no information indicating any ongoing plotting within the Homeland, FBI and DHS would like to ensure law enforcement and government personnel are aware that ISIL and its supporters continue to issue threats online,” the bulletin states.

One online call to action discussed in the document is attributed to ISIS spokesperson Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. A translation of a recorded message delivered by the terror affiliate calls on ISIS sympathizers to conduct domestic “lone wolf” attacks on Western “soldiers, patrons, and troops… their police, security, and intelligence members.”

Another alleged ISIS member cited in the bulletin similarly calls for attacks on “military, law enforcement, FBI personnel, government officials, and media figures” in the U.S. via “open source jihad.”

The intelligence bulletin notes that officials haven’t discovered any credible evidence that ISIS has a firm plan to attack targets in the U.S., but notes a possible ISIS-related attack in Australia and an allegedly thwarted ISIS plot in Britain as cause for concern.

The murder of a Canadian soldier at a national military monument in Ottowa at the hands of recent Islamic convert Michael Zehaf-Bibeau Wednesday raises additional concerns from U.S. officials.

“There’s no doubt in my mind behind the scenes the U.S. Capitol Police, the Secret Service, the State Department are well aware of the events unfolding and probably, very quietly, ramping up surveillance and exterior coverage,” former U.S. Diplomatic Security special agent and deputy counterterrorism chief Fred Burton told U.S. News and World Report on the heels of the attack.

Coburn releases his final government Wastebook

Outgoing Sen. Tom Coburn’s final rendition of his government Wastebook was released this week, chronicling $25 billion worth of wasteful spending on 100 “silly, unnecessary, and low priority projects.”

“Washington politicians are more focused on their own political futures than the future of our country,” Coburn declares in the introduction of the publication. “And with no one watching over the vast bureaucracy, the problem again isn’t just what Washington isn’t doing, but what it is doing.”

The lawmaker’s 182-page report provides example of government’s wasteful use of taxpayer dollars at all levels, pointing out examples everywhere from the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs Department to the National Science Foundation.

Here are just a few examples of the sort of waste Coburn highlights:

  • $4.6 million spent by Customs and Border Patrol for luxury homes for temporary agents.
  • $48.6 million spent by the Department of Homeland Security for vehicles which are not being used.
  • $331,000 spent by the National Science Foundation to examine how spouses interact with voodoo dolls when they are hungry and angry.
  • $16 billion for the Department of Defense to destroy ammunition.
  • $450,000 in Department of Homeland Security spending on gym memberships.

With accusations flying in recent weeks that budget cuts have hindered government’s ability to respond to Ebola threats, Coburn also points out bogus public health spending such as $371,026 spent to determine whether mothers love their dogs as much as their children.

Via the Wastebook:

Dogs and children were first “photographed in the participants’ home.” Mothers were then shown a series of dog and child photos from other participants in the study, as well as photos of their own. As they looked at each, their brains were monitored with an MRI scanner.

“As you read through the entries presented in this report, ask yourself: Is each of these a true national priority or could the money have been better spent on a more urgent need or not spent at all in order to reduce the burden of debt being left to be paid off by our children and grandchildren?” Coburn said in the report.

Read The Full Report Below:

Another failed drug war: 10 years and $7 billion couldn’t kill Afghan opium

The United States’ failed war on drugs is a global affair, and a new report of this week illustrates how the nation’s efforts to quell the cultivation of opium poppies in Afghanistan is equal parts expensive and ineffective.

According to the report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), 10 years and $7 billion in U.S. taxpayer money has done nothing to quell opium production in the country. In fact, the report notes, Afghan poppy cultivation is at an all-time high.

“Given the severity of the opium problem and its potential to undermine U.S. objectives in Afghanistan,” Special Inspector General John Sopko wrote in a letter to the officials, “I strongly suggest that your departments consider the trends in opium cultivation and the effectiveness of past counternarcotics efforts when planning future initiatives.”

The SIGAR report points out that, Afghan farmers grew an unprecedented 209,000 hectares of opium poppy in 2013, surpassing the previous peak of 193,000 hectares in 2007. Yeilds for this year are expected to be higher.

According to Sopko, the proliferation of opium crops creates a real danger that terrorists emboldened by narcotics trading could undo U.S. improvements to the Afghan region which have taken place over the past decade.

“In the opinion of almost everyone I spoke with, the situation in Afghanistan is dire with little prospect for improvement in 2014 or beyond,” he told lawmakers. “All of the fragile gains we have made over the last 12 years on women’s issues, health, education, rule of law, and governance are now, more than ever, in jeopardy of being wiped out by the narcotics trade which not only supports the insurgency, but also feeds organized crime and corruption.”

Rand Paul: Maybe a doctor could fix Obamacare

Senator Rand Paul weighed in on the Ebola crisis this week at a gathering of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Chicago. The lawmaker called for a quarantine of countries where the disease is prevalent.

“If quarantine works within a country, maybe countries should be quarantined for a certain period of time,” he said. “We could still send medical supplies and help to them, but if they’re coming to visit their cousin or their aunt, couldn’t they wait a couple months?”

Telling the audience that the Obama administration has focused more on “spin” than controlling the outbreak, Paul said that the president should ban all flights from countries stricken by the epidemic.

And while he said that U.S. citizens shouldn’t panic about Ebola, the junior senator lamented that the Obama White House hasn’t been forthright about the contagious nature of the disease. For instance, Paul said, the president was wrong to insist that “you can’t catch Ebola on a bus.”

“If they are [symptomatic], you can,” Paul said. “If they vomit on you, you can.”

The lawmaker added: “We are talking about something that is exponentially, probably, more transmittable than AIDS. It is exponentially more infectious.”

In a speech that focused widely on healthcare-related topics, Paul also spoke about Obamacare. The lawmaker likened the president’s healthcare overhaul to communism.

“When prices are set by a central planner, inevitably mistakes occur,” he said. “The Soviet Union failed for the simple reason that they couldn’t determine the price of bread.”

While he admitted that the pre-Obamacare medical system wasn’t perfect, Paul contends that the healthcare system could have been improved more effectively by “getting government out of the business of setting prices.”

The lawmaker said he doesn’t believe that Republicans can fully repeal Obamacare, but he believes conservative lawmakers do have a chance at undoing the medical device tax and expanding medical savings accounts.

“Maybe it’s time for a doctor to fix the problem,” Paul also said, alluding to the possibility of a 2016 presidential bid.

Immigration officials say they are preparing for another surge of illegal aliens

The Obama administration has promised to make good on a plan to put millions of additional illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship following the 2014 midterm elections. In the interim, federal officials say that Americans can expect thousands of new undocumented minor aliens to make their way across the border this year.

That’s according to new Citizen and Immigration Services director Leon Rodriguez, who said at a gathering of the 11th annual immigration law and policy conference hosted by Georgetown Law School that his agency was preparing to deal with the aftermath of Obama’s plan.

Rodriguez, who says he is sympathetic to the plight of immigrants, said that the president’s proposals are no substitute for congressional action on immigration reform.

The official’s remarks come on the heels of reports that his agency is soliciting bids from potential vendors to provide the government with as many as 34 million blank green cards for an expected 2016 immigration surge.

Via Breitbart:

The agency is buying the materials need to construct both Permanent Residency Cards (PRC), commonly known as green cards, as well as Employment Authorization Documentation (EAD) cards which have been used to implement President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) program. The RFP does not specify how many of each type of card would be issued.

Jessica Vaughan, an immigration expert at the Center for Immigration Studies and former State Department official, said the document suggests a new program of remarkable breadth.

The RFP “seems to indicate that the president is contemplating an enormous executive action that is even more expansive than the plan that Congress rejected in the ‘Gang of Eight’ bill,” Vaughan said.

Americans frustrated, feel nation is ‘out of control’ ahead of 2014 midterms

As the nation barrels toward the 2014 midterms, Americans increasingly hold an unfavorable view of government, with those who hold the most politically polarized views being pegged as those most likely to turn out on Nov. 4.

Gallup numbers out last week reveal that just 14 percent of Americans approve of the way Congress is handling its job with just weeks to go until the midterm elections. The October approval numbers are in line with average approval numbers for 2014 and only five points higher than the Congress’s historical low point of 9 percent in November 2013.

The polling agency reports that the low approval ratings in a midterm election cycle could result in higher turnover for members of Congress in the president’s party.

“[C]ongressional job approval in October was 21% in 2010, and 23% in 1994, two years when the president’s party lost a large number of seats,” Gallup states.

A separate poll from Politico finds that it isn’t just Congress that is angering Americans — it’s the entire direction of the country.

“An overwhelming majority of voters in the most competitive 2014 elections say it feels as if events in the United States are ‘out of control’ and expressed mounting alarm about terrorism, anxiety about Ebola and harsh skepticism of both political parties only three weeks before the Nov. 4 midterms,” Politico reported.

According to the numbers, 64 percent of those polled said “things in the U.S. feel like they are out of control right now.”

Pew Research, meanwhile, reports that the most polarized Americans will likely turn out in larger numbers than those with more centrist views in November.

“Those who are consistently conservative and liberal, who together make up only about one-in-five (22%) in the general public, make up 36% of those most likely to vote. By contrast, those with mixed opinions will be only 24% of the electorate, although they constitute 39% of the general public,” Pew reports.

According to the results, 73 percent of strongly conservative Americans are likely to show up at the polls, compared to 58 percent of consistently liberal voters.

FBI director wants government to force cellphone companies to work for law enforcement

Following government criticisms of private sector tech firms seeking to alleviate consumers’ surveillance concerns by tightening data encryption standards, FBI Director James Comey is calling on Congress to force smartphone developers to give law enforcement a backdoor entrance into all communications devices.

During a speech at the Brookings Institution last week, Comey insisted that law enforcement investigations must not be hindered by individuals’ ease of access to data encryption processes.

“The FBI has a sworn duty to keep every American safe from crime and terrorism, and technology has become the tool of choice for some very dangerous people,” Comey said. “Unfortunately, the law hasn’t kept pace with technology, and this disconnect has created a significant public-safety problem.”

Apple and Google have both recently announced that they are taking steps to keep their costumers’ digital communications data safe from law enforcement hackers and identity thieves. The announcements have been met with law enforcement criticisms, including condemnation from Attorney General Eric Holder, who called it “worrisome” that the tech firms would make it easier for criminals to thwart officials.

Comey wants lawmakers to update the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which mandates that wiretap access for law enforcement be built into conventional telephone networks, to include Internet and digital modes of communication.

“[W]e have to find a way to help these companies understand what we need, why we need it, and how they can help, while still protecting privacy rights and providing network security and innovation,” Comey said. “We need our private-sector partners to take a step back, to pause, and to consider changing course.”

The digital privacy-advocating Electronic Frontier Foundation criticized Comey’s remarks as “bad for every person who wants to be sure that their data is as protected as possible.”

“[T]he FBI is trying to convince the world that some fantasy version of security is possible—where “good guys” can have a back door or extra key to your home but bad guys could never use it. Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of security can tell you that’s just not true,” the organization said. “So the ‘debate’ Comey calls for is phony, and we suspect he knows it. Instead, Comey wants everybody to have weak security, so that when the FBI decides somebody is a “bad guy,” it has no problem collecting personal data.”

Conservatives call for an end to federal gas tax

The conservative Club for Growth called Monday for officials to put an end to the federal gas tax, instead allowing the money to flow back to the states for infrastructure repairs.

Currently, money raised through the federal gas tax is applied to the nation’s Highway Trust Fund. The fund, which subsidizes transportation projects, was recently extended by Congress through May 2015.

Club for Growth president Chris Chocola called the trust fund “a politician’s dream because it transfers power to Washington and away from states, where the real decisions are made.”

Chocola, in a USA Today column, argued that the fund is outdated in an era where all 50 states have the tools in place to manage the money without federal meddling.

“All 50 states have Departments of Transportation. More than 70% of all transportation spending in this country is already financed and spent at the state and local level,” he wrote. “Each state has very specific infrastructure needs, and those needs are most effectively addressed at the local level, where those making the decisions are held most accountable by the taxpayers.

“The federal gas tax is just another layer of taxation that finances another layer of unnecessary bureaucracy. When the money is sent to Washington, the politicians spend it and then borrow even more.”

Club for Growth is currently backing a GOP alternative to the way the transportation infrastructure is handled which comes in the form of legislation from Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), along with Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.).

The lawmakers’ Transportation Empowerment Act, first introduced in November 2013, is touted as a way for states and communities to spend money raised from commuters on projects that they feel are important without federal input.

“This bill would devolve the gas tax to the states, allowing each state to fund its own projects, rather than sending the money to Washington to send less back down again with strings attached,” Chocola notes. “This would mean more accountability for gas tax revenue, and more local control for the taxpayers.”

Chocola’s column was written in response to calls that the federal gas tax be raised from its current rate of 18.4 cents a gallon to 30.3 cents to offset funding losses due to increased automobile fuel efficiency.

The U.S. is aiding ISIS with taxpayer money

Each year, the United States sends massive amounts of taxpayer dollars overseas in the form of humanitarian aid. And while much of the aid goes to worthy causes, it’s unsurprising that The Daily Beast reported Sunday that “truckloads of U.S. and Western aid has been flowing into territory controlled” by Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria.

The Daily Beast’s Jamie Dettner reported from Turkey:

The aid—mainly food and medical equipment—is meant for Syrians displaced from their hometowns, and for hungry civilians. It is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, European donors, and the United Nations. Whether it continues is now the subject of anguished debate among officials in Washington and European. The fear is that stopping aid would hurt innocent civilians and would be used for propaganda purposes by the militants, who would likely blame the West for added hardship.

The Bible says if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him something to drink—doing so will “heap burning coals” of shame on his head. But there is no evidence that the militants of the Islamic State, widely known as ISIS or ISIL, feel any sense of disgrace or indignity (and certainly not gratitude) receiving charity from their foes.

Quite the reverse, the aid convoys have to pay off ISIS emirs (leaders) for the convoys to enter the eastern Syrian extremist strongholds of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, providing yet another income stream for ISIS militants, who are funding themselves from oil smuggling, extortion, and the sale of whatever they can loot, including rare antiquities from museums and archaeological sites.

U.S. and Western aid finding its way into the hands of foes is nothing new.

For example, American taxpayers provide about $400 million per year in aid to the Palestinian Authority, which came under scrutiny this year when it entered into a unity agreement with the designated terror group Hamas.

The Congressional Research Service provides context for the U.S. aid relationship with the PA: “Since the establishment of limited Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the mid-1990s, the U.S. government has committed approximately $5 billion in bilateral assistance to the Palestinians, who are among the largest per capita recipients of international foreign aid.”

According to reports over the summer, the PA has taken careful steps to structure its Hamas-backed government to avoid running afoul of U.S. regulations that strictly prohibit Hamas from benefitting from the aid.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a longtime proponent of cutting U.S. aid, drafted a bill that would prohibit the PA from receiving any U.S. assistance so long as it was in any way tangled with Hamas. The bill never made it to a full Senate vote, instead languishing in the Foreign Relations Committee.

In another example from 2012, U.S. officials were forced to cut military aid to Rwanda following reports from the United Nations that the U.S. taxpayer funding was being funneled to Congolese rebels guilty of gruesome human rights abuses.

Some watchers of the current aid abuses in the Middle East are calling on government officials to shut down aid to the region altogether. But critics argue that cutting aid will simply better ISIS’s ability to gain support from people reliant on the U.S. support.

White House reporters come up with plan to beat Obama administration’s censorship

The long-suffering White House press corps is taking steps to thwart the Obama administration’s continued attempts to sanitize news coverage on the government’s executive branch.

Press pool journalists currently must submit their work to the White House press office, from which the reports are distributed via email to news organizations throughout the nation.

Last month, reports surfaced of the White House’s efforts to influence the content of the information press pool reporters pass along to their news industry colleagues on a daily basis by demanding changes or threatening to revoke journalists’ access for unflattering reports.

The Washington Post reported at the time:

When Anita Kumar of the McClatchy newspaper chain covered Obama’s appearance on “The Tonight Show” for the press pool last year, she wrote a detailed account of the taped program. Kumar thought her story would be sent to pool recipients hours before the show aired. Instead, White House press staffers objected to the length of her file, saying it violated an agreement with the program’s producers to limit advance publicity. They told Kumar to pare down her account before they would distribute it.

Kumar reluctantly complied, but the request made her uneasy. “The worry is that when you send in a pool report, the White House is reading it and approving it,” she said.

Other journalists tell similar tales about White House objections.

While the majority of the White House’s press nitpicking involves minor details and trivial issues, press pool journalists have warned that the administration’s involvement in editing the news is a slippery slope.

“The independence of the print pool reports is of utmost importance to us,” said Christi Parsons, a Los Angeles Times reporter and the White House Correspondents Association president, last month. “Our expectation is that the White House puts out the pool report and asks questions later.”

For that reason, The Washington Post reports, press pool reporters have collaborated to set a press report distribution system of their own.

Via The Post Wednesday:

A small group of reporters initiated an online forum this month in which they shared “pool” information among themselves, without White House involvement. The forum was set up by the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA), which negotiates with the White House’s press staff over access for journalist.

(…)But now, some journalists are sharing their White House reporting using Google Groups — the digital service that allows registered users to receive and send information within a closed circle. In an early test of the supplemental system, journalists shared pool information about President Obama’s trip to Chicago this month. The system has been used for “advisories,” such as where the pool is assembling, when another pool report will be issued or whether a correction is in the works.

Currently, about 90 print journalists subscribe to the Google Groups list, compared to about 8,000 who are on the official pool list. Parsons has described the list as a sort of backup that could eventually serve as “a supplementary system for the print poolers so they can send out information directly to other reporters whenever they feel they need to, much as the TV and radio poolers do now.”

Unfortunately, there are obstacles to journalists wresting control of the press pool information distribution from the White House.

Again from The Post:

The key obstacles appear to be not technological but administrative and financial. The WHCA is wary of the cost of taking over all the managerial tasks of the pool system from the White House, which does the job with its own staff at taxpayer expense.

In addition to distributing the pool reports and maintaining an ever-changing list of recipients, the White House press office has several staffers who schedule reporters for pool duty, coordinate security clearances so that they can be in proximity to the president and find substitutes when there are no-shows.

Polling increasingly favors GOP in midterms

With fewer than three weeks until the 2014 midterms, a growing number of polls and election models favor the prospect of a GOP-controlled Senate leading into 2015.

As of Wednesday, The Washington Post’s Election Lab was reporting that the GOP has a 94 percent chance of gaining the six seats it needs to control the Senate.

The Republicans’ high chances of winning the Senate are underscored by the results of a poll released Wednesday by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal.

That poll found that 46 percent of Americans favor a Congress controlled by the GOP, compared to 44 percent who want Democrats to assume legislative control.

The margin in voter support is tighter than the last Congressional midterms. At this point in 2010, Republicans enjoyed a 7-point lead over Democrats.

On the issues, voters in a separate Washington Post/ABC poll reported that new jobs and an end to Washington gridlock are at the top of their voter wish lists, followed closely by the formulation of an appropriate government response to the Islamic State terror threat in the Middle East.

Two-thirds of likely voters believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction, and 60 percent believe that the president and Republican members of Congress are equally incompetent.

Despite preferring Republican control, likely voters assigned the GOP an abysmal 33 percent favorability rating. Democrats’ favorability rating is similarly bad, reaching a 30-year low of 39 percent.

President Barack Obama’s disproval rating, meanwhile, eclipses unhappiness with Congress. Just 40 percent of likely voters believe he is handling his job correctly. Forty-four percent of voters agree with the president’s handling of the economy, 29 percent his handling of immigration and 35 percent his handling of the ISIS threat.

Democrats blaming GOP for Ebola destroyed by numbers, facts

Democrats continue to blame GOP cuts for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s lack of a clear strategy to deal with Ebola in the U.S. Unfortunately for the political left, facts add a little static to the sound bite political messaging they’ve embraced for the issue in the run-up to the 2014 midterms.

The Democrats’ accusations stem from a 2011 bill passed by the House that would have cut $60 billion from the federal budget across the board, including millions of dollars in possible cuts in CDC funding. Though it passed in the House in February of that year, the spending bill never made it to the Senate.

At about the same time, President Barack Obama presented his budget plan, which came with its own CDC cuts.

The Wall Street Journal noted at the time:

Funding for a public health emergency preparedness program run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was cut by about $72 million below fiscal 2010 levels in the budget proposal. Those funds are used to help state and city public health departments monitor for potential outbreaks and threats, hire and train staff to respond and other activities.

In the end, no agreement was reached and the federal government proceeded through the next year with a number of budgetary continuing resolutions.

Fast-forward to fiscal 2014 and the facts get even more depressing for GOP-caused-Ebola Democrats. In a January 2014 report, the Atlanta Business Journal declared “CDC wins big in budget deal.”

Here’s an excerpt from that piece:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will see an 8.2 percent budget increase for fiscal 2014, thanks to a $1.1 trillion spending bill announced by Congress Jan. 13.

This influx of cash will raise the CDC budget to $6.9 billion, which is $567 million more than it received in 2013. This is more than the agency anticipated, because the president’s fiscal year 2014 budget request for it was just $6.6 billion — a decrease of $270 million from fiscal 2012.

Of the $6.9 billion, $1.3 billion was allocated to protect the United States from foreign and domestic threats, both intentional and naturally occurring. $255 million will go to support bio-defense efforts, and $160 million will be set aside for states to address their most pressing public health needs. The CDC will get $30 million for Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD), which will help identify potential disease outbreaks earlier and more accurately.

Long story short, both parties have offered budget plans in the past which would have — or did — cut CDC funding, but a bipartisan spending agreement (which passed the GOP-controlled House without issue) actually gave the health organization more money that the Democratic budget requested in 2014.

The real political issue is not how much the CDC receives, but how the money is spent.

Small-business owners glum on nation’s economy

Small-business owners remain pessimistic about the nation’s economic outlook despite the Obama administration’s repeated claims that the economy is improving. That’s according to a survey of the nation’s movers and shakers out from the National Federation of Independent Businesses this week.

The NFIB survey found that the optimism index for American small-business owners declined 0.8 points in September, bringing it to 95.3. The index currently sits at 5 points below pre-recession optimism averages between 1974 and 2007. Six of the 10 business-related components studied in the survey fell from August to September.

“Small businesses just can’t seem to get out of second gear. In order for the Index to get back to the average, responses to the 10 Index component questions would have to improve 50 percentage points cumulatively. That’s a lot of ‘positive’ responses to makeup to get back to ‘average’ much less reach a level that means a solid recovery,” said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. “A decline in job openings and capital spending plans were primarily responsible for September’s Index decline. Overall, small business owners are still stuck in a rut that has been difficult to escape.”

Even though small business owners’ confidence is lagging, some still report that they currently feel comfortable modestly expanding their firms. To that end, owners hired an average of 0.24 workers per firm last month compared to just 0.02 in August.

Half of the business owners reported that they had tried to hire new employees in the last month, but 42 percent said they found it difficult to find qualified candidates to fill the positions.

The number of business owners reporting sales growth for September dipped 2 points from a month prior, as 14 percent said that weak sales are their top business problem.

The slide in sales growth unsurprisingly coincides with a 5-point drop in the number of small businesses planning to make capital expenditures for business expansion or improvement.

“Overall, spending remains in ‘replacement mode,’” the report states, “not a lot of expansion except in selected markets including Texas and North Dakota.”

White House source says no AG nominee until after midterms

Add picking an attorney general to replace Eric Holder to the list of things President Barack Obama won’t do until after the 2014 midterms, as vulnerable Democrats continue to from the administration’s policies.

Washington media reported Tuesday that a source close to the White House revealed that the Obama administration decided to hold off on naming a replacement at the request of Senate Democrats to keep the nomination process from being an electoral political spectacle.

The White House has repeatedly hinted that it wants to have an AG nominee confirmed during the current lame-duck session of Congress.

“[T]here is a precedent for presidents making important Cabinet nominations and counting on Congress to confirm them promptly, even in the context of a lame-duck session, if necessary,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest recently said, noting that Defense Secretary Robert Gates was confirmed during a 2006 lame-duck session and that President George Bush’s attorney general nominee, Michael Mukasey, enjoyed a relatively swift confirmation.

But Obama’s decision to hold off nominating a person for the spot could complicate the prospect of a lame-duck confirmation, a reality compounded by the criticisms of Republican lawmakers.

“First it was immigration, and now Senate Democrats have asked the president to delay his announcement for attorney general so they can avoid making clear to the voters of their states where they stand on what could be a controversial choice for attorney general,” Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.

Notably, though, Grassley had already called on the president to wait for the new Congress “to nominate a qualified individual who can start fresh relationships with Congress so that we can solve the problems facing our country.”

Army officials worry whether fighting force is large enough for global threats

With the recent release of the Army’s Operating Concept report, which details the forces future global strategy, some are worried that the nation’s largest fighting force may soon be undermanned and ill-equipped to deal with emerging international threats.

Army officials reportedly compiled the report, “Win in a Complex World,” using lessons learned from the U.S.’s more than a decade of military engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan and looking ahead to emerging threats from Islamic State extremists as well as instability in North Korea and Eastern Europe.

“The title, Win in a Complex World, emphasizes ready land forces’ importance for protecting our nation and securing our vital interests against determined, elusive, and increasingly capable enemies,” the report states. “While the concept underscores the foundational capabilities the Army needs to prevent wars and shape security environments, it also recognizes that to deter enemies, reassure allies, and influence neutrals the Army must conduct sophisticated expeditionary maneuver and joint combined arms operations.”

The new strategy focuses on creating a smaller, more agile Army whose forces are scalable to operate in a variety of environments.

On Monday, however, top Army Gen. Ray Odierno expressed concerns that the Army’s fighting force will be too small to respond to emerging threats throughout the world due to troop reductions originally approved in 2011.

Those cuts would have left the Army with a force of about 490,000. But a series of budget battles between Congress and the Obama Administration in the years since has forced the Pentagon to consider deeper reductions, which could result in a force as small as 420,000.

Currently at 510,000 members, Army reduction-in-force plans are now being implemented.

“The world is changing in front of us. We have seen Russian aggression in Europe, we have seen ISIS, we have seen increased stability in other places,” Odierno said, according to The Wall Street Journal. “So I now have concern whether even going below 490,000 is the right thing to do or not, because of what I see potentially on the horizon.”

According to Odierno, Army officials could lack significant personnel resources as early as 2016 or 2017. The general is slated to step down from his post next year.

“I swore that I would never send soldiers into a place not properly prepared, trained or equipped,” he said. “I will probably get away with that because I will leave… by the beginning of the next year. But I worry for the next chief.”

Army Secretary John McHugh echoed a similar sentiment during a speech this week at the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army in Washington. The official lamented that continued budgetary constraints could put the Army in danger of “wasting away,” and he called on lawmakers to put politics aside when it comes to military funding.

“This is a time for predictability, not a time for politics. We must have predictable long term funding to keep America and her allies free from fear, intimidation and tyranny,” he said. “If sequestration returns in fiscal ’16… Another round of indiscriminate cuts will gut the force to the point that we will be unable to meet the president’s defense strategic guidance. We will be at risk of wasting away.”

Lawmakers fret whether U.S. can sustain Obama’s immigration plans

A group of GOP senators is asking the Government Accountability Office to review policies of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency charged with caring for unaccompanied minors crossing the southern U.S. border.

In a letter to the GAO the senators question whether the U.S. is prepared to handle another influx of unaccompanied minor illegal immigrants if the Obama administration makes good on some of its immigration promises.

Senators Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Tom Coburn (Okla.) wrote, “The increase in the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border has strained the capacity of ORR and its grantees to provide them with appropriate accommodations and has raised questions about ORR’s management and oversight of the program. It’s unclear if a strategy has been formulated to deal with the impending surge.”

The lawmakers also have questions about what is happening to the minors who have already been released within the U.S.

“In addition, concerns have been raised about children who are subsequently released to relatives or other sponsors throughout the country, including how sponsors are screened and monitored while they have custody of the children.  The agency is responsible for the well-being of these children, yet there’s question about whether custodians and grantees are adequately being overseen once a child leaves federal custody,” the senators wrote.

The New York Times reports that the number of unaccompanied minors flowing across the southern border from Central America fell to its lowest point in two years in September “with 2,424 youths caught crossing the Southwest border.”

From the report:

The number was down from a peak of 10,622 minors apprehended in June. In all, 68,434 minors without their parents were detained along the border in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. “The worst is over for now,” Mr. Johnson said in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. But he warned, “The spike in migration we saw this summer could return.”

Indeed, executive actions being considered by the White House could bring at least an additional 145,000 unaccompanied minors into the nation.

Pentagon goes green

While Islamic State terrorists continue to gain ground in the Middle East, a 20-page report released by the Pentagon on Monday reveals that the nation’s military is taking the threat of climate change seriously in all its “plans, operations, and training.”

According to the document, global warming is a “threat multiplier” which could exacerbate problems like infectious disease and terror facing the nation today.

“Among the future trends that will impact our national security is climate change,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel writes in the “2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap.”

“Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. They will likely lead to food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, and destruction by natural disasters in regions across the globe,” he continues.

According to the report, the Pentagon now has three climate change-related goals which include: identifying how changes in climate could alter how the military operates, making climate change a consideration in all military operations and collaborating on the matter with global partners. Those goals are key, the document says, to adapting to climate change and mitigating its impacts by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“We must be clear-eyed about the security threats presented by climate change, and we must be pro-active in addressing them,” Hagel said.

National Institutes of Health blames spending cuts for Ebola, could blame fat lesbians

National Institutes of Health head, Dr. Francis Collins, recently blamed a decade of “stagnant spending” for slowing down research that could have contributed to the development of an Ebola vaccine.

Via The Huffington Post:

 

It’s not just the production of a vaccine that has been hampered by money shortfalls. Collins also said that some therapeutics to fight Ebola “were on a slower track than would’ve been ideal, or that would have happened if we had been on a stable research support trajectory.”

“We would have been a year or two ahead of where we are, which would have made all the difference,” he said.

Speaking from NIH’s headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, the typically upbeat Collins was somber when discussing efforts to control the Ebola epidemic. His days are now spent almost exclusively on the disease. But even after months of painstaking work, a breakthrough doesn’t seem on the immediate horizon.

Money, or rather the lack of it, is a big part of the problem. NIH’s purchasing power is down 23 percent from what it was a decade ago, and its budget has remained almost static. In fiscal year 2004, the agency’s budget was $28.03 billion. In FY 2013, it was $29.31 billion — barely a change, even before adjusting for inflation. The situation is even more pronounced at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a subdivision of NIH, where the budget has fallen from $4.30 billion in FY 2004 to $4.25 billion in FY 2013.

Collins’ remarks echo Democrats’ attempts to blame GOP budget hawks for the Ebola outbreak, such as in this political ad put out by the progressive Agenda Project:

 

Many Democratic politicians have also used the Ebola scare as an opportunity to call for increases in government spending on health research.

 

Representative Rosa Delauro (D-Conn.), the senior Democrat on the subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Health and Human Services, called for more funding last week during a visit to a firm working on an Ebola vaccine.

“Ebola is a scary virus, but it can be contained in nations that have a strong public health infrastructure. America’s public health system is light years above most other nations’, but we must reverse the deep cuts and neglect the NIH and CDC have suffered over the past four years,” she said. “This neglect vastly diminishes our ability to fight this disease—or any other. We have to be prepared and invest in the public health infrastructure that keeps America safe.”

According to numbers released by DeLauro’s office, funding to the NIH was cut by $1.2 billion in four years, before adjusting for inflation.

“Once accounting for inflation, NIH has lost more than 10% of its purchasing power since 2010,” said a press release she put out. “The CDC program that supports state and local public health professionals working on the front lines has been cut by 16% over the last four years. The federal Hospital Preparedness program has been cut by an astounding 44% over the last four years.”

But as Democrats and health officials continue to politicize Ebola and point fingers at fiscal conservatives, perhaps they should cry over dollars that might have been better spent by the nation’s health research officials.

 

Here are some places they could start:

Do you have more examples of wasteful spending by the nation’s health research officials? Let us know in the comments below.

Cato ‘Economic Freedom’ report ranks U.S. at 12th

The Cato Institute reports a slight global decline in economic freedom throughout the world in its annual “Economic Freedom of the World” report, which measures governments’ respect for personal choice, voluntary exchange, and open markets. The United States, which the report describes as having once been “considered a bastion of economic freedom,” rated 12th in Cato’s index.

Using global economic data from 2012, the most recent year for which complete data sets are available, Cato rates the following 10 nations as the most economically free in the world:

  1.       Hong Kong.
  2.       Singapore.
  3.       New Zealand.
  4.       Switzerland.
  5.       Mauritius.
  6.       United Arab Emirates.
  7.      Canada.
  8.       Australia.
  9.       Jordan.
  10.     a tie between Chile and Finland.

According to Cato’s findings, how democratic a nation is doesn’t necessarily serve as an indicator of how economically free its citizens are.

“Democracy and elections now play a greater role in the shaping of political institutions than at any time in history. In recent years, several countries with little or no democratic foundation have used elections to select political leaders. Iraq, Egypt, Ukraine, and Afghanistan are just a few examples,” the report notes. “Despite the expansion of democracy, there is minimal understanding of its shortcomings and the strength of the case for limitations on the powers of elected political leaders.”

For democratic societies to rate high on the economic freedom scale, elections and majority rule “must be buttressed with constraints on the power of the executive, constitutional protection of individual rights, decentralization of government action, and rule of law.”

Cato’s report has shown a decline in economic freedom in the U.S. since 2000, when the nation ranked 2nd globally. The institute ascribes the decline to “a significant move away from rule of law and toward a highly regulated, politicized, and heavily policed state.”

This year, the U.S. shares the No. 12 spot with the United Kingdom.

Here are how some of the world’s other major economic players ranked:

  • Japan (23rd)
  • Germany (28th)
  • South Korea (33rd)
  • France (58th)
  • Italy (78th)
  • Mexico (91st)
  • Russia (98th)
  • Brazil (103rd)
  • India (110th)
  • China (115th)

Cato’s report also illustrates that economic freedom is more than just a numbers game, noting: “Nations in the top quartile of economic freedom had an average per capita GDP of US$39,899 in 2012, compared to US$6,253 for bottom quartile nations. Moreover, the average income of the poorest 10 per cent in the most economically free countries in 2012, US$11,610, was almost double the overall average income in the least free countries. Life expectancy is 79.9 years in the top quartile compared to 63.2 years in the bottom quartile, and political and civil liberties are considerably higher in economically free nations than in unfree nations.”

Cato’s full report:

Table of Contents
Executive Summary
Chapter 1
Chapter 2, Country Data Tables
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Appendix
Acknowledgments

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Voters favor GOP on most top issues ahead of 2014 midterms

A new poll shows that voters favor Republican solutions over those proffered by Democrats in five out six of the issues that Americans rate most important.

According to the poll out from Gallup, voters report that the economy, job availability, competency of federal government, the Islamic State terrorists in the Middle East, equal pay for women and the federal deficit should be lawmakers’ priorities. Those issues come from a list of 13 topics Gallup asked respondents to rate for importance leading in to the 2014 midterms.

Here’s how the issues which scored above 69 percent, the average rating of importance assigned by respondents, stack up in voters’ minds:

  1. the economy (88 percent)
  2. the availability of good jobs (86 percent)
  3. the way the federal government is working (81 percent)
  4. the situation with Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria (78 percent)
  5.  equal pay for women (75 percent) and
  6.  the federal budget deficit (73 percent)

On everything but equal pay for women, Republicans curry favor with voters.

The GOP polled best with likely voters on the budget deficit, leading Democrats by 20 percentage points. Republicans also enjoyed outsized leads on dealing with ISIS (19 percentage points), the economy (11 percentage points), improving federal competency (8 percentage points), and a more measured lead on creating good jobs (1 percentage point).

Democrats, most likely because of their War on Women rhetoric against the GOP, shine in voter minds when it comes to making sure that women get equal pay, with a hefty 38 percentage point lead over Republicans.

The other issues that voters feel left-leaning politicos can tackle more capably than their conservative peers were simultaneously rated as less important to voters overall. For instance, Democrats lead by 20 percentage points on climate change, which was rated as “very important” by respondents only 40 percent of the time.

Gallup notes of the bottom line for the 2014 midterm, “ [A]s the two parties enter the final campaign stretch, the electoral environment increasingly appears to favor the GOP.”

White House says there will be boots on the ground in ISIS fight; they just aren’t there yet

The White House admitted on Thursday that President Barack Obama’s strategy to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is contingent upon having boots on the ground, despite the president’s repeated promises to the contrary.

Back in September, the White House said that Obama’s ISIS strategy would require U.S. troops on the ground in “forward-deployed positions” to support Iraqi forces in non-combat roles.

Fox News reported at the time:

The White House continued to insist Wednesday that a “combat role” has in fact been ruled out, and that U.S. troops will not be engaging the Islamic State on the ground.

Speaking at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, after visiting U.S. Central Command, Obama told troops: “I will not commit you and the rest of our Armed Forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq.”

He vowed that the U.S. forces currently deployed to Iraq to advise Iraqi forces “will not have a combat mission.” Instead, he said, they will continue to support Iraqi forces on the ground, through a combination of U.S. air power, training assistance and other means.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest is now hinting that U.S. troops are going to become more integral to the ISIS strategy than simple support.

“The broader strategy that the president has laid out for combating [ISIS] is focused on degrading the command and control ability of [ISIS], there are a number of command and control targets that have been destroyed by the U.S.-led coalition bombing campaign,” Earnest said, adding that the U.S. is also attacking ISIS funding and logistics targets.

In Syria, the White House contends that there must be ground forces.

“Ultimately, our broader strategy when it comes to Syria is contingent upon a ground force that can take the fight to ISIL in that country,” Earnest said.

A similar message is coming from U.S. allies across the pond, with the former head of the British military, General David Richards, saying this week that boots on the ground are key to defeating ISIS.

“I think you’ve got to make sure that your aerial campaign is accurately delivered, and that probably means some special forces up front,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

The British official said that there is no way an air campaign will succeed on its own.

“Wars aren’t ever going to be won from the air alone. They’re a vital part of success, but don’t expect a guy in an airplane to be able to seize and hold terrain, which ultimately this is… we’ve got to do.”

“I’ve been saying it, others have said it — you know, my good friend General Marty Dempsey, as good as said it the other day.”

Last month, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told a Senate panel that there is a possibility of U.S. troops on the ground.

“At this point, [Obama’s] stated policy is we will not have U.S. ground forces in direct combat,” Dempsey said. “But he has told me as well to come back to him on a case-by-case basis.”