Tag Archives: Mike Lee

Leaders of 9 western states meet to take land back from federal govt

The United States of America was founded, not as a centralized state wherein all power is concentrated in the central government, but as a federation wherein political power is diffused by dividing it between a national (federal) government and the republic’s constituent state governments.

Our Founders conceived federalism as one of the institutional mechanisms to check and balance political power so as to prevent government from being so dictatorial as to become a threat to the People’s inherent rights and liberties.

This founding principle of federalism is codified in the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

But America has been drifting away from the founding vision, with the federal government amassing more and more power, and the presidency becoming increasingly imperial.

For the first time, political leaders of NINE western states have convened to talk about wresting control of state lands away from the federal government.

Western states lawmakersL to r: Montana House Speaker Mark Blasdel, Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory, Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder, Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke, Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart (photo by Scott Sommerdorf, Salt Lake Tribune)

Kristen Moulton reports for The Salt Lake Tribune that on April 18, 2014, more than 50 political leaders (state legislators and county commissioners) from 9 western states convened a daylong closed-door meeting in Salt Lake City, the Legislative Summit on the Transfer for Public Landsto talk about wresting control of their oil-, timber- and mineral-rich lands away from the federal government.

The nine western states were Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

The summit was organized by Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory and Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder. U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) also attended the meeting and addressed the group over lunch.

The summit, described by Ivory as “It’s simply time. The urgency is now,” had already been in the works before this month’s tense standoff between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management over cattle grazing.

Utah Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart said, “What’s happened in Nevada is really just a symptom of a much larger problem.” She emphasized that the states’ intent was never to take over national parks and wilderness created by an act of Congress. “We are not interested in having control of every acre. There are lands that are off the table that rightly have been designated by the federal government.”

Montana state Sen. Fielder said federal land management is hamstrung by bad policies, politicized science and severe federal budget cuts: “Those of us who live in the rural areas know how to take care of lands. We have to start managing these lands. It’s the right thing to do for our people, for our environment, for our economy and for our freedoms.”

Idaho Speaker of the House Scott Bedke said, “It’s time the states in the West come of age. We’re every bit as capable of managing the lands in our boundaries as the states east of Colorado.” As evidence, Bedke pointed to how Idaho’s state-managed forests and rangeland have suffered less damage and watershed degradation from wildfire than lands managed by federal agencies.

Utah state Rep. Ivory said the issue is of interest to urban as well as rural lawmakers, in part because they see oilfields and other resources that could be developed to create jobs and fund education. Moreover, the federal government’s debt threatens both its management of vast tracts of the West as well as its ability to come through with payments in lieu of taxes to the states. Utah gets 32% of its revenue from the federal government, much of it unrelated to public lands. Ivory warns, “If we don’t stand up and act, seeing that trajectory of what’s coming … those problems are going to get bigger.”

In 2013, Utah’s state legislature passed HB142, which was sponsored by Ivory and signed by Gov. Gary Herbert. HB142 demands the federal government make good on its promises in the 1894 Enabling Act for Utah to become a state, by relinquishing title to federal lands in Utah. A study is underway at the University of Utah to analyze how Utah could manage the land now in federal control.

None of the other Western states has gone as far as Utah, demanding Congress turn over federal lands. But five have task forces or other analyses underway to get a handle on the costs and benefits.

~Eowyn

Veterans march on D.C.; barricade White House

Here’s news that isn’t being reported by the State Controlled Media.

vetsSuzanne Hamner reports for Freedom Outpost that yesterday, Oct. 13, 2013, military veterans descended upon Washington DC to visit the open air WWII  Memorial and the Iwo Jima memorial that were closed by Park Rangers last week, ostensibly because of the government shutdown.

Thousands of other Americans were also there to  support the veterans. They picked up the barricades the Obama regime had set up around the WWII Memorial to block citizens’ access, and piled them in stacks on the grassy areas of the park.

vets7vets4

In order to insure the veterans were able to attend the rally, bobtail truckers and 4 wheel vehicles participating in the Trucker Ride for the Constitution drove through Washington DC to the WWII memorial in support, blowing their horns while crowds of bystanders cheered.

Another part of the convoy, led by General Earnest Lee, drove around the  beltway with approximately 10 miles deep of supporters, then headed into DC  along I-395.  Lee’s convoy drove right into downtown DC going about 10 mph and literally shutdown the access into DC.  While Lee broke off to go to another  choke point, other truckers stayed behind slowing to halt traffic in order to  make sure veterans and supporters captured the heart of the DC in peaceful defiance of Obama’s attempt to close the open air war memorials. Several police cars reportedly had lined up in a barricade of the street but allowed the truckers to proceed through in a single file. Several officers even saluted the truckers in support of their Ride For the Constitution.

vets3Hundreds of Americans, led by Will Gonzalez, marched from the WWII memorial to the White House, assisted by law enforcement. According to Will’s live report on Guerilla Media Network, the truckers’ horns  could be heard as the truckers passed the White House. When the group reached the gates of the front door of the White House, their loud protests directed at Obama could be heard on the live broadcast. Will  Gonzalez yelled, “Get the F*** Out, Obama,” then led the crowd in cheering over and over, “U-S-A! U-S-A!”

Police officers, without riot gear, were stationed around the White House, but remained calm and neutral.

vets6Patriots also reclaimed the Lincoln Memorial as one woman urged all Americans, “to do something now.”

Palin, Lee, Cruz

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) helped protestors to remove the barricades blocking the Lincoln Memorial.

Protestors then  carried the barricades from the Lincoln Memorial and the WWII Memorial to the White House and placed the barricades in front of the WH gates. This was when five police officers appeared in riot gear with face masks and stood in front of the barricades blocking the crowd. According to Will Gonzalez, the protesters were within 10 feet of the gates to the White House.

vets2vets5

Police officers then became more aggressive and used the barricades to push people away from the White House gates. Gonzales reported that officers wearing blue helmets were using the most force to repel the group. Ten police on horseback appeared, but did not use force or engage the protesters.vets1

See also The Blaze‘s story on the veteran’s march.

Here are two videos on the veterans’ march and protest:

H/t FOTM’s TnRick and my friend John Molloy.

~Eowyn

John McCain is a POS

RINO Sen. John McCain was one of the sponsors of the National Defense Authorization Act that gives “authority” to the president and military to arrest and indefinitely detain U.S. citizens without charge or trial.

So it really shouldn’t surprise us that he favors capitulation on raising our national debt ceiling — yet again — and is bawling about conservatives Republicans “pushing too far.”

McCainThe Associated Press reports, May 23, 2013:

Tactics for dealing with the government’s budget and debt became the latest quarrel In a string of them between McCain —sometimes joined by other traditionalist Republicans —and Tea Party champions such as Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida.

Those four won Senate seats by defying the party establishment, and are shaking up the tradition-bound Senate with no-compromise, no-apology stands on key issues like debt and deficits, government spending and the use of drones in the war on terrorism.

McCain himself has defied Republican orthodoxy at times. But he was the party’s 2008 presidential nominee, and he now is among those who say a minority party will accomplish little in the Senate if it can’t find ways to cut deals with the majority.

Cruz, who like Paul is weighing a 2016 presidential bid, renewed his taunts of the party establishment in a speech Thursday on the Senate floor. The more accommodating Republicans, he said, are in cahoots with Democrats to raise the government’s borrowing limit by disabling the GOP’s ability to mount a filibuster threat that could be used to extract spending cuts from Democrats and the White House

[...] Earlier in the day, Lee angered McCain with similar remarks. Lee said Republicans should block a House-Senate conference designed to resolve budget differences because it might ease the Democrats’ effort to raise the government’s borrowing limit. That rankled the sometimes cantankerous McCain, of Arizona. He said the Tea Partyers’ tactics could embolden Democrats who are threatening to change Senate rules that now allow the minority party — or even just one senator— to block various actions.

“That would be the most disastrous outcome that I could ever imagine,” McCain said.

For months, Democrats have complained about Republicans blocking or delaying confirmation of top White House nominees, including some federal judges. Democrats say the impasse over a budget conference is further evidence of a small group of senators in the minority abusing their powers to block actions that in the past would have gone forward after a few speeches.

Supporters of the Tea Party-backed lawmakers say the ongoing IRS and Benghazi controversies have vindicated their sharply partisan, uncompromising views. Republicans cite the controversies as examples of Democratic overreach and obfuscation.

This week’s budget quarrel follows a high-profile split between Tea Partyers and champions of a big defense program over drone attacks, and an intra-GOP disagreement over gun control tactics. It involves an obscure procedural battle and arcane rules governing the congressional budget process. Democrats want to set up an official House-Senate negotiating committee to iron out the gaping differences between the budget plans passed by the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House.

Cruz, Lee and others say they fear House and Senate leaders will use the budget measure to engineer a scenario in which an increase in the government’s borrowing cap could pass the 100-member Senate by a simple majority instead of the 60 votes typically need to overpower the minority on an issue.

McCain and others, like Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., note that House Republicans can block any move by Democratic negotiators to engineer a filibuster-free debt limit increase.

“Isn’t it a little bizarre,” McCain said Wednesday. “Basically what we are saying here on this (Republican) side of the aisle is that we don’t trust our colleagues on the other side of the Capitol who are in the majority, Republicans.”

“Let me be clear. I don’t trust the Republicans,” Cruz responded. “And I don’t trust the Democrats. I think a whole lot of Americans likewise don’t trust the Republicans and the Democrats, because it is leadership in both parties that has gotten us in this mess.”

At a Tea Party rally last month in Texas, Cruz taunted fellow Republicans after the Senate rejected a call for background checks on virtually all prospective gun buyers.

Cruz and other Tea Partyers had threatened to filibuster the gun legislation and keep it from coming to the Senate floor for votes. Other Republicans said the smarter political move — which eventually prevailed — was to let the votes take place, and have a few Democrats join Republicans in rejecting the wider background checks. Cruz suggested that Republicans who favored proceeding with the votes were “a bunch of squishes.”

That earned Cruz a rebuke from the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page — gleefully retweeted by McCain. “Would it have been right for us to not even debate in light of the Newtown massacre?” McCain said.

[...] Democrats say the debt ceiling must be raised to pay for expenses already incurred by Congress. Failing to raise the ceiling, they say, would trigger a catastrophic default on U.S. obligations.

McCain scuffled with the tea party senators in March after Paul launched a filibuster to warn of the threat of unmanned drone attacks against U.S. citizens on American soil. McCain referred to newcomers like Paul and Cruz as “wacko birds” and said their fears of drone strikes against Americans were “ridiculous.”

“It has been suggested that we are ‘wacko birds,’” Cruz said Thursday. “I will suggest to my friend from Arizona there may be more wacko birds in the Senate than is suspected.”

The split between McCain, 76, and next-generation, 40-something potential 2016 candidates like Paul, Cruz and Rubio also illustrates the broader GOP drift toward the right. McCain has spent decades in the Senate, mixing a penchant for confrontation with a capacity for bipartisan relationships and legislation; the new generation is feistier and more wary of compromise.

H/t FOTM’s tina!

~Eowyn

Fiscal Cliff deal: The good, bad, and ugly

Last night, Jan. 1, 2013, at 10:45 pm, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, by a final vote of 257 to 167.

The House vote came less than 24 hours after the Senate had overwhelmingly approved the bill 89 to 8, with both parties’ support. The bill now goes to the POS for his signature. Instead of signing the bill, he’s already left D.C. to resume his vacation in Honolulu which was so rudely interrupted by the fiscal cliff negotiations. [snark]

The Fiscal Cliff deal:

  • The top tax rate increases from 35% to 40% on annual income over $450,000 for married couples and $400,000 for single people. This is the first time in more than two decades that a broad tax increase has been approved with GOP support.
  • “Temporary” Bush tax cuts for couples making less than $450,000 and individuals making less than $400,000 per year are made “permanent” (which means “until Congress changes their mind”).
  • More than 100 million “middle class” families (those earning less than $250,000 a year) will be protected from significant income tax increases set to take effect this month, but their payroll taxes will rise with the expiration of a temporary tax cut adopted two years ago.
  • No estate taxes on inheritance of $5 million, or $10 million for married couples.
  • Federal dairy policies will be extended through September, averting a threatened doubling of milk prices.
  • Extension of unemployment benefits to 2 million people for another year.
  • Automatic cuts to the Pentagon and other agencies that had been set to take effect today will be delayed for two months.
  • Pay raise for members of Congress, which was effectuated by Obama’s executive order, is nixed.
  • Automatic spending cuts (sequestration) from last year’s debt ceiling deal are postponed until March 2013, which means — oh joy — there’ll be a Fiscal Cliff II next month!

The Bad:

Buried in the fine print of the 150-page deal are some New Year’s gifts to some of Washington’s favorite cronies. Under the plan, the federal government would eat nearly $100 billion in forgone tax revenue over the next two years by extending special tax credits for select businesses that had been set to expire:

  • $430 million for Hollywood through “special expensing rules” to encourage TV and film production in the United States. Producers can “expense” up to $15 million of costs for their projects. All this for a film industry that enjoyed a record box office last year.
  • $331 million for railroads by allowing short-line and regional operators to claim a tax credit up to 50% of the cost to maintain tracks that they own or lease.
  • $222 million for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands through returned excise taxes collected by the federal government on rum produced in the islands and imported to the mainland.
  • $70 million for NASCAR by extending a “7-year cost recovery period for certain motorsports racing track facilities.”
  • $59 million for algae growers through tax credits to encourage production of “cellulosic biofuel” at up to $1.01 per gallon.
  • $4 million for electric motorcycle makers by expanding an existing green-energy tax credit for buyers of plug-in vehicles to include electric motorbikes.

The Absurd:

  • This is how farcical the fiscal cliff brouhaha was: Members of the U.S. Senate had only 3 minutes to read the 154-page fiscal cliff bill and budget score, before they voted 89-8 to approve the bill. Senators received the bill at approximately 1:36 AM on Jan. 1, 2013 – a mere three minutes before they voted to approve it at 1:39 AM. I’ve taken longer to read the instructions for my new cell phone.
  • House Republicans also violated their pledge to allow three days for the public to read the legislation before they would vote on a bill. This was a promise the GOP made to voters before the 2010 elections.

The Ugly:

151 Republicans in the House voted “no,” which meant the GOP tally fell far short of a majority of the GOP caucus. That broke a long-standing preference by House Speaker John Boehner to advance only bills that could draw the support of a majority of his Republican members. So Boehner himself cast a rare vote: He supported the bill. So did Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), the GOP’s vice-presidential candidate last year.

40 House Republicans voted for the bill, including such GOP leaders on tax-and-spending policy as Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.) and Ronald H. Johnson (Wis.), a tea party star.

The Good:

  • Senate Republicans who voted against the bill include tea party favorites Rand Paul (Ky.) and Mike Lee (Utah), as well as Marco Rubio (Fla).
  • House Republicans who voted no include Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.).

The Really Bad:

Regardless of one’s political affiliation or beliefs, from an economic and fiscal perspective, the cliff deal has accomplished nothing. Here’s why:

  • The bill’s proposed spending cuts of $15 billion are less than 2% of the federal government’s deficit.
  • The bill’s tax increases will raise $620 billion over the next ten years — roughly $62 billion in new tax revenue per year.
  • $62 billion in new tax revenue per year is less than 6% of the $1+ trillion deficit the Obama regime has incurred every year for the past four years.
  • According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the fiscal cliff bill will cause the national debt to be $4 trillion higher by 2022 than if all of the cliff’s tax increases and spending cuts had been allowed to take effect.

Sources: CNN, Washington Post, ABC News, CNS News.

~Eowyn

S1867′s Bad vs. Good Senators

Last Thursday, December 1, 2011, by an overwhelming majority and bipartisan vote of 93 vs. 7, the U.S. Senate passed S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012.

In so doing, the Senate gives authority to the President to have the military arrest and detain U.S. citizens deemed to be enemy combatants (called “covered persons” in Sec. 1031 of S.1867) without charge or trial.

In so doing, the Senate also legalizes sodomy and bestiality in the U.S. military, by repealing the Uniform Code of Military Justice’s Art. 125 (see S1867′s Sec. 551(d)).

These are the senators who are mainly responsible for S1867:

1. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan), who is the sponsor of S. 1867 and the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The committee had approved and recommended S. 1867 to the rest of the Senate.

2. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), who is the minority leader of the Armed Services Committee.

3. The other members of the Armed Services Committee:

  • Democrats:

Joseph I. Lieberman (Connecticut)
Jack Reed (Rhode Island)
Daniel K. Akaka (Hawaii)
Ben Nelson (Nebraska)
Jim Webb (Virginia)
Claire McCaskill (Missouri)
Mark Udall (Colorado)
Kay R. Hagan (North Carolina)
Mark Begich (Alaska)
Joe Manchin III (West Virginia)
Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire)
Kirsten E. Gillibrand (New York)
Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut)

  • Republicans:

James M. Inhofe (Oklahoma)
Jeff Sessions (Alabama)
Saxby Chambliss (Georgia)
Roger F. Wicker (Mississippi)
Scott P. Brown (Massachusetts)
Rob Portman (Ohio)
Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire)
Susan M. Collins (Maine)
Lindsey Graham (South Carolina)
John Cornyn (Texas)
David Vitter (Louisiana)

These are the seven senators who voted against S1867:

Here’s Sen. Jeff Merkley explaining why he voted against S1867:

H/t beloved fellow Tina.

~Eowyn