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Items filtered by date: February 2017
Friday, 31 March 2017 18:03

The Ryancare Route -- Winning by Losing?

Did the Freedom Caucus just pull the Republican Party back off the ledge, before it jumped to its death? A case can be made for that.

Before the American Health Care Act, aka "Ryancare," was pulled off the House floor Friday, it enjoyed the support -- of 17 percent of Americans. Had it passed, it faced an Antietam in the GOP Senate, and probable defeat.

Had it survived there, to be signed by President Trump, it would have meant 14 million Americans losing their health insurance in 2018.

First among the losers would have been white working-class folks who delivered the Rust Belt states to President Trump.

"Victory has a thousand fathers; defeat is an orphan," said JFK.

So, who are the losers here?

First and foremost, Speaker Paul Ryan and House Republicans who, having voted 50 times over seven years to repeal Obamacare, we learned, had no consensus plan ready to replace it.

Moreover, they put a bill on the floor many had not read, and for which they did not have the votes.

More than a defeat, this was a humiliation. For the foreseeable future, a Republican Congress and president will coexist with a health care regime that both loathe but cannot together repeal and replace.

Moreover, this defeat suggests that, given the ideological divide in the GOP, and the unanimous opposition of congressional Democrats, the most impressive GOP majorities since the 1920s may be impotent to enact any major complicated or complex legislation.

Friday's failure appears to be another milestone in the decline and fall of Congress, which the Constitution, in Article I, fairly anoints as our first branch of government.

Through the last century, Congress has steadily surrendered its powers, with feeble resistance, to presidents, the Supreme Court, the Federal Reserve, the regulatory agencies, even the bureaucracy.

The long retreat goes on.

Another truth was reconfirmed Friday. Once an entitlement program has been created with millions of beneficiaries, it becomes almost impossible to repeal. As Ronald Reagan said, "A government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth."

Nor did President Trump escape unscathed.

Among the reasons he was elected was the popular belief, which carried him through scrapes that would have sunk other candidates, that, whatever his faults or failings, he was a doer, a man of action -- "He gets things done!"

To have failed on his first big presidential project has thus been an occasion of merriment for the boo-birds in the Beltway bleachers.

Yet, still, Trump's Saturday tweet -- "Obamacare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan ... Do not worry!" -- may prove prophetic.

Now that "Trumpcare" or "Ryancare" is gone, the nation must live with Obamacare. A Democratic program from birth, it is visibly failing. And Democrats now own it again, as not one Democrat was there to help reform it. In the off-year election of 2018, they may be begging for Republican help in reforming the health care system.

After what he sees as a wonderful win, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer now intends to block a Senate vote on Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, and thus force Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to muster 60 votes to halt a Democratic filibuster.

Should Schumer persist, Senate Republicans will exercise the "nuclear option," i.e., change the rules to allow debate to be cut off with 51 votes, and then elevate Gorsuch with their own slim majority.

Why would Schumer squander his political capital by denying a quality candidate like Judge Gorsuch a vote? Does he also think that a collapsing Obamacare -- even its backers believe is in need of corrective surgery -- will be an asset for his imperiled colleagues in 2018? The last time Democrats headed down that Radical Road and nominated George McGovern, they lost 49 states.

While the Republicans have sustained a defeat, this is not the end of the world. And there was an implied warning in the president's Sunday tweet:

"Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare."

What Trump is explaining here is that, if Republican majorities in the House and Senate cannot or will not unite with his White House behind solutions on health care, taxes, infrastructure, border security, he will seek out moderate Democrats to get the work done.

This humiliation of Obamacare reform may prove a watershed for the Trump presidency. What he is saying is simple and direct:

I am a Republican president who wants to work with Republicans. But if they cannot or will not work with me, I will find another partner with whom to form coalitions to write the laws and enact the reforms America needs, because, in the last analysis, while party unity is desirable, the agenda I was elected to enact is critical.

The health care defeat yet may prove to be another example of winning by losing.

Patrick J. Buchanan

Published in Lifestyle
Friday, 31 March 2017 17:45

Health Care Reform Calls for Simplicity

At last in control of both houses of Congress and the presidency, Republicans wisely put a priority on additional health care reform.

Though hailed at the time as a triumph for liberals, Obamacare ultimately divided Democrats, some of whom had warned from the outset it would prove too cumbersome and unreliable for many Americans to navigate or support. But the GOP approach to fulfilling its promise of "repealing andreplacing" Obamacare has gotten off to a shaky start. Voters' justified frustrations and expectations should focus Republicans' minds around taking the right way forward before it's too late.

From the standpoint of politics as well as policy, the smart move is to make a few significant alterations to the current bill. As written, it dissatisfies in two directions -- bringing too little reform to Obamacare on the one hand, but shifting too many people out of coverage, with not enough of an alternative, on the other.

Americans are responding negatively. New polls indicate that, although the level of opposition to the bill is about level with Obamacare's unfavorables when it passed, only about a third of respondents like the new bill, while closer to 40 percent backed Obamacare as it became law.

That is a potentially huge problem for Republicans -- who owe President Trump's election to a small constituency of President Obama's voters willing to take a chance and flip their blue states red. What these and other voters want is clear: simplicity and catastrophic coverage.

Republicans should deliver before moving on to work through other potentially important reforms. After all, the most dogged criticisms of Obamacare -- outside the Beltway -- focus around the Byzantine process of choosing and maintaining affordable coverage that takes the risk of medical bankruptcy off the table. Bernie Sanders Democrats complain that a direct government entitlement would be an improvement, harking back to an infamous sign at a Tea Party protest urging government hands off Medicare.

Although much of Obamacare's limited success ended up coming through the expansion of Medicaid, too many Americans are stuck struggling for workable coverage that satisfies the individual mandate. This is an undue burden. The fact is, a well-tailored entitlement benefit is better for

Americans -- and better for America -- than a bureaucratic thicket working families must hack though at least yearly, uncertain of what new rules, restrictions and cost increases await.

To make good on this reality, some Republicans will have to make adjustments to their own political expectations. Beyond considering a straightforward new entitlement up front, they will have to recognize that pre-existing conditions also fall within the ambit of Americans' expectations around simple catastrophic coverage.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and others are not connecting with the public, including many in their own party, by touting instead the current bill's salutary impact on the size of the federal debt. Instead, they need to make the plain and credible claim that Americans' sharpest health care fears are going to be allayed.

That done -- and not before -- lawmakers can turn to the bells and whistles of reform, with the GOP's many dedicated and intelligent health care wonks making changes within a framework Americans can finally trust.

Published in Business
Friday, 31 March 2017 17:37

Colombia's Marijuana Trade

For decades, Colombia's rural poverty rate was so high that it provided the main fuel for Latin America's longest-running civil war. The nation's exploding drug trade pumped billions of dollars into the insurgency and blocked efforts to bring relief to the poor. Today, help is arriving from the unlikeliest of sources: legalized marijuana.

Colombia's experience suggests creative ways that American leaders might address our own rural poverty issues, provided politicians in Washington can overcome their lingering misgivings about expanded legalization of marijuana.

Marijuana has created massive new job sources and multibillion-dollar markets in states like Colorado, California and Washington where the weed has been fully legalized. In total, 26 states and the District of Columbia have legalized pot in some form. Three others are on the verge of legalizing. Despite the doomsayers' worst forecasts about the evils conjured by easy access to pot, even die-hard skeptics are acknowledging the benefits of legalization.

Before 2015, Colombia's leadership had been equally fearful. Since the late 1990s, Colombia has partnered with the United States on a $10 billion military effort to bring down major cartels and halt the drug trade that was keeping guerrilla and right-wing insurgencies alive. Millions of acres of Colombian farmland were denuded by U.S.-funded spraying of herbicides to kill coca, opium and marijuana crops.

Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the Clinton administration's drug czar and original mastermind of Plan Colombia, envisioned a rural job-creation program that would encourage peasant farmers to grow specialty crops, like baby corn and hearts of palm, whose market price could compete with the high incomes farmers earned from drug crops. The program was a complete bust, mainly because the farmers had too few ways to get fresh produce to market, and the payout didn't compare with what drug crops yielded.

The New York Times reports that a 2015 Colombian law allowing cultivation of medical marijuana, combined with a peace settlement, has vastly boosted hopes for rural employment. In the war-torn town of Corinto, the mayor estimates that two-thirds of the 32,000 inhabitants now depend on the legal cannabis industry for their living. Residents are even paying taxes, which used to be unheard of in the chaotic drug-war days.

For all of Trump's complaints about all the U.S. trade dollars heading south to Mexico, he should focus on the billions flowing to Mexico's cartels that could be diverted to legal cultivators here. Embracing a legalization model like Colombia's would do more to grow jobs in struggling rural areas, increase tax revenues and stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit that Trump championed.

Published in Business

Dear Doctor: My dad has just been diagnosed with vascular dementia. What is it? Can it be prevented?

Dear Reader: Dementia is a general term used to categorize symptoms that relate to the decline or loss of cognitive function. These include confusion, memory loss, impaired language skills, changes in personality or behavior, and the inability to think clearly or perform everyday tasks. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, which accounts forbetween 60 and 80 percent of all dementia cases. The mental impairment of Alzheimer's disease results from a series of complex changes that take place within the structure of the brain itself.

Vascular dementia, which is also called vascular cognitive impairment, causes the majority of non-Alzheimer's cases of dementia. It occurs when the blood vessels in the body, known as the vascular system, become blocked, diseased or damaged and are unable to provide the brain with normal blood flow. This deprives the brain of adequate oxygen and nutrition, which causes brain cells to die. The resulting injury, which prevents different parts of the brain from communicating with one another, causes symptoms of dementia.

Hardening and narrowing of the arteries, a major stroke or a series of small strokes can cause vascular dementia. In the case of major stroke, symptoms of vascular dementia can appear suddenly. But quite often, the disease builds slowly. As blood flow to the brain decreases, mental impairment gradually becomes more pronounced.

At this time, vascular dementia cannot be reversed, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing it. Although the disease is rare before age 65, the cardiovascular problems that lead to it can begin to develop well before then.

One of the major risk factors for vascular dementia is high blood pressure, which also plays a role in heart attack and stroke. That's why it's important to know your numbers, and to monitor blood pressure on a regular basis.

To reduce blood pressure, maintain a healthy weight. It's wise to also keep track of your waistline measurements. Men who measure more than 40 inches at the waist and women whose waistlines measure more than 35 inches are at increased risk of developing high blood pressure.

Get moving. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of vascular dementia by 40 percent. Just 30 minutes of exercise at moderate intensity -- you'll be able to speak but not sing -- three times per week helps protect both your heart and your brain.

If you've been following this column for even a few weeks you know what's coming next -- don't smoke. If you do smoke, please stop. Yes, we know that's hard. We also know that your family doctor would love to help you.

Eat a healthy diet: lean meats, fresh fish, legumes, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Skip the sugar if you can. Limit simple carbs like pasta, rice, bread and processed cereals.

Limit how much alcohol you drink. Even in moderation, alcohol has been linked to dementia risk, particularly as we get older.

Eve Glazier, M.D.,
and Elizabeth Ko, M.D.

Published in Lifestyle
Friday, 31 March 2017 17:23

The Obama Plot to Sabotage Trump

Devin Nunes just set the cat down among the pigeons.

Two days after FBI Director James Comey assured us there was no truth to President Trump's tweet about being wiretapped by Barack Obama, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Trump may have had more than just a small point.

The U.S. intelligence community, says Nunes, during surveillance of legitimate targets, picked up the names of Trump transition officials during surveillance of targets, "unmasked" their identity, and spread their names around, virtually assuring they would be leaked.

If true, this has the look and smell of a conspiracy to sabotage the Trump presidency, before it began.

Comey readily confirmed there was no evidence to back up the Trump tweet. But when it came to electronic surveillance of Trump and his campaign, Comey, somehow, could not comment on that.

Which raises the question:What is the real scandal here?

Is it that Russians hacked the DNC and John Podesta's emails and handed them off to WikiLeaks? We have heard that since June.

Is it that Trump officials may have colluded with the Russians?

But former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and ex-CIA Director Mike Morrell have both said they saw no evidence of this.

This March, Sen. Chris Coons walked back his stunning declaration about transcripts showing a Russia-Trump collusion, confessing, "I have no hard evidence of collusion."

But if Clapper and Morrell saw no Russia-Trump collusion, what were they looking at during all those months to make them so conclude?

Was it "FBI transcripts," as Sen. Coons blurted out?

If so, who intercepted and transcribed the conversations? If it was intel agencies engaged in surveillance, who authorized that? How extensive was it? Against whom? Is it still going on?

And if today, after eight months, the intel agencies cannot tell us whether or not any member of the Trump team colluded with the Russians, what does that say of their competence?

The real scandal, which the media regard as a diversion from the primary target, Trump, is that a Deep State conspiracy to bring down his presidency seems to have been put in place by Obamaites, and perhaps approved by Obama himself.

Consider. On Jan. 12, David Ignatius of the Washington Post wrote,

"According to a senior U.S. government official, (Gen. Michael) Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials ... What did Flynn say?"

Now, on Dec. 29, Flynn, national security adviser-designate, was not only doing his job calling the ambassador, he was a private citizen.

Why was he unmasked by U.S. intelligence?

Who is this "senior official" who dropped the dime on him? Could this official have known how many times Flynn spoke to Kislyak, yet not known what was said on the calls?

That is hard to believe. This looks like a contract hit by an anti-Trump agent in the intel community, using Ignatius to do the wet work.

Flynn was taken down. Did Comey turn his FBI loose to ferret out the felon who had unmasked Flynn and done him in? If not, why not?

In today's Wall Street Journal, Dan Henninger points anew to a story in The New York Times of March 1 that began:

"In the Obama administration's last days, some White House officials scrambled to spread information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election -- and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Trump and Russians -- across the government."

"This is what they did," wrote Henninger, quoting the Times:

"At intelligence agencies, there was a push to process as much raw intelligence as possible into analyses, and to keep the reports at a relatively low classification level to ensure as wide a readership as possible across the government -- and, in some cases, among European allies."

For what benign purpose would U.S. intelligence agents spread secrets damaging to their own president -- to foreign regimes? Is this not disloyalty? Is this not sedition?

On Jan. 12, writes Henninger, the Times "reported that Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed rules that let the National Security Agency disseminate 'raw signals intelligence information' to 16 other intelligence agencies."

Astounding. The Obamaites seeded the U.S. and allied intel communities with IEDs to be detonated on Trump's arrival. This is the scandal, not Trump telling Vlad to go find Hillary's 30,000 missing emails.

We need to know who colluded with the Russians, if anyone did. But more critically, we need to unearth the deep state conspiracy to sabotage a presidency.

So far, the Russia-connection investigation has proven a dry hole. But an investigation into who in the FBI, CIA or NSA is unmasking U.S. citizens and criminally leaking information to a Trump-hating press to destroy a president they are sworn to serve could prove to be a gusher.

As for the reports of Lynch-White House involvement in this unfolding plot to damage and destroy Trump the real question is: What did Barack Obama know, and when did he know it?

Patrick J. Buchanan

Published in Politics

In the stunned aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, America healed in part by tuning in to "Saturday Night Live," just a few miles from the wreckage of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. We all felt like New Yorkers and Pentagon employees after radical Islamic terrorists killed more than 3,000 Americans by hijacking four airplanes.

Now, many years later, the American Civil Liberties Union is demonstrating its bizarre definition of "civil liberties" by complaining that the 9/11 terrorists are not having their civil rights respected. One article on the website was headlined "Will the 9/11 Defendants Ever Get a Fair Trial?" Most Americans wonder why anyone responsible for 9/11 is still breathing.

But guess who supports that radical take? Stars of "Saturday Night Live."

The ACLU is now promoting a Facebook Live telethon on March 31 called "Stand for Rights," starring former "Saturday Night Live" stars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and frequent "SNL" players like Alec Baldwin and Tom Hanks.

Ike Barinholtz, an actor on the sitcom "The Mindy Project," pitched the telethon in a Facebook video, asking, "Do you wish you could help people and protect civil rights while being entertained by some of Hollywood's biggest and brightest stars?"

Hogwash. You somehow "help people" and "stand for rights" by spitting on the graves of the 9/11 dead and championing the rights of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? The left doesn't care about the lost civil rights of people murdered by terrorists, only the civil rights of terrorist suspects. The prison for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay is somehow more historically heinous than the 9/11 attacks ever were.

Liberals are so arrogant they think conservatives are the oppressors and torturers, even as they support the rights of terrorists and abortionists who sell the body parts of dead babies. The ACLU has created a People Power project to fight President Trump's administration's "anti-civil rights agenda" of "deportation raids, the Muslim ban, Planned Parenthood defunding and other civil rights priorities." It's very selective about which rights are essential, including a so-called right to import yourself into America, especially if you're Muslim.

The ACLU felt much differently about President Obama, even if their ideology was the same. It took out an ad in The New York Times right after the 2012 election congratulating Obama for accomplishing a lot in his first term but demanding that Obama close Guantanamo, rescind "anti-immigrant federal policies and programs" and mandate that abortion coverage "be available in all federal health insurance programs." These priorities would, as the ACLU executive director wrote, "restore America as a land of freedom and defender of human rights."

This lobby has become a hot property among the Hollywood left in the age of Trump. At this year's Oscars, several celebrities, including "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and "Loving" actress and Oscar nominee Ruth Negga, wore blue ACLU ribbons on the red carpet. During Trump's inauguration, celebrities including Jane Fonda, Tim Robbins and Jamie Lee Curtis hosted a Love-a-thon on Facebook Live to support anti-Trump activists, including the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.

Up next? Perpetually confused leftists across America will host screenings of the movie "1984" -- a cautionary tale of oppression by the totalitarian Ingsoc ("English socialism") party -- as an anti-Trump event, encouraging audiences to donate to the ACLU.

The entertainment industry will never stop being egregiously out of touch with the American heartland. One of the easiest ways to prove that is to ignore the fact that the ACLU is at war with our long struggle to provide liberty and justice for all.

L. Brent Bozell III
and Tim Graham

Published in National
Friday, 31 March 2017 17:11

HUMAN-ANIMAL BOND

Pets are a shoulder to cry on, an alarm clock, an exercise partner, and a family member. One of the greatest benefits pets provide is a 24/7 emotional support system. People are happier and healthier in the presence of animals. Scientifically-documented benefits of the human-animal bond include decreased blood pressure, reduced anxiety, and enhanced feelings of well-being, and sometimes our furry friends don't receive the credit that's due. With over 25 years' of research showing that living with pets provides a bounty of health benefits. These are just five:

1. Better Movement

Research shows that dog-owners get 54 percent more exercise than pet-free people. Other research shows pets can help lower stress, blood pressure, cholesterol, and that owning a pet boosts survival among people with heart disease.

Research funded by the National Institutes of Health revealed that more than 2,000 adults who owned and walked their dogs regularly ­were in better shape, and were less likely to be become obese, than those who did not walk a dog.

Additionally, walking improves cardiac risk factors such as diabetes, vascular stiffness and inflammation and mental stress.

2. Lower Stress, Better Attitude

Pets are even being used to help our nation's servicemen overcome post-traumatic stress disorder.

Pets know when we need them most, which gives us a feeling of belonging and a self-esteem boost.

One study in the American Journal of Cardiology found that pet owners had hearts that adapted better to stressful situations than non-pet owners.

3. A Healthy Heart

Your heart loves your pet in more ways than one. Most studies in this field suggest that cats and dogs can help improve our heart health.

The American Heart Association cites a number of studies that found pet ownership may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Some data even indicates that pets help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and that owners with heart issues are more likely to survive heart attacks.

4. Better Than Medicine Allergy Protection.

A study published in JAMA in 2002, shows that being exposed to pet dander early on in life can help prevent future allergies.

Specifically, children under the age of 1 who had two or more dogs or cats as family pets saw a reduction in allergy development by the time they were 6 or 7.

5. Conversation Starter

Taking your dog to the park or around the block for a walk may be benefiting you more than you're aware. Research indicates that walking with a dog leads to more conversations with neighbors, other dog owners, and helps you stay socially connected.

“People who have dogs live longer than people who have cats, and the assumption has been that dogs naturally cause their owners to be more active,” suggests Dr. Thomas Lee, Co-Editor in Chief of the Harvard Heart Letter. “The emotional benefits of having an affectionate creature are also one of the theories for why dog-lovers live longer.”

A 2001 study looked at 48 people with high blood pressure and high-stress jobs who agreed to adopt a dog or a cat if so asked. Half did, and six months later those who got a dog or cat had significantly lower blood pressure when stressed.

The mere act of getting a dog is no substitute for a plan to get regular physical activity, to eat a heart-healthy diet, and to get regular medical care. That said, dogs do seem to be good for your heart in many ways.

“Loneliness can’t be a good thing, either from a cardiovascular or a psychological perspective,” Dr. Lee notes. “I am not going to be prescribing dogs for patients with heart disease, but I certainly won’t discourage them—even if they consider themselves fairly limited by their medical problems.

A 2014 study in the journal Applied Developmental Science found that young adults with a strong attachment to cats and dogs also reported feeling more connected to their relationships and communities. And studies have shown those that have a more fulfilled and busy social life live longer, happier lives.

Published in Outdoor

Historians agree that World War II changed life for American women in the 20th century.

The Civil War had just as great an impact on the lives of American women in the 19th century.

When the South fired on Fort Sumter, S.C., in 1861, American women wanted to do more than just wait at home for their brave menfolk to come home. North and South, women wanted to help the war effort.

In the North, women organized sanitary fairs to ship medical aid, food and suitable reading material to the boys in blue. Many Northern women found themselves running farms and small businesses as their men left for the front. Still other Northern women went to work in factories.

In the South, women also found themselves rolling bandages and making clothes for the boys in gray. They, too, took over farms, plantations and small businesses and went to work in armories providing the weapons of war.

In both areas, there were women who wanted to do more, and they went off to nurse those wounded in action. Some women actually enlisted using mens names and fought with Union or Rebel armies.

Finally, women aided the war effort as spies. Espionage was considered disreputable for men at the start of the war. The idea of one of the fair sex engaging in such activity would have been greeted by horror. But the need for good intelligence was crucial, and men overcame their revulsion when good, accurate information began coming in from women spies.

In the South, one of the most celebrated female spies was Belle Boyd. She was called "La Belle Rebelle" during stage appearances after the war. She was born Isabelle Boyd in Martinsburg, Va. (now West Virginia), in 1844. A beauty, she was presented to society in Washington, D.C., in 1860.

When Virginia seceded, Boyd threw her lot in with the Confederacy and moved back to Martinsburg. At first, she helped in more traditional roles of rolling bandages and raising money for the Confederate forces, but that changed when Union soldiers occupied Martinsburg in July 1861. Boyd mixed with Union officers and picked up tidbits of troop moves and future plans.

She passed those along to Confederate forces.

Her most famous exploit was passing along the plans of Union Maj. Gen. James Shields to Gen. T.J. "Stonewall" Jackson in l862. Learning that Shields intended to destroy Martinsburg's bridges, Boyd undertook a hazardous journey through the Union lines and is said to have urged Jackson to move quickly. He did and, though outnumbered, drove Shields' troops from the Shenandoah Valley.

After her return to Martinsburg, Boyd continued to spy openly for the Confederates and served also as a courier and scout with Maj. John S. Mosby's guerrillas. She was arrested by Union forces and held in Washington. She contracted typhoid and was paroled in a prisoner exchange.

In 1864, Boyd was on a mission to England bearing letters from Confederate President Jefferson Davis when the Union Navy intercepted her blockade runner. She fell in love with Lt. Samuel Wylde Harding Jr., the Union officer placed aboard the rebel ship as prize master. He allowed her and the Confederate skipper to escape. Court-martialed and discharged, Harding sailed to England and married La Belle Rebelle.

After the war, she wrote an account of her life as a spy and also became an actress. She toured the United States and married again in 1869. Belle Boyd died in 1900.

Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew was a lot more effective. A Richmond, Va., native, Van Lew was schooled in the 1850s at a Philadelphia Quaker school and came to despise slavery. Before the war, she wrote, "Slave power crushes freedom of speech and of opinion. Slave power degrades labor. Slave power is arrogant, is jealous and intrusive, is cruel, is despotic, not only over the slave but over the community, the state."

She freed all the family slaves. Hearing that the children or relatives of Van Lew slaves were to be sold by other owners, she bought and liberated them as well.

When the war broke out, she did not disguise her Union sympathies. She asked to visit Union prisoners held in Richmond and began taking them food and medicines.

Many of the prisoners noted Confederate defenses and troop movements after they were captured. Van Lew set up a network of couriers and devised a code to get that information through the lines to Union forces.

Richmonders called her Crazy Bet, and she cultivated that image. In public she mumbled and hummed to herself. She held conversations with herself. She combed her curls less carefully and wore her oldest clothes and most battered bonnets. All Richmond thought Crazy Bets sympathy for the Union was part of her mental illness.

But Van Lew did more than just pass along tactical information she picked up from captured Union soldiers. Among the slaves she had liberated before the war was Mary Elizabeth Bowser. Van Lew got Bowser a job as house servant for Confederate President Jefferson Davis and, together, the two collected and passed information to the North.

She was among the first people Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant visited upon the taking of Richmond. When Grant became president, he appointed Van Lew as postmaster of Richmond. Once the people of Richmond realized the scope of the aid Van Lew provided the Yankees, they shunned her.

Van Lew also died in 1900. The people of Massachusetts erected a marker on her Richmond grave that read, "She risked everything that is dear to man -- friends, fortune, comfort, health, life itself, all for the one absorbing desire of her heart -- that slavery might be abolished and the Union preserved."

Other female spies -- North and South -- followed their convictions during the war. They include Confederate Rose ONeal Greenhow and Union spies Pauline Cushman, Sarah E. Thompson and Harriet Tubman.

All these women truly expanded the range of acceptable activities for women in the 19th century. DOD

Published in General/Features

The 18 ½ year Global Warming debacle was caused by a selfish, entrepreneur who put personal wealth first and foremost in his life, above all reason and the welfare of his Country! He earned a “D” in his only science course. He changed what his Professor said from something that was true to something from which he could use to make millions even if it wasn’t true! He bilked hundreds of millions of dollars by claiming CO2 is causing Global Warming. Yes, you are correct; I’m talking about Al Gore. His professor said that he believed that fossil fuels were causing smog in LA! Gore turned that into “CO2 from fossil fuel is causing Global Warming”, a “giant leap for mankind”, from a VERY small step.

When Professor Roger Revelle told Gore that what Gore is saying is not true, Gore said the Prof. was senile!

Global Warming is all about MONEY! The US gives the UN 5 billion a year to study “Climate Change”. The UN created the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on “Climate Change”. The IPCC decided to grant all 5 billion to Colleges with PHD scientists, who had no jobs after 8 years of College and no money. To receive the Global Warming grant, the College/University had to “agree” that there IS Global Warming up front and to try to PROVE it. That is the premise…a very scientific “study”!?

So for 18 years they studied and made releases how the Earth is warming, Polar bears are dying because the Ice Caps and Glaciers are melting …all unchallenged until a few experts decided to check the RAW data. John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel, and several members of the

Heartland Institute ( HeartlandInstitute.com) looked at the IPCC temperature model which predicted temperatures and compared the Predicted temperatures to the Actual temperatures and found the model to be totally inaccurate. How bad? Al Gore predicted that based upon the model, the

Arctic Ice Cap and Glaciers would be gone by 2015!!! In fact, the temperatures over the 18 ½ year period actually went DOWN 1degree Celsius!

How bad? Some Colleges put the Thermometers in fenced in areas (good) but on the blacktop in the parking lots (very bad) !!! All temperatures were taken IN the US but the study is called Global Warming?

It gets even better…NASA completed a study in 2015 that says the IPCC study is useless, not even close to accurate and their(NASA) study compared Antarctic Ice over a 10,000 year period and found that the “land ice mass” is thicker, larger and colder than ever before. Also, Satellite photos of the Arctic Ice cap prove that all the Arctic Ice that melted over a 10 year period regained all that was gone from 2012 to 2013 by regaining 1 million square miles of new ice, in one year!! That, folks, is called Climate Change and NOT Global Warming! Coleman also did a study on Polar Bears and found that their population is greater now than since they started keeping records!

Whistle blowers from the IPCC, NOAA and the former President of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore (google him!), all say their Agencies lied! In 1998 31,000 Scientists (9,000 of whom are PHD Climate related Scientists) signed a Petition and sent it Congress telling them to NOT sign the Kioto Treaty agreeing to reduce CO2! The petition said that scientists do not know the effect of manmade CO2 on Climate Change and they do NOT believe there is Global Warming and manmade CO2 sources have had NO effect! People, what does it take? You MUST read what Patrick Moore confides! He is the founding, Greenpeace President! You won’t find what he came clean about, in the major news Medias!

On 2-4 &5-17, the Daily Mail (a UK Paper) reported that John Bates a high-level whistleblower has told this newspaper that “America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) breached its own rules on scientific integrity when it published the sensational but flawed report, aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015”.

WHY? It’s all about money! Saudi Arabia sells the US oil, they lobby against US oil production and persuade Politicians ($$$) to claim mining oil in the US is bad for the Environment (but good for Saudi Arabia’s)? I would feel very safe saying that ANY Politician who says there is Global Warming or… fossil fuel and CO2 are bad… is making LOTS of money from oil lobbyists or has some other scam working (sort of a swamp). How much was Barack Obama paid to push for debunked/bankrupt Solyndra to receive grant money or maybe a “reward”, and that’s besides the 1.5 million they donated to Obama’s campaign? What did he get from the $418,000,000 he gave them, before they filed for bankruptcy?

How about this, convince people that there is a fossil fuel, CO2, scare and Solar is the only way to go. Push a new solar company as a great investment and tell your constituents it’s the energy of the future. Invest heavy and when you know it will crash, sell!

Like I said, it’s a scam; the facts prove there is NO GLOBAL WARMING AND SOME IDIOTS DON’T WANT TO BE CONFUSED BY THE FACTS!!!

No reasonable, informed person could possibly believe there is Global Warming! Just look at the evidence that’s out there. So why would Politicians push it? There is only one reason…LOBBY MONEY!!!

J Gary DiLaura
Retired FBI

Published in Environment
Thursday, 30 March 2017 06:38

End Incentives For Seizing Assets

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan have introduced legislation to reform civil asset forfeiture, a practice by which law enforcement agencies seize the property and assets of individuals with minimal due process.

The practice has encouraged "policing for profit," distorting the mission of police agencies toward revenue generation to the detriment of the property rights of Americans. Paul's and Walberg's bill should unite those concerned with upholding constitutional rights and justice more broadly.

The Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act, or FAIR Act, previously introduced by Paul in 2014, seeks to shore up the rights of Americans facing civil asset forfeiture proceedings and curb the perverse profit incentives that underline the practice.

"The federal government has made it far too easy for government agencies to take and profit from the property of those who have not been convicted of a crime," said Paul. "The FAIR Act will protect Americans' Fifth Amendment rights from being infringed upon by ensuring that government agencies no longer profit from taking the property of U.S. citizens without due process."

Under current practices, federal agencies, often in partnership with state and local police departments, may seize a person's cash, home or vehicle simply upon the suspicion that such assets were connected to criminal activity. One need not even be charged or convicted of a crime to have personal assets permanently seized.

All the government needs to do is meet the relatively low standard of a preponderance of the evidence to prevail in court -- while innocent owners have the burden of trying to prove their innocence and bearing the costs of legally opposing government authorities.

This has created a situation where the federal government has seized billions of dollars in assets under questionable circumstances. According to the Institute for Justice, from 2001 to 2014, the forfeiture funds of the Department of Justice and Treasury Department took in nearly $29 billion. This provides financial incentive to both federal agencies and state and local partners, who get a cut of the money through "equitable sharing," to increasingly focus on cases with revenue-generating potential.

To ameliorate the litany of problems associated with civil asset forfeiture, the FAIR Act does a number of important things consistent with the values this nation was founded upon. Among other things, the FAIR Act removes the profit incentives involved by directing proceeds of federal civil asset forfeiture to the Treasury's General Fund to be used at the discretion of Congress, rather than federal agencies. Doing this also ends the practice of equitable sharing, thereby reducing the incentives of state and local law enforcement agencies to prioritize revenue generation.

The current system disadvantages the innocent, who often lack the resources to take on the federal government. The FAIR Act seeks to restore the rights of innocent property owners by requiring clear and convincing evidence of a person's guilt, rather than a mere preponderance of the evidence. The FAIR Act also provides indigent property owners counsel if they need it -- no small issue considering the federal government has more than enough money and lawyers on hand to intimidate most Americans.

Civil asset forfeiture defies the very notion of limited, constitutionally restrained government. We encourage a bipartisan effort to rein in the abuses of civil asset forfeiture by working to pass the FAIR Act.

Published in Editorials
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