Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review discuss the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Rich McFadden of Radio America breathe a sigh of relief over former Sen. Kay Hagan’s decision to not run in 2016. They discover the Supreme court votes to keep the Obamacare subsidies. And finally, they laugh at the thought of banning “Gone with the Wind”.
The Environmental Protection Agency is unilaterally reducing Renewable Fuel Standard mandates and effectively admitting congressional projections were far off base, but the government is pouring even more money into efforts to keep biofuels afloat.
On June 10, the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, announced it was increasing the amount of renewable fuels that must be blended into our fuel in the coming years, but the levels are a reduction compared to the mandates approved by Congress last decade.
“The EPA, in typical regulatory fashion, is kind of redrawing the law on itself to reduce the amount,” said Tom Borelli, a senior fellow at Freedom Works, who recently wrote about the EPA actions.
The decision is drawing howls of protest from the biofuels industry, traditional energy companies and free market advocates, with the latter saying reality proves government mandates are almost always a terrible idea.
“Government command and control policies fail. They fail every time. The free market should decide the type of fuel that we use. Industry is smart enough to figure a way,” said Borelli.
Meanwhile, Borelli says the biofuels industry is furious that the government is shaving back on it’s original promises.
“The biofuels industry is really upset, and to a certain extent they should be, because they were making investments based on what Congress said they would be forcing into the fuel supplies. So if you’re a biofuels company, you thought you had a certain amount of demand every year and now the EPA said, ‘Nah, we don’t need all that much,'” said Borelli.
But while the EPA is slowing the increase of biofuel increases to the fuel supply, the percentage is still outpacing gasoline consumption. That means car makers and the traditional energy industry are looking at big problems.
“When you do the percentages, now we’re hitting what they call the ‘blend wall’. You’d be over 10 percent ethanol, for example, in the gasoline supply. That would be destructive for a number of car engines as well as the energy infrastructure that the oil industry has,” said Borelli.
The mandate dilemma extends back a decade to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. President George W. Bush signed both, the first in collaboration with the Republican-led Congress. Democrats were in the majority when the second bill was passed.
“President Bush and Congress were concerned about the amount of oil we were importing from foreign nations. They thought it would be a grand idea if the federal government could step in and force the introduction of renewable fuels into our gasoline and diesel supplier transportation fuels,” said Borelli.
But the congressional micromanaging was just getting started.
“In its infinite wisdom, Congress set out very specific targets of the billions of gallons of these sorts of renewable fuels that would have to be blended into our transportation fuels going all the way out until 2022,” said Borelli.
With the numbers not quite working out as planned, the Department of Agriculture is trying to keep the biofuels flowing. It vows to spend $100 million om new pumps that can handle a higher percentage of ethanol in our fuels.
“A hundred million dollars is not a lot of money in terms of the energy infrastructure. Essentially, I think we just threw a hundred million dollars away,” said Borelli, who says there is a lot of money involved in keeping ethanol and other biofuels afloat.
“The farming lobby is huge. The biofuels industry can only survive by lobbing, right? It’s only through government mandates that these companies can survive. So there’s a lot of money going in to support this failed program,” he said.
Borelli says the Renewable Fuel Standard is a perfect example of what happens when politicians and bureaucrats try to dictate the future. He says the Bush administration did not foresee the fracking boom or the pace at which consumption and other technological advancements would proceed.
“They couldn’t predict technology in terms of ethanol production, especially from cellulosic ethanol. And they certainly couldn’t project the fact that technology would allow the United States to be the leader in fossil fuel development. So the government should just clearly stay out of the free market,” said Borelli.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Patrick Brennan of National Review welcome Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to the huge GOP presidential field, but Patrick offers Jindal some constructive criticism. They also discuss whether the push to remove the Confederate flag will end up rewriting American history. And they happily react to a Huffington Post writer vowing not to have children so she won’t propagate her white privilege.
The Obama administration is changing federal policy to allow the families of American hostages to negotiate ransom payments with the abductors, but a former high-ranking Air Force officer says that’s a recipe for many more Americans to get kidnapped.
On Wednesday, President Obama will announce the anticipated policy change. The change comes after the families of several Americans murdered by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, lashed out at the administration for refusing to let them negotiate and even allegedly threatening some with prosecution if they tried to pay a ransom.
Officials say U.S. government policy will remain unchanged in not paying ransom for American hostages, because they believe it will only encourage our enemies to take more citizens into custody.
Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney fears the very same thing will happen by letting families negotiate price of their loved one’s release.
“This is a very difficult one because there’s a great deal of emotion. But the fact is I think we’re going to see more cases of kidnapping by radical Islam and trying to use those Americans that are over there helping in the Arab countries as treasury bait,” said McInerney, who is also a military analyst for the Fox News Channel.
McInerney concedes that reasonable people can disagree about whether to give families the option of negotiating a ransom, but he says it’s the wrong choice and the administration is making a mistake by talking about it.
“I would much rather have not announced it because I think it will increase the number of kidnappings. I think if we had a covert program that could have been done, that would have been better,” said McInerney, who calls the policy change “a political decision.”
In addition to the protests of hostages’ families, McInerney believes the administration also changed course and adopted the policies of some European nations that allow families to negotiate with hostage takers.
The Obama administration is also promising to do a better job of communicating with the families of future hostages. Several families publicly scolded the government for infrequent updates and being treated as a nuisance when they asked federal officials for more information.
McInerney says that’s the least any government should be able to do.
“There is nothing that encourages the radical Islamists to kidnap people if we keep our people informed. So there’s absolutely no reason that the administration is not giving them up to date briefings, at least on a weekly or a bi-weekly basis,” he said.
In the big picture, McInerney says the best way to discourage more ISIS kidnappings is to wipe the radicals off the face of the earth. He is deeply frustrated by the administration’s refusal to use it’s air power dominance.
“We’ve got to take the handcuffs off our air power. Seventy-five percent of the missions that come back are not dropping bombs. I know the air commander over there says, ‘Well, the generals that are complaining have never fought this kind of war.’ He’s correct. We’ve never fought a war where we lost cities like this and air power has been so ineffective,” said McInerney.
McInerney says the Obama team is paralyzed by fears of killing innocents in the air campaign. He says that mindset cannot lead to success.
“We know where they are. We’re worried about the collateral damage. I think we have to accept it is war, accept that collateral damage and have it over quickly,” said McInerney.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Ian Tuttle of National Review applaud South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for her handling of the Confederate flag debate. They also grind their teeth as House Republican leaders punish conservative members for not voting their way on key votes. And they dismiss the Associated Press explanation that they intended no disrespect by publishing photos of Ted Cruz with a gun pointed at his head.
Recent foreign hacking into federal government systems is not the equivalent of a cyber Pearl Harbor, but experts say the feds are badly behind the private sector when it comes to addressing the threat.
A series of reported hacks from China and Russia into federal personnel databases is triggering the concern, as anywhere from four to fourteen million current and former government employees had their personal data compromised. Applicants for federal positions are also at risk.
“I don’t know whether I’d call it the Pearl Harbor. The cyber analysts have been trying to use that term for quite awhile now. I guess this is one of those times you could theoretically use the term,” said Heritage Foundation cyber security expert Riley Walters.
He says the data breach of millions of people is very serious and could lead to plenty of problems, but he says the most vital national security assets are much better protected and are not compromised.
“I think it comes down to risk. When you’ve got [the Defense Department], you’ve got technical equipment, actual undercover agents, state secrets and methods for security in the future. It’s very direct, kinetic security information,” said Walters.
But as impressed as Walters is with the defense and intelligence cyber security apparatus, he says the government overall is playing catch-up.
“The government, compared to the private sector, is not necessarily as good in some areas for their cyber security,” said Walters. “When you get into OPM or the VA it’s a little more system and a little more shaky. This is certainly an area where cyber hackers can find a way into federal systems.”
Walters says one major reason the feds are lagging behind the private sector and other governments in security is a simple lack of due diligence.
“The government is a bit slow in updating its systems. Since systems do upgrade so fast so regularly, it’s hard for them to keep pace like a private company does,” he said.
That inability to keep up with the competition has Walters very skeptical about a larger government role in running the internet.
“Here at the Heritage Foundation, we like to think that the federal government wouldn’t be so good at regulating cyber security. If they can’t even update their systems as regularly as they need to, then how can you update regulations as quick as you need to,” said Walters.
Walters says the greatest hacking threats come from China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. He says they have different specialties. China is focused on securing information on as many people as possible. Iran and North Korea prioritize the shutting down of websites. He says Russia is the best at not leaving any digital footprints.
The threat is only going to get worse. Walters says it’s a product of the insatiable demand for more data.
“Over the past several years, we’ve just seen more reliance on big data and the internet. So obviously there’s a correlation with the increasing number of cyber attacks,” he said.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Ian Tuttle of National Review are encouraged by new statistics showing Americans are increasingly protective of their second amendment rights. They also call out Bill Maher for his misleading criticism of the Fox News Channel’s coverage of the Charleston murders. And they break down the pope’s recent political statements on climate and guns.
President Obama reacted to Wednesday’s murders in Charleston by saying “there’s something we can do about” mass killings in America, and a leading gun rights leader says the president is just angling for more gun control measures.
On Thursday, Obama mourned the nine people murdered at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Twenty-one-year-old Dylann Roof is in custody for the killings. He has admitted committing the murders and sources say he does not regret his actions.
However, in addition to expressing sympathies to the families and communities impacted by the murders, Obama also returned to the debate over guns.
“We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that, once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun,” said Obama.
“And at some point it’s going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it, and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively,” he said.
In the midst of that statement, Obama seemed to acknowledge the political realities in Washington are not in his favor on this issue.
“I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now,” he said.
In 2013, Obama pushed hard for the U.S. Senate (then controlled by Democrats) to approve new measures, including expanded background checks, but the bipartisan bill failed to advance.
Republicans now control both the House and Senate, so does this mean Obama knows he can’t advance the issue over the remainder of his term? Gun Owners of America Executive Director Larry Pratt says that may not stop Obama from applying the full-court press.
“I’d bet a small amount of money on the president continuing to push, because he is so incredibly ideologically driven. Even as he’s recognizing the difficulty of the task, I don’t think that is going to inhibit him. I hope it will but I don’t think so,” said Pratt.
Pratt sees the limited time remaining in the Obama administration as a major motivating factor in a possible gun control push.
“This man is hard hard left. He believes the government should control everything. Now, he’s got less than two years to really snap the socialist vise on the country. I don’t see him backing off,” he said.
Pratt and other critics assert that Obama’s proposed gun laws would not have made a difference in Charleston, since the victims were killed with a pistol rather than a so-called assault rifle. High-capacity magazines of ammunition were also not involved.
Pratt says South Carolina’s laws put the members of Emanuel AME Church at a disadvantage.
“The law in South Carolina, which was actively supported by [Pastor and State Senator Clementa Pinckney] is that you cannot have a gun at a church unless the pastor or the governance of the church says it’s OK,” said Pratt.
He says the horror in Charleston follows an unmistakable pattern by recent mass murderers.
“The biggest problem occurs in gun-free zones. That’s where all but one of our mass murders has occurred. So you get a dirtbag in a gun-free zone intent on committing mass murder and it takes awhile before a good guy with a gun can get there,” said Pratt.
Another major reason that killers strike where they do, according to Pratt, is the ability of law-abiding citizens to obtain a gun. He says the statistics in this area are overwhelming.
“It’s easier to protect yourself in a lot of parts of the country. In those parts of the country where access to guns is not impeded by the kind of laws that the state senator wanted and the president wants, the murder rate and violent crime rate is lower where gun control is not as onerous,” said Pratt.
He says the areas with the most restrictive gun laws see a much different story.
“The problem we have in our country with violent crime and people using guns to commit heinous acts, occurs in our urban centers, where the gun control laws tend to be the most severe. So the president really doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on,” said Pratt.
According to Pratt, the only people inconvenienced by cracking down on guns are the people who would act responsibly.
“I think the answer is to stop kidding ourselves. Criminals are not going to obey the law, so let’s not make it difficult for the good guys to have guns,” he said.