Your Tax Dollars at Work: $43M for Afghan Gas Station + More – Daily Digest

Posted on Tue 11/03/2015 by

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THE FOUNDATION

“The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys.” —Thomas Jefferson, 1808

TOP RIGHT HOOKS

Your Tax Dollars at Work: $43M for Afghan Gas Station

Photo courtesy SIGAR

The Pentagon cannot account for some $43 million that it spent trying to get a compressed natural gas (CNG) station built in the Afghan city of Sheberghan. On Oct. 22, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) wrote to the Pentagon blasting it for the waste in building the facility that was originally going to cost $3 million, according to the original construction contract. For comparison, a similar CNG station was built in Pakistan for $500,000 — a sixth of the original estimate in Afghanistan. And why even build the thing in the first place? The average salary for an Afghani is $690 a year, SIGAR reported, while the cost to convert a gasoline-powered car to CNG is $800.

VICE News tried to follow the money because the Department of Defense couldn’t give the information. And while it was too dangerous for VICE to travel to the CNG station, it was able to find that the Pentagon contracted Central Asian Engineering to build the most expensive gas station in the world. After the station was completed in May 2014, it was transferred to Qashqari Oil and Gas Services, a company that the Afghan government has no record of. When VICE called the gas station, the man who answered the phone said the station was now operated by the Afghan Gas Company. Regional Outreach Director for Transparency International Rukshana Nanayakkara said anywhere from 50% to 90% of the money was probably diverted to bribes, just like the rest of the foreign aid the country receives. Somebody’s got a sweetheart deal, all while Obama’s playing politics with his veto of the Defense budget.

Obama’s Policy Change in Syria Does Nothing

Barack Obama’s efforts in Syria are not enough to affect change in the war-torn nation. Oh sure, Obama announced through his spokesman that American boots will be placed in Syria, but that comes with enough buts and stipulations to render the effort ineffective. “We are not putting U.S. troops on the front lines fighting firefights with ISIL,” Obama said Monday. “I’ve been consistent throughout that we are not going to be fighting, like we did in Iraq, with battalions and occupations. That doesn’t solve the problem.” Battalions of troops don’t work? Please tell us what does, because Obama’s leadership has tolerated the hyper-violent JV team’s terrorist caliphate’s existence for months. Obama continued, “Keep in mind that we have run special ops already and really this is just an extension of what we are continuing to do.” Take notes, people, for this is politician double-speak 101. There’s a policy change in Syria, but the administration is not clear about what exactly U.S. troops will be doing. They might face combat but they will not be in combat roles, apparently. As The Washington Post editorial board pointed out, these special forces will not be helping Secretary of State John Kerry leverage a peace deal with Russia and Syria. Meanwhile, the Islamic State has expanded in Syria because Russia is throwing its firepower against rebel groups fighting the Syrian dictator, giving breathing room to the jihadists. If we’re going to change Syria, then the region needs a stronger dose of American leadership.

NASA Finally Comes Clean About Antarctica

NASA issued a pre-Halloween press release Friday that is spooking the mainstream climate narrative. When it comes to all that supposed ice melt in Antarctica, it turns out the devil’s in the details.

According to the release, “A new NASA study says that an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation that began 10,000 years ago is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh the increased losses from its thinning glaciers. The research challenges the conclusions of other studies, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2013 report, which says that Antarctica is overall losing land ice.” Lead author Jay Zwally says, “We’re essentially in agreement with other studies that show an increase in ice discharge in the Antarctic Peninsula and the Thwaites and Pine Island region of West Antarctica. Our main disagreement is for East Antarctica and the interior of West Antarctica — there, we see an ice gain that exceeds the losses in the other areas.”

Of course, this isn’t news to some of us. We reported in May that sea ice extent broke the previous record high set just last year. And areal coverage has been on the upswing for decades now (increasing an average of 1.2% increase per decade, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center). It seems the only real news here is how long it took NASA to admit it. Nevertheless, Zwally warns, “If the losses of the Antarctic Peninsula and parts of West Antarctica continue to increase at the same rate they’ve been increasing for the last two decades, the losses will catch up with the long-term gain in East Antarctica in 20 or 30 years — I don’t think there will be enough snowfall increase to offset these losses.”

“The good news is that Antarctica is not currently contributing to sea level rise, but is taking 0.23 millimeters per year away” [emphasis added], adds Zwally, debunking yet another piece of settled science. “But this is also bad news. If the 0.27 millimeters per year of sea level rise attributed to Antarctica in the IPCC report is not really coming from Antarctica, there must be some other contribution to sea level rise that is not accounted for.” Which presents another quagmire: Why is NASA taking issue with the IPCC’s ice statistics but accepting its sea level reporting at face value? The bottom line is that Antarctic sea ice is gaining, yet somehow warmists are still blaming it on global warming, like this headline from Nature World Report: “Global warming is actually creating more ice in Antarctica.” At some point you have to ask: Why does the bad always outweigh the good?

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FEATURED RIGHT ANALYSIS

Ryan on Immigration: Obama Can’t Be Trusted

By Paul Albaugh

With the election of Paul Ryan as the new speaker of the House last Thursday, there have been and will continue to be mixed predictions on how he will perform. To be sure, there are many pressing issues on which Ryan will need to show leadership and wisdom. One of the biggest concerns — one that divides Republicans — is immigration.

Many conservative constituents are skeptical of how Ryan will lead on the issue. Will he work toward his own desire for more comprehensive immigration reform, or will he listen to the voices of the conservative movement who are fed up with the business-as-usual approach? Will he be willing and able to stand against Barack Obama’s “fundamental transformation” of America?

During several interviews on Sunday, Ryan proved again that he’s a far better communicator than John Boehner could ever hope to be. He worked to reassure conservatives that his leadership will be good for the party, and he sought to let the American people know that Republicans can solve problems.

But first, the GOP has to overcome its past. Ryan noted that Republicans in Congress “don’t have a vision” and that there has been too much infighting over tactics and too little work on actual policies. Such is the challenge of the GOP’s historic congressional election victories.

Ryan also stated that Republicans need to move away from being known as the party of opposition and move toward being the party of proposition, noting that he is welcome to new ideas that can be put into action.

One of the biggest challenges he is going to face is getting Republicans in the House to agree on pieces of legislation that can likewise be agreed upon in the Senate. “I was not asked to dis-unify the Republican Party in Congress; I was asked to unify,” Ryan said. “So throwing Republicans under the bus is not part of my job description.” That should bring hope to conservatives.

Illegal immigration is one of the main issues on which Ryan will have to unify Republicans. That will most certainly not be an easy task. Ryan has made clear that he will not bring up any comprehensive immigration legislation until after there is a new (hopefully conservative) president in place who is serious about addressing immigration policy. “We won’t bring immigration legislation with a president we cannot trust on this issue,” Ryan said, but he added that it may be possible for Congress to pass limited legislation that focuses on “border enforcement and interior security.”

Many conservatives were concerned that Ryan might cave to Obama’s pro-amnesty agenda based on past legislation he proposed. Further, some conservatives claim that, since Ryan won’t advance illegal immigration legislation, he is allowing Obama to continue with his unlawful executive amnesty proceedings. But Ryan knows Obama will veto any meaningful legislation that tackles illegal immigration with anything less than amnesty. Ryan also notes that Obama has been circumventing Congress with executive orders to unilaterally rewrite immigration laws. “Presidents don’t write laws,” Ryan said. “Congress writes laws.”

Heck, even Obama repeatedly said that until it became politically convenient for him to take action anyway.

And not only is Obama working without Congress, he’s actively seeking a way around a court injunction against his amnesty.

We would likely not even be having this discussion if this president and this Justice Department would actually enforce the immigration laws on the books. There seems to be general consensus amongst Republicans that we need to secure the border, and Ryan sees this as something that can be brought forth. Yet Obama wants essentially open borders so it is unlikely that he would agree to Republican legislation on this matter.

But the most divisive issue between liberals, conservatives and establishment Republicans is what to do with those who are already here illegally. Rounding every illegal immigrant up and deporting them immediately isn’t realistic, though Dwight Eisenhower successfully managed such an operation, albeit on a much smaller scale and in far different times. Sealing the border to illegal crossers is desirable, but a significant portion of illegals are those who have overstayed visas. So there needs to be a functional process for dealing with the latter.

One area of reform that could likely be agreed upon between Obama and Congress is prison reform. Almost one-third of prison inmates in America are illegal immigrants. Why are taxpayer dollars being used to jail those who shouldn’t be here in the first place? Those illegal inmates could and should be deported immediately.

It’s downright tragic that Disney workers who are American citizens are being laid off while they train their foreign replacements on the H-1B visa program. It’s no wonder that conservatives are outraged at this president and Congress for allowing this to happen.

Meanwhile, it’s outrageous that many families caught crossing the border illegally are telling Customs and Border Patrol agents they expect to receive some sort of legal “permisos,” or passes, to enter the United States.

These people are fully aware of Obama’s executive actions, that there are fewer people being deported now, and that there are sanctuary cities in the U.S. where they can settle without fear of federal government intervention. This is what happens when immigration laws aren’t enforced.

Ryan and this Congress would be wise to at least take on the issue of securing the border, if not visa reform. Both are primary priorities and, we hope, areas where Republicans can work together. But they’ve got their work cut out for them in dealing with a lawless executive.

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OPINION IN BRIEF

Hans von Spakovsky: “Giving deference to the president is one of the reasons why Republican senators have approved disastrous picks like former Supreme Court justice David Souter, a George H. W. Bush appointee. Individuals who will not enforce the limits imposed on the power of the government and believe that federal judges have a right to impose their own personal ideology and social views on the people, regardless of what the Constitution or federal law say, should not be confirmed — no matter how substantial their professional qualifications are or how much the president agrees with those views. Senators who believe that the president’s choice of judicial nominees should be given substantial deference are deeply mistaken. They owe deference to the Constitution, not the president. The importance of preserving the rule of law and adhering to the Constitution is too important for them to continue to hold this manifestly wrong — and frankly dangerous — view.”

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.” —Voltaire (1694-1778)

Observations: “The problem with Obamacare in a nutshell is that on one hand, by imposing motley regulations and mandates, it increases the price of health insurance, and on the other hand, by providing subsidies, it tries to hide the cost — but not enough.” —Rich Lowry

Double standards: “The state itself in a democratic, civilized society should itself not be involved in the murder of other Americans. … We must end capital punishment in this country.” —Bernie Sanders (“Question: how can we begin to explain the moral compass of liberals like Sanders who call imposing the death penalty on adults duly convicted of heinous crimes ‘murder,’ but refer to the killing of innocent, unborn babies as ‘choice’ or other grotesque euphemisms like ‘women’s health’?” —Newsbusters’ Mark Finkelstein)

Non Compos Mentis: “I acknowledge that I was biologically born white to white parents, but I identify as black.” —Rachel Dolezal, former president of the Spokane NAACP — that would be the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Kicking the can: “[L]ast week, Democrats and Republicans came together to set up a responsible, long-term budget process, and what we now see is a budget that reflects our values, that grows our economy, creates jobs, keeps America safe. … And there’s no better Christmas present for the American people because this will allow the kind of stability and will allow the economy to grow.” —Barack Obama (Yep, it’s a great gift until Santa demands it back.)

Alpha Jackass: “Every one of these [Republican presidential] candidates say, ‘Obama’s weak. Putin’s kicking sand in his face. When I talk to Putin, he’s going to straighten out.’ … And then it turns out they can’t handle a bunch of CNBC moderators. … If you can’t handle those guys, you know, then I don’t think the Chinese and the Russians are going to be too worried about you.” —Barack Obama (First, the candidates handled the moderators quite well, actually, and second, has there ever been a more arrogant and childish president?)

And last… “Guy who watched over aggressive Russian expansion and oversaw largest data hack in history by the Chinese has opinions about CNBC debate. … President who sits down with a woman who bathes in cereal probably shouldn’t poke fun at anyone taking hard questions.” —Stephen Miller

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis!
Managing Editor Nate Jackson

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