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Guest Observer Archive

Even Amid Losses, the Liberty Movement Grows Stronger | Commentary

Chris McDaniel’s narrow loss to 41-year incumbent Senator Thad Cochran, R-Miss., will undoubtedly fuel wishful thinking about the death of the grassroots liberty movement. But even in the wake of defeat, the sheer enthusiasm and grassroots dedication we saw over the last few weeks proves that our community is now a permanent force in American politics — the most successful social movement since the Civil Rights movement in the fifties and sixties.

Why Did the EPA Reverse Its Position on Renewable Fuels? | Commentary

In late 2013, the oil industry scored a major victory over ethanol producers when the Obama administration proposed decreasing the level of biofuel that must be blended into gasoline. A 2007 law supported by both the Bush and Obama administrations requires biofuels, such as ethanol, be blended into fuel supplies. Each year, the Environmental Protection Agency mandates the “renewable fuel standard” — the amount of biofuel that must be blended into fuel — and every year since the law was enacted, that amount has increased, never decreased.

Cutting Through the Bee Buzz: Pollinator Numbers Are Up | Commentary

For some time now, the media has been issuing dire warnings of the coming “bee- pocalypse.” Time magazine ran a cover story titled, “A World Without Bees.” A headline in the London Telegraph proclaimed “Honey bees in US facing extinction.” CBS warned of the drastic threat to our food supply if these essential pollinators are lost. Yet reports of bees’ catastrophic demise are greatly exaggerated.

Congress Needs To Act To Keep The Internet Tax-Free | Commentary

Internet service is an essential staple of everyday life, with over 80 percent of Americans able to access the web at home and work and nearly 60 percent carrying smartphones with mobile broadband service. Smart government policies forbidding Internet service from being taxed have helped make broadband available and affordable for Americans of all ages and incomes, but a critical piece of federal legislation, the Internet Tax Freedom Act, is set to expire in November.

The Underground Epidemic: U.S. Female Genital Mutilation | Commentary

It’s officially summer in the U.S. and that means it is “cutting season.” While some women begin prepping for bathing suit bodies, others fear the violent practice of female genital mutilation. The procedure involves the removal of the clitoris and/or the sewing up of the labia, sometimes until marriage, for non-medical reasons. Young girls across the country are being sent to their ancestral homelands for a “rite of passage” procedure to discourage premarital sexual activity.

Don't Delay Immigration Reform for Another Year | Commentary

On June 27, 2013, it looked like immigration reform advocates finally had what we used to call in politics “the Big Mo.”

Understanding the Economic Benefits of Increased Saving | Commentary

Saving. In the U.S., it is a lost art. According the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. household saving rate has steadily tracked downward over the past 30 years, to just 3.8 percent today. Across older households aged 40 and above, those on a low income are particularly vulnerable to under-saving, with those in the bottom income quartile needing to save about 21 percent more of their pre-tax income, on average, to ensure financial security in retirement. Unless they can boost their saving, many households will have to choose between working beyond the official retirement age or accepting a lower standard of living in old age — or running out of money altogether. That’s not just a problem, it’s a crisis.

Ignoring the Odds, Befriending Past Adversaries and Eternal Optimism: Three Lessons from Shimon Peres | Commentary

In a world fraught with upheaval, uncertainty, and looming threats on every side, both leaders and ordinary citizens are desperately seeking wisdom, guidance, and hope for the path ahead. Isreali President Shimon Peres, the last of the living founders of the modern state of Israel has acquired plenty of all three in a consequential life of public service spanning nearly seven decades. As Peres pays his final official visit to the United States this week, Congress will gather to award him the prestigious Congressional Medal of Honor and many from Congress will subsequently gather to witness Peres receiving the Lantos Human Rights Prize. As the Lantos Foundation and others honor a distinguished statesman, we are reminded that there are at least three important lessons to be learned from his exceptional life’s work.

Streaming Radio Is Shortchanging Songwriters | Commentary

Music access has changed dramatically in the last decade and business models are clearly trending toward streaming platforms and away from individual purchases. However, our nation’s laws remain severely behind the curve.

Cuban American Group Explains Why It's in Washington | Commentary

The chorus of voices clamoring for changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba has been growing louder and more varied in recent months. Whether it’s Hillary Rodham Clinton saying she favors normal relations with Cuba or former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte signing a letter calling for greater engagement with the island nation, the momentum for a new approach to Cuba is undeniable.

When It Comes to Autism, Everyone Can Advocate, Everyone Can Help | Commentary

Everyone is an advocate. Everyone can make a difference.

Renew the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act for America's Businesses and Workers | Commentary

Thirteen years after the terrorist attacks on America, many of the lessons seem to be fading.

The Far Right's Assault on Science Won't Help Economy | Commentary

It wasn’t too many years ago that the Environmental Protection Agency came under fire for promulgating regulations that critics claimed had insufficient scientific validity. The pendulum now seems to have swung the other way, if a policy provision in the “Department of Energy Research and Development Act of 2014” is any indicator.

Cantor's Loss Was Result of Unforced Error | Commentary

A lesson for centrist candidates: stay positive.

Today's Data-Driven Campaigns Go Back to 1970 and Father Drinan | Commentary

In the spring of 1970, the Rev. Robert F. Drinan was organizing his campaign to run against the incumbent Congressman, Philip Philbin, in the primary for the 3rd Congressional District of Massachusetts. This campaign would give raise to the modern usage of “data” in political campaigns to ensure effective and targeted messaging to the base voters or particular constituencies.

Air Travel Passengers Crave Efficiency Most of All | Commentary

Congress has immersed itself in a nettlesome debate over the advertised cost of air travel — whether ticket sellers should be forced to display the full cost of a ticket with all taxes and fees, or, as airlines desire, they should be able to separate add-ons and only show the base price. Competing bills in the House and the Senate embrace these two very different approaches. Prickly rhetoric has flown back and forth across the Capitol. Each side claims the mantle of “transparency,” and asserts that the best interest of the consumer is their principal motivation.

Congressional Baseball Is More Than a Game | Commentary

In the three years I’ve pitched in the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game, I’ve put these numbers up: 1.7 ERA, 34 K’s, 10 hits allowed, and a WHIP of 0.8571 in 21 innings pitched. These are numbers I am looking to improve upon in this year’s contest.

Senate Republican's Bait-and-Switch Fundraising | Commentary

Hundreds of thousands of conservatives receive National Republican Senatorial Committee fundraising letters that would be considered “bait-and-switch” or even money laundering in the commercial world.

Now Is the Time To Take Kidney Care in America to the Next Level | Commentary

For those of us working on behalf of the millions of Americans with kidney disease and kidney failure, it’s a proud fact that we’ve come such a long way in a relatively short period of time.

'Mad as Hell' Just Isn't Good Enough This Time | Commentary

Once again, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is in the news. Several media outlets are covering the scandal, which includes allegations that VA staff falsified data to create the appearance that veterans were receiving timely appointments at VA medical facilities. In some cases, not only did senior, regional and local VA leaders know these practices were occurring, evidence suggests they may have helped to orchestrate and cover up the scheme. CNN revealed that “at least 40 veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Health Care System.” If true, this is the clearest example yet of systemic problems in the VA.

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