Senate to vote on Rand Paul's foreign aid cutoff

Today, after months of championing the issue of cutting aid to Pakistan and other actions against the interests of the United States, Sen. Rand Paul succeeded in his filibuster mission to bring his legislation to a vote.

Sen. Paul's bill, S. 3576, calls for a prohibition of U.S. aid funds to the governments of Egypt, Libya and Pakistan contingent upon the release to U.S. authorities the aggressors who attacked our embassy and consulate in Egypt and Libya, respectively, and the release of Dr. Shakil Afridi, currently held by the Pakistani government.

"In no way should the United States government be sending money to governments who are not our ally, who blatantly do not respect our country, and who work to compromise the safety of our allies and citizens abroad. I am pleased that the Senate leadership has listened to my pleas for an end to this and have agreed to debate and vote on this pressing issue," Sen. Paul said.

In a series of Dear Colleague letters and direct correspondence to Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) over the past few weeks, Sen. Paul has indicated his intention to hold up all pending legislation before the Senate in a filibuster until his legislation was brought before the Senate to deliberate and vote. 

Press release from Senator Rand Paul

Obama admin forces Idaho to buy unwanted wind

"The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says Idaho Power's long-term purchase agreement with wind farms means that it must buy electricity from the farms even when demand for power is low," The Associated Press reports.

"Idaho Power officials have contended that they should be allowed to stop contractually required electricity purchases during periods of light load. The company says the requirement forces them to back down other energy generators like coal-fired plants to balance the power system, increasing costs in the long run."

American Tradition Partnership has been the lead advocate for reforms allowing states to get out of Expensive Energy Mandates forcing them to buy higher-priced, experimental energy from politically-connected firms.  Orders like today's from the Obama administration send utility bills higher, hurting families and putting people out of business.

Studies also show wind power increases air pollution by forcing coal-powered plants to ramp up and down production to accommodate the unpredictable amount of electricity wind adds to the power grid.  Like a diesel engine in stop-and-go traffic, coal plants that had been burning cleanly are forced to burn dirtier, making the atmosphere more polluted than it would be without wind power.

Stockman: 1st Amendment protects Kountze students

An anonymous blogger, who refuses to write under his real name and hides behind the screen name ‘gator’, has attacked me for standing up for the religious rights of Christian students at Kountze High School.  Normally I would not respond to anonymous bloggers, but this blog is posted at the ‘Beaumont Enterprise’ website, the largest circulation newspaper in the Kountze area.

While his post is difficult to read due to its poor grammar and name-calling, the general gist of it is to claim that I am wrong to oppose the banning of religious messages on banners created by students and displayed at football games.  In another blog post, the blogger lists three Supreme Court cases he claims support his theory that the school district can ban religious messages displayed by students at football games.  The court cases actually say that the government may neither advance nor inhibit religion, and the one court case he listed involving schools was an incident where school officials were leading a prayer.  At Kountze High School, the students were creating their own banners after school, on their own initiative.

Our Supreme Court told us in 1969 in the case of ‘Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District’ that “In order for the State in the person of school officials to justify prohibition of a particular expression of opinion, it must be able to show that its action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint.”  This means that just because someone complains to the school superintendent that Christian messages displayed by students might make someone ‘uncomfortable’, he is not allowed to ban the messages.

Another complaint I received is a claim that school boards are not bound by federal laws, including the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, because of the 10th Amendment.   The Supreme Court ruled in 1943 specifically that local boards of education must respect the First Amendment rights of students.  In the case of ‘West Virginia v. Barnette’ the Supreme Court told us “The Fourteenth Amendment, as now applied to the States, protects the citizen against the State itself and all of its creatures-Boards of Education not excepted. These have, of course, important, delicate, and highly discretionary functions, but none that they may not perform within the limits of the Bill of Rights."
The only instance in which school officials were allowed by the Supreme Court to restrict student banners was when a school principal forbade a banner viewed as promoting illegal drug use in violation of a school to deter drug use by schoolchildren.  In the 2007 case of ‘Morse v, Frederick’, our Chief Justice John Roberts only allowed the banners to be banned because they did not convey “any sort of political or religious message.”  It’s clear to everyone that the messages displayed by Kountze High School not only have a religious message, but were banned by the school district precisely because they contain a Christian religious message.

On January 4, 1995 I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.  When I see a government official violating the Constitutional rights of students, I am going to speak up for their rights.  Government school boards have no right to forbid religious messages voluntarily displayed by students, and a complaint by someone who feels ‘uncomfortable’ about student-created Christian messages does not enable them to do so.

Kountze Superintendent Kevin Weldon needs to respect the First Amendment rights of his students, and allow them to display their Christian messages.

Bipartisan House opposes Obama's war on coal

Today, the House of Representatives, by a bipartisan vote of 233-175 approved H.R. 3409, the Stop the War on Coal Act, a package of five bills that will help end the Obama Administration’s war on coal that threatens thousands of American jobs and could increase the price of energy on millions of American families and small businesses. The legislation prevents the Obama Administration from shutting down coal-fired power plants and American coal mines with government red-tape, which will raise unemployment, slow economic growth and increase energy costs.

Yesterday, the House Natural Resources Committee released a report, “President Obama's Covert and Unorthodox Efforts to Impose New Regulation on Coal Mining and Destroy American Jobs,” detailing information uncovered in its more than 18-month ongoing investigation into the Obama Administration’s rewrite of a coal production regulation, the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule. The Stop the War on Coal Act includes Rep. Bill Johnson’s (OH-06) bipartisan, Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act, which prohibits the Secretary of the Interior from issuing new rules or regulations that will adversely impact mining jobs and our economy.

“President Obama has spent his entire term waging a regulatory war of red-tape and government mandates on coal miners, coal jobs and the millions of people who rely on low-cost coal-fired electricity. Just one of this Administration’s most egregious regulatory attacks on American coal production will destroy thousands of jobs and inflict economic harm on over twenty other states.” said Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04).  

“Without the passage of the Stop the War on Coal Act, those job losses and thousands of others will become reality for hardworking coal miners and their families across the country as a record number of coal plants will be forced to close over the coming years.”

“Today, with bipartisan support, the House of Representatives took an important step forward in stopping one of President Obama’s most economically destructive policies with the passage of the Stop the War on Coal Act. President Obama’s war on coal is real and it is already costing jobs. Just this week, Alpha Natural Resources announced that it is laying off 1,200 workers in three states. These layoffs come just weeks after Murray Energy announced that it would be closing its mine in Brilliant, Ohio putting more hardworking miners in the unemployment lines. Both companies cite excessive government overregulation as the main reason for these layoffs.” said Rep. Bill Johnson (OH-06).  

“The Stop the War on Coal Act is common sense legislation that protects coal jobs from these destructive regulations that have put the heavy boot of an out of control federal regulatory bureaucracy on the neck of the coal industry. Protecting America’s coal industry and the jobs that go with it is part of the a true ‘all of the above’ approach to energy production that creates jobs, lowers energy prices, and takes America one step closer to energy independence. Coal is critical to powering America, and I will always fight to END President Obama’s assault on hardworking Americans who work in the coal industry and the many businesses that depend upon the reliable, cost effective energy that coal provides."

The Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012 includes the following bills:
  • H.R. 3409, the Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act
  • H.R. 910, Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011
  • H.R. 2401, Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011
  • H.R. 2273, Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act
  • H.R. 2018, Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011
Press release from the House Natural Resources Committee

Why is Obama subsidizing Chinese coal use?

Congressmen Ed Whitfield (R-Kent.) and Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) write in today's Washington Examiner on Obama's efforts to shut down coal use in the United States while subsidizing China's coal-powered energy industry.

They write, in part:
Last week, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing on the Accountability in Grants Act, which would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from awarding grants under Section 103 of the Clean Air Act for foreign projects. Since 2001, the EPA has awarded grants to foreign recipients totaling more than $100 million. In many instances, these taxpayer-funded grants help foreign companies at the expense of domestic ones.
On the list of recently awarded grants, one is especially troubling to us -- EPA's grant to the China Coal Information Institute for a "Technical Assessment of Coal Mine Gas Recovery and Utilization in China."
Taxpayers may wonder why the EPA is funding coal projects abroad, and in China no less, while simultaneously spewing regulations that are helping to destroy coal mining here at home.
Go here to read the full column.