Ted Cruz’ Answer To Obamacare: ‘Expand Competition’

In a sometimes-fiery exchange with CNN’s Chris Cuomo Thursday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) dodged ad hominem insults to bring out a point that’s so far fallen on deaf ears – both among Congressional Democrats, as well as the moderate Republicans who prefer staging political stalemates to shaping meaningful policy reforms.

His point? Conservatives have been pushing for a while now to reverse Obamacare’s market-constricting mandates by freeing the insurance industry to sell competing policies across State lines.

“[Y]ou want a positive, affirmative solution? You know, the single best thing we can do is expand competition,” said Cruz. “Let people purchase health insurance across state lines. If you want to expand access, what you want to do is increase choices and drive down cost.

“What Obamacare does is decreases choices and drives up cost. It doesn’t make sense, and it isn’t working.”

Harry Reid To Force Nuclear Option, Change Senate Rules, Cut A Path For Obama Nominees UPDATE: Rules Changed

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is moving forward with the so-called “nuclear option” to end filibusters by minority-party opponents of proposed legislation, a move designed to give President Barack Obama’s current batch of nominees a cakewalk through the Senate confirmation process.

Senate Democrats are expected to force a vote today, despite procedural attempts by Republicans to have the vote forestalled.

“The change we propose today would ensure executive and judicial nominations an up or down vote on confirmation,” said Reid. “Yes or no. The rule change will make cloture for all nominations other than the Supreme Court, the majority the threshold vote, yes or no.” Reid described the no-filibuster rule as a necessary measure to end partisan gridlock and “evolve” the Senate. “It’s time to change the Senate before this institution becomes obsolete,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the decision, a product of transitory political expediency, would come back to haunt Reid and the Democratic majority.

“I realize this sort of wishful thinking might appeal to the uninitiated newcomers in the Democratic conference who served exactly zero days in the minority, but the rest of you guys should know better,” McConnell said.

“The Majority Leader promised over and over again that he wouldn’t break the rules of the Senate to change the Senate,” McConnell also said. “When Democrats were in the minority they argued strenuously for the very thing they now say we will have to do without, namely the right to extend a debate on lifetime appointments. In other words they believe that one set of rules should apply to them and another set to everybody else.”

The Senate is reportedly well-attended today, with “almost every Senator… at his or her desk in recognition of the significance of the moment.”

Under the “nuclear option,” the Senate would change its rules of procedure so that Presidential nominees could be confirmed on a simple majority vote, undercutting the 60-vote majority needed to break a filibuster opposing the nominations. The Reid proposal is expected to affect Presidential nominations for judicial and executive-branch appointments, but not Supreme Court nominations.

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), about as conciliatory an adversary as Senate Democrats could hope for, was evidently beginning to see the light Thursday, telling reporters, “This changes everything; this changes everything.”

UPDATE:

In a 52-48 vote, the Senate dramatically changed its rules to limit the minority Party’s ability to filibuster and prevent the confirmation of Presidential nominees. Only three Democrats, Senator’s Carl Levin (Mich.), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.), voted against Majority Leader Reid’s proposal.

The change will clear the way for confirmation of President Obama’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals along with his nomination of Representative Mel Watt to a housing regulatory agency appointment.

“It’s time to change the Senate before this institution becomes obsolete,” Reid said on the Senate floor.

“The American people believe Congress is broken. The American people believe the Senate is broken. And I agree.”

Minority Leader McConnell said that the Democrats had simply picked a fake fight over the Federal judgeships in order to distract Americans from the problems plaguing Obamacare.

“It only reinforces the narrative of a party willing to do or say just about anything to get its way,” said McConnell.

Republicans have been critical of the Democrats’ embrace of the nuclear option since lawmakers on the left gained control of the Senate in 2006.

In 2005, GOP Senators threatened to employ a similar tactic in order to move some of President George W. Bush’s nominees.

“To change the rules in the Senate can’t be done by a simple majority. It can only be done if there is extended debate by 67 votes,” Reid said in May 2005.

“They are talking about doing something illegal. They are talking about breaking the rules to change the rules, and that is not appropriate. That is not fair, and it is not right,” he said in April of that year.

 

* Sam Rolley contributed to this report.

Florida City Tells Couple They Can’t Keep Their 17-Year-Old Vegetable Garden

A Florida couple who had cultivated a small garden for nearly two decades at their Miami Shores home was given an ultimatum earlier this year by the city’s zoning code enforcement officer: Dig up your garden or pay $50 a day to the city for violating a new ordinance.

After spending months attempting to obtain an exemption from the city that would have allowed them to continue tending a modest plot of vegetables at their home (just as they’d done for the past 17 years), Tom Carroll and his wife, Hermine Ricketts, dug up their garden.

Miami Shores had instituted a new zoning ordinance in May outlawing vegetables (but not, as watchdog.org notes, fruit, trees or plastic flamingoes) in the front yards of local homes.

That measure was followed by a visit to the couple’s home courtesy of the zoning department, which told the homeowners they would have to comply or pay a never-ending fine.

After Carroll and Ricketts capitulated, the Institute for Justice — a civil liberties nonprofit organization staffed by lawyers — stepped in, filing a lawsuit that seeks to have the discriminatory ordinance declared unConstitutional. The organization alleges the code infringes on the couple’s privacy, and that the ordinance exemplifies a growing nationwide trend that pits government against small-scale food growers.

“For 17 years, Hermine Ricketts and her husband Tom Carroll used their front yard to grow food for their own personal consumption,” IJ said in announcing the lawsuit. “And for 17 years, nobody had a problem with it . . . until now.”

Hermine and Tom are part of a nationwide movement of small-scale food producers and consumers who are tired of the government dictating what foods they can grow, sell, and eat. On November 19, 2013, they joined with the Institute for Justice to challenge Miami Shores’ senseless front-yard vegetable garden ban.  Their case aims to vindicate the right of all Americans to peacefully use their own property to support their own families.

Despite the fact that Carroll and Rickets are stable, longtime residents whose position in the neighborhood has remained stable and benign over many years, the ordinance did not include language to grandfather in properties like theirs. The law’s intent, as written, is to “protect the distinctive character of the Miami Shores Village.”

The Institute for Justice has some good background information on the couple’s case, including its significance in the wider context of similar legislation throughout the country that takes direct aim at property owners who produce and consume their own food.

“Because Hermine and Tom’s right to grow vegetables on their own property for their own consumption is protected by the Basic Rights and Right of Privacy Clauses of the Florida Constitution, courts are required to apply heightened scrutiny in reviewing Miami Shores’ ban on front-yard vegetable gardens,” IJ maintains. “That means Miami Shores will have to prove that its ban promotes a compelling governmental interest and is narrowly tailored to advance that interest. If the government does not meet that high burden (and it cannot), the ban must be struck down as unconstitutional.”

To see more photos of the couple and their property, check out IJ’s related media page.

Unlike The Rest Of America, Congress’ Dose Of Obamacare Comes With A Giant Spoonful Of Sugar

In the long run-up to Obamacare’s Oct. 1 launch, Congress made much over its commitment to keeping itself honest. Congress members and staffers, they pledged, would indeed adhere to the same coverage plans and mandates that Congress had imposed on the entire Nation.

But no one said anything about Congress members and eligible Capitol employees getting the white-glove treatment.

The New York Times, which has had a rough time adjusting its former editorial stance as it attempts to stay atop Obamacare’s now-burgeoning wave of unpopularity, got mad about it Tuesday.

“Members of Congress like to boast that they will have the same health care enrollment experience as constituents struggling with the balky federal website, because the law they wrote forced lawmakers to get coverage from the new insurance exchanges,” wrote The Times’ Robert Pear.

What follows is a sarcastic tirade highlighting the vast difference between the Congressional Obamacare enrollment experience and that of just about everybody else:

That is true. As long as their constituents have access to “in-person support sessions” like the ones being conducted at the Capitol and congressional office buildings by the local exchange and four major insurers. Or can log on to a special Blue Cross and Blue Shield website for members of Congress and use a special toll-free telephone number — a “dedicated congressional health insurance plan assistance line.”

And then there is the fact that lawmakers have a larger menu of “gold plan” insurance choices than most of their constituents have back home.

That’s right. Congress actually has more options than everyone else, especially on the deluxe end of the coverage spectrum. There are 112 Obamacare gold-level coverage packages available to Congress, whereas most constituents back home can count on one or two hands the number of gold-level packages available to them.

The problems most people have with Obamacare have to do with its mechanical functionality (accessing websites that work as advertised) and with its cost (obtaining coverage that’s “affordable,” as advertised).

But the problems Congress members and staffers are having represent a wealth of riches.

“Lawmakers and their aides are not eligible for tax credit subsidies, but the government pays up to 75 percent of their premiums, contributing a maximum of $5,114 a year for individual coverage and $11,378 for family coverage,” writes Pear. “The government contribution is based on the same formula used for most other federal employees.

“…Congressional aides naturally have a few complaints. Some are confused by the large number of options.”

No worries. They can just call the Congress-only toll-free Obamacare number to get their questions answered rapidly.

Liven Up Thanksgiving Dinner By Suggesting Michael Bloomberg Is Right About Gun Control

A new ad campaign by Mayors Against Illegal Guns – New York Mayor Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s over-funded, under-performing gun control nonprofit – is helpfully suggesting that people hijack their own Thanksgiving family gatherings by “Talking Turkey” about why we need more gun laws.

Are members of your family ardent believers in the frank simplicity of the 2nd Amendment? Here’s your chance to alienate them while breaking bread:

Everyone has friends and relatives with strong opinions and shaky facts. You can help set the table straight – all you need is this simple guide to Talking Turkey about guns!

What guide? The wholesome-looking one that Mayors Against Illegal Guns superimposes over a sepia background of police tape and cop cars on its “Demand Action” website. For comedic purposes, here’s the guide:

turkeytalkers

The Numbers Game: U.N. Panel Gets Its Climate Change Numbers By Hand-Picking Sympathetic Data

You know how policy progressives are always citing the consensus of the overwhelming majority of scientific experts to drive home their point that man-made climate change is well understood and “settled?”

The pool of experts who supposedly prop up progressives’ calls for ever more-ambitious environmental policies is actually a lot smaller, and its findings a lot less politicized, than pundits claim.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has a history of neglecting evidence in order to adhere to an aggressive climate change agenda, claims an affiliation with 2,500 scientific experts who all agree that the disaster-averting result acting to curb man-made global heating is worth any economic cost.

Only problem is, the number of scientists who actually have signed off on that opinion is nowhere close to the 2,500 the IPCC claims. To be sure, the IPCC has sourced isolated tidbits of its global warming puzzle from among 2,500 experts, but they don’t all agree. In fact, according to the National Post’s Lawrence Solomon, some disagree “vehemently.”

“To their embarrassment, most of the pundits and press discovered that they were mistaken — those 2,500 scientists hadn’t endorsed the IPCC’s conclusions, they had merely reviewed some part or other of the IPCC’s mammoth studies,” Solomon writes. “To add to their embarrassment, many of those reviewers from within the IPCC establishment actually disagreed with the IPCC’s conclusions, sometimes vehemently.”

The IPCC has since shifted to a newer made-for-media statistic that uses a percentage rather than a hard number. That gives the U.N. panel a lot more rhetorical wiggle room, even though the facts that lie behind its claim that “97 percent of the world’s climate scientists” agree on the causes and effects of global warming don’t support the claim itself.

Solomon points out that, in order to arrive at the “97 percent” figure, the IPCC had to cull only the opinions of only the most adamant global warming adherents from a group of scientists who responded to a 2009 online survey sponsored by the University of Illinois. A pair of sympathetic researchers led that effort, and their first order of business was excluding the wider scientific community — including “solar scientists, space scientists, cosmologists, physicists, meteorologists and astronomers” — in favor of 10,257 scientists in fields like geology, paleontology and oceanography. The researchers didn’t factor in the respondents’ academic qualifications or their current jobs. About 1,000 of those included in the survey didn’t have a Ph.D.

Even with a group hand-selected to tell researchers what they wanted to hear, the opinions of the 3,146 people who actually answered the survey still didn’t achieve a consensus on the extent to which mankind is contributing to global warming. So the IPCC zeroed in on a subset of scientists who’d responded to the survey. There were only 77 people in that special group.

Of those 77 scientists, the IPCC then pinned down 75 who said they believed there was a direct link between human activity and climate change, with the other two dissenting — presumably so that there’d be an obligatory wacko contingent included in the final conclusion, just to make the results somewhat believable. Divide 77 into 75 and you get .974.

Voilá! That’s 97 percent.

Even if there are thousands upon thousands of scientists whose opinions on man-made global warming run the full gamut from all-out denial to all-out acceptance, the ICPP used sympathetic research to isolate a small group of people to advance its policy agenda.

Every closed system is perfect. If all the people within a group believe exactly the same thing, and all are equally willing to live with the consequences of their beliefs — no matter how absurd they may seem to outsiders — a closed system can function perfectly. In fact, that’s exactly what cults do.

But when a cult begins expecting the rest of the world to accept the faith of its believers, and asks the rest of the world to bear the cost of achieving the cult’s aims, it’s time to push back. People may play an indeterminate role in shaping the global environment in ways that are poorly understood and in ways that lack the context of human documentation over the course of the Earth’s long history. But no one in 2013 has the omniscient perspective to assume an absolutist’s position on that complex interaction of possible causes and possible effects.

Especially not the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its cultist adherents.

Police Shoot, Kill 61-Year-Old Woman With Multiple Sclerosis Who Allegedly Wouldn’t Drop Knife, Guitar

Police in San Jose, Calif., shot and killed a 61-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis in the driveway of her home on Nov. 16 because she didn’t respond to their orders to drop a knife.

They were there because a neighbor had called police with a noise complaint. Her widowed husband confirmed that the couple had indeed been arguing that day.

The victim, Andrea Naharro Gionet, was a diminutive woman who’d been diagnosed with MS earlier this year. Local news reports described the way in those who knew Naharro took police to task for the way they handled the encounter.

From KTVU News in Oakland:

“I asked the police why didn’t you just Tase her,” said Pam Polacci of Boulder Creek, a friend of Naharro. “Why did you use such deadly force?”

The three deputies who encountered Naharro just after midnight Saturday had a different impression.

They were responding to a noise complaint from one of Naharro’s neighbors.

“The subject produced a weapon,” said Sheriff’s Sgt. Kurtis Stenderup.

That weapon, a knife of unspecified size was in Naharro’s hand as she stood in her driveway. When she refused the deputies’ order to drop it, they say they fired.

Neighbors reported hearing three shots. Authorities have not said how many times Naharro was struck.

“The knife was located next to the deceased subject,” added Stenderup.

Onlookers told media that the victim appeared to have been holding a guitar in one hand and a kitchen knife in the other when the police opened fire.

“Even if she walked towards them and they told her to ‘stop’, c’mon,” said family friend Tony Poalucci. “You guys know how to do hand to hand combat. Pull her to the ground.”

IRS Cincinnati Office Pushed Back Hard When Lerner Tried To Throw ‘Rogue’ Employees Under The Bus

Newly released emails from the Internal Revenue Service’s Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division office in Cincinnati show that, from the beginning, Lois Lerner was setting the office up as a “rogue” fall guy for the Tea Party discrimination scandal.

The new batch of emails, products of an ongoing investigation into the scandal by the House Ways and Means Committee, show that Cincinnati exempt organizations director Cindy Thomas called out Lerner directly for attempting to make the scandal appear to be the work of outliers working without authorization from Washington, D.C.

On May 10 (the day the scandal first broke to the media), Lerner was claiming it was all Cincinnati’s fault, and that nobody else within the IRS knew that the agency was holding up conservative groups’ applications to be granted nonprofit status during the 2012 general election cycle.

To say that incensed Thomas, back at the Cincinnati office, is an understatement.

“Cincinnati wasn’t publicly ‘thrown under the bus’ [but] instead was hit by a convoy of Mack trucks,” Thomas wrote Lerner in an email that same day.

“As you can imagine, employees and managers [here in Cincinnati] are furious.” Thomas wrote to Lerner.

Confronted May 10 with questions about the brewing scandal, Lerner, who was attending a conference for the American Bar Association at the time, said rogue employees at the Cincinnati office “didn’t have the appropriate level of sensitivity about how this might appear to others, and it was just wrong.”

Thomas, who never publicized her anger with Lerner, excoriated her via email.

“Was it also communicated at that conference in Washington that the low-level workers in Cincinnati asked the Washington office for assistance and the Washington office took no action to provide guidance to the low-level workers?

“. . . How am I supposed to keep the low-level workers motivated when the public believes they are nothing more than low-level and now will have no respect for how they are working cases? The attitude/morale of employees is at the lowest it has ever been.”

At least they can take solace in the fact that Lerner ultimately did take the fall, most likely in a move by the Obama Administration to decapitate the scandal while the public still believed its head wasn’t attached to the White House. She resigned in September, and poked her head up last month to announce she wanted to volunteer to help a local citizens’ group in Maryland screen grant applications from nonprofit organizations. Old habits die hard.

Hammer In Search Of Nail: If Everyone’s Speeding, Don’t Raise The Speed Limit – Make Them Stop Instead

Philadelphia is testing a new method to get motorists to notice a posted 35 mph speed limit on a local street, with an eye to expanding the pilot project if city leaders like the results.

The city has spent $11,050 to embed speed sensors in the roadway on a stretch of Kelly Drive that trigger a traffic signal to switch from green to red – if the sensor detects a car that’s speeding.

Previously, the Kelly Drive signal only would turn red for pedestrians who pushed the crosswalk button or for cross traffic that had stopped at the opposing light.

What’s odd about this program is that the city had no idea that people were violating the speed limit by an average of nearly 20 mph over the limit – until after it signed on to embed the sensors that trigger the red light.

The story, as covered by local website philly.com, seems to get behind the effort by using the same sort of anecdotal generalizations – the kind not supported by data – that filmmaker Chris Thompson took to task in a recent video. Thompson argues that police, lawmakers and the media often collude to promote the “speed kills” mantra instead of examining whether drivers and pedestrians would be safer if speed limits, in many cases, were raised instead of zealously enforced.

“Daily commuters on Kelly Drive know well the frequent traffic jams caused by accidents and the occasional car veering into the Schuylkill,” offers philly.com.

What about it? If you’re familiar with this area, do you think it warrants strict enforcement of a 35 mph speed limit? Or is the average 54.8 mph driver speed more realistic?

Obama Losing The Hope And Change Generation

The same Quinnipiac poll that shows President Barack Obama in a free fall with voters also reveals that the President who successfully sold young voters a nebulous promise of hope and change is beginning to lose his appeal with the hope and change generation.

Quinnipiac finds that only 40 percent of young people approve of the President’s performance — virtually identical to the general voting population’s 39 percent approval rating. Among 19- to 29-year-olds, 54 percent disapprove of Obama; among 30- to 49-year-olds, the figure is 51 percent. That’s right up there with the general voting population’s 54 percent disapproval rating.

A similar question about Obama’s trustworthiness produced a similar breakdown in numbers. By contrast, when young voters were asked whether they trusted Obama over Congressional Republicans on issues ranging from the economy to immigration to healthcare reform, 18- to 29-year-olds favored the GOP in every category:

  • Healthcare: 41 percent (Obama); 46 percent (GOP)
  • The economy: 39 percent (Obama); 49 percent (GOP)
  • Immigration: 41 percent (Obama); 42 percent (GOP)
  • Federal budget: 41 percent (Obama); 44 percent (GOP)

Of course, what young people think about Obama means little for Obama himself as he rides out the remainder of his Presidency. As his credibility has taken repeated hits over the course of 2013 (and especially since the Obamacare rollout fiasco), political writers and talking heads have begun throwing in “lame duck” references with increasing frequency.

But the extent to which young voters apply the guilt-by-association theory to Obama’s fellow Democrats — many of whom are distancing themselves from their key role in making Obamacare the law of the land — could help determine whether there’s a partisan realignment in Congress in next year’s midterm elections.

In a midterm election cycle that lacks a national stage for a candidate to make an overt push for young voters, it’s likely that young voter turnout for most of the 2014 Congressional races won’t approach the level seen in the past two general elections. Young voters staying at home on Election Day, according to the conventional thinking, is supposed to benefit the GOP. But next year, it could be Democratic incumbents who hope for a light turnout among the young.

Federal Judge Considers Injunction Against NSA Data Collection

A judge for U.S. District in the District of Columbia showed some indication Monday that issuing a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit to stop the NSA from mining American citizens’ personal electronic data is a real possibility in his court.

But, Judge Richard Leon also acknowledged that the matter probably won’t resolve until it’s reached the highest court in the land.

“I don’t know, frankly, how I’m going to come out,” said Leon after hearing arguments on both sides Monday. “I’m not kidding myself… it’s going to the court of appeals and probably to the Supreme Court – one way or the other.”

The lawsuit before Leon was filed in June by Larry Klayman, a former prosecutor in the Reagan Administration and former chairman of the nonprofit court monitoring group Judicial Watch, and two other plaintiffs. Klayman filed two similar suits only days after the NSA’s PRISM spy program was first made public by British newspaper The Guardian.

The suit alleges the government to have illegally spied on the plaintiffs’ Verizon Wireless devices in a violation of the Constitution “and also Federal laws, including, but not limited to, the outrageous breach of privacy, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and the due process rights of American citizens.”

Verizon, the NSA, the U.S. Department of Justice, President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and others are named as defendants.

Reporting on Monday’s arguments, U.S. News assessed Judge Leon’s interest in the standing of the case, as well as the merits:

During the hearing Leon expressed concern about two areas of law. First, he questioned his authority to review Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court decisions. The law establishing that court doesn’t provide for review by a U.S. District Court, he said. Leon also questioned whether the plaintiffs have standing to sue – an issue that derailed a case brought before the U.S. Supreme Court last year by Amnesty International.

On standing, Klayman said a leaked FISC order showed his clients’ Verizon phone records were collected, giving them standing.

[DOJ attorney James] Gilligan disagreed. That court order actually required a Verizon corporate entity that does not directly route calls to hand over information, he said, not Verizon Wireless – the provider used by plaintiffs.

“The government has not acknowledged the identity of any carrier,” he said.

“If the government holds all the cards,” Leon asked, “they could never establish standing, could they?”

…Leon expressed concern about his authority to declare unconstitutional the decisions of 15 federal judges serving on the FISC who authorized the NSA collection of phone records, but Klayman argued he has the authority – and responsibility – to do so.

“King George [III] had judges too,” Klayman said. “You, your honor, are the last bastion of protection for the American people. [We are] going into the only court we can be in.”

Leon at one point said a 1979 case that NSA and its proponents often fall back on to justify the legal basis for the agency’s surveillance practices may be outdated in the era of Big Data.

That case, Smith v Maryland, ended with a ruling that the defendant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy “over a list of phone numbers dialed within a two-day period.”

“Things have changed a little since ’79. The technology that was being used in that case paled in comparison – paled in comparison – to the technology the NSA has at its disposal,” said Leon.

Homeland Security Chairman: Obama Just Not That Into National Security

The National Security Agency may be bigger and badder than ever before, Federal agencies may be militarizing and expanding their law enforcement roles in unprecedented ways, local police departments may be lapping up the government’s cast-off tanks and riot gear under the guise of dealing with worst-case terrorism encounters, and the United States may be ready to sell the farm to court nuclear wild cards like Iran.

But don’t let anyone fool you: Whatever he may say to justify America baring its teeth at its own citizens while lying down like a lamb for our known enemies, President Barack Obama must have other motives at heart. According to the Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, at the end of the day, Obama just isn’t all that interested in National security.

Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) told The Heritage Foundation last week Obama “denies reality and tried to wish things away” — when he even bothers to attend national security briefings at all.

The long and short of it is, the leadership starts at the top. And when the leadership denies reality and tries to wish things away, and creates a narrative that defies reality, it’s very hard to work in a bipartisan way. At the end of the day, National security issues above all should be bipartisan. I have attempted to govern my committee, as chairman of Homeland Security in a bipartisan way. In fact every bill that I’ve gotten out of my committee has passed in a bipartisan way, and I think that’s the way we need to govern. I think that’s important that we try to do that. Certainly, when it comes to National security issues we should. I just personally think this President is weak on national security, and I don’t think, frankly, he’s interested in it. It’s not where his interest lies, which is why he doesn’t attend many of his National security briefings.

McCaul’s remarks echo those of American Enterprise Institute fellow Marc A. Thiessen, who observed in an opinion piece for The Washington Post last year that Obama’s campaign rhetoric made him out to be a leader with a deep personal investment in matters of National security.

In reality, though, his handlers were observing a man whose scheduling choices suggested he couldn’t care less — so long as he could go along to get along.

“It turns out that more than half the time, the commander in chief does not attend his daily intelligence meeting,” Thiessen wrote:

The Government Accountability Institute, a new conservative investigative research organization, examined President Obama’s schedule from the day he took office until mid-June 2012, to see how often he attended his Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) — the meeting at which he is briefed on the most critical intelligence threats to the country. During his first 1,225 days in office, Obama attended his PDB just 536 times — or 43.8 percent of the time. During 2011 and the first half of 2012, his attendance became even less frequent — falling to just over 38 percent. By contrast, Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush almost never missed his daily intelligence meeting.

…When Obama forgoes this daily intelligence meeting, he is consciously placing other priorities ahead of national security. As The Post story that the Obama White House sent me put it, “Process tells you something about an administration. How a president structures his regular morning meeting on intelligence and national security is one way to measure his personal approach to foreign policy.”

Indeed it is. So is how often he holds it. With President Obama, it seems, the regular morning meeting on intelligence is not so regular.

Senate Candidate Ben Sasse: Obama Is Throwing Nation Into A ‘Constitutional Crisis’

Ben Sasse, president of Midland University and conservative candidate for one of Nebraska’s seats in the U.S. Senate, released a short video from the campaign trail Friday that elegantly criticizes President Barack Obama’s visionary reimagining of his role under the Constitution. Obama’s a la carte enforcement of the unpopular Obamacare law, says Sasse, illustrates the President’s erroneous belief that the Nation’s chief executive holds legislative power.

Here’s a portion of Sasse’s commentary:

Just like my fellow citizens last night, I’m frightened by what occurred in Washington, D.C., yesterday. President Obama offered a supposed “fix” to Obamacare that would direct the secretary of HHS to let Americans keep their insurance policy. The President did not actually “fix” anything, but he did provoke a Constitutional crisis.

Understand: President Obama cannot legally do what he proposed to do yesterday, and the media let him get away with the claim. He can’t “fix” part of a law he doesn’t like by fiat. Our President is not a king. He doesn’t get to make decrees. He doesn’t even have a line-item veto, under our current system of government.

The only branch of government, under our Constitution, that has any power to change this law is the Congress.

This debate is no longer only about healthcare, but has become much larger — it has morphed into a battle over transforming our Constitutional system of separate, coequal branches of government. This is about whether or not the Congress will cede its Constitutional power to a runaway executive branch in a way that our Founders never intended, and would not understand.

… President Obama does not have the unilateral authority to change parts of the law that finds inconvenient, now, for political purposes. The fact that Obama rammed this bill through in the worst possible in 2009 does not now give him the imperial power to go back and change parts of it that he doesn’t like.

Sasse also points out that even Obama’s traditional allies, like former Vermont Governor and  Democratic Presidential aspirant Howard Dean, openly have questioned his unabashed power grab.

Dean wondered aloud on MSNBC last Thursday evening where Obama gets the idea he can stray into legislative endeavors.

“A: I wonder if he has the legal authority to do this, since this was a Congressional bill that set this up,” Dean said. “And, B: I stick to what I said before the President came on [to give his “administrative fix” announcement] — which is, if you want to make this [health care law] work, you’ve gotta get people in system, and the [Healthcare.gov] website’s not gonna work, evidently, for a while.”

“What the President has done here is outrageous; it is illegal, and it is unConstitutional,” Sasse concludes. “If Republicans in Washington are serious about upholding their oaths of office, they must demand that Obamacare be repealed, and that we start over. Republicans should absolutely refuse to be any part of an unConstitutional attempt by President Obama to prop up this bad law.”

Federal Tax Revenues Set To Break Records In 2014

The U.S. Treasury Department released its monthly statement last week, which estimates that Federal revenues from taxes are projected to hit a historic high next year.

How high? According to the Treasury statement, which uses estimates from the White House Office of Management and Budget’s mid-year report to Congress, the Federal government will take in more than $3 trillion in tax revenues for the first time in the Nation’s history.

That easily exceeds the next-highest tax revenue year for the Feds: 2007, when the government reported tax revenues of $2.57 trillion.

But, as in every year since 2001, the government is on track to spend far more than it will take in. The OMB is projecting an increase in the Federal deficit, for 2014, of $750 billion.

CNS News put the numbers in perspective by dividing the 2014 tax revenue estimate by the number of people currently living in the United States. The result:

In fact, the record $3,023,004,000,000 in tax revenues that the White House is predicting the federal government will rake in during fiscal 2014 not only exceeds the inflation-adjusted revenue taken in by the government in any previous year, it also equals $29,673 in tax revenue for every full-time worker in the country.

It is also equals $9,534 for every man, woman and child currently living in the country.

… According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 101,877,000 full-time workers (who usually worked at least 35 hours a week) in the average month during 2012. The $3,023,004,000,000 in taxes the administration plans to collect this year equals $29,673 for each of those full-time workers.

For each household where there are two full-time workers, the federal government is planning to collect $59,346 in this fiscal year. In 2012, according to the Census Bureau, the median household income was only $51,017.

Of course, the annual tax haul pales in comparison to the trillions of dollars printed by the Federal Reserve each year — money that has now swollen the Nation’s cumulative debt to more than $17 trillion.

The U.S. tax structure may be onerous, profligate and, deceitful — but the Fed is running a much bigger spending juggernaut that’s grown so big, and occupies such a central role to the U.S. fiat economy, that Washington, D.C., both condones and depends on it. The economy won’t collapse if Congress reforms taxes. The same can’t be said of the Federal Reserve’s Ponzi scheme.

Note from the Editor: As a reader you deserve to know the truth behind the economic disaster America faces. I’ve arranged for readers to get free copies of two books that reveal the sinister plot by the US Government to steal our wealth—a plot Merrill Jenkins, Sr. (the Original Monetary Realist) tried to expose at great risk. His books are hard to find, but these books include rare transcripts from his lectures. Click here for your free copies.

Biden Takes On The Tea Party

Vice President Joe Biden went into full-on John McRINO mode in his bid to shore up the reelection campaign of embattled North Carolina Democratic Senator Kay Hagan Friday, telling donors at a fundraising event the Nation needs a Republican Party that’s emancipated itself from the influence of unwavering Tea Party conservatism.

Biden’s hope for the GOP? A predominance of “mainstream conservatives” who nominally like to carry the flag for big businesses, but otherwise differ little from their Democratic kin.

“Your father’s Republican Party is trying to come back,” said Biden.

Biden alluded to the victory of Alabama Republican Bradley Byrne, who lost his 2010 gubernatorial primary bid to Tea Party darling Robert Bentley but won a seat in the State’s 1st Congressional district last week over Tea Party opponent Dean Young, as an example of where he hopes his own party’s political adversaries come from in the future.

“The business community [in Alabama]… came along and said enough is enough,” said Biden.

“You are going to see the Republican Party wrestle back eventually to a mainstream conservative position and that’s good. We need a strong Republican Party. Because we have to have somebody we can look across the aisle and make a deal with.”

Was there not a single Republican in all of Congress you could persuade to vote for Obamacare, Mr. Vice President? Or do you just want pliable “opposition” that can be counted on to break under Democrats’ unilateral bullying?

It’s telling that neither Biden nor Hagan breathed a word about Obamacare during the event – even though Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) keeps insisting that Democrats will ride the success of Obamacare all the way to victory in the 2014 Congressional midterms.

“You’re darn right that our candidates are going to run on the advantage that Obamacare will be going into the 2014 election,” she told CNN Thursday. “The choice will be very clear.”

How about it, Biden and Hagan? Got Obamacare listed on your campaign talking points yet?

The Affordable Care Act Disaster Is Not Obama’s ‘Katrina’

The New York Times went there yesterday, drawing a facile comparison between President Barack Obama’s handling of the Obamacare rollout with the way his predecessor, George W. Bush, dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

How is Obama’s egg-on-face bungling of his own pet law anything like Bush’s response to an act of God? Did George W. Bush badger Congress, from the very beginning of his first term in office, to legislate a Category 5 hurricane into existence on a partisan vote and aim it at one of the Nation’s critical industrial corridors?

Did he promise the Nation for two years that everyone just needed to stop worrying and bend over and take whatever nature — at the behest of his political supporters — throws our way? That we’d all end up grateful, in the end, for his foresight?

Did Bush lie without equivocation about who would benefit from his hurricane — and continue to lie about how beneficial the hurricane was, even as it made landfall and marched into the interior of the Gulf States? Did he gloat when the hurricane was allowed to proceed after a Supreme Court challenge and tell his detractors to get over it, that Katrina was the established law of the land?

Did he then try to bypass Congress by authorizing NOAA, or HAARP, or whatever weather-manipulating powers the Commander in Chief may have at his disposal, to unilaterally modify the hurricane after Congress had already devoted thousands of pages of legislation to fine-tuning its every devastating feature? Did he double down on the disaster-in progress by offering an “administrative fix” — a Presidential decree to roll back the storm surge for a year so that people and businesses who’d already battened down the hatches would have time to undo their original escape plan and waste more time and money coming up with a better one?

In the run-up to landfall, did Bush blame Democrats for driving a wedge between the American people? Did he accuse them of Chicken-Little doomsday political tricks, of sermonizing the approaching hurricane’s deleterious effects, of attempting to make the Katrina issue an all-or-nothing bid to hold the rest of the Federal government hostage?

Did Bush then set about devising a scheme to bail out all his political supporters in Congress as Americans, beginning to realize that the hurricane was indeed devastating and was all the Republicans’ fault, started targeting their Republican Congress members as scapegoats?

George W. Bush may be guilty of a lot of terrible things. Some Americans believe he was guilty of truly unconscionable horrors on a scale that no amount of declassification of public documents will ever fully reveal. But however he coordinated the Federal response to Hurricane Katrina, or failed to assuage the pain of Ray Nagin and other political opportunists who knew how to milk a good emergency, Bush bears no culpability for creating the circumstances that led to the devastation of the Gulf Coast in August of 2005.

Barack Obama owns Obamacare. Depending on the mood of his party brethren, he’s even warmed to the “Obamacare” moniker (though not so much over the past seven days). He started the snowball rolling on Feb. 24, 2009, when he stood before Congress and said, “So let there be no doubt: Health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.”

He told the American Medical Association on June 15, 2009:

And that means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. … If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. … No one will take it away, no matter what.

And he kept saying it for four more years, all the while making damn sure everybody knew whose great idea it was — and calling out all of his nefarious opponents, who only saw gloom and doom in store.

Obama stumped at a Maryland business right at the start of the October government “shutdown,” telling people all about how settled and established his Obamacare law was, after years of challenges from Republican luddites:

So I would think that if, in fact, this was going to be such a disaster that the Republicans say it’s going to be, that it was going to be so unpopular, they wouldn’t have to shut down the government.  They could wait, nobody would show any interest, there would be, like, two people on the website – (laughter) – and everybody would then vote for candidates who want to repeal it.

It’s not as if Republicans haven’t had a chance to debate the health care law.  It passed the House of Representatives.  It passed the Senate.  The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional –you remember all this.  Last November, voters rejected the presidential candidate that ran on a platform to repeal it.  (Applause.)  So the Affordable Care Act has gone through every single democratic process, all three branches of government.  It’s the law of the land.  It’s here to stay.

“There would be, like, two people on the website.” Prophetic.

If you’ve read a better indictment of Obama’s hypocritical “administrative fix” speech than that offered by RedState contributor John Hayward, drop a link in the comments section. Here’s Hayward on Obama’s power play for royalty:

Not only does President Obama lack the legal authority to impose the “fix” for insurance cancellations he described on Thursday, but his entire proposal boils down to inviting insurance companies to violate federal law, and promising not to prosecute them for it.

That’s not an oversimplification – it’s literally true.  The Affordable Care Act – which Obama has previously been fond of describing as “the settled law of the land,” evidently confident that his dimmer constituents will believe settled laws have never been changed or repealed before – includes legal requirements for the content of insurance policies.  Obama’s “fix” invites insurance companies to violate those laws for a year, while he instructs the relevant regulatory agencies to look the other way.

This isn’t the rule of law.  It’s Chicago corruption – no different, at heart, from the inspector who takes a cash payoff to look the other way while seedy nightclubs violate city ordinances.  It’s one of the most shameful utterances a high government official has ever made, to say nothing of being rather hard to square with those photos of Obama’s signature on the ACA, with the caption “IT’S. THE. LAW.” that his political operation likes to spread across social media. The key element of the Obamacare defense, throughout the last-ditch Republican effort to defund or delay the law before it failed in precisely the ways they predicted, was the belligerent shriek that no one can dare oppose this almighty law, which is more powerful and permanent than the very Constitution itself.  But at the same time, they’re telling us the whole thing is written in pencil, and Barack Obama can erase anything he finds politically inconvenient.

Back to The New York Times:

The disastrous rollout of his [Obama’s] health care law not only threatens the rest of his agenda but also raises questions about his competence in the same way that the Bush administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina undermined any semblance of Republican efficiency.

But unlike Mr. Bush, who faced confrontational but occasionally cooperative Democrats, Mr. Obama is battling a Republican opposition that has refused to open the door to any legislative fixes to the health care law and has blocked him at virtually every turn.

That makes sense: Blame Republicans as you help the President put down the talking points and step gingerly away from the Obamacare. As The Daily Caller’s Jim Treacher wrote Friday, “Their fingerprints aren’t on the murder weapon, which only proves they made ‘im do it.”

Obama took ownership of this thing and used it as a political status symbol until it started betraying him by functioning exactly as it was designed to function. Now he’s being stoned by fellow Democrats and is seeking a solution that doesn’t leave his Administration, or his party, politically destitute.

Obamacare isn’t to Obama as Katrina was to Bush. To borrow the Times’ silly simile, though, it would be equally appropriate to say that Obama’s second-act “fix” for his own self-made mess looks like it could do a Rita on the Constitution.

Obama Administration Admits Obamacare Will Cost More; The Failure Of Partisan Social Liberalism; Obama Backer Tapped For Surgeon General; Tech Gets Technical To Block NSA; Venezuela Arrests ‘Bourgeois’ Capitalists – TGIF Friday Morning News Roundup 11-15-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories making the Internet rounds this morning. Click the links for the full stories.

  • The Obama Administration has directly conceded for the first time that ‘in many cases,’ health insurance plans offered through government exchanges are more expensive than plans consumers bought before the Affordable Care Act became law – even when government subsidies are figured in. Source: Daily Mail…

 

  • Charles Krauthammer quickly penned an opinion piece Thursday after President Barack Obama’s “administrative fix” speech, noting the disaster isn’t just driving a wedge between Congressional Democrats; it’s pushing a revolt against Obama’s wider vision of America: “As the only socially transformational legislation in modern American history to be enacted on a straight party-line vote, Obamacare is wholly owned by the Democrats. Its unraveling would catastrophically undermine their underlying ideology of ever-expansive central government providing cradle-to-grave care for an ever-grateful citizenry. For four years, this debate has been theoretical. Now it’s real. And for Democrats, it’s a disaster.” Source: The Washington Post…

 

  • President Barack Obama will nominate the head of a doctors group that promotes his signature healthcare law to be the next U.S. surgeon general, the White House said on Thursday, shortly after Obama proposed a “fix” for the latest problem with the law. Source: Reuters…

 

  • Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. are fighting back against the National Security Agency by using harder-to-crack code to shield their networks and online customer data from unauthorized U.S. spying. The companies, burned by disclosures they’ve cooperated with U.S. surveillance programs, are protecting user e-mail and social-media posts with strengthened encryption that the U.S. government says won’t be easily broken until 2030. Source: Bloomberg…

 

  • Venezuela’s socialist government has arrested more than 100 “bourgeois” businessmen in a crackdown on alleged price-gouging at hundreds of shops and companies since the weekend, President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday. The successor to the late Hugo Chavez also said his government was preparing a law to limit Venezuelan businesses’ profits to between 15 percent and 30 percent. Officials say unscrupulous companies have been hiking prices of electronics and other goods more than 1,000 percent. Critics say failed socialist economic policies and restricted access to foreign currency are behind Venezuela’s runaway inflation. Source: Reuters…

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

Texas Voter Participation Skyrockets Under New ID Law

Opponents of voter identification laws reliably say it’s racist, exclusive and oppressive to require registered voters to show photo identification when they exercise their right to vote. Voter ID, the story goes, denies some people their Constitutional rights by locking out eligible citizens who, for whatever reason, don’t possess qualifying ID.

But a recent amendment ballot in Texas could be an early indication that those kinds of fears are unfounded. Texas voters went to the polls on Nov. 5 to approve nine amendments to the State constitution (all nine measures passed), and voter turnout — even among Hispanics — trounced that of a similar series of measures that came before voters in 2011.

According to The Daily Caller, turnout in predominantly Hispanic Hidalgo County was roughly four times the turnout in the 2011 ballot measure, even though the Nov. 5 election marked the State’s first referendum in which a new voter ID law was enforced.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who’s widely believed to have the inside track in the 2014 Governor’s race, said last week’s turnout and relatively problem-free polling should silence progressives who’ve facetiously decried voter ID laws as a return to Jim Crow-era voter segregation.

“I haven’t ever seen anything that was overhyped as much as some partisan efforts to overhype concerns about this, when in reality, there has been no problems whatsoever,” Abbott told the Houston Chronicle.

Abbott, who himself had to sign an affidavit confirming his identity at the polls, said there was nothing onerous or disenfranchising about the process.

GAO Finds TSA Profiling To Be Ineffective, Costly, Wasteful

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report Wednesday that concludes the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) should curb its policy of profiling air passengers’ behavior as a means of discovering potential terror threats, because the practice just isn’t working.

GAO investigators advised the TSA to curb the practice unless the agency modifies its methods and can demonstrate that some form of behavioral profiling of passengers can succeed at foiling terrorism.

The report to Congress, titled “TSA Should Limit Future Funding for Behavioral Detection Activities,” takes direct aim at the TSA’s SPOT program (Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques), arguing: “10 years after the development of the SPOT program, TSA cannot demonstrate the effectiveness of its behavior detection activities.

“Until TSA can provide scientifically validated evidence demonstrating that behavioral indicators can be used to identify passengers who may pose a threat to aviation security, the agency risks funding activities that have not been determined to be effective,” investigators conclude.

The TSA started the SPOT program in 2007, and has spent roughly $1 billion to maintain the program over the course of its five-year run. Officers trained in the SPOT program aren’t baggage screeners; they’re behavioral detection officers (BDOs) who’ve been trained to watch people.

The BDOs are supposed to look for travelers who appear stressed or afraid, or who, based on behavioral cues, appear to be in deception mode.

But the GAO report said the TSA’s behavioral observation is just about as effective as random suspect targeting.

The meta-analyses we reviewed — which collectively included research from over 400 separate studies related to detecting deception conducted over the past 60 years — found that the ability of human observers to accurately identify deceptive behavior based on behavioral cues or indicators is the same as or slightly better than chance (54 percent).

The bipartisan House Subcommittee on Transportation Security seemed to agree with the report’s findings Thursday, with both Republican and Democratic members saying the program’s funding could be better spent elsewhere. But the TSA viewed the report quite differently, saying in a statement Wednesday that behavioral detection is “vital to TSA’s layered approach to deter, detect, and disrupt individuals who pose a threat to aviation.”

Obama’s ‘Administrative Fix’ Speech: There’s No One Left To Shaft

President Barack Obama’s Thursday switcheroo announcement that he (not Congress, which makes laws, but he himself, alone) would unilaterally cut people a break under Obamacare into 2014 ought to vindicate Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), whom the mainstream media exiled to buffoon island after his stand against implementation of the Affordable Care Act last month.

But media moves on. That won’t happen.

Just about the only people or groups who by now haven’t been directly shafted by Obamacare, along with Obama’s new “administrative fix,” are those who’ve become eligible for Medicaid and, perhaps, supporters of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential ambitions.

Congressional Democrats are panicking over how to spin their role in the Obamacare disaster with the 2014 midterm elections looming.

Many Congressional Republicans are wondering how Obama is capable of saying, with a straight face, that he wants to do the same thing they attempted to do when they sent draft after draft of a bill delaying the Obamacare individual mandate – a bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the Congressional Obama contingent shut down the government in order to avoid passing.

People who had individual coverage – five million of them and counting – are now without individual coverage thanks to policy cancellations brought about by Obamacare’s supposedly “higher” standards of coverage.

Full time employees are becoming part time employees, as businesses try to keep their expenses in check by eliminating the number of employees eligible for higher-priced, employer-subsidized insurance plans, thanks to Obamacare.

Governments in States that accepted the Obamacare yoke, along with its mandate to expand the Medicaid base, have to come up with incrementally more money without a commensurate expansion in their revenue bases to support the additional cost.

And now insurers – a group that Obama certainly never intended to ostracize – are beginning to see just how deeply Obama’s signature law, as well as the enforcement liberties he’s threatening to take to “fix” its many problems, will affect their profitability.

After Obama revealed his illegal plan today to bypass Congress and force insurance companies to continue offering plans that many of them have already cancelled (thanks to Obamacare), the industry started biting back. And for good reason: insurers have played along as the health care exchanges have been set up, perhaps benignly convinced that whatever market changes Obamacare brought about would just be passed along to consumers. The President’s revelation Thursday that he’d now “allow” these same companies to violate the law by offering their “substandard” policies for another year left many in the business wondering why they’d just sent out millions of cancellation letters.

It also left them wondering how useful their idiocy had been to the President’s Obamacare politics this whole time. “[N]ow the Obama administration wants to make them [insurers] into a scapegoat,” wrote The Washington Post Thursday afternoon:

“This doesn’t change anything other than force insurers to be the political flack jackets for the administration,” an insurance industry insider told Evan McMorris-Santoro. “So now, when we don’t offer these policies, the White House can say it’s the insurers doing this and not being flexible.”

“Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers,” industry trade group representative Karen Ignagni told The Hill right after the President’s speech.

Sounds like Obama’s scapegoats are already playing right into his hands.

Watch out for Hillary, though. The Democrats need an Obamacare savior – and it has to come from someone on their side. GOP conservatives, which in this instance were right all along, will never have their voices heard – at least not unless Congress undergoes a major restructuring next year.

“[T]he Obamacare battle is destined to become a proxy battle over control of the Democratic Party: a battle between presumed 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton, and President Obama,” Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro wrote Thursday. “Obama wants to defend his program; Hillary wants to run against it, recognizing its inherent unpopularity.”

Here’s a link to the full text of Obama’s Thursday Obamacare announcement.

Participation In American Labor Force Drops To Historic Low (Again)

Not since the Presidency of Jimmy Carter has participation in the U.S. labor force been as low as it is today. The difference between the Carter Administration and that of President Barack Obama, though, is that job growth under Carter was outpacing the rate at which people were entering, or re-entering, the labor force.

Today, under Obama, the opposite is happening. People are dropping out, because there’s often more incentive to accept a bevy of ever-expanding, low-threshold government doles than a part-time, low-wage service job.

Carter finished his single term in office with 10.5 million more Americans working than when he took office. The Obama Administration has taken credit for a steady uptick in job creation, with the President repeatedly touting the creation of 4.5 million new jobs as he campaigned for re-election.

But those weren’t “new” jobs. They were old jobs people had lost during the recession. Only 300,000 of those jobs represented a net gain for the U.S. labor force. Here’s how CNN’s Election Center explained Obama’s spin:

[T]otal nonfarm payrolls, including government workers, are down from 133.6 million workers at the beginning of 2009 to 133.2 million in July 2012. There’s been a net loss of nearly 1 million public-sector jobs since Obama took office, despite a surge in temporary hiring for the 2010 census.

Meanwhile, the jobs that have come back aren’t the same ones that were lost.

Are you better off?

According to a study released last week by the liberal-leaning National Employment Law Project, low-wage fields such as retail sales and food service are adding jobs nearly three times as fast as higher-paid occupations.

And even The Washington Post took Obama to task over the summer for bumping up his claims of increasing manufacturing jobs, taking apart the President’s broken-record refrain that he’d added 7 million new jobs, including 500,000 in the manufacturing sector:

By July 2012, the number of manufacturing jobs had risen to 11.957 million, or just shy of a 500,000 job gain. That’s when it became part of the President’s campaign rhetoric.

But at that point, the number also stopping (sic) climbing and instead began bouncing around.

In August 2012, 14,000 manufacturing jobs were lost. In the next month, an additional 18,000 were lost. Then came several months of gains — followed by three months of losses. The preliminary numbers in the employment report released Friday show a loss of 9,000 manufacturing jobs in April and 8,000 in May.

So here we are, nearly one year later, and the United States is still stuck at a gain of 500,000 jobs.

More striking, rather than month-by-month figures, look at the trend when year-to-year calculations are made:

Gain in manufacturing jobs

Jan. 2012 to Jan. 2013: +124,000

Feb. 2012 to Feb. 2013: +118,000

March 2012 to March 2013: +74,000

April 2012 to April 2013: +55,000

May 2012 to May 2013: +41,000

In other words, it’s a downhill trend — headed possibly to zero.

Sure, there’s a bright side, if you’re looking for part-time work with no insurance: part-time jobs have grown a rate sevenfold that of full-time jobs under Obama.

And swinging back around to the shrinking labor force, we come to the latest round of numbers released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. What we learn is that a record-high 91.5 million people aren’t even participating in the labor force, that labor force participation stands at 62.8 percent, and that 932,000 more Americans gave up looking for work in October alone.

“At this pace the people out of the labor force will surpass the working Americans in about 4 years,” observes investment website Zero Hedge.

Obama continues to spin the facts about job growth as a way to demonstrate he’s turned around the abysmal economy he inherited from George W. Bush, but he touts his job growth numbers in a vacuum –one that disregards the troubling fact that more and more people are discouraged from (or enticed, by the welfare state) from even looking for work.

Obama, who’s been President for nearly five years now, doesn’t have to contend with double-digit inflation, as Carter did. And even though participation in the labor force was similarly light during Carter’s Presidency, the economy continued to add jobs eventually drawing dormant job seekers back into the labor force.