Run On Guns In California As New Registry Deadline Approaches

California residents are lining up to beat a new ban on unregistered shotguns and rifles, as a 2011 law that creates a State registry for long guns is set to go into effect at the start of the new year.

The law basically treats all long guns sold after Jan. 1, 2014 as handguns. It was passed in a legislative session that also saw the revocation of any form of open carry statewide.

Currently, California handgun owners must register their weapons in a statewide database. But starting next week, owners of long guns must do the same.

As 2013 draws to a close, CBS Sacramento reports that California residents are racing to stores in the hope of acquiring long-barreled firearms before the law requires them to join the ranks of registered gun owners:

Even though the law is at least temporarily boosting his bottom line, Just Guns owner John Deaser isn’t a fan. He says requiring people to register their rifles and shotguns is an unnecessary invasion of privacy.

In the last week of 2013, he says sales of long guns are up 30 to 50 percent.

The new registry ends California gun dealers’ standing practice of destroying the records of their customers as soon as they’ve cleared a background check. It also means that guns currently in existence, including heirloom weapons that have been handed down from one generation of family members to the next, will have to be registered for the first time when they next change hands.

The new State registry will record the make, model and serial number of every firearm owned or purchased in California; and gun owners must voluntarily report any transfer of ownership to the State.

Say Goodbye To Incandescent Bulbs As Government Ban Takes Effect

A law signed by President George W. Bush is set to enter its final phase in a long-term plan by Congress to phase the simple incandescent light bulb out of existence. Starting in 2014, you won’t be able to legally get your hands on household 60-watt and 40-watt incandescent bulbs.

Some artists, architects, photographers and people who do specialized work in medicine, engineering, research and other demanding fields prefer incandescent bulbs for the quality or the stability of the light they produce, despite their relative inefficiency compared to fluorescent and LED bulbs. Others question the benefit of alternatives to incandescent bulbs in saving energy or preventing environmental damage.

Standards outlined in the Energy Independence and Security Act, which Bush signed in 2007, make it illegal to manufacture or import 40- and 60-watt incandescent bulbs into the United States after Dec. 31 of this year, leaving it up to stores to sell off what they have left. Those same standards have already phased out the 100-watt bulb (in 2012) and 75-watt bulbs (this year).

And while the change was set in place in the name of conservation, critics argue Congress and the President ignored the role of free choice when they agreed to limit American consumers’ options. If the incandescent bulb is so bad, they argue, the free market will eventually drive them into marginal use anyway — just as film cameras still exist, but have been roundly eclipsed by digital cameras in the hands of average consumers.

According to The Heritage Foundation, the flap over phasing out incandescent bulbs reflects the government’s increasingly statist role in tinkering with even the smallest choices of American citizens:

Proponents of government-imposed efficiency standards and regulations will say, “So what? There are still plenty of lighting options on the shelves at Home Depot; we’re saving families money; and we’re reducing harmful climate change emissions.”

The “so what” is that the federal government is taking decisions out of the hands of families and businesses, destroying jobs, and restricting consumer choice in the market. We all have a wide variety of preferences regarding light bulbs. It is not the role of the federal government to override those preferences with what it believes is in our best interest.

Families understand how energy costs impact their lives and make decisions accordingly. Energy efficiency has improved dramatically over the past six decades — long before any national energy efficiency mandates.

If families and firms are not buying the most energy-efficient appliance or technology, it is not that they are acting irrationally; they simply have budget constraints or other preferences such as comfort, convenience, and product quality. A family may know that buying an energy-efficient product will save them money in the long term, but they have to prioritize their short-term expenses. Those families operating from paycheck to paycheck may want to opt for a cheaper light bulb and more food instead of a more expensive light bulb and less food.

Some may read this and think: Chill out — it’s just a light bulb. But it’s not just a light bulb. Take a look at the Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program. Basically anything that uses electricity or water in your home or business is subject to an efficiency regulation.

When the market drives energy efficiency, it saves consumers money. The more the federal government takes away decisions that are better left to businesses and families, the worse off we’re going to be.

Rural Oregon Residents Organize Community Patrols To Offset Lapsed Sheriff’s Coverage

Regular readers of Personal Liberty Digest™ may recall a May story that described what can happen when people are confronted by the reality that the police provide neither blanket preventive protection, nor an instant recourse, against crime. Crime is unpredictable by nature, typically affecting people when criminals know their targets are at their most vulnerable. And that’s a fact no amount of police coverage will ever change.

When a woman in rural Josephine County, Ore., called 911 to send a deputy to help fend off an ex-boyfriend who ultimately entered her home and attacked her, the dispatcher told her: “Uh, I don’t have anybody to send out there.” The attacker didn’t kill the woman, but he did hurt her. The cops later caught up with him and arrested him for kidnapping, sex abuse and assault.

That attack came at a time when the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office had laid off 23 deputies, closed its Major Crimes Unit and slashed its in-service patrolling hours to eight-hour weekdays. Budget cuts from the termination of Federal timber subsidies, which had long helped fund the sheriff’s office, had forced the sheriff’s office to make the cuts. Residents had already voted down an additional ad valorem tax, leaving the county with no other option.

In the wake of that decimation, former law enforcement officials in the area decided to come up with a stopgap solution. It’s not one that will prevent imminent crimes from occurring, but it could sanction the popular acceptance of a do-it-yourself ethic — one that encourages people to view personal protection as an individual responsibility, and not the sole task of cash-strapped, far-flung rural sheriff’s offices.

From a FOX News report Thursday:

Ken Selig — who was the longest-serving law enforcement officer in all three local agencies when he was forced to retire from the department due to cuts — told FoxNews.com he found the sheriff’s declaration unacceptable. And he felt compelled to guard his community’s vulnerable members.

“Who else is going to protect you when your government can’t?” Selig said.

Over the objections of county officials, who viewed the ad valorem increase as the only viable solution, Selig and a friend created the North Valley Community Watch, a grass-roots crime-fighting organization that covers all of Josephine County and recruits residents to participate in monthly training sessions that focus on personal safety. The group has about 100 members, as well as a smaller, 12-member response unit that will respond at the scene of any non-life-threatening situation. (The group is still leaving life-threatening response scenarios to the sheriff’s office in order to avoid the wrath of the sheriff’s office, but the response team does carry firearms.)

Selig doesn’t claim that the watch group — one of several similar groups that have emerged to address the lapse in law enforcement coverage — is a cure-all, or that it can miraculously stop crime before it starts. But he does believe that citizen involvement makes a big difference in changing the culture of dependency on the state for personal protection — a culture in which criminals thrive.

“We believe responsible citizens doing responsible things make it hard for criminals to do irresponsible things,” he told FOX News.

Ohio State Senator Caves On Controversial Home School Law

You may have seen our recent story about a controversial Ohio proposal to regulate who can and can’t home school their children by submitting parents to a background check process.

That bill, introduced by Democratic Ohio State Senator Capri Carafo, was informally known as “Teddy’s Law” in commemoration of a home-schooled child who was beaten to death at home by his mother’s abusive boyfriend.

The proposal generated a lot of controversy, with home schooling advocates decrying a new State intervention in their domestic affairs as the “worst-ever home school law;” an idea “breathtakingly onerous in its scope.” The pressure quickly got to Carafo.

By the time our report on “Teddy’s Law” went live, Cafaro had already withdrawn the bill. The State Senator announced late last week her intent to pull Ohio SB 248, saying the passions it brought out in people demonstrate there’s more to consider about the rights of parents to decide what’s best for their children than her bill was intended to address.

“SB 248 was never meant to be a policy debate about educating children in the home,” Cafaro said. “It was meant to address weaknesses in the law pertaining to child protection. Unfortunately, the true intent of the bill to curtail child abuse has been eclipsed by the issue of home schooling… After consultation with Teddy’s family, we have collectively decided the best course of action is for me to withdraw SB 248, and instead pursue a more comprehensive approach to address the current challenges in the state’s social service and criminal justice system.”

Cafaro also pledged not to include any language in future child-protection proposals that would single out home schooling for special government scrutiny.

 

Report: More Than Half Of Counties Covered By Healthcare.gov Can’t Afford Obamacare’s ‘Affordable’ Prices

A USA Today report Thursday shows that the Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable in more than half of the counties in the 34 States where eligible buyers must purchase insurance through Healthcare.gov, the Federal government’s online insurance marketplace.

According to the analysis, more than half of the counties on the exchange don’t even offer customers a basic bronze-level health care plan. Among the color tiers that denote insurance plans that run the gamut from affordable to luxurious, the low-tier bronze plans are regarded as the cheapest, in part because they require higher copays and have higher maximum payout limits that customers must meet each year before the insurance plan kicks in.

“More than half of the counties in 34 states using the federal health insurance exchange lack even a bronze plan that’s affordable — by the government’s own definition — for 40-year-old couples who make just a little too much for financial assistance,” the piece reports:

Many of these counties are in rural, less populous areas that already had limited choice and pricey plans, but many others are heavily populated, such as Bergen County, N.J., and Philadelphia and Milwaukee counties.

More than a third don’t offer an affordable plan in the four tiers of coverage known as bronze, silver, gold or platinum for people buying individual plans who are 50 or older and ineligible for subsidies.

…”The ACA was not designed to reduce costs or, the law’s name notwithstanding, to make health insurance coverage affordable for the vast majority of Americans,” says health care consultant Kip Piper, a former government and insurance industry official. “The law uses taxpayer dollars to lower costs for the low-income uninsured but it also increases costs overall and shifts costs within the marketplace.”

The newspaper considered whether premiums for the most affordable insurance plan, at any “color” level, amounted to more than 8 percent of an eligible customer’s annual household income – a method similar to that employed by the government to calculate whether people are eligible to opt out of buying coverage under Obamacare based on their ability to cover the cost of the premiums they’d have to pay.

“[T]he analysis clearly shows how the sticker shock hitting many in the middle class, including the self-employed and early retirees, isn’t just a perception problem,” the paper found. “The lack of counties with affordable plans means many middle-class people will either opt out of insurance or pay too much to buy it.”

Democrats’ Greatest Hits: A 2013 Video Retrospective (Now Send Us Your Favorites)

The Washington Free Beacon has put together a video montage of the stupidest things that Democrats have said in 2013, drawing from the oratories of leftist talking heads, elected officials and Obama Administration appointees to compile a train wreck of gaffes, dissemblings and bone-headed obfuscations.

Our favorite is State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki telling the AP in August that “there was a determination made that we need to — not need to make a designation” over whether the U.S. would regard the ouster of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi as a coup d’état. It’s almost painful to watch Obama’s staffers die inside, little by little, each time they attempt to maintain dignity while telling mind-bendingly absurd lies that hew to the party line.

But there’ll always be a special place in our hearts for Vice President Joe Biden’s “boom!” pantomime in January, when he stood up in front of a bunch of mayors at a Washington, D.C. conference, put on his best wooden-toothed grin, and pretended to shoulder-fire his most beloved 2nd-Amendment-approved weapon: the humble 12-gauge.

What do you think? Did they miss any other silly sayings from Democrats in 2013?

Hey, while you’re at it, give us your favorite (or least favorite) one-liners from Republicans as well. We’ll put them in a separate, year-end post if we get some quality submissions.

Send your favorite political bloviating moments from 2013 to newstips@personalliberty.com and use “Dumb Politicians” in the subject line.

Just be sure to indicate whether you’d like to remain anonymous, be credited by name, or be credited with your nickname. And, of course, you’ve got to provide us with a link to your source.

H/T: The Washington Free Beacon

Government Isn’t Obligated To Inform Healthcare.gov Users When Site Compromises Their Private Info

If you enroll in Obamacare at Healthcare.gov and later find out that your financial information or identity has been stolen by hackers, it likely won’t be because the government called to warn you of the security breach.

That’s because the government isn’t obligated to let you know if Healthcare.gov fails to protect your information from criminals.

According to a report this month at Watchdog.org, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was approached with concerns about informing site users of any security breaches, but elected not to address them in 2012 as it issued its final ruling establishing how Healthcare.gov and the State-run online markets would function.

HHS solicited input ahead of finalizing healthcare exchange program rules in March 2012. But HHS dismissed the concerns of at least two commenters about how it planned to handle potential online break-ins that could compromise patient records. From the Federal Register, here’s how HHS responded:

Comment: Two commenters asked that HHS ensure that Exchanges promptly notify potentially affected enrollees in the event of a data breach or unauthorized access to PII. One commenter suggested that HHS ensure that an Exchange conducts an investigation and hold the breaching party accountable, both legally and financially, for notification and investigation following the breach or unauthorized access.

Response: We do not plan to include the specific notification procedures in the final rule. Consistent with this approach, we do not include specific policies for investigation of data breaches in this final rule. We do, however, plan to release guidance that addresses breach procedures.

Comment: One commenter requested that the final rule include privacy and security standards for storage, retention, and response to legal and civil matters. Another commenter stated that HHS should not retain PII longer than is necessary to carry out an authorized Exchange function.

Response: While the rule does not specifically mention storage, retention, or response to legal and civil matters, we believe that the final rule adequately addresses privacy and security standards for all potential uses of data, including storage and retention. We therefore do not include these elements in the final rule. We expect privacy and security standards developed by the Exchange will address the storage of information when it is not in use.

Strangely, the stringent privacy protections established by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) apply to everything about Obamacare except the government-managed healthcare websites it established. That means the doctors, hospitals and insurance companies are in violation of the law if they don’t inform you about any behind-the-scenes activity that compromises your privacy — but the government itself is immune from the same law.

“In other words,” notes Watchdog.org, “the health plan itself is covered by HIPAA and any breaches of security that affect a consumer who has purchased a specific plan would have to be reported. But the process of choosing and purchasing a plan through the federal exchange — along with any information entered into the federal exchange as part of that process — is not subject to HIPAA protections.”

Ohio Proposal Would Force Homeschooling Parents To Receive Permission From The State

An Ohio State Senator is hoping to change State law so that parents who homeschool would first have to pass a social services investigation before receiving either a denial or a State-sanctioned “recommendation.”

Informally known as “Teddy’s Law,” the proposal was devised by Democratic Senator Capri Cafaro in reaction to a violent January incident that led to the death of a 14-year-old boy whose mother had taken him out of the public schools.

Theodore Foltz-Tedesco died of injuries he sustained in a beating at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend, Zaryl Bush, inside his home. His mother, Shain Widdersheim, had taken him out of public school after teachers began to suspect an ongoing pattern of abuse (they were very right) and reported their suspicions to authorities.

Bush has since been sentenced to life in prison for killing Teddy, and Widdersheim received 15 years for child endangerment and obstruction.

Senator Cafaro reasons the tragedy wouldn’t have happened if there had been a government mechanism to vet Widdersheim before she was allowed to take her son out of school.

But Teddy’s Law is receiving stiff opposition from homeschoolers and the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), who argue that a pattern of child abuse inside a home doesn’t occur just during school hours, and that far deeper problems lie at the root of domestic abuse cases like the one that led to Teddy’s death.

HSLDA staff attorney Mike Donnelly explained last week why he believes Teddy’s Law is misguided and, ultimately, an onerous burden on homeschooling parents.

HSLDA condemns child abuse and is saddened by Teddy’s death. HSLDA supports the prosecution of child abusers like Bush and the improvement of systems that prevent child abuse. However, this proposed law does not actually address the problems that led to Teddy’s death and instead unfairly targets homeschooling.

… Teddy Foltz-Tedesco was killed because those responsible for protecting him did not step in as the law or common sense would have dictated. Why? Although news reports indicate that abuse had been reported for years prior to Teddy’s death, it does not appear that any serious intervention was made by government authorities charged with investigating such allegations. Why was not enough done to protect Teddy from known abuse?

Even if, as SB 248 [Teddy’s Law] would require, his mother had sought social service’s approval to homeschool and was denied, he still would have been at home subject to abuse after school. Regardless of where he went to school, Teddy was left by authorities in a home where they knew abuse was occurring.

Clearly, SB 248 would not have saved Teddy.

But Cafaro argues that government must establish a safety net that clears parents as fitting chaperones before releasing children back into their own homes.

“The objective there is to make sure the child services agency has all the information on that family that is looking to home school that child, and then they refer that, ‘Yay’ or ‘Nay — should this child be educated at home?’ — And they pass that along to the superintendent of schools and the process goes from there,” Cafaro told WKBN last week. “[We must] [m]ake sure there is a checks and balances so children like Teddy Foltz-Tedesco don’t fall through the cracks, which happened so tragically earlier this year.”

When Gun Control Groups Unite

Michael Bloomberg, New York City’s departing mayor, is merging his pet gun control group with Moms Demand Action, another gun control nonprofit formed in the wake of last December’s sensational Connecticut school shooting.

You may remember Moms Demand Action for its absurd, image-driven gun control ad campaign back in April. The ads featured young kids, placed in school settings, holding scary-looking black rifles and staring pensively into the camera.

You’re likely a bit more familiar with Bloomberg’s gun control group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG). Most recently MAIG earned headlines for failing to mobilize enough support to help pro-gun control legislators in Colorado survive a voter recall after the State enacted knee-jerk firearms restrictions earlier this year. MAIG outspent the National Rifle Association on advertising in that effort by a significant margin, just as it has done in the year since the Sandy Hook, Conn. elementary school murders – with no success to show for the effort.

The merger is intended, according to MAIG chairman John Feinblatt, to combine MAIG’s funding with Moms Demand Action’s grassroots activism. Moms Demand Action will fill something Feinblatt calls “the intensity gap” as Bloomberg, who’s no longer tasked with running the Nation’s largest city, maps out a new gun control strategy, on a National scale, for 2014.

Obama Administration Quietly Delays Jan. 1 Enrollment Deadline By One Day

The Administration of President Barack Obama has authorized an unannounced postponement in the registration deadline for Obamacare enrollees wanting insurance coverage beginning Jan. 1.

The one-day postponement pushes the enrollment deadline back from midnight tonight until midnight tomorrow (or, technically, 11:59 p.m. Tuesday), even though the Healthcare.gov website still was experiencing crashes Monday.

According to The Washington Post, which first reported on the delay, “without any public announcement, Obama administration officials have changed the rules so that people will have an extra day to enroll, according to two individuals with knowledge of the switch.”

Here’s more from the Post:

One individual familiar with the unannounced extension said that it is, in part, intended as a buffer in case the Web site has trouble if a last-minute surge of insurance-seekers proved more than the computer system could handle.

According to the two individuals, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity about a matter that is not public, the one-day extension is automatic, built into the software, and cannot be overridden by individual insurers if they object.

Asked to explain the reason for the extension — and why it was kept secret — officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency overseeing the health exchange, at first declined to respond. By early afternoon, Julie Bataille, director of CMS’s office of communication, said the official deadline for signing up for Jan. 1 coverage remains Monday, but she added: “Anticipating high demand and the fact that consumers may be enrolling from multiple time zones, we have taken steps to make sure that those who select a plan through tomorrow will get coverage for Jan 1.”

Of course, insurers aren’t permitted to stop accepting enrollees who manage to make it through the Healthcare.gov enrollment gauntlet during the extra 24-hour period between midnight tonight and midnight tomorrow – even though they’re just now finding out about the delay.

And this delay marks yet another unilateral change to legally-imposed enrollment deadlines the Obama Administration has made without Congressional authorization.

Barack And Michelle Ask Moms To Become Obamacare Community Organizers On Their Grocery Trips

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle met with eight moms at the White House last week to establish a nebulous cultural association between domestic nurturing and the Affordable Care Act, with the President entreating mothers everywhere to become community organizers for Obamacare the next time they’re in the cereal aisle.

obamacare1219

“There’s something about moms,” said the President. “Nothing can replace telling stories in the grocery store to somebody who may be skeptical. And that kind of face-to-face interaction makes this concrete and it describes exactly why this is so important.”

“The words I think of are ‘peace of mind,’” the first lady added. “Every family needs the peace of mind to know they’re going to have the safety net they need. As Barack said, these stories are powerful… I’d urge everyone out there who has a story to share it.”

According to Valerie Jarrett, who says she doesn’t really hold much sway with the Obamas anyway, “The first lady is the best salesperson” for Obamacare.

From POLITICO:

She’s getting involved now, Jarrett said, because she’s the right person to convey the message of the moment: that the uninsured — especially young people and minorities — should look for insurance on exchanges and that those with insurance are already feeling the benefits of the law.

As this phase continues, Obama will speak out more on health care, Jarrett said. People familiar with the White House’s plans expect more engagement by the first lady in 2014.

The timing of her involvement, after controversies have eased and ahead of the holidays, is no accident.

“There is no question that they wanted to keep her away from the mess [of] it,” said Maria Cardona, a Democratic strategist who has a good relationship with the East Wing. “Now that things have started to smooth out and they’ve been able to get to a point of focusing more on the benefits and those folks who are able to sign up for insurance, it’s the right moment for the first lady to get involved.”

The right moment. Sure, be our guest.

At least right now, perhaps the first lady would like to rethink her grocery-gossip advice. She probably doesn’t want somebody’s mom to share this story. Or this one. Or this one right here. And speaking of domestic nurturing, for heaven’s sake, don’t let anybody’s mom share this one. Heck, why not? Here are four more. And, unless Michelle and Barack are going for irony, the grocery store probably isn’t the ideal venue to share this story, or this one — especially if a store employee is within earshot.

Report: Obama Knew Healthcare.gov Was Broken, But Politics Dictated That He Forge Ahead With Rollout

For some reason, it’s buried pretty far down in the story, but a revelation reported Friday by CBS News demonstrates that President Barack Obama has been putting politics ahead of policy for a long, long time when it comes to the launch of his pet health care website.

According to CBS, Teresa Fryer, chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), told members of Congress Tuesday that she “explicitly recommended” that the website not be given the green light before its Oct. 1 rollout, but that higher-ups wouldn’t hear of it.

From the report:

In another security bombshell, Fryer told congressional interviewers that she explicitly recommended denial of the website’s Authority to Operate (ATO), but was overruled by her superiors. The website was rolled out amid warnings Fryer said she gave both verbally and in a briefing that disclosed “high risks” and possible exposure to “attacks”.

Fryer also said that she refused to put her name on a letter recommending a temporary ATO be granted for six months while the issues were sorted out.

“My recommendation was a denial of ATO,” Fryer told Democrats and Republicans who sat in on the day-long interview. According to Fryer, she first recommended denying the ATO to CMS chief information officer Tony Trenkle based on the many outstanding security concerns after pre-launch testing.

“I had discussions with him on this and told him that my evaluation of this was a high risk,” Fryer told the [House Oversight] committee. Trenkle retired from his CMS job on Nov. 13. He has not responded to CBS News interview requests.

With the website’s problems looking less likely to resolve anytime soon, and with customers Nationwide increasingly disgusted with premium increases under Obamacare, is it any wonder that President Obama decided Friday to unilaterally delay the health mandate for individuals whose old insurance plans got canceled?

It’s a political move; 2014 is an election year, and Obamacare hangs like a Sword of Damocles over the heads of Congressional Democrats. Here’s hoping voters don’t forget that Friday’s executive decree marks the 14th time  Obama has unConstitutionally changed his signature law – a law passed by Congress – without Congress having any say in the matter.

Maryland May Scrap Awful State-Run Obamacare Market And Just Send Everybody To Healthcare.gov

The editorial board of The Baltimore Sun is embracing a suggestion by Representative John Delaney (D-Md.) that the State should consider abandoning its troubled healthcare online marketplace and just refer everyone who plans to sign up for Obamacare to the Federal Healthcare.gov website.

How bad does Maryland’s Obamacare enrollment process have to be to make Healthcare.gov seem like a preferable choice?

The editorial states:

If the exchange is able to replicate its best weekday and weekend performance during every one of the 104 days between now and the end of the open enrollment period on March 31, Maryland will still only achieve about three-quarters of its goal of signing up 150,000 people with private coverage. The site may be better, but better isn’t good enough.

Under those circumstances, the question raised by Rep. John Delaney, a Montgomery County Democrat, about whether it would be better for Maryland to scrap its effort to build its own exchange and instead join the federal one has merit. Indeed, Gov. Martin O’Malley acknowledged on Monday that the option — and all others — remain on the table.

… Mr. Delaney’s question gets to one of the key issues: Knowing what we know now, should we conclude that such ambitious features [as Maryland’s online marketplace is supposed to offer] are simply unfeasible and cut our losses? But it also raises another: Are we now at a point where the disruption of switching to the federal exchange would be greater than that of working through the current system?

The Sun also calls out Democratic Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley for possessing “no small amount of hubris and political ambition” in attempting to establish Maryland’s $107 million online insurance market as a full-featured flagship site that other States would seek to emulate.

Of course, deploying a site backed by such visionary goals is hard to do when your marketplace director goes on a Caribbean vacation in the middle of a disastrous site launch and then resigns in disgrace.

“We can have the best policy ideas in the world, but if no one thinks we can execute, no one will trust us to do them,” Delaney said last week in positing the idea of scrapping the State exchange. “I think the Maryland exchange is an example of Democrats not managing well.”

Remember: Delaney is a Democrat.

Lesbian Libertarian Camille Paglia Slams ‘Fascist’ Politically Correct Culture That Punishes ‘Duck Dynasty’ Star’s Right To Free Speech

Count on Camille Paglia to turn her progressive, myopic, ivory-tower echo-chamber colleagues red with indignant rage anytime she opens her mouth to speak the simple truth.

Paglia weighed in on the sanctimony-fueled uproar that “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson’s “suspension” from the massively popular A&E show generated Thursday, as the openly gay professor, intellectual and pop culture critic tore into the pervasiveness of politically correct timidity throughout American culture on an appearance on the Laura Ingraham radio show.

Paglia, author of the 1991 landmark Sexual Personae (the book that made Andrew Breitbart realize what a waste his Tulane education had been), hewed to the same fierce defense of free speech that has kept progressive critics – nearly all of whom lack the academic chops to assail her thinking on the merits – throwing off-the-mark ad hominem spears at her for two decades.

“I speak with authority here, because I was openly gay before the ‘Stonewall Rebellion,’ when it cost you something to be so,” said Paglia. “And I personally feel as a libertarian that people have the right to free thought and free speech.”

It’s unlikely that you need any background, but Phil Robertson became the target of GLAAD and other one-track advocates for gay rights after his remarks in a GQ article reflecting personal views on the depravity of homosexuality and other Biblical sins went viral. A&E responded to GLAAD pressure by indefinitely banning him from appearing in future episodes of “Duck Dynasty.”

That, according to Paglia, was a “fascist,” freedom-squelching move.

In a democratic country, people have the right to be homophobic as they have the right to support homosexuality – as I 100 percent do. If people are basing their views against gays on the Bible, again they have a right to religious freedom there … to express yourself in a magazine in an interview. This is the level of punitive PC, utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist, okay? – that my liberal colleagues in the Democratic party and on college campuses have supported and promoted over the last several decades. It’s the whole legacy of the free-speech 1960s that have been lost by my own party.”

Don’t look under any rocks for more ideological liberals to join Paglia in the Robertsons’ defense. Then again – the Duck Commander clan likely doesn’t need it. A Facebook page protesting A&E’s decision to yank Phil had received 800,000 “likes” by late Thursday – only a few hours after it first went online.

Minorities Paid Less To Work For Democrats Than For Republicans On National Campaign Trail

In spite of the Democratic Party’s co-opting of the narrative of hope and change for minorities in America, it’s actually the GOP that better compensates paid nonwhite minority staffers.

That’s according to a study from the New Organizing Institute (NOI), which reviewed expenditure information from the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) for 2012. NOI employed the following method to arrive at its conclusions:

We convened a team of researchers to compile expenditure data from the Federal Elections Commission, to extract data about individuals to whom payroll or salary payments were issued, and match it to a voter file enhanced with commercial data. This allowed us to create, for the first time, an evidence-based assessment of the staff composition of federal-level American campaigns. Using this method we were able to determine with good confidence the race/ethnicity and gender of 16,241 individual campaign staffers from 2012.

The hiring demographics indicate that Democrats’ campaigns hired more female and minority staffers than their Republican opponents’. But among those minorities both parties did hire, the GOP paid more.

African American staffers on Democratic federal-level campaigns are paid 70 cents on the dollar compared to their white counterparts; Hispanics are paid 68 cents on the dollar.

Women on campaigns are also paid less than men, although at a rate not too far from parity: 95 cents on the dollar. Interestingly, although the proportions of staff are more skewed towards white men on Republican campaigns, the income disparities are more pronounced on Democratic campaigns.

Specifically, Democrat-led campaigns paid an average of $795 per paycheck to black staffers and $1,145 to whites. Republican campaign camps paid blacks an average paycheck of $1,317, while whites were paid $1,510. Democrats also paid women an average paycheck of $978, while Republicans paid women $1,448 per paycheck.

In fact, Republicans paid everybody more, including Hispanics, Asians and, of course, white men.

Live Off the Grid, Get Forced Out Of Your Home

Cape Coral, Fla., resident Robin Speronis had a pretty cool thing going. She had decided to live a resourceful life — one free from any ties that would force her dependence on a utility infrastructure to meet her basic needs.

Speronis was living off the grid. Now she’s facing eviction because she agreed to share her enthusiasm for off-grid living with a local television station, and the city government saw the story.

Widowed since 2010, when her husband died of a neuromuscular disease, Speronis decided to devote herself to resourceful living. She had devised a rainwater-collection system using rain barrels (beloved by academics and ecologists) and a colloidal silver generator disinfecting system, acquired solar batteries, learned to cook on a propane camp stove and contented herself with life in a well-maintained, modest, easy-to-care-for home.

She has no refrigerator and no oven. She uses a camping shower to bathe. When she’s ready to use the restroom, she fills her toilet tank with some of the rainwater she’s collected. Her way of living is far from derelict or destitute, and Speronis takes a lot of pride in her home and the life she’s chosen.

“My message was to create, so I created a happy place… a place where I get up, and I’m like, ‘This is beautiful,’” she told Ft. Myers-Cape Coral TV station WFTX last month.

“It was an interest in empowering myself, like we did when we got off the health care system. I wanted to look at every other part of my lifestyle and say, ‘Do I need this? Is this of value to me? If it went away tomorrow, what would I do?’ The more I got into it, the more exciting, the more of an adventure it became,” she explained.

The story aired Nov. 14. The next day, code enforcement officials posted on her door a notice that she must vacate the property. Robin reportedly owns her home outright and is not in arrears on any taxes.

A Cape Coral code compliance official told WFTX Speronis’ home was targeted because it lacks electricity and running water. But “neither is mentioned as a requirement in the code cited by the city on the notice.”

If Speronis resists the city throughout the eviction process and doesn’t meet the code department’s demands, the county sheriff could forcibly remove her from her home. But with the help of a local attorney who has stepped up to represent her pro bono and a pretty indomitable attitude, Speronis has no plans to step away from the life she chose.

“Cape Coral needs to be afraid of me. I’m not afraid of them,” she told the station in a follow-up story.

Oregon Pulls The Plug On Exorbitant, Ineffective Hipster Ads For Obamacare

After spending at least $8.3 million on a television jingle intended to extoll Obamacare’s goodness and drive residents to the State’s messed-up insurance exchange website, Cover Oregon is pulling the plug. The advertisements won’t run on television anymore, because the State can’t advertise a product it’s having tremendous difficulty delivering.

Who wouldn’t love to see that in regular TV rotation? But Bruce Goldberg, acting executive director for Cover Oregon, said Monday the ads are useless because the State’s insurance website, which hasn’t successfully enrolled a single person in a health insurance plan, is still useless.

“Cover Oregon is changing its tune when it comes to its catchy Portlandia-style TV spots, which attracted national attention — not all of it positive,” reported KATU Monday. “The problem? The spots still in circulation have been pushing people to use the unworkable online exchange.”

“We’re doing our best to get through the applications that we have and while we’re doing that, we think it’s appropriate to hold off on any further advertising,” Goldberg said at a Monday press conference.

Goldberg’s comments came on the same day he also encouraged 13,000 people who are losing their portability health coverage, which is supposed to serve as a temporary stopgap for people who’ve been laid off from a job or had their old policies canceled, not to count on obtaining coverage through the State exchange.

“Nobody has a list of who the portability people are,” Goldberg said. “Those individuals need to go directly to the market and buy a plan if they want to be assured coverage Jan. 1.”

New Colorado Law Will Treat Drivers Who Refuse Breathalyzer Tests As Criminals

Starting in 2014, Colorado drivers who refuse to submit to roadside sobriety tests will be treated by police as though they have a record of driving drunk – regardless of whether they actually do.

According to ABC 7 in Denver, “any Colorado driver who refuses a sobriety test will be branded a ‘persistent drunk driver.’”

In Colorado, people who refuse a blood or breathalyzer blood alcohol test are already treated as drunk drivers, even if they haven’t been drinking and refuse the test on principle. But the new law will allow the State to place drivers who refuse the tests on a one-year suspension, requiring them to install and use a breathalyzer machine in their cars every time they wish to start their vehicles – and that’s after a two-month waiting period during which they won’t legally be allowed to drive at all.

The new law puts sobriety test decliners in the same category as people with multiple drunk driving convictions, who also must install interlock breath-testing equipment before their cars will start.

More Americans Beginning To See Government Itself As The Nation’s Worst Enemy

Whatever Congress and President Barack Obama had in mind at the start of the President’s second term, it likely wasn’t this: A December Gallup poll reveals more Americans identify the government — not the economy, immigration, healthcare or the wealth gap, but the government itself — as the single biggest source of the Nation’s problems.

Gallup asked people a simple, open-ended question: “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” Twenty-one percent of people indicated they were more dissatisfied with the government than with any other problem on a National scale.

That was the largest single group response, followed by the general economy (19 percent), healthcare (17 percent), unemployment (12 percent), the Federal deficit (9 percent), moral decline (7 percent), poverty (5 percent) and a slew of other 3 percent and 2 percent categories (immigration, war, a loss of civility, the court system).

The year began at a particularly polarizing time for this kind of poll, as a polarizing President fresh off a polarizing re-election victory was inaugurated into a second term in office. Yet an earlier iteration of the same Gallup poll reflected Americans’ disgust with government hadn’t yet overtaken other concerns when January started.

The general economy was the chief fretting point for people back in January, followed by the Federal deficit. Dissatisfaction with government started the year in third place and hummed along there for most of the year (with a momentary blip into second place as sequestration spending “cuts” began in March) — until the government pseudo-shutdown and the launch of Obamacare combined to launch public disgust into the stratosphere. The Oct. 1 Gallup poll showed 33 percent of respondents thought the government was the Nation’s biggest problem — far more than the 19 percent who still eyed the economy as the biggest fear.

Such a rapid and dramatic collapse in public trust isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for Obama’s campaign to shelter everyone under the umbrella of government, nor is it a pat on the back to Congress, which generated an incredible amount of news for a 11-month span in which it accomplished almost nothing (other than revolutionizing Senate procedure on Obama’s behalf).

“[T]he trend,” commented Breitbart’s Frances Martel Monday, “seems to be that Americans become increasingly worried about problems when the government announces it will try to fix them — and are they truly so wrong to think, to paraphrase a great Republican, that government might not be the solution, but the problem itself?”

Job Posting: Team Obamacare Needs A Media Handler To Avoid Appearing ‘Ignorant And Unaware’

Team Obamacare is forming its own in-house Media Matters of sorts, as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) prepares to hire a media agency that will keep its finger on the pulse of what everyone across TV, print and the Internet is saying about the Affordable Care Act.

While it’s not surprising that cabinet-level offices expend some resources to keep daily tabs on how the public feels about its performance, the idea in this case seems to go beyond that. Reading the stipulations for the contract, it looks as though the department is playing catch-up.

From a hiring notice posted to the Federal Business Opportunities website Dec. 9:

Agency officials will be able to make better decisions if they have an easier, faster, more reliable way to get all the latest information about their organization and its mission. Providing HHS officials with timely, easy-to-digest information on a daily basis keeps them in the best position to react to fast-moving events and unfolding issues of concern to the Department. Without this knowledge, HHS leaders can be left ignorant and unaware of what the public, Congress and stakeholders may be saying and reacting to, thus leaving HHS officials less than fully informed in their decision making processes.

While the Secretary, the agency heads, and senior leaders across the Department are critical customers, it is important to the Department in general that staff at all levels in all agencies be aware of how the Department and its agencies are being cast in the public eye. All HHS staff essentially are “ambassadors” to the public on the Department’s behalf.

“Ignorant and unaware” have been the order of the day at HHS, especially where its relationship with the White House is concerned. The Government Accountability Institute revealed earlier this month that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and President Barack Obama did not meet in a scheduled setting a single time during the three-year run-up to the Oct. 1 launch of Obamacare.

“Equally shocking,” noted POLITICO at the time, “over the same period, the President’s calendar lists 277 private meetings with his other Cabinet secretaries (excluding full Cabinet meetings).”

Keeping The Peace: Cops Rescue Neighborhood From Resident Who Washes Car In His Own Driveway

A Garden City, N.Y., man was trying to wash his car in the driveway of his home when the cops showed up. Apparently, his neighbor wanted to get the guy in trouble, so he (or she) called the police to report the man was violating a local ordinance by washing his car on his own property.

The police were happy to oblige:

Even though the man protests that the car is entirely on his own property, the police respond by saying that washing a vehicle in a public place is against the law — and even though the car is on private property, “It’s still in public view.”

Sting-Happy Cops Falsely Accuse Child’s Caretaker Of Sex Crime, Distribute His Photo, Get Sued For $5 Million

Charles Couch was a college student who also held a job with Cambrian Homecare of Long Beach, Calif., where he helped chaperone a boy with Prader-Willi Syndrome – a rare disorder that results in mental retardation and arrested sexual development. One day in 2012, he and the boy were at the beach in Manhattan Beach when the child needed to use the restroom at a nearby public toilet.

But Manhattan Beach cops were there ahead of them, on the prowl as part of a sting operation to target would-be sexual predators who prey on kids in public bathrooms. The cops had no prior knowledge of Couch, or that he would be visiting the beach that day with the disabled child.

After the child spent a long time in the bathroom (the product of another of Prader-Willi’s many symptoms), he came outside and whispered to Couch, “There is a man looking at me in the stall!”

Couch understandably decided it was time to put as much distance between his charge and the strange man in the bathroom as possible. So he tried to leave with the child. Instead he was tackled, cuffed and taken to jail. That “strange man,” of course, turned out to be a cop.

Under questioning, Couch was “accused of being sexually interested in other men, and asked if he would take his own little brother to a party to get ‘laid.’”

At least that’s what Couch is now alleging in a $5 million Federal lawsuit against the Manhattan Beach Police Department, its chief of police, and five detectives. The complaint alleges Couch was falsely arrested and subjected to unreasonable search and seizure and discrimination.

To top it off, the police department evidently had no compunction about disseminating Couch’s picture to the media – even though he was never charged with a crime. About a month after the incident, Couch saw his own picture, accompanied by his name, in a local newspaper with a circulation of 70,000 readers. His name and picture were on the Internet. He appeared as a sex offender to strangers who knew nothing of the truth. He quit school because the cops confiscated his laptop computer – the one he used for academics – in a fruitless search for child porn.

The suit seeks damages for violation of Couch’s 4th and 14th Amendment rights, as well as punitive damages for allegations of perjury against one of the accusing officers.

Tech Leaders Not Amused By Obama’s Veer Toward Obamacare Boosterism In Meeting To Discuss NSA Reforms

President Barack Obama met with executives and experts from major global technological companies today at the White House. The techies were there out of concern for their various companies’ roles as sometimes-unwilling middleman facilitators in the National Security Agency’s spy dragnet behemoth.

People like Apple’s Tim Cook, Google’s Eric Schmidt and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, along with upper-level company reps from Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, AT&T and many other tech giants all sat down at one table with Obama for two and-a-half hours to urge for government reforms to the NSA’s bulk data surveillance program, in part to rehabilitate the private tech sector’s image among customers leery of its complicity in the NSA dragnet.

Several of those in attendance were co-authors of a group letter sent to the White House last week that criticized the government for aggrandizing power at the expense of individual rights.

“The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual – rights that are enshrined in our Constitution,” that letter scolded.

But at Tuesday’s meeting, Obama wanted to devote equal time to Obamacare and Healthcare.gov – and the Technorati was having none of it.

The President’s repeated and jarring attempts to steer the conversation toward his signature “achievement” irritated the techies, who reported they did not feel comfortable talking about other aspects of Obama’s broader policy agenda when they were clearly there to talk about one thing: the tenuous intersection between government, technology and the private sector.

“That wasn’t what we came for,” one company VP told The Daily Mail. “We really didn’t care for a PR pitch about how the administration is trying to salvage its internal health care tech nightmare.”

Here’s more from that story:

One executive said that meeting participants were dead-set against straying from the principal focus of the meeting – the uncomfortable and legally untenable position they are in when the National Security Agency demands access to their digital records.

The White House said in advance that the meeting would include a discussion of Healthcare.gov, but the company executive said the only subject that mattered to the participants was the NSA.

“He basically hijacked the meeting,” the executive said. “We all told the White House that we were only there to talk about what the NSA was up to and how it affects us.”

Yet Obama, according to insiders, repeatedly peppered the discussion with reassuring words about how the Affordable Care Act’s marquee website was well on its way to becoming functional.

According to The Guardian, the tech execs were unwavering in their insistence on keeping the serious focus of the meeting on the matter at hand.

Senior executives from the companies whose bosses were present at the meeting said they were determined to keep the discussion focused on the NSA, despite the White House declaring in advance that it would focus on ways of improving the functionality of the troubled health insurance website, healthcare.gov, among other matters.

“That is not going to happen,” said an executive at one of the major tech companies represented at the meeting. “We are there to talk about the NSA,” said the executive, who was briefed on the company’s agenda before the event.

In light of the tech industry’s newly-galvanized solidarity against partnering with the Obama Administration to snoop on people, as well as a judge’s ruling Monday that the NSA has been violating 4th Amendment protections, Obama’s attempt to swerve the topic in other directions came off as especially inappropriate and self-serving.

As another unnamed executive told The Guardian afterward, “There’s only one subject that [industry] people really want to discuss right now.”

And it’s not Obamacare.