Congressional Republicans AWOL From August Town Hall Meetings

No wonder the public’s disgust with Congress surpasses even the disdain they hold for President Barack Obama.

As Congress takes off the month of August, back-home constituents expected an opportunity to debrief their Senators and Representatives following a dismal, gridlocked, ineffectual Summer term.

But many Congressional Republicans would rather hunker down in private over the five-week August recess than face constituents on both sides of the political spectrum angry over the Legislative branch’s milquetoast indecision on immigration; the Federal budget and the national debt ceiling; Obamacare, agriculture subsidies; transparency and civil liberties; and — well, just about everything else.

Take the case of Dallas-area Representative Pete Sessions (R-Texas), who has yet to reconnoiter with the same Tea Party base that helped him win his seat in the first place. “He can just give us a date,” Katrina Pierson, one of Sessions’ conservative constituents, told The New York Times. “We’ll set it up.”

So far, so silent. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is playing golf with Donald Trump. So-called conservatives like Texas’ Sessions and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are simply missing in (in)action.

Here’s Breitbart’s rundown of some more GOP legislators known to not be participating in the dirty work of facing their constituents — that is to say, their bosses — so that they can go back to Washington, D.C., and do the job they were hired to do:

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL); Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AK); Rep. John Kline (R-MN); Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX); Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), the chair of the House Rules Committee; Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC); and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), who has “not announced any town halls but did participate in them in 2009.”

As The Times’ piece points out, the GOP’s shunning of town hall feedback is strategic. People like Graham know they’re in trouble with conservatives, and they simply would rather let them eat cake. “Congressional offices have gotten increasingly clever about keeping their schedules under wraps,” waiting until the last minute to announce any public feedback meetings, holding meetings in tiny venues and even front-loading the crowd with ardent supporters, who are asked to show up earlier than the announced start time in order to file in first.

Matt Kibbe, President of conservative activist group FreedomWorks, said in May that Graham in particular exemplifies GOP hypocrisy at its worst. “Lindsey Graham could be replaced with someone worthy of that seat,” he said. “The way he lashed out at Rand Paul [for filibustering on drones], he’s begging for a primary.”

But Kibbe saved an even more apt barb for his comment to The Times this week. Wondering aloud why Graham and other GOP do-nothings won’t come out of their shells for frank town hall meetings during their 35-day vacay, he observed:

“To quote Lindsey Graham, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to be afraid of.”

Follow who’s holding town hall meetings and who’s not this month over at the FreedomWorks “demand a town hall” Web page.

Obama’s Unilateral End Run Around Congress: Hike FCC Cellphone Fees To Pay For High-Speed Internet

President Barack Obama is hoping to add another “signature” accomplishment to mark his second term in office that, if successful, could stand alongside the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as a landmark aggrandizement of the reach and power of the executive branch.

The President has wholly embraced a novel idea that, if implemented, would expand high-speed Internet access and elevate the role of technology in student-teacher interaction in public schools nationwide. It would cost billions of dollars, which the President knows Congress won’t appropriate by legislating any sort of new tax or hike in consumer “fees.”

So Obama is turning to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ram through yet another new fee that would be tacked on to the bills of cellphone users everywhere in the United States — well, at least all the cellphone users who aren’t using free Obamaphones — to pay for the program, estimated to cost between $4 billion and $6 billion.

The program itself, first announced in a chirpy White House press release dated June 6,  has been dubbed “ConnectED.” According to the President, the program aims to “connect 99 percent of America’s students to the internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless within 5 years, calling on the FCC to modernize and leverage its existing E-Rate program to meet that goal…This ambitious initiative does not require Congressional action.”

Amazing how sterilizing language can be. “Modernize and leverage its existing E-Rate program” is the President’s disinfected version of “raise fees without Congress passing a law.” The E-Rate program benefits from the FCC’s prerogative to assess universal service fees for government-backed programs that ostensibly support the common good — something the commission already does for things like E-911 and Obamaphones.

So that you see the broad application of powers the FCC wields, think of the inscrutable machinations of the public utility or service commission in your home State — writ large at the Federal level — and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how inviolate and powerful is the FCC’s ability to raise your phone bill with the stroke of a pen. The five-member FCC commissioner panel is currently down to three members (all Obama appointees), and will inevitably hold a three-member Democrat-affiliated majority once Obama finally secures Senate confirmation for the two ongoing vacancies.

Former FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth, a Republican appointee, said the commission has no Constitutional business helping Obama or any other President impose fiat tax hikes in order to realize a grand personal vision:

Using the FCC as a way to get around Congress to spend money that Congress doesn’t have the political will to spend — I think that’s very scary…Constitutionally, it’s Congress that decides how federal funds should be spent.

Jeffrey H. Anderson of The Weekly Standard was more damning of Obama’s naked ambition and disregard for the rule of law:

It is becoming increasingly clear that President Obama does not approve of the American Founders’ notion that Congress’s role is to pass laws, and the president’s role is to execute them. On the heels of his unilateral decision not to start Obamacare’s employer mandate on the date that the legislation prescribes — a decision that begs the question of whether a Republican president, following Obama’s precedent, could unilaterally decide to gut other parts of Obamacare — Obama is now seeking to raise taxes on all cell phone users, reappropriate the billions collected, and spend it on “a whole new educational ecosystem.”  Moreover, he says, “We can do this without Congress.”

Orange County, Florida Sheriff Blithely Proclaims: ‘We Are A Paramilitary Organization’

A Wednesday Orlando Sentinel report on a hiring spree at the burgeoning Orange County, Florida Sheriff’s Office quoted Sheriff Jerry Demings unironically describing his department as a “paramilitary organization.”

From the story:

An improving economy has allowed Demings to open 125 positions that have been frozen since 2009. So far, 60 have been filled as the pool of qualified applicants grows with service members leaving the military and entering civilian life, said the Sheriff’s Recruiting and Background Manager Mary Ann Salazar.

“We are a paramilitary organization, so hiring veterans makes sense, and its important to the sheriff to bring in these highly skilled men and women,” Salazar said.

Demings said more than half of the deputies hired into one of the $38,000-$40,000 per-year positions come from a military background. The sheriff’s comments demonstrate an obvious confidence in the quality of his new hires, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But it’s incredible how oblivious more and more officers, police chiefs and sheriffs – many of them conscientious and well-intentioned – are becoming to the changing character of law enforcement in America.

The same goes for the general public. The Sentinel report eschews even a passing mention of the trend, and doesn’t make any connections between Orange County’s hiring pattern and the overall movement, Nationwide, toward the militarization of our civilian public servants in the law enforcement field.

More Obama Administration Steamrolling Of Congress: EPA To Act On ‘Climate Change’

Really, who needs Congress anymore?

Certainly not the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government, which is busy game-planning end runs around Congress on education, wireless infrastructure, immigration and now climate change.

Gina McCarthy, whom President Barack Obama nominated to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) back in March, told an audience of academics at the University of Colorado Wednesday that the President’s June 25 climate change speech at Georgetown University represented a watershed moment of Presidential will to do something about global warming – with or without Congress’ help.

“Essentially, he said that it is time to act. And he said he wasn’t going to wait for Congress, but that he had administrative authorities and that it was time to start utilizing those more effectively and in a more concerted way,” said McCarthy.

What does that mean? McCarthy wasn’t specific – no surprise there – but she indicated Obama is likely to use his very pliable EPA to look for ways to implement innovative (and costly) carbon swaps, regulations and energy standards at the Federal level, while borrowing green-initiative ideas from cities – like Boulder – that have adopted them.

“[We will] start paying attention to what’s going on in states and cities like Colorado and Boulder, and to start learning what you have already learned and to start getting the federal government to take the responsibility that it must take to face the challenge of climate change,” she said.

“…We’re going to do this this year, next year, the following year, until people understand these are not scary things to do, these are actions we can all do, they’re actions that benefit everybody, that will grow the economy, and they’re actions that will protect the health and safety of individuals.”

The President’s Climate Action Plan Fact Sheet lists some of the visionary ideas Obama plans to channel through the administrative power of the EPA, without any Congressional oversight – even those “policies” (a.k.a. “laws”) that effectively raise fees and taxes while instituting punitive fines.

Taken straight from the White House Fact Sheet, Obama’s plan:

•Directs EPA to work closely with states, industry and other stakeholder to establish carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants;

•Makes up to $8 billion in loan guarantee authority available for a wide array of advanced fossil energy and efficiency projects to support investments in innovative technologies;

•Directs DOI to permit enough renewables project—like wind and solar – on public lands by 2020 to power more than 6 million homes; designates the first-ever hydropower project for priority permitting; and sets a new goal to install 100 megawatts of renewables on federally assisted housing by 2020; while maintaining the commitment to deploy renewables on military installations;

•Expands the President’s Better Building Challenge, focusing on helping commercial, industrial, and multi-family buildings cut waste and become at least 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020;

•Sets a goal to reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030 – more than half of the annual carbon pollution from the U.S. energy sector – through efficiency standards set over the course of the Administration for appliances and federal buildings;

•Commits to partnering with industry and stakeholders to develop fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles to save families money at the pump and further reduce reliance on foreign oil and fuel consumption post-2018; and

•Leverages new opportunities to reduce pollution of highly-potent greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons; directs agencies to develop a comprehensive methane strategy; and commits to protect our forests and critical landscapes.

In keeping with Obama’s pattern, verbs like “establish,” “expand” and “leverage” have more transparent meanings: “regulate,” “borrow/subsidize” and “tax.” Look for the EPA – not Congress – to expedite Obama’s fallacious, myopic “green” revolution.

Organizing For Action Sponsors Climate Change Rally In Washington, D.C.; No One Shows Up

Organizing For Action, the community organizing nonprofit that morphed from a campaign vehicle for President Barack Obama into a “non-partisan” Obama agenda pusher, scheduled and promoted a rally this week to galvanize support for the President’s ambitious plan to regulate “climate change” out of existence.

The event’s Aug. 13 start time came and went — and not a single living soul showed up at the Georgetown Waterfront to bolster Obama’s climate change agenda.

The embarrassment compelled Organizing For Action to remove the event invitation (note the URL) from its website, but FOX News’ Phil Kerpen tweeted a screen grab:

 

kerpen tweet

 

Political blogger Moe Lane correctly zeroed in on Organizing For Action’s modus operandi, noting that, for Obama, policy itself doesn’t matter — but finding a policy talking point that galvanizes low-information voters does.

[I]t should surprise nobody — including the, ah, enthusiasts over at OfA, bless their hearts — that global warming doesn’t have nearly the same bite to it that the Left desperately wants it to. The polling is consistent: global warming — or climate change, or whatever the latest buzzword is/will be — is at the bottom of any list of things that people worry about, or prioritize. It is thus unsurprising that an admittedly unpleasant sudden rain shower would stop people in Georgetown from attending: after all, OfA doesn’t really want to talk about global warming at all. It’s just that the two things that they should be talking about — the economy, and health care — are also two things that OfA does not dare talk about, largely because President Barack Obama clearly has no idea how to go about repairing the damage that he’s caused to either.

The takeaway? If the Obama Administration and its backers strike out on a community-organizing effort that, like climate change, fails to captivate anybody, the fix is simple: just redact and refocus.

New York Pays Landlords Above Market Rate To Shelter The Homeless – And Paying Tenants Get Forced Out

An investigative piece Monday by Cindy Rodriguez, the Urban Policy reporter for National Public Radio affiliate WNYC, brought the public’s attention to the city’s practice of paying private landlords in low-income areas more money to shelter homeless people in near-derelict apartments than the landlords can get on the free market.

Guess what happens? Without the city having to lift a finger, the landlords follow the artificially-inflated new “market” price the government pays, and – through both attrition and outright eviction – lock out paying renters in order to house the homeless. The new homeless tenants effectively become wards of the State.

For the last year, the number of people in New York City’s shelter system has hovered around a record 50,000 overall. Nearly half are children. The numbers of people in shelters have shot up since 2011, when state- and city-funded programs designed to help people move into permanent housing were eliminated.

So the demand for shelter is high – creating the curious phenomenon of the city paying private landlords such high prices for lousy housing that it’s in the landlords’ interest to push out market-rate tenants like Melvina McMillan. The city rate in its deals with these landlords is typically about $3,000 a month. A portion of that goes to pay for security and caseworkers; at 60 Clarkson Avenue, an organization called CAMBA is providing the latter. McMillan, upset by the arrangement, said it was good for everyone – except the people living at the building.

And these are truly lousy buildings to begin with. McMillan’s building has 215 housing code violations, including roach infestation, leaks and mold. Fights in common areas are frequent.

The city pays an average of $3,000 a month to secure a unit. McMillan pays $700 a month.

Since 2011, there’s been a 66 percent increase in the number of apartments the city leases for the homeless. A court order forces the city to offer shelter to all who seek it, and, because the number of homeless people is highly liquid, it falls back on snapping up apartments instead of spending the money all at once to secure a less temporary method of compliance, such as subsidizing the building or expanding shelters.

The obvious absurdity of local government tinkering with the housing market is manifest when one considers that the paying tenants in these apartments – already at or near the very bottom of the economic ladder in New York City – don’t have a lot of options if they’re tossed out of their homes to make way for a city-subsidized homeless replacement. So where does that leave them?

That’s right: homeless.

“If [McMillan] ends up on the street,” writes Rodriguez, “she’d become part of the city’s homeless population – eligible to be placed in an apartment like the one she lives in now, at a cost to taxpayers of $3,000 a month.”

Watch John McCain Talk Up Immigration Reform And Gun Control At Tucson Q&A

Senator John “Gang of Eight” McCain (R-Ariz.) took questions from Tucson residents Tuesday at a town hall meeting during this month’s Congressional recess.

Talking up immigration reform (we know where he stands on that), McCain also pledged to support “better” gun control and possible bailouts for homeowners with underwater mortgages. Overall, he sounded a lot more like Chris Christie than a conservative war hero.

Here’s a video synopsis from KGUN-9 in Tucson.

 

The Clinton Foundation Seeks Immortality; Rubio Wants To Hit The Switch; Kerry Pestered By Internet; Dead Journalist Was Investigating CIA Leader; Sequestration Fluff – Wednesday Morning News Roundup 8-14-2013

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

 

  • Worried that the Clinton Foundation’s operating revenues depend too heavily on the family’s nonstop fund-raising, the three Clintons are embarking on a drive to raise an endowment of as much as $250 million, with events already scheduled in the Hamptons and London. Source: The New York Times…

 

 

  • In an appearance on a Tallahassee morning show, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) explained that President Barack Obama will be tempted to enact his own immigration reform measures by executive order if Congress does not pass an immigration bill. An Obama executive order would legalize 11 million undocumented immigrants, he said. Source: The Daily Caller… 

 

 

  • Speaking to State Department personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil, on Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry said that “this little thing called the Internet … makes it much harder to govern.” He also said that “ever since the end of the Cold War, forces have been unleashed that were tamped down for centuries by dictators.” Source: CNS News… 

 

 

  • This week Elise Jordan, wife of famed journalist Michael Hastings, who recently died under suspicious circumstances, corroborated this reporter’s sources that CIA Director, John Brennan was Hastings next exposé project. Source: San Diego 6…

 

 

  • When sequestration was about to kick in, the Obama administration began a nearly across-the-board campaign to discuss the devastating impact the automatic cuts would have on agency operations. At the center of these warnings stood employee furloughs: mandatory unpaid leave to help each department meet the lower budget caps that took effect March 1. But most major departments have reduced furlough days, or eliminated them altogether. Source: Government Executive…

 

 

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Poll: Almost Nobody Believes Obama’s Promise To Reform NSA; Patriot Act

President Barack Obama unveiled a series of self-policing policies last Friday, in an effort to regain the confidence of Americans shellshocked by ongoing revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) and other Federal agencies are engaged in the secret, warrantless and comprehensive surveillance of nearly every aspect of citizens’ digital lives.

Among the President’s promises was a proposed revision to the now-infamous Patriot Act Section 215, which allows the FBI to secretly monitor the records and activities of U.S. citizens in conjunction with a terror investigation – even if the subject isn’t suspected of criminal activity.

Obama also pledged to appoint a civil liberties monitor who would serve as a legal advocate for “John Doe” citizens whenever Federal law enforcement agencies approach the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to obtain a secret search warrant. To date, law enforcement has breezed through the FISC warrant-obtaining process without facing any opposition from an opposing entity that acts in the interest of the people who are to be spied on.

In addition, the President promised to create an appointed body of independent watchdogs to review intelligence and communications data-gathering policies. The panel would consist of outside tech experts who presumably understand, from a technological feasibility point of view, the potential weak points in assuring citizens’ privacy as the NSA and related agencies go on with their spy business. NSA head James Clapper, the man who lied to Congress about the extent of the agency’s surveillance on ordinary Americans, would head up that panel.

So it comes as no surprise that a Rasmussen poll taken over the weekend reveals that nearly everyone in the U.S.A. thinks it’s a bunch of B.S. Only 11 percent of the 1,000 likely voters surveyed said they believe the President’s ideas will have the positive effect of curbing the scope of the Feds’ secret surveillance practices. Not only that, but 30 percent of those polled said they believe the government will actually ramp up its citizens spying activities, regardless of Obama’s promises. Another 49 percent said the President’s plans won’t change anything.

[M]ost voters still don’t trust the government to protect their constitutional rights,” observed poll analysts. “Very few expect the program to cut back on monitoring the phone calls of innocent Americans.”

Check out the summary of the poll’s results at Rasmussen.

Note from the Editor: Under the Obama Administration, the NSA, the IRS, and the State and Justice departments are blatantly stepping on Americans’ privacy—and these are just the breaches we’re aware of. I’ve arranged for readers to get a free copy of The Ultimate Privacy Guide so you can be protected from any form of surveillance by anyone—government, corporate or criminal. Click here for your free copy.

 

Hillary To The Rescue: Clinton To Kick Off Series Of Speeches To Bolster Trust In Government

Back in June, President Barack Obama made his own bully attempt to shore up Americans’ growing skepticism of the Federal government by telling a San Jose audience “we’re going to have some problems here” if people won’t trust him, Congress and the court system to uphold the Constitution. His heavy-handed wordplay went over like a lead dirigible.

Now Hillary Clinton is preparing to put her own spin on the President’s “trust us” message.

In a move expected to revive her public profile as the 2016 Presidential campaign season gets underway, Clinton will launch a speech blitz over the “next few months,” with the first – an address on the “balance and transparency necessary in our national security policies” – set to take place next month in Philadelphia.

Clinton unveiled her speech tour at a Monday address before the American Bar Association in San Francisco. She used the bulk of her 45 minutes behind the mic to lambast the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down portions of the Voting Rights Act that had unequally leashed some States’ ability to draw their own voting districts without Federal babysitting.

Cribbing a page from President Obama’s playbook of class warfare, Clinton said race-based voter discrimination is very much alive and well in 2013.

“In the weeks since the ruling we have seen an unseemly rush by previously covered jurisdictions that will make it harder for our fellow Americans to vote,” she said. “Unless we act now, citizens will be disenfranchised and victimized by the law instead of served by it….[A]nyone who says that racial discrimination is not a problem in American elections must not be paying attention.”

Breitbart wryly notes that Clinton isn’t exactly a confidence-inspiring torch bearer for Americans demanding their voyeuristic government to put down the binoculars:

According to Philip Rucker, White House correspondent for The Washington Post, Hillary planned to emphasize restoring faith in government – an ironic theme, considering that she was a member of the current administration presiding over the rapid decline in faith in government.

No word on whether this round of addresses will remunerate Hillary at her customary rate of $200,000 a pop.

Who’s Really The Clown? Left Freakout Over Silly Rodeo Stunt Shows Misplaced Priorities

The clown’s been banned from the Missouri State Fair for life. All clowns who succeed him will have to first go through sensitivity training. The President of the Missouri Cowboy Rodeo Association, which sponsors the State Fair rodeo, resigned under pressure (he’s still a school superintendent by day). Democratic State legislators are even urging an investigation to determine whether the State should pull its financial support of the, you know, State Fair.

All because of this? (Watch the video if you want – but honestly, the whole thing is such a non-event that you’re likely to come away even more unimpressed by the hoopla than you already are. At about the 2:20 mark, the announcer obviously pokes a little common, showman-like fun at the President’s likeness, and life goes on.)

 

Of course, liberals cried ‘racism’ and blamed the Tea Party for infiltrating the Nation’s fraternity of rodeo clowns.

Where were sensitive conservatives back in 1994, when this kind of cruelty was being perpetrated against President George H.W. Bush? The Washington Examiner tracked down the account of a reporter who witnessed that grievous event:

The big white gate flew open. The bull came out bucking. The rider flopped from side to side and the bullfighters held back, letting the bull make his moves until the rider dropped off. Licciardello crouched in a heavily padded barrel, a human target should the bull decide to charge. Hawkins waited near the barrel, holding his big inner tube. A dummy with a George Bush mask stood beside the clown, propped up by a broomstick.

T.J. Hawkins rolled out the big inner tube, and the bull lowered his head, shot forward and launched into the tube, sending it bounding down the center of the arena. The crowd cheered. Then the bull saw the George Bush dummy. He tore into it, sending the rubber mask flying halfway across the sand as he turned toward the fence, sending cowboys scrambling up the fence rails, hooking one with his horn and tossing him off the fence.

Lighten up, Left. This Nation is a big and diverse place, and every citizen is covered by the 1st Amendment. No one yelled “fire” in this public place, and no one tested the boundaries of obscenity. The whole absurd reaction to this homespun, innocent little slice of community theater has a stifling, choking quality for those who believe in free speech and free assembly – and that’s the one and only thing that’s remotely ominous about this whole clownish ordeal.

Here’s How Much You’ll Pay Not To Enroll In Obamacare

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released the penalty schedule for people who choose to remain uninsured once Obamacare takes effect, revealing a punitive fee schedule that starts with a relatively low dollar amount in 2014 and increases dramatically by the third full year of implementation.

If you’re a single adult who makes less than $10,000 a year, expect to pay $95 for opting out of health care coverage in 2014. If you make more than that and you’re single, you’ll pay one percent of your annual income above the $10,000 filing threshold (the filing threshold bumps up to $20,000 for families.)

In other words, a single person earning $40,000 a year will have to pay a $300 penalty to opt out of coverage. A family with a household income of $40,000 would be penalized $200 in 2014.

In 2015, the number ramps up to a flat $325 – or 2 percent of annual income (whichever is greater). For 2016 and beyond, the penalty will be the greater of $695 or 2.5 percent of annual income.

Those numbers are for single adults. Uninsured children are penalized at half the adult rate.

The penalties have an annual maximum. They can’t exceed the National average premium that people will be paying to receive the so-called “bronze” (i.e., cheapest) coverage plan offered by State-run insurance exchanges. The catch is that even the bronze level of coverage is expected to grow more expensive, with annual premiums forecast to reach $5,000 for individual plans by 2016.

There are exemptions from the penalties. But unless you’re an illegal alien, an American Indian or earn so little that you don’t have to file a tax return, you’re likely out of luck.

Unless, that is, you live in one of the States with a Republican Governor who’s pledged not to expand the Medicaid program as the Affordable Care Act prescribes. Ironically, poor people in the holdout States will be exempt.

Sebelius Pledges Feds Will Always Be There For The States; The Climate Change Gestapo; Alternative Media Gets Foot In White House Door; Bono Preaches Free Enterprise Over Handouts; Obamacare’s Slow Roll – Tuesday Morning News Roundup 8-13-2013

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

 

  • HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius spoke to assembled State legislators in Atlanta Monday, noting fear among states that Congress will not hold to its original promises on Medicaid financing. Obamacare proposes that federal taxpayers will cover expansion costs in fiscal 2014, 2015 and 2016, with the federal share eventually dropping to 90 percent, leaving 10 percent to each participating state. The expansion is intended to supplant existing federal and state payments to hospitals that treat the uninsured. Sebelius assured lawmakers that “this is not a bait-and-switch,” and she noted that several states that plan to accept Medicaid expansion have required in law that they withdraw from the program if a future Congress ever reneges on the 90-10 cost split. Source: CBS Atlanta…

 

  • Buried in a lengthy Washington Post article about President Obama’s environmental policy is an illuminating anecdote about just how debatable the administration views climate change — namely, not at all. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell took the unusual step of suggesting that no one working for her should challenge the idea that human activity is driving recent warming. “I hope there are no climate-change deniers in the Department of Interior,” said Jewel. Source: Washington Examiner… 

 

  • New York Times reporter Peter Baker tweeted some news yesterday that signals the shift in influence from old media organizations to new media entities: “WH briefing room chgs: Real Clear Politics, Yahoo News to get seats. Sharing seats: MediaNews, Daily Beast, SiriusXM, Sky News, FT, Guardian.” The addition of RCP to the White House briefing room is seen by many media observers as a shift in relevance and importance for new media companies. Source: Breitbart… 

 

  • While speaking at Georgetown University’s Global Social Enterprise Event, U2 frontman Bono admitted that capitalism trumps aid in the long run. “Aid is just a stop-gap. Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism takes more people out of poverty than aid. In dealing with poverty here and around the world, welfare and foreign aid are a Band-Aid. Free enterprise is a cure. Entrepreneurship is the most sure way of development. Source: Independent Journal…

 

  • According to the Congressional Research Service, as of November 2011, the Obama administration had missed as many as one-third of the deadlines, specified by law, under the Affordable Care Act. The latest piece of the puzzle to stall out until 2015 is a provision that sets caps on out-of-pocket insurance costs. Source: Forbes…

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California Legislature Moves Forward With UnConstitutional Bills Regulating Guns And Ammo

The California Legislature is pressing forward on a number of bills in both the Senate and the State Assembly that, taken together, would give the State the dubious distinction of having the most unConstitutional gun laws in the U.S.

Described in the San Jose Mercury News as “a fusillade of gun-control bills that could move California far beyond what any other state has enacted,” the laws are designed to restrict citizens’ access to both firearms and ammunition.

A bill before the State Senate Monday aims to establish a Statewide database that tracks all point-of-sale ammunition purchases, as well as make it a crime to have a gun that isn’t “locked up” when it’s not being carried.

The State Assembly is also expected today to take up legislation that, if passed, would ban outright all semiautomatic firearms with detachable magazines and force owners of high-capacity magazines to dispose of them. The Assembly bills also include their own language criminalizing the presence of a firearm in the home that isn’t kept under lock and key when the owners are away.

Larry Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation told the newspaper Saturday that it’s folly for the anti-gun lobby to pin its hopes of shaping National gun control legislation on big Blue States like California.

“While they may try to reignite their lost momentum, I don’t think anything California does is going to affect what Washington does,” said Keane. “We constantly see a barrage of anti-gun, anti-industry legislation being introduced in California, far more than in any other state.”

California Governor Jerry Brown has given no assurances that he would sign any of the legislation into law, if it passes. But Brown does have an oddly mixed record on 2nd Amendment issues. He also signed an open carry ban on both handguns and “long guns” in 2011. But as State Attorney General in 2009, Brown also sided with the National Rifle Association in filing an amicus curiae brief opposing Chicago’s ban on handguns.

Review the bevy of gun control proposals at the San Jose Mercury News website.

Federal Judge Scorches Bloomberg, NYPD In Landmark ‘Stop And Frisk’ Ruling

A Federal judge ruled the New York Police Department’s discriminatory implementation of its reviled “Stop and Frisk” policy unConstitutional Monday, rebuking mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly – both of whom had exponentially expanded upon the decades-old protocol that authorized police to stop and search people on the street without probable cause.

In a landmark ruling, Federal judge Shira Scheindlin said the policy violates the 4th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution, and appointed attorney Peter Zimroth to serve as an independent monitor to review departmental practices and ensure the city would henceforth conduct stops and searches that don’t violate the law.

Zimroth will enact training and policy reforms and conduct periodic compliance reviews, issuing public reports every six months. Scheindlin set no end date for his indefinite appointment.

The ruling does not completely overturn Stop and Frisk; instead, it focuses on ensuring that police do not continue the practice based on racial profiling of minorities. That angered plenty of Constitutional conservatives, but was still harsh enough a ruling to elicit a pledge from the Bloomberg administration that the city would appeal Scheindlin’s ruling.

In the lengthy ruling, Scheindlin scorched Bloomberg, Kelly and the police department’s administration as a whole, saying they had all “turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner.”

In touting the drop in New York’s crime rate under the expansion of Stop and Frisk, Bloomberg had openly acknowledged  that police were authorized to racially profile young men on the street – particularly blacks and Hispanics – and said he would be pleased if the department, in fact, began targeting fewer white people.

“No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life,” retorted Scheindlin in her ruling.

The order came as a result of two separate class action lawsuits brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights. Scheindlin noted that Bloomberg’s boast of the fallen crime rate was irrelevant in considering whether the policy is Constitutional.

“Many police practices may be useful for fighting crime – preventive detention or coerced confessions, for example – but because they are unconstitutional, they cannot be used, no matter how effective,” she wrote.

Obamacare Group Targets GOP States For Enrollment Campaigns

Enroll Amercia, the major nonprofit behind the Obamacare enrollment effort, is mounting a hard push into States with Republican governors in an effort to overcome strong conservative resistance to the President’s soon-to-launch health care coverage program.

According to The Hill, the multimillion-dollar effort will soon descend on 10 States, nine of which are led by GOP Governnors – Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas – all of which currently have no State-run health insurance exchanges, which Obamacare requires in order to sign up residents for government-back health coverage.

To date, Enroll America has doubled the size of its staff, which currently includes 3,000 volunteers expected to hit the ground in Red States ahead of the Oct. 1 Obamacare start date.

From The Hill:

Enroll America President Anne Filipic emphasized that the group’s mission is not to promote ObamaCare politically but to provide nuts-and-bolts information about how the law works and to encourage people to sign up for new coverage options.

“This is not a conversation about politics,” Filipic said. “This is a conversation about what does this mean to you, to your family, to your pocketbook. And there’s such power in that.”

…A state like California wouldn’t make the cut because the state is already aggressively promoting enrollment, while Texas and Florida remain hostile to implementing the healthcare law.

Enroll America was created specifically to encourage enrollment in the law’s new coverage options, not to promote the law politically.

“People aren’t interested in the politics,” Filipic said. “They want to know what it means to them and their families, and what the new options are.”

Filipic herself campaigned for President Barack Obama’s Presidential bids, as are other Enroll America staffers, who represent both current and former Administration officials. The group is deploying the same community organizing tactics that helped assure the President of his 2012 victory.

“So far, Enroll America has focused primarily on building a network of community organizations and local volunteers, and will ramp up its contact with the uninsured as the open enrollment period for the exchanges grows closer,” the report states.

Arkansas School District Defiant Of AG Opinion That Teachers Can’t Carry Concealed

An Arkansas school district that decided late last month to arm some faculty members at its schools is forging ahead with the plan, despite receiving an advisory opinion from the State Attorney General that it should give up on the idea.

The school board in Clarksville, Arkansas had authorized more than 20 teachers and administrators – all volunteers – to undergo firearms training so that they could anonymously carry concealed weapons at the start of the 2013-2014 school year as a deterring and protective measure against would-be mass shooters on campus.

But Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued an advisory opinion ordering the school district to reverse course and abandon the plan. After consulting with board attorneys, Clarksville Superintendent David Hopkins came to the conclusion that the AG’s opinion is incorrect and unenforceable.

There’s the possibility that the State police could intervene to end the program, although Hopkins warned that the school district would take legal action if that happens. About one-third of the faculty haven’t yet gone through their firearms training, nor been deputized, and Hopkins said the State has no legal right to deny their concealed carry permits as part of a strategy to derail the school board’s decision.

Hopkins has publicly rejected the gun-free approach to school safety, saying that hiding and hoping for the best when an active shooter is rampant is “not a plan.”

Each concealed carry employee must pass a 53-hour training course, whereupon he or she will be awarded a $1,100 stipend to buy a handgun and holster. The district is also paying a total of $50,000 for ammunition and training.

H/T: The Daily Caller

De Facto Punishment For Graffiti Tagging Derelict Buildings In Miami Beach: Death

A Miami Beach resident died last week after he ran from police, who’d caught him graffiti tagging an abandoned building and decided to put an end to the ensuing foot pursuit by shooting the offender in the chest with a Taser.

Israel Hernandez-Llach, 18, was pronounced dead at an area emergency room after Miami Beach Police caught up with him and shot him once with the Taser. Friends at the scene said the officers were giving each other high fives and laughing as Hernandez-Llach lay on the ground. There’s no mention of that in the police report and no other way to verify it other than eyewitness accounts.

Despite reports from his friends indicating he was a generally good person, it’s obvious Hernandez-Llach appeared to be violating the law and defacing property that wasn’t his when he elected to run from police, fleeing his alleged target — an abandoned, boarded-up former McDonald’s restaurant. There have also been conflicting reports about his legal status as an immigrant from Columbia.

But Miami Beach police neither knew nor cared about any of that when they gave chase. One family attorney told Reuters on Thursday: “There is no justification for this kind of action for a second-degree misdemeanor,” an offense for which he likely wouldn’t have faced prosecution. A typical punishment for Hernandez-Llach’s alleged crime is a brief stint doing community service.

“I saw four or five cops converge on him and hit him up against the wall,” said Felix Fernandez, one of Hernandez-Llach’s friends, who was on police lookout duty while the graffiti artist worked his magic. “They were making jokes about how he stiffened up when he was tased. They were congratulating each other on how they caught him.”

Miami Beach police are bound by a standard operation procedure that confines their use of Tasers to a “subject  [who] is not in the physical control of the officer yet poses a threat,” or to situations whenever “the officer, based on objective reasonableness, perceives an imminent threat of physical force against himself, other persons, property or self-inflicted injury.”

Hernandez-Llach, who went by the street handle “Reefa” in his graffiti endeavors, also had more serious art aspirations and had gained a small following among the Miami art community as a sculptor and painter. His work had been accepted for showings at area museums and galleries.

“In my 20 years as an art teacher, Israel was one of the most unique and talented students I have ever encountered,’’ Frank O’Hare, Hernandez-Llach’s art teacher at Miami Beach High, told the Miami Herald last week.

The medical examiner’s office is not ruling on a cause of death until the results of an autopsy can be reviewed. Miami Beach police officer Jorge Mercado, who fired the Taser that struck Hernandez-Llach, has been placed on mandatory 72-hour paid leave per departmental guidelines.

Poll: Americans Believe MSM Has Liberal Bias, Doing Poor Job As Government Watchdog

A poll released last week shows Americans’ faith in traditional mainstream media as an unbiased source for incisive government monitoring continues to decline, as Internet-based news outlets continue to gain the trust of readers fed up with what they believe is a liberal bias among traditional news sources.

The expansive Pew Research poll, released last Thursday, shows public perception of the mainstream news media “mired near all-time lows,” even as respondents continue to believe that it’s the job of news organizations to watch the government and prevent elected leaders and policy makers from aggrandizing unConstitutional power.

From the poll’s summary report:

Outside of its role as a watchdog, the press receives broadly negative ratings from the public on core performance measures. Two-thirds (67%) say that news reports are often inaccurate, and even greater percentages say that news organizations tend to favor one side (76%) and are often influenced by powerful people and organizations (75%). Ratings of news organizations have declined steadily since Pew Research first began tracking attitudes in 1985, and many current ratings stand near all-time lows reached in 2011.

When it comes to bias, which way do viewers think the mainstream media leans? Not surprisingly, more respondents believe the news veers to the left. Of those surveyed, 46 percent said the media reflects liberal ideology, while only 26 percent believe the news is biased toward a conservative point of view. Another 19 percent felt the media’s reporting is largely unbiased, and 9 percent said they didn’t know.

The move toward the Internet and away from print media as a viable news option represents a major shift in consumer habits over the past decade, when Pew conducted a similar study. In 2001, 45 percent of respondents said they primarily looked to newspapers as their source for news, with only 13 percent relying on the Internet.

Today, 50 percent say they go to the Internet first for news, with only 28 percent citing newspapers as their primary choice.

See more from the study, including a breakdown of how consumer behavior differs according to party lines, at the Pew website.

San Diego Schools Set To Indoctrinate Students Against ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws, Self Reliance

The San Diego Unified School District will essentially require public school students to keep talking about the Trayvon Martin self-defense shooting this fall, following a July 30 school board vote ordering superintendent Cindy Marten to “initiate dialogues among middle and high school students across the district concerning the Trayvon Martin case.”

In addition to requiring students to “speak honestly about their identification with Trayvon Martin’s story, including feelings of fear, anger, and skepticism that they will live in a just society as they prepare for the future,” the board also invites them to “speak honestly about ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws that could give one person an unfair advantage over another.”

Why don’t they just go ahead and advance-write the script for these dialogues and tell everyone in the 132,000-student district what to think?

According to The College Fix, board member Marne Foster said she and her three sons, along with the other students in California’s second-largest school district, “are still living in a time of Emmitt Till.”

Here’s an excerpt from the board’s resolution outlining the aims of the dialog program:

The dialogue with District middle and high school students would provide opportunity for the following to occur:

  • Allow students to speak honestly about their identification with Trayvon Martin’s story, including feelings of fear, anger and skepticism that they will live in a just society as they prepare for the future.

  • Allow students to speak honestly about the world view that prompted George Zimmerman to confront Trayvon Martin.

  • Help students develop perspectives and strategies to channel their feelings about Trayvon Martin into positive work for themselves and the larger community.

  • Allow students to speak honestly about the “Stand Your Ground” laws that could give one person an unfair advantage over another and the pros and cons of their perceptions.

  • Help students develop perspectives and strategies to channel their feelings when confronted by others in an authoritative manner.

  • Students will discuss “The Single Stories” of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman and identify other diverse stories and their impact on the American public that speak of the trial.

  • Students will discuss the decisions that George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin chose to operate out of and how that could have been done differently.

Hapless students of the San Diego Unified School District: martyrs and victims in training.

Starbucks Benefits From 2nd Amendment Supporters’ ‘Appreciation Day’ Today

If you live in a State with open carry laws that don’t disgrace the U.S. Constitution, your local Starbucks could be one of the safest places you can pass the time tonight.

That’s because it’s time for Starbucks Appreciation Day, an informal event in which gun owners show their support for the chain of coffee stores. The love-in represents the efforts of citizens Nationwide who value the 2nd Amendment to honor the hands-off stance the company has taken in the face of demands from gun control advocates to ban firearms from Starbucks stores.

Despite the blowback from some gun control groups, the Starbucks Appreciation Day people don’t come across as trigger-happy loons protesting their point too loudly. From the “Starbucks appreciation day” Facebook page:

Starbucks is allowing us to lawfully carry firearms in their store. Recently, they have been the target of unjust attacks from certain groups that do not support our right to bear arms. We will thank starbucks for standing up for our right to bear arms by going there on Friday, August 9th.

We ask that if you choose to carry a firearm during this event that you follow all local, state, and national laws; and if you choose not to carry that you wear pro-gun rights apparel.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has all but admitted he’s not interested in associating a proactive “gun culture” with his company’s brand, but he’s earned the admiration of many Constitutional conservatives by taking a hands-off approach on hot-button civil liberty issues that have been foisted upon the company from both the right and the left.

In 2010, Schultz told ABC News the company wouldn’t implement any gun policies that added to or took away from Federal, State and local laws. “I’m not a politician,” he said. “I run a coffee company and we’re trying to abide by the laws in which we do business.”

Schultz revealed a similarly Libertarian point of view on the subject of same-sex marriage back in March, when a heavy-hitting shareholder tried to bully him into dropping its support for legislation in Washington State supporting domestic partnership benefits.

“If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got [from Starbucks stock growth] last year, it’s a free country,” he said. “You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.”